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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Accuses Obama Of Wiretapping Him, Offers No Proof; GOP Senator: We Are In A "Crisis Of Public Trust"; Trump Angry, Frustrated At Staff Over Sessions Fallout; Eisen: We Need A Special Counsel; Interview with Rep. Steve King; Seniors Fall Prey To Nursing Home Sex Abuse. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 4, 2017 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And you are live in CNN NEWSROOM on Saturday. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington, nice to have you along with us.

Well, tonight, deafening silence from the White House after bombshell allegations from President Trump that shocked even his own top aides. While still offering no evidence, the President is accusing his predecessor Barack Obama of tapping the phones at Trump tower. Tweeting this morning, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon Watergate. Bad or sick guy." A former spokesman for President Obama is flatly denying those claims, calling them simply false.

CNN's Athena Jones joins me now from Mar-a-Lago. Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Pam! The White House has yet to provide any evidence to support the President's unsubstantiated allegations. But my colleagues, senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny did speak with a senior administration official in Washington who said that the President's tweet storm came as a surprise to White House colleagues. They didn't know about it until that it happens. It's not uncommon for the President to wake up early in the morning and begin tweeting. In this case, he began tweeting at around 6:30 a.m. This official pointed to a story on the conservative website Breitbart News that has been circulating around the west -- the west wing.

That story followed up comments from radio talk show host Mark Levin who claimed that President Obama was working to undermine or works to undermine Trump's Presidential campaign and his administration including through various investigation on Russia and possible ties between Russia and Trump associates. This official said that story on Breitbart News infuriated the President. And just a few hours ago, the President Social Media Director and Adviser Dan Scavino tweeted out a link to that very same Breitbart News story which lends credence to the idea that the President was basing these angry tweets on that news story. Now, of course a spokesman for President Obama has said that he had nothing to do and would have had nothing to with ordering any wiretaps. But these allegations are getting a lot of attention and not just from democrats but also from republicans. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham talked about this at a Town Hall this morning. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know if it's true or not, but if it is true, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since Watergate. It's my job as United States Senator to get to the bottom of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So there you heard from Senator Graham saying it is his job as a U.S. Senator to get to the bottom of this. So this is far from over. Lots of questions being raised about those early morning tweets. But I've got to remind our viewers that two former senior officials have called the idea that then candidate Trump's phones were tapped nonsense. One called it "just nonsense" the other said "this did not happen. It is false. Wrong." Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Athena Jones. thank you so much for that.

And now, I want to bring in CNN Crime and Justice Producer Shimon Prokupecz. So Shimon, you've been speaking with the former senior law enforcement official that Athena just referenced. What is that response then.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, just like Athena said -- I mean, they're calling this whole -- this idea of nonsense. That it just did not happen. There's nothing to suggest that the FBI or the Department of Justice had tapped his phone lines. That they had authorization to tap his phone lines. You know, to kind of understand this, given who Trump was at the time, given who he is now, they would need permission from the highest levels of the Department of Justice, of the FBI to even get authorization for this. I mean, there are -- there are layers and layers of things an investigator would have to go through to get permission to do something like this.

And in talking to a senior -- a pretty senior level official -- former official with the Department of Justice who had direct knowledge of this investigation just flatly denied it and said that this did not happened. And that has been continued through the day and talking to some other U.S. officials. And no one can seem to understand what Donald Trump is referencing in terms of this allegation of his phone being tapped, of the government listening in on his conversations. And that basically -- we haven't had any new information really. Since this morning there's been no clarity on what he was talking about, what his referencing. And so, basically things just sort of -- are at a(INAUDIBLE). And all we know is that former officials have denied it and current -- some current U.S. officials have also denied it.

