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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  February 24, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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it is a distraction that president trump does not need right now. this is "cnn tonight," that word from a source close to the president, telling cnn there is frustration within the white house about chief of staff reince priebus asking the fbi to speak out against reports of contacts between the trump campaign and russians. still the administration is pushing back hard on cnn's exclusive reporting, denying any
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wrongdoing in those conversations. begin with white house correspondent sara murray. >> the white house downplaying cnn reporting saying that chief of staff reince priebus did nothing wrong but told by a source close to the president there is some consternation, heartburn about the conversations between reince priebus and fbi, the source says not the distraction the president needs. really hoping to focus on top line agenda items and getting frustrated with the negative coverage he's getting around the staff story particularly, and this was another blow around that front. clear at white house in peculiar incident that the white house didn't want to discuss this with cnn any further. press secretary sean spicer holding offcamera gaggle. at times doing this, may just invite a pool in or small group
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but bizarre. cherry picked news outlets in. more conservative leaning and favorable to the president allowed in but i was blocked trying to atend for cnn and number of other major news outlets including "new york times" and politico, sources that president has been vocally criticized also blocked. asked why they decided to hand select which news outlets to let in or block. they didn't respond today. >> thank you sara. bring in maeve reston. ask about the "new york times" reporting. reporting that national security adviser h.r. mcmaster breaking with president, not calling terrorists radical islamists and
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signaling more moderate approach to the islamic world. what's your reaction? >> seen top adviser after top adviser breaking with donald trump. it's hugely significant because donald trump was so intent on using that phrase on the campaign trail last year. radical islamic terrorism and make a big deal in front of the crowds as big crowd pleasing moment. interesting break there. >> talk about something else. get back to what happened today. do you think president trump is attacking the media as distraction from the cnn reporting, incredible reporting we've been doing? >> i think it's certainly -- that may be one of his motivations. but i think steve bannon and donald trump have made it very clear that their strategy in the first 100 days is have a hostile relationship with the media. i believe bannon said at cpac
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things would only get worse. what happened with sara murray at white house and other news organizations is really unfortunate. but that's the game the white house wants to play. they think it's going to work in their favor in terms of helping to gin up the base and making the media the enemy. >> maeve, the former vice president dick cheney just introduced current vice president mike pence at republican jewish coalition of -- in las vegas now. what is this event? >> this is a powerful gathering that cheney and pence just addressed and pence is speaking now. republican jewish coalition, a hugely powerful donor network for the republicans. mike pence is there tonight to offer his thanks from both him and donald trump for standing with them throughout the campaign last year and being really powerful donors.
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he gave a special tribute also to shell vin adelson, one of the most powerful donors in the republican party, giving over 80 million to conservative causes last year. also made a tribute to dick cheney. rare appearance to see the former vice president out there and pence often talked about him as role model and tonight cheney was joking he had never met a vice president who was happy and he was so glad to see pence filling those shoes and that role. lot of affection between the two on stage tonight. >> i appreciate that maeve. bring in alan dershowitz, matt lewis -- good to have you all on. matt ask you about the "new york
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times" reporting. h.r. mcmaster breaking with president, not calling terrorists, radical islamists and signaling what might be more moderate approach to the islamic world. do you think so? >> i will be very interested to see how this plays out. does he walk the talk? is this reporting solid? because this is surprising. i mean i think that calling it radical islamism is the moderate position. don't want to accuse all muslims of being involved in something bad. but calling it radical, that qualifier, and islamism, i think is the accurate and even dare say politically correct term. but i have great respect for general mcmaster and the work he
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did in the counterinsurgency. if anybody has the credibility to say this is the wrong terminology, he would be one of the people. >> alan, i know you want to respond. i bring up a good point, this is "new york times" reporting, not cnn's, go on alan. >> first of all i think trump is right to call it radical islamic terrorism. when i reported jewish defense league in 1970s, everybody called it extremist jewish terrorism. done in the false name of judaism and this is done in the false name of islam. think it's good thing to have national security adviser, expert in this, use a more moderate term. no reason why there shouldn't be disagreement in the executive branch. president can continue to use his term which i support and national security adviser uses his term to maintain good
