tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN March 26, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
hello on this sunday, you are live in the cnn newsroom. i'm ana cabrera in new york. glad to have you with us. republicans a s in the house an senate are reeling after the failure of ryan's health care bill. president trump first targeted democrats now he's calling out conservatives, specifically the house freedom caucus directly on twitter. and in a late development today, one of the group's members has just stepped down abruptly, congressman tom poe has resigned from the freedom caucus, saying no is easy, leading the hard. all eyes are on the relationship
now between president trump and house speaker paul ryan. let's discuss with white house correspondent athena jones, we heard the president and the speaker talked at least a couple of times this week. >> reporter: they have spoken several times in the last several days and we know they spoke for an hour yesterday, a gop source telling my colleague dana bash that the relationship is now stronger than ever. and we know that they talked again this morning, and there's some interesting background to the conversation today and that is that yesterday morning the president tweeted out a promotion, essentially for a fox news program airing that night, saying watch judge jeanine pirro tonight. all day on fox they were running promotions saying that there would be new wiretapping details coming out in that broadcast. there weren't truly any truly knew details on the wiretapping matter, but what did emerge in that broadcast last night at the very beginning, and judge jeanine pirro's opening statement, she called on house
speaker paul ryan to step down for having failed to get the votes needed to pass the repeal effort. so that led to a lot of questions, was this a coincidence, was the president talking about that? and an aid to speaker ryan smoke to me today and said that it was clear that the tweet had nothing to do with the speaker and they're both eager to get back to the agenda. they are not placing the blame for this failure on to speaker ryan, but instead in other places. we heard more of that from chief of staff reince priebus who was asked on sunday if speaker ryan should step down, here's what he had to say. >> does he want paul ryan to step down or not? >> no, he doesn't. he talked to paul ryan on friday for about an hour and he doesn't blame paul ryan, he enjoys his
relationship with paul ryan and thinks paul ryan is a great speaker of the house. >> reporter: you heard reince priebus say that president trump say that paul ryan is a great speaker of the house. also with the house freedom caucus, those conservatives he called out on twitter today, the bloc of about 30 house republicans who have proven themselves to be very powerful in blocking this legislation and winning various other fights in recent years. also this idea of working with moderate republicans and potentially democrats. reince priebus talked about working with democrats several times in that same interview, the question, ana, can the president bash democrats on twitter and bash the freedom caucus and then expect them to come to the table to get some of these legislative priorities
done. >> a lot to talk about, athena jones, thank you, let's bring in our panel now to talk a little bit more about this defection from the house freedom caucus in the wake of what happened on friday, the day the bill was mulled. texas congressman ted mpoe tweeted this, thanks for your leadership donald trump and speaker ryan, some only want to be the party of no. let's talk it all over with cnn political contributor and sarah westwood, white house correspondent to the washington examiner. what does poe's resignation signal and are you expecting more to follow site? >> poe's resignation certainly signals that the fractions within the republican party, between the freedom caucus, between the tuesday group and all the members in between are still very real. when president trump won the
white house and when republicans retained the senate, when there was an expectation that neither of those things would happen, i think that the divisions in the republican that were very evident at the beginning of the 2016 primary were sort of fortin in the heat of republican victory, but this letting tiff battle is just a powerful reminder for republicans that passing the health care act will only be passed when all sides are satisfied. it was clear that there was not necessarily on the front end to appeal to the freedom caucus, because those divisions were laying below the radar for so long and now we're seeing it is going to be a challenge and needs to be considered earlier in the process than it was year. >> and congressman poe won his election by a large margin, he got 60% of the vote, to pat
bryan's 36%. so how would this vote really have impacted his political future? >> i think it goes way beyond congressman poe, you have a republican senate, controls the house and the white house, but it can't really govern. because governing requires compromises and you have a wing of the republican party who's too invested in political purity, in the house especially, but some in the senate, too. >> and you're talking about the freedom caucus? >> and some allies in the senate, people like ted cruz and rand paul, for instance. and you also in the white house someone who simply doesn't have any experience in getting this done. you can see how amateurish an effort this was. look at the obama administration, all the time they put in to getting obamacare through, this was a very slap dash effort by the republicans, and this just shows that the republican party is not a party
that's well positioned to actually govern. >> let's look at the poll from quinnipiac university, only 37% approve of his job performance, compared to 56% that disapprove. and then this morning he goes on the attack on the members of the freedom caucus, with that low of an approval rating, is that smart? >> he needs to have some sort of letting tiff victory, or some other situation that takes the focus off of this failure. the problem for him is that he's expended so much of his political capital trying to get the american health care act passed and it failed. now when he calls members personally, when he invites them to the white house residence, brings them to the oval office in the next legislative battle, it will be less effective because he's done it before and he wasn't able to get that legislation into the end zone.
