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War Over Memo; FBI Chief's Protest; Trump's Motives; Rosenstein At Risk. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired February 1, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is a CNN special report. Just hours from now, the secret memo at the center of an extraordinary clash between the president and his FBI director is likely to be made public. I'm Jim Sciutto.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: And I'm Pamela Brown. The memo's release could have serious consequences for the Trump White House or the Russia investigation and even for America's security.
Breaking tonight, a senior administration official says that President Trump plans to green light the release of the republican memo that focuses, accuses rather, the FBI of surveillance abuses in the Russia probe, and we're told it will probably happen tomorrow with the release.
And sources tell CNN that top White House aides fear FBI Director Christopher Wray might quit over the memo's release after he publicly revealed, quote, grave concerns that it's inaccurate and misleading.
And the president's motive for ignoring the warning is now more clear than ever. We have learned that he has been privately admitting to friends that he believes the memo's release will help discredit the special counsel's investigation.
And tonight, The Washington Post reporting that Mr. Trump never had any hesitation about releasing the memo and that he hopes it might give him justification to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is appointed -- who he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. Jim?
SCIUTTO: As the president does battle with his current FBI chief, the director that he fired is speaking out as well. James Comey posting this tweet tonight, quote, all should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart, American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.
The union representing the FBI rank and file also weighed in with this statement, quote, the FBI Agents Association appreciates the FBI Director Chris Wray standing standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats. Let's be clear. The FISA memo controversy is not principally a battle between Democrats and Republicans although they certainly disagree. It is a fight between the White House and the nation's law enforcement agencies.
In a statement, Mr. Wray expressed, quote, grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.
In a letter to the memo's author, Representative Devin Nunes, the Justice Department says it is, quote, unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process. But the president and his allies don't accept those appeals delivered first in private and when that didn't work in rare public statements from officials appointed by this president, mind you, and yet contradicting this president.
A public debate about how and when the U.S. surveil intelligence targets including Americans would be fair and warranted. But is that what this president and his allies are after here? Keep in mind, the president is attacking those carrying out an investigation which he and his advisers are involved.
Keep in mind as well that this is just the latest in a series of attacks on the FBI and other individuals and institutions involved in the Russia probe, including but not limited to James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the DOJ, the entire special counsel's office, and the U.S. Intelligence Community, which the president, you may remember, compared to Nazis.
The FBI Agents Association made this pledge in a statement tonight as well, quote, we remain focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals, both domestic and international.
We tonight hope that they do.
BROWN: And our panel joins us now. Our panel of experts and analysts, a lot to discuss with the impending release of the memo.
SCIUTTO: No question.
BROWN: I mean, it seems all but certain that's going to happen. Jason Miller, I want to start with you on that, because the FBI released that extraordinary statement saying that it has grave concerns. This is the man who the president appointed to be head of the FBI. The FBI Agents Association is of course opposing the release of this memo. That came out today.
Is the president willing to put the national security concerns aside from the agencies and from the people that he appointed in order to tamp down the Russia investigation?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, respectfully speaking, I think the framing of that is a little bit off because we also have over 100 members of Congress who read this memo and believe that it should be put out and needs to get out to the public. Now, a couple of things important. We have to remember what this entire memo is about. And that's the potential illegality involved with how they got the FISA warrant in the first place here.
What I want to get to is transparency and openness and make sure we have all the facts out. I also think this is where maybe I differ from some of my Republican friends. I want to see the Nunes memo out, I want to see the Schiff memo out,
[23:05:00] I want to see the supporting documents out, because I believe if there was any illegality that was going on and we'll hear -- we know obviously Brian and my friends on the Hillary Campaign had a lot of issues with the way that Comey conducted the investigation into Hillary Clinton last year, in fact, they will point and say that Comey cost them the election.
Now, I firmly disagree with that. But I think we need to get to the bottom of it. Let's get everything out there. Let the American public make the decision here.
BROWN: And Brian, I mean, to his point, it is true. I remember covering the Clinton investigation. And you and other Democrats were very outspoken about the FBI and what you viewed as mishandling of the investigation. Now it seems like things have flipped.
