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Lawmakers Review CIA Documents on Russia and Elections; Trump in 'Sell Mode' on Health Care Bill; Investigating Wiretap Allegations. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 8, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. More questions. Key lawmakers get a look at CIA intelligence on Russian meddling in the presidential election, and they have more questions after seeing evidence of actions favoring one candidate. And as lawmakers move forward on President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped and his demand for an investigation, should he be careful what he wishes for?
Massive difference. When damaging leaks helped his election campaign, Donald Trump proclaimed, quote, "I love WikiLeaks." Now that WikiLeaks claims to have released documents on CIA hacking, the White House says there's a massive difference between the two cases.
Tough sell. President Trump goes all out to push the GOP's Obamacare replacement plan, but conservatives are dead set against their party's plan. Can the veteran deal maker close the deal?
And son of Nam. In hiding from the North Korean regime, Kim Jong-nam -- Kim Jong-un's -- Kim Jong-nam's son, I should say, offers a bizarre new video, speaking out for the first time since his father was publicly assassinated. Is he also on a hit list?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news: members of the Senate Intelligence Committee visit the CIA and pour over raw intelligence data on Russia's interference in the election campaign. One senator tells CNN there's evidence of activity favoring one candidate. He won't discuss allegations of Trump campaign involvement but says the lawmakers have more questions.
Meantime, President Trump has called for an investigation of his unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped during the campaign by President Obama. Now he's got one. Leaders of a Senate subcommittee are asking the Justice Department to see any documents that may exist on such surveillance. And they're prepared to use their subpoena power. Leaders of other panels have said they will also investigate the claim. Officials say a federal criminal probe has been opened into the
publication of files by WikiLeaks, which claims the documents revealed methods the CIA uses to hack into smart phones, TVs, and other devices worldwide.
And the White House says President Trump is in full sell mode on health care. But congressional conservatives aren't buying. The president will bring critics to the White House and hit the road to push the Obamacare replacement plan, but he'll need to study up on the art of the deal to win over opponents who've already declared the plan dead.
I'll speak with Iraqi Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
Investigations are gathering steam right now into Russia's campaign meddling and the president's claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor.
Let's begin with our senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju.
Manu, why are senators personally now going over to CIA headquarters?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, tonight the Intelligence Committee are pushing forward on their investigations to Russia's involvement during the election.
But whether or not there were any campaign contacts with Trump officials when Russian officials at that time, while Russia was trying to apparently help elect Donald Trump, that in the view of the intelligence community.
Now, today four senators went to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to pour over raw intelligence to look at exactly what Russia was doing. One of those was Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat in the committee, who told me that it looks like that, from that data, that Russia was trying to help one candidate over another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: A lot of what we saw today was the evidence underlying how Russia manipulated the news, how it hacked into the DNC and John Podesta and leaked out in favor of one candidate against another candidate.
But I think these efforts, beyond even the whole question about whether there were contacts between campaigns and the Russians, but this underlying assault on our democracy, I think Americans need to know about this.
RAJU: Is there anything that suggests that the Trump campaign was involved in coordinating that release of information?
WARNER: At this point I'm not going to get into that part of the discussion. That is -- that's part of our investigation. It's always been about the misinformation. It's been about the hacking and selective release of e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Wolf, two things that Mark Warner did point to was a change in the Republican Party platform to discuss Russia's treatment towards Ukraine and more favorable terms that Russia perhaps would like.
And also Donald Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin when I asked him about any evidence of coordination. And those are issues that some members want to see here publicly, a public hearing now being called for by another member of the Intelligence Committee. That's Susan Collins of Maine, telling me earlier that she wants a public hearing to discuss these issues, because this committee often operates in secret, Wolf.
[17:05:17] BLITZER: Manu, at the same time, this other committee is demanding information over the president's claims that former President Obama wiretapped him. What do we know about that?
RAJU: Yes, that's right. Two top senators, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat of Rhode Island who head a key subcommittee, are asking for information from the Justice Department and the FBI for any warrants or any applications to suggest that the Obama administration was at that time trying to spy on president, now President Trump, as the president is now suggesting.
