tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN January 23, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST
in this investigation. what is significant to you here? >> one of the things significant sort of over the past week really is the ramping up these attacks against the fbi, coming from the house intelligence committee, this memo from devin nunes, president trump's tweet this morning regarding a series of text messages not preserved. so i think this does put additional sort of context into why the white house is potentially feeling so nervous and really ramping up their efforts to try and discredit robert mueller's investigation. >> so we'll remember, steve, that testimony that we were all watching sort of jaws dropped of sessions in front of congress saying so many times over and over i can't recall or really trying to cite executive privilege or saying i might have to in the future to not answer lawmakers questions on so many things about any communication with russians from the trump administration or him personally. can he do that with mueller?
when he sat down with mueller's team, can he use that or no? >> he can to a certain extent, but he's not going to be talking to congress. it is going to be a different situation. it is going to be more conversational. and fbi agents can be a little bit strong in their questioning. but he doesn't have the legal compulsion to speak. had they brought him before the grand jury, they can compel testimony except, you know, certain types. so the choice to interview him rather than initially bring him before the grand jury is significant. but mueller, we have seen in this investigation, is not afraid to use heavy handed tactics. >> i want you to comment on the issue of privilege. you're a walking encyclopedia into the entire russian affair and russia investigation. what are the major touch points that you think that mueller
would want to drill down on? >> right, so as shimon referred to earlier, you know, sessions really is involved in a number of different threads here. one he was part of the trump transition team, part of the foreign policy team, so he was involved in meetings in which contacts and overtures with russian officials were discussed. he himself had undisclioed contacts with russian ambassador sergi kiey kislyak. that's one of the reasons he resigned. there is the question of the obstruction of justice, the firing of jim comey, his involvement there. so jeff sessions really is involved in quite central to any number of questions that robert mueller will be trying to get to the bottom of. >> so, steve, we know that sessions famously recused himself from the russia investigation as was noted. it enraged the president. the president didn't think he had to. there was a question of would he be fired, resign as a result?
do you believe that robert mueller's team, one of their key questions would be the attorney general sessions, what did you know and when did you know it about when, you know, the president wanting to fire and ultimately firing james comey, the reasoning behind the actual firing of james comey. would that be central here? >> well, it certainly would be significant. if it's not central, then they got something bigger than that, which should scare him. the first thing i would want to know based on what i've seen in the press right now is what went on with that meeting between the president and comey and the implications that trump wanted him fired if he didn't comply. so i think that's going to be important. but if it's not central, you got to ask yourself what is. and right now the way i'm looking at it, it is kind of like the watergate thing, where the initial crime wasn't what brought that president down. the problem was obstruction
afterwards. and it seems to me that mueller is looking in that direction in this case. >> you know it interesting, and susan, you bring up the timing, the volume and the frenzy of some of the republican attacks on the justice department has increased in last week, certainly in the time frame since they may have found out that jeff sessions testified to mueller. the flip side of that are the claims from the president's white house attorneys including ty cob they're close to being, maybe they think, with this investigation. well, look, if the attorney general is the highest ranking cabinet official interviewed to date, you can't get much higher than the attorney general. you interview the biggest fish last. if they're interviewing the attorney general, they want to talk to the president right now, maybe they are close to being done with a certain phase of this investigation. >> right, so it is possible and certainly go in line with reports that mueller was also in negotiations to interview president trump himself. that said, you know, jeff sessions' interview is a reminder there are a lot of
really important actors here that we don't know have been interviewed. you know, jeff sessions certainly high ranking, but there are a lot of high ranking individuals that might be intimately connected here. and so i think there is a plausible alternative explanation that robert mueller is just getting started, that he spent a lot of time talking at smaller fish, getting at his factual predicate right, what he believes happened and now he's going to start sort of working up the chain with increasingly significant interviews. >> we do know that, you know, that they were trying to compel and were subpoenaing steve bannon, the former chief strategist, to testify before a grand jury. that will be an interview with mueller's team. steve, to you, just some of what we know about what the attorney general has all of a sudden remembered again and why it is important, from george papadopoulos to sergey kislyak, the ambassador, to carter page, told by carter page that he was traveling to russia in july 2016 during the presidential campaign, all things that he sort of failed to remember in
