Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Target of Trump Attacks, FBI Official Quits Suddenly; Showdown Over GOP Memo Accusing FBI of Abuse; Lawmakers Divided Over Protecting Mueller; Fitness Trackers Reveal Too Much, May Endanger Troops. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Hasty departure. After constant attacks by President Trump, the FBI's No. 2 official steps down. Is the president behind Andrew McCabe's hasty departure?

Secret memo. The House Intelligence Committee meets right now and may vote very shortly to release a secret Republican memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. Why did the Justice Department say that would be extraordinarily reckless?

Congressional warnings. President Trump already tried to fire him once. Now lawmakers are warning that a move to get rid of the special counsel would mean the end of the Trump presidency. But will they pass legislation to protect Robert Mueller?

And tracking U.S. troops. Fitness trackers count our steps and our calories and how many hours we sleep. But could these devices and aps also reveal the locations of U.S. troops?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Our breaking news. In a sudden and surprising move, the FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, steps down, effective immediately. The bureau's No. 2 official had been a constant target of President Trump since temporarily succeeding the ousted FBI director James Comey last May. The move comes on the eve of the president's State of the Union address.

I'll speak with Ted Lieu of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees. And our correspondents and specialists, they're standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, was Andrew McCabe fired?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it certainly seems that he was forced out. CNN has learned FBI Director Chris Wray told his deputy, Andrew McCabe, that he was forming a new leadership team at the bureau and that McCabe was not on it.

The White House is insisting it didn't have anything to do with McCabe's exit from the bureau, but that's not the full story. The president has taken the extraordinary step of criticizing McCabe on Twitter, part of what appears to be steady pressure coming from the president and the White House, aimed at high-level officials close to the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): One day before the State of the Union speech, the president is busy dealing with the state of the Russia investigation.

The president wasn't part of this decision-making process, insisting President Trump had nothing to do with the departure of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president wasn't part of this decision-making process.

ACOSTA: But the president has made it clear for more than a month, he wanted McCabe gone, tweeting about the deputy director's wife, a Democrat who had mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the Virginia state Senate: "How could FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton puppets during investigation?" And "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits 90 days to go."

McCabe is the latest official close to the Russia investigation to feel the president's fury. From former FBI director James Comedy, who was fired by Mr. Trump, to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was pressured by the White House to not recuse himself. The president's attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, along with Mr. Trump's wishes to get rid of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

(ON CAMERA): It sounds like there were multiple people at multiple levels who are being pressured by the White House, by the president. What would you -- what would you say in response to that concern?

SANDERS: I'd say what I've said -- I would say what I've said, probably, a hundred times before and continue to say, I'm sure, a hundred times today, that the White House has been fully cooperative and is going to continue to be fully cooperative.

ACOSTA (voice-over): White House press secretary Sarah Sanders conceded the president has put pressure on officials.

SANDERS: The only thing that the president has applied pressure to is to make sure we get this resolved so that you guys and everyone else can focus on the things that Americans actually care about. And that is making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all. That you're all reminded, once again, there was no collusion.

ACOSTA (on camera): No obstruction of justice? Nothing improper? Nothing inappropriate here at all, whatsoever, from the president since he came into office when it comes to this investigation? SANDERS: No. And I think we've been pretty clear on that.

ACOSTA: Aides to the president and their conservative allies in Congress are convinced the Russia probe has been politicized, though the White House sidestepped a question about whether House Republicans should release their memo that alleges abuses by officials handling the investigation.

SANDERS: To answer your first question, we want full transparency.

2ACOSTA: The latest turmoil in the Russia probe comes as the president is about to deliver his first State of the Union speech.

APRIL RYAN, JOURNALIST: What is the State of our Union today?

SANDERS: I think it's incredible. And I think that you'll hear that in the president's words tomorrow night. Look, we've got an economy that is booming. ISIS is on the run.

