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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  May 8, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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topping this hour, from washington, the nation's former
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top law enforcement official speaks out about her warning to the white house. sally yates telling the panel she delivered a sobering message, was at risk of welcoming a puppet. michael flynn who was national security adviser was vulnerable she warned to russian blackmail. what the white house did with the warning is with one thing. what democrats and republicans have done with the investigation is another. so is how the president is reacting tonight. it starts with the hearings today and our pamela brown. >> reporter: tonight, former acting attorney general revealing for the first time when and why she alerted the white house about her concerns regarding the now dismissed national security adviser michael flynn. >> we felt like it was critical that we get this information to the white house, because in part because the vice-president was unknowingly making false statements to the public and because we believed that general flynn was compromised with respect to the russians.
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>> reporter: sally yates testifying to a senate judiciary subcommittee that she spoke to the white house on three occasions about flynn. the first two happened in white house where she said flynn lied to vice-president pence about conversations he had with the russian ambassador. the vice-president maybe unintentionally disseminating that to the american people. >> we felt the vice-president was entitled to know that the information he had been given and that he was relaying to the american public wasn't true. >> what you are saying is that general flynn lied to the vice-president? >> that's certainly how it appeared, yes, because the vice-president went out and made statements about general flynn's conduct that he said were based on what general flynn had told him. we knew that that just flat wasn't true. >> reporter: her biggest concern was that the russians would use that as leverage over flynn. >> not only did we believe the russians knew this, but that
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they likely had proof of this information. and that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the russians. >> reporter: yates said she alerted white house counsel to her concerns in late january. two days after the fbi interviewed flynn and a full 18 days before flynn was fired following a bombshell washington post report that revealed the warning to the white house. >> we told them that they were giving them all of this information so that they could take action. the action that they deemed appropriate. >> reporter: yates' testimony contradicting the white house assertion that she gave a heads up. >> the acting attorney general informed white house counsel that they wanted to give, quote, a heads up to us on some comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the vice-president out in particular. >> reporter: yates testifying today she gave the white house the opportunity to look at the
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classified materials proving flynn was lying in a phone call with the russian ambassador, on the same day she was fired by president trump over her refusal to back the travel ban. >> we would allow them to come over and to review the underlying evidence. >> that was the end of this episode? nobody came over to look at the material? >> i don't know what happened after that because that was my last day with doj. >> pamela brown joins us now. do we know if the white house looked at the classified materials sent over by sally yates? >> we reached out to the white house and are awaiting a response about whether anyone there, including counsel, did look at the classified material that sally yates was referring to that prompted her concern about michael flynn. we don't know all of the classified material that she used to make that judgment. sources say it did include the transcript with the russian ambassador and his conversation with michael flynn where michael flynn discussed sanctions with
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him, even though he denied he talked sanctions to him to mike pence as well as others within the administration. sally yates did say during the hearing today that this was a white house request to look at these materials. she was called to the white house and asked if they could look at the underlying evidence. it's unclear whether or not that happened. this certainly undermines the argument from sean spicer there that sally yates just came and gave a vague heads up. it's clear from the testimony today that the white house had the opportunity at the very least to look at this evidence and it's unclear why it took 18 days for the white house to talk action only after "the washington post" bombshell article about this justice department warning to white house officials. >> pam brown, thanks very much. the president is reacting. no surprise, it's on twitter. sally yates made the fake media unhappy today. it's a hoax. when will this end?
