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tv   Wolf  CNN  January 29, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PST

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hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington, 6:00 a.m. in london, 8:00 p.m. in jerusalem. wherever you're watching around the world, thanks so much for joining us. we begin with breaking news here in washington. the fbi director andrew mccabe is stepping down effective today. we are joined with details. shema, we knew andrew mccabe
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planned on leaving soon, but it's a bit sooner than we originally thought. what do you think? >> yes, it is, wolf. we were not expecting this today. we've been reporting and we were told he at least planned to stay until march. what we're learning is that at some point this morning, the fbi director, christopher wray, brought in his executive team, told them that the now former deputy director andrew mccabe was leaving and that he would be leaving effective noon today, so that's about an hour ago, and that they have appointed a new acting deputy director. his name is dave boudage. we are told he left the building around noon or so when his retirement sort of took effect. he is no longer the acting deputy -- he's no longer the deputy director of the fbi, wolf. >> we know that andrew mccabe had been under a lot of fire in
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the white house directly from the president, a lot of republicans. they pointed to him with bias in the overall russia probe. fill us in on that. >> he has certainly taken a lot of heat. the heat he's taken goes back to the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. there was a lot of concern by republicans because of his wife. his wife was connected. she ran for state office in virginia. she received money, donations, from the governor there, terry mcauliffe, part of his group there and his connections to hillary clinton. you know, recently, the last several months, republicans had raised a lot of concerns that andrew mccabe was connected to the hillary clinton e-mail investigation because of his wife. these concerns were raised on the hill. he had to go to the hill and talk to them about this. he was questioned about that by members of congress. so all of that certainly he has taken heat for. you know, he's also taken a lot
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of heat from the president in tweets in direct communications with the deputy director. a lot of stuff coming his way from a lot of republicans, from the white house, and he's sort of been the punching bag for the president against the fbi. also his relationship to peter stroth and lisa page. these were the two people texting each other and those texts have pretty much been revealed now that caused a lot of concern for members of congress. so all of this, mccabe was very much aware of this. he knew that he was taking a lot of heat. and so, you know, he would try to say that he wasn't retiring because of all of this, but everyone knew that at some point he was going to have to step down. so he had planned, really, to do it in march when he was eligible to retire. >> interesting, and i just want to remind people what the president tweeted back on
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september 23. how can deputy director, andrew mccabe, the man in charge of the hillary clinton campaign and her 30,000 deleted e-mails be given $700,000 for his wife's campa n campaign? he is also tweeting, fbi deputy director andrew mccabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go. so the president has been on the warpath against him for a while, shimon, and today andrew mccabe is gone. anything else you want to add? >> also remember recently there was news recently that the attorney general jeff sessions was putting pressure on the fbi director to clean house, to get rid of the executive staff, those that are connected to the former fbi director james comey. we now know this will be the third person essentially on that executive team that was
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connected to comey. that is now gone. we had james robicki, who was comey's chief of staff, james baker who was general counsel to comey, and now andrew mccabe all out as part of the executive team, and really wray now building his own team which the president has wanted, which the attorney general has wanted. so certainly a shift here in the leadership at the fbi. just so you understand, the person who is going to be the acting deputy director right now, dave boudage, is very well known in the fbi. he was the head of the los angeles office. he led the investigation during the san bernardino shooting. he's very well known to us in the media because he was the face of that story for the fbi. his extensive history. so it will be interesting to see how he's received certainly by people at the white house and the department of justice. >> yep. christopher wray, the new fbi director, relatively putting his
