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tv   New Day  CNN  March 2, 2017 3:00am-4:01am PST

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washington correspondent joe johns at the white house. >> reporter: good morning, chris. one of the president's early supporters from the campaign trail who later became attorney general. the chief law enforcement officer in the federal government and apparently with a credibility problem jeff sessions was sworn in three weeks ago today and now the latest administration official answers questions about contact with russia. >> the justice department revealing attorney general jeff sessions met with russian ambassador twice during president trump's campaign in 2016. contacts sessions did not disclose under oath at his senate confirmation hearing. >> i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign an i did not have communications with the russians. i would say to you that have i no information about this
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matter. >> releasing a new statement saying quote i never met with any russian officials to discuss issue with the campaign. i have no idea what this allegation is about. it's false. but the justice department revealing that sessions met with them last july on the side lines of the republican national convention. >> make america great again. four months after sessions was named chairman of the trump campaign's national security advisory committee. sessions met again with him last september in a senate office. the white house blasting allegations by leading democrats that he mislead congress as partisan politics in a statement saying quote sessions met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the senate armed services committee which is entirely consistent with his testimony. sessions spokeswoman says quote there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. the denials from sessions and the white house are in direct conflict with what the justice department says happened. senior government sources tell
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cnn that the ambassador is considered by u.s. intelligence to be one of russia's top spies in washington. last december u.s. intelligence intercepted conversations between him and michael flynn. flynn was later fired for misleading him and discussing sanctions with russia. obama administration officials scrambled to preserve any information about possible contact between president trump's campaign aids and russia before mr. trump took office. the officials quickly spreading information about russia's efforts to leave a clear trail of intelligence. >> i have nothing to do with russia. >> the white house repeatedly denied any such contact. >> what point, how many people have to say that there's nothing before there you realize there's nothing there. >> so what is russia saying about all of this? it's foreign ministry
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spokeswoman posted something on her facebook page referring to cnn. russian ambassador to the u.s. considered by u.s. intelligence to be top russian spy and recruiters. she writes do you think this is the media bottom or do they have to fall further? the administration was hoping to get on policy today with a trip out to the tidewater area of virginia but apparently the white house is back into drama mode. back to you. >> joe, thank you for all of that. so top democrats calling for attorney general jeff sessions to re-sign for failing to disclose the meetings with the russian diplomat and some republicans assisting the attorney general should rekuz himself. live from capitol hill with more. what have you learned? >> good morning. well, swift reaction coming up here on capitol hill. several lawmakers calling for sessions to rekuz himself saying there needs to be a special prosecutor appointed.
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and others saying that doesn't go far enough. many democratic lawmakers are now calling for sessions to re-sign including nancy pelosi that said quote sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must re-sign. there must be an independent bipartisan outside commission to investigate the trump political, personal and financial connections to the russians and so far sessions is getting little support from his republican colleagues up here. here's senator lindsey graham. >> if there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation it is clear to me that jeff sessions who is my dear friend cannot make this decision about trump so there maybe nothing there but if there's something there that the fbi believes is criminal in nature then for sure you need a special prosecutor. all this comes as a house
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intelligence committee already moving forward on their own investigation here. according to the committee will focus on the contacts between russian officials and campaign the leaks here and the u.s. governments response to russian cyber activity. so this just adds another layer to an almost very complex investigation. >> let's get some deeper reporting and let's bring in our panel, cnn political panel list and author of how is your faith. and senior congressional correspondent. you have to add one more to the list now. jeff sessions and how interesting that the russian push back from their official sounds just like the white house push back about how low can the media go. what do you make of this? >> that's noise at this point. this is an issue for the senate
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and for the integrity of the senate. on level you have a former senator and now the attorney general that had contact with the russian ambassador. how do you know remember something like that. that's number one. but then on the other side of it, what is actually the content of neatings. is there something criminal in nature. certainly someone on the arms services committee he would have had a reason to have such a meeting but he's also an early supporter of trump. he's in line to become a senior administration official. part of the cabinet. clearly that would have been known and he certainly didn't appear to be forth coming with his senate colleagues. so that's where the action is going to be. it's a bigger deal on the hill where there's going to be a lot more reason to push for either a select committee investigating the russian contacts and or a
