tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN December 3, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
hello again and welcome this sunday. we continue this hour with the remarkable announcement from the ranking democrat leading the senate's russia probe. dianne feinstein says today the senate judiciary committee is building a case against president donald trump. >> i think what we're beginning to see is the putting together
of a case of obstruction of justice. >> the president is undergoing scrutiny after he sent out a tweet offering a new reason behind why he fired michael flynn. the president tweeting this yesterday. i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. today the white house is playing damage control down-playing that tweet saying it was written by an attorney for the president. let's begin with the news that a senate investigation is developing a case on obstruction of justice against the president of the united states. shimone what else did feinstein say about this case being built? >> for her it was a point to make and one of the things she said it's been difficult to get at the truth in this investigation. she and members of her committee have been asking for documents
from donald trump trump jr., from jared kushner and her point today was also to say that it appears at least on the special counsel side that they're building out perhaps a case for some kind of obstruction. we have two people who have admitted to lying to investigators and she revealed that she, too, is now looking at perhaps, some form of an obstruction. here's the sound with her. >> i think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justi justice. i see it in the hyper attitude of the white house. the tweets. i see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director comey and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift
the cloud of the russia investigation. that's obstruction of justice. >> and for the -- she's a democrat, it would be difficult to proceed with that. she would need the help of the chairman of this committee who is senator chuck grassley, a republican and no indication that is happening right now. so i guess we should all stay tuned. but the senate judiciary committee is continuing their investigation certainly into other patterns here and other facts of the russia investigation. >> all right. thank you so much for that. let's turn to the white house which is in damage control saying the tweet was written by the president's personal lawyer john dowd. jeremy, reportedly trump's tweet went out while he was in the motorcade in between events in new york. what is the white house saying about who crafted it, who may have sent it? what's going on?
>> reporter: no indication that john dowd was with the president when that tweet went out but john droowd who does not work a the white house he claimed to cnn this morning he was the one that crafted that tweet. i asked some follow-up questions some which he refused to answer but he said he believes it was the president's social media director who physically posted the tweet even though he crafted it. he refused to answer questions about the president's own role in this tweet. the president personally involved when it comes to any messages posted on his own twitter account. so this is leading to a lot of questions, of course, about what the president knew and when about michael flynn and his interview with the fbi. the tweet suggesting that the president knew that michael flynn had lied to the fbi. the crime for which flynn pled guilty to before he fired him. the president's attorney now saying that neither the
president nor anybody else at the white house really knew that flynn had lied to the fbi back earlier this year. >> and jeremy, today the president tweeting again kind of like offering clarity. he said i never asked comey to stop investigating anyone, almost like a correction of what people are inferring from the potential sequence of events? >> reporter: this is why people are raising questions of obstruction of justice is because the former fbi director james comey claimed the president had asked him to drop that investigation into michael flynn. that is a claim that the president back then refuted and once again as these questions are being asked again in light of the tweet drafted by his own attorney, that's why he is once again bringing this up and pushing back on those claims. >> thank you so much. appreciate it. the president's tweet regardless of who authored it does set off
more questions about the timeline of various explanations of firings of michael flynn and james comey. here's what we know. after the resignation of the former national security adviser michael flynn february 13th, the president said it was because flynn lied to the vice president pence. february 14th. the next day trump meets with the fbi director comey and tells him i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, meaning flynn's meeting with the russian ambassador. kislyak. may 9th trump fires director comey which brings us to yesterday trump sent out this tweet. this a day after flynn pled guilty to lying to the fbi about his meeting with the russian ambassador sergey kislyak. trump never said he knew flynn lied to the fbi. now bringing more questions.
