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Mike Pompeo Met with DNC Conspiracy Theorist at President Trump's Urging; Texas Shooter Escaped Mental Health Facility in 2012. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired November 8, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:34:21] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This morning, questions about a controversial meeting held by the CIA director. Intelligence sources tell CNN that President Trump urged his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to meet with a man who is a known conspiracy theorist.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: His name, William Binney, and he believes the leak of the DNC e-mails last year was actually an inside job, not a result of Russian hackers, like the Intelligence Community says.
So why did the head of the CIA meet with him?
Michelle Kosinski is in Washington with more.
What is your reporting on this, on, you know, how this meeting came about?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's also raising questions within the Intelligence Community. Multiple intelligence sources are telling CNN that this happened about two weeks ago, on October 24th. And that many people within the CIA felt very uncomfortable about this meeting happening.
[10:35:07] Now these sources say that the president wanted his CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with this person who does not believe Russia was behind the hack of the DNC e-mails, and then their distribution right before the election. Even though the U.S. Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia interfered.
This person is named William Binney. He worked at the NSA for 30 years, but he's since become a critical of some of its methods, some of which he thinks are ineffective and others that he thinks maybe go too far and spy on Americans.
He's been outspoken about this theory, that he believes this could have been an inside job. That someone at the DNC leaked these e- mails, that they weren't stolen by Russia. He's been outspoken about this, and in fact on Russia's RT Network, "Russia Today," which the U.S. considers to be Russian-state propaganda.
And you know, the reason he believes this is because certain questions have been raised over things like the speed at which one of the archives appears to have been created and then released by the hacker Guccifer. However, there have been a lot of holes poked in this theory by other very knowledgeable analysts.
So in this meeting which Binney tells CNN lasted about an hour, he said that Pompeo opened by saying, the president told me I should talk to you. And that Binney said to him, the entire intel community needs to tell the truth, the whole true, and nothing but the truth.
So the CIA says that Mike Pompeo, in fact, stands by and has always stood by the Intelligence Community's assessment that this was Russia. But we should say that, you know, Binney is telling CNN that Pompeo ended this meeting by telling Binney that he wants him to talk to other people, including at the FBI and the NSA.
HARLOW: Michelle Kosinski, thank you for the reporting. It is complex, but very important.
Let's analyze it with Susan Hennessey, CNN national security analyst and a former attorney for the NSA.
So, Susan, the way "The Washington Post" puts it this morning, as they call it suspiciously pro-Trump. And the paper writes, "Intelligence officials have expressed concern about the possible politicization of Pompeo's job." It goes on to say, "His meeting with a high-profile skeptic of the intel community's conclusions at Trump's own request will not tamp down those concerns."
How do you see it?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So first, we sort of have to go back to evaluate whether or not this theory has any merit at all. And it just doesn't. There is a mountain of publicly available forensic information that was made public back in June of 2016, about Russian hacking involvement against the DNC, CrowdStrike released that information.
And then the Intelligence Community assessment that says with high confidence, that's the Intelligence Community's way of saying, we're positive. It makes pretty clear that they're not just relying on that public evidence. They actually have their own sources and methods. Right? They have signals intercept. They've heard and seen things that the rest of us haven't.
So really, this is not -- this isn't sort of an open question. And so that raises the specter here of, one, why is Donald Trump trying to re-litigate this issue that's well settled within the Intelligence Community, and why is Pompeo allowing him to do so?
Right, so this is sort of the equivalent of George W. Bush's CIA director meeting with a 9/11 truther. It's really -- it's just astounding.
BERMAN: So what should the CIA director have then done when the president asked him to have this meeting?
HENNESSEY: Right. So I think -- like all heads of federal executive agencies, you know, they have sort of a responsibility to set the appropriate boundaries here. So CIA Director Pompeo should really be explaining to President Trump that the job of the CIA is not for the White House to reach out and say, hey, sort of give me the intelligence I want, talk to the people I want you to talk to.
And sort of give me the news I want to hear. But instead, they are non-political, apolitical analysts who are going to go out and discover the truth, arm U.S. leadership with what the truth is, and those facts, to enable them to make sort of sensible fact-based policy. So really, sort of reaffirming the role of the agency, and also defending the work of the men and women who work on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
You know, some of whom risk their lives to collect these forms of intelligence. And so, you know, really carrying that message back to the White House, that he stands by their conclusions, you know, from before and that he's not going to allow sort of this -- even the appearance of politicization, you know, to make their jobs more difficult.
HARLOW: You know, one of the, you know, sort of second lines here, but I think it's really important, "The Intercept," the first publication to report this, says that Binney brought up to Pompeo DNC staffer Seth Rich, right? And there was the whole conspiracy theory totally unfounded about his death. And that -- you know, that he was murdered with no facts, et cetera.
[10:40:08] What are your thoughts on that, the fact that Binney brought this into the conversation with the CIA director?
HENNESSEY: All right, so I think it just proves sort of the theory itself is self-discrediting. Right. Sort of this Seth Rich conspiracy theory, something that's been a tremendously painful episode for the Rich family themselves.
HENNESSEY: That they've really tried to sort of push back on this and ask people to stop using their son's, you know, unfortunate death in this way. You know, it really does demonstrate sort of how far outside of the mainstream and that, you know, conspiracy theorists like Binney, you know, they aren't on their own.