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special prosecutor. >> just so everyone knows what we're talking about let's replay the moment that senator al franken asks jeff sessions whether or not he knows of any contact between the trump campaign and russian officials. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government during the course of this campaign, what would you do. >> i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i didn't have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. >> so what he now says is that he did meet with the russian ambassador but in his capacity as a senator on the armed services committee and they did not discuss the campaign. >> well, you know, that wasn't
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really the question. that's the problem. the problem is that you have to be responsive to the question that you're asked when you're under oath in front of a senate hearing and he clearly didn't answer that question truthfully. the question is why. it's not just that verbal interaction we just saw but there was also a written inquiry from another senator that he also responded no to. that is the source of the issue here perjury is a serious, serious problem. beyond that i think the white house has tried to prejudge the outcome of several investigations that are on going both in the senate and in the house and in the intelligence community at the fbi. i think it's very -- it's going to be hard to continue to do that and there's so much evidence that all of these issues, jeff sessions himself is now part of the inquiry happening at all levels of
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government now. >> to keep it straight there's two different instances of when jeff sessions may have met with this russian ambassador. there's also two separate instances of when he denied it. that was the first one. the second one someone of the confirmation hearing questioners. several of the president elects nominees or senior advisers have russian ties. have you been in connection with anyone about the 2016 election either before or after election day. jeff sessions attorney general now, no. >> the key part of that will be about the election. and that's what the response is so far. the suggestion here is they ran from the police and you say i did nothing wrong and they say why did you run.
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>> let's back up here and it's not simply going to be a diplomat. the issue for sessions is that he didn't disclose and we're dealing with government matters sensitive as this because of russia's meddling in our election which may or may not have had an impact. not disclosing makes it look as though something happened and finally we get back to the root of the poisonous fruit here which is that donald trump the president of the united states has always been friendly and apologetic and vladimir putin absorbed him and excuse him for
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it and that's always rubbed people the wrong way on capitol hill. it made republicans very curious and made it look as though he is trying to work with russia and that's why people continue to look into this sort of thing and why it has credibility as news to report. so david gregory since it's the attorney general that asks for a special prosecutor of an outside commission to investigate this but the attorney general is obviously the one with a dubious connection. what is going to happen with calls for a special prosecutor. >> you have to look at pressure particularly from republicans. and how much pressure is put on this to make it a select committee and a special prosecutor of the white house. and elements within the justice department it's striking that
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the story here quotes justice department officials. that's not surprising. there are a lot of career people of the justice department who perhaps had knowledge of this and is willing to talk about it anonymously because they're uncomfortable with it but again this becomes a pressure issue. as we have been saying it's failure to disclose. if nothing else the fact that all of this is going on and you don't see -- because in that answer it's very interesting. he says look i have been called a surrogate sometimes and i haven't had any contact so he acknowledges that even he would be part of that. he should have said i had meetings but they were related to my capacity as being on the senate armed services committee. >> that's the idea. the idea that the white house wants to stand back and say this is the former administration and the entire intelligence community stacked against us here to trump all of this up. that's just not a credible claim. they're going to have to be more
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serious. just imagine, just insert president hillary clinton and her top advisers into the scenario and imagine the reaction. >> panel stick around. believe it or not there's much more news to discuss with you today. coming up on new day we'll have senator al franken. tex change he had with jeff sessions. please join us in our 8:00 hour to talk about these revelations. >> critics are pouncing on president trump for delaying the new travel ban, why? part of the reason that the president was arguing to get the ban passed was that it was needed for imminent threat. it had to be done right away. why the delays? is it just about playing politics? our ponl discusses that, next. (vo) this is not a video game. this is not a screensaver. this is the destruction of a cancer cell by the body's