ACOSTA: The president is expected to make a pitch for the White House immigration plan that would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. Mr. Trump conceded the proposal may not have the votes to pass.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For many years, they've been talking immigration. They never got anything done. We're going to get something done. We hope -- it's got to be bipartisan. Because the Republicans really don't have the votes to get it done in any other way, so it has to be bipartisan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: White House sources say the president hopes to deliver a unifying speech with a heavy focus on patriotism and the healthy U.S. economy. But GOP sources tell us the administration stepped on that message today by all but forcing out Andrew McCabe, just as the White House had a brief moment to move the nation's attention to something else, other than the Russia investigation. Wolf, the Russia fever still in place.

BLITZER: Yes, all right. Jim Acosta reporting from the White House. Thank you.

Amid all the turmoil of the FBI deputy director's sudden departure, the House Intelligence Committee is meeting at this hour and could vote at any time to release a very controversial Republican memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses.

Let's bring in our senior Congressional correspondent, Manu Raju; and our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

Manu, first to you. What's the latest on this Intelligence Committee meeting?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now they're meeting behind closed doors, both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

And the members going in are sort of in the dark, Wolf. Several of these members, including senior Republicans like Tom Rooney, Trey Gowdy, who are helping run this Russia investigation, said they did not know if there actually was going to be a vote tonight to release that memo. And if they did vote to release the memo, it would give the White House five days to object to its release. And if it did not object to its release, then it would become a public document.

We do expect that, if there is a vote, would it probably be successful. Along party lines, the Republicans would vote to give the president the opportunity to decide whether or not to object to its release.

Now, Mike Conaway, the top Republican who's running the Russia investigation, did tell me that, in fact, he does believe that probably there will be this vote tonight.

And he said that there are discussions happening between Justice Department and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee whose staff drafted this memo today and yesterday.

This after the FBI director, Christopher Hill, came to Capitol Hill over the weekend to review this memo and to -- after the Justice Department itself said it would be reckless to release this memo without giving a chance for itself to review this document.

Now there's no word yet, Wolf, whether or not this review by Wray satisfied the concerns for the Justice Department voice. But separately, the Democrats are trying to push for their own release of the memo, one drafted by Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, who put together their memo based on their own review of the classified intelligence.

What Schiff is going to put out today is for the committee to agree to allow the full House to access this memo in a classified setting. And that, too, is expected to pass. Republicans are saying tonight that they will vote to allow this to be reviewed by the full House. So we'll see if these two memos eventually become public. But this is all being discussed right now behind closed doors, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do we understand that there may be a meeting as early as tomorrow between House Republicans and the Department of Justice? Many, what are you hearing about that?

RAJU: Yes. That's the inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, who's conducting his own investigation into FBI conduct during the 2016 elections.

I am told that he's going to meet behind closed doors with two separate committees who are investigating their own -- doing their own investigation into FBI actions. The House Oversight Committee, as well as the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans on those committees plan to meet with Horowitz behind closed doors to get an update on his own investigation. And that inquiry is highly anticipated. It could be released in the

coming weeks. And Republicans want to see if they can get any intel to essentially give them some more ammunition for their investigation going forward, Wolf.

BLITZER: Manu, stand by.

Evan's with us. Evan, Michael Horowitz, the inspector general at the Department of Justice. We're now hearing he may have played a role also in the sudden removal of Andrew McCabe as the deputy FBI director?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think definitely. I think what what he is referring to, I think, help explain -- helps explain what we are seeing today. I think Chris Wray, the director of the FBI, knows and has been briefed by the inspector general on some of those findings that are coming. Again, they're expecting that that report is going to come out in March or April. That's the guidance that the inspector general has given, Wolf.

Look, I think that there is a certain number of factors that have come into this. But Chris Wray, in an employee message, a memo that he sent to FBI employees within the last hour, hinted at the fact that this I.G., this inspector general report was coming out and suggested that that might have played a role in Andrew McCabe's decision to leave.

