tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN January 23, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
and yet the actual use of it is often regressive. >> reporter: "marjorie prime" premieres tonight at the sundance film festival, brooke. >> have fun, stephanie. thank you. thank you so much for me with me. i'm brooke baldwin in new york. let's send it down to washington. jake tapper and "the lead" start now. thanks, brooke. lot of talk by the trump team of alternate facts this weekend. here's an alternate fact. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in the "situation room." "the lead" starts right now. on speaking terms. donald trump's top spokesman comes out and answers questions from the media for more than an hour after something of a rocky start with reporters over the weekend. and some of the answers he gave could tell us a lot about the trump administration and its plans. he's the man who will be in president trump's ear during pivotal moments in which lives will literally be at stake. today there are new questions about national security adviser michael flynn and russia. plus, what can we learn from president trump's time on "the apprentice" when it comes to his
insistence on inflating numbers? reality tv and how past is prolog prologue. good afternoon, welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to begin with our politics lead. president trump and his team trying to steer back on to a policy track after a first few days marked by accusations of score settling and digressions and of course outright falsehoods. moments ago president trump talked trade with union leaders after he fulfilled one of his top campaign promises withdrawing the u.s. from the trans-pacific partnership, formally, it's a trade agreement championed by president obama but opposed by president trump. not to mention hillary clinton and bernie sanders. also this afternoon, president trump's press secretary, a number of the administration's positions. he backed away from some of the pledges the president made on the campaign trail. for the first time in the trump administration, this afternoon the president's press secretary sean spicer took questions from
journalists in the briefing room. that, itself, marked a change from the contentious and fact-challenged statement he made to reporters on saturday. jim acosta joins me now. jim, at this briefing, sean spicer, he seemed to walk back or at least proceed very cautiously regarding a couple of president trump's big campaign promises. >> reporter: that's right, jake. you remember during the campaign, immigration was a big issue. we heard donald trump say time and again that the u.s. would build a wall on the mexican border, but he also got into some hot water when he talked about a deportation force that would round up all of the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants in this country and that has raised questions going into this new administration, as to whether or not the u.s. would start rounding up some of these young undocumented people in this country, the so-called dreamers an at one point during this briefing today smaun spicer said that is not a priority for the administration, that the priority is to go after criminals in the country who happen to be undocumented so that is a bit of news there, and then on another front, on
israel, donald trump talked about this during the campaign, and so did many of his advivisa, that the u.s. would move the embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem in israel and during this press briefing today, sean spicer indicated that that is not going it happen any time soon and emphasized that they're at the early stage of that conversation. so a number of big policy shifts and tachimping down expectation would say, jake. >> jim, when you finally got turn, i'm glad cnn got a question, you asked the press secretary why the trump administration reacted so aggressively to the reporting about the crowd size at the inaugural. >> reporter: well, that's right, because over the weekend as you know, jake, the president went over to the cia and accused the national news media of lying about those crowd sizes on inauguration day and then white house press secretary sean spicer on saturday evening delivered that remarkable statement in the briefing room when he tried to back up what his boss was saying with a number of items that were just plain old falsehoods.
and during this briefing today, putting all of that aside, i tried to ask sean spicer why he decided to go down that road, why the president decided to go down that road over the weekend, and here's what he had to say. why worry about a couple of tweets about crowd size -- >> because it's not -- that's what i'm saying, you're minimizing the point here, jim. it's not about one tweet. it's not about one picture. it's about a constant theme. it's about sitting here every time and being told, no, we don't think he can do that, he'll never accomplish that, he can't win that, it won't be the biggest, it's not going to be that good, the crowds aren't that book, he's not that successful. the narrative and the default narrative is always negative. and it's demoralizing. >> reporter: and what was revealing about that exchange, jake, is we did not hear very often during the campaign or from his officials, you know, what donald trump's attitude about the news media. he would rail against the news
media by in large. we never got sort of behind the name calling and so forth as to this frustration they have in terms of how we cover donald trump and his campaign. and so you heard it there from sean spicer, i thought one other very telling moment, jake, you'll appreciate this as a former white house correspondent, sean spicer pledged to all of us in that briefing room today that he is not going to lie to us. he said there might be times when he gets the facts wrong and he'll correct them just as he hopes when we get the facts wrong we correct them as well. but for -- to have the press secretary make that pledge to us i think was important after what we saw on saturday, jake. >> i have heard that the media is too negative speech from every single press secretary i know, but normally behind closed doors not in front of the cameras. >> reporter: that was very telling. >> jim acosta, thank you so much. i want to bring in white house correspondent sara murray as we well. a big day for president trump when it comes to his trade priorities which is a big issue on the campaign trail. >> that's right. he wanted to send a signal early
on today even though it was largely ceremonial saying the u.s. is going to withdraw from the trans-pacific partnership. congress last year said they weren't going to vote on it. the oather thing that's telling is donald trump is saying he's going to move to renegotiate nafta. he took pains when he was meeting with business leaders today to say he is not anti-trade, and sean spicer in that press briefing also took pains to say that we are all for bilateral agreements, and that donald trump, president trump, will proceed in trying to negotiate those. but the worry among many republican who believe in free trade is by pulling out of this partnership, you're essentially leaving it open for china to negotiate their own trade deals which they're already trying to do with some of these pacific rim countries. that by the time president trump gets around to it, he's basically going go be self-defeating, going to allow china to get into all of these market and essentially exclude the u.s. by pulling out of tpp. we'll see how he proceeds with this. obviously we know donald trump's trade agenda does not line up with many republicans.
