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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Dems Question W.H. On Failure To Suspend Kushner, Flynn Clearances; Acting FBI Director About To Meet With Special Counsel; NYT: Flynn Heard CIA Secrets Despite Blackmail Concerns; Trump About To Take Victory Lap After GOP House Wins. Aired 7-9p ET
Aired June 21, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett "OutFront" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Outfront next breaking news, new questions tonight about Jared Kushner. Should the president's most trusted advisor lose his security clearance immediately?
And a top Homeland Security official says, "Without a doubt Russia hacked the 2016 election." He says, "It's a fact." Why does the president not admit it?
Plus, President Trump about to take the stage in Iowa for a big victory lap. How much credit does he deserve for the GOP House victory last night? Let's go outfront.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Outfront this evening the breaking news, suspending Jared Kushner's security clearance. That's what 18 members of the House Oversight Committee are asking for immediately in this letter. It is a 10-page letter and it is signed by all the Democrats on the committee, addressed to the White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus.
Now, the letter raises "serious" concerns about whether the White House is safe guarding classified information. It specifically raises questions about whether Jared Kushner, the president's senior advisor and son-in-law, purposely mislead the American people.
The letter points out Kushner's failure to disclose meetings with Russian officials and contacts with dozens of foreign officials it says and it concludes that he must be stripped of his security clearance immediately while his failures are investigated. It is a major demand because Kushner is privy to this country's top secrets.
At this very hour, he is in Israel tasked with jump starting Palestinian peace talks, a highly classified process and just one of the many top secret jobs he is doing for the President of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: He is so great. If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Make no mistake, Kushner is by the president's side in almost every top secret moment of his presidency. If Kushner loses security clearance, it will hit the president directly.
We begin with Manu Raju who is outfront. And, Manu, you've got your hands on this letter. What can you tell us about it?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really has to do with the rules that govern the access to classified information and the rules say that if they're credible and serious allegations that have been raised to suggest that someone may be unfit to have access to this information that their security clearance should be suspended while the allegations are investigated.
Now, I'll read you a little bit from this executive order, Erin. It said that it provides that in order to maintain access to classified information, security clearance holders must always demonstrate trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment, as well as freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion.
Now, specifically, what the Democrats are pointing to a four meetings that were not disclosed on Jared Kushner's security clearance form, meetings with Russian officials, including with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador, and Sergei Gorkov, who is the head of a Russian bank under U.S. sanctions.
Now, Jared Kushner has -- the White House has not commented specifically on this. But in the past, his attorney, Jared Kushner's attorney, said that there was not disclosed on the security clearance form initially because it was submitted prematurely. They said they are happy to disclose those meeting. They said that Jared Kushner had those meetings because of the role he played on the campaign, Erin.
BURNETT: Now, in this letter, Manu, as you point out, that's 10 pages and there is a lot of detail. It's obviously a very significant letter for Jared Kushner. But it also talks about General Flynn.
It says it calls out the fact that he kept top secret security clearance, even though intelligence officials had concerns that he could be blackmail the Russians. He's still was getting the top security briefing every single day. Do these Democrats want someone to be held accountable for that specifically?
RAJU: No question about that. And they want records to show why exactly Michael Flynn kept his security clearance, why exactly he was hired as national security advisor, even as these concerns were being raised.
Now, those -- the questions that they are focusing on are the 18 days in which Michael Flynn continued to sit in these classified briefings after Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, repeatedly warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that Michael Flynn could be susceptible to Russian blackmail and Democrats say they want records about those interactions.
But, Erin, in order to get those records, they need support from Republicans, including the Republican on the committee in order to issue subpoena. The Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, right now saying that they received the letter, but they're not commenting any further, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.
And I want to go straight now to the White House and Sara Murray. Sara, any response from the Trump administration on this letter?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, in keeping with how the administration has dealt with most things regarding Russia, they're not commenting. The White House was asked about this yet again today, an official on the plane to Iowa where President Trump is speaking later tonight, she would not comment on it. They wouldn't comment on it earlier and the lawyer to President Trump also isn't commenting on it. So not being very forthcoming on this particular issue, Erin.
BURNETT: And in addition to that silence, Sara, I mean, the reality of it is and you see this every day with your reporting, the suspension of Jared Kushner's security clearance would be a big deal.
[19:05:11] MURRAY: It would be a big deal. We see Jared Kushner in a number of meetings, nearly every meeting with a foreign leader that passes through this White House.
Right now, Jared Kushner is in the middle of a trip to Israel where he is trying to advance the Mideast peace process which father-in-law, President Donald Trump, has sort of entrusted him to help navigate. So if he were completely taken out of this equation, that would certainly be a big deal.
Now, my bet is the White House is not going to all of a sudden decide that they want to get behind pulling his security clearance. I'm sure that they will sort of collectively roll their eyes at this request from Democrats. Right now, all we're getting from them is silence.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara.
And outfront now, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro. And Congressman Castro, good to have you back on the program. I appreciate your time.
