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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump's Lawyer Calls for End to Russia Probe; AG Sessions Fires Andrew McCabe; Officials Give Update on Deadly Bridge Collapse; Russia Hits Back At U.K. Expelling 23 Diplomats; Trump Lawyer Says Porn Star Violated Agreement, Owes $20 Million; Facebook Suspends Data Research Firm With Ties To Trump. Aired 11-12n ET

Aired March 17, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was seeing something magical happening before my eyes. The doctor told me that we were watching the power of music changing brain chemistry. Playing a musical instrument is like a full-body workout for the brain. The music actually resurrected him.

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VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: To watch Carol and Erwin's full story, go to CNNheroes.com. You can also nominate someone you think should be a 2018 CNN hero.

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BLACKWELL: There is much more ahead in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

We turn it over to Fredricka Whitfield. Good morning -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good to see you -- guys. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day.

We've got a lot going on today on this St. Patrick's Day

It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

NEWSROOM starts right now.

And we begin with this breaking news. Just moments ago, CNN learned that President Trump's attorney is calling for an end to the Russia investigation. This comes just hours after the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is at the White House. So Abby -- help us through all of these new steps.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning -- Fred.

This morning is really a remarkable development, in part because it contradicts everything the White House and the President's lawyers have been saying up until this point, that they want to see this investigation taken to its logical conclusion, which is what they believe will show that the President had nothing to do with any sort of collusion related to Russia.

But now John Dowd, who is the outside attorney for the President on the issue of Russia, has issued a statement to CNN and to some other outlets saying that "I pray the acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to the alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based on a fraudulent and corrupt dossier."

He is referring here to Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, who was fired just last night, a couple days before he was set to retire based on an ongoing investigation into his handling of a completely separate matter. But he's saying that that firing should be a sort of a way in which the President can -- or a way Rosenstein can use it as a template for firing the special counsel Robert Mueller.

That is something that is really well beyond what anybody associated with the President has said. And in response to that now, a source close to the President is walking back what Dowd is saying telling CNN's Evan Perez this morning that Dowd was not at all speaking for the President. He was issuing his own personal beliefs and statements and not reflecting the President's views.

The reason that became an issue is because Dowd originally told another outlet, the daily beast, that he was speaking on behalf of the President. So folks around the President are recognizing how potentially damaging this can be to have the President's outside lawyer suggest that he wants the Mueller investigation to be ended. He wants Rosenstein to fire him.

And that's something that a lot of folks on the hill, especially Republicans, have said the President should absolutely not do. He should not direct people to fire Mueller. This investigation should continue to its conclusion.

So Fred -- it will be interesting to see where this goes and how folks respond to it, but right now, it seems very much that people close to the President are trying to walk it back as quickly as possible.

WHITFIELD: All right. Abby Phillip -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

All of this comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, as Abby was saying, just 26 hours before he planned to retire with full benefits -- McCabe, that is -- after serving more than 20 years at the FBI.

And according to sources, McCabe was accused of misleading internal investigators about his role in directing other FBI officials to speak to the "Wall Street Journal" about his involvement in a public corruption investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

President Trump hailed the move on Twitter -- meaning the firing, that is. "Andrew McCabe fired -- a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI, a great day for democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choir boy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI." End quote -- that from the President of the United States.

Former CIA director John Brennan responded with this tweet saying, "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you." That directed at the President of the United States, that from John Brennan.

CNN Justice Correspondent Laura Jarrett for more on this stunning firing and the fallout that has resulted. So Laura -- McCabe has had a lot to say in a statement about his dismissal. Why?

[11:00:03] LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And he's not holding back -- Fred.

After well over a year of political attacks, McCabe is now breaking his silence on his interactions with the President, how Trump relentlessly heckled him about his wife's purported ties to Hillary Clinton, and perhaps most importantly, telling CNN he never misled Justice Department investigators.

In a statement late last night he said in part, "I'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey."