So it appears that there is a mix of being pushed and certainly being nudged out of the FBI and McCabe's own realization that perhaps he doesn't have to handle, he doesn't have to sit here and take all this abuse anymore. Right? I mean, he's eligible for retirement in March. He could leave because he had enough time to be able to leave early. And so I think you have a combination of factors whereby Andrew McCabe could leave and Chris Wray certainly made it clear that it was time for him to go and that he had -- you know, he had in mind his own team that he wants to build at the FBI.

[17:10:07] BLITZER: Yes. We're standing by to see if the House Intelligence Committee releases that very secretive classified Republican memo. The Department of Justice, in this letter to the chairman, Devin Nunes, says it would be extraordinarily reckless if they did so.

PEREZ: Right.

BLITZER: All right. So we'll see what happens on that. That's expected -- we now know they have convened. We'll see what happens during that meeting. They're meeting behind closed doors.

PEREZ: Everything indicates, Wolf, that that memo is going to come out, and I think that's part of what the FBI is trying to do. They're trying to figure out how to move ahead. They need to get out of the headlines in order to be able to do their work.

BLITZER: Don't they have to scrub it first to make sure there is no sensitive classified information that could reveal, for example, sources and methods?

PEREZ: Right. Under normal circumstances, that's exactly what is supposed to happen. Devin Nunes and the Republicans have decided that that is no longer the case. And I think the president supports the idea that he believes this memo needs to get out, because he believes that there have been abuses.

So you have, basically, the Justice Department, which works for Donald Trump, in the middle here, trying to figure out how they can navigate all of this.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Evan, Manu, guys, we'll get back to you.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He's a member of both the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: What role do you believe President Trump's criticism, ad it was rather lively over these many months of Andrew McCabe, played in his departure?

LIEU: I think it had a significant role. The president has been repeatedly attacking those who are investigating him. Not only is that unseemly and wrong, it's demoralizing the FBI.

Andrew McCabe, who I've interviewed as part of the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors, I believe he is a good man who gave his life's work to the FBI, and to have the president criticize him like this is unseemly and inappropriate.

BLITZER: You've read that classified Nunes memo. They're voting on it this hour in the House Intelligence Committee to determine if it should be made public. Does it raise, first of all, questions about Andrew McCabe's behavior?

LIEU: I can't discuss the contents of the memo, but I can say it's worse than a nothing burger. It's like having nothing mustard. There's factual inaccuracies. It's misleading. And if they're going to release that memo, then they have to release the Democratic memo, so that the public has a full view of actually what happened.

BLITZER: And remind our viewers: the Democratic memo does what?

LIEU: The Democratic memo would be a response to this highly-partisan four-page memo that Devin Nunes and his staff wrote.

BLITZER: So you're saying, if the Democratic memo is released, the Democratic memo should also be released simultaneously. Does that, too, contain classified information?

LIEU: So both memos are classified. So I urge that none of these memos be released, because I don't think it's really going to be helpful to the dialogue. But if they're going to release one, they absolutely have to release the other. Or else it's just partisan Republican talking points.

BLITZER: What about the inspector general, Michael Horowitz's report into the Clinton e-mail probe? That's a sensitive issue right now. We anticipate getting some information on that.

LIEU: Well, I know that the Republicans are trying to impeach Hillary Clinton. She is not the president, so I think we need to focus on who is the president and whether or not Donald Trump conspired with Russia and whether there was obstruction of justice.

But I'm happy to review the inspector general's report when it's released publicly. And I also urge that Andrew McCabe be called to testify publicly before the House Judiciary Committee.

BLITZER: Well, he's about to become a private citizen. Today was his last day over at the FBI. He resigned immediately. So presumably, he would be able to appear, right?

LIEU: Absolutely. And keep in mind, you have a number of FBI officials that have left or retired. And I think that is a reason to have them come up and testify. They can speak their mind. They can let the American people know what they saw.