BROWN: Yes. I mean, Shimon, on that point, the White House has offered no further explanations to these allegations other than officials pointing to a Breitbart article about radio host Mark Levin's comments that President Obama worked to undermine the Trump campaign and administration. But, wouldn't there be a paper trail that he as President would have access to? [20:05:00] PROKUPECZ: So that's -- that's a good question, Pamela. I don't -- you know, it's not very clear. I mean, as President, you would think, if he would asked for something he would get it. But there is sort of this -- should be this division between the executive branch and some of the investigators. And I think the FBI has done a pretty good job certainly under Director Comey sort of to keep the two -- the investigation away from Donald Trump and has continued to do so as far as we know. And they've gone through great lengths not to brief him on what the investigation -- where the investigation stands. I mean, just a few weeks ago, there was a whole thing about when the White House asked the FBI to knock down some of these reports. As you recall, we report and we broke that news. There was -- you know, quite a whole (INAUDIBLE) sort of -- you know, what are you guys doing? Why are you doing this? You should not be asking the FBI to knock anything down. So, yes, there should be a paper trail. It's secret, if there's a FISA, it would be -- you know, sitting somewhere perhaps in the Department of Justice in some safe and it would be a secret. And really, the only people that would know would be high- level people within the Department of the Justice, high level of people within the FBI and the Judges who sit on the FISA Court who potentially would grant this.

BROWN: All right, Shimon, thanks as always. Appreciate it.

PROKUPECZ: Sure.

BROWN: And I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, now former FBI Assistant Director and CNN's Law Enforcement Analyst. So Tom the fact that President Trump said President Obama order wiretap on his phone, does that tell you Trump doesn't quite understand how the process works?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we don't know Pamela. I mean, you know, we don't know the source of his information. So if in fact there was some connection to President Obama or his staff in providing information which led the FBI to seek a FISA warrant, you know, it could be -- you know, some -- I don't know, some sort of -- connection. But we just don't know. And he hasn't produced any of that information. So, whether he will -- you know, with a late night tweet tonight after his dinner or first thing in the morning tomorrow to try to add clarification. But, you know, I think we're going to have to wait to see. Because up till now, everyone is questioning the basis of his allegation. And just --- we just don't know.

BROWN: So what -- I mean, what could this source of this information be beyond what we already know that there are these right wing media reports alleging this. I mean, could he ask "hey, was my phone wiretapped?" I mean, he is President, what kind of access information could he have about this?

FUENTES: Well, I don't think that he would be told under those circumstances. I think that -- if the allegations were made against him and members of his immediate staff, if he was subject of the investigation, they may not be in the position to inform him. But if he wasn't and the allegation are that these were general wiretaps or FISA wiretaps against other members of his staff, then it could be a different story and he would be in the position as President probably to obtain the information and declassify it if he -- if he chose to.

BROWN: And what's interesting here -- I mean, if what he is saying is true -- which were told it's not, this would mean that a judge determined there was probable cause that his phone would need to be wiretapped during the campaign, correct?

FUENTES: Not a judge, the FISA Court as panel --

BROWN: The FISA Court. Yes.

FUENTES: That's a panel of eleven judges with top secret clearances who hear the affidavits for -- or the submissions from the FBI and Department of Justice to conduct these type of wiretaps and then they would rule on that. Now, I could tell you that the information on this is very close hold. For example, if you have a FBI field division that has 400 agents in it, there might be fewer than five or ten aware of giving FISA such as this because of the sensitivity. So this is not something that's widely going to be known throughout an FBI office or throughout the Department of Justice or at the White House or other places. It's going to be very, very restricted as to the need to know about this wiretap to the very few people who would be needed to provide the evidence to support the affidavit and then the technician to actually carry it out.

BROWN: All right. Tom Fuentes, thank you.

FUENTES: Your welcome.

BROWN: Up next on CNN on the Saturday, an insider's account from the White House. Sources describing to CNN that President enraged with his aids, furious over fallout of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the investigation. One aide even saying, "the staff never seen President Trump this mad." We'll talk about it up next. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:10:00] BROWN: Right now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is at Mar-a Lago meeting with President Trump. And we're hearing tonight that the President is angry with his senior staff over its handling of Sessions changing his story of his meetings with the Russian Ambassador. Sessions recused himself from any investigations in the possible ties between Russian Officials and the Trump campaign earlier this week. And I want to bring in the former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic -- Czech Republic rather, Ambassador Norman Eisen. Ambassador, welcome.