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own stamp on things now. shimon, we'll get back to you. i want to get back to the breaking news that the fbi deputy director andrew mccabe is stepping down. rob acosta is joining me now. what are you hearing from the white house? >> reporter: we do expect sarah huckabee sanders to address this briefly, that's only natural. the president did not comment on this. we do understand from sources talking to us that he was notified of this earlier this morning. but wolf, i just talked to a source familiar with this matter who tells me this was a mutual decision, that andrew maccabe ws tired of being criticized and undermined with the president tweeting about him last september. but this was a mutual decision in that the white house was tired of andrew mccabe as well. according to a source i spoke
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to, people in the trump administration were not happy with andrew mccabe. it seems we have another shoe dropped on this russia matter. as you know, and you've been talking about this a few moments ago with shimon, they not only fired the counselor and wanted to fire mueller have been putting pressure on just about every law enforcement and justice official who had a hand in this russia investigation, and now it appears that andrew mccabe stepping down is just the latest result of that, wolf. >> how does this play into what a lot of the critics are pointing out was an effort by the president to undermine robert mueller's overall russia investigation? >> well, wolf, obviously that is at the heart of the russia investigation and what's been going on in the special counsel's office, that there are concerns that the president has been obstructing justice ever since he came into office as president, and that he has been leaning on and pressuring
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various justice department and fbi officials essentially since he was sworn into office, and we know from the stories about andrew mccabe that the president at one point, at least according to the "washington post," had asked who he voted for and so on, so this has been a consistent application to pressure from the president of the united states. he has apparently said at times that he wished he had more influence and leverage over what goes on inside the justice department and inside this investigation. and so to have the deputy director of the fbi step down after a very long career, i think, is just going to be something else that the mueller investigation is going to want to look at, and that is in part why this white house and the president's legal team is so concerned about the president sitting down with the mueller team, because obviously he'll be under oath. it would obviously be an under oath type of situation, and he's going to be asked about all these various levels of pressure that he has applied and that officials here at the white house have applied on the
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justice budepartment and the fb. the president sometimes changes his position on things. that could potentially be legally precarious for them because he could youobviously g tripped up and say something that officials here at the white house have said and what they're obviously saying inside the justice department over at the fbi. it's a pretty extraordinary situation. but from what i understand from talking to a source familiar with the investigation, this is a neutral decision, that andrew mccabe was tired of the undermining he felt was going on here at the white house, tired of being criticized and that he was ready to go. but at the same time, wolf, it's been stressed to me that this was a mutual decision, that they also felt like it was time for andrew mccabe to go over here at the white house, wolf. >> yep. all right, jim acosta, we're standing by. sarah sanders will be holding her white house press briefing
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momentarily. we'll have reaction to these late-breaking developments. joining us now, political analyst curran for politico, glor gloria borger. gloria, we'll start with you. we thought he was going to leave in march. it's not even february yet but he's gone. >> nothing like this happens in a vacuum, wolf, and our justice department team is reporting that his departure came as a surprise to even people inside the justice department. one source said that it wasn't even in the plans as of friday. so you have to wonder, you know, if you're going to retire, take your pension, et cetera, you make it effective a date certain in the future, and it's kind of orderly and people are anticipating it. i think this was a jolt. and it doesn't happen in a vacuum. you know that the president has been griping about him. he's also been griping about other people at the justice
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department. rod rosenstein comes to mind. i mean, we did a story on friday saying the president would like to have him removed as well. he's grousing about him internally. and perhaps, and this is just speculation, that it came to a certain point where maybe chris wray threw up his hands or chris wray and mccabe threw up their hands and said, all right, this is going to happen. what we don't know is if there was an order for him to leave, where it came from. >> and rachel, it's probably a month or so earlier than we anticipated, but he was under enormous pressure to get out of there. >> yeah, and you just have to look at what happened over the past couple of days. republicans on the hill have sort of been hitting, you know, tv channels talking about these new texts that came to light from two top fbi officials basically suggesting that maybe they weren't going to go hard on then-candidate hillary clinton and the hillary clinton e-mail investigation, because they were
