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Senate to Confirm Mulvaney for Budget Director; Trump's Billionaire Ally May Review Intel Agencies; James Mattis Says Very Little Doubt Russia Meddled in Elections; The Bleacher Report; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired February 16, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Resistance by leading Republicans in his nomination may be the latest test of the Trump administration and its calls for the GOP to get behind these picks.
Let's break it down with our Brianna Keilar and Manu Raju.
Manu, let me begin with you. It's been a tough road here for Mulvaney. It looks like he's going to get the votes, right? But he does not have the support of some big name Republicans including Senator John McCain.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right, John McCain actually coming out yesterday forcefully opposing Mulvaney because of his views, Mulvaney's views on defense spending. This is because Mulvaney was a conservative member of that House Freedom Caucus that was very aggressive in opposing big military budgets, trying to cut that spending, and McCain being a defense hawk, is trying to boost funding for the Pentagon.
So this is a big flashpoint, something that led to a very testy exchange between McCain and Mulvaney at the confirmation hearings just last month. So McCain voted no. But at this point, Poppy and John, we're not getting any indication if there are any other Republicans who are going to flip. There was one, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who had raised some significant concerns in private. But we are told that those concerns have been alleviated. He now plans to vote for Mulvaney.
And Republican leaders now believe that he will -- Mulvaney will skate by with probably a 51-49 vote, avoiding that potential 50-50 situation. John Cornyn, the chief whip counter of the Senate Republican caucus, I just caught him here in the hallways, he said yes, Mulvaney will get confirmed. So Donald Trump expected to get his budget director but not after -- but after a rather contentious process, guys.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And with a close vote, although when he's in, he's in.
Brianna Keilar, since we last spoke to you, and that wasn't very long ago, there's been breaking news, that the White House is considering bringing in this billionaire investor Stephen Feinberg for an intelligence review, a thorough review of the entire intelligence system. We spoke to a Democratic congressman moments ago who said he thought that was an attempt to muzzle the intelligence community. The other side of that is, look, everyone needs to be reviewed every once in a while to become more efficient, to make the communications better, but this will be seen in Washington as a fairly big move. No?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. It will be seen, especially because of what Donald Trump has said about the intelligence community in the past, and not what he's just been saying lately where he's very upset with the leaks. And there have certainly been concerns internally about reviews and rumors about exactly how that would be conducted and people throwing around the word "purge." But I think it's also this idea that this is just another big story line. And you're not used to -- as you said, we just spoke an hour ago.
So you're not used to seeing these things all of the time and that's what you're seeing with the Trump administration. The news cycle has just sped up so much, it gives this -- effectively it gives this sense of chaos at the White House at a time when Donald Trump, and many people even in his corner say he should be focused on trying to get stuff done.
HARLOW: And Brianna, when you bring up the word "purge," one person, as you know, who said that this morning is Representative Steven King of Iowa who said on our air that basically anyone in the intelligence community who's not supportive of the administration should be purged.
KEILAR: Yes. And that's something that's very alarming. And I'll tell you why. I think because especially as reporters, when we look at where we see leaks coming from, I mean, for instance, and this happened during the Obama administration, Congress would lament that they were the last ones to know about things. But that's because once Congress was informed, largely it would then leak out and it was hard to tell exactly who had leaked it.
The intelligence community isn't known as much for leaking, maybe in more high-profile instances, than, say, when you're looking at Congress. But there's certainly this measure I think that intel sources have about security, what is at risk. And so in the calculus of a leak coming from the intelligence community, I think it's something that really they don't take lightly and that it doesn't necessarily always break down on a partisan line, like you might see coming from Congress.
So when you hear someone throwing around this idea of a purge, it also is something that could hurt Donald Trump because the information that he needs to be receiving, this information that maybe reinforces what he believes but also doesn't, depending on what the actual facts are on the ground. And that's important for any president, to be getting that input.
BERMAN: Yes, intelligence often -- it's more important to hear what you don't want to hear.
RAJU: Hey, John and Poppy.
BERMAN: Manu, I hear you're butting in like you have breaking news. It makes me excited. What do you got?
RAJU: I'm sorry about that. But I wanted to jump in on that because actually I've just spoken to a couple of members of the Senate intelligence committee about both this potential appointment of Stephen Feinberg and as well as these leaks that Donald Trump wants to go after. The Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr just told me that they will not look into these leaks as part of their investigation. He does not believe that's part of purview of the Intelligence Committee's review over the Russian meddling.
[10:35:08] He thinks that's something that the FBI will have to worry about, so taking a bit of a different approach than perhaps the White House in that regard. And then on the potential Feinberg appointment, he's in the dark. Richard Burr did not know anything about this appointment. And this is a rather significant appointment if it does go through because it could potentially reorganize how the intelligence community is set up.
And the chairman of the key committee not knowing about that is kind of surprising, given that it would certainly affect his oversight and his jurisdiction on this key area. It just shows that a lot of these decisions are probably being made very quickly and without oftentimes the input of members of Congress, guys.
BERMAN: I told you he had breaking news. He had news right there.
