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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 14, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT

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breaking news, new information on president trump's taxes. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. white house said president earned more than $150 million in income and paid $38 million in taxes in 2005, in response to the leak on the president's 1040. but while distracted by this and wiretappi wiretapping allegations, what is
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russia doing? have eye on libya? discuss that. david k. johnson, breaker of the story. and brookings institution. good to have you on. >> going to spend a lot of time with david. you can jump in at any point. talk about this. $38 million in taxes. >> didn't. $36.5 million. >> how is this not good for donald trump? >> i think it may be good for donald trump. one of the things that's strange about this, donald trump probably would benefit from releasing tax returns with a lot of people. would show his income which i think probably averaged at least or more than $81.5 million a year. put in almost the top 400 tax returns. why is he hiding his tax
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returns? i think he doesn't want us to know other things. what are the sources of income? who is he partner with? does he have divided loyalties? also has a long history of being deeply involved with serious vicious criminals, convicted felons and in particular major cocaine trafficker he risked his fortune to show loyalty to. maybe stuff in returns to tell us about the russians or criminals he's involved with he doesn't want us to see. >> the two pages came under the transom? sent to you? >> came to my home. i was in palm beach when it arrived. >> do you think it's convenient it's 2005, year he paid taxes and that was released? >> i don't know why whoever sent them to me did so. my suspicion is because i have
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written a great deal about negative incomes and failure to pay attention. one of the ways very wealthy people get out of paying taxes or pay much less and about the alternative minimum tax. and those pages show, if wasn't for that, trump would have been taxed on the $152 million plus at lower rate than poorest 50% of americans. >> and wants to get rid of the alternative minimum. >> and if we got rid of it, that's what he would have gotten. but he's been involved in regulatory matters where he had to turn them over and somebody decided i would make good use of this. >> mailed to your home anonymously. do you think he could have mailed them to you? >> absolutely. donald may have been the source of the pages that came out last
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fall. may have been the source of the sleazily pictures of his wife that came out in august. >> what you believe, not cnn's. >> it's possible. donald has a long history of leaking information about himself and he doesn't think like most us do. doesn't have the framework of what makes him look good or wad that rest of us have. created fake pr people, leaked stories that madonna and -- and kim basinger knocking his on bedroom door. long history of leaking stuff about himself. >> former panelist said should look at fact that client copy was stamped on those. what do you make of that? >> this is a photocopy of what went to donald. one of the reasons to think it went to him. no signatures because electronically filed. you have a pin you use to file,
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not signed return. >> so could have been a litigant? >> i have no way of saying. somebody that believed. if it wasn't donald or someone in his direction, somebody thought the public should see this. it was important. and i've been clear we should have all of trump's tax returns back to the 1970s. >> mark preston. received this anonymously. do you think it's distraction from the white house on russian thing? >> dmoeon't know for sure. but if betting man and i have, happened at good time for him to throw in a distraction from his own mess regarding allegations that barack obama had his home, his office, wiretapped. also seeing his signature domestic issue basically fall apart right now on health care.
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but ask david a quick question. saw the white house push back hard against rachel maddow today. when you went this them with the returns, what was the reaction? >> they like me wanted to do everything they could to stlemt, make sure not a setup of some time. number one concern. i've been running around tying down details consulting people. checking numbers. published at d.c. report.org. >> but sent to the white house? >> i sent to sean spicer who didn't reply and made clear would be a big story and wanted the white house to get its story oit about it. sent also to the firm who wouldn't comment. white house confirmed the
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documents in releasing them. donald trump when it's convenient putting out tax information and what wh it's not, withholding it. and point is right. could be a further distraction. problem is donald has so many issues going on here involving his finances, relationships with the oligarchs, wilbur ross, health care plan, republicans -- i don't think distraction -- >> i think what is interesting about the tax return issue is how it's evolved over time. during the campaign a lot of people curious how much did he give to charity? now more seriously than that, where did the money come from? we have the situation now where the trump campaign, for whatever reason, making overtures to russia. when confronted about it, several people lied about it.
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why? is there a financial connection between donald trump and russia? >> there are. >> but a full tax return would certainly tell us if not everything, a lot more about that. >> this is a summary page. >> and says nothing about sources of income. just a number. >> and nothing about interest paid and debts owed. >> what's the legality of leaking these or mailing them? anything. >> certainly a crime if someone within the irs took the returns and gave them out. but certainly nothing unlawful or even improper about david or us broadcasting this. we get it from various sources. if a litigant gave it to us, someone found it on the street and gave it to us, family member gave it to us, that is not illegal on their part unless a protective order in a lawsuit.