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worried she was potentially going to be the boss. republicans have been trying to make this case that the fbi have had this anti-trump bend. it's not obviously illegal or against the law at all for fbi officials to have public opinions. but it only causes a problem if they act on those in a biased manner. right now republicans are highlighting these texts and you can bet mccabe wanted to get out of there before they go on this rampage. >> you can't blame him for wanting to get out. >> yeah, and he probably would go out when he could collect his full pension. exactly when we're not certain. as long as he's at the fbi he's both a target as far as himself, being targeted by the president, and also an excuse by the president to target the fbi for any other number of reasons that could relate to the texts, could relate to the memo, could relate to a lot of different things happening surrounding the story
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of when mccabe's tenure actually comes to a close. to identify which element of it prompted the declaration of today is the day to go, we're not certain on that yet, but it's a place ripe for the reasons. both to want to separate yourself from it but also step -- everything that's happening, mccabe was tied to the fbi for a good long time in a very senior role. he'll remain part of the story as long as he remains in the building. >> he was number two. laura cotes joins us on the phone. the director of the fbi, there is a suspicion there that the new director of the fbi would like to get his team in place. that's totally understandable. >> it is understandable to have team people and team players. they are career people. the purpose of having
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career-level investigators is you want a continuation across presidential administration, you want the continuation, you want the pipeline of information and into some knowledge. working with fbi agents, i don't want to reduce mccabe's decision to one that has delicate abilities. the key motivation for him wanting to retire was simply because he couldn't take it anymore. there is probably other reasons behind that, but i do think this would have much more weight in the court of public opinion than it would for mueller's investigation given that the nunez memo may be surfacing soon. i'm sure it will be used as fodder to suggest that there was some nefarious reason to expedite his terms of retirement. if the cost reporting is accurate, the mutual decision will play in kind of a way that won't impact much of mueller's investigation but will certainly be one used by political parties
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as fodder. >> i want to bring adam goldman of the "new york times" into this conversation. adam, it's not just mccabe who was under a lot of fire. robert mueller under a lot of criticism as well. and rod rosenstein, you're doing reporting, you've heard gloria at cnn has done a lot of reporting on the position as well. what did you learn? >> it seems like the pressure on rod rosenstein is going to mount, because congressman nunez has put together this three or four-page memo about, quote, unquote, is fbi abuses. one of the things he talks about is renewing a fisa warrant of carter page, a former foreign policy adviser. clearly that was put in the memo memo. >> that was going to be
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considered when the house intelligence committee meets behind closed doors at 5:30 p.m. eastern, later today. stand by for the moment, because shimon is learning more. what are you learning, shimon? >> there are a lot of questions of was mccabe forced out or did estep ohe step out on his own? during a meeting, andrew mccabe stepped in and told deputy officials today would be his last day, and we're told he left by noon. this comes as a surprise to many people. then what i'm also told, certainly the initial reaction from folks in the field. people are are pretty angry right now in that this had not even been announced internally
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yet at the fbi before it was announced in the news and before we started reporting it. so there is. are they talking to the fbi staff as to what the hell is going on and what is running the fbi? another thing here, this is a similar fashion of how people learned about fbi director james comey when he was fired. si so a lot of concern that the current fbi director, christopher wray, had not even assigned yet in terms of music counts. they're going to have a call with the leadership team where he's going to explain to them exactly how it happened and what went down today. >> let's remember andrew mccabe was not a political appointee, he was a career fbi agent and worked his way through the ranks, right?