front of congress and has since flipped on. >> yes. that's going to be extremely significant and the fbi interviewers are going to love that because one of the tools they like is, hey, you said this, but we found this, can you help us understand where the disconnect is here. another thing you're probably going to see, if sessions' testimony is significant as far as what other people have said before, they have got him now on record and you may see them going back and reinterviewing other people this time under grand jury conditions, because they may have found statements that do not jive with what direct -- what mr. sessions has said. >> susan, i do want to get you on the issue of privilege here. so much of jeff sessions' role in this story over the last year is what he's not been willing to say to congress, you know, suggesting that he either forgot
or claiming the possibility of some privilege down the line. does it work the same way when you're talking to an investigation by the executive branch technically, the special counsel's office, how would that work behind closed doors, susan? >> right, so technically executive privilege is only available for the executive branch to assert against the legislative branch, the judicial branches, in this kind of interview jeff sessions might be able to assert some sort of presidential communications privilege. he also is the president's attorney, so he would be potentially able to assert limited forms of attorney/client privilege. these are issues on which the justice department is going to have already memos, already come to a number of legal conclusions and so it will be very significant if jeff sessions is in any way departing from our deviating from, you know, the career prosecutor, the career doj officials, legal judgments about privilege. >> let me ask you a follow-up on that and roll this video. we have jeff sessions video, i
believe, right now, leaving the white house. >> this was yesterday. >> yes. >> this was yesterday. there was question, what was he doing at the white house. >> now maybe we know more. who knows. >> no way of knowing for sure. but, gosh, the timing is curious. interviewed by the special counsel last week. >> let me ask you about that. susan, you said jeff sessions is the president's attorney. i think a lot of americans hearing that say he has an obligation to the president, loyal to the president this is a president who values loyalty above almost everything else. just to be clear here, though, sessions, does he have any responsibility to the president here? he is the attorney general working for the american people, first and foremost, no? >> exactly. so jeff sessions is the attorney for the people of the united states of america, he also has certain obligations to the office of the presidency. donald trump has his own white house counsel, private attorneys. the nature of that relationship is dramatically different. >> guys, if you will, please stand by. we're getting much more information on this and we're
dwoeg going to want to lean on you for legal interpretations. let's talk about the politics of this. joining us now, errol lewis. the attorney general of the united states, he's a senior ranking cabinet official. anytime a cabinet official speaks to a special counsel or investigation, it is a big deal. jeff sessions is a key player in the donald trump campaign. this is a big piece of information. >> it is a big deal. not somebody brought on after the inauguration, it is in the somebody who is part of the administration. it goes right to the heart of all of the things that the special counsel was tasked with looking at, that the white house most wanted to keep under wraps. even if at the were just talking about confirming and sort of putting in place timelines, there has been so much confusion as you outline about who he was with and who met with kislyak and how come he didn't remember and so forth. he also can sort of confirm or deny things that michael flynn might be telling the special counsel. we got a lot of information, a lot of the key meetings, the big one at trump tower we heard so much about where, you know, you can legitimately ask this key
member of both the campaign and the administration who was there, what was said about it, what were you thinking, and what does all of this mean? >> he did testify in front of the house intelligence committee, famously and in november, you had the ranking democrat on the committee, adam schiff, who came out disturbed after that testimony. here is one reason why, i asked the attorney general whether he was ever instructed by the president to take any action that he believed would hinder the russia investigation. schiff says sessions declined to answer that question before the committee. he couldn't decline to answer that in front of mueller's team it sounds like from our legal experts. >> well, he could -- at great legal peril. it is not entirely clear. if you read the various accounts, the michael wolff book and others, the fact he decided to recuse himself wouithout clearing it first with donald trump was said -- was described as sort of an ied going off inside the white house. the fact that he took himself out of it.
