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STATE OF THE UNION

Attorney General Under Fire; Trump Makes Unsubstantiated Claim of Obama Wiretapping; Interview With Florida Senator Marco Rubio; Interview With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Trump: "The Time For Trivial Fights Is Behind Us;" Are Republicans Writing Obamacare Replacement in Secret?"; Oprah For President? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 5, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:05]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Bombshell: President Trump's shocking and evidence-free claim that President Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped before the election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that President Obama is behind it.

TAPPER: Will the White House ever produce any evidence for the president's claim?

And what has the FBI discovered?

Marco Rubio is one of the senators leading the probe, and he will be here next.

Plus: more Russia revelations.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in.

TAPPER: Attorney General Jeff Sessions under fire for not being forthcoming with Congress about his meetings with the Russian ambassador, but President Trump and the Kremlin call it a witch-hunt.

Top Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is here to respond in an exclusive interview.

And under lock and key? Lawmakers claim there's a secret Obamacare replacement in the works.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: This is being presented as if this were a national secret, as if this were a plot to invade another country.

TAPPER: What's in it? And will Republicans accept anything less than full repeal?

And the best political minds will be here with insights on what happens next. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is tapped -- that is, if you believe the president of the United States, who made the jaw-dropping and completely unproven accusation that his predecessor, Barack Obama, secretly ordered surveillance on him during the election.

"Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory," the president tweeted. "Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."

President Trump offered, again, zero evidence to support this claim, but the White House just released a statement saying -- quote -- "President Donald J. Trump is requesting that, as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional Intelligence Committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016. Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted."

President Trump's tweets on the subject come after another member of his Cabinet has come under fire for not being forthright about contacts with the Russian ambassador, all of this within the context of the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump campaign's communications with Russia during the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: I'm joined now by a member of that committee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Republican senator.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Good morning. Thank you.

TAPPER: So, President Trump made this very serious allegation.

You're on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do you have any evidence at all to suggest that President Trump is stating something factual here?

RUBIO: By that, you mean the tweet yesterday about the -- President Obama?

TAPPER: Yes.

RUBIO: Yes, so, obviously, I have no -- I'm not sure what it is he is talking about. Perhaps the president has information that is not yet available to us or to the public.

And, if it's true, obviously, we're going to find out very quickly. And, if it isn't, then, obviously, he'll have to explain what he meant by it.

So, I don't -- I'm not sure what the genesis of that statement was, but I imagine we're going to learn more about it here over the next few days, one way or the other.

TAPPER: Do you think the FBI should clear it up, one way or another?

RUBIO: Well, that's also a difficult thing.

I mean, the FBI does not confirm either that there is or that there is not investigations. It does not talk about pending matters, either denying that they exist or admitting them. For the most part, that's been their practice.

And I know it's a source of deep frustration for a lot of people, not just on this issue, but in other issues in the past.

But what I think we should do is, everybody needs to take a deep breath and calm down here. And let's go through this, as what we are doing. In the Senate Intelligence Committee, we are working in a bipartisan way to collect facts that involve reviewing classified and sometimes unclassified and open-source information.

We will issue a report to the Senate that will be available to the American people, and then people can form judgments on the basis of the collection of facts. That is what we are undertaking. I remain confident that the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to produce a document built on the facts that will allow people to reach judgments based on the facts.

And that's what we should be doing in something like this.

TAPPER: The White House counsel right now is trying to figure out what they can release from the top-secret FISA court in their effort to provide some sort of evidence to the president's tweets.

Does it concern you at all the White House counsel's office theoretically reaching out to the FISA courts to find out what they can release because of these tweets?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not familiar with the conversation that you're saying is taking place between the White House and FISA courts.

I will say to you that this entire issue has reached the point now where so much of it's being litigated in the press. I can tell you that there are things being reported that are not true. I can tell you that there are things out there that have been reported that are true.

And in between all of that is where we are working in the Senate Intelligence Committee to gather facts. We're not a court. In essence, the Senate Intelligence Committee is not a law enforcement entity. We are reviewing everything that has happened, and primarily with a focus on the active measures that were undertaken by Russians or others in our campaign -- in our campaigns in 2016.

[09:05:16]

We're going to compile that into a report that will be released to our colleagues and to the American people. And I would just hope people would reserve judgment on these things until all of that is available.