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>> that's exactly right. he's a 22-career agent. he ran the office field here. he spent a lot of time on counterterrorism. he worked in new york at, and this was the issue here because the president and the attorney general, sessions, couldn't just remove thim from his position. they would need cause. they would need a reason. he wanted his fbi director to do it, but in the ernld. that's really essentially why christopher wray, the fbi, did not move him he wanted to keep the senior leadership together as he learned of the agency and
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learned of the bureau, the different cases they're working on, different operations, whatever else, just generally how the bureau worked. so he kept a lot of the comey -- the former comey people on the team as he worked through this. and now it seems that basically everyone who was attached, almost everyone who was directly attached to comey has now either been placed somewhere else or has been removed or is gone from the bureau. >> shimon, stand by. gloria, the pressure on mccabe now that he's gone, but the pressure on the deputy general to leave, that is mounting as well. >> we're just watching this incredible drama play out, to be honest. people gather in the morning. they're told that mccabe is going to be gone. we know that the president of the united states has been after mccabe. we don't know whether this was an order for him to be removed. we know it was certainly disorderly in the way it
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occurred because he was going to just retire. so what is it that occurred that got wray to say he's leaving as of noon today? we don't know the answer to that. and was wray pressured by the white house? did wray feel for some reason that perhaps this just wasn't worth the fight anymore? did mccabe just decide, okay, i've got to retire rather than take this heat a little earlier than i thought? we really need to do reporting here, but really, i think if you step back, you can't sort of underestimate the shock waves that shimon was talking about to go through this agency. as shimon talked about, the comey people are now gone, and we know that we have a president of the united states who has been very public about his dissatisfaction not only with mccabe but with rosenstein, and you have to wonder whether there are going to be more dominoes here. >> the president wanted a
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loyalty pledge from andrew mccabe. he asked him who he voted for in the last presidential election. >> just like he did with jim comey before firing him. i think that republicans zeroing in on rosenstein is particularly interesting in light of news that we got last week, that the president was talking about firing mueller. because in reality, when republicans are on tv, they say, oh, you don't need to worry about the president firing mueller, because guess whose job it is? it's rosenstein's job. he's the one that actually has the power to get rid of the special counsel. so the fact they are now going after this guy, potentially trying to push him out, maybe? that's something we should all be watching very closely. >> because the pressure is mounting on rod rosenstein as well. >> exactly. there is more focused on him now. we've seen this ping-pong back and forth between is rosenstein the one whose neck is on the line, is sessions the one whose neck is on the line? one of them have to be placed to emit some sort of firing order
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to fire mueller. is there someone mora menabe am to the order? possibly. people would say, there is no way the president would do this. politically it would be difficult, but it's not impossible if you just move one person, really, out of the way and replace them with somebody else. especially with everything else going on right now. the memo news you really can't lose sight of in all of this, because it sets up what the bubbling-up pressure is from his allies on capitol hill. he's going to need that sort of -- that sort of support, i guess, to be able to do anything and not be censured for it. >> shimon, you're getting more information. what are you learning? >> wolf, we're being told that in this meeting where andrew mccabe announced he was leaving today that he made it clear that it was his decision, that it was his decision today that he would be leaving, that he would be retiring early and not staying
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till a date he had planned in march to leave the fbi. he addressed the executive team this morning, and that is where we're told he stressed that it was his decision and that today would be his last day. and certainly this came as a surprise to everyone in this meeting. this certainly has caught the fbi by surprise. look, the fbi director had not even had an opportunity to tell the field offices, to tell people at the fbi that this was happening. everyone is learning this by watching us, by reading it, and that's what's going on now. now the fbi director has to tell a pretty angry -- some angry fbi agents as to what is going on and why is it that they're learning this through media accounts and not directly from him? >> yet it comes on the heels of the president apparently last june, according to a lot of reports, wanting to fire robert mueller, the special counsel. and adam goldman of the "new
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york times" is still with us. adam, if the president were to fire mueller, he would have to go to rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who would actually do the firing unless he resigned in protest. >> that's correct. i mean, he can't fire mueller. i think trump realizes the problem is no longer sessions, his problem is rod. if he can perhaps get rid of rod, maybe he can replace -- he can put somebody in the number two spot at doj that could effectively remove mueller. i have to tell you, it seems unlikely. we're in the home stretch of this russia investigation. you know, it would be like cutting off his own leg if he did that. and it would not serve him well. can i just make a point about this mccabe retirement? look, mccabe was going to retire march 18th. he was eligible to retire march 18th. he's leaving a few weeks early. even a week ago, mccabe didn't know if he would be able to last until march 18th. he's not going on terminal leave