I talked to Lindsey Graham about this. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president has asked Congress to look into whether or not his campaign was wiretapped by the Obama administration. I will take up that challenge. And we sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the FBI, asking them for any information that they may have used to obtain a warrant. The whole purpose of this is to find out if a warrant was issued, directed at the Trump campaign.
RAJU: And if they don't provide this information?
GRAHAM: Then I'll have done my job. Either they are lying to me or there is no information. And I don't believe they would lie to me about this. I expect them to come forward as to whether or not a warrant was obtained or sought.
RAJU: And will you subpoena this information if they don't comply?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Wolf, Lindsey Graham actually had lunch with President Trump yesterday at the White House. I asked him, did you talk about this issue of wiretapping? He said, "Well, we actually talked largely about the issue of Russia," talking about Lindsey Graham's tough approach, hard line approach to Russia. And he believes after that conversation that President Trump may take a tougher tone towards Russia after they discussed this issue in depth, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Meantime President Trump being called on to use his deal-making skills to rescue the Republican leadership's Obamacare replacement plan, strongly opposed by many conservative lawmakers.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, the president certainly has his work cut out for him right now.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He does, Wolf. And he's beginning it, actually, at this hour with many groups who are opposed to this healthcare plan, conservative groups. He is going to be meeting in the Roosevelt Room here at the White House in the next several minutes with people from Heritage Action, Tea Party Patriots, Club for Growth, some key core conservative groups who are opposed to this bill.
He hopes he can win them over, and he hopes they spread the message to some of those conservative Republicans against the plan.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump's movement carried him to the White House, but can it save his healthcare plan? That is the question today from the West Wing to Capitol Hill as conservative criticism rises over the Republican plan to remake the American healthcare system.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he's in a very much of a sell mode.
ZELENY: It's the biggest sales pitch of the young Trump presidency. White House press secretary Sean Spicer says the president is ready to twist arms and hit the road to make his case.
SPICER: This is going to be a very, very aggressive comprehensive approach to making sure that every American understands that there is a major problem and that we are here to fix it.
ZELENY: Never mind the Democratic defiance.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Trumpcare is a healthcare handout for the wealthiest Americans and fake healthcare for everybody else.
ZELENY: It's the fierce Republican opposition the president must first overcome.
TRUMP: Work quickly.
ZELENY: A point he's making privately to skeptical GOP lawmakers.
TRUMP: I got elected to a certain extent, I would say, pretty good little chunk based on the fact repeal and replace Obamacare. And many of you people are in the same boat. Very important, so let's get it done.
ZELENY: That was the president's message to GOP leaders on Tuesday. But today, for the second time this week, he had no public appearances at the White House.
The vice president was taking his turn at explaining the plan publicly, hitting the airwaves in six states across the country, all of which he and Mr. Trump turned red in November. House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the criticism from within his own ranks, saying lawmakers are simply learning how to govern with a Republican president.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what you're seeing is we're going through the inevitable growing pains of being an opposition party to becoming a governing party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman from Ohio, Jim Jordan.
ZELENY: Yet, some of the loudest resistance is coming from congressmen like Jim Jordan of Ohio, a Tea Party member who railed against Obamacare last year on the campaign trail.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Let's vote Donald Trump to president, and let's make America great again.
ZELENY: But now he has this to say about President Trump's healthcare bill.
JORDAN: I believe when you look through it is Obamacare in a different form.
ZELENY: The president's healthcare message could be undercut by a fight over his credibility, in the wake of unfounded claims he made that President Obama wiretapped his phones last year at Trump Tower.
[17:10:05] When asked today whether the president believed he was the target of a counterintelligence investigation, Spicer initially said a congressional probe would reveal that answer. But later, after an aide handed him a note of clarification, Spicer said this.
SPICER: There is no reason that we should -- that we have to think that the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever.
ZELENY: Meanwhile, CNN has learned that former President Obama was irked and exasperated by the stunning suggestion he was spying on Trump. An aide called the claim simply false.
ZELENY: Now, as all of this wiretapping conversation is going on on Capitol Hill, the president is trying to sell this plan. And Wolf, he's going to hit the road, we're told, as soon as this weekend, likely traveling to Kentucky, the home state of Senator Rand Paul, who's been one of the most outspoken Republicans about this. Wolf, the whole question here is what are the consequences for
Republicans for standing up and defying their president? That's one of the things that he will try and express to them. It's one of the things that they will find out if they do -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny from the White House.
