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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Still Confident in Speaker Ryan After Repeal Failure; Drone Airstrikes in Mosul Have Killed Hundreds of Civilians; Trump Confidant: "This Is A Scandal In Search Of Evidence"; Top Democrat Demands Independent Probe Into Trump Contacts; One Dead, 15 Injured After Gunfire Erupts In Cincinnati; Manhunt In Mexico For Missing Inmates. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 26, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:02] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Happening now in the newsroom, health care fail and the ensuing blame game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The people who are to blame are the people who would not vote yes.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: This bill didn't pass because it didn't deal with the most fundamental flaw in ObamaCare.

WHITFIELD: Trump tweeting today that it's the fault of conservative Republican groups.

REP. MARK MEADOWS, CHAIRMAN, FREEDOM CAUCUS: I can tell you, no one has been more self-critiquing than me.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA.: This conversation should be more about the people whose lives are going to be impacted by our decisions on their health care. We did not have enough of the substantive discussion.

MULVANEY: Never once have I seen him blame Paul Ryan.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: But ultimately I don't think he can lay the defeat of this bill last week on any single faction in the house of representatives.

MULVANEY: I think there's probably plenty of blame to go around.

MEADOWS: But this is not the end of the debate. It's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime.

WHITFIELD: CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The finger pointing in our nation's capital is in overdrive in the waked of the failure of the Republican health care bill.

This morning, President Trump blaming Democrats, the Conservative Freedom Caucus and other GOP groups tweeting, they saved planned parenthood and ObamaCare. CNN's Athena Jones is at the White House covering this for us. So Athena, a Republican source telling CNN, the president and Speaker Ryan spoke last night for more than an hour and that their relationship is stronger than ever?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. That's right. Look, there's no question this was a huge disappointment for the White House and a huge setback for a young administration that wants to be putting wins up on the board, not something like this epic loss. And so, one of the questions going forward is, how does this failure to repeal ObamaCare affect the way the White House and the president himself deals with house Republicans?

And when you ask that question, you're really asking three questions, because we're talking about how the president deals with house leadership, folks like Speaker Ryan and the rest of the leadership team. How he deals with conservatives in the house who were instrumental in killing the repeal effort and how he deals with moderates in the house, who he doesn't want to alienate if he wants to get things done in the future.

When it comes to house leadership and specifically Speaker Ryan, we've heard from the White House a lot of positive words from the president towards the house speaker. They're standing by him, they do not blame him. The president was asked just a couple of days ago whether he's doing a good job. He said yes. And we heard more of that this morning from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on "Fox News Sunday". Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: So does he want Paul Ryan to step down or no?

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, he doesn't. And he's talked to Paul Ryan yesterday for about an hour. He believes what he said in the oval office on Friday, he doesn't blame Paul Ryan. In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan. he thinks that Paul Ryan is a great speaker of the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And Reince Priebus also went on to say later in that interview that he thinks it's time for our folks, meaning Republicans, to come together. And he said, I also think it's time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.

Two points to make on that and that is that if you see a tweet like we saw from the president this morning casting blame on house conservatives, how far will that go towards making sure they can work well together. We've heard from a senior administration official that they felt that the house Freedom Caucus, the house conservatives just didn't want to get to yes, that they didn't want a deal. And they said that they underestimated the acremonium animosity inside the caucus.

And then when it comes to Democrats, it's the same question, can the president blast Democrats on Twitter as he has the past couple of days and then still say, let's all get together and work together. So those are some of the key questions going forward, not to mention questions about the president's own sales effort and where that was lacking, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lots of questions still indeed. Thanks so much, Athena Jones at the White House. In fact, let me post some of these questions to our panel right now.

Joining me right now is CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. Doug Heye is the CNN political commentator and Republican strategist. Also with me, Dylan Byers, CNN senior reporter for Media and Politics. Good to see all of you.

All right, David, you first. The Conservative Freedom Caucus is getting blamed by Trump for not getting the health care bill through. Listen to Caucus chairman Mark Meadows and what he had to say about that this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEADOWS: Well, I mean, at this particular point, I can tell you, no one has been more self-critiquing than me. I can tell you as I've looked at all of this, I said, could I've spent a little bit more time? Should I have spent more time with the Tuesday group, more time with Democrats to find some consensus?

