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Trump on Shooting: "FBI Missed All of the Many Signals"; Mueller Indicts 13 Russians for U.S. Election Meddling; Tough Headlines Follow Trump into Upcoming Week; Senate Immigration Debate Ends in Failure. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired February 18, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:21] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Mueller's moves: 13 indicted in the Russia probe. Inside the charges and the president's reaction.
And another school shooting and a demand for action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, you say, what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children's' hands.
HENDERSON: Plus, a failure by the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protocol was not followed. No further investigation was conducted at that time.
HENDERSON: The tip they got about the killer back in January.
An immigration at an impasse.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I thought our friends across the aisle would jump at this opportunity. They just couldn't take yes for an answer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump has stood in the way of every single proposal that could become law.
HENDERSON: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories, sourced by the best reporters, now!
HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson, in for John King.
To our viewers nationwide and around the world, thanks for joining us.
As the country mourns for the 17 lives taken by the school shooter, a familiar conversation is happening once again. The question, how to prevent the next mass shooting? Some of the survivors who lived through this past week tragedy aren't even old enough to vote but they have a very clear message to Washington: do something. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA GONZALEZ, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Politicians put this in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling nothing could have ever been done to prevent this. We call B.S.!
They say that tougher gun laws do not defeat gun violence. We call B.S.!
They say a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. We call B.S.!
They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call B.S.!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: President Trump has his own message about the shooting and who's to blame. The commander-in-chief's late night tweets gave the country a glimpse into his thinking.
On Saturday night, a little after 11:00 p.m., Trump tweeted: Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They're spending too much time spending Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud.
Now, that wasn't the only tweet from the president late last night or this morning.
CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is live for us in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Jeff, we saw some very pointed messages from the president.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Nia.
There certainly have been. The president is tweeting a lot, but let's go back to the tweet that you just read there about that shooting in Parkland, Florida. Of course, the president the moment he arrived here in Florida on Friday afternoon, Friday evening, he visited the hospital. He visited law enforcement officers.
And the tweet this morning certainly seems discordant with the raw emotion that is in the air here in Florida in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook. The president not surprisingly once again making it about him, drawing the FBI mistake which no doubt was a massive blunder to the Russia investigation.
By tweeting that, you know, a bit of a fact check on that tweet. Of course, that call went in to the West Virginia call center for the FBI. It was never relayed to the field agents on the ground so the president saying, the FBI was distracted by the Russia investigation and was unable to do this simply does not line up with the facts. But I think the reality here is, Nia, there's no question there is a
sense for action and urge for the president, all politicians to do something on guns but again, that tweet late last night making it about the FBI certainly the president discordant. But then, the president went on to tweet even more last night and again this morning talking about the Russia investigation.
Let's take a look at the latest tweet from the president who often starts his Sunday mornings doing just that and this is what he said on the Russia investigation.
He said: I never said that Russia did not meddle in the election. I said it may be Russia or China or another country or a group. Or it may be a 400-pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer. The Russian hoax, the president says, was at the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. It never did.
So, again, a fairly extraordinary tweet less than 48 hours after the president's own Justice Department, the U.S. Justice Department, you know, really laid out a sweeping indictment of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. Now, from chapter to verse about that specific involvement of Vladimir Putin and his allies in trying to meddle with the election. So, the president again this morning -- it's a bit like Groundhog's Day, saying, again it might have been a 400-pound genius, it might have been a Russia, simply not accepting the fact and not honing in on Russia specifically. And also not saying what the United States government, what his administration plans to do about the fact that there is, you know, reams of evidence that there was meddling in the election.
If that wasn't enough, the president also going after his national security adviser who said at the Munich security conference in Germany just on Saturday that there was incontrovertible evidence that Russia did meddle in the election. So, the president had this to say about his national security adviser. He said, General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and the only collusion was between Russia and crooked Hillary, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the dirty dossier, uranium, speeches, e-mails and the Podesta company.
So, again, Nia, the president throwing a lot out there seems to be watching cable television here late in the evening last night as he was tweeting this out. But certainly, it does not make the point or offer any insight into what he plans to do if anything about that Russian meddling -- Nia.
HENDERSON: And, Jeff, in terms of General McMaster, where does he stand in this White House right now?
