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Flynn Warned In 2014 Against Taking Foreign Payments; Carter Page: Trump Camp "Knew I Was Going" To Russia; Dems Won't Vote To Fund Government If Health Vote Set This Week; Soon: Paul Ryan Speaks Amid Tax Cut, Health Care Battles. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 27, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11::00]

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: -- kids, but we're going to have our own press opportunity upstairs later. So, I know that you may be interested in, in addition to the fact that this is bring your children to work day, that negotiations continue on the omnibus package.

We are committed to keeping government open. Our major concerns in the negotiation have been about funding for the wall and uncertainty about the CRS payments crucial to the stability of the marketplaces in the Affordable Care Act.

We've made some progress in both of those areas. More progress, though, needs to be made on some of our priorities, and we continue to be concerned about the poison pills, riders that are still in legislation.

Including those that undermine a woman's right to comprehensive health care, undermine Dodd/Frank's protections for American consumers, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and overhauling the judiciary role which undermines the commitment we have to investors, especially seniors so that person advising them is operating in their interests.

So, these are all rules that, again, are not in the interest of protecting consumer and individual rights that we are fighting. As you all know, Saturday's the big day, the 100th day of the Trump administration, 100 days of broken promises --

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're listening in to the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, in her weekly press conference. We're going to have to monitor it for news and bring you news as it comes.

But also right now, we are following breaking news, a brand-new investigation has been launched into President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his ties to Russia.

Newly declassified documents show Flynn was warned about accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement from the military. The revelations come from the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings. He spoke just moments ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it after the president fired him for lying. They should be bending over backwards to help us. It does not make any sense, and it makes the American people think the White House has something to hide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I want to bring in right now CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, for more on this. So Jim, how big of a deal is this? Lay it out.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think two big headlines. One that the Pentagon is investigating this. In fact, they have been investigating this for some weeks now.

Two, that he was warned, that Michael Flynn when he left the military, he was warned that when you, if you were to travel abroad and take money from a foreign government or entity, you have to report it.

And Elijah Cummings there saying that there's no proof that he did that. This belies the statement of Flynn's lawyer, who said that they discussed this, they got permission from the Defense Intelligence Agency when they left, from the military when they left. It doesn't appear that there is proof of that.

So, that's a major issue, and it also fits in a constantly changing story from Flynn on a number of levels, going back a number of months. Initially, he said there was no payment. Then he said the payment didn't come from Russia, it came from my speaking agency, which is really just a middleman in all this, but there are documents.

We've seen these documents that show that Russia routed that payment right to him through the speaking agency. And then he had said, listen, I got permission to do this, I let them know. Now Elijah Cummings saying that's not true, either. So, a changing story and each of his defenses in effect, Kate, have been undermined by the facts.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Do you get a sense right now from your sources of what this means for the broader Russia investigation, how it fits in?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, you have so many strands that are in that broader investigation --

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

SCIUTTO: One of which is, you know, was there collusion? Was there cooperation between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign during the campaign, specifically with releasing documents, et cetera, stolen e-mails from Clinton, et cetera. That's one line. So, this is separate from that, but it does speak to a larger issue here, which is connections between people close to Trump and Russia. In this case, not only a professional connection -- meetings, that famous photo of Flynn next to the Russian president.

But also taking money from a foreign government, and not just any foreign government, but a foreign government that you cannot describe as anything but an adversary, and this was happening, you might add, while Russia is actively interfering in the U.S. election, the U.S. intelligence community has determined to benefit Donald Trump.

Now, a lot of pieces there. They're connected somewhat, but there are separate lines. You have the Senate, the House, you have now the Defense Department looking at Flynn. You have a number of entities looking at this, and we don't know where yet all of those strands are going to lead.

[11:05:11]BOLDUAN: Yes. Hence why those investigations are under way and need. Jim, great to see you. Jim, thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk much more about this. I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, of course, the House committee that is taking the lead on the Russia investigation we've been talking about. Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Hi, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, Michael Flynn warned about taking foreign payments. With what we've just learned from Jim Sciutto, from Elijah Cummings, in your mind, does that prove that he broke the law?

HIMES: Well, it's not yet clear. And look, we need to be deliberate in how we talk about these investigations. You know, it's not clear that somebody's broken the law until they've been convicted by a jury. That's the way our system works.

But one of the reasons that we have this investigation, both in the House and the Senate, is because this is just another set of questions about behavior that sure looks awfully inappropriate, that you know, absent a trial or the conclusion of an investigation looks really bad, and of course, looks like there were attempts made to cover it up.