But the Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a very different explanation of why Andrew McCabe had to be terminated effective immediately. CNN had reported earlier this week that the FBI had recommended his firing based on findings from the inspector general that he misled investigators about his role in approving two other officials at the FBI to talk about that ongoing investigation into the Clinton family foundation back in 2016.

And for the first time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed some of those findings late Friday night, saying in part, "Those internal reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor -- including under oath -- on multiple occasions."

Now, lack of candor is considered simply the death knell at the FBI, but McCabe says he did nothing wrong. And if there were any discrepancies, he proactively reached back to investigators to clear things up. He told us that in an interview.

But those efforts clearly did not work out, Fred, and now he's out of a job with a significant portion of his early retirement benefits likely gone. WHITFIELD: Laura Jarrett -- thank you so much. We'll check back with

you because there's a lot to discuss right now.

Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times" is with me; David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator and "Washington Post" assistant editor; Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES"; and Michael Zeldin, former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department. All right. Good to see you all.

Let's begin with this latest news from Dowd, his statement and whether this was a template for the potential end of the Mueller investigation.

So Michael -- Trump's attorney calls the McCabe firing brilliant and courageous, and says that he hopes Rod Rosenstein follows this example of Jeff Sessions and ends the Mueller probe. The attorney says, of course, he's speaking out on his own behalf.

So there are two things there to tackle. Is he indeed speaking on his own behalf or is this an extension of the sentiment of the President? And does this now serve as a template in the removal or end of the Mueller investigation?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So it's hard to know whether or not Dowd is speaking on his own behalf or on behalf of the President. It's just impossible to figure that out. I expect that if Dowd is speaking on his own behalf, he is reflecting the sentiment of the President. So either way, I think we're getting the view of the President it's time for this investigation to end.

The fact, of course, is that it will not end because Dowd hopes and prays it to be the case because this investigation has a lot of legs under it. And Mueller's subpoenas recently to the Trump Organization and the recent indictments of all the Manafort related crimes shows you that this is not ending anytime soon.

And that this firing of McCabe is by no means a template for anything related to the Mueller investigation. These are apples and oranges matters. And so wishing doesn't make it so.

WHITFIELD: And so, Brian -- is this starting to look like the season finale that we heard being related to the President and this world of the White House as it relates to being almost like a reality show?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I would describe it differently. I would say we're edging closer to that cliff -- that cliff where President Trump could try to have Mueller removed and nobody really knows what happens after that point.

But I do think this is an extraordinary statement by John Dowd. We should take it on its face. Whether or not he said it for the President or not, he's the President's lawyer. His entire job is to represent the President. That's his entire job.

So either President Trump needs to get a new lawyer or John Dowd was trying to send a message today. I think it's pretty clear, we all know what's going on, right. They're trying to have it both ways. They put out a shocking, disturbing statement then they try to walk it back 20 minutes later.

I think we all know how this works. We have all seen it before. But I do think it makes it clear, we're edging closer to that cliff where Robert Mueller is investigating both crimes and cover-ups. That's what he's doing.

He's trying to find out who committed what crimes before Election Day and who tried to cover it up after Election Day. Anyone who tries to stop him from investigating those crimes should be under suspicion. And that's why it feels like we're edging closer to that cliff right now -- Fred.

[11:10:07] WHITFIELD: So David --

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

WHITFIELD: -- how is it that John Dowd's words are not an extension, direct extension of the President?

SWERDLICK: Yes, good morning -- Fred and Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Yes, what Brian said is exactly right. How is it that the White House's position at this moment is that the President's lawyer does not speak on behalf of the President, with regard to matters related to the President? It's preposterous.

And if you look at the chain of events going back to last night -- look, we're going to talk about McCabe, I know, and there is a question about whether McCabe did or did not mislead investigators. But in terms of the timing, you have in rapid succession McCabe being fired rather than being allowed to just resign and collect his pension.