Thank you Pamela. Nice to be with you.

BROWN: Nice to have you with us. So, as we know, Jeff Sessions recused himself. But you've said a Special Prosecutor needs to be called. Why is that?

NORMAN EISEN, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC: Pamela, we just cannot count on the political chain of command in the Justice Department on the people who respond to Mr. Sessions who's had to step away from this investigation of the Trump campaign and possibly Mr. Trump's own ties to Russia because Mr. Sessions was a part of that campaign, has those close ties to Mr. Trump.

[20:14:55] In order for the American people to be confident given the extremely serious allegation here, Russian interference in our electoral processes and possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, we need to have somebody independent and trusted. There are rules for doing that. And that's what we need. They're called special counsels, they're independent and we need one now.

BROWN: And to be clear, there is no evidence to support that there was collusion but of course, as we know, there is an FBI investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russians during the campaign. Our Jim Acosta is now reporting, Ambassador, that the President is angry that Sessions recused himself. You stated that the President's tweets this morning "smell of desperation" why is that?

EISEN: Well, the President is lashing out without evidence and you're right of course, these are questions that are being asked about Russian attacks on our democracy and about possible -- whether it exist or not, remains to be seem, Trump campaign collusion. We know there were a lot of contacts with Russians by those in and around Mr. Trump. But for the President to say, apparently without basis, it looks like he is reiterating and somewhat distorting right wing news article that President Obama tapped his phones, it has no foundation, it's wrong and it's the kind of wild lashing out that it's going to get President Trump in a lot of trouble.

BROWN: Let me ask you this because obviously, when you were an ambassador, you, I imagine, would meet with several officials -- several officials of the Check Republic -- I mean, would it have been unusual for you to meet with officials involved with political campaign as Jeff Sessions was when he met with Ambassador Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.?

EISEN: It would not have been unusual for me, as the United States Ambassador to attend a political convention or meet with campaign officials. It would have been extremely unusual if when I went before the United States Congress and I was asked about it, I didn't disclose it. And it would have been more unusual if that was the latest in a pattern of nondisclosures that saw for example National Security Adviser Flynn have to leave his job. And it would be worst of all if it was connected to a President who had refused to turn over his tax returns which may have evidence of his own financial connections to Russia. May or may not, we don't know. So, what I'm saying is the context is everything. And here, the context is very troubling. Very out of the ordinary.

BROWN: All right. Ambassador Norman Eisen, thank you for coming on the show.

EISEN: Thanks for having me Pamela.

BROWN: Have a good night.

A lot of expletives. That is how a White House aide described the conversation with the President this week. And we're hearing more details from inside the White House about President Trump's furious with aides. We're going to talk about this much, much more up next.

You are live in THE CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:20:00] BROWN: Word tonight from people close to President Trump. That it's not the most comfortable weekend to be a senior White House staffer. The President were told is more upset than many people have ever seen. And he's aiming that anger at everyone from the Chief of Staff down. It all since from a very roller coaster week at the White House a short time ago. I got the full story from CNN's Jim Acosta.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We can tell you that President Trump was very frustrated with his Senior Staff and Communications Chief. On Friday morning, just before he departed for Mar-a-Lago, according to one source that I spoke to quote "nobody has seen him that upset" and quote. Feeling being inside of the Oval Office -- and we had a camera there that was rolling where you can see officials having a heated conversation with one another. The feeling inside the Oval office according to sources we're talking to is that the communications team and the press team of the White House had allowed the news of Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Trump campaign and Russian investigation that sort of overtaken the narrative of the week.They were feeling very enthusiastic after the President's performance at that speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday. And from what we're hearing from sources the President was very upset that Sessions had even recused himself from the case. That was something according one source said that the President thought was hasty and over kill. He was hot, he was exasperated over this because he felt that basically they were just giving their adversaries up on Capitol Hill more ammunition by having Jeff Sessions recuse himself.

