tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN March 9, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
topping this hour of 360 were computer servers owned by a russian bank and the trump organization communicating? does this have to do with the tweet storm and accusing president obama of tapping his phones. pamela brown investigative reporter jose got it. we spoke if the last hour. >> pamela, what have you learned about the investigation? >> we learned fbi investigators and computer scientists and whether there was a computer connection between the trump organization and a russian bank called alpha bank according to sources familiar with the investigation. this is the same server mention in a breitbart article that a
white house official said sparked trump's series of tweets accusing investigators of tapping his phone. cnn is told there was no warrant on this evening isser. questions about the connection between the server and russian bank were widely dismissed four months ago as an attempt by alpha bank to block spam but anderson, the fbi's courter intelligence team looking into the suspected interference and 2016 election is still examining it and one official said the server relationship is odd and seen as perplexing and investigators are not ignoring it but the fbi has a lot more work to do to determine what was behind the unusual activity. the fbi did klined to comment a -- declined to comment and the white house did not respond to our request. >> what was odd about these communications between this russian bank? >> sure, anderson. this can get technical fast.
what is soed a, th ed odd, thisk looked up the unique address out computer server in the u.s. the computer world is the equivalent of looking up someone's phone number over and over and over again and while there isn't necessarily a phone call, it usually indicates the intention to communicate according to several computer scientists we spoke to. a group of scientists that obtained these leaked internet records, records they were never supposed to make public were public why a russian bank was doing this. trying to send an e-mail to the trump organization. these scientists couldn't tell. last summer during the presidential campaign, the russian bank looked up address to the trump corporate server some 2800 times, more lookups than the server received from any other source. the only other entity curiously enough doing so many internet lookups was spectrum health, a medical facility chain led by betsey devoss. those two entities alone made up
99% of the lookups. the computer scientists we spoke to just found that plain weird. all the corporations involved say they never communicated by e-mail with the trump organization and have kirchltdi explanations for the activity but haven't provided proof and don't agree to what the explanation is. the russian bank thinks it was receiving trump marketing but hasn't provided cnn with backup to the theory and the american marketing company that would have been sending trump e-mails said it wasn't doing that at the time and alpha bank stressed that not a single executive had any affiliation at all with the president or the trump organization. their statement says neither alpha bank or principals have or have had any contact with mr. trump or his organizations. so this potential computer link remains a mystery. >> pamela brown, thanks so much. as this was playing out, james kcomey was there and even
though there is much we don't know about what was discussed, given the news lately, which se seems there was much to talk about. if comey, why was he on the hill today. >> consistent theme. when comey comes and speaks on capitol hill behind closed doors, lawmakers come out and don't say anything at all, which is a rarity. the bulk of the meeting was about the russian investigation. obviously the two senate and house intelligence committees conducting a parallel investigation into russian medaling. jim comey and the fbi are a component of that and there was talk about the wiretapping allegations leveed by the president of the united states about his predecessor. it's no secret where jim comey behind the scenes asked the justice department to knock down those allegations because it was illegal and made the fbi look very bad and most importantly, wasn't true, but those were two
of the primary issues that i'm told did come up. it's important to note this is happening as senate intelligence coal mitty oc co committee officials are conducting the investigation to rook look at classified documentdocu >> the current direction of the senate intelligence investigation, that trip critical. >> no question about it. an interesting element is sources i spoke to said some of the senators that headed out that way aren't necessarily thrilled with the access of two documents they have gotten but it is part of the process and that process is kicking into high gear in a couple ways. i talked to democrats that said dell c democrats plan to call on mu multiple officials including michael flynn and forced to resign and carter space the
adviser and paul manafort, the former campaign chairman and an element that's important to keep an eye on, diane fieinsteinfein herself told my colleague manu raju is interested in taking a look at president trump's tax returns never released throughout the campaign and no sense they will be released any time soon. senator feinstein said as they go into this investigation and this investigation focuses on the trump campaign, seeing donald trump's business contacts, his business dies may be a crucial component of that. again, important note, not unlike the testimony they have superpower. this is something they can't actually get ahold of as a committee if they decide to go that route. something to keep a close eye on. >> thanks. cnn gloria borger is back this hour and former head of the department of homeland security center and joining us 30 years cia veteran steven hall, former member of the agency senior intelligence service and cnn