it could be something no more graphic than that. no more important than that, which we already knew about, or something else entirely. >> joining us also now is alice stewart, a cnn contributor, republican strategist. we know that the president has had a somewhat fraught relationship with the attorney general, jeff sessions. we also know that the president has called this investigation a hoax. and attorney general of the united states is not investigated or questioned in an investigation that is a hoax. this is sort of a big deal and a new reality that the white house will have to deal with. >> certainly. and let me just say off the top, i do think it is inappropriate for the administration to be referring to this as a hoax and a witch-hunt. i think it is important for us it get to the bottom of it. and i think the only way that we can do that, and put this behind us, is to let everyone that has any information that is relevant to the investigation, let them go before mueller and his team and provide what information they do have. and clearly that is what the
attorney general is doing. and the fact that he was accompanied by his long time attorney and friend of mine, chuck cooper, goes to show, look, they want to put all the information out there. they want to get to the relevant key facts in this, and more than anything, i think it was critical and just goes to show that jeff sessions wants this to be above board, by the simple fact that from the very beginning he recused himself from anything that had to do with the russian probe because he realized it was an extreme conflict of interest for him to be investigating the russian matter, which involved the trump campaign when he was a key part of the trump campaign. so i look at this from the standpoint that jeff sessions is yet again doing what -- in his mind truly is the right thing under the law and the right way to get about the facts in this case. and fully comply. and i think that the more information out there, the better. and whether or not this has to do with russian collusion between the campaign or getting
to the real heart of the matter is russian interference in our election and whether or not it influenced the outcome of our election. that's the key point here. and the more information we can get out there, i think it is the best for not just this administration, but the american election process overall. >> all right, we do have kaitlan collins up at the white house with responses. we wait for kaitlan. s shimon, what else are you learning? >> the relationship between the fbi and the department of justice is pretty much frayed here. there is a lot of problems. and just keep in mind, you know, what this must have been like on wednesday when sessions was interviewed. probably fbi agents asking him questions, technically attorney general is their boss. they were questioning their boss in an investigation that he is pretty much central on two
issues. that is the firing of the former fbi director, and then also the contacts with russia and the foreign policy team during the campaign. and, you know, the former fbi director sort of alluded to something during the time that he testified on the hill about this investigation when he was -- when comey was still the fbi director. he never really wanted to publicly reveal some of what their investigation found as it related to sessions. remember, he did that in the closed door, some of it did come out, it was about some meetings potentially at a hotel here in washington, d.c. and also comey did not have any confidence in sessions. it is why he said he went public with those memos, because he couldn't go to congress, he couldn't go to his attorney general because he felt that his issues that he had with the president, with president trump, asking questions about the investigation, would not be fairly addressed by the attorney
general. no doubt all of this did come up in this interview, questions by the special prosecutor, questions by the fbi agents. this is an extraordinary development. just think about sitting inside that room for these fbi agents to be questioning the attorney general. >> look, i are to say also remarkable timeline of the last week. last week questioned by fbi agents in the russia investigation within the last few days. apparently having the current fbi director threatening to quit unless the attorney general backs off his demands to shake up the house and maybe get rid of the deputy there. that is fascinating. great point. to the white house now, kaitlan collins is there. we are getting some new reaction from the white house. >> reporter: that's right, john. after we confirmed this, i grabbed sarah sanders and spoke with her. she said they are not commenting on this beyond saying that the white house is cooperating with this investigation, and it is worth noting that jeff sessions
is actually at the white house yesterday meeting with president trump. and i asked sarah sanders, the press secretary, if the two of them discussed his ee eed his i with the special counsel while they were meeting. she said she could not speak to that. >> errol lewis, alice stewart, kaitl kaitlan, everyone, thank you. don't go very far. there is a lot going on . breaking news out of kentucky. seven people taken to the hospital after a shooting at a high school there. the governor says one person has been killed. the shooter is in custody. we have a live update coming up.