if trump knew then that flynn lied to the fbi, why wasn't he let go sooner and why would trump have asked the fbi director to let flynn go? and why was comey fired? was it to get rid of the russia probe? let's talk more about all of these developments surrounding the president and all of these questions with me now, congressman david sis lienny who is a democratic congressman from rhode island and a member of the house foreign affairs. good to see you congressman. >> good to see you. >> let me begin by getting your reaction to this news that the senate judiciary committee is building a obstruction of justice case against the president. you heard that from feinstein earlier today. >> these are very, very serious developments. we now have the national security adviser to the president of the united states who admits that he lied repeatedly to the fbi. you have to wonder again why were these contacts such a
secret. this is the ninth individual who was either a part of the administration or a part of the campaign who has lied about or forgotten to reveal contacts with the russians. it's moved into the president's inner circle into the white house. this is very, very serious. this is an individual who has agreed to share everything he knows with the special counsel. the tweet yesterday raises more questions because the president has said he knew about -- that mr. flynn lied both to the vice president and had lied to the fbi and after that apparently told the special -- the fbi director, look -- i'm sorry. the fbi director he should sort of leave mr. flynn alone and couldn't he see his way to dropping the investigation. these raise serious questions of obstruction of justice. if the president is attempting to interfere with this investigation, that's obstruction of justice or to impede it in any way. now they're trying to suggest it was done by an attorney for the
president which is unusual. the president takes a lot of pride in doing his own tweets. there's a lot more questions being asked. this is a very, very serious development. the plea, the admission of guilt by mr. flynn. but this is a president who has been attempting to diminish the importance of this investigation from the beginning. let's not forget why a special counsel was appointed. because the president fired the fbi director in part because of this russian thing and yukked it up with the russians and the oval office after it. this is very serious. the president should understand this is an investigation that must proceed and we should make sure mr. mueller has the resources he needs to do this and should not be interfered with by the administration or the president in any way. we need to protect it from that. and let mr. mueller and his team follow the facts wherever they lead. >> it sounds like you have made up your mind mostly about some credence into building this case
of the obstruction of justice largely because of the indictments, the guilty pleas. but this latest tweet is just sort of icing on the cake but it's not the item that makes you feel even more curious about a potential case of obstruction of justice? >> well, i wouldn't say curious. it makes me gravely concerned. interference by this president in an ongoing investigation of this importance is very, very significant. you know, it's important to view it in the context -- this is in the context of the conclusion of our intelligence agencies that russians interfere with our presidential election with the expressed purpose of helping donald trump and hurting the democratic nominee from the very top of the russian organization, vladimir putin, and a whole series of individual who have had contacts with the russians during this trump campaign, an effort by the president to interfere potentially with the
ongoing investigation. in an ongoing effort to diminish the investigation to really continue to say there's nothing here, it's fake news. we now have two guilty pleas. two other indictments of individuals either associated with the campaign or the administration. this is very serious business. we ought to be working together to get to the bottom of it. >> do you feel fairly convinced that flynn's plea deal will merit more information that could lead to more indictments or more information high up in the food chain in the white house? >> i don't think there is any question that if you read the plea agreement that mr. flynn in exchange for entering a guilty plea to a single count of information has agreed to cooperate fully and obligated to do that if he doesn't share everything he knows and doesn't cooperate fully, then what he
has bargained for would be compromised and would not be entitled to the terms of the agreement. he has to cooperate truthfully and fully. i don't think the special counsel would engage in that kind of agreement unless he had confidence that mr. flynn had a story to tell. we have to wait. it's not wise to speculate on it. there's no question, this was someone very close to the president. someone who lied to the fbi during the course of this investigation who has an obligation to tell the truth and i have full confidence mr. mueller and his team will make good use of that and get to the bottom of this. >> thanks so much. >> thank you. coming up, is the president putting himself in jeopardy with these constant tweets about the russia investigation? our legal panel weighs in next. s and keeps it there longer with lock-in moisture technology skin is petal smooth after all, a cleanser's just a cleanser unless it's olay.
