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Single Winning Ticket Sold In Wisconsin For $768 Million Powerball; Trump Announces FBI And Justice Department Probe Of Jussie Smollett; Now: Devos Faces Lawmakers And Proposed Cuts Of Special Olympics; WH Official: No fresh Plan On Healthcare; Sen. Jerry Nadler (D) NY Says Barr Won't Commit To Releasing Full Mueller Report; Poll: 75 Percent Of Republicans Want Mueller Report Released To Public; Mueller Report: Russia Still A Threat To U.S. Democracy And Elections. Aired 10-10:30 ET
Aired March 28, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Their heart was racing (ph), realized it wasn't her, realized she had to go to work.
We also spoke to an anonymous source at the Town Hall there who said that it is all anybody is talking about. The odds of winning this jackpot, Jim, one in 292 million.
Now, most people who in do take the cash option, which in this case, $477 million. And also five other numbers, five other tickets match -- six other tickets, I think, matched five balls, so they win a million. Two other people had the Power Play, so they win 2 million. So it's not all over if you didn't win the whole thing.
I have no friends and family in Wisconsin. This ticket matched one number. That's why I'm standing here talking to you. Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Nearly a half a billion dollars, Jesus. Nick Watt, thanks very much. A very lucky person.
Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York. Poppy has the week off. This morning, the President firing off about a case that's frankly stunned the nation and has sparked back lash from Chicago's top officials. President Trump says that the FBI and Justice Department will now review the prosecutor's decision in Chicago to drop all 16 charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. The President is calling the whole thing, quote, outrageous and an embarrassment. Smollett was accused of staging an attack, a racist attack on himself.
CNN Correspondent Ryan Young has been following all of these developments. They are hard to keep up with. Are his legal problems done?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is a great question at this point. I think we are at that moment where we are waiting for the next shoe to drop. And I feel like I say that every day single day now, but at the end of this, around 9:00 this morning Chicago time, we're going to see a courtroom have a proceeding of whether or not the files will be sealed. And maybe we'll learn more information here. Because one of the reasons why I think everyone was able to step up and say the 16 charges were dropped and we'd never find out what police had is because that this case file being sealed.
And, look, these are some of the supplemental police reports in that I have in my hand. And, in fact, there was an order yesterday to the Chicago Police Department to stop putting out some of this information. So everybody is sort of trying to figure out exactly what. But let's just rewind all this back to the very beginning.
Jussie Smollett originally told police that he was attacked by two men. The men showed up with a noose. They had bleach. They poured it on him. They were screaming racial and homophobic slurs at him. You had the nation outraged about this. They also apparently said this is MAGA country, as they ran off. And then police started working this case nonstop. You had 12 detectives working 24/7 to try to figure out who did this.
All the while, you had a reaction from the community and all these people who were very upset about Jussie Smollett apparently being attacked, even people running for president were definitely deciding to weigh in on this.
Well, that all changed about 12 days later when they finally sort of cracked the case. There were two brothers, the Osundairo brothers, who apparently were personal trainers of Jussie Smollett who even appeared on the show, Empire, with him at some point. But they tell police a sorted story. They tell police that this was all a hoax, that Jussie Smollett wanted to get attention for himself. And according to detectives, this all started because Jussie Smollett was upset about his pay.
Well, for the whole time, Smollett has denied all of this. He said this was not a hoax. In fact, listen to his attorney talking this morning about this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA GLANDIAN, JUSSIE SMOLLET'S ATTORNEY: We have nothing to be concerned about because there was nothing on our end to request this, to do anything improper, and to my knowledge, nothing improper was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Yes. So if you think about this, the 16 charges were dropped. We never thought he was going to go to jail. He's a first time -- a potential first time offender. But the case went away. It was an emergency hearing. A lot of people still have questions about this.
But now that we see this Tweet and we've learned the FBI may be looking into this, this sort of changes the whole trajectory of the story.
SCIUTTO: Yes. And then one thing everybody but Smollett and his attorneys agree on is that this allegation was not true, it was a hoax, even the prosecutors. Ryan Young, thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Let's bring in CNN Contributor and National Reporter for The Washington Post, Wes Lowery.
So, Wes, it's not typically the kind of case where you'll have the feds, the Department of Justice jump in and say, okay, let's look at the federal crimes possible here. What can happen next? I mean, the President is clearly pushing for this. Is there potential that he faces federal charges for sending that letter?
WESLEY LOWERY, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. And I think there are some questions about what federal authority even exists here. I think that there are -- and so there are a few different steps, right?