BLITZER: House Republicans, including those on your committee -- we're talking about the House Judiciary Committee -- are going to meet with the inspector general tomorrow. Were you invited? Were Democrats invited: Or is this simply a Republican get together?

LIEU: I was not invited.

But keep in mind, this is about an investigation of someone who is a private citizen right now, Hillary Clinton. I think it's important to know whether about obstruction of justice, about the current president and whether he or his campaign conspired with the Kremlin.

BLITZER: The FBI director, Christopher Wray, did read the four-page Nunes memo over the weekend. They finally gave the FBI director access to it. Does that address at the Justice Department's concerns that it would be extremely reckless to release it without letting the Department of Justice and the FBI review it?

LIEU: I agree with the Justice Department that it would be extremely reckless to release the memo. I think it's also important to know that there's reporting that the Justice Department does not want this memo released. And FBI Director Wray has read it. And I think he is still of that mind.

[17:15:12] And keep in mind: it's highly inappropriate to try to release a set of talking points of the Republicans without having the Democratic response.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Well, if you -- presumably they would both be released, as well. But you know the president of the United States, he's authorized to declassify whatever he wants. You know that, right? LIEU: Yes. He could do that. Absolutely.

BLITZER: So if he wants that Republican memo released, irrespective of the concerns expressed in this letter to Devin Nunes, others, the president could overrule it and say, "Release," and then it's released.

LIEU: That is absolutely correct. The president can declassify. And you have seen that in the past, he's actually given up top-secret information when talking to foreign nationals. So he does have that power.

BLITZER: On a separate issue, a very sensitive separate issue, you serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Is the Trump administration complying with the law that you passed overwhelmingly last year in the House and the Senate. The president reluctantly signed it into law, fearing that if he vetoed it, it would be veto would be overridden.

It's supposed to be enacted as of today. Are they going to do so? So what have you heard?

LIEU: So the Trump administration has been dragging their feet on Russian sanctions. And hopefully, by midnight tonight, they will start implementing it; but there's no reason for the president of the United States to continue to thumb his nose at Congress. We passed this law in a bipartisan, bicameral basis. And if the president wants to show that he is not conspiring with the Kremlin, or with Russia, then he needs to execute these sanctions immediately.

BLITZER: And we're standing by. We're waiting to see what, if anything, the Department of the Treasury, the White House, State Department, what they announce on this. Today is the deadline, as you know.

Congressman Lieu, thanks for joining us.

LIEU: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, some lawmakers warn that firing Robert Mueller would mean the end of the Trump presidency. But are they prepared to pass legislation protecting the special counsel?

And those popular fitness trackers reveal a lot about of us: how many steps we take, how many calories we burn. But when they're worn by U.S. troops, could they also reveal their locations in very sensitive, secretive areas, to America's enemies?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our breaking news: the FBI's No. 2 official, the deputy director Andrew McCabe, resigned suddenly after repeated attacks by President Trump. That comes as the House Intelligence Committee is meeting and may soon vote to release a secret Republican memo on alleged FBI abuses. All of this amid deep concern that the president could again try to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Let's go to our congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen,

what's the latest on these congressional moves to try to protect Mueller?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, there's some real concern up here on Capitol Hill that President Trump may try on move eventually to fire Robert Mueller.

And now you have these calls from both Democrats and Republicans up here on Capitol Hill that -- saying that Congress needs to pass legislation to protect him, to put some safeguards, essentially, on the books.

There have been renewed calls in recent days to revive two pieces of legislation that were first proposed over the summer that would call for a judicial review if the special counsel is fired.

