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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  March 4, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST

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show is i'm not a tourist. i'm not there to just point at different groups and say, boy, don't they look interesting. i'm there to fully immerse myself in these xhubt communities, to do what they do and be what they are. i think that's why they opened themselves up to me. a lot of these communities are very secretive. that's the way that i was able to earn their trust. >> thanks for being with us. can't wait to see it. premiers tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. eastern time. here on cnn. be sure to watch. thanks so much. the next hour begins right now. hello and thank you for being with with me. false wrong did not happen. this is how a former u.s. official is characterizing president trump's explosive and baseless accusation today after the president tweeted this. this morning. saying quote, just found out
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that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just before the victory. nothing found. this is mckcarthyism. the president is is offering zero proof to support this allegation. we're getting new details. he just spoke with a former senior u.s. official with the obama administration, tell us more about what was said. >> well, like you said, fred, basically, the entire thing is false. this tweet, the former official is telling us did not happen. the information in the tweet, what donald trump is saying occurred at trump tower did not happen. and quote, this official as you said, said this didn't happen. it is made up. false. wrong. keep in mind, it was in october and november ait's still ongoin. there's ab investigation into russian's hacking, into the russians medicinin meddling int
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election. that investigation is still ongoing. people in the trump circle, the orbit, your names have surfaced as talk iing to russians, there have been all sorts of reports about that. and the fbi is still looking into that. they're still conducting their investigation and to think that trump, that the fbi would ask the department of justice for permission to go ahead and wiretap or to listen in on donald trump's conversations, this former official says is just not true. it's false. just not something they would want to do. it's not something they plan to do. no one had ever asked to do thithis as far as this official is krped and certain ly, no one went to judge to ask for a permission for a warrant to sort of listen in on his phone calls. >> and this source you spoke with, was there any expectation that they would hear this kind of accusation or does this just catch that source and others
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completely by surprise? >> i think it caught a lot of people by surprise this morning. these tweets. immediately when i called around and i was talking to sources, they were sort of bewildered, they were like, what, how could this be? this just does not happen. we have no information here at cnn that donald trump was ever under investigation, that he was a target of the investigation. that anything involved sort of him directly. we have report ed on that they'e been looking at people surrounding him and i think it just confuse d a lot of officias this morning. the fbi has not returned our phone calls. we've tried other officials and we haven't heard back yet, but yeah, everyone is surprised. are they surprised that trump would tweet this, would say this? probably not. but just the idea that the government would do this to donald trump in october has you know, everyone's like nonsense, basically. >> yeah and to say that via
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tweet about his predecessor without also revealing source information or anything to back it up. we're going to check back with you. now to the winter white house. athena jones is live with us from palm beach, florida. what more is is being said there? what else from florida? >> hi, fred, well, we are still waiting for word from the trump's white house communications team about what he meant. what he was referring to. was he referring to a report, is there evidence he can offer? we have stressed these are baseless accusations, that the president offered no proof this morning. you've gone through a couple. here's a couple more. he also said i bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that president obama was tapping my phones in october just prior to election. now, again, he calls it a fact. this is not a fact that's been proven and you just heard that
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vigorous denial from a former official. the president also tweeted how low has president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? this is nixon/watergate. bad or sick guy. so these are explosive also offered with now proof. we've been talking for a year or more about unprecedented so much has been about this past election, this is unprecedenteded. it is not a usual thing to have a president accuse another president on twitter of spying on him. >> and then anything more from anyone who once worked with president obama? in the white house. >> we reached out to a couple spokes people for the former president and they have not yet commented. they are of course aware of these tweet, but one former obama official, is spokesman for the national security council did take to twitter to respond.
