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Earnest: The President Can’t Unilaterally Order The Wiretapping Of A U.S. Citizen


Josh Earnest, former White House press secretary for President Obama, on the March 5, 2017 broadcast of ABC's This Week: JOSH EARNEST: Let me just remove the mystery here and explain to you and your viewers why it is false to say that President Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. This may come as a surprise to the current occupant of the Oval Office, but the president of the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of an American citizen. If the FBI decided to use their wiretapping authority in the context of the counterintelligence or criminal investigation, it would require FBI investigators, officials at the Department of Justice going to a federal judge, and making a case, and demonstrating probable cause to use that authority to conduct the investigation. That is a fact. And here's the other thing that we know, Martha. And let's just remove the mystery from all of this. We know exactly why President Trump tweeted what he tweeted. Because there is one page in the Trump White House crisis management playbook. And that is simply to tweet or say something outrageous to distract from a scandal.

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Bill Plante To Journalists: Don’t Share How You “Feel” About Trump; “If You’re Offended, Keep It To Yourself”


CBS News veteran journalist Bill Plante advised journalists not to get involve how they "feel" when they report a story about President Donald Trump. Plante said journalists should investigate, follow up and find evidence to support or refute something Trump said, but no "disputing how we feel about the claim." Plante was the White House correspondent for CBS News before he retired. "The important thing for reporters covering this is not to get involved personally in disputing this or disputing how we feel about the claim," Plante said on Reliable Sources Sunday morning. "If you are offended by what's going on, you should keep it to yourself." "What do you make of this dynamic between Sean Spicer and the press. This morning Spicer said we're not going to talk about this at all anymore until there's an investigation. Is that going to hold up in the briefing room tomorrow?" CNN host Brian Stelter asked the news vet. "No," Plante responded. "He'll come under sustained questioning tomorrow to offer evidence that there is something going on here. And he will deflect that as he has in the past because so far they haven't been able to provide any evidence. But again, the important thing for reporters covering this is not to get involved personally in disputing this or disputing how we feel about the claim. But simply to drive home that there is no evidence unless somehow that evidence turns up and that this has to be continually investigated and discussed, but not to get involved." "It sounds to me like you feel some journalists are taking this too personally, getting too emotional. Is that fair?" Stelter asked. "I see tweets from people and no names, of course, but who are offended by what's going on. Well, if you are offended by what's going on, you should keep it to yourself," Plante said.

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Chris Wallace vs. Dem Sen. Coons: McCarthyism to Accuse Trump Of Russian Collusion, Where Is Evidence?


FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace tells Democratic Senator Chris Coons that continued talk of collusion between Trump and Russia has a whiff of McCarthyism. He asked if the point of this continued talk, that has gone on for months, is an attempt to derail Trump's agenda. Coons would concede to Wallace that he has "no hard evidence of collusion." CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Why would you suggest in that clip that I just played for Senator Cotton that there are FBI transcripts that show, and I want to get your words, "provide very critical insights" in the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians? SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): What I was trying to make clear, Chris, and I appreciate a chance to restate this, is that I don't have, and I don't know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But I believe that our intelligence community, which is the most sophisticated in the world, has intercepts, has raw intelligence, and it's important that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an investigation be given access to those intercepts, to transcripts of those intercepts, so that they can get to the bottom of this. The American people, Chris, want us to move forward. They want us to work together in Washington and it's important for us to remember that the Russians are our adversaries. Republicans and Democrats, we have different political agendas, different political views, but we can and should work together to make sure that what intelligence there is, is gotten access to by the intelligence committee. And if they're stonewalled or blocked, that there's a special prosecutor appointed. That's the point I was trying to make. WALLACE: Senator, I don't think anybody would object to that. But that isn't quite what you said on Friday. I want to replay the clip of what you said on Friday, which is different. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COONS: There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin were cooperating, with colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election. (END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Senator, we're talking here about the president of the United States. Isn't there more than a whiff of McCarthyism for you as a U.S. senator to say there are transcripts out there that provide insight into whether or not there was collusion, but you don't even know whether they exist? COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, what I was trying to encourage was that the intelligence committee be given access to the raw intelligence. I've been told now that that's going to happen this coming week and I think that's positive and productive. Last week on the floor of the Senate, I joined Republican Senator Marco Rubio in a joint speech to talk about Russian interference, Russia as our adversary and the importance of us working together. At the end of speech, Senator Rubio said, "I won't be part of a witch hunt, and it won't be part of a cover-up." So, to the extent of those comments, they might be some way misinterpreted as leading to sort of a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that. That's not what I was trying to do. What I was trying to do, and I think it's important, is to draw the American people to what joins us in common, which is the need for us to get to the bottom of this, to get access to what intelligence there is. I am confident that intelligence exists that is relevant to this question. Not that says there is collusion, and proof of it, that's not what I was trying to say. WALLACE: I want to ask — COONS: Last week there were — Chris, last week, there were senior Republicans and President Trump in previous weeks saying there's nothing here. There's nothing to look at. And this was just after Senator Sessions was revealed to either have misspoken or misrepresented his meetings with the Russian ambassador. I think it's in all of our interest for this to be investigated fully, fairly and promptly and for what intelligence exists. And I'm confident that such intelligence exists — WALLACE: So, Senator — COONS: — be made available to the intelligence committee. WALLACE: If I may, I want to talk about the broader story here. Do you have any evidence at this point, in this investigation has been going on for a long period of time. We know that the FBI and intelligence sources were looking at this at least in October, because that's when they all came out and said that the Russians were interfering. Do you know of any hard evidence of collusion between what I call "Trump world" and the Russians to interfere in his presidential campaign? Not suspicions, not contacts, but evidence of collusion. COONS: Chris, I have no hard evidence of collusion. I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump's financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials. And that's why I think it's important for us to get the bottom of this, so we are not still talking about this as an unresolved issue where we don't know the answer months and months from now. WALLACE: But, sir, do you worry that this continued talk about this when we are months into this and there was no evidence of collusion, there's no evidence that any crime or anything untoward was committed — do you worry that this continues to put this president under a cloud, continues to derail his agenda, or frankly, sir, is that precisely the point? COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, I'm not the person who forced or coerced in any way Senator Sessions to answer incorrectly or falsely in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee — (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: We're going to get to Sessions, I promise to get to Sessions in a moment. Is the point here, to keep this White House from being able to do what it's trying to do by continuing, at this point, evidence-free debate about collusion with the Russians? COONS: That's not my goal, Chris. I recently met with the new commerce secretary just on Thursday, to sit down with him and say I'm on the relevant subcommittee that appropriates the Commerce Department's funding. I would like to work with you and manufacturing policy. I think we can do things to get back to focusing on growing our economy and growing manufacturing jobs. Chris, you know me, and I think you'd recognize that I'm someone who is willing to work across the aisle. My goal here is to make sure that we defend our democracy. It's outrageous to suggest that we shouldn't investigate thoroughly and fully what are credible allegations of Russian interference in our election.

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Chris Wallace to Dem Sen. Coons: McCarthyism to Accuse Trump Of Russian Collusion, Where Is Evidence?


FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace tells Democratic Senator Chris Coons that continued talk of collusion between Trump and Russia has a whiff of McCarthyism. He asked if the point of this continued talk, that has gone on for months, is an attempt to derail Trump's agenda. Coons would concede to Wallace that he has "no hard evidence of collusion." CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Why would you suggest in that clip that I just played for Senator Cotton that there are FBI transcripts that show, and I want to get your words, "provide very critical insights" in the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians? SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): What I was trying to make clear, Chris, and I appreciate a chance to restate this, is that I don't have, and I don't know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But I believe that our intelligence community, which is the most sophisticated in the world, has intercepts, has raw intelligence, and it's important that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an investigation be given access to those intercepts, to transcripts of those intercepts, so that they can get to the bottom of this. The American people, Chris, want us to move forward. They want us to work together in Washington and it's important for us to remember that the Russians are our adversaries. Republicans and Democrats, we have different political agendas, different political views, but we can and should work together to make sure that what intelligence there is, is gotten access to by the intelligence committee. And if they're stonewalled or blocked, that there's a special prosecutor appointed. That's the point I was trying to make. WALLACE: Senator, I don't think anybody would object to that. But that isn't quite what you said on Friday. I want to replay the clip of what you said on Friday, which is different. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COONS: There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin were cooperating, with colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election. (END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Senator, we're talking here about the president of the United States. Isn't there more than a whiff of McCarthyism for you as a U.S. senator to say there are transcripts out there that provide insight into whether or not there was collusion, but you don't even know whether they exist? COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, what I was trying to encourage was that the intelligence committee be given access to the raw intelligence. I've been told now that that's going to happen this coming week and I think that's positive and productive. Last week on the floor of the Senate, I joined Republican Senator Marco Rubio in a joint speech to talk about Russian interference, Russia as our adversary and the importance of us working together. At the end of speech, Senator Rubio said, "I won't be part of a witch hunt, and it won't be part of a cover-up." So, to the extent of those comments, they might be some way misinterpreted as leading to sort of a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that. That's not what I was trying to do. What I was trying to do, and I think it's important, is to draw the American people to what joins us in common, which is the need for us to get to the bottom of this, to get access to what intelligence there is. I am confident that intelligence exists that is relevant to this question. Not that says there is collusion, and proof of it, that's not what I was trying to say. WALLACE: I want to ask — COONS: Last week there were — Chris, last week, there were senior Republicans and President Trump in previous weeks saying there's nothing here. There's nothing to look at. And this was just after Senator Sessions was revealed to either have misspoken or misrepresented his meetings with the Russian ambassador. I think it's in all of our interest for this to be investigated fully, fairly and promptly and for what intelligence exists. And I'm confident that such intelligence exists — WALLACE: So, Senator — COONS: — be made available to the intelligence committee. WALLACE: If I may, I want to talk about the broader story here. Do you have any evidence at this point, in this investigation has been going on for a long period of time. We know that the FBI and intelligence sources were looking at this at least in October, because that's when they all came out and said that the Russians were interfering. Do you know of any hard evidence of collusion between what I call "Trump world" and the Russians to interfere in his presidential campaign? Not suspicions, not contacts, but evidence of collusion. COONS: Chris, I have no hard evidence of collusion. I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump's financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials. And that's why I think it's important for us to get the bottom of this, so we are not still talking about this as an unresolved issue where we don't know the answer months and months from now. WALLACE: But, sir, do you worry that this continued talk about this when we are months into this and there was no evidence of collusion, there's no evidence that any crime or anything untoward was committed — do you worry that this continues to put this president under a cloud, continues to derail his agenda, or frankly, sir, is that precisely the point? COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, I'm not the person who forced or coerced in any way Senator Sessions to answer incorrectly or falsely in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee — (CROSSTALK) WALLACE: We're going to get to Sessions, I promise to get to Sessions in a moment. Is the point here, to keep this White House from being able to do what it's trying to do by continuing, at this point, evidence-free debate about collusion with the Russians? COONS: That's not my goal, Chris. I recently met with the new commerce secretary just on Thursday, to sit down with him and say I'm on the relevant subcommittee that appropriates the Commerce Department's funding. I would like to work with you and manufacturing policy. I think we can do things to get back to focusing on growing our economy and growing manufacturing jobs. Chris, you know me, and I think you'd recognize that I'm someone who is willing to work across the aisle. My goal here is to make sure that we defend our democracy. It's outrageous to suggest that we shouldn't investigate thoroughly and fully what are credible allegations of Russian interference in our election.

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Ingraham On Russia-Trump Accusations: Typical Washington Feeding Frenzy Based On No Evidence


Laura Ingraham on the continuing narrative of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. "I think most people watching this are like, are we actually going to talk about the fact that, you know, we need to have jobs, the economy and the border enforced? I think people are saying enough already," Ingraham said on this week's edition of FOX News Sunday. CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Laura, first there's the question whether this is all true, whether or not the Obama administration – pretty – it would be very dramatic – ordered the tapping of the phones of Donald Trump in Trump Tower. But, second, it seems to me, is there a political question, which is, why does Donald Trump want to keep breathing life into this story about the whole Russia-Trump connection at a – at the precise moment he's trying to unveil and push his agenda? LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, perhaps one of the reasons – and I – I don't know, but I'm just speculating – perhaps one of the reasons is, is because the reporting on the Russia supposed connection, inclusion with the Trump campaign has been just feverishly overblown. The – the sound bite that you played, for instance, to – to Coons about Jeff Sessions, the entire sound bite where Al Franken is asking that question, which is really revealing, is – he's like – it's this rambling question about, well, CNN is reporting about some report that there might be compromising information. I don't even know if you've ever seen it, but – obviously the import of the question was, are you – are – are – did you speak with Russians in your capacity as a surrogate for the campaign, and was that about the campaign machinations and that was obviously the question. I actually don't think Jeff Sessions needed to recuse himself. I know that might be controversial, but if Jeff Sessions told the truth, and I believe he did in that – in that question and the follow-up questions, the written question submitted by Leahy, I don't think he had to recuse himself. I think Donald Trump's probably frustrated about that. I think a lot of – a lot of pressure was put on Sessions to recuse himself. He was considering recusing himself earlier. But the idea that Russia threw the election for Donald Trump and people in Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania were all like, well, the – the – the Russians – WALLACE: But that's not really what they're saying. They're – INGRAHAM: That – that's – WALLACE: No, they're not saying that they threw the election. They're saying that there was collusion to interfere with the election. That – saying that's why he got elected. INGRAHAM: Right, between Carter – yes, but Carter Page, who was a one-time foreign policy informal advisor to Trump and Paul Manafort, who was no longer with Trump, those guys, like, were at conferences and saw some Russians, people connected with Russia and Europe. The thing is so tenuous. And I think you scratched the surface of it in your interview with – with Coons, and he said to say, well, we don't really have any evidence of collusion. This is a typical Washington feeding frenzy based on little to no evidence. WALLACE: OK. INGRAHAM: And I think most people watching this are like, are we actually going to talk about the fact that, you know, we need to have jobs, the economy and the border enforced? I think people are saying enough already. WALLACE: Well, yes, but that's my point is, Donald Trump, who fed that this weekend with his tweets – INGRAHAM: I think – I don't – I think Jon Favreau's tweet, Chris, today, or yesterday, when he said, I'd be careful of people saying that the administration did not issue the FISA. WALLACE: I – I wonder if people are just trolling.