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school. multiple injuries. we don't know the extent of them at this time. >> aaliyah shields is a reporter with wpsd, she joins us on the phone. you're outside the school. what else can you tell us? >> it is still very active scene as you may guess. there is a lot going on right now. they're transferring all the students to a different school in the county. north marshall middle school. you can see armed police -- armed officers with huge guns walking students in a single file line from one building to the next to try and transport them. there is just, i mean, this is a really small community. so even the law enforcement officers usually know someone who goes to the school. i was trying to get to where i'm at right now, they have a lot of people stopping the roads and even the people who are the cross guards are crying. it is a tragedy. we do know that one person is
dead. i talked to a parent who said his daughter called him and said she was okay and said she saw the person dead, they think it was a girl being carried out, blood dripping. i mean, horrible, horrible details that these students have to see. my heart and prayers go out to the families now. this is a community that, you know, 20 years ago, they experienced something in the county one over with a shooting. these communities know how this feels and it is a tragedy to see it happening again. cars are lining the roads, parents are trying to pick up students now, but they're transferring them. i can see the bus, marshall county school bus transporting high school students now and they're going to north marshall middle school to keep them safe and parents i think can pick them up at that school. >> and, leah, we're seeing video for the first time on our screen of pretty much where you're standing outside of the high school, first responders arriving, rushing inside, can only imagine what it is like for them. as you said, very close knit community, benton, kentucky,
community of just 4500 people. you've got 1300 students there, 74 teachers. and, again, we're hearing seven people taken to the hospital. is that the number you're hearing and what do you know about the extent of those injuries? >> i am hearing that as well. a lot of numbers are flying out now, because, like you said, it is such a small community. so everybody's mom knows somebody who works at the hospital or someone who works at the school. so i don't want to speculate and scare anybody. i have people who know people working at the hospital and say that number sounds about accurate as of now. i don't have anything coming to mind, i don't want to scare anybody. people here are being very calm, though, and working diligently, like you said. there is plenty of first responders on the scene. i did hear a helicopter earlier. i didn't know where it went, but i did hear one in the area. so the numbers are flying around, of course. governor matt bevan tweeted out
that one person lost their life and multiple wounded. but the specifics i just haven't been able to reach my sources just yet. >> all right, leah shields from our affiliate wpsd. thank you for your reporting. we'll let you get back to work. please keep us posted as the developments come in. >> thanks to leah. we're following much more breaking news this morning as well. attorney general jeff sessions sitting down for an interview for hours with special counsel bob mueller. very significant. the first cabinet member in the president's team to be interviewed by the special counsel. the white house this morning just responding saying it is coopera cooperating. much more ahead. if you've been diagnosed with cancer,
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the breaking news, cnn has confirmed that the attorney general jeff sessions was interviewed by special counsel robert mueller's team one week ago. he is the most senior official to be interviewed yet in this investigation. back with us now, political commentators errol lewis, also alice stewart and joining us brian fallon as well. want to go to you first, brian. among your many other jobs, you once worked in the justice department. and before we were talking to shimon prokupecz, the oddity of this, where you have fbi agents, investigators, theoretically, questioning the attorney general of the united states in a closed room. explain to us how unusual that is and the implications. >> well, it would be highly unusual in any other circumstance other than this one that we find ourselves in with donald trump being the president and himself being under scrutiny in this russia investigation. so it was reported a few weeks back that mueller's team already is starting to negotiate the
