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Erin Burnett Outfront

House Intel Republicans: No Evidence of Collusion Between Trump Campaign And Russia; GOP Ends House Russia Probe Without Consulting Dems; Questions Growing Over Betsy DeVos' Competence for Job; Ex-KGB Agent Says Poisoned Spy Was on Russian Hit List; Stormy Daniels Asks for a New Judge in Trump Lawsuit. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 12, 2018 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Breaking news -- Republicans shutting down the House Russia probe saying there's no evidence of collusion, refusing to back what intelligence officials have long said, which is that Russia meddled in the election to help Donald Trump.

Plus Betsy DeVos under fire, the White House watching in disbelief as she fumbled one answer after other. Are her days numbered?

And a Russian spy poison now reports of more people on a Russian hit list. We're going to talk to one man who may be a top target. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight. The breaking news, stunning conclusion -- Republicans on a House Intelligence Committee defying their Democratic counterparts by shutting down the Russia investigation over, the Republicans concluding there is no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Now, let's be clear on this point, the special counsel's investigation which, of course, is still ongoing led by Bob Mueller, still conducting interviews has not come to that conclusion yet. The same can be said about the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr, a Republican, just telling CNN that they have not reached any conclusions on collusion. Now, House Republicans are actually then taking another step further saying Russia did not even wage a campaign to help Trump win the election. This is a finding, of course, which completely contradicts the findings of the United States Intelligence Community.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference to the person running against the person he hated so much. JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: They were trying to damage Hillary Clinton. They thought she was going to be elected. They wanted her bloodied by the time she was going to be inaugurated. And they were also trying to promote the prospects of Mr. Trump.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Then candidate Trump, particularly when he became the nominee, they were attracted to him because they thought that he would be much better for them because he's a deal maker, a negotiator, had been to Russia and importantly would probably not beat them up about human rights abuses. So they clearly favored him.


BURNETT: And Robert Mueller's indictment against 13 Russians, remember that out recently, it recent part, "They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and to support Bernie Sanders and then candidate Donald Trump."

Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT. And Jim, these conclusions from -- obviously this is partisan, right? This is House Intelligence Republicans going completely against what the nation's intelligence agencies concluded. And I know you now have gone back to them. Are they standing by their assessment tonight?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They are indeed standing by their assessment tonight and then now in certain terms. Let me give you their response to this report. It says the following quote. "The Intelligence Community stands by its January 2017 assessment assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. election. We will review the House Intel report findings."

I should say that an intelligence official notes to me as well that this report was prepared not by political appointees, but by career intelligence analysts for the intelligence agencies involved.

In addition to that, I spoke a short time ago to James Clapper. He, of course, was the director of National Intelligence when this report came out. He notes that all four of the senior intelligence officials who were involved in this that they were in agreement on what Russia's intention was here and why is that?

Director Clapper noted that this was based on highly classified intelligence, but also on other things that we know, Erin, that you and I have talked about, that the public has read about many times, things that are just out there in the public.

We know for instance that Russia hacked both Republican and Democratic targets, but only released information damaging to the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. That's part of the mosaic of information that led to this assessment as well as other things.

The assessment that Vladmir Putin had in, in this towards Hillary Clinton thought that she was going to be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump was. And if that helped feed this preference there, I should note that early on the intelligence community assess that the intention was merely to muck things up, right, to cause discord and so on.


SCIUTTO: But then over time, particularly as it became clearer that Donald Trump was a viable candidate, that the intention of this meddling was to help him win as well. And again, reiterated that that was a cross agency, a cross Intel agency judgment here fed not just by the people leading those agencies, but by career professionals who are doing the analysis here and some of it classified information, but some of it out there in the public and that is a question to Republicans of committee, how did they reconcile their finding with the ISIS finding on what Russia's intention was here.

[19:05:04] But, again, that's a very stark and firm response from the office of the director of National Intelligence, which I should note, Erin, is now run by a Trump appointee.

BURNETT: Right, which is -- that's something very significant, right? The Trump appointee not coming out and saying, "Oh, let's just go back on this assessment," which was made by many career analysts who obviously staked their reputations, their credibility on it and that Trump appointee standing by it 100 percent.

OK, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. I know you're going to be back with us.

I want to go to now to a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Tom Rooney of Florida. Congressman Rooney, good to have you back. I appreciate your time.

You are on the show. You called loudly and clearly for the investigation to be shut down. Tonight, do you agree 100 percent with the conclusions of the GOP members of your committee? Trump campaign didn't collude with the Russians and Russians didn't meddle with the intent of helping Trump win.