we saw that play out today as he made his tpp announcement. john mccain blasted the decision and the afl-cio celebrated it. >> i think it's fair to say his trade position is one of the reasons he won because he was able to win over all these union households in these key states. >> absolutely. union leaders and union workers, they were key to his victory. >> sara murray. thank you. the white house weighed in on an investigation by u.s. intelligence officials into possible russia connections, this as cnn learned u.s. intelligence officials are examining phone calls between trump's national security adviser, retired general michael flynn and the russian ambassador to the united states. >> has the president spoken with the intelligence agencies about the investigation into the russian connections? and will he allow that to go on? >> i don't think believe he has spoken to anyone specifically about that and i don't know that -- he has not made any indication he would stop an investigation of any sort. >> i want to bring in cnn chief national security correspondent jim sciutto and justice
correspondent evan perez. jim, take us through what exactly is being looked at. >> so u.s. investigators tell us, jake, they're scrutinizing late december phone calls between mike flynn, president trump's national security adviser, and russia's ambassador to the u.s. this is part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of russian activities in the u.s. this from law enforcement and intelligence officials. the calls were captured by what is routine u.s. eavesdropping targeting russian diplomats. the officials say some of the content, this is key, some of the content of the investigations drew enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into those discussions. the officials all stress that so far, there has been no determination of wrongdoing among the communications that are being scrutinized, and these were calls between russia's ambassador, i should say, and flynn in particular, on december 29th, the same day that the u.s. announced further sanctions against russia and expelled 35 russian diplomats. jake, we should note it was the "wall street journal" that was
first to report these calls were being investigated at all . >> the calls were heard in the course of monitoring communication of russian diplomats. u.s. intelligence agencies routinely capture the communications of senior foreign officials including those based in the united states. and we know that the fbi and intelligence officials briefed members of the obama white house team before president obama left office about the flynn calls. in a briefing today, press secretary sean spicer said there are only two calls, one in december, and one three days ago and they discussed routine matters including setting up a call between presidents trump and putin, as well as cooperation in the fight against isis. >> the big concern by outgoing obama white house members was that the calls were about newly imposed sanction and how they would be lifted. no evidence for that as of now. jim, spicer was asked about the trump administration's response to china, building manmade
islands in the pacific. >> subject of enormous dispute for years between the u.s. and china. i can guarantee you ears in beijing perked up to sean spicer's answer on this, particularly the word, defend. have a listen to his comments. >> i think areas in the south china sea that are part of international waters and international activities, i think the u.s. is going to make sure we protect our interests there, so it's a question of if those islands are, in fact, in international watters and not part of china proper, yeah, we're going to make sure we defend international territories from being taken over by one country. >> big question is, what does defense mean there? to this point, under the obama administration, the way the u.s. has expressed these are international waters is basically they've flown their planes and sailed their ships through there, say these are international waters, we're going to treat them as such even those china defends them. defend implies you could take them as the possibility, at least laying out the possibility of military action. that's not clear that's what he was saying. that's something the chinese
want clarity on, because this is also land china has said we believe it's ours historically and we will defend if those sides hold -- >> the trump white house making it clear they're going to have a more aggressive posture toward china than the president obama pr. minutes from now the u.s. senate foreign relations committee scheduled to hold a vote on former exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson. marco rubio spent a great deal of time over the last few weeks raising concern s about tillerson's ties to russia. now rubio says he will support tillerson's confirmation. manu, what does senator rubio say changed his mind? >> reporter: he had come under intense pressure behind the scenes over the past couple of weeks from supporters of rex tillerson including some people, senior members of donald trump's, own team. last week in a private meeting, a 90-minute meeting between rex