BRIAN FALLON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: But it's because of just that that makes this whole conspiracy theory that is the basis for this pent up demand from the Fox News fever swamp crowd to release this memo so crazy.
I mean, think about it. If you want to believe the theory behind the folks that are pushing for the release of the Nunes memo, what they're arguing is that this -- there was this deep state effort to sink the Trump campaign in 2016.
Well, we now know that there were two investigations by the FBI into the two major party candidates in 2016. But we only heard about one of them. We knew about Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation. The investigation into Trump and Russia which is still going on and has produced two guilty pleas and two other indictments was never breathed a word of during the whole campaign. The voters went to polls never knowing about it.
So it was a heck of a deep state conspiracy to sink the Trump campaign where they were actively waging this investigation, seeking approval, the FISA court approval to get certain people surveilled, but they decided to keep it under wraps and never tell the voters about it before election day. That's a crazy conspiracy theory.
And now to believe the conspiracy theory, you have to think that Donald Trump's own political appointee is hand-selected FBI Director Christopher Wray, his hand-selected number two deputy attorney general, the Justice Department Rod Rosenstein, are now part of the same deep state (INAUDIBLE).
BROWN: I mean, so, does he have a point? If the FBI was really trying to sink, you know, the Trump administration, why wouldn't they have come out before the election to acknowledge this investigation?
MILLER: Well, there were issues in 2016 all the way across the board both in the leadership of the FBI, the leadership of the DOJ. Of course, we all remember the magical tarmac meeting, the AG Loretta Lynch had with former President Bill Clinton.
And so -- and again, 99 -- I said this earlier today, 99.9 percent of everyone involved in law enforcement from FBI to DOJ to local law enforcement, check their political allegiances at the door and don't let any of these get in the way.
But something happened in 2016, where it became so highly politicized. And seeing the way that the Democrats would attack Comey and now they like Comey and they'll probably out be buying his book and --
BROWN: Same with Republicans, by the way.
MILLER: Here is the problem. I don't think any of us can argue against or obviously everyone has their own opinion that we should be getting to the truth here. And we should be seeing the actual information.
We need to find out exactly what went on because again, if say the Clinton campaign -- if it was a research document from them to help to go and get a FISA warrant and that's what helped get this whole thing going, I think that's really problematic.
SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, I got to ask you. You got experience as a prosecutor. Is it possible that the FBI was doing its job?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely.
SCIUTTO: And aggressively investigated Hillary Clinton's e-mails? And it's aggressively investigating Russia, you know, a whole host of possible charges though nothing has come out of it for the president regarding Russian interference in the election?
COATES: Not only is it possible, Jim, it is highly probable, because what you're seeing here is the expectation that a balanced assertion is going to carry some weight. That doesn't fly in a court of law. You can't have supporting evidence. It shouldn't fly in Congress to have that in a court of public opinion.
Because if the goal here is transparency and the goal is to have the American people be able to make an objective reading of what they're seeing, then you got to have a lot than balanced assertions. You got to have evidence that the FISA system was somehow nefariously corrupt.
They did not go through all the checks and balances, every single hurdle that the extensions of any FISA warrant with respect to Carter Page were not presented with corroborating evidence in the first place.
Remember, the dossier may have played a role in the FBI's investigation. But to get to that point, you're talking about an investigation that was already noticed as a full investigation in the FBI, which means the paper trail was very, very long and may have included as a small part, the dossier.
And so I think that this does not pass the smell test if you're talking about transparency. And I just think that the American people deserve more. Forgot partisanship. I don't understand why you would cut off your nose to spite your face.
If I can, the FBI investigates white collar crime, public corruption, civil rights violations, human trafficking, violent crimes, a small fraction of their work comprises this FBI investigation in the criminal probe. Why are we throwing out the credibility of the organization with the political back water?
SCIUTTO: Listen, I wonder, for folks at home who have been following this for some time, there are some pretty remarkable allegations being
[23:10:00] leveled at U.S. law enforcement intelligence agencies here, right? Talk of a secret society, a deep state, a treason. I mean, these are words being thrown at the agencies -- let's be frank, they need oversight. But they're also agencies whose job is to keep the country safe.
