March 30th, 2014
04:04 PM ET
4 months ago

Sunday Chatter: The plane, the NSA, the Affordable Care Act and the bridge

The Sunday political talk shows covered a lot of ground, from foreign policy with Russia to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s ongoing effort to repair his damaged reputation amid the George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal. Politicos threw in some debate about Obamacare and the 2016 presidential race for good measure.

If you missed any of the Sunday political chatter, we've got you covered:


Missing airliner: As the search for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues alongside the anguish of the loved ones of the 239 passengers and crew, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said there doesn’t appear to be any connection to terrorism.

“There is speculation, but there is nothing,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

Feinstein also said Malaysia, which is leading the investigation, does not have the most sophisticated equipment to aid the search, but the United States can’t force the country to use its more advanced technology.

MH370: New hope, lingering heartache

She insisted that the blurred satellite images of the search area are the best pictures available.

“You have to understand that American intelligence doesn’t gear itself to be ready for plane crashes,” she told host Candy Crowley. “That is not our job. Our job is terrorism.”

Washington state landslide: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee discussed the ongoing efforts to find the 30 people who are still unaccounted for in the March 22 landslide that killed at least 18 people.

“We are hoping for a miracle,” he said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Washington mudslide communities continue to search for miracles

Mass surveillance: Feinstein applauded some of the reforms to the National Security Agency bulk collection program that President Barack Obama proposed, including limiting the storage of data for 18 months instead of five years and collecting the telephone call of fewer circles of people. She also supported the idea that the courts would approve every “query.”

But Feinstein said she is concerned with his proposal to allow the telecommunications companies store people’s personal information instead of the government.

People at the NSA are “supervised and watched,” she said, but she is unsure of whether telecommunications companies would have the same type of oversight.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, indicated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is more open to the telecommunications companies holding the data because they have “a long history of dealing with court orders.” He added that he’s going to be watching closely.

Wyden, who has been extremely critical of widespread government surveillance said, “I think the President should make the transition right away to ending bulk phone records” collection.

But that’s not enough. He wants to “ban all dragnet surveillance” of e-mails, medical records, purchases and more.

Feinstein said that while the NSA surveillance program deserves oversight, she said it is just one of “thousands” of intelligence programs, so her committee is going to start a large investigation of the others that have not received the same scrutiny.

No defense of Edward Snowden: While Wyden took a hard line on the government’s surveillance of Americans, he refused to back Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who provided journalists with information about the government surveillance program.

Whether he is a criminal or a whistle-blower, “I think that’s something for lawyers” to decide, he said.

‘We need an upgrade’: Wyden was not shy, however, when criticizing those who run U.S. intelligence programs, including James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. Clapper told the senator during a hearing last year that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect “any type of data” on large numbers of Americans, a claim that turned out not to be true.

“I think we need an upgrade in the intelligence leadership,” he said.

Wyden praised the nominee to head the NSA, Adm. Michael Rogers, whom he said understands the big job before him.

Feinstein is also unhappy with an intelligence community leader. She said she’s asked CIA Director John Brennan to apologize over her allegations that the CIA hacked into computers her staff were using for an investigation.

“I have asked for an apology and statement that it would never happen again. I have not received this to this day,” she said.

Russia: Feinstein also weighed in on Russia, Crimea and Ukraine, saying that Crimea is now a part of Russia.

"The Crimea is dominantly Russian; a referendum was passed. That, I think, has been done," Feinstein said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Feinstein's acknowledgment clashes sharply with multiple declarations from Obama and the United Nations that Russia's annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of international law.

The United States and the European Union have already imposed two rounds of sanctions on Russia, including travel bans and asset freezes for some in Putin's inner circle.

Feinstein, labeling herself a "student ... of Russian history," said, “I get the Crimea thing” because the region is primarily Russian and has always been central to Russia’s interests.

On ABC's "This Week," Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, agreed with Feinstein, saying his country would not withdraw from the peninsula.

"We are now in the territory of the Russian Federation," he said, referring to Russian troops in Crimea, adding that people have to be “realist about it.”

While Feinstein said that intelligence officials estimate that 40,000 Russian troops are on the Russian border of Ukraine, Kislyak said Russia has “no intent, no interest” in entering into Ukraine – a statement that closed no doors and keeps anticipation high.

