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Mueller Probing Kushner's Business Moves During Transition; Trump Attacks Obama in Latest Tweet on Russia Meddling; School Killer in Court: More Signs of Missed Warnings. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired February 19, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Probing Kushner's deals. In a CNN exclusive, we're learning that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into presidential son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner's efforts to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential transition, even as Kushner still lacks a full White House security clearance.
[17:00:29] Tweet and sour. President Trump attacks former President Obama in the latest tweet of an extraordinary tirade targeting the FBI, Democrats and Oprah. Is the president trying to distract from the special counsel's indictment of 13 Russians for election meddling?
Russia's Internet spies. We'll take you to a troll farm where Russia's Internet spies target an American's election through a disinformation campaign spread through social media.
And troubling revelations. As the Florida high school shooter appears in court, we're getting new information about his extensive arsenal and his disturbing behavior while the couple who took him in speaks out.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news: a CNN exclusive. The special counsel's investigation reaches President Trump's family and their finances. Sources say Robert Mueller is looking beyond presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's Russia contacts, focusing in on his efforts to get foreign funding for his company during the presidential transition.
The president is still fuming over Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Just a short while ago, he tweeted, asking why President Obama didn't do something about the Russian meddling.
That follows a weekend Twitter tirade in which the president lashed out in all directions, sparking outrage when he seemed to blame the FBI and the Russia probe for last week's school massacre in Florida even as funerals continue for the 17 victims.
I'll speak with Congressman Andre Carson of the House Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are all standing by with full coverage. But let's begin with the breaking news, a CNN exclusive. As the
special counsel looks into the foreign business interests of presidential son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, joining us now, our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.
Shimon, update our viewers on the very latest.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, CNN has learned that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is now asking questions about Jared Kushner's personal business dealings during the presidential transition.
We're told by people who are familiar with the investigation that Mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions Kushner had with potential Chinese and Qatari investors.
Now, this is the first indication that Mueller wants to know about contacts the president's son-in-law had with foreigners outside of Russia. The discussions revolved around this building in Manhattan. That's 666 Fifth Avenue, which Kushner's company owns. The financing on the company is in debt by over $1 billion. It's not clear what is behind Mueller's specific interests in the financing. We're told that the special counsel hasn't asked the Kushner companies for information. He also has not asked for interviews with other executives from the Kushners' companies.
A spokesman for the special counsel has declined to comment, and moments ago, Wolf, we received a statement from Abbe Lowell. Let me go ahead and read that to you. And it says, "Another quote, another source with questionable motives, now contradicts the facts. In all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked, nor documents sought on the 666 building or Kushner company deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions."
This is Kushner's attorney just now giving us this statement, Abbe Lowell, which I just read. He just handed the statement over to us.
BLITZER: It's another anonymous source. He's blaming another anonymous source.
PROKUPECZ: We have several sources on this. Certainly, this story is not based on one -- on one source. And we also know, Wolf, that several people that have gone before the special counsel have been asked these questions.
BLITZER: What about the meetings specifically? do you have some details on how these meetings unfolded?
PROKUPECZ: Well, in terms of -- so we don't have our own information. "The New York Times" and others have done stories about discussions that Jared Kushner had. One in particular was Anbang, which is a Chinese insurance company. They also owned the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. There were discussions with them about potentially investing in the 666 property. They pulled out, surprisingly. At the last minute, they pulled out. There was always a Qatari investor who was going to invest in the
building. That person then pulled out, as well.
[17:05:08] BLITZER: The whole notion of what Mueller might be up to right now, it raises lots of questions. What is he -- based on what we're hearing, what is he trying to figure out as far as the overall Russia probe is concerned?
PROKUPECZ: Well, honestly, Wolf, that's not entirely clear to us. We know that these questions have been asked of people. We know that investigators have been looking at this.
And one person basically cautioned us to say this is -- they're exploring. Perhaps maybe investigators -- investigators are just exploring here. But nonetheless, it is significant that these kinds of questions have been posed to people who have appeared before the special counsel. And it's not just about financial dealings, perhaps.
But it's also just, in general, about Kushner's -- Jared Kushner's contacts with foreigners, with foreign nationals, during the transition.