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, I think -- I teach constitutional law. I think there is a real problem in terms of the separation of powers here because as was mentioned, we got Article III judges making these determinations. Article III judges have life appointment.
They have tenure for life and salary protection by design. They are apolitical. And these federal judges made the determination that whatever was in the package to extend the FISA warrant was sufficient to judges do this all the time.
There are all kinds of situations where they make determinations based on allegedly biased information, in criminal investigations. And here we are not talking about putting someone in jail or talking about foreign intelligence. That's what the FISA is about. And the other point is, you know, the executive branch leads all the way to the president of the United States.
So it is quite unusual to have the president at odds with his own criminal justice system. And I think when we start challenging that, when we start challenging the integrity of those public servants and whether they're actually doing their jobs, we all lose, because then it becomes a situation where your political background is going to determine the kind of justice you receive.
COATES: And by the way, the FBI is not above reproach. They have had a long history of corruption. I mean, Hoover investigated Martin Luther King Jr. for 12 years of his 39-yearlife for no reason at all, other than to find some dirt on this man and found nothing.
And it was Kennedy who said keep surveilling him, keep doing it. And Comey has that actual memo on his desk as a reminder of not doing this with corruption. They are not without reproach. However, this seems like a pre-textual reason to investigate the FBI, not a realistic one to find out who (INAUDIBLE). MILLER: That's why the first point that I made was let's get both of these memos out there. Let's get the supporting evidence. Let's let the American people see because this is really a concern. Again, things got so heated and so politicized back in 2016. I think people have a right.
If this is suspicious, we talked about this so-called Russia collusion investigation, and the fact this is, you know, the constant leaks every other day and all the nonsense going into it, I think the American people have the right to go and see what this is all about.
BROWN: But Jason, that's not the position on the Trump administration. They just want the Nunes memo to be out there. We've been reporting for weeks now that the president has wanted this memo to be out in the public. The Nunes memo, the republican one, without, you know, before he even reviewed it.
So, do you feel like from the get go he has wanted to put his own personal sort of objectives first before national security?
SCIUTTO: It's also CNN's reporting that the president wants the memo out there in part to undermine the investigation. And he said similar things about other aspects of the investigation throughout.
MILLER: I've never heard the president say that. Never heard anyone in the White House go and say that, so I can't speak to that. We have anonymous sources and everything, but we did see from Paul Ryan --
SCIUTTO: Remember the history here, right? He said in a public interview that he fired James Comey because of his handling of the Russia investigation. So, you can't look at this -- the memo in a vacuum. It's part of series of attacks on law enforcement since the investigation began.
MILLER: But really simply what I want is the truth. I want to be able to see it. I think all of us, the American public, deserves to see it as well.
FALLON: At the end of the last year, at the end of the last calendar year, key parts of the FISA law were up for renewal. And Democrats every time this law comes up for renewal, Democrats like Ron Wyden clamor to release more information, declassify more information so that the public can make a more informed judgment about whether they wanted the elected representatives to renew the law.
They are always shut down because this stuff is the most sensitive information at the government traffics in. So this selective reasoning now of suggesting that now is the appropriate time to open the curtain and reveal what goes into a FISA application just seems very convenient.
MILLER: It's a good point, but FISA was just renewed. Republican lawmakers had ample opportunity to review the FISA law in Congress and yet voted for renewal of the 702 protections which is really the background.
WEHLE: It may be different if we were looking at the actual contents of the application for warrant versus a memo created by a partisan in Congress. That's not more information.
The other point I wanted to -- following up on what you said was after the Hoover situation, that's where we have a 10-year FBI director tenure in order to create an FBI that's independent of the president. And that sort of wall has broken down in this administration. And that's problematic.
MILLER: I think it's also important to point out there are real serious players on the House side who are pushing for the release of this Nunes memo. We talked about people like Peter King who I would not call a partisan hack by any stretch and I think so many takes the job very seriously.
We look at Speaker Paul Ryan who I think takes his job very seriously, who reviewed this and said, we need to get this out there. I think that really speaks for something.
BROWN: All right. A lot more to discuss. Coming up here on the show, more on the memo and why the president hopes that it may discredit the Russia investigation. We'll continue that discussion. Plus, the special counsel probe.