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here's what he said. he said no president can order a tap. those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. he's talk uing directly to president trump there. he also said, dear pud edits, talking about the tuesday speech that a lot of people called presidential, he says dear p pundits who lauded his speech, is it still presidential to call your dignified predecessor a bad or sick guy? and i've got to remind you, fred, that president trump has been b blaming the former president for a slew of things. he says president obama and people on his team are responsible for the protests we're see iing at these town has across the country. the republicans are confronting. he also had been blaming the president or his team for leaks. this is not entirely new to have president trump blaming president obama for something, but these allegations
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particularly explosive and again, with no proof offered. >> then in contrast with the many contrasts with president trump talking about after his meeting, his first meeting in the white house with president obama and even though the limo ride to capitol hill before inauguration saying he was so nice and gracious, oh, what has happened in 45 days or so. let's talk about here, i'm going to bring in michael. a former federal prosecutor, cnn senior media correspondent, brian stelter, host of reliable sources. also with me, cnn presidential historian, tim neftali and tom fuentes, former assistant director to the fbi. michael, let me begin with you because you investigated allegations between presidents before. you investigateded allegations of impropriety when the george h.w bush investigation requested a search of bill clinton's
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passport files. what do you decyphipher here wh you hear and read the accusations? >> it seems more likely the president has his wires crossed and they were tapped. i think the bold allegations made on twitter don't ring true. it seems to me that if the obama administration believe that foreign agents were operating in the united states in a way that required a allowed if for a fisa, the special court -- >> foreign intelligence court. >> that there was a fisa justifiable warrant. it would be targeted against them. if the location of the communications took place in the trump tower and i think it was breitbart that reported it was related to a server in trump tower that was related to
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banking related information, that would be perfectly appropriate. but so, not, it's not that the p president is targeted. it would be foreign officials that would be targeted, but i don't believe there's any truth to the merits of the allegations made by the president on twitter. and it's a bit unseemly, frankly. >> former spokesperson ben rhodes had tweeted out saying no president can order a wiretap seeing specifically, no president can order a wiretap, those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. so, in no official capacity, anyone directly related to president obama has come out. people who once worked with him do have this to say. is this the beginning of a back and forth spat between the obama and trump administrations in your view? >> the question is that you know, obama, that's true, he's not in a position to order
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anything as president. that would have to come from the fbi submitting an affidavit for a fisa wiretap. on whoever it might be and doing this on a daily basis at the fbi and the number of counterterrorism investigations, but the idea that the sitting p president would order the fbi to do it, i think the president with any political ak u men would not do it because it would come back on him. some day, it would become public and become extremely negative on a president that did that, but the question in this case is wasn't in fact actually fisa wiretaps. you have official frs the obama administration saying that it's not true. there were no wiretaps. the fbi was not conducting electronic surveillance at trump tower on then candidate trump. and his officials, so, you know, if that's true, that's troubling in itself that all these various
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media dwrooutlets have reported attempt by the fwb to get a wiretap in june last year. followed bay successful attempt to get one this past october. and is that true or not? because you've got a lot of media outlets saying it's just a fact, so you could see president trump waking up this morning seeing that reporting and basically becoming extremely unhappy. >> and it really drives from the br brit bart story. saying these are unsubstantiated claims. it's not like you wake up in the morning and "the new york times" and "washington post" are saying, we have evidence that fisa warrant was obtained and it was located in trump tower. that's just not true. so, he woke up in the morning with the mark levin breitbart story on his mind and that's
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what led to these tweets. >> the right wing conservative, you know, radio, so then brian, if the source saying now is media outlets, that donald trump believes are you know, in step with his thinking, how troublesome, worrisome, reckless potentially is it that this is the sourcing of his mission, this is the imptous of this kind of tweeting and bashing a former president. >> wreck reckless is the word that keeps coming to mind. it's wholly inappropriate for the leader of the free world to be spreading this kind of theory. it's a twist on a popular conservative media theory, former president obama is is doing as much he can to undermine the new president. this is a theory we've seen for weeks. we've seen allegations for weeks. and now, trump take iing this several steps further with the claims on twitter this morning. he's also i think trying to distract, trying to change the story lip. trying to get folks to focus on something different. but it is absolutely reckless.