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earlier this each, i spoke with one lawmaker, eric swallwell who serves on the house intelligence committee. earlier today when asked if you had seen classified evidence of collusion between trump campaign associates and russia you said yes. there are things you cannot say. can you give a sense of what you have seen that's pointing in your opinion to collusion? >> anderson, there's evidence of collusion, both on the classified and unclassified side. my hope is that the world will soon see it. also, anderson, i want to be clear that evidence is kind of a collection of documents and testimony and different witness accounts. it has to be tested. it has to be developed. it's much different than guilt. to say you have seen evidence of collusion is also different than saying that somebody is guilty of collusion. it takes time to go from taking evidence to a guilt phase in a trial or for a country to review a house intelligence committee's
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report and to make their own determinations. >> i guess on the unclassified side, people know about paul manafo manafort's history in ukraine, about roger stone allegedly in contact, carter page and others. is that basically what you are pointing to as what you see as evidence? there's also the evidence of how individuals acted once they were confronted about their prior ties. in a courtroom, you would call this consciousness of guilt evidence. the only reason would you lie about a fact in an investigation is to cover up something that had occurred in the past. so we saw that certainly with the attorney general. he twice was asked about ties to russia and twice said he didn't have any contacts with russia. then he had to go back and change that account once it became public. we saw the same with michael flynn. we have seen that with jared kushner who left his sf-86
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security clearance form blank when asked whether he had any foreign contacts. we learned he was meeting with sanctioned russian banks at the time of the transition. again, these are either a lot of coincidences or there are very good reasons that they didn't want the world to know about their prior ties to russia. >> your committee has been trying to get former acting attorney general sally yates to testify in an open setting as she did today in front of the senate. i wonder what questions remain for you unanswered in your mind. it seems like there's a limited amount of information she can give in an unclassified setting. what else would you want to learn from her when she appears? >> learned a lot from sally yates today as she testified, particularly just how hard she tried to tell the white house about michael flynn, perhaps being compromised, and just how little that they cared. i would like to bring her in. i think people want to make sure that the house is doing our own investigation. what i would also like to test
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and hear from with sally yates is other evidence that they had with respect to other officials in the trump administration, because it does appear that this is a pattern of people on trump's team who said one thing publically about contacts with russia and did something else privately. i would like more time with her to understand that. >> have you set a date for when she might appear? >> we have sent an invitation. we hope -- because our hearing was supposed to be public and it was supposed to occur before the senate's hearing. we hope that we put that in place that the world can hear from her. but there's also other witnesses, anderson. to show people that our committee is independent, credible and making progress, i hope when we get back in a few weeks that we are interviewing those witnesses publically and in private. >> president trump tweeted this evening about the hearing. quote, director clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media knows, there is no evidence of collusion with russia and trump. is that what you heard from
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clapper today? >> no. it was very, very disturbing when clapper laid out the gravity of this attack, that another country violated our sovereignty and that from the appearance they are celebrating and congratulating themselves to use his words. what bothers me is that this hearing was on russia meddling and over the members on the republican side talked about anything but russian meddling. so we need to get serious about this. there is evidence not only of collusion but there's deep, deep evidence that russia interfered with our election and intend do it again. this demands a serious investigation. >> congressman swalwell, appreciate your time. >> my pleasure. >> we're back with the panel. jeffrey, we haven't heard from you tonight. is it appropriate for the president of the united states to be calling an ongoing investigation by the fbi a total hoax? >> this is the point he has been making all along here.
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god bless -- i know people don't want him to tweet. i'm glad that he does. he does get the opportunity to get right out there and say what he feels on these things. one, there's no evidence of collusion. how many months has this been going on? where is the evidence? it just isn't there. they can drag this on -- did he collude to steal the election? there's no evidence of that. >> there's an ongoing investigation. >> for the next two years, five years, ten years? that, frankly, is the hope of democrats in the media that this will keep going forever. there's basically no there there. >> brian, is it appropriate for the president to tweet about an active fbi investigation? >> no. it's unrealistic to expect sally yates was going to present in an open hearing in an unclassified setting some bombshell set of evidence. there may well be evidence as the congressman alluded to in his interview.