ZELENY: Nia, that is a great question. By the president going after his national security adviser, it underscores a major rift. We've been hearing for a while now that General McMaster is on a bit of a thin ice with the president and some of the other advisers. I think this tweet certainly underscores that fact and the fact that General McMaster was so clear in his language on Saturday may also underscore that he is, you know, calling it like he sees it here. So, in terms of how long he will remain his national security adviser,
that's an open question. We do not know that, but we do know he is at odds with the president in some respects and in this White House, that's anyone's guess. Sometimes the president leads people on, sometimes he does not. But it certainly underscores a rift that is there -- Nia.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Jeff. Still so early and so many tweets.
HENDERSON: Here to share their reporting and their insights, Michael Shear of "The New York Times," Eliana Johnson of "Politico", "The Washington Post's" Karoun Demirjian, and "Politico's" Rachael Bade.
Really -- we really almost have to monitor our phones at this point because the president has been so active already on Twitter. I want to go to you first on this. His tweet linking the FBI's blunder with the FBI's Russia investigation seeming to make this terrible tragedy that happened in Florida about himself.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, look, the FBI is a big organization. They can walk and chew gum at the same time. They can focus on shooting threats, they can focus on international threats, they can focus on more than that at once. The president is taking this opportunity -- it's very clear that it's not actually a legitimate concern to say if you're not getting Florida straight, it means you're paying too much attention to Russia and screwing that up to.
He's choosing this as a moment to make his political argument that he loves to make about no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. That is a very not empathetic thing to do this week. I don't know if I've missed it, but I haven't really heard the president offered any direct empathy to the victims or meet directly with these families yet and they're, you know, clamoring for gun control, not for clarification of how the president feels about Russia. I think we all know very well how the president feels about the Russia investigation.
And this week especially to do that is especially tone deaf because, look, Mueller's indictments in those 13 Russians, it's not going to result in perp walks of Russians down the street. I mean, Russian is not going to turn those people over. It's a signal to this administration, to this -- to Washington about what they can do and the president is taking that moment and not saying, OK, it's probably Russia. Let's rule out the 400-pound guy. He's focused --
HENDERSON: And we're going to get to that in the next block.
HENDERSON: And he was down in Florida, he met with some first responders. He also met privately with some families as well, and -- but in this tweet, he's certainly taking this off what he did do as counselor-in-chief -- Michael. MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right.
I mean, look, he's never been good with this -- we've had a bunch of tragic moments, shootings and the like. He's -- this president has never been very good at the empathy thing, and, you know, so when he went down and was -- gave a few brief remarks at the hospital and praised the doctors and the first responders, all of whom deserve praise. But there was a sense that he was sort of missing the main point or the main thing that Americans look to a president at that moment which is sort of to help them deal with the grief --
HENDERSON: The pain, right, and the emotion, right.
SHEAR: -- and the pain, and whatever.
[08:10:00] And I think the tweet this morning, as Karoun said, was the problem is that it again misses the central point which is that, you know, there was a failure at the FBI to deal properly with the tip that came in and route it to the right place so that it could have perhaps prevented this. And a president who obviously is in charge at some level of the FBI, its his FBI, it's his Justice Department --
SHEAR: -- you know, I mean, what Americans look to at that moment is for the president to be dealing with that fact. What are you going to do, Mr. President? What steps are you going to order to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again?
And by taking that moment and then shifting it back to the Russia investigation and himself and collusion and the political argument, you know, it leaves you wanting still the substance. Where -- what is it that the country is going to do about this problem?
HENDERSON: And that's what you hear very powerfully from Florida. We've got sound from people in Florida really wondering what will happen next, what the government is going to do?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HOGG, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Take action. Don't let this happen to your children. We thought it would never happen to us and it did. And to the politicians and the leaders out there, we can have all the ideas that we want but ideas without action remain ideas and children's' lives are lost as a result.
ISABELLE ROBINSON, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: This shouldn't be a fight between two different parties. This should be a coming together where we all realize that something is wrong and even if we disagree on the way to fix it, we all just need to talk about it and stop being angry and stop slandering other people because it doesn't help anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Eliana, powerful voices from children, teenagers who witnessed in some cases their friends being gunned down at their high school. ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITIICO: Yes. Look, I
do think it's important to point out this was a major oversight for the FBI and we have a president who's been saying the FBI's in tatters. And as far as the political argument, I do think Trump gets some sort of a boost out of this as crass as that is to say.
