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tv   Washington Journal Betsy Woodruff  CSPAN  February 4, 2018 9:45pm-10:20pm EST

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the nomination to the under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the u.s. patent and trademark office. a vote on the nomination will follow at 5:30. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span 2. tuesday morning, we are live in jackson, mississippi for the next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitals tour. mississippi attorney general jim hood will be our guest during washington journal starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> on washington journal, we discussed the house
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committee memo and what impact it might have on the russia investigation led by special counsel robert mueller. gram online at c-span.org. host: we welcome betsy woodruff. good sunday morning. let me begin with this memo. who wrote it? guest: author, the guy who was the driver of the frome memo project, putting it together and drafting it tipping it out and making it public was a little-known staffer on the house intelligence committee. he is an interesting character in all of this. before he worked on the intelligence committee he was part of this elite national security division of the justice department working on counterterrorism cases. he was there is a trial attorney during the obama administration. i do not believe he was a political appointee.
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p brought an unusual vantage point to this memo that was essentially a time bomb for the doj. it is interesting seeing and of that an alum department being the one to draft a memo the department was so concerned about. host: why is it so important to understand him in order to understand the memo and what was behind the memo? tost: it shows the extent which the house intelligence committee is governed by its staff rather than by devin nunes. i spoke with a former justice department official earlier this week to set in 2014, when speaker boehner first named devin nunes as the intelligence chairman, one concern was that devin nunes was not particularly a heavy weight on the intelligence matters and they believe the result of that would
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be that he would be governed and directed by his staff rather than by himself. are doing intelligence oversight, it can be politically fraught, it can involve messy relationships with the most powerful people in washington. you want the chairman to be the focal point and the clear governor of the way that intelligence works. , peoplein nunes came on in that space realized it was going to be inverted. they thought that could cause problems or tensions. when we saw this memo narrative this amazing new story over the last two weeks, for many folks it was not particularly surprising that there was so much unusual tension between the intelligence committee and the house and administration officials. host: congressman adam schiff has been quick to say it's time for devin nunes to step down. the washington examiner saying both should step down because of the politics in the house committee.
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if you look at what this house committee has been doing and compare that to the senate committee, what are the differences? the house intelligence committee and their investigation of the potential coordination between the trump campaign from associates and the kremlin, their investigations has essentially devolved into a partisan slugfest. behind the scenes, they are doing serious work. they have gotten tons of documents, they are brought in powerful witnesses who are on hand for many of these controversies. the enormous, dramatic fight between devin nunes and adam schiff has overshadowed that threatened some ways to potentially delegitimize it. on the senate side, the senate intelligence committee, headed by a republican, working in tandem with mark warner, the top
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has not had that whatsoever. richard burr has kept his head down through this, he has not publicly sniped with mark warner, the two of them appeared together when they are talking about matters related to the investigation. in any investigation like this there is always tension between republicans and democrats trying to work together, publicly we have not seen that in the result is that whatever the senate committee releases as a product of their investigation is going to have a lot more credence than the ultimate product of the house investigation. host: you have looked at the memo. based on what you've been able byread, was it the dossier christopher steele or george papadopoulos who started this investigation? guest: the memo is short and i was able to read all of it. one thing it says that is interesting is that it is george papadopoulos that is the reason the fbi kicked off its
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investigation, rather than the scandalous dossier christopher steel put together. that is important because it feels like the memo undermines itself. the memo is pushing this idea ele dossier, which is ultimately funded by democrats, was a key part of the fbi investigation into trump's orbit. toward that end of this memo, it undermines that narrative. george papadopoulos was the reason this investigation he was and the reason tipped off to the fbi was because of australian diplomats who met with him. fisa in terms of the court, how often do they renew the authority to investigate individuals? guest: you after a new, i believe every 30 days. it is a frequent process. when attorneys go back to the
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fisa court to get their warrants renewed, they have to show that the investigation is making progress. they cannot just say you gave me a warrant a certain number of weeks ago, we are still interested in this guy, please renew it. wey have to say the warrant had is producing information that is useful to us and that is why we have to keep surveilling whoever they are surveilling. what that means, at least according to the way the process works is that surveilling carter page produced relevant information that the fbi needed to do its counterintelligence investigation. host: president jimmy carter signed the fisa law into place in 1978. it essentially requires the government went ease dropping on domestic soil to obtain permission from a fisa court judge. the judge must agree that the target is probably the agent of a foreign power and will