REP.JOAQUIN CASTRO, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: Let me just ask you this question. Should Jared Kushner's security clearance be suspended immediately?
CASTRO: Well, based on everything I've seen both from public reporting and otherwise in my work on the intelligence committee, I do think that there is great cause for concern in terms of Jared Kushner continuing to have a security clearance. So I think that the White House should give it strong consideration. BURNETT: So strong consideration, I mean, obviously in the letter your Democratic colleagues, they cite an executive order in which they say -- shows that, you know, that his security clearance should be suspended.
They say security clearance holders must always demonstrate quote, according to this executive order, "trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment, as well as freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion." Does Jared Kushner demonstrate all of those things?
CASTRO: I think that he's fallen short based on everything I've seen and for that reason I'm glad that my colleagues wrote that letter. I think the White House should seriously consider revoking that security clearance of his.
BURNETT: At this time, you know, the letter also, as you know, Congressman, calls out the White House decision to allow General Flynn to learn America's top secrets, even as intelligence leaders of course as we know felt that Flynn was susceptible to Russian blackmail.
Who is responsible for this failure, the failure pointed out in this letter that General Michael Flynn was in these top meetings day after day after day when the top members of this nation's intelligence establishment felt that he was susceptible to blackmail?
CASTRO: Well, that's an excellent question and I think the buck stops with the President of the United States. Ultimately, it was the President of the United States who allowed Michael Flynn to stay in that job for as long as he did. And so if there is somewhere to squarely place the blame, it's with the White House and specifically with President Trump.
BURNETT: And I just -- I do want to understand just one thing because when I answer -- asked you the question about Jared Kushner, you said the White House should strongly consider it, you know, revoking that security clearance. Is there a reason why you're not willing to directly say you think it should be revoked? Are you purposely trying to walk a nuanced line there to give them an out or no?
CASTRO: No. If it was me, I would revoke it. But that's a decision for the president. And so I think they should strongly consider what my Democratic colleagues have suggested.
BURNETT: And do you trust his judgment in doing so?
CASTRO: President Trump?
CASTRO: Well, I don't have much confidence right now in the White House or in President Trump's decisions on hiring, so I'd have to say no.
BURNETT: CIA Director Mike Pompeo briefed Flynn when he was the national security advisor every day on the nation's top secrets and Pompeo, when he was given a chance last month, did not answer Senate lawmakers who asked whether he knew of concerns about blackmail and Flynn. And I just wanted to play that exchange for you, Congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Did you have any indication, second-hand, any sense at all that the national security advisor might be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians? That is a yes or no question.
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTO: It's actually not a yes or no question, Senator. I can't answer yes or no. I regret that I'm unable to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Congressman, my question to you is from the investigation you have conducted thus far, do you think Director Pompeo was aware of those concerns when he briefed Flynn?
CASTRO: Well, before I answer that question, I'd want to do the due diligence of getting him in front of the House Intelligence Committee to ask him more questions about it. But I will say that by the time Michael Flynn was in his term as director, there were already media reports, public reports about some of the conflicts of interest --
CASTRO: -- he may have had. And so, I think anybody should have been aware, even without seeing any classified information, that there were red flags there.
BURNETT: So I guess what you're saying is if Director Pompeo was aware from his own knowledge within the CIA or aware from those press briefings, whatever it might have been, be he continued to brief Flynn as we know he did, should he face any sort of punishment or reprimand?
[19:10:01] CASTRO: Absolutely, although that's an assessment that we're going to have to make. I'm not prepared to say that right now, again, because he's not come in front of the committee for the purpose to describe what happen. But, certainly, if he fell short, if he knew about General Flynn's issues and did nothing about it and continued to share these secrets, then there should be repercussions, yes.
BURNETT: So, Congressman, before we go, I want to ask you about one thing here that that could be significant. Russia tonight cancelling a meeting between senior U.S. and Russian officials that was due to take place in St. Petersburg to talk about closening the relationship, I guess.
They cancelled it because the Trump administration is expanding sanctions this week against Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Crimea. Does this sound like the actions of people who colluded? They're actually upping the sanctions.
CASTRO: I think it was the right thing to do for the United States Senate to overwhelmingly pass additional sanctions on Russia. I'm anxious to get that bill in front of the House of Representatives so that we can pass it also. And the administration should follow through with the sanctions.
I can imagine that Russia is not happy with that. But, remember, this is a nation that aggressively interfered with our 2016 presidential election. So, they have to be sent a clear and strong signal that the United States is not going to tolerate that.
BURNETT: Does this, though, on behalf of the Trump administration, make you feel more confident that the president himself did not have anything to do with colluding with the Russians if he is willing to go ahead and push sanctions like this forward?
CASTRO: Well, I think that it's a separate issue. Where we go forward in terms of policy versus what happened in the past and who may have colluded with the Russians in interfering with the 2016 election.
BURNETT: All right, Congressman Castro, good to have you back. Thank you.