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and to use one of the president's better words on twitter, it's also sad. there's not supporting evidence for what he's saying. if there is, it should come forward. he or his government should present that evidence, so for now, there isn't that evidence. i'm afraid that it just muddies the waters, people become c confused about what is true or what isn't. maybe that's the president's intent here, but there is no evidence for what he's claiming. no what thor what those conservative stories were saying before, there isn't the sub stanuation. this is very similar to the investigation i did as independent counsel where there were these right wing outlets in arkansas who kept saying to herbert walker bush that clinton had written a letter of anunesuation of citizenship and that would be in his passport file, so that would be, no such letter existed. it led to an investigation that
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put people through some terrible periods of time just because they were falling upon right wing media, conspiracy theorys. it's sad. when that becomes the source of what is a tirade from the president. >> by the way, if the president does find himself ensnared in something in the future if he doesn't make it to eight years or whatever he wants to make it as president, he's going to blame former president obama. and some of what i see in his tweets this morning, laying those bread crumbs. remember in the fall what he tid about a rigged election. he laid these kinds of bread crumbs. if he lost, turn back, oh, i lost because it was rigged. what's he doing now? he's telling a story about president obama trying to undermine him. i think that's what we see partly in these tweets. >> a former obama administration senior official has said flat out wrong. false. there's nothing behind this later allegation.
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of president trump coming from president trump via all these tweets, so tim, paul ryan was on fox news and was asked about an array of things and this is what he had to say. >> are you concerned on the flip side that the obama administration may have been surveilling members of the trump campaign in a pretty detailed investigation during the election? >> well, i don't think that's the case. if you recall, president obama asking intelligence community after the election to canvas all the intelligence and give a report to congress on what russia did do and all their interactions and in that report, they nobody alleged there was a person in america like a trump campaign official involved with the russians on this. so, if they would have found that you think they would have put that in the report they gave us in early january. >> and i want you to respond and we've just now gotten information from a second now
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former u.s. senior official under the obama administration saying quotining now, just nonsense in reference to this wiretapping allegation. from president trump. on president obama. how potentially damaging is this for the sitting president now to make these accusations about his predecessor? >> the first thing i'd say is that you know president trump can find out the answer. richard nixon had a top secret investigation. of the intelligence community. started after he became president. to find out if they wiretapped him during the '68 campaign. and he diskickoffed they hadn't. now, then he started fake news and would say he had been wiretapped. it wasn't true. he knew it wasn't true. that report was declassified a couple of years ago. donald trump could actually find out what fisa warrants had been issued. he has the power as president.
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i think it's unlikely because presidents realize, outstanding presidents realize that the next president can fipd out what they've done and it would be a real challenge to our system if an outstanding president wiretapped and incoming president, whether or not they saw warrants on other people, that's a different issue. this is very damaging because remember, that president trump has not shown any interest in the intelligence community. he always raised doubts about it and now, about whether or not it engage d in undemocratic activity. the intelligence community may have told him they didn't an he doesn't believe them. >> it does play perfectly into the naperfectly swoot that everybody's out to get me. this is conspiracy against me and the allegations with respect to my people and russia and interference with the election and wikileaks and the like is all fake and this allows him to continue that narrative i think
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in an effort to discourage real investigations into whether or not there was any there there to gip with. >> all right. tim, michael, tom, brian, thanks. appreciate it. >> thank you. turning more attention now, the spotlight on the trump administration and russia and the web that continues to grow even more tanged led by the day. you need to scorecard to keep up with all the change of details. up next, the president tries to reverse the heat calling for this investigation into democrat now chuck schumer's ties to the kremlin. remember the photograph that was tweeted out from long ago? all that straight ahead. "how to win at business." step one: point decisively with the arm of your glasses. abracadabra. the stage is yours. step two: choose la quinta. the only hotel where you can redeem
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this is called a the march for trump demonstration. pro trump supporters gathered today and will march to lafayette park, just across from the white house. we'll continue to monitor the event as people gather there and bring you developments. president trump is accusing democrats o f a witch hunt amid revelations that more of his key advisers met with russia's ambassador to the united states and u.s. attorney general jeff sessions says he will now revise his testimony about his contact with russia on monday. cnn's brian todd explains the contacts between trump's campaign and the russian ambassador go back almost a year. zble for months, the denials has been emphatic and definitive. >> can you say with 100% confidence that mr. trump or anybody in this campaign had no con vversations with anybody in