REP. TOM ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: See that second part there I don't know where you're getting that from. I heard your whole intro there with the reporter and the investigation is ending. We are writing our report based on what we heard over the last year and the scores of witnesses that we've heard. But I'm not quite sure where you've read or where you've seen from my committee that we have concluded that the Russians didn't try to affect our election because that's not at all true.

BURNETT: Well, no, I don't -- it's not saying that. What our reporting is that they didn't try to interfere with the election with the goal of helping Trump win. That's what they're saying your report concludes. Does your report conclude that? In other words, they meddle but not to help Donald Trump.

ROONEY: No, I don't think. I think that it's far more objective than that. First of all, it has not been written completely yet. Obviously we've been writing it as we've been going along over the last year. But over the next 10 days we're going to take input from the Democratic side if they want to give any and we're going to finish this up and wrap it up so they might have some relevance to the next election cycle, which as you know we're already under way with.

But with regards to saying that our finding and our conclusion is that we know for sure that the Russians intention was that they were going to hurt Hillary and help Trump, I don't think that anybody has been saying that so far.

BURNETT: So you're not questioning that conclusion from the intelligence community, you're saying, you tonight, Congressman Rooney?

ROONEY: Not at all. And certainly we've seen a lot of evidence and propaganda over the last year that shows that the Russians were trying to damage Hillary Clinton. We've also seen evidence that is a classified nature that shows that the Russians fully expected her to win and we're holding on to some very damaging evidence of her as well until after the election.

So I just don't know where this conclusion is coming from that we have concluded that we don't see anything that the Russians were --


ROONEY: -- intending to hurt Hillary and help Trump. I think that it's true and I've asked this of multiple witnesses that both things can be true that there was no conclusion -- collusion with Trump's campaign and the Russians, but the Russians were also trying to infiltrate our election cycle with all the things that have been reported.

BURNETT: So just to make sure I understand. Are you then saying, Congressman, that you believe the Russians meddled, which you made it clear you believe they did --

ROONEY: Right, absolutely.

BURNETT: -- with the intention of helping Donald Trump, because I just want to be clear here. The intelligence committee had original -- you said originally that they believed that the Russian intent, right, was to hurt Hillary Clinton. But as it became clear that Donald Trump was a viable candidate, they then took it further. They wanted to explicitly help Donald Trump. So you're saying you do agree, you do concur with that conclusion by the intelligence community which they are standing by tonight.

ROONEY: Yes. I believe that there is evidence of everything that you just said.


ROONEY: But I also believe that there's evidence too where they were trying to wreak havoc on both sides. There was hacking of e-mails on both sides. There was propaganda being put out which, Erin, you know their M.O. is to get onto an issue whether it's Black Lives Matter, the NFL kneeling and completely take both sides of an issue so that we're all fighting with each other and America is coming apart at the scenes. And unfortunately in large part they've been successful at that.

But I don't think that that's a conclusion of our committee. Definitely as you say, I think that they were trying to do those things. But I also think that they were trying to do a lot more as well.

BURNETT: OK. So you think they were trying to do more but they were trying to hurt Hillary and then eventually help Donald Trump.

ROONEY: Absolutely.

BURNETT: OK. When you say no collusion, how are you so confident about that? There are so many reasons, right, to ask this question. Yes, you had a lot of time to look at it. However, Bob Mueller has not yet reached that conclusion.

ROONEY: Right.

BURNETT: Your Senate colleague, Richard Burr, the Republican leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said they have not reached that conclusion tonight.

ROONEY: Right.

BURNETT: Why are you all so confident that you have and you are doing so completely are partisan line?

[19:10:08] ROONEY: I think that we have to go with the facts and the evidence as we've seen down in the committee. And the over 60 witnesses that we've interviewed, the documents that we have reviewed just asking them point blanks to their face, was there any of the things that we're looking at, was there any conclusion, coordination, conspiracy, any of those things over the last year have we been able to find any evidence of that, and we haven't.

Now, I know some of my friends on the other side of aisle say that we can't just take people's testimony at their word --


ROONEY: -- but I think in this system, you have to assume that people are telling the truth. And if it comes out that they were lying, then there's consequences for that. But I think first -- so I'm just going to base on evidence and fact of what we asked, saw of our witnesses. But Mueller and the Senate, who knows, maybe they're finding things that we haven't seen. But we certainly have not seen that.

BURNETT: I just -- my confusion is and I know you're frustration last time we talked was that you felt the whole process has been sort of bastardized. You didn't use that word, but that's the word that sort of summarizes me, right?

ROONEY: Well, it's true. Yes.