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but we're not going to hear about it in a public setting like that. what's interesting is that when sally yates recounted what she told the counsel, the first thing she said she told white house counsel was that michael flynn's underlying conduct was troubling. that contradicts what the white house told us. at the time sean spicer said the only basis for his firing was that he had lied to the vice-president and figures within the administration. now we're learning from sally yates, it was the underlying conduct of an investigation and they tried to probe sally yates. she rightly shut him down. that suggests there's underlying criminality here and perhaps there's exposure on michael flynn's part which would explain why he's seeking immunity. >> the president is sticking by flynn, saying nice things about him. others in the white house seem to be trying to put distance between the president and michael flynn. we don't know if michael flynn talked to the president or
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president-elect about his conversation with the russian ambassador or if donald trump knew in advance. we don't know if there's something there. >> he's an orphan from everybody except donald trump. it tells you something about donald trump which may be a good trait, although, maybe an extreme trait in this particular case, which is that he was warned by president obama don't hire this guy, there were people on his initial transition i've been told who said to the president-elect, you know, you really need to be careful about flynn, and i was told that he always said back to them, on the transition, he has been a very loyal guy. i think that donald trump doesn't want to throw him under the bus completely. everybody else is willing to do it for good reason it seems. >> he doesn't want to run the bus over him. >> he doesn't want to run the bus over him. he did fire him. >> it's not always wise to throw somebody completely off the bus when somebody who has been
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attached to your hip for a campaign and heard everything you have heard. >> and has an interesting story to tell. he is throwing that out there. as you pointed out, we don't know -- one of the big mysteries of this whole case is, did donald trump know exactly what went on between the russian ambassador and flynn? did he know that flynn lied to the vice-president and other white house aides? there's evidence that there's a chance he did know. he tweeted and celebrated vladimir putin's decision not to impose sanctions. that chain of events hasn't been totally uncovered. >> he would have let his vice-president go out and basically lie or tell non-truths which i think trump understands that would be terrible for the relationship. and terrible for his relationship with many other republicans. it's a real question who knew what, when in the white house.
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>> one of the questions to that is, i believe there either was a learning curve they didn't understand or they wanted to move past this. michael flynn rolled himself under the bus and stayed there. if you want to talk about the bus. he did. the unfortunate thing is is that if he had not lied to the vice-president, michael flynn could still actually be the national security adviser. the issues are -- >> if he had not lied or if he lied and there had not been a leak about it. >> exactly. >> what would be so wrong with calling the white house counsel before a congressional committee and finding -- >> executive privilege. >> an executive session. there are answers to these questions that we don't know. we don't know about the underlying evidence. we don't know about what they knew when they knew it. i guess he will claim executive privilege. >> we will take a break. we will pick up the conversation when we come back. it was banter or did eric trump
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let something slip about russian funding for a trump organization. that and more when we continue. [vo] the grille is distinctive. but it's usually seen from the rear. the all-new audi q5 is here. go to great lengths frto find relief.ain finally there's drug-free aleve direct therapy®. a tens device with high intensity power that uses technology once only available in doctors' offices for deep penetrating relief at the source. aleve direct therapy. if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, isn't it time to let the real you shine through? introducing otezla, apremilast. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. some people who took otezla saw 75% clearer skin after 4 months. and otezla's prescribing information
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guaranteed. when you book direct at book now. in some ways you could see today's proceedings as a tale two of hearings. democrats focusing on general flynn and russian meddling. republicans directing questions toward leaks and unmasking americans swept up in surveillance. there were some exceptions, some done out of politeness. there were questions like this
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which seemed to be aimed at getting exonerating testimony on the record. you can decide whether it worked out that way. >> general clapper, during your investigation of all things russia, did you ever find a situation where a trump business interest in russia gave you concern? >> not in the course of the appropriation of the intelligence community assessment. >> since? >> i'm sorry? >> at all. any time. >> senator graham, i can't comment on that, because that impacts an investigation. >> it wasn't enough to put into the report? >> that's correct. >> back now with the panel. basically, director clapper saying trump business ventures didn't end up in the january 6 report but suggesting they were relevant to the investigation. >> right. he tried to walk a fine line
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there, because he didn't want to divulge anything classified. he seemed to kind of indicate that there was something that raised eyebrows. we don't know what it is. clearly, it wasn't in the original -- in the january report. he didn't say no right away. >> matthew, there's so many things in these unclassified hearings that we just don't know. >> that's one of the problems. i want to go back to something jeffrey and brian said earlier, which is that we don't know. at some point it's unfair. i don't know when that time is. i don't know if it's now. at some point if there's evidence, somebody will have to show it. it's not something that an independent prosecutor would have an easier time doing. i don't know. it's a complex process. cia, nsa, these are people who -- they don't want to declassify everything. at some point we are taking the word of people whose evidence we haven't seen. that's something the white house
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does have a point to say that there is a cloud over us unfairly. >> this is something that's been bugging me about the question of collusion. we have raised the bar now with these investigations to illegality. this statement will sound crazy coming out of left field, because it's -- there is overwhelming evidence that the trump campaign colluded with russia. what do i mean by that? i mean, donald trump celebrated wikileaks on a regular basis. he jokingly or not called for the russians to hack hillary clinton's campaign. there was an active program by republicans to take information that the russians stole from john podesta and the democratic party and once it became public to feed it into the information stream and we all talked about it. that is collusion but not necessarily illegal conspiracy or coordination.