BLITZER: What have we heard from the Qatari company involved? Or the Chinese company involved?
PROKUPECZ: So we've reached out to both. And we've not -- we've never heard back from the Qataris and Anbang, a representative for them, a spokesperson declined to comment.
BLITZER: Based on everything you're hearing, Shimon, could Kushner face any charges?
PROKUPECZ: That's not clear. There's no indication that, in this case, because of this, that Kushner is a target in the investigation.
BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz, good reporting, you and your team. Thank you very, very much.
President Trump is heading back to Washington after spending the weekend in Florida, stewing over the special counsel's indictment of Russians for meddling in the U.S. election. Just a little while ago, he fired off the latest tweet of an extraordinary tirade.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown.
Pamela, the president has been going -- he's very angry. Going ballistic, some would say. What are the results? What's behind his outburst?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. The tweet storm continues into today. And the president stayed inside his Mar-a-Lago resort most of this holiday weekend, stewing over TV coverage about Russia and the FBI. And it didn't take long before he unleashed on Twitter, taking aim at his political foes, including his predecessor. But notably, not Russia.
BROWN (voice-over): President Trump began his Presidents' Day at his Florida golf course after deciding to avoid the links Saturday and Sunday in the aftermath of last week's mass shooting.
After golfing, he took to Twitter, blaming his predecessor, tweeting, "Obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election. So why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?"
The president has spent much of the weekend raging on Twitter at his Mar-a-Lago resort, watching cable news and getting riled up by his sons Don Jr. and Eric, who urged their father to take a tougher stance with the FBI after it was revealed the agency failed to follow up on a tip about the Florida shooter.
"Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable," the president tweeted. "They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There was no collusion."
In the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians for meddling in the 2016 election, the president appears to be lashing out at everyone but Russia. First, he fired off a tweet suggesting he had been vindicated in the Russia probe pointing to comments by the deputy attorney general.
But Rod Rosenstein never definitively said there was no collusion, merely that this specific indictment does not include collusion.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: There's no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge. And the nature of the scheme was that the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists.
BROWN: The top Democrat overseeing the Houses intelligence investigation, Adam Schiff, seizing on the indictments of the 13 Russian nationals as clear-cut evidence of Russian meddling.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It ought to put to rest for anyone, including the president, who continues to call this a witch hunt, that the evidence is now overwhelming and unequivocal. And we need to move to protect ourselves from Russian interference in elections that are coming up.
BROWN: The president choosing instead to focus on comments Schiff made about the Obama administration, Trump tweeting, "Finally, Little Adam Schiff blaming the Obama administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Obama was president, knew of the threat, and did nothing."
SCHIFF: I've said all along that I thought the Obama administration should have done more.
None of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands. Knowing what he knows our Intelligence Committee knows now in this excruciating detail about the Russian effort, it is inexplicable that the president of the United States continues to sit on sanctions that Congress passed, that Congress wants enforced against Russia over this interference.
BROWN: For its part, the White House is avoiding specifics.
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS'S "FOX & FRIENDS": Can we expect the president to have additional action against this country who clearly doesn't fear or respect us?
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I won't get ahead of what the president is prepared to announce, but I wouldn't for one second say that his foreign policy has not been effective.
[17:10:05] BROWN: Trump also claiming he never said Russia did not meddle, contradicting himself from the past.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Could have been a lot of people had interfered. I said it very -- I said it very simply. I think it could have very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.
BROWN: But the president claims the multiple Russia investigations are satisfying Putin's plan, tweeting, "If it was the goal of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos, then with all the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart, America."
This as his deputy White House press secretary, Hogan Gidley, deflected blame on Russia by accusing Democrats and the media of dividing the nation.
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians. And that's the Democrats and the mainstream media who continued to push this lie on the American people for more than a year and, quite frankly, Americans should be outraged by that.
BROWN: And the president is expected to arrive back at the White House within the hour. This as demonstrators spent the day outside of the White House engaging in a lie-in, calling for stricter gun control.
We are told by a source familiar that the president spent part of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago getting input from his friends there on the gun issue. But it's unclear, Wolf, what will happen next in terms of concrete steps to address the issue.