But this wasn't the only federal law enforcement oversight that could have prevented one of these incidents. There were two others. One in the Charleston shooting where that shooter had information that should have prevented him from getting a weapon where federal authorities did not enter information into the background check system and another in Sutherland Spring, Texas.
JOHNSON: So, there is a pattern of these federal authorities or a disconnect between local authorities not communicating with federal authorities, and I think that's the most concrete thing here that needs to be fixed that we know could have prevented this shooting.
HENDERSON: And you had discussions about background checks in the past, tightening some of those procedures. Marco Rubio, of course, the senator from Florida had this to say in terms of background checks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The background system is broken and so, when that background check was run, it didn't say he had been expelled from school. It didn't say that there had been 30 police calls, it didn't say that he had these social media posts, none of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: And, Rachael, is that where -- if Congress is to do something, is that where maybe the most logical place is for the background check?
RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: It would a make a lot of sense, I do think, that there are some Republicans who are willing to look at background checks, such as Marco Rubio. I don't think that that is predominantly the Republican Party, though, right now. I mean, obviously, we're already seeing the Hill focus right now on the FBI and what they could've done in terms of getting this tip.
We saw a press release by Trey Gowdy who leaves the oversight committee in the House and Bob Goodlatte who leads the House Judiciary Committee.
Republicans also are talking about mental health obviously as Democrats are talking about gun control. I do think it's sort of a little disingenuous, though, because Democrats -- Republicans voted for this bill just a few months ago that basically got rid of an Obamacare or Obama era regulation that would have basically made it harder for somebody who had a severe mental health condition to purchase a gun by putting it on those background checks.
The other issue here is that it's really tough to be put on that list where you can't buy a gun if you do have a severe mental health issue. You have to be put in the hospital against your will or court ordered and that is really difficult --
HENDERSON: Not clear that the shooter would have even been on that list.
BADE: If they want to talk about mental health, they're going to have to ask themselves that question of, is the standard enough right now or do we need a --
HENDERSON: We're going to have to end here. It will be interesting to see if Trump does anything at the executive level in terms of executive orders in the way that Obama did.
Coming up, Mueller indicts 13 Russians. Why Trump says it means no collusion from team Trump? And what's inside those documents?
[08:18:38] HENDERSON: A Friday bombshell from the special counsel Robert Mueller, 13 Russian nationals indicted and accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein echoed what intelligence officials had been saying for months about the role Russians played in an American election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Despite this morning's tweet from the president that he never said Russia didn't meddle in the election, the no collusion claim is standard President Trump.
In the 37-page indictment you see there, the 37-page indictment undercuts his many past dismissals of the Russian probe, as a hoax, a witch hunt and Democratic plot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC.
How many times do I have to answer this question?
Russia is a ruse.
This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.
The entire thing has been a witch hunt. The Russia story is a total fabrication.
Russia did not help me. OK? I call it the Russian hoax.
They made up the whole Russia hoax.
That was a Democrat hoax.
It's a Democrat hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: And as predicted, we've got more tweets from President Trump this morning.
[08:20:00] This was his latest: If it was the goal of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S., then with all the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred, they have succeed beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their butts off in Moscow.
That's not what he tweeted but it's Sunday, I'm not going to say that word and he ended saying, get smart America.
Michael, it's welcome like he isn't the president of America.
SHEAR: Right. The two things that struck me from that tweet were what you just said. The end of that tweet sounds like he's sitting some where in Trump Tower before he became president criticizing the administration, criticizing the government and yet he is the president.
The other thing that struck me was the first word of that tweet, if, right? The Justice Department just passed down this indictment on Friday that lays out in excruciating detail how, in fact, the Russians tried to meddle in the 2016 election and you have the president of the United States instead of sort of taking that and moving forward with what the administration is going to do about it, he's still sowing doubt, right?
He still says if they tried to meddle and that's -- and that's really -- I mean, it's not surprising given the clips that you played and given what we've seen over the past year plus, but it's still pretty amazing.
JOHNSON: Trump really has never been able to view Russian meddling in the election as anything other than an attack on his legitimacy and he just cannot abide that. And I think the indictment made clear that the original goal of the meddling had nothing to do with Trump in particular. It was to sow discord and dissension in the American political system and only later that it come to focus on Trump.
