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THE SITUATION ROOM
Source: FBI Chief 'Incredulous' Over Wiretap Claim; Trump Signs New Travel Ban; North Koreader Supervised Latest Missile Launches Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 6, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Incredulous. A source says FBI Director James Comey was incredulous at President Trump's unfounded claim that former President Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones. New information on why he wants the Justice Department to knock down the president's claim.
[17:00:21] Ban rollout. President Trump quietly takes another try at a travel ban, this time leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries and exempting U.S. green card and visa holders. Will the White House face a new legal battle and more protests? I'll speak live to the secretary of homeland security, John Kelly.
In hiding? After a weekend of extraordinary tweets, this is the first weekday since his inauguration that President Trump has not been seen in public. Why is he keeping a low profile?
And going ballistic. Kim Jong-un reacts to U.S./South Korean military exercises by launching four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. The White House calls that a very serious threat. What steps will the U.S. take in response?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. The FBI director is left incredulous over President Trump's weekend tweet barrage in which he made the unfounded claim that then-President Obama ordered his wires tapped in Trump Tower in New York City.
We're getting new information on why the FBI director, James Comey, now wants the Justice Department to knock down the president's claim.
That claim has been denied by an Obama spokesman, by the former director of national intelligence, and branded as nonsense by former national security officials.
Now the president is embroiled in yet another controversy of his own making, seemingly based on conspiracy theories promoted by right-wing radio hosts and websites. But the White House is doubling down tonight, calling for a congressional inquiry with press secretary Sean Spicer, insisting there's, quote, "no question" that something happened. President Trump today issued a new travel ban. Call it take two. The
first executive order led to protests, chaos at airports and successful court challenges. The new order bans immigration from six Muslim-majority nations, leaving Iraq off the new list. It also exempts people with valid green cards or valid visas. The latest version was drawn up in close collaboration with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
I'll speak live with the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, and with Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with President Trump's stunning and baseless claim that President Obama tapped his phones. Our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us first. Jeff, the president is keeping a low profile since that Twitter barrage.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a very low profile indeed, particularly compared to the explosive and extraordinary comments he made over the weekend.
Now, a White House spokesman tells me tonight the president does not regret sending out those messages. But Wolf, many Republicans in this town do.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump out of sight today at the White House as a firestorm raged over his unfounded accusation that President Obama wiretapped his phones last year. It's the first weekday since taking office Mr. Trump did not appear before the cameras, leaving his aides to try defending the president's extraordinary weekend attack.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president firmly believes that the Obama administration may have tapped into the phones at Trump Tower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is that based on media reports?
SANDERS: We should -- this is something that we should look into. We'd like to know for sure.
ZELENY: But neither the deputy White House deputy press secretary nor any adviser provided evidence to back up the president's exclusive claim, except to suggest Mr. Trump has access to more information than they do.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: He's the president of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not. And that's the way it should be for presidents.
ZELENY: The latest presidential eruption started Saturday morning from Florida when the president tweeted this: "Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
His tweets didn't stop there, attacking President Obama again. "This is Nixon Watergate. Bad or sick guy."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who held his daily briefing off-camera today, defended the president, but also declined to offer any evidence.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that there's no question that something happened. The question is, is it -- is it surveillance, is it a wiretap or whatever? But there has been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred.
ZELENY: The allegations shook Washington and raised the stakes even higher for the Russia investigation on Capitol Hill. A new CNN/ORC poll found nearly two-thirds of Americans say a special prosecutor should investigate Russia allegations. A number that includes most Democrats, many independents and even 43 percent of all Republicans.
James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, was among the federal officials who said no wiretapping took place at Trump Tower.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: For the part of the national security apparatus I oversaw at DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, whether as a candidate or against his campaign.
ZELENY: The allegations appear to stem from a story on the conservative site Breitbart News, CNN has learned, which the president read last week. That story is a synopsis of allegations made by talk radio host Mark Levin, who has been pushing, without evidence, the same conspiracy theory now embraced by the president.