HARLOW: Always does.
BERMAN: From information from Richard burr. But just to confirm, so the chair of the Senate Intel Committee tells you that the leaks, which is what the White House wants investigated right now, the leaks will not be part of the investigation right now from that committee?
RAJU: Yes, they do not see that as part of their purview. And I -- and also right after I talked to Burr, I talked to John Cornyn, I asked him about that as well because he sits on the Intelligence Committee. He also thinks this is something the FBI should look at because if anything was leaked and it was classified material that was leaked, that could break the law, and that he does not believe that's something that they should do in Congress. He believes that's a FBI issue, a law enforcement issue.
So clearly they don't view that as something that's part of their purview. But it comes also as some House members are calling for investigations into the leaks. So a bit of a split between Senate Republicans and the House Republicans about how to carry out this review on Russia going forward and exactly what to look at as part of this overall investigation.
HARLOW: And Brianna, before we go, if Feinberg does get tapped by the president to oversee all of the intelligence agencies, what qualifications does he have that make him equipped to do that?
KEILAR: You know, I have to be honest, I don't actually -- I'm not particularly familiar with him to tell you what that is, Poppy. HARLOW: Because he -- you know, I asked because everything that we've
looked at is that he is a big finance guy, and that's what he does, he runs Cerberus, and -- you know, they take over companies and break up companies, but we haven't been able to find, and let us know as you report the status if you were able to find intelligence background, Brianna Keilar. Go ahead.
KEILAR: To that point I will say.
KEILAR: It's not the first time that we've seen Donald Trump and his sort of -- his philosophy on bringing in a lot of finance people is to run the government like a business. And so to run the government like a corporation. And so the argument that consistently comes from the administration is that when you have someone who has this background, their management skills are what really qualify them for something like this, even if it's someone who wouldn't really have the traditional background that you would think for this kind of job.
HARLOW: Yes. Like Rex Tillerson, secretary of State, case in point. Good point, Brianna. Thank you guys both very much.
BERMAN: All right. Coming up for us, despite President Trump and Vladimir Putin's talk of cooperation, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a stark new message for Russia. We're not ready to collaborate militarily. The secretary also spoke about Russia's election meddling. We're going to have a live report from the Pentagon, next.
[10:42:38] BERMAN: All right. With all the reports that key Trump campaign advisers had constant contact with Russian officials, this morning we had some pretty notable comments from Defense Secretary James Mattis who's overseas. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that the Russians interfered in the U.S. elections?
JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Right now I would just say there's very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That was Secretary Mattis speaking right after a NATO conference in Brussels wrapped up, also just hours after the Russian President Vladimir Putin called on officials in his country to, quote, "restore dialogue with U.S. intelligence agencies."
Let's go to the Pentagon where we find Barbara Starr who has much more on this.
Barbara, he, Mattis, goes much further than the president does when it comes to saying anything negative about Russia and any election interference. And this is not the first time he has differed from the president.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, especially on Russia, Mattis really is beginning to develop possibly as an independent voice from the political ideology, if you will, that the White House expresses. I don't think Jim Mattis became Defense secretary without some assurance that he could speak his mind. And indeed he did today, at that NATO press conference. Besides talking about the elections, he made very clear that he has a very cautious view about getting too close to the Russian military. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTIS: We do not or not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground. Russia is going to have to prove itself first and live up to the commitments they have made in the Russia-NATO agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: "Russia is going to have to prove itself." And of course Mattis making these comments against the backdrop of recent provocations, that Russian spy ship off the east coast of the United States, Russian warplanes buzzing another U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea, Russia deploying cruise missiles potentially in violation of an international arms agreement.
Mattis would be very aware, in acute detail, of all of these things. And Russia wants U.S. corporation in the fight against ISIS inside Syria. So I think Mattis is laying a marker down at NATO this morning, a message to Moscow, not so fast.
[10:45:06] HARLOW: Barbara Starr, great reporting as always, thank you.
BERMAN: All right. I want to show you some pictures right now from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where there are confirmation hearings under way for David Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel.
It's been a tumultuous hearing because it is, a lot of protests, several times they had to stop the hearings because of protests both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, we are told here. So far that is where the heat in this hearing has been not actually in any of the questions and the exchanges between the senators and David Friedman but a number of times they had to stop because of these protests.
HARLOW: And the president knew this was a controversial pick when he tapped David Friedman.
BERMAN: He did. David Friedman is someone who has made a lot of controversial comments about not just American Jews but also about the future of Israel as well.
We're going to keep our eye on this hearing. We'll take you there in a second if this continues to happen. And we'll be right back.
HARLOW: Let's take you to Capitol Hill, live pictures of the full Senate voting on Mick Mulvaney, the president's pick for director -- for budget director. He's had a tough road getting here.
[10:50:04] John McCain very vocally saying he will not vote for him, but it does look like, according to our Manu Raju, that he will have enough votes to be confirmed as the next budget director. We'll keep you posted on that.
Meantime, strikes across the country today marking what has been called a Day Without Immigrants.