Julian Assange, other actors that we know are connected to Russian intelligence have also been pushing this, actually as part of the active measures campaign against the 2016 election. So it's not just sort of a conspiracy theory that popped up out of nowhere. It actually is part of that original sort of active measures, information operations against the United States that we really should be trying to push back on, not have the CIA director apparently, you know, carry water for and push forward, even further, you know, into 2017.
BERMAN: And the CIA director apparently said, according to Binney, go meet with the FBI and --
HARLOW: And the NSA next. Yes. BERMAN: All right. Susan Hennessey, thanks so much for being with
us. Appreciate it.
HENNESSEY: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Threats against Air Force commanders, allegations of abuse and an escape from a mental health facility. The red flags that were so clearly missed for the Texas church shooter.
[10:45:39] HARLOW: We are learning really new and troubling details about the shooter's past in the Texas massacre.
Let's go to our Dianne Gallagher. She joins us now in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
What more do we know about him?
DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, we actually just got the disciplinary record of Devin Kelley from high school. We're talking -- excuse me, from New Braunfels Independent School District. This ranges from 2002 until 2009. Nine disciplinary infractions. They range from drugs to truancy, dishonesty and falsifying records to profane gestures and movements.
So some of those resulted in out of school suspensions, some within school suspensions. But it does seem to start fitting the pattern that we have seen over the past couple of days, put together, of a series of red flags from those assault charges and that conviction he served while he was in the Air Force, his then wife and his stepson, to now we are learning that he escaped a mental health facility after attempting to sneak weapons on to an Air Force Base and apparently threatening his commanders.
Now when he escaped that facility back in 2012, it was a couple months after those charges against his now ex-wife and stepson. But we were told by investigators and also by reading police reports that he had a, quote, "mental disorder" is what they phrased it, when they asked local police to go look for him. That he had expressed threats and may be a danger to himself and to others.
Now local authorities at this point are kind of trying to put together all those red flags and figure out, based on his social media, his online footprint, the FBI trying to get into his phone. They noted that it was sort of similar to other high-profile cases. That an encryption issue is preventing them from accessing that phone.
But we do know, based on sources, that looking at his social media accounts in the past, friends have indicated that he became a bit darker on there, a bit angrier in his postings. And investigators say that he seemed to show an obsession with mass shootings and violence.
Now as this community tries to heal, Vice President Mike Pence hoping he can add to that. He's going to be meeting with survivors in the hospital, law enforcement who have been working around the clock, and speaking at a vigil at a local high school this evening -- John, Poppy.
BERMAN: All right, Dianne Gallagher. The vice president's visit no doubt will be welcome there.
BERMAN: Thanks so much for being with us, Dianne.
All right, three American college basketball players now implicated in an international scandal. This is serious. And there are some names you will recognize.
The "Bleacher Report" is next.
[10:52:59] BERMAN: So much sadness this morning. Such awful news. Former Cy Young Award winner and really just phenomenal pitcher and person, Roy Halladay, was killed yesterday in a plane crash.
Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.
You know, Roy Halladay, he was one of the best pitchers of his generation, winning two Cy Young Awards. He's one of only two pitchers ever to throw a no hitter in the post-season.
This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.
And authorities say Halladay was piloting a small single-engine aircraft when it crashed in shallow water off the coast of Florida yesterday. He was the only person onboard the two-seater plane and police say they received no distress calls. The NTSB is investigating the crash.
Halladay retired from baseball in 2013. He was 40 years old and leaves behind a wife and two children.
All right, the NFL has invited Colin Kaepernick to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell, but there are conflicting reports on whether or not the invitation has been accepted. Kaepernick's attorney telling CNN that Kaepernick would be happy to attend, but because of the grievance he has filed against the league for collusion, they wanted a mediator present.
Kaepernick's attorney said that request was rejected. NFL spokesman, Joe Lockhart, tells us this morning, quote, "We invited Colin to come in and discuss social activism just like we have done with dozens of other players. That invitation has received no response, but remains open."
In the meantime, the Houston Texans once again deciding to pass on Kaepernick. Instead the team signing Josh Johnson who has not completed a pass in the NFL since 2011. Finally, three UCLA basketball players including Lakers' rookie Lonzo
Ball's brother LiAngelo in some hot water right now for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in China. The three players were released on bail earlier this morning according to ESPN.
Now UCLA is in China to play their opening game of the season on Friday. LiAngelo's father LaVar also in China with the team. He told ESPN, quote, "It ain't that big a deal." The three players are not allowed to leave the hotel they're staying at in China, according to Ball, until the legal process plays out. That could take days, weeks, even months.
[10:55:05] And, guys, the Pac-12 says they're disappointed but the players are cooperating and Coach Steve Alford says they're not going to play in Friday season opener against Georgia Tech. That pretty much was a given, though.
BERMAN: The game could be the least of their worries.
HARLOW: Big deal.
BERMAN: Depending on how this all plays out.
HARLOW: Hundred percent. Andy Scholes, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate it.
So if you haven't seen it yet, wake up. Because Democrats, there was a wave last night, from New Jersey to Virginia and beyond. All the developments, ahead.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It's 11:00 a.m. here on the East Coast, and it is also gut check time for Republicans across the country after Democrats racked up major wins overnight in races both big --