I know it's frustrating. We all want it to be available tomorrow. But this needs to be done in the right way. And that's what we're going to continue to work on.

And I truly -- I feel confident that it's going to be a document and a report that will be bipartisan and accurate.

TAPPER: We learned this week that Attorney General Sessions was in contact with the Russian ambassador on at least two separate occasions during the campaign.

This is the second time that somebody close to President Trump has spoken with the Russian ambassador, and then not been forthcoming about it. The other person, obviously, was General Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who had to resign as a result.

Why do you think senior officials in the Trump administration keep failing to be forthcoming about their communications with the Russians?

RUBIO: Well, I don't want to -- I don't know about the others that you've mentioned, because I just don't know about who they met with or who they've talked to.

I can tell you about Senator Sessions, and I can tell you about ambassadors. That's what ambassadors do. I mean, I meet with dozens of ambassadors a year, and I run into them all the time. That's what they do. I mean, they are out there trying to reach people and talk to them.

And so it is not unusual for a member of the Senate to meet with an ambassador.

Now, obviously, he in a -- the Senate committee, said he had not been in contact with anyone. That turned out to be inaccurate. And that, I think, was what became problematic, in terms of the way he answered that question in committee.

I don't believe it was intentional in any way, because, at the end of the day, it was not the kind of thing that Jeff Sessions does. And it's not the kind of thing that would be easy to hide, and nor would there be any reason to.

So -- but, again, I think we've gotten to the point of hysteria here. That's -- ambassadors try to meet with people all the time. I mean, I literally meet with dozens of ambassadors. And so do most senators, especially those on committees that touch upon foreign affairs and foreign relations.

TAPPER: But, as you point out, the issue is the not being forthcoming about it, not the actual meeting.

Have you ever met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak?

RUBIO: Well, I haven't that I remember now, but I really -- but, again, I'm probably not the kind of person that they would reach out to.

But I've met with other ambassadors from other countries, including countries that, from time to time, we may have strong issues with. It happens. I mean, that's what they're here to do. And that's what they try to do.

And, in fact, often when a new ambassador is appointed or a new senator is elected, or you get appointed to a committee, they try to reach out proactively and meet with you.

We haven't had a lot of connections with the Russians, but I imagine some of that is, they probably think I'm a lost cause in terms of talking to on some of these issues. But we meet with dozens of ambassadors every year.

TAPPER: U.S. intelligence officials, of course, say that Kislyak is not just an ambassador; he's also a spy and a recruiter of spies.

You're on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Is that your understanding?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to get into what the intelligence committee assesses on anything.

Suffice it to say that it is not a mystery to anyone that -- and I'm not talking about him in particular, just in general -- that virtually every embassy in Washington, D.C., has some intelligence component associated with it. That's just the nature of diplomatic facilities, not just in Washington, but all over the world.

But, in the end, again, I go to reiterate the point I've made earlier, and it is this. Ambassadors try to meet with senators and congressmen and people on the Hill all the time. It is what they spend a significant amount of their time doing. That is their job.

It is not unusual that an ambassador would meet with a senator on both sides of the aisle...

TAPPER: Sure.

RUBIO: ... as has been the case here, by the way.

TAPPER: Let's talk about immigration.

Before his Tuesday speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump met with news anchors at the White House. I was there. He said he would support, theoretically, a compromise immigration bill. And a senior administration official went on to say that President Trump would even support legal status for undocumented immigrants who have not committed other serious crimes while being in the United States.

President Trump, he didn't bring this up during his address to Congress. His staff told CNN the next day that the whole thing about a compromise immigration bill was a -- quote -- "misdirection play."

As someone who worked hard on this issue, what do you make of all of this?

RUBIO: Well, I don't think it's a misdirection play.

I think the president realizes that we have an immigration problem in America and that we need to fix it. But I also think the president realizes -- and it's been my advice to him and anyone who will listen -- that the best way to do this is in a series of measures and that we should take our time and do this thing right.

TAPPER: But, Senator, the White House told CNN that it was a misdirection play.

The White House basically said: Hey, when President Trump said that to you guys, he was just -- he was just throwing a lot of smoke there, so that you guys would give him some good press for a few hours. And then he gave red meat to his base in the actual speech.