terms by which they will interview the president himself. so we should not be surprised to hear that they have sought out the attorney general. of course, there is two points of interest with respect to the attorney general, at least two. number one is, he himself had contacts with the russian government during the campaign. at least two meetings with ambassador kislyak that he didn't initially disclose to the senate when he was going through his confirmation hearing. so the underlying collusion investigation would be interested in what the nature of those conversations were. secondly, of course, privy to the conversations that led to donald trump's decision to fire jim comey. he was famously at that monday meeting with his deputy rod rosenstein. any investigation about the president's obstruction of justice, jeff sessions would have a lot to say there. so all of this makes it doubly inappropriate that you would have jeff sessions trying to weigh in and force christopher way to fire andy mccabe, the
deputy director of the fbi, inappropriate under any circumstances as a career official and inproper meddling by the attorney general. but especially when you have the attorney general who is a person of interest, if not a subject of this ongoing investigation, the idea that he's trying to influence the personnel decisions that the fbi is entirely inappropriate. >> errol lewis, jeff sessions cannot do or could not do since this meeting already happened in front of mueller's team what he did to congress. and that is time and time again essentially cite executive privilege, can't answer that, won't answer that, the president may invoke executive privilege down the road. so therefore the assumption is mueller's team got a whole lot more answers? >> absolutely. a much different kind of conversation. if you played games in front of a congressional committee, you say you claim privileges that may or may not exist. if you try their patience long enough, they'll hold you in contempt of congress. that is a cumbersome process, you are to go outside, get a judge involved. we're nowhere near that point. on the other hand, if you're sitting and talking with fbi agents, even if you are
technically their boss, if you lie to them, you've already committed an offense. you can get busted for that, separate and apart from any underlying conversation that was going on. so, jeff sessions knows this better than anybody. used to be a u.s. attorney. so it is a very different conversation. it is not one where there is a lot of bargaining, give and take, one where you actually have to do what we so often hear, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. >> stand by for one minute, i'll come to you for a second, joining us by phone now, michael zeldin who once worked for robert mueller in a different capacity, but a attorney who can help us understand the legal intricacies of what happened behind closed doors and what has happened since. i guess i'll start with privilege. you have a question about what happened since then. behind closed doors, michael, what does the attorney general have to answer to the investigators in that room? >> well, he has to answer any question put forth to him as to
which he has knowledge, but as to which the president has not asserted executive privilege. so when he goes in, he's like any other person, but because he was a senior policymaker, in the administration, the president retains the right to assert executive privilege as the specific questions or lines of questioning. he cannot blanketly say i am not going to answer that question because the president may in the future want to assert it. it has to have been i am not answering that question because the president or his white house counsel or his private counsel somehow haveinstructed me that the president is asserting executive privilege as to the question you're asking me. then mueller can determine whether he can decide if it is an appropriate exercise of executive privilege and if it is, fine. if not, he can go to court and say they are using this as a
shield when they have no right to do so and i want you, judge, to pierce through that. >> this would tell us once and for all if we were to find out about it conclusively if the white house is declaring -- >> it also, we know this would have been a scheduled meeting, so sessions could have gone to the white house prior and saying i'm meeting with the mueller's team and the team could have said we're exerting executive privilege on x, y and z. we don't know if that happened. >> that is normally the way it would work. >> okay. so also, look at these images. these are from yesterday when jeff sessions was, we'll pull them up in a moment, leaving the white house. we know he spoke to the president. we don't know what they spoke about. the white house this morning still isn't saying what they spoke about. my question to you is legally could sessions have fully briefed the president on his hours of conversation with bob mueller's team. if bob mueller's team is getting ready to interview the president, could sessions say here's everything they asked me and here's how i answered?