Then the President is ready with a very detailed and specific McCabe/Comey related tweet just in the hours to follow. And then this morning, the lawyer is out there saying, time to wrap up this investigation, special counsel, nothing to see here. Let's move on, America.

It really is not -- at a minimum, this is not the way this should be handled.

WHITFIELD: And then Lynn, remember, in all of this, the Russia investigation, Mueller, we have heard about this mosaic and we've talked about pieces. And when you think of what John Dowd has said, you think of the firing last night, this abrupt firing just hours before, you know, full benefits, pensions were to kick in. And then earlier in the week, the House Intel Committee saying no more questions asked, you know, about the investigation. It really should be over.

I mean, is this just laying of the groundwork that we have seen all week long for perhaps this potential pivotal moment? LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, it's

laying a groundwork, but to what end? If this is -- if anything that the Trump team has done is aimed at ending the investigations of Mueller or on Capitol Hill, all they have done, as we have been discussing, is add more grist.

STELTER: Yes.

SWEET: The e-mail that was sent --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And I'm so sorry -- Lynn. I'm going to have to interrupt you because we now have to go to Dade County, south Florida, where the mayor there is speaking as it relates to the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse. Let's listen in.

(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT)

MAURICE KEMP, DEPUTY MAYOR, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: -- condolences for the victims and their families on his behalf and as well as mine.

I stated yesterday that our primary goal was to remove all of the cars and all of the victims from this accident in a dignified and respectful manner. And that's what we have been doing.

We've worked through the night, and we will continue to work until the last car and the last victim has been removed.

Earlier this morning, we removed two cars. And we are going to continue that work. We suspect -- we hope to continue that part of the process today -- to finish that part of the process today.

After that phase is done, we will do the parallel investigations, at least the on-the-road part of the parallel investigates as quickly as possible and we will then expedite the removal of the rubbish to the best extent possible so that we can open this valuable roadway.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions after we're done. Thank you.

JUAN PEREZ, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good morning. My name is Juan Perez, the director of the Miami-Dade police department.

I just want to provide you with a quick update of where we're at so far with the recovery of the bodies of these victims that are still underneath the bridge. Earlier this morning, finally our crews that were assisting us in this process were successful after hours and hours of incredible work that they have been doing, were successful in removing two vehicles from under that rubbish.

What I can tell you right now is we have discovered three bodies within those two vehicles. As the process moves forward, every time that we remove a body, a victim within the vehicles, the vehicle with the victims inside are being transferred to the medical examiner's office. And that's where the bodies will be removed from the vehicle and identified so that we can have 100 percent confirmation as to their identity so we can bring some closure to the families.

We obviously have an idea of who is in the vehicles and who those three individuals are. We have our chaplains and our victim advocates plugged in to those families as this process continues. And hopefully later this morning we'll be able to give them confirmation, 100 percent confirmation, that their victims have been recovered from this tragedy.

Currently, we are working on the removal of two more vehicles. We're trying to accomplish those simultaneously, but we're going to try to move the vehicles out of the way and proceed throughout the day.

[11:14:55] We're hopeful that within the next 12 hours or so, we will have completed the mission, but no guarantees. It's going to be a long process. We have been saying that from the beginning because of the amount of weight and the size of the structure that is laying on top of these vehicles.

You know, we're trying to do this also to salvage as much as possible of these vehicles, and obviously out of respect for the victims that are in there. So our personnel are doing this very carefully.

The other part of it is, as these individuals, these victims are being brought out, we're paying them respect with a moment of silence, and we have our chaplains plugged into that process as well. And they're being escorted to the medical examiner's office so that the victims can have some dignity as they're transferred from location to location prior to the families gaining control of them.

That's all we have at this moment. I'm not going to touch on the investigation, which is parallel investigation that NTSB has. I think they're the perfect source and the right source to provide you with information as to what they're finding throughout their process. Thank you.

(END OF LIVE EVENT)

WHITFIELD: We have been listening to the director of Miami-Dade police as well as the deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County there talk about the removal, the perilous, painstaking task of the removal of vehicles under that collapsed pedestrian bridge in south Florida near the FIU campus. And they're still trying to identify victims as well.