BLITZER: All right, Pamela. Thank you very much. Pamela Brown reporting.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. REP. ANDRE CARSON (D), INDIANA: What a pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Let's begin with the breaking news. You just heard it here on CNN, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he's looking at Jared Kushner's financial dealings, including contacts with investors in China and Qatar, for that matter.
Is that a subject of interest for the House Intelligence Committee, as well?
CARSON: Well, we've not yet gotten to that point. However, I will say that Mr. Kushner is a businessman, obviously. I think it's kind of suspicious for Mr. Kushner to have met with this particular Chinese investor a week after Trump's election. So might he be leveraging his position with the administration and with the Trump campaign effort to solidify a business deal? We don't know. Stay tuned.
BLITZER: Some have raised concerns, as you well know, Congressman, that Kushner's business interests could pose a very serious conflict of interest, especially during his time running the presidential transition. He was deeply involved in that.
Is there anything in particular that worries you?
CARSON: Well, I'm always concerned when you have folks who are in federal positions misusing their authority. I think it's a concern for all of us. Sometimes it happens unknowingly. But I think in this case, it could perhaps be deliberate, but we have yet to see. We're going to wait for Director Mueller's investigation and see where the House Intel Committee picks up -- picks it up from there.
BLITZER: The president is sounding off on Twitter, as you know of, in light of last week's indictments by Robert Mueller and his investigators against 13 Russians. He tweeted this. Let me put it up on the screen.
"Obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election, so why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?" closed quote. He's not only blaming -- he's not the only one blaming the Obama administration. There have been others, including some Democrats, who've criticized former President Obama for not taking action against Russia sooner. Did the Obama administration during its time in office until January 20, 2017, drop the ball?
CARSON: Well, I won't say they dropped the ball. But I think more could have been done. I think that the administration was cautious and a bit apprehensive, quite frankly. I think that their efforts could have been more focused and centered and more assertive. But we can't go back and play Monday morning quarterback. I think it's important to look at the now.
And I think that the Obama administration will admit themselves that more could have been done. I think President Obama has said it himself.
But now we're focused on the Trump administration. And I think that these indictments show very clearly that this isn't a political witch hunt. This indictment is real. It's not about Republican or Democrat. This is gold old law enforcement. And law enforcement is working. Unfortunately, we don't have the kind of relationship with Russia to bring those folks to the U.S. But the indictment is clear, and it sends a strong message that we will not tolerate Russian interference into our electoral system.
BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people agree with you. The Obama administration could have done more building up to the transition, the inauguration. But you'll remember, the president, he's been in office now for 13 months. And the question remains: what has he done in those 13 months to fight this Russia meddling in the U.S., which clearly continues as we speak right now, looking ahead towards the midterms and 2020?
[17:15:04] Some of the president's recent tweets, as you know, Congressman, also suggest he feels vindicated by last week's -- last week's indictments against those 13 Russians for their role in election meddling. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, noted that this particular indictment didn't necessarily implicate any Americans for witting -- witting -- involvement in the Russian scheme. In your view, is collusion still an open question?
CARSON: Without question. I think so. I think that's why we have this wonderful three-pronged approach from both the House and Senate intel committees and Director Mueller's special counsel effort to get to the bottom of this. And if wrongdoing hasn't occurred, then we can move forward with our lives and continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion to really focus on things that are important, Wolf, like infrastructure, improving our local economy, rebuilding our education system and doing things that really work for Americans, all Americans.
BLITZER: The president attacked the FBI on Twitter over the weekend for its failure to stop last week's high school massacre in Florida, blaming them for, quote, "spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign," closed quote.
What's your reaction to that?
CARSON: Well, the FBI admitted that they could have done more, which I feel was noble for the FBI to admit that kind of thing during these times.
But I also think that Trump -- Mr. President Trump has a habit of blaming folks and not taking responsibility. And I think thinks kind of diversion tactic or red herring is really wearing thinly on the American people.
I think now we have to focus on the crux of these recent discoveries, particularly the indictments, and see where we stand. Now is the time to not blame but stand firmly as a leader. He made a campaign promise to lead our country. He's failing to do so.
BLITZER: Congressman Andre Carson, thanks so much for joining us.
CARSON: Always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Up next, we'll have more on our CNN exclusive as the special counsel's investigation looks into Jared Kushner's efforts to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential transition.