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relations with the arab allies. saudis, emirates, egyptians. as long as nobody uses term islamic terrorism without the preface of radical or extremist. >> i think it plays into the hands of exactly what the extremists want. want us to label them as radical islamic terrorists to am up their base, collect more money, organize the grassroots. they go on the internet and use this as ammunition to grow their base of support. that's what mcmaster knows. what i'm curious about, with all due respect mr. dershowitz, in a normal presidency, of course have differences of opinion. but this is not normal presidency. third day the new nsa adviser counters a main talking point out of the president's administration, i'm curious to see what the president will do. is he going to fire another
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national security adviser? just make him look weak. >> not if he's smart. >> exactly. >> i think say i welcome the disagreement s and will work out fine. in terms of encouraging isis, they don't need encouragement. i don't think calling something its true name -- shouldn't be making policy. >> and let's see what the actual truth is before coming to conclusion about exactly what this is. alan turn to anti-semitism and talk about that topic. last night some things you wanted to discuss. wanted more time than in a three minute segment or 30 seconds left because think it's important. vice president pence speaking at republican jewish coalition
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event in las vegas, we've talked about last few weeks were not great particularly after told a jewish reporter to sit down at his press conference last week. you say you think president trump and steve bannon are anti-semitic -- >> no. >> or they're not. >> i've said over and over again. >> do you think this is olive branch know -- with the correction there. think not anti-semitic. but going to jewish cemetery an olive branch? >> think it's right thing to do. i think the administration has not been tough enough on anti-semitism. i think they've allowed things to happen. bannon has allowed jews to be left out of of the holocaust commemoration because he doesn't want to alienate people on the alt-right. he's not anti-semite but strategist and opportunist and
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finds political support where he can get it. i think administration owed anti-semitism a more respectful approach. glad sending pence out. i wish the president would say i don't want support from anyone who is anti-semitic. go elsewhere. but short of that, what pence is saying in las vegas is good thing. speaking up in the cemetery was wonderful. can i also make my point about the democrats. >> i will get other folks' reaction and then talk about that. republican jewish coalition and vice president, slip of the tongue. alan said they're not anti-semitic, my mistake. what do you think? >> there's a careful balance. be irresponsible not to recognize there is a base of
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anti-semitic voters that do support donald trump, and they need that base right now, angry and engage and criticizing the media for not doing its job. that's their shtick. but -- they have to appease republican base. some anti-semitic, not all but some, and donors that are pro-israel voters. >> you say denounced anti-semitism and should be enough. what about the rise of it across the opportunity? >> i agree with everything said so far. i do think it's concerning that we've seen these incidents and that's problematic. my point though is, a couple days ago president trump was very clear in denouncing
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anti-semitism. then i saw, you know, another 24 hours of the press saying was he passionate enough? did he denounce it strong enough? >> i don't think that was it matt. i think you're being hyperbolic. i think saying why didn't he -- what took him so long to do it. if you ask someone a question about anti-semitism, racism, about xenophobia, misogyny, anything, all you have to do -- it's easy answer. we have no place in our culture, in our society for it. and it will not be tolerated. boom. end of story. >> i think this plays into what a lot of people don't like about the press and the sense that they're brow did tbeating him. he was very clear. gave a responsible and appropriate comment >> i think the press did say that. >> and there was a lot of follow-up commentary in the press. he should have said it stronger.
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>> he should have. >> and i think that's part of what people don't like -- >> imagine if he said -- if as strong as words against the press were to counter these statements. >> right. >> or against the cast of "hamilton" not able to generate as much against anti-semitism in the block. >> alan get to what you wanted to talk about. didn't want to give you short shrift. keith ellison, you don't support keith ellison, you think -- i don't know if you think he's anti-semitic but some of the views or things he's said are. >> he's made anti-semitic statements in the past, associated with virulent anti-semites and after working closely with farrakan who called
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judaism a gutter religion and after this, ellison gets up and says i didn't know he was anti-semite until i decided to run for office in a neighborhood with a lot of jewish voters. opportunistic and calculated and then votes against the iron dome. how do you do that? it's methodology of protecting civilians from terrorist rocket attacks. why are the democrats thinking of picking somebody who extreme? going to turn them into the labor party in england. last time tried to moderate leftist people, mcgovern and dukakis. >> how could they be -- than they are right now. >> they won the popular vote in the election. >> and that's how we win elections? >> no.