national security analyst. steven, let me just start out with you since we haven't heard from you tonight. there is certainly smoke and a lot of questions but no real answers at this point, and i gus this odd communication as it's been described between this alpha bank and sort of pinging the trump organization just adds to it. >> yes, anderson. there is too much smoke for there to be no fire. alpha bank in russia is one of the largest banks owned by friedman and make no mistake, it's nothing more than an extension to the crime lekremli. there is no protection for banks and independence. they work for putin because whatever the bank was doing, these pings we see between their
server and the trump organization server, you know, the idea that it might be a normal business relationship, that works for putin and enjoys his position solely because of vladimir putin. >> rod, when you hear 2800 pings or kind of calls to the trump server, what do you make of that? everybody we talked to says that sounds odd but without any real details of what it might mean. >> anderson, as we discussed, it is very odd and particularly, the first thing if this is a russian government operation, this is first rate and state actors are pros. this would be extremely sloppy but strange. it shouldn't be happening here. the explanation that we're receiving from this supposed report that it was just a response to e-mail span seems a little spurious. i agree with steve. there is something that seems a bit odd here but at the same time, it doesn't smell like a
s sophisticated russian spying. >> if there was a desire to have secret communications between someone in a bank and trump organization, there are smarter ways to do it than having -- because this is a trail picked up by -- >> yes. >> computer experts. >> exactly. you don't have to do it 2800 times. you do it once and get the data you need and you can do that in hiding rather -- one other thing, anderson, i picked up in your recent comments that were very good is that you mentioned that alpha bank stated that their executive said, none of the executives or leaders have a relationship with the trump organization and didn't say employees do or contractors do. so it's either a carve out they have done to limit this or simply they can't verify. it's an interesting comment they have made.
>> steve, to you -- go ahead, steve. >> anderson, if i could jump in on the intelligence side of this. rod is right. it wouldn't be normal or clean but clumsy but i wouldn't necessarily entirely rule it out. remember, in the dnc hack, you had both the fsb intrusion sets malware in there as well as the gru. any large intelligence organization even as good as the russians are, not entirely 10 feet tall. lack of coordination on that, too. i wouldn't 100% rule out there is no chance this is an intelligence sf intelligence. >> interesting. >> i didn't say there is no chance but doesn't line up with the trade craft. >> true. >> i agree. >> gloria, you can't under state the enormous impact of director comey now at this point but on march 20th, on monday, he'll be testifying publicly. >> right, he's going to be on the hot seat but he's been on the hot seat.
not only does he have to answer questions about whether barack obama broke the law and tried to wiretap donald trump but he has to answer questions about the russia hack and how wide spread it was and this question of collusion, which is what everybody wants to understand, and whether it -- there was collusion in the orbit of donald trump, outsiders or whether there was collusion inside the trump campaign or none at all and i think that there are questions he's not going to be able to answer in public session, but don't forget, congress' job is oversight. and they want to know the fbi is doing the investigation as thoroughly as they want to do it and you got both sides, democrats and republicans here trying to get to the bottom of it because the white house instructed congress to get to the bottom of it. >> steve, with your 30 years
experience working with the agency, when you hear of all these contacts, whether minor contacts with some of the people in the trump orbit. i talked to carter page who gave explanations but said it's a very brief conversation with the russian ambassador and rnc although, frankly, i'm not sure what he's saying is true or not because he's given multiple accounts but spent 30 years intelligence. what do you make of all these contacts? >> again, if it were a single incident, you know, it might be explainable or a couple of incidents you would have, you know, you would say okay, that's perhaps something that happened strangely and you just sort of say okay, it's just the way things happen but when you have this -- when you have this constant drum beat that probably is keeping donald trump awake at night as it gets louder and louder there seems to be more and more and more of the data points that come out and again, the only way we'll get to it is
if we have a really good investigation. let me add one other thing, anderson, if i could from my time in the office of congressional affairs at cia, there is an interesting side note that caught my attention talking about staffers and members going to get briefings, believe it or not, there is a lot of back and forth in terms of who has more power in the room as to where these briefings are done and there is always a push for langly to go downtown. the fact these guys, i don't want to make too much of a deal but the fact they went to langly indicates this is sensitive stuff and stuff that cia said look, you need to come out here to take a look at this. that's interesting in and of itself. >> steve, you said you used to work for the cia in relations with capitol hill. what do you make of, you know, you have the senate intelligence community, the house, do they have the horsepower to do an investigation like you would like it to be done? >> so, they actually have the mechanical horsepower, if you