And of course, if there were attempts, and we know why the White House said they fired Michael Flynn, if there is a pattern of being dishonest, if you're an investigator, as I am, the question is, why? What is being covered up?

And of course, again, I don't want to go as far definitively that laws were broken. That's not what we do around here, but it does indicate why these investigations are really important.

BOLDUAN: When you talk about cover-up, I mean, Elijah Cummings said very clearly today that in his words, he doesn't understand why the White House is covering for Flynn after they fired him. Do you see evidence that the White House is covering for Michael Flynn?

HIMES: Well, remember, I'm not on that committee, so I wasn't party to the request for documents that the oversight --

BOLDUAN: But I know you've probably seen more than that committee has seen.

HIMES: Yes, but not necessarily related to Michael Flynn's conversations with DIA or his SF-86 form. This is, of course, something that will be part of our investigation, but I do want to make clear -- look, we've all seen the letter where the White House says we're not giving you documents that you requested with respect to Michael Flynn.

That strikes me as the wrong approach, right, especially since this guy is in the past. He's no longer associated with the White House. It seems to me the way to put this story behind you as rapidly as you can would be to say, here's everything, have a look, and there's nothing there, assuming that there is nothing there.

BOLDUAN: Well, and that's the thing, Congressman, the White House -- what it seemed we heard from the White House yesterday is these are not documents that they would have. This is not any information that they would have.

Jason Chaffetz even seemed to leave it open that they might not be -- this might not be on the White House. They might not be stonewalling. They might not have any documents to share. Do you leave open that possibility?

HIMES: Well, that is a possibility, of course, but we should -- if that's the definitive answer, we should hear that.

BOLDUAN: OK.

HIMES: Of course, the question about how he filled out his SF-86 form, if he intentionally, on purpose, decided to leave off the information that he left off, that is, in fact, a crime. And so, if there are e-mails that indicate, you know, should I do this, should I not, that of course, is really relevant to the question of whether this was just an inadvertent omission or whether this was deliberate.

BOLDUAN: Well, and kind of to that point, I mean, it's not like this was a secret meeting. He didn't hide this visit. There are pictures of him sitting next to Vladimir Putin that we've seen many a time. Is this on the White House or just on Michael Flynn?

HIMES: Well, you know, look, I think it's incumbent on the White House, considering that this continues to be a very significant question in the eyes of the American public to come clean and say here's what we have, this is all we have, this is the deal.

Of course, other organizations like my own, perhaps law enforcement will conduct their investigations with an eye to finding out whether laws were broken, but really, it would be very much in the White House's self-interests at this point to say here's all we have. We're cooperating, we're on your team, not that we're going to sort of try to, you know, either defend Michael Flynn or hide documents. That, of course, just creates the perception that there is something to hide.

BOLDUAN: But also on the point -- and there are so many elements to this, threads to this, that for the folks watching at home, it is often hard to keep track of. With this security clearance application, this form that we're talking about here, does what we're learning today, does this offer any more clarity, in your view, about connections between the Trump administration and -- the Trump campaign, Trump associates, and Russia with regard to any possible collusion over the election?

HIMES: Yes, that's a good question, and remember, we're now back on track with the investigation in the House with the assumption of the leadership role by Mike Conway of Texas. We're back on track. We're planning hearings and meetings.

So, we had that three-week period where everything kind of ground to a halt because of all of the strangeness associated with the chairman's activities.

So, it's a little early now to say that this is definitive one way or another. What it does is, is it joins the material that simply raises very pointed questions.

[11:10:05]We're not at a point now where we can say we have the answer to the questions. We are back on track, but boy, it does raise some questions.

BOLDUAN: So, Carter Page, that's another person who's name is out there, Congressman. I want you to listen what he said this morning on "NEW DAY" about what the Trump campaign knew about his trips to Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Did you coordinate or communicate the details of your trip or that you were going with any member of the Trump campaign or administration?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER ADVISER TO TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I never -- again, none of those details -- they knew I was going, but nothing was --

CUOMO: How did they know?

PAGE: It was -- again, I don't talk about internal discussions.

CUOMO: But it matters. It matters, because the suggestion is they knew you were going. If they knew you were going, they must have had an interest in you going. If they had an interest in you going, did they coordinate anything that you said there, which was inherently destructive to American policy?

PAGE: Absolutely not. Nothing I said was destructive to American policy, Chris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So, in that conversation, Congressman, he says, Page says that the campaign knew he was going to Russia. Is that news to you? Does it matter?

HIMES: I think it does matter. You know, I've run five campaigns in my political lifetime and if somebody who is working for me came to me and said, hey, I'm taking this trip to Russia for any reason, I wouldn't have to think for much more than about two milliseconds before the answer to them would be, no, you're not.