BURNETT: And here's the question I have about this, because you use the words we. But obviously the conclusions on your committee or anything but we, right? It's the GOP. The Democrats are now -- you said you got 10 days. You're working on your final memo here.

ROONEY: Right.

BURNETT: Democrats are expected to come out with their own memo saying that they haven't reached that conclusion. Then last month, of course, there were the dueling memos, right, the Nunes memo.


BURNETT: And then Schiff came out with the rebuttal. I mean, aren't the American people the real losers here? And to just put it frankly, your committee has failed to look at this in a bipartisan manner.

ROONEY: Absolutely. I mean, I'm sorry to report that there has been, as I told you last week, a breakdown in all cordiality on that committee. Mr. Schiff said months and months and months ago that there was going to be two reports. And I remember talking to him about that and saying it's unfortunate that we're already putting that out there, that we basically said that we're diverting and this was last year. But that is the reality of the situation where in, Erin. There is going to be two reports.

Now, I have talk to my chairman and there is a hope that over the next 10 days, especially with regard to Russian trying to meddling in future elections, that we can come together and we can agree on some of the recommendations and some of the things that we found that they'll be able -- we'll be able to maybe do a partial bipartisan report at the very least, but I cannot guarantee that at all.

BURNETT: So on that note let me just share with you, there's a statement that's just out -- OK, from Chairman Conaway saying to our Manu Raju, "The bottom line, the Russians did commit active measures against our election in 2016 and we think they will do so in the future." He then continued to tell our Manu Raju that, "We disagree with the narrative they were trying to help Mr. Trump." That's the opposite of what you just told me.

ROONEY: Well, it's not completely the opposite. I think there was effort to try to hurt Hillary and help Trump, but I think that there was also the opposite too. I think that their goal was to create mayhem so that any candidate they want and they did believe that Hillary was going to win was to have that person bloodied and weakened so that they would be able to use that in the future against us.

I think that there is absolutely evidence to show, though, that they were trying to help Trump at some points, but also -- they were also trying to hurt our side as well. There is evidence of both sides.

BURNETT: Are you disappointed, though, that Chairman Conaway is coming out and frankly making this political in the way he's answering the question, right, because he's saying we don't see that. You're saying, yes, we do. We see other things, but I also see that, right? You're giving a very frank assessment. I saw A. I saw B. I saw C. And yes, I saw D. He's trying to say I didn't see D at all. OK, that is not what you're saying.

ROONEY: Yes. Well, those are things we're going to have to obviously clean up over the next 10 days before we issue our report. But I certainly don't believe that there was an intention or belief by the Russians that they were going to do anything other than to completely try to disrupt this election cycle and to continue to do that in the future.

If we don't get this report out in a timely fashion so that our states and the electoral board across the 50 states can try to protect themselves from future engagements, because the one thing that we didn't find was the actually changing numbers in the roles. And if they're able to do that, then our entire Democratic process is turn out (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: I agree with you. I guess that the problem that I'm having here is that your chairman is coming out and saying we disagree with the narrative they were trying to help Trump. That is not what you're saying. It is not what the intelligence committee said. And by trying to take it off the table, frankly, he looks like he's just trying to be incredibly political. That's what it looks like. You don't sound that way, but he does. I have to be honest with you.

ROONEY: Erin, I think that that's impart a response to the fact that, especially with certain elements of media. You're not included. I think you've been very fair.

[19:15:06] I think that there is a narrative out there that says that the whole thing -- the whole purpose of what Russia was trying to do throughout the campaign 100 percent was help to Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. I heard one of you talking -- your people talking there before I came on, I wasn't sure who it was, who basically definitively said that.

Now, the effect of that may have been that it helped him at the polls. The effect of what they did during the propaganda and the Facebook ads and everything else was that it may have netted him some results. But they were also trying to hurt both sides during this entire process. We have a lot of evidence of that as well. So I think both things are true.


ROONEY: I think that certainly he was helped by the Russian propaganda, but I think Russia was just generally trying to hurt everybody. And we've seen --


BURNETT: Right. Until, again, I know -- I just want to be loud and clear about this. Until they then developed this explicit preference for Donald Trump as it said here by the chief of the CIA and the FBI and the NSI and the NSA. And tonight -- ROONEY: Yes.

BURNETT: -- by Trump's chief of the DNI they stand by it. That is the point I'm making.

ROONEY: Yes. But you said that they have an explicit preference for Donald Trump. That is something that I might not --


BURNETT: They developed it. You heard what Jim Sciutto said. Jim Sciutto said at first it was about not liking Hillary Clinton and over time when they realized Trump was a viable candidate they developed a preference for Donald Trump. Which earlier in the interviewer you said, "Yes, I would concur with that timeline and that analysis."