MARK LEVIN, TALK RADIO HOST: This is not about President Trump's tweeting. This is about the Obama administration's spying, and the question isn't whether it's spied. We know they went to the FISA court twice. The question is who did they spy on, the extent of the spying.
ZELENY: The White House called for a congressional inquiry into whether President Obama abused the power of federal law enforcement before the 2016 election. A spokesman for the former president said the allegations were simply false.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who appeared in Florida with the president on Friday, seemed dumbfounded by the allegations on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
RUBIO: 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.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY: Now, senator Rubio is one of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, so he will be among those investigating this.
Now, the White House demanded this inquiry, but it's unclear if the president will accept the findings. We asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer about that earlier today when he talked to reporters, and he said this: "If we have a problem with its conclusions, we'll let it be known" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny over at the White House.
Now to the president's latest attempt at a travel ban. Unlike the dramatic rollout of the first version, this executive order was signed quietly, out of the media spotlight. The secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, is here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll talk in a moment.
But first, let's go to our senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, over at the State Department. Michelle, how is this different from the first ban that was blocked by the federal courts?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, the White House has removed the most controversial, confusing parts of the original travel ban. The most glaring one is that this doesn't involve seven countries anymore; it involves six. Iraq is now off the list.
So what suddenly happened between then and now? The Trump administration is saying that Iraq is now working with the U.S. to implement better security measures, although sources tell CNN nothing has changed procedurally, although there is better communication over what Iraq has already been doing on the security front.
Also, this new travel ban makes it clear that, if you have a visa, if you have a green card, you are OK to travel to the U.S. There are also certain exceptions that U.S. officials can make. So that really spells that out.
And on the refugee front, Syrian refugees are no longer indefinitely banned. And gone is the language that seemed to give preferential treatment to Christians.
You know, it's interesting, too, when you hear from the administration, this time they're trying to back up the executive order with some data. Saying that there are now 300 refugees who are currently in the U.S. who are under investigation by the FBI for potential terrorist activity.
But U.S. officials are refusing to say what countries any of those refugees are from and even whether a single one of them comes from one of these countries in question. Here is the attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Like every nation, the United States has a right to control who enters our country and to keep out those who would do us harm. This executive order seeks to protect the American people as well as lawful immigrants by putting in place an enhanced screening and vetting process for visitors from six countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: This is such a different rollout, too. The first executive order, remember, it was in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. It was President Trump in this big ceremony with the secretary of defense right next to him.
Well, this time the White House had him sign this in private. They just put out a photo of him doing that.
And the big question the last time around is, well, you look at the agencies who were supposed to interpret and implement the executive order. Where were they? The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department were -- were confused themselves over how to implement this.
Well, this was, today, the White House almost saying, you know, "Here's everybody." You had the attorney general, homeland security, and the State Department all presenting this to the American public, Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski over at the State Department. Thanks very much.
Joining us now, the homeland security secretary, retired General John Kelly. General, Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
GEN. JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Hello, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks for your military service, as well.
Let's get right to some of the specific issues. The FBI reported 300 refugees admitted to the United States are currently under investigation for potential terrorist activity. How many of those 300 are from those six Muslim-majority countries on this list?
KELLY: We've heard this before, Wolf. I mean, things that are under investigation, particularly the FBI at the level at which they investigate, not a lot is shared until those investigations are complete and then passed down to the relevant agency to deal with. So I don't know how many are from those six.
BLITZER: Is this new intelligence that you've gotten since six weeks ago when you initially released your initial ban?
KELLY: A number of weeks ago this was intelligence that was law enforcement classified. Now it's not.
BLITZER: Are most of these 300 from these six countries? Can you give us a ballpark?
KELLY: No details on the investigations, other than that there's roughly 300 under investigation.
BLITZER: From all over the world?
KELLY: I suspect from all over the world.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about your Department of Homeland Security just came out with its own intelligence assessment that finds most of the foreign-born violent extremists here in the United States have been radicalized after entering the United States. This is the Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment, declassified, made public. Does that undercut the need for this travel ban?
KELLY: If you're referring to the -- to the one that was leaked, to the report that was leaked, we were actually waiting for -- this was a pre-decisional draft report. We were waiting for the FBI to provide information as to numbers which they have.
