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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 15, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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happening now. constant contact. officials raise a disturbing red flag about president trump's russia connections. cnn learned that a top trump adviser had freak communications with suspected russian operatives during the 2016 campaign. we're digging keeper on this story this hour. dodge and rage, mr. trump ignores cnn's questions about contact with russia instead he blames the media for the down fall for michael flynn. if he thinks he's such a wonderful man, why did he fire him? mr. trump tells the israeli prime minister he doesn't care
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about two state or one state solution to peace. and cooked fast-food ceo andrew puzder withdraws as labor secretary nominee rather than be voted down by republican defectors. we'll look at the impact of mr. trump's first cabinet defeat. we want to welcome our viewers around the united states and the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the "the situation room." we're following new developments in the widening crisis of the trump administration over its contacts with russia. president trump speaking publicly for the first time about the resignation of national security michael flynn. at a news conference with the israeli prime minister he called flynn a wonderful man. he blamed intelligence leaks in the news media even though aides say it was mr. trump who fired him. the president manages to ignore or avoid any tough questions about his russia contacts
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including stunning new revelations reported by cnn. official sources disclosing that high-level trump advisers were in constant communication with respected russian operatives dunk the 2016 campaign. the first trump nominee to go down in flames. fast-food ceo andrew puzder withdrawing his choice for secretary of labor. after puzder was losing support with four republicans say they would vote no and as many as eight other gop defections possible. president trump throws new curveballs into the middle east process. he directly asked prime minister benjamin netanyahu to hold back on settlements and he backed off decades of u.s. support for a two-state solution and he would be fine with whatever agreement israel and the palestinians officials reach.
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i'll talk to jake sullivan. he's standing by live. along with correspondents, analysts and guests as we bring you full coverage of the day's top stories. let's go to jim acosta with more on the president'sment comments about michael flynn. you were there at the news conference. >> he was defending michael flynn as if he hadn't fired him. at the news conference he blamed media that the russian sanctions. something apparently flynn lied up to the vice-president. but the president blamed the whole saga on forces outside the administration like the news immediate and those leaking the information out of the government. >> michael flynn, general flynn is a wonderful man. i think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. as i call it the fake media, in
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many cases. and i think it's really a sad thing he was treated so badly. i think in addition to that from intelligence papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. it's criminal action, criminal act and it's been going on for a long time before me. but now it's really going on and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the democrats had under hillary clinton. i think it's very, very unfair what's happened to general flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally -- i stress that, illegally leaked. very, very unfair. >> reporter: now, when reporters went back to white house press secretary sean spicer this afternoon about what was fake in those news reports, as the president said on the trump campaign's contacts with the russians spicer said, wolf, he would get back to us.
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nothing specific on what he thought was fake in those reports. >> hasn't gotten back to you. >> that's right, not at all. >> how did that eastern room conference go? >> when the news conference was over, wolf, i tried to ask the president about the contacts some of his aides had with the russians there was a moment of silence in the eastern room as he and prime minister were leaving the room. you can tell he heard the question, but he did not respond. my colleague sara murray also tried. but again, no response from the president. it's been difficult to get answers the last three days. at the last news conferences the president only called on conservative news outlets. that is a major break. as you know wire services were typically called on. that has not been the practice
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in this new administration. >> jim, the president was also tweeting about all this new russia reporting from cnn and other news organizations. tell our viewers about that. >> right. you can see the president is taking no responsibility for any of this. he's blaming the press. we can put these up on the screen. tweeting, information is being illegally given to the failing "new york times" by the intelligence community. nsa and fbi, question mark, just like russia. in the next one, this russian connection nonsense is an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in hillary clinton's losing campaign. wolf, a couple of things here. the first tweet he seems to be going after the nsa and the fbi this is after he tried to mend fences with the intelligence community at his first conference -- i should say right after his inauguration. the president is obviously frustrated with the leaks, wolf. but up in this point, the president and other top officials have not said what in anything is going to be done to
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stop the leaking, any actions that might be taken from the administration. they're just not saying at this independent po. wolf, we should point out, steve bannon was venting frustrations this afternoon. there was reporters gathered out side sean spicer's office. i was among them. and at one point bannon walked past us and referred to us as the opposition party. >> the president earlier compared the intelligence community to nazi germany. now he's making comparisons to russia. clearly irritating maybe you should go out to the nsa headquarters and fbi and speak to those who are doing their job. tonight some top democrats are escalating their demands for an independent investigation into the trump team con facts with russia. extensive communication between