ROONEY: Yes. I mean, I certainly think there's evidence of that. I don't know that necessarily there was a full pledge campaign to do everything that they could to help elect Donald Trump. I think that their goal was chaos.

And -- but to say that we've seen a red evidence to say we got to get Donald Trump in there, I don't know that that's true. I mean, I certainly think that they did not like Hillary, but I also know that they kept very good evidence against Hillary in their back pocket and didn't release it.


BURNETT: So why would you end the investigation now? If you're saying, yes, you have seen evidence of this but it sounds like there's disagreement frankly between Republican on your committee to exactly where it is if the Senate, again, emphasizing, Senate hasn't ended there. Bob Mueller has ended there. Why are you all ending it?

ROONEY: Well, two things, from what I said last week that we've gone completely off the rails and now we're basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news. So we've -- as you alluded to, we've lost all credibility and we're going to issue probably two different reports unfortunately. So in that regard, that is why I called for the investigation end. But if there's anything that we can come together to do to help protect us in 2018, we just had a primary last week in Texas. We've got an election tomorrow in Pennsylvania.


ROONEY: If we don't get any of these recommendations out before this cycle gets fully under way, then we really have just completely wasted a year of everybody's time. So hopefully we can salvage something positive out of it.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time and thank you very much for coming back, Congressman.

ROONEY: Thanks Erin. BURNETT: All right, next we have more breaking news. The deputy attorney general is weighing in on Mueller's Russia probe. We're going to tell you what he said.

Plus, serious question Betsy DeVos' confidence tonight. Should the Secretary of Education be fired? And Stormy Daniels with $130,000 proposition for Donald Trump. Is she now controlling how the scandal is playing out?


[19:22:06] BURNETT: And we're back with our breaking story tonight. House Republicans on the intelligence committee concluding Vladimir Putin did not meddle in the election to help Trump win and in there the chairman saying that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia.

John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel during Watergate joins me along with Mark Preston, our Senior Political Analyst and Jim Sciutto is also back with us.

Mark, pretty interesting what we just saw there. Congressman Rooney coming out and saying, "No, I agree, they did try to help Trump." His own chairman coming out, talking to our Manu Raju saying, "No, they didn't."

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And our report says they didn't.

BURNETT: And they didn't. And now, you know, sort of trying -- he's trying to figure out what's going on here. He's supposedly on the GOP side here.

PRESTON: Right, so it was interesting. What we had up for and our advantage was that House Republicans put together a report, Democrats not consulted. Well, you have to wonder who on that committee from the Republicans was actually consulted. It didn't seem that Congressman Rooney, who is on that committee, has been very outspoken, certainly on your show --


PRESTON: -- about this didn't seem to be consulted and certainly didn't know all the detail of that report.

BURNETT: No. He certainly didn't. I mean, what do you make of that, Jim Sciutto?

SCIUTTO: Well, I'm going to read a quote directly from this draft report that was obtain by our colleague Manu Raju and it says the following in clear plain spoken English. It says that this report shows a concurrence, an agreement with the intelligence community assessment's judgments, except with respect to Putin's supposed preference for candidate Trump. I mean, it says it right there.

And our Manu Raju had an extended conversation with the Republican chairman of the House Committee who repeated this contention a number of times. So either Representative Rooney does not agree with that or didn't read the report or understand what is coming across, but clearly the reports states that--


SCIUTTO: -- and that's what is in direct -- which directly contradicts what was found in the I.C. assessment.

I would just add what I said at the top of the hour, the Intelligence Community, the office of the director of National Intelligence which is now led by a Trump appointee, Dan Coats, stands by that January 2017 assessment which said in equally clear English that it's the U.S. Intelligence Committee's assessment that Vladmir Putin intended to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

BURNETT: What do you make of this, John Dean? I mean, they're not even on the same page with their own party. And obviously you just heard Congressman Rooney admit the committee itself has lost all credibility when it comes to this investigation, and those are his words.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That was a very interesting interview you just had with Representative Rooney. Incidentally there are talking points from Republicans circulating that make the very point that's contrary to Rooney's position as well that Putin had no influence or involvement, whatsoever.

You know, the travesty of all this is these committees once, from their -- almost from their inception for the last three and a half decades have been non-partisan. They were members who were from safe districts who could take on tough issues and could make impartial decisions. Well, Mr. Nunes has taken it a whole other way as has Conaway.

[19:25:08] BURNETT: I mean, Mark, that's what's stunning about this is that Conaway is going head in saying this, because it is just so partisan. It goes against every single analysis that's out there, including the one that Jim points out that Trump's own appointee is supporting and they don't care.