And the Florida high school shooter appears in court as we learn about more warning signs that were missed, and the family that sheltered him speaking out right now in shock and horror.
[17:21:47] BLITZER: We have much more ahead on the breaking news on the Russia investigation. We also are following new revelations of missing warning signs about the young man now facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Florida high school massacre. Nikolas Cruz briefly appeared in court today.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's working the story for us. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have new details tonight on disturbing information that a Florida child welfare agency had on the shooter a year and a half ago. And the family Nikolas Cruz stayed with in the weeks leading up to the shooting is now discussing what they knew about the killer.
The family who took Nikolas Cruz in for three months says they had a monster living under their roof, and they never knew it.
JAMES SNEAD, HOUSED SCHOOL SHOOTER: Everything everybody seems to know we didn't know.
TODD: James and Kimberly Snead, whose son was a friend of Cruz's, are telling news outlets they had no idea Cruz was capable of inflicting the kind of carnage he did, even though they knew he was depressed and knew he had an AR-15-style assault rifle in their house.
They spoke to ABC's "Good Morning America."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed like you had no problem with him having a weapon.
J. SNEAD: No, not at all. He followed the rules.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He followed the rules?
J. SNEAD: He followed the rules.
KIMBERLY SNEAD, HOUSED SCHOOL SHOOTER: They weren't allowed to be out if we weren't home or one of us wasn't home. And he knew that. And to our knowledge, he never had them out.
TODD: The attorney for the Sneads tells CNN they were not aware of previous police incident reports saying the police had been to the Cruz house more than 20 times between 2011 and 2016 to check on multiple outbursts reported by his now deceased mother, including one incident where she said he'd hit her with a plastic vacuum cleaner hose. And the Sneads' lawyer says they were not aware of this report from the Florida Department of Children and Families, filed in November 2016, a year before the Sneads took Cruz in.
CNN has obtained a copy of the report, detailing an in-home investigation of Cruz, indicating that the agency was aware of his posts on Snapchat of him cutting both of his arms. The report says, "Mr. Cruz is a vulnerable adult due to mental illness. He has depression." That he stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.
But then, the report concludes that his final level of risk is low, because he lived with his mother and was receiving counseling.
(on camera): Was that the right conclusion to make?
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICES: Maybe a year ago it was, but obviously, that changed over this year time period where the mother passed away. And apparently, he wasn't going to counseling anymore.
TODD (voice-over): CNN reached out to the Department of Children and Families to ask why they concluded that Cruz's level of risk was low. They didn't respond to our request.
CNN has learned the shooter had obtained at least ten firearms, all of them rifles. The Sneads say Cruz deceived them.
J. SNEAD: Before he moved in, one of the stipulations was that he had to get a gun safe. And we got a gun safe on the way back from Lantana, from moving his stuff to our house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he have -- he didn't have free access to this gun?
J. SNEAD: No, no. I thought I had the only key to the gun safe.
RODERICK: I think that's just one factor in a string of factors that caused this to happen going all the way back to matching these different reports off these 20 times that -- that law enforcement had been out there. Youth services had been out there visiting him.
TODD: Even though the Sneads' attorney says the family did not know about the Florida Department of Children and Families report about the police reports on Nikolas Cruz or about the school warnings on him, he says they did know that he was depressed, that he sought counseling, and that he had been bullied at school.
[17:25:10] Given that, we pressed the attorney on why the Snead family still allowed that AR-15-style rifle in their house. The lawyers says the Sneads were sticklers for gun safety, that they believed they had taken all the precautions they could and that the family did everything they could to steer the young man away from trouble -- Wolf. BLITZER: Brian, I understand you're also hearing that the FBI tip
last month, if it had been acted on, that tip could have tied a lot of this together.
TODD: It could have, Wolf. Our law enforcement analyst, Art Roderick, says if that tip the FBI received on January 5 had been passed on to its Miami field office, the agents there could have accessed that report from the Florida Department of Children and Families about his mental state. The FBI could have accessed the police reports and the school warnings. All of those dots could have been connected by the FBI. That missed tip, missing, you know, the passing on of that to the field office, Wolf, you cannot understate how important that was.