will. there is -- the system is in place to exchange sensitive information, staffers have clearances and familiar how to work with classified information and members have the clearances by being elected to the offices. the one thing however that's working against them in my view in this is their politicians. they are republicans or democrats. an independent commission wouldn't have that problem so you have a political vein that's running through this, which always threatens to derail an actual factual investigation. that's a concern i do have. >> steven hall, great to have you on and rod, and gloria borger. the white house and republican leadership scrambling and conservative republicans don't have much love for. one change that could get some on board and later, jorge ramos joins me on a big drop in illegal border crossings. does he think president trump deserves the credit? answer might surprise you. a good place to pursue your dreams.
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house speaker paul ryan rolled up his leaves asleeves a to close the legislation and was aimed at fellow republicans more than anyone else. the nation's top medical and hospital association and arr paid objections to the bill or oppose out right and a stunner medica medicaid's chief medical officer tweeting quote despite political messages from others, i align
with the experts from family positions and opposition to american health care act. in the meantime, president trump who campaigned on his deal making skills weighed in with his pitch and there is late word tonight that the white house is lining up to rollback obamacare's medicaid expansion sooner than the gop bill currently calls for. more from jim acosta joining us from the white house. what is the president doing to push the health care plan? >> he met with some lawmakers earlier today on the republican side and tonight over here at the white house, anderson, they are hosting a bowling here at the white house so they are literally bowling for votes to get this repeal and replace bill through the house and i guess potentially trying to pick up the split. you might say in the republican party if you'll pardon that very obvious pun. but in addition to that, anderson, we're being told by the white house that the president is going to be getting out on the road in the coming days. they have a campaign style event set for next wednesday in
nashville but anderson, you mentioned a few moments ago something we were picking up on last night. there were tea party groups, groups opposed to the bill on the left side or progressive side of things, there was tea party conservative groups last night at the white house meeting with the president of the oval office pushing him to make that medicaid fix and that is to limit the amount of money that is spent on medicaid as part of obamacare supposed to start being phased out in 2020. they want to make it january of next year and we are hearing that yes, the white house is sounding receptive to that. i talked to a senior republican source a couple moments ago, anderson that said this say problem for the house republican leadership if they start to change this bill but it's got to get shaking the more people could back away or add their own ideas. there is a growing sense of nervousness about the fate of this, arounderson. >> the leaders seem to believe
this needs to happen soon. what is behind that? >> that's why you saw house speaker paul ryan rolling up his sleeves at that presentation on capitol hill, ted talk that the speaker of the house was hosting to explain this to reporters. you don't see the speaker of the house rolling up his sleeves like that but he was getting his hands dirty, you might say. the reason for this is just what i was saying a few moments ago and that is there is a real sense of concern in the house republican leadership that if the white house starts tinkering with this, with other conservatives in congress who are uncomfortable about this, the whole thing could unravel. the reason why in getting back to the medicaid idea is because as you start to move things to the right with the medicaid aspect of this for example, you start to lose perhaps some of the moderates you'll need on the republican side and senate when this moves over to the senate and that is a big reason why all of this is moving so quickly but the question is, where is
president trump? he was not really out in front of the cameras today talking about it. he's supposed to be tomorrow but i asked senior republican source where is president trump? don't you want him out there more and the answer was quote, absolutely. >> all right. we'll cement -- see. namely a report from the non-partisan office scoring the bill estimating what the bill would cost and how many people could lose coverage and how many people would be covered and others outside estimates put the numbers as high as 10 million which may explain why lawmakers are down playing the cbo. c nr >> reporter: from the white house. >> if you're looking at the cbo for accuracy, you're look the at the wrong place. >> reporter: to capitol hill. >> we're not waiting on burro cats to provide relief from obamacare to the american people. >> reporter: the newest tactic in the republican playbook attacked referee. >> the cbo said that there would be twice as many people taking obamacare insurance as there
actually are. >> reporter: the highly respected person agency that has been leaned on for years as the go-to arbiter on capitol hill to final lize the impact. >> the job is to be non-partisan and not take into account party considerations. >> reporter: the cbo is set to hand down what could be a monumental analysis for the fate of the republican's bill, estimating the cost and how many people could lose coverage. >> good morning, everybody. >> reporter: republicans are already bracing for what could be a devastating report. down playing the significance of the numbers, even before anyone has seen them. launching a preemptive attack. >> never been right. i was in the house and senate for 15 years and really have not been close. >> reporter: by calling into question the credibility of the agency. >> the idea that that's any authority paced on the track record is farfetched.
