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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 6, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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that's all the time we have, thanks for watching. time to hand it over to don lemon for cnn tonight. it would be an absolutely stunning charge if it were true. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon. president trump doubling down on his twitter charge that former president barack obama ordered a wiretap of his phones during the campaign. with absolutely no evidence. no evidence to back it up, a source saying james comey was incredulous over the president's allegations and had his staff reach out to the department of justice, asking them to knock down the whole thing. press secretary sean spicer
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tonight, ducking the question of whether the white house has confidence in comey. but is all this just a distraction from the real issues facing the administration, and the country? i want to do something i don't normally do, i want to say a few things before we get started tonight. what happened over the weekend from the president of the united states is not politics as usual. it is not normal. and none of us in the media or at home should pretend that it is. this is at best a clumsy attempt to dangle a shiny object, change the subject from russia and throw us off the track. it's at worse an angry president trying to make someone else a scapegoat for the problems of his administration. former president obama, not the obama administration, no one in the administration, but the former president wiretapped him. we have no evidence of that, zero, and no one in the administration has provided any.
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none. only spin, james clapper was the director of national intelligence when such alleged wiretaps would have happened. >> for the part of the national security apparatus that i oversaw there was no search wiretap activity mounteds against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign. >> and at this point you can't confirm or deny whether that exists? >> i can deny it. >> there is no fisa court order? >> not to my knowledge. >> of anything at trump tower? >> no. >> james comey incredulous the president would say such a thing. former nsa and cia director michael hayden gives this blunt explanation. >> the president of the united states put his own reputation, the reputation of his predecessor and the reputation of his nation at risk to get at least a draw out of the next 24 hours of news. >> if hayden got it right, if
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president trump risked all that to distract and deflect from the real story which is russia, by the way, we americans should not allow that to happen. we have to follow the truth, wherever that leads. now, let's get started. let's go to our political analysts, mark preston, jeffrey toobin, david rode and jeff zellny. jeff, i'll get to the news first, what's going on here, jeffrey toobin? >> i don't know. i don't agree with what you said, that this was somehow an attempt to distract. i think this is just the way donald trump is. i don't think he's playing some careful four dimensional chess, i think he sees things on breitbart, on right wing social media. >> i didn't say -- >> i think he's just angry, he's angry about how it's going in his administration, and he sees an explanation here on the internet, and he tweets about it. i don't think it's any more
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complicated than that. >> regardless of what the reason is, i think it's incredibly reckless. let's assume there was some validity to it. to have the president of the united states make that charge against his predecessor at 6:30, 7:00 in the morning on a saturday. his staff was caught off guard, they weren't able to answer the question. let's assume it's not true at all, doesn't it bring his credibility into question. and quite frankly, what does that do for the american people when they look at the president of the united states and kwowon if they can trust him. >> i think it shows how bitterly divided we are. the cnn poll today said 71% of democrats are very concerned about reports between the contacts of the trump campaign and russia. 54% of republicans are not concerned at all about those contacts. so he's playing to his base, that may backfire in the long term, but i think he believes it, and people who are reading those right wing sites believes it. >> the person who should have
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access to the best intelligence out of anyone on the planet, believes it and there is no -- there's no credible evidence for it? >> you have steve bannon, the far right and far left blaming a deep state. i have a leak myself that's under investigation for a story i wrote. i think these are generally public servants, they're concerned and that's why they're leaking the information. a huge segment of the american public believes -- >> let's say it's true. which most people, with any knowledge of it, would say it's not. as the president of the united states, wouldn't you say here's my evidence? here's how the obama administration, or the president wiretapping? i'm showing you this. the american people, i've gotten this information, this is what happened? none of that has happened. >> in the real world it wouldn't be the president of the united states who would come out and make this accusation. it would be the press secretary, perhaps the attorney general, it would be his lawyer, the legal council that would come out and do it. you wouldn't see the president of the united states come out and make a charge in any other
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world than the trump world we're living in. >> let's talk about the fbi director saying this was incredulous. and now seems like the people closest to the president are scrambling to back up the president's baseless claims. what's the latest from the white house? >> the president was far more definitive about these statements and claims on saturday than his aids have been. if this happened, or maybe this happened, we should look into it, his aids were absolutely defending him, and saying that there should be a congressional investigation. but don, i was struck by one thing today at the white house, we did not see the president or have an opportunity to ask him a question or anything. the first weekday in his seventh week in office, where he did not have a public press event, he generally signs executive orders with the press there. he signed a very important executive order today, i think the white house does not want
