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Top Democrats Ask Intel Chair to Recuse Himself; Trump to Roll Back Environmental Protections; U.S.-Iraq Investigate Civilian Deaths in Mosul; Tracking Cyclone Debbie; Intel Chair Got Leaked Info on White House Grounds; North Korea Suspected in $81 Million Cybertheft. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired March 28, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from a much smaller studio in Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning turn of events involving the U.S. House investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Critics now say the probe itself is compromised, but can it move forward?
VAUSE: A monster down under -- North Queensland slammed as Cyclone Debbie draws ashore.
SESAY: And civilian casualties in Iraq -- the U.S. military investigating a coalition air strike in Mosul and conflicting reports that it cost scores of innocent lives.
VAUSE: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.
NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
VAUSE: Hello, everybody. And just a very quick note why we're in this studio for the next few days, maybe the next week or so.
VAUSE: We're getting new digs here is in Los Angeles. We're not entirely sure how long that will take -- maybe a week, maybe a little longer. But once it's done --
SESAY: It will be fabulous. But until then, get used to sitting a little closer together.
VAUSE: Ok. We shall now move on.
A growing number of Democrats are losing faith in the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes. He is a Republican. He's leading one of the investigations into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election. The ranking Democrat on that committee Adam Schiff is now calling for Nunes to recuse himself.
SESAY: Last week Nunes said U.S. intelligence incidentally picked up communications from members of Mr. Trump's team. Now we know Nunes went to the White House complex to meet the unnamed source who gave him that information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: We have to go to the executive branch in order to read classified intelligence. So that could be the White House grounds. It could be the White House. It could be the Pentagon. It could be CIA. There is a number of places we go.
The Congress has not been given this information, these documents. And that's problem. There is no way for the folks that I have been working with to actually bring this forward to light. There is no way I could view that because they couldn't get to it the House Intelligence Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The controversy around Nunes is not being helped by his past. He was a member of the Trump transition team, essentially the same group of people he is now investigating.
SESAY: And some are questioning whether he is acting more like a watchdog or a lap dog.
CNN's Manu Raju reports.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: House Intelligence chairman, Devin Nunes facing growing questions about whether he compromised his committee's investigation by briefing President Trump last week on intelligence he obtained through a secret source.
NUNES: I've been working this for a long time with many different sources and needed a place that I could actually finally go because I knew what I was looking for. And I could actually get access to what I needed to see.
I'm quite sure that people in the West Wing had no idea that I was there. Look, I go over there a lot. I go over there often for meetings and briefings.
RAJU: Today Nunes revealed that he met his source last week on White House grounds to review the information. A government official said Nunes was seen Tuesday at the National Security Council offices of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where classified information can be viewed securely.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: What he is doing is obstructing the investigation. The President made a claim that has been proved to not be true. He is just helping the President.
RAJU: The revelation put the White House on the defensive after spokesman Sean Spicer said this last week when asked if the information came from the White House.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It doesn't really pass the smell test.
RAJU: Today Spicer could not rule out that someone on the White House staff may have authorized Nunes to review the information in a classified facility.
SPICER: I don't know that members of the Congress need to be cleared.
RAJU: But the House investigation is starting to break down along partisan lines, with Democrats criticizing Nunes.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Without further ado, Speaker Ryan should replace Chairman Nunes.
RAJU: Despite briefing the President, Nunes still has yet to present the committee with intelligence showing that some Trump team communications had been picked up incidentally, and that some individuals had their identities unmasked by the intelligence community.
Nunes has given shifting explanations about what the information he has reviewed actually reveals.
Was the President also part of that incidental collection, his communications?
RAJU: They were?
RAJU: You said that the President's communications were incidentally collected but then you said it's also possible. So was it collected or is it possible that it was collected?
NUNES: I just don't know the answer to that yet.
RAJU: So you don't know if the President's communications were incidentally collected?
NUNES: I know there was incidental collection regarding the President and his team.
RAJU: Then later in the week, Nunes was asked if Trump officials were monitored or simply mentioned in the intelligence reports.
NUNES: We don't know until -- we won't know that until we actually receive all of the documentation. [00:05:02] RAJU: And Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on
the committee saying that Devin Nunes should recuse himself from the Russia investigation, believing he has been too compromised on this inquiry in order to move forward. But also Speaker Paul Ryan says he is fully supporting Nunes staying in that position. So this partisan standoff is only bound to continue.