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what the committees are looking at is something beyond that into a criminal conspiracy or something. the fact that the trump campaign colluded with these released information i think is -- it seems so shocking to say because we were constantly looking for a smoking gun about something illegal. but they did collude with the russians. they took the information that was stolen and used it to advance their campaign's interest. >> it was in the public domain. >> absolutely. >> but it was stolen. i'm not saying it was illegal. >> that doesn't matter. i think that to ryan's point, everything that the trump campaign engaged in and the way that we as a country reacted i think looks the more untoured given the counter example with the french election. you had the ultimate victor in the election be the subject of an 11th hour intrusion likely by the russians. you saw discretion exercised in how that was covered. >> if your country is being attacked by a foreign power, if they are stealing information
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from one party and dumping it into the public domain, you as a party have a decision to make. do you encourage it, talk about it, raise it as the issue of the campaign? or do you say, you know what? this is an attack on both parties, on america and we're not going to talk about it. we saw what trump did. he colluded with that evidence. >> that's the issue going back to the original point. when do you say when? how long do you allow these investigations to continue? the process is about what, it's about the fact that our democracy was challenged, our elections were challenged. because russia interfered. that's what people are forgetting. that takes precedent. it's not about how long. it's about getting to the bottom because that affects 2018 and -- >> russia has been interfering or wanting to interfere -- >> is it right? >> i'm not saying it's right. all i'm asking for is consistency. i was in the 1984 reagan campaign. after the soviet union -- wait.
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after the soviet union fell and a british reporter for the financial times or one of the papers got into the archives. there was a letter from ted kennedy trying to arrange a deal with gorbachev to damage the reagan campaign. where was the big investigation? in other words, if we're going -- >> jeffrey, that did not dominate the 1984 campaign. you are talking about historical footnotes. this is an issue that dominated the campaign. >> wouldn't it be nice if you had a president who said, this is awful, we need to get to the bottom of this, because this is threatening and challenging our very democracy? >> every day there are thousands, tens of thousands of electronic attempts to break into government computers. >> they've been going on through the obama administration. where was the outrage? >> it's from foreign governments. there needs to be some kind of solution, some kind of way in
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order for a democracy in this country to continue. >> in fact. the president appointed rudy giuliani to head up a commission on this and they are hiring -- >> where is the information? >> they're starting their investigation. >> lindsey graham opened the hearing by saying this is bipartisan. could be the republicans on the receiving end of the hacks next time. let's not short-circuit this investigation. get behind it. no one is questioning any longer whether donald trump is the president. like it or not, i will admit he is. >> all right. >> let's get to the bottom of this to guard against the next intrusion. >> the soviets would use our weaknesses against us, our civil rights record, supporting a dictator. that's what they used against us. today they're using our partisanship against us. that's what they successfully did. they knew that we would not be strong enough with a polarized partisan country to resist the temptation of seizing on the stolen documents. >> it wasn't just stolen documents. there are talking points that
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started in fake news stories that did start, clinton's health, about $6 billion stolen from the state department, as if the state department had $6 billion. it went from there and within days were trump talking points. were they a victim or were they in collusion? >> thanks. coming up, the white house response to today's hearings. there's a lot of tweeting going on. what does the white house have do in the way of damage control? it's the phillips' lady! anyone ever have occasional constipation,diarrhea, gas or bloating? she does. she does. help defend against those digestive issues. take phillips' colon health probiotic caps daily with three types of good bacteria. 400 likes? wow! try phillips' colon health. its witnessed 2 diy duos,s 31 crashes,: 4 food fights, and the flood of '09. it's your paradise perfected with behr premium plus paint. the best you can buy starting under $25. only at the home depot.