tillerson, senator rubio, vice president mike pence, as well as reince priebus, the white house chief of staff, they had a meeting discussing rubio's concerns at length. i'm told it was a, quote, blunt meeting, according to the words of one rubio adviser. in addition, rubio sent an additional 100 questions, written questions and answers that tillerson responded to after that very contentious confirmation hearing in which they discussed russia and rubio was not satisfied with tillerson's remarks about russia. today in a lengthy facebook post, rubio explains his support saying he needs to give deference to the administration saying, "given the uncertainty that exists, both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy." significant, jake, meaning that republicans will have the votes to get it out of committee later this afternoon and also on the floor as soon as next week. >> manu, trump's pick for director of the cia is expected
to be confirmed when the vote comes this evening. thank you so much. let's go back to the white house where president trump just finished meeting with union leaders from across the country. >> very representative of what's happening in our country and i think they're very happy with the meeting we just had. what do you think? >> excellent meeting. >> had a great meeting. they haven't been here many, many years and, this particular house. we're going to get them working again, right? >> there you go. >> okay. [ inaudible question ] >> we're going to be discussing it. >> thank you. >> thank you so much. >> thank you, everybody. thank you. did you get in trouble at all before? huh? >> president trump in the oval office sitting at the resolute
desk with union leaders talking about a very good meeting he had and about how he's going to get them to work. our next guest voted in favor of the trans-pacific partnership trade deal that president trump nixed today. senator john barrasso will weigh in on the president's executive actions and much, much more coming up next. stay with us. i didn't think there was anything else to talk about. but then i realized there was. so, i finally broke the silence with my doctor about what i was experiencing. he said humira is for people like me who have tried other medications but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief. and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common,
welcome back to "the lead." sticking with politics now. a busy first monday for president trump signing a number of executive orders and actions including one that pulls the united states out of the trans-pacific partnership trade deal formally. joining me, john barrasso, member of the foreign relations committee. i want to start with tpp but a you voted in favor of the pacific trade deal. what do you make of the president's order and are you upset at the direction he's taking trade? >> not upset with the direction. he's talked about this during the campaign. this is what he promised the american people. he was elected and absolutely he was right to do what he's promised. in terms of trade from wyoming ice standpoint, we haven't to be able to send our product -- our number one cash crop is beef. we have a natural gas, natural liquified natural gas. donald trump is a world class
deal maker. i'm sure he's going to make sure we get good deals for the united states. the concern i have is if we're not trading with certain people, china will try to step into that void. >> right. >> when i was in japan visiting with abe, he said please sell us your liquified natural gas. we've been having a hard time getting permits from the obama administration even to get the ports built to ship it overseas so we have an abundance of product in the united states. we've had problems with regulations to get it out. and i think donald trump is going to make sure that we use our energy as a geopolitical weapon. >> but you know that china is going around to all these countries in the pacific and saying, look what the u.s. is doing, they don't want to do deals with you u. you're going to have to do deals with us and countries that are naturally our allies, south korea, japan, they're concerned. >> they are. i was in singapore earlier this year. same thing as i traveled that region. a number of our senators did that. they said, look, everyone there wants to be the united states' friend but they don't want to be china's enemy. take a look at china, rule of
law, they respect history more than law and in terms of the islands that you were just talking about, they respect power more than history. and this is talking about what they can inhabit and how they're going to try to use their power. >> let's talk about rex tillerson, the secretary of state nominee. marco rubio is now supporting him but he did express a lot of concerns as did john mccain, lindsey graham, et cetera. you are supporter of rex tillerson. you want him to be secretary of state. looks like he will be secretary of state. why are you not concerned about his relationship with putin and whether the u.s. is cozying too much up to this murderous dictator? >> i think that tillerson knows the world better than many members of the foreign relations committee. he's had interactions over the years. knows the leaders around the world. knows how to be a tough deal maker. and he knows the power of energy as he's done with his job lea leading up to that. he's going to use energy in a way that helps america become better, stronger.