CASTRO: Thank you.
BURNETT: And outfront next breaking news, the acting head of the FBI tells lawmakers he has a Trump policy. Does that include meeting privately with the president?
And the president is in Iowa at this hour, he's about to hold a campaign style rally. He'll be there at that podium taking credit for major GOP wins in special elections last night. We're going to go live to that event in Iowa this hour.
Plus, Jeanne Moos on Donald Trump's favorite kind of news anchor, one with nothing to say.
[19:15:58] BURNETT: New tonight, the acting director of the FBI about to meet with Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Andrew McCabe will meet Mueller within hours to discuss the Russia investigation. This as he tells lawmakers that he has not and will not meet with President Trump alone, like of course the fired FBI Director James Comey did, unless McCabe has the OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: As you know, we have a well developed and long-known White House contacts policy between the Department of Justice, the FBI and the White House. And I am aware of what that policy is. So I have talked to the deputy attorney general about that and any contact that I have or would have with the president would be approved by the deputy attorney general first.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Jessica Schneider is outfront. And, Jessica, you know, this comes as this meeting between McCabe and Mueller could be extremely crucial to how this investigation goes from here.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. You know, it's all about doling out resources so Mueller can do a thorough investigation. So acting FBI Director McCabe says he's already had many discussions with Mueller and his team of investigators. And McCabe is promising that Mueller will in fact be fully resourced. The two will be meeting some time in the next 24 hours.
Now, the special counsel's investigation is proceeding simultaneously with four other congressional committee probes. And Mueller has actually been meeting with leaders of those committees to work out parameters for each probe.
In fact, Mueller met today with the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Dianne Feinstein talked to reporters after that meeting. She said that investigating obstruction of justice is still on the table for her committee and she said, Erin, if there are conflicts with witnesses, that's something they'll be working out with Mueller. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.
And outfront now, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, our Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston and National Security Correspondent for "The New York Times," Matthew Rosenberg.
Matt, let me start with this issue, of course, of Bob Mueller met with leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, as Jessica pointed out, met with House Intel leaders yesterday, hiring more lawyers every day. Is his investigation picking up steam?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I think it's premature to say it's picking up steam. Look, it's a big investigation. We know that now. They need to staff up. A few weeks ago they were still looking for office space. They didn't have -- their office couldn't -- they didn't have a room --
ROSENBERG: -- where they could legally view classified documents. So they've got to get things in place.
And, you know, there are constitutional questions here. There are obviously criminal questions. There are counterintelligence questions. And I think, you know, they're still drawing up (ph) a budget. That will probably give us an indication of something this investigation is going to be when that budget comes and if we get to see it.
BURNETT: And when -- and do you have any sense as to when that will be, when we'll actually know the numbers behind this?
ROSENBERG: No, I don't. I'm not sure they do yet either. BURNETT: Yeah.
ROSENBERG: But we know this is a big spun investigation. And if you were in the Trump orbit and you had any contact with Russia, you know, they're looking at that and there's just also the basic feature of understanding the Russian attempt to hack the election, which they're trying to do as well.
BURNETT: And, John, you know, the Senate Intelligence Committee when it comes to who is doing what, right, this crucial issue, they have said they won't look into whether or not the president himself tried to obstruct justice. They're going to leave that Bob Mueller, right, so that they're not stepping on each other. But the chairman of Judiciary Committee today told Manu Raju that everything is on the table for them, including obstruction of justice. Here's Senator Grassley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, (R) SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: There's some areas that I won't go into that I think are very definitely that he can't interfere with. Probably some -- he'll tell us that there are some that we can't interfere with.
RAJU: Is obstruction one of those areas of possibly the president obstructing justice?
GRASSLEY: I think that everything is on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Everything is on the table. Let me ask you, John. How significant is it that Chuck Grassley, who is a Republican, is not ruling out obstruction when it comes to the president himself?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he's throwing a signal to the White House that they are going to have a full investigation. It's interesting that they are putting obstruction on the table. There like -- there may be 15 statutes that could be applicable here, and they have no prosecuting facilities at all. All they're doing is looking for information.
[19:20:12] While they're not an inappropriate body, they're not the most appropriate body to be looking at this. So, it's a little surprise that they're reaching out and saying, "Yeah, we'd look at obstruction as well." I think that's something they're more likely to accidentally stumble into rather than to try to target.
BURNETT: It is interesting, though, Mark, when you look at Chuck Grassley saying this himself when you look at history, when you look at Watergate, right? What was the turning point there was when it was Republicans who were willing to ask these questions of their president. And we haven't seen that from -- that many Republicans here, but certainly, Chuck Grassley putting obstruction on the table. From that perspective alone could be significant. MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, no doubt. And it is significant for three quick reasons. One is Chuck Grassley is somebody who understands that there are three branches of government and Congress has oversight of the executive branch of the administration. So the fact that he's doing that really I think has long-term consequences quite frankly, because he needs to protect the sanctity of what Congress does.