Let's get back to our breaking news. Joining us now, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet.
BLITZER: So, you just heard the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, say the president is not the target of a counterintelligence investigation. So, how could he have been wiretapped?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, of course, he couldn't have been, and I don't know what this means now as Sean Spicer now acknowledging that what the president said over the weekend was flatly false. And if so, don't you think the president owes an apology not just to the former president, but to the entire American people?
We will have Director Comey and others, I hope, coming in for our open hearing on March 20. We ought to be able to put this to rest once and for all.
But I don't think Sean Spicer can get away with just saying, "Well, OK, there's nothing to see here, let's move on. The president of the United States just levelled an unprecedented accusation of illegality at the former president; and the country deserves an answer about just why he did that.
BLITZER: The Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who's on the Judiciary Committee said this is an issue for his committee, as well, his subcommittee. So are you aware of any evidence at all that President Trump was the target of the criminal investigation?
SCHIFF: I'm not aware of any evidence of any wiretapping. Whether there were any counterintelligence investigations going on, that's not something I can speak to at this point. But I'm not aware of anything targeting Mr. Trump. And for the president to suggest that he was the target of wiretapping I think was grossly irresponsible.
And if the -- if the press reports are accurate that Director Comey wanted the Justice Department to speak out on this, we are going to give the director the opportunity to do that quite directly. So, we will be able to put this to rest. The president as of, I think 24, hours ago asked our committee to investigate this. We are going to oblige him. And on March 20, I think we'll have ample testimony that this claim was nonsensical, false, reckless, and scandalous in its breathtaking dishonesty, frankly.
BLITZER: Do you know if there was any wiretapping going on, not of president, then candidate Trump, but others at Trump Tower who were associated with Donald Trump?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it's quite a separate question from what the president alleged. That is, were there counterintelligence investigations going on, or even non-counter investigations?
But our own review of what foreign spies are up to that, incidentally, captured or either corroborated information, pointed to some collusion or captured conversations with U.S. persons. That is not something I can comment on, but that is not what the president alleged. And we shouldn't let his staff or surrogates by means of subterfuge try to confuse what it is the president accused his predecessor of doing. Whether there were incidental collections, that's a completely different matter and not something that I could comment on during pennant (ph) of the investigation.
BLITZER: You accepted the request to investigate the president's claims that President Obama illegally wiretapped him during the end of the campaign at Trump Tower in New York. Have you actually asked the White House to provide your committee with any and all evidence of whatever they might have to back up the president's tweets?
SCHIFF: You know, I don't know that we've made that formal request, but we have made a request of those who would have been in place at the time to come testify in open hearing. That's what the subject of this will be. We've asked Director Clapper, Director Brennan, Director Comey, Sally Yates, among others, to come in. And I think we will be able to resolve this very quickly. But I can only imagine the answer that we would get back from the administration if we went directly to them with that question.
[17:15:15] SCHIFF: Has the White House officially reached out to you about this, or is it your investigation, just based on that statement released by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, that they want Congress, the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees to investigate?
SCHIFF: You know, they -- they certainly haven't reached out to me. Whether they've reached out to the majority, I don't know, but frankly, I think there is a national interest at knowing whether our president just leveled a completely false allegation against his predecessor.
And this is among the very easiest allegations to investigate, because it's simply a matter of putting those questions to people under oath who would have been in position to know. And we should have all those persons present on March 20.
BLITZER: I spoke earlier today with one of your colleagues, Democratic House Intelligence Committee member Jackie Speier of California. She said, even looking into all of this gives credibility to President Trump's claims. Does it?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't think there's any credibility to these claims. And you've heard from Mitch McConnell and other Republican leadership, as well as rank and file. No one has seen any evidence of this. So, I don't think it has much credibility, but they've asked us to look into that, and be careful what you wish for. I'd like to have those that were present at the time be asked the question, "Was the president of the United States being honest? Was he being accurate when he accused his predecessor of wiretapping he and his associates?"
Because there needs to be some repercussion to this kind of reckless allegation. And in this case, I think the repercussion is that we will have high-ranking current and former officials telling the American people whether the president was truthful with them.
BLITZER: So -- so when you say be careful what you wish for, as far as the president is concerned, I want you to elaborate on what you mean by that.