[14:05:00] And so, as we look at this today, this is not the end of the debate. I had one of my friends call me the other day, he says, it's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime. We may be in overtime but I can tell you, at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this because he will deliver. He's committed to the American people and we're committed to helping him get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Meadows had gone to say that he believes that President Trump is going to take another stab at it and the support is there. So David, you had already said that this is probably one of the worst first 100 days you've seen in a presidency. What's your reaction to how Meadows is sizing it up there and moving forward with the Trump administration?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I must tell you, Fredricka that 48 hours in, there's deepening disarray within the Trump camp about what happened, who's to blame and where do they go from here?

You will remember that just after the vote, he blamed the Democrats for the failure of the bill. And now, the White House is talking about maybe they need to work with the Democrats.

He said and Reince Priebus repeated today how much he admires Paul Ryan, yet we had a bizarre tweet yesterday saying watch Judge Pirro on Fox last night. And what does she do when she comes on? He's never tweeted about her before best I can tell. And he says watch the show tonight. First thing she does is come out with a blistering attack on Paul Ryan, saying he has to step down.

And they said it first, they were very supportive of the Freedom Caucus, now they're attacking the Freedom Caucus. And by the way, very importantly, at first, they said they were going to move on to big things like tax reform, they're going to move on immediately, make that the focus.

Now, what we're hearing today is that they're going to lower size, that they have bigger problems to worry about than tax reform; they're going to put it off for a while, while they worry about funding the government.

So it's very hard to follow this story because we don't know where the White House is coming down. I think in order to reassemble or assemble a coalition as a winning coalition, they themselves have to settle down and figure out where they're going.

WHITFIELD: So adding to the confusion, David, here is that moment, President Trump raising a whole lot of eyebrows promoting, "Watch Fox this evening," he said it in a tweet. And then, whenever he won or those people did decide to tune in, this is what they saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house. The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Dylan, is it your feeling the president knew what Judge Jeanine was going to say or that perhaps, he anticipated something else?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Well, let me start by saying that I have no idea what the president was actually thinking. It's my assumption though just based up of the folks I've talked to in the White House and generally, where the president is at on this and the strategy going forward in terms of future legislation that that may very well have been an accident.

The countdown clock that Fox News had going all day was a reference to new details about surveillance on Trump, which is, of course, a narrative that he really loves to have out there well of (ph) this other stuff is going quite poorly for him. So I think his anticipation was that Fox News may come on at 9:00 pm and offer him sort of more evidence to sort of -- as he says vindicate him. Obviously, that's not what happened. Look, there's no question there are a lot of people in the White House

who would like to offload this blame on to Speaker Ryan. Chief among them, probably Steve Bannon, the chief strategist in Trump's White House, he has always sort of seen Ryan as the embodiment of the sort of establishment that Bannon would very much like to sort of do away with in Washington.

But I think there are enough people, including Reince Priebus, including the president himself who understand that going forward, they actually need Speaker Ryan. Because whether they're going to attack further to the right and try and bring in the Freedom Caucus or attack further to the left and try and bring in Democrats, they're going to need that middle, they're going to need Ryan there in the middle holding the ground for them.

Again, just my assumption and I think as Athena said, it's really interesting that he's antagonizing both groups in his tweets this weekend when again he's going to need one of those groups.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And to your point too, about that whole episode last night, it's difficult to know exactly what the president's intention was. At the same time, he is quick to tweet and he is quick to express himself. And if the wrong message may have been sent last night, then one would think he might come out and say, once again reemphasizing that he is in the corner of Paul Ryan just as he did on Friday behind the --

BYERS: Well, I should just add to that very quickly that as your show is coming on, he is starting to tell reporters that his tweet was not meant as a knock against Ryan. [14:10:00] And again, you can't believe everything that comes out of this president's mouth but I think that might be sincere.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then Doug, conservative media is kind of running away with it today really underscoring these fishers, the great divide between the president and Paul Ryan. See right there. Here are some of the headlines.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Certainly, conservative media has always had Donald Trump's back and will continue to have Donald Trump's back. But the divisions are really within the house Republicans right now. And we are seeing more and more finger- pointing, with house Republicans pointing fingers at other house Republicans.

So a tweet that I saw that was really interesting to me was Austin Scott, a Republican member of congress from Georgia, a conservative Republican who went after the Freedom Caucus.