welcome back. we learned today that the president's lawyer john dowd said that he was the one who crafted trump's tweet yesterday about michael flynn's firing. that was the president's tweet that has sparked a lot of criticism and questions over obstruction of justice. joining me right now to discuss cnn legal analyst and cnn political analyst. good to see you both. dowd, the personal attorney, john dowd, of trump, confirmed he wrote the tweet about the reasoning behind flynn's firing because in the president's tweet yesterday he said that he was fired because he lied to the vice president and he lied to the fbi. so why would a lawyer do that, meaning why would the lawyer send this tweet on behalf of the president and then it would lead to questions about the whole sequence of events in terms of
what the president knew? >> it's really a bizarre story, fred, because if an attorney was going to get involved in sending out a tweet, he would be hyper sensitive to the fact that an inaccuracy about what went on with the president and comey and flynn and what the president knew about flynn lying is the subject of ongoing congressional and the mueller investigation. so the lawyer would be super careful about it and here you have a tweet that arguably incriminates the president by saying that he was aware that flynn had lied to the fbi at the time that he, the president, decided to fire comey and that's really a central point was that obstruction of justice. so i don't know whether dowd is covering for the president because the president actually sent the tweet out and is just looking for cover, or if the lawyer genuinely made a mistake. i mean one of the statements he made was he was just summarizing
other information already out there which is unusual for a guy of dowd's reputation to do. but that's sort of the atmosphere that hangs over this. >> michael, the last thing anybody want is their own attorney to incriminate them. do you buy that theory? >> well, i don't know. i mean, i don't have any independent evidence to say whether somehow mr. dowd is not telling the truth. what i do know is that that tweet and the rest of the tweets that came last night and this morning suggest a president who is very much concerned about undermining the creditability of the investigators investigating him. essentially that's what he did over the last 12 to 24 hours is in ways big and small attempt to undermine the creditability of the fbi, of james comey, his first fbi director, of bob mueller, of the investigators on mueller's team and it does raise the question of if the president
is so intent on trying to kind of attack and undermine the creditability of those investigators what does he know in terms of how much legal jeopardy he's in given the flynn plea bargain and everything we have seen? >> so possibly it undermines the creditability of the investigators but these tweets also seem to potentially undermine the creditability of his own attorney because yesterday you had a few different explanations, one explanation from the white house lawyer, ty cobb who then said that -- or apparently was involved in this whole explanation of whether the message was being paraphrased by the lawyer. >> yes. >> and then now john dowd is saying, no, it was me who actually crafted it. and then it's still confusing as to who sent it.
was it the president while he was in the motorcade in new york or did somebody else send it in some other method? this is really messy, paul. >> it's very messy and it's a nightmare for these lawyers because i can assure you none of these lawyers want the president sending out twitter messages about an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by mueller. >> i'm sure they told him that. >> they have told him that but he doesn't listen to anybody on this. the second thing that is interesting and hasn't come up too much, after the election there was a lot written about how does the president prepare his tweets and one account was that he dictates them usually. he doesn't type them in himself. who was the person who he's dictating the tweets to? i think going down the road in this investigation, you're going to see somebody being questioned from the white house who may or may not be in the room when the president comes up with whatever message he decides to convey by
twitter because i don't think he's typing these things up himself, whether it's a lawyer or a secretary or an assistant, there's another person involved in this process. >> i can't help but think of the c con fef fay moment. to the serious matters of all of this language, the tweets, the conflict of timelines. what the president knew when he knew it, et cetera, how does this play into the hands of or further complicate the michael flynn investigation versus the capitol hill investigations? look, i think in part what you saw dianne feinstein struggling with this morning was the idea of the tweets reflect a kind of urgency on the part of the white house that suggests that both the recipients -- the targets of the investigation which are the