SCHIFF: Well, the president asked us to investigate that, and now he's going to get what he wanted, because he's going to have the director of the FBI, the former director of the CIA, people from the Justice Department, all able to testify about whether he was telling the truth. I'm not sure that's exactly what he wanted when he asked us to investigate, because this won't be done in a closed private session. It won't be done away from the public spotlight. No, it will be done while the country is watching. And I'm not sure that's exactly what they had in mind, but that's exactly what I hope they're going to get.
BLITZER: Well, does this open the door, Congressman, to subpoena Donald Trump's business records, his tax returns, for example? Is that something you're looking to do?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, again, I think that we ought to follow the facts where they lead. And if, ultimately, the facts led in a direction that the Russians or other used financial entanglement with the president or his organizations as a means of exerting influence over him, then it would be within the scope of our investigation.
But we have a lot of spade work, I think, before we're ready to do I think before we're ready to draw conclusions about that. And there's plenty of work that's already underway.
But, again, this is going to take us time to figure out just what are the credible allegations here, where does the evidence lead, what witnesses do we need to bring in, what documents do we need to obtain. And I think the way that this investigation can be credible and can add value is if we can find a way to do this in a non-partisan fashion.
The last thing we want to do is do an investigation where the majority issues one report, the minority issues another. This is going to be, obviously, enormously challenging, given how politically fraught it is. But that would be in the national interest. If there's a way we can find to go through this political thicket and do the job the American people really need us to do.
BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stand by, because there are more questions on the breaking news we're following right now. Stick around. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:23:37] BLITZER: We're back with the senior Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
Congressman, your chairman, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, said members of the intelligence committee have made visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, regarding the probe into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
Have you gone out to Langley and seen the raw data?
I'm going to be going out to Langley. I hope to get out there, if not this week, then next week. There is a mountain of raw data to go through. But there is a certain subset of the data that I want the agency to put together for me that's going to take time.
So, I haven't been out there myself, but our staff has been out there to review the data, and I'm planning to go very soon.
BLITZER: The Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair, Mark Warner, spoke to CNN about his visit to CIA headquarters, and he said he has reviewed lots of documents. He said it has prompted, in his mind at least, more questions, but he would not say if evidence shows that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians during the campaign. Have you seen any evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign?
SCHIFF: Wolf, that's not something that I can comment on at this point. It's still, frankly, very early in the investigation, and I don't think any of us ought to be commenting on either the presence of evidence, the volume of evidence, the persuasiveness of evidence. I think it's very premature for us to do that, and so I can't comment on it at this point.
[17:25:06] BLITZER: President Trump, as you recall, as a candidate, he spoke favorably about WikiLeaks during the campaign, because they were leaking damaging information as far as the Democrats and Hillary Clinton were concerned.
But Sean Spicer said this afternoon at the White House briefing, there I briefing, there's absolutely no comparison. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: There is a big difference between disclosing John Podesta's Gmail accounts about a back and forth and his undermining of Hillary Clinton and his thoughts on her, on a personal nature, and the leaking of classified information. There is a massive, massive difference between those two things.
And I think it is -- again, the interest and the outrage that occurred last year by a lot of Democrats when it came to leaks. It's interesting that we're hearing not as much outrage now when it comes to some of our issues with national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: As a lot of our viewers remember during the campaign, Trump said, "I love WikiLeaks."
Your response to what we just heard, the explanation from Sean Spicer?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, I don't envy Sean Spicer's job. He's got a president who condemned WikiLeaks when they released the Chelsea Manning documents, which were very damaging, applauded WikiLeaks when they released documents that helped him in his campaign that were stolen from the Clinton campaign by the Russians. And now is back to condemning WikiLeaks. It's enough to give you whiplash.
But while I don't envy Sean Spicer's job, I also don't condone the way he's conducting that job, because the reality is yes, there's a difference between the hacking and the leaking through WikiLeaks during the campaign. But both were wrong. Both were serious injuries to our national security.
In the one case you had Russia, a foreign adversarial power, stealing documents and publishing them to help Donald Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton. And Donald Trump applauded WikiLeaks for doing that, applauded them for being either a witting partner or, as the Russians would call a useful idiot in their campaign to undermine our democracy. That is one very serious violation of our national security interests.