So I think the report that you're referring to was pre-decisional draft. In the open press, we found that there was no way we could tell the numbers of individuals from those seven countries.
BLITZER: But in general, have most of the violent extremists who are being watched right now, have they been radicalized here in the United States or did they come here from whatever country with a plot to kill Americans?
KELLY: That's what's under investigation, part of it. The 300 are refugees, not, you know, self-proclaimed radicals from inside the United States. Three hundred are refugees who came here from another land. And I would think the investigation will go after the -- will -- one of the parts of the investigation will be were they radicalized when they came or were they radicalized after.
BLITZER: Don't you think you needed that intelligence before you released this new travel ban that affects these six Muslim-majority countries?
KELLY: Remember, the travel -- you know, you refer to it, many refer to it as a travel ban. We have always looked at it as a pause from those seven nations, now six, until we can get our arms around exactly how good we can vet individuals from those countries.
And the fact of the matter is, with the exception of -- with the exception Iraq, generally speaking, we don't have embassies in those countries, three of the six now are designated as terrorist supporters, you know, by the State Department. Most of them are countries in collapse. And we can't rely on the information...
BLITZER: But here's the concern.
KELLY: Let me finish if I could.
KELLY: We can't rely on those governments providing us any useful information to vet.
BLITZER: Here's the concern. That a travel ban like this, involving these six Muslim-majority countries, will be fodder for ISIS, al Qaeda, to recruit new terrorists.
KELLY: Just to remind, the six -- seven now six -- were the exact same countries that the United States Congress was concerned with and put on their list. The Obama administration put on their list. It was an obvious place to start.
I don't -- I don't take the point that -- that the Islamic extremists are prompted to do more extremism because of these kind of things. I mean, it flies in the face of why Khobar Towers, why the Marine bombing or the barracks bombing, why 9/11? I mean, they seemed pretty angry at us leading up to this. So I don't buy the issue that...
BLITZER: Because as you know, they're calling it a Muslim ban.
KELLY: But it's not a Muslim ban.
BLITZER: The countries are all Muslim countries.
KELLY: There are 1.7 billion Muslims on the planet. There are something on the order of 51 overwhelmingly Muslim countries. We had seven, now six, to the tune of maybe a couple hundred million predominantly Muslims that were put on the list. And it's a pause as we look at ways that we can better vet these countries.
And these countries represent six or seven that we knew about. We're now looking at other countries. And when we come up with additional vetting to protect the nation, better than it's been protected, there will probably be other countries we look at and say, "OK, we want you to improve..."
BLITZER: So you think they're going to expand that list?
KELLY: I don't think -- I don't think the -- I don't believe that the list will be expanded, but there are countries out there that we'll ask, like Iraq has done, by -- by the involvement of their prime minister, to cooperate with us better, to get us the information we need, to safeguard the country.
BLITZER: So what other countries might be added to that?
KELLY: There's a number of them out there. I don't want to speculate. But there's probably 13 or 14 other countries, not all of them Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East, that have very questionable vetting procedures that we can rely on. And then, if we overlay additional vetting procedures, the chances are those countries, there will be minimum citizens from those countries that visit our country.
BLITZER: President Trump, at a news conference, said that you personally had told him the original travel ban had to be enacted immediately. That was his word, because of security. It's now been delayed, what, for six weeks or so. Doesn't that undermine the emergency component of this? Because now it's going to be delayed for at least another ten days?
KELLY: Right. The -- clearly the courts have decided that they are in a position to understand the threat against the United States better than people like me or the intelligence agencies. So at this point in time, with a 30-day delay, generally speaking, because of the court action, we wanted to roll this out in a way that we did not have the opportunity to do the first time around.
BLITZER: Let me get to some other sensitive homeland security issues while I have you. Are you, the Department of Homeland Security, considering a new -- a new initiative that would separate children from their parents if they tried to enter the United States illegally?
