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Report: Washington Post Reports Ex-Obama Official Says, "We Choked" On Russia Hack; Obama Ordered Digital Bomb for Russia Revenge; 5th GOP Senator Against GOP Healthcare Bill. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired June 23, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you also very much, Bill Hennessy, thanks for the sketch as well.
Coming up next here on CNN, this bomb shell report out of the "Washington post" today detailing how the Obama administration confronted Vladimir Putin in 2016 about Russia hacking the election. Did they do enough? That's next.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Just into us here, some great news. Republican Congressman Steve Scalise out of intensive care. This is just a week after being shot during that Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The hospital says he continues to show good progress. Remains in fair condition, and is continuing rehab. Meantime, Matt Mika, the lobbyist is also out of intensive care and in good condition. The hospital tweeted this photo today. So, let's now go to images in the "Washington Post" report that brings a whole new level to have intrigue to what you are about to see here.
"The Post" just chronicled the at-times super secretive and strained play by play that led to former President Obama confronting Vladimir Putin in 2016 about Russia hacking the election. Here is what President Obama said about all of this back in December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARAK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In early September, when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly. And tell him to cut it out and there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Well, on those consequences, "The Washington Post" learned one of the possible consequences would have been the U.S. releasing, quote, digital bombs that could be inserted into Russian networks. And it also followed what happened in the months after the two leaders met, specifically how the Obama white house decided to strike back against Russia's meddling with sanctions and expulsions, an effort that elicited this quote from a senior Obama official, saying, "it is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we sort of choked." Joining me now, Lindsey Moran, a former undercover CIA operative and author of "Blowing My Cover." Also with us, former CIA operative Mike Baker. So, welcome to both of you and Lindsey, your reaction, first, just to that quote from that former administration official on the, I feel like we choked. Do you feel like the Obama administration choked on handling this?
LINDSEY MORAN, FORMER UNDERCOVER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I think it's really troubling, because obviously, whatever the Obama administration did, in terms of repercussions, was too little and too late. And I think what's most frightening about it is it shows exactly how Putin had worked the administration and frankly our country into a check mate position. That is, Obama was sort of caught between a rock and a hard place, if he was really going to come down publicly on Putin for meddling in the election, of course that would be interpreted by the Trump administration and by a large part of the American public as him trying to influence the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. So, what's really --
MORAN: What's really scary about this, politics aside, is how the country has been maneuvered into an untenable position by Putin in this cyber war.
BALDWIN: I mean, they plan on hacking the next election. That was clear from testimony, you know, we've heard on The Hill this past week, and Mike, just to you, just drilling down more on this piece, you know, in this -- in this article, it talks about how the President had approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia's infrastructure, saying this was the digital equivalent of bombs. Tell me more about this and what would the -- had they been detonated, the ramifications.
MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Yes, I mean, first of all, I'm old enough that when I first signed on with the CIA and operations, the Soviet Union was still the big bogey man out there so I'm very confident in seeing that this is nothing that you wouldn't expect from Russian behavior. Putin has always been clear about his desire to rebuild the Soviet Union and his distress over the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so, now, what we're dealing with, unfortunately, is the same meddling and the same involvement in our politics and our activities here that you've seen for a very long time.
[15:40:00] But they use cyber space, which obviously creates a variety of concerns. I would say, I think the fact -- the article in the post is fascinating and is well worth the read. I do have a problem with the number of anonymous officials that don't have a problem of talking about the -- sort of from the operational perspective. There is no way to go into a discussion about our proportional response or our abilities to respond or the operational efforts involved in that, so I'm going to stay well away from that because it's not appropriate to talk about that sort of activity. However, I would say that I think that we're -- if we're in an untenable situation, it's not because Putin put us there and I think it's because, in a sense, the previous administration, as they did with a lot of things, and for good reason,
I'm not, you know -- it's way above my pay grade and I don't understand how Washington works, but they tend to view everything, including national security issues, through a very political prism and you could see that in that article, when they said, you know, after Trump won, we all stood around and looked at each other and thought, well, maybe we mishandled it. Well, no kidding we mishandled it because they were looking at it from a point of view that Clinton was bound to win so they didn't feel sense of urgency.
BALDWIN: That was the time in August when Hillary Clinton was so high in the polls, they assumed they'd be handing over the cabinet to familiar faces and therefore it would be an issue that they would pass off to friends.
MORAN: I would argue that the --
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Lindsey.
MORAN: The administration that we have now is completely looking at this through a political prism. Cabinet to familiar faces and therefore it would be an issue that they would pass off to friends. The failure of this administration to even acknowledge Russia's cyber attacks and efforts to meddle, the failure to even say that that's a real thing that is happening, I mean, that puts us in a very defensive and weak position in terms of national security.
BALDWIN: On that failure to recognize, Mike, this is what we were wondering, you know, are we in a war with Russia and the President just doesn't realize it or doesn't even want to acknowledge it?