now they're going on to something that should be easier, tax reform, giving tax cuts to american families, you would think that would be an easier sell to senate republicans, and that's going to be an even more difficult battle because his clout on the hill has been diluted by this loss. >> and tax reform was supposed to happen after obama care because they wanted to have some savesings to kind of back up some of these cuts. >> why are we calling this tax restorm? it's not an effort to kind of reform and get back to some basic fair or better principle. it's basically an effort to cut taxes, especially for people who are at the very upper top of the bracket. the reason it's easier to do that is because the deficit has declin declined. we have seen this again and again with republican presidents, reagan did it, george w. bush did it. once the deficit has gone down, you blow it on a large tax cut
geared toward the very wealthy. this will be easier to get done than repealing obamacare because there won't be so many loserings. in the short-term it should be easier because essentially you're just throwing money at people who are going to have to pay for it down the road. >> and one would argue that that money is going to be reinvested into the economy and therefore there's going to be more growth. let me switch gears here and talk about the russian investigation and the investigation into whether there was any kind of coordination between russia and the trump campaign. let's listen to what a democratic member of the house intelligence committee that's part of this investigation, what he told me just a short time ago. >> indeed, we should have an independent commission, and clearly, we need an independent prosecutor. >> have you seen more than circumstantial evidence of possible collusion between the russians and trump campaign associates? >> i think the best way for me to describe it as a former
criminal defense attorney is this, there is probable cause to believe that there was coordination. >> so, sarah, we have heard adam schiff earlier this week saying there may be more than circumstantial evidence, but knew he's saying there's probable cause to believe this. what's your reaction? >> i think democrats and republicans are both guilty of politicizing this investigation as much as they possibly can. i mean democrats have sought to sensationalize every new piece of information and republicans have shied away from investigating russian cyber activities as aggressively as they could because they're afraid that will bring them into confrontation with these aadditional allegations of donald trump campaign collusion. so the question has to be asked whether the house intelligence committee can continue in investigation not just because of republicans but because of democrats, and the political tensions are so high in congress
right now that it's hard as a committee as the house intelligence committee has become to handle this without politics making any investigation anything other than a circus or a side show. >> let's talk about another story that maybe got buried a little bit this week because of everything else going on, judge gorsuch, trump's supreme court nominee, he move toss the next round of the confirmation process this week, and so far, some of the, i guess the fallout or the reviews, shall we say, of his committee hearings that he's been emerging relatively unscathed. do you see him and his confirmation being a win that the president so desperately needs? >> i think this is the most competent thing, big thing that the trump administration has done. they didn't choose a fringe person. gorsuch is very far to the right idealogically but he's a judge that you can see any republican
approving of him. the rollout was effective. and usually supreme court fights kind of dominate everything politically, but this has actually been eclipsed by all these other fights they're having, and this is actually the one, the gorsuch one that's going the best for trump right now. >> let's watch this week, peter and sarah, thank you both for coming on. have a great rest of the weekend. coming up, the white house rushing to distance itself from the trump's former campaign chairman. the new questions about paul manafort and his ties to a russian billionaire. so find a venus smooth that contours to curves, flexes for comfort, and has a disposable made for you. skin smoothing venus razors. at crowne plaza we know business travel isn't just business. there's this. 'a bit of this. why not? your hotel should make it easy to do all the things you do. which is what we do.