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and certainly not on the part of any journalist. >> ambassador, read something to you from edward klein bard, former chief staff -- release of the top pages of trump's 2005 tax return is useful start but drop in disclosure bucket of what trump owes american people. not talking about collective prurient interest in private affairs here. only complete returns can resolve the questions. president should and can put similar issues to bed releasing entirety of his tax history as other presidents have done for decades. is he right? >> thanks for having me and congratulations david on your scoop. he's absolutely right don. tax returns have a plethora of
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information and bipartisan experts have been calling for release since the campaign because of the russia and other foreign connections. mr. trump has to file forms about his russian partnerships if any. he has to reveal custodians of the books and records. russian investors, payments, gifts he might have received. there is form after form that would be in the full taxes. remember we just have two pages, single year's reportedly as much as 12,000 pages longsid. i think it's correct we need the information. i'm a little less sanguine than jeff in reading of the tax code. i do think there's exposure here, congratulate david on bravery but ultimately i think a first amendment defense would succeed.
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>> we'll discuss that. i'll keep you guys. wee bell right back.
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new information on president trump's taxes tonight. back now with my panel. ambassador norman eisen is here and he said he believed that david cay johnson may have exposure for putting these out. david you say what is this. >> i don't believe there is any at all. i didn't solicit this. didn't say hey you work at place. send to me. it just came in the mail and once i got it, i'm free to publish it. >> you said you teach it? >> i teach business and tax law in the ancient world. i'm not a lawyer but teach -- you'd be fascinated. >> david is absolutely right. may be that someone broke the law in giving it to him.
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>> yes. >> if it came from irs or someone who gave it even though a protective order entered by a judge said no one should disclose this but david i don't think is at any risk at all. >> expecting someone to knock on the door or phone call asking how you got it? >> said how i got it. d.c. site i have, we're into transparence and nonprofit, nonadvertising news service. >> what other questions do you have about the president's tax returns? >> on the point about the exposure, under section 26.13 a3, it is written broadly but want to be clear, i think david is protected. don't lose any sleep tonight. >> i won't. >> i think protected under
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bartnitski v. voper case. larry trooif and i offered on twitter to defend david if anybody comes after him. don in terms of taxes, this is the tip of the iceberg. these taxes are going to come out. it is a national security matter to understand mr. trump's ties, verify them, not just accept his assertions, particularly when people around him made so many false ones about russia but see what he's reported year after year about foreign connections. not just russia, troubling information about financial benefits, trademarks, valuable ones, coming into mr. trump as he's changing china policy. want to see what the tax returns say about financial connections there too. >> want to jump in, why are you
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so sure they'll be released? you said sure they'd come out. >> seen this time and again in washington. it's like the squeezing of a boa constrictor. all of the processes are focusing now on donald trump's ties with russia. and i don't think you can evaluate those. had the attorney general recuse himself, going to hear supposedly tomorrow may hear that the fbi has investigation. we know that investigations are proceeding in the house and senate. may very well be a select or joint committee there. may end up with independent, what we call special counsel under the rules. so i think it's all focusing in and at least the russia stuff has got to be looked at. that is as simple as relevant committees requesting the
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returns from the irs. takes a signature from orrin hatch. >> we've spent two years saying about donald trump, he has to do x. he said this terrible thing about john mccain, has to drop out of the race, said something terrible with megyn kelly. donald trump has operated by different rules all along. saying has to release the tax returns after the namnation. he became president without doing it. >> but congress has subpoena power and can get the documents if they want them. >> republican congress. >> yeah but doesn't mean interests are always connected with him. i agree they're not there yet. but if their interests separate from him, turn on him quickly. and remember what richard nixon said, people need to know their president is not a crook and in terms of donald trump, we also need to know he's not divided in
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his loyalties. >> to the point of congress kwg and subpoenaing documents, i don't think we'll see it happen unless really gets to the point where something comes out from another source that shows in fact some connection with russia. otherwise not seeing committee chairman with the power to do so requesting it. >> out of time. last word ambassador. >> it's also in the courts on part of a lawsuit suing mr. trump for unconstitutional foreign government payments and benefits. when we make it to discovery, we're going to request the tax returns. >> oh, boy. thank you ambassador, jeffrey, david. appreciate you coming on and always thanks to mark preston. coming back, everybody argues about the president's taxes, are we distracted from russia? talk about that next. oh no. schwab, again?
