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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
WH Source; FBI Interviewed Flynn About Contacts With Russia; WH: Trump knew For Weeks Flynn Withheld Truth; WH: Trump Knew For Weeks Flynn Misled Officials; Trump: "Illegal Leaks" Are Real Story Of Flynn's Resignation; White House: "Erosion Of Trust" Led To Flynn Resignation; Ethics Office Urges White House To Investigate Conway; Ethics Office To WH: Investigate Conway; Aired: 7-8p ET
Aired February 14, 2017 - 19:00 ET
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ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. New details tonight about the FBI questioning Michael Flynn as we're learning the President of the United States knew for weeks that Flynn lied about his call to a Russian ambassador. Why didn't he fire Flynn sooner? And more breaking news. The government ethics office telling the White House tonight to investigate Kellyanne Conway. Is Conway becoming too much of a distraction? And undocumented immigrants now going to churches for refuge, living in fear. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, breaking news. We now know the FBI interviewed General Michael Flynn about his Russian contacts and tonight the big question, what did the president know and when did he know it about his national security advisor? Press Secretary Sean Spicer today telling reporters something very important. He says the president first learned about Flynn's lie nearly three weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They didn't notify the White House counsel's office until January 26th. At that time there was an immediate -- the president was immediately informed of that. And asked the White House counsel to conduct a very, very thorough review. The first part of that review was focused on whether or not there was any legal issue. That's it. Once that became the issue, then there was -- it shifted into phase two, which is whether or not there was trust still maintained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So that was January 26th when the President of the United States found out about this. Of course it's now February 14th. Law enforcement sources tonight telling CNN Flynn was interviewed by the FBI before that January 26th warning. Meanwhile, until yesterday, Flynn was fully participating in high level confidential White House meetings even though the justice department had warned that Flynn's situation made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
Now top democrats and republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer calling for investigations into Flynn and the Trump administration's involvement with Russia. Jim Acosta is OutFront tonight at the White House. And Jim, you're getting conflicting information tonight from the White House about what exactly happened to General Flynn.
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lots of contradiction, Erin. That's right. So the White House is putting the blame squarely on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for misleading the administration about his call with the Russian Ambassador and the White House insisted today the president was not misleading reporters himself when he claimed he didn't know about the story.
One day after the Trump administration offered conflicting stories about the fate of now Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the White House tried to give one simple explanation. Flynn lost the trust of the president and it was time to go.
SPICER: The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation in a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn's resignation.
ACOSTA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says it was Flynn who sealed his own fate by misleading top administration officials including the vice president about his phone conversation about sanctions against Russia with the Russian Ambassador during the transition. But Spicer declined to say whether Flynn had intentionally lied about the call.
SPICER: I don't know that it was intentional. He may have just forgotten. I think at some point trust --
ACOSTA: Forget the conversation.
SPICER: But that's the point, Jim, it's that at some point that trust eroded to a point where the president did not feel comfortable with him serving in that position and asked for and received his resignation.
ACOSTA: In his resignation letter, Flynn would only say he inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. The White House says there were questions about Flynn's story. On January 26th the justice department relayed its concerns about the call to White House Counsel Don McGahn, who informed the president.
Spicer says a White House investigation concluded there was nothing illegal about Flynn's actions. All of that raises questions as to why the president claimed he didn't know about a report about the matter when he was asked about it Friday.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: I'll look at that.
SPICER: He was asked if he was aware of a Washington Post story. He hadn't seen that at the time.
ACOSTA: Spicer deflected questions about what the president knew and when he knew it by claiming Mr. Trump had been tough on Russia.
SPICER: The irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on Russia.
ACOSTA: To a lot of Americans it seems that this president has not been tough on Russia. How can you say that?
SPICER: There's a difference between the president wanting to have an understanding of how a good relationship with Russia can help us defeat ISIS and terrorism throughout the world. Look, the Obama administration tried to have a reset with Russia. They failed.
ACOSTA: Clearly frustrated by the spectacle, top republicans say the president had no other choice.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: You cannot have a national security adviser misleading the vice president and others. So I think the president was right to ask for his resignation. And I believe it's --it was the right thing to do.
ACOSTA: And the White House reveals Vice President Mike Pence was not informed about all of this until February 9th as in last week. We're told Pence first found out not from the White House but from news reports that Flynn was changing his story about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian Ambassador but Erin, tonight the White House insists Pence was not kept in the dark although it sure sounds that way. Erin?