>> reporter: but republicans haven't always felt that way about the cbo. representative steve said this in 2013. >> there is an independent referee that scores everybody's budget. >> reporter: here is sean spicer in 2014 during the obamacare battle tweeting out the cbo's findings. spicer blasting the precision. >> they were way, way off last time in every aspect how they scored and projected obamacare. >> reporter: during the obamacare fight, the cbo did significantly over estimate the number of americans who would choose to sign up for coverage through the health exchanges. in 2010 it estimated 21 million would be enrolled in 2016 but only 10.4 million were actually enrolled last year. and since its coverage prediction was so off, so was the cost estimate. in 2010 it said coverage would cost $132 billion-dollar but only cost $110 billion since so many fewer people were enrolled.
but democrats are still calling foul on the republican strategy. >> trying to figure out what to do and when the cbo comes out, it's going to show that this cost a lot of money. >> reporter: and pushing the irony that the man at the helm of the agency, the white house is now attacking, the head of the cbo keith hall was appointed not only by republicans but by then house budget chairman tom price. >> you bring a tremendous amount of experience and expertise to the job. >> reporter: now, the health and human services secretary. >> so historically, how reliable a track record does the cbo have? >> it actually has a very strong track record, anderson. experts say a long history of credibility and neutrality and if you go back to the obamacare debate and analysis of the cbo then, yes, there were indeed some parts that they were off the mark and got it wrong but there were also some other areas where there are more accurate, specifically the estimates for
the insured rate for non-elderly adults. they nearly hit that right on the mark. and experts here emphasize that the cbos analysis, called the score is just a prediction, basically a forecast of what could potentially happen and that they usually typically get it much more accurate than other groups do. and i have to say, it should be noted that lawmakers complaining about the cbo is nothing new on capitol hill but what is notable about this time around is that republicans are doing so and being critical of the score before it even comes out. >> all right. thanks. up next, a 40% drop in the number of people caught trying to cross the u.s. mexico border last month. is president trump's tough talk and immigration the reason? i'll talk with jorge ramos. at. and when you filter out the noise, it's easy to turn your vision into action. it's your trade. e*trade.
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the massive drop in border apprehensions last month says 40% of -- fewer, down 40%. what do you make of that? is it possible the tough talk is working, that he defserves credit? >> the fear is stronger than any wall. what we are seeing right now is the trump effect. these people calling family and friends saying don't come here. no one wants ill legal immigration. it is very risky. it's better to do it in a legal way and the other thing is that many americans and people that voted for donald trump have to understand there is no invasion. no one is invading the united states. mexicans are not invading the united states. the undocumented population remains stable at 11 million for the last decade. those are the positive things.