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the house intelligence committee holds its first public hearing next week on russia's meddling in our election and tomorrow fbi director comey promises to -- but many in moscow drawn their own conclusions. >> as the row over russia's alleged interference in the u.s. election deepen and questions into trump's connection continue, a lot of republicans mocking the discussion about them. like vladimir putin's spokesman. >> all the hysteria in public opinion, hysteria in american media is doing lots of harm to
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our relationship. >> reporter: the new ice age between u.s. and russia is on people's minds. >> i think it's stupid and just a provocation this man says, how can you say all this he adds. russia changed your history? so shocked. how can you say these things. and this woman says this is ridiculous and stupid. i think we have nothing to do with it. i'm sure of it. whether questions about servers and bank, or what associates met with ambassador during the campaign, russia's mostly state-run media is lashing out at coverage of the story, especially cnn's. this is one of his unfounded accusations. the cia feeds the russian hacker stories to the media, he says, and then let's say cnn blows
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them out of proportion. some here in russia say the current mood in america reminds them of their country's dark soviet past. like this historian. >> people seen by soviet government as too easy to be contaminated or intimidated, each and every time came into contact with foreigners. especially westerners, see same thing on display in the united states. astounding. >> reporter: but also realizing hurting chances of improving relations with the best. most people here simply want to see the issue go away. feel their country is being demonized and issue also tam hampers any efforts to repair relations. every new allegation and revelation makes the ties more complicated and more toxic. any effort bringing back on
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track, more challenging. cnn moscow. >> discuss now with matt -- director of the institute. and retired major general james spider marks and bob bair. matthew you were recently in russia. what did you find? >> my sense is this is way worse than russians being uncomfortable with allegations they think are unfounded. you heard the young man say this is unimaginable that russia is accused of changing source of american history. whether it's inside the kremlin or folks that were interviewed see no difference between republicans and did thes -- democrats. they believe democrats and republicans have the same view of russia.
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hostile. end of the day, all hostile to vladimir putin, and waiting for other shoe to drop in some sechblts as mccain suggested if this concludes that russians intervened in order to try to achie achieve regime change in the united states and there's chance that russians will assume will try for same response. not exaggeration. this is serious stuff. >> general you're not surprised one bit that russia is critical of what is said about them in the u.s. explain that. >> not at all. concern that i think is obvious to guy like me who wore a uniform all his life, we have real opportunities here to make a strategic decision whether to compete or cooperate with russia. clearly we can and must do both. can't give away the crown jewels but at the same time need to
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find common ground and confluence of interest. clearly plenty of opportunities to do that. syria not one. eastern ukraine is a real opportunity where the united states can exercise influence and find common ground that gives russia incentive to back away. but that's tactical fight right now. in order to break the parties apart, separatists and russian-backed forces, hard bargaining at policy level. need to be sanctions and have russians and putin understand there is a way out. but we have to exercise that flooins. >> bob, what concerns you most about the u.s. relationship with russia right now? >> well i think we have to look at possibility there was collusion between the trump campaign and russians, at least at some level. fact that these elections may have been influenced by
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russians, it's a question of sovereignty. under cyberattack. mccain said this, lot of people said it and lot of people wonder what the president's relation is with russia. look at property holdings and see russian connections and see the advisers talking to russians and alpha bank communications between the campaign and so on. classic counterintelligence investigation and you have to wonder about the president's loyalties, you have to until they come clean on this, including tax returns and business contacts in russia. until it's cleared up, go on for another four years. and it does concern me as former cia officer, who has watched russians try to get into the elections. back in the '90s, trying to put money into the dnc, i was in
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middle of that. classic covert action attack on the united states and until we get the facts out, always be a doubt in our minds what is going on here. >> you know, matthew, been a lot of distractions with the administration. what geopolitical moves are russia making now with constant distraction all the time? >> right. this is the problem. not only distraction of having to play defense on anything that even has the slightest whiff of russia, basically block administration from developing a russia policy. and problem is congress has a role to play in foreign policy. quite frankly american public at large has a voice on foreign policy but basically the president and administration have to do foreign policy. deter the russians from threatening the united states directly and our allies. hard to achieve when you can't have a direct conversation with the russians, hyper sensitive.
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can't fill positions relevant to russia. impossible on capitol hill. advice is number one, keep eye on the price. united states for reasons of survival and national interest, need a russian policy. walk and chew gum. conduct investigation but compartmentalize it. do this at the same time as develop a policy. at the same time we have to remember russia is not like any other country on the planet in terms of the potential threat they pose. can destroy life as we know it if vladimir putin decides to do it in matter of an hour. we don't want them with backs against the wall thinking will be accused of existential regime change in the united states because that's coming to them. that's what they think is retaliation.