Second thing is by showing willingness to do this it will alleviate some concerns that decisions will be made based upon political thoughts or outcomes basically. And, quite frankly, the third reason is his willingness to be open about it now is that, as Matthew said, this is a sprawling investigation.
PRESTON: The idea that you could get it all out there now and try to wrap this up as quick as you can, that's a good thing for the country.
BURNETT: And, Matthew, the big question is, how big will this get, right? You had your reporting on "The New York Times," which I just mentioned and we played to Congressman Castro about Michael Flynn.
You know, you're saying, look, top officials at the CIA and every other intelligence agency had come to the conclusion that General Flynn was an issue, was a risk, could be susceptible to Russian blackmail. During that time that they have reached that conclusion, he was still being briefed daily.
One of the people sitting there in the room as he was briefing him was the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, both sitting at the same time. Pompeo was asked directly whether he knew of all these Flynn concerns in Congress and I just want to play again briefly that exchange with Ron Wyden. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WYDEN: Did you have any indication, second-hand, any sense at all that the national security advisor might be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians? That is a yes or no question.
POMPEO: It's actually not a yes or no question, Senator. I can't answer yes or no. I regret that I'm unable to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Matthew, from your reporting, is it possible that Pompeo, who was a sitting CIA director briefing Flynn, did not know about CIA concerns that Flynn could be blackmailed?
ROSENBERG: You know, that's one of the big questions here. Look, there are two options. We know that the CIA shared the same concerns that the DOJ and FBI and the Department of Justice, and that's what drove acting Attorney General Sally Yates go talk to the White House. We know the CIA had those concerns. There were 21 days between when Pompeo was confirmed and Flynn was fired. So the two options here are the CIA not tell their new director about the concerns or did they tell the new director and he chose not to share it with Trump. As you also know, from what we've been told --
ROSENBERG: -- he did not tell Trump. Neither one of those are great options if you're Mike Pompeo, if you're the CIA, if you're this administration.
ROSENBERG: There's nothing illegal there, obviously, but there is an issue over, you know, what exactly is going on there? What were the politics around this? And that's something that's really still outstanding.
BURNETT: It's a very serious question. And, Mark Preston, it's also raises the question about how this is getting wider in some ways and not narrower when you're hearing about more names and more questions.
PRESTON: And more investigations. I mean, the fact is you have multiple committees right now in Congress that are looking into this --
BURNETT: Or committees, right, plus Mueller, yeah.
PRESTON: Right, right. And you have Director Mueller looking in and he's staffing up and putting some very smart people on it.
Look, the best thing for President Trump to do, I mean, I think the best thing for him to do is to really open up the books and say, "Listen, well, let's get this over as quick as possible," instead of going on Twitter and trying to pick fights with members of his own administration, you know, whether that's the deputy attorney general or going directly after Robert Mueller.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And next, the breaking news, live pictures of President Trump speaking in Iowa. He's about to head to a campaign style rally to take a victory lap for his party's big election wins last night. We will be there live.
And is there any question that Russia meddled in the 2016 election? Republicans, Democrats, intelligence experts, they all agree, this is not a question anymore. It's a fact. But the President of the United States and my guests aren't so sure. Why?
[19:28:08] BURNETT: Breaking news, live pictures. That's the President of the United States obviously. He is speaking at a community college in Iowa addressing farmers in Cedar Rapids. And from there, he is immediately going to go to what is being billed as a victory rally. We're going to be, of course, there with you live.
You see that room gathering. These are the crowds that the president relishes. It is the first time he'll be speaking publicly since those two very high profile Republican wins last night, House races in Georgia and South Carolina. As we await the President of the United States, Sara Murray is out front.
MURRAY (voice-over): Today, President Trump is hitting the road for a rally in Iowa, a chance for this embattled president to do one of the things (inaudible), savors the sweet taste of victory.
TRUMP: And I said, you know, I think I'm going to win this state and I won the state easily, right?
Breaking news, Donald Trump has won North Carolina. That was unbelievable.
You remember Ohio, oh, boy. It was supposed to be close. It wasn't close.
MURRAY (voice-over): It wasn't actually Trump who notched a win Tuesday evening. That would be Republican Karen Handel who picked up a House seat in Georgia's special election. But Trump and his aides are still rejoicing, noting a race that was billed by some as a referendum on Trump's presidency broke for the GOP.
Trump tweeting, "Well, the special elections are over and those that want to make America great again are 5 and 0. All the fake news, all the money spent equals zero."
The president also chastising the Democrats saying, "Democrats would do much better as a party if they got together with Republicans on health care, tax cuts, security. Obstruction doesn't work." And Trump allies relish the win.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They want to make this all about Donald Trump great. It's about Donald Trump and he's winning.
MURRAY, (voice-over): Democrats are 0-4 on special elections. But they're still insisting hope is alive and arguing the midterm election map could still work in their favor.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) MARYLAND: There are lots of congressional districts that are currently held by Republicans that are not nearly as ruby red as either of these two districts last night. And, so, cutting down that margin should actually give comfort to lots of Democrats and should actually scare a lot of Republicans.