Among Republican leaders, though, there's simply little appetite to move any sort of this legislation. And even one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, Senator Lindsey Graham, he said over the weekend that, although he thinks this is needed, he doesn't specifically think it's needed right now. But this certainly is something that even Republicans are discussing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think Mr. Mueller is the perfect guy to get to the bottom of all of this, and he will. And I think my job, among others, is to give him the space to do it. And I intend to do that.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It probably wouldn't hurt for us to pass one of those bills.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), TEXAS: I don't think there's a need right now for legislation to protect Mueller.

Right now there's not an issue. So why create one when there there isn't a place for it?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would encourage my Republican friends, give the guy a chance to do his job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And you heard there from Kevin McCarthy, one of the members of the House Republican leadership, essentially pouring some cold water on the fact that this legislation might have any true traction up here on the Hill right now.

That said, some Democrats are going to try to force this issue. Senator Schumer, the Senate minority leader, their office tells me tonight that he will try to add protections for Mueller in the ongoing budget negotiations that are going on right now up here on Capitol Hill. Wolf, of course, these negotiations in and of themselves are not

uncomplicated, so we will see how forceful Democrats are to try to force this issue.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen. Thank you very much. Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill.

Coming up, we're learning the behind-the-scenes details about today's sudden and surprising departure of Andrew McCabe, a top FBI official who repeatedly has been a target of President Trump's criticism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:29:03] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories, including today's abrupt departure of the FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, who's been a target of criticism from President Trump because of McCabe's role in the Russia meddling investigation.

The head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, and the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, were over at the White House today. A source says they met with President Trump's White House chief of staff, John Kelly.

Let's bring in our specialists. And Dana, let's talk about the tweets. The president for months now has been going after Andrew McCabe. Back in July, "Why didn't Attorney General Sessions replace acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars, $700,000, for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives? Drain the swamp!"

And then in December, "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. Ninety days to go."

9So the president minced no words. He wanted McCabe out. He's now out.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That was at the end of December, around the time it was reported that McCabe was going to leave eventually when he was eligible for full retirement benefits. Which is still, apparently, when he is officially off the payroll, which is around the end of March. So he can get all those.

The question now, obviously, is, that we've all been looking into all day, is why now? Why was it announced right now? And there are certainly a lot of things that are in and around this mysterious and very abrupt announcement that he was going to stop working in his job.

First of all, the memo that we've all been talking about, that may or may not be voted on to be released tonight. The Republican -- Republicans wrote it. McCabe is no doubt in that and is described in that.

Also, the inspector general at the Justice Department has been doing an extensive, very lengthy view of what went on with regard to the investigation and the Clinton e-mails. How it came to pass. And no doubt, Andrew McCabe is part of that. We'll see if that is part of the reason why this happened today.

BLITZER: And you know, Laura, you know the reports now suggesting that the inspector general's report that, clearly, the FBI director, Wray, knows about, played a role in Wray's conversations with McCabe; and McCabe decided it's time to leave.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Our reporting is that, in an all-staff e-mail, Wray tipped off in some way that the inspector general's report played some role. But we don't know exactly what he saw that disturbed him, if anything.

And the other point here is think about what a tough spot Wray is in. He wants to have his own team in there. It's not abnormal for him to have his own deputy director. But at the same time, the president is constantly tweeting about McCabe. And so, even if there are grounds for McCabe not to be there, at least in Director Wray's eyes, that the specter of President Trump's pressure is now constantly out there, rightly or wrongly.

BLITZER: It's clear that the president wanted McCabe out.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes.

BLITZER: Another tweet on December 23: "How could FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with Leakin James Comey, of the phony Hillary Clinton investigation, including her 33,000 illegally deleted e-mails, be given $700,000 for his wife campaign by Clinton puppets during investigation?"

And you remember the president said he couldn't remember whether he asked McCabe who he voted for.

CILLIZZA: I mean -- yes. I mean, that tweet, among many, is sort of like a classic of the Trump form. There's the -- there's the name calling. There's the -- here's the thing.