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we have to conduct relations within the zone, we have to maintain stability. >> that's sobering. are we under risk right now? that big of a threat? >> if this is existential, and it has potential of being and from the perspective of moscow, it's marching down that path, thing that i take comfort in as bob indicated, this is potential counterintelligence operation, classic. best thing we can do from our side, expose everything we've done, make it transparent, push it aside immediately. and we have senior adults in charge of national security apparatus. can't think of a finer group of gentlemen. when they conduct their negotiations and engagements, they can close the door behind them and say look, you're dealing with me. despite what the president might tweet, you're dealing with me and here are the factors we
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might talk about. serious and focused individuals. i think from that perspective, existential gets a little bit of air brake release but still out there and needs to be -- >> as we're distracted back here, are folks that general mentioned, are they empowered to do everything that he's saying? is this putin's long game? and are they empowered to do that? >> heard over and over again from russians and into the government that putin was surprised that donald trump was elected. as surprised as you and i were. what they really wanted to do by hacking into the dnc was weaken the clinton administration. so mad about the ukraine, missile defense and nato
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expansion, figured give her a hard time and let this out by wikileaks. lot of sfb russians disagreed with this, kgb essentially. backfired and could be worse. right now there's no way that our president can talk frankly to russia while the investigation is going on. these things have a way of going sideways squikly. especially with autocrat like putin. >> thank you gentlemen. coming back, how much do steve bannon and kellyanne conway shape the president's agenda? looks delicious, huh? -yeah. -richard, try to control yourself. -i can't help it. -and how about that aroma? -love that aroma! umph! -craveability, approved! -oh, can i have some now?! -sure! help yourself.
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i we worked with pg&eof to save energy because wenie. wanted to help the school. they would put these signs on the door to let the teacher know you didn't cut off the light. the teachers, they would call us the energy patrol. so they would be like, here they come, turn off your lights! those three young ladies were teaching the whole school about energy efficiency. we actually saved $50,000. and that's just one school, two semesters, three girls. together, we're building a better california. how much do we know about president trump's inner circle? and are there fingerprints all over the president's agenda? >> discuss with michael bender and molly ball, political writer
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for the atlantic tlt who interviewed kellyanne conway. >> michael you interviewed steve bannon for piece in the "wall street journal." do you think brietbart is helping push agenda? >> of course. it's built in steve bannon's image. i don't know how much he's involved in the coverage anymore, he says he's not. reports of stories after -- but people he hired for a reason and still doing the job he hired them to do. so largely helping push trump agenda. i do think that their attacks on paul ryan and reince priebus are not necessarily helpful to steve. i think steve likes having reince priebus as chief of staff in the white house. i think he does have a lot of
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respect for him. and what reince brings to the table. >> what did you learn about bannon though? >> my reporting on the story was focused on his upbringing and his father. and i joked on twitter that i the story essentially confirmed that steve bannon was born of human parents. right? this is the guy characterized as angel of death on "saturday night live," in new yorker cartoon as knocking devil off trump's shoulder and saying i'll take it from here. it is a little more complex than that, more nuanced. so i spent some time in richmond with steve's dad. he's 95 years old. this is a guy who spent 50 years working for at&t with high school education. father spent 48 years at same company. what was interesting to me,
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steve very much believes in make america great idea, this call back to an era of the 1950s, and kind of the stability of his dad's adult life that steve himself has never had. steve was in the navy, at goldman, at harvard, ran biosphere ii. dabbled in penny stocks, hollywood producer, ran brietbart. a little more chaotic and dramatic than his dad's life but economic nationalism that steve pushes came from upbringing in richmond and white working-class neighborhood he grew up in. >> speak with molly now. bannon credits kellyanne conway for saving then-candidate trump after the release of the emfams "access hollywood" tape. you say bapen said it was
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conway's calm presence that led both wavering women and conservative voters to think if she can still support trump irks i can too. if kellyanne had not been there -- you think behind the push for white working-class voters. is kellyanne conway the reason donald trump is president do you think? >> i think there's a good case would not have won the election if not for her. she was campaign manager in the final stretch, third person to run the campaign. also crucially part of the intellectual infrastructure of forming the trump populist agenda. particularly on immigration. for 20 years kellyanne conway has been outside the mainstream of the republican consultant class arguing that republicans need to talk more about immigration and talk about it as working people's issue. she's been producing polls for a lot of the immigration restriction groups on the right
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that a lot of the republican establishment would not talk to or considered fringe. but she really believed in it. and bannon told me that he was making a cabal a few years ago running brietbart, described as cabal composed of himself -- and kellyanne conway. and alternative to view that had to pass immigration reform. and trump became the vessel for the view that you could galvanize a new segment of the white working-class electorate, guys that michael is talking about, get them to vote particularly talking about immigration issue. >> but wonder now if she's hurting not campaign but immigration. makes headlines with this. said alternative and first thing
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that came to mind was alternative facts and microwave thing that sean spicer responded to today. >> does the president believe that he was surveilled through microwaves and televisions? >> i'm not going -- i will just say the president has tweeted about this, clear that he believes surveillance was -- in the election. i think there's sound evidence that microwave is not a sound way of surveilling anyone. it's made in jest. i think it's laid to rest. >> he said made in jest. she seemed serious it was not a joke at all. controversial. doesn't seem to have hurt her within the administration but certainly outside the administration. what do you think? >> and seems to be a number one every day. has incredible ability to get under people's skin. create viral moments.