Manu Raju, CNN -- Capitol Hill.
VAUSE: And the U.S. President is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at rolling back Obama era protections for environment and in particular efforts to slow global warming.
It appears the Clean Power Plan is likely to be scrapped. President Obama unveiled the sweeping new regulations almost three years ago which imposed higher standards for natural gas power stations and strict limits on coal-fired plants -- all designed to reduce green house gases.
A year ago the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay on those new regulations. That case is yet to be resolved. Cutting carbon emissions, though, is a key part of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate signed on to by almost 200 countries.
The new boss of the Environmental Protection Agency not only opposes the Clean Power Plan, but he believes the Paris Accords was a bad deal for the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PRUITT, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: The Paris Accords is something, as you know, that is nonbinding. It was not a treaty as such. The Clean Power Plan is not tethered to the Paris Accords. And so this is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in and to do it right going forward with the mind-set of being pro-growth and pro-environment. And we can achieve both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Emma Ruby-Sachs is with the advocacy group Avaaz. She joins us now from Chicago with more on the impact these changes could have on the environment.
Emma -- good see you. It seems all these new regulations won't just kneecap (ph) the efforts to reduce carbon emissions but also they're aimed very much at being pro-coal, pro-fossil fuel.
EMMA RUBY-SACHS, AVAAZ: You know, it's true that's where they're aimed. But I'm afraid that the ship has left the port. What we have right now is a global economy that is racing towards renewables whether the U.S. gets on board or not. And that's a great thing for the environment movement, but also for people everywhere. These regulations can't stop that train. VAUSE: Ok. We heard from Scott Pruitt a few moments ago, the head of
the EPA. He also has outlined some of the details which we can expect in this executive order.
PRUITT: The past administration had a very anti-fossil fuel strategy, coal, natural gas and the rest. And so this was -- this is a promise he is keeping to the American people to say that we can put people back to work and be pro-environment as well.
This Clean Power Plan is something that the Supreme Court, as you know has said is likely unlawful. And so there has been a stay against this Clean Power Plan. So our actions starting on Tuesday, shortly after the executive order, will make sure that whatever steps we take in the future will be pro-growth, pro-environment, but within the framework of the Clean Air Act and it will be legal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: What we're not hearing from the Trump administration is any talk on climate change. It just seems that doesn't exist as an issue for this new administration.
RUBY-SACHS: What they seem to be focusing on is, again, this kind of false division that regular people don't abide by. At Avaaz, we have had millions of members who signed on to 100 percent clean energy as the call for the future because they know what the numbers are telling them.
One in 50 jobs nationwide comes from solar alone. That's more than all the jobs from coal and gas and oil in the U.S. This is a pro- growth strategy.
I think what is happening here is the Trump administration campaigned in coal country on bringing the jobs back. As far as I can see, it was a fake promise. And they're trying to pretend to deliver on it.
VAUSE: Ok. We're hearing from the "Wall Street Journal" that Ivanka and Jared Kushner may have actually convinced the President not to withdraw from the Paris Accords. With that in mind, if the Clean Power Plant regulations are scrapped, can the U.S. keep its promises on reducing emissions? Surely there will have to be some impact from rolling back these regulations.
RUBY-SACHS: You know, on that day when the Paris agreement was signed, it was an incredible day for everyone, and especially for those of us who have been campaigning for it.
And it was because it was line in the sand, that's hard to go back from. It was a notice. It put all of business globally on notice to move in that direction.
And the U.S., even if they scrap these regulations, which, you know, we don't know what is going to happen on Tuesday. But that kind of regulation rollback isn't going to change the fact that cities and states and businesses are already moving towards the promises of the Paris agreement.
12 states right now have introduced legislation to pursue clean energy futures. That's significant. And that's just in the few months since Trump was elected.
VAUSE: Ok. I guess we will now wait and see what happens and essentially wait and find out what the real impact will be. But Emma -- thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
RUBY-SACHS: Thanks for having me.
[00:10:02] SESAY: Turning now to Iraq where forces say they're trying to tighten the noose around remaining ISIS positions in Mosul's old city. The battle to force the militants out of Mosul has been going on since October.
Iraqi forces have recaptured all of the east side and half of the west side of the city. The advances had slowed in the past two weeks after the fighting resulted in high civilian death tolls.