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>> but reality is democrats have lost over 1,000 seats in eight years, raised more money than ever. the fight right now in the dnc is not about anti-semitic comments. to be fair you have chuck schumer, randy wein garden, this is the man who supported only jewish candidate for president and supported huns of millions of dollars to israel. list goes on and on. >> it stops right now. >> and smear campaign. dnc sending me messages they've been getting about keith ellison's voting record that is false. i checked it and it's false. fighting how to win back seats. not about a policy decision or smear tactic but the money going to major contracts at national level. hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to national contracts for eight major firms.
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many of which are dnc members. you're an attorney, you are a professor of law. it is a conflict of interest for voting members of the dnc, executive members, to be taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the dnc and not going to the states. >> let them vote for a candidate who will undo this but not someone with anti-semitic and antiisrael background. >> we have to take a break. be right back. ♪ announcer: get on your feet for the nastiest bull in the state of texas. ♪ ♪ (crowd cheers) ♪
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back now with the panel and fascinating discussion. alan, talking about keith ellison, running to be the dnc chair. how is opposing government of israel's policy anti-semitic? isn't that what we do in this country? >> it's not. i do that myself. favoring two state is good, voting against the iron dome is unacceptable. supporting u.n. resolution that says israel has no control over the western wall and access road to hebrew university. but go back to the time with farrakan or spoke to someone and said i don't respect you because you're woman and jew and shouldn't be in law school. i'm quoting his own words. when he said jews have too much power over american foreign policy.
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so many good candidates for chairman of the dnc, why pick someone who is going to make me quit the democratic party, stop contributions from -- and alienate so many of the base of the democratic party. ruin it and turn into corbin's labor party and push it so far to the left. >> the hate to break the news but the democratic party is hemorrhaging membership. base of the party has been lost for over a decade. the question here, democrats that are voting members have nowhere to go. new generation, where are they going? literally no leadership at state levels. lowest point since 1920 and we're having a conversation about quotes from a college newspaper and association that keith ellison had with someone and is guilty by association. you made an accusation of him and he didn't respond, i didn't
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know you had to respond to every accusation out there. >> good serious ones. >> but bring up interesting point. >> can't compromise with anti-semitism. >> mentioned heim sab at, that's indicative of the problem. dnc has been beholden to few members. prem afraid of losing his money. other conversation is why do we have to donate -- for members, to fund consultants losing us elections. none of the states have money to organize, recruit, train, activate, encourage new members to join and having conversation about a sland rus attack. >> having a conversation about anti-semitism and asking why obama doesn't support keith ellison, why joe biden. >> because he worked for -- >> doesn't support. and why he doesn't satisfy all
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the criteria without introducing this element of anti-semitism. >> don't need -- >> can i ask you a question? what is more important having conflicts of interest in the democratic or responding to landerous attacks 100% of the members concerned about conflicts of interest. secretary perez propped but by five major consulting firms. >> and they're wrong. there's no reason to compromise with anti-semitism. no business to justifying it. >> no one is doing that. >> others will quit if you compromise. trivialing what he's said in the past. >> two democrats there arguing. and there are folks who have said this is why the democrats lost in november because they're so busy eating each other up.