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until he is eligible to retire. so this is what they expected, and getting rid of his chief of staff and baker doesn't remove the problem for trump. those are all comey people. many of the executive associate directors who run the bureau on the seventh floor were put there by comey. so another key a.d. position. i'm not so sure this getting rid of mccabe and robicky and the former director necessarily solves the problem. >> these are all fbi agents, all of whom have worked their way up just like andrew mccabe. everybody stand by. we're awaiting sarah sanders, the white house press secretary. she'll be walking through that door, maybing a statemee in mak answering a lot of questions. our special coverage continues
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an update on the breaking news. fbi deputy director andrew mccabe stepping down effective immediately. sarah sanders getting ready to face questions on this any moment now. we'll have live reporting on the briefing when it begins. manu is up on capitol hill. manu, what's the reaction you're getting there? >> not a surprise,real surprise members thought mccabe would stay here until at least march 18. not a lot of reaction at the moment, but we know andrew mccabe is mentioned in this very controversial republican memo
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that devin nunes's staff drafted. the memo cites both mccabe and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, their role in overseeing the russia investigation. we don't know if this has any connection with the sudden decision of mccabe to announce his decision to step aside, but clearly if this memo is released, wolf, more pressure almost certainly will be put on mccabe from republicans here on capitol hill. we still don't know exactly the timing of this vote to release this memo. it could happen as soon as tonight, but the chairman of the house intelligence committee, devin nounes, not saying specifically if that is going to occur, but they're talking about the possibility of being released in the white house today for the president to reject to its release or allow it to come out publicly. presuming it does, it could shed some negative light on andrew mccabe, and democrats say there
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is a partisan document. republicans say this is in line with the underlying intelligence but just shows how much of a target andrew mccabe has been for a number of members, particularly republicans in the house over the last several weeks and months here, wolf. >> they've been going after him and now rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, as well. that meeting behind closed doors of the house intelligence committee scheduled to begin around 5:00 p.m. eastern. manu, we'll get back to you. in the meantime, i wanted to get more reaction to the breaking news, the deputy director of the fbi, andrew mccabe, stepping down immediately. congressman of the house and means affairs committee. what's your reaction, congressman, of andrew mccabe leaving? >> it's not a surprise to me. he's been undermined since day one, he's been attacked since day one, and this administration and congress are doing everything they can to discredit the fbi, to discredit the
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justice department. they really ought to stop, and i think this will be the first of a lot of people leaving because nobody wants to see their good work undermined. it's just awful. >> the white house is pointing to mccabe and its claims of an anti-trump bias in robert mueller's overall russia investigation. where do you see things going from here? >> well, you know, this paranoia about an anti-trump bias, we hear certain claims one day and it's disputed the next day, and then it's rebuked the day after that. it's been a steady flow one after the other. now they want to release this republican memo. we demand that if they're going to release that, they ought to release the democratic memo. it's just absolutely, again, ridiculous, these attacks on the justice department and the fbi. it all stems, of course, from the mueller investigation. they want to undermine it, they want to discredit it, they want to have a lot of smoke. it's just awful.
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it's really an attack on the basics of our democracy, as far as i'm concerned. >> have you read this four-page memo that devin nunez, the chairman of the house committee and other republicans, would like to release? i know they made it available to members of the house. >> well, i sent them a letter telling them i would like to see it. i have not seen it yet. but again, if they're going to release the republican memo, we want the democratic memo released as well. we want balanced opinions, we want all sides to be shown, and of course, if they just released what the republicans say, it's only half a story. it's not really fair and it's not what should be done. >> there was a letter written to devin nunez, the chairman of the intelligence committee. let me read a paragraph of this letter. here's the paragraph. in addition, we have also heard
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that the house special committee on intelligence is considering making the classified memorandum available to the public and the media an unprecedented action. the assistant attorney general writes, we believe it would be reckless for the committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the department and the fbi the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the house select committee on a risk to harm to security and ongoing investigations that could come from public release. indeed, we do not understand why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community. clearly the justice department is afraid that sensitive, classified information including sources and methods could be undermined. have you ever seen the house intelligence committee or the senate intelligence committee release this kind of classified information without first
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allowing the intelligence community to review it? because they're not sharing this four-page memorandum, basically, with anyone outside the house. >> well, no, i haven't, and i think the fears are very well-founded. and that's why i'm saying that if they made the decision to release what the republicans said, they ought to release the democratic response for balance. you know, it's really shocking, wolf, that there is just such an attack again on the fbi, on the justice department. when the president first took office, he attacked all the intelligence. there seems to be a continuing miscoddling of russia, this not going after the russians. there is a bill which we passed back in august of last year with over 400 votes in the house. it was bipartisan demanding that some of the sanctions be imposed on some of these russians for