KELLY: Let me start by saying I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States. And I would underline that the Mexicans are after this network in the same way we are. It's extremely dangerous. I wouldn't say 100 percent, but certainly in the high 90 percent. And this is by the social service organizations that inform me from Central America that the vast majority of the young women, all women, are sexually abused along this trip.
My point is...
BLITZER: Let me just -- let me be precise.
BLITZER: If you get some young kids who are coming in, manage to sneak into the United States with their parents, are Department of Homeland Security personnel going to separate the children from their moms and dads?
KELLY: We -- we have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors. We turn them over to HHS, and they do a very, very good job of either putting them in kind of foster care or linking them up with parents or family members in the United States.
Yes, I am considering -- in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network, I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.
BLITZER: But you understand how that looks to the average person who is, you know...
KELLY: It's more important to me, Wolf, to try to keep people off of this awful network.
BLITZER: You know, hovering over our discussion right now is the big headline of the day, this -- this amazing charge from the president of the United States that President Obama personally ordered a surveillance of Trump Tower in New York during the campaign.
Now, you're privy to sensitive information. Are you familiar with that? Do you believe that? You've worked with both of these presidents.
KELLY: I don't know anything about it other than when I was sitting in the off studio here, watching CNN. If the president of the United States said that, he's got his reasons to say it; he's got some convincing evidence that that took place.
BLITZER: What possibly could that convincing evidence be?
KELLY: I don't -- I don't pretend to even guess as to what the motivation may have been for the previous administration to do something like that.
BLITZER: You work closely with the FBI director, James Comey.
KELLY: He's my friend.
BLITZER: He's your friend. You have confidence in him.
KELLY: I do have confidence in him.
BLITZER: According to a source very close, he's incredulous how President Trump could make this accusation against President Obama.
KELLY: You know, with due respect to sources, I have been wronged so many times in the last six, seven weeks as the secretary of homeland security by sources that were dead wrong. I'm not suggesting in this case, but that were dead wrong. I don't go much on single sources anymore.
BLITZER: If he went public -- and we're out of time -- if Comey went public and said this never happened, as Clapper did, the former director of national intelligence, would you believe Comey?
KELLY: I would expect Jim Comey to then turn that over to some investigative arm, and we could get to the truth or to the bottom line. Again, James Comey is an honorable guy. So is the president of the United States. And the president must have his reasons.
[17:20:04] BLITZER: The secretary of homeland security, General Kelly. Thanks very much for joining us. You've got a tough job. Good luck.
KELLY: It's a great job.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch.
KELLY: Thank you.
BLITZER: Don't leave yet.
Just ahead, more on the breaking news. A source says the FBI director, James Comey, was left incredulous by President Trump's unfounded claim that the former president, Barack Obama, ordered a wiretap of his phones.
BLITZER: President Trump's unfounded claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor has left intelligence and national security professionals stunned and bewildered. Our breaking news, you can now include the FBI director in that category.
[17:25:07] Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is with us. Pamela, update our viewers on what you're learning.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning more about FBI Director James Comey's reaction to the president's tweets on Saturday morning, claiming that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones during the campaign, and we're told through our source familiar with Comey's reaction that he was incredulous, that there was a level of disbelief from the FBI director to these tweets.
And we're told over the weekend that the FBI director wanted his staff at the FBI to reach out to staff at the Department of Justice for DOJ to knock down this allegation. The source says part of why he was so concerned and why he wanted this to be knocked down publicly is because it was bad for the reputation of the FBI; and institutionally, he felt like it was important to knock it down, given the magnitude of this allegation, an allegation that he knew was wrong, according to this source.
And we're told, Wolf, that at this point DOJ still hasn't done anything publicly, and that has been frustrating to the FBI director. He believes that DOJ should. That has not happened yet.
We should point out, though, that over the weekend James Comey was not the one to reach out to DOJ. It was staff members from the FBI.
And of course, this is such a unique situation here, where you have the head of the FBI sort of at odds with the president of the United States. And so I asked my source the question of, is he concerned, you know, that he could lose his job, anything like that? And we're told that that's not something he is concerned about or preoccupied with. He knows that's a possibility, but he also, at this stage, has no plans to resign.