Sarah Sanders came out today in the White House press briefing and said, "We had nothing to do with this." Which I'm sure Donald Trump did not pick up the -- I should say I rule nothing out ever now. But he very unlikely called to get rid of him. But it's pretty clear, if you're Chris Wray, to Laura's point, where the president lands on McCabe.

I'm interested to see about the -- if the memo comes out, to Dana's point, the memo and the I.G. report, both of which are unknowns to us at this point. Because currently, if you read Trump's tweets, what he has hung his dislike of Andrew McCabe on is the fact that Andrew McCabe's wife ran for state senate in Virginia in 2015 and Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia's, super PAC gave roughly $500,000 to her. So that's the -- therefore, Andrew McCabe, in Trump's mind, unless he knows more, which is a possibility, is basically hung on that. His distaste for, his belief in the deep state. So I'm interested to see what else, if any, comes out.

BLITZER: You know, Christopher Wray apparently was given access to the Devin Nunes four-page secret memo, the classified memo. They're meeting right now at the House Intelligence Committee, and they're going to vote to see if they should release it and make it public. We're waiting to see how that vote goes.

Could reading that memo by the FBI director have influenced the conversation he had with McCabe that resulted in McCabe's decision to say bye-bye?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So I've been told by a source who has a good sense of what's going on in the committee, that in fact, it's no accident that this happened today.

CILLIZZA: Right.

GANGEL: Certainly, as Chris said, you don't need to read between the lines of Donald Trump's, you know, words to know that he wanted McCabe out. We've also heard that Sessions had said to Wray, "I think it would be a good idea if you had your own senior team." So Wray is getting that message that way.

Look, we've been hearing that there are things in the Republican memo that are not good for McCabe. So -- and "The New York Times" has reported that he was pressured to get out. Combined with that, that he was going to leave in March anyway. Why not seize the moment and get out ahead of it coming out?

[17:35:01] BLITZER: Instead of being sent to some lesser job. He's the No. 2 at the FBI.

GANGEL: Correct.

BLITZER: Instead of being sent to some lesser job in a humiliating way, the final month or six weeks of his tenure there. He says, "You know what? I'm just leaving." That's what you're hearing, right?

JARRETT: I think it makes sense. But just think about what a weird position this is for the Justice Department. Right? It's a Trump Justice Department, but at the same time, they have a larger institution to think about for history. You're releasing classified materials that some members of the committee haven't even seen the underlying documents. I mean, that's an extraordinary situation to be in, putting aside the McCabe, you know, scenario here.

BASH: Which is why a lot of Republicans who are allies of the Trump White House are furious at the notion of the Republicans in the House and this committee wanting to release this without the formal process being followed. Because -- I mean, you know this. You've covered the intelligence world for a long time, Wolf. There are -- there's a process and there are procedures with regard to sensitive information for very specific reasons.

And so it is -- even the Senate intelligence chair, the Republican intelligence chair, Richard Burr. He hasn't...

GANGEL: Seen the memo.

BASH: ... been allowed to see the memo. So it -- there's got to be, I know -- we know from our reporting,

there's a lot of pressure coming from the president's fellow Republicans. As much as those who say that they want to release this, Republicans are saying, "Do not do this. At least not yet this way."

CILLIZZA: And take a -- take one big step back, Wolf, and think about this. Laura touched on it, but take one giant step back.

One of the factors that is so abnormal and complicates all of this is the fact that the president of the United States has not just attacked Andrew McCabe, the deputy director. He fired Jim Comey, the acting -- the FBI director. He's badmouthed Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, on any number of occasions. He has said that the Russian investigation is a hoax and a witch hunt. He has demanded investigations into the Clinton -- the Uranium One deal when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, into the private e-mail.

I mean, the idea of a president involving himself in any one of those things in the past, much less via Twitter....

BASH: Add to the fact that he says the FBI is terrible.

CILLIZZA: The FBI is terrible, in tatters.

BASH: Yes.