[23:15:00] Why one witness may be raising questions about one of -- one of Mr. Trump's most trusted advisers if that person was trying to obstruct justice. We'll be back.
BROWN: And we are back with our special report tonight. President Trump is moving toward releasing a controversial GOP memo, hoping, we're told, that it will discredit the Russia investigation. This as sources have been telling us for quite some time that the president never had any hesitation about making this memo public.
Here with us again is our panel to discuss this a little bit more. And Jason, I just want to start with you, because there are questions tonight that if this memo is released, will Christopher Wray, the FBI director who sent out that strong statement yesterday, will he resign?
Will Rod Rosenstein be forced out? Will this memo give an excuse for that? If that happens, if Wray leaves or if Rosenstein is out, what will happen to the Russia investigation?
MILLER: Well, I don't think that either one is going to be leaving their position because of this memo. I think Chris Wray will stay in his position as FBI director. And we even saw Speaker Ryan came out and said that there is nothing in this memo that implicates Rod Rosenstein.
I think a little bit of that is the speculation where a little bit -- this is part of the problem where Republicans on the messaging side are losing a bit. And the fact that the longer this drags on and Schiff even though I disagree with him completely on every possible issue, I think, on the planet,
[23:20:00] I do think he has done a fantastic job of talking about obstruction, obstructing this thing and delaying it. And so we start talking about process things like who might be mentioned in the memo and who might not be as opposed to actually really getting into getting this thing out there which it should be.
But the longer this goes on, then we're talking about things like, you know, what if, what if, what if. I don't think that's a good look for the Republicans.
SCIUTTO: Jason, I wonder, is this a winning issue for the Republicans to go nose to nose with law enforcement?
MILLER: Well, again, your positioning as them going nose to nose with law enforcement. But if we see from this memo that there were illegalities that were going on, then that is -- that's very important to go and get out there.
I don't think this is Republicans against law enforcement at all. I think what we want to see is make sure that law enforcement is operating properly, that there is a proper oversight role, and that's really what we are trying to get to here.
BROWN: What if there is not that? What if there are no illegalities but it does reveal sources and methods or it's a national security risk? Who wins?
MILLER: That's a very important question. Part of what I go to -- what I said in the last block, the fact that you have had over 100 Republican members of Congress, I wish more the Democrats would have gone. I'm not sure if the number is still zero. If there are a couple who gone and read it, it's a very small amount.
I wish Democrats had gone and read this memo and were briefed and up to speed on it as opposed to doing the whole stand offish thing. But the fact that you have some serious players who have read this thing and said this is important, we have to get it out.
SCIUTTO: Quick fact check on that, the Democrats weren't provided the opportunity to review it.
MILLER: They could go --
SCIUTTO: Since then but initially after --
MILLER: But here -- the other thing, Jim, they could have gone and seen it. I mean, there's been plenty of time for them to go and do it. And some of the serious players are not going out there and put their entire reputations on the line if they didn't think this really needed to get out and people needed to see it.
FALLON: I wish I could share Jason's optimism that no one is going to resign after this, but I think you've seen Chris Wray take a very principled position. You've seen a very rare move of the FBI Agents Association, the rank and file of the bureau, putting out a statement, standing shoulder to shoulder with the director.
I think -- I fear that we are heading towards a Saturday night massacre and playing out in slow motion. And to the point about oh, Rod Rosenstein has nothing to fear from this, he reauthorized the FISA application.
So, if the republican conspiracy theory coming out of this release of this memo from Nunes is that this thing was the fruit of a poisonous tree, then yes it would absolutely provide a pre-text for Donald Trump to say Rod Rosenstein betrayed me by renewing this when he was my acting --
BROWN: And again, Rod Rosenstein was appointed by the president. But let's just hypothetically -- look, we don't know what's going to happen. We have been told by our sources that Wray is frustrated, that he has no plan to resign necessarily, but there could be implications from this. If he -- if either one are out, and/or Wray, you know, Wray and/or Rosenstein, what will this mean for the Russia investigation? What will happen?
WEHLE: Well, I mean, if it were Rosenstein then the other question would be whether his replacement would continue the investigation or not. Certainly after this particular presidency is over, there could be under a different president -- a different president a renew -- a renewed look at the same issues with respect to a private citizen Trump. That's entirely possible.