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top trump advisers during the campaign. pamela, what's the latest. >> the former embattled national security adviser michael flynn has bnl suspended pending any review for any wrongdoing. this as investigators scrutinized the communication flynn and other aides had with the russians during the campaign. >> reporter: during his presidential campaign, high-level advisers close to dealership maintained close communication with russians known to u.s. intelligence officials, the course -- sources say the frequency of the conversations and proximity to trump of those involved raised a red flag with intelligence. the timing became clear to investigators that russia was seeking to undermine the e -- elections. and cnn has told that then-president-elect trump and
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then-president obama were briefed about the extensive communications. trump in january denying any contacts with the russians. >> did you or anyone in why you are campaign have any contact with russia during or leading up? nothing at all. >> reporter: tuesday, sean spicer still denied any contact. >> can you say nobody, not even joan flynn had any contact with the russians before the election. >> my understanding is that what general flynn -- during the transition period he did speak with the ambassador. >> i'm talking about during the campaign. >> i don't have any -- there is nothing that would conclude that anything changed. >> reporter: officials say the communications were intercepted targeting russians known to u.s. intelligence and then campaign
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chairman paul manafort and michael flynn, who resigned his post monday night after news reports about russia's ambassador regarding u.s. sanctions. manafort denied the claims in an interview with cnn calling the allegations boggling. saying that is 100% not true. at least as far as me. i don't remember talking to any russian officials ever certainly not during the time we're talking about. >> reporter: the fbi and the u.s. intelligence officials are trying to determine what the communications were close to trump and russians. one concern has been whether trump associates were coordinating with russian intelligence operatives over misleading information about the hillary clinton campaign. as one source told me in that were the case that would escalate this. and there is nothing to prove that and it's an ongoing investigation. >> pamela brown reporting.
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thank you very much. president trump talks with benjamin netanyahu and his approach to the middle east processing. elise labbin joining us. elise, the president made a surprising comment about what's called a two-state solution. >> that's right. president trump greeted prime minister netanyahu with a warm embrace and a chatty tone but not a blank check. decades of u.s. policy is not a given. >> reporter: president trump made a remarkable break in decades of u.s. policy backing away from the to-state solution that would give palestinians their own state. >> i'm looking at to-state and one-state and i like the one that both parties like. i'm very happy with the one that both parties like. i could live with either one.
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>> reporter: trump insisted he was committed to a peace deal. >> working on it diligently. very important to me also. something we want to do. but it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement. we'll be beside them working with them. >> reporter: he made clear he wasn't giving netanyahu a blank check. >> as with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. you know that, right. >> reporter: with a playful tone warned netanyahu to stop settlement expansion in the west bank that has grown. >> i'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. we'll work something out. >> reporter: referring to quote other players at the peace table, the president wants to enlist arab states who share israel's concern about iran to help close the deal. >> i think we're going to make a
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deal, it might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. that's a possibility. so let's see what we do. >> let's try. >> don't sound too optimistic. but good negotiator. >> that's the "art of the deal." >> reporter: netanyahu embraced trump's tough message to the palestinians. >> i think the palestinians have to get rid of some of their hate that they're taught from a very young age. >> reporter: he laughished prays. trump's close adviser jared kushner who he tapped his own peace enjoy. >> can i reveal, jared, how long we've known you? he was never small. he was always big. he was always tall. but i -- i've known the president and i've known his family and his team for a long time.
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and there is no greater supporter of the jewish people or the jewish state than president donald trump. >> reporter: diplomats and experts say that president trump may have wafer erred on the two-state solution to help netanyahu who is having political issues at home. they know that the palestinians are having a vote on that and highly unlikely to accept a peace deal that doesn't lead to their own independent state. they had a chance to talk about this with the u.s. we understand the cia director mike pompeo was in ramallah and he met with abas where they discussed that. >> elise laughin, thank you very much. let's turn to the constant contacts with the russian officials. we're joined by jake sullivan,
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former top adviser to hillary clinton and advised joe biden. >> glad to be here. >> constant contact between trump's official aides during the campaign, russian officials. what does this mean? >> it's deeply alarming. what it means at a minimum this is totally unusual to have campaign officials, senior people close to trump in contact with senior people in the russian government or around the russian government. i think we need a full and fair bipartisan investigation to find out what they were talking about, what the constant investigation was and whether there was collusion or coordination. >> the president tweeted this earlier, this russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in hillary clinton's losing campaign. he's calling this a cover-up because your campaign, the hillary clinton campaign lost.
