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Trump Lashed Out at FBI After Release of Secret FISA Documents; Carter Page Fires Back on Accusations in FISA Warrant; Source: Trump & Lawyers Worried about Cohen Tapes; Rand Paul Asking Trump to Revoke Security Clearance of John Brennan; New Video of Murder of George H.W. Bush's Former Cardiologist. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 23, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:32:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is lashing out this morning once again after the FBI's unprecedented release of secret documents that continuously authorized surveillance on President Trump's former campaign adviser, Carter Page. He wrote, I'm quoting now, "So now we find out that it was indeed the unverified and fake dirty dossier that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC that was knowingly and falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller witch hunt."
Joining us for a fact check, CNN politics reporter and editor-at- large, Chris Cillizza.
Chris, break this down for us.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: OK, Wolf, the truth of the matter is a lot of those facts in Donald Trump's tweet are incorrect.
Let's start with the dossier itself. This is the entire FISA warrant. It's long, lots of redactions. This was not the result solely of the dossier. There was lots of other information we'll get to in a minute that was the reason the FISA warrant was issued. This not the dossier only.
Let's go to the next thing. This is important. Devin Nunes, California congressman, head of the House Intelligence Committee, he has repeatedly said that no mention was made of the fact that Christopher Steele, the former British spy, was being paid by someone with affiliations to one of the candidates. Not true. "A U.S. law firm hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding candidate one's ties to Russia." The FBI speculates the identity of this person was "likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate number one's campaign. It's right there.
Let's go to the next slide. OK. Remember I mentioned, Wolf, it wasn't just the Steele dossier? From approximately '04 to '07, Page lived in Russia.
Let's go to the next one because that's incident to that too, Wolf. Sorry. There's another piece here I did want to mention. The point being, there was not a one off. They had been watching him since 2004. He had dealings with Russia. He lived in Russia. This is not the result of Christopher Steele digging around.
To this one. And this is really, really important. Donald Trump goes on and on about judges and why we need them. OK. These are judges who signed the FISA warrants. Reminder, it was given once and then renewed three times. These judges were appointed by, and you might be able to guess, George W. Bush -- George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, and Ronald Reagan. These are the judges that approved those FISA warrants. These are not a bunch of liberal Democrats who approved these. It was not just approved. It was reapproved three times.
Let's go to the last one on the timeline. Donald Trump said he knew nothing about any of this. We know that's not true. He was briefed August 27th. Briefed that foreign adversaries, including Russia, were trying to infiltrate the campaign in October. The Obama administration informs publicly. October 9th, Trump on hacking, "The reason they blame Russia is because they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia." Then January 6th, two weeks before he's sworn in, intel teams show Trump claims of Russian efforts to compromise him. They showed Donald Trump, at that point the president-elect, they showed him information that Russia was trying to compromise him.
So there's a lot wrong in there, Wolf. And this has become a real hot button for conservatives to say, see, this is all phony. It is not. This is -- the Steele dossier is not the reason Carter Page -- there was a FISA warrant on Carter Page -- and certainly not the reason it was renewed three separate times. They were concerned he had been compromised and was a foreign agent. That's the reason.
Back to you -- Wolf?
[13:35:50] BLITZER: Yes. Very interesting that on August 17th, 2016, during the campaign, after he got the nomination, the Obama administration, the Intelligence Community not only briefed Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, but also him, in depth, about these Russia allegations. So to say that he wasn't informed, that's clearly not true.
CILLIZZA: Wolf, just one other quick thing. To say he wasn't informed because they expected Hillary Clinton to win, they briefed both sides at that time. So this was not because they thought one side or the other was going to win. They did both.
Back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Chris. Thank you very much.
Carter Page fired back at the accusations in that warrant on CNN, saying they are so ridiculous and misleading. But listen to what he said when CNN's Jake Tapper pushed him on if he ever advised or worked with the Kremlin. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: No, I've never been an agent of the foreign power in any -- by any stretch of the imagination. I may have -- back in the G-20 when they were getting ready to do that in St. Petersburg, I might have participated in a few meetings.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But you did advise the Kremlin. I want to make it clear. You did advise the Kremlin back in 2013 or 2012, somewhere in there.
