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Hillary Clinton Calls Out Racism, Sexism; Interview With Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger; Senate Updates Investigation on Trump-Russia Ties. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired March 29, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: Have you guys been in contact with Michael Flynn or representatives of Michael Flynn?
Also, can you go into a little bit of the -- the thought process between why you would have an -- or an interview behind closed doors (OFF-MIKE) and why you would talk to Jared Kushner behind closed doors or you would do it publicly, why would do that?
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I think it's safe to say that we have had conversations with a lot of people.
And you would think less of us if General Flynn wasn't in that list. From the standpoint of the interview process, if you feel like you're being cheated because they're not in public, if there's relevance to them, they will eventually be part of a public hearing.
But any investigation of this kind will start with private interviews to determine the value of what a witness has to provide for the committee.
One thing that we're really conscious of is, we weren't given a free pass to do a witch-hunt. We were asked to do a real investigation. And we will see high-profile people and we will see analysts from the intelligence community, or we may see a 28-year-old that happened to answer the phone at the White House on the wrong day when an ambassador called him, and when they went around and said, who talked to the ambassador, they raised their hand.
Mark and I don't want that person to have a get a lawyer to be interviewed. We would like to bring them up and understand what role they played, if any, without any liability that extends to them.
So we're really conscious of trying to assess each individual person for what the need is, but we don't rule anything out for anybody relative to how public the information might be.
BURR: I'm not going to tell you one way or another.
BURR: I think they start as early as next Monday, but I would probably be the wrong one to verify that. But they are immediate. They are immediate.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: And, remember, these are the people who helped put together the January 6 report. Most of those fall into that category.
BURR: You know what? When you see a movie, it's roughly two hours. When you see how much film went into a movie, it's probably 50 hours.
We don't want to just look at what was in the report. We want to look at what was cut and thrown on the floor, either an analytic product or an intelligence, to figure out whether an analyst made the right determination with what we know today. What we know today is a lot more than what they knew in December, when they went through this process.
Got time for a couple more. Right here.
QUESTION: You said you're looking at (OFF-MIKE) connections involved with the Russian government. You're also looking at people involving organized crime in Russia.
BURR: I don't think we said anything about organized crime. We said anybody that had connections to the Russian government in contact with the campaign.
WARNER: But, unfortunately, many people in Russia who are part of an organized crime network seem to have ties to the Russian...
BURR: I will let that be attributed to him.
BURR: Yes, ma'am.
WARNER: We sure hope so.
BURR: Tomorrow's hearing is with specifically that in mind, that we provide more public awareness, not just in this country, but throughout the world, as to what Russia is up to.
I think it's safe to say that U.S. officials have pushed what we know, not we the committee, what we the government knows about Russia's capabilities and intent, we have pushed it out to those countries that are most imminent to have elections.
But I remind you that we're within 30 days of the first French election, four candidates. It will go down to two candidates with a run-off in May. I think it's safe by everybody's judgment that the Russians are actively involved in the French elections.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) thousand of pages of documents (OFF-MIKE) are they (OFF-MIKE) by hand or is there a similar setup to the Senate (OFF-MIKE) program where (OFF-MIKE)
BURR: I'm not going to be specific as to how we're doing it, but there is no shared drive this time around. That didn't have a happy ending.
And so, again, this gets back to what we said about every iteration is a new negotiation, and we're not complaining about that. We think it's really, really important that we had a clear understanding up front who has access, how do they treat the information that they have got, where do they store the information, who's responsible for the security of that information, because you have got to understand, we're going to go through our investigation that will last X amount of time.
After that, we've got to perform our oversight job, which means we are going to be working with the same people, asking them for documents to do our normal oversight job. And if in fact we don't live up to the security that we promise them, then you're going to have an oversight committee that can't successfully do its job.
WARNER: And one of the things we're doing -- and this is where part of the rub comes, the way I understand it -- is that we're basically trying to get access that even goes beyond what the Gang of Eight has had, in a sense, how we have all of that to -- in terms of raw products and how we make sure that, again, every committee member has said they have got to see or know some of this information before they can sign their name on a finished product.
So there's some healthy tension there, but we...
BURR: For any of you that have been at any of the confirmation hearings, one question you have heard of every person who was nominated and eventually confirmed is, would you provide for the committee, if asked, raw intelligence data?
There is rarely a time where a committee would ask for that. We're in a very rare time. And we will test some people to see if in fact their commitment is 100 percent correct.
Let me end with how we ended the first part. And that that's the committee will go wherever the intelligence leads us. You can ask continue to us 30 different ways about a person. Trust me. When we have them scheduled, we will tell you.
You won't have to beat it out of us. We hope to make updates a periodic thing, but we're not going to do it unless we have got something to share with you that's educational, that shows you a little of the road map we're going down.