BURNETT: It sure does sound that way especially if he's finding out February 9th and the President of the United States on January 26th. Jim Acosta, thank you. Let's go to Pamela Brown, she's in Washington. You And Pamela, you have more information about what now is the crucial question, getting to the details. Who knew what and when?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard Sean Spicer today, Erin, putting the blame on the Department of Justice not coming to the White House sooner and it's still unclear when exactly the acting Attorney General Sally Yates found out about this phone call between Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador and when that decision was made to bring it to the White House's attention.
What we're told through our sources is that in the waning days of the Obama administration, there were discussions between the acting attorney general, between leaders in the intelligence community, about what to do with this information that Michael Flynn did, in fact, talk to the ambassador about sanctions but yet was denying it publicly, and this decision was ultimately made from these leaders that they should bring it to the White House attention.
Now, why this wasn't done sooner is still unclear. We know that that phone call happened December 29th, presumably shortly after that through these routine counterintelligence operations it was brought to the FBI's attention and within leaders of the FBI, within the Department of Justice, and we've also learned, Erin that the FBI did interview Michael Flynn about this conversation very -- in January shortly after Trump officially became president and before the Department of Justice went to the White House to warn them of the discrepancy what actually happened.
And we're told through our sources, my colleague Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz have been told that Michael Flynn at that time during that interview with the FBI was cooperative and did not intend to mislead them. Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. OutFront now, Democratic Senator Jeff Markley who sits on the foreign relations committee. Senator, thanks for your time tonight. We know the president was briefed on General Flynn's discussions with the Russians on January 26th, right? At the timeline that we now know, that was January 26. Yet he did not ask for Flynn's resignation until yesterday, February 13th, when he no longer had the trust, those were his words, in his adviser. Why did it take so long?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, it's very disturbing it took so long because essentially the briefing said your national security adviser is exposed to the potential for Russian blackmail, he has lied to your press secretary, he has lied to your vice president, and with that information you would have thought that within an hour the --Michael Flynn would have been fired. And he wasn't. But this whole issue raises much -- many more questions than it answers.
There's all kinds of questions about the campaigns, contacts with the Russians, furthermore did really Michael Flynn by himself have this conversation about sanctions and then the next day Russia acts or were there other people involved in this conversation? He's very close to Steve Bannon. What did Steve Bannon know and when did he know it? And so forth for key members of the team.
BURNETT: So, you know, obviously you heard Pamela reporting that General Flynn was cooperative during the questioning, that he was open about everything with the FBI, the Department of Justice. Do you think the president at this point is hiding anything?
MERKLEY: I think it's very possible, quite frankly. There's a lot of close connections between the president and Russia. There's a various reports that need to be examined closely. This is why we need an independent investigation. And because of the potential among members of the administration to have engaged in really what is criminal conduct, we should have this special prosecutor take this on.
BURNETT: When you say I think it's very possible, do you have any sense of what we're talking about? Obviously our Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez have corroborated or have confirmed that the intelligence officials have corroborated some elements of that Russian Dossier, although we don't know which ones. But when you say it's possible that he is hiding something, what are you referring to?
MERKLEY: Well, I was referring to the negotiations taking place between civilians before the transition had occurred to President Trump with a foreign power to change that foreign power's action and to undermine the policies of the United States of America.
BURNETT: So Trump as you know on that line said he didn't know Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the day after Flynn's phone call with the ambassador, Trump congratulated Putin on not retaliating to President Obama's sanctions and in a tweet he said, "great move on delay by V. Putin, I always knew he was very smart." So again, the dates on here, the phone call with General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador December 29th, Trump's tweet December 30th. The president said he did not know Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russians. When you take that time line, does it add up to you?
MERKLEY: Well, it doesn't add up to me. It's possible that it's all just a coincidence, but it fits into a pattern of communication with the Russians about doing things that really went against the Obama team's sanctions regarding Russia. The president has talked about how much he admires Putin, how much of a buddy he is, how much he doesn't like the sanctions, and all of this amounts to -- it sound very likely that there were more conversations than just Michael Flynn by himself making that phone call.
