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Recusal of Attorney General Sessions Not Enough for Democrats; One-on-One with Former CIA Director Petraeus; Pence Used Private E- mail as Governor of Indiana; "Finding Jesus" New Series Begins. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 3, 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] ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There will be an additional hearing. That will be up to the committee to decide whether or not it's warranted here. The supplemental information provided may be sufficient. I suspect that most of the day yesterday was spent on the phone between Senator Sessions and members of the Judiciary Committee explaining what happened. And so that process has probably already begun. And the senators on the Judiciary Committee will have to decide whether or not that's enough or whether or not there needs to be an additional hearing.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Chris Coons who's on the committee has said he wants him to appear again.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right. You know, on the subject of simply honesty, Mr. Attorney General, a couple of weeks ago President Trump, he held that news conference which received so much attention. And he was asked repeatedly about his contacts with Russia and the contacts of people around him. Listen to what he said then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Since the time that he said that, we learned that the attorney general Jeff Sessions had two meetings with the Russian ambassador. We learned that his advisers had meetings with the Russian ambassador during the convention. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Mike Flynn had meetings during the transition.

There is a lot of stuff that has now come to light that wasn't previously disclosed and seems to call into question, you know, whether or not the statement from the president was misleading.

GONZALES: Well, again, I don't know what he knows. I just -- so I can't respond to that. Obviously there were contacts that occurred. I wouldn't call them ties. We don't know -- I don't think we know today fully the nature of those -- of those contacts. But again, I can't respond to whether or not President Trump was being honest. I presume that he was when he said to his knowledge. Again, it is to his knowledge, I don't know what he knows or doesn't know.

HARLOW: Former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, thank you for joining us. Have a good weekend.

GONZALES: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right. Still to come, a CNN exclusive with the former CIA director, retired general, David Petraeus. Why he says he is wary of Vladimir Putin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:36:19] HARLOW: All right. Just in, a CNN exclusive interview. Former CIA director David Petraeus with a warning to the United States about Russian president Vladimir Putin.

BERMAN: All right. CNN international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen just wrapped up this exclusive interview with the general in Berlin. Fred joins us now.

We sort of had a warning about Vladimir Putin and a suggestion for the White House on how it might get some help, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. You know, one of the things that we were talking about obviously right now is the situation between the U.S. and Russia, obviously with some of the things that have been coming out over the past couple of days. But then also the future of relations between the U.S. and Russia. On the one hand, General Petraeus said, look, he believes that there could be deals that could be cut with Russia. But he also said to also be very careful when dealing with the administration of Vladimir Putin. Here is some of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It's a possibility of some other initiatives and indeed some policy initiatives. At some point this is where you mighty an initiative with Russia. I don't think you see that in Ukraine. I think you could possibly see this in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So he generally believes that the fight against terrorism, not just in Syria but in Iraq as well, is a place where the U.S. and Russia could agree. And one of the other things, by the way, that we also talked about was the possible new strategy against ISIS. And he says he believes that further U.S. combat troops could very well be needed for that, not just in the short term, but also once ISIS is defeated to shore up places like Iraq.

BERMAN: And David Petraeus, Fred, is putting a lot of faith and hope in the new addition to the White House, Henry McMaster, actually you know a military figure that David Petraeus knows quite well and leaned on quite a bit during his military career.

PLEITGEN: Yes, absolutely. And he had nothing but praise for H.R. McMaster. He said that he will do a great job. And I asked him, look, how is someone like that going to deal, for instance, with some of the new faces in the National Security Council specifically with Steve Bannon. Does he believe that he will go under, for instance, in arguments with Steve Bannon. He believes that McMaster will do a good job, there is no surprise to that, and that he will assert himself. And he also believes that in the long term that he is going to be the one who is going to win the trust of President Trump. So he certainly has nothing but praise for H.R. McMaster and thinks he's going to do a very good job. Let's listen in to what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETRAEUS: So I think General H.R. McMaster is an extraordinarily talented individual and I think he will help the president guide the policy process. I think he will ensure that the Cabinet secretaries are brought into this, and that the options and the recommendations provided to the president will be whole of government and thoroughly thought through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So there again, nothing but praise for H.R. McMaster. He says he believes that he's a very analytical person and certainly someone who will always speak his mind to the president.

HARLOW: Did he say anything, Fred, about the fact that it was widely reported he was under consideration for that job, replacing Flynn, but some thought he wouldn't want to be the second pick?