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implths it's exactly what it is. >> that's to continue to delay the new and approved travel ban if it was critical to protect national security. let's talk about that with our panel. we have david gregory and david druc kerks r. so you have been hearing for a couple of weeks now the new and improved travel ban is imminent. i believe when they originally talked about it it was imminent danger. they needed it to pass immediately because bad guys could be coming in and attempting national security. the white house said they're now postponing it because they wanted to continue to talk about president trump's great address in front of congress. so how does that square. >> exactly. i think it's a major problem especially as they plan to
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defend the old travel ban and do that and even the existence of a new travel ban with legal problems raised by the previous one makes it very difficult to do that and if they do and delaying it for several days it's already been delayed for several weeks even if the state of the union speech from this week didn't delay it even further they would have had a problem defending the rational that was so urgent it needed to be done under the cover of secrecy without proper approval and also list of countries on the ban and is going to be in a tough spot legally. >> is it fair to say that the white house is delaying the travel ban because they wanted to give more attention to the address and is it true that they received reporting that there is no imminent threat that would
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require this kind of ban. >> they got it wrong and in a big way starting out and going forward with the new executive order trying to get it right and their facts straight and tried to prevent future problems with another executive order and things done properly but you know and in the face the president made for the first executive order when attacked the judiciary and opponents putting american lives in the homeland at risk because this was an imminent threat. i think it's very important that they get their messaging straight and their story straight as to the purpose for these things because that can help them sell it and it gives people confidence they know what they are doing.
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they're moving slower and it's the most important part of what's going on. there's a lot of politics in play. >> i just think we can't bang them over the head and say wow this was so chaotic and so haesy and after judicial review then say why are you sitting on this thing. >> making what sounds like a political decision and not a national security decision. >> that may be the case. i think that it's fair to scrutinize them based on now you're taking a rock out of there. it can be made right off the top. if you're an opponent of this ban you like the fact that the courts have said no. this crosses the line. this is wrong and that the white house has to go back and take a lot of time to make sure they get this right.
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if there is evidence that they're sitting on it, just to get -- to bask more in the speech and put focus on it and it undercuts the urgency of the argument. >> senior administration official of statement to cnn what they say is we want the executive order of the travel ban to have it's quote own moment so interpret that as you will. >> no i think that's fair. >> that's what i was asking is whether or not you believe that was fair to put it that way. we were saying here on this show, i think david gregory said it in the immediate aftermath after it got denied by the court that they needed to take more time. they rushed it through. they didn't get the right vetting. is there reporting out there
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that government agencies sent a report to the white house saying there is no imminent threat to the country now that would justify a ban? >> absolutely. i think that the place for deliberation was at the very beginning when they were coming up with it at this point to say the consideration here is making sure that the travel ban has its own moment is not a national security consideration. that's pretty clear and i think the courts will look at that and they will say then how do you justify a ban that is, you know, it's similar as the previous ban. pretty widespread. that is going to come under legal scrutiny. i don't think that necessarily helps their case. >> they're going to have to lean even more on the executive mandate when it comes to immigration. that's our reporting on it but they got an opportunity to delay if they want. now they have to deal with the
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sessions situation he's going to have to play the role and implicated it. had to make decisions about how to defend the travel ban in court and they had a lot in the air right now and they have to let things settle down a little bit. >> do you remember how much time they spent on whether or not hillary clinton lied to the fbi and how they brought comey out there and he had to go back on it. that was a huge fixation. this could be equally so just in terms of the political attention. i'm not saying the merits of it or the subject matter. that all remains to be seen but final word this could take time.
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>> it could take time. it could mean the travel ban has to have it's day. this is one of their guys they'll have to stand up and account for the fact that he didn't level them in the least with these disclosure documents. >> thank you very much for all the information. the acts following on those accountants that were in charge of the envelope and what's going to happen. the details next. sorry, just getting a quote on motorcycle insurance from progressive. yeah? yeah, they have safe rider discounts, and with total loss coverage, i get a new bike if mine's totaled. but how's their customer service?