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him talking about this. tomorrow he may be talking about this, but look, sean spicer, the white house press secretary also had a press briefing off camera, and he did talk to our sara murray later in the afternoon, he did talk about the fbi director, there are deep divisions there, there's frustration there, james comey trying to defend his bureau, but this is what sean spicer said about the fbi. >> we've only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims, i don't think director comey has commented on anything he's allegedly said, so i'm not going to comment on what people say he might have said, i think the director is more than capable of speaking for himself. >> what about the fbi director? >> i've asked him that, i think he's focused today first and foremost on this effort to keep the country safe. >> just a bit of context there, sara murray was asking sean spicer if the president stands by or has confidence in his fbi director. and the white house press
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secretary you could hear him say right there, he hasn't talked to him about that yet. it did not sound like a huge vote of confidence right there, don. >> i want to bring you in, nia malik. the white house officials can try their best to back up the president. the bottom line is, there is no proof what the president dashed out on twitter. an extremely serious allegation, about the former president, saying the former president was wiretapping him, had wiretapped him. >> yeah, and this of course came in a series of tweets early in the morning, 6:00 or 7:00 tweets, making these bombshell allegations, i mean, this would be one of the biggest stories in the last 50, 60 years of american history, if this were true. you would imagine if you were donald trump and you had this evidence as he suggested he did, you would want to hold a press conference. i know mark said it won the be the president who would do that. a man who's so concerned about ratings, this would be a very highly rated press conference,
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if he were to come out and lay out all the evidence. the fact is, at least at this point there doesn't seem to be any evidence to this, so you have his aids so far going out and trying to defend this. and donald trump essentially hiding behind twitter. i mean, remember, when he tweeted that out in the morning, 6 or 7 tweets about this, his final tweet was about arnold schwarzenegger' ratings in the apprentice. that in some ways suggests the level of seriousness in terms of his approach to this, on the seriousness of the evidence behind this is very much lacking, and i -- again, i think we had the conspiracy theorists candidate and now we have a conspiracy theorist president in many ways, someone who gets some of his information from breitbart, from conservative talk radio, and doesn't use the power of the white house, where he can summon any and everyone to ask questions, he doesn't do that. he just reads and he tweets
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stuff. >> we're laughing, it's not funny, it's laughable. i can say it is laughable. i have to -- >> interesting distinction. not funny, but laughable. >> yeah. >> you know, i'm glad -- you don't think that it was him changing -- i do, i think it was so much negativity, so much negative press coming out about russia, he's just, oh, my gosh, what am i going to do. >> to nia mallika's point. the conspirator in chief, he fueled birtherism, he implied ted cruz' father was involved in jfk's assassination. the inaugural crowd size, and the list goes on. so if it's not to change the narrative, or if it's not something that many people may be afraid to say, then what is it? >> well, i think -- you have to keep in mind, he said all these false things. he was found -- >> admitted -- you know,
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admitted assaulting women, what happened to him? he got elected president of the united states. some of this stuff is working well for him. i think he feels like he's an authentic personality, he doesn't have a sensor, he's not politically correct. and i think this is just who he is. also, it's worth keeping in mind, he's 70 years old, i don't know a lot of 70 year olds who change their personalities when they get a new job. >> he's never going to change. i'm 27 and i'm never going to change. that's an alternative fact. we sat here before the campaign and talked about birtherism. that was completely not true. we gave credence to many people believe. just because there are false reports that are written and poorly sourced reports, does not make it so. >> to david's point, he has his base and he's playing to his
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base. we're seeing an erosion with independents and what have you. for donald trump, so far, he's been successful, i've said this time and time again. he's been able to govern through executive order. it's basically, he says i want this done, signs a piece of paper, it happens. >> those executive orders run out. you have to govern, this is where i think he runs into trouble. he's not going to get away with this type of stuff that he did on saturday when he's not able to deliver on the campaign promises that he said he would for his supporters, and then i think that's when you're going to see the erosion from republicans. >> hold that thought. we're going to talk about that, and the travel ban, and there's also other news. the repeal and replacement of obama care. and russia. and russia, we're staying focused on that. yup! i did... n
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david, i'm going to ask you this, john kelly, the department of homeland security spoke to wolf blitzer earlier, here's what he said. >> i don't know anything about it, other than when i was sitting here in the studio at cnn, if the president of the united states said that, he has some convincing evidence that that took place. >> what could that convincing evidence be?