Now, I'm not asserting that we know for sure because we don't. All I'm saying is that this really merits an independent investigation. It's not an investigation that should take place by Jeff Sessions. Jeff sessions too tied to the campaign, too tied to the president, needs to be an independent or a special prosecutor.
BURNETT: Donald Trump says that this is -- that this is not the issue, OK? Today he went on Twitter, Senator, he said, the real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on North Korea, et cetera? Is it possible he's right, that it -- that it leaks that are a the real story here?
MERKLEY: Well, every time there's a serious question regarding his policies he's trying to change the story line to something else. And so, this is about substantive issues of civilians negotiating with a hostile -- I won't say necessarily enemy but a hostile foreign power with which we have deep differences, and that is -- we need to keep our eyes focused on that and not allow ourselves to be distracted by middle of the night tweets or pursuing a leak.
This is very serious independent of any leaks. It is concerning, by the way. There is a tie-in here, which is it shouldn't have taken public awareness in order to force the president to act on something as egregious as your national security adviser has lied and he is exposed to potential Russian blackmail.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator. I appreciate your time. Next, top republican asking the White House for answers about these photos. Did the president review sensitive information about North Korea over dinner? (INAUDIBLE) were able to see.
Plus more breaking news this hour. The office of government ethics now saying the White House needs to launch an investigation into Kellyanne Conway. We have the breaking details. And then sanctuary churches, havens for those in this country illegally, doubling in number since Trump became president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like they're my children. And they're coming after my children.
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump on a warpath tonight against leaks from people within his administration. This coming after the president's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned because he misled officials about his contact with Russia. Trump tweeted, the real story here is why there are so many leaks coming out of Washington. The reality is those leaks helped shed light on Flynn's conversations with Russia and the fact the White House actually has known about them for weeks since January 26th even as Flynn remained on the job in classified meetings up until last night and President Trump said nothing about what he knew.
Barbara Starr is OutFront live at the pentagon. And Barbara, I guess another crucial question here as this come together. I know you heard the Senator Merkley there now calling for a special prosecutor, was it business as usual for Flynn even after the White House was notified of these contacts and conversations with the Russians on January 26th?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Erin, to some extent this was indeed a scandal hiding in plain sight. Flynn by all accounts continued to conduct and attend meetings. He went to Mar-a- Lago to be there when President Trump met with the Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe. He pretty much seemed to hold to a public schedule, to be seen by reporters. But what we now know is something very different was going on that in fact, Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI in the opening days of the Trump administration and that President Trump himself knew for over two weeks as you pointed out that he had a very big problem here with Mike Flynn.
So we are seeing sort of this dual track. And it is a fact that somewhere, somebody started leaking some of the information about what was really going on and that is what began to shed light on all of this. Would it have happened without that? Hard to say.
BURNETT: And Barbara, this whole -- obviously this is crucial now, who knew what and when and who still knows information. And the FBI still leading multiple investigations as you're reporting into current and former Trump advisers all relating to ties to Russia.
STARR: Absolutely. They are still very much looking at the Flynn situation. You have multiple calls from congress democrats and key republicans now calling in for an investigation into all of this and two other FBI investigations worth reminding people of, Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort under review for his alleged contacts with pro- Russian, Ukrainian officials and former Trump aide Carter Page also under review for his alleged contacts with Russian elements, people who were under potential sanctions. Again, all of those are allegations. None of it has been proven, but these people are very much under review by the federal government. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much. OutFront now, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and also joining me Steve Hall, former CIA Chief of Russian Operations. So, Steve, let me start with you. You heard Barbara's reporting, right? Carter Page, Paul Manafort, General Flynn, this is very much ongoing, there are several people at least under investigation for ties to Russia in the Trump world. How much bigger could this get?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: Well, that's why it's absolutely critical I think to undertake one of these independent investigations that the people are talking about actually on both sides of the political aisle. But Erin, it's really interesting, it's always been the case, with the -- with the Trump camp that the more that you pull on the string that connects back to Russia the more stuff that comes out. As was mentioned, Manafort, Page, and now Flynn.
So we really don't know exactly where it's going to end and having spent a lot of time doing counterintelligence myself, as you start to pull on strings like that it often turns very quickly into a ball of yarn that you just have to pay a lot of attention to and try to run every single thing down that you can. And you have to wear a black hat. You have to think of what the worst-case scenario might be, even though it might not be the case, you still have to consider it. So there's a lot of investigative work I think that remains.