So, once again, what we were talking about before, this raises questions. Why did the Trump campaign think it was OK for Carter Page to go to Russia? At the minimum, that looks terrible, but what else was there?

BOLDUAN: Do you guys have a firm date, before I move on to something else, do you have a firm date yet set for rescheduled testimony from Sally Yates and James Clapper?

HIMES: So, we're working that through right now. We have actually just scheduled a meeting that was postponed several weeks ago, the closed meeting with Comey and Rogers of the FBI and NSA. You know, as you know, Sally Yates is scheduled to testify over on the Senate side, so we're in the process of seeing if we can't either do that jointly or find some way to do that in a way that is efficient for all of us.

BOLDUAN: OK. Do you think it would be before that Senate May 8th hearing?

HIMES: I don't think it would be before that hearing, just logistics make that problematic.

BOLDUAN: OK. Congressman, I want to talk to you about the possibility of a government shutdown. As we woke up this morning, it seemed that that possibility -- the government shutdown was now not going to happen, that there was agreement on how things were going to move forward, at least in the short term while details were being worked out.

But I was just handed some information coming from a statement from the number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer. Let me read you what Hoyer wrote, "If Republicans announce their intention to bring," in his words, "their harmful Trumpcare bill to the house floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week continuing resolution."

He'll oppose the funding extension and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well. Are you on board with that?

HIMES: Well, first and foremost, I think it's very improbable that the Republicans would do that. The health care system is some 17 percent of our economy, and the idea that they're going to cook up a bill after the last one failed and bring it to the floor without any hearings, without any debate, without any preparation, without their own people even being able to fully understand what this thing involves I think is very, very improbable.

Look, I think we're pretty close on a deal to keep the government open. It seems that we have a clean bill without any of the wall or other sort of poisonous riders that were going to make it problematic. So, my hope is that at this point, the Republicans do the smart thing, which is, look, let's keep the government open and let's live to fight another day.

And have that conversation, which by the way, I am so excited to have on what it is that they intend to do to the health care system and what that would actually do to the American people. But I think they would be really wise to not let those two issues get blended this week.

BOLDUAN: Well, and also, I mean, you don't agree with Steny Hoyer, then, right? You don't think Democrats should be threatening to hold it up either, right?

HIMES: You know, I haven't talked to Steny about it and I don't know that there's any probability that the Republicans will, so I'm going to sort of withhold judgment on what happens in the next 24 hours. I just -- the idea that the Republicans -- remember, whatever you think about the Affordable Care Act, the Democrats took some nine months or so of debate, of town hall meetings. I had 14 health care town hall meetings of amendments and hearings. The idea that with 24 hours, a government shutdown looming, that's almost absurd on the face of it.

BOLDUAN: OK. Congressman, great to have you on. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

HIMES: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Another big event, moments from now, House Speaker Paul Ryan will be talking to reporters. We'll see what he has to say about all of these new developments coming out this morning.

Plus, critics pouncing already on the president's wish list for tax cuts, saying, his critics saying that it benefits his own bank account and his wealthy friends. What does it mean, though, for the middle class? What we know and what we don't about, as they've described it, the biggest tax cut in American history. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:18:50]

BOLDUAN: We're now just two days from the first major benchmark of the Donald Trump presidency, the White House up against the clock and looking for a win. Could it be health care? Could it be taxes? Could it be trade?

What it appears right now is it won't be, at least at this moment, it won't be a wall, not now, anyway. Just moments from now, House Speaker Paul Ryan will be speaking with reporters, and we're going to bring that to you live. But right now, let's get straight to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's on Capitol Hill with the very latest on a couple fronts. Sunlen, let's run through it. What's the latest you're hearing on the tax front?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it's interesting, the White House certainly making a big to-do about putting out their proposal yesterday, but what amounted to essentially a one-page tax cut plan that continues to have some fallout up here on Capitol Hill.

Many people bringing up that it's short on details, falls well short of the more comprehensive tax reform proposals that they'd like to see, and Republican leadership, of course, embracing some sort of proposal from the White House, but specifically calling it something that will serve as guideposts going forward. Obviously, the heavy, heavy lifting still to come.

BOLDUAN: And we just -- and do you have anything more about what we were just -- what just came in, this breaking news about health care and what Steny Hoyer's saying?

[11:20:03]SERFATY: Yes, this is an interesting move coming from Democrats this morning. In essence, laying down a big threat that certainly complicates two major hot-button issues right now, health care and keeping the government open and funded.

Democrats really trying to stave off Republicans trying to jam through this health care bill, as they are having some momentum. There is a push certainly from the White House to hold a vote on health care, potentially even before Saturday, and they are getting more Republicans on board this week.