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interfering in our election. the president blew past the deadline, and about a month later came forward with the names. today is the deadline for him to come forward with the sanctions. we haven't heard a word other than the fact that he's going to do it, but meanwhile he hasn't done it. i don't understand. this administration seems to go lightly on russia and attack u.s. intelligence. to me it just boggles my mind. >> this letter, i'll read another line from it. the assistant attorney general, remember, this is the justice department under jeff sessions, the former republican senator from alabama. the damage potentially would have damaging impact that the release of classified material could have on our national security and our ability to share and receive sensitive information from friendly foreign governments. all of that warning. let's see what the house select committee on intelligence does later today, whether they ignore these warnings from the justice department or go ahead and
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an update on the breaking news. the fbi deputy director andrew mccabe, number two at the fbi, now stepping down effective immediately. the white house press secretary sarah sanders will be facing questions on this any moment now when the briefing starts. you're looking at a packed briefing room at the west wing of the white house. let's bring back our panel. gloria, it's a surprise he did it now. he was supposed to do it later in march. but it looks increasingly like this was a mutual -- he was pushed. >> it looks like he was pushed, and we have reporting that we're gathering to that effect. but look at the context of all of this. you have a president who was pressuring publicly for mccabe to be gone, pressuring his attorney general. the attorney general, jeff sessions, there were reports
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earlier this month that sessions was applying pressure to wray to get rid of mccabe, and that wray was so upset about it that he went to the white house counsel don mcgahn and complained about it. so you have -- there's no doubt about it, you have pressure from the top on this. who effectively sdilddecided to the plug and how this transpired, we are still pulling out, but i think there is no other way to look at it because of the disordering manner in which this occurred, this was somebody who was pushed to leave before his time. >> he was feeling the heat big time, andrew mccabe, rachel. this is not somebody who was sort of a career fbi agent. he was someone right in the heart of these attacks. >> yeah, republicans have been going after him for months now. i remember in 2016 his wife was obviously running for democratic office in virginia, and republicans tried to pin that on him and say, you have a left
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bend, we can't have you at the fbi. i think what's interesting in what we're seeing today is that this memo, they're clearly laying the groundwork for even more shuffling. a case against rod rosenstein, potentially, for him basically approving to continue the continuation of surveillance of trump officials. and republicans are going to be saying in this memo that he had no right to do that. he's the guy who has the power to fire mueller. potentially they're making the case to push him out. that's the thing i think we should really watch as this memo comes out in the next few days. >> a lot of us remember, a lot of republicans certainly remember andrew mccabe's wife was running as a democrat for state senator in virginia, the then-democratic governor of virginia terry mcauliffe. he gave almost $500,000 to her campaign. she collected money from other democrats as well. he recused himself at the time
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of any fbi activities involving the commonwealth of virginia. >> right, but the current concern that they have is that he did not recuse himself from activities the fbi was doing like looking into things like the hillary clinton e-mail probe. >> that was later. he didn't recuse him from that even though terry mcauliffe, the governor of virginia, was very close. >> even though he did take certain steps to remove himself from inquiries directly involved with anything his wife was involved in. there is this shadow republicans are casting with anything he touched that was affiliated with anything to do with prominent democrats and all the high-profile stuff at the doj. one had focus on clinton, the other had focus on trump, and that's been out there and reported on social media. areas of congress also raising these inquiries. then you see texts come out between lawyers that worked closely with mccabe. the fbi had also brought up new
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questions about political bias, and that's what led to this firestorm we're in right now. it can't be easy to release mccabe for the last couple months since this has all been swirling around. the question we're left with and how much is his decision, how much is wray's decision and who is pulling the strings? >> jim, what are you learning? >> wolf, it doesn't sound like andrew mccabe was forced out from what we're hearing from a source familiar with this matter. chris wray, the new fbi director, had a conversation with mccabe, basically told him the writing was on the wall, that he was bringing in his own team and that andrew mccabe was not going to be on that team, so he was essentially being told that he was on his way out and that it was his move to make at that point and apparently that's what andrew mccabe sdidecided t do, decided to go ahead and announce his resignation. it sounds like at this point what we were hearing earlier, wolf, this was a mutual decision
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between andrew mccabe and the white house. the only way to describe it at this point is i think when you're told you're no longer a part of a team and the writing is on the wall, it's hard to say that's mutual, wolf. i think that's basically being told you're being forced out, you're being pushed out. it sounds like that is what happened with the deputy fbi director. i think the question at this point, wolf, is how much pressure did the white house have on chris wray in terms of making this decision. as we've been reporting, andrew mccabe was making it clear he would step down, retire in march. but from what we're hearing from sources, wolf, is that this white house, the president on down, they were extremely uncomfortable with andrew mccabe being in that position. they were getting angry with andrew mccabe being in that position. i think one of the open-ended questions, wolf, is whether there was pressure brought to bear on newt fbi director who we know has only been in this job a short while to make it clear to mccabe he is on his way out.