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tweeted this tonight. the russia-trump collusion story is a total hoax. when will this taxpayer funded charade end? sally yates made the fake media unhappy today. she said nothing but old news. of course, as we were watching today, we saw yates delve into detail about how she outlined to the white house counsel the risks of putting -- keeping michael flynn in the position he was in. the notion that he had misled the vice-president and the fact that that could open him up to blackmail, particularly from the russians. you can see the white house trying to draw attention anywhere else but this story. >> sean spicer has been batting back reports that obama warned trump about hiring flynn. >> this was another instance of downplaying, even though we heard from former obama officials that the former president made the case that president trump should not hire this man to be list national security adviser. sean spicer made it sound like president trump took this as a notion of bad blood between the
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obama administration and between retired general michael flynn. sort of didn't seem to take it seriously. of course, he would dismiss the idea that someone like this who had criticized president obama, hillary clinton, would be part of trump's administration. they laid the blame on the obama administration saying it gave him a security clearance in the first place. they had such concern about him, why did they allow him to keep that security clearance? what they didn't address is why president trump still gave michael flynn this coveted position within the white house and what kind of vetting they may have done outside of just a security clearance. >> sarah murray, thank you very much. joining me is david gergen. is it wise for the president to be tweeting about this hearing when there's an ongoing fbi investigation looking into ties between his campaign associates and russia? >> i don't think so, anderson.
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he's got some legitimate concerns about leakage of classified documents, the republicans obviously want to pursue that. as a general proposition, i think for the president even to be watching and so absorbed in this and tweeting on a moment to moment or half an hour basis, i think it degrades the presidency. most presidents on situations like this turn off the tv set, get down to business and keep trying to be president and govern rather than getting into this. >> he also sort of pre-tweeted. he tweeted about sally yates ahead of the hearing today saying, ask sally yates if she knows how classified information got into the newspaper soon after she explained it to white house counsel. have you seen a president tell members of congress what to ask ahead of a hearing? >> no. there's so much about this -- you would think -- we're into serious matters here. we're into deep water. you would think the president would have legal counsel or somebody by his side when he
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tweets so he says things that are appropriate to the moment. let me get back to the central question, what do they do now that they're in here? one of the oldest adages in politics, of course, is when you are in a hole, stop digging. i think sending out those tweets is a form of still digging. theresy thi sis precedent for h deal with emergency or crisis like this. to go back to the republicans favored ronald reagan when he had the iran contra controversy. he was mired in it. there were impeachment proceedings starting ining on hill. it was very serious. what did reagan do? he ordered all of his aides to be willing to testify on capitol hill. he said, we're not going to invoke executive privilege. he unlocked all the documents in the white house that pertained to it. he fired people left and right. he brought in one of the most respected people in washington,
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david abshire to take a hard look at his whole operation and figure out how heit could be do. he turned himself inside out to show we made a mistake. he took blame for it, said that we made a mistake, we did bad things. didn't blame everybody else the way the trump people are doing and came clean. he took his hits. he moved on. he finished his term in very good shape with the american people. he almost was impeached, but he ended up very well because i think it was one of the best cases of how you do damage control in recent history. >> it's in contrast to how this white house has been handling it. if people want to investigate, go ahead. but they're not being pro activ about it. >> they're not being proactive and they're not helping -- in your conversations tonight you repeat ledly people have come u with questions that are still out there. now that we know sally yates went and talked to the general counsel at the white house three
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times about her concerns, and "the washington post" reported according to white house officials, the general counsel, went to the president and told him what had happened. we now know that at least two weeks before flynn was fired, the president of the united states was today by his general counsel there were real problems with flynn and we have to presume he was told that flynn had lied to pence. the president sat on that for two weeks and only fired flynn when the story emerged in "the washington post." that flynn lied to the vice-president. all that time, there's a very good possibility the president knew the vice-president had been lied to and didn't tell the vice-president. >> yeah. it seems like that. >> what is going on here? i think they need to answer those questions. >> david, thanks very much. more breaking news. white house defending jared kushner after his sister drops his name during a sales pitch to chinese investors.