It's just, right now, we're not at a point where we can tell you that is every two weeks or three weeks or a month. We want to do it based upon the changing conditions of the investigation.
WARNER: My last comment is a comment I have made before. When we started this, we saw the scope, what was involved. I said it was the most important thing I had ever taken on in my public life.
I believe that more firmly now than even when we started. We are going to get it right. Thank you.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: "We're going to get it right," the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is apparently how you handle a congressional investigation. Devin Nunes could learn a lot.
David Chalian, CNN political director, let me begin with you.
You agree, stark difference on the Senate side?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Oh, my God, it's like night and day.
Remember, though, the House process started somewhat along these lines. I remember -- I'm old enough to remember when Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff stood side by side. That's completely disintegrated now, and this is in clear contrast. And, in fact, you heard Richard Burr say at the top, we're not even going to entertain questions about that House process over there, clearly trying to distance himself from it.
But I do think you have to -- what I take away from this, Brooke, is the magnitude, the enormity, the seriousness of purpose that both of these men seem to be bringing to this job. Richard Burr said, this is the biggest investigation -- Hill investigation in his tenure on the Hill. He got there in 1995. That's 22 years ago.
And clearly they are committed to working together an. I think if you're at home watching this after seeing all the shenanigans on the House side, if you're an American at home looking at this, you have got to feel a little bit better that this Senate committee is going to take this a little more seriously.
BALDWIN: Do you agree, Gloria, despite the shenanigans, that people in America should feel more confident listening to those two gentleman?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's an alternate universe over there.
And I think we also learned some things here today, Brooke, which were interesting to me, that they have 20 requests out there for interviews, five have been scheduled. They also -- Senator Burr seemed to imply that General Flynn may either have been interviewed or will be interviewed. He said it would be safe to say we have had conversations with a lot of people and it would be safe to say General Flynn is a part of that list.
I also think one thing we learned here is that, sometimes, Congress can have a problem with getting all the documents it wants from the intelligence community and that they're clearly trying work out how to do that.
I mean, I think it was Senator Warren who said that -- called it a challenge, because, sometimes, Congress wants more than the intelligence community is willing to give. So there's going to be a lot of give and take there.
But what I got out of this was that, as David was saying, these guys are serious about this. Senator Burr stood out there and said, I voted for Donald Trump, OK? Let's get that on the table. I voted for Donald Trump, and we look at politics differently. But we're not going to let that get in the way of getting to the bottom of election year hacking and beyond.
And this investigation will go beyond, they made it very clear, if that's where it leads.
BALDWIN: And to add to that, Mark Warner stood by Richard Burr and said, let the record reflect I have full confidence in my Republican counterpart, Perry Bacon, senior political writer over at FiveThirtyEight.
That is quite the contrast, again, to juxtapose the chairman and ranking member over on the House side, one of whom wants the other to recuse himself.
PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I thought Burr said two really important things.
The first he said was, we're going to investigate this to wherever it leads. We're going to keep going, which means he's committed to taking this wherever it goes, which could mean big trouble for Donald Trump. It could mean anything. But Burr, the Republican, was dedicated to doing a big investigation.
The second thing he said was, we're not going to coordinate with the White House. That's a huge contrast with Burr vs. Nunes. I think it's various things that Burr was saying, I'm doing this, I'm not calling Donald Trump, I'm not coordinating with their office.
BALDWIN: That's a great point.
BACON: I think those are two signs that he's going to be much different. And that's going to be reassuring to Americans. We assume Mark Warner, Schiff want to investigate Trump. It's important that Burr is taking a much different approach than Nunes is.
BALDWIN: All right, Jack Barsky, let me bring you in, a former KGB spy. You just wrote a book about your experience called "Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America."
Let me ask you about another name we heard floated out there who will be talked to as part of this investigation, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, top adviser. And so we know that he had met with this Russian banker, a man by the name of Sergey Gorkov. We know he graduated from a school that trains KGB agents.
Can you just talk to me about Vladimir Putin and how he likes to bring in KGB agents to become mega-oligarchs and help him out?
JACK BARSKY, FORMER KGB AGENT: It's a little bit different, the way this evolved.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a big feeding frenzy about who would get the pieces that were being dismantled? And, of course, KGB agents and folks who had some idea how to operate in a competitive environment were right there, and a lot of those became oligarchs.
And the ones that didn't want to play ball with Mr. Putin eventually either were eliminated or put in jail or left the country. So what we have now in place is a system, an economic system, that if you do business with Russia, you have to be pretty much aware that you are doing business with somebody who has the blessing of Mr. Putin.
BALDWIN: Off of that, and, David Chalian, back just on this specific investigation and the House side. There was supposed to be a hearing yesterday. That got canceled. Nunes wants to talk to Comey privately. That was not happening. Now he says, forget it, no meetings until Easter recess.
So then what?