BURNETT: And what is the worst case?
HALL: Well, the worst-case scenario, it depend on who you're talking about, but in the case of somebody like Flynn, let's not forget who Flynn is and what he's done. He's traveled to Moscow a number of times. He's taken money from R.T. which is of course nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Russian government. He's refused to disclose how much he got for doing those things. Yes. So, you know, I think --it's not only a difficult day for Donald Trump and the administration in terms of the political, I think it's also a sad day in Moscow because I think Vladimir Putin and the Russians were hoping to have somebody that they could count on, somebody that they could -- they could trust and get along well with and perhaps even control a bit depending on what he was up to when he was in Moscow. So that's kind of the worst-case scenario. Not saying that's what's happening but it's something you have to take a look at.
BURNETT: But David, you know, it's interesting what Steve is pointing out. General Flynn spent time in Russia, he sat next to Vladimir Putin, right? The two men have a relationship. Jim Sciutto has confirmed that some parts of that Russian Dossier are true pertaining to conversations between Russian nationals. How deep did the ties go beyond Flynn, do you think? DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: We don't know. What I do
think is investigations are going to be necessary and serious ones on Capitol Hill, independent would be far better. But they're going to have to call Michael Flynn to testify. And under oath, he's going to have to answer some questions, he's been unwilling to answer what he's lied about and that, you know, with the threat of perjury, you know, there's a good chance he'll come -- he'll -- we'll get more answers than we have now.
Our problem now in part is not only is this story complicated, not only are there lots of questions that are unanswered such as who really instructed Michael Flynn to call this Russian ambassador -- he called him five times on December 29th? That was not just some mere random idea. He -- it sounded like he was on a mission but we don't know.
BURNETT: And Trump weighed in himself on Twitter not even 24 hours later, so.
GERGEN: Yes. Exactly. So was it -- was it the president himself? Was it Steve Bannon? Where did this come from? But the other thing is, Erin, White House is giving conflicting accounts and there's been so much misleading information and somebody lies that have come from this White House, that is hard to -- you -- what -- this is the -- this is the downside when you start lying. And that is you lose your credibility.
And when it comes to really something serious like this, we are left in a position of not really being willing to totally believe them and we need more facts, we need -- some kind of -- for the country to understand this, you need to put some people under oath.
BURNETT: And Gloria, you know, as I said, you heard Jeff Merkley just calling for a special prosecutor to that very point. But, you know, the White House seems in many ways to be in disarray with its message. You're reporting tonight when it comes to the crucial time line, Gloria, that the person who was sent out to go out and publicly defend Flynn and say that he didn't have any conversations about the sanctions, the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, was not told that Flynn didn't tell him the truth until February 9th. The President of the United States knew that Flynn had not said the truth on January 26th.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And to make matters worse, he read it in published reports presumably in the Washington post on February 9th. I mean, if you look at this time line, and I must say that administration officials say that pence is not upset because he didn't feel that he needed to be in the loop on what was then considered a legal matter. But he goes out on T.V on January 15th and defend Flynn and says sanctions were not discussed.
January 26th the White House learns in fact that the FBI is concerned about this that sanctions were discussed and that perhaps Flynn could be subject to some sort of blackmail. On February 9th, the Washington post publishes a piece saying, wait a minute, Flynn did talk about sanctions. If you're the vice president and you put yourself out on a limb and you pick up the paper or you read published reports and you see it, then he started investigating.
He started investigating from the time it was pointed out to me that Pence knew what had transpired to the time this all unraveled was pretty fast. So I think you'd have to draw a conclusion that the vice president was a key player in what transpired after he found out.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all very much. And I think as Gloria makes the point, given that the president knew on January 26th then there were those published reports the vice president found out January 13th Flynn is finally relieved of his duties. It was the fact that this went public that seems to have -- cause it to be a problem at all within this White House. At least that's the best conclusion you can draw right now from what we know.
OutFront next, breaking news. The government ethics office urging the White House to investigate Kellyanne Conway. Did she cross the line promoting when she promoted Ivanka Trump's clothing line on national T.V.? They now have that possible investigation going on.
And a bad cold and bag of coffee, Jeanne Moos on all the things that lasted longer than general Michael Flynn in the White House.