MURRAY: But the GOP victory this week could relieve some pressure on Republicans readying for tough votes -- in particular, unexpected Senate vote on the Republican health care plan.
The White House making clear the ball is firmly in the Senate's court. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, the Senate is
the -- is where the action is right now.
MURRAY: So much so that a senior administration official admitted the White House hasn't even seen the Senate health care bill in its entirety. That's exactly how senators and their top aides on Capitol Hill want it. They have made it clear to the White House, the more hands off Trump is during the process, the better for the bill's prospect.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And OUTFRONT now with more, David Gergen, our senior political analyst, former presidential adviser to four presidents. Jackie Kucinich, political analyst, Washington bureau chief of "The Daily Beast", and Nia Malika Henderson, our senior political reporter.
All right. Jackie, we've got the president going to be coming to this rally any moment. He is just wrapping up some comments as I said at a community college there in Cedar Rapids. Then he's going to be going here to this rally in a place, Iowa, and the kind of setting that he loves.
How important is this rally for the president?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is going to put wind back into his sails. He's had a tough couple weeks, and he does love these rallies and he loves taking credit for things -- good things that happen, that may or may not have anything to do with him, because the fact of the matter is and particularly in Georgia, Karen Handel won that seat. It had very little to do with Donald Trump, who she barely mentioned if at all during her campaign down there.
But in terms of this is friendly territory for Trump. It is friendly people. I think we'll probably hear if the past is any kind of guide, we'll probably hear a little bit of narration about all of the winning that has happened and, you know, we'll see campaign Trump, where he is most comfortable.
BURNETT: And you know what, Nia, and as we watch everyone getting ready here for the president, you know, it is like a flash back, right, to the campaign. But these are the moments that he has enjoyed the most. You know, he went on Twitter. He took credit for these wins last night.
Kellyanne Conway actually came out with a tweet. Thanks to everyone who breathlessly and snarkily proclaimed Georgia 6th as a referendum on POTUS, @RealDonaldTrump. You are right. Winning.
Nia, is he right to go in front of that crowd tonight, is he justified to take this as a victory lap?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I think even if he would have lost, he probably would have taken a victory lap or even if Karen Handel wouldn't have won that race, he would have said, well, if she mentioned me, maybe she would have won that race.
So, yes, I mean, I think we'll see classic Donald Trump tonight. He will be boastful. He would be braggadocios. I mean, there is so much crowing going on with Republicans for that win down in Georgia.
And, listen, they did win. Karen Handel pulled it through. You had a top surrogates out there in the last kind of days of that campaign. Sonny Purdue, Tom Price there, basically rallying Republicans to do what they always do, which is to vote for Republicans and rally around the flag. I think that's what ended up happening.
That district, a ruby red district. There was an outlier campaign in terms of 2016 and Hillary Clinton did very well. But typically, that's a red district and those voters are socially conservative, religiously conservatives, and not enough Democrats in that district to make it competitive for Democrats.
BURNETT: You know, it's a big win for the president whose approval ratings, everyone has pointed out, are abysmal. They were that abysmal, you would think that they'd be losing, GOP candidates would be losing. But as Sara Murray just pointed, 0-4. Democrats are 0-4.
David Gergen, the president about to approach this rally and we can now report at this moment just confirming he is going to be holding his first re-election fundraiser before he's gotten anything passed through Congress. He's going to host his first reelection fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next Wednesday.
So, he is now, you know, full roll ahead at those sorts of events.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me just say first of all, after being so critical on Donald Trump on so many occasions, I think this is one occasion where we ought to say he deserves to take a victory lap. Any president in his shoes would do exactly what he's doing --
GERGEN: -- and that is impressing voters for the fact that he was assaults on different states and Republicans won all four. And this last one, you can't get away from the fact that in Georgia, this was seen as a test of whether the resistance by Democrats was going to overpower the Republicans or whether the Trump vote would hold. His vote held. So, you know, this is a deserved victory lap.
[19:35:02] Now, the Democrats can say, yes, but in all four we narrowed the difference from last time there was an election to this time. You know, it's down ten points or more in some of these states. And that's true. It is also true that, you know, off the air elections like this are not good predictors of what's going to happen in 2018, a critical off year elections of that year.
But, but, you know, what's really important is that Donald Trump has seized the narrative back, that he's doing better with the voters than Democrats think he is. It should be a wake-up call for Democrats. It is possible that he could actually get re-elected if Democrats aren't careful.
BURNETT: Oh, yes. And, look, going ahead with this, I think it's important, right? He is going to have this fundraiser before he had that health care vote, even if they even get -- as they're scheduled to, Jackie.
One thing, Jackie, to you, before we go, what do the Democrats need to do here? Look, these are bad losses for them, 0-4. "Politico" quoting one Democratic insider today saying, we no longer have a party capable of riding the wave. We have 80-year-old leaders, 90-year-old ranking members. This isn't a party. It's a giant assisted living center.