We'll keep you posted as we get more information there -- painstaking, heartbreaking for all involved there.

And when we come back, we'll resume our conversation about the sudden firing of the former deputy director of the FBI.

We'll be right back.

[11:16:42] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're following breaking news that President Trump's personal attorney is calling for an end to the Mueller investigation. Of course, this is on the heels of the firing last night of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

Let me bring back my panel now. With me again -- Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times"; David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator; Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent; and Michael Zeldin, former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department.

All right. So back to you, Lynn -- because I had to interrupt your reply earlier -- so is the firing of Andrew McCabe a prelude to the potential end to the Mueller investigation?

SWEET: I would say now, it's only adding more to the perpetuation of the investigation. I think the events of these last chaotic hours will only add more grist for the Mueller probe to look at this e-mail that was sent. Even President Trump's own tweet this morning, where I think he said something a little disputable, that this helps democracy with the firing of McCabe. All this speaks to what Trump's trying to do.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And here's the President's tweet right now. Here's the tweet right now from the President. "Andrew McCabe fired -- a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI; a great day for democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choir boy."

Now finish your thought.

SWEET: My thought is that one of the issues out there the President knows or should know, that's a lawyer term, or his attorney Dowd knows or should know, is that when you go to an obstruction of justice charge, you might not want to be writing things down that could lead to people questioning you -- why are you so gleeful about the firing of somebody who just put out in his own statement that he was fired because he knows things about Comey which is central to an obstruction charge and what you're trying to do with it.

So no, this does not make the end of the probe closer. I think it only prolongs it.

WHITFIELD: Right. So then, Michael -- this now piques the interest, right, of Mueller because this by way of this tweet, it looks really personal.

ZELDIN: Absolutely. And it looks like a continuation of the pattern of the White House intervening in DOJ matters. In this case, a DOJ internal matter with respect to the punishment that's appropriate to Andrew McCabe. But it's a continuation of the White House not respecting the lines between it and the Department of Justice with respect to ongoing investigations. And when you have a witness who is Andrew McCabe, who is prepared to testify about the firing of Comey and perhaps the conversation in the White House Oval Office about letting the Flynn investigation go, and you're interfering with that witness's testimony, Mueller has to look at that as part of the pattern of obstructive behavior, as Lynn indicated.

The other thing I wanted to make mention of is, with respect to Dowd, this is the second time that Dowd has gotten out in front of the President or with the President, and then the President walking it back and we don't know which one it is.

Remember, he was the one who put out the statement that the FBI knew of the lies of Flynn, and that was one of the bases for the firing, and then they tried to walk that back. So there's a lot of confusion between what Dowd says and what the White House tries to walk back from it.

We don't know whether it's orchestrated and then, as indicated earlier, and then a purposeful walk-back, or there is just confusion between the two sides there.

WHITFIELD: And then David -- who wouldn't see that Sessions' firing of McCabe, you know, is the consequence or a direct correlation between the manipulation, you know, by the President of the United States, that he is carrying out the President's wishes to perhaps undercut the investigation or whatever is coming next?

SWERDLICK: A couple things -- Fred. First of all, you know, a lot of people have been saying since last night that the IG's office at the Department of Justice is nonpartisan.

[11:25:00] and so we have to know a little more about what their specific findings were before we can know the underlying facts about whether or not this was a justified firing of McCabe.

The problem I think with Sessions is that he at an earlier stage has said he was recusing himself from all matters related to the Presidential election involving Trump and Clinton, and this does touch the Presidential election.

Fred -- if I could just quickly fact check myself from before the commercial, I think I may have suggested that McCabe stood to lose his pension. He isn't going to potentially lose his pension, but he won't be able to collect it right away, starting with his birthday tomorrow. Just wanted to clear that up.

WHITFIELD: And perhaps there may be some legal recourse. If we have more time, Michael -- I would love to ask about that but maybe the next time we see each other.