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said to be released and deported back to north korea tomorrow. there's not enough evidence to charge him and they're ending his visa free travel and security reasons and the country's prime minister says the change will go into effect in four days. >> the midwest and southeast hit
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by storms for the second straight day. 26 tornados from iowa to tennessee tuesday. here's the aftermath in illinois you're looking at. three people died in these storms. on monday twisters touchdown in kentucky and virginia. no reports of death or injuries there. >> the motion picture academy issuing a lifetime ban for the two accountants in charge of the envelopes at the academy awards following that best picture envelope. he was tweeting just before giving warren beatty the wrong envelope for the best picture announcement they're now reviewing the relationship after 83 years. >> a lifetime ban from the oscars, how will they live. >> is this justice? >> yes, it is justice. tweeting can get you in trouble. let me just say. >> all right. >> just words wise. >> can they not watch it on tv. >> i think so. i don't think they can. did attorney general jeff
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sessions lie underoath when he failed to disclose meeting with a russian ambassador. two of them in fact. new york times columnist joins us next. the strength of your teeth needs to be there in order for that whiteness to last. i would definitely recommend the new pronamel strong and bright to my patients to keep their enamel strong, help to keep stains away, and polish the enamel. they're going to get whiter, brighter teeth. this is going to be a really great product for my patients. ♪ isjust wanna see ifa again? my score changed... you wanna check yours? scores don't change that much. i haven't changed. oh, really? ♪ it's girls' night they said business casual. i love summer weddings! oh no. yeah, maybe it is time. maybe i should check my credit score. try credit karma. it's free.
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new questions this morning about the trump's campaigns contacts with russia. attorney general jeff sessions met twice with russia's top diplomat. the same one that flynn did. this happened during the 2016 race while he was an adviser for donald trump's campaign. this matters because sessions denied having any contact during his senate confirmation. an author of thank you for being late. an optimists guide for thriving in the age of accelerations. thomas friedman. good to have you with us. now let's start with why this matters. do you believe this is a question for disclosure? or does it go all the way to lying? how do you see this? >> those who suggested that jeff sessions purgered himself in his testimony have a lot of evidence
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for that, chris. he was asked as you have reported this morning both in verbal interview and in written so in many opportunities to clarify that yes i did meet with him. we discussed he could have said senate armed services business. but it gets back to the core issue which is that something stinks. something stinks terribly about this russian intervention question. that the president from the beginning of this campaign has been out there speaking kindly about vladimir putin. we now have his surrogate during the campaign now attorney general denying context. his national security adviser engaged in contacts and then mislead the vice president about them. it's so obvious that these people do not want to disclose something and let's not forget that the president after promising to do so as now
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refused to disclose his tax returns which people wonder isn't because they suggest financial lengths between himself and russian investors that have dodgey connections with the kremlin and russian intelligence. >> attorney general sessions is saying that he thought they were about whether or not they met as a trump surrogate during the campaign about campaign business. why do you think aren't more republicans up in arms about this. >> i think it's one of the most shameful things i have seen in almost 30 years in washington d.c. our three leading intelligence agencies have all publicly
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concluded that russia intervened in our election. did it make donald trump president decisively? many things went into his victory but the fact that our three intelligence agencies have concluded this. the republican party. the party of patriotism. the party that made a central fact of its campaign. the fact that hillary clinton had a private server that might with any evidence have been hacked by the russians. we lost 3,000 of our brothers and sisters. at pearl harbor we lost thousands of people. these are huge events. in terms of import this was a direct assault on the things that make us unique as a nation. the fact that we rotate power legally and freely and we don
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challenge that and the fact that the russians attacked this. that for less than the price of a mid 29 vladimir putin intervened in our election and helped to elect a chaos candidate which is exactly what putin wants because he's out to destroy the west. the fact that trhe republican party is on its hands not responding to this looking the other way and looking for excuses for it is one of the most shameful national security cases i have ever seen in washington d.c. >> what do you see as the likely explanations that are going to come up here? let's dismiss what we're hearing from a russian official and the media and political playing. let's put that to the side because there's too many facts here to deal with. what is the best defense. is it that we're talking about specific discussions about elections? i thought we were talking about