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kushner after his sister tried to court chinese investors and dropped her brother's name while making the sales pitch. it was aimed at raising money for a real estate project. organizers of the presentation tried to bar reporters from covering it. they didn't quite succeed. jared kushner is president trump's son-in-law and senior adviser. he is no longer involved in family company's operation. joining me is emily rahalla who was at the event. emily, i want to know how you found out about this event. i understand you saw it advertised in beijing. did the advertisements mention jared kushner, show his picture? >> that's right. it was a publically advertised event. we saw it in a building elevator initially. when we looked into it, we saw it was advertised as a kushner event featuring jared's sister. it did not specify which sister. although, only one sister, which is nicole, is publically
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involved in the business. we saw the kushner name and thought, this is interesting. >> did it specify the sister's name or -- >> it said jared kushner's sister in the stuff we saw. there may have been other material out there. >> just so i understand, it's for chinese investors. these were people -- the kushner company is looking to invest in some of their businesses? >> it's called the eb5 immigrant investor visa program. these are wealthy chinese looking to invest in kushner projects in return for a potential pathway to citizenship. it's a legal visa class in the united states that allows individuals to invest $500,000 into projects and that opens up a pathway to citizenship for them. >> you were seated separately from your colleague. you were asked to leave? >> i was asked to leave. i went out to the hallway to try to negotiate. i said, this is a publically advertised event.
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it's in the public interest. we want to see what happens. my colleague was still inside recording. then later was asked to leave. some of her footage and audio was deleted by the event organizers on the chinese side. >> they deleted her recordireco? >> that's right. rather common in china when people get nervous about the press. >> jared kushner's sister, did she mention the president or her brother at all? >> in the first part of nicole's speech, which we did see, she started with a reference to her family. she didn't connect this directly to the white house in that part of the speech. but this was presented as a kushner family event. at one point, according to someone else in the room, she did mention that her brother who used to be in charge of kushner companies had joined the administration. >> did she show a picture of her brother or picture of the president? >> when i was in the room, there was no picture of either man. i later heard from another
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reporter who tweeted a picture that there was a picture of president trump on a slide that said key decision makers. during a discussion of the eb5 visa rules. while i was in the room there was not. it turns out that there was indeed a slide mentioning president trump. >> i would imagine most of the people in the audience knew who jared kushner is, knew who the kushner family was and his role in the white house. >> absolutely. these are chinese investors that have a lot of money, they have potentially up to $500,000 to spare. the person that we talked to after the event said that absolutely the trump name is what was the draw and it was also a source of concern. the event generated a lot of interest on the chinese side precisely because of the connection to trump. >> emily, thank you so much. >> thank you. a lot to discuss. joining me is norma eisen and a
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former u.s. ambassador to the czech republic. i heard you say the apology is a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound. why is that not enough, her apology? >> anderson, thanks for having me. the reason that nicole's apology is not sufficient is because mr. occurer er i kushner has joined ivanka and his father-in-law donald trump in the white house. it's as if this is the latest episode -- they have put a for sale sign on the lawn of 1600 pennsylvania avenue. we heard it from people in the audience there who said they were interested because of mr. kushner's proximity. we saw mr. trump's face on the slide that was shown. nobody is fooled by this. they are trading on mr. kushner's prom ximity to the president. that's wrong.