The other thing that we are hearing from sources close to all of this is that Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff and Stephen Bannon, the Chief Strategist who were the President will both scheduled to go down with the President yesterday but those plans, those travel plans abruptly changed. Now, we should point out -- while Priebus did not make trip, Steve Bannon did go down today and he's having dinner right now along other top officials with the President there at Mar-a-Lago. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, Homeland Security Kelly, and so on. But Pamela, no questions about it, this breaking news we saw late in the week where Jeff Sessions recused himself because he did not accurately talk about his -- having met with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. and that entire story just infuriated the President. And in the words of one source that I talked to, the President basically told his team that the staff fumbled on all of this, Pamela.

[20:25:06] BROWN: All right. So that was Jim Acosta.

I want to get to Andre Bauer now, he is the former Republican Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and CNN Political Commentator, and Democratic Strategist Keith Boykin. Thank you both for coming on. Andre, I want to start with you. This anger at the President's staff, does it seem misguided to you. Would you expect him to be more angry at Jeff Sessions?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well number one, I'm angry and I'm sure he's angry that somewhere along the line, someone in his staff as has let this get back to ABC. And there used to be absolute stop hole that when express to something -- if in fact he did express this, that he doesn't leave that room. So he's got a problem somewhere along the line if this is in fact true of loyalty and loyalty is a big thing with Donald Trump. And so, I would say, first off, he's got to find that and stop it if in fact that's true. But look, if people are lying about your friends or saying things that aren't true about someone you revere, you're going to be upset. You're going to be agitated. And when he had -- the biggest week was probably was President seen unifying in bold statement in the State of the Union that was received overwhelming by the Business Committee and the American people to derail that with this continuing drumbeat of almost (INAUDIBLE) to say he has this Russian ties, it's disheartening for me, it's disheartening for the American people.

BROWN: Just -- I just want to understand. You said when someone lying about your friend, what do you mean by is that?

BAUER: Well, we may continue to say Jeff Sessions met with -- you know, with the Russians. Well, he met with different capacity. He thought he was answering to the questions --

BROWN: Well, he did. He met with Russian. He did. He met with the Russian officials and that was the Russian Ambassador of the U.S. Kislyak. I mean, that's true.

BAUER: Of course. Kislyak is --

KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He met --

BAUER: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

BROWN: Keith, did you want to say something.

BOYKIN: I was going to say he met with Sergey Kislyak two-times. Once in Cleveland and once in his own office in Washington D.C. and he denied having met him. When he was asked the question by Al Franken, he practically said he had no idea who the person was. He said he had no contact with Russia and he considered himself a surrogate. I think that's a -- that's a -- that's a misleading statement at best. I think some people would consider that a lie. And it's definitely worthy of an investigation. But here again, we have a problem with Donald Trump not taking responsibility. I mean, he's trying to blame everybody but himself for the problems he is facing. He's blamed Hillary Clinton, he's blamed Barrack Obama, he's blamed the media, he's blaming his staff, he's blaming the communications, he's blaming Sean Spicer, he blaming Jeff Sessions. What point will Donald Trump finally wake up and accept responsibility. the buck stops here in the Oval Office with the President of the United States not with everybody else. It's time for him to man up and be the President, not the blamer and chief. BROWN: Andre? Do you have a point?

BAUER: These were two public meeting. No he does it. These were two public meetings. If he were trying hide something, it would be a meeting held in some private ally. It would be -- he met in his United States Senate office with the ambassador. That's not something anybody can hide. I mean, there's press everywhere, there's staffers everywhere, there's senators from other party everywhere. That's not something you lie about under oath. And what he meant to -- absolutely he just probably forgot about it. He meets with so many people. It was an inconsequential meeting. But this --

BOYKIN: You don't forget a meeting with --

BROWN: So let's --

BOYKIN: -- the Ambassador to Russia when the company is in the midst of a discussion about Russian interference in the election. That's an implausible scenario, Sir. I'm sorry Andre, that's not --

BAUER: I know --

BOYKIN: -- that's not -- that's not a tenable answer to that question.