But I worked with Rod Rosenstein in the White Water investigation, and, you know, this is -- these are career public servants who uphold the rule of law and believe very strongly in the constitution.
So I think that's what you're seeing push back here, is the structure of our government crumbling and some serious concerns around a situation where it's not the judge or an appellate court saying, listen was this FISA decision proper, a judge making the determination.
It's not the president making the determination as to whether he wants to keep people within his chain of command. It's Congress leaping over the fence and doing things that really are not within the constitutional mandate. Is it illegal? No. Is it highly unconstitutional? No.
They can have hearings. They can have hearings on whether it's proper to continue the FISA if they want. Broad hearings on the propriety of the FISA in contained circumstances where the national intelligence information is maintained.
But in this instance, the Congress does have the authority to release this kind of information if it makes the determination that the public interest outweighs the national interest. Here we got the FBI and the DOJ saying the opposite and they are the ones with the expertise.
SCIUTTO: Laura, I wonder if -- there is a hopeful message, I'm not sure if this is the right way to say this, but you have had a series of instances here where the president has -- I don't know if interfered is too strong, but listen, he fired his FBI director because of the Russia investigation.
The new FBI director is in effect defying the president on this, right? The attorney general when he fired Comey appointed a special counsel which is certainly not an outcome that the president wanted. Do you see here the institutions in effect standing up to this pressure?
COATES: I certainly hope so, because institutions are very vital to our justice for me. But you're right, past is prologue in all of these things. Just last week, there were reports that Christopher Wray was trying to resign or threatened to resign if he tried to force Andrew McCabe out as well. Somebody who clearly
[23:25:00] at his hearing when he was talking about the firing of Jim Comey made the statement the FBI will continue even without its leader because the work of the men and women is so vital and so essential that you really can't cut off the head of that six-headed (INAUDIBLE) and have it all go away.
That's the beauty of -- and unfortunately people who are targets of the investigation -- the burden of the investigative process. But what you are seeing here really is a trend. A pattern here where you have a president who according to the reporting is trying to influence the people who are spear heading an investigation around people who are in its inner circle and in his orbit.
And frankly, all that does in both the court of public opinion and also for Mueller's investigative team is put a magnifying glass like its a beetle in the summer heat. And you think, what are they going to accomplish here other than raise the profile of the investigation?
It has to continue, not because of partisan reasons, but because there is a directive right now going on in a parallel inquiry in Congress about whether somebody is interfering and who may be at fault in criminal.
SCIUTTO: Jason, I wonder if you will grant that these moves by the president, whether it's a firing of Comey, his support for the release of this memo, the request from AG Rosenstein for a pledge of loyalty, you know, this whole kind of thing, whether it's illegal or not, but do you agree that the president is trying to influence the Russia investigation.
MILLER: No, not at all. I mean, Jim, I'd even push back on the Rosenstein and the whole loyalty pledge. I mean, Rod Rosenstein went up to the Hill, put up his right hand and said no one has ever asked me to take any sort of loyalty pledge. And so I would disagree with the assessment, but, you know, Laura, when you're talking about --
SCIUTTO: But, Jason, answer me. He fired his FBI director because of the Russia investigation. OK. He is now pushing for the release of the memo, pushing for the release of the memo to --
MILLER: A President Hillary Clinton, the only difference is she would have fired him on day one.
SCIUTTO: But she is not president. We're talking about Trump. I was asking you, when you look at the whole range of moves here as well as the personal attacks on individuals involved in the Russia investigation and on institutions involved in the Russia investigation, will you grant that the president is trying to influence the investigation?
Whether -- some made the argument that it's his right to push and pressure institutions that he has appointed people to lead them, that that's his right as the elected president of the United States, but will you grant that he is trying to influence?
MILLER: No. I think what's the folks are trying to influence here are the constant leakers that are coming from whether career people at the DOJ or minority staff --
SCIUTTO: Or White House leakers, the source of the stories.
MILLER: The whole, you know, anonymous sources. But look, somebody is -- you don't think that so-called Rosenstein conversation just magically popped out the day after --
SCIUTTO: I trust my CNN colleagues who reported it based on multiple sources.