the negative is that this is the trump effect because of the policies of fear and cruelty. this is because they are deporting people, not criminals, who have no criminal records, moms and dads, which is different from the obama administration. >> what is startling is this is normally a time when they would see an uptick of 10 or 20% so to see a drop of 40% is very significant and as you point out, i mean, it does mean that people are not taking a very dangerous journey women, children, you know, anything can happen as they were trying to cross over illegally. isn't it -- is it a good -- isn't it a good thing that there is is this drop? >> it's -- yes, it's a good thing that we don't have more undocumented immigrants. there is a legal way to do it. every year there is about
400,000 immigrants, anderson, who come here illegally every year. now it seems it's dropping. so far that's good news. on the other hand and let me emphasize that, it also means that trump is big news in latin america. it means that they are listening to what we are seeing in the last two weeks i've been reporting about many families being separated and destroyed because of trump's policies and we heard the secretary, homeland security general john kelly saying he's considering separating children from their mothers at the border. what kind of country are be becoming. how do you humanely separate a kid from his mother? how do you do that? in latin america, they are listening to this message and hearing is fear. a lot of fear on this side of the border. >> he's saying particularly on that idea of the separation is that he wants to speprevent peo
discourage people from making the journey and a policy like that would be met with legal challenges. it is possible it could be effective in further curtailing the numbers? >> well, it might be effective but do we want to be that country? do we want to be the country they separating children from parents? i don't think so. that's not the american tradition. >> in terms of what the president said, he wants to see the legal immigration system toward a merit based approach, the there by, a lot of people hear that and say it sounds like it makes sense. are they wrong? >> well, as long as you still have that diversity of immigrants coming to this country, as long as you can unite families and not separate them, yeah, i think for some people that could be a good idea but on the other hand, what many people are hearing when they listen to donald trump is that they want to go back to 1965.
it is is not make america great again, it is make america white again. 1965 for instance, 80 or 85% of the population was white. many people don't like the fact this is truly becoming a multi cultural 1944, whites will become another minority. we're not process of becoming minority majority and many people don't like and many people think that not only with the deportation but this merit system is that he wants to change these trend of multi cultural. >> you think so. >> i think so. it is very clear. trump's idea through the campaign were anti immigrant. he did say that mexican immigrants were criminals and drug traffickers and rapists.
he didn't say a tiny minority. he said a judge couldn't because he was hispanic. i don't know if he's racist but he made those racist remarks so yes, there is clearly an idea the way and demographically is not what he might want. >> and just for accuracy, i believe what he said was talking about illegal immigrants and said some of them he assumes are good people. >> at the end. at the end. he said they are bringing drugs. they are bringing crimes. they are rapists. that's exactly what he said on june 16th, 2015. he didn't say some of them. he was talking about mexican immigrants and by the way, i'm a mexican immigrant and what he's saying is wrong. only 3% of immigrants have done that. undocumented immigrants and that's half of what the average
is for americans. >> jorge ramos, always good to talk to you. up next, how president trump is mending fences in washington with former bitter rivals like senator cruise and why the effort could earn him the title of deal maker and chief if he gets the gop health care bill approved on capitol hill. rious:! ho! ( ♪ ) it's off to work we go! woman: on the gulf coast, new exxonmobil projects are expected to create over 45,000 jobs. and each job created by the energy industry supports two others in the community. altogether, the industry supports over 9 million jobs nationwide. these are jobs that natural gas is helping make happen, all while reducing america's emissions. energy lives here.
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president trump considers himself the ultimate deal maker in the art of the deal and to get obamacare repealed he'll have to become the deal maker and showing signs with details. here is tom foreman. >> reporter: if there is one thing this president likes to do, it's make a deal so he put on that hat, first by cozying up to several senators who were arch rooifrivals during the cam. he had ted cruz and his family to the white house for dinner and posing for a picture with the kids. cruz called the trump family warm and gracious, the same at the scene same ted cruz who said his father was connected to the assassination of kennedy.