BAUER: I know you love to beating this Russian drum, as if he only met with him.. But he met with the democrats, he met with the President. This is a continuing drumbeat, instead of tackling the issues that affect American lives and improve American lives that the people who voted for Donald Trump want to see happen. This is just that continual beat, did not have anything happen positive but just try to beat down the guy that is now the Commander in Chief of this country.

BOYKIN: But this --

BROWN: Let me ask you this Andre. Hold on, let me ask this. I mean, did the President sort of add to that drum beat by tweeting out today that President Obama was wired -- you know, wiretapped his phone during the campaign as part of an investigation. I mean, did Trump fuel that fire, Andre?

BAUER: He controlled the narrative. Which he does most of the time. But he's almost now dictating the media where they go with their stories. But he didn't like -- evidently he feels like, most -- I would say this, most of the time when he has pointed this out, he's been right. He's been able to back it up. As the stories progress, they went "wow, he actually -- he knew what he was talking about." And that happens --

BOYKIN: No. That's not true. That's not true.

BROWN: Keith, go ahead.

BOYKIN: When did he -- when did he back up the three to five million illegal votes? BAUER: But that's going to be too much --

BOYKIN: When did he back up fact the he was the largest of all the (INAUDIBLE) in history? When did he back up -- when did he back up the idea that he had the largest electoral wins since Ronald Reagan. He hasn't back any of his lies. You, Andre, are validating and enabling the liar in chief in the -- in the -- in the White House.

[20:30:00] And you need to stop and hold him accountable, just as you would -- President Obama or a potential president, Hillary Clinton. The hypocrisy here is stunning, sir. And I expect more from you and from the Republican Party.

BROWN: Andre?

BAUER: So, Detroit didn't have more votes that people that showed up? Are you denying that?

BOYKIN: See, again, this is what happens with Donald Trump: he puts out a tweet or a false statement, there's no evidence to back it up including a three to five million vote allegation. And then his surrogates like Andre, go on television and defend the indefensible. This is as impossible to have intelligent dialogue with people who won't stand up, and hold their own President accountable.

BROWN: Let me ask you this. OK. Andre.

BOYKIN: Andre, this is unacceptable. This is just unacceptable. You should be ashamed of yourself for defending this.

BAUER: There is not --

BROWN: OK. Let me just ask you this. Because, it appears that the President relied on right wing media allegations about President Obama, and spying on the Trump campaign --

BAUER: How do you know that?

BROWN: That's what I said, White House officials -- White House officials speaking to my colleague Jeff Zeleny, has said this Breitbart report circulated. Now, we're waiting to hear more from the White House. I mean, we would like a full statement to understand a little bit more about what was behind this tweet. But presumably, Andre, the President wasn't being briefed before dawn on a Saturday morning on intelligence. For a President to make an allegation like that against the former President, that he was wiretapping, I mean what kind of proof would you want -- burden of proof before a President go out two tweet like that?

BAUER: Well, the New York back in January -- January 19th, they reported interception of Russian communications as part of an inquiry to Trump associates. I don't know if you remember that story so. The New York has already said, that several of his contacts have actually had intercepted communications. So, he feels like he already being wiretapped and they've reconfirmed that.

BROWN: But --

BOYKIN: But Donald Trump this morning, at 6:00 a.m. or some time like that, sent out -- sent out a series of tweets accusing President Obama of engaging in behavior that was illegal. He said it was a low blow. He said the President Obama was a sick person. This the President of the United States at 6:00 a.m. in the morning; getting up today, yes, he's -- he's defining the narrative but not in a positive way. He's an embarrassment to our country, and an embarrassment to the world to have this man as the leader of the free world, who can't control his impulses early in the morning. He needs to have some sort of restraint and discipline, he's incapable of doing that.