But Democrats, led by Steny Hoyer as the minority whip, now are saying, look, if you're going to hold a health care vote before Saturday, you are not going to have Democrats get on board with this short-term CR, the continuing resolution to keep the government funded for another week.

So, complicates things up here. We will certainly hear more from this from Speaker Ryan, who will hold his press conference in just a few minutes.

BOLDUAN: Complicated. It's that kind of status for Capitol Hill right now. Good to see you, Sunlen. Thank you so much.

And on that complicated status, joining me right now, Republican Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey, a moderate member of the Tuesday Group, a group at the center of these health care talks and negotiations. Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, so, it is Thursday at 11:21. Where is your vote on health care right now?

LANCE: I am not in favor of the proposal. I was not in favor of it before the Easter break, and I'm not in favor of it today. I think we need to lower premiums in this country, but I don't think this bill does that.

And I would urge our Democratic colleagues to come to the table, because the exchanges are not doing well, Kate, and I think that there's a responsibility for both sides to come to the table, and that includes the Democrats.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, what do you think of this threat we're just hearing from the Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, that Democrats say -- Hoyer's urging Democrats to oppose the vote to keep the government funded if Republicans were to bring a vote on health care this week?

LANCE: I think they're two separate issues, Kate, and I did not favor shutting down the government when President Obama was president, and I would hope the Democrats don't favor shutting down the government now that President Trump is president.

There are essential public services that are required to be funded, for example, payment of the troops in the field and so, I would hope that we could vote on a continuing resolution. And then regarding the health care issue, I've given you my point of view, but I think they are separate issues.

BOLDUAN: What do you think the chances are that Republicans will call a vote in the next two days?

LANCE: I'm not part of the whip team and I'm not part of leadership, so I do not know and I would defer to Speaker Ryan on that matter. But certainly, I think first and foremost, we have to fund the government, and that is a hard deadline this weekend.

BOLDUAN: So, Congressman Tom Macarthur, a fellow Republican and also a fellow Republican from New Jersey, he's been kind of spearheading some of the negotiations for this new amendment. Here is how he describes what they're working on this morning. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM MACARTHUR (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, my goal has been to try to get everyone who was struggling with this bill to get to yes. And the only way to do that is to balance these two things -- bring costs down for people and make sure we protect the vulnerable people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He says that's what's in the amendment. Where is he wrong?

LANCE: I'm sure the congressman is trying to work to that end, but I do not think that the amendment achieves that goal, and certainly, I have always run for re-election on the belief that we have to preserve the right of people to have health care coverage, even if they have a pre-existing condition.

And I think that should be true across the United States, and I do not think that states should have the ability in any way to waive out of that. I think there is a right in this country to be able to purchase health care coverage at an affordable cost, accessibility and affordability, and I think that is true for those with pre-existing conditions in our society.

BOLDUAN: Macarthur is a member of the Tuesday Group, and he went and made this deal on his own. Do you feel cut out?

LANCE: I'm a member of the Tuesday Group, but nobody negotiates for me, Kate, and I'm of the belief that we should move forward in this area in a bipartisan capacity.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that how this is going, do you think it threatens to break up the Tuesday Group?

LANCE: No, I don't believe that that will happen, and I will continue to be a member of the Tuesday Group, and our real leader is Congressman Dent, my colleague and close friend from Pennsylvania.

BOLDUAN: What do you think the chances are that this version of the bill, though, sees a vote? What's your gut?

LANCE: I don't want to guess. I'm not sure when that will occur, but I think first and foremost we have to fund the government of the United States.

[11:25:10]BOLDUAN: So, you would -- if Democrats would hold up health care with regard to funding the government, you would support not bringing a vote on health care in order to keep the government open, yes?

LANCE: I think it's in the discretion of Speaker Ryan when that bill on health care is brought to the floor.

BOLDUAN: OK.

LANCE: And I do not presume to advise the speaker. I think it's extremely important, essential that we fund the government of the United States, and I would urge my Democratic colleagues to vote for that.

BOLDUAN: Congressman Leonard Lance, thank you so much, Congressman. Appreciate the time.

LANCE: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: We are following more on our breaking news. The Pentagon had warned President Trump's now former national security adviser against taking foreign payments, payments that lawmakers say he never reported, which he was required to report. Details on that ahead.

Plus, moments from now, House Speaker Paul Ryan will be facing reporters. Many people are waiting to see what he has to say on a slew of topics, the president's tax plan, where health care stands right now, and also, is the government now again being threatened that it's going to shut down this weekend? Where do things stand? Look to the speaker for some answers. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)