we all want to make sure we have a safe, strong and secure america. i think he is the right person as other leaders around the world, you know, look for relevance, look for respect, he is the person that i believe can restore the credibility that we need worldwide. i think that president trump has inherited from president obama a world that is less safe and more dangerous than it was -- that president obama inherited from president bush. we want to be the most powerful, respected nation on the face of the earth. i think rex tillerson is the right person to be secretary of state. >> with all due respect to mr. tillerson, his job at exxonmobil had nothing to do with human rights. he was making deals having to do with access to enriched uranium or whatever. and my question is, are we now entering an era where the human rights of other countries are no longer important? because that -- that's not how when i was growing up i was raised to believe the republican party, what they stood for. when i was young, ronald reagan was president and human rights abroad were important. i'm not getting the impression
that that is a priority for the trump administration. am i wrong? >> well, actually that specific question is one i asked rex tillerson during the hearings about when you deal with international neighbors, the issue of national security in those countries, the area of economic growth and then human rights. and how do you balance those? and i was very satisfied with his putting human rights way up there, very important. as you take a look at making sure that the continued commitment of america to human rights continues around the world. >> i want to ask you, you chaired the hearing for the epa nominee, mr. pruitt. i know you're going to support him. can you guarantee the american people that the actions that pruitt and the trump administration take when it comes to cutting regulations, i've heard up to 75% of the regulations, will not hurt our and our children's health and our drinking water and the air we breathe? i know people think that we're -- that those who are concerned about this are
alarmist about it. can you make that assurance? >> well, we all want clean air, clean water, clean land and i think scott pruitt is the right person in this job. the epa has really lost its way over the last eight years. you take a look at what happened with the spillage of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into a river in colorado. that was the epa caused that. what happened in flint, michigan, with the poisoning there with the lead, that was epa related. so the epa has lost its way. think that scott pruitt is trying to get rid of some of these regulations that have stifled the economy, really haven't in any significant way improved the environment. by we can have clean air, clean land, have economic growth and the jobs. i don't think you have to chiz one or the other. we have incredible sources in this country. we need to be using them. >> you can ensure the american people whatever actions pruitt takes it's not going to cause an increase of asthma among children or polluted drinking
water? i mean, not including accidents. >> yeah, i have great confidence in scott pruitt. take a look at his role as attorney general in oklahoma, working with the neighboring state of arkansas, with the democrat attorney general there. they forged an alignment that helped clean the water and the river between those two states. he's worked with attorneys generals, certainly the one from wyoming on clean water, on clean air. what has happened is epa has basically gone rogue and come out with regulations untethered from the law. they have kind of gone and decided what they wanted to do rather than the laws congress passed. >> doctor and senator john barrasso. >> thanks for having me. trump's inauguration crowd numbers may not be surprising. there's new insight on his complicated relationship with numbers and ratings from "the apprentice" boardroom. that story next.
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welcome back to "the lead." president trump has not always had the most fideltous relationship with facts and truth ranging from his predecessor's birth certificate to ted cruz's father and lee harvey oswalt. over the weekend we saw the trump administration mobilize fact asphyxiators. the size of the election crowd. his press secretary doubled down today. turns out this is standard operating procedure for trump for numbers. the question now being, will white house officials be more willing to give him hard truths than did producers and editors of "the apprentice"? during his first weekend as president, donald trump and his team were fixated on an issue of no consequence to most voters.
>> we had a massive field of people. you saw that. >> reporter: how big the crowds were at his inauguration. >> i looked out. the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people. they showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. >> reporter: on saturday, the president sent his press secretary, sean spicer, to the white house briefing room to make several patently false claims to the public. >> this was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the mall. that had the fact of highlighting any areas -- >> reporter: wrong. ground coverings were used on the mall as recently as 2013 and it went on from there, but the bigger question, why? why the desperate need to prove a lie thus trotting out even more falsehoods to serve it about an issue of no importance? well, past is prologue. ♪ money, money, money folks who worked on nbc's "the apprentice" know well the president is someone who does
not let facts get in the way of claims. >> anybody here knows because you're in the television bids, "the apprentice" is the number one show on nbc. the ratings are through the roof. >> reporter: "the apprentice" was spectacular rated for the first few seasons but then viewership began to drop and the show's former publicist said trump never was willing to recognize that change. he tried to influence those who published the ratings. "he wanted to make sure i called all the ten people and told them number one show on television, won its time slot. season five, protection, we were number 72. i can't tell that to him, i can't see that." a former supervising editor of "the apprentice" said, "trump would take numbers and throw hem around. i mean, from season one to season two, he said his net worth tripled. he just made stuff up." for years it's clear president trump has been surrounded by enablers in showbiz and elsewhere who would not push back on these falsehoods.