>> it won't work. premiums and prices will continue to spiral out of control. >> reporter: then there is senator rand paul. candidate trump belittled on the debate stage. >> first of all, he shouldn't be on this stage. he's 11 and has 1% in the polls and how he got up here, there is far too many people, anyway. >> reporter: trump turning on the charm. the president reached out to the kentucky senator over his continuing opposition to the health care overhaul and later tweeted i feel sure that my friend rand paul will come along. and campaign arch enemy lindsey graham got the treatment, too. trump met with graham cautionening the president against giving him too much to pressure. >> if members have ideas, we want to hear them and want them to be part of it. this isn't getting jammed through. >> reporter: some republicans are trying to help the president's plan along. >> the time is here. the time is now. this is the moment and this is the closest this will ever
happen. >> reporter: but the president continues taking a very active role himself trying to close the deal. inviting members of the congressional freedom caucus to bowl at the white house, even as many of them suggested his plan as a gutter bowl. meeting with leaders of numerous influential conservative groups and making plans to hit the road and whip up popular support, too. >> i think really that we're going to have something that will be much more understood and much more popular than people can imagine. >> reporter: it's very different from what president barack obama was pushing his health reform plan. indeed, he was sharply criticized for not engaging with congress enough. then again, his plan did eventually pass and we don't know yet if president trump's will. anderson? >> tom, thanks very much. let's get more insight. joining me is michael d. antonio, author of the truth
about trump and the president of news max media, inc. when donald trump, we talked about president trump as a deal maker, do you know how he goes about that? i found out talking to him, he's charming, he can bring -- he can kind of appeal to people if they don't think they like his policies once you actually meet him, he can be a very charming guy. how does he make deals happen? do you have a sense of that? >> i have a very good sense of it. i met a lot of political figures and people have been former presidents and he has the best natural political skills i've seen. >> he reads people well. >> he reads people but relates and connects with them really well, and he has an incredible ability to look at you and talk to you and zone out the rest of the world. he -- i was just in washington last week and i spent a little time with him at the oval office and chatted with democrats and
behind the scenes, they are saying they are thrilled that this president is calling them inviting them into the oval office, inviting them over for lunch. they have not had that. >> that is not the relationship many had with barack obama. >> that's the real donald trump. he reaches out to people. he builds bridges. i know during the campaign, i think people got a very skewed view, partly, i think because of the media against him and i think we're going to see that he's a consensus builder and a deal maker. >> michael, is that what you found, as well. >> he is charming in person and i think even folks who think they don't like him when they are one on one they have a good time with him. the difference here, i think, is when you get into heavy policy and this was true of bill clinton and barack obama, they knew it inside out and they were selling something that they understood. now when you're a salesperson, you succeed when you really believe in your product and you know it. and i think in this case, president trump may not be
aware, for example, that the person whose going to have the hardest time with this new scheme for health care is a 60-year-old voter who makes 40 thousanddoll $,000 a year or less. that's his sweet spot politically and if you understand that policy, he might have a different thing to say -- >> not everybody -- look, ronald reagan, you know, certainly didn't -- was not a in the weeds in erm tterms of policy. there were others that filled in details. there is different forms of leadership. >> big picture -- >> it's something you want to sale. if you're selling an apartment. you want to know the amenities. he does have this vision but there will be people in his own party who are going to have problems with it and that's who he really -- >> one of the things -- conservatives were worried about during the primary season and probably maybe still is he's not ideal and willing to -- he talked about bringing people in
a room together and hashing out and making a deal. >> well, donald trump believes in things and he's anunouncunci. barack obama won the argument everybody should get coverage. donald trump agreed with that in the primary. this house plan gives blanket coverage, maybe not as much as michael would like to give, maybe not as much as i would even like to give. and i'm sure trump would probably like to give people the tape of full coverage that he gets for him and his family but the federal government can't afford that. there has to be some in between. where barack obama there was no compromise, he didn't work with the republicans at all. remember, they were not part of the stimulus bill and not even allowed in to consult on the obamacare bill. donald trump is bringing everybody in. the freedom caucus. at the end of the day, the funny thing is he might not be able to win over his base as much. he's going to be able to win over democrats.