PLEITGEN: No, he didn't -- he didn't say anything about that. But you could certainly see that when he was talking about the new Trump administration, he was really doing so in a very constructive way. You know, I asked him, look, we hear all these things about President Trump, what about the future of NATO, what about some of these initiatives, like for instance the funding for the State Department, and you could really feel that he was striking a very constructive tone in that.

Not being overly critical but at the same time obviously sticking to some of the positions we've heard, obviously criticizing especially the possible future funding of the State Department.

[10:40:06] But at the same time always staying within those bounds of trying to remain constructive with this new administration. But exactly on that point itself, of him -- himself having been under consideration, he really didn't elaborate on that very much.

BERMAN: You know, it's really interesting because it's pretty obvious that David Petraeus is still a man who wants to be involved at some level.

HARLOW: Yes. Of course.

BERMAN: No. With the administration in this country. It will be interesting to see going forward if he does have a role.

Frederik Pleitgen, always great to see you, my friend. Thanks so very much.

HARLOW: Still to come for us, is the pot calling the kettle black? Vice President Pence and the Trump campaign, you'll remember, went after Hillary Clinton repeatedly for her use of a private e-mail server for official business. Now a new report accuses him of doing something pretty similar.

BERMAN: Who's the pot? Who's the kettle?

HARLOW: The reporter who broke the story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:16] BERMAN: All right. New this morning, what some consider the irony of ironies or at a minimum the serious blurring of lines between pots and kettles.

HARLOW: Yes, a new report in "The Indianapolis star" says that as governor of Indiana, now vice president, Mike Pence used a private e- mail account for government business and got hacked.

Tony Cook, the reporter that broke the story for the "Indy Star," joins us now.

All right. So beyond the -- you know, what was said during the campaign by Pence and Trump, et cetera, about Hillary Clinton's e-mail server, just break down the nuts and bolts for us here. What did he do and when did he get hacked?

TONY COOK, REPORTER, INDIANAPOLIS STAR: Well, he was routinely using this AOL account to conduct state business. We found out about this through a public records request. And, you know, the e-mails that we requested were security-related. So there's correspondence about security gates at the governor's residence as well as the government's response to terrorism attacks elsewhere. And there was also a number of e-mails withheld that we haven't seen yet that the state considered too sensitive to release.

BERMAN: What's the law in Indiana, Tony, about the use of private e- mail for government business?

COOK: Well, it's not illegal to use a personal account necessarily. But government officials who do that are supposed to take steps to make sure that those records are preserved so that when members of the public request them, they're available.

HARLOW: So just to be very clear for our viewers about why this matters, again, irony aside, you know, some of these e-mails, as I read it in your report, were about, you know, conversations with the FBI regarding people in his state arrested for being ISIS sympathizers.

COOK: Right. And these were actually Iraqi refugees arrested in other places across the country. But you're right, Pence's Homeland Security adviser e-mailed Pence at this AOL account, informing him, you know, that he had just spoken to the FBI, gotten an update on the situation. And there was also a request from Pence regarding an update on an investigation into vandalism of some churches here in Indiana. We don't see an e-mail responding to that request. And we don't know whether any response about, you know, an ongoing investigation might be among these e-mails that we haven't seen yet.

BERMAN: And he got hacked, Tony. By who?

COOK: That's right, so a scammer apparently penetrated his account and was able to send to his contact list one of these scam e-mails that says, you know, Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and can you wire some money. So it doesn't appear that this was a hacker who was out to, you know, find sensitive information in Pence's account. But it does show that the account was susceptible to hacking. And, you know, that's a big concern if there are e-mails in there discussing ongoing investigations, transmitting updates from the FBI, those sorts of things.

HARLOW: So you also detail in your report the fact that Pence found out about the hack, subsequently sent an e-mail while governor to all of his contacts, sorry about that, et cetera, just like as any of our friends would do when they're hacked, right? I just wondered if you could --

COOK: That's right.

HARLOW: If you could clarify the timing on it. Did he know he was hacked, tell people sorry about the hack, and then go on national television, "Meet the Press," and say, I can't believe Hillary Clinton is using a private server?

COOK: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the hack occurred over the summer. And, you know, he was talking in September and October about Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and a private e-mail account. And of course, you know, there's debate about the differences. While there are some similarities here, you know, Pence from what I understand did not have federal security clearance as governor, and so he probably wasn't dealing with as sensitive information as Clinton may have been as secretary of State.

BERMAN: You know, we should note the vice president's office says he did comply with the law, as Tony was talking about, in Indiana.

Tony Cook, great to have you with us, thanks so much.

COOK: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Live pictures right now. I want to show you some live pictures right now. This is Andrews Air Force Base or Joint Base Andrews as we now like to call it. President Trump will soon be departing for Florida.