PRESTON: Well, they don't care, you know, and it's also the committee, you know, just this -- let me take a step back on the whole Russia investigation. It is so complicated. There are so many moving parts. And this is just one major part that we're trying to follow.

But of this major part that we're following the investigation, remember, this House Committee was the one that was run by Devin Nunes who was going down to the White House and meeting with the White House to talk about it. This is the same Devin Nunes who was leading the committee that also put a memo out a couple weeks ago --


PRESTON: -- you know, that was found to be contradictory and not to be true to try to bolster the Trump argument as well as to try to tear down some of those in the FBI.

The bottom line is Washington is dysfunctional. Congress is dysfunctional and as John Dean just said there, this is the type of committee where you don't want to see the dysfunction leak into when we have seen a leak.

BURNETT: No. I mean, it's sad and I think Congressman Rooney legitimately felt depressed and sad about that too.

John Dean, what is next, though? I mean, obviously Mueller has not reached a conclusion on that or any of the other issues that he could be looking at. And you heard Richard Burr, right, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying we have not reached any such conclusion at this time at least. Can we look at the Senate and say it does appear to be working better there in terms of what the American --

DEAN: What may be next. What may be next is this committee is going to be very embarrassed for the position they've taken. As Rooney told you, they haven't even really pursued witnesses. They haven't cross examined witnesses. They took a witness as whatever he or she said as the truth. They didn't go and subpoena documents that might contest those witnesses. So this is what is well known as a whitewash and they're putting it out there and they may be stuck with it.

BURNETT: Yes, very important. Obviously no subpoenas, a lot of witnesses refusing to answer questions and they just took those no, no, no and then don't check the box if the person was here and actually, again, (INAUDIBLE). Corey Lewandowski, a hoop picks on this list. OK, thank you both.

And next, even the White House alarmed by the education secretary's shocking television interview with Lesley Stahl.


BETSY DEVOS, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I've not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.


DEVOS: Maybe I should, yes.


BURNETT: How could Betsy DeVos have been so unprepared.

And a report of a Russian hit list after an ex-spy is poisoned. He's our next guest on it.


BURNETT: Tonight, the White House baffled by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her struggle to answer some simple questions about American schools. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was pressed on what the president himself thought about DeVos' interviews ranging from school toys to arming teachers.

Here's Sanders.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's the focus of the president, not one or two interviews but on actual policy that can help protect the safety and security of school kids across this country.

REPORTER: Did he see the interview the last time?

SANDERS: I'm not sure if he saw the whole thing or not.




LESLEY STAHL, CBS NEWS: Are the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: I don't know. I have not -- I have not -- I've not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

STAHL: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: Maybe I should, yes.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The secretary did not have many answers about schools in her home state, but she could not miss the coast-to-coast uproar over her interview. In the headlines, embarrassing, DeVos face-planted. On social media, is this a freaking "SNL" skit?

And on TV --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, that is the biggest train wreck of an interview I've seen in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of painful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't do her homework.

FOREMAN: What went wrong -- consider her response to the persistent protest from some students at that Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people.

STAHL: They want gun control.

DEVOS: They want a variety of things. They want solutions.

FOREMAN: Or how about the moment she drew an equivalency between a false rape report and rape itself? DEVOS: One sexual assault is one too many and one falsely accused

individual is one to many.

STAHL: Yes, but are they the same?

DEVOS: I don't know, I don't know.

FOREMAN: DeVos who was confirmed by a single vote has long been under fire from congressional Democrats, some who even suggested the billionaire bought her job with massive donations to Republicans.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I have heard the number was $200 million. Does that sound in the ballpark?

DEVOS: Collectively, between my entire family?

SANDERS: Yes, over the years, yes.

DEVOS: That's possible.

FOREMAN: But protesters have also raged about her defense of charter schools, vouchers and her stiff criticism of the public school system.

Students erupted when she said historically black colleges were early advocates of school choice, seemingly ignoring the racist policies that made them a necessity and, of course, there was that infamous moment when she suggested falsely that schools in Wyoming might be arm.

DEVOS: I would imagine that there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.

FOREMAN: So, perhaps it's inevitable this question also came up.

STAHL: Why have you become -- people say -- the most hated cabinet secretary?

DEVOS: I'm not so sure how exactly that happened.


FOREMAN: Many political analysts are not exactly sure how this interview happened either, despite the fact that DeVos went in a belated tweet barrage, taking the Donald Trump playbook to go after "60 Minutes".

The bottom line is this was a reset, something to try to get the public back on her side. Many political analysts are saying it failed -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh, and former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, joins us also.