But clearly, he was frustrated by the tweets from the president Saturday morning and also frustrated that DOJ did not come out and publicly knock it down at this point, Wolf. That's what we're learning from a source familiar.
BLITZER: You just heard the homeland security secretary say he has confidence in the FBI director, James Comey. But on two occasions today, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, refused to say that. That refusal raised some alarm bells.
BROWN: Right. And he also said that, as far as he knew, the two had not communicated. And I think it's fair to say that Director Comey would like to avoid having to reach out directly to the White House. I think he would like to work with DOJ predominantly. But clearly, this is a very unique situation that these two men find themselves in.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Pamela Brown reporting for us. Good reporting as usual.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. He's an Iraq War veteran.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Happy to do it, Wolf.
BLITZER: So the president called it a fact that President Obama was tapping his phones at Trump Tower in New York City. I want you to react to that.
MOULTON: It's absolutely shocking. And, you know, as people have said, that really means two things. I mean, one, if the president -- if President Obama was doing this illegally, then we in Congress need to get to the bottom of it. If he was doing it legally, it means that he was able to obtain a warrant against the new president of the United States.
Both are frightening for our national security, and both heighten the need to seriously investigate the allegations about Russia's interference in our elections. That's why we need to rise above party politics, bring Democrats and Republicans together to have an independent, bipartisan investigation of exactly what's going on.
BLITZER: You heard Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent, report that the FBI director, Comey, was incredulous after the president tweeted this. Would you like to see the FBI director, James Comey, publicly comment on all of this?
MOULTON: I certainly would. I mean, he didn't have any hesitations about publicly commenting on what he was doing to investigate Hillary Clinton during the campaign. He should certainly comment on that.
I think that Americans deserve to know whether the president of the United States is under investigation. We still haven't heard that critical piece of information from the FBI director.
There's a lot of concern in Congress that the FBI isn't doing its job. And I think that Director Comey would give a lot of confidence to us and to his organization if he were to come clean and explain what's going on to the American people.
BLITZER: What do you make of the fact that the president, at least so far, based on everything we're hearing, has not yet spoken to the FBI director, James Comey, about this extraordinary allegation he made early Saturday morning?
MOULTON: It's an utter lack of leadership. This is the president of the United States making very strong, very serious allegations early in the morning on Twitter, right before he tweeted about "The Apprentice," which I guess he thought was also important. He should have a conversation with the people who work in his administration.
The idea that he would not even have a conversation with the FBI director at this point should be shocking to all Americans, whether you're Republican, Democratic or independent. We expect leadership from our commander in chief, and we're not getting it.
BLITZER: Do you think it's possible the president could fire Comey?
MOULTON: Absolutely. He seems to enjoy firing people. He makes a point of that. We'll have to see. But at the end of the day, what President Trump needs to do is start telling the truth, start being honest and start coming clean about what's going on. And I think we're all waiting for him to do that.
BLITZER: Comey had staff at the FBI reach out to the Department of Justice to knock these allegations down. But do you see the Justice Department -- the attorney general, as you know, is Jeff Sessions -- do you see the Justice Department actually refuting this?
MOULTON: I don't know what to expect from the attorney general, because the attorney general should have resigned because he lied under oath. This is the top law enforcement official in the United States of America, who lied under oath to a Senate committee and hasn't resigned yet. I mean, that, in and of itself, is a shocking revelation. It shows that we really don't have any confidence in the attorney general.
So if I don't even have confidence in the attorney general to tell the truth under oath, I certainly don't have confidence in him to do the right thing in this complicated situation.
BLITZER: The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, says -- and I'm quoting him now -- there's enough out there now that makes one wonder how some of this happened without the existence of surveillance. But the White House hasn't sourced anyone backing up these claims, certainly not on the record. Should the administration present the evidence that they say they have?
MOULTON: Of course. I mean, the president has put himself in a box now. Republicans and Democrats alike are questioning where this is coming from. I mean, we've heard leaders like Senator Graham and Senator McCain say what is going on? Senator Rubio you quote earlier. We've got to get to the bottom of this. And the president of the United States owes some answers to the American people.