Well, you heard Trey Gowdy this morning say, we clearly have lost some time, but we can get back on track and play catchup.
They can certainly try to do that. But I don't think -- the House Intel Committee and that investigation is going to be the place that you're going to find an American sitting at home is going to find the nonpartisan, thorough answers that they're looking for.
BALDWIN: Perry, does Nunes recuse himself?
BACON: I'm pretty sure he won't do that, based on what we saw yesterday.
I think the key thing to think about now, this point, is, it sounds like Nunes wants to run essentially a leaks investigation to figure out what -- who leaked what about Trump. That's what it seems like he's doing to me, where it seems like Burr and Warner are more focused on that story, but also some of the broader, what happened with Russia and the elections?
I think these two investigations are going different directions.
BORGER: And that was striking. That was striking. You didn't hear talk of unmasking names or anything like that. What you heard from Burr and Warner is, Russians tried to hack the
election, we're going to get to the bottom of it and we're going to let it take us wherever it takes us, period, you know, stop, so very different kinds of investigations.
BALDWIN: Yes. Thank you all so much.
And let me just add a quick programming note to all of you. Stay with CNN, because the current ranking member of the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, will join Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." That's today at 5:00 Eastern here on CNN.
Meantime, Bill O'Reilly makes fun of a congresswoman's hair. Sean Spicer dresses down a veteran White House correspondent. They're now reacting. And both of those moments inspired Hillary Clinton to speak out in her most political speech since the election. We will discuss all of that.
Also ahead, President Trump's remarks about Iraq, that American military are fighting even harder than they ever have, that's raising eyebrows. Hear how the White House just explained them. And was the president joking when he said health care would be easy, that a new deal can get finished quickly?
More on that ahead. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: Welcome back to the breaking news here on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The Senate Intelligence Committee just now announcing the boundaries of its investigation into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia, a stark contrast, as you just heard all the different voices on my panel explain, to the shenanigans on the House side, with the Republican chairman of the Intel Committee on the House side, Devin Nunes, essentially not -- saying he won't recuse himself, despite calls from the ranking member for him to do so.
Phil Mattingly is with me. He's been covering all the zigs and the zags on this.
And so, still, you know, you listen to these White House daily briefings, Phil, the questions are the same with regard to, you know, Sean Spicer, do you yet know how Nunes was cleared to get in the SCIF and what did he see, and still coming up with nothing.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the questions are the same, Brooke, and the answers up to this point have been the same as well.
Now, it's worth noting, when it comes to who gets into the White House and how they get into the White House, according to at least former administration officials I have spoken to, they say that takes a matter of seconds, maybe minutes at most, for senior White House officials to figure out if they want to figure out.
But this is what Press Secretary Sean Spicer had to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You talked about on Monday, Monday, you said to us from the podium that you would look into how Chairman Nunes was cleared here and with whom he met. Can you give us -- and we tried to ask you that yesterday as you walked out. Do you have any information to live up to the commitment you made here on Monday to provide more details about how that happened, in a process you just told us yet again is above-board and totally appropriate?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have anything for you on that at this time. But, again, I don't...
QUESTION: Have you looked into it?
SPICER: I have asked some preliminary questions. I have not gotten answers yet.
And I think there's a -- but so, no, I don't have anything further on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: The White House obviously not trying to figure this out, or, at least, if they know, they're not telling right now.
Now, Sean Spicer has made very clear -- he was asked directly today, Brooke -- if he knew the source of Devin Nunes' information. He said, no, he did not.
But what this really has all done -- and, look, we saw a very deliberate, very purposeful effort from the top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to kind of let everybody know, all is well, we are moving forward.
And the reason for that, or one of the primary reasons for that, I'm told, is because of what's happening over on the House side, because of what has happened with Devin Nunes, because that investigation has essentially devolved into nothingness over the course of the last couple of days.
And I will tell you, in talking to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee over the last couple of days, it's not a partisan issue right now. There are Republicans who are just as frustrated with Democrats. And one of the primary reasons why is not just the White House visit. It's not just Chairman Nunes talking about the new information that he has.
It's the state of the investigation, the canceled hearings, the -- whether one was going to be public or one was going to be private, whether invitations were actually sent out. And we're just learning right now from our colleague Mary Kay
Mallonee, Brooke, that the FBI, an official with knowledge of Director James Comey' scheduling says he did not say he wouldn't show up for a scheduled hearing. And they also have not received an official invite for another appearance on Capitol Hill.
That directly contradicts what Chairman Nunes has been telling reporters and been telling committee members over the course of the last couple of days. Basically, to kind of underline all of this here, this is an issue that is ongoing. It doesn't seem to be getting any less complex. And all this does is kind of cast a very dark cloud over an investigation that, by all accounts, Republican or Democrat, has ground to a halt over on the House side, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly, thank you.