They messed with several other candidates aside from Trump and I actually think that the president in his tweet about Putin's intent to sow discord through probes and investigations, he's absolutely right about that. He's not wrong at all. HENDERSON: And, Karoun, if you look at that 37-page indictment, the
scale and scope of their efforts are pretty massive and it's laid out in detail in this indictment.
DEMIRJIAN: Yes, it's organized, it's taking time to study, like patterns that would be plausible and believable in the United States. It's actually executing in various rounds and various attempts of filling different roles. And, you know, it's learning from, you know, what -- when you're in an open society, it's -- people can read and study you and try to use that against you and Russia's very good at doing that.
DEMIRJIAN: -- and we're not the first people they've done that with.
But, yes, to Eliana's point like, yes, President Trump is right in identifying that Russia's probably happy right now. He's right in identifying as you were saying last block that there are problems with FBI. But he kind of gives himself a pass on fomenting a lot of this. I mean, he's not guilt-free when it comes to sowing discord in the political space.
You can poke at -- it's very difficult to talk about the flaws and the way we respond to this when you make everything about collusion and Russia and you. We can't have a national conversation about what to do to stave off Russian meddling, what to do about fixing problems with the FBI because the president keeps inserting himself over and over again, and making this about the political back and forth about his presidency, his election. And, yes, that's an element. But it's not the whole thing. But it buries everything else.
JOHNSON: I think you're right. He's the perfect accomplice in sowing this dissension, unwitting accomplice.
BADE: Yes, we've also seen the White house say blame Democrats and actually the press --
HENDERSON: Yes, Hogan Gidley, right.
BADE: Exactly. And saying, look, the press is continuing to cover this, you know, Russia controversy, Democrats are accusing me of collusion. It's their fault. They're continuing to sow dissent.
But on Capitol Hill, looking at these indictments, looking at this document that the DOJ put out, there's going to be a lot of concern in the next couple weeks about the midterm election.
BADE: You know, Congress passed a few weeks ago additional sanctions on Russia and the White House chose not to impose them. That -- there's going to be a huge ramp up in pressure on the hill for the White House to do something -- for Trump to address this. HENDERSON: And you had intelligence officials on the Capitol Hill
talking about this the idea that Russia is very likely already meddling and certainly prepared for 2018 in November.
Here's what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSENSTEIN: There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: That's the wrong clip there. We wanted to go to Senate Intel Committee hearing where they were talking about Russia in the -- OK, here it is. They've got it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Director Pompeo, have you seen Russian activity in the lead-up to the 2018 election cycle?
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: Yes, we have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here.
HEINRICH: Director Coats?
[08:25:01] DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yes, we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: And, Karoun, the question, what are they doing about it and how is Trump leading or not leading on this issue?
DEMIRJIAN: Yes. I mean, that's kind of the thing. We are within the zone right now, the strike zone for 2018. Sanctions aren't going to do anything to stop whatever Russia has planned for 2018. It's already under way, whatever it is.
And you have got a few Democrats putting out like a task force report of recommendations, definitely the intelligence community testifying at that worldwide threats hearing saying, you should be worried about this. But the committees are in gridlock. They're not done with their investigations. They might put out recommendations of the next few weeks of things you could do.
But what are recommendations without money behind them? And also, how do you roll that out before the primaries start next month in some states? It's -- we're behind the eight ball. We're a little asleep at the wheel for this cycle.
HENDERSON: Yes, deja vu all over again. Up next, conflicting timeline about what the White House new about Rob Porter and when they knew it.
[08:30:21] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: Welcome back.
What a week it was for this administration. Even for a White House used to bad headlines this past week offered some of the worst.
On Friday this from "The New Yorker", "Donald Trump, a Playboy model and a system for concealing infidelity". On Tuesday from the "New York Times", Michael D. Cohen, Trump's longtime lawyer says he paid adult film star Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket.
Also Tuesday this headline from CNN, "FBI director contradicts White House's Porter timeline." The former White House aide is accused by two ex-wives of domestic assault and abuse and the White House is facing continued scrutiny over why top Trump aides defended Porter and kept him in his top level job even after the allegations were known to White House officials.