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respond to that. >> november 8th was now three months ago. the election is over. the clinton team did lose the election. trump won. he's now the president and now the buck stops with him. it's not the clinton campaign or anyone around clinton bringing these reports forward. it's the u.s. intelligence community ostensibly because they're deeply concerned about how i go regular it would be and unusual for the trump administration to talk with the russian officials. >> do you have any real information about the nature of those conversations between trump officials and russian intelligence officials during the campaigns? do you have any inside information what they were talking about? >> of course, i don't have inside information. but the fact that these questions were raised about what the content of those communications were, suggests the open need for a full, open
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bipartisan investigation and a set of hearings to get into this, the bottom of this. >> you were the national security adviser to hillary clinton during the campaign. did you ever reach out to russian officials during the course of the campaign. >> i didn't speak to russian officials during the campaign. >> did anybody from your campaign reach out to russian officials and reach out? >> as far as i know there is no one from our campaign team that spoke to russian officials. >> would it have been inappropriate for you to do? you assumed she was going to win and be the president of the united states. why not speak with officials from the russian government and maybe set the stage for better dialogue? >> it wouldn't be inappropriate to be one contact, a courtesy call, i met and discussed many issues with many ambassadors. i'd meet a single time, maybe a second conversation and that was it. what trump and his officials
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seem to have done here was have regular contact with him during the course of the campaign. that's what's so unusual. >> when you had these meetings with foreign officials or ambassadors, would it be normal to report to the state department, hey, i had these meetings? >> yeah, you would make sure that the government understood what you were doing so there is no misunderstanding and we made a regular practice of doing that. >> you want a full-scale investigation to determine what happened in these communications and contacts. let me read what senator rand paul said about that. i just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation particularly of your own party. we'll never get started with doing the things we need to doo like repealing obamacare if we're spending the whole time having republicans investigate other republicans. i think it makes no sense. when you hear that remembering all of the investigations of hillary clinton and her e-mail server and benghazi, what's your reaction? >> this shouldn't be about point
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scoring or cam pairing to benghazi or e-mails. it should be about the national security of the united states. it's not about republicans or democrats. it's about a hostile foreign power, russia to meddle in our election to -- and there were communications with them. getting to the bottom of that is a fundamental issue of national security and one of the issues both parties should have. just ahead, i'll also speak with a top democratic on the house intelligence committee. what he's learning about the contact between the trump campaign. adam schiff is standing by. and what cost to the labor nominee. what happens now that andrew puzder has dropped out? e to worry about a cracked windshield.
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we're following new developments on the trump camp's contacts with russia. multiple official sources now telling cnn that high-level trump aides were in con strength communication with suspected russian intelligence operatives during the campaign. we're joined by congressman adam schiff. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> what do you know about these conversations between donald trump's aides during the campaign and high-level russian operatives. >> this will be a key investigation into this. there is a lot to look at. we'll look at the what the fbi
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response was, how they used paid media and trolls. and also the issue of collusion. were there contacts between trump campaign officials. and i can't confirm or deny those reports. but i can tell you this is something very much of interest and has to be investigated. and i think that's really one of the most serious allegations to surface since the election. >> do you believe that now president trump, then candidate, knew about these conversations? >> here is the thing. and i was saying this at the time of the campaign. now president trump, then-candidate trump, called openly for the russians to hack hillary clinton's campaign. he did thisso vertically. the question is was he doing this covertly. >> do you believe he actually directed his national security
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adviser to fire michael flynn to tell the russians that a trump administration would roll back the sanctions imposed by then-president obama including the expulsion of bladiplomats, et cetera. >> i don't know is the answer. but it certainly wouldn't surprise me. it is consistent with the president's view of things and view of russia, his desire to do away with any impediment to our relationship. but if you take him at his words today that he thinks mike flynn is a wonderful man and that he's been mistreated that also suggests that he was acting inappropriately, acting at least if not at the direct wishes of the president certainly aligned with the -- what the president wanted to see happen. so it wouldn't surprise me if he and other people in the administration had flynn to do
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this. it would be an exception for flynn to act as a rogue agent and making these implicit decisions. and the russians seem to have acted on flynn's suggestions, they didn't respond, didn't retaliate, very out of character for russia, and that begs the question was this based on a direct policy from the white house. >> are there transcripts and recordings or what you know that you can share with us of these conversations that the trump administration had with russian officials during the campaign. >> we're going to ask for these. and we're going to have to get the cooperation of the fbi if we're going to get to the bottom of this. members of the eight get counterintelligence. and this is a very important counterintelligence investigation that involves a u.s. person. i fully expect that if there are transcripts congress will get