Are Democrats going to take this seriously?
BURNETT: Obviously, the comment is a nasty won. But the loss after loss after loss, and this president scoring victory after victory.
KUCINICH: It's true. I mean, I'm not a Democratic strategist, but I can say, Democrats do have the power to change their leaders. They do have elections and right now, you haven't seen a real -- if not Nancy Pelosi who has been really someone who has been attacked today, who?
They haven't been able to answer that question. No one else has built the coalition she has within the Democratic caucus. You know, one of the things you hear from Democrats in D.C. is that they don't have a solid economic message or a solid message to coalesce around, and they're working on it but they are deep in the wilderness right now and pretty darn depressed.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
And OUTFRONT next, it's a fact Russia meddled in the election, and one top official tonight says Vladimir Putin personally ordered it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So why does the president refuse to believe it?
And health care show down. Senate Republicans set to unveil their bill in just hours. What do doctors think? We have a special report OUTFRONT.
[19:41:05] BURNETT: New tonight, the former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson taking on President Trump. Johnson says it is a fact. He said in testimony today that the Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the U.S. election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In 2016, the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's a fact. And it, of course, though, is something the White House and the president himself has not acknowledged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Could have been China. Could have been a hot lot of different groups.
It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?
I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Republican congressman from Iowa, Steve King.
And, Congressman, good to have you with me. I appreciate you coming on the show.
You heard -- you've joined the president I know in the past. You have questioned the conclusion of Russian interference at times and, you know, you have heard Jeh Johnson saying it's a fact, plain and simple, that Putin's government was behind the hacking. He joins 17 intelligence agencies, obviously, countless top intel officials who have all said the same under oath.
What's your response?
REP. STEVE KING (R-IA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I don't know if it's all of them saying the same under oath, that'd be 17. But I have heard from the intelligence community the summary that you delivered, Erin.
And I'd say this, then show us the evidence. I mean, I have heard the statement and Jeh Johnson made a very clear statement that he hammered out. That's a fact, plain and simple.
But show me those facts. All I have heard is those opinions of the facts from the people that are former officials that were all under President Obama.
And, so, there is no reason for this to be classified and there is, furthermore, the DNC didn't allow the FBI to go in and investigate their computers. There was an intermediate contractor there and I'm starting -- the suspicion is growing in me about the credibility of some of the intelligence -- parts of the intelligence community, especially after James Comey confessed to leaking very important documents to "The New York Times."
BURNETT: So, let me just make this point. Obviously, as you say evidence. It is evidence, of course, that all these officials have seen. But you say they're former under President Obama. Not all of them, though, Congressman.
Some of President Trump's own administration have very definitively said the exact same thing. They have seen the intelligence and the proof. They are definitive. Here are three of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election. There's no question about that.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think there's any question that the Russians were playing around in our electoral processes.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: So, it's the secretary of sate, the CIA director and, of course, Nikki Haley to the U.N. I mean, these are current officials who work for Donald Trump. Are they wrong?
KING: But we're presuming they have seen this evidence.
BURNETT: Well, you just heard Rex Tillerson.
KING: They might be just playing off of --
BURNETT: Rex Tillerson has seen it, says there is no question.
KING: Did he testify that he's seen this evidence? Did he tell us what it was? Because I have not yet --
BURNETT: He testified that he has seen the evidence and he said that he had no question from it. He obviously did not tell us the evidence himself.
KING: And I'd like to add a follow up question for Secretary Tillerson on that. What was the evidence that you saw? Was there a report from the intelligence community, or was it actual documents that showed the hacking efforts that allegedly came out of the Russians?
I'm not denying that happened. I just don't know why we first found out about this from leaks from the intelligence community. Then we find out one of the head people in our intelligence community is confessing that he intentionally leaked information to his political advantage and to the disadvantage of the president.
So, we need more credibility than we've been seeing and we need to see evidence in front of us before I can accept this idea.
BURNETT: But what would -- what more do you want when you have all of the people in the intelligence community saying it, including Donald Trump's CIA director, Mike Pompeo? They are all saying it. What would their motive be to lie or to obfuscate about something so crucial, as an attack on the United States democratic process by Vladimir Putin and Russia?
[19:45:08] KING: I'm not asserting that they are lying. I just understand how this government works and I'm one who sat in on the intelligence of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein had. I went out to the Pentagon and sat in a tank and saw that classified briefing. I have several classified briefings on that.
I've got I think a feel for how this intelligence gets interpreted, how it gets presented and I also am around people that will accept the definition or the analysis of the evidence and describe it as evidence.
So, I just think that it shouldn't be classified. The American people should know what is this evidence, how did the Russians try to hack into the DNC?
We also heard Jeh Johnson say it didn't affect the election. So, I'm happy enough to look into this. I believe that there's more than a kernel of truth in it. It probably happened.
But it shouldn't be hard to prove if it's so convincing to people and why would it be classified.