CILLIZZA: And he has said, tweeted out, that "There's a deep state at work here, undermining me within the FBI and CIA."

And let me just add one more, has said that the conclusion of the FBI, CIA and the other intelligence agencies, that Russia meddled in the election, or actively tried to meddle in the election to help him and hurt Hillary Clinton is not accurate.

BLITZER: Yes.

CILLIZZA: I mean... 2 BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's more information. We're waiting to speak with members of the House Intelligence Committee. They're getting ready to wrap up their meeting, we're told, to emerge. We'll be speaking with them and get a read-out on this important decision whether or not to release this classified four-page memo. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:36] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal specialists. You're looking at live pictures right now from just outside the room where the House Intelligence Committee has been meeting. The members are there behind closed doors. They're reviewing a very sensitive classified document, a four-page memo. We're expecting to hear from the top Democrat of that committee, Adam Schiff, any minute now. As soon as he emerges, we'll have that live. Stand by. I want to get back to our panel in the meantime. And, you know,

Jamie, very interesting, because if you look at this letter that Steven Boyd, the assistant attorney general of -- over at the Justice Department, wrote to Devin Nunes, one line really jumps out at me, saying if you release this memo, you might have -- you might have a damaging impact. The release of this classified material could have on our national security and our ability to share and receive sensitive information from friendly foreign governments.

That's why he concludes it would be extraordinarily reckless for the committee to release this memo, unless it is thoroughly vetted, some of it redacted by the intelligence community.

GANGEL: Look, they're trying to push back. But let's walk through the steps. The FBI director, Wray, went up to the Hill. He read the memo. If he thought there was a problem with sources and methods, don't you think we would have heard a pretty big cry very, very quickly, "This cannot be released"? That did not happen.

The other thing that I'm hearing from people familiar with the memo, is that when you look at it, you -- the following is raised. Either what the FBI did was, quote, "very sloppy trade craft," and that's not very good, or they manipulated it to get the judge to extend the FISA. Neither alternative is good. But it's clear that that's what they want to get out there.

BLITZER: But the whole -- did he go by himself? Do you know, Laura, if he went by himself to review this four-page document? Because he's a smart guy. He's an experienced lawyer. He's the -- the new director of the FBI. But does he have the intelligence community's experience in making a decision like this that it's not going to jeopardize relations with friendly foreign intelligence services and it's not going to undermine sources and methods, how the U.S. collects sensitive information?

JARRETT: We don't know yet. He may have had an aide with him. He did not have the Justice Department with him.

But as you say, I think there's something to the fact that he went to review it, because that's the normal process. And so he had the option to say, "Hey, wait a minute."

But even if he doesn't get to say, "Let's put a red stop sign on this," it puts the Justice Department and FBI still in a tough position because what if there's something in the memo that's wrong, and in order to push back, they would have to reveal something classified?

And so their hands are then tied to have the memo out there without any context, without any full understanding of what people saw to reach their conclusions.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can I just say that, generally speaking, this is why the intelligence committees on both sides of the capitol are the last bastion of bipartisanship for these very reasons. CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's

right.

BASH: So that when you're dealing with these very sensitive topics of national security, secrets and national security, it can be done on a joint basis.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're standing by to see what they say as soon as that committee wraps up. We'll have live coverage of that.

Also coming up, the potential danger posed by a common and very popular activity, trackers. It turns out U.S. troops who may wear them may be revealing their locations for potential enemies to see where they are.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:54] BLITZER: We're looking at live pictures from just outside the room where the House Intelligence Committee is meeting. We're expecting to hear from the top Democrat on that committee, Adam Schiff, at any moment. We'll update and have live coverage of that. Standby.

We're also following important news out of the Pentagon where they're now scrambling to revise guidelines for popular devices known as fitness trackers. It turns out they may reveal way too much information to a potential enemy of the United States.

Let's bring in our own Brian Todd.

