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Trump Administration
  Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 14, 2017 3:13pm-3:31pm PST

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wolf? >> all right, manu. thank you. manu ra jurks reporti raju reporting from capitol hill. let's bring in the vice chairman, mike warner of virginia. senator, thanks for joining us. >> yes, wolf, you actually can't believe all this stuff. it is pretty remarkable, isn't it? >> it certainly is. i know you've been briefed. you got a lot more information than we have. talk a little bit about what you've learned, i know there's sensitive information, classified information. but do you think that the former national security adviser, michael flynn, acted alone when he spoke with the russian ambassador about sanctions? >> well, we don't know the answer to that. first thing we've got to look at is the transcript of what happened between flynn and the russian ambassador. then you got to back up from that, assuming that it is what the press has reported is accurate and there was a discussion about taking off the sanctions, and remember, this was coming immediately after the obama administration had put on
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sanctions because of the massive russian intervention in the election. that raises huge concerns, to me. then you've got the series of questions of what did the president know, did he know about it beforehand, did he instruct him? how was the vice president informed or not informed or was he left basically to hang out to dry and had to put forward positive comments about flynn without knowing what's going on? this gets more and more complicated. it's one of the reasons why this investigation that we're conducting is so important. we're looking at russian intervention in terms of false information and fake news. we're looking at russian intervention in terms of selective leaking of hacked information from the dnc and john podesta's e-mails and most importantly, we're looking at actions between potential contacts from the trump organization or the trump campaign and russian agents both before the election and after the election as we see in the case of mr. flynn.
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>> have you actually seen, read the transcript of what flynn told the russian ambassador in washington on that day when the obama administration launched those sanctions against russia and expelled 35 russian diplomats? >> we have not seen the transcripts yet. i know we will see them and frankly we should have seen them by now in terms of normal reporting of counterintelligence. one of the reasons we've not seen them is something i need to get to the bottom of as well. >> were there also, as far as you know, encrypted communications between flynn and the russian ambassador in addition to the phone conversations? >> i'm not going to comment on the type of intelligence we may have, but i would say this, anybody with even a basic security clearance should understand that if they're talking to somebody at the russian embassy, chances are that conversation is monitored. >> explain what you know about the potential for the russians supposedly to be able to blackmail michael flynn because that was the warning the justice
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department gave the white house when they brought that information to the white house counsel. >> well, i don't want to speculate, but there are a couple of different options e s here. you may have the case of where mr. flynn did not represent truthfully to the american public, we don't know what he said to the president about the nature of his conversation with the russian ambassador. we also have, in my mind, a number of unanswered questions about general flynn's contacts and relationships with r.t. news which is an organ of the russian disinformation campaign. we've got questions about general flynn's visit to moscow where he was seated next to leader putin. there are a series of questions and the russians are experts at trying to get compromising information about an individual and using that for their intelligence purposes. now we don't know whether that's happened in terms of general flynn, but it is clearly far of this investigation and should give us all a great deal of pause. >> do you know how much he was
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paid to make that trip to russia for r.t., that russian tv station? and when he had that dinner seated next to putin in moscow? he went on a paid speaking engagement, if you will. >> wolf, these are all things we've got to get to the bottom of, and that's one of the reasons why we already have asked the fbi, the cia, director of national intelligence, the nsa, to give us all the relevant information. we've got a team looking through that information right now, but virtually every day we hear new information, we hear new facts that come to light. we've got to get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can, and let me guarantee the american public, we're going to make as much of this public as possible because the american public deserves to have these answers. >> flynn, himself, insists he crossed no lines. today the white house press secretary sean spicer said general flynn did not do anything wrong and that he was well within his duties to have
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these kinds of conversations. does that concern you that the white house seems to be more focused right now on leaks to the news media than the actions of flynn? >> let's let the justice department make that adjudication of whether what general flynn did was appropriate or not. all i know is this, that the then-president of the united states, president obama, put sanctions in place to go after russia for their unprecedented intervention in our elections. to have at that point a private citizen in effect contact the russians and in effect ftry to undermine those sanctions, that raises huge concerns to me. again, the justice department will have to make the judgment, but that does not sound appropriate in any size, shape or form to me. >> senator, cnn now reporting that the vice president didn't learn that general flynn had misled him until february 9th, that's 14 days after the president was told and according to our reporting, the vice
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president only learned about this because of the public news reports that coming out. we did some checking, february 9th is when the "washington post" broke the story. are you concerned that the vice president appears to have been kept in the dark about all of this? >> wolf, we've got to find that out as well. i mean, the unfortunate thing is if the vice president who put his credibility on the line by defending general flynn when it was clear that flynn knew that was not accurate and it may be clear the president knew that was not accurate, really raises a whole host of additional questions that i think, again, we need to get to the bottom of. and i would think the administration, if they want to remove this cloud that's over the whole administration in terms of these contacts and ties with russia, they need to cooperate with this investigation in every way because we've got a lot of questions that we need answered as policymakers, and quite honestly, the american people
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deserve answers, too. >> are you going to call on general flynn to testify? >> we first of all have to make sure that the transcript verifies what the press has reported but if the transcript verifies that information, i think it's absolutely appropriate that general flynn testify before our committee. >> senator, stand by. there's more information coming into "the situation room." we'll continue our conversation right after this. boost it's about moving forward not back. it's looking up not down. it's feeling up thinking up living up. it's being in motion... in body in spirit in the now. boost. it's not just nutrition. it's intelligent nutrition. with 26 vitamins and minerals and 10 grams of protein. all in 3 delicious flavors. it's choosing to go in one direction... up. boost. be up for it.