Republican infighting is one of the things that brought this bill down when you're talking about within the White House or within congress. And as we have this pendulum politics that exist within the party of what we go right to get to Freedom Caucus then we go left to get members on the more Tuesday group side, what we see is that that middle that David and Dylan were talking about, disappears. And that's part of why we didn't get it through. The other thing is and I can tell you, having lived in these ObamaCare

wars for five or six years now in trying to replace this is there's one dynamic today that we didn't have last year, the year before, five years ago, that's a president who should be making those calls and working relentlessly to do this.

What we saw really was not a full effort from Donald Trump. If he made a full-court press, perhaps he might have been able to get over the finish line.

WHITFIELD: And it's one thing to be on the campaign trail, it's another to govern. And that point was underscored this morning with the budget director Mick Mulvaney responding to those questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: We're asking the same questions, we really are. Is the Republican party capable of governing? I know the man in the White House is capable of governing, I saw it this week, without a doubt, no question. If anybody had any doubts about President Trump's ability to be the president, they should have been put to --

CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST: Really?

MULVANEY: Absolutely.

TODD: Can't close the deal back? He said he a big negotiator.

MULVANEY: This is exactly what everybody say he couldn't do, he couldn't work with different groups within the Republican party, no, no. This was the president being the president. What you saw this week was simply the things who are a lot more rotten in Washington than we thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. So David, I echo Chuck Todd's question. Really?

GERGEN: Well, he's now in charge. They had seven years to prepare for this. And they could've done it as Senator Cotton said today. Now the Obama team, when they got it through very deliberate, they took a long time to do it. They carefully prepared the ground (inaudible) Doug's point.

WHITFIELD: A year.

GERGEN: And it was a full-court press over a long period of time. And this was just a very short, brief, two or three weeks, we're in, we're out, we got to discuss the -- but let me ask Doug this question.

Can the president afford to go to Democrats and start trying to bring them into a coalition? Does he totally alienate the Freedom Caucus and then find it's ungovernable? Because Democrats are not going to play ball easily. They're going to demand very high prize before they start cooperating with it. HEYE: Yes. I think one of the side issues of Republican gains in the

house of representatives over the past six years is we lost a lot of conservative, blue dog Democrats, those Democrats that we would have gone to.

Most of them are gone. They don't exist anymore. So it's hard to see other than a nice bipartisan rhetorical talking point of how politically you're able to do that and then hold conservatives. We had a hard enough time keeping moderate Republicans like Leonard Lance and Rodney Frelinghuysen and Frank LoBiondo from New Jersey.

So how we get Democrats and hold the Freedom Caucus is going to be a real problem and a real challenge for Republicans moving forward, not just on health care, but on tax reform, on infrastructure and significantly, keeping the government open at the end of April.

WHITFIELD: I think they want to tackle next but Dylan, that is going to be indeed a huge herculean task.

BYERS: Right. And just to jump on Doug's point, we spent so much time on Friday really talking about who was to blame for the failure of the health care bill, was it Trump, was it Ryan?

There was also a victory here. And it was a victory not just for Democrats, it was really a victory for the Freedom Caucus in terms of showing that that group of 30-some people can really sort of stand up and stare down the president of the United States. I mean, I don't think you can understate how significant it is, this sort of growing movement of the far right is one that looks poised to grow, even when it stands up against the very president that you would expect it to be working.

WHITFIELD: Yes. That caucus, it's celebrating what they thought was a victory by shutting the government during the Obama administration and now, one more time. Many within that caucus are considering this a victory, kind of an embolden power. All right, thanks so much, gentlemen. I'm going to see you again very soon, David Gergen, Doug Heye, Dylan Byers, appreciate it.

All right. Straight ahead, a new details on the formal investigation that 200 Iraqi civilians in West Mosul allegedly were killed by air strike, that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The U.S. has now confirmed that a U.S. drone strike killed an Al-Qaeda leader who planned the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Pakistan. More than 50 people including two U.S. service members were killed in a suicide truck bombing targeting that hotel nine years ago. The drone strike that killed the Al-Qaeda leader was conducted March 19th in Afghanistan.

And new details are emerging today on the investigation in two civilian deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi government and U.S. Central Command are formally investigating allegations that air strikes between March 17th and 23rd killed potentially hundreds of civilians in West Mosul. A "Los Angeles Times" reporter who visited the scene of one of the biggest air strikes describes what she saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [14:15:00]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were some areas where homes were just completely destroy in rubble, so we had to sort of pick our way through. And we could see parts of people still stuck under the rubble, hands, feet. There were some remains that were wrapped in blankets.