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russia during the campaign? >> no, i'm just telling you, the it's all phony baloney garbage. >> if any adviser in the trump campaign had any contact with the russians? >> of course not chlgt. >> did you say whether or not you were aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with russia during the election? >> i have nothing to do with russia. to the best my knowledge, no person that i deal with does. >> it now appears those denials were deflections. cnn has confirmed a growing list of people affiliated with the campaign who had afflictionsbas u.s. in april of 2016, he was in the audience, in the same room as jeff sessions, as then candidate trump gave a speech for the u.s. to ease tensions with russia. three months later, he was in cleveland. on july 20th on the sidelines of the republican convention. cnn has learned at least three trump national security advisers
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met with the ambassador. one tells cnn nothing inappropriate was said. there was no collusion with the russians to aid the campaign, but was trump's russia policy affected by those meetings? trump's team allegedly pushed delegates into changing the gop platform language to offer less help to ukraine in their fight against russian separatists. days later, trump told abc this. >> he's not going into crew crane. you can mark it down. put it down, take it any way you want it. >> during his confirmation hearing, jeff sessions also denied any acontacts as part of the campaign. >> i did not have communications with the russians. >> but on thursday, he admitted, he, too, met with the ambassador in cleveland. >> it retrospect, i should have slowed down and said i did meet one russian official several times and that would be the am
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bass dorr. >> e-mails stolen were released, embarrassing democrats during their convention. the trump campaign denied involvement. >> are there any ties between you, your campaign and putin and his regime? >> no, there are not. it's absurd. no basis to it. >> days later, mr. trump was back in cameras, seemingly dare ing the kremlin to help take down hillary clinton. russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> u.s. officials now say the russians were engaged in a concerted effort to help trump get elected through hacks and fake news. on september 8th, sessions still a surrogate for the trump campaign, met with the russian ambassador a second time. this time, in sessions' senate office. he says the subject of ukraine came up. cnn has learned contacts between the ak bass dorr and trump advise rs continue d after the election. in december, a senior official says the ambassador met briefly at truch tower with trump's sop
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in law and and his adviser, michael flynn. despite news cameras rolling constant ly in the trump tower lobby. he was never seen by reporters entering or leaving the building. later that month, michael flynn had a flurry of calls and the text with the ambassador, touching on efg from holiday greetings to sapgss. it was then president obama expelled more than 30 russian diplomats and levelled sanctions on russia, yet putin said he wouldn't respond in kind. trump praised his move in a tweet. i always new he was very smart. two months later after "the washington post" detailed the timing of the call, flynn was forced to resign. the white house says misleading vice president pence about his conversations about the ambassador. sean spicer was still trying to answer questions about trump campaign contacts with russians before the election. >> there's nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with with respect to that time period. >> two days later, the president himself was again asked and
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again denied that anyone on his team had contacts with russia during the election. >> nobody that i know of. how many times do i have to answer this question? >> it appears the president and his team will continue to have to answer these questions as congressional investigations are looming. now, it's posimportant to note t it's not guilty unusual for the members of the president-elect's team to meet with foreign dignitaries, that none of these contacts appear to have been illegal and the trump administration says it did nothing wrong. >> i want to bring back timothy neftali. good to see you again. so, all these denials, but now records and admissions of meetings after all, what is this in your view kind of leading up to? >> i'll tell you the mood it creates. it creates the sense of a cover up. now, there may be nothing
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they're coveringing up, but the actions, the fact they keep revising their statements, the nixon presidency, the press secretary at one point, when the press understood there had been a clear lie, said that old statement is no longer operable. the problem for the campaign, now presidency, they're revising themselves and they're revising thems awkwardly. here's the real problem. it's not unprecedented for a president-elect's team to talk to the russians. the russians, traditionally, or sovie soviets, would reach out to a president-elect and establish some context. it happened under kennedy and carter. the difference here are the contacts before the election. that seems to be unprecedented and the question bable nature after the election given the climate, the fact that everyone was talking about the hacking scandal. so, that's what makes this really different. >> is it denying that those, that that contact happened, but then saying oh, yeah, it did,