BLITZER: Yes. They did not connect the dots, and they've got to learn from that, make sure it doesn't happen again.
Brian, thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.
This week CNN hosts a nationally televised town hall with the school massacre's victims, classmates, parents, both the Florida senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Florida Governor Rick Scott and President Donald Trump, they declined the invitation to attend.
Be sure to watch "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action" this Wednesday night, 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, we'll have more of this hour's breaking news about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and questions about Jared Kushner's business dealings during the presidential transition.
Also breaking, the president resumes his tweet storm about Russia's election meddling with a new jab, this one directly at former President Obama.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories including CNN's exclusive reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators now asking questions about Jared Kushner's business dealings during the time of the transition after his father-in-law was elected president of the United States.
[17:31:54] Let's bring in our analysts and experts. And Samantha Vinograd, let's talk about this. A government like China, big interest -- business interests in China, would they be trying to exploit some financial dealings with someone, with high government officials, let's say, like Kushner, as leverage? What do you think about that as someone, you used to work on the National Security Council.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: They would certainly be looking to exploit someone like Kushner.
I can tell you, Wolf, I went to a lot of meetings with the Chines, and one of the cardinal rules is you don't go in without experts. I can't think of a single meeting that President Obama did, or even diplomats with decades of experience went into without having experts in the room, without having done a lot of analysis about what the Chinese were going to be trying to extrapolate from that meeting. Because the Chinese, along with the Russians, are two of our biggest counterintelligence risks.
And Jared Kushner, either because of inexperience or hubris or malign intent, went into these meetings alone, put himself in compromising situations, and for some reason thought that he was going to have the upper hand.
BLITZER: You know, David Chalian, give us the big picture right now. What does it say about Mueller's investigation that he's going into these areas, potential business dealings with Qatar or China during the transition?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the first reaction I had when I read the story was, "Wow, this isn't Russia." And so this has a wider scope than perhaps, I think, many of us realized, and Bob Mueller potentially looking into things. Again, as the story notes, we're not exactly sure of the specifics of what the Mueller team is interested in here, but clearly, the scope goes beyond simply Russia.
I think that was a pretty big -- you sort of step back and you say -- it made me think back to the president's remarks, remember, to "The New York Times," when he was asked, if this investigation goes into your finances -- it didn't ask about his son-in-law's -- goes into your finances or your family's finances, or the Trump Organization finances, would that be crossing a red line? To which the president suggested that it very well may be crossing a red line in his mind.
So does now this question of Jared Kushner's finances, if indeed Mueller is looking at it, does that cross a red line for the president?
BLITZER: Mueller also, we're told is now on the verge of working out a plea agreement, Juana, with the former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates. According to the "Los Angeles Times," Gates is prepared to testify against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. This potentially could be a very significant moment.
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It absolutely could, Wolf. Gates' cooperation could be yet another building block for Mueller's team in a possible case against the president himself or key members of his team.
But we also know he is now the third person who's cooperating into this probe. It's going to put a lot of pressure on Paul Manafort. Manafort, of course, has pleaded guilty with this indictment but he's preparing for a trial on alleged financial crimes that are unrelated, and this is his co-defender, so it can certainly put more pressure on him to perhaps go along to cooperate, as well.
BLITZER: You know, the president keeps saying, David, that this whole Russia probe is a hoax, a witch hunt, a ruse. He's got a lot of words to call it. And he denies, you know, in that tweet that we saw over the weekend, that he ever, you know, said that it was a legitimate line of questioning. But listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:35:00] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC.
How many times do I have to answer this question?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Can you just say yes or no on it?
TRUMP: Russia is a ruse.
This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
The entire thing has been a witch hunt.
The Russia story is a total fabrication.
Russia did not help me. OK? I call it the Russian hoax.
They made up the whole Russia hoax. That was a Democrat hoax.
It's a Democrat hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I guess we made the point that he did say it's a Democrat hoax. But the indictments that we saw on Friday clearly make it tougher for the president to hold to that position.
CHALIAN: Well, I don't know that it makes it tougher for the president, because he's going to continue to say it's a hoax and completely try to undermine it. It may make it tougher for some Americans to believe the president as he tries to sell that. Not his core supporters, of course, but if some of those folks in the middle read through that indictment, see that, having been tuned in to the Russian thing, see everything that you just played on tape and that the president will continue to say, and they can adjudicate that he's clearly not aligned with where the facts are in this case right now.