Russia suggests 'federal' structure for Ukraine ahead of talks with U.S

Feinstein was optimistic about a resolution to the standoff through with Russia because Russian President Vladimir Putin reached out to Obama, offering ways to move forward that included a natural gas line to China.

Obamacare: As the deadline to sign up for health care draws near, politics are still dictating the terms of the debate.

Obama’s former adviser, David Plouffe, said the “law’s working” on ABC’s “This Week,” noting that 10 million more people, including those on Medicaid, have health care because of Obamacare. It’s unclear, however, how many people were previously uninsured.

As Republicans’ dominant strategy in the upcoming midterm elections is to continue to hammer negative stories about the law, Plouffe admitted that the political climate around the law is “tough.”

That was apparent on “Fox News Sunday” when Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said the Obama administration is “cooking the books” on the number of enrollees.

“What kind of insurance will those people actually have?” he rhetorically asked.

Bridgegate: Now that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have his confidence back - based on his news conference Friday when he sparred with reporters after a law firm with Christie ties cleared him of any knowledge of the lane closures - the man who’s leading the investigation in the New Jersey General Assembly said not so fast.

“It’s hard to believe, understanding how this governor’s office works, that (former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly) woke up and decided it would be a great idea to find traffic,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski said.

Internal probe: Christie doesn't recall being informed of traffic jams

“It is far too early to draw any conclusive decisions about how who knew what in this investigation,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

While former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the report was the most information released to date on the bridge debacle, he acknowledged that the investigation isn’t over.

“I would not accept it as a complete investigation, but I would accept it for what it's worth,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg criticized the report for its tone and characterizations of Kelly.

“That gratuitous sexist language in that report is infuriating, and anybody who put their name on that report should be ashamed of themselves,” Weinberg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The report called Kelly “emotional” and “erratic” and detailed that she became “personally involved” with chief of staff Bill Stepien, until Stepien broke up with her.

Christie fired Kelly in January when purported e-mails about the traffic jams from Kelly surfaced. Since then, he has repeatedly called her “stupid.”**

Kicker: Another potential Republican for president.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who announced his retirement last week to host a syndicated talk show, didn’t rule out a 2016 run, invoking former President Ronald Reagan.

“Ronald Reagan used his platform on radio to run for president of the United States? I had no idea,” Rogers wryly said before adding, “I'm going to take it where it goes.”

CNN's Jason Seher and Greg Clary contributed to this report.


Filed under: Chris Christie • Dianne Feinstein • NSA • Obamacare • Ron Wyden • Ukraine • Uncategorized
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    IF people are good only because they fear punishment and hope for reward then we are a sorry lot . _ Albert Einstein _

    March 30, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    "don't trend on my Obamacare". Hurrah! The left needs to reclaim some of the icons the radical right has stolen.

    March 30, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. rla

    Chatter is all CNN has!! There is a far larger event going on in Europe and believe it or not the USA dEBT is a bigger issue than either as we leap forward with another entitlement (OBAMACARE) ) that will only speed up the time when interest on the debt will eat up anything we can tax or borrow and leave money for nothing else– PEOPLE THINK!

    March 30, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. daviddavid

    The future looks great. The average income is down by 5% and your dollar buys 75% of what it did five years ago. Lowest number of people employed since 1974, lowest number of home owners in 20 years. US debt out of control and doubled in the last five years. Oh yea, the US is doing peachy keen. ROFLMAO

    March 30, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    The Candy Crowley propaganda show???????? We have seen it all before........dishonesty, and deception.

    March 30, 2014 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. J Anthony

    @Chrisi_E al: good quote. Sounds like Einstein was alludiing to his thoughts on religious dogma. Here's another good one by him: "The world is a dangerous place not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    March 30, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. cmml

    Can you imagine anyone other than the White House trotting out numbers as they have done with Obamacare without having to show any evidence that they are even close to correct?

    Is anyone else amazed that this administration can't tell us how many people have actually paid for Obamacare and how many didn't have insurance before?

    Those seem like pretty easy questions

    March 30, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  8. Name

    They should have these smug Obama advisors on the day after the elections. I'm sure they will have good excuses

    March 30, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. penguin

    Why are the Republicans so dead set against people getting health insurance. The ACA isn't the most perfect piece of legislation, but it's a start. The Republicans should work to improve it, but we all know they won't

    March 30, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    -–at least that Obamacare provides insurance to the people that are under "PRE-Existing condition", are not garnished wages, not attached their homes, cars, property etc, and coverage until 26 the years of that kid. This so called GOP rant is national dire need for generations, centuries. God bless!!!