And you, Andre, as a Republican should have the -- have the gall and -- no, maybe not the gall but just the courage, the courage to speak up to him. At least someone should have the courage to speak truth to power. No one right now is doing that in the Republican Party, and that is the real crisis in our country.

BROWN: Quickly, final word Andre.

BAUER: Look I'm on a very -- OK. And so, you keep hammering. I know you like to be the Vice, and then keep hammering me as a Republican. I'm on America --

BOYKIN: The President is divisive. The President is the one --

BROWN: Let's listen to what Andre says.

BOYKIN: My gosh!

BAUER: I mean, it's -- it's -- again, it's a continual drum beat and try to make it partisan. The American people want change. They elected him. I know you don't like that. I know you wish there was somebody else in there but, get used to it. You're not going to like it. He's going to do things you that don't agree with. He's the President of the United States. And he's going to fight the media when he doesn't believe what they're saying are disagreeing with him.

It's refreshing to me and a lot of Americans that he's not backing down, and he's got some enough gumption to say, I'm not going to take it anymore. Because I'm one of the people that had the media beat on me, and I would immediately back down because it was powerful. This guys has enough backbone to say, I believe in what I believe in. And I would say stay tuned, that if he tweeted that this morning, he's probably got a way he's going to back it up. And people go, oh, wait a minute. And he'll going to be back in --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: We would all -- we would all want to know, what he was basing that on? And then again, we're still waiting for the official White House response on that. Andre Bauer, Keith Boykin, thank you to you both. We do appreciate you coming on the show for that lively discussion there.

BAUER: Thanks. [20:34:11] BROWN: And coming up right here on this Saturday: I'll

speak with Republican Steve King, a Congressman who did not want to see Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself. Does he know anything we don't know about President Trump's stunning allegation today against President Obama. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Well, starting allegations from President Trump, but still no evidence. The President accusing his predecessor Barack Obama, of tapping the phone at Trump Tower tweeting this morning, "how low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon Watergate, bad or sick guy." A former Spokesman for President Obama is flatly denying those claims calling them: "simply false." Joining me now on the phone Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Iowa. Congressman, thank you for joining us. Do you have proof supporting President Trump's allegations that President Obama ordered what would be an illegal wiretap of his phones?

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: At this point, I don't know that anybody has the, you know, hands on the information that President Trump might be using at point. But he has made the allegation, he's made it public, and then there is some evidence to back it up. I think the place to look is to see if there have been FISA warrants that have been issued. And If you look back at through the media, this summer, it was reported that the FBI had sought FISA warrants to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, but had been denied as of last summer, but then again in November, the BBC reported that on the second attempt, the FBI had received the warrant -- FISA warrant or warrant. So, that might be what President Trump is addressing, and I think it's something that we need to get to the bottom of it. Some of it may well be classified, but this could be a while before we get to the bottom of it.

[20:40:02] BROWN: And just to be clear here, CNN does not have that independent reporting. Let me ask you Congressman, your fellow Republican colleague, Justin Amash, tweeted: "this allegation has serious implications at POTUS -- President of the United States, to provide more in-photo Congress immediately to assess constitutionality and legality." Do you agree with that?

KING: I do. I agree with that that, we have our constitutional rights. And what one of the things that Justin Amash has been focused on, has been those kinds of rights to privacy and looking closely at the FISA warrant. I happen to sit on the Judiciary Committee where we have jurisdiction over this issue. And I sat in on a classified briefing just this week. Of course, I can't talk about it, but I just want people to know that we are paying attention to these issue, we're looking closely at them. And I think that this is something we need to drill into. If there were -- if there were surveillance of a Presidential President candidate during the campaign, and if that was also a surveillance of his staff, to look and see if they had Russian ties in his supposedly. We had better be able actually see the FISA Warrant applications, evaluate them with the information provided. And I think this is going to bring about a real close look, that the