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not to say anti-semitism isn't important. >> stop fighting and pick with uniter instead of divider. >> instead of going with candidate who on the republican side said tough things, they eat each other alive. >> sometimes parties have to have these fights and things are worth fighting for. i think professor dershowitz is right. give him credit for calling out his own side. this topic with anti-semitism. i don't think the other side of the conversation is talking about anti-semitism but look this is unfortunate reality here. we have both sides of the political spectrum, populist right and populist left infected with strains of anti-semitism. i think it would be a real shame if the democrat party -- was it
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harry truman who recognized it as that party to nominate a chairman of political with ties to farrakan? >> this is keith ellison at democratic national committee debate on cnn. listen. now we don't have it. >> ask my colleague a direct question. do you believe ellison when he said when he worked with farrakan all those years he had no idea he had any anti-semitic views. do you believe that? >> that's not for me to decide. i'm reporting on it. >> you're advocating, not reporting. >> i've interviewed all the candidates, talked to them. talk about conflicts of interest and follow the money. >> if what you said is not -- advocating for ellison and against perez and think you have
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an obligation to answer the question. down him when he said -- >> again not under inquisition. i'm asking a question. and reporting. i have interviewed all the candidates extensively. >> you haven't answered the question. >> i don't have to. i'm reporting on what i am doing. >> roll this please. >> dogged by own questions about potential anti-semitism. what do you say to critics? >> these are false allegations. that's why i have 300 rabbis and jewish community leaders who signed a letter supporting me. five of my colleagues say i don't have anything to say about this race but we know keith and he's good man and always has been. long -- i have strong support from the jooish community. these are smears and we're fighting back every day with people who know us. it is critical we speak up against anti-semitism because
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right now you have jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated. right now community centers getting bomb threats. we have to stand up for the jewish community. >> doesn't satisfy anything for you? >> no doesn't satisfy me. it's tactical. changed his views whenever he's needed to. and made statements in the past he's now renounced. but always tactically. we can do better than keith ellison. we have to bring the party together, the rust belt back. he's not going to do anything for that. if you think he's going to bring at a independents back into the party, most of them republicans that didn't like trump and stein voters, nobody will be left enough for them. we have to go back to the middle west and win the rust belt and he's the last possible person --
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>> one point about unity. only candidate in the race not received bernie sanders supporters endorsements and hillary clinton is tom perez. one thing to note. randy we randy wein gua randy wein garten, married to rabbi both endorsed and fought back against the slaernd. this is about winning elections and secretary perez has not won an election. >> depending on what happens, alan may be resigning from the democratic party. i'm serious. said it here. >> will be painful. >> come to the conservative side. >> there you go. >> becoming independent. still vote mostly for democrats but won't be a member of club that has its chairman a man with
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anti-semitic -- >> welcome to the independents alan. you can see the hypocrisy on both sides. thank you very much. have a great weekend. we'll be right back. ket i'm going to get you out of this chair. breton. you can use it online and on your phone. nope. it's been masterpassed. winning the little victories, priceless masterpass, the secure way to pay from your bank don't just buy it, masterpass it. and now we unleash it onwerful your taxes.pecies has created. hello my name is watson. yep. h&r block and ibm watson together. creating a future of more money going back into the pockets of more families.