BLITZER: You just heard the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, tell me about wiretapping. And he said this. And I'm quoting him now. He said, "If the president of the United States says that, he's got his reasons to say it. He's got some convincing evidence that took place." Your reaction to that?
MOULTON: Well, Secretary Kelly isn't looking at the evidence, which is that the president of the United States is a serial liar. He lies every day to the American people. He's known for telling things that are untrue. So there's no reason why we should think that he said this just because it's true. He might have said it because he thought he would get good attention from the media, that he thought it would play to his base. These are all reasons why the president of the United States has said untruthful things in the past.
So, you know, look, these are the facts. We have a president, President Trump, who's very hard to trust. And that's difficult for everybody. That's difficult for Americans across the political spectrum.
BLITZER: You also heard the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, just tell me he is, in fact, considering a new policy that would separate children from their parents, from their moms and dads, if they cross the border illegally. Your response to that?
MOULTON: It sounds terribly inhumane. And, you know, Secretary Kelly's job -- let me say this first. I'm a Marine veteran, as is Secretary Kelly. I have tremendous, tremendous respect for General Kelly and his service.
But I think Secretary Kelly, in his new position, has been rather disappointing. Because when you just -- we just heard him explain the reasons for the new executive order, and a lot of it just doesn't make sense.
I mean, he said that the new executive order is based on new intelligence, and they cited the 300 refugees who are supposedly under investigation. But then you asked him where these refugees are from, and he couldn't say. I mean, the secretary of the homeland security is not doing his job if he doesn't know where these 300 refugees are from that he's supposedly protecting the United States from.
So there are a lot of questions that need to be answered that back up all of these new executive orders and the policies to restrict immigration to the United States.
BLITZER: President Trump, as you know, he signed this revised version of the travel ban today. He dropped Iraq from the list of banned Muslim-majority countries. You vocally opposed the first version of this, using the example of your Iraqi interpreters are those who potentially who could have been band from coming to the United States. Do you welcome this change?
MOULTON: Well, of course, it's a step in the right direction. But let' not get distracted from the fact that this executive order weakens our national security. It does the exact opposite of what the president says it will do.
And fundamentally, Wolf, it weakens our national security for two reasons. First of all, as you said, it makes it much more difficult for our troops overseas to find those critical Muslim allies, the translators, the intelligence sources, who have to put their trust in us in order to give us intelligence about the terrorists. They're critical to our fight against terrorism, and this executive order makes it much harder for our troops to work with them.
[17:35:06] And then the second reason is that ISIS and other terrorist organizations will use this executive order, regardless of what the president or the secretary of homeland security says about it, they'll use this executive order to aid in this -- their recruiting to further the idea that they have that America is at war with the Muslim faith.
Now, the secretary of homeland security said that he doesn't believe this is happening. With all due respect, Mr. Secretary, turn on your phone, download the Twitter app and see right online ISIS doing that today, using these things that President Trump is doing to help with their recruiting efforts, to inspire more terrorists to attack Americans here at home and our troops overseas.
BLITZER: Congressman Seth Moulton, thanks very much for joining us.
MOULTON: Thank you, Wolf.
As I said to Secretary Kelly thanks for his service; thanks for your service, as well.
Still ahead. Kim Jong-un orders a dangerous new provocation. We have new details about North Korea's latest test of multiple missiles and what the U.S. has been doing secretly to counter the threat.
[17:40:35] BLITZER: Our breaking news. Word that FBI Director James Comey was incredulous over President Trump's tweet Saturday morning claiming that President Obama wiretapped Trump's phone during the campaign.
The White House continues to insist the president's tweets speak for themselves and that Congress should investigate the allegation.
Let's get some insight from our political and legal experts. And Laura Coates, you're a legal analyst.
If the president has evidence that his predecessor, President Obama, actually launched a wiretap against him at Trump Tower in New York City, why is the White House calling on Congress to investigate because the president -- he has the authority to declassify, release that evidence, anytime. He could do it today.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I suspect because the emperor has no clothes on, Wolf, and there is really no evidence. They're trying to do a backward approach and say, "Listen, here's our conclusion. Now make this true."