The first is that the feds were already involved because there were these letters, these alleged threatening letters that Jussie Smollett had reported having received. And so the feds were already involved in investigating that, right? And so there was already some federal involvement. That was an investigation that was already happening. It's unclear that the President of the United States has even the authority to tell the FBI to go look at any of this.
And there was also the implication with the timing of the Tweets coming after the prosecution decision to drop the charges. There is the suggestion almost from the President's Tweets that he is trying to get the feds to come in and look at the local prosecutors, and there's a jurisdictional issue there, right? A local prosecutor is allowed to drop charges.
And so there are some questions. And I think think there are two things. There is the legal mechanism, right? And I do think Jussie Smollett could face legal repercussions, especially if it's found that he was somehow involved in these letters that were received, right? There could have been potentially a federal crime committed there.
But beyond that, there is also the political play for the President, right? This is a story that has been extremely divisive that speaks to what his -- based his concerns about the idea of fake hate crimes, which we know almost never happened. And so we understand why the President why might be jumping on something like this.
SCIUTTO: No, no question. I mean, there're so many reasons why it's a political hot button issue there. But next steps right now for Smollett because you also have these brothers who apparently testified to police that it was faked as well, they may very well come out in public. There is nothing to stop them from doing their own kind of celebrity interview now and then contradict Smollett's story.
LOWERY: Of course. I'm really fascinated to hear from these brothers. I'm also, as Ryan was alluding in his report from Chicago, really interested to see if these files and these records end up remaining sealed, right? There's a lot that we don't know in the public yet in terms of about the police investigation, what evidence they have. In fact, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has talked in interviews he did about how there was a lot of evidence and they haven't put out in public yet. Kim Foxx, the prosecutor there, has said that she thinks if this had gone to trial, they would have gotten a conviction hearing.
So there is -- I think Smollett is currently kind of posturing as if we will never know what was here and has stayed rooted kind of rooted in his contention that this really happened. But one of my major questions is how much additional information are we going to find out, we being the public, whether that's from the brothers doing interviews, whether that's from additional leaks from either police and prosecutors now that this is a case that has kind of run its course, but then also from these records, right? There were documents. There was evidence collected. And even if it's never going to go into a courtroom, there is potentially going to be pressure from both the local media, national media and from local officials to get some of that into the public record because people want to know what happened here.
SCIUTTO: Wesley Lowery, thanks very much. We're going to stay on top of this story.
Well, happening right now, President Trump's Education Secretary, Betsy Devos, she is facing -- in fact, she has just walked into the room there, a hearing on Capitol Hill this hour testifying about the agency's budget plan as she came under fire for her proposed $18 million cuts to the Special Olympics. Devos continues to defend the pitch. He argues the Special Olympics do not need federal funding because it can be covered by private contributions.
Ryan Nobles following the latest on Capitol Hill. This is a budget so it is kind of a theoretical document, right, at the end of the day, but just a surprising thing to make a priority to cut, is it not?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think you're right, Jim. And I do think we should put this into context. There was nobody here on Capitol Hill that really expected that at the end of the day, the Special Olympics would be slashed by $18 million. There just was no political will for that to make that happen up here. But I guess the big question here is why the Trump administration chose to make this a priority in their budget package.
And Betsy Devos, the Education Secretary, faced tough questions on this yesterday. She's expected to face even more tough questions about it today. And her argument has been that it is heavily funded by private donations to the tune of more than $100 million, that the federal budget is very tight right now and there just isn't the money to spend on a program like this when it is so well funded by the private sector.
But it's important to point out, Jim, that many lawmakers up here making this point that part of the reason that it is able to garner the amount of support it does in the public is because the federal government is willing to put that initial investment in. So $18 million in federal dollars helps to encourage those private donations to flood in as well because the program is seen as something that is good and positive and is backed by politicians, both republican and democrat.
And it's interesting, Jim, as you mentioned, it has become a political hot button. I was in a conference where Amy Klobuchar, candidate for president, on a completely different topic, and she found an opportunity to bring the Special Olympics up. So this is something we expect Betsy Devos to take some very serious questions about it. And it should be pointed out, Jim, you can't find a republican or democrat here on Capitol Hill who agrees with the President's decision as it relates to the Special Olympics.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, it's hard to imagine what the constituency is for pushing that kind of cut. Ryan Nobles, thanks very much.
Joining me now to discuss all of this, Jackie Kucinich, CNN Political Analyst and Washington Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast. Jackie, good to have you on this morning.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So what's behind this? I mean, what do you have to gain particularly after passing a big tax cut that principally benefitted wealthier Americans?