FISA courts have to make sure that they are protecting the privacy of everyone. But if this is then - if this turns out to be true, that the outside of the previous administration, or operatives within it, or operatives within the campaign that had influence within the Obama administration are seeking to conduct a surveillance that was designed, presumably, to affect the election results, this is a very heavy thing indeed. And by the way, I would say that, the evidence of Russian ties is -- no more strong Russian ties -- for President Trump is no more strong than. We just don't have that evidence. That evidence isn't out there. They've been looking for it. They've been making the allegations, but I don't see evidence of it.

BROWN: The evidence specifically, of President Trump's ties to Russia? Is that what you're speaking to?

KING: Correct. And I think they've been reaching pretty hard. By the way, we also had been thinking about the leakage of the information on the surveillance of the phone calls that were made by General Flynn. The most serious part of that is, that was classified information. If they were wiretapping the Ambassador to the United States from Russia and that information was leaked out -- leaked out by whom? That's turn point, that is a -- turns out to be true, that is a felony. That we should be drilling into that.

There's many things that suggest that. This crosses over two administration, and it goes into the politics of the political campaign, it goes into what appears to be an effort to undermine the transition of the -- into President Trump, that effort to undermine his presidency as well. So, this could roll into a great, big deal. HCS bugged down on it if after the drill through this, but if we have to go back through it, I think we will have to go back also through Hillary Clinton and all of those associations that were never resolved.

BROWN: Congressman, CNN has been told that Trump has never been as upset as he was this week, after he felt the Jeff Sessions controversy meeting with the Russian Ambassador over shadowed his State of the Union Address. So, why tweet a bombshell allegation as he did this morning, about the former President wiretapping his phone without any evidence to support that. That further distracts from any focus on a legislative agenda.

KING: If you're watching the hyperventilation over Jeff Sessions, who by the way carries as much integrity as anybody I ever met; and I know Jeff Sessions very well. Then if you're watching that, it's way out of proportion to anything that actually happened. And I think that President Trump is looking at it, if you do have the information at Trump Towers, if you're dwelling in your business place, your center of operation was under surveillance by the FBI, and you have information that's being leaked out on your new administration that looks to be designed undermine your administration, I think that there's this justification for a high degree of anger on the part of President Trump. And you should remember that, he's not the kind of person that walks away from confrontation or concedes points there that shouldn't be conceded. He will fight these things to resolve it down to the bottom. And I think that in the end, he's going to be proven to be more correct than not, on each of these issues.

BROWN: Congressman Steve King, thank you very much.

KING: Thank you very much.

[20:44:44] BROWN: And just into CNN, we are learning that as of the White House is seeking any possible foreign intelligence surveillance court documentation, to back up the President's claims, White House Counsellor Donald McGahn is reviewing what options have been are available to us. As what he said, several senior administration officials confirm to CNN, but White House officials could not say whether any such documentation exist. There was no evidence such as a document on surveillance of Trump himself. According to sources that've acknowledge of the situation, that spoke to "CNN TODAY." And we'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Well, CNN investigations has uncovered disturbing reports of rape and abuse inside some of America's nursing homes. The victims are seniors who are abused by the employees responsible for their care. Anna Cabrera, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAYA FISCHER, RAPE VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: How are you feeling today, mom? Do you know who I am?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She could hardly move. She couldn't speak. She was the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, when at age 83, Sonia Fischer, was raped by one of her caregivers.

FISCHER: He destroyed the final memories ahead of my mother.

[20:50:11] CABRERA: Maya Fischer remembers her mom in better times.

FISCHER: She had just the beautiful smile. She had a beautiful spirit. Here's some photos of my mom in Indonesia, when she was a little girl.

CABRERA: I love that.

FISCHER: And that's her, right here.

CABRERA: Sonia, eventually, immigrated to the U.S., where she raised two children of her own.