But Brian, to you -- so the President, you know, tweeted back in December. He kind of, you know, teased, dangling the carrot of oh, McCabe, your retirement in 90 days or so from now. so via tweet, television, or perhaps even these statements there's a lot of transparency, so to speak, but does it offer any clarity or is it only provoking more questions?

STELTER: You know, there are times the President tweets something, says it publicly, loudly, proudly, that if he said it privately, secretly, it would be an enormous scandal. The President has repeatedly suggested that the Russia investigation is a hoax or that pieces of it are a hoax.

If he had said some of these things in private, it would be an enormous scandal. When he says it publicly, I think some Americans sometimes shrug, even when he's saying very unusual things that go against the norms of an American presidency.

You know, I think we should keep in mind, just two days ago, three days ago the "New York Times" reported and CNN confirmer, other outlets confirmed that Mueller's investigation has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents.

You think about it this way. Mueller, at first he was knocking on a locked door. At this point, Mueller has the keys. He's opening the door. And by all accounts from all the leaks we have heard from the White House, the President is more and more enraged by how close Mueller is getting to his inner circle, to his family, to his closest confidantes.

So with that in mind, you have to view this John Dowd statement in that context, that Mueller is getting closer and closer.

What was it last week that Sam Nunberg said? Sam Nunberg said that he does think the President is in serious trouble with regards to the Mueller investigation -- that they have something on the President.

So you look at this statement from John Dowd. He might claim now that he's freelancing, that he wasn't speaking for the President, but he may be trying to please the boss, to satisfy the boss, President Trump, to say what Trump wants to say. And that is why I think the statement is so extraordinary.

WHITFIELD: All of it is extraordinary.

All right. Thank you so much to all of you. Brian Stelter, Michael Zeldin, David Swerdlick, Lynn Sweet -- appreciate it.

See you soon.

ZELDIN: Thanks -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Also, coming up -- Russia hits back at the U.K. after Prime Minister Theresa May kicks nearly two dozen Russian diplomats out of the country. How the poisoning of a former Russian spy led to this diplomatic tit for tat, next.

[11:27:51] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:23]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says her government is considering its next move in an escalating diplomatic war with Russia. She's reacting to Russia's expelling of 23 British diplomats and closing both a U.K.-controlled consulate and culture center.

Moscow's move was in retaliation for the U.K. kicking out 23 Russian diplomats following a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the south of England. The United States, France, and Germany have also joined Britain in blaming Russia for that attack.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us. So, Matthew, this feels like we're back into the old cold war days. Could this tit for tat series of expulsions keep escalating?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly has that potential, hasn't it, because Theresa May, the British prime minister, has already said that she's going to consider what her next move or her government's next moves are in the days ahead.

She's going to be consulting with her allies including the United States. And Russia, when it announced the expulsion of the 23 British diplomats and the closure of the British consulate in St. Petersburg as well as the closure of the British Council, which is a subcultural exchange -- education exchange institute in various cities across Russia, the announcement of that closure as well.

It also said that it reserves the right to introduce other retaliatory measures in case of what it calls further unfriendly actions. Remember, the Russians say they were simply responding to the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats by Britain, and what they say are unproven accusations that the Russian state was behind that nerve agent attack on the streets of Salisbury in Southern England. So yes, certainly, the potential for this to escalate is very real.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

I want to bring in now Congressman Ted Yoho, a Republican from Florida and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Good to see you, Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: In your view, is this enough to send a message to Russia that conducting assassinations on foreign soil won't be tolerated, that the U.S. is now kicking in sanctions?

YOHO: I think this is the beginning of what you're going to see more ramped up. This is the beginning of that. This is intolerable actions by Russia and they have to be told that nobody is going to accept this around the world.

WHITFIELD: So, months after that near unanimous vote in Congress to sanction Russia over its meddling in the 2016 elections, the White House now finally implements those sanctions. So, why now, in your view? Is it directly related to that poisoning or something else?