BURNETT: Breaking news. A call for an investigation into Kellyanne Conway. The office of government ethics saying the White House should look into comments Conway made promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing line. And there's strong reason to believe that she violated ethics rules. Jessica Schneider is OutFront.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT BASED IN NEW YORK CITY: Kellyanne Conway's sales pitch for Ivanka Trump's fashion line.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you. I'm going to -- I'm going to get -- I need shopping and I'm going to get some on myself today.
SCHNEIDER: Now prompting the office of government ethics to call for a White House investigation and possible disciplinary action against Conway. It is the latest blow to Trump's top adviser after what was a manic Monday. Her credibility questioned after a rapid-fire chain of events that started with this effort to shut down speculation about National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's future.
CONWAY: Yes, General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.
SCHNEIDER: That succinct statement coming at 4:07 p.m. But as the minutes ticked by reporters were unrelenting. They swarmed Sean Spicer, demanding more information from the press secretary. At 5:11p.m., just 64 minutes later a stark shift in tone by way of a statement released by Spicer saying the president is evaluating the situation. A simple six words seeming to undermine Conway's initial message.
Then, just before 11:00 p.m., the full confidence of the president that Conway insisted upon appeared to have eroded.
At 10:45 p.m., sources told CNN that Michael Flynn resigned from his post as national security adviser.
So, why were Conway's characterization of full support from the president seemingly so off? Sources tell CNN Conway and other top officials aren't communicating. Instead, they're all trying to take each other out "Game of Thrones" style.
But this morning, Conway pushed back, insisting she wasn't out of the loop and that her statement jibed with Sean Spicer's.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Both were true. The president is very loyal. He's a very loyal person. And by night's end, Michael Flynn had decided it was best to resign. He knew he'd become a lightning rod and he made that decision.
SCHNEIDER: Later this afternoon, tweeting, "I serve at the pleasure of @POTUS. His message is my message. His goals are my goals. Uninformed chatter doesn't matter."
Kellyanne's fumbles front and center over the past few weeks.
CONWAY: President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. And most people don't know that because it didn't get covered.
SCHNEIDER: Conway conjuring up a made-up massacre before saying she misspoke and drawing ridicule for her twisting of the truth.
CONWAY: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point is --
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS MODERATOR: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.
SCHNEIDER: The Office of Government Ethics says the evidence is quite strong that Conway violated the standard of conduct when she made that sales pitch. Now, OGE is requesting that the White House report back to them by February 28th, laying out the results of their investigation into Conway and any resulting disciplinary action.
But, Erin, tonight, no response from the White House as to whether an investigation is even under way -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jessica, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, the former communications for Ted Cruz's campaign, Alice Stewart. She's known Kellyanne Conway more than a decade. The former White House communications director for President Obama, Jen Psaki, and the former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, who is a Democrat.
Mayor Nutter, let me start with you. How big of a problem is Kellyanne Conway right now to this White House?
MICHAEL NUTTER, FORMER MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, Erin, she's a big problem for the president and the office of the president.
Let me first say, Kellyanne Conway certainly served candidate Donald Trump very, very well. She's obviously a very strong woman and I recognize strong women. My wife and my daughter, they are pretty strong women as well.
But campaigns are different than governing. You know, as some say, the streets weren't made for everybody. That's why they made sidewalks. Kellyanne needs to get on the sidewalk. I think she has damaged her own credibility, but even worse she's hurting the credibility of President Trump and causing massive problems within his own administration.
So, as she said, she serves at the pleasure of the president. She should do the president a favor and resign herself.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's way off on that. She is someone that is extremely loyal to the president and he is reciprocating.
Look, when it comes to her service to the president, as she says, she serves at the pleasure of the president. And she has done a tremendous job.
And, look, with regard to whether or not he has confidence in her, look, she worked until midnight last night and he called her this morning first thing and asked her to go on the morning shows and represent her, and he -- right after that, she was in a closed-door meeting with education officials and he talked about how he has full faith a and confidence in Kellyanne.
And she is certainly not in the understanding that her job is in jeopardy as it should not be, because she has been doing a good job for the president and will continue to do so. She's not going to get deterred by comments that are made about her on Twitter, at a 140- character takedown of her character. She is in good shape and will continue to be so. She is there for the long haul without a doubt.
BURNETT: So, Jen, here's the thing, though. You know, Alice talks about loyalty and, look, loyalty is important. A president needs people who are loyal. You now that. It is perhaps paramount.