[14:20:00] Most of them that they had retrieved, they put in body bags. And these two body bags and they unzipped some of those because they wanted to show us that some of those victims were women, including at least one pregnant woman and children, there were some babies as well.

WHITFIELD: CNN also has exclusive pictures of the aftermath of coalition airstrikes that reportedly happened last Wednesday and Thursday in Mosul. Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to liberate the city from ISIS fighters who have occupied Mosul for more than two years.

Pentagon reporter Ryan Brown joining me now from Washington. So Ryan, where does this investigation stand?

RYAN BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Yes, the investigation has been announced as what's called the credibility assessment. Now, of course, the coalition has been looking at the strikes it undertook in Mosul and some of these reports that are coming from the ground.

And one strike that they see that kind of overlaps with the area that these reports are coming from was a strike that occurred on March 17th. And that strike was targeted against ISIS fighters and ISIS equipment.

Now, the coalition is looking to see what happened with that strike, specifically now. Unlike in previous years where the U.S. had a lot of presence on the ground, there is not so many U.S. troops in the immediate area so this is a lot harder to assess. They're having to use surveillance from drones. They're using local reports, social media reports, Iraqi officials, and they're getting a lot of conflicting information.

So some of it is having to go through that and to come up with their findings after this initial assessment is complete.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much, Ryan Brown, appreciate that.

Let's talk more about this with CNN military analyst retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. He was also a U.S. military attache in Syria. All right. Colonel Francona, good to see you. So there are many conflicting report about what happened and how these civilians died? So is this a function of just us how murky the fight is getting in West Mosul?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, as this fight progresses into this very densely populated area, we're probably going to see more instances of these civilian casualties from a variety of reasons because ISIS is using them as human shields. And of course, when you're dropping weapons into a tightly packed area, people are going to die. This is one of unfortunate consequences of forcing them into a battle in the city. Urban warfare is usually the deadliest type of warfare there is.

That said, there are a lot of civilian casualties. The numbers seemed a little bit high. The investigation is probably going to figure out exactly what happened. We're not even sure that both of these incidents that are under investigation were the result of an airstrike. There is some talk that maybe one of the most -- a couple of IEDs that went off. In any case, ISIS is ultimately responsible for packing these civilians into these areas.

The coalition takes very seriously, trying to minimize civilian casualties but it's impossible to eliminate them.

WHITFIELD: So in the case like this, these civilians, who are they to blame, ISIS or this coalition?

FRANCONA: That's a really good question. Ultimately, I believe that ISIS is responsible. But that doesn't do any good for the people that are there. And what happens when you have these instances, and we've seen this in Afghanistan, we seen it earlier in Iraq. We saw it also even as far back as desert storm.

When you do this kind of thing, you rob yourself of any popular support, any good will. The people are there waiting to be liberated. But if you start killing too many of them, then they believe that these guys are no better than what we have. So you have to be very careful how you do these things.

WHITFIELD: But in your view, you see these airstrikes as continuing, an effective tool, particularly, as it comes down to trying to battle ISIS?

FRANCONA: Yes. Here's the problem. As I said, when you get into these packed areas, and we're reacting now to Iraqi request for air strikes. And when you got Iraqi troops in contact and they call for air support, they're going to get it. So we're relying on the Iraqis to determine how much civilian damage might be caused in one of these strikes?

So it's a very delicate situation. If we control the air power on the ground, this wouldn't be this much of a problem. But we're relying on our allies and when you do that, you put yourself in this really, really iffy position.

WHITFIELD: And then ultimately if Mosul is liberated, what are your worries on the other side?

FRANCONA: Well, I think this is just the beginning of yet another challenge for the Iraqis because although ISIL will be defeated in Mosul, it's not the end of the organization. They still exist in other parts of the country. But they're also changing their operations. They're recruiting people

to set up an insurgency. So we could defeat this organization and yet have to fight a follow-along organization.

My biggest worry is that the Iraqis, after their election this fall, will once again ask for the removal of U.S. troops and then we start this cycle all over again.

WHITFIELD: All right. Colonel Rick Francona, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

FRANCONA: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: A scandal in search of evidence? That's what one of President Trump's former campaign advisers is labeling the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the campaign and Russia during the 2016 [14:25:00] election. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Hello again. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right. One of the president's most controversial political adviser is speaking out today. Excuse me. Roger Stone said the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia will return zero evidence.