and he would attack those who told the truth. in his trump biography, "trump nation" author tim o'brien wrote about the mogul's fluid estimates of his own worth. trump sued o'brien for libel accusing him of lowballing trump's wealth. trump lost. he then appealed. he lost again. >> he is very conscious and shrewd about the image he presents to the american people. and to american viewers. which is the notion that he is america's most rich business guy, can-do, adept deal maker. when you dig into the track record on any of those things, it turns out the emperor really has no clothes. >> reporter: so the big question for us, what happens when the facts are more consequential than crowds? will our president be truthful about the size of a terrorist cell? the number of troops in harm's way? or the strength of our economy? will his enable errs serve his or the nation?
welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. going to stick with politics. sean spicer told reporters in the briefing today his intention is, quote, never to lie to you, unquote. this comes after the administration blasted the fourth estate for reporting accurately on the size of the inaugural crowd on friday. my political panel joins me now. bill, it seems li s like a fair nice press conference. there are some fundamental issues to this weekend, whether what sean spicer said saturday
or president trump's appearance at the cia that remain out there and unresolved. >> jake, my intention is never to lie to you. >> period. period. >> yeah, no, i think sean spicer and as press secretary, fine, was pretty disastrous saturday. the white house press corps has been nice to him. going to have to deal with him for a first time. first day, don't beat him up. like to get access to white house staff for interviews, the president, himself. what the president did saturday at the cia, i talked to a lot of people who have been in previous administrations, dismiss this as this was the old way to do this. sitting president of the united states, not a candidate, not a spokesman, goes to the cia, stands in front of that whaul a wall and made rambling and inappropriate comments the president made. people were seriously worried. serious people who were not unfriendly to the trump administration who thought, oh, my god. >> ann, sean spicer did better today, but i think it's fairly clear that the facts that were presented on saturday are not
facts. they are untruths and while he tried to spin it today, there are simple things that are just not true. i mean, there were more people at barack obama's inauguration than there were at president trump's inauguration. obama's 2009 inauguration. you can't look at photos of the two -- if you have eyes and come to any conclusion other than that. >> right. you're entitled to your opinion and you're entitled to a different interpretation of facts. you're not entitled to digfferet facts. facts are facts. they have a clear, you know, chip on their shoulder and an issue that spicer had laid out, i thought, quite, you know, specifically, and eloquently, even, today, where he basically said, look, every day you all come at us, every day you punch us in the mouth. there's a cost for that. what he didn't say explicitly, the second part of that, you're paying that now. >> right. i heard that speech before about
how unfair we are in the media, how negative we are, how we, you know, don't cover the planes that land on time. i've heard that before from every single press secretary i know on capitol hill and at the white house. but always behind closed doors, never on the dais during a televised briefing. >> it's part of the strategy as well, what we've seen from the beginning of the trump campaign which is now transferring over to the trump white house, kind of delegitimize the media. i think where they really stepped in it over the weekend is when kellyanne conway introduced this moniker of what will be used as a moniker of alternative facts. never before had we seen during the campaign someone of that high up in the campaign structure or the -- now in the administration, take some of these comments by lower-level people, well, facts, you know, are no longer relevant and it depends on your interpretation that this is now kind of being institutionalized as a tactic. and jake, i got to say, when sean spicer came out there and did what he did --
>> saturday. >> saturday, and took no questions, to me, we have to question ourselves as journalists, if that wasn't a deliberate attempt to deceive, because then you take no questions to clarify what he is now clarifying today which is that, you know, we wanted to count the youtube audience. i mean, i think it's still not a fact, but to then take no questions, that was purely using the media to kind of -- >> as a prop. >> to discredit the media. >> why was spicer having this discussion? because donald trump had raised the issue, right? at the cia. it wasn't -- between the press secretary and press corps, fine, even if the press secretary -- democracy will survive that. donald trump went to the central intelligence agency to -- the first day, first full day of his presidency, and raised the question of whether the media was being unfair in describing the crowd he had at the inauguration then treated it as a prep rally then his press