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interview. alternative facts. bowling green massacre, controversy about ivanka trump's fashion line. always making people's head skploechltd i think she enjoys trolling people like trump does. they have a lot of characteristics in common. to a lot of trump supporters she's a folk hero, celebrity, mascot for what he represents and her close tons the president is real. i don't see her going anywhere. but at the same time has incredible ability to infuriate people on the either side and fascination with her. even a lot of liberals who deplore her and what she represents still can't take their eyes off her. >> i appreciate your writing for the atlantic, and michael your stuff in the wall street journal. wish we had more time. appreciate it. >> thanks.
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>>. >> can president trump deliver on the campaign promises that won him the white house? a former aide in the obama white house is a columnist for the post and jack kingston, an adviser to the trump campaign. i believe my coanchor this evening. welcome back. >> a promotion. >> welcome to the show. you wrote an op ed, the winning arguments democrats have against trump. it's all about exposing where the president is filling to deliver. explain that. >> look, i think there is a lot of noise about what the president is doing, but what he's not doing that is the most important political edge against him. he made a lot of promises about bread and butter issues and the
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campaign. he fixed health care immediately after taking office and everyone would have great health care at a fraction of the price and he would stop jobs from moving overseas and get trade deals renegotiated. they put anti-outsourcing through congress and an infrastructure through congress. my point is there is a lot of people who voted for trump who expected help on bread and butter issues and that's not what he is working on. democrats should hold him accountable for that. >> the things he has not delivered on and in your estimation there has been a lot of noise. the most recent tracking hole shows that the approval rating at 39%pproval, a big drop from the two previous weeks. polls are a snapshot, but he is losing ground.
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why do you think that is? >> she hitting the ground running and time will tell. the big poll will be four years from now. it will depend on if he has delivered on the promises. the promises are jobs and better trade agreement and lower cost health care and more choices. he has taken these issues on. ron is right technically. the american voters don't think of it that way and worry about the 100 days. he is trying to make progress on the wall. he is trying to make progress on health care. he has with drawn from the trade agreement or the negotiations for the trade agreement. he is draining the swamp. he has new ethics rules for people he hired and tax reform is around the corner as is infrastructure and his budget rebuilds the military. he is delivering on his promises, but not strictly on a 100 daytime table. he is hitting the ground running
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and this is -- >> but of course that's what president trump promised. he said he would do some of these things starting day one and get them passed in 100 days. he is breaking promises. he said mid-february when he would approve the pipeline, they would use u.s. steel. that promise didn't apply. he changed his promise, broke his promise. >> but ron -- >> that's a reversal of something he said two weeks after he made the promise. he is not delivering for americans. he shouldn't have made the promise. he made a bunch of promises he is not keeping. i agree, the ultimate poll comes two years from now and four years from now. i agree with jack on that. but they are going to judge on infrastructure. the white house said they will not build a congress until 2018. projects will not start until 2019.
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>> what about your friend chuck schumer who is doing everything he can and can't even get cabinet members appointed. >> jack, every cabinet member has been confirmed. >> hold on. one at a time. executive orders are not legislation. >> that's what got the keystone pipeline stopped under president obama and done and started under donald trump. >> they can get things moving. >> creating jobs with russian steel. look, i think the point is he promised a lot of action. the democrats are in the mi norit and the republican run the show in the house and senate. he has not even proposed the things he said he would get done. >> obamacare and new trade agreements.
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he is doing all of that. >> i think there has been progress, but a lot of things have not happened that he promised. we are in the middle of it. thanks for watching and we will see you back here tomorrow. i'm phil mickelson, pro golfer. my psoriatic arthritis caused joint pain. just like my moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
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>> good evening and thank you for joining us. the question of ties between the trump campaign and russia. the question we know both the house and senate are investigating with at least three other committees and a subcommittee and the fbi even though the bureau refused to publicly confirm it. we learned that james comey is about to go on the

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