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only my role as a surrogate for the election in the came pain. what is his best defense. >> you know, your question begs another one for me which is all sessions had to say is are you asking me that question. >> he included that in the response. i've had no contact so he swallowed that already and already his defenders will say yes which proves more this was done in good faith because it came out from the doj eventually anyway. he obviously didn't think this was relevant. is that enough? >> i don't think anyone is going to buy it. it get backs to what is the meaning of is and what is the meaning of surrogate. chris, i am on the staff of golf digest as a hobby, i want you to know i'm here as the golf digest
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correspondent and not as the new york times correspondent. so please talk to golf digest not to the new york times. >> the new york times, that other place you work is reporting that the obama administration tried to sound the alarm. before they handed over the reigns to the new trump administration. they sent documents and paperwork to members of congress trying to talk about these connections. what do we know? >> we reported that this morning that basically they tried to create paper trails and get information they had into the hands as much as they could in effect. to lock it away. to put it in a safe. so it could not be erased and it doesn't surprise me at all. and i think it's important to know that but it's also gives me
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some assurance that there are people in the intelligence community that know what went on here. these are people in my experience largely bipartisan and they do not like having their integrity attacked. >> you have two curious pieces of information. you have one that the white house has alerted about the russian responsibility for the hacks near tend of the election and underplay. and that time or earlier when they got the information about the hacking is there room for criticism in that? >> i think so. i've always been troubled by the fact that you remember that president obama and last press conference, i believe he said this first came up in september.
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this evidence of russian intervention and he told putin to knock it off. that's what i say to someone if i hear them using their cell phone. >> you're one of those. >> not someone that's intervening in our election and i found that really disturbing. i have to say. >> very quickly i know that you want to call out or give a shout out to lindsey graham and john mccain. they are a little bit in the wilderness of trying to beat this drum and tell people how important these possible connections are. >> i think it's so important what john mccain and lindsey graham have done. what part of their discussion last night on cnn. susan collins as well. these are real patriots and at some point you have to ask why they're also real patriots that wore the uniform.
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general kelly, general mechanic master. in part based on defending us against russian attacks against our democratic system. there's real issues here and i really want to stress. there's a big difference between formal authority and moral authority. i get used to it but he every day has been diminishing his moral authority. moral authority is very hard to get. i think this administration is going to wake up one day and they need to look the american people in the eye and say trust me on this. i have formal authority and people say you may have formal authority but when you played around with the truth so many times like this you have no moral authority and in a crisis
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that's going to be a huge crisis for our leadership. >> great to talk to you. thanks so much. >> pleasure. >> well, president trump considering a plan to give the pentagon more authority to approve counter terrorism raids. we're going to dig deeper on what that means ahead on new day. two become one. then you're a couple. think of all you'll share... like snoring. does your bed do that? the dual adjustability of a sleep number
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buzzer beater over michigan
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may turn out to be one of the biggest wins in school history but andy can tell us more in the bleacher report. >> northwestern fan versus been waiting a lifetime for last night. i say that because northwestern is the only big conference school that has never made it to the ncaa tournament. the wild cats always at home watching the big dance just like the rest of us but not this year. tide at 65 under two seconds left they inbound the ball the length of the court and the buzzer beater. wild cats go absolutely nuts. fans rush the court as well. the win over michigan almost certainly secured northwestern a spot in the ncaa tournament. in the nba bill belichick sitting courtside. the celtics cavs game check this out. lebron nearly barrels over the patriots coach and lebron said after the game he definitely showed up because he knew it was belichick sitting there and he wasn't going to take out a legend. this game did come down to the
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final seconds. a chance to win it for cleveland but his three no good. celtics beat the cavs 103-99. know wrg belichick is sitting and refusing to run him over. >> not easy to stop 260 pounds of steel and bad intentions coming his way. he's a good player though. thank you. so president trump considering taking a hands off approach to antiterror raids should he give more authority to generals to green light raids overseas. this is a big departure from how president obama did it. what is required of a commander and chief? we have the reporter that broke it, next. best-selling brand?ica's you're not going to make it. do you think you can make it? uhh... make it... every time. nice!