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>> i don't guess as to what the motivation may have been to do something like that. my news agency, we spent all day trying to get something keir about this. it appears to be based on the breitbart news report and the other right wing news reports, that's all we have at this point. it's back to people's personal belief and the president himself, and whether he would say something that's false and reckless. >> they want to investigate this, are they going to get around to investigating the 3 million people who voted illegally? >> and when are we going to keep up the heat. that's the question. we get all outraged, he said there were 3 million people who voted illegally, we're all outraged for a night. and the circus moves on. this one may be big enough that people stick around for a while. and it is related to the russia issue, which clearly is not
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going away. i think we're responsible for allowing this stuff to go on without accountability. the shiny object, right? we get distracted by the chineny object. and many times we don't follow where the story leads. >> can i say one thing about the shiny object? the difference between him thinking 3 million people were at his inauguration. this shiny be object he put out there saturday is very sharp. >> very sharp. and it cuts. >> in terms of the shiny object, i mean, if you talk to pam brown, they aren't distracted by the shineny object. people at the washington post, people at the new york times, greg miller at the washington post, i don't think is distracted by the shiny object,
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he's breaking all sorts of stories as reporters are at cnn as well. >> so many things that are coming down, it's like an avalanche. i want to ask you this, let's move on and talk about the revised travel ban, shall we? it's down to six muslim majority countries. it no longer includes iraq. it took away language that banned syrian refugees. and this one exempts private residents. it was signed behind closed doors, without the press. just a photo handout. what's happening. that is a first usually if you come back on camera, it is this with a bunch of people behind him and he goes -- right with the thing. and he reads it, this is -- it's not a muslim ban, we have to keep the bad dudes out. what's going on here? >> i think he did not want to
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have to answer questions today about his tweets. and about his bombshell allegations against the former president. i mean, that is why we have not seen him on camera today with any reporters near him. that's plane and simple why spicer didn't give an on camera briefing, it was off camera. the president is in hiding. >> to be fair, i think this executive order is a far more professional, far more fair document than the first one. it's much more likely to be upheld by the courts, the argument that this is a muslim ban is going to be tougher to make. the professionals got involved. you had quite a show of force the president wasn't there, but you had the secretary-general. i think it was -- >> this was a long way to go d
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and -- >> yes, but this is not going to make the country safer, it will make muslims less likely to want to allow themselves in the united states. it doesn't change that basic dynamic, it's better legally, but again, studlies, you know t they found 3% of the people involved with terrorism were refugees. >> to my point. and this proves me right. they just made it public, they want to repeal the individual mandate, maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions, allows children to stay on their parents plans, and allows state medicaid expansion through 2020. everyone's been wondering, this
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is obama care light, no? >> it is. we've already seen some republican or more conservative republican opposition to it saying it doesn't go far enough. one thing we didn't see today. while they did release this bill. we didn't see how they're going to pay for it, they're going to roll back, you know, when you take away the mandate, you take away the money that went along with the mandate. and they're going to roll back the taxes on many programs, the medical device tax, the prescription medicine tax. we don't know how much it's going to cost. >> thank you all. i appreciate this conversation. president trump telling a close friend he'll be proving right about his wiretapping claim. we'll talk to that friend next. would you trust me as your financial advisor? -i would. -i would indeed. well, let's be clear, here. i'm actually a deejay. ♪
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i figure donald trump has a low threshold to be proven right here. there's a lot of people that believe that the former -- >> former president of the united states. >> that there was surveillance of the campaign. president obama is going to deny that if it did take place. we had clapper out yesterday, this is the same man that testified under oath before congress that said nsa was not collected data on untils of american and they proved he had lied. he had to backtrack completely.
