CNN Sees White House Cover-Up: 'What Are People Hiding?'

CNN's Executive Editor speculated Tuesday that the Republican Party might be "hiding" information regarding former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding alleged communication between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. This development came in light of an accusation from Yates' lawyer that the White House tried to limit her testimony for the now-canceled committee hearing.

Amidst calls for the Committe Chairman Devin Nunes (R-AZ) to recuse himself from the investigation, Mark Preston said on At This Hour With Kate Bolduan, "We talk about how a lot of Democrats are upset with Devin Nunes, but here are quotes from three Republicans this morning. John McCain, speaking of Chairman Nunes -- 'He has a lot of explaining to do.' Susan Collins, another Republican senator -- 'I believe our Senate investigation has more credibility than the House.' Senator Lindsey Graham on another network says, 'I think he has to repair the damage. My belief is that the House is off track and probably can't get back on track.'

Preston added, "So, when you talk about Sally Yates, the idea that she could actually testify in public would probably go a long way, but now if she's being blocked, what are people hiding?"

In a statement to CNN, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying, and the Department of Justice specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible."

In response, CNN Political Director David Chalian said, "Well, I think we're going to have to parse that statement as we do all White House statements. Taken no action, well, what does that mean? Taken no action may mean they did not actually go ahead and assert executive privilege and they didn't want to take that action?"

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"But are there other ways in which the White House made clear to Sally Yates and her attorney that they did not think that her testify out in public would be a wise thing because some of that stuff could eventually be claimed as privilege," Chalian added. "We just have more to learn here, but that White House statement at the outset seems very specific. They may not have taken a formal action, but we need to learn more about the way in which they indicated to Sally Yates, if they did at all, that they didn't want her to testify."

Here is the transcript of the March 28th exchange:

At This Hour With Kate Bolduan

03/28/2017

11:15:09 AM – 11:19:14 AM [4 min., 5 sec.]

KATE BOLDUAN: Looking at the timeline, what is Devin Nunes as the Chairman's role in all of this? 

MARK PRESTON: Again, totally unclear right now because he hasn't been very open about what he learned and where he's going to go with it. In fact, we talk about how a lot of Democrats are upset with Devin Nunes, but here are quotes from three Republicans this morning. John McCain, speaking of Chairman Nunes -- "He has a lot of explaining to do." Susan Collins, another Republican senator -- "I believe our Senate investigation has more credibility than the House." Senator Lindsey Graham on another network says, "I think he has to repair the damage. My belief is that the House is off track and probably can't get back on track." So, when you talk about Sally Yates, the idea that she could actually testify in public would probably go a long way, but now if she's being blocked, what are people hiding?

 BOLDUAN: David, but Mark reads those quotes from Republicans who have questions and concerns about the credibility and objectivity of Devin Nunes now, but the one person who really has a say in it is House Speaker Paul Ryan, and he said definitively he's not going to ask him to recuse. 

DAVID CHALIAN: Kate, you know how much House members love when senators across the Congress weigh in on their own internal matters. 

BOLDUAN: Love it. 

CHALIAN: Yes, no, you're exactly right. Paul Ryan's made clear that he's not persuaded by the McCains, Collins, Grahams yet, but that's just this morning mark read those quotes from. So, we have to see if those Republicans calls stop there with those three Republican senators and really do not have much sway with House Republicans, Speaker Ryan, other members of the leadership, other Republicans on the Intel Committee. It's those voices that we really need to watch to see if they feel. And of course, we heard from Speaker Ryan this morning that, clearly, he doesn't feel that way at all. He feels Chairman Nunes should continue in the role he's doing and move ahead with the investigation just like Chairman Nunes said he's going to.

BOLDUAN: And Jeremy Diamond getting a statement from Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about the question of Sally Yates testifying and that hearing being canceled, as we were discussing. Let me just read it, because the White House should have their say in this. This is a statement – “The Washington Post story's entirely false. The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying, and the department of justice specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible." So, when it comes to that question, one would be led to believe this hearing could be rescheduled and she should be able to testify then, right, David? 

CHALIAN: Well, I think we're going to have to parse that statement as we do all White House statements. Taken no action, well, what does that mean? Taken no action may mean they did not actually go ahead and assert executive privilege and they didn't want to take that action? But are there other ways in which the White House made clear to Sally Yates and her attorney that they did not think that her testify out in public would be a wise thing because some of that stuff could eventually be claimed as privilege. We just have more to learn here, but that White House statement at the outset seems very specific. They may not have taken a formal action, but we need to learn more about the way in which they indicated to Sally Yates, if they did at all, that they didn't want her to testify. 

BOLDUAN: And I've got to get going, but I want to point out for our viewers, this hearing was supposed to happen this week. It was canceled on Friday. Why? The chairman at that point said they needed to have a closed-door hearing with the FBI director and the head of the NSA. That actually never ended up happening this week, so there are real questions of what was scheduled what was canceled, and for what reasons. That continues to kind of muddy the waters of what is exactly known and how this committee is going to be moving forward. I just wanted to make sure we all had that at least out there and clear. Mark and David, thanks, guys.

NB Daily 2016 Presidential Congress Media Bias Debate Covert Liberal Activists Sudden Respect CNN Journalistic Issues Government & Press Mark Preston David Chalian Kate Bolduan
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