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military commanders are discussing speeding up the authorization process of counter terrorist emissions by allowing them to approve some of the raids rather than the white house. the president would be briefed
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but not have to personally approve each military action. is that a good move? let's discuss with global affairs analyst and senior security correspondent to the daily beast. she broke this story. great to have both of you. how will this work? >> what this means is rewriting part of the obama drone strike and play book. it would push more of the authority down to people in charge of places like yemen or somalia. places without combat operations like iraq or afghanistan and let them decide. if they spot someone on what is called the high value target list someone that the white house has already put on list and said this is part of isis. this person is part of al qaeda that they can figure out how to do the raid, how to do the strike and inform the white
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house rather than waiting for the oval office permission to come through. >> very valuable reporting. obviously there's going to be a concern about the role of commander and chief as the final word and how does that play into this. what is the range of requirement of approval that we see right now. are there some missions that get done at the field level or the general level without going all the way to the white house? >> yeah, well, kimberly just nailed it. i feel like i'm window dressing in this interview or discussion because kimberly is all over it. the way it works right now as kimberly described is within a declared theater of war, iraq, afghanistan, associated with that and it's prescribed. you draw lines right here. this is a theater of war. and make decisions on this very
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precised high target hit. and much like what we saw in yemen very specifically. we have a very high interest. we want to know what's going on because those actions will ultimately effect actions elsewhere. so what we want to be able to do is push that authority down so that the president is certainly going to be involved in the information certainly will be notified. will be informed but what you don't have is this very difficult process while you might be visiting some international body. he may be 12 time zones away. we have to find him. we have to give him the information. you keep the president informed and his team informed and the four star commander execute that
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task based on good target analysis, good intelligence, lots of rehearsals. this is not fly by night operations we're going to be cavalier about it. this will be very precise. >> this is good news for those that don't want to have to take the time to run everything up the flag pole if time is of the essence but it's hard not to see this now in the context of the yemen raid which obviously the white house says was a great success in terms of intel gathering. other people questioned whether in fact it was a great success and you heard the president say after that well this was the generals. the generals did this and there was a sense in some corners of passing of the buck. >> literally the president was quoted of saying they lost the chief talking about the generals and that's the concern. >> right. so would this change make it more right for the passing of
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the buck. >> he is still wearing his ceo hat. i delegated it to this team. they take responsibility. whether than making the switch to i'm the commander and chief i take responsibility for whatever happened with the raid. military commanders listening to some of the comments have been a little ill at ease about it but that doesn't mean they'll say no to this authority. jim mattis would be making these calls and they have been pushing for this added authority or predelegation of approval because it steps up operation against isis and helps them defeat the network fast tore get that kind of number of raids and pace going that help them drive al qaeda underground in iraq and afghanistan.
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>> it also changes the chain of accountability. the american people don't elect the generals. they elect the commander and chief. >> thank you for sharing it with us. thanks for the context as always. thanks to our international viewers for watching. new day continues right now. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news. jeff sessions is under fire. we fail to disclose two separate meetings with russia's ambassador. the same ambassador that mike flynn was meeting with. you know who he is and what happened to him. he was still a senator sessions when advising the trump campaign and had these meetings. >> these new revelations contradict answers that jeff sessions gave to senators during his confirmation process. they're calling on the attorney general to re-sign


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