On Tuesday the FBI director debunked the White House's time line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March. And then a completed background investigation in late July that is soon thereafter we received request for follow-up inquiry and we did the follow-up and provided that information in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: But top White House aides initially stood by Porter and claimed that many didn't know about the allegations until media reports. Porter, of course, resigned on February 7th with the President offering him praise. It took a week after Porter's resignation for the President to say this on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that. I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So now you hear it but you all know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Eliana -- the White House can't seem to get past the Porter scandal. They bungled the initial reaction to it and you wonder what the lasting impact this is going to be for this White House particularly being tone deaf on the issue of domestic violence?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, you know, it was actually the Florida school shooting that took the heat off the White House for the Porter scandal, the attention off the White House. I think there are a couple points to make.
The first is the inept handling of this really allowed this scandal to spread from a single White House aide and it reverberated around the entire White House. This is a scandal that the President really didn't have a lot of responsibility for but it reverberated from the one aide Rob Porter to the chief of staff John Kelly to the communication staff which was then caught saying things that weren't true to the President who then poorly-messaged it and it managed to touch sort of every corner of the White House.
Clearly the White House was tone deaf on this but also didn't seem to have its message straight and sort of mishandled it in every way possible. That's one lasting effect is, I think, the White House is realizing it's going to have to get its story straight. And this wasn't the President who bungled the truth though he is known for that, it was his chief-of-staff.
The second is the issue of security clearances that I think is going to have a real lasting effect. It became clear during the past week that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of White House aides working on interim security clearances including presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. I think Rob Porter was case in point about how aides working on these clearances can really come to bite the White House in the butt.
HENDERSON: And John Kelly, the chief-of-staff -- embattled chief-of- staff -- in some ways put out this five-page memo. And this is part of what he said on Friday in that memo.
"The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted, especially those who work closely with the President or handle sensitive national security information. We should and in the future must do better."
Michael -- you wrote about this memo. The memo seems to suggest that the system itself is broken, another sort of, I think, takeaway might be that it's broken under this administration.
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well yes, that's right. I spent much of the week talking to people who are familiar with the clearance process and as it's worked under previous presidents.
[08:34:56] You know, everybody that I talked to expressed amazement that such things as the Rob Porter case could sort of slip through because there have been processes set up -- very detailed processes for that kind of information, you know, getting from the FBI to the security office at the White House and then on to the more senior aides and the counsel's office and the chief of staff's office.
So you know, the memo that General Kelly put out, you know, acknowledges that they need to do better and says that they're going to make a bunch of changes. But it doesn't really do whatever everybody has been clamoring for which is to say, lay out the time line of how this particular case happened and where the breakdowns are.
I think we still don't have the full and complete story about who knew? Did the White House counsel's office know? Did anybody in the chief-of-staff's office know? Joe Hagen a former Bush administration senior official, who's now the deputy chief-of-staff in the Trump White House, it's his sort of area that this all falls under -- did he know?
And so, you know, I still think that, you know, as much as they were trying to sort of put this to bed with this memo and say hey, we're going to make these changes --
SHEAR: -- still, it is still very much an open question --
HENDERSON: Still a lot of questions.
SHEAR: -- and, you know, as -- you know, as we noted the Jared Kushner thing is a big deal because this is the President's son-in-law and his -- the question of his clearance is still --
HENDERSON: Still an open one.
SHEAR: -- very much in the open.
HENDERSON: I want to pivot and this is a bit of an odd pivot but in this theme of bad headlines, other bad headlines from the "New Yorker" and these claims that the President essentially has secrets to hide. And here is the reporter Ronan Farrow who broke this story about the President's alleged relationship with a Playboy playmate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONAN FARROW, "THE NEW YORKER": These infidelities and the efforts subsequently to conceal the infidelities were very much entwined in Donald Trump's business operations, his professional events and his professional contacts. This story suggests a concerted effort and indeed a well-oiled machine designed to conceal this, both during and after the fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Talk about a topic that Republicans don't want to touch.
No, I think that that's something from my perch on Capitol Hill, you know, a lot of people are reading these stories and, you know, eyebrows are very much being raised.