That's from the White House.

RUBIO: Well, again, I don't know what the White House may have told you or not told you.

I can tell you that my sense is that there is a desire and an interest to fix this, but it's going to be done the right way and in the right sequence and in the right order.

TAPPER: During the campaign, then-candidate Trump was asked if he would split up families as part of his deportation policy. He said -- quote -- "We have to keep the families together" -- end quote.

[09:10:05]

But CNN confirmed on Friday the Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal that would separate children from adults when they're trying to enter the country illegally at the southern border. The Trump administration says these children are being used as pawns.

Is this new proposal from DHS, if it actually comes to fruition, would you support it?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I don't know if this is a new proposal or this is some -- some document internally that someone dreamt up and -- as a suggestion, and that no one's ever going to actually do it.

We heard reports a couple weeks ago they were going to use the National Guard to round people up. And, of course, that turned out not to be true.

Suffice it to say that there is no doubt that, in many parts of Central America and in the Western Hemisphere, there are people sending their children, or even oftentimes arriving with children, because they know that, if they do, they'll be treated differently than people that arrive without children.

I am deeply concerned about that. And one of the best things we can do is to help countries, for example, like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala to improve conditions, so people don't have to leave those countries. And that's why I support the Alliance for Prosperity.

So -- but I don't know even know if this is a real proposal. I'd have to learn more about it to understand exactly what they're talking about doing. In general, just the way you mentioned it to me now, I think it could be problematic to implement. And that would be my advice to them.

But I'm just not going to comment on something I don't know if it's a real proposal or just some idea someone was floating around, but no one has taken seriously. We just don't know. And, until we do, it would be premature to opine on it.

TAPPER: Let's turn to health care.

A big split is emerging within the Republican Party on the question of whether Obamacare should be repealed in its entirety or just partially, and then fixed, the rest of it that remains. House Republicans are considering a plan that would repeal portions of Obamacare, but would leave other elements intact.

Two of your former presidential rivals and colleagues in the Senate, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, they're insisting on a full repeal. Are you with them on this issue?

RUBIO: Well, I want to repeal Obamacare, but I also don't want to go back to the system we had in 2009. That didn't work either.

And understand that, when people talk about partial repeal, it's because the process that's being used for repeal is reconciliation. There are things you can do through reconciliation and there are things you cannot. And we just don't have 60 votes in the Senate to do things outside of that reconciliation product.

I think that this needs to be happen. Obamacare does need to be repealed. We have to put something in place that is better than Obamacare, because I -- what I do not support is going back to 2009, because that system had problems as well.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, it's always a pleasure to have you on, sir. Thank you so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: As we mentioned, the White House has just issued a statement demanding that Congress investigate whether President Trump was wiretapped, that claim he made with no evidence.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is with me here live, and she will respond to the president's call after the break.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:42]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

Last night at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump was joined for dinner by his embattled attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

On the menu, a heaping portion of presidential frustration.

Sources tell me and others at CNN that President Trump is quite upset with his senior staff for allowing this firestorm surrounding Attorney General Sessions to steal his thunder in the wake of his address to Congress.

The president considered Sessions' recusal from any investigation into the Russian hacks hasty, and he had a heated conversation with his staff on Friday, expressing his frustration in no uncertain terms.

But the presidential dinner invitation might be a sign of support for Sessions, who does not seem inclined to heed the advice of our next guest, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has called for his resignation.

Leader Pelosi, thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate it.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Good morning.

TAPPER: So, let's start with President Trump's allegation, so far evidence-free, that President Obama sought to have him wiretapped during the campaign.

You're part of the Gang of Eight. That's a group of House and Senate leaders, both the leadership and the leadership of the Intelligence Committees, that would be privy, one suspects, to such information.

Do you have any idea what he's talking about?

PELOSI: Well, the president, you know, is the deflector in chief, anything to change the subject from where the heat is.

And, as one who has been engaged in intelligence, a member of the Gang of Eight, for a long time, I can tell that it's just ridiculous for the president, President Trump, to say that President Obama would ever order any wiretap of an American citizen, any president.

That's just not -- we don't do that. And, so, this is -- it's called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge.

It's a tool of an authoritarian, to just have you always be talking about what you want them to be talking about. Rather than Russia, we're talking about, did President Obama do thus and so?