Brian, millions of people wear these trackers, so what is the danger for the U.S. military?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, the danger is that these fitness-tracking devices send out GPS signals that one company has used to set up a heat map that tracks these signals.

The map shows the workouts, the movements of tens of millions of tracking device users around the world, and those include U.S. military personnel working out at bases in combat zones.

The heat map showing their movements is now accessible to terrorist groups like ISIS who are proficient at using this technology and could use it to plan attacks against U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): They track our steps, the calories we burn, and monitor our sleep. Fitbits and other fitness-tracking devices have revolutionized how Americans measure their exercise. But tonight, the Pentagon is concerned about how American troops' use of these devices could be sharing that information with their enemies.

MICHAEL PREGENT, ADJUNCT FELLOW, THE HUDSON INSTITUTE: If you're using this in the middle of nowhere, it can give the enemy a signature because you're not supposed to be there. It can tell an enemy where you are operating.

TODD (voice-over): A global heat map tracing movements from workouts has been posted by a company called Strava, a social network that allows users to share their running routes and other movements. You're running or biking route is linked to GPS, which maps the workouts.

But the heat map is also lighting up the locations of U.S. soldiers wearing devices like Fitbits and working out at military bases all over the world, including in combat zones, making those service members more easily trackable for their enemies.

PREGENT: Look at the level of activity along this strip, along this route. As an enemy, I would focus every motor attack, every rocket attack in this area right here just based on that graphic.

TODD (voice-over): In heavily populated areas like New York or Los Angeles, a lot of workout location postings don't stand out. But at military bases in remote areas of places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa, that activity stands out like a sore thumb.

And it doesn't tell an enemy just where a soldier happens to be jogging. Experts say soldiers leave their devices on when they do other things.

TOBIAS SCHNEIDER, NONRESIDENT FELLOW, GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE: It allows us to see a pattern of life developed so we can trace, you know, how do people live, where do they eat, where do they sleep, how do they move throughout the day, and then also, where do they exercise?

TODD (voice-over): Using the heat map, Twitter users have flagged locations of what they believe are a CIA base in Somalia, a patriot missile site in Yemen, and U.S. special operations bases in areas of Africa known as militant hotspots.

CNN hasn't verified those claims.

The Strava heat map is not live. It shows activity accumulated between 2009 and November of 2017 when the map was updated on the Strava app. Still, security experts say the heat map shows patterns that are recent enough to give away sensitive information.

SCHNEIDER: We can see when these soldiers leave their Fitbits on and they leave their base, we can make out patrol patterns, we can make out supply lines. And those are, you know, potential targets for insertions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, we have to point out that no one is actually blaming Fitbit or the makers of this hardware, the tracking devices, for this issue.

A Pentagon spokesman says Defense Secretary James Mattis was made aware of the discovery of the information on the Strava heat map and the Pentagon is now reviewing its policies on smartphones and on wearable devices.

Strava, the company that makes that heat map, well, they tell CNN the map excludes activities marked as private and that it's working with people to better understand their privacy settings and working with the military and the government to address sensitive areas that might appear on its heat map -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And just to be precise, Brian, for a U.S. service member, overseas in a combat zone -- let's say, a secret area -- all they have to do to stay off this heat map is mark their activities as private, right?

[17:55:01] TODD: That's right. It's really dependent on the individual and how they set their hardware.

An official at Strava makes it clear that if you set your own device, marking your activities as private, your movements will not show up on that heat map. Your movement is only visible to you.

The problem has been that service members, like many of us, just haven't set their activities as private. And experts are saying that the U.S. military is likely now going to have to require troops in combat zones to do just that.

BLITZER: All the world out there, indeed. All right, Brian, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, there's breaking news. After constant attacks by President Trump, the FBI's number two official abruptly steps down. So what is behind Andrew McCabe's sudden departure?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:03] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Pushed out. The Deputy FBI Director suddenly steps down under pressure and under attack by President Trump.