Stone is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. Stone also spoke out today about the ranking Democrat on that committee, Adam Schiff, using the congressman's name to level pointed criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVICER: -- are things that the gentleman from California, whose largely full of Schiff, said are incorrect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:30:20]

WHITFIELD: All right, before I play more of that interview, a little backstory, Stone recently tweeted that he had a back channel to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, during the campaign and last week, Stone admitted to having contact with Guccifer 2.0, an online outfit who claims responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee. Nevertheless, Stone continues to deny any collusion with the Russian government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: The inference that my communication, actually my exchange, with Guccifer 2, which is entirely on Twitter, both public and private, in which I have now made entirely public constitutes collusion with the Russians is absurd. Number one, I don't concede that Guccifer is a Russian agent. Go online, there are more theories about that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our intelligence officials believe he was.

STONE: I understand that. They also say that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Just because the intelligence services say something, as we know from history, does not make it true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're confident these investigations are going to turn up no information that contradicts your account?

STONE: Well, let's finish with Guccifer. My communication with her is now entirely public. It is benign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring back my political panel to talk more about this, David Gergen and Doug Heye. Also with me, CNN contributor, Norman Eisen. He is the former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic and a former White House ethics czar. Good to see you all of you.

So Ambassador, let me begin with you. Roger Stone says he has been completely transparent. What kind of question would you want asked of him?

NORMAN EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Well, Fredricka, thanks for having me back. Not just Mr. Stone, Mr. Manafort, Mr. Page and above all, Mr. Flynn, all need to answer questions about their contacts with the Russians or the Russian agents.

And what they knew and when they knew it, and we need to understand a fuller picture, including the president's own ties, his sons have said Russian dollars are very important to their business.

So while we need to get Mr. Stone in, we need to get him under oath and we need to understand what were his communications, not just with Guccifer 2.0, but also with Wikileaks, he said over and over again that he communicated with Wikileaks.

It seems clear that both Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0 have committed cyber-crimes against the United States, against persons in the United States. So we need to understand what Mr. Stone's involvement, if any, was.

WHITFIELD: So three out of the four that you just mentioned have volunteered to testify. We are still waiting to hear whether Mike Flynn will either be called upon or whether he will volunteer next. Doug, despite the intel officials testimony that Guccifer 2 was a Russian asset, you know, Stone says they are wrong. Is Roger Stone accusing intel officials of committing perjury?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know if it is perjury, but I think it is consistent with the theme that we have seen really degrading our intelligence services and our intelligence offices who do really some of the most vital work that is done on behalf of us, that our government does on behalf of us. And it is really troubling to me, and I think a lot of

conservatives to see so many of our Republican and conservative brethren to take, essentially take the enemy of my enemy is my friend to the extreme.

Just because we didn't like Obama or Obamacare or Hillary Clinton or what have you doesn't mean that aligning ourselves with Russia is smart in the short-term and it certainly could be devastating in the long-term.

WHITFIELD: So David, you know, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has had rather, you know, tough week. He's been in a lot of hot water, particularly for going to the White House first, you know, to share information. This is how Democrat Adam Schiff is responding to all of that behavior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: (Inaudible) the chairman is taking whatever information he has to the White House when the White House is the subject in a way of the investigation, I think the chairman has to make a decision whether to act as a surrogate of the White House as he did during the campaign and the transition, or to lead an independent and credible investigation. I hope he chooses the latter. The country really needs to have an independent credible investigation in the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, David, Nunes, is he capable of being impartial and can he be trusted at this juncture?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he clearly made a mistake by taking this to the White House instead of going to other committee members, especially the Democrats, and you know, frankly, he wasn't straight with him. To his credit, he apologized for that and said he would like to go forward.

But, of course, the Democrats have to be on guard. Whether it is going to be impartial, it would be far better I think for the country to have a more independent investigation.

[14:35:01]But let me come back to the three men who have now agreed to come forward and come back to the ambassador's point. I think essential to their testimony before the committee is that they do so under oath.

They -- there's been speculation about whether that would happen or not. But what is the point of bringing them up to tell their stories unless they are under oath?

And I think the second question is, the committee has to be very careful in calling up public witnesses now. Not to interfere with the investigations that the FBI is conducting, this is often an issue when there are investigations by the Justice Department.