He certainly did not. And then to take it to the Congress and say, now you investigate this, when he's been in -- not in favor of Congress investigating anything, including what does the -- what do the Russians have on Donald Trump politically, financially or personally, that -- that's the truth we want to know.

TAPPER: And that's the statement from Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, this morning, that President Trump is requesting, as part of their investigation into Russian activity, that the congressional Intelligence Committee exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.

Regardless of whether or not President Obama ordered such a wiretap, do you know if there was any such wiretap by the FBI or the Department of Justice?

PELOSI: Well, we wouldn't know that.

But, in fact, the very idea that President Trump is saying he wants his Justice Department to look into that, you don't look into something like that. In other words, A, President Obama flat out has said, we have nothing to do with this.

What the Justice Department is doing is another subject. I have no knowledge of anything of that kind.

TAPPER: You were asked on Friday if you have ever met with the Russian ambassador along the same ways that Jeff Sessions, the now attorney general, was asked.

This is what you had to say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: You have been in Congress a little bit, and you're in leadership. Have you ever met with the Russian ambassador?

[09:20:01]

PELOSI: Not with this Russian ambassador, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: There's a photo of you in 2010 meeting with Ambassador Kislyak. It was part of a meeting that you had with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the time.

I know there's a difference. And Senator Sessions...

PELOSI: Yes, there's a big difference.

TAPPER: Senator Sessions was under oath. And the meeting was far more recent than 2010.

But is it not possible -- I suspect this was an innocent mistake by you.

PELOSI: No, no.

We were meeting with the president of Russia. He brought an entourage in with him.

TAPPER: OK.

PELOSI: He was the one who was doing the talking.

The question is, have you met with him? No, I haven't met with him. I met with the president of Russia. Who else is in his entourage, who know? Presidents, heads of state come in, they bring their party. They barely even introduce them.

So, this is completely, completely different.

But I want to say that in that meeting was the Republican leadership as well. So, this wasn't me meeting with Medvedev. It was a meeting of the House and the House bipartisan leadership with him. Who are the other people at the table? You would have to ask the president of Russia.

TAPPER: Could somebody not say you're parsing a little bit about your meeting with the president...

PELOSI: No.

TAPPER: ... even though the ambassador was there, and -- and Jeff Sessions made the same kind of innocent mistake?

PELOSI: No.

TAPPER: You don't think so?

PELOSI: Are you talking about, did I shake hands with him? I don't even know. Did I meet him?

Meeting with in -- with the ambassador at a time at a time, at a time when the Russians are knowingly hacking our system, we know that. The -- I said that at the convention in October, that I could prove that...

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: ... outside of the intelligence.

So, to waste any time on something like this is ridiculous. He was at the inauguration. Was I with him there? He probably was at the inauguration. Maybe he was at -- going to be at the dinner last night.

I have been in rooms of a couple hundred people where he has been. I don't know if you call that a meeting with him.

TAPPER: OK.

Hillary Clinton's inner circle is not happy with the way President Obama handled news about Russia's election hacking. They think he was being too cautious, President Obama. And one of Clinton's advisers told "The New Yorker" -- quote -- "What

if Barack Obama had gone to the Oval Office of the East Room of the White House and said, I'm speaking to you tonight to inform you that the United States is under attack; the Russian government, at the highest levels, is trying to influence our most precious asset, our democracy, and I'm not going to let it happen?"

The Clinton aide went on to say, "A large majority of Americans would have sat up and taken notice."

Do you think, in retrospect, that President Obama handled this the right way?

PELOSI: Well, I think that President Obama handled it as he received information of that -- of the highest confidence.

I do think, with all due respect in the world for the press, that the press could have done a better job, instead of printing every e-mail that came out, and saying this comes to you from Vladimir Putin, they were, hah, hah, hah, John Podesta said this or that.

I think the press were accomplices in the undermining of our election by the Russians by not pointing out this stuff is worthless because it comes from an undermining of our election, or at least reminding the public where this -- these e-mails, the leaking of these e-mails came from.

So, I can't speak to the timing of what President Obama said. I wish he -- it had all happened in a time where the public could know that this had an impact on the election. A lot of things have an impact on the election. This certainly was one of them.

But what's important to note is that it doesn't happen again, and that people in other countries are -- realize what they are going to be susceptible to when the Russians come in to undermine their elections.