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them. >> when we say there were constant communications during the trump campaign between the officials do you have a sense of how often they were communicated? what does that mean constant. >> i can't speak to anything in the investigation at this point. only respond to the public allegations. if there were high-level contacts between trump surrogates at a time where russia is hacking and dumping documents where trump is calling for russia to hack hillary clinton's e-mail server and will be rewarded if they do, it would be surprising if you had top level surrogates in conversation with russians if they weren't asking this. after all, the candidate was asking for this. >> the transcript that's caused this uproar, have you had access to that because you're a member of what they call that gang of
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eight. >> i have not. i fully expect that the gang of eight will have full access to this. we should in order to do our jobs. i would like that shared with the intelligence community and ultimately with the american people. this administration misled the american people about those private conversations. the vice-president of the united states went out unknowingly i think and misled the american people and i think the people have a right to see exactly what the truth is. >> the whole notion, we spoke earlier in the week, you raised the possibility that in addition to the actual phone conversations that flynn had with the russian ambassador there may have been encrypted communications. >> i don't know if the word encrypted communications. if there were, we can relay that sean spicer said, in fact, in addition to the phone calls, general flynn also texted the russian ambassador. we ought to look at all those
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communications, whether they're encrypted or not. if there were encrypted communications, again i don't know that there were, that would tell us about his consciousness of wrongdoing. the question is who was he trying to conceal it with if those platforms were used. >> looking back before the election on november 8th, should the fbi have disclosed to the american public that there were these contacts going on? >> i think the fbi should have disclosed, the administration should have disease closed the russian -- disclosed the russian hacking -- senator feinstein -- >> they did. >> it may have been the 7th. >> yeah. >> they did make that disclosure. whether she should have gone beyond that disclose more, they probably wanted to make sure they were on firm ground with whatever they shared with the
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american people. every line of that was carefully parse dollars to make sure it was backed up. >> should comey have told the american people what was going on in these communications between trump officials and russian intelligence operatives. >> i think director comey should have joined that statement of attribution, after all the fbi is one of the key agencies that makes attribution. it was notable that he left his name off that. i don't think we've ever had a satisfactory answer about why he did so particularly when he was so willing to speak with the clinton administration. >> one final question, the tweet that he did this morning @real donald trump. >> information is being illegally given to the failing "new york times" and "the washington post," nsa and fbi question mark just like russia. >> when you say that what was your reaction? >> well, you know, it -- my reaction is he's picking another fight with the intelligence
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community. he doesn't have the lack of confidence in the commander in chief at this point. so this is undoing any effort he made as ill fated it was as he visited the cia. but he would compare with russia, this country he has such adoration for, is an odd comparison to make. a lot to unravel if that single tweet but it probably says more about this president. >> better than comparing to the nazi germany. >> it's all relative. >> adam schiff, thank you for joining us. more on that coming up. a new setback for the president. his labor secretary drops out. what could it mean for other cabinet picks still fighting to win confirmation? retirement savings.an help guidr so wherever your retirement journey takes you, we can help you reach your goals. call us or your advisor t. rowe price. invest with confidence.
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[ cat screech ] [ laughter ] ♪ [ screaming ] [ laughter ] make everyday awesome with the power of xfinity x1... hi grandma! and the fastest internet. [ girl screaming ] [ laughter ] overt. tonight cnn has learned that michael flynn's access to classified information has been suspended pending a review of his contacts with russia. this after his ouster as the national security adviser to the president. president trump now publicly praising the man he fired, blaming leaks by the intelligence community and the media for his downfall. political team is here. david chalian, what is it because the other day sean spicer said he was fired because of the president lost trust and confidence.
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today the president said he blames the news media, intelligence community for doing this to the wonderful man. >> i think we got real insight into the president's thinking today than yesterday from sean spicer who clearly was trying to clear up a problem for the administration, saying that he lost the trust, resignation asked for and accepted. today we learned this really wasn't a problem for donald trump. he didn't think the flynn thing was a problem. he thought the reporting of it, the exposure to the public became a political party but he didn't think what he did by lying to the vice-president was a problem. >> david swerdlick, he tweeted the fake news media is -- msnbc are h and cnn are unwatchable. intelligence like candy.