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one of hundreds arrested he's also planning a run at the presidency in russia in 2018. similar demonstrations were planned in 100 cities across russia today. the protests drawing a heavy police presence but remained largely peaceful. cnn international correspondent matthew chance is joining us from moscow. what do these russian leprotests want? >> reporter: they're calling for t the -- posted by this main opposition figure, accusing him of all sorts of corruption, of gathering a portfolio including yachts and mansions and vineyards all of which outstrip his sort of official salary.
and so this is what the opposition figure alexi navalny because one is concerned about the level of official corruption here, and thousands have come out to the streets across the country, and there were lots of arrests, 500 arrests in fact in moscow alone. that's prompted criticism from the united states, the state department spokesman saying the u.s. strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters. detaining measeful protesters, human rights observers and journalists is an affront to core values. so, yes, a significant protest, and perhaps the biggest protest
that russia has seen since 2011, 2012 when vladimir putin came back into office as the russian president. >> of course, matthew, these protests come after a former russian lawmaker and vocal putin critic was shot in ukraine on thursday, he was shot dead, were protesters concerned at all for their safety today? >> reporter: well, look, i think that the opposition figures in this country, whether it's that individual, that former parliamentarian you're talking about who was killed in the ukrainian capital a few days back, or whether it's alexi navalny himself must be concerned about himself, it's a dangerous occupation to say the least, opposing the kremlin, the last decade and a half have been littered with critics who have
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the man who ran president trump's campaign last year said he was worked for a russian billionaire, but there was nothing to it. how much the russians may have worked to influence the 2016 election. manafort and two other close advisors are now volunteering to appear before the house intelligence committee but something else has emerged about manafort when he's connected to people overseas. tom foreman have more? >> how many people have to say
there's nothing there before you realize there's nothing there. >> reporter: the administration is moving fast to put distance between president trump and a key person of interest in the russian hacking, paul manafort. manafort was president trump's campaign manager from early last year and dismissing early claims by democrats that russian hackers hacked into dnc commuters to twist the election their way. but now a lawmaker in ukraine says he has discovered a new document in an office where manafort worked as he advised the former russian candidate for president, a spokesman for manafort says manafort does not recognize the document and it's not his signature and cnn cannot
verify the us then tisity of the invoice, a longer list revealed last fall which purports to show $12.7 million in payments alongside manafort's name. that lawmaker who found the new document believes all the money could be for dun undisclosed services paid for through president's political party. >> i think it's not all money for him, it's more like for activities of his as well, campaign activity, for some technical issues of his activity as a spin doctor. 12.7 million is incredibly high amount of money. >> reporter: why would u.s. payments matter in the russian hacking scandal? because the former ukrainian president was a criminal ally,
even fleeing to russia when he was driven from power. manafort denies any allegation that there was a river of money flowing from the kremlin as part of a scheme to elect donald trump and get a more russian candidate in the house. the trump camp pushed the republican party in its flat form to ease up on criticism of russia for invading issuing crane, manafort pushed back. >> it absolutely did not come from the trump campaign and i don't know who everybody is, but i guarantee you -- >> so nobody from the trump cam page wanted that change in the platform? >> no one, zero. >> reporter: amid these latest developments, manafort's most recent statement says in part i had no role or involvement in the cyber attacks on the dnc, i have never spoken with any russian government officials or anyone who claims to have been
involved the suggestion that i ever worked to undermine the interests of the united states is false. yet the democrats keep skrut nying donald trump, from the former president of ukraine to moscow and wonder if they will find anywhere along here any evidence of something truly nefarious going on, or just what the white house has said all along, only a witch hunt. >> tom foreman, thank you. back with me now, cnn political commentator, and wajaha ali, from the "new york times." roger stone, paul maa fort saying they will sevetestify. >> these are all people with tangental relationships with the campaign, paul manafort served