BLITZER: You know, Sam, he refuses to say what all of his national security folks say. All on this intelligence chiefs say, that yes, what Russia did was meddle in the U.S. election. They're continuing to do so, and they're looking ahead to do on it even in a bigger league going towards the mid-term elections and 2020. He refuses to go there at all.
VINOGRAD: He does, and I don't anticipate that changing. It's clear that he has a massive inferiority complex about how he won this election. That's clear from all of his tweets, every public statement that he makes.
And he's not fulfilling his job as president, to state the obvious. He's so focused on his own narcissism that we're pointing fingers. We're stuck in the postgame here of what Obama did or didn't do, rather than saying, "OK, they meddled. What are we going to do now?" We're under live attack, Wolf, and we're doing nothing about it.
BLITZER: His -- Juana, his CIA director says it's happening, it's a serious problem. The director of national intelligence says it. The head of the National Security Agency.
His own national security adviser, General McMaster, a three-star active-duty general, was at a conference in Munich, said there's no question about it. To which the president publicly, in a tweet, rebuked his own national security advisor, General McMaster, "Forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and Crooked H." -- Hillary -- "the DNC and the Dems. Remember the dirty dossier, uranium speeches, e-mails and the Podesta company."
It's pretty amazing that he would publicly slam, humiliate his own national security adviser, an active-duty lieutenant general.
SUMMERS: I think it's incredibly striking, and I think it's very interesting. You hear this president say time and time again, "No collusion. No collusion." He's maintained that.
But if you look at the text of this indictment, I think every American really should. It's rather accessible and incredibly detailed. It never says that. When you heard the deputy general come out speak about this, he didn't make any claims to whether there's collusion or not.
Again, you see this president doing something that career staffers have warned makes it harder to do their jobs. He is casting doubt on not just law enforcement, on the intelligence communities, on the very people that Americans rely on to keep their country safe and saying that their findings aren't valid. And that's just really scary.
BLITZER: Yes. I'm wondering what's going to happen with General McMaster in the coming days and weeks right now. We'll watch that very closely.
Everybody stand by. I'm going to ask you about another of the president's inflammatory tweets accusing the FBI of missing warnings about the Florida school massacre because agents were too busy with the Russia probe.
[17:43:14] BLITZER: We're back with our experts. And David Chalian, the president clearly has the overall Russia investigation very much on his mind right now, even when he's talking about the deadly shooting, the massacre in Florida last week.
He tweeted this: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud." It's drawing, that tweet, a lot of criticism.
CHALIAN: It is, and I think the criticism is spot on. What is he doing?
First of all, it is factually untrue, just in terms of the way the FBI works. Obviously, Mueller can have a team of people from the FBI helping on the Russia probe, looking into it, and that has nothing to do with following up on tips.
I think the president is right to say that the FBI needs to do a better job than they clearly were able to do in this scenario, but why would he, except for the fact that he is so consumed, more about himself and his peril, than he is for this community wrecked, these lives ruined through this tragedy. That, to me, is all that tweet says, is that he is more concerned about his potential political peril than he is about those families.
BLITZER: But you know a lot of people have pointed out that before the president tweeted that -- what, it was late Saturday night -- it had been on FOX News as sort of a talking point all day long.
SUMMERS: The president's tweets really do, Wolf, give us a window into what he's consuming, what he's doing when he's away from Washington, down in Florida.
Look, I agree with David entirely. This is, of course, a stunning admission and a stunning failure by the FBI here that left 17 people dead in Florida. That said, the president is again making it about himself. He's acting as though FBI can't walk and chew gum at the same time. And he's yet again making public critiques and rebukes of our nation's law enforcement agencies that these people say makes it more difficult for them to do their jobs, that erodes confidence in the agencies for which they serve, and again, he's bringing it back to all about him instead of the people who died in Florida.
BLITZER: You know, Sam, what do foreign intelligence services think when they see this kind of development, when they suspect there may be some paranoia on the part of the President?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence services are doing cartwheels right now because President Trump is doing their job for them.