TAPPER: Right.

PELOSI: This is a big picture of undermining democracies, not just in our country, although they like undermining ours.

And they did have a vendetta against Hillary Clinton because she spoke about democracy and democratic elections and the rest. There's no question, personally, Vladimir Putin had a vendetta against her.

TAPPER: That's right. And the Russians are right now doing the same thing in some European countries...

PELOSI: They are right now.

TAPPER: ... hoping to influence their elections.

I want to move on to legislation.

PELOSI: Right.

TAPPER: In a speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump renewed his commitment to child care and paid family leave.

Take a listen.

PELOSI: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Paid family leave, a big Democratic priority for a long time, is that something you could work with the president on?

PELOSI: Well, I would certainly hope so.

The first conversation I had with him after the election, that week of the election, we talked about that subject, and a subject that his family is interested in as well.

TAPPER: Ivanka.

PELOSI: But what he has proposed is something that benefits -- 70 percent of the benefits go to people making over $100,000 a year.

[09:25:01]

So, we have to revisit that this is not what this country needs in that regard. I do think that there's some bipartisanship where we can have -- we can come together. It doesn't happen to be in his proposal.

TAPPER: Before you go, I need to ask you about a crude joke told by a Democratic member of Congress.

PELOSI: Before you go there, though, let me say about his speech...

TAPPER: Well...

PELOSI: ... all of this that he's doing, the deflection, is to deflect from the fact that he does not have a jobs bill, he does not have an infrastructure bill, he does not have any of the things he talked about, renegotiating NAFTA, has not put Congress -- made the communication with Congress on all of that.

So, understand this. This is the deflector -- where we started -- the deflector in chief, no jobs, no infrastructure bill, no nothing, and no major bill signed since he came to the White House.

TAPPER: I need to ask you about this crude joke that was told this week by a member of your caucus, Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond, at the Washington Press Club Foundation annual dinner, at the expense of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: And you can just explain to me that -- that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, Leader Pelosi, the joke was sexist. It was disgusting.

PELOSI: Right. Right.

TAPPER: Shouldn't the congressman apologize to Kellyanne Conway?

And, honestly, where is the Democratic Party in expressing outrage about this?

PELOSI: Well, I wasn't at the dinner. I'm just finding out about this.

But the fact is, I'm still in sort of a state of, what is going on here that the person who occupies the White House is a person who was on that Hollywood video that said the crude things he said about women.

You all are criticizing Cedric for something he said in the course of the evening. And he maybe should be criticized for that. I just don't know the particulars.

But do I, every day, marvel at the fact that somebody who said the gross and crude things that President Trump said, he wouldn't even be allowed in a frat house, and he's in the White House.

TAPPER: Well, I think we have covered the "Access Hollywood" tape quite a bit.

But I guess the question is, if one criticizes only Republicans when they make crude comments, does that not undermine the moral authority, if -- if they don't criticize it when Democrats make crude comments?

PELOSI: Well, I think everybody was making crude comments.

And I just -- I just don't know. I wasn't at that dinner. But I was at the dinner last night at the Gridiron Club. And we were all, I think, quite, shall we say, respectable. I will look at what my colleague said there.

But I do think that, in the Oval Office, we were always, always with perfect -- with decorum appropriate for the White House.

TAPPER: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, it's always a pleasure to see you. Thank you so much.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you for being here this morning.

Reckless, that is what one Democrat is calling President Trump's Twitter tirade accusing President Obama, without any evidence, of wiretapping Trump Tower.

Will President Trump ultimately have to explain himself, provide evidence? That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:21]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it and some of the leaks possibly come from that group.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was President Trump earlier this week accusing former President Obama being behind leaks about his campaign's potential ties to Russia. But yesterday the president went further claiming without evidence that President Obama ordered wiretaps against him, and the president is now demanding that Congress investigate. We have a lot to talk about with our political panel.

We have with us former Republican House intelligence chair Mike Rogers, former Democratic Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Dana Loesch, the host of the "Dana Loesch Show," and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Thanks one and all for being here. Let me start with you, sir, because you were chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Should President Trump be making this allegation without any evidence?

MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: I don't understand why they did it. He just put another quarter in the conspiracy parking meter. They have extended this story for a week, two weeks. Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Two things. One this should have been held, if he has that belief and if believe that there was some inappropriate behavior on behalf of the Justice Department doing this then there are internal investigative mechanisms he should have used and called for. Making this a big public fight like this I just think is wrong.

As a matter of fact the only winner in this whole thing has been Vladimir Putin. I mean, that everybody -- the Democrats are saying that he stole an election and the president of the United States is saying, don't worry about it. He's a pretty good guy.

If I were Vladimir Putin, I'd be -- I'd be feeling pretty good right about now.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: I think two things. One is either -- either this tweet shows that the president has become unhinged and is grossly unfamiliar with what a president's limits of powers are because you can't have a president ordering surveillance which is a danger to democracy on its own, or it is true that he is being surveilled by the FBI, not Obama, and if that is the case then that -- both of these are dangers to democracy which tells you that you need to have congressional Republicans standing up and deciding whether they are going to be loyal to this president or to the nation and wouldn't it be better for them to have an independent investigation?

If I were in Congress and had to make that choice I would say, take it off of my shoulders and let's have an independent congressional committee.

TAPPER: What's interesting, Dana, yesterday I was talking to people in the White House about, well, where did this come from because if it's true it is huge news, but if it's not true, then it's also huge news.

DANA LOESCH, HOST, "THE DANA SHOW": Yes.

TAPPER: And the White House at that point was trying to figure out where it came from. They thought it came from media reports, from "Breitbart" Mark Levine, other people like that and then ultimately today instead of providing evidence they said, well, we're calling on Congress to investigate.

[09:35:06]

LOESCH: Well there -- it has been reported. This was, I think, a story that came out a few days before the election. There were a number of --

TAPPER: On "Heat Street."

LOESCH: Well, there were -- there were a number. I think "The New York Times" also had something written about it although who they said was named in these warrants those -- that very (INAUDIBLE) --

TAPPER: What's the big difference between saying that people around Trump are being --

LOESCH: Exactly. Exactly. Because one story was Heat Street had said that he was named specifically and that's the only reporting there is on him being named specifically. And then -- but the others --

TAPPER: Right. But that's the (INAUDIBLE).

LOESCH: But the others were saying, well, maybe it was some individuals associated with him or associated with the campaign. Regardless, it's -- it's -- it's -- it's been reported and it's been out there for a little while.

TAPPER: But there's a big difference between Carter --

LOESCH: That's why I had the question about timing.

TAPPER: Between Carter Page or people around President Trump being surveilled...

LOESCH: Right. Exactly.

TAPPER: ... and Obama ordering wiretaps.

LOESCH: No. That's what we don't know -- that's what we don't know which I think that they should make that -- they should make that information public, they should make the application or the warrant public and that's something that at least if not to -- if not to the American public at least to members of Congress. But whether or not something is allowed, whether or not something is curtailed by limits on presidential power I will say, that has never stopped our previous president.

I mean, we have seen instances where the "Associated Press" reporters were gone after. We saw where James Rosen was -- he was actually referred to as a criminal agent and his parents' phone records were seized. We saw a number of...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: In a leaking case.

LOESCH: ... weaponized going after (INAUDIBLE). So I will say that there is a precedence for just because there's a limit --

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not -- not -- not to this level. I mean, what you're -- what you're comparing --

LOESCH: We've seen that in the past eight years though.

SELLERS: You're comparing apples to oranges because here we're talking about someone --

LOESCH: Or apple (ph).

SELLERS: A candidate -- a candidate who is running -- a candidate who is running for president of the United States and the allegation that was put forth was that his predecessor was someone --

LOESCH: Oh no. This is huge. Don't get me wrong, I think it's huge.

SELLERS: Yes. And so I think -- so I think -- I think it's vastly different but this is not new for Donald Trump.

I mean, put this in the basket of, you know, 56 percent African- American unemployment or there were 3 million people who voted illegally. I mean, he makes these false claims all the time and so that's why D.C. is so desensitized to this because if you look around and ask people he made a claim that the president wiretapped Trump Tower. And people say, well, that's just Donald Trump. That's who he is. And then today he comes out with the statement and says that there are reports. No, sir, Mr. President, they are not reports. You tweeted this. You said this. This is something that came out of your mouth and you owe the American people the facts behind it.