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very un-american. does he have a coherent strategy right now with dealing with this very, very sensitive issue. >> the through line for trump is that always as he says counterpunches. i'm glad to be associated with two news organizations cnn and the "washington post" that the president calls unwatchable. to me that signals we're doing our job. in terms of him saying the leaks are illegal and a problem, i think that will be determined whether that was a violation of the espionage act. but you can imagine other administrations pushing back on leakers. they don't like leaks. >> statements coming out of the white house, prosecute the president seem to suggest he doesn't have a consistent story, at least not yet. >> right, criticizing the media for donald trump is like muscle memory at this point for him. he just does it sort of
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reflexively no matter what the situation. it seems the administration is starting to push this idea of leaks being a problem. actually the intelligence community actively working to undermine this administering. sean spicer mentioned this in his briefing in addition to the president's tweeting on this. we're hearing republicans on capitol hill talking about this issue which could mean this has some legs. senator chuck grassley mentioned this. he said it was very concerning and found it scary that the u.s. intelligence community is trying to undermine the president and the government. this is something we're going to be hearing about from the white house republicans. >> it's a scary moment. there is a russian spy ship 30 miles off the coast of connecticut right now. the russians fired a banned ballistic missile in violation of a longstanding arms treaty
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with the united states. the assumption is they're testing this new american president. >> well, there is no doubt about that. you heard this new american president speak about the russian relationship. he's declared through the campaign and the transition and now he wanted to take a different approach. he wanted to approach putin with open arms and he's not sure it will work, he says. but it may. he wanted to try something very different. yes, russia is testing us and i think donald trump is trying to figure out how he can alter u.s./russia relations to his benefit. >> it's worth noting they were testing the obama administration in the waning days of the obama administration. buzzing jets, all sorts of provocative acts against the obama administration. and obama didn't take action. >> at the news conference with the israeli prime minister
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benjamin netanyahu, the president of the united states was asked to talk about the recent rise in anti-semitism especially during the course of the campaign, a very significant issue. listen to how the president responded to that question about increased anti-semitism in the united states. >> since the election campaign and even after your victory, we've seen a sharp rise in anti-semitic incident across the united states. and i wonder what do you say to those among the jewish community in the states and israel and around the world who feel your administration is play with xenophobia and racist tones. >> we're just honored by the victory we had. 306 electoral college votes. we were not supposed to crack 220. you know that right? there was no way to 221. then they said there is no way
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to 270. there is tremendous enthusiasm out there. i will say we are going to have peace in this country. we are going to stop crime in this country. we are going to do everything within our power to stop long similarering racism and every other thing that's going on, a lost bad things have been taking place for a long time. one of the reasons i won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. very divided. and hopefully i'll be able to do something about that. >> this should have been a pretty easy question for the president to answer about anti-semitism. but you saw that whole statement about what happened in the election. he's getting a lot of heat for that. >> yeah, as well he should. the most charitable way to look at it maybe he was filibustering until a more important answer came on later on after the clip
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that you played, wolf, he mentioned that his daughter and son-in-law are jewish. still not a great response to a question about anti-semitism in society. he was fishing his way to an answer. president trump is comfortable on certain types of questions on certain types of issues. there is other types of issues that he has not found the right language, the right note of issues of identity and ethnicity. he struggles with these questions. >> listen to the end of the clip. he thought that division is part of why he won the election. he says he wants to do something about it. he talked about it on election night, he wanted to be the president for everyone and heal some of those divisions. but if you think the division in the country is one of the things that got you elected to the office, what is the motivation
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to heal those divisions if you see that as part of your electoral success. >> the prime minister of israel benjamin netanyahu later came to the president's strong defense and insisting he was not an enemy or opponent of the jewish people or israel. a key trump cabinet pick withdraws. so what sacked his nomination? ♪ why do so many businesses rely on the u.s. postal service? because when they ship with us, their business becomes our business. ♪ that's why we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. ♪ here, there, everywhere. united states postal service priority : you
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i was thinking around 70. to and before that?re? you mean after that? no, i'm talking before that. do you have things you want to do before you retire? i'd really like to run with the bulls.