Senator, good to have you back. Let me start with you.


BURNETT: Betsy DeVos, is she qualified for the job?

SANTORUM: Sure she is. You know, Betsy DeVos -- I mean, I -- you know, I listen that interview and that criticism about the questions about her role in Michigan. The reality is Betsy DeVos was not the secretary of education in the state of Michigan. She was a philanthropist. She was somebody who was a promoter of charter schools and someone who did an excellent job and actually making charter schools available to kids who were in failing schools and holding those charter schools accountable.

Twenty-two percent of charter schools in Michigan have been defunded and basically ended because they were not performing well. No traditional public schools have been ended during that same year period.

The reality is she has been an advocate for reform of giving poor children the opportunity to get a quality education.



Michigan has more for-profit charter schools than anywhere else and they are the ones that have been judged subpar compared to the nonprofit charter schools.

SANTORUM: Not true.

WALSH: Absolutely true.

SANTORUM: Not true.

WALSH: "The Washington Post" -- it's absolutely true. They have been found to be more subpart --


SANTORUM: You're entitled to your opinion. Not your facts. It's false.

WALSH: It's not an opinion. Read "The Washington Post", read the "Detroit Free Press".

SANTORUM: There have been several studies done in Michigan, all of them shown that the charter schools do better than the public schools. It's wrong.


WALSH: I'm talking about the for-profit charter schools, and they there are more for-profit charter schools, thanks to Betsy DeVos, than in any other state. One billion dollars of Michigan public money is going to charter schools in Michigan and that is thanks to her advocacy. The idea that she does not have the responsibility to know the test scores are declining in Michigan, that Michigan schools are in trouble after this being her life work and why she got this job in addition to all the money she gave Donald Trump, it's ludicrous.

SANTORUM: She was asked --

WALSH: That was a shameful interview and she should be fired.


BURNETT: Senator, let me ask you about that interview, though. There were some moments in it and I watched the whole thing too that were cringe-worthy and I probably, yes, you may have felt the same way. One of them was this one, when she was asked explicitly by Lesley whether she had visited schools in Michigan that are struggling, right, to figure out what the problems are. And I just want to replay that exchange one more time.


STAHL: Have you seen the really bad schools, maybe try to figure out what they're doing?

DEVOS: I have not -- I have not I've not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

STAHL: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: Maybe I should, yes.


BURNETT: Senator?

SANTORUM: Look, I mean, yes, obviously let's see back toward their corner and she and she bobbled answer. But the reality is this --


BURNETT: But that shouldn't be backing into a corner. And if I ask you if you have gone to school, you would tell me yes.

SANTORUM: Excuse me.

Yes, the answer is that she go to school specifically because they were poorly performing schools, and the answer was, well, no, I didn't go specifically, that doesn't mean she hasn't been to those schools, she just didn't go because they're poor performing schools.

And I'd go back to the point that she wasn't the secretary --

BURNETT: What she said is I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

SANTORUM: She wasn't the secretary of education. She was there to try to create an opportunity for charter schools so those poor performing schools of which you just referred to, well, the Michigan has the public schools are in not very good shape and that's one of the reasons she pushed for charter schools to give children an opportunity to get better education, and those charter schools are performing better than the traditional public schools.

BURNETT: What do you say, Joan? Is it a fireable offense to not visit schools that are doing badly and understand why they're doing badly? Or --

WALSH: That's not a fireable offense, but the senator is -- you know, OK, she wasn't secretary of education in Michigan, but she's been secretary of education for a year.

SANTORUM: That wasn't the question.

WALSH: The idea that she had not gone --

SANTORUM: That wasn't the question.


WALSH: Let me finish, what are you talking about? Why are you filibustering me?

SANTORUM: Lesley Stahl asked the question, when she was in Michigan, did she visit those schools, and that's what she responded to, not when she was secretary of education.

WALSH: She could have gone and visit them then. She could have gone visit them in the year since she's been a secretary of education.

SANTORUM: That wasn't the question.

WALSH: She promoted a particular line on school choice that is often on validated by fact. She should be visiting these low-performing schools before she passes judgment on exactly why they're low- performing, and she has not done that. She is an ideologue. She and her husband are behind the notion that we should call public schools government schools, to make them sound somehow degraded or like they're from the Soviet Union or something rather than a place that I personally sent my daughter very proudly. None of her kids went to public schools.

So, the idea that this woman is actually the secretary of education is an affront to a lot of American parents and she should have done her job to prepare for that interview. Lesley did not back her into a corner or do anything unfair. She did her job. It's Betsy DeVos who did not do her job.