If he is in fact the target of a FISA warrant, if he is the subject or his campaign is the subject of this probe then the American people deserve answers. I think Libertarians understand that, Democrats, Republicans, centrists, everyone understands that. I think we need answers.

TAPPER: I think, the question for you, sir, is it enough for the president to say there are reports out there, whether that's "Breitbart" or "Heat Street" or whatever, because this is the president. He has access to all the information in the government presumably. He could declassify. He can bring the information forward. If -- I mean, maybe he should take the advice of Dana just now, make the FISA warrant application public so we can see if it's true or not.

ROGERS: Yes. I mean, first of all, the president has had a higher responsibility.

You have to make the transition from candidate to president of the United States. He does own the information, so there is -- it could be very possible that there was somebody was briefed who then briefed the president that there was in fact the FISA warrant. There may not be. We don't know exactly yet.

The problem here is that this -- that he climbs right back down into this bucket of causing problems for every other big issue that's out there. Think of what happened to him this week. He was out pitching the growth in the United States Navy, has to happen. Great message promoting jobs in the domestic defense industry, great message. Talking to his education, all of that is lost for some kind of a weak tweet.

And here's the other piece this. This should be the sign that they need to impose discipline in the White House with a new communications director and get this thing back under control. If they don't they're going to lose huge opportunity on big issues.

TAPPER: Don't go anywhere. We're going to come right back. Coming up next, behind closed doors Senator Rand Paul accuses his Republican colleagues of drafting a secret Obamacare replacement bill. What is behind the cloak and dagger maneuver? Coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:35]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Speaker Ryan may be suppressing a little bit of a laugh there. Seems a little skeptical. Perhaps for good reason.

The president followed up with a tweet attacking Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings on "The Apprentice" after announcing the time for trivial matters is behind us.

The panel is back with me. One sense is that it is tough for some of these Republican leaders to ignore entirely the spray of tweets and more that we get from the White House.

GRANHOLM: Right. Obviously many of the Republicans -- the Republican history has been to not be super close with Russia, right, so that makes people uncomfortable to begin with. But the other thing is that what Donald Trump is doing is systematically pulling the legs off of what it means to be a democracy. The leg of the -- of having a free and independent press by fake news, the leg of the court system by "so-called" judges. The leg even of telling the truth to Bakari's point. He wants to assert his power over the truth which is why he lies so much.

So the concern is for those members of Congress that it is better for them to not have to side with a guy who is doing that and in fact Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, said that we are at a -- what did he say?

[09:45:05]

SELLERS: Crisis.

GRANHOLM: Crisis -- no, but it was more than --

LOESCH: A crisis of public trust.

GRANHOLM: No but he had a better word than that.

TAPPER: Civilization warping crisis of public trust.

GRANHOLM: Civilization warping crisis.

SELLERS: Put it together.

LOESCH: There we go.

GRANHOLM: That is amazing!

LOESCH: I think in some part of that though I think it's unfair to -- and I hate that word but I'm going to it, I think it's unfair to actually blame Trump for particularly the press.

One of the reasons that -- people have been distrusting the press -- our present hosts excluded (ph), had been distrusting of the press for quite some -- quite a long time. They haven't helped themselves. I feel like I'm in "Jerry Maguire" help me help you because they constantly want to talk about fake news and propaganda.

I remember back the reporting with the Tea Party and they didn't were cropping people out because they didn't want it to be known that there were black people going after (ph) the Tea Party. Or they would write these insane stories about people who are simply trying to uphold voter integrity and they were saying that we were racist, that we were bigots, that we just took off our clan hood. I mean, this distrust has been with the press is the press' fault.

ROGERS: I think -- I think --

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: ... epic (ph) proportions.

SELLERS: I'll give you that. I'll give you that. And -- but I think --

(CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Well, it's there. You have to.

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: I think there is larger than that because this White House has eroded trust in our institutions.

Let me give you the perfect example. The president of the United States, the vice president, Kellyanne Conway, the chief of staff and Sean Spicer have all come out and said that they've had no campaign contacts with Russia, all of them have said that. But what we now know is that Jeff Sessions had campaign contacts.

LOESCH: As a senator.

SELLERS: Jared Kushner, J.D. Gordon -- it doesn't matter. You can't jump in and jump out if you're doing to tell the truth.

