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President's Chief of Staff Trying to Dispel Rumors He Holds Ryan Personally Responsible for Health Care Failure; Paul Ryan Famously Said He Didn't Want to Be Speaker of the House; Chairman Nunes Draws Some Criticism; More American Troops are Now Headed to Iraq. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 26, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Failure of the health care bill, President Trump has decided there's more guilt to go around. Target this time, the Republicans. And his form of attack, twitter. Democrats are smiling in D.C., he writes, that the freedom caucus with the help of Trump for growth, that heritage have saved Planned Parenthood and O-care. Well, on that note, we just learned, Texas Congressman Ted Poe has resigned from the freedom caucus over its opposition to the bill.
And while conservatives are lining up to blame House speaker Paul Ryan for mismanaging the whole process, a spokesman for the speaker says that he and the President spoke today and both are eager to get back on their agenda.
Now, while it has been a tough week for the President, there was a silver lining, perhaps, a strong showing for his Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, a vote yet to come.
We have a team of reporters and analysts here to break it all down. I want to begin with CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones.
Athena, the President's chief of staff is trying to dispel any rumors that he holds Ryan personally responsible for the collapse of the health care bill.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. That's right.
And let's get to that right away. This is the chief of staff Reince Priebus speaking on FOX News Sunday. He was asked if the president believes that speaker Ryan should step down. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So does he want Paul Ryan to step down or not?
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, he doesn't. And he has 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, but he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan. Thinks that Paul Ryan is a great speaker of the house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So there, another strong endorsement for the House speaker. We have also heard the President himself say that he believes the speaker is doing a good job. But the President, as you mentioned, is casting some of the blame on the house freedom caucus the block about 30 conservative Republicans in the House that didn't believe that repeal though went far enough to dismantle Obamacare. And so, they have blocked. This White House has to figure out how they are going to deal not just with those conservatives, but also with moderate Republicans, with the leadership and potentially with Democrats.
In the same interview, the chief of staff was - has talked a few times about their willingness to work across the aisle. Their willingness to work with everyone. The problem here is, Ana, is that you have the president, whether it is in commentary to reporters or on twitter, blasting two of those groups, Democrats and then those conservatives that he is going to need to get any of his legislative priorities through. And it's an open question what the relationships are going to look like between the White House, the president and the other in Pennsylvania Avenue. Speaker Ryan said it is doing big things is hard. Doing big things also takes a coalition, and it's unclear what that coalition is going to look like.
CABRERA: And let's turn to the third branch of government. I want to bring in CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue.
Ariane, Democrats have now threaten to filibuster the present Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. But the vice President said yesterday Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or another. What is the next step now in the process?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, Ana, the Senate judiciary committee, they will meet tomorrow, but we don't expect a vote for a couple of weeks. But last week, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat, he took to the House floor in a fiery speech and he said that he was going to vote no and he hoped that other Democrats would follow sue. Keep in mind, Gorsuch needs 50 votes to get confirmed.
And if the Democrats filibuster, they could trigger the Republicans to change the rules of the Senate. That's something that hasn't been done before and that will allow Supreme Court nominees to get through with just a simple majority. That's a big deal for a traditional place like the Senate.
So next week we are going to go into the week and see how many Democrats might signal that they want to join Schumer. Take a listen now to Senator Sanders from CNN this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It is not a question of filibuster. I am not for a filibuster. I am for the Republicans obeying the rules that currently exist and not changing those rules. That and the rules right now for good reasons are 60 votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) DE VOGUE: So basically, the Democrats, some Democrats say, do we really want to trigger this right now? Because you are taking Gorsuch, who is a conservative, and replacing and he is going to take the seat of Antonin Scalia, who is also a conservative.
Some say, look, the court is going to retain its status quo, let's not have this fight now. But Ana, Schumer, and as you saw, Sanders, they are ready to fight now. They are still furious that Merrick Garland never got a hearing. And they think in his testimony, they think that Gorsuch evaded some questions. So that's what's going to play out this week, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Ariane de Vogue, Athena Jones, thank you for setting the stage for us.
Let's bring in our panel now, CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four presidents, David Gergen and CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "the New Yorker" Ryan Lizza.
David, first, I want to get your reaction to this news that Texas congressman Ted Poe is now quitting the freedom caucus because of what happened with the health care bill. In fact, on this day that bill died. This is what he tweeted. He wrote, thanks for your leadership, @realDonaldTrump and @SpeakerRyan. Some only want to be the party of no and would have voted against the Ten Commandments.
David, is that how you feel? Was there any bill that would have satisfied the demands of the freedom caucus?
[19:05:35] DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The White House certainly doesn't think so. They thought they made a major concession to the freedom caucus when they agreed that the essential benefits under Obamacare would be wielded away and you will have to pay for benefit at the benefit for a lot of women, for example, would lose maternity care.
And, you know, the White House that Trump came thought of as they made that concessionary of the America to freedom caucus, of course, came back and then wanted additional concessions and they split. I think one of the interesting questions is, I think for the President, and it comes up in the Supreme Court question, is can he build in fact a coalition by going with the freedom caucus? Does that really alienate him from much of the country, because the freedom caucus is so conservative? And does that pull him way to the right? Or if he tries to go to his left and pick up Democrats, there's so much anger and resistance among Democrats in general, and so much opposition to doing anything to cooperate with Donald Trump. That is seems like an unlikely coalition and the Supreme Court, we are going to see just how opposed in the Senate, even though Gorsuch has presented himself in a fact that as a Kennedy type figure, the Republicans or the Democrats are going to, I think, filibuster against him. And Chuck Schumer is basically promising that. And it's going to be a mean fight.
I think for the President to look to Democrats right now in this environment, I'm not sure there's much there, Ryan may disagree.
CABRERA: Ryan, what are your thoughts in terms of the strategy for the President?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, just let me say one thing on the freedom caucus because it really is a new and kind of incredibly significant phenomenon in Washington. I mean, think about it. Since they officially organized themselves in 2013, they have been responsible for just about all of the biggest dramas in the House of Representatives. They caused the government shutdown. They caused speaker Boehner to resign. They were the essential block that allowed speaker Paul Ryan to become speaker. And now at the start of the Trump presidency, they are the most important political force. I think you would have to argue, in Washington right now.
And so, the fact that Trump and the people around him having watched the history of the last few years, didn't have a strategy to contain them, to bring them in, to figure them out, I think speaks very poorly of their understanding of Washington. And I think, you know, you can criticize the freedom caucus's tactics and the sort of hard line negotiating that they do, but you have to recognize their existence and their power.
So I think where Trump goes? I don't know. I mean, I think he is -- his instincts this weekend is to lash out at the hard liners. The outside groups like heritage, and the club for growth.
CABRERA: Where does that get him, though? Where does that --?
LIZZA: Well, unless he can break the back of this group of Republicans, I don't see how he gets around them, right? Or unless he decides to do what a couple of moderate Republicans have said this week, and forget the freedom caucus and try and build a center-out coalition in the House of Representatives. He needs them, right?
And look, there's no way the center-out strategy, while I think, you know, a lot of observers would cheer that is very unlikely to happen. So he needs to figure out this bloc of voters, which they are very strategic, right? They ban together and they have a unified opposition, and they can stop any legislation going through the House of Representatives when they do that.
CABRERA: And that's especially if you are only relying on Republicans to get legislation passed.
David, I want to - and talk a little bit about the investigation into Russian meddling. Listen to what Congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House intelligence committee and a Democrat told me just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I agree we should have an independent commission and clearly we need an independent prosecutor.
CABRERA: Have you seen more than circumstantial evidence of possible collusion between the Russia and Trump campaign associates? QUIGLEY: I think the best way for me to describe it as a former
defense attorney is this. There's probable cause to believe that there was coordination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:11] CABRERA: David, what's your reaction to that?
GERGEN: Well, probable cause suggests obviously that he thinks there's enough there to go to a grand jury in a criminal proceeding. We, as the public, you know, as outsiders, don't know, exactly what the evidence is. It's hard to assess. But I will tell you this. The Democrats are certainly raising the ante, (INAUDIBLE). First, that the ranking Democratic member congressman Schiff said that there was circumstantial evidence to support these investigations. And then he raised it up to a lot of sort -- more than circumstantial, and going all the way to probable cause. They are casting a dark shadow over these investigations. I trust they know what they are talking about, because otherwise they are going to look like they have been out on a wild goose chase if all this proves to be not so much.
CABRERA: Ryan, a lot has been said about partisanship really taking hold of this investigation, is that how you see it?
LIZZA: Yes. Look, I think last week was a very bad week for that committee. I don't know if it started off not so bad by Washington standards on Monday, that hearing, you had Republicans focused on one side of issues and Democrats focused on another. But they came at it with, you know, not by attacking each other personally and, you know, the questions for Comey and admiral Rogers were respectful. But by the end of the week, with some of these shenanigans that went on with Nunes going to the White House and Nunes reaching out to Trump, I think it really raised questions as to what that committee can really get to the bottom of this.
And just on Representative Quigley, is that his name?
LIZZA: His statement there, I mean look, Comey himself came very close to the probable cause threshold the in his testimony on Monday, right. The FBI director said there is an FBI investigation into possible -- into possible criminal activity related to Trump's associates. That's not a direct quote.
CABRERA: But the nuance in all of those words matters, doesn't it?
LIZZA: Absolutely. He didn't say, he wouldn't talk about specific targets of the investigation, but the fact that the FBI has enough evidence that they think there's possible criminality and he did use the phrase associates of Donald Trump, suggests, you know, that we are close to the probable cause.
The one question that didn't get asked at that hearing which would have answered David's excellent question, is has Comey empanelled a grand jury, right? That would give us a piece of information that would really tell us how far down the road this investigation is.
CABRERA: Beyond getting the answer to kind of investigation, David, politically can President Trump move forward with his agenda effectively with this constant drip, drip, drip happening in the Russia investigation.
GERGEN: Well, I certainly makes it harder. But I think he has to move forward. He can't be paralyzed now. He has got big things coming up. He has got to get the government to, you know, get an extension on money by the end of the month and he is going to run straight into the freedom caucus on that. They are going to ask for all sorts of concessions before doing anything like that.
CABRERA: This is another reason why they should filibuster Gorsuch, because who knows if this is going to be a big investigation that breaks open and President Trump ends up being impeached, essentially?
GERGEN: Well, I think that's putting -- we're a long way away from there. I would point out that it does seem to me that there's a difference between Comey saying possible and Quigley saying probable. In the law, that's a distinction, you know. Comey is stopping this side of probable. I think Ryan would agree with that.
LIZZA: That's absolutely right. And look, you are right, Ana, about the, you know, about Democrats using this investigation to say, wait a second, what if the worst of our fears or some Democrats' assumptions about Trump's relationships with Russians or his associates relationships with Russians, what if that comes out of this investigation and some Democrats are using that as a reason to say, you know, to just -- all of his nominations should be stopped.
Now, as a factual matter, if they try and filibuster Gorsuch, we know what's going to happen, right? Republicans are going to trigger the so-called nuclear option and it's going to be the end of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. And to tell you the truth, I mean, both sides have been talking about this for so long. It's sort of inevitable that that's going to happen anyway. And the only question whether it happens with Gorsuch or someone, you know, later on in the Trump presidency.
[19:15:01] GERGEN: I agree with that.
LIZZA: But Democrats e not going to stop this nominee no matter what, unless there's some, you know, massive, you know, some major new information that comes out.
CABRERA: Gentlemen, David Gergen, Ryan Lizza, thank you both. We appreciate it. Have a great weekend.
LIZZA: Thank you very much.
CABRERA: Coming up, Paul Ryan famously said he didn't want to be speaker of the House, and now after one of the biggest defeats of his career, what's next for him? And how much blame should he put on himself for the health care bill failure? Ryan's former chief of stuff joins me live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:19:38] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Speaker, you all swept the House, won the majority with the promise to repeal Obamacare. The majority in the Senate with a promise to repeal Obamacare. The White House with the promise to repeal Obamacare. How do you go home to your constituents and send all of your members home to their constituents saying, you know what? It is not even 100 days under the administration. Sorry folks, we just can't figure it out?
[19:20:01] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Dana, it is a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you. I really believe wish that Obamacare is a law that is collapsing. It is hurting families. It is not working. It was designed in a fundamentally flawed away. We believe this bill is the best way to get over. But we just didn't quite the consensus to get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That was House speaker Paul Ryan speaking moments after it was announced that the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare would die without a vote.
Joining me now the man who served as Ryan's chief of staff, until just a couple of months ago, David Hoppe.
David, take us back. Thanks for joining us, first of all.
DAVID HOPPE, SENIOR CONSULTANT, ONE NATION HEALTH COALITION: I'm happy to be here, thank you.
CABRERA: Did Ryan not say at one point if this party is not going to be united behind me. I do not want to be speaker? I mean, was this not exactly what he was afraid of he replaced John Boehner?
HOPPE: Well, that was one of the things that he went through in October of 2015 when John Boehner left and members came to him to say why don't you take this job? And he said I don't want the job. I have got the job I want. I'm chairman of the ways and means committee. I have been a member of Congress and this is my goal in Congress. And he had it for 10 months.
But he went to all the different groups and said, OK, we have got to work together and we got to start working together if we are going to do this.
Obviously, as you go issue by issue, that can to have problems. But I can tell you what I think speaker Ryan is going to do is he is going to go back, sit down, try and work with his members and try and develop policies which will get through.
Now, that means more of these people from both the freedom caucus and the Tuesday both of whom, frankly, had the ability to take this down and have the numbers to take this down to keep the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) 216 votes in the House and got those people to work together along with other members, the broad range of Republican members.
So Paul is going to go back to what he knows best, likes best, and does best which policy, because that's what he wants to do with this. The key to this is to change from an ever growing government control over health care to a market-oriented new system of doctor-patient relationships controlled by the market. We haven't had that in the United States since at least 1940.
CABRERA: Now, both Ryan and President Trump have said that we are going to wait. We are going to put the health care bill on hold, pause for a moment. So getting to back to what happened and the dynamics, I do want to ask you, because you are so close to the speaker, was the speaker promised that this would not occur as a condition of him taking the job?
HOPPE: Well, I wouldn't say promised, but he had a clear understanding - they had a clear understanding of what he wanted to do and thought was important and becoming the speaker, which is now 18 months ago, and he had a sense of where they were going to go. No discussion one has in politics is forever, it simply doesn't exist that way. And so, I think the speaker understands that, so one of the things that Republicans are going to have to do, is take a step back, start moving forward to put together a bill. Now understand the ACA passed as two separate bills, it will have to be undone as more than one bill. All of the ACA could not be undone in reconciliation because all of didn't was not passed in reconciliation so it leaves it to those in the house.
CABRERA: I have to wonder how speaker Ryan is feeling today, something getting a lot of buss is the opening statement from FOX News host Judge Jeanine Pirro. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: 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)
CABRERA: Judge Pirro aside, I had a conservative Trump supporter sitting right next to me yesterday who side repeal and replace Paul Ryan. Now, that sentiment clearly is out there from the right side. How does he move past it?
HOPPE: I'm sure there are people who want to say that, but there's a lot of members, a significant majority of House Republicans who know that Paul is the one who has to be speaker right now. There really isn't anybody else who could do this job. And everybody is going to have to figure out how they start to work together as a governing majority. As he said, does he have all the answers? He doesn't have all the answers. But I can tell you --. CABRERA: Why do you think he was not effective in this particular
case, given that this issue, repealing Obamacare was something that Republicans have wanted for seven years, have been talking about, have been campaigning on.
HOPPE: Yes. Well, I think they got into a situation where it was very difficult for the vehicle that they were using, reconciliation to be able to carry the weight of the changes that everybody wanted. And with that situation that was happening, they had to try and do everything they could to get things in reconciliation which just weren't going to stay there. And some members were concern about that. So they are going to have to take a step back, realize that it's going to take more than reconciliation to undo all of Obamacare and to create a new market oriented health care system. Everybody is going to have to give a little to the left.
[19:25:09] CABRERA: Do you think that he tried to give too much to the freedom caucus, instead of maybe leaning and reaching out more toward the moderates?
HOPPE: I think he was trying to write a bill that would gather enough votes from both of those factions within the caucus, as well as the broad middle of the caucus. And whenever you are doing that -- but you're also looking at the Senate rules and what the Senate rules will allow in reconciliation.
You are sort of always second guessing yourself, so I think they have always tried to find a middle hot spot because it's not the house rules they're dealing with. They're going to send something to the Senate at some point. If they will be taken do it under reconciliation, the Senate will rule on whether those things are allowed or not allowed to stay in a reconciliation bill.
That's some of what the freedom caucus where are worried got and the Tuesday caucus are going worried about different things, the freedom caucus asked for. They are going to halt and would have to get a room together and talk about this and say how do we put this together? At some point that will be necessary because they have to replace the ACA, because it's starting to fall apart. And the Republicans want to move to a market-oriented system. If Democrats in the Senate and house want to do that, move to a market oriented system, there will be bipartisanship to do it.
CABRERA: We shall see.
David Hoppe, thank you very much for joining us.
HOPPE: Happy to join you. Thank you. CABRERA: Coming up, critics of the house intelligence committee
chairman believe his priority is protecting the President, not investigating Russia's meddling look.
At the very public rift over undisclosed intelligence, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:31:00] CABRERA: The very health debate was hardly the only high drama In Washington this past week. A very public feud has been playing out involving members of the House intelligence committee, investigating Russia's meddling in the presidential election. Democrats are now accusing Intel chair Devin Nunes of trying to choke up information to the public by cancelling a public hearing where we would have testimony from top national security official.
Take a listen To Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democratic member of the house intelligence committee talking to us earlier this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUIGLEY: I think the best way for me to describe it as a former criminal defense attorney, is this. There is probable cause to believe that there was coordination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in our political commentators, Kayleigh McEnany. A contributor to "the Hill" and Bakari Sellers, the former South Carolina state representative.
First chairman Nunes draws some criticism by rushing to the White House with intel, not sharing it with the committee first, then he postpones Tuesday's public hearing. Kayleigh, it is getting a lot of criticism for this. How do you explain those actions?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. I agree with both congressman Nunes' action and congressman Peter King's defense of those actions. He said the President's name is caught up, if it is unveil, if the contents of the conversations disseminated around government, the president of the United States deserves to know what is going on in the intelligence community, and that his name was caught up on it.
So I entirely in surveillance agree with you (INAUDIBLE) information to the president.
CABRERA: Kayleigh, how do you know for sure that whoever's name was unmasked did nothing wrong?
MCENANY: I don't know that. And Congressman Nunes says he wants information now to know what wrong doing their committing. He said it doesn't appear from the conversations any crime was being committed. Give him answers as to what crime was submitted. He deserves answers. There might be an explanation for it. But we don't know at this point. And I think Congressman Nunes, it is fair for him to ask for that reasoning from the intelligence committee.
CABRERA: Bakari, do you take issue at all with some of the actions we saw on Capitol Hill this week regarding this investigation.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think that anyone who is watching this understands that this has to be a nonpartisan committee that moves forward. I don't want to sit here and say that Congressman Nunes was wrong and not also blame Congressman Schiff and anyone else who has come out and said too much.
What I want, though, is a thorough investigation that Russia is meddling into Russia's meddling into our Presidential election, I want to understand whether or not there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And I think Americans deserve the right to know that answer.
There's a ton of smoke, and no one can deny that, the question is if where there's smoke there's fire. I think Democrats and Republicans both need to take a step back. And we need to allow let this process to play out.
I have a sincere problem with Congressman Nunes, but I also think Democrats have overplayed their hand as well. We need to let the investigation play out and see what happens.
CABRERA: A leading Democrat on the house Intel committee, Adam Schiff, has not stayed quiet at all. And he had cited many of the pose put forward by a Trump advisor Roger Stone. Listen to how Stone who is under investigation dismissed Congressman Schiff today during an appearance on ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Things that the gentleman from California who is largely full of Schiff said are incorrect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bakari, is this an example of Schiff maybe overplaying his hand?
SELLERS: No. I think that there is a point in time when the investigation just has to play out. I do criminal defense work all the time. And the last thing you want to do is get in front of the evidence.
But even more importantly, what we all know, and I don't think this is a disputable fact is Roger Stone has a various moment who says things that are blatantly (INAUDIBLE) and disrespect if not just out ignorant many times. And so I think he is a little bit in over his head. I look forward to his testimony in front of the House committee on this issue.
But you can't get concerned with some of these tangents that these individuals are going on. Roger Stone is playing an intricate role in this. Roger Stone knew information before anybody else did. He is going to have to answer those questions.
I think that as Democrats, instead of just prodding and prodding and prodding, we just need to give him enough rope because one thing I know about people like Roger Stone, he will hang themselves.
[19:35:35] CABRERA: Kayleigh, why not have the public hearing that was supposed to happen in Tuesday? When we talked to Mike Quigley earlier, he said that he received no explanation from the chairman of the Intel committee Devin Nunes for canceling that hearing?
MCENANY: Look, I think that's a fair question. I think those hearings will happen and they should happen. I agree with Bakari that we should look into this. From what I understand, I know there was some shifting around of scheduling because they were going to I believe have a closed hearing with Comey and others that they wanted to bring back. So whether that affected the schedule, I'm not entirely sure.
I do think that's a fair question. And I do agree with Roger Stone too that we have seen Adam Schiff put forward all of this circumstantial evidence trying to make the case that there is collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. There was no direct evidences of that. I could make the same case right here that there was circumstantial evidence of the Clinton campaign coordinating with Russia. Given that, she sold 20 percent of U.S. uranium to Russia, or Podesta co-founded a firm that is (INAUDIBLE). But that would be circumstantial evidence. It would not be right of me to do that because I have no direct evidence of that. So that is exactly which Schiff is doing. Republican could play the same game, but they are not doing that.
CABRERA: I think that it's not exactly the same thing when the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign. Go ahead, Bakari.
SELLERS: But I just have to correct the record, that's actually Podesta's brother. And the fact that --
MCENANY: He co-founded the firm, though.
SELLERS: No, that's Podesta's brother. He has no interest in the firm.
And people go down these paths all the time. And what we do know is that Kayleigh and Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders and every one of my good friend who were Trump supporters, all came out to their mouth during the election season and said that one of the largest in quote-unquote, "proverbial indictments" against Hillary Clinton was that she was under federal investigation.
What we now know is true that the Trump White House's campaign and associates were under investigation and still are today. I think that the American public, for me this is not a partisan issue at all. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue. And we had a foreign agent trying to subvert our democracy and we should stand up and say bring us a special prosecutor, an independent committee, take the partisan politics out of it and if somebody goes to jail, they deserve it.
CABRERA: Kayleigh, let me ask you this and put it this way. I mean, does the President and do Republicans want answers when it comes to this investigation because the bottom line is if there's nothing to hide, shouldn't that be something that they are encouraging to clear their name?
MCENANY: Of course, yes, and they have encouraged this investigation. We do want to see this take place, an attack on the DNC, a cyberattack on the DNC is an attack on all Americans. So, of course, I want this to look into.
But you know, clear here, the president himself is not under FBI investigation. Associates of the Trump campaign, with (INAUDIBLE) connections, people who were informal advisors or people who were on the campaign for only three or four months were under investigation, not the President himself. It's very distinct in my opinion from Hillary Clinton being under investigation, for her actions that compromise intelligence that is indictment for intelligence that potentially made our country vulnerable to hackers. Very different than an associate with a relationship is being looked at.
CABRERA: All right. Kayleigh McEnary and Bakari Seller. We got to leave it there. Thank you both.
MCENANY: Thank you.
SELLERS: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, Dozens of bodies fold from the rebel in Mosul. But wasn't an airstrike or the work of ISIS. We get a live reports at the U.S. military launches thank Coming up, dozens of bodies pulled from the rubble in Mosul.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:43:21] CABRERA: More American troops are now headed to Iraq. That is now confirmed to CNN from the Pentagon. The exact number of soldiers hasn't been specified, the term used by an official is in the low hundreds. They will likely be sent to an Iraqi air base in east Mosul. But how long they will be there, we just don't know.
Also today, the Pentagon address the very serious allegations that one or more U.S. airstrike may have killed hundreds of Iraqi civilian this is month. This is a statement we just got from the CENTCOM commanding general today. We are investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened and will continue to take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilian.
CNN international correspondent Arwa Damon is in Iraq with more.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The investigations are still ongoing, but what we have been able to at least preliminarily piece together is that on March 17th. According to one of the local counter terrorism commanders, as the forces were advancing, there was a truck that they believe was laden with explosives, driven by a suicide bomber that was advancing on force. There's an air strike was called in, specifically. And the force of the explosion then caused a number of homes to collapse. We spoke to an eyewitness who lived a few houses down who described a
pretty terrifying scene, as they were fleeing, they could hear and people screaming, we're alive, please save us. And he said in at least one of the homes there were around six families that were sheltering there because they believe that it was a fairly steady, sturdy structure.
Just the homeowner, himself, his family was made up of 17 individuals and it took the civil defense team, quite some time, days in fact to actually be able to reach the site because of the intensity of the fighting and according to the head of the civil defense team, at least 80 bodies were pulled out of the rubble.
One of the Iraqi generals who is the spokesman for the Iraqi military, joint military command, he said that they believe in one house alone, there were 130 people. Now the Iraqis are saying that because of how densely populated this part of Mosul is and because of these various reports of civilian casualties, they are going to be modifying their tactics, using less air strikes, advancing more on foot. These are very narrow streets, using more drones, using more precision artillery but this is the ugly reality of the battle that they're facing. ISIS is holding a civilian population hostage. People when do try to flee based on what we have been told, if ISISI capturing them, they pull them back at gunpoint. They don't allow are using houses as fighting positions and this was one of the big concerns even before this battle even began, the fate of the civilian pop lags.
Arwa Damon, CNN. Irbil.
CABRERA: Just a horrific situation.
Arwa Coming up, terror in the digital age. A closer look at the first hacker in history deemed dangerous enough to kill in a drone strike.
[19:50:44] CABRERA: He is the first cyber hacker to have ever been killed in a targeted drone strike. And at one point was considered the third most dangerous member of ISIS. CNN's Laurie Segall traveled to England to his family home to find out how someone goes from hacker to terrorist, in this week's episode of "Mostly Human."
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: Laurie Segall is joining me now.
Wow. What a teaser. Were you kind of nervous doing this? I mean, I would be a little intimidated going to this this investigation.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look. Pat of we want to understand who he was, pre-ISIS. And that took us to Birmingham England. You see me knocking on doors. No, wasn't exactly save that moments.
But I think what was so fascinating about (INAUDIBLE), right, that before he became known as the third most dangerous member of ISIS. He was thing that's so fascinating about the third most dangerous member of ISIS, he was a dorky kid who loved computers and he loved to hang out in these online forums. And this is where I have a wear connection. I have been going to a cybersecurity conference called Defcon for years. And a lot of the friends that he hang out with online. These are not terrorist, right, either cyber security professional people love the hacking community.
They also went to Las Vegas to Defcon, the feds actually went there to try to find out more information on him. So I really wanted to make that connection of how do you go from loving this, you know, community and hanging out with these folks and partying with hackers to becoming the third most dangerous member of ISIS. SO you are going to see a clip that actually took me to a hacker party in Las Vegas.
Take a look.
SEGALL: We're at one of the many DEFCON parties. So we are going to go party with Hecker.
Many of these people hack to show security vulnerabilities, others are more in the gray area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be very careful when people give you their business cards. This thing will activate and it will basically own your android telephone.
SEGALL: That's just a card someone's giving out here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SEGALL: The spirit of this group is all about curiosity, breaking things and putting them back together.
Anybody else that we don't know something?
This is the community where (INAUDIBLE) found belonging. It's underground. It is different. It is weird. Even interesting. But it's not the face of terror.
John Nicholls spent six years as a propaganda specialist for the U.S. government. He monitored trick and other terrorists online and watched how they used social media.
What was it about his abilities and his skills that made him so dangerous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, everybody loves a good propagandist. The ability to tell a good narrative and be compelling. His story was sexy the kind of people that I might have influence with. SEGALL: I just - I get it. I just - part of me cannot wrap my head
around, someone like (INAUDIBLE) who loved the spirit of this community, of anti-authority, and you know, maybe not taking things at face value. I still can't quite wrap my head around how you can go that extreme.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't ISIS really, it's not just, isn't ISIS actually just a giant anti-authority organization? You don't have to be a front to back corroborative to buy into that narrative.
SEGALL: The narrative appealed to people like Trick, people behind a scene looking for belonging, he encouraged his followers to take action and he was accessible and relatable to a western audience. What role do you think the internet played for him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the internet is full of a lot of people who are disaffected. And I got on the Internet. Just affected you. Get in to this probe some way like being little body but commuters as a disaffected youth. I think that's true for a lot of hackers.
SEGALL: Not all hackers go to be the third most dangerous member of is, so what divides you and trick?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The narrative is the answer, you shouldn't join ISIS because they chop off heads, and they go well I shouldn't join the west because there's decades of history of you is screwing us and you bombing our wedding parties from the sky. Really from that perspective, which is the greater Satan in that?
CABRERA: So interesting.
SEGALL: You know, what was so fascinating, he was able from Syria to tweet messages and incite violence all over the world. All these lone Wolf attacks happening in the United States could be trade (ph) who (INAUDIBLE) online. And that's why the government made this decision and that would mark the first time in history someone was killed because of their ability to tweet essentially.
CABRERA: Wow. And you got to the bottom it.
Laurie Segall, thank you so much.
And be sure to catch the full series of "Mostly Human," screaming right now exclusively on CNN GO. We'll be right back.
[19:59:56] CABRERA: Hello on this Sunday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us.
Republican and the White House are still rilling from legislative defeat after the breakdown of the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill. Fingers are being pointed alive because they are being question. And the big unknown right now is, what's next?