associates in and around donald trump feel more worried about where this investigation is going and a sense that the investigators, bob mueller and his team are really pushing much, much deeper into the inner circle around the president. we started this investigation with a fair number of characters that had maybe incidental or smaller roles to play in both the campaign and then ultimately the white house, the transition in the white house and now we're getting deeper into the president's inner circle and i think what dianne feinstein was suggesting was that an obstruction of justice case is at least clearer or at least you can see the words much more clearly and part is the tweets that give a sense of the anxiety on the part of the people inside the white house. >> michael sheer, paul callahan, good to see you both. thanks. still ahead mitch mcconnell says he'll let the voters decide
whether roy moore should be alabama's next senator but if he makes it to the hill the ethics committee is prepared to step in. luckily for all your hard-to-wash fabrics... ...there's febreze fabric refresher. febreze doesn't just mask, it eliminates odors
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now with instant text and email updates you'll always be up to date. you can easily add premium channels so you don't miss your favorite show. and with just a single word, find all the answers you're looking for. because getting what you need should be simple, fast, and easy. download the xfinity my account app or go online today. new senator in less than two weeks and today senate majority leader mitch mcconnell is walking back his criticism of the republican candidate roy moore when allegations of sexual assault surfaced against moore. mcconnell was calling him to withdraw but now he's softening that stance. >> i think we're going to let the people of alabama decide a week from tuesday who they want to send to the senate and it
will address the matter appropriately. >> do you believe that judge moore should be in the senate? >> i'm going to let the people of alabama make the call. this election has been going on a long time and been a lot of discussion. they're going to make a decision a week from tuesday. >> you are prepared to take action if he is elected? >> the ethics committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win. >> the latest washington post school poll has moore's democratic rival doug jones leading moore by 3 percentage points. to win jones will have to pick up a good bit of republican support and that's no small challenge in a state as conservative as alabama. kaley hartung has more. >> that which is evil and cling to that which is good. >> these roy moore appealing to his constituents but not all are
con sinvinced convinced. bill brubaker is a life long republican and evangelical christian. but won't be voting in his state. >> i think for the reason judge moore's message has resonated because of the culture. >> like many, dr. john killian, former president of the alabama baptist convention thinks this republican state is ripe and ready for the taking by the former judge but some like brubaker think ha's an unfair assumption. >> evan jgelicals have been painted with a broad brush. >> he says this goes deeper. >> a candidate wrapping himself in christianity and pulls out a hand gun. >> moore has been hitting his
base hitting churches, though have felt more like campaign eents. >> the only way our voice can be heard throughout this country is by us taking our liberties and voting with them. they want to do two things. several things. they want to hide the true issues. that's why you see t"the washington post" bring out the russian investigation when people want to know about health care. >> but brubaker worries what the message would send. >> i'm deeply concerned about his presence in the senate would have on the reputation of evangelica evangelicals. i'm tempted to vote for doug jones for that reason but i can't bring myself to pull the trigger on that. >> doug jones biggest hurdle, he's pro choice. an issue, the issue that puts him at odds with conservative voters. he's also a man of faith
attending a fish fry at a baptist church. >> folks prayer. we got to move our feet. >> jones will need high turnout particularly in the african-american population in the state. it's a steep mountain to climb in a state that hasn't elected a democrat to the u.s. senate in a quarter of a century. like many across the state of alabama on this sunday morning, doug jones and roy moore attended church services. as i've spoken with pastors many have told me they wanted a dress this senate race from the pulpit but as was illustrated by the pastor here at first baptist outside of birmingham he does address moral and social issues from the pulpit. this morning he reminded his congregation jesus was an unborn child in mary's womb and god chose a family for a mother and a father.