PAGE: Jake, it's really spin. I sat in on some meetings, but to call me an adviser, I think, is way over the top.
TAPPER: Except in a 2013 letter, you wrote -- it says, quote, "Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for the presidency of the G-20 summit next month where energy issues will be prominent on the agenda."
That's August 2013. That's yourself calling yourself an informal adviser to the Kremlin.
PAGE: Informal having some conversations with people. This is really nothing, and just an attempt to distract from the real crimes that are shown in this misleading document.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss this and more with CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates, and CNN political analyst and congressional reporter for "Politico," Rachael Bade.
Rachael, so he's acknowledging at a minimum he was an informal adviser to the Kremlin.
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and that he has a long history with them, as Chris just discussed. This is not something that started just with this dossier. It's interesting because Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, they really seized on this dossier for the past few months, saying that it was paid for by Democrats and that the FBI when they got this warrant, they weren't clear that it was politically -- potentially politically motivated. Again, as Chris just showed, they were clear about this. They were clear that he had long-term contacts with Russian officials that were suspect. The thing is, I don't know that it makes much difference on Capitol Hill. We were talking to people just a couple hours ago who were saying that conservatives and Trump allies on the Hill are still talking about holding Rod Rosenstein, who's overseeing this investigation, in contempt of Congress. Right now, we're going to have a situation where who can yell louder. The president is also tweeting about this, saying it's a witch hunt, even though what we saw this weekend is clearly not the case.
BLITZER: It's pretty amazing. I've covered the Intelligence Community for a long time. For 40 years, since FISA came in, the Foreign Intelligence Act, these FISA courts have received these kinds of classified briefings, requests for opportunities to wiretap American citizens and others. This is the first time, I believe, ever they've released -- it's redacted, heavily redacted -- but they've released the justification for this FISA warrant against Carter Page.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Over 40 years has gone by before they've done so, with good reason. You do not want to have a tar and feathering when you're talking about a probable cause warrant on an American citizen. It's also unheard of to have the information released because we so covet our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. Another reason, of course, is because of that Fourth Amendment right to privacy is why all the steps -- it takes herculean efforts to get a FISA warrant to be accepted, let alone by four judges who are all Republican appointees. In order to get to any one of those judges, it involves two branches of government. There's a FISA law about it. You're trying to have all the hurdles because they don't want people to have in the open they're being surveilled. It would lead someone to the conclusion that they must be engaged in criminal activity. Having said that, in order to get the warrant, there has to be more just fraternizing with somebody. It's got to be more. It has to be bank statements, documents in the trash perhaps, statements by the actual person like Carter Page talked about. All these different hurdles have to be passed in order to ensure it's not a witch hunt. It has to be able to pass the muster of all the judges.
[13:40:36] BLITZER: Clearly, huge chunks of that, 400 pages, were redacted, blacked out. We don't know the specific details of what the U.S. suspected as far as Carter Page is concerned. We do know that Carter Page has not been charged with any crime. He's obviously innocent as of everything we know right now.
COATES: That's true. He's innocent until proven guilty. The whole premise of the warrant was not to prove he himself was a criminal or could be. They were trying to figure out whether or not he was being used by a foreign agent or a foreign entity to commit a crime. He himself had to have a probable cause why he should be there, not beyond a reasonable doubt for an actual crime yet.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Michael Cohen, the president's former fixer and lawyer, and the recordings. He obviously recorded a lot of his phone conversations, including with Donald Trump, who was working with him for a dozen years or so.
How worried are you hearing that the president and his legal team are right now, because the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, they have those recordings?