And that's a point that Senator Bernie Sanders made in his response to this. But what's the gain even if this doesn't end up in the final budget by pushing this kind of cut?
KUCINICH: It's really unclear why they would do this. It's almost comical except we are talking about real money, that why you would go after a program that is so universally beloved including by the -- Roy Blunt, who is the head of the subcommittee that oversees the funding for the Department of Education. He -- there was a reporting that he was actually at the world games for the Special Olympics recently. So this funding isn't going anywhere.
The budget document is usually ignored by the Congress. It definitely will be this year because the House was taken over. The democrats have taken over the House.
So both politically and otherwise, it's puzzling and another thing that has eclipsed on what should have been kind of a victory lap week for this White House.
SCIUTTO: No question. And, listen, as you would expect, democrats looking to make this a political issue, take advantage of it. Listen to the Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy on New Day this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE KENNEDY III (D), M.A.: I have no idea why we would then try to cut this, make these cuts, and to try to blame it on budget cuts in a strict budget environment. The republicans have just passed a tax cut that reduced funding into our coffers. And then to say you don't have the money for Special Olympics or autism funding, it's cruel, it's misguided and it's outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Yes, there is that talking point again. They're saying you have this big tax cut benefitting the wealthy and you're doing this. I mean, it seems like the Trump administration has handed democrats a nice political -- at least for news cycle, but I nice political point here.
KUCINICH: Well, right. And if you step back, republicans, including President Trump, have campaigned about cutting the Department of Education. That's very much in line with sort of the traditional republican platform.
With that said, again, to target a program that is so beneficial to so many people and for an amount of money that's -- I mean, I don't want to be flipped but it is kind of a rounding error when you look at entire the budget. $18 million is not a lot of money when it comes to the federal government.
So it really -- and we're talking about bigger percentages of state programs that are funded in part by federal grants that are affiliated with the Special Olympics. So, again, I think this shocked a lot of people out there.
And the good news is for others who support the Special Olympics is not -- this funding isn't going anywhere.
SCIUTTO: Jackie Kucinich, good to have you on this morning.
SCIUTTO: They did not see that one coming. Some republican lawmakers are blindsided by the President's renewed push to repeal and replace Obamacare. Is it a smart strategy heading into 2020?
Plus, banned by Facebook. The social media giant says it will start blocking all content that praises white nationalism.
[10:17:31] SCIUTTO: If there is no fresh plan, does that mean there is an old one or is there just no plan? Either way, the White House now says they're proposal to replace Obamacare will come sometime this year. Officials and several republican reportedly blindsided when President Trump said, the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down earlier this week.
Joining me now is Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota. Senator Rounds, great to have you on the show again.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), S.D.: Hey, good morning.
SCIUTTO: So let's begin on the healthcare question. As you know, healthcare was a losing issue for republicans in 2018 in the midterms among voters who listed it as their number one concern, 41 percent listing it well above other issues. 75 percent of them back democrats, 23 percent back republicans. I wonder if you are concerned that the President just handed his party a losing issue for 2020.
ROUNDS: No. I don't think we see it that way, although it did surprise us that he came out as strongly as he did, as early as he did with regard to healthcare. We did think he might spend more time basically talking on Mueller. He didn't. He stepped in. He announced his satisfaction with the Mueller report. And then he stepped right back in and he started talking about where we need to move ahead, and he sees healthcare as a real issue. But he sees it as an issue because he doesn't believe that Obamacare is not doing the job. And I happen to agree with him. I like the idea of taking on that challenge.
And we've actually --
SCIUTTO: As you know, you took it on for eight years and couldn't get the votes to replace it. So is there a new plan to do so?
ROUNDS: Look, remember, the democrats had 60 votes available to them when they imposed it to begin with. We haven't had 60 votes available to us. So, number one, we try to work in a bipartisan basis within the framework of what was there. We have been successful in taking some of the parts away from Obamacare. And we've actually tried in the last year, we actually had a proposal that we thought we had bipartisan support on that would have reduced individual premiums between 20 and 40 percent according to the CBO. But it fell apart because, in part, and this is my opinion, because democrats wanted to use it in the election process. And they were successful in doing so.
SCIUTTO: But do you have a plan? Do you have any idea what Marc Short is talking about when he says in months, the White House will reveal a plan?
ROUNDS: I think the President has a great deal of confidence in our ability to develop a plan. I'm looking forward to seeing what the President wants to use for a direction. But I'll tell you this. I'm not afraid to tackle that issue and I don't think republicans are afraid to tackle the issue.