secretary said the cia people were rooting for the -- cheering for the -- those are toldltally inappropriate. they respect the president of the united states. they're not -- >> let me ask you, as somebody close to the trump team called me and basically said that this was all genius so, because we're no longer talking about the -- maybe one of the biggest marches in the history of the united states and the world, simultaneously in cities all the way down to australia, of all -- i mean, as said, an entire gender protesting donald trump and we're not really talking about it and we're not talking about the issues raised at that briefing. we're talking about crowd counts and maybe we're being beclowned. >> some of the newspaper headlines can be a testament to that, ours included because then we had to cover sean spicer's statement and the story i had done and many journalists had done about the actual march and the record-breaking numbers was papered over by that statement. and that's why i think the scary part for a lot of journalists is there's already being some
parallels drawn to the strategy that essentially the kremlin uses which is that you put something out there, you know that one-third of the public no matter what you saw is going to believe you and if you can sew doubt among the other third or the rest of the public, then you've accomplished your mission and you've changed the subject. >> i think it's -- i mean, there are people saying that there were more people who attended the march in washington, d.c., on saturday, than attended the inaugural on friday. there are no official numbers anymore because the million-man march people sued the park service back in the '90s, so i have no certainly were a lot of people out there, anne. >> what we have to go by, inexact metro in and outs, and photographs. for sure, the size, the sort of amount of real estate taken up by the crowd on -- for the march
appeared larger. and it, you know, whatever it was, as long as it was anything close to, or larger than, the inauguration crowd, that's going to stick in donald trump's craw. >> you had some harsh things to say about sean spicer over the weekend, i have to say, on twitter. >> me, harsh? couldn't be. getting back to what trump's strategy is here, i do think, you had a good interview with senator barrasso about tpp. not a trivial thing. >> it's a big deal. >> he's doing what he said he would do during the campaign, getting us out of a trade deal negotiated through a preceding administrations. that's a serious matter and if you raise it, though, i found this, i was on the hill last week with republicans, this is -- aren't we -- don't you think this is kind of a problem geopolitically in japan, au australia, et cetera? oh, this is trump's era, we don't think that way anymore. i think they've been pretty successful in intimidating a certain number of republicans and conservatives at least and
maybe some of the media as well to say all those old rules, conventions al view you should have trade deals with your allies and not leave them walk away from something these governments have put their neck on the line to negotiate, leave them -- that's just o old-fashioned thinking, that doesn't hold anymore. >> how much of it is optics -- >> what would they have said if it was hillary clinton lifting it as she promised to do? president trump has only been in office 1 1/2 days. he's already being sued. what the president had to say about the new lawsuit coming up. people confuse nice and kind but they're different... nice tells you what you want to hear. but kind is honest. this bar is made with cranberries and almonds. so, guess what? we call it cranberry almond. give kind a try. not to be focusingo finaon my moderatepe. to severe chronic plaque psoriasis. so i made a decision to talk to my dermatologist about humira.
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and while some may say the desert is desolate... we prefer secluded. what is the desert? it's absolutely what you need right now. absolutely scottsdale. turning to or money lead. ethics group is suing president trump accusing him of violating the u.s. constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments through his global business empire. this as cnn obtained a letter signed by president trump saying he has resigned from every position he held in more than 400 businesses. it's part of today's installment of conflict of interest watch. we're taking a closer look today into president trump's laundry list of potential ethics concerns. let's bring in cnn money correspondent, christina,
president trump said this morning the federal lawsuit is, quote, without merit. is he right? does this lawsuit have any chance? >> well, it's really debatable because the plaintiffs in this lawsuit have to show that they are somehow harmed by president trump violating the so-called emoluments clause in the constitution. and that's really difficult to pull off. essentially think about it this way. you're standing on a street corner, two cars collide, and you bring a suit because you're late to work. i mean, the person that is bringing the suit has to be damaged in some kind of way. and when i spoke to constitutional lawyers about this today, they said it's going to be really hard for this group to show standing. but here's the deal, jake. winning the lawsuit may not be the end game, in fact, the plaintiffs may be thinking that they could get a judge to force trump to release important information as a result of this lawsuit like his tax returns. take a listen to norm eisen on our air today.