BERMAN: Immigrants are skipping work, cutting class, not shopping across a half dozen states. They want to show how important immigrants are to the U.S. economy.
CNN's Tom Foreman outside a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. that is closed today.
Tom, what are you seeing?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, John, hi, Poppy. What we're seeing is that there is support for this movement, at least in the form of places like this. You'll see the sign on the door here, it says, "We'll be closed today in support of our diverse staff and their choice to participate in a Day Without Immigrants protest."
As far as we can tell at this point, there are somewhere around a hundred different restaurants, or cafes, or bars in this town that are closed today in support of this protest. Some others may have offered some sort of reduced service in support of it.
There have also been calls for some rallies in some different parts of town. Now that's compared to more than 2200 restaurants in town. So that gives you a sense of the overall feel of it. And in a place like this, in Georgetown, the nation's capital, obviously there's still looks like pretty much a normal business day.
We'll have to see as the day goes on how much impact there is coast to coast with this. It's not really clear if it's going to have a giant impact or be more symbolic. And yet those who are standing behind it feel very strongly this is something that need to do to show their support for the immigrant community in this country right now, John, Poppy.
BERMAN: Tom Foreman for us in Washington, we'll keep our eye on those protests throughout the day. Appreciate it, Tom.
Still to come, tennis star and swimsuit model Genie Bouchard. She was so sure that the Atlanta Falcons would win the Super Bowl that she agreed to go on a date with a fan if they lost to the Patriots. So he asked knowingly, what happened, Coy Wire? COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We're going to talk about it
after the break and show you some video because it turns out Genie is a woman of her word. She's like a genie in the lamp for this young fellow. Wait until you see this, coming up.
[10:56:24] HARLOW: President Trump will not do something that President Obama did. He won't do a lot of things that President Obama did. However, this has to do with sports. Something that usually happens right around March.
BERMAN: That's right. Coy Wire has more in today's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.
WIRE: Hi, John. Hi, Poppy. President Trump has said that, you know, he's not going to do something that President Obama used to do. He's respectfully declining ESPN's request to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket for the upcoming March Madness. President Obama did this every year. He hosted ESPN. They come in. He fill out a bracket. They'd show it on TV and it was fun. You could follow along, compare his bracket to yours, and to a president, Obama's brackets are actually in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Well, according to the "Washington Post," the White House is looking forward to working with President Trump on an upcoming endeavor in the near future.
NBA All-Star festivities tipped off in New Orleans this weekend. And Pelicans star Anthony Davis, known for his basketball prowess and unibrows, says he's honored to represent the city he now calls home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY DAVIS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: The city of New Orleans has given me so much. I learned a lot from being in the city for the past five years. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to try to represent them to my best ability in the all-star game. So when I'm out there and my name gets called as a start and hear the fans scream my name, really loud for me, it will be the best feeling in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: All star action this week. And you can check out NBA action tonight on TNT. D Wade and the Bulls host Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics at 8:00 Eastern.
How about this? The NFL and one of its biggest TV partners, CBS have discussed ways to speed up the game. The NFL saw a dip in its ratings last season and now CBS's CEO, Les Moonves, says he spoke with Commissioner Roger Goodell about the possibilities including changing how ads are delivered during a broadcast and perhaps speeding up the instant replay review process.
This is fun. 22-year-old Canadian tennis star Genie Bouchard ranked 44th in the world rocked the world of one of her biggest fans. 20- year-old Missouri student John Goehrke made a bet with Genie on Twitter during the Super Bowl when Genie said she just knew Atlanta was going to win when they were up 21-0. John tweeted, quote, "If Patriots win, we go on a date?" Well Genie agreed and the Pats came back indeed. Genie is a woman of her words. She flew John to New York, paid for his hotel, and the two sat center court at a Brooklyn Nets game. John Goehrke proven you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket.
The Patriots comeback win in Super Bowl was so dramatic that Hollywood is turning it into a movie. This according to Deadline.com, Oscar- nominated writers behind "The Fighter" and "Patriots" they are putting together the screenplay. The movie reportedly begins with deflategate drama and ends with the overtime victory in Super Bowl LI. No word yet on who will star in the movie. Especially Tom Brady.
I know who I'd cast, though, CNN's biggest Pats fan, former president of the Harvard Hasty Pudding Theatricals, putting the man in Berman, the one and only, John "Tom Brady" Berman, everyone.
BERMAN: If you know about the hasty pudding, you know, I'd be wearing heels if I were playing Tom Brady. So that won't work there, Coy. Thanks very much.
HARLOW: You're his doppelganger. Thank you, Coy.
BERMAN: We appreciate it. We should note, we're going to come for breaking news from Jim Acosta at the White House. The president is going to hold a news conference in the briefing room at 12:00 p.m.
HARLOW: In just one hour.
BERMAN: So that should be very interesting to hear what he has to say given all the news that's broken especially by CNN over the last day.
Thanks so much for joining us. I'm John Berman.
HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" begins right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. New this morning, intelligence under review. Not the actual intel that threw the White House into turmoil but the intelligence agencies themselves could now be investigated. And this is the man. We're going to show you.