This tweet is rife with inaccuracies. It's pointing fingers internally and it is entirely misleading.
If you just go on the FBI website, Wolf, and you look at the range of investigations they have underway, there are so many things that they do on a daily basis other than just investigating, quote/unquote, Russian collusion and these horrific attacks that have occurred.
Now, we have to be clear that President Trump's tweets are viewed as actual policy. And in the four years that I was at the White House, we spent so much time going every -- over every word in public-facing statements by the President to look at unintended and intended consequences.
So all the work that the National Security Council and the agencies are doing is upended when the President doesn't coordinate with his team, issues these tweets, and in the case of Russia, makes the Russians' job a whole lot easier.
BLITZER: Yes. And let's not forget there are 35,000 employees over at the FBI. They're working on a whole range of issues. I don't know how many, a few dozen, are probably working on the Russia investigation right now with Mueller, but that's another story.
All right, guys, standby. There's more news. We're following more breaking news.
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe expanding to include questions about Jared Kushner's business dealings during the presidential transition.
Also, CNN gets a look inside the building where Russian spies and computer experts meddled in the 2016 election.
[17:51:36] BLITZER: The Kremlin is finally reacting to the Special Counsel's indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities, saying there's no substantial evidence of meddling in the U.S. election. But more details have been emerging about Russian efforts to sow discord online.
Let's go live to St. Petersburg, Russia where our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is just outside one of those troll farms named in the indictment.
Matthew, what are you learning?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Wolf, we're learning that this troll farm behind me here, the Internet Research Agency as it's called, is actually still functioning. We were expecting to see it all closed up. There's been so much publicity surrounding it.
But all throughout the day here in St. Petersburg, people have been coming and going to the offices, workers have been coming out taking cigarette breaks. And it's clearly still a functioning place.
Just a reminder, this is the place that was named in that U.S. indictment as being the office where all the illegal activity took place. Russians posing as Americans, inserting themselves in blogs and internet chat rooms, hiring advertising space to promote one candidate or the other, even organizing divisive political rallies on the streets of American cities.
That whole conspiracy, alleged conspiracy, to, you know, sow discord in American, it took place in that office block behind me.
CHANCE (voice-over): This is the only glimpse we have of a Russian troll factory in action. The undercover video was recorded inside the secretive Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg where paid internet provocateurs worked 12-hour shifts distorting the U.S. political debate.
CNN spoke to a Russian journalist who went undercover there as an internet troll in 2016.
LYUDMILA SAVCHUK, UNDERCOVER JOURNALIST (through translator): The U.S. elections are the key issue for the Kremlin. And of course, Russia has invested a lot of effort into them. That's why troll factories are working, I have no doubt.
CHANCE (voice-over): And this is the publicity-shy Russian oligarch now indicted in the U.S. for bankrolling the troll factory. Yevgeny Prigozhin, dubbed by Russian media as Putin's chef, has lucrative catering contracts with the Kremlin but denies any involvement in election meddling.
Americans are very impressionable people, he told Russian state media. They see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I'm not at all upset that I'm on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see one, he added.
But the possible extent of his Prigozhin's alleged involvement in the often-shadowy world of Russian foreign policy is only now starting to emerge. He's already under U.S. sanctions for supporting Russian forces in Ukraine.
And now through a complex web of relationships, he is suspected of links to covert Russian mercenaries deployed in Syria where CNN has reported several were killed in a recent U.S. air strike. Prigozhin denies any connection to the group.
Whatever the truth, Putin's chef and his network of secretive companies seem to extend far beyond the kitchen.
CHANCE: Well, Wolf, we heard there Prigozhin's denial of involvement in meddling in the U.S. election.
[17:55:00] There have been other official denials as well, one from Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, saying that, you know, all the -- all of the details he'd heard were -- what he said was blather.
Also, the Kremlin has, today, reacted for the first time to the latest U.S. indictment, saying it doesn't see any substantial evidence at least that any official Russian, any state operator, was involved in the meddling in the U.S. political system, Wolf. Back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Matthew, thank you. Matthew Chance in St. Petersburg, Russia. Good report.
Coming up, there's more breaking news. In a CNN exclusive, we're learning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into efforts by presidential son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential transition. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)