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>> i would say give the benefit of the doubt to the president. let's wait before he keeps saying he is wrong, all i'm saying is -- >> he has shown no evidence that the former -- he didn't say the fbi, nsa or cia, he said former president. he said he was sad -- i forget what the quote was. sad and a bad guy and it was like watergate. do you think that the president united states should be a bit more careful about who or what organizations he makes accusations about? >> he should be serious about it and i think he should present evidence overtime and he told there will be investigation or he wants an investigation and he
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said he would be proven right. i'm not sheer here to say the allegation is true. i'm saying give him the benefit of the doubt. the president didn't order the surveillance. >> that's what he said. he accused -- >> there's two parts to it. >> you said the fbi -- if he said -- if he said the fbi wiretapped trump tower. no one would say anything about the former president. we would be asking if the fbi and what was proof did they have, what judge gave them a fisa warrant to monitor -- >> we know there was a fisa warrant, the deputy general would have had to sign that. either way, do you can really
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believe that they -- if an agency surveilled the trump campaign they would not have informed the white house or the president about it. do you really believe he would not have been knowledgeable about it. >> it's not what i believe. it's what the evidence shows. >> there's no evidence that shows any of it. and every person, even the person who had knowledge of those warrants, of any type of wiretapping has come out and said plainly, at least any agencies he has run -- >> i'm on the same page with you. >> i know you're friends with the president. >> i'm friend with you too. >> your you're the president of the united states, your word hold power. instead of going off on twitter and making accusation and giving
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no evidence for that, he should not do that, back up his information, once he has it -- because it puts our country in jeopardy. >> the jury is out on that. >> that's my point. >> i can tell you, he was confident in the allegation he made. let's give him time. he should readjust the twitter, that should be -- he only in there a little over 30 days. >> 40 days. >> he does adjust, he improves. >> we're waiting. >> we have seen a big improvement in the messaging. that speech before congress was amazing. >> let's give him the benefit of the doubt, you said, but when you read the list of things,
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from ted cruzs father, the birtherism, millions of illegal votes, the size of the inauguration crowds, and on and on, these are conspiracy theories. >> i wouldn't say sirs conspiracy theory. >> they are over -- >> he says he feel the press is out of line and he wants to negotiate with you. he has a long history of being in show business and he has a great success with twitter. there needs to be an adjustment on it it and you need to be more fair. >> he keeps telling me why am i going on cnn. >> le he can welcome to come he
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and prove out of us wrong. we're not out to do hit. >> you're not. >> no i'm not. why leaks of the president's conversation, you don't cover that. i. >> we don't have investigative powers, right. >> you can see he broke the law by releasing his confidenceal -- >> i don't know if there's laws that's been broken. you ever hear about watergate. >> yes, i heard a lot about it. >> he is welcome here any time. >> invite him. he will surprise you. >> you loved this before, once the heat turned up, then he is like, wait a minute, you're not fair because he doesn't like the heat.
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>> we gotta go. i appreciate it. president trump compares the alleged wiretapping to waterg e watergate, when we come back, i'm going to talk to the man who is inside the white house.