as chairman for a few months, i don't think they're worried. what democrats are doing is they're grasping at circumstantial evidence, paul manafort did a deal 10 years ago, and he was with the trump campaign for two months, and this somehow means that trump colluded with the russians, this is absolutely ludicrous, i could say, look at hillary clinton, see said when she extended -- her goal was to strengthen russia, when she extended the -- that's what democrats are doing to republicans. >> there is a lot of smoke surrounding this russia-trump campaign ties, but so fare there's no evidence. >> there's a lot of russian smoke around trump tower and i think has president trump's interest to do an independent investigation, which is what the
majority of americans want, according to a poll, if he has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to lose because this will taint his presidency for the next four years, if indeed he lasts that long, because, look, the fbi since last year, is doing a counter intelligence investigation, that means they're investigating russia's interference into our election process, but trump aides worked with russia. paul manafort was a campaign chairman who ran that campaign for several months and when the "new york times" came out with that allegation that he received in cash $12.7 million to help pro russian ukrainian forces, what did he do? he resigned. and michael flynn, the nsa director, when it was revealed that he lied about his conversation with the russian ambassador, what did he do, resign? and the top cop, the attorney general, he revealed that he lied twice, about his lack of
conversations with the russian ambassador, what did he do? he recused himself from this investigation. so i think the american public demands an independent investigation and if donald trump has nothing to hide, he will be open to this, he will be cleared and we can move on. >> can you agree on that? >> there already is around investigation, the house intel is looking into this, they are fully capable of handling this. >> why not have an independent investigation to dispel any question about any partisanship being part of this? >> because there's no reason to believe that the fbi and the department of justice cannot handle this. jeff sessions already recused himself, they can handle it, why appoint a special prosecutor, what this boils down to is that democrats are so upset that they lost the election that they're doing everything but pointing their finger where it should be
pointed in that they had a bad candidate in the fortunately of hillary clinton, so they're trying to make this russia-trump come collusion, was there direct evidence, i challenge him to present direct evidence of trump and russia colluding. >> that's why the fbi for the last year, almost into last summer, and by the way, let's not forget, donald trump publicly said, invited russia to criminally hack the emails and by the way, what happened afterwards? it was revealed by the fbi that russia intervened in our process, paul manafort and donald trump admits talking to julian assange and guccifer 2. and by the way, roger stone, magically, weeks before these podesta emails, he tweeted it out.
so there's enough there there for anyone who cares about national security and anybody who cares about their country above their party, to do an independent investigation. if there's nothing to hide, donald trump should come out and say there's nothing to hide, go for it fbi, let's do open hearings, let's do under oath investigations, under oath questions and answers from roger stone, paul manafort and carl page. they're volunteering to do this, but not under oath, if it's under oath, it will be very different. >> is that the case? are they coming on under oath? and does that make a big difference to you? >> what makes a difference is that we have director jim comey who has angered both sides. his angered the democrats when
he announced the investigation into hill clinton and her emails. >> i don't think it is with director comey, i think the beef has been with devin nunes, he's the chairman of the house intelligence committee who's investigating, and he came out earlier this week with information he took to the white house, and then he took to the press before he briefed his colleagues in the house intelligence committee. that's part of the beef. the other part of the beef is that he also cancelled a public hearing this week for the intelligence committee. he didn't give a good reason for canceling this meeting, so it has risen -- it has created some questions about his motivations or intentions behind some of these actions, i don't know what his intentions or motivations were, i think that that's the investigation in question and that why we're hearing some of the calls from people that i
have talked to for an independent commission and perhaps even an independent prosecutor to look at that. it's not just democrats, john mccain, a republican, has also asked for that. >> if something is there, it will be sound, because it's not just devin nunes sand the white house committee looking into it, who i trust, but they also have the fbi looking into trump associates' connections with russia, so you've got two separate branches looking into the same thing, if there's evidence there, it will come out. i promise you that. you have people committing felonies, leaking information to the "new york times" and "the washington post," if there's any direct evidence of trump doing anything nefarious, i promise you, it will find its way into the "new york times" and "the washington post." >> we're on the same side, why not help as much as we can, give as much ammunition and leeway to our house intelligence committees, to the house and snatz intelligence committees to