SANTORUM: I'll tell you what's in front to American parents. It's a 50 percent illiteracy rate in the city of Detroit, that's an affront. We have public schools that are failing and you had someone who was trying to do something about it, and to try to break up the monopoly among public schools, and that's what -- that's why people hate her so much. BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

WALSH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Russia blamed for poisoning an ex-spy. Will there be more victims? A man who may be a target is OUTFRONT next.

And Stormy Daniels, she now wants to give back $130,000 in hash hush money. How worried should the president be?


[19:43:03] BURNETT: New tonight, British Prime Minister Theresa May saying it's, quote, highly likely Russia poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. They say he's a former member of the KGB who says he was the victim of a chemical attack twice before, says he was warned by someone in the Russian secret service on February 12th, just three weeks before the attack, that Skripal and others, including himself, were in danger.


EX-KGB AGENT: I was communicated with chilling message. I took it I said Joe because I didn't believe message that something bad is going to happen with me and some other people, including Mr. Skripal who I have no idea before who this person is.


BURNETT: And the former spy telling "The Mirror" that other people on the list include Chris Steele, the man behind the Trump dossier and Bill Browder, a man banned from Russia for exposing corruption who calls himself Putin's number one enemy.

Bill Browder is my guest OUTFRONT.

So, Bill, let's just start with this. I mean, they're coming out saying your name is on this list. How afraid are you about that?

BILL BROWDER, REPORTEDLY ON RUSSIA TARGET LIST: Well, I've been at odds with the Putin regime for eight years since they murdered my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. They've also murdered a whistleblower who came forward named Alexander Perepilichnyy to help us with the case. So, what whatever this gentleman is saying is not new, the Putin regime has made a number of threats against my life. They've threatened to kidnap me. They've tried to arrest me through Interpol.

So, you know, I'm living in a in a state of constant persecution by the Russians and that's something I've learned to live with.

BURNETT: Now, you know, on this, it's widely believed Russia is responsible for the Skripal poisoning. I don't know if you heard today though, Bill, the White House today would not go that far. I want to play Sarah Sanders for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against U.K. citizens on U.K. soil is an outrage. The attack was reckless indiscriminate and irresponsible.

REPORTER: So, you're not saying that Russia was behind this?

SANDERS: Right now, we are standing with our U.K. ally. I think they're still working through even some of the details of that.


BURNETT: Of course, Bill, they had said what they thought and the secretary of state just released, to his credit, a statement saying he agrees with Britain's assessment that Russia was likely responsible. Is the White House on the wrong side of this? Were you surprised by Sarah Sanders reluctant to say so?

BROWDER: Well, I'm not sure what their agenda is at the White House. Before coming on the show, I just read the statement from Tillerson where he was very explicit that Russia was behind this. I don't think there's any doubt by anybody who's been following this that Russia is behind this.

It's an absolute -- Russia has the means, they have the willingness and they have the history of doing extraterritorial assassinations using these types of methods. And so, you know, I can't really -- I don't know what's going through the White House in -- you know, the press secretary's head or Trump's head in this particular issue, but we have a real issue we have a real issue -- we've got a real problem which is Russia is using chemical weapons in the U.K. to go after their enemies and that's not good.

BURNETT: Let me ask you, because, you know, you've obviously spent a lot of time in the U.K., you know, took citizenship there, you've lived there Chris Steele is there and obviously has been completely incognito for quite some time. Sergei Skripal was Russian. We've heard this happen that Russia has done this to other, you know, ex- Russian double agents.

Do you think that they would really do it to a British citizen or an American citizen? I mean, that would seem to be a new step.

BROWDER: Well, let's not forget that in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was a British citizen when he was killed in the center of London using nuclear material.


BROWDER: So, I don't want to -- you know, Putin is not a man who respects people -- the color of people's passports or their nationalities or where he does these hits. Putin is a guy who doesn't play by any set of rules. He goes after people for lots of different reasons.

I think in this particular case, he went after Mr. Skripal not necessarily to go after Skripal, but to make a point to all the other guys who might be disloyal in his intelligence agencies, that here's what happens to traitors, that we liquidate them wherever they are and we even go after their families. So, I think that's the message here.

BURNETT: Now, Bill, you've testified as part of the Russia investigation here in the U.S., including about your knowledge of the Russian lawyer who said -- who led the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

The breaking news this hour, I'm sure you've heard it, is that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are saying Putin did not (AUDIO GAP) there was no collusion.

Your reaction?

BROWDER: My reaction is when I was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian interference, there was a lot of partisanship on both sides, different sides wanted to get me to agree with them on different partisan issues.