A similar tack they used with the travel ban initially to say, "Here's what I want. Now make this happen." That generally works in terms of a bureaucracy, but it doesn't work when you're talking about a criminal investigation, which is what this would be.
One of the first things you learn as a lawyer is the testimony of the attorney is not evidence. The testimony of the president is not evidence. And his tweets and whatnot will not be sufficient.
Now, there actually may be something here, and Congress may decide on their own to investigate the claim. We are talking about at great expenditure and detracts from perhaps other things. So really, what has to happen is either in camera or classified to Congress, tell them a reason. The same way the court said, "Hive us a reason to justify this ban," give me a reason as Congress to justify an investigation. So far there isn't any.
BLITZER: You just heard the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, tell me that this is the president of the United States. He's privy to the most sensitive information out there. He must have his reasons for making this enormous charge against President Obama.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And you heard Kellyanne Conway, one of the president's advisers, essentially say the same thing, say that the president is privy to all sorts of informations -- information that other people aren't privy to, so he must know something.
So far they haven't been great at dealing with this cloud, this cloud of Russia that's hanging over this administration and in some ways hung over the campaign, too. You would think they would go on the offense, that the president can call anyone into the Oval Office and essentially do an interview with anybody he wants to to find out what people knew, and when they knew it, and who they met with and get dates and subject matter of conversations that anyone has had with any one suspect in terms of this -- in terms of this administration. But they haven't done that.
The only thing they've done, really, is call out the leakers. They've talked about fake news. They've talked about the media being the enemy of the state. And this latest sort of conspiracy theory -- it seems to be a conspiracy theory -- that the president is floating around, President Obama, who has been on vacation, and in New York, and dining with his wife, tapping his phone way back when during the campaign.
BLITZER: You know, Ryan, speaking of conspiratorial theories, you've heard a lot of the president's critics recall he had the conspiracy theory on the birther movement, that President Obama really wasn't born in the United States and eligible to be president. During the campaign when he was fighting Ted Cruz, made this allegation that Ted Cruz's father may have been involved in the assassination of JFK.
More recently, 3 to 5 million illegal votes, that's why he didn't win the popular vote. Wants to launch some sort of commission. Hasn't launched that commission of inquiry yet.
You see a pattern here?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think so. That's quite a list and quite a graphic you just showed, Wolf. And, I mean, maybe we shouldn't be that surprised, given the history that you laid out. But I do -- you know, maybe I'm naive, but I continually find myself surprised that the president is -- engages in the same kind of rhetoric and conspiracy theorizing that he engaged in when he was a private citizen and he didn't have access to, obviously, the resources and intelligence that he has now. I mean, if you think about the accusation he's making, there are three
possibilities, right? If you take him seriously, if you take him literally, one is that there was a FISA court surveillance request, and that the FISA court agreed with the FBI or whoever presented it to them that there was an agent of a foreign government, either Trump himself or someone in Trump Tower. That's what FISA is used for. It's used to surveil agents of foreign governments on U.S. soil. That would be one possibility.
The second possibility would be that there was a more traditional criminal wiretap, and so the court would also have to have evidence of an underlying of potential crime to authorize that.
And of course, the third and most extreme and most unlikely scenario is that President Obama has some kind of personal surveillance powers, and he was, you know, bugging Trump Tower.
So I feel like Trump has taken this accusation of, whoa, the government may have had enough evidence to do some surveillance, either through a criminal complaint or a FISA warrant, and he sort of turned it around into something that was malicious. But at the end of the day, Congress needs to get -- somebody needs to get to the bottom of this and clear it up.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the FBI Director, Mark Preston, James Comey, he is described as incredulous by President Trump's tweets early Saturday morning. He could clarify this himself. He could go public as he did with Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Why doesn't he?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that he's had his time in the spotlight, and he got, you know, rocks thrown at him for it. And rightfully so in many ways, because if you are a Hillary Clinton supporter, perhaps you think that James Comey tipped the election towards Donald Trump. But he did send senior officials over to the Department of Justice and tell them to knock down this rumor, and as Pam Brown had reported earlier, to no avail.