VAUSE: The U.S. and Iraqi militaries are investigating the deaths of dozens of Iraqi civilians. Iraqi forces requested a coalition air strike on an ISIS suicide truck bomber in western Mosul earlier this month. Iraq's military says many victims were sheltering in nearby homes and died when the buildings crumbled during the blast. One Iraqi official says at least 112 bodies have been pulled from the rubble so far.
SESAY: Joining us now from Florida with a closer look at the events in Mosul is Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hertling -- thank you so much for joining us.
Now more than a week has gone by since the Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul was struck, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians. Should we be surprised that the U.S.-led coalition has still not determined what actually happened that day?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, not at all-- Isha.
This is a very difficult situation. I've been in this kind of situation before where I've had reports that an aircraft has dropped ordnance in an area.
And it's very difficult sometimes to determine not necessarily where the bomb was dropped. That's relatively simple. You can follow gun camera tape and find out how a target was struck.
What you don't know sometimes is the collateral damage, the sympathetic detonations if you will where if it did in fact hit a car bomb and that car bomb exploded and then had sympathetic detonations on other areas and caused buildings to collapse. All those things occur.
The other things you have to concern yourself with is what were the people doing in the house? Were there enemy around it that were drawing attention to it, using human shields, as we've discussed? But there is a lot more that goes into this than just determining how the aircraft dropped the weapon and where the bomb landed. And that's what I think Central Command is trying to do.
SESAY: Well, these civilian deaths in Mosul come on the heels of two recent incidents in Syria, which also resulted in civilian deaths, as you know. All three are being investigated by the U.S. military.
But some people are already asking the question, whether rules of engagement had been relaxed under President Trump, resulting in these deadly consequences. Do you see anything here that makes you think that that is the case?
HERTLING: I do not. And in fact I've talked to some people within Central Command. They are still very concerned with any kind of civilian casualties on the battlefield.
And I tell you, the responsibilities of a commander in that regard are intense. All commanders want to make sure that there is no collateral damage, as it's called, that there is no civilians injured. And I don't think any commander is lightening the noose on approving the checks or making sure targets that are hit are the right targets.
But we're now in a phase of the operation in both Raqqa and in Mosul where the fighting is much more challenging, much more difficult in neighborhoods that are more compact and where ISIS in both of those areas are using local civilians as human shields.
So what we're talk about is a combination of more intense fighting, more refined spaces, more intense areas of operation. And ISIS is pulling out truthfully all the stops right now to make sure they can try and defend to the last man.
And I believe, honestly, that they are pushing civilians to the front of the battlefield, trying to get these kinds of propaganda victories. That's my feeling.
SESAY: General Hertling, if that is indeed the case and has been widely reported that ISIS is using civilians as human shields, they're operating in a terrain that is densely, tightly packed.
I mean, what are the options for the U.S.-led coalition in terms of taking them on? Because when it comes to the question of air strikes, I mean they may have to rethink that, right? In this kind of terrain, this kind of environment.
HERTLING: That's the balance that every commander goes through right now -- Isha. And it's part of the issue where the commanders on the ground, the Iraqi Security Forces are working through an intermediary, and that's the spotter who is working to the coalition aircraft.
So you also have that confusion of how you go through a chain of command to get the air strikes on the ground. So, yes, and I think the Iraqi security forces are seeing the challenges as they go into these tight neighborhoods. And in fact, the commander -- the Iraqi commander on the scene said we've got to take a temporary pause in this and determine how we can better ensure the safety of the people of Mosul while continuing the operation.
[00:15:01] They knew it was going to be tough going into this. They've had discussions on this. The Iraqi commanders and the American advisers on the ground know that they had a lot of their plan (ph) going into this west Jadida section of Mosul.
SESAY: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling -- it's always a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you so much for joining us.
HERTLING: Thank you -- Isha.
VAUSE: And we will take a short break. When we come back, tracking Cyclone Debbie. We'll tell you where the monsoon storm is headed. We'll also report on the extent of the damage so far.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is weather watch time. Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri here for CNN -- watching an active area of thunderstorms around this southern United States. Very quick moving disturbance, generally going to impact this region across the overnight hours and the early morning hours.
A few thunderstorms moving out of places like metro Atlanta into parts of Charlotte as we approach sunrise. And the severe weather has been in place in the past 24 hours generally for large hail.
But another report of a tornado, this after having one report as well the day earlier there across parts of Oklahoma. And the severe weather threat does return for southern Oklahoma, working its way out towards parts of north central Texas as we go in on Tuesday as well.