I think when we go back to Porter we're going to see the Hill dig in more. And the reason, you know, people are asking questions about the timeline who knew what when and what did they do, Trey Gowdy the House Oversight Chairman who has announced he's retiring, doesn't have anything to lose as a Republican, doesn't have to run for office again. He has said he's going to be investigating this and has asked for documents, he's asking for interviews. We could see Don McGahn, the White House counsel be in big trouble on this. So I do think this is not over.
HENDERSON: Right. These are stories that are not going to go away.
BADE: Exactly. Right.
HENDERSON: Next the bipartisan proposal for immigration fails in the Senate but Trump backed plan gets even less support. The next steps for reform and what it means for the dreamers.
[08:37:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HENDERSON: Lawmakers gave themselves a week to hammer out some sort of immigration deal that could end up getting 60 votes in the Senate. The debate lasted about an hour give or take a couple minutes and not one of the four proposals to protect DACA recipients or provide funding for Trump's border wall got enough votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: There's only one reason why the Senate will be unable to reach a bipartisan solution to DACA -- President Trump.
President Trump created this problem by terminating the DACA program last August. Since that decision, President Trump has stood in the way of every single proposal that could become law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: The Trump-backed plan got just 39 yes votes with 14 Republicans voting against it and a bipartisan proposal did a little better with 54 yes votes even after the White House threw down a veto threat. The Department of Homeland Security had its own take saying the deal would turn the country into a sanctuary nation.
Trump also weighed in calling the plan a total catastrophe and on Friday, he said it was clear who was to blame, tweeting, "Cannot believe how badly DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats, totally abandoned. Republicans are still working hard."
Rachael, are they still working hard, Republicans on this, or is this a dead deal at this point?
BADE: They're very much stalled out right now, of course. The President wants to blame Democrats for this. But the truth is, as you mentioned, his proposal only got 39 votes. There was a bipartisan proposal to give a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers in exchange for $25 billion worth of border security, a wall with Mexico. That is a big concession for Trump and if he took that and ran with it, he could say I, you know, checked off a huge campaign promise.
But he's not doing that. And so unless the White House is willing to compromise more, this is going to go nowhere fast.
HENDERSON: And Michael -- what's your sense of what the White House is actually willing to do at this point on this, if anything?
SHEAR: Well look, there's lots of really conservative hard line anti- immigration voices inside the White House that are whispering into Trump's ear. And so, you know, the idea that, as Rachael said, that there would be more compromise by the White House -- they think they've compromised as much as they're going to go.
Put me down as a skeptic. The issue of immigration is sort of like Lucy and the football where --
SHEAR: -- you know, every few years there's a big effort in Capitol Hill. Last time it was 2013 and before that it was 2007 --
JOHNSON: Similar to gun control --
SHEAR: It's similar to gun control and every so often we get this sort of spurt of optimism that this is going to be the moment and then the football gets taken away and we go on again. And I think there's nothing, you know, kind of in the immediate future that suggests anything different.
HENDERSON: And we heard from some Republicans on the Hill. Here's what they had to say after this failed in the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I'm ready to move on. I don't want to hear that we need to devote more time to the amnesty issue.
[08:45:00] If I thought people were in good faith, I would be willing to do that. This was all about posturing for the 2018 midterm elections.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The immigration demagogues win again on the left and the right. The only way I see a solution is for the President to grab the reins back and lead himself and get Democrats and Republicans in a room, focusing on strong border security and a fair solution for DACA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDERSON: Karoun -- there is a deadline coming up on this, March 5th.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's right, although there's court orders that are actually pushing out that deadline. HENDERSON: Yes.
DEMIRJIAN: And look, at this point there's Republicans and people in Capitol Hill who are trying to look at the omnibus that's coming up in late March, March 23 --
HENDERSON: March 23rd -- right.
DEMIRJIAN: -- which would miss that March 5th deadline but that March 5th deadline isn't really a real deadline. They're trying to talk about putting in some sort of extension to DACA that would be very interesting that one of the senators I was talking to said, three years or more which takes you to, what happens in three years, it's the next election cycle.
So maybe that's a way of getting around President Trump -- unclear. But the fact that they're looking at a way to kind of jam this into something that you can't really veto, you can't really, you know, get around is just an indication that there is panic around this.
They don't want it to go away but they don't have a way of doing this in a comprehensive independent way.
HENDERSON: It's classic moves by Congress unable to act unless there's real, real pressure so we'll see what happens with that.