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wiretapping, white house leaks, all of this may sound a bit familiar to my next guest, john dean. also joining us is douglas brinkley, author of franklin d. roosevelt. i'm sure this sounds familiar to you. john, to you first, president trump's unfounded claim that he was wiretapped by president obama rocked the political world. really rocked the world, people were wondering, what's going on. how low has president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. this is nixon watergate, bad or sick guy. who better to ask about watergate? what do you make of the president's charge? >> well, i think it's way off base. it shows, first of all, that trump may not even understand watergate, he seems to be
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conflicting the act of the wiretapping, which never happened -- in fact, it was a bungled effort, they went in to try to repair a bungled bug, and nixon had nothing to do with that, he's confusing that with the cover-up, which he seems to have a little more understanding of. and maybe he's projecting himself into that situation. hillary accused him of being a putin puppet, he accused her of being putin's puppet. he does this sort of thing with tagging the other, with whatever label seems to fit him. >> a couple things there, you mentioned the cover-up, you're saying he doesn't understand watergate, do you think he doesn't understand when he says the president wiretapped the former president wiretapped him, he doesn't understand how wiretaps work, and fisa warrant and that sort of thing? >> i'm not sure he does. and nixon did authorize a number of wiretaps. >> they changed that in the
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'70s, right? because of that. >> that's when the law changed, shortly before the watergate buggings or attempted buggings. nixon had actually called for surveillance of some 17 people, news men, a number of people on the nsc staff, and one of his own speech writers, nixon did issue directions to the fbi to wiretap. >> douglas, is a cover-up worse than the crime. >> yes, definitely, and, you know, h.r. hal de man used to talk about the drip drip drip going on. >> you think there's a cover-up? >> there's not clarity being given about trump's relationship with russia. everybody's confused, there are all these puzzle pieces getting connected. we might have to have a senate select committee or a special prosecutor, independent commission to find out what's going on. i mean, jeff sessions had to
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recuse himself. >> there's a lot of story gone here. and i think what donald trump is is nixonian in the sense of using the media to lash out at them, blame them, and then derail the attacks on himself by putting it on the opposition. sometimes it's -- >> that makes the story bigger about russia, because it puts the focus right back on russia, right? >> there's so many stories now, going on with it, and it puts it also back on barack obama. i think trump screwed this one up badly, he accused the president -- the former president obama of a felony. and, you know, it's libellous what trump said to him. i heard in your interview, a kind of beginning, a very beginning of back stepping that it wasn't barack obama who did the wiretapping, somebody else in the obama administration, but nevertheless that's a smearing of barack obama that trump did, and obama left the white house with a pretty good record, he
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has to live off his integrity, he's being accused of a felony, by a sitting president of the united states, and i think it's pretty extreme, and president trump needs to get an apology underway very quickly, toward barack obama. >> john dean, do you agree with that? >> it is libellous, right? >> it is. a president has remarkable civil immunitity, he could not be sued for libel while president, and the statute of limitations would certainly run before any private action, post presidency action can be brought. he can't even be criminally prosecuted, don. he's immune from that. the only remedy is impeachment and removal, and after removal, a president can be criminally prosecuted, but he has remarkable immunitity in that high office. i think he does owe an apology, he's really -- it's unfair, he can pick up the telephone and get the answer to these questions as to what did or did not happen.