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probably use the specific email accounts or phone numbers that the doj wants to wiretap. guest: correct. it is important to remember there has been some misuse of vocabulary as people talk about the way these fisa warrants work. the justice department's and lawyers and national security division work with fbi agents to put together affidavits. these are basically a pitch to a judge on the foreign intelligence surveillance court. they can also be extremely thick. it is an arduous process to put them together. additionally, the people who put together these affidavits are career employees in the fbi and injustice. these are not political appointees. president donald trump tweeted, ,hortly after the memo came out that while he was concerned about political leadership at
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the bureau and in the department, he supported the rank and file. it was the rank and file who put this affidavit together after attorneys in the doj and agents in the fbi assembled these affidavits. than a political appointee has to sign off on them, either the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, or the head of the national security division. one of those people has to give their signature to the affidavit, then it goes to the court and then a federal judge decides whether or not that affidavit makes a strong enough argument to justify surveilling american citizens. host: we saw from the presidents tweet that the top leadership of the fbi and the justice department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of democrats and against republicans, something that would've been unthinkable just a short time ago. rank and file are great people. moving ahead, your question is
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what? guest: two questions. our democrats on the intelligence committee in the house able to release their own memo that will essentially be a rebuttal to the one republicans released? say: if the republicans they want transparency, what is the argument for not releasing the democratic memo? andt: we are hearing more more republicans say they support releasing the democratic memo, though they want more time to thoroughly go through it or -- hel ryan, who is devon was devin nunes boss, says he thinks the memo deserves to be released. a spokeswoman for the rnc said she thinks the memo should be released as well. however, they need more time to go through it. it is possible the democrats counter memo will come out. petri -- guest is betsy woodruff. she covers politics for the daily beast.
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richard, in louisville kentucky, independent line. i would like the young reporter to please tell me who dollars forlions of the steele dossier. fundsed that transfer of and i understand it is kind of funny how finally got through gps and then i found out that the fisa warrant, they cannot on george warrant papadopoulos and somebody from great britain, a drunken encounter there and they needed more before they could get the fisa warrant and that is when and brought in the dossier then the fbi and the justice department did not tell the judge that the dossier was paid
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for by barack obama and the democratic national committee. host: thanks for the call. let me take his .1 step further. how did the dossier begin -- let me take his point one step further. how to the dossier begin? it began when the democratic party was funding and opposition research firm that was looking into donald trump's connection to the kremlin. -- wasly the work of funded by a conservative outlet, but while it was funded, that is not the window of time the dossier was put together. the great question from the collar was who was funding the effort to put the dossier together and how that money got to christopher steel. the dnc paid a democratic , because of attorney/client privilege, the way the attorney spent the money he received to not show up on
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federal election commission filings. it was not public. the attorney paid fusion gps to do opposition research on trump and fusion gps hired christopher steele. an interesting campaign finance question that has come out of this story is due attorneys who work for political clients have an obligation to reveal the very political ways that they are spending money that clients pay them. one of the criticisms we have heard from government watchdogs and transparency watchdogs is that the attorney essentially laundered money from the democrats to the opposition research firm. i do not think there is been any ruling or statement on this. it is an interesting and important question. host: with regard to christopher steele, was he a previous informant to the fbi? guest: he was, and that is a
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revelation we have found in the memo. he had long been a trusted source for the fbi and that is one of the biggest criticisms folks in the intelligence community are making of the memo, that it someone who was the source, it confirmed reports ele's christopher ste work for the fbi. there are concerns that in the future people could be reluctant to be sources for the fbi. even if the fbi tries to protect them, partisan members of congress will be able to twist the fbi's arm to get that information out. int: we will go to bill theory, pennsylvania -- in eerie , pennsylvania. caller: are you related to judy woodruff? i think this memo has served its purpose for the republicans in
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a specialll lead to prosecutor because there are so many angles to it. i want to ask you, have you ever heard of a gentleman by the name of daniel hoffman? guest: i cannot say i have, the name does not immediately ring about. caller: write his name down. he was cia station chief in moscow. i saw him yesterday and he had some interesting things to say. see if you can connect with him because he might be able to help you connect the dots. can you please do us all a favor, refresh our memories and how the obama administration pped onropped -- eavesdro the senate intelligence committee. i remember hearing dianne feinstein talk about that. refresh our memories on how the fbi screwed up the marathon
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bombers in boston when they put the bomb on the marathon up there. we never got the full story on that. one of the brothers is going back and forth to chechnya. can you refresh our memories on those two cases? guest: i cannot speak to the question on boston, but when we look at folks in the intelligence committee when it was helmed by political appointees by obama, they monitored some of the work of the senate intelligence committee, that is in my view one of the most interesting and controversial moments to come out of the obama administration. there was an apology for people in the intelligence community for trying to keep tabs on the work that senate staffers were diannes it related to feinstein who was the top democrat on that committee.