This present leak, if it turns out to be true -- and I can't comment one way or the other -- would be a different kind of injury to our national security. Both are wrong. Both should be condemned. And the president has a lot of explaining to do about why one, with Russian involvement help, is OK, but the other isn't.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Still ahead, a bizarre twist in the assassination of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un's half-brother. A young man who claims he's the dead man's son is now speaking out.
BLITZER: This hour's breaking news, leaders of a Senate subcommittee now asking the Justice Department to see any documents that may exist on President Trump's claim he was wiretapped during the campaign under orders from President Obama.
[17:32:31] Let's bring in our political national security and legal experts. And Susan Hennessey, you're joining us right now. You used to work at the National Security Agency. You're now at Brookings. Talk a little bit about the legal aspects of all of this, because the president, the White House, they're not backing down at all on his assertion in those tweets Saturday morning that President Obama illegally wiretapped him during the campaign.
Now Republicans, they want -- Republican -- so far Republicans on the investigative committees, all of them basically have said they've seen no evidence. If there was a wiretap of Trump Tower, walk us through how that would happen.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NSA ATTORNEY: All right. So, basically there are two forms of surveillance that might be implicated by President Trump's tweets, which were themselves rather vague. So, one is a Title III wiretap. That's an ordinary criminal investigation.
The other is a FISA warrant. And that's an application made to the foreign intelligence surveillance court for counterintelligence or foreign intelligence investigative purposes.
In both of those cases, the Department of Justice and not the president submits an application to a federal judge. That federal judge assesses those applications against standards of probable cause. Either that a crime was committed or that an individual is an agent of a foreign power, and then issues that warrant.
BLITZER: But if -- if Donald Trump's tweet, one of the tweets when he said, "It's a fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October at Trump Tower" -- a fact, he said -- walk us through. How difficult would it be to get surveillance of a candidate by -- under the orders from the then-sitting president?
HENNESSEY: So, if -- if the Department of Justice was able to obtain a warrant, that would be very, very bad news for President Trump, because it would mean that a judge had determined there was significant evidence that either he or someone involved in his campaign or someone in Trump Tower had demonstrated probable cause that they were either an agent of a foreign power or committing a crime.
So that -- if that did happen, we would expect President Trump to potentially release that FISA order, show to the American people what -- on what basis that judge made a determination.
BLITZER: But would the NSA, the FBI, would they have to notify the leadership, the Gang of Eight as they're called, in the Congress?
HENNESSEY: Right. So, this kind of -- this would be highly significant intelligence collection, assuming it was a FISA warrant. And that's the kind of information that almost certainly would be disclosed, not only to the leadership, the intelligence leadership, the DNI, director of CIA, head of NSA and others, but also to congressional oversight committees.
BLITZER: The director of national intelligence, Clapper, says there was no such thing. He flatly denies it.
[17:35:07] As you know, Nia, we're now reporting that President Obama -- former President Obama, he was irked, very upset by this allegation from President Trump. Do you expect him to go public and respond more forcefully to these charges?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably not. That's not really his style. And you imagine that his first foray back into the public eye, probably not a good idea for him to have it be this.
Probably, he's content with James Clapper's comments, the former director of national intelligence, his denial, he's essentially saying there was no wiretap of President Trump mounted during the campaign or even more recently.
In his statement, Kevin Lewis's statement, who is President Obama's aide, basically saying that what Trump said was false. So I doubt that he's going to come out here, former President Obama, and try to get into a back and forth with Donald Trump over this.
And obviously, we see on the Hill as well they are trying to get to the bottom of this, too, subpoena some of the evidence, if necessary, from the Department of Justice to see if there is any evidence.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, how do you see it, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, Susan knows more about this process than anybody. And she just outlined how you get a wiretap, either in the national security area or criminal justice.
And the one thing that's in common between the two of them is that there's lots of paper. I mean, there is -- there are affidavits; there are applications. This is a very paper-heavy process. And those papers exist.
So, if there is anything involving Trump or the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign, any sort of application -- any sort of wiretap, there will be lots of records that will be relatively easy to find. Or they will not exist, meaning the wiretap doesn't exist.