BADE: My colleagues who do cover the White House say that he is worried and their legal team is very concerned. Cohen has even said specifically that he has additional tapes and that's going to be particularly problematic for the president. So it's clear that the president right now is feeling like he's in some sort of -- he's hunkering down and feeling like he has to swing back. He's taking to Twitter. Cohen is saying he has these tapes. He's getting pummeled, even by some in his own party, on how he handles Russia last week. Right now, we're seeing polls shows more and more Americans actually believe that Russia did interfere in the election, and that potentially if they hadn't, Hillary Clinton could have won. So right now, we're seeing him lash out every which way. He's got a big problem here, both legally, politically, and personally.
BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're absolutely right.
All right, guys. Thank you very, very much.
Up next, Senator Rand Paul -- listen to this -- is now calling on President Trump to revoke the security clearance of a former director of the CIA. We're going to tell you why.
[13:47:06] BLITZER: Happening right now, Senator Rand Paul is preparing for a meeting with President Trump. He says he'll demand that former Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance be revoked.
Let's go to our chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill.
Manu, John Brennan has been a vocal critic of President Trump's. What exactly is Rand Paul accusing him of doing?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear what evidence Rand Paul has behind his assertions on Twitter from earlier this morning, saying that Brennan is, quote, "monetizing his security clearance and making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media."
We do know that Rand Paul has been a sharp critic of John Brennan's, ever since he was nominated back in 2013 as Obama's CIA director. Back at that time, you'll recall, Wolf, Rand Paul took to the Senate floor and launched a filibuster for more than 12 hours railing against the nomination. President Trump himself has been sharply critical of Brennan, has leveled significant accusations against him personally. So clearly, Rand Paul believes he has a receptive audience in raising these concerns with President Trump.
However, going after a former official security clearance is highly unusual, even for political reasons. You'll recall Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russians to the FBI, he maintained his security clearance despite his attacks against Hillary Clinton, about "lock her up" during the campaign trail. And former officials tend to keep their security clearance so they can provide counsel and advise to current office holders about issues they may have had to deal with when they were in office. This will be a highly unusual move. We'll see what the president decides to do -- Wolf?
BLITZER: After the summit in Helsinki with Putin, Brennan suggested the president's behavior was treasonous. We'll see if that's a factor in Rand Paul's request now that Brennan lose his security clearance.
Manu, thank you very much. There's other news we're following, including some newly released
pictures in the manhunt over the murder of former President George H.W. Bush's former physician. You're going to hear what police are now asking.
[13:49:15] Plus, moments away from the White House press briefing. You're looking at live pictures coming in from the briefing room as the president continues to lash out in the wake of the fire storm surrounding his meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin.
BLITZER: New surveillance images released. The video shows the moments leading up to the murder of former President George H.W. Bush's former cardiologist. The doctor was biking to work when he was fatally shot by another cyclist. Police in Houston are searching for clues and searching for the killer.
Let's go to CNN's Dianne Gallagher. She's working this for us.
So, what do we know about the motive, Dianne, and the manhunt.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The motive, Wolf, is still a mystery. Police have said it could be anything. That's because they don't know who the suspect is.
I want to go back to the surveillance photos that you just showed. They have the doctor circled in green and the suspect circled in red. And what essentially happened was they were riding in opposite directions. You can kind of see them cross in one of those, how close they are on that picture. And then according to police, just moments after this photo was taken, the suspect turns back behind him and fires two shots at the doctor, killing him, and then just continues riding his bike on. There's another photo that shows the red circle by itself. That's taken moments after the shooting. You can see there are cars in the area.
Wolf, there was a sketch they put out there. They believe it is a white or Hispanic man, about 5'10", slender, athletic build. He was wearing a cap, a gray jump suit and sunglasses.
Whether this was road rage, a targeted attack or completely random, police don't know and they're looking for answers.
[13:55:23] BLITZER: Sad story, indeed.
Dianne, thank you very much. Dianne Gallagher reporting.
Any moment, the White House getting ready to hold another press briefing. You'll see Sarah Sanders walk over to the microphone. The last one got rather heated over the president's behavior in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. And now there are new questions for the White House to answer as the president walks back the acknowledge that Russia attacked the United States during the presidential election. Stand by.