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the controversial torture report. that report looked into some of the methods the cia has used over the course of the war on terrorism to try to get information out of people they had detained. cia and people in the thelligence committee -- in intelligence community were critical of the fact that dianne feinstein in the committee she helped how released information releasedped helm information about the methods they used, but they did apologize for trying to keep tabs on the work that democrat and republican oversight officials were doing. host: we have had a number of tweets along the same lines, but this one kind of summarizes it or it michael writes that steele was anti-trump for president. guest: he was very critical of the trump campaign. one thing this memo details is that he was against trump and it
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was known to fbi officials that he opposed him. this is at the core of a lot of criticisms we have heard from folks on the right about this entire fisa warrant that was granted. part of the reason that this so much resulted in criticism and has been so galvanizing for conservatives is that it gives the appearance ,hat a partisan organization and that the democratic party was able to sic the fbi on one of their opponents. that is the narrative you get out of the memo, but it is not correct. the reason the fbi looked into carter page and the trump campaign was because of george papadopoulos. isiece of context that important is that the fbi frequently uses controversial and troubling characters to get
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these fisa warrants. one source pointed out to me earlier last week that frequently the fbi works with drug traffickers as part of the process of getting these warrants. drug traffickers are bad people, but often it is unsavory characters and people who are criminals who have the most information that the fbi wants. my source told me that many of they worked with notscumbags and there are a lot of nuns. i would say john traffickers are more controversial than the dnc. "the the fbi's rotten, close it down." what is the impact on the intelligence committee?
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story and the comments the president have made seems to have significantly damaged the faith americans have in the fbi. two points spring from that. people should always feel comfortable asking hard questions and criticizing the leadership of the fbi. the fbi has had a troubled history of monitoring political opponents of the president. we saw that under j edgar hoover. the fbi building is still named after him. additionally, criticism, oversight, investigation of these institutions is important. for the fbi to work properly, there has to be public confidence in it as an institution. the fbi has to be able to go into very fraught situations, to talk to people who might potentially face reprisal or
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danger for working with the bureau. if people do not trust this institution, it is going to be harder for it to do its job. message from the new fbi director, christopher wray, and tackle hard. guest: yes and are significant concerns about the way the president has conducted his work. kay is joining us from missouri. thank you for waiting. this becouldn't all of solved by taking the money out of our election process. seeminglyeral disconnected things to throw out. i just want to throw them out there. ordinary americans are very unhappy people. creases on their faces
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that any self-respecting doctor could remove. i have read that 70% of them are obese. they race around from morning to night trying to supply their families needs and take care of their cars because we have no public transportation. i do not necessarily blame trump because he is the front man for the republicans who have been obsessed for generations with killing the power of the working class. and subjugating women through forced childbirth. it keeps all of the discussions tangential to the needs of the american people. we have mothers who are forced to give their babies to
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surrogates after just a month or two and return to that morning to night work. host: i have to jump in. you're losing us in connecting the dots. caller: i would like to throw out that we are facing 100,000 shortage of doctors over the next 10 years and i see no medicalo produce schools that allow american children to become doctors. the larger issue might be are we not focusing on the right topics? guest: it is a really important questions and i think the subject of what she is saying is a good point. it is also eliminating us to the political impact of this investigation and this story about potential connections between the trump campaign and the kremlin. focused on this
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particular narrative, have made it central to how they talk about the trump administration. from a political perspective, we know that the number one issue for americans is always the economy. if americans cannot afford health care, if they cannot afford their homes, if they cannot get good jobs than all of these questions are low on the priority list. host: you can follow our guest's work online at the daily beast.com and she is actually -- she is also a contributor to msnbc. caller: good morning, everybody. betsy, i do not know few read the same memo i did, but the number two man in the fbi quit because he stated that the dossier was the reason they got the fisa warrant. i do not know this george papadopoulos guide, he met this australian guy in a bar.
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anything democrats could have held onto, they are trying to hold onto to indict trump. tat.s a coup d'e it is obvious. if you want real information, go to info wars, x intelligent committees have their own website. they will tell you the crap that is going on in our government. there is some vital context that is missing from what our caller is saying. first off, we do not know that mccabe quit because of this memo. if he lefty that because of any potential wrongdoing, that is wrongdoing that will be revealed in a report that is being put together by the fbi inspector general. the inspector general is a watchdog within the bureau whose job it is to monitor potential problems there.