>> the constitution is being nakedly violated here. the judicial branch is going to step up and if they order him to release his taxes to us in discovery, he's going to have to do it. >> so lawsuits at the end of the day, either this one or others to come, may be the only way that we will get to see trump's tax returns. and that may be the strategy here, jake. >> and there's been a lot of talk in washington about diplomats and others coming to washington, staying at the new trump hotel which opened in washington, d.c., just weeks before election day. are there any new developments that could add to these ethics issues? >> well, the hotel has become really an emblem, a symbol of all the problems that donald trump is going to face while he has relinquished control, he is keeping ownership of his businesses. so the hotel just stands as a symbol of that. and while we were talking an the emoluments clause, with the lawsuit today, there's also a
problem with the lease of the hotel because donald trump is leasing the land from the federal government. now, one term in that lease says that an elected official cannot be party to it. why? because the government doesn't want elected officials profiting off of this federal lease. now, the democrats are making a big issue of this. they sent a letter today requesting that the agency that oversees this lease, the government services, the general services administration, they wanted to step in and say donald trump violated the terms of the lease and they think that his numbers, his profit figures, may have gone through the roof since the election, jake. >> all right. christina, thank you so much. our pop culture lead today, a story that might suggest to some that the united states now holds our comedy writers to a higher standard than we do our leaders. katie rich, a writer for "saturday night live," has been suspended after tweeting an inappropriate joke about president trump's 10-year-old son, barron.
katie rich deleted the tweet, deactivated her twitter account and apologized after backlash from the post. from deadly tornadoes to dangerous mudslides, devastate g ing storms strike across the country and mother nature is not done. what mart of tpart of the count get hit next? stay with us. and safe driver,s, mult, that help them save on their car insurance. any questions? -yeah. -how do you go to the bathroom? great. any insurance-related questions? -mm-hmm. -do you have a girlfriend? uh, i'm actually focusing on my career right now, saving people nearly $600 when they switch, so... where's your belly button? [ sighs ] i've got to start booking better gigs.
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got some bad weather in our national lead. violent and destructive weather slamming parts of the u.s. over the weekend killing at least 22 people. powerful tornadoes and thunderstorms striking the southeast. ravaging neighborhoods, tearing down houses, breaking down trees. one mobile home park, mobile park home in georgia, the damage is so devastating a local official says it looked as though it had been a bombing scene. the death toll there, seven.
accounts for almost half the state's total of 15. also intense storms and heavy flooding are pounding california. two people were killed and two others are missing after being swept out to sea. let's bring in cnn's meteorologist jennifer gray. jennifer, the worst may not be over. millions of americans in other parts of the country could be facing disastrous storms now? >> you're right. especially in the northeast. this is going to morph into a nor'easter and going to bring powerful winds to that part of the country. we had 41 tornadoes throughout the weekend and this is a month that we typically don't see a lot of tornadoes. since january 1st, though, we have seen 94 tornadoes. normally we only see 36 in january. we had more tornado deaths this month, alone, than we saw all year last year. so the numbers are really staggering. where's this going now? well, it's heading to the northeast. this is going to become a nor'easter and it is going to pound some of our major cities. already raining in philly, new
york. even seeing a little bit of rain and snow outside of boston. the winds will be the main threat with this as it continues to push to the northeast. it's going to be pretty warm. so we do think coastal areas, all of our major cities, it will be rain. we will see snow, the interior sections, but the wind is going to be the huge concern with this. especially between now and midnight. as we go through the next six hours or so, we are going to see those winds anywhere from 35 to 40 mile per hour wind gusts, even higher. we could see up to 60 mile per hour winds in places like new york city and then when you have that funneling effect, the buildings, it could feel even stronger. so those winds are going to push off. it could be another 24 hours before parts of the northeast start to feel some relief. we could sue even hurricane-force winds just offshore of long island as well. we have those watches and warnings in place. here's your rainfall forecast. could see 2 to 4 inches of
rainfall. snow for the interior, especially in those higher elevations. jake, still raining across the west coast. and it will do so for the next day or so. >> jennifer gray, thanks so much. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning it over now to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. executive action. president trump orders the u.s. to withdraw from a major trade deal, freezes federal hiring and warns business leaders they'll pay a price if they move manufacturing out of the united states. international shift. the white house walks back donald trump's pledge to move the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem saying no decisions have been made and it doesn't rule out joint action with russia against isis. nomination fight. the grillings continue but the president is closer to getting his national security team confirmed. we're awaiting a senate vote on the pick to head the cia. and marco rubio and other republicans roll ov