>> well, unless mueller advises him otherwise, and says to him, were you to do that, i would view this as an interference with my investigation. generally speaking, a witness is free to talk to whom ever they want about their testimony, whether in the grand jury, or privately unless he's instructed by mueller otherwise. i would expect that these guys are talking to one another, we saw that earlier when flynn backed out of the joint cooperation, the joint cooperation agreement, that led us to know they were all talking to one another. sessions could be similarly in such an arrangement. so, yes, i would expect that they would have conversation with a broad outlines are discussed. not necessarily on a question by question basis. i think mueller might find that automatic. >> stand by if you will, i'll bring alice stewart back into
the question. brian fallon raising an interesting point here on the timing of all of this, which is that the attorney general was questioned last week in the special counsel's probe and this morning, we're learning that he was pressuring the fbi director christopher wray to fire the department t deputy, pressuring him so much that he threatened to quit if he kept that pressure up. is that appropriate, given he was facing questions himself by presumably fbi agents and the special counsel probe, is it appropriate for him to weigh in on fbi personnel decisions a week later? >> main my view, no. in my view it wasn't appropriate for the president to push james comey out either. i think it is critical for an fbi investigation and the special counsel investigation to do its job appropriately to get to the bottom of russian interference in our election and possibly influence in the outcome of our election and possible collusion between the campaign is to let them do their job free and clear of any kind
of influence by the administration. and clearly based on what we see jeff sessions meeting with the president yesterday, i think it would be safe to assume that he did fill in the president on the meetings he had last week with the special counsel. and probably evidence of that is the tweets we saw from the president this morning. once again, criticizing the fbi in regard to a separate probe with the missing text between two members of the fbi and that's generally what he does, if he doesn't like one aspect of what an organization in this case the fbi does, he attacks them for something else, trying to yet again undermine the credibility of the fbi and i think that is inappropriate. i think he should let them do their job. i think he should let mueller do his job because more than anything the most important thing is to get to the bottom of how russia has possibly impacted our election. and i do commend jeff sessions. i think he is doing this the right way. i do think it was appropriate for him to recuse himself, given
the conflict of interest. i think it was right for him to sit down with the investigators and fully and hopefully completely answer any questions they have. because full and complete transparency is the best way to get to -- the best end result for mueller and his team. >> look, the president has oscillated in the last few weeks between i think mueller will be fair and once again this is the biggest witch-hunt, this is a hoax. how does he feel this morning? thank you, errol lewis, alice stewart, brian fallon, we appreciate it. michael zeldin as well on the phone. the government is open this morning. a lot going on as we say. the breaking news on robert mueller, the investigation there. but the shutdown is over. much more on that coming up. your insurance company
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wrote. he wrote nobody knows for sure that the republicans and democrats will be able to reach a deal on daca, the dreamers, by february 8th. everyone will be trying. joining us now, cnn's ryan nobles for the very latest on capitol hill. where do things stand? >> you're right, the government is back open. lawmakers here were able to get past that impasse, but the fundamentals of the divisions between both sides as it relates to big issues that need to be hashed out remain. take a look at the calendar that lawmakers have in front of them now. yes, the government is back open. but now they have a three-week sprint to try and come up with a deal that will keep the government open even longer, and deal with big issues primarily daca and immigration reform. and as i said before, there isn't a whole lot of difference between where most of these senators stood before the government shutdown and where they stand now as it relates to daca. the only big difference now is that senate majority leader mitch mcconnell made a promise. that's a promise to bring a daca bill in some form to the floor.
take a look at what mitch mcconnell is promising. he's saying that, yes, they will take up legislation to address daca. there should be a level playing field on the immigration debate. and he is promising a fair amendment process. now, that may result in some sort of a piece of legislation leaving the senate with bipartisan support. but there are no promises once that bill leaves here and heads over to the other side of the capitol and the house takes it up. already some of the hard-liners as it relates to immigration are warning house speaker paul ryan that they are not going to budge. they want to see full funding for a wall. they're concerned about things like chain migration and the visa lottery. and they also want a daca bill that is perhaps not as friendly as some democrats are looking for. so, john and poppy, the government is back open, but the problems continue to exist and they only got three weeks to figure it out. >> wonder if anything is much different than it was, you know, before. we'll see if these three weeks change things.
joining us now, chris van holland of maryland. i'm sure you heard by new and read that attorney general jeff sessions sat down last week for hours on end with bob mueller's team, the special counsel leading the russia probe. what is your reaction to that news and are you encouraged that, look, this is the highest level person around the president, the only cabinet member to be interviewed by mueller's team, that he was willing to do so? >> poppy this is a sign that the mueller investigation is continuing, it is vigorous, getting to the bottom of everything and working to get the facts. so i think it is good news for the public because i think we all deserve accountability. we need to know what happened. so it is one more sign that the mueller investigation is continuing at a brisk pace. >> all right, senator. the government is open today. and a lot of people including a lot of democrats is, progressives, are asking what did you gain in the senate?