    March 30, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. rs

    “Ronald Reagan used his platform on radio to run for president of the United States? I had no idea,” Rogers wryly said before adding, “I'm going to take it where it goes.”
    _____________
    I hope he gets all of those voters who cast ballots for Mr. Reagan in 1980. However many of them that are left.

    March 30, 2014 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  12. rs

    So, on health care, what is the GOP's plan?
    Obviously to make people mad as hell, but other than that what are they proposing?
    54 votes to end the ACA. I hope they enjoy taking health care insurance away from 5-10 million Americans. That will certainly add credibility to their so-called "compassionate conservatism".
    Do they have an alternative plan? They do not.
    Do they have anyway to get health care to poor Americans and especially children? They do not- but hey, this is the "spare the fetus, and starve the child" party.
    The GOP negotiated to include the individual mandate and to make the ACA as much like Romneycare as they could, then they walked away.
    This is what a party with no moral standing looks like.

    March 30, 2014 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  13. Prophet

    Why do we need the keystone when mother rus sia is going to give us a cut of the chi na pipe line.

    March 30, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. chrissy

    Quite true @ Chris! And what a sorry excuse the GOTP chooses if they think Christie would make a good POTUS! I mean dang he has no memory for cryin out loud how much gooe would he do our country? Sheesh!

    March 30, 2014 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. plain and simple

    So Christie hired an emotionally,erratic,prone to intra office relationships as his staff leader. Then fires her without talking to her about the goings on that involved him in a national controversy? Ok then!!! Would anyone like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn??? Got one for sale real cheap.

    March 30, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  16. mark

    Feinstein is scarey stupid

    March 31, 2014 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  17. PKRipper

    So now even CNN is trying to distance Obama from Obamacare. However everybody knows it's Obamacare not the ACA, he pushed this train wreck through and now he owns it!

    March 31, 2014 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  18. Marie MD

    Oh, oh. One of his female staff members is ready and willing to tell all about how he is not just a liar but what and how he treats women.
    No wonder the bully gov doesn't want to be in NJ more than he has to. I think it goes something like this from her lawyer.
    “The report's venomous, gratuitous, and inappropriate sexist remarks concerning Ms. Kelly have no place in what is alleged to be a professional and independent report.” Oops!

    March 31, 2014 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  19. Kyle Grimm

    "Our Job Is Terrorism." – Feinstein

    March 31, 2014 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  20. salty dog

    The people I paid to say I'm innocent, have said I'm innocent, let's move on already. Oh how I hope Kelly talks, she likely fears for her life .

    March 31, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  21. salty dog

    Let the culling begin.

    March 31, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    There is nothing uncertain about Gov. Christie's political future. He's toast. Because of Christie's emphatic assertions that he knew nothing about it, that it was his staff running out of control, the Bridgegate scandal will end in one of two ways, neither of which is good.

    Christie will either be implicated politically, possibly even criminally, which will make out to be a certified liar. Or. Christie will be exonerated, which will leave him looking an extremely incompetent manager. Of those two outcomes, I think that him being implicated in the planning or execution of the lane closures is the least damaging result. He could pay some debt to society, and hopefully mount a comeback. After all, he is a Republican. Conservatives seem more accepting of those who cross the lines than liberals. But, being demonstrated to be an incompetent manager will stick for life.

    March 31, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Things that make you say hmm. If you drew a line from the reknowned Bermuda Triangle through the center of the Earth and out the other side, you'd wind up pretty darn close to where they're searching for Flight MH370. Hmmm.

    March 31, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  24. nclaw441

    These Sunday morning shows usually revolve around politics, and yet nothing about the recent storm of Democrat criminality in Charlotte and in California. The lead story is that the MH 370 has still not been found and that there is still no evidence Christie was involved or had knowledge of the bridge matter in New Jersey.

    Great coverage.

    March 31, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  25. Winston Smith

    There's no form of life on this earth lower than a person who has taken up the profession of politician. No lie too big or small. No bribe too big or small. No breach of hypocrisy too low/high to try to justify. No mention of those within the nation in need. Just the same old cliches and meaningless conversations concerning matters of little or no consequence. Keep up the good work boys and girls. The nation is circling the drain, and none of you show the least bit of care, as long as you get your's. True Americans, one and all.

    March 31, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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