But it is not to the point of being blind. We're talking about a person who went out and talked about a massacre multiple times, that wasn't the only time, multiple times, it didn't happen. Said she misspoke. She talked about it at least three times. She was completely wrong about General Flynn and misled the American people yesterday. She talked about alternate facts. You worked as communications director in the White House. Would you
keep at the least putting Kellyanne Conway out for interviews? I mean, the president is the one who picked up the phone and called her and said, go get on TV. He then picked her to do that this morning.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Look, I think credibility is more important than loyalty.
[19:35:01] And your job as an adviser to any president is to tell them when the strategy is off, tell them when something isn't going well, even if it involves you. I don't know if that's happening inside the White House. It doesn't seem like it is.
But this is much larger than one individual adviser. The problem here is that there's a president who's not driving a strategy. It's not clear what their priorities are. They're not selling anything. So, therefore, there's a big focus on staff stories and who's up and who's down, and that's a huge problem for any White House because that creates the "Game of Thrones" environment that you were talking about earlier in your program.
BURNETT: And, Jen, on that front, right, this is what sources are telling us, that people -- that top officials at the White House, so you talk about the ones we always hear about, whether you hear about Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, they're not even speaking to each other because they're too busy trying to take each other down. That's where the "Game of Thrones" reference comes.
BURNETT: So, you've been in a White House. A lot of this jockeying I would imagine on some level is normal, because everybody wants to be the person that's the trusted adviser of the president. What we're seeing now, did you ever experience it?
PSAKI: This is not normal. This is malicious to me.
I would say, when I was in the White House and we were starting off in the early days, the financial crisis was happening, no one was getting sleep. We were off the campaign. But we were a family. And the fact is, I could punch my brother or hit my brother, make fun of my brother who worked next to me but nobody else could.
And I think the problem -- one of the problems you're seeing here is that a hot of the senior team didn't come up in the campaign together. They weren't -- they didn't develop those family relationships, and it seems like there's a lot of out for oneself happening here. And that's a really unhealthy environment in any White House.
BURNETT: Alice, do you feel this is something that Kellyanne is suffering from, the knives are out, the "Game of Thrones" analogy?
STEWART: What we're seeing here is clear that this administration has been doing quite a bit since he was sworn in, and they've been doing a lot with regard to executive orders and following through on campaign promises. And as Jessica mentioned in her piece, things have been going at rapid-fire and that's exactly what happened yesterday. And there's been a lot of confusion as to -- she mentioned the time line of events yesterday and Kellyanne coming out at 4:00 saying Flynn had the full confidence of the president, which he did based on the fact that he was instrumental in the foreign policy meetings and conversations and dialogue that the president --
BURNETT: That's completely contradictory to what they're saying today, which was it was a gradual eroding of trust over the past 13 days, Alice.
STEWART: The point is that was -- at that time, he had the full faith and confidence of the president, but it was such a fluid day and everything was changing by hour.
NUTTER: Alice, what happened?
STEWART: I was here at CNN. Everything was changing minute by minute. And after she said that was when clearly, they were looking at it more closely and shortly after that was when Flynn decided it was just too much of a distraction and it was time for him to stem down.
BURNETT: I have to say, if that is actually the case, that is terrifying on so many levels, terrifying.
NUTTER: Come on.
BURNETT: But go ahead, Mayor Nutter.
NUTTER: Well, what happened between 4:00 and 5:00? More analysis of "The Washington Post" story? I mean, this is a whole lot of hogwash here.
This is not an eroding situation. The president should have brought Mike Flynn in about 15 minutes after the Justice Department came to see him on January 26th, sat him down, looked him in the eye, and said, did you misinform Vice President Pence? Yes or no?
And at that point, when hopefully, the general would say, yes, I misinformed him. Because Mr. Flynn, General Flynn, also serves at the pleasure of the president, Mr. Trump should have said, I'm relieving you of your duty, that's unacceptable, end of conversation.
But you know and the time line has been up on the screen, this went on for days and days and days. What due process are we talking about? This is a whole lot of nonsense, and Flynn would probably still be serving in his position but for the press and "The Washington Post" story, which caused that erosion.
This is a lot of nonsense here. You know, we talk about Abraham Lincoln and the team of rivals. This is Mr. Trump and a group of enemies. They are at each other's throats. It is a mess down there in that White House, and probably more to come.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. And next, the immigration raids going on across this country.