MILLER: Well, I'm not saying --
BROWN: Well, I can tell you --
SCIUTTO: One of them is sitting right next to me.
BROWN: -- that was my story. It was not planned to come out the day after the state of the union. We were working on that for quite some time.
MILLER: But I would say that --
BROWN: Go ahead.
MILLER: -- talk about influencing the court of public opinion, I would say that if you're a supporter of the president and you have some real issues with the way that these different leaks have happened. And so I think, you know, again going back to the Rod Rosenstein example, I think that's one that's completely blown out of proportion.
COATES: The leaks haven't come from Mueller.
MILLER: Or Nunes.
BROWN: Let's be honest. We don't know where the leaks come from. As a reporter who reports on anonymous -- if you talk of anonymous people, we don't know where the leaks come from and it's always a guessing game and you'll never know.
SCIUTTO: We can say Mueller is a pretty tight box. BROWN: Oh, yes. They are a tight box. But I just want to ask you, I want to ask you, Jason, because you say that you want transparency. That this is in the public's interest to have transparency. And that both memos should be released.
But if one memo is released, that the FBI director has already come out and said it is omitting some key facts and leads to a false narrative, is that really transparency? Is that really in the public's interest?
MILLER: Well, that's why I argue that I think both should come out.
BROWN: But that's not going to happen. We know that's not going to happen, right?
MILLER: I am offering --
BROWN: As of now we know one memo that is going to be released or do you support that? One memo that the FBI director has said omits key facts?
MILLER: I think they should both be out. That's my opinion.
BROWN: But that's not going to happen.
MILLER: Way can't it be? Paul Ryan even said that he supports that.
SCIUTTO: We're six hours away.
FALLON: Answer the question. If they go forward just putting out one, will you come out back on CNN saying that was the wrong move?
MILLER: I think they should put both out.
FALLON: There's just evidence all over that it's not -- that this whole thing is not happening in good faith. I mean, there is an active inspector general investigation happening within the Justice Department as a very tenacious independent watch dog.
Congress could make a referral to him and ask him to look into this very same subject. The fact they are doing it now amid an ongoing investigation into the president himself tells you everything you need to know.
The fact that they won't agree to release them in tandem with the democratic memo tells you everything you need to know. And so the idea that this is in the spirit of transparency just doesn't --
BROWN: OK, we got to --
FALLON: Look at the upside.
MILLER: What if we get the opportunity here to maybe get rid of a couple of bad apples or we find out there is some illegality --
FALLON: You're not going to have all the material the judge considered so even when you look at the memo you won't know whether the judge did his job in approving the FISA application.
SCIUTTO: That's going to be the last word.
MILLER: (INAUDIBLE) American public.
BROWN: All right, thank you, gentlemen and women as well. Thank you so much. Coming up, a former
[23:30:00] lawmaker and national security expert on the war over the memo and why so many Republicans in Congress are rushing to the president's defense.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Tonight President Trump is ready to take the wraps off a secret memo and tear official Washington even further apart -- Mr. Trump and his party defying Democrats as well as the FBI director and the Justice Department.
We're joined by Jane Harman. She is a prominent former member of Congress, a national security expert as well. Congresswoman Harman, thanks very much for taking the time tonight.
You served many years in Congress, including on the House Intelligence Homeland Security Committees. Have you ever seen a president, really a party here at such loggerheads, nose to nose with U.S. Law enforcement?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Not this way. But as I just told you, I was a young lawyer on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Saturday night massacre. That night, I came out on my porch in Gorge Town expected to see rifle fire.
And the next night, all the Democrats on the committee brought one person each to a secret meeting to talk about how the country would survive.
[23:35:00] I was the only woman. I had a one week old son and guess what, the country survived. And then I was in the Carter White House when the church committee, which was a Congressional committee, bipartisan reported on ways to fix the abuses by the Nixon administration of our intelligence.
And that is when FISA passed by a large bipartisan vote. And it set up the two intelligence committees were set up. And the whole process worked for decades until it didn't.
And this -- you know, I was -- I had Adam Schiff's job as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee for four years. I served on the committee eight years. I was in the so-called Gang of Eight. And we had disagreements.