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then omitting what wasn't discu discussed, but never vealing what was discussed. >> exactly and the problem here is if you're innocent, just say you had the contacts, but they and i think, the best spin you could put on this, given the hacking scandal, they didn't want to mention any of these after the election and some were innocent. i don't know. but again, it's the climate they've created. by their own mishandling of this. at the very best, they are in competent. but of course, there could be a bigger story there, we just don't know. >> tim, thanks so much. appreciate it. >> thank you. zblnc . happening now, lawmakers are facing angry constituents in their hometowns. details on that after the break. >> that i'm a conservative, damn proud of it and i'm going to help out where i can to the rest of you who voted for clinton --
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just moments ago, lindsey graham wrapped up a ryu kous town hall. that president obama wiretapped the trump tower before the election. as well as meddling. >> as for trump, russia campaign ties, i have no evidence
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personally. that are there are any, but i will insist the fbi be given an opportunity to look into this without political interference. >> we have been monitoring all this today. joining us now with more on what the senator had to say during the town hall and what the audience had to say, but he addressed the wiretapping accusation off the top. >> it was a very heated exchange that took place there on the clemson university campus in south carolina today. the event there just wrapping up a few moments ago. right out of the gate, the senator from south carolina tackling this issue at least addressing this latest trump twit ter tirade. >> i don't know if it's true or not, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since watergate. so, it's my job as a united
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states senator to get to the bottom of this. >> that's a pledge coming from senator graham there. two things he said to the crowd that would be concern iing for him, that is if the current president is is suggesting that the former president would illegally order a tap on trump tower, according to his allegation or in the other scenario, too, that the obama administration would be able to gather enough legal evidence, or enough evidence, a legal tap on trump tower, so again, this is all very initial, but as we've heard from several reports at this point, the administration says didn't happen. >> for former officials, senior if i reca officials, saying no, wrong, didn't happen. all that. all right. thanks so much. next, obama care light. that's what senator rand paul was labeling the republican's plan to replace the affordable care act. why some gop lawmakers haven't even seen it. pain used to shut me down during pick-up games.
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repealing and replacing obama care was tough, but a replacement plan hasn't been presented yet and some top republican lawmakers haven't seen a working draft. rand paul turned the search into a chaotic skaven gjere hunt this week searching for the bill. the kentucky republican even brought a copy machine to xerox the document so he could share it with the country. >> we heard it was secret, we wanted to see it even more because if something's secret, you worry people are hiding things, what we think is being hidden from conservatives is that there's a lot of obama care light in their bill. >> let's talk more about this with tammy. senator paul call ed the health care reform draft obama care
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lite. why are some so upset now? >> there are several reason, but what specifically rand paul is talking about three provisions that he feels are way too much like obama care. the republicans hate obama care. hate everything about it. the biggest issue is the individual mandate. that they've really railed on requiring people to get insurance or pay a penalty. and rand paul claims that there's a penalty in the, in the republican replacement plan, too. but in this case, it's not a penalty where you have to pay the arrest, it's a penalty because you're going to be charged more if you don't maintain continuous coverage of your insurance. >> paul ryan painted a much different picture of gop ewunit on this health care reform. he calls the process transparent. and at the gop is unified. listen. >> we're doing this hand and glove with trump, tom price, with our counterparts in the
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senate. we're all working off the same piece of paper, legislation. let me describe in general. we're talking about giving the states control of the medicaid program, which is something that conservatives have invited for for years. i wrote our budgets. we used to call them the road map for america and path to prosperity. every budget i wrote as the conservative gold standard for republicans was to giver states control of medicaid. >> so, speaker ryan says this bill is what conservatives have been asking for, but you wrote in a recent article that the gop is fractured on how to help people pay for their health insurance. can they find common ground are or these going to be sharp differenc differences? >> well, there are a lot of differences in their philosophies, but rand paul is really make iing a big show of s right now. he brought the copy machine, he's also been placing signs around, on his twit ter feed, hs had signs showing show me the bill on different statues and different doors, so he's really
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interested in flushing out what the leadership has said has already set. he doesn't think it's so set and he wants to have a voice in this. they talk u about being unified, but there's still a faction that is not. all right, many on the hill saying there's a lot of work to be done. thank you so much, appreciate it. still ahead, as president trump retreats to mar-a-lago on the weekends, the official presidential get away camp david, well, it sits empty in a place where often president hosts other leaders and heads of state. what's happening with it? that's next. your insurance company won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry about replacing your car because you'll get the full value back including depreciation.