And notice these storms that are still left in place will really begin to fall apart and push off into the Delmarva region of the United States. But the mild temperatures really look to really hold a firm grip across parts of the south here. So we'll keep it mild on Tuesday. Perhaps even get a little warmer come Wednesday for a lot of these areas.
Showers tapering off in Atlanta in the morning, 26. Dallas makes it up to 28, and in places like Chicago also beginning to warm up. There are a few thunderstorms possible.
Kingston will take a few showers in the forecast. San Juan and Caracas looking at a few thunderstorms as well. Managua warming up to 36 degrees -- that is around 99 degrees Fahrenheit. And of course, you're talking humidity in the works as well.
Bogota at 18 degrees; Panama (ph) comes in at 32; and Belize (ph) just to the upper 20s. Expect a few showers and thunderstorms mainly around Bogota and Quito. Take care.
VAUSE: Well, Northeastern Australia is being pounded by one of the biggest storms in years. Tropical Cyclone Debbie is making landfall on the coast of Queensland with torrential rain and winds over 260 kilometer an hour. Thousands have been forced to evacuate, and schools have been closed.
SESAY: Well, you can see from these pictures here just how massive the storm is in this video from the International Space Station, as Debbie made its way toward Australia.
VAUSE: We're joined now by meteorologist Pedram Javaheri at the CNN Center in Atlanta; also standing by Sky News Australia reporter Danielle Robertson in the small town of Ayers (ph) south of Townsville just north of Bowen I guess, which is essentially ground zero for this cyclone.
[00:20:03] So Danielle, let's just start with you. What's the latest where you are? What do you know about the extent of the destruction so far?
DANIELLE ROBERTSON, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA: Well, where I am here in Ayer, we haven't felt the brunt of this system. We've seen winds in excess of 50 kilometers per hour. People have been preparing and we have sandbags that have been lining the streets of buildings.
We have seen a little bit of rain on and off here. But the full force of this Cyclone Debbie has hit the Whitsundays which is just in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. It is currently making landfall in Airlie Beach and just in Bowen, which is just one hour south from here.
We have seen winds in excess of 270 kilometers per hour. It has been creating a path of destruction. And it might be deceptive at the moment in Airlie. The eye of the storm is passing through right now. This means that residents may be seeing clear skies and possibly the sun.
And the police are urging people not to be complacent because the back end of that cyclone is going to push right back through.
Now, we could see rain in excess of 400 millimeters in one day. There has been flash flooding and buildings have been torn apart at this stage. More than 25,000 people have been evacuated from the Mackay (ph) region.
Now these winds are expected to continue and this is really just the beginning of what we could see for the next 24 to 48 hours. It could take up to 18 hours for this cyclone to completely pass. So it's just a little taste of what we can see.
But right here you can see the winds are starting to pick up. We've got winds in excess of 50 kilometers. We are expecting this to whip up as we head into the rest of today.
We do have the fire brigade here on standby. Well, the fire brigade is here because the brunt of the system hasn't hit the area. It has really become a base here. They're getting ready to deploy people just to the south of Bowen once this cyclone starts to come down.
VAUSE: Ok, Danielle -- thank you for the very latest there from the region.
Let's head over now to Pedram Javaheri at the weather center. So Pedram, this is a very slow-moving storm bringing a lot of rain and some very powerful winds with it.
JAVAHERI: Absolutely. That element right there, John, that you mentioned, the slow-moving nature of the storm really what I'm most concerned about and I'll touch on that momentarily.
Look at the storm system. The cloud field in the last hour measured here 1,200 kilometer across. We touched on this yesterday. You could place this over Europe. It would stretch from Paris out towards Warsaw in Poland.
So again it really tells you what a significantly large disturbance and the impact across an area that is home to about 250,000 people when you do the math on these coastal communities.
And again the wind speeds associated with this, sitting at around 175 kilometers per hour -- that is just three kilometers shy of what would be equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. So again, it shows you it is a pretty strong storm system but notice it is moving at a snail's pace, 11 kilometers per hour.
This storm has literally put on the parking brakes here in the last few hours. And that's a concern because you can look at mathematically what that sort of a speed does for a storm system. If you're moving at 10 miles per hour with a tropical system, the potential for 500 to 700 millimeters of rainfall is extremely high.