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from what we know, the fbi director did have a conversation with andrew mccabe and said you're not on this team anymore. >> stand by, jim, we're also awaiting sarah sanders. she's going to be walking out, we're told, fairly soon and start answering reporters' questions, and we know there are a lot of them. we'll be right back. and sometimes, i don't eat the way i should. so, i drink boost. boost high protein nutritional drink has 15 grams of protein to help maintain muscle and 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d. boost high protein be up for it
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over the weekend the white house released a framework for responsible immigration reform that will protect our people, put the interests of american workers first, and provide a permanent solution to daca. our framework includes four pillars -- border security including the wall, daca legalization, ending extended family chain migration, and eliminating the visa lottery moving us toward a merit-based system of immigration. we look forward to working with congress to pass and sign legislation that addresses each of the four pillars. looking ahead to tomorrow, as you know, the president will deliver his first state of the union address. the theme of the address is building a safe, strong, and
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proud america which is exactly what the president has worked to do during his first year in office. i don't want to get ahead of what the president will say during his remarks. it will obviously be must-watch tv. i do want to make an announcement about one of the most important traditions, the guest who will be sitting in the first lady's box. i'll name a few of those individuals and a little bit about them. first, cory adams is a skilled welder at staub manufacturing solutions in dayton, ohio. last year cory and his wife were able to become first time homeowners and they will invest extra money from the trump tax cuts into their two daughters' education savings. elizabeth alvarado, robert minkins, freddy cuevas are the parents of nisa and kayla who were murdered by ms-13 gang members. corporal matthew bradford in
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2007 stepped on an ied while deployed in iraq. he was blinded by the blast and lost his legs. after multiple surgeries and therapy he became the first blind double amputee to reenlist in the marines. john bridgers. mr. bridgers founded the cajun navy in 2016, a nonprofit rescue and recovery ocean that responded to flooding in south louisiana and in 2017 to hurricane harvey in texas. he and his team helped thousands of people across the south. david dauberg, a fire technician who saved 62 children and staff members from a raging wildfire that encircled their camp in southern california. officer ron holitz serves as a police officer in albuquerque, new mexico. in his six years on the force he's been shot twice and experienced several near death encounters. the officer and his wife adopted a baby from parents who suffered
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from opioid addiction, breaking down walls between drug addicts and police officers to help save lives. ashley lepert rescued dozens of americans during last year's devastating hurricane season. agent c.j. martinez. agent martinez is a special agent for isis homeland security investigations unit. his investigations have led to more than 100 ares of ms-13 gang members prosecuted for crimes including homicide, assault, and narcotics and weapons trafficking. staff sergeant justin peck. last year staff sergeant peck was part of a team clearing ieds from territory previously controlled by isis. when one of his compatriots was hit by a blast he rushed to their side. preston sharpe has organized the placement of more than 40,000 american flags and red carnations on soldier graves as
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part of his goal to honor veterans in all 50 states and to challenge others to join the flag and flower challenge. steve staub and cindy keplinger. they started staub manufacturing solutions 20 years ago. thanks to the trump bump in the economy they grew to new heights in 2017. thanks to the trump tax cuts they were able to give their employees larger christmas bonuses. some of these individual stories are heroic. some are patriotic and others are tragic. all represent the unbreakable american spirit and will inspire the nation to continue growing stronger, prouder and more prosperous. with that, i will take your questions. john? >> sarah, the news came down in the last hour that the deputy director of the fbi andrew mccabe is stepping down. will we get reaction from the white house? is the president back at the end of december was tweeting about andrew mccabe in a less than