thoroughly investigate all these allegations and the allegations in that mi-6 dossier with the fbi is taking very seriously. let's take it all the way, let's look at the financial statements, let's clear him completely so we don't live with this taint of russian conspiracy and cloud. and you can invite donald trump to send one meet, praising vladimir putin. maybe that would help in some small way. >> when you announce you are a prosecutor, we do not trust the justice department to do its job. we were saying the same thing about loretta lynch, we can't trust her to investigate clinton, we need a special prosecutor. and you're suggesting the department of justice can't do their job and they k. >> thanks, got to leave it there, got to get in a quick break, we appreciate you both coming on in this spirited conversation. coming up, a prison break
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after 15 years of clinical studies. preservision areds 2. because my eyes are everything. there is a big man hunt under way in mexico after a prison break, 14 mexican inmates are still on the run after using a huge tunnel to escape. officials say they snuck out on wednesday in ciudad victoria, but that's not all, three inmates were actually stabbed to death during a riot that broke out at the same prison after garz destroyed some shelters used by the inmates. layla santiago, give us the latest on this story? >> reporter: we know that officials have captured 15 of those inmates, 14 remain on the
run. and so the big question, not only, i think, for viewers at home, but also investigators here, how in the world could something like this happen? this was a tunnel 15 feet deep, about 130 feet long and a tunnel that allowed 25 inmates to escape. they were conflicted of kidnapping, robbery, murder, and four of those also had ties to organized crime. and i think that's going to be key to answering that question to how does something like this happen, because that tunnel really speaks to the power and the influence of mexican cartels, not only inside prisons, which by the way was not a maximum security prison, but also to prisons that are maximum security. going back to 2015, we saw el
chapo also escaped a prison through a tunnel, he's already been extradited to the united states. and a well known cartel member escaped, not believed to have been through a tunnel. but it speaks to the power and influence that many of these mexican cartels have within the mexican prison. >> and the boldness, when you look at the pictures, when you see how big that tunnel is. layla santiago in mexico city, thank you. and still tonight a spiritually curious journey into scientology, the host reza aslan is going to join us with a different side of the religion you've heard so much about. let's see how the aluminum bed of this truck held up. wooooow!! -holy moly. that's a good size puncture. you hear 'aluminum' now you're gonna go 'ew'. let's check out the silverado steel bed.
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mysterious world of scientology. reza aslan talks to two members of scientology who were excommunicated but they are still practicing scientology. >> anyone can just leave the church if they want to? >> you can. >> but what if you have a daughter or a son on staff. >> my daughter disconnected from me. >> she disconnected from him when he left? >> yes. >> won't call me, won't talk to me. >> did you try to reach out to her? >> sure, but it's a wasted effort. >> you say you got declared, that's it, the ax has fallen. >> did you introduce her to scientology? >> yeah, sure. i've been a scientologist since before she was born. so she sort of grew up with it. >> did you know that that was going to happen? >> oh, yeah. >> can i ask you why you felt it
was, considering the consequences so important for you to say your piece. >> all i can say is that it was a point of integrity. i couldn't be in the organization and see the kinds of thing i saw going on and not know that there was something going on, what's more important, that or some personal pain or discomfort and familial rejection oar something? and i chose the religious aspects of it as being more important. >> host of "believer" reza aslan is joining us now, it seems like you had such frank conversations with these guys, >> i didn't realize there was this whole scientology, sectarian movement. some of them reforescientology reformers who have left the church for all the reasons that you hear all the time in these various shows about scientology
but haven't left the religion. they believe they are the true believers. that they are maintaining the original intention and the church has lost its way. that was a completely fascinating thing for me. >> i'm still trying to make sense of that. who wants to learn scientology from a teacher who has been excommunicated? >> increasingly, a lot more people than you think. scientology has had a lot of bad rap. corruption and abuse allegations, many of which are probably very true. what's remarkable is that here we have a group that very much sees itself as the bearer of the true form of scientology. they think that the future of scientology is with them. it's a global movement. a lot of them are in los angeles but we see some in l.a. there's groups in mexico and all over europe. people who have decided to take this religion upon themselves. and the church, as you can imagine is not very -- very