This storm -- again moving at 11 kph. Notice, if you speed it up, move it out of the area at around 25 kilometers per hour that only brings down about 100, 125 millimeters of rainfall. So we think this should be on the heavier end of the perspective and in fact, in the last 24 hours about a half meter has come down already.
And keep in mind the storm just made landfall in the last 90 minutes to two hours. Mackay (ph) picking up a little over 100 millimeters in the past 24 hours. But the storm system will move in over land, of course, the Great Dividing Range in the path of this so the winds will be going to really be shredded apart. But the rainfall is being to be tremendous with this.
Look at the storm track over the next couple days. It could bring in rainfall to Brisbane potentially move back out over the open waters. Even areas around Port Macquarie out towards Sydney could get some rain of this towards the latter portion of the week. But Mackay is one of those areas we're watching very carefully because heavy rain has already come down. Another 400 plus millimeters could come down in the next couple of days. Rock Hampton certainly not out of the area of concern either and when you talk about picking up 400 to 500 millimeters in a place like Mackay, that is equivalent to one-third of its annual average per rainfall. So another way to look at it is that it's four months of rainfall coming down in about one day, and that one day being today and going into tonight.
So definitely a serious situation across this region and we often touch on what it takes with this. And typically, fatalities are related to the water element, which are the flooding concern and the storm surge. Those are both very high right now in this region -- guys.
VAUSE: And you know, one thing about this storm is that, this is an area which is used to cyclones. I grew up in this part of the world. But what is interesting is that you heard from Danielle, they're saying about 25,000 people are being forced to evacuate.
That's possibly the largest evacuation ever in this part of Australia because of a cyclone. It gives you an idea of just how serious people there are actually taking it.
You know, when I grew up there, no one evacuated, you just rode it out and lived to see another day. But obviously people are taking it seriously. Pedram -- thank you.
SESAY: Yes. Thank you -- Pedram.
JAVAHERI: Thank you -- guys. Yes.
SESAY: Time for a quick break now.
[00:24:57] Donald Trump's son-in-law says he's see ready to talk. Just ahead -- what Jared Kushner could tell senate investigators about his contacts with Russian officials.
VAUSE: Also, a new poll shows the President's approval ratings going down faster than that escalator at Trump Tower.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.
The headlines this hour, tropical Cyclone Debbie has made landfall on the coast of Queensland, Australia. The storm has ripped up trees and brought torrential rainfall to the area. Wind gusts have reached more than 260 kilometers per hour. Thousands of people evacuated before the storm hit. Authorities say the time to leave is now over.
VAUSE: The U.S. and Iraq are investigating coalition air strikes that may have killed dozens of Iraqi civilians. Iraqi forces called in a strike on ISIS suicide truck bomber in western Mosul earlier this month. The blast crumbled nearby buildings where families had taken shelter. An Iraqi official says 112 bodies have been pulled from the debris.
SESAY: At least 11 people are dead in southern Yemen after a suicide bombing on a government compound. Government officials are blaming al Qaeda. The terror group is taking advantage of a power vacuum. The civil war in Yemen is now in its third war and the U.N. says the country is on the brink of famine.
VAUSE: The ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee is asking the Republican chairman to recuse himself. The committee is investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The chairman, Devin Nunes, a Republican also a member of President Trump's transition team.
SESAY: Well, Nunes is under fire for his handling of intelligence leaked to him, briefing the White House before telling his own committee. President Trump tweeting earlier investigators should be looking into the Clinton ties to Russia. Trump-Russia story is a hoax.
[00:30:09] VAUSE: What about, what about, what about. So here with us to talk all about this, California talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel.
OK. So let's just stay with news for a while, because you -- so this is how it works. So he goes to the grounds of the White House. He learns some top secret information. He then leaves the grounds of the White House. He then returns to the next day to tell the president all about that top secret information, which gives Donald Trump some wiggle room on the wiretapping allegations.
So Ethan, it sounds like the White House is a bit like the lobby of a Trump hotel. Anybody can come in and anybody can go. And no one really knows who is doing what.
ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO HOST: I mean, this is terrible. The optics of this, because we have four Trump members right going back to the campaign.