democrats in senate gain by shutting the government down by three days, but then agreeing to open it for what they consider to be not much. what did you gain? >> first of all, john, let's be clear. it was the total incompetence of president trump and the dysfunction as white house that led to the shutdown in the first place. as senator lindsey graham said, there are unreliable negotiating partners they got us into this mess and then did nothing, nothing to get us out. what got us out was bipartisan group of senators working to get a commitment from mitch mcconnell to take up a bipartisan daca bill, a commitment that they refused to give in the past. we know there are 57 senators right now republicans and democrats who support the graham/durbin bill and now is an opportunity to build on that and get a vote. >> hang on one second. he gave that guarantee to jeff flake to get his vote on the tax bill back in december. susan collins on health care.
he's made promises before, particularly on daca. the vote didn't happen in january at least as he promised to jeff flake. >> so, look, a couple of differences. one is this is a commitment he made in public as opposed to behind closed doors to jeff flake. second, a commitment he made to over 15 republican senators, in addition to the american people. and finally, there are lots more levers in this process. going three weeks on a continuing resolution, still leaves all the budget issues. it leaves all the issues relating to an omnibus appropriations. so there are tools we have to make sure that mitch mcconnell keeps his commitment, in addition to the fact that he made it out in public and people are going to be holding him to his word. >> look at all of you hope he does keep his commitment because you ultimately have to answer to your constituents. let me read you what frank sherry, the executive director of america's voice, an immigrants rights group, here's what he said, i'm moved to tears of disappointment and anger that
the democrats blanked and for hoping that paul ryan is going to have the courage and house republicans will be fair and decent or smoking something. even if you get this through gang of six legislation or something similar through the senate, you're going to have a much tougher road in the house, and with the white house unless you give a lot. hearing things like that, concerning to you? >> well, look, this is a moment where everybody has got to come together and focus on getting the bill out of the senate. bipartisan daca bill, and putting pressure in the house. i understand the disappointment. we did not get everything we wanted. but there was absolutely no guarantee that two, three weeks of government shutdown would have left this in a better place. in fact, it could have very well left us in a worse place. at least right now we have this commitment, this public commitment, from mitch mcconnell, to move forward. something they have refused to do in the past. so at least we have a path forward now. and if we get it out of the
senate, and i think there is strong bipartisan support, the whole country will are to pile on the house. hire here is what we know about the house. there are a majority of house members in favor of a bipartisan daca compromise. the key is getting them to act on it. and there are some tools like discharge petitions and other things you can use in the house, but first step is to get everybody to come together, focus on getting this out of the united states senate, and over to the house. >> do you promise the 800,000 dreamers if you look a dreamer in the eye and say i will not agree three weeks from now to open the government or to keep the government going unless there is a deal for your future? >> what i can say is we will use every tool that we got and we got lots to keep mitch mcconnell at his word which is to have that vote on a bipartisan daca bill. i think we will get that vote. and then the key is to make sure that we work the house as you just indicated. and, look, march 5th is the date that president trump set.