BLITZER: And the president, President Trump, Susan, he would have access to those kinds of documents. If he wanted to bring forward evidence of what he claimed Saturday morning at 6:30 in the morning, he could easily do that.
HENNESSEY: Right. That's a little bit astonishing about sort of the tweet storm. The president, of course, could have picked up the phone, called the director of the FBI, called any -- any head of the executive branch agencies and gotten answers to this question.
And so the notion that he would bring these allegations to the public without first knowing the factual basis is a little bit surprising and has aides really scrambling to come up with answers.
BLITZER: Yes, because he could just -- but all indications say he never spoke to the FBI director before or even since he made those startling accusations.
HENNESSEY: Certainly, President Trump is the person in the best position to get very, very quick answers as to whether or not his allegations are true or false.
BLITZER: He doesn't really need a congressional investigation. If he had the evidence, he could release it within a few minutes if he wanted to do it.
Everybody stand by. There's more happening right now. We're getting additional information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:40:36] BLITZER: We're back with our political, national security and legal experts.
And Susan Hennessey, let me get back to you. You're a former NSA lawyer, National Security Agency lawyer. The leak of these latest CIA documents by WikiLeaks, if accurate, if true, how damaging could this be to U.S. national security?
HENNESSEY: Well, frankly it's not quite clear what we're dealing with yet, so certainly the information that's already been revealed that has led to the potential to compromise sources and methods, ongoing collection against foreign targets that the CIA is currently undertaking.
WikiLeaks has also claimed to have a lot more additional information, including CIA targets and the actual tools themselves. Not just the description that they've released. If that is true, that has the potential to be devastating in terms of the consequences to national security.
However, in the past, WikiLeaks has sort of exaggerated about the substance or significance of its leaks and, so there's a reason to sort of be skeptical here until we actually see that additional information.
BLITZER: Yes. Whatever they have, though, potentially could be very damaging in terms of revealing sources and methods, how the U.S. gathers this kind of information, very damaging, potentially, if -- if enemies of the U.S. get their hands on this.
Nia, the White House today explained the difference, Sean Spicer -- and I'll play the clip once again -- between why Donald Trump as a candidate was praising WikiLeaks -- "I love WikiLeaks" he said, as you remember -- why he was praising it then, and now they're condemning WikiLeaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's a big difference between disclosing Podesta -- John Podesta's Gmail accounts about a back and forth and his undermining Hillary Clinton and his thoughts on her, on a personal nature, and the leaking of classified information. There is a massive, massive difference between those two things.
And I think it is, again, the interest and the outrage that occurred last year by a lot of Democrats when it came to leaks, it's interesting that we're hearing not as much outrage now when it comes to some of our issues of national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He wants to have it, obviously, both ways, but go ahead.
HENDERSON: Yes, he does. And this has always been a pattern for President Trump and Donald Trump beforehand. Did come out against WikiLeaks a couple years ago with Chelsea Manning and some of those leaks and said, you know, there ought to be some sort of death penalty or something related to those leaks.
And then, of course, during the campaign, he was very glad to see these leaks, because it was helping him. And now you see again this isn't good for him, it's not good for the CIA, it's not good for his administration. So of course he's going to come out against it.
He also, I think, wants to put a spotlight on the leaks that have been embarrassing to him from the CIA, from this White House. So I think this is going to be what we hear from them, a condemnation of leaks.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Jeffrey, go ahead.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if I can just add, then candidate Trump was praising WikiLeaks for committing a crime during the campaign.
Hacking unclassified e-mails is also a crime, as is hacking classified e-mails. So the idea that there is some big legal distinction between hacking John Podesta and hacking the CIA, there is not. Both are illegal, and the President praised one and is apparently horrified by the other.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by. There is more coming up, including a new twist in an international murder mystery. A young man who claims to be the son of the assassinated half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just posted a video.
We're going to tell what you he's saying. That's next.
[17:50:31] BLITZER: Apparently in hiding from the North Korean regime, Kim Jong-nam's son has released a strange new video in which he speaks out for the first time since his father was publicly assassinated. Brian Todd has been looking into all of these developments.
Brian, update our viewers.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just when we thought we couldn't get any more strange twists in the Kim Jong-nam murder case, tonight, we've got one. Kim Jong-nam's son, Kim Han Sol says in this video, he's with his mother and sister, but he doesn't say where he is.