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my radio panel here with me now. john fredericks and bill press. john you come back, glutton for punishment. we appreciate you for it. be self-indulgent and talk about ourselves. i really don't like to do but we'll do it. talking about cnn, john, "new york times," "los angeles times," politico, buzzfeed blocked from press briefing just hours after the president said this. >> as you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn't tell the truth. doesn't tell the truth. so just in finishing, i say, it
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doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we're going to do something about it. >> john, do you think this is what the president is talking about? what do you think he's talking about there? >> i think there are issues. what the president is saying we can't have news that is not accurate. we've got commentary and opinion masquerading as straight news within the mainstream media. that's what he's calling out. got a right to do that. as far as today at press gaggle with sean spicer not inviting certain people. i guess i missed the funeral of the person who died and left the "new york times" in charge. give me a break. press gaggle after a major speech by the president at cpac. >> so you think it's coincidence that the two news organizations
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reporting strongly on stories that have been corroborated and panned out and they've been not invited and it's coincidence? >> don look. >> come on. answer my question. >> you asked me the question. >> busted. >> may i respond? >> yeah of course. >> you invited -- he invited all the press that reports to the pool all the information. they have the audio. second invited nbc, abc, cbs, mcklatchy, my former company. >> not reporting on the russian connections or fbi. >> he invited a lot of people. didn't invite cnn, "new york times," who cares? you got all the information. this is so ridiculous. >> let bill get in. >> can i just say first of all, i'm a member of the white house
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correspondents association, go to the briefings, every day for the last eight years. we watched with just afraid of what might happen, watching during the campaign when donald trump called on certain reporters by name, banned certain outlets from coming to events been afraid since then that would happen. two things. throw the press out of the briefing room, haven't done, and two, start to cherry pick people allowed in. exactly what happened today, appalling and huge mistake. this was called as gaggle. i get the notice. gaggle in the briefing. it was true. >> that's just inaccurate. >> no you're wrong. i get notices from the white house i'll e-mail it to you after the show. gaggle called in the briefing room. at noon it was changed to gaggle
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in spicer's office as expanded pool. then as certain people walked in, huffington post, politico, l.a. times, "new york times" and cnn, just happen to be people writing about the russian connection, not proven false at all, it is correct. not allowed in. this is suppression of the media. >> that is how my colleague started his show today. >> let's not make any mistake about what is happening here, a white house that's had difficulty telling the truth and seemed to have trouble getting up to speed on competent functioning of government and president averse to any criticism and calling the press enemies of the american people, taking next step in trying to avoid checks and balances and accountability. it's not acceptable, it's petulant and in fact sean spicer seemed before to understand
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this. said the white house will not ban any media organization as the trump campaign had. quote we have a respect for the press as government. that's something you can't ban an entity from, conservative, liberal or otherwise. that's what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship. the trump white house now led by sean spicer's department and others block -- and keep reporters from sharing facts you don't like. offer rhetoric to confuse you about the issue such as this from the president today. >> we are fighting the fake news. it's fake, phony, fake. a few days ago i called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. they are the enemy of the people. because they have no sources, they just make them up when
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there are none. >> just simply not true. don't misunderstand what is going on with that rhetoric and today's action banning various media outlets including cnn and "new york times." this white house does not seem to respect the idea of accountability, or value on independent press. there is a word for that line of thinking. the word is un-american. >> by the way, coming from white house where people who are there currently now have been speaking on background, asking people to speak on background, have been sources for this network and anothers. donald trump used to reportedly call reporters as john miller for his own press, spoken on background before and been the source for many stories. so what is going on here john? is jake right? i think he might be. >> well it's interesting
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narrative by jake and good commentary and he can do whatever edit oralial he pleases. we alou that in america, we have a free press and anybody can say as columnist whatever they please. i don't agree with him. what happened today, the arrogance of some of these press people that think they have a seat at the table no matter what happens. in the press briefings with sean spicer, i'm a member of the white house correspondents crew, just like bill press is. only so many seats in there. sean spicer said look not going to have this today, invite several people to the office. invited the pool press -- everybody knows what this means. when you invite the pool press, everything said is on the record and they disseminate it to everybody else. this is nothing different. >> no, no, no. >> john -- what it if was fox
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news? would you feel the same way. >> you guys are mad. >> nobody is mad. >> who cares? >> i think just disingenuous, would you feel the same way if it was fox news? >> i don't watch fox news. i watch cnn. i could care less. they're not interesting. i watch cnn. >> if i can. >> you can have a longer chance on the other side. we'll be right back. so, i switched to tide pods. they're super concentrated, so i get a better clean. tide. number one rated. it's got to be tide like paperless, multi-car, and safe driver, 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,
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all right. bill press. go. >> just first of all. on the pool. clarify that. yeah the pool is a small group of the reporters representing print and television and radio. and they come in like the oval office when the president is just meeting with foreign leader because not everyone can get in on or air force one. not everybody can get on. this pool they left out anybody who has been critical of the president and point two. talk of fake news, nobody proven any of the stories reported by
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"new york times" or cnn will be false. >> and never point out when you ask them. i want to talk about this in los angeles, united voices rally in place of the academy award party. look at all the voices there. michael j. fox, jody foster, gavin newsome, lieutenant governor. on and on. on top of all the rallies happening around the country at republican rallies, all the maurz. what do you think of this john? >> look don, said this before, i think this is a great thing. and i think republican congressmen that refuse to hold legitimate town hall meetings in legitimate areas and open up in big venues are missing the boat on this. owe to their constituents and everybody, if i was republican in any district have five of
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them a week when i have a week off. pick the biggest venues possible and every location in the district and invite everybody to come and stand there and take the questions. this is democracy. >> it's from -- >> if people are upset, they need to be heard. >> everyday voter to some of the biggest names in hollywood. uta is some of the biggest names, donated $250,000 to american civil liberties union, international rescue committee. do you think that republicans and trump administration should be concerned about this? big guys getting together with the little guys? >> i think it's part of the democracy process don. and worst thing that republicans can do is hide from this and do a facebook live which is absolutely ridiculous. telephone meetings, say afraid about security. they can get security there. they need to be heard. >> last word.