welcoming of that. they, like most churches, feel as though they are the only ones who get to define what scientology is. they have clearly said that you cannot be a scientologist if you are -- if you've left the church. and these guys here, i think, have, obviously, a different impression. >> i know there is a lot of debate about whether scientology fits the criteria for a proper religion. where do you stand on this now? >> well, look, i mean, i've been studying religion for 20 years. i can't tell you what makes something a religion or not. no scholar can. a lot of people, of course, because of the controversies around scientology refer to it as a cult. and without in any way devaluing the abuse allegations, the corruption allegations, i would say that whether you are a religion or not is not baseod whether or not you abuse your followers. if there was no such thing as a religion without abuse or corruption -- >> look at the catholic
religion, which i am and we havy to whole catholic church scandal with the sex abuse. >> catholicism is an interesting one. the vast majority of people when they look at the church abuse scandal can separate that from the little old lady that goes to church on sunday and praise ays does the rosary. a lot of people can't separate the church of scientology with the religion of scientology. what these independent scientologists are saying is these are separate things. the religion is different from the church. don't confuse the two. this is the first time really ever that we are finding out what scientology is. what do these people believe? why do they believe it? not just the usual controversies and the usual stories about corruption and celebrities and all that stuff. >> how big is this religion? do you know how many people are identifying themselves as scientologists? >> well, the church says there are millions of scientologists around the world and this is --
the way they come up with this is how many people get services, auditing services from the church. these -- independent scientologists will say they're growing more rapidly than the church is. membership in the church isria tracting a little and it's expanding because people are realizing you can actually access these teachings outside of the church. that you can have a movement up the bridge to total freedom as scientology would say without necessarily deal with the dogma and control of the church. frankly as i make this argument in the episode, the church of scientology has to make a decision. they need to decide whether they're going to try to maintain control over this religion or whether allow it to evolve and individualize. all religions have to go through this process. the ones that actually succeed are the ones that allow for less control. allow people to actually make of the religion what they want. the ones that die are the ones
that try to hold on to control. i think the church is really facing a moment of clarity. they have to figure out what they want to do as they move into the future. >> super interesting. reza, thank you so much. "faith under pressure." tune in. a brand-new episode of "believer" at 10:00 p.m. tonight on cnn. we'll be right back. (mic thuds) uh, sorry. it's unlimited without compromising reliability, on the largest, most advanced 4g lte network in america. (thud) uh... sorry, last thing. it's just $45 per line. forty. five. (cheering and applause) and that is all the microphones that i have. (vo) switch to unlimited on verizon now and get our best android smartphones for as low as $15 a month. this is not a screensaver.game. this is the destruction of a cancer cell by the body's own immune system,
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it's march madness. sorry if your bracket is busted the field now down to four. four teams that will fight it out for the ncaa men's basketball title. it's got something for everyone. the newcomer gonzaga. the first final four after several past disappointments oregon, back for the first time since the ducks last won the title way back in 1939. and then there's the cinderella story, south carolina. who would have picked them?
there are some still perfect brackets out there. a seventh seed and north carolina basketball royalty aiming for a sixth title. so that's your final four. hey, here at cnn, my own bracket not too bad. good enough for top spot among my fellow cnn anchors. call it luck. i don't know. i went to wsu so oregon/pac-12, worked at gonzaga, spokane. gonzaga, a team i've always rooted for. the tournament isn't over. i did miss duke but i'm feeling pretty good. if you got all of the final four teams, huge congratss. out of nearly 19 million brackits on espn, just 657 got all final four teams right. 657. pretty good, though. the final fun kicks off next weekend with the semifinals saturday and the championship on monday night. got to say it, go zags, go
ducks. that's it for me. coming up, the premiere of "finding jesus" episode "the tomb of herod." i'm ana cabrera. you're live in the cnn newsroom. king herod is one of the most notorious characters in the bible. he is the man who tries to kill the infant jesus. >> kill them all. >> appalling act where all the male children are slaughtered. >> but in history, herod is a powerful and successful ruler. >> history should remember herod the