BURNETT: So, you're willing to say it probably happened, but you're not willing to be definitive.
BURNETT: You know, look, they said, Congressman, that part of the reason they can't give some of these details is that it would compromise their sources and it could compromise our ability to stop these sorts of attacks in the future. Is that not good enough for you?
KING: Well, then I'll come to a classified briefing and I'll sit in there and they could provide all of that. I think that that should be the case.
And then, by the way, we're watching an America that's all wrapped up over Russian investigation here, trying to find a way that was tied to some of the people that were satellites in the Trump campaign. And, you know, while this is going on, then if we're going to dig deeper into this investigation -- first of all, we don't know there were any crimes committed by people in the Trump campaign. But I think then we need to expand this investigation if we're going to have an investigation and Robert Mueller has gone past his first dozen of the people he's hired, then we ought to be looking at the things we know are crimes, such as the espionage leaks (ph), the violations of espionage that we know took place under Hillary Clinton.
How was it that James Comey could present a summary of the prosecution of Hillary Clinton on July 5th of last year and at the end of that reverse all the things he said and say, but I'm not going to call for charges? This starts -- it's calling for us to go back and rake through all of that again, and I don't want America to be tied up with investigations. I want to move forward.
But if we have to, then we need to go back further and get to the bottom of everything.
BURNETT: When you raise some questions like you do, and you -- you know, you're a lightening rod in many ways, you said a lot of things that, look, gotten people pretty upset.
KING: All true.
BURNETT: Pretty upset, right?
KING: They're all true, Erin.
BURNETT: One of them was actually recently. You made a lot of headlines after the shooting of Steve Scalise, who I know is a good friend of yours and I want everyone to know he's doing better. He's in fair condition tonight.
BURNETT: Which is something everyone should celebrate.
After the shooting, though, Congressman, you came out and said President Obama shared some of the blame. That President Obama shared some of the blame for Steve Scalise being shot.
I wanted to play for you what you said and the reason I wanted to do is --
KING: Please do.
BURNETT: -- is right after you said it, Congressman Will Hurd came on the show with me and heard what you said and responded. So, you are going to hear yourself and then you're going to hear what he had to say. Here it is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KING: I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack Obama. He contributed mightily to dividing us.
RADIO HOST: I agree. Oh, I do agree.
KING: He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the proof of that labor.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Pointing fingers doesn't help, right? So, we all should be talking about politics the way we want everyone talking about it, instead of pointing fingers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you have any regrets, Congressman, that that wasn't the moment to point a finger and to try to blame someone for a shooting?
KING: I would say instead when that some of that statement -- some of the statements that were published I made were made on site, on location, in Alexandria, near the ball field, shortly after I learned of the shooting. But I'm not going to excuse any of that away. In fact, those statements were supported by the facts that later poured out.
We didn't know he had a hit list in his shirt pocket that named six members of Congress. We didn't know, at least I didn't know at the time that he had asked Jeff Duncan and also Ron DeSantis, are these members of Congress practicing here, are they Republicans, are they Democrats?
BURNETT: But --
KING: And he got the answer back they're Republicans.
BURNETT: But do you have any regrets --
KING: So these things confirmed what I have said.
BURNETT: -- for coming out on the radio and saying, former President Obama, I want to put some of these at the feet of Barack Obama? Do you have any regret for that comment?
KING: Erin, the answer is no. But those also I have made those statements for nearly eight years. When President Obama made the issue about Professor Gates and Officer Crowley, I called him out on that then. When he made the statement about SB 1070, Arizona's immigration law and he said that a Hispanic mother and her daughter could be going out for ice cream and conceivably be pulled over and asked for their papers, the law prohibits that, but he made an issue of it.
You could go to -- you could go to George Zimmerman and the Trayvon Martin case and see how he exploited that. He didn't help heal this country together. I wish he would have.
BURNETT: What about Mexicans being rapists and banning Muslims?
[19:50:01] KING: Well, that's, course of, that's Donald Trump.
BURNETT: I mean, would those things be contributing to divisive also?
KING: And, by the way, we've heard what Donald Trump had to say about that.
KING: He didn't call -- you know, you can interpret that, the implication was of everybody, but it wasn't. And he came back and clarified that statement.
And I don't know that was a very healthy thing to say either. But we had a president elected in a perfect position to heal the divisions up in this country, and Barack Obama failed in that regard, and 73 percent of America thinks we're further divided than we were before he became president.
And I think we need to go the other direction with that. But we've got to speak about these things accurately. And what I said out on that ball field that day last Wednesday after that brutal, politically motivated shooting by a man who was probably radicalized by a lot of this dialogue is exactly on target and most of the public agrees with me on it.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman King. I appreciate you being on the show.
KING: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, Jeanne Moos on the newscast with no news, on a network Trump calls a beauty.
And the big health care reveal hours away. Doctors diagnosing the problem, OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I say it's broken?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unequivocally broken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news: White House staffers being briefed tonight on Senate Republicans' health care bill, which is expected to be unveiled tomorrow, just a few days before they hopefully want to vote on it. We'll see about that.