BAKER: Well, look, you know, we're not at war with Russia in the classic sense. And I would argue that any administration, not just this one, look, I don't have a dog in the hunt here, in terms of the current administration, but any administration, quite frankly, is staffed up with enough people that it's not as if they missed something as obvious as what's the -- the level of our involvement or our engagement with a major player out in the world stage. Again, pointing out that Russia basically, as a GDP the size of a mid-size EU country. But we are in a position where we've been trying for years, the pentagon and the intel community have been tries for years to understand this new world of cyber warfare. The Pentagon is still working on developing protocols for proportional response and this is not an easy lift. As we saw from the struggles as described in this article in "The Post" this took months for some sort of collective wisdom just simply about were the Russians involved and to what degree after the initial CIA reports.
BALDWIN: It did. Many months. And a lot of people, including, to your point, anonymous folks being quoted saying, too little, too late. Mike Baker, thank you. Lindsey Moran, thank you so much. We're going to move on, talk about protesters who are angry over the Senate health care bill. They're out and about today, demonstrating at the offices of several senators. Montel Williams is fired up as well. He says Republicans have created a health care monster by lying to their base. His own personal story, his own health issues that he's sharing and why he's so passionate about this coming up. [15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Just moments ago, a fifth Republican senator making it known that he is against this Senate Republican health care bill. Nevada's Dean Heller says he will not support the bill in its current form, so he makes three too many senators for the bill to pass if it comes up for a vote next week, but the bill does have the support of the President, despite his campaign promise to keep Medicaid intact. When you talk to critics, they will tell you that this proposal guts the program, which as you know covers poorer and low income families. Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway weighed in on this this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Only in Washington would something like this be called a cut where over time there are protections in place for the disabled, for the elderly, for the poor, for the non-working poor, for children, for pregnant women and it's going to allow states to decide what they need to help those in need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: My next guest agrees. Former talk show host Montel Williams says the new health care plan is simply a tax cut for the rich, offering billions to pharmaceutical companies, wealthy investors and health insurance companies at the expense of the most vulnerable. Montel Williams, friend of the show, marine, father, good to see you. You know, reading your piece, you're totally open about your M.S., you know, you say it's been the hardest fight of your life, and you know, deal with it isn't cheap but you have said you are blessed to be able to afford it. But what has this -- what has your journey with M.S., Montel, taught you about people who rely on Medicaid?
MONTEL WILLIAMS, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: I'll start right here, broke. How about two and a half years ago, my insurance company, one of the top insurance companies in the country, you know, it's SAG-AFTRA, they had the audacity to send me a letter after I had been on a medication for 15 years that they know changed my immune system, they sent me a letter because they didn't feel like paying for that medication anymore and they wanted me to reevaluate. The bottom line is, there's no less expensive medication and the amount of money that I pay for insurance to have them have the audacity to even suggest that they were going to try to make me sick by taking me off my medication, I blew up. And that's the reason why I'm so angry about this ridiculously stupid piece of legislation that is honestly nothing more than a tax cut and a political agenda disguised as a health care bill, because if they were really putting together a health care bill, the first thing we would do is stop talking about this as if it's just a piece of paper.
[15520:00] Right now, in America today, anybody watching this can look this up, there are over 125 million of the 312 million Americans who right now suffer from a chronic illness. Out of that 125 million, 70 percent of them suffer from two. Now, these are real numbers. Forget all the garbage that you're hearing about in this debate. These are real numbers. This 125 million people, as of today, will be as high as 140 million by 2020. And in 20, they're going to be looking for somebody to give them medication and health care. And what this bill does is sends them all to death. So, we can talk about things and use these obscure things. Let's talk about the numbers. Right now, I mean, it's ridiculous to think --
BALDWIN: I know. It's the numbers but it's also the faces and I know you're getting worked up. I know that you're really passionate about this but when we really hammer in on Medicaid, for example, and as I said, you know, lower income and a lot of elderly in this country, like totally rely on it and a point you make in your piece, which is a point I think you've made before is when you think about the folks who really believe in Donald Trump, who helped put him in the oval office, those are the folks who will really be hurt by this.
WILLIAMS: Here's what I suggest. I've got the easiest fix, Brooke, I'm telling you right now for the American health care bill. Here's what we ought to do. The Senate and the Congress and let's also include the President of the United States and also our supreme court justices, any bill that's passed for health care, they must sign on to that. That bill must end the amount of money that the public spends on Congress's health care. So, Congress should be forced to take the exact same health care that we, the constituents, take. If they're willing to write a bill that way and put that in there in writing that says, unequivocally that whatever we give to the American people, we will have ourselves, then let's all back that bill.
And I guarantee you, you won't see it happen because you know why? Unequivocally that whatever we give to the American people, we will have ourselves, then let's all back that bill. And I guarantee you, you won't see it happen because you know why? Because this Congress they can afford premium health care. They don't care about their family members, cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces.
BALDWIN: I remember our conversations when you were on the trail. You were loving the Ohio governor John Kasich. You were like, this is a guy who should be in the white house. Earlier this month, even Governor Kasich said he was warming to this idea of a slow Medicaid rollback, albeit a bit more gradual. I think he wanted seven years and this would be something like three. But your response to Governor Kasich, someone who you really, really respect?