Tonight, some immigrants holed up inside churches. Our special report on the ground tonight.
And Kim Jong-un's brother dying a mysterious sudden death. This is absolutely bizarre. Cloak and dagger. CNN has the only western journalist reporting live in Pyongyang tonight and we're going to take you there.
[19:43:10] BURNETT: Immigrants across the United States living in fear, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers have stepped up raids. At this time, nearly 700 people have been arrested. For those who are afraid of deportation, some of them are turning to their churches.
Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This church congregation in Chicago is made up of nearly all undocumented immigrants and refugees. The renewed panic is fueled by the story of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an Arizona woman with two U.S. citizen children and no violent criminal background who was deported after a routine check- in with ICE.
Multiple people here have to do exactly that in the coming day, including this mother. She only wanted to be identified as Jessica.
(on camera): She says that since Guadalupe was deported in Arizona, she can't sleep. She can't have peace. Because she's afraid that she'll be next.
(voice-over): Like Guadalupe, Jessica's immediate family is in the U.S. legally. Her one run-in with the law, using a fake visa in the '90s. Because of that crime, she's been required to check in with ICE for more than a decade now. Her appointment in three weeks is especially stressful.
(on camera): She said that her message to President Trump is that she's not a criminal. She's not a terrorist. And that she doesn't want her family to be separated.
(voice-over): Pastor Emma Lozano says her church is a sanctuary for people like Jessica. This weekend alone, she says she received multiple calls from her congregation, asking her to save a space for them in the church just in case immigration knocks on their front door.
[19:45:02] EMMA LOZANO, PASTOR OF LINCOLN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: I feel like they're my children and they're coming after my children and it's been extremely difficult. And I want to stand up for them.
FLORES: The fear is spreading across the country. More than 6,000 people have signed up to provide sanctuary around the country including 800 churches. That number doubled from 400 since Donald Trump became president according to leaders of the Sanctuary Church Movement.
But Pastor Lozano thinks that's not enough.
LOZANO: We need a lot of people to stand up and I'm going to do whatever I can for them. I'm only one pastor.
FLORES: She understands why some people are hesitant to provide sanctuary to the undocumented. Her church has been tagged with hate speech at least five times in ten months.
As for Jessica, she doesn't plan to take refuge inside the church.
(on camera): She says that she would rather follow the law, check in with ICE.
(voice-over): Even if that means getting deported.
FLORES: The fear in the undocumented community appears to be hurting business in little village or Little Mexico here in Chicago. Now, that's according to the executive director of the chamber of commerce there who says that sales are down 10 percent to 20 percent since Donald Trump got elected. And, Erin, he says they attribute that to the undocumented being in fear and not wanting to leave their homes -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Rosa.
And OUTFRONT next, Kim Jong-un's brother dying mysteriously as an airport. Was it an assassination? Our Will Ripley is live tonight in Pyongyang.
And Kim Kardashian's first marriage and Michael Flynn's White House job. Which one lasted longer? Jeanne Moos has the answer.
[19:50:05] BURNETT: Breaking news: stunning details emerging tonight about the sudden and mysterious death of Kim Jong-un's half brother.
Kim Jong-nam was walking through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia when according to officials he fell ill. There are reports that Kim may have been attacked.
One official telling "Reuters" that Kim said he felt like someone grabbed his face from behind. He was said to have felt dizzy. He then went and asked for help and then it happened quickly. He died moments later on the way to the hospital.
The investigation into Kim Jong-un's half brother coming at the same time that the North Korean country claims its first ballistic missile test of the year. They say it was a success. Will Ripley is the only Western journalist reporting live from
Pyongyang and he is there tonight.
And, Will, what are officials in North Korea saying about this latest launch which we understand showed serious new capabilities?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're celebrating it here and we saw when we arrived last night, Erin, on the nightly propaganda broadcast that the video showing the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un standing by this mobile missile launcher ordering the missile launch itself.
I had a meeting last night with North Korean officials who say that this particular missile has been under development basically engineers working around the clock for the last six months.
There was a submarine launch ballistic missile test back in August that was a success, and we're told that Kim ordered this new land version of that same missile. So, it's a solid fuel-powered missile which allows it to be hidden underground, quickly loaded and fired with minimal detection from spy satellites above. So, certainly, a major technological development.