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additionally, our caller said that mccabe told the house intelligence committee that the dossier was the central reason for this investigation. democrat sources have pushed back against that. they say that the memo's claim is not accurate. that is something we could potentially see disputed in a memo from democrats. the point that our caller made is one that is -- is one that has been compelling too many americans are concerned about we material in the memo that touched on earlier, the perception, an incorrect one, that partisans are able to sic the fbi on someone they oppose. additionally, this idea that the fbi was out to get president the fact thatd by the fbi also investigated the clinton emails and the
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information they gave to capitol hill about that investigation was extremely damaging to the clinton campaign. donald trump became president. folks who were in the campaign of the time say that they believe the fbi itself played a pivotal role in the lack of public confidence in hillary clinton. host: we will go to robert in alexandria, virginia. independent line. caller: i think the best way to promote confidence in the government is to have it as transparent as possible. that would mean making any information we have on this available. i think in a democracy that is how you correct problems, by bringing them out into the open. people have mentioned, just to conclude, people have mentioned what the government did to martin luther king. i think our country is one of the few in which you could have a court case such as king versus
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, in which king's widow and the jury voted jowers was 12-0 that part of a conspiracy to kill martin luther king and that conspiracy included unspecified of local, state, and federal governments, and that of 1999.ed in december host: thank you for the call. guest: a point that robert makes are is there is always tension between transparency and national security as reporters -- as reporters, one thing we all care about is transparency,
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particularly on the part of the intelligence community. information act has been a vital tool reporters have been able to use to help american voters have a much better understanding of the way these intelligence agencies work and the impact these agencies can have on regular americans. that said, folks in the folksigence community and with oversight on capitol hill, have long argued that the intelligence community could be damaged if the intelligence community is more transparent. that tension will always be there and it is up to voters to decide if they support the side ofon transparency or politicians on the side of national security concerns. host: does the president have confidence in his attorney general? guest: that is a good question. we have not seen strong indicators that president trump is confident in the attorney
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general, jeff sessions. one thing i can tell you is he is perhaps the most criticized member of president trump's cabinet. trump refused to say if he was confident in the deputy attorney general, who is the boss of bob mueller. the friction between the white house and the justice department is difficult to overstate. we saw that play out with this memo. very senior people in the justice department, including christopher wray, who is an appointee of donald trump, and rob rosenstein, who was key in the drafting of the first letter that the justice department sent to capitol hill making the case against the release of this memo, i can tell you rob rosenstein was deeply concerned release, memo's
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however president trump signed off on the release of the memo. opposede diametrically positions. that is unusual. usually the white house has a lot of confidence in the justice department. the rift between the white house and the justice department is significant and it is in my view one of the biggest stories of the trump administration. host: i want to come back to that point. a caller joins us from lawrenceville, georgia. me in onould you fill the timeline of the steele dossier. we know for a hired fuse and gps. they discontinued that relationship and the democrats got involved. there is conflicting information out there regarding that. guest: this is an important question. initially the washington free beacon, a conservative outlet, was paying for the work that fusion gps did for opposition research on the trump campaign.
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once the free beacon decided they no longer wanted to fund that work, democrats stepped in and picked up the fusion gps tab. my understanding is that when democrats stepped in, or after democrats stepped in to fund the project, then that money was passed on to christopher steele to put together the dossier. the dossier was not a project of the washington free beacon's funding of fusion gps. host: is rob rosenstein's job secure? guest: i do not think his job is secure. in the white house, rob rosenstein gets significant and heated criticism. if you were fired, it would set off a dramatic chain of events. the president would be able to appoint someone else you must be
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confirmed by the senate to take his role overseeing robert probe.'s we do not know who the president views as next in line for that role. the person or gets pointed at the most frequently is rachel , who is the third highest official in the justice department. however, trump could put any number of people in to fill that role and it is possible whoever he puts in that position would have the power to shut down the --ert mueller probe during the robert mueller probe. host: the attorney general and the fbi director were all named by trump. pict: christopher wray is a who is probably disappointed trump. trump could have seen this coming. christopher wray was in the afterment of justice september 11. he was part of the team that immediately responded to that catastrophe.
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he worked closely with james comey and with bob mueller. law-enforcement community in washington is small and close-knit. side on the conservative and perhaps trump himself would potentially have been able to criticize christopher wray as a member of the swamp. the fact that trump installed someone at the top of the fbi who has been willing to quietly isticize the white house something that i imagine the president could have a bit of buyers remorse about. host: we will conclude on that note. >> "washington journal" continues. host: please welcome back the former deputy assistant to president trump and former national security adviser to the president and a fox news contributor and best selling author. guest: thanks for having me. host: let me begin with foreign policy. in a phrase or ste

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