You know, Wolf, what I do think is worthwhile mentioning throughout this whole controversy, as well, is the timing. This happened on Saturday morning. This came at a time when Donald Trump was not having the best of news days.
His Attorney General was under the glare for his meetings with the Russian ambassador. He was having trouble with his senior staff as we have since reported out. And we've seen Donald Trump do this in the past. He tries to redirect everyone's attention elsewhere with another big, shiny object.
And I do have to say, if this was true, would we really see the President of the United States tweet about it on a Saturday morning? I just think the timing is really circumspect.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by. There's more news were following, including a very dangerous new threat from North Korea. Stand by for details on its latest tests of multiple missiles and new
revelations about how the U.S. has been trying to counter the growing threat posed by Kim Jong-un.
[17:52:03] BLITZER: We have more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. North Korea's state news agency just announced the country's leader Kim Jong-un supervised the latest launch of a salvo of ballistic missiles. The White House is taking the threat very seriously. Brian Todd has been looking into all of this for us.
Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was just moments ago that we heard from Kim Jong-un's news agency that he did personally supervise those ballistic missile launches. Experts are telling us that by firing off four missiles at once, Kim is likely developing a capability to defeat U.S. missile defensives. This comes as the Trump administration weighs its options to counter Kim's aggression, mindful that he's getting closer to a much more dangerous threat.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Kim Jong-un could be one step closer to threatening America with a nuclear-tipped missile. The ballistic missiles his regime just test fired landed within 200 miles off the coast of Japan. These were not Kim's most advanced missiles. But by launching at least four of them at once, experts say he's working toward a specific kind of threat.
THOMAS KARAKO, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They're putting together salvos of missiles that may be harder to defeat. And so three or four missiles going to the same place, maybe from different places, that's the kind of thing that's going to be a little bit harder -- not impossible but a little bit harder to defeat.
TODD (voice-over): The missile test is viewed as Kim's warning in response to joint military exercises going on now between U.S. and South Korean forces. Kim views those drills as practice for an invasion of North Korea. The United States and South Korea deny this.
Tonight, the Trump administration is calling his missile test a, quote, "very serious threat" and not ruling out a military response, promising it's prepared to use, quote, "the full range of capabilities." U.S. officials know Kim is ramping up his missile capabilities toward launching a long-range ballistic missile, one that could send a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.
KARAKO: It is a different animal to shoot one all the way to the United States. But they have, in the last couple of years, been testing some solid fuel motors that, when combined together, could get you some pretty long legs to get there.
TODD (on camera): When is the key. When can they threaten? KARAKO: It could be this year; it could be next year. But this is
the kind of capability that folks are pretty antsy about them deciding to test.
TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials and outside analysts say what's not clear is whether Kim's regime has adequately tested whether his nuclear-tipped missiles could survive re-entry into the atmosphere. There's a new report saying America has tried to disrupt Kim's missile program with cyber attacks.
"The New York Times" reports that, three years ago, President Obama ordered Pentagon officials to increase cyber strikes against North Korea's missile program, hoping to sabotage the launches. "The Times" reports, soon after the Obama order, several North Korean rockets began to explode and veer off course. It's not clear if that was due to the cyber attacks, North Korea's own mistakes, or something else.
JAMIE METZL, NONRESIDENT SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: The alleged U.S. cyber program would be a good idea. The goal is to slow North Korea's development of deliverable nuclear weapons to buy time for potential changes in the North Korean political context.
[17:55:13] TODD: Meaning to buy time for the U.S. and its allies to somehow try to remove Kim Jong-un from power or to negotiate with Kim's regime for a draw down of his weapons arsenal or to level more sanctions against Kim. Maybe get China to pressure him further.
Tonight, those are all options President Trump has before him as Kim Jong-un continues to aggressively test Mr. Trump with provocations -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you. Brian Todd, reporting.
Coming up. Breaking news. A source says FBI Director James Comey was incredulous of President Trump's unfounded claim that former President Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones.