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STATE OF THE UNION

Ivanka Trump Moves Into West Wing; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan; Interview With U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; Flynn Offers Russia Testimony In Exchange for Immunity; Ivanka Trump Officially A White House Employee. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 2, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:22]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Immunity deal? Fired National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn says he has a story to tell about Russia, but only if Congress and FBI are willing to make a deal.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When you start giving immunity, that means that you have probably committed a crime.

TAPPER: What does he know? The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee will be here live with the very latest.

And Republican civil war. The infighting intensifies, as President Trump threatens the hard-line conservatives who brought down his health care bill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I understand the president's frustration. I share frustration.

TAPPER: Will the bad blood poison Trump's relationship with Congress?

Plus, Ivanka moves into the West Wing.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Ivanka is going to be amazing.

TAPPER: The first daughter officially joins the White House staff, as new documents show she and husband Jared Kushner are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

A new member of the richest Cabinet in history joins us live.

And the best political minds will here on what happens next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is really, really rich.

New financial documents filed late Friday night reveal the wealthiest White House in history. Newly official West Wing employee Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are worth as much as $740 million, according to the papers filed with the Office of Government Ethics

Now, good government groups note that Ivanka continues to hold a share worth between $5 and $25 million in the Trump International Hotel right here in Washington, D.C. And they ask, does she plan on keeping that investment while helping to run the government?

The documents also reveal new information about fired National Security Adviser retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who this week asked Congress for immunity in exchange for any testimony about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

Flynn failed to report thousands of dollars in speaking fees he had received from the Russian-government-owned propaganda channel for R.T. for this appearance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as for paid speeches by a Russian airline and a Russian cyber- security company.

Flynn's lawyer claims he was fired before he could complete his initial financial disclosure forms.

I'm joined now by one of the congressman leading the probe into Russia's activities in the U.S. election, Representative Adam Schiff, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It's good to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you about General Flynn.

He says -- his lawyer says, at least, that he is willing to testify before your committee if he is given immunity. President Trump seemed to voice support for this, tweeting -- quote -- "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity, in that this is a witch-hunt, excuse for a big election loss by media and Dems of historic proportion."

Flynn's lawyer says that General Flynn has a story to tell, Congressman. What would it take for the committee to give him immunity?

SCHIFF: Well, I think we start out with a very healthy skepticism.

We know from the filings that were done by the White House on Friday that General Flynn failed to report the money that he received from that R.T. propaganda arm of the Kremlin, as well as two other Russian entities.

We also have requested the background security documents that General Flynn filled out to find out whether he similarly failed to disclose work that he was doing as a financial agent of a foreign power or receiving financial support from a foreign power. And, of course, there's the issue of whether General Flynn made false statements that would also expose him to liability. So, there is a lot we need to learn before entertaining anything like this. There is a lot we need to learn from other witnesses.

But I start out, I think, with a very healthy skepticism.

TAPPER: A skepticism that he has anything worth sharing? What is the skepticism about?

SCHIFF: Well, the skepticism is, you know, we will need to consult with the Justice Department. They obviously have a lot of equities here. We don't want to do anything that will interfere in any case that the Justice Department may decide to bring.

We also have to determine whether he really can add value to our investigation, whether we need him to learn information we can't learn from other sources. So, it's very early, I think, even to be considering this. There is a lot more work that we need to do. And I think we are properly bringing a degree of skepticism along with us.

TAPPER: What did you think about President Trump tweeting about the immunity deal? Some of the president's critics suggested that maybe he was signaling to the Justice Department or the FBI that they should offer General Flynn such a deal.

SCHIFF: You know, the president is pretty transparent in his tweets. I think he wanted to get across a message that he's not afraid of what General Flynn has to say and basically daring the Congress to give him immunity.

[09:05:07]

And then, if we make a judgment that, no, we shouldn't be giving him immunity, the president can say we don't want his story to come out. So, I think it was a strategic move by the president, and a pretty transparent one.

TAPPER: On Friday, you traveled to the White House to view these documents that Chairman Nunes, your Republican counterpart, has discussed, and Nunes says that they suggest the raising of issues, issues that he has, about incidental surveillance of Trump advisers, maybe even the president, himself.

The president has said he feels somewhat vindicated by what Nunes has said about these documents, although Nunes has said they do not show what the president claimed, the wiretap of Trump at Trump Tower.

But now you have seen these documents, can you understand why Chairman Nunes might have some issues with the surveillance that was going on?

SCHIFF: Well, I can't go into the contents of the documents, Jake.

I can't say I don't agree with the chairman's characterization, which is exactly why it's so important you don't share documents with just one person or even two people. They need to be shared with both full committees.

But the most important thing people need to know about these documents is not classified, and it's a couple of thing. First, the deputy assistant to the White House informed me when I went to see them that these are exactly the same materials that were shown to the chairman.

Now, this is a very interesting point. How does the White House know that these are the same materials that were shown to the chairman, if the White House wasn't aware what the chairman was being shown?

And the second point was also made to me. And this is -- I think was also underscored by Sean Spicer -- and that is, it was told to me by the deputy assistant that these materials were produced in the ordinary course of business.

Well, the question for the White House and for Mr. Spicer is the ordinary course of whose business? Because, if these were produced either for or by the White House, then why all of the subterfuge? There's nothing ordinary about the process that was used here at all.

And, Jake, I think the answer may come from the president, himself. And you can say a lot of things about the president, but one thing you cannot say is he's not subtle. And I think his tweets tell the story.

And the story is, look over there at leaks, and look over there at anything the Obama administration we can claim did wrong on incidental collection or anything else, but, whatever you do, under no circumstances look here at me or at Russia.

I think that is really what is going on.

TAPPER: Do you think that Chairman Nunes was part of an attempt to provide some sort of cover for the president's claim about Obama wiretapping him at Trump Tower, which, obviously, this does not prove, but to cover for that, or an attempt to distract, as you're suggesting?

SCHIFF: It certainly is an attempt to distract and to hide the origin of the materials, to hide the White House hand.

The question is, of course, why? And I think the answer to the question is this effort to point the Congress in other directions, basically say, don't look at me, don't look at Russia, there is nothing to see here.

You know, I would tell people, whenever they see the president use the word "fake," it ought to set off alarm bells. And I think that is really what has gone on here.

TAPPER: Now, you signed a letter with Chairman Nunes about three weeks ago asking the intelligence community about unmasking. That is when someone incidentally picked up in surveillance is named by official name, and not just "Citizen A," in intelligence reports.

I guess the question that Nunes is asking or suggesting that we should be asking in the media, who unmasked these Trump advisers, and is it possible that any of this unmasking was being done for political reasons, instead of for legitimate ones?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, I can't talk about, as I mentioned, the contents of any documents.

So, at this point, I can't say whether anything was masked or unmasked improperly.

I can say this. In the ordinary course of what we do as an oversight committee, we look at exactly these issues. If the White House had any concern about whether minimization was used properly, or unmasking was used properly, or there was improper incidental collection or how it was handled, that is material that should be given to us in the ordinary course of affairs.

It doesn't need to be done, you know, by night through stealth at the White House. The only reason to do that, again, is if you want to hide where these materials are really coming from and who is behind it.

And I think part of the reason why that was done is this effort to deflect attention from the Russia investigation, to raise other issues, to effectively create a cloud through which the public cannot see what is at stake here.

And what is at stake here is a foreign intervention in our election, a very serious issue about whether U.S. persons were involved, an investigation that is being conducted by the FBI into possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

[09:10:07]

That is really, I think, among the most serious business the country has to do right now. And the White House seems to be doing everything it can to point in other directions and say, do not look here, there is nothing to see here.

TAPPER: And the big issue, of course, is whether or not there was collusion among members of the Trump campaign or surrounding the Trump campaign, Trump advisers.

Can you say definitively that there was collusion, there were people affiliated with the Trump campaign who were working with Russians to time the release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton that had been hacked either from John Podesta or the DNC?

SCHIFF: I don't think we can say anything definitively at this point.

We are still at the very early stage of the investigation. The only thing I can say is that it would be irresponsible for us not to get to the bottom of this. We really need to do -- we really need to find out exactly what the Russians did, because one of the most important conclusions that the intelligence community reached is that they are going to do this again to the United States. They are doing it already in Europe.

So, we can say, you know, conclusively this is something that needs to be thoroughly investigated. But it's way premature to be reaching conclusions.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, we thank you for your time today. Thank you, sir.

SCHIFF: Thank you very much, Jake.

TAPPER: President Trump declaring his own party the enemy after his health care legislation failed. And he is now threatening to torpedo those who stood in his way. Will it work?

We will ask the congressman who has been targeted by Trump next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:16:00]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

President Trump is still licking his proverbial wounds after the stunning defeat of his health care bill at the hands of his own party.

And he is pinning the blame squarely upon the Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-core conservatives in the House of Representatives, the president tweeting -- quote -- "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. We must fight them and Dems in 2018."

So, will the president's threats work?

Let's ask a top member of the Freedom Caucus who has been singled out by President Trump, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who joins me from Columbus.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, Congressman, President Trump, as I don't need to tell you, is blaming you and two of your colleague in the Freedom Caucus for the health care debacle.

He tweeted -- quote -- "If Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador would get on board, we would have both great health care and massive tax cuts and reform."

The president seems to be placing the blame squarely on your shoulders. Is that fair?

JORDAN: Jake, tweets and statements and blame don't change facts.

And the facts remain the same. When you look at the document, when you look at the legislation, it doesn't repeal Obamacare. Even people who support it say it's -- have called it Obamacare-lite. Doesn't bring down premiums. Even the CBO said premiums were going to rise for the next three-and-a-half years. And certainly it doesn't unite Republicans, as evidenced by the fact that you got conservatives and moderates who are opposed to the legislation. And it doesn't unite the country. When have you seen a bill come forward where only 17 percent of the country supports it?

So, let's do better than that. Let's start over. Let's get this thing done right and let's keep our promises with the American people.

TAPPER: Dan Scavino, who is President Trump's social media director at the White House, over the weekend...

JORDAN: Yes.

TAPPER: ... urged the defeat of one of your colleagues in the Freedom Caucus.

He tweeted -- quote -- "Donald Trump is bringing auto plants and jobs back to Michigan. Justin Amash" -- that's a Freedom Caucus member who is also a Republican from Michigan -- "is a big liability. Trump train, defeat him in primary."

Congressman Jordan, that is the White House saying that your Freedom Caucus colleague Justin Amash should be primaried, should lose his job.

JORDAN: Yes.

TAPPER: What is your response?

JORDAN: Justin Amash is a good friend and one of the most principled members of Congress. And, frankly, if he is primaried, I'm going to do everything I can to help him.

But what concerns me more than this threat of primaries is keeping our word with the American people. And, as I said, you would think even Congress should be able to put together a piece of legislation that more than 17 percent of our fellow citizens like.

And maybe one of the things we should learn from this, Jake, is, this process was deeply flawed, in my judgment. Good process leads to good policy, which I think translates into good politics.

That didn't happen here, again, as evidenced by the fact no one in the country likes this bill. So, maybe instead of hiding the bill away, rolling it out four weeks ago, having hearings where there are no witnesses who actually testify, where there are no amendments allowed to be offered, no amendments accepted, maybe we need to do the process right.

And maybe, if we do, we will develop a product that more than 17 percent of the country actually approves of. So, let's to do it that way. Why not actually have doctors come in and testify, maybe hospitals testify, or maybe just some regular American families who this bill is going to impact?

Why not have that kind of process take place? And we will get to a better process. And that's the kind of thing that Justin Amash and other members of the Freedom Caucus think -- Freedom Caucus think need to happen.

TAPPER: Let me show you how Congressman Amash responded.

He tweeted -- quote -- "Trump administration and establishment have merged into #Trumpstablishment. Same old agenda: Attack conservatives, libertarians and independent thinkers."

Do you agree with Congressman Amash? Has the Trump administration merged into the same old establishment?

JORDAN: I think Justin Amash, as I said before, is a good friend and someone I'm going to help if he has a primary.

But what I also understand is, look at the four corners of the document. Look at the actual legislation. Read the legislation and understand what it does and doesn't do.

It doesn't bring down premiums. Every health care policy expert will tell you that it doesn't do that. Even CBO said it doesn't do that. So let's take a pause here. Sometimes, I think we are getting all spun up.

The sun is coming up tomorrow. Things will be OK. It's just a delay in doing this legislation. Even the president said we can get a better bill after it was postponed a week ago.

[09:20:07]

So, let's do that. Let's put together a better piece of legislation that keeps our word with the American people. That is my focus. That is Justin Amash's focus. That's the focus of the Freedom Caucus. That is what the election in 2010, 2014 and 2016 was about. So, let's do that.

TAPPER: That's your focus now, sir, but, with all due respect, sir, if one year from today, you and Congressman Amash and Mark Meadows and Raul Labrador and all the other members of the Freedom Caucus are facing primary challenges from Trump-supported candidates, then you're not going to be able to focus on defeating -- on all the things you want to accomplish for the American people.

JORDAN: Well...

TAPPER: You are going to have to focus on these threats that are coming directly from the White House.

JORDAN: Jake -- Jake, you know, competition is fine.

I have never shied away from competition. If that is what happens, that is what happens. That will be up to the voters in each of those respective districts. In my case, it will be up to the good families who I get the privilege of serving in the 4th District of Ohio.

But what I do know is what we told the American people. And that is our focus. That will continue to be our focus. Let's do that. Let's work with the White House where we can to get that accomplished. Let's work with all our colleagues.

Frankly, I'm willing to work with Democrats, if they are willing to do what we told the voters we were going to do, if it's consistent with what that election was about and what I told the people in the 4th District I was going to go fight for them for.

If it's consistent with that, let's do it. But let's focus on that. We make this job way too complicated. Our job is to do what we told the voters we were going to do when they gave us the privilege to serve.

That's my focus, and that's the focus of Justin Amash and anyone else in the Freedom Caucus.

TAPPER: Speaker Ryan said this week that if you -- quote -- "let the perfect become the enemy of the good," you will push the president into working with Democrats.

Does any part of Speaker Ryan's expression of concern make you worry at all...

JORDAN: Jake...

TAPPER: ... that this will ultimately become a more liberal bill?

JORDAN: Jake, since when did good get defined as 17 percent approval rating? Come on.

As I said before, even Congress should be able to do something better than a bill, than a piece of legislation where only 17 percent of our fellow citizens think it should pass? That should tell us something.

Maybe we need to actually do the process right, as I said before, and actually let people come in and testify on the legislation. Maybe we would put together something better that is consistent with what we told them we were going to do when they elected us on November 8, 2016.

TAPPER: Congressman Jim Jordan of the great state of Ohio, we appreciate it, sir.

JORDAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: What is the connection between a bank on a Mediterranean island and the Trump Cabinet?

More questions about Russia ties next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:27:02]

TAPPER: This week, President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi for a visit to his private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. Awkward, perhaps, to suggest a round of golf with a man whose country

you just accuse of raping America.

So, what might be on the agenda?

Well, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross joins me now from New York.

Secretary Ross, thanks so much for joining us.

WILBUR ROSS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: Well, it's good to be on, Jake.

TAPPER: So, the president of China will President Trump on Thursday and Friday.

Between 1999 and 2011, Chinese competition was responsible for the loss of 2.4 million jobs in the United States, according to a recent economic study.

Now, during the campaign, as you know, President Trump promised he would get tough on China. Specifically, he made this promise. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator...

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: ... which should have been done years ago.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States, which is many countries, will be met with sharply.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, President Trump said this would happen on day one.

We are now -- I think we are on day 73. Is this promise gone? Has it been abandoned?

ROSS: Well, currency manipulation determination is the province of the secretary of the treasury...

TAPPER: Right.

ROSS: ... not the province of the secretary of commerce. Our job is to deal with trade issues.

TAPPER: But it's your general issue, though.

ROSS: My issue is not general. My issue is quite specific, which is trade enforcement and helping negotiate trade deals that make sense for the American worker.

TAPPER: All right, well, let's talk about the executive orders that President Trump delivered on Friday.

One of them, they had to deal with the trade deficit in China. One of the issues you pointed to that day was the promise of Chinese steel dumping.

Let me ask you a question. Was it a mistake for President Trump, when he was a developer, to use dumped Chinese steel and aluminum for Trump construction projects in Las Vegas and Chicago? Do developers bear no responsibility for the issue of steel and aluminum dumping?

ROSS: Well, first of all, developers don't actually buy the steel.

They hire contractors. The contractors put the project out to bid. And the contractors are trying to get the lowest price.

The problem with the whole dumping thing is not on the buying side. The problem is that other nations are dumping product at unfairly low prices. That's what needs to be corrected, not the behavior of the contractor.

TAPPER: You served as the vice chairman of the Bank Of Cyprus. A lot of Russians did a lot of business with that bank, as you know.

Earlier this month, six senators sent you a letter posing a series of questions. They say they haven't received answers from you.

I want to ask you a couple of them. One of them says -- quote -- "During your time at the Bank of Cyprus, was the bank involved with any individuals or entities placed under U.S. financial sanctions?"

Was it?

ROSS: That's a question that is very complicated to answer, because the bank had billions of dollars of loans that were made long before it got into trouble, long before I got involved with it.

[09:30:00]

So researching all of the names that it might have had as borrowers or depositor historically is not something productive. I can tell you no loan that I approved knowingly was to a person unsanctioned.

TAPPER: But there might have been individuals who were part of the bank from before you were involved or while you were involved but loans that you didn't sign off on who might have been affected by U.S. sanctions, am I hearing that correctly?

ROSS: No. That's not what I said.

TAPPER: OK.

ROSS: What I said is that all large loans were approved by the committee of the board that I was on. None of those loans went to anybody with sanctions that I'm aware of and nor were there any great big deposits from sanctioned parties that came in while I was involved, that I was aware of.

TAPPER: OK. So there might have been smaller loans.

Another question the senators had for you was, did the bank provide any loans to the Trump campaign either directly or through another financial institution?

ROSS: Certainly not to my knowledge.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question. As secretary of commerce, you oversee NOAA, that's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it's a government agency that compiles data about the impact of climate change among many other missions.

Is NOAA going to continue to collect this information under your watch? The reason I'm asking you is of course because back in 2012 President Trump characterized climate change as a hoax created by -- for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing not competitive, an assertion made in contrast with the vast majority of the climate scientists.

ROSS: NOAA has many missions and my attitude the science should dictate the results. As long as they stick to science and to facts, I'm comfortable with whatever is the outcome.

TAPPER: There's something that happened at the White House on Friday and you were present for it and was really curious. Let me just show it.

The president was supposed to sign his executive orders on trade. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. You're going to see some very, very strong results, very, very quickly. Thank you very much.

MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, today with your tweet, were you trying to tell the Justice Department to grant immunity to Michael Flynn? Were you trying to do that, Mr. President? Was that your intention, Mr. President, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you --

(CROSSTALK)

GARRETT: Mr. President, was that your intention, Mr. President? Was that your intention, sir?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: This is a very curious moment. You see Vice President Pence at the end there go over there and try to tell him he forgot to sign the executive orders. President Trump says, you know, bring them into the other room. I'll sign them there.

Is there anyone in the president's inner circle who's willing to tell him when he is making a mistake?

ROSS: Well, as to the signing of the orders, he did sign the orders. I was there with him in the room when he signed them and, in fact, he gave me the pen that he used to sign the order most directly relevant to the Department of Commerce, so I don't see where the term mistake comes from.

TAPPER: Well, it was supposed to be signed -- he was supposed to sign them before the cameras. It was a ceremony and he ended up walking out before he signed them which I'm sure was just an honest mistake or maybe he didn't want to answer Major Garrett's question about immunity and Michael Flynn. But in any case it just looks rather odd and it also just raises the question, is there anybody who can tell the president when he is wrong?

ROSS: I don't see what he did that is wrong. It's his decision where he wants to sign an order. He did sign the order. It's official. That's the relevant fact. Whether it pleased some particular cameramen or not is of no concern.

TAPPER: All right. Secretary Wilbur Ross, appreciate your time this morning, sir. Thanks so much.

ROSS: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, all in the family. Ivanka Trump joins her husband Jared Kushner in the West Wing. What does the first family's growing influence mean for White House policy? That story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:38:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The reason they get immunity is because they do something wrong. If they didn't do anything wrong they don't think in terms of immunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump last year attacking Hillary Clinton's aides for receiving immunity in the investigation into her private e-mail server. He's obviously singing a different tune now that his former National Security Adviser, Retire General Michael Flynn, is apparently asking for immunity as well before he would testify to the FBI or before Congress on Russian meddling in the election. Trump calls the investigation a witch hunt.

We have lots to talk about here with our panel. We have with us is Republican Congressman Jason Lewis of Minnesota; Neera Tanden, president of the CEO of the Center for American Progress; Nina Turner, former Democratic Ohio State Senator; and Mike Rogers, former Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

So Congressman Lewis, let me just start with you. Immunity meant one thing last year and it means something this year. There's even obviously bites of Mike Flynn saying you don't ask for immunity unless you did -- committed a crime.

REP. JASON LEWIS (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I think they trying to get to the bottom of the story and if that helps, it helps. I'd tell you if I were to go in front of a congressional panel though you don't have judicial oversight in a congressional testimony. And so telling somebody they ought to get immunity when you're going in front of Congress is probably the smart legal thing to do.

TAPPER: Your face -- your face says you're skeptical of that?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I'm sorry. I think the idea that Mike Flynn is asking for immunity tells us there is something deep and seriously wrong here. Obviously last week we've learned there was an FBI investigation (INAUDIBLE) now 20 points of contacts between Russians and the Trump -- the Trump campaign and Trump associates.

TAPPER: Contact is not collusion (INAUDIBLE).

TANDEN: It's not collusion. I was --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: ... Clapper is not collusion, right?

TANDEN: I would just say that I work in plenty of presidential campaigns. I never ever met with Russians, Russian assets, Russian government officials is very -- there's a lot here and Devin Nunes's behavior demonstrates that the House intel committee seems incapable of doing it.

[09:40:02]

And so that's why I think lots of Democrats are asking for an independent commission and I have to say I do not understand why Republicans keep trying to block that.

LEWIS: Because three investigations going on here. There is the FBI, there is the Senate intelligence committee, the Richard Burr and John Warner (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: And there is the House Intelligence Committee. And the only thing we know is Flynn's contacts -- James Clapper said there's no evidence of collusion whatsoever. Let's let the investigation --

TANDEN: Clapper doesn't know that. He said that before the FBI --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: On January 20th.

TAPPER: He said as of the time he left the government...

LEWIS: That's right.

TAPPER: ... January 20th he didn't know.

TANDEN: But he -- but the FBI has a current investigation.

TAPPER: Right.

LEWIS: That's right.

TAPPER: Let's go to --

LEWIS: Let him do it.

TAPPER: Let's go to --

TANDEN: And an independent commission is the way for us publicly to see that.

TAPPER: You're the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. So let me ask you. What do you make of the request for immunity by General Flynn's lawyer?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, there is two sides to that story. One is if you've going to testify before Congress, the way that the statute works for lying to an FBI agent is called the 101 violation -- what was it? 1001 violation, you would want to make sure that if you said something there even inadvertently it might not jibe with what you told the FBI. You don't want to get in that mess if you wanted to come out and testify.

TAPPER: Because that is how the FBI squeeze people (INAUDIBLE)?

ROGERS: That is how the FBI squeezes you.

I would say -- listen, if I were the committees I wouldn't grant immunity. And the other thing I would stop doing is having all of this public attention to an investigation. If this is really an investigation everybody needs to clam up candidly including the president. Stop talking about it.

I mean, the most dangerous place in Washington, D.C. right now is between a congressman who has read a classified report and a microphone. That needs to stop and it's both sides.

I just heard Adam Schiff this morning saying, well, we can't talk about that but, boy, people are guilty of something. He is supposed to be the person helping lead an investigation for a conclusion. You can't go into this...

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: You're saying we need to find more -- ROGERS: ... you can have a conclusion --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Nina.

LEWIS: Because there's no evidence we need more --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: I think they all need to stop talking.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, there may be something there. Jake, it might not be. But the fact that General Flynn criticized Clinton aides, you know, and saying that you're guilty of if you asked for immunity -- well he just asked for immunity so maybe he's guilty.

But it's not just the Democrats that are asking for an independent investigator, Quinnipiac poll just recently said -- showed that two out of three Americans believe...

TAPPER: I'm sorry?

TURNER: ... that there should be an independent investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: People -- Ohioans like the site polling. Congressman Jordan --

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Are you linking me to Congressman Jordan?

TAPPER: You both like the polls.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: That's all I'm saying. You both like the poll numbers.

Speaking of President Trump and tweet he just tweeted this morning -- maybe he was watching STATE OF THE UNION.

"The real story turns out to be surveillance and leaking. Find the leakers."

And you heard Congressman Schiff say this is the whole point as President Trump is trying to change the subject from any possible collusion. Focus on the leaker.

ROGERS: I think there is three pretty distinct issues here that they need to get to the bottom of.

I do think that the leaking is serious. You cannot have FISA material, which is the most sensitive collection -- TAPPER: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance.

ROGERS: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance. It's very sensitive. If there was cause to have this information broadly distributed and leaked that is a crime. That's a separate investigation in my mind. The FBI should do that. That sounds like a criminal action.

(CROSSTALK)

But the other two, this is important. Then there is one on Russia. This is where the committees could stay out of the way. The fact that the Russians are engaged in information operations here and around the world with our allies is a serious matter.

If they could help the public understand their intentions and their capabilities, this would go a long way in the public so you have those three different issues that are really important. Really. And this whole thing -- I mean, this is when you want your government to be a lot more like James Bond than you do Austin Powers.

TAPPER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: The problem here is it looks like the latter.

TANDEN: Speaking of Austin Powers. Devin Nunes has been part of the problem which is -- I mean, what you're saying is that we shouldn't have this public discussion and he has been out in front of reporters and it turns out that he misled a lot of reporters over the last couple of weeks...

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you -- let me ask you a question --

TANDEN: ... and that is another reason why people think Republicans, the House Intelligence Committee should not be --

LEWIS: You like (INAUDIBLE) -- you like the whistle-blowers when they say, Trump did this or that with the Russians. But a whistle-blower came to the chairman and said, look, we have that information that incidental collection has captured U.S. citizens.

TANDEN: The whistle-blower at the White House? What whistle-blower?

TURNER: He went to the White House though.

TANDEN: He went to the White House.

TURNER: Yes.

TANDEN: He got the information from the White House staffers.

LEWIS: Which is routine when you go to classified information. That is where you get it.

(CROSSTALK) TANDEN: Are you calling the White House staff who were hired by the president whistle-blowers?

LEWIS: I'm saying -- I -- no. No.

TANDEN: Is that what you're saying?

LEWIS: I'm saying Nunes got information that -- and it's not proven with the former Obama aide. He said, we had to collect the intelligence before Trump get in here.

TANDEN: No

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: What aide?

TANDEN: That's false.

LEWIS: What intelligence?

TANDEN: What you're saying does not make any -- if you're talking -- referencing Elizabeth (INAUDIBLE) that's not what she say. And actually Devin Nunes --

LEWIS: I'll tell you what she said. No, I'd tell you what she said.

TANDEN: Devin Nunes -- hold on. Devin Nunes went to the White House, got information from three staffers and that is what he claimed was his information.

LEWIS: And what is --

TANDEN: And those three staffers I don't know why they couldn't brief the president directly themselves.

[09:45:01]

LEWIS: And where did we get the information on the Russian collusion?

TANDEN: The FBI is investigating the Russian collusion right now.

LEWIS: But how did it make it to the public sphere (ph)? Where did that information --

TANDEN: Because the House Intelligence Committee had -- has --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: No. I think -- I think --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Here is the question for you, Neera. So --

LEWIS: No, you're wrong. TANDEN: No. Comey is testifying.

TAPPER: So I think one of the points. Again, this -- that is not to say that we should change the subject and stop focusing at all on possible Russian collusion.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But let me ask this. If there was surveillance of the Russian Ambassador Kislyak and that did pick up this conversation with General Flynn in which he was supposedly talking about sanctions or something. And then that was spread throughout the government, his name was unmasked, meaning that it was still within confidential government information, but it was unmasked and said General Flynn instead of Citizen A. And then "The Washington Post" broke that story in which I think was attributed to eight or nine government sources saying that Flynn had had this conversation. It was a big blockbuster. That would be potentially a crime.

TANDEN: Yes. So here is what I think. I'm totally --

TAPPER: The leaking of his (INAUDIBLE).

TANDEN: I think the reason that happened is because Mike Flynn lied, right? So the question is when Mike Flynn and the vice president lied to the American people about what Mike Flynn did, is it whistle blowing, is it leaking? It may be both.

So I'm perfectly comfortable getting to the bottom of that as well -- as long as Republicans are perfectly comfortable to have a process that people have faith in and I have to say people do not have faith in Devin Nunes after the debacle of the last two weeks.

TAPPER: Would you have done anything differently as House Intelligence chairman? You were, obviously, chairman of the committee you had sources who were whistle-blowers. You disagreed with your Democratic counterpart. Would you have handled it differently than the way Congressman Nunes did?

ROGERS: Yes, completely. Candidly.

First of all I was in a high already charged political investigation.

TAPPER: Sure. Benghazi.

ROGERS: Benghazi. Ours -- and we did a lot of other really good investigations as well.

So we came to some common ground rules on how to do this investigation that was going to be facts and facts-based only for our lane which is only intelligence. People wanted us to get into the state department but it wasn't our gig or wanted us to get into DOD, it wasn't our gig.

So we came up with ground rules to do our investigation into the intelligence piece of that. The point of that was -- we didn't have press conferences about it. We didn't run out every time we got a new document and say, this happened or that happened, and my ranking number never went out in the press and said, we should find these conclusions in the investigation, just like I never went out and said, we should find these conclusions in the investigations.

I think it's dangerous -- when the government does an investigation of any sort, it's serious. You're talking about people's character, maybe their freedom. Right? They should go to jail. You need to take that as serious as it is. It is no place for sharp-edged partisan politics.

TAPPER: Nina, are you --

ROGERS: People's reputations are at risk.

TAPPER: Are you concerned at all that Democrats, liberals, progressives are expecting this investigation to go someplace, that ultimately it might not? That ultimately it might turn up, oh, this aide did something and he gets some small fine and that is really all...

TURNER: Yes.

TAPPER: ... that the FBI and the intelligence committees can find?

TURNER: Well, the congressman should recuse himself at this point.

TAPPER: Nunes?

TURNER: Nunes. He should recuse himself so we can bring back some integrity to this investigation.

And to your question, there might be something there, there might not. I hope that Democrats, liberals, and/or progressives are not putting all of their faith in the fact that something might be there. It might, it might not. But that's why we need an investigation and we need an independent investigation.

LEWIS: The ranking member should quit going on television and saying we don't have any evidence, therefore, this is what the president did.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Well -- come on.

LEWIS: You just said that a half an hour ago.

TANDEN: It happened at the beginning of an investigation. Obviously, people have been saying there is nothing here. Then we find out the FBI has current counterintelligence investigation going on.

TURNER: This is part of the problem though, Jake. I mean, Jesus Christ. Can we focus in on anything than Russia? American people need some other stuff --

TAPPER: I'm glad you said that. Let me -- let me bring in Ivanka Trump. (LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: That's not what you meant? Ivanka Trump is officially a White House employee this week.

Take a listen to her dad talking about her new role.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The chancellor of Germany is going to -- has asked Ivanka to go to Germany and she will be working on similar issues with Chancellor Merkel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What do you think?

LEWIS: I mean, what is next? A wealthy young president hiring his 35-year-old brother with no legal experience as attorney general? I mean, what is it coming to?

TAPPER: The Kennedys.

LEWIS: This is much to do about nothing. I mean, they are taking -- they're following the ethics rule. They're taking no salary. That's fine.

TANDEN: I think it's interesting that we have a situation in which Ivanka Trump has holdings, including into the Trump Hotel. There -- Jared Kushner has $700 million worth of holdings. The traditional thing to do here is to actually divest.

TAPPER: Right.

TANDEN: They refuse --

TAPPER: Kushner has divested a lot.

[09:50:01]

I think according to the documents released on Friday. Ivanka has not.

TANDEN: If he has not -- she has not divested at all. He has not divested from a lot of assets including buildings.

You saw that -- he's not divested from a company that has tried to do business with the Chinese.

TAPPER: Yes.

TANDEN: The president is meeting with this week -- who the president is meeting with this week. I think the issue here is odd to say you're going to have a campaign that drains the swamp when the president refuses to take the lines and his family refuses to take those lines. (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: ...the investigation there (ph).

TAPPER: Thanks -- thanks one and all.

Coming up, the crack of the bat on opening day. It's part of what makes America great, right? Then why is President Trump missing the first pitch? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: It's baseball's opening day and experts are watching to see if the Cubs will go for another historic World Series win.

Celebrities and politicians will be on hand to celebrate America's pastime with one notable exception.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP (singing): Take me out to the ball game.

TAPPER (voice-over): Not this year. President Trump declined the Washington Nationals invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day. He cited scheduling conflicts. A surprising decision from the new commander in chief who discovered America's pastime long before he discovered the board room.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did you always know you were going to go into this business?

TRUMP: No. I wanted to be a baseball player.

TAPPER: That was no childhood fantasy. Trump was a star player at the New York Military Academy. His coach told "Rolling Stone" he was once even scouted by the Phillies.

TRUMP: I was captain of the baseball team. I was supposed to be a professional baseball player. Fortunately I decided to go into real estate instead.

TAPPER: He has already stepped up to the mound for the Cubs, Red Sox and his beloved Yankees but even the leader of the free world apparently gets nervous when he goes into his windup.

George H.W. Bush a college baseball star at Yale was visibly upset after a wide pitch at Orioles opening day in 1992.

Bill Clinton took note and tried to avoid the same fate in 1996.

[09:55:02] BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I practiced for a week before it. I went out and I paced off the distance in the backyard of the White House. (INAUDIBLE) my practice (INAUDIBLE) better. I think I was a little nervous.

TAPPER: One of George W. Bush's unforgettable moments as president came at the 2001 World Series in New York just weeks after the attacks on America.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The gravity of the moment never really hit me until the first step coming out of that dugout standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium was by far the most nervous moment of my presidency.

TAPPER: So in this long history of presidential pitches started by Taft, how will Trump stack up? Well, perhaps we'll find out next season.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Play ball.

Thanks for watching.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.