In South -- I'm just going to give you an example real quickly. In South Dakota before Obamacare, we had 17 companies offering group insurance. We had 13 companies offering individual insurance. We actually had guaranteed renewable and we had protection for people with pre-existing conditions. In fact, we actually had kids that could stay on their parents' policies until age 29. Obamacare reduced that to 26. So this is a doable, fixable program. We can do it for less money than what we've got right now. I'm convinced of that.
And along the way, we've got to be talking about prescription drug reductions as well. This is a workable solution. We can do this. I'd love to do it on a bipartisan basis.
SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see if it's possible with split chambers. Let me ask you about the Mueller report, because you bring it up. As you know, your colleagues in the House voted 420 to 0, so all democrats, all republicans, to make the Mueller report the full report, not the summary that we have seen so far public. Why is Mitch McConnell, your majority leader, blocking a vote on that in the Senate?
ROUNDS: Well, have to ask Senator McConnell what his logic is. But I will share this with you. We want to see as much of the report as we can get, but we also want to honor the law. And if there is grand jury information, by law, they can't release that. Secondly, if there are national security interests at stake, then, most certainly, we have to be careful about any classified information that's released.
I want to see as much as possible come out. I think it works to the President's benefit if it does come out. But I think Mr. Barr is correct when he says he does have to work his way through and he's got to make sure that everyone does not violate the law in turning out information that is required to be kept confidential. And second of all, nobody wants to impose any problems for national security purposes. But I'd love to see it, a huge amount of it become public. I think that works in our favor.
SCIUTTO: And most republican voters support that as well.
On Russia, as you know, one thing that was clear from the Mueller report or at least the summary again that we've seen so far is just reestablishing that Russia interfered in this election, in the 2016 election, rather, and no question about that.
As you remember, when we spoke last time, The New York Times had just reported that sanctions on a Kremlin ally who has been implicated in the interference in the election, Oleg Deripaska, he played a role that those sanctions were not as tough as the White House advertised. Now, you voted for lifting those sanctions. But when we last spoke in January, you said that in light of that new information, you were going to take a second look at those sanctions. Did you and did you find any information that made you question your vote?
ROUNDS: Let me lay out two things for you. First of all, I'm going to confirm, absolutely, the Russians tried to interfere in the 2016. They also had fully intended to interfere in 2018. There is a defense science board out in February of 2017 clearly laying out what the cyber attempts were to steal information, not just from the democrats but from the republicans as well. And, in fact, they were successful and then they took that information. They gave it to WikiLeaks who then started to release it.
In 2018, we were successful -- well, let me put it this way. We had -- we were ready for them this time around and it was by no accident that they were stopped from interfering in the 2018 election cycle.
Now, with regard to the information on Mr. Putin's friends and so forth, specifically, the Treasury Department had a series of requirements that they were requiring certain businesses to do in order to have sanctions lifted against the businesses. Those businesses complied with the requests from the department or from the treasury. And, in fact, one of the reasons was that the treasury asked for it because they did not want this particular entity to end up in either Chinese hands or being nationalized by the Russian government.
SCIUTTO: I get that point. But the information showed that he was not complying, that Deripaska, this Putin ally, who helped interfere in the elections was not complying and still maintaining majority control unlike what the White House advertised when it loosened those sanctions.
ROUNDS: According to the most recent information that I have been given, that's not necessarily completely agreed upon. But I will say this. It doesn't mean that any of us have any desire to be less stringent on Mr. Putin or his allies. These people clearly tried to influence the election in 2016 and 2018. They're going to be doing it again. And it's not just in the United States. It's any place where democracy is at.
Mr. Putin wants to try to separate and cause problems. The reason, he doesn't want all the attention based on his failed system of government in Russia. He wants to point out that in democracies, it's not always pretty and he wants to highlight that we have differences of opinion. But what he tries to do is to pit Americans against Americans. He takes both sides and he tries to agitate. He's been successful in the past. Good information going out to the public is one way in which we get people to think twice about some of that misinformation that is being put out on social media.
SCIUTTO: Well, we're on the same page there. It's something I covered for a long time. It's no question, they're going to keep trying.
Senator Rounds, it's good to have you on again.
ROUNDS: Hey, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
SCIUTTO: Okay. Have a good weekend.
Nine House Republicans are demanding the top democrat on the Intelligence Committee step down, saying that Representative Adam Schiff has abused his position just moments ago, the two sides going after each other on Capitol Hill. It's quite a fiery moment. We're going to bring it to you.
[10:30:03] SCIUTTO: This morning, the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee angrily refusing to step down.