I think it's kind of hard for a congressional committee to get to a true answer because there's so much politics involved. I think that we have to wait until the Mueller investigation is completed. Mueller has all the resources available to him. He's going to -- he's been able to do wiretap, subpoenas, go after people -- get witnesses to flip and he has a lot of resources to do that, and that's the investigation I'm looking forward to determine what's what happened with, whether there was any collusion or whether there wasn't any collusion.

BURNETT: All right. Bill Browder, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

BROWDER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Stormy Daniels determined to talk about Donald Trump. Should the White House been worried about possible text messages and pictures?

And out with make America great again and in with a new slogan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Keep America great, exclamation point. Keep America great!



[07:52:52] BURNETT: Breaking news: Stormy Daniels' attorney is asking for a different judge in a lawsuit filed against President Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen. According to Daniels' attorney, the judge appointed to the case is, quote, prejudiced against Daniels or her attorney and Daniels cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing. No more to tells us to why, but that's the allegation. This comes as Daniels is offering to return the $130,000 in hush money she received from President Trump's attorney, and in exchange, she wants to talk.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Porn star, director and dancer Stormy Daniels is now offering to give back big money she took in 2016 from Donald Trump's personal attorney to keep her quiet. In a letter from Stormy Daniels' lawyer to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney, Daniels offers to send back the $130,000 she was paid as part of the so-called hush money agreement just 11 days before the presidential election.

After the letter was sent, Daniels herself chimed in on Twitter when asked why she doesn't just send the money back, period. I have toyed with delivering it gangsta style by a private jet in cash, in a gold suitcase, she said, adding, she was kidding mostly.

The payment was the result of a non-disparagement agreement signed to keep Daniels from revealing anything about her alleged affair with Donald Trump that she says began in 2006.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she have a sexual relationship with the president?


SIDNER: The offer to hand back the money comes with huge caveats, one, that giving back the money would require the entire non- disparagement agreement and side letter to be null and void, and Daniels whose real name is Stephanie Clifford could publish text messages, photos and videos relating to the president.

And two, the letter says Ms. Clifford will pay $130,000 by wire transfer to President Trump himself, but the president has always through a spokesperson denied there ever was any type of affair.

SANDERS: The president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true.

SIDNER: The letter comes after Trump's attorneys are reportedly fighting to keep an interview she did with Anderson Cooper for "60 Minutes" off the air.

[19:55:06] MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I think the American people deserve to hear from her.

SIDNER: And they are as Stormy Daniels is finding new notoriety on the strip club circuit.

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: If somebody came up to you and said, hey, you know that job you've been doing forever, how about next week, I pay you quadruple? Show me one person who's going to say no. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Now, why is this all important? Because there have been past presidents who have had affairs and there's also been Democrats and Republicans in office who have had affairs. But her attorney Michael Avenatti says this is not about the alleged affair. It's about the alleged cover-up.

And to further that, Common Cause, a watchdog group, has gone to the FEC and filed a complaint saying that they believe that federal election campaign finance laws have been broken and they have just amended that complaint because they say there is more evidence inside of that lawsuit that Stormy Daniels has filed -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you.

And next, Trump's new campaign slogan. Jeanne Moos breaks it down, exclamation point and all.


BURNETT: Tonight Trump and the art of branding. Here is a countdown clock for you, there are 967 days left before the next presidential election. And the president already has a new slogan.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are still being bombarded by the old Trump slogan.

TRUMP: We are going it make America great again.



MOOS: In fact, the old slogan is out on a new St. Patrick's Day $50 hat. That did not stop President Trump from rolling out his new slogan for 2020. Drum roll, please.

TRUMP: Is going to be: Keep America great, exclamation point.

MOOS: As if the president has already succeeded in making America --

TRUMP: Greater than ever before.

MOOS: Actually, Ronald Reagan said it first.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: To make America great again.

Make America great again.

MOOS: But Donald Trump trademarked the phrase and he's also keeping keep America great for himself, issuing orders even while on the phone with "The Washington Post".

TRUMP: Get me my lawyer. Do you like it? I think I like that, right? Do this: Keep America great with an exclamation point.

MOOS: But like Reagan, the political horror movie, "The Purge Election Year", beat Trump to his new slogan, keep America great.

As for the crowning touch from the master of branding.

TRUMP: Exclamation point.

MOOS: Keep America great fans are already getting carried away with two.

You know how people like to shorten make American great again in the acronym MAGA?

Well, here's the acronym for Keep America great, KAG, rhymes with gag.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: And we are going to make America so great again.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: Got to say, he turned that exclamation point into a real workout.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.