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there's more developing news this hour. president trump's nominee for labor secretary has withdrawn. our senior congressional reporter, manu raju, is up on capitol hill for us. manu, the fast food ceo andrew puzder lost critical republican support. update us. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. earlier today and last the night, top republicans urged the white house to withdraw the puzder nomination because of this dwindling support among republicans. four firm republican nos, i am noe told, were likely to come out against andrew puzder. in addition, there were concerns he could lose up to a dozen more republicans if this nomination were to move forward. now, the reasons, there were a number of reasons his liabilities continued to pile up, from his views on immigration that were a little bit too moderate for some of the conservatives, but also some liabilities in the past. his failure to pay taxes on that -- on an undocumented immigrant that he hired as a
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household employee. as well as allegations of domestic abuse from a divorce some three decades ago. now, those allegations started to get some light here in the senate, when senators reviewed a tape of his ex-wife who appeared on "the oprah winfrey show" three decades ago in disguise, to discuss those domestic abuse allegations. we have that tape. here's what she said. >> the thing was leaving, because once i made that break and made it public, and remember, my ex-husband was a public figure. everyone knew him and knew what he was doing. and once i made that public, he vowed revenge. he said, i will see you in court. this will never be over. you will pay for this. >> now, it's important to note, wolf, that lisa fierstein, his ex-wife, has withdrawn those domestic abuse allegations decades ago. and she actually sent a letter to the senators saying she regretted appearing on "the oprah winfrey show," saying she
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wouldn't have done that if she were to do it again today. she said she only did it for a, quote, free trip to chicago. those efforts at trying to quell the criticism, but there were a lot of things piling up that made republicans at the end of the day that it was too much to support the nominee. wolf? >> manu raju up on the hill, thanks very much. coming up, a cnn exclusive. inside north korea. new details on the timing of a missile launch that's testing president trump. you do all this research on a perfect car, then smash it into a tree. your insurance company raises your rates. maybe you should've done more research on them. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. and if you do have an accident, our claims centers are available to assist you 24/7. call
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right now, north korea is celebrating its newest ballistic missile test calling it a gift to the country's late leader, kim jong-il. we're learning more about the
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timing of the launch and we have an scloou report from will ripley, the only western broadcast journalist reporting from inside north korea. we should note that will is traveling with north korean minders and must be careful about what he reports. >> reporter: north korea has no religious holidays, but make no mistake, this is a time of worship. on the 75th birthday week of late-year kim jong-il, tens of thousands flocked to one of pyongyang's most sacred sites. they come to honor two men whose legacies tour over every aspect of life in this highly militaryized nation. the men who led north korea into the nuclear age. a government source tells cnn, it's no coincidence that north korean leader kim jong-un chose this week to test the latest
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weapon in his growing arsenal. a ballistic missile and newly developed mobile launcher. north korea says it's capable of a nuclear surprise attack on key u.s. allies and military installations. and it seems to play well with the people. we're very proud of our military achievements, says this retiree. now we have nothing to be afraid of in the world. these men have lived under three decades of kim family leadership. all their lives, their government has warned them, they're under the constant threat of invasion by what they call the hostile united states. they've seen north korea's arsenal grow, along with its alienation from the outside world. do you worry that these tests are isolating your country and leading to more economic hardship? we've always lived under sanctions, he says. we were under sanctions yesterday and today. we're not worried.
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the north korean weapons program began under kim jong-un and kim jong-il. in the last year alone, he has ordered two nuclear tests and launched over 20 missiles and is promising more to come. everyone we meet on the streets of pyongyang offers only praise for their leader's military-first policies. as long as we have our great marshal, kim jong-un, and we believe in him, we're not afraid of anything, says this city employee. we're allowed to approach anyone we want, all give the same answer. in this closed society, nearly all information comes from state-controlled media. >> this is the reason why you would sacrifice. this is why you don't have the high test quality of food. you have to work extra hours. >> reporter: joseph bermudez, senior analyst with 38 north, says missile launches and nuclear tests allow the young leader to project power and
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ensure survival. >> north korea is in this for the long term. >> reporter: he says kim's ultimate goal, to make it simply too dangerous for any foreign country to threaten his nation's existence. will ripley, cnn, pyongyang, north korea. >> will, thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. outfront next, breaking news. vice president pence demanding answers and names. who decided to keep him out of the loop on general michael flynn? and more breaking news at this hour. an undocumented immigrant, mother of four, holed up in a denver church tonight. i.c.e. agents want her deported right now. we are live outside that church. and trump and rubio after their nasty campaign battles, dining together at this minute at the white house with their wives. let's go outfront.

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