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welcome back. the president is expected to make a decision this week on whether to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. this would lead to the u.s. embassy relocating from tel aviv to jerusalem. an annual meeting between american and israeli leaders, senior white house adviser jared kushner said the president has yet to make up his mind. >> the is going to make his decision. >> he hasn't made his decision? >> he's still looking at a lot of different facts and when he makes his decision, he'll be the one to want to tell you, not me. he'll make sure he does that at the right time. >> national security adviser h.r. mcmaster confirmed trump is
undecided. the move has been long sought by israel, palestinians opposed to it. cnn's alan lee explains why. >> reporter: at one level it's a city like any other. people sell. people buy. normal life. but jerusalem's old city is special. and this is the best vantage point. here on the mount of olives. the dome of the rock in all its magnificence. a keyho holy site for muslims. built on the site where christians believe christ was crucified. and out of sight from this vantage point, the western wall. holy to jews supporting the mount where the temple once stood. it's not jerusalem's significance that's in dispute, it's its status.
after nearly 20 years divided by barbed wire israeli forces took control of the whole city east and west in 1967. the international community did not recognize what israel called the unification of jerusalem. embassies stayed in tel aviv and east jerusalem was accepted as the capital of a future palestinian state in a negotiated settlement. this area is called abutor and a bit of a rarity in jerusalem because it's a mixed neighborhood. people who live on this part of the street identify as palestinians. >> inside i am palestinian and muslim and proud about that. >> translator: i don't think it's a successful step to move the embassy and it's not the right time to do it but the
israelis and americans have other agendas that we can't change. >> a bit further down the road and let's talk to some folks here. >> i'm an israeli woman. i live in jerusalem. i love jerusalem. >> reporter: palestinians say they want east jerusalem to be part of their capital. >> i don't like to talk about this. i think jerusalem is israeli. >> what are your thoughts on the united states moving the embassy from tael aviv to jerusalem? >> great. great. first of all, it's not going to be a palestinian country and it always was israel. >> some israelis who didn't want to be on camera told us they don't support moving the embassy. whatever president trump announces the position of the vast majority of the international community remains clear. east jerusalem is considered occupied territory.
all settlements are illegal. their view likely won't change quickly even if the u.s. embassy changes addresses. ian lee, cnn jerusalem. >> i want to bring in cnn global affairs analyst. he spent two decades working for the u.s. state department and has been an adviser. president trump campaigned on this saying he would move the u.s. embassy. why do you think the decision has not been made yet? >> you know, two of his last three predecessors also campaigned on the issue they would move the embassy and didn't. i suspect having provided advice to half a dozen secretaries of state my advice on jerusalem was the same, don't play around with it. it's a tinder box waiting for a match. but i believe that on wednesday the president will exercise the national security waiver that will at least delay or defer
actually opening an embassy in jerusalem but he is probably going to make a statement if the media speculation is right and some inside source that is he's going to declare jerusalem or west jerusalem. i think it's ill-advised and not time and not sure it serves any american interests that i can identify. >> what is the benefit for american interests to do that? >> well, the only possible benefit and the counter case is look, the united states does not maintain an embassy in israel's capital. se self-described capital. the only country in the world in which the united states or one of the few in which the united states does not maintain its embassy in the preferred capital of the host country. the argument in favor is it's time to correct this injustice.