And if you have ongoing public investigations by members of Congress, the two things can stick and trample each other and can impede the investigation, the private investigation.

So I think both of those are pretty essential to moving forward. It would be really helpful if they were a more independent committee looking into this.

WHITFIELD: Ambassador, more sound now from Roger Stone about any current contact he may have had with the campaign or the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when was the last time you spoke with him?

STONE: You know, I have made it my policy not to disclose or discuss my conversations with the president. They happen from time to time. It has been a while now, but I remain a steadfast supporter of Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: He was really being asked, you know, when is the last time you've actually talked to Donald Trump and that was his reply, they do talk from time to time, but he wouldn't say exactly when. So is that troublesome to you that there is some sort of contact?

EISEN: Well, I'm sure it has been a while because Roger Stone and these other three men are radioactive now, Fredricka. I think it's telling, and there's been rumors and speculation this weekend that maybe Mr. Flynn is cooperating with the government.

The way these investigations work, number one, you can't have Roger Stone go before -- I agree with my friend, David, he can't go before the committee and say, well, I'm going to answer some of your questions but not all of your questions.

And the volunteering has been cabined, including by Mr. Manafort. I'll talk about Russia and the campaign, well, they need to be ready to answer all questions when they go before the committee.

If Mr. Flynn is cooperating, we have to remember the big picture. He was very close, not just to the campaign, but to then Candidate Trump and then President Trump. What did the president know? When did he know it?

And so that is going to be an important question. It is telling so far that of the four, Mr. Flynn is the one who has not volunteered, as far as we know.

WHITFIELD: And David, you know, they've underscored their concerns about these conflicting investigations. But, at the same time, can it be beneficial because on record we'll be various testimonies, you know, accounts of things, and it really is a matter of learning of what is consistent or what is inconsistent. GERGEN: Yes, but one of the issues that rises out of something like this, Fredricka, people are asking public questions, who have seen a lot of the confidential information. The question itself that can be a road map for a third party, who is under investigation about who is saying what to whom inside the investigatory bodies.

But that's why this gets a little complicated when you try to have both a public hearing and a private investigation underway. These things can often conflict with each other.

And it's really important to or for the committee to be careful here, not to jeopardize the investigation, the FBI investigation, because they are looking for some publicity. We can wait a little longer to find out what happened. We need a thorough investigation on the FBI side.

WHITFIELD: And then -- go ahead.

EISEN: It's particularly true, given the escapades of Chairman Nunes, when these critical witnesses come in, that he's there to conduct an inquiry, Fredricka, and not a -- to continue a cover-up. His conduct so far has been so profound, I think it raises serious questions under the House Code of Conduct.

Number one, bringing this refute upon the House. Number two, perhaps revealing classified information. Given Nunes' role, there's serious questions about how whether a House inquiry can be proper.

WHITFIELD: And then Doug, with all of these ongoing investigations and, namely, President Trump actually called for and tried to encourage, you know, Congressional investigations. How does this not interfere with his pursuit of the next thing on the agenda?

HEYE: Well, I think we're seeing this with health care. Everything gets many the way of the next step of the Trump agenda, most especially President Trump's conduct. Whether or not he works Capitol Hill as hard as he could have on Obamacare.

Everything seems to be a complication, and politically, one of the problems for the Trump White House this week was this was supposed to be a very good week for the White House. All we were supposed to talk about is Judge Neil Gorsuch, how he'd be a great Supreme Court justice and sail through confirmation.

[14:40:08]And while he certainly had a very easy set of hearings this week, no one's really talking about what should be news that reinforces positive feelings for Trump among all Republicans and even a lot of moderate voters.

WHITFIELD: All right. Doug Heye, David Gergen, Ambassador Norman Eisen, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. See you soon.

All right, one person is dead and 15 injured after a shooting last night in a Cincinnati nightclub. Details on the manhunt currently underway.

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WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A search is underway for several suspects after a shooting inside a packed Cincinnati nightclub. One person was killed and 15 others injured. Police say the early morning shooting stemmed from a dispute that happened hours earlier.

Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke about the shooting this morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: As the father of two 17-year-old girls headed to college next year, you know, you see things like this and you begin to wonder, where is it safe to go?