Martin Savidge talks to some doctors about their cure for the broken system.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kitsap County, Washington state, an hour's drive west of Seattle.
Like anywhere in America, a place where people need health care, and a way to pay for it.
Kristan Guenterberg is a surgeon. Peter Lehmann, a primary physician. Niran Al-Agba, pediatrician. Different doctors. Different politics.
DR. PETER LEHMANN, FAMILY MEDICINE: I voted for Gary Johnson.
SAVIDGE (on camera): The libertarian.
LEHMANN: The libertarian candidate.
DR. NIRAN AL-AGBA, PEDIATRICIAN: I voted for Donald Trump.
[19:55:02] DR. KRISTAN GUENTERBERG, GENERAL SURGERY: I voted for Hillary Clinton.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): You might think there's little they agree on. Wrong. They all believe the current health care system is unsustainable.
LEHMANN: Can I say it's broken?
SAVIDGE (on camera): Yeah.
LEHMANN: I say it's unequivocally broken.
LEHMANN: Ask any patient. Do you think it's a system that serves their needs and that they're happy with?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Under programs dominated by health insurers, they say doctors are stressed to see more and more patients to make ends meet. Patients are frustrated because they can't get an appointment to see a doctor. And when they finally do, only get a few minutes. It's all about numbers.
GUENTERBERG: We're kind of looking in the wrong direction. We need to be looking at how do you provide quality care for patients without driving up price?
SAVIDGE: That's the Democrat doctor criticizing Obamacare, and the Trump doctor says the new GOP plan is just as bad and will cover fewer people.
AL-AGBA: Well, I don't think it's better. I think we're probably on the wrong track.
SAVIDGE: Dr. Al-Agba even told Trump that in a letter she posted online, begging: Please go back to the drawing board and start again.
The problem, they say, is not all the talk about which party's health care plan is better. It's that Washington is having the wrong conversation.
(on camera): We're spending too much time talking about how do we cover people with insurance, rather than what? AL-AGBA: Rather than talking with patients about the price for care,
and what is really -- what is the real cost?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): The skyrocketing cost of everything in health care they say it's what makes it unaffordable, and thereby inaccessible. And because they daily battle with cost versus care, doctors have a lot of good ideas on how to fix things.
Except whatever Democrats or Republicans discuss health care reform, the doctors say there's always something missing, which they noticed again in a photo of Trump and his team.
LEHMANN: There were no physicians, not one.
SAVIDGE: What about the doctor appointed secretary of health?
Tom Price, they say, has for a long time been more politician than physician.
(on camera): Why wouldn't we come to you? You're all on the front lines so to speak.
AL-AGBA: Front line practicing physicians have a long history of not necessarily being at the table. And I think it's a shame we haven't been, because if we had been more involved from the beginning, we might be in a different position.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Erin, I should point out that these doctors, they don't want to come across as dumping on health insurance companies. They do believe that health insurance has a role to play. It's just not the whole solution.
And the doctors want to be actively part of the discussion, because they knew more than anybody, whether it's Obamacare or the latest Republican plan, when it comes to health care in this nation, we just can't keep going the same way we're going -- Erin.
BURNETT: Martin Savidge, thank you very much. As we said, hours away from seeing what's in that Republican plan they've done behind closed doors.
And now finally figured it out, President Trump's favorite kind of news anchor. It is the silent kind. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's what the news sounds like when the anchor doesn't make a sound.
For four minutes, BBC's flagship news at 10:00 was silent, except for breaking news announcements run amuck.
During those four long minutes of technical meltdown, veteran newsman Hugh Edwards (ph) sat calmly, with only the occasional facial flinch. Tweeted one viewer, kind of absorbing, like a lava lamp.
After so much bad news lately, tweeted someone else, wasn't it lovely sort of time-out from all the craziness?
No matter how many times they played the graphic saying breaking news, the news remained broken.
A show editor blamed it on a technical system crash seconds before airtime. The veteran anchor told Radio 4 --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was so much going on in the director's gallery, that nobody bothered to tell me, of course, that I was actually on air. I have to say, I sensed that I probably was, so I tried to behave myself.
MOOS: He played with his mouse and scribbled, prompting everybody to ask, what did you start writing, help? I think he was writing down his order for dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was listening to all this pandemonium in the background.
MOOS: We do know one guy who especially appreciated four minutes of silence from the BBC.
TRUMP: Where are you from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The BBC.
TRUMP: OK, here's another beauty.
MOOS: And speaking of beauty, after the meltdown ended, cue the anchor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight at 10:00.
MOOS: Actually, 10:04. Edwards' only sign of stress was his post- newscast tweet. A double dragon ale, I think I'm going to enjoy this little beauty after that 10:00, followed by the Welsh equivalent of cheers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lechyd da!
MOOS: Rename that newscast Zen at 10:00.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: A beauty.