Let's stay on this.
Joining me now, Maryland Democratic Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, and a former ranking member on the House Intel Committee.
So, Congressman, a pleasure to have you on. Welcome.
REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), MARYLAND: Well, good to be here. A lot going on.
BALDWIN: Not a dull day for quite a while, sir.
BALDWIN: Let me just first get your reaction to both of Chairman Burr and the ranking member, Warner, over on the Senate side.
When it comes to this whole controversy, does it seem to you that the Senate is acting a tad more mature?
RUPPERSBERGER: Well, to begin with -- and I'm having a hard time, I think, hearing you -- I was pleased to see that Burr and Warner are coming together as the leadership in the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But this issue involving Russia is very serious. It's not going to go away. I think the American people know that we have to find out what the facts are, who was involved.
And if I was recommending something to the president, you know, when you have an issue that's very controversial, you need to get it all out on the table and then move on and do things that we need to do in this country, whether it's health care, taxes, infrastructure issues, that type of thing.
As far as Devin Nunes Nunes is concerned, I worked with Devin. He has good intentions in protecting and working in the intelligence area. But he made a mistake. And he admitted he made a mistake. But what's happened right now, Devin Nunes has become viral, and that's affecting his committee, which is a very important committee in Congress. And these people, Republicans and Democrats on the committee, are very good people who want to get to the bottom. So I would hope Devin...
BALDWIN: But can you...
BALDWIN: Just can you -- and hopefully you can hear me, but can you understand? It was such a stark difference between how we heard the Senate side talk about this, on time, taking questions, you know, these two standing together.
You take that and you compare it to what we have seen, this mess on the House side, I just want your read on that, because it's making, you know, your colleagues look bad.
RUPPERSBERGER: Well, it's extremely disappointing.
Chairman Rogers And i, when we were in leadership, we pulled everyone together. We worked together. We fought, but we came together for the benefit of the country. And, also, we oversee, that committee, the intelligence community throughout the world. There are very dangerous places doing what they need to do to protect us.
And, as a result of this issue and Devin's mistake, he has put the whole committee in a situation where they're all being criticized and not being respected. And that has to stop.
And I think Devin, if you sit back and look at it, he could say that he needs to recuse himself from this Russian investigation.
And to the same thing, there's precedent here. The attorney general, Sessions, did the same thing, because the American people -- it's not about the person anymore. It's about getting to the bottom of this Russian issue once and for all. They're dangerous, they attacked us, and we have to find out the involvement of anybody involved in that -- in those incidences that occurred. And...
RUPPERSBERGER: Yes, go ahead.
BALDWIN: No, no, no, forgive me, forgive me.
But just hearing you use the word mistake in describing what Devin Nunes has done, I'm curious. Since the White House very easily could figure out who it was who cleared him on grounds into the SCIF, and what kind of information he got, information that he has yet to share with other folks on his committee, do you think, on behalf of the White House not being transparent, is that a mistake?
RUPPERSBERGER: I would be concerned if the White House played Devin.
I know Devin felt that he was helping the new president of the United States. But if you look at why our country is the greatest country in the world, our forefathers created a great system of checks and balances. And where Devin went and where his problem is right now is that there's not the confidence that the checks and balances are there between the House Intelligence Committee and the White House.
BALDWIN: How do you get the train back on the tracks, Congressman?
RUPPERSBERGER: Say that again?
BALDWIN: How do you get the train back on the tracks?
RUPPERSBERGER: You get the train back on the tracks by Devin just as Sessions did, that, based on what has happened, that it's not about me, it's about our country following the facts and finding out once and for all what's happening with respect to Russia, all the facts that we need to know.
And then, if he recuses himself, then the committee comes together, the Republicans and the Democrats. And whoever would be assigned to take his position on this individual Russian case, they would be able to move forward, just like the Senate.
You know, there's a lot to do here. The FBI has to continue to do their job. They're the best in the world, what they do in investigations. The Intelligence Committee gets classified information, and when they can, they give as much to the public, and eventually the public will have to know what's going on with the Russia issue.
This is why I hope the president understands this job that he has, that this issue has to be resolved for him to get credibility to do things that are successful with taxes and health care and infrastructure and those type of issues.
And so, you know, it can very easily, in my opinion, be fixed if Devin could recuse himself, like Sessions did, and then the committee does the same work as you saw the House and the Senate, those two leaders there reassuring the public that, we're going to follow the facts, we're going to be transparent and we're going to protect America from Russia.
That's the key.
BALDWIN: Congressman, I appreciate your time. I truly do.
BALDWIN: Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, thank you very much.
RUPPERSBERGER: OK. Got it. OK.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Meantime, Hillary Clinton calling out racism, calling out sexism in Washington after incidents involving two prominent African-American women, one by FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, the other by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. We are going to chat about this. We will debate this next.