[11:35:05] YOHO: I think what you're seeing is an escalation. I mean, sanctions started back in June and they have been ramping up and the weapon sales to the Ukraine was a strong force showing Russia we're not going to tolerate their indiscretions and it's going to keep ramping up, is the prediction I make and I think you'll see that. We have a lot of talks on foreign affairs about what Russia has been doing, and I believe that you will see more to come.

WHITFIELD: OK, let's switch gears now to that stunning firing, stunning is the view of many people, the firing of the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late last night. A short time ago, former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted this out. The message was to the president.

Saying, "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you." What's your view to that point of view?

YOHO: Well, you know, I just saw that tweet just now. You know, let this play out the way it's supposed to. What McCabe did was certainly unethical. It was wrong. He broke the law. He lied under oath, and he needs to go. You know, nobody likes to fire anybody, but when they do bad like that, it's time for them to go.

WHITFIELD: Except that we don't publicly -- except, sorry to interrupt, but except publicly, we don't know the details of the inspector general's report, so we don't really know all that is supporting the firing. But in terms of the timing, do you feel like the interpretation becomes it's political? The circumstances of his firing, just hours, you know, within the same weekend of what would be his full pension, full benefits as a result of his 21 years in service?

YOHO: You know, people say he's going to lose everything. I doubt he'll lose everything. I think the best thing is to get him out of there. Again, why is he being removed? He's being removed because he lied under oath. I've had an opportunity to read some stuff you probably haven't. He needs to go.

WHITFIELD: OK. What do you think is next? Do you believe that that decision will be challenged? Can be challenged by McCabe or those who -- those who are in dispute of the circumstances of the firing?

YOHO: I'm sure it will be disputed. I mean, any time a federal employee gets removed, there's a whole process that they go through. So, there's no doubt there will be disputes and lawsuits and, you know, that will work its way through the system. The important thing is get somebody out of the American government with an agency like the FBI that needs to change the narrative in the FBI.

The FBI does a great job overall, but too many times we have people that are doing bad things that taints the whole organization. You have to get those people out. There's never a good time to fire them, but when row find out and have the information, let's get them out so we can get people back in there who will hold up the integrity and character of the FBI agents doing an awesome job.

WHITFIELD: And what's your opinion of Trump's attorney, John Dowd, weighing in and saying that the firing, sessions firing of McCabe should be followed or be used as a template for Rod Rosenstein as it pertains to the Mueller investigation? What do you read into that?

YOHO: I just heard about that on the way here. I was stuck in traffic and heard about this. You know, I can't even comment on that. I don't want to go into that. I think, again --

WHITFIELD: Is it an appropriate statement to make?

YOHO: Again, I don't know what context he made that under.

WHITFIELD: Should I read it really quick?

YOHO: Yes, go ahead.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, this is the statement saying, "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to the alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss, James Comey, based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier.

YOHO: Well, I think that's what we all hope that will happen is that this comes to an end. You know, the Intelligence Committee came out and said there was no collusion. And you know, I'm going to just wait right there and not say any more about that.

WHITFIELD: OK. Thanks so much for your candor and your time. Congressman Ted Yoho, appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, President Trump's attorneys claim Stormy Daniels could owe some $20 million for talking about her alleged affair. How Daniels' team is now responding and what a move to federal court could mean, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:44:27]

WHITFIELD: A porn star and the president now locked in a legal battle that could be heading to federal court. Attorneys for President Trump and Michael Cohen claim Stormy Daniels who says she had an affair with President Trump violated her nondisclosure agreement and they're now seeking $20 million in damages.

Daniels' attorney reacting to the news, tweeting this, "The fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20 million in bogus damages against a private citizen who is only trying to tell the public what really happened is remarkable. Likely unprecedented in our history. We're not going away, and we will not be intimidated."

CNN's Sara Sidner joining me right now. So, Sara, why do Trump's attorneys want to move this case to federal court?