WILLIAMS: I think the governor needs to understand that, again, we talk about numbers three years, seven years. Let's look at three years, Brooke. It's 2017. '20 there will be 140 million Americans who are going to require advanced forms of health care. And out of that 140 million, 100 million of them will be required for two different illnesses. Governor Kasich, along with every other member of Congress, have family members who are ill. And they need to look those family members in the face and say, darling, I love you, but fend for yourself because we aren't going to help you.
BALDWIN: You have people on all different sides of the spectrum. Montel, you find one of these members of Congress who agree with you and we'll sign up and have them on TV.
WILLIAMS: We'll keep working on it.
BALDWIN: Montel Williams, always a pleasure. Have a wonderful weekend. Thank you so much.
Coming up next, we're going to talk about one of the jurors in the Bill Cosby case speaking out about why he doubted the credibility of the two accusers who took the stand. Also, what Bill Cosby is planning to do next. Have you heard about this? He wants to host town halls to educate young people about sex assault. We'll be right back.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Here's something new. Just days after his mistrial, BILL COSBY wants to help educate young adults about sexual assault. So, he has announced he's going on a town hall tour to give out advice on the do's and don'ts. This decision comes as two jurors in his assault case are now opening up about why they were hopelessly deadlocked. Here's one of the jurors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY CASE JUROR: This thing was closed in '05. To the district attorney over there, there wasn't enough evidence that the incident supposedly happened in '04. It took Andrea over a year to contact the hometown police in Toronto, and no wonder she couldn't remember. And the fact he supposedly gave her pills which she took without asking any questions, an adult woman, 31 years old, it's unbelievable. They were well coached, both of them. And Kelly, her problem was when she reported it, she reported it to a press conference, not to the police. And then that blew it right there. I mean, you just don't do that. She was after fame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Amazing the voice of one of those jurors. Faith Jenkins, criminal lawyer, former criminal prosecutor, host of "Judge Faith." you hear him, and it was not just one but two of these accusers. Credibility seems like it was the issue. Does that surprise you? Why the deadlock?
FAITH JENKINS, CNN CRIMINAL LAWYER AND FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it was 10-2 to convict. And the defense, all they had to do -- they didn't have to prove anything, right? It was the prosecutor's job to put on a case and prove the case. All the defense wanted to do was create issues, create questions, create some kind of doubt, and it worked. Because look what they focused on. The issues that this juror talked about, those are the exact issues the defense hammered home in their closing arguments. Look at the timeline, look at when she reported the crime, look at how long ago this happened. Look at -- and it worked. Because all it takes is for you to get to one juror, and for that one juror to be so committed to their position that they don't move, and that's exactly what happened in the end.
BALDWIN: How about, even now that we're learning the details of some of the chaos, the tension described in this jury room. Another juror said there was crying and yelling. Is that normal when you have a sequestered jury who is probably so ready to finish something or what?
JENKINS: I'm not surprised at all. Such a high stakes case, and we've heard other jurors talk about the same thing in the O.J. trial. They know the pressure that's on them to make the right decision. As the defense said, someone's life is hanging in the balance, and then you have the alleged victim on the witness stand giving very emotional testimony. So, it is emotional. They're trying to decide and do the right thing, and it's not uncommon for jurors to argue with each other, argue their points, because you're trying to convince people to see it your way. Think about it, 12 people have to come to a unanimous decision. That's not easy to do.
BALDWIN: So, we know how that ended. Now we hear from this publicist, from Bill Cosby's publicist, that they want to have these town halls where he goes out and about and sort of teaches people about sex assault. Here's how they rolled it out yesterday.
JENKINS: This is bigger than Bill Cosby. This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they're facing when they're hanging out and partying, when they're doing certain things that they shouldn't be doing. And it also affects, you know, married men.
BALDWIN: Is it kind of a do as I say, not as a do situation?
JENKINS: The laws are changing. The statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended. This is why people need to be educated on a brush against a shoulder, you know, anything at this point can be considered sexual assault, and it's a good thing to be educated about the law.
BALDWIN: There has been crazy backlash. Ethically, legally, this just seems like a bad idea.
JENKINS: It's really appalling. Because this is not a man who was first of all acquitted. It was a mistrial. There may be another retrial, so everything you do now, obviously you're trying to curry favor with the public by painting yourself as the victim in this case. But who really believes that? There is what you can prove in trial, and then there's what actually happened. And all of us know that almost 60 women have come forward and made accusations against Bill Cosby. Who actually believes that he's innocent? Who actually wants to hear his advice about how to avoid charges like this? Who actually believes that he has the credibility to talk about these things? It is appalling. He needs to be at home reflecting about how his life turned out the way it did, because for 50 years he's been abusing power in women.
BALDWIN: Faith Jenkins. Thank you.
And thank all of you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin in New York. Don't move a muscle. Jim Sciutto is sitting in for Jake Tapper. "The Lead" starts right now.