we had dreamers who are here illegally and trump set the clock march 5th. as we get closer to that date, there will be more and more pressure on the house, if we get our bill out, to get this done. and we will use every tool we have got to make sure that happens. i am confident that we are in a better spot today than we were before friday, before we saw everything happen because at least we have a path forward now. not everything we wanted. i understand that. but certainly in a better situation than we were before this whole process started. i many say, you know, donald trump's tweet today, i take no confidence in that. he's been a totally feckless leader. totally incompetent. this is a moment where republicans and democrats and the senate got to get this done, get to the house and get the public fully engaged. >> three weeks. thank you so much for being with us. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> a lot of breaking news today, including news on the russia
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wait until you hear this story. first on cnn, a veteran atf special agent suing her own agency as well as suing the justice department. >> she claims her bosses asked her to look into claims of sexual harassment against a supervisor and retaliated against her after she says she uncovered new disturbing allegations. jessica schneider sat down with the agent. she joins us now from washington. this say remarkable story. >> lisa kincaid just marked 30 years at the atf, but she says when she brought those sexual harassment and one sexual
assault allegation to light, she said she faced backlash. she told me upper management brushed aside the complaints she uncovered, and really in a new report from the inspector general we see that there are issues at the doj, they say systemic ones. >> not the way you want to go out. >> reporter: lisa kincaid is marking three decades as a special agent at the atf, years she was proud to serve as a branch chief and a supervisor for the atf's d.c. arson task force. >> i'm proud of my service. but i feel betrayed. >> reporter: for the past four years, kincaid said she's been sidelined and demoted after she was specifically assigned by the atf to investigate claims of sexual harassment. >> one woman claims that she was assaulted, that the supervisor at a work related function put his hand up her skirt and
squeezed her thigh. and this was after he had made several passes at her and she had rebuffed the passes. >> reporter: kincaid was a special agent in the internal affairs division, tasked with investigating a complaint by an agent who claims sexual harassment and discrimination. kincaid's probe began with that one woman's story, but soon she was on her way to interviewing five other women, with similar stories about the same two supervisors. >> by the fourth interview that we connected, we knew that there existed a pattern of abusive behavior in that office. >> reporter: kincaid turned in a nearly 300 page preliminary report to senior managers, outlining numerous allegations. they're detailed in the lawsuit she just filed against the department of justice, where kincaid claims she was retaliated against for exposing what she found. most of the allegations are redacted. what is revealed includes a supervisor allegedly shoving his hand up an employee's skirt and
discussing oral sex in front of female atf employees. >> throughout the who process, i was naive to think that the system was going to work. and the system wasn't going to work. >> kincaid says upper management tried to dismiss the allegations. >> i think senior leadership tried to protect him from the very beginning of the investigation. >> reporter: kincaid says both supervisors remained at the atf, despite the allegations, since none of the women ever filed formal complaints. the atf would not comment on personnel and say we take sexual harassment complaints very seriously and they are thoroughly investigated. but in a motion to dismiss kincaid's lawsuit, the government says kincaid was reassigned because she admitted to divulging information from her investigation to her husband, a retired atf agent and said the inspector general did investigate kincaid's findings and issued a one paragraph summary of the results. but that report only covered a supervisor's gambling while on duty and said nothing about
complaints of sexual harassment. findings last year from the department of justice inspector general pinpoints problems throughout the justice department's components including at atf. is says the doj has issues in how it handles sexual harassment complaints and some of the subjects of pending sexual misconduct investigations received performance awards and weren't properly disciplined. a spokesman for the justice department said the deputy attorney general has convened a working group to look at the issues raised by the report, that process is nearing completion and we will soon be responding to the inspector general with the department's recommendations for action. but kincaid's attorney believes these probes and reports from the inspector general dating back to 2015 have spurred no changes. >> what happens to a woman who is an attorney who comes and talks about one of these guys, sticking his hand up her dress? you know what is she supposed to do? there is nothing that is ever addressed by the ig office. >> reporter: and that's why kincaid says she is speaking out, she wants to spotlight the
issue outside the black and white. >> i want to make a difference. i want to know that taking a stand wasn't for nothing. >> thanks to jessica schneider for that report. >> thank you, all, for being with us this morning, through all of the breaking news. we'll keep you posted on all of it. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm john berman. "at this hour" starts now. this is cnn breaking news. >> hi there. i'm brianna keilar in for kate ball wi baldwin. two breaking stories, both related to the russia investigation. first, word that the special counsel's probe has now breached the president's cabinet for the first time. cnn learning that robert mueller's team interviewed attorney general jeff sessions as part of its probe into russian meddling in the 2016 election. and whether the president obstructed justice since taking
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