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>> i encourage the protesters. >> this is another manifestation of the resistance. it's popping up everywhere. it's healthy, john is right, this is democracy in action. >> it is. >> this is great. notice the democratic party is not organizing this. not democrat versus republican. this is the people speak up against donald trump agenda from top to bottom. >> thank you gentlemen. >> it's manifest. >> have a great weekend. be right back. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced. our senses awake. our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say...if you love something set it free. see you around, giulia and i finally found our big idaho potato truck.
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police say one of the dea y deadlyest nerve agents. >> some of the last moments of his life as he approaches airport security to complain someone grabbed his face and he was feeling dizzy. he is escorted to the airport medical clinic and the malaysian newspaper shows him slumped over in his chair, apparently unconscious. he dies before reaching the report. in a script that reads like a thriller, they confirm that the
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half brother of north korea's dictator was killed by vx, an internationally banned nerve agent that can kill within minutes. >> if you get any of it on you, you are dead. nothing a doctor can do for you. you just die. you get a dot on you of this stuff and you die. >> south korea is pointing to the volatile north korean state and the leader himself is the prime suspect. the dramatic assassination took place in broad daylight moments after kim entered the crowded check and haul. police chaim that two women who can just be made out here wiped kim's face with some kind of liquid. can be seen walking off wearing a bizarrely eye-catching lol t-shirt. two suspects, from indonesia and from vietnam are in custody and it gets more surreal. indonesian authorities say one
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of the women told police she believed she was participating in a prank for a show, a claim malaysian officials dismissed. >> the two ladies were trained to swab his face. after that they were instructed to clean their hands and they know it is toxic. >> the hunt is on for these four north korean suspect who is left the country on the day of the attack. among them, a senior official with the north korean embassy in kuala lumpur. in a bizarre twist, someone tried to break into the mortuary where his is being kept after which they stepped up security. >> we know who they are. you don't need for me to tell you. >> why would he want his half brother dead? more concern to u.s. officials is how the dangerous dictator
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got his hands on one of the most deadly chemical weapons in the world and what else he could do with it. >> it is a nerve agent that terrified the west for a long time because it's so lethal. saddam hussein was accused of having him and he didn't. they couldn't figure out how to weaponize it. they have figured out how to weaponize it and deliver it. would he use it in the united states? there is no way for us to know. >> cnn, london. >> and late tonight, the company that runs the airport where he was killed released a statement saying no one else at the airport has gotten sick from the nerve agent. that's it for us tonight. thanks for watching. to cleanse, remove makeup and refresh. all in one! micellar cleansing water from garnier skinactive. oh jane, you're getting a ticket modern life deserves a modern way to pay.
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>> to understand the humanity is to understand the sweet, lovely wonderful foolishness of the human condition. >> the best comedy comes from your living experience. >> every comic sees it through a prism that the average doesn't see through. >> we point out the obvious and twist it. >> i can't believe the way people are. wh


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