General Flynn now of course has all kinds of new allegations. Now you Devin Nunes himself getting in trouble like this. How are we supposed to believe anything that his committee is going to investigate? How are we supposed to believe what Sean Spicer says at the press conference? How are we supposed to believe what President Trump himself says when it comes to the topic of Russia. This is damaging and dangerous for our representative democracy.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Shawn, to bring you in here, the Democrats want Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Take a listen to what the House ranking Democrat had to say, what Adam Schiff said a little bit earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SCHIFF, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATS: The issue isn't whether I'm offended or whether members of the committee are offended. The issue is whether the public can have confidence that we will get to the bottom of the Russian meddling in our election. That we will do so in a way that the White House won't be putting its hand on the scale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Shawn, I mean, you hear that and you think what? I mean, most people would say he's got a point that at least the optics of this make people think that there was something going on here that wasn't quite right. It doesn't pass the smell test.
SHAWN STEELE, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: I'm actually quite lucky. I know both of the congressmen. And Adam Schiff has been one of the oldest hacks of the Democrat delegation for years. Devin Nunes is well-known. He is respected on The Hill.
Look. Here is the bottom line. People who don't like Trump are not going to belief anything. People that don't like the Democrats aren't going to believe that version either. So you have to look to the sources of the information.
Devin Nunes is a widely popular chairman of the committee. He has information that's devastating to Comey, devastating to Obama's appointments, devastating for them.
Most people on this station right now believe that our government has too much private information about our citizens. That it's spying too much on our citizens. And now there is information that I think is coming out very soon that devastating to people like Comey.
BEARMAN: Shawn, you're totally avoiding the question. Shawn, what about Nunes on the White House grounds getting this information? You're talking about all these other things. What about Nunes on the White House grounds and informing the president before his own committee?
STEELE: Very selective here. Nunes was getting information in the Eisenhower building where its national security has a special room where you can look at this information. And I'm grateful that he brought it out to the public.
Oftentimes these secrets are kept behind closed door, controlled by people that are also smart. And he is opening the information so the rest of us can see what's happening with the Obama appointees.
VAUSE: Shawn, he is actually not bringing the information. Because we don't know what it is. We don't know where it came from. So we just have to take this guy's word, but hang on.
A question for Ethan. At this point, should Schiff just pull Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee because right now it just seems to be a great, big fat waste of time?
BEARMAN: No, I don't think he should withdraw from the committee. I think Democrats need to make sure to stay engaged. I always believe that you have to keep a seat at the table and not withdraw completely. The Democrats absolutely must do everything they possibly can procedurally to call for an independent investigator to also put excessive amounts of pressure on Representative Nunes to step back from any kind of an investigation that is going to take place regarding Russia, regarding this information, regarding these leaks. We must get some answers here. And have I zero confidence in the administration or Representative Nunes at this point.
STEELE: We completely disagree on every bit of that.
VAUSE: That's a shock.
STEELE: Not stepping back.
SESAY: OK. There is a lot to get through.
BEARMAN: Adam Schiff should go back to Glendale and apologize today.
SESAY: OK. All right, so Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, their brouhaha aside, let's bring up --
STEELE: It's all politics.
SESAY: Let's bring up the point that Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law is to be questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee over Russia ties in the coming days.
Listen, nobody wants to prejudge what he is going the say here. But Shawn, would you accept that it does make it hard for this administration to get past this Russia issue when the president's closest adviser is now also taking his place in the hot seat?
[00:35:00] STEELE: And he is also doing it voluntarily.
Let's get to the bottom. Hillary had four times the money as Donald Trump. She spends a billion dollars. She is terribly unsuccessful.
VAUSE: Hillary is never around, Shawn.
Shawn, Shawn, no talking about Hillary. Hillary is no longer with us.
STEELE: You keep bringing up the Russia thing time and time again, especially when we're talking about government surveillance.
VAUSE: OK, look. The deal is, you know, let's listen to Sean Spicer. He said it's all good. It's just a friendly chat. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Based on the media frenzy that existed around this, he volunteered to make sure that he said, hey, we've made some contacts. I'd be glad to explain them. Let me know if you would like to talk. Plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, but look, Ethan, part of these unreported meetings now, Kushner met with a CEO of a bank which was under sanctions, which was, you know, the boss has had close ties to Putin. He graduated from the intelligence academy. You know, this was the bank that did all of Putin's bidding around the world. This doesn't look good.
BEARMAN: This is horrible. By the way, why was Jared Kushner in charge of foreign relations during the transition? This guy has zero diplomatic experience. Condoleezza Rice at Stanford right now must be rolling around in her bed wondering what is going on. What happened to the Republican Party?