LOESCH: But you can't -- you can't -- you can't hold it against Jeff Sessions for not answering a question in the past that they wouldn't ask him in the future.

SELLERS: No, I can -- I can hold -- I can hold Jeff Sessions to the standard that you have to tell the truth under oath.

LOESCH: And he did. I think we disagree on this.

ROGERS: I will say -- but listen in this debate if everything becomes this constitutional democracy crisis and the world is coming to an end then serious matters will not be addressed in the appropriate way. We have to take each issue as it is.

I think they have a very clumsy communications process right now that they need to get their handle on. I don't think that means democracy is collapsing.

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: One last point with the Twitter stuff. I have a love and hate relationship with his use of Twitter. I love it because I -- I love the accessibility of any elected official being on Twitter that way, but at the same time I hate it because, you know, he could give a really universally approved of speech at joint session Congress and the that's completely overlooked because of treated the next day and I don't know if he understands the weight of that account anymore.

TAPPER: I want to -- I want to just very quickly touch about Obamacare. Republican leaders are betting that the only way for this to happen is to set a bill in motion and gamble that Republicans won't dare to block it. Senator Lindsey Graham is joining Rand Paul and is objecting to the secrecy of it all and this, take it or leave it approach.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Republican leaders who may be listening. Don't give Lindsey Graham take it or leave it options because I'll leave it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SELLERS: My senator.

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: You have Democrats now cheering for Lindsey Graham. I mean, it's the most amazing thing. But we need more Democrats.

I think last night's "Saturday Night Live" skit where you had the to be determined who is going to be the Republican to step up. You have Democrats who are now not only do we wish we had George W. Bush but you're cheering on John McCain and Lindsey Graham because what we've realized is for seven years the Republicans have talked about repealing Obamacare. They've sponsored all these bills but now we get here and they did not nothing.

TAPPER: Dana.

LOESCH: Well, they did have one, a plan that they passed in 2010 and they did have a number of plans that they put forward. The former House speaker did not want to bring those to the floor and I wish actually they would kind of go back to that 2010 one.

Whenever they say they are going to repeal and replace. Replaces what? Why can't you just replace it with the market? One of the things that I still have -- my biggest criticism of the Republican Party is they are awful at messaging, awful at it, and this shows it.

TAPPER: All right. I have to leave it there. I'm so sorry.

(LAUGHTER) TAPPER: It always feel like you're the one I have to cut off. I apologize. Next time I'll come to you first.

Coming up next, President Oprah? Could one of the world's richest women be the Democrat's answer to take back the White House? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:27]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

Hours after taking the oath of office, President Trump filed for reelection. It's not clear whom Democrats might nominate to take him on in 2020. How about another billionaire T.V. star turner media mogul? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Oprah Winfrey contemplating a presidential run? That's right. This week we've learned O might be a go.

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: Oh, gee. I don't have the experience. I don't know enough. Now I'm thinking, oh.

TAPPER: She's not running yet, of course, but again in 1988 someone else told Oprah that the presidency seemed a bridge too far for him.

WINFREY: This sounds like political presidential talk to me. I know people have talked to you about whether or not you'd want to run. Would you ever?

TRUMP: Probably not.

TAPPER: Last year Mr. Trump even joked about making Oprah his running mate.

TRUMP: She's great. She's talented. She's a friend of mine. I like Oprah. She would be great. I'd love to have Oprah. I think we'd win easily.

TAPPER: What kind of rival to Trump might she be? Could she out- charisma him? Could she out-celebrity him?

WINFREY: Love, love, love. Tweet, tweet. Love it. Aren't you all the luckiest people in the world?

TAPPER: What might the State of the Union address be like for one of the most successful women in the world?

WINFREY: You get a car. You get a car. You get a car.

TAPPER: And how would she handle moments where she had to dress down a cabinet official enmeshed in scandal? Would it be anything like the way she handled Lindsay Lohan? WINFREY: You need to cut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You really do. OK? Just cut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

[09:55:01]

TAPPER: The big question for Oprah, will she make America as deliriously deranged as she once did Tom Cruise?

Stay tuned, folks. Same Oprah time, same Oprah channel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for spending for Sunday morning with us.

You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Go to CNN.com/SOTU -- STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.