Up next, a taste of tomorrow's headlines today including House Speaker Ryan's popularity contest and how it's splitting the House into factions.
[08:46:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HENDERSON: Each Sunday we share a glimpse of the tips that reporters are hearing from their sources, stories that could become the big headlines in the week ahead.
Michael -- we'll start with you.
SHEAR: Sure. So it's easy to forget amid Russia and security clearance issues and everything else that the issue of conflicts of interest between this president and the business that he built before he became president are still around. And to that end, I recommend an article by a couple of my colleagues in the paper today which describes a trip that Donald Trump Jr. is going to be taking to India this coming week to help sell million-dollar plus condos and apartments that the Trump Organization has partnered with some local business interests in India.
And of course the Trump name is part of what is selling these condos, these high end condos in these fancy buildings even as the Trump administration is doing foreign policy that effects India and Pakistan and the region. And so it's a reminder that as we move forward that issue is still with us and probably will be for the rest of this president's time in office.
HENDERSON: Yes, it'll be interesting to see what comes out of Don, Jr.'s trip.
JOHNSON: I think it's fair to say that John Kelly had his worst week on the job given the crisis surrounding Rob Porter's dismissal from the White House and the lack of clarity and the time line around that.
Nonetheless, Donald Trump has kept him as his chief-of-staff. There's no indication that he's going to be dismissed. And I think we still don't have total clarity into how Kelly has maintained Trump's confidence. And I think that will be key because surely there will be an additional crisis -- or another crisis in the future. But I do think that the details surrounding how Kelly managed to stay on the job are really important and we'll learn those in the coming weeks.
HENDERSON: We'll look for that.
DEMIRJIAN: Well, we learned a lot of new details from the Mueller indictment about how Russian meddling was working. We're also waiting on seeing more details about two other aspects of the Russia story that will come from Capitol Hill.
The first is the memo debate that will not end. The Democrats memo has yet to come out. Adam Schiff is working out exactly what redactions can be passable with the FBI but we could be seeing that very soon.
And in addition, the Senate judiciary committee is sitting on a bunch of transcripts from all of the participants in that Trump Tower meeting except for Kushner and Manafort. Those will be interesting because both the Americans and the Russians that were participating have spoken to that committee.
We will be able to see a lot of details about what, you know, what went on in that very pivotal meeting and that could fill in some of the story as well of what has become really a central focus that goes more towards the coordination, collusion questions perhaps than the meddling questions which is what we saw from the Mueller investigation.
HENDERSON: Investigation continues. Rachael.
BADE: The Speaker Paul Ryan popularity contest is heating up and potentially could boil over, I think, in the next few weeks. We're seeing House Freedom Caucus conservatives agitating against Ryan more so than they have in the past very publicly. A lot of times we heard them grumbling privately.
Mark Meadows, who leads that group, said this week that although they're not talking about a new speaker, they're talking about, quote, "new leadership".
So -- and already there's a pushback about Ryan loyalists are out there trying to defend him. One Alabama Republican, Mike Rogers, told me this week, these people love being on the front page of the paper. They want to be treated like legislative power players but all they are, are legislative terrorists.
So people are trying to defend him already.
HENDERSON: Strong language. And questions about whether he's actually going to run again seems to be still an undecided question. We'll watch for that.
And I'll close with this.
This week, Congress is in recess which means town halls across the country. If you recall last February around this time progressive activists dominated town halls. They created viral moments over health care, immigration and President Trump. And they spotlighted Republican lawmakers who refuse to hold town halls. They even held empty chair town halls.
So what happens this year? Lawmakers with an eye on November have announced roughly 120 town halls around the country. Now, if you talk to some Democrats they privately worry about the so-called resistance and whether or not it's actually flagging and Republicans have expressed optimism more recently as President Trump's numbers have improved and the generic congressional ballot has tightened.
[08:55:08] This week town halls across the country will yet again offer an on the ground snapshot of where the energy is and what the issues are that are driving voters nine months before they go to the polls?
Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. "STATE OF THE UNION" is next with two exclusive interviews.
Dana Bash sits down with Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. She'll chat with him about the Mueller indictment and more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[09:00:04] DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Call for action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are dying every day.
BASH: Teenage anguish and a demand for change after Florida's deadly high school shooting. Will this tragedy --