But the committee somehow got through them. This is the first time I have seen the absolute you know, destruction of the House Intelligence Committee. And it's heart breaking. And it's a huge loss for the country. BROWN: I just want to take a step back, look big picture. Because
you know we were just talking about this. Democrats claim there was bias in the FBI during the Clinton investigation.
They blame the CIA during the Iraq war. You know saying that the basically the intelligence was cherry picked. So in light of that, do Republicans have a point that, look, we need to keep our intelligence gathering in check as well? Like we have a right to do that?
HARMAN: We do need to keep it in check. And we have had two massive intelligence failures in this century. One was the 9/11 and second one was the Iraq WMD, when the intelligence got it wrong.
And then, we reformed our system in 2004 on a bipartisan basis and set up the director of National Intelligence, who is a joint commander across the intelligence agencies, including the FBI. So, yes, there needs to be vigorous oversight.
The right way to handle this is for Christopher Wray and others to testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and present their evidence in a classified setting. That's apparently not being permitted.
SCIUTTO: Can I ask you this? Can a president, whose advisers are under investigation in an ongoing investigation, be the champion -- credibly be the champion of reform of that investigation and the institutions carrying it out?
HARMAN: Well, I -- the president is the president. He is entitled to declassify information and state his opinions. But in this case, first of all, I have enormously high confidence in Robert Mueller whom I know, who was the FBI director while I was the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.
SCIUTTO: And who was welcomed by Republicans.
HARMAN: And who was welcomed by -- and Christopher Wray whom I don't know is highly regarded by the rank and file. What's important to think about is not just the top layer here but what about the CIA agent in some -- some undisclosed location out in the field or even the FBI agent who is doing something that his family doesn't even know about to protect our national security?
Is that person going to be demoralized, not do his or her job as well or quit the agency? If we lose those people, if we lose the middle of those agencies, the committed middle with huge experience, we lose the tip of the spear. That's how we find out about the next terror plot.
And one more point, we collaborate closely with foreign intelligence agencies. That's a good thing. They tip us off on things like the plastic bomb explosive in the cartridge in the UAE that was about to be shipped to the U.S. and blown up an airplane. And if they lose confidence in our ability to keep secrets and keep their secrets, then we won't get their cooperation.
BROWN: It does make me wonder how foreign countries view all of this right now.
SCIUTTO: No question. And we know they raise questions about it. Jane Harman, thanks very much as always. Coming up, House Speaker Paul Ryan defending the expected release of the GOP memo. Is he contradicting the president in the process?
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
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REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: So as long as we're not revealing sources and methods to protect our national security, the more transparency the better, so that the people of in country can see that their civil liberties are being protected and the constitution is being followed. That's why we think some showing of transparency and accountability is the correct antidote for this.
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BROWN: That was House Speaker Paul Ryan defending the expected release of the controversial GOP memo. President Trump is likely to sign off on this tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see if that actually happens.
Let's bring in our political team now. David Chalian, I just want to start with you because you heard Paul Ryan there say, this is about transparency, this in the public's interest.
But wouldn't that involve releasing more than just one partisan document that the FBI director has come out and said publicly omit some key facts.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Certainly would. At the very least, it would involve releasing simultaneously the other partisan document just so that everybody -- if that would be true sort of transparency, if you want to see how both side is responding.
But what you see the house speaker there doing, it's pretty clear, right? He has found a rationale for himself, so he can continue to wake up in the morning and feel that he is not doing the political bidding for President Trump here...
BROWN: But is he?
CHALIAN: ... the way Devin Nunes is. But obviously this entire episode is clearly about President Trump eager to discredit the Mueller investigation in any way he can, eager to prove his year long point that this is a witch hunt, and this is a hoax.
And he feels that in this Nunes memo, he is going to have some ammunition for that. So, that means that Paul Ryan is clearly aiding and abetting the president's political goal here. But you hear, he is coming up with a different rationale.
SCIUTTO: Paul Ryan also very nobly told his colleagues to not make this look this color the Mueller investigation. That's not the business that we're in. That's a little rich, is it not, when the president pretty clearly is trying to undermine the Mueller investigation.