Tonight, we've got new information on this video and on the mysterious group which claims it is protecting Kim Han Sol.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KIM HAN SOL, SON OF KIM JONG-NAM: All right. My name is Kim Han Sol from North Korea, part of the Kim family. Here is my passport. My father has been killed a few days ago. I'm currently with my mother and my sister.
TODD (voice-over): A bizarre video posted online of the son of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.
KIM: And we're very grateful to --
TODD (voice-over): In the 40-second, heavily censored video, Kim Han Sol thanks people whose names are muted.
KIM: We hope that this gets better soon.
TODD (voice-over): He never says where he is. The group which posted the video is called "Cheollima Civil Defence." It's unknown by Korea watchers.
The group claims it responded to an emergency request from Kim Jong- nam's family, who feared for the safety after he was killed last month in an attack at the Kuala Lumpur airport.
GREG SCARLATOIU, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE FOR HUMANS RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: What this group is trying to do, if it's a legislate group, is to send a very different message, a radically different message to senior North Korean officials, which is, if you intend to escape, don't worry. There is an escape route. We are here, contact us, and we will be here to provide you with protection and assistance.
TODD (voice-over): But the motives Cheollima Civil Defence are unclear. Kim Han Sol is in his early 20s and told an interviewer in 2012, he was born in Pyongyang, moved to Macau after a few years, but still often visited North Korea.
KIM: When I was growing up, it was very isolated.
TODD (voice-over): South Korean officials and today, the Malaysian Prime Minister accused Kim Jong-un of ordering the hit on his half- brother. President Trump's ambassador to the U.N. today questioning the sanity of North Korea's leader.
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are not dealing with a rational person.
TODD (voice-over): Kim Jong-un's regime denies ordering Kim Jong- nam's death. But some analysts believe his half-brother was a threat to Kim Jong-un. Is the brother's son a threat as well?
SCARLATOIU: From Kim Jong-un's viewpoint, the one who could seriously pose a challenge, despite his very young age, is Kim Han Sol, the son of Kim Jong-nam.
TODD (voice-over): Analysts believe whether this group, Cheollima Civil Defence, is protecting Kim Han Sol or not, the young man's life could be in danger. DR. BALBINA HWANG, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: If Kim Han Sol,
in fact, is in the custody of a group that is going to try to bring him to South Korea, that is a very significant problem for the regime. There is no absolutely doubt. And if that is the case, then certainly, his life is in quite immediate danger.
TODD: Analysts believe Kim Han Sol's life is in enough danger that it's unlikely he'll travel to Malaysia to give a DNA sample to claim his father's body. Malaysians officials have demanded that a bloodline relative of Kim Jong-nam do those things, or they won't release the body. The North Koreans demand the body be handed over to them no matter what.
So it's likely that the standoff over the body of Kim Jong-nam may continue, and he'll likely remain in that morgue in Kuala Lumpur, at least for a little while longer, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, there's another standoff playing right now between North Korea and Malaysia over this murder, right?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. Malaysia is trying to get 11 of its citizens out of North Korea. Kim Jong-un's regime is not letting them leave. The Malaysians initially said these people were being held hostage, but they seemed to have backed off that assertion.
And in Malaysia, the North Koreans are not handing over three of their citizens who the Malaysians want to question in the murder of Kim Jong-nam. Those three North Koreans are said to be holed up in North Korea's embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
BLITZER: All right, Brian. I know you're working the story for us. Thanks very much.
[17:54:40] Coming up, will it be a case of careful what you wish for? Lawmakers moving forward now on President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped and his demand for an investigation.
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Not a target. The White House says there's no reason to believe that President Trump is the prime focus of any investigation. This as top lawmakers race to review secret CIA intelligence about Russia and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
Was it warranted? Senator Lindsey Graham is asking the FBI to disclose any evidence related to the President's claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama. Will it take subpoenas to get answers?
Full sell mode. The White House says Mr. Trump is determined to push the GOP healthcare bill through Congress. Can the deal-maker-in-chief get rebellious Republicans in line, or will there be a political bloodbath? [18:00:01] And dinner Cruz. As the President tries to rally
conservative support, he is breaking bread tonight with his former rival, Senator Ted Cruz. Will any kind of offer be on the table?