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praise manner. >> we have seen numerous reports as you have. any specifics, i can tell you, none of this decision was made by the white house. i would refer you to the fbi who i believe will make a statement later today. >> you say the white house wasn't involved in the decision, but clearly the president seemed to be involved in public relations campaign against mccabe. >> look, the president stands by his previous comments. but in terms of the situation today, as i said, we have seen reports as all of you have. we don't have any specific comments. i would refer you to the fbi for specifics on the things that are taking place today. jill? >> you said you have seen reports. does that mean the president wasn't involved by anyone at the fbi this was happening? is there conversation there? >> no, he hasn't. >> can you say that the president didn't play a role in andrew mccabe stepping down? >> yes. the president wasn't a part of
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the decision-making process. we would refer you to the fbi where christopher wray serves as the director. the president has full confidence in him and has put the decisions at the fbi in his hands. >> did the president at any time convey he wanted to fire robert mueller to anyone on staff here? >> not that i'm aware of. >> just to finish this loop, no one at the white house contacted the fbi about mccabe, no one put any directors or had any discussions about his tenure at the fbi? did anyone at the white house? >> not that i'm aware of. nothing specific to mccabe and his stepping down as of today. if that's what's being reported. jim? >> sarah, what would you say to critics who believe that this white house and this president have had almost a steady
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pressure put on the justice department, put on the fbi since the president came into office on this special council investigation, whether it be conversations with jeff sessions's office about recusal, whether it be about the desire for robert mueller to go away, and now with andrew mccabe. there are even reports rob rosen stein was feeling pressure from the white house. it sounds like multiple officials are being pressured by the white house and the president. what would you say? >> i would say what i have said probably a hundred times before and continue to say a hundred times today that the white house has been fully cooperative and will continue to be fully cooperative. in fact, we have gone above and beyond many times and certainly done everything we could. the white house has provided over 20 witnesses and tens of thousands of pages of documents to the special counsel. we have done everything we can
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to be transparent and will continue throughout the process. >> what about that the president has been applying pressure for months? >> the only thing the president applied pressure to is to get it resolved so you guys and everyone else can focus on the things americans actually care about. making sure everybody gets the russia fever out of their system once and for all, that you are all reminded once again there was no collusion, and that we can move forward to focus on things like national security, the economy, solving the immigration crisis that ef with in our country. >> so no obstruction of justice? nothing improper? nothing inappropriate at all whatsoever from the president since he came to office when it comes to the investigation? >> no. we have been clear on that. steven? >> i want to know if the president has confidence in the man he appointed to be deputy attorney general rob rosenstein. >> when you guys asked this question when the president no longer has confidence in someone, you'll know. on the memo -- you have another
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question? >> i do. the house intelligence committee could vote today to release this memo that chairman nunes has reportedly crafted. the house rules contemplate the president would get five days to determine whether he has cause to object to its public release. what's the current thinking, the current level of white house involvement in the decision? can you shed light on the process between this white house and capitol hill with this question? >> look, no one at the white house has seen the memo. it would be hard to make a decision or to speak about it before that would take place. right now we are letting the house process play out. if and when it's time for the white house to weigh in we'll do it through the proper protocol, following proper legal process. we are not to this point in the process yet. >> two questions. just following up on that. is the white house -- i know you said you have to wait and see. is the white house open to the idea of a release of the memo to the