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he went to his tweeter section of his phone rather than calling somebody who could give him the answer which is right there for him. he's one of the few people that could answer this question. >> not have to take the public through an investigation if that does happen? and also the money that it's going to cost for such alleged investigation if that ever happens. all of this, this is a self-inflicted wound, let's talk about this, you know, the peo e people -- republicans, donald trump supporters seem adverse to leakers. they think it's illegal. people have remarked on how leaky this white house is. where do leaks come from, and why do they happen? >> well, i actually predicted there would be untold leaks in this presidencpresidency, long arrived in the oval office. first of all, he was really picking a fight with the intelligence community throughout the later stages of the campaign and during the
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transition as to whether or not russia had been involved in helping hillary -- hurting hillary and helping him. he's also insulting a lot of the federal bureaucracy. he set himself up to be the target of leaks. people who didn't agree with his policy this happens to every president. one of the reasons watergate happened, is because of nixon's effort to deal with leaks. earlier in your program in an earlier segment, you addressed this partially, it was nixon's effort to plug leaks that really led to watergate. that's how -- this is a dangerous game that trump is playing. >> our time is short, but i said to donald trump from news max, every white house feels like they're under siege. this is not new. president trump feels his white house is under siege, this is nothing new. every white house does. >> thank you so much. i appreciate it, we'll be right
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do unanswered questions about russia just fuel conspiracy theorys? gentlemen, good to have both of you on. good evening. evan, you say the fact that we don't have a sufficient investigation into russia's efforts to influence our election, and the trump administration's ties to russia, makes it easier for the president to spread unfounded theorys. what questions do you want specifically? >> so many questions, i'd like to know about the history of donald trump's relationship to vad mere putin and other russians, i'm really more focused on the structure of the
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investigations. right now the investigations in congress are housed in the two intel committees in the senate and house. it's too easy, i think to control and limit and keep these investigations away from the public. some of the work needs to be done in a classified setting, but we need much more complete staffing and resources dedicated to investigating russia's influence in the election, and then any trump campaign ties to the russians that may be relevant. >> if there are are any legitimate ties, no one is saying there's a legitimate -- that they know for sure, but they should be investigated? >> i think there's plenty of -- there are plenty of facts that indicate there are plenty of ties over time. >> there's a lot of smoke? >> it's the question of complicity. that's an important thing too, it's an important clarification, because i think when people think of complicity, they're looking for some smoking gun that says for sure there was an
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exchange of planning and intentions related to the election. that's not necessarily what you would find even if there is complicity. it's more just an understanding that russia was influencing our elections and encouragement through friendly contacts and maybe a little bit more than that. >> steve, you want to weigh-in on that? >> yeah, evan's absolutely right on all of that. what i would add is, although there's no smoking gun yet, and of course we will not know until there is some sort of investigation, preferably an independent one. what i can tell you from my experience, we know the russians did try to tip the scales during the presidential election, the intelligence community has said that. i can tell you the russians no doubt would take it as far as they absolutely could, were they pried the opportunity, and if somebody or some group of people inside the trump camp were interested in having that cooperation or that collusion. we don't know this. but i can tell you for sure, the
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russians would have been looking for that, they would have been pushing for that, right now in the kremlin, this is the gift that keeps on giving. >> i was thinking that today, this is exactly what he wants, right? americans are fighting, the presidential candidate. two former presidents are at odds and one. because the other president is not going at it, he's laying low, and kitesurfing and being cool and tan. so -- this is what -- here's what general michael hayden, he's the former director of the nsa and cia had to say about this. >> let me go very, very dark. the president of the united states put his own reputation, the reputation of his predecessor and the reputation of his nation at risk to get at least a draw out of the next 24 hours of news. >> he wanted to take the focus off of russia, don't you agree? >> i do. >> that's a huge statement for
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him to say. >> it's a huge statement, but it's patently clear at this point. president trump as a candidate, as president-elect, and now as president, has proven himself to be skilled at shifting the focus of the media, especially in moments where the story line, the narrative is very damaging politically or even worse legally to him. that's exactly what i think he's doing, and there may be a motion involved, there may be rage, he may be upset. that may be true too, but i do think there is a method to his madness. >> steve, i'll give you the last 10 seconds if you will. >> the only way we're going to stop going around and around and around about this, is if we get an independent investigation. it's been said a lot. that's really the only way to get to it. >> thank you, we'll be right back. ♪ ♪
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incredulous, a source says, that's the reaction of james comey to president trump's outrageous twitter charge. he claims president obama ordered a wiretap of his phones during the campaign, without a wit of evidence. president trump signs the travel ban today behind closed doors. plus, where ben carson calls slaves immigrants and went on to say, those slaves had a dream that they might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land. >> let's get right to jessica schneider with more on president trump's shocking wiretap


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