i mean, i get that. the u.s. embassy ought to be in west jerusalem. the problem is the israelis had declared the entire city east and west under their sovereignty and declared it the eternal and undivided capital of the state of israel. i get that, too. if the u.s. decides to declare jerusalem the capital of israel, by implication that means we have also extended our recognition and validation of their control and sovereignty over the entire city and there are alternative claims, palestinians clearly and the arab world as well for religious reasons on the temple mount. tricky issue. it's been kicked down the road and given the realities between israelis and palestinians i would continue to kick it down the road. >> the short term versus long term consequences of such a move? >> the most worry some
possibility is violence and i mentioned it's a tinder box waiting for a match. we have seen too many times 1996, 2000, 2017 over metal detectors on the temple mount. violence. no one can predict whether or not there's going to be violence but if you're looking for a ready made issue to give to hamas this would be it. >> violence against americans? >> possibly. but we're talking about a conflict within a very narrow space in the city of jerusalem and most likely since they m migra migrate, this migrates to the overlapping sacred space that your correspondent identified in the previous clip, usually over this overlapping sacred space in which you have two mosques on top and below sits the remains of both the first and second
jewish temple. that's a likely possibility. the other reality is you have got a president who has committed himself to the ultimate deal. >> the best ever. >> right. which will be announced early next year. why at a time when there's zero trust between israelis and palestinians when the president needs to involve jordan and egypt as a key part of this initiative. why you want to take the most emotional and provocative issue in the entire complex of issues and push it to the top of the pile, there's really not a compelling answer. the only possibility is that somehow the president has worked out some deal in which he's trading this recognition for some sort of set of concessions from the israeli prime minister. i doubt it. >> you can't have both, you can't have the best peace deal
and move the u.s. embassy to jerusalem. >> not in advance of a mushlly agreed outcome. i get the concern about wanting the united states to recognize their capital. but in this particular situation keep in mind one person's ceiling is another person's floor when it comes to the israeli issue and there are other constituencies that need to be considered. >> always a pleasure. thanks so much. still ahead, is it a case of free speech and religious rights or discrimination? a christian baker refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. the case heading to the u.s. supreme court. i love you, couch.
violated his religious and free speech rights. cnn's u.s. something reporter has been following this closely. she joins me now. what's this case all about? >> reporter: well, you know, arguments aren't until tuesday but already there's a line that's been forming here since friday with people who are trying to get in to hear this important case. it's a clash between religious liberty and lgbt rights brought by jack phillips, a colorado cake baker, he owns masterpiece cake shop and refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple to honor their wedding. the couple went to court and sue and won. the lower court cited anti-discrimination laws but now he's come to the supreme court and he comes with first amendment arguments saying his cakes are -- or his artistic
expression and colorado can't force him to convey a message that he doesn't believe in, that he has religious objections to and he has the support of the trump administration. on the other side is this couple. they say this isn't about free speech or cakes. plain and simple this is about discrimination and all eyes on tuesday will be on justice kennedy. a couple years ago he wrote the opinion clearing the way for same-sex marriage nationwide. in that opinion jack phillips thinks there's language with respect to civil liberty. that's what will be in front of the court on tuesday. fred. >> you have people camped out on the pavement there behind you. it's hard to believe but a lot of sleeping bags because people are going to stay into tomorrow because they want to get first dibs on being able to be a part
of that hearing on tuesday. thank you so much. meantime, voting is now underway for the cnn hero of the year. here's one of this year's top ten heroes. >> we are so much more than just a body part. we can either lay down and let our circumstance overtake us or we can stand up and take charge. age 17 i was struck by a drunk driver. i vowed once i got back on my feet i would start a support group. 30 to 60 amputees get together once a month and share stories of strength and resilience. >> good morning. >> doctors, case managers call me to provide individual support and then also we will provide prosthetic limbs to those who have no access to other resources. >> i met ms. mona the day before
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a moment for a little levity. "saturday night live" took on the president last night in this sketch ripped from the pages of charles dickens' classic "a christmas carol" featuring ghosts of the past. first, a michael flynn. >> oh, no. it approaches. >> i'm too scared to look. oh, thank god, steve bannon. you're here to save the day with your terrible white magic. wait. who are you? >> ho ho ho, merry christmas. [ cheers and applause ] >> it's i, hillary clinton.
you donald have given me the greatest christmas gift of all, sexual gratification in the form of your slow demise. you have no idea how long i wanted to say this. lock him up! >> oh, boy. well that was "snl" last night. thanks for being with me today, sunday. cnn newsroom starts right now. welcome to the cnn newsroom. we thank you so much for joining us tonight. first up, news that the senate judiciary committee is investigating president trump for obstruction of justice, this from democratic senator dianne feinstein who says the case against the president grows with every single tweet he fires off. listen to this. >> the judiciary committee has an investigation going as well. and it involves obstruction of