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Ingraham On Russian-Trump Accusations: Typical Washington Feeding Frenzy Based On No Evidence


Laura Ingraham on the continuing narrative of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. "I think most people watching this are like, are we actually going to talk about the fact that, you know, we need to have jobs, the economy and the border enforced? I think people are saying enough already," Ingraham said on this week's edition of FOX News Sunday. CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Laura, first there's the question whether this is all true, whether or not the Obama administration – pretty – it would be very dramatic – ordered the tapping of the phones of Donald Trump in Trump Tower. But, second, it seems to me, is there a political question, which is, why does Donald Trump want to keep breathing life into this story about the whole Russia-Trump connection at a – at the precise moment he's trying to unveil and push his agenda? LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, perhaps one of the reasons – and I – I don't know, but I'm just speculating – perhaps one of the reasons is, is because the reporting on the Russia supposed connection, inclusion with the Trump campaign has been just feverishly overblown. The – the sound bite that you played, for instance, to – to Coons about Jeff Sessions, the entire sound bite where Al Franken is asking that question, which is really revealing, is – he's like – it's this rambling question about, well, CNN is reporting about some report that there might be compromising information. I don't even know if you've ever seen it, but – obviously the import of the question was, are you – are – are – did you speak with Russians in your capacity as a surrogate for the campaign, and was that about the campaign machinations and that was obviously the question. I actually don't think Jeff Sessions needed to recuse himself. I know that might be controversial, but if Jeff Sessions told the truth, and I believe he did in that – in that question and the follow-up questions, the written question submitted by Leahy, I don't think he had to recuse himself. I think Donald Trump's probably frustrated about that. I think a lot of – a lot of pressure was put on Sessions to recuse himself. He was considering recusing himself earlier. But the idea that Russia threw the election for Donald Trump and people in Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania were all like, well, the – the – the Russians – WALLACE: But that's not really what they're saying. They're – INGRAHAM: That – that's – WALLACE: No, they're not saying that they threw the election. They're saying that there was collusion to interfere with the election. That – saying that's why he got elected. INGRAHAM: Right, between Carter – yes, but Carter Page, who was a one-time foreign policy informal advisor to Trump and Paul Manafort, who was no longer with Trump, those guys, like, were at conferences and saw some Russians, people connected with Russia and Europe. The thing is so tenuous. And I think you scratched the surface of it in your interview with – with Coons, and he said to say, well, we don't really have any evidence of collusion. This is a typical Washington feeding frenzy based on little to no evidence. WALLACE: OK. INGRAHAM: And I think most people watching this are like, are we actually going to talk about the fact that, you know, we need to have jobs, the economy and the border enforced? I think people are saying enough already. WALLACE: Well, yes, but that's my point is, Donald Trump, who fed that this weekend with his tweets – INGRAHAM: I think – I don't – I think Jon Favreau's tweet, Chris, today, or yesterday, when he said, I'd be careful of people saying that the administration did not issue the FISA. WALLACE: I – I wonder if people are just trolling.

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Stelter: Trump’s New Line Is To Say All Of His Problems Are “Obama’s Fault”


CNN's Brian Stelter said President Trump has "new story line" which is to blame his predecessor and say his problems are really "Obama's fault." Stelter said Trump and his "conservative media allies" are "working overtime to promote this narrative." BRIAN STELTER, 'RELIABLE SOURCES' HOST: Trump tried to change the story. In fact, he and his allies have created a brand new story line. Castings aspersions on former President Obama. They haven't given any proof, but they have given Trump supporters a brand new talking point. That Trump's problems are really Obama's fault. Trump's conservative media allies are working overtime to promote this narrative. Let's take a look at what's going on here and how it started. This morning just in time for the Sunday morning shows, Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said, quote, 'reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.' By reports, does he mean Trump's own tweets? Because early Saturday morning Trump went on a reckless tweet storm making allegations that are reminiscent of his birther conspiracy theory and his bogus claims about a rigged election. He said, 'How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Obama is a bad (or sick!) guy!'

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