[11:45:12] SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are arguing that there was a non-disparagement agreement. They say that Stormy Daniels broke that agreement and that the $20 million is something that was laid out in the agreement, for each and every time she violated the agreement, the non-disparagement agreement said she would pay a million dollars for each violation. And they're saying clearly that they believe she violated it 20 times.

Now, as to why they're trying to move this case from state court here in California to federal court, it remains to be seen, but it is remarkable that the president of the United States for the very first time has joined the legal action in the Stormy Daniels case.

Up until now, we have heard only from his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and from the White House that Donald Trump had nothing to do with any of this non-disparagement agreement back in 2016, that he knew nothing about it, that he knew nothing about the $130,000 that was paid to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, in what is being described as hush money.

And that there was no absolutely no relationship or affair between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels. Now, as for how Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney, sees this move by President Trump's attorney, let's let you hear it. He talked to MSNBC this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: I think that's the plan by the president and Mr. Cohen. That's exactly what they want to do. They want to have this adjudicated or decided in a conference room in a locked, secure building outside the purview of the public so that the public cannot view the evidence and the facts and learn about what really happened here. I mean, they are trying to hide the facts and the truth from the public. It is clear as day. It is part of the process by which they want to muzzle my client.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: Now, we have also learned who the attorney now is in this case for president Trump. It's Charles Harder. You may remember him. He also represented Melania Trump in her case against a news organization after they published some information on her that was disparaging, and they won that case -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sara Sidner, thank you so much for that. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:57]

WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. It's probably one of your favorite guilty pleasures on Facebook besides scrolling through pictures of your friends or kids watching cat videos perhaps. I'm talking about those personality quizzes. They seem pretty harmless, right?

Well, now, a data firm associated with the Trump campaign has been suspended by Facebook after reportedly using information from those quizzes without permission to target voters.

CNN's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, joining me now from New York. So, Brian, there are a lot of layers to this story. So, walk us through it all.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The "New York Times" here in New York and "The Observer" newspaper in the U.K. have investigated this company, and as soon as these stories were about to come out, Facebook went ahead and suspend the company involved.

I'll try to explain it as simply as I can, Fred. You were talking about those personality quizzes. We've all sign them on Facebook. They were popular for a while. A professor associated with Cambridge University set up one of these apps that does these quizzes.

He used the quiz to harvest data about users of Facebook and all of their friends. So, by doing that, he was able to get information, data, on tens of millions of Facebook users. This happened a few years ago. Then he transferred the data over to a company called Cambridge Analytica.

Now, that's a controversial political consulting company that swoops in and promises to create really detailed profiles of voters in order to target them in very detailed ways. This is essentially the new frontier of political campaigns, right?

You bring in data firms who promise they know voters in really detailed ways. Then you tell those voters exactly what you want to hear. That's partly why the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica as part of the data operation before election day.

So, Cambridge is alleged to have used all this data from tens of millions of Facebook users in a way that the company now says was improper. Here's the statement from the Facebook VP. They put this out on Friday night, maybe trying to bury the news before this "New York Times" investigation came out.

Facebook now says, "We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people's information. We will take whatever steps are required to see that this happens. We will take legal action if necessary to hold them responsible and accountable for any unlawful behavior."

Now, a couple of bottom line facts here, we don't know how much this Facebook data helped or didn't help the Trump campaign. There's been disputes about that ever since election day, about how important this Cambridge Analytica company was to helping Trump get elected.

What we do know is this is another black eye for Facebook and for these consulting companies that are trying to use this data to target all of us as voters. WHITFIELD: But is it a new frontier for, say, Facebook, to try to weed out, find, search, any of these companies that they believe might be manipulating information like this, you know, unbeknownst to Facebook customers?

STELTER: Exactly. Facebook said they are trying to do the right thing. But, Fred, I'm sure somebody is coming up with an even better way to do this for the next election.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there. Brian Stelter, thank you so much. We've got more straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:10]

WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Saturday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're following breaking news in --