FISCHER: She was diagnosed with Alzheimer probably, it's about 14 1/2 years ago, now. It was gut wrenching, you know, you'll lose a little bit of your mom kind of day after day.

CABRERA: The Fischer family turned to Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis. Then a week before Christmas in 2014, a nurse at Walker Methodist walked in on an unthinkable act, by a 76-year-old certified nursing assistant. MARK KOSIERADZKI, KOSIERADZKI SMITH LAW FIRM: He had his pants down,

and he was between her legs, and he was raping her. You couldn't be more vulnerable as she was. She was at the same level of vulnerability of a child who can't walk -- a one year old. There was nothing she could do to protect herself, she couldn't even callout.

CABRERA: CNN analyzed data from coast to coast then found from 2013 to 2016, more than a thousand nursing homes have incited by federal authorities for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. The cases range from allegations of inappropriate touching between residence to violent rape. And at least a quarter involved alleged sex abuse by an employee at the facility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm all alone and there's no one there. No family. And I'm all alone in my room. This man, and his name -- first name was Andy. And he came in my room, and actually molested me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of the matter is you gave IEK a narcotic, correct?

ANDREW MARZASKY, RAPIST: Yes.

CABRERA: 28-year old, Andrew Marzasky, admitted to drugging before assaulting an 88-year-old resident at Edgewood Vista. An assisted living facility in Hermantown, Minnesota.

KOSIERADZKI: And he testified. She was coming on to me, really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him to have sex with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course not. Do you think I'm crazy?

THERASA FLESVIG, SEXUAL ASSAULT NURSE EXAMINER: She had about a two- centimeter laceration, in her vaginal vault. That was in the stages of healing, but was pretty significant.

CABRERA: Also significant, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Theresa Flesvig, remembers a phone call she got from Edgewood Vista's Director of Nursing.

FLESVIG: And just wanted me to understand that this person, was what she would consider a flirt, and flirted with this poor boy, mercilessly. And that, when he saw that it was hurting her, he stopped, because he's nice, like that.

CABRERA: Would you consider that victim blaming?

FLESVIG: It's absolutely victim blaming. Yes.

CABRERA: She told us that there was victim blaming that happened in this case by one of your personnel at Edgewood Vista.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't comment on employee matters.

CABRERA: If it was perceived to be that way, is there any response? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we learned is, weren't prepared for anything

of this nature and we have to do better.

CABRERA: State regulators sighted Edgewood Vista for not reporting the assault there soon enough yet, the facility faced no penalty, neither did Walker Methodist. The Department of Health found no wrong doing, even though facility records show Sonia Fischer's rapist, George Kpingbah, had been previously suspended as part of at least three other sex assault investigations at the same facility, as far back as 2008. In all those cases, investigators ruled the allegations unsubstantiated. So, Kpingbah, was kept on the job.

When asked about this, Walker Methodist told CNN they cooperated every step of the way with investigators, and regularly evaluate standards and safety protocols in an effort to protect and enhance the lives of older adults. Are those regulatory agencies doing a good enough job of holding nursing homes or facilities like that accountable?

KOSIERADZKI: I think the Regulatory Agencies that I see throughout the country are really weak.

[20:54:47] CABRERA: The Minnesota Department of Health declined an interview, but tells us they are seeing an increase in allegations of sex abuse, and have taken steps to make the reporting and investigating process more efficient. Adding, "we take these cases very seriously, and making sure patients and residents are protected is our top priority." Marzasky, was just released from prison in November. Kpingbah, remains behind bars. But CNN found that many perpetrators face no punishment at all. Sometimes even allowed to continue working with the elderly, even after multiple allegations of abuse. If you could say something to the person who did this to her, to her perpetrator, what would you say? What would you tell him?

FISCHER: He took away the last shred of dignity that my mother had.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[20:55:46] BROWN: That is heartbreaking. Thank you to our Anna Cabrera for that report. I'm Pamela Brown, in Washington. I'll be back tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Have a great night, everybody.