[14:45:09]And obviously a terrible loss of one life, a number of people wounded. We're just going to keep our eyes on this and I have offered all state assistance that is needed in this, you know, in another terrible tragedy in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Rachel Crane is joining me now with more on this. Rachel, what more do we know?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we now know that the man who lost his life has been identified. His name is O'Brien Spikes (ph), a 27-year-old male. His family has been informed. At this point, no arrests have been made yet in regards to this incident as this investigation continues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CRANE (voice-over): Chaos overnight in Cincinnati as gunshots rang out inside the Cameo Nightclub.

CHIEF ELLIOT ISAAC, CINCINNATI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Several local men got into some type of a dispute inside the bar and it escalated into shots being fired from several individuals.

CRANE: One victim died at the scene according to police and more than a dozen others were injured. Some even transporting themselves to local hospitals. Hundreds of people were inside the club when the violence broke out. No arrests have been made, but authorities say they are interviewing many witnesses to try and track down the identity of the shooters.

MAYOR JOHN CRANLEY (D), CINCINNATI: There's no evidence that this was a terrorist attack like we have seen in Miami and many other places. However, to the victims, what difference does it make? They have been terrorized by gun violence.

CRANE: Police say the club employee's off-duty police officers and other security guards, but somehow the shooters were able to get in with guns. ISAAC: They do wand individuals and pat them down. However, what we know at this point, several firearms were able to be brought inside the bar.

CRANE: Authorities are asking the public for help, urging those with any information to come forward as this investigation continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CRANE: And Fred, this is not the first time that a shooting has taken place at the Cameo Nightclub. Back in 2015, on New Year's Day, there was a shooting there as well as last year in September and that shooting was in the parking lot -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rachel Crane, thank you so much for that update.

All right. A prison break that likely took a lot of planning and digging. A large group of inmates escaping through a massive tunnel underneath that prison wall and many of them are still on the loose. The details, next.

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[14:52:14]

WHITFIELD: A group of inmates at a prison in Mexico are on the run after staging a brazen escape right out of the pages of drug lord, El Chapo's escape. These inmates broke out on Thursday through a huge tunnel dug underneath a prison wall. It happened about 200 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in the town of Ciudad Victoria.

CNN correspondent, Leyla Santiago is joining me live now from Mexico City. So Leyla, are there any leads as to where these prisoners could be?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just in the last hour, Fredricka, authorities have announced that they have now recaptured another one of the 29 inmates. So the tally stands at 15 that remain on the run, 14 have now been captured.

And those who have been captured have been in the same city so we know that investigators are certainly focusing their efforts there, but when it comes to other questions of the investigations, really authorities have not said much and are citing security reasons.

When I called the prison this morning, they refused to answer any questions over the phone and said there was an ongoing investigation.

WHITFIELD: And so Leyla, are those inmates considered dangerous?

SANTIAGO: At this point, we are still trying to sort of figure out what exact crimes they were being imprisoned for, but this will really paint the picture. Once the inmates escaped, again, 29 of them, authorities have told us that one man was carjacking another man and shot that man.

So yes, already we have seen the very known dangers of having these escaped inmates out there, but again, authorities really focusing on reestablishing order and regaining control within the jail because just Friday as they went in to search the cells, there was a riot.

And the inmates -- there was fire because of some of the debris that they sparked. And so really, it's about regaining control, not only outside of the prison but also within.

WHITFIELD: All right. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much. So much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

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[14:58:44]

WHITFIELD: All right, CNN's believer explores spirituality. In tonight's episode, Reza Aslan speaks to two former top trainers in the Church of Scientology. Eventually they were excommunicated, but they continue to follow their faith independently. They have trouble keeping in touch with their friends and family. Here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone can just leave the church if they want to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, certainly, you can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But --

REZA ASLAN, CNN HOST, "BELIEVER": What if you have a daughter or son who is on staff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter disconnected from me. She disconnected from me when he left. Doesn't call me, won't talk to me.

ASLAN: Have you tried to reach out to her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, it just, it's a wasted effort. You say you got declared, boy, that's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Don't miss an all new episode of "BELIEVER" tonight at 10:00 p.m. after CNN's "Finding Jesus." We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. And it all starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, health care fail and the ensuing blame game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people who are to blame are the people who didn't vote yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill didn't pass because it didn't deal with the most fundamental flaw in Obamacare.

WHITFIELD: Trump tweeting today that it's the fault of conservative Republican groups.