>> there were a lot of democrats that said republicans didn't want to work within president obama. let me ask you, you saw him last week i saw you quoted saying he was angry at the time. just in terms of the adjustment, every chief of staff i talked to of a president said look, it's incredibly hard to go from campaigning to being the president of the united states. how do you think he is doing in terms of running a business is one thing, not -- you know, all his former employees have non-disclosures in the federal bureaucracy and leaking. how is he dealing with it all? >> anderson, think about this. these guys go in and the huge adjustment they have in the past is all politicians, political office. donald trump is the first guy whose never held political office to be president of the united states. one of the things i've seen and interacted with his companies before, he really figures out things quickly. he came into the new york real estate business. you probably know the background in his early 30s figured it out.
went into show biz, had a 15-year career. two years ago decides he is going to run for president. defeats 15 very able candidates. the bush machine, the clinton machine. so i think he's in a figuring out period and i think we're already seeing really good things, the press needs to give him a little more latitude and the public if you look at the poll this week, the tip poll, which is the most accurate presidential poll 54% of americans say the press should go a little more easy. they are weary of the attacks on him. so -- >> appreciate both you being with us. wish we had more time. definitely do it again. just ahead, was this another example of bringing a formal rival on board with the president offered john huntsman and why it's more than a little complicated. details ahead. modern life deserves a modern way to pay.
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daddy! lets play! sorry kids. feeling dead on your feet? i've been on my feet all day. dr. scholl's massaging gel insoles have a unique gel wave design for outrageous comfort that helps you feel more energized. dr. scholl's. feel the energy! sources tell cnn former utah governor jon huntsman has accepted the position of ambassador to russia, obviously a high stakes posting. if confirmed, it will be the latest proof of how relationships in washington can, let's say, evolve. michelle kosinski reports. >> reporter: jon huntsman, president trump's choice for ambassador to russia, could now be a key player in one of the u.s.'s most complicated relationships, a choice made more unusual because huntsman has his own complicated relationship with trump. he originally said he could support trump but in october he
changed his tune after the "access hollywood" tape was released, he told trump to drop out. he said the race had become a race to the bottom, that the time has come for governor pence to lead the ticket. in 2009 huntsman accepted president obama's invitation to join his administration. >> what did president obama do? he named him to be the ambassador to china. >> reporter: huntsman took the job but later quit and ran in the republican primary anyway. at the time, trump was critical, trashing huntsman on twitter. jon huntsman called to see me, i said no. trump also calling him weak, a lightweight, easy pickings. but after trump won the white house, huntsman appeared to mend fences. >> we've talked on the phone, exchanged thoughts and ideas.
i congratulated him on the race and wished him the best of success. >> reporter: why pick huntsman now? while the president has passed on hiring many of his critics including elliott abrams and mitt romney, he's tapped south carolina governor nikki haley as u.n. ambassador despite her opposition to him during the campaign. huntsman has rapid foreign policy chops, a two-time ambassador who has led a group critical of vladimir putin. a win white house opponents fear could be too cozy for russia. some say huntsman once interned for orrin hatch but then considered running against him. >> the idea at the time was keep your friends close and your enemies in china. the president needs senator orrin hatch, he's chairman of the finance committee, he'll be involved in all the health care stuff, tax reform. i guess you keep your friends close and your enemies in
russia. >> reporter: happtch, who said today huntsman would not run against him, has gone to bat for trump in the past. now his seat might just be safe. huntsman gets a big job and trump gets his ambassador to help him deal with putin. huntsman has described himself as this independent thinker but if confirmed, how much will his views or experience play into his work when so much of foreign policy right now seems to deeply centered within the white house? anderson? >> michelle, thanks very much. we'll be right back. just like the people who own them, every business is different. but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be help starting your business, vendor contracts or employment agreements. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you every step of the way so you can focus on what you do.
that's all the time we have, thanks for watching. time to turn it over to don lemon, "cnn tonight" begins now. breaking news, unanswered questions about the largest private bank in russia and the trump organization, and why president trump made those wiretapping accusations. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. sources tell cnn there is an investigation into a, quote, odd computer server relationship between the trump organization and a russian bank. could it be the root of president trump's wiretapping accusations against president obama? that's as fbi director james