Why is Jared Kushner in charge of foreign contacts and relations? He had no experience. And on top of it all, he is now the guy in charge of deconstructing the administrative state per President Trump? None of this looks good. We're turning into a third rate banana republic, where a man was elected and now is appointing all of his immediate family members to take over the key positions? This is a tragedy and a travesty.
VAUSE: Last word, Shawn.
STEELE: I think that's a little over the top. Jared -- and you can see how badly discouraged the Democrats are. They're throwing everything they can on the table. And none of it is sticking.
Jared is going to show up at the Senate committee. He is going to talk about all the Russians that he might have met. The Democrats have been meeting the Russians a lot more frequently than the Republicans have because they were in power.
VAUSE: OK. He said none of it is sticking. Let's look at the latest approval numbers from Gallup. Down 36 percent. The lowest so far for Donald Trump. And 2 percent lower than it was ever when Barack Obama was at his lowest point ever.
So some of it might be sticking, Shawn. But we have a lot more obviously we can get to, but we'll leave it for there for now.
Shawn and Ethan, thank you so much.
SESAY: Always a pleasure. Thank you.
STEELE: Great stuff. SESAY: All right. Well, the North Korean leader needs money and fast. Next, why the regime of Kim Jong-un could be behind a cybertheft of more than $80 million.
[00:40:00] VAUSE: Well, there is a new provocation by the North Koreans. U.S. Defense officials have told CNN the regime tested another ballistic missile engine on Friday. That's the third such test in recent weeks.
SESAY: Pyongyang is now accused in a cybertheft of more than $80 million. Our Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It appears Kim Jong-un, a man obsessed with building up his military arsenal, may have now weaponize greed, allegedly using computer technology to secretly flees other countries' bank accounts to the tune of 10s of millions of dollars.
DAVID ASHER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: It's the largest case of financial bank robbery on the Internet that I'm aware of in history. And it's one of the most serious examples of the type of capability North Korea has at its disposal.
TODD: Last year hackers possibly working for North Korea placed bogus wire transfers totalling about a billion dollars from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, money the Bangladeshi government kept in the federal reserve bank of New York.
ANTHONY RUGGIERO, FORMER U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It sounds like they used their access to Swift, which is a financial messaging service, a secure financial messaging service to provide some kind of payment messages that then allowed the money to be transferred out of these accounts.
TODD: $81 million of those transfers went through to phony accounts in the Philippines.
RUGGIERO: It looks like some of that money was then transferred to casinos. And then at some point that money either needs to go back to North Korea or it needs to be held in North Korea's name in accounts likely in Chinese banks.
TODD: Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment when contacted by CNN. But "The Wall Street Journal" reports prosecutors are investigating North Korea's possible role in the heist. Officials at the cybersecurity firm Symantec, which researched this case tells CNN the malware code used in this bank hack is similar to the code used in the Sony Pictures hack back in 2014, which the FBI blamed on North Korea.
And a top NSA official says the agency is aware of the reported Sony similarities. RICHARD LEDGETT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: If that attribution is true, if that linkage from Sony actors to the Bangladeshi bank actors is accurate, that means a nation state is robbing banks.
TODD: Kim has an army of hackers said to number as many as 6,000, working for North Korea's notorious reconnaissance general bureau including an elite unit called Bureau 121.
Sources say this type of cyberheist would be an understandable next step for Kim Jong-un's regime. North Korean hackers have been blamed for attacks on South Korean broadcasters, banks and even nuclear plants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea has been engaged in criminal activities for profit for decades. It's a -- we used to call it the soprano state when I was in the Bush administration because they were so in bed with Asian organized crime.
TODD: Experts tell CNN, Kim Jong-un, who has been isolated from the world by crushing financial sanctions, needs the money. Not just for weapons, but also to buy loyalty to the regime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs this for his strategic programs. And he needs it for the elites. He needs the elites to support him. He needs to be able to create the ski resort that they, you know, trumpeted. They need to import Mercedes-Benz and all these different luxury items to keep the elites happy.
TODD (on-camera): Experts say it's not likely that Kim Jong un's regime is going to stop this kind of activity anytime soon. One analyst says Kim is just getting started. In fact, the researchers at Symantec tell us the hackers who used the same malware code that was used in the Bangladesh Bank and the Sony hacks have not stopped operating since those attacks, indicating that Kim's hackers are still likely being very aggressive. We reached out to North Korea's mission to the U.N. They didn't comment on any of this.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next and then we'll be back with all the big news from around the world from our little studio. Back at the top of the hour.