[10:50:04] We will bring you that when it happens. The president is set to visit a Catholic school in Florida where the White House says he's going to take part in a listening session. Much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: Well, this Sunday, CNN's original series "FINDING JESUS" returns with the role of Pontius Pilate and the Roman governor of Judea at the time of Jesus' death.

BERMAN: Now in the second season the series explores groundbreaking discoveries and science that are revealing more about the life and times of Jesus. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the bible, Pilate is infamous as the man who tries Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pilate is a fascinating character in Christian history. He does seem tormented about whether or not Jesus is guilty and whether or not he should condemn him.

[10:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Pilate in the gospels is uncertain. He seems deeply concerned with Jesus' innocence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the authority to set you free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not firm and decisive about what he wants to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The discovery of his name in stone was groundbreaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The significance of the Pilate stone is that it actually gives us hard evidence of this central figure from the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. So Pilate really existed, he really lived, and he really was the prefect of Judea. We actually have a literal touchstone, a point of connection, between the story of the crucifixion of Jesus from the bible, and actual Roman history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right. Joining us is (INAUDIBLE), visiting scholar from Columbia University, the author of "The Politics of Jesus." So great to have you here, Professor. And it's interesting because -- you know, our series is called "FINDING JESUS" but this episode really could be called "Finding Pilate." Pontius Pilate, a name that everyone knows, but you think it's much more complicated and perhaps devious than people ever realized.

OBERY HENDRICKS, VISITING SCHOLAR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yes. We have two versions of Pilate. We have the theologically influenced biblical version and then we have secular, historical version. And we know that the biblical version says he was reluctant to kill Jesus, and that it was all inspired by the priestly aristocracy. But the writers from -- the secular writers from the first century may describe him as bloodthirsty, as murderous, as extremely haughty. For instance, Philo calls him -- says his personality is vindictive, furious, temper, naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessly. He talked about his seizure of property, his acts of insolence, his cruelty and on and on. And -- BERMAN: It sounds like Pilate had the same problems the politicians

today do.

HENDRICKS: Yes.

BERMAN: They don't like the media.

HENDRICKS: Yes, we don't want to go into that, but yes, it sounds like he could be in the White House now. But be that as it may. You know, he -- but he was even recalled to Rome for being too brutal. You see. So when a poor peasant comes before him who said to be the king of Israel, which was sedition, because only Rome was supposed to confer the title of king of Israel, Herod has been king of Israel. Well, then, when the peasant comes forward, someone like Pilate is not going to say should, well, should I let Barabbas, this murderer and convicted revolutionary go free or should I let this guy go free?

It just -- it really seems like they're trying to exculpate the Romans from having killed Jesus in order to show that Christians and Jesus were not a threat to Rome, and they want to blame it on the priestly aristocracy, of the Jewish priests aristocracy because they were the main antagonists at the time the gospels were written.

HARLOW: You write a lot about the life of Jesus, and you write about him to the lens of a first century political revolutionary, as you call him. How does that differ from how he's been portrayed largely?

HENDRICKS: Well, what's (INAUDIBLE) about Jesus is that he was a political figure in the sense that he wanted a different distribution of wealth and power and resources. And for instance in the "Lord's Prayer" he says, forgive us our debts. That should be translated more like release our debts. The word is for layman as to financial debts. And so he's concerned about economics. He says your kingdom come, your will be done. Well, Caesar's kingdom is already there. And so when he says to replace Caesar's kingdom, he's very concerned about these kinds of things. And he talks about poor people and poverty more than anything else.

HARLOW: Certainly. Certainly. It's a great episode, it airs Sunday at 9:00. Thank you so much for being with us.

HENDRICKS: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Nice to have you, from great Columbia University. All right. Thank you.

"FINDING JESUS: FACT, FAITH, FORGERY," Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: And there's probably a lot of things about Columbia there.

All right. You're looking at live pictures. This is Marine One just landing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. And that is the president of the United States, Donald Trump, he is heading to Florida. He makes a stop in Florida. He's joining a school there with the Education secretary and then another weekend at Mar-a-Lago, of course his estate there. I'm sure the White House will say it will be a working weekend there at Mar-a-Lago.

HARLOW: One thing that we have not yet gotten from the president is that executive order on immigration, the travel ban replacement, if you will. We were told it would come mid-week, didn't come. Hasn't come today. Will we get it today? We will be watching.

Thank you for being with us this morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN," that starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. The big question right now, where is President Trump's new travel ban? It was of course promised days ago, the revised version of it. But radio silence since.