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hour and a half knot of montgomery. i'm sitti inting at overpass, ts something leading birmingham right now, if i just knew who they were, surely they'd throw a box of tile and that's when the lightbulb moment hit. we launched the app in february of 2015. we have over 350,000 drivers. we're putting real people together in the real world. that's the wuty of what we're doing. >> welcome back. in the news room, we're looking at pictures of two separate march for trump events, which were taking place across the nation today. nashville, tennessee, meanwhile, protump supporters gathering at the washington monument. and they will march to lafayette park, which is right across from
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the white house. we'll continue to monitor these events and bring you developments as they happen. today, president trump is at his so-called winter white house. his mar-a-lago estate in florida. this is his fourth weekend there since becomie ining president a closer to d.c., the famous retreat for past presidents, camp david, well, it sits empty. susan malveaux has more. >> president trump arriving in florida to spend another weekend at his mar-a-lago resort. >> going to get a lot of work done. believe me, it's not rest at the southern white house, it's all work. >> his fancy florida estate, hosting world leerds like japan's prime minister, but president trump's weekends at mar-a-lago are costing u.s. taxpayers big money. from firing up air force one to fly to florida with traveling staff. to securing the beach front property with coast guard patrols. "the washington post" estimates the trip so far have cost up to
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$10 million in just five weeks. and at the same time, taxpayers are also footing the bill to operate camp david. the secluded presidential retreat less than 70 miles from the white house. set aside for presidential down time in diplomacy. even dormant, it costs an estimates $8 million a year run. trump has expressed little interest in using the alternative, describing it as very rustic, saying it's nice, you'd like it. you know how long you'd like it? for about 30 minutes. >> it doesn't fit everybody. president obama was a city guy. this is a remote location. i don't think initially, president clinton was crazy about it either, but then came to really love it. remember, carter almost thought about getting rid of it and thankfully, he didn't. >> famously, carter brokered the historic 1978 peace accord between egypt and israel and at
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camp david. benita mcbride says for them, it was a sanctuary. >> still, the only presidential family that spent 12 christmases at camp david. >> the private, secure location also enables some world leaders to grow close, as bush revealed what he discovered after hosting british prime minister, tony blair. >> we both use colgate tooth paste. >> president roosevelt called it -- his doctor believed the cool mountain air helped his sigh in newses. president reagan visited a record 150 plus times. president clinton failed to get a peace deal after sequestering the israeli and palestinian leaders there for two weeks and president obama hosted african and g-l leaders at a summit early in his presidency, but rarely returned, spending most weekends at the white house.
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hello, again, everyone. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> we begin with the breaking news, a spokesman for barack obama is now responding to president trump's serious accusati accusations this morning when president trump tweeted quote just found out obama had my wires tapped before the victory, nothing found -- athena jones live in west palm beach. what is the former president obama saying?
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>> this is a statement just received from a spokesperson. he said a cardinal rule of the obama administration was that no white house official ever interfered by any independent investigation led by the department of justice. as part of that practice, neither president obama nor any white house official ever ordered surveillance on any u.s. citiz citizen. any suggestion otherwise is is simply false. so we have a categorical denial that president obama ordered any sort of wiretapping of then candidate trump. of course, we are still waiting to hear from the trump white house, more of an explanation, what is he basing these accusations on. he ooffered no proof, no eviden. we know the president is golfing right now and we know, fred, that that is a president who has been accusing the forme


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