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>> she was talking about basically an influence or is in line of who decides these visas, the message seemed to be pretty clear. >> there's no ambiguity about what's happening here at all. if this were an isolated episode, that would be one thing. with mr. kushner, with ivanka, with the president, with so many others in the white house and administration, they want to hang on to their business interests in a way that we have never seen in american history. it's peculiar enough you have his two closest advisors, his son-in-law and daughter, all of them with business interests that impact on american, with all of them having china ties, copyrights, conflicts, other issues. how can we know when they sit to decide whether they're going to
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push china to deal with the north korean missile threat, whether they're going to hold back because of their business interests or whether they're going to stop the flow of american jobs to china or not? will that be affected by their business? it's unprecedented. it's also against the rules. >> the fact that the white house said jared kushner was not involved in the presentation, he stepped away from the day to day business, given that should he be held responsible for what his sister did? >> well, the question is not just what his sister did. he has maintained -- he stepped away from this particular investment. but he hasn't disclosed all of the lenders and other business partners in the businesses that he does maintain an interest in. all under federal law, all of ivanka's china conflicts and there are a bunch including
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intelle intellectual property that was handed to her when she was sitting with president xi and her father and jared in mar-a-lago. all of those ivanka conflicts are imputed to jared. as a matter of law, he has to step back and so does she. they should not be work on china issues. >> i appreciate your time tonight. thanks. president trump's son eric says he never told james dodson that russia funded his father's golf courses. dodson is standing by his account sharing the details tonight.
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as we reported former acting attorney general sally yates testified she warned the white house that then national security adviser michael flynn could be blackmailed by russia. multiple investigations are looking into this. president trump insists he has no ties to russia. tonight a prominent writer says that doesn't square with what one of trump's sons adlejedlleg told him. >> reporter: what author james dodson hates is being caught up in the conversation about russia. his connection to it all started three years ago on a golf course in charlotte, north carolina, called trump national golf club. dotson, who has written bestsell ing books about the world of golf was invited to play and ended up writing with trump's son, eric trump.
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>> eric is a very sweet kid. we played ten holes and it was fun. >> reporter: in the course of that fun, dodson asked the younger trump who was funding the trump's renovations of distressed golf courses he buys. here's how dotson remembers the conversation. >> i said to eric, well, you're the head of his golf services development company, who's funding all this? this growth. because nobody else in america is doing it. i said, which american banks? and he said, we don't rely on american banks. and i said, no kidding. i think i said, so who is it, the israelis or the chinese? because they were the ones really fespends money. i remember real clearly, we don't need american banks, we have all the funding we need out of russia, we have investors who there love the game of golf. >> reporter: yes, you heard that right. russia. james dodson recalls eric trump telling them russia was their funding source and he access to $100 million. now years later with his father in the oval office and on the
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hook for alleged ties to russia, eric trump denies he ever said that. in response to dodson's comments, eric trump told the "new york post," "we own our courses free and clear," insisting dodson's story was categorically untrue and complete garbage. he added, "we have zero ties to russian investors." re reached out to him for comment, but. no response. despite eric trump's denial, james dodson standsdy h dby his story. it did happen. it happened on the golf as we were walking. that simple. a conversation between two guys. i guess i understand their concern now. it seems to be he's referencing their connections. >> reporter: and this isn't the first time one of trump's sons has spoken of business ties to russia. back in 2008, at a real estate conference in manhattan, donald trump jr. revealed that trump's businesses see a lot of money pouring in from russia for projects such as those in dubai
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and in manhattan. back to this latest case involving eric trump, author james dodson recalls when the younger trump told him about their funding from russia, he said it seemed like he had nothing to hide. >> he was not even remote bli uncomfortable. there wasn't a whisper of any issues with the trumps and russia. it was -- that was still a year and a half in the future. it was very caordcordial, very bud buddyish. >> reporter: despite their friendly game, you can bet the white house is keeping score now. randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> more news ahead. we'll be right back. intelligent technology can help protect it. the all-new audi q5 is here.
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i realize that ah, that $100k is notwell, a 103fortune. yeah, 103. well, let me ask you guys. how long did it take you two to save that? a long time. then it's a fortune. well, i'm sure you talk to people all the time who think $100k is just pocket change. right now we're just talking to you. i told you we had a fortune. yes, you did. getting closer to your investment goals
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find your awesome and change the way you wifi. that's it for us tonight. thanks for watching. time to thahand things over to lemon. "cnn tonight" begins right now. >> this is cnn fwrabreaking new >> explosive fetestimony involvg donald trump's first national security adviser. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. sally yates telling congress she alerted the white house that general michael flynn could be blackmailed by the kremlin. >> general flynn was compromised with respect to the russians. >> president trump predictably responding to her sworn testimony with a tweet storm. we're going to report on all that. i want t