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actions by russia challenging president trump, even as his relationship with moscow is under enormous scrutiny right now. i want to go to our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto. jim, what are you learning? >> two provocative step, wolf, both mill staitary steps, one, is crucial, deployment of a new type, more advanced cruise missile, this is a cruise missile the u.s. believes violates an existing arms reduction treaty between the u.s. and russia. it was tested during the obama administration, but this is the first time it's actually been deployed. at the same time, russia deploying a spy ship close to the u.s. coast, both of these signals being read as challenges to the trump administration. tonight, national security adviser michael flynn's resignation is raising new questions about the trump administration's ties to moscow. in particular, when flynn spoke with the russian ambassador about u.s. sanctions, was he acting on orders from higher up? >> did general flynn do this by
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himself? if he didn't do it by himself, who directed him to engage the russians? >> reporter: and did any direction go as high as the president, himself? >> it certainly begs the question of whether flynn was doing exactly what the president wanted. whether he was doing it with the president's knowledge, with the president's approval. >> reporter: today white house spokesman sean spicer said emphatically, no. >> no, absolutely not, no, no, no. but that -- no. >> reporter: still, the fbi is now leading multiple investigations of current and former trump advisers and ties to russia including a year-long investigation of former trump campaign chairman paul manafort and his alleged connections to pro-putin figures in ukraine. and alleged meetings between former trump adviser carter page and russian individuals under u.s. sanctions. m manafort and page denied any wro wrongdoing. the fbi continues to investigation a 35-pace dossier compiled by a former british intelligence agent alleging russia has compromising personal and financial information about
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donald trump. cnn was first to report on friday the intelligence agencies have now corroborated aspects of the dossier, specifically calls between russian officials and other russia nationals known by u.s. intelligence for sharing information damaging to hillary clinton and helpful to donald trump. former top obama adviser ben rhodes tweeting today "when campaign chairman and national security adviser both resign over russia ties, there is more. manafort and anyone have nothing in common except russia and trump." president trump for his part continues to make public statements seemingly defending vladimir putin telling fox news he respects the russian leader earlier this month. >> putin's a killer. >> a lot of killers, we got a lot of killers, what, you think our country's so innocent? >> reporter: today the white house said the president is, in fact, tough on russia. even if the statements are coming from staff other than himself. >> his ambassador to the united nations nikki haley stood before
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the u.n. security council on her first day and strongly denounced the russian occupation of crimea. >> the president certainly hasn't lacked opportunity to call out russia for provocative actions. recently, we've had a pickup in military activity inside eastern ukraine, the u.s. believes that's being directed by russia and now the deployment of this new cruise missile, both of those things that the president has yet to comment on publicly to criticize publicly from the bully pulpit, wolf, of the white house. >> jim sciutto reporting for us, good report. thanks very much. we're back with senator mark warner, vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. reacting to jim sciutto's report, is your committee now, democrats and republicans, looking into all those issues that we just discussed? >> wolf, every one of those issues we're looking into, and every one of those issues we're going to follow the facts wherever they lead and the american public deserves answers. in terms of those investigations with some of the individuals that were named, in terms of the
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fact of why this continual efforts of president trump to compliment vladimir putin at every chance, we've never seen an american leader in my lifetime ever treat a russian leader with such kid gloves and now you're seeing potentially putin try to take advantage of this new president. this raises enormous serious concerns in terms of prior relationships, in terms of russian interference, and now in terms of some of these provocative actions. the good news is, and this may be one of the few things where there's still broad bipartisan support, democrats and republicans alike realize that vladimir putin is no friend of the united states. he's got a horrible human rights record and he needs to be viewed as an adversary, not as someone that the president is trying to buddy up with. >> i know you've suggested you may want flynn, himself, to testify before your committee, but you also plan to subpoena
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his phone, for example, for any evidence of conversations he may have had with russians. >> we absolutely expect to get the transcript so we can know the accurate information. again, we're hearing this secondhand. we owe him the obligation to see what was actually said, but if the words that he said reflect some of the news reports, it really raises a whole host of questions. why was he trying to undermine then-president obama's current policy, when did the president know, why did he not inform the vice president and leave the vice president hanging out to dry, making him in effect vouch for him when he knew that was incorrect information? how far back does this go in terms of flynn's contacts with russia and the r.t. news? how much money was exchanged? the list goes on and on, and this is just vis-a-vis flynn. as your reporter just mentioned, there are a series of other individuals that were affiliated with the trump campaign or
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organization that also have very unusual ties to russia. all of which we need to get to the bottom of. >> i just want to repeat the question, though, whether transcripts are one thing but the physical phone could contain other evidence, especially if there were what some are suggesting now encrypted conversations between flynn and the russian ambassador or other russians for that matter. so let me rephrase the question. do you want to actually get ahold of that phone? >> we want to make sure that we have all of the information and, again, as you realize for these devices to work, you have to have encryption on both ends. i'm not going to get into sources and methods on this show or any time that's appropriately kept confidential. >> soinds like y