And analysts in South Korea are saying even though this travelled just over 300 miles ending up in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, it actually has a range of closer to 1,200 miles, which puts all of South Korea, including 10 million people in Seoul, within striking distance and 28,000 U.S. troops, also the more than 50,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan, along with all of metropolitan Tokyo, at about population of 30 million (INAUDIBLE). And this is a country, Erin, that continues to struggle with generating electricity, adequately feeding much of its population --
BURNETT: Obviously, going to be a lot of celebrating there going on over the next day. We're going to be talking to Will Ripley as he's there covering that.
I want to bring in Gordon Chang, the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World."
Let's talk about this missile test first. Obviously, this is crucial. New capability. Harder to detect. Mobile. Farther than they've ever been able to send a missile.
They have reporters in Pyongyang right now, the only Western journalist is our Will Ripley. And they obviously are very proud of this.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, they should be but this is probably a Chinese-based missile, the JL-1. And so, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of things we have to ask: how did the North Koreans do this? Because they didn't do it on their own. This is too much of a technological leap. They did it much too fast. BURNETT: All right. And now, this comes as -- you have Kim Jong-un's
half brother mysteriously killed in the Malaysian airport. Pretty stunning story, right?
You have a police chief there saying that someone literally may have put something over his head. He breathes it in. He goes and asks for help. He dies moments later. A mysterious woman is seen nearby, unclear whether she's involved.
GORDON: Well, the latest Malaysian reporting is that a woman came up from behind and put a cloth over his face and that's when he started to feel ill. So, this does look like a hit.
You know, in North Korea, the legitimacy is dependent on bloodlines, so killing a brother, a blood relative, is especially heinous.
BURNETT: And he was favored. He's an older brother, and for a long time perceived he was going to be the heir, right?
GORDON: Right. In 2001, he sort of lost that designation.
But the thing that's important here is that shows that Kim Jong-un is really desperate because this could destabilize his regime because this is such a bad act. We have to remember this is the third thing we've seen this month of showing instability. Beginning of the month, we learned that the minister of state security was purged and on Sunday, when this missile was launched, the head of the North Korean strategic rocket forces was not there, indicating turbulence at the top of the military.
BURNETT: The bottom line is, he could have killed his own brother.
GORDON: Well, he probably did kill his own brother, and the thing that's important is that he did this not on Chinese soil, because China was protecting him.
BURNETT: And that's why it happened in Malaysia.
BURNETT: All right. And, of course, such a mystery about that.
As I said, we'll be checking back in with Will Ripley tomorrow.
And next, Jeanne Moos on the internet tweeted about refrigerator food, celebrity marriages, as proof that some things last longer than General Michael Flynn's job.
BURNETT: Michael Flynn was on the job for 23 days, Kim's Kardashian's first marriage lasted three times as long. Wow.
Here's Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: General Michael Flynn went from being sworn in -- to being forced out so fast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After less than a month in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the shortest tenure of any national security adviser in modern history.
MOOS: So, naturally, the Internet decided to document things that last longer than Flynn.
For instance, "I have food in my fridge that lasted longer than Michael Flynn."
Someone else said, "My diet lasted longer." "So does Amazon's return policy," which happens to be 30 days. Flynn lasted only 23.
Even dragonflies with a life span of a mere four months outlast the general.
"The roll of paper towels in my kitchen lasted longer than Michael Flynn."
Sure, everyone is making the same joke, but it does put things in perspective. This lasted longer than Michael Flynn's tenure. Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries survived 72 days, three times as long as the general's did.
Tweeted someone, "I once had a fungal infection that lasted longer than Flynn." Noted another, "In fact, milk bought when he assumed his role may still be good." But only if it was ultra-pasteurized.
You can bet a car air freshener could outlive Flynn. Posted someone, "I'm pretty sure at least one David Blaine stunt lasted longer." Bingo. Blaine starved himself in a Plexiglas cube suspended over London for 44 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the air supply get cut off and suddenly cause suffocation and death?
MOOS: Blaine survived but lost 55 pounds, while Flynn will no longer be throwing his weight around. They used to say, "You're in like Flynn." Now it's in and out.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Sort of does change that whole "in like Flynn" thing, doesn't it?
All right. Thank you so much for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.