tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN June 12, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
tapes. there is a lot of doubt about that tonight. >> thanks very much. i'm sure this entire issue will come up tomorrow during the senate intelligence committee hearings 2:00 p.m. eastern. our special coverage of the jeff sessions testimony will begin. that's it for me. thanks very much. erin burnett out front starts now. >> breaking news. the secret service says it has no records of any tapings in the trump white house. so are there tapes of trump and comey? is the president the only person who knows? and the next bomb shell testimony, new details about attorney general jeff sessions and what he will and will not say under oath tomorrow? plus trump himself vowing to speak under oath. we found one trump deposition and it tells us a lot about his credibility. let's go out front. i'm erin burnett. the breaking news. the secret service tonight says it has no copies or transcripts of any tapes recorded in the
trump white house. it comes after weeks of speculation about whether trump himself has recordings of conversations between him and fired fbi director james comey. the secret service responding to a freedom of information act request from the "the wall street journal." the secret service says, it has no records of tapes or even recording system being installed in the white house since election dachlt this is more information than we've gotten from the white house or the president himself whose the one that started all of this. press secretary sean spicer was evasive when he was repeatedly asked if and when tapes would be released. >> the president made clear that he would have an announcement shortly. i think the president made it clear what his intention son friday. i understand that enhe would answer that question in due time. the president made it very clear on friday that he would get back as soon as possible on this and his position on that conversation. he's not waiting for anything. when he's ready to further discuss it he will. >> the president's been clear about absolutely nothing except
for the fact that he isn't going to be clear and spicer was echoing the chiropractic answer on friday. >> do tapes exist of your conversations with him? >> i'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. >> let's be clear, trump is the one who raised the issue of tapes. no one would ever even thought of it. he raised it one month ago today. that was three days after firing james comey when trump tweeted, cope, james comey better hope there are no tapes before our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. just to be very clear on the breaking news tonight. another government agency or trump himself could have those tapes. we just know the secret service doesn't. the thing is we're not getting a simple yes or no from the white house which is unacceptable and un-american and dis honest. if the president himself has no tapes he should say so and he should never have tweeted about them to begin with. it's simply wrong and it comes as attorney general jeff sessions the highest ranking member of the trump administration to testify so far
is set to be sworn in before the senate intelligence committee less than 24 hours from now. sarah murray is out front tonight and sarah at least from the secret service's point of view, no tapes. >> reporter: that's right. the secret service responding to a request originally put in by the "the wall street journal." they were asked about any recording devices were installed, any records or transcripts and the secret service responded to that saying, we don't have anything to provide in response to this information request. as you pointed out that doesn't mean there are no tapes that exist, it doesn't mean the president didn't make recordings of his own or there wasn't someone else who made those recordings but this is the first definitive, we're the u.s. secret service we don't have any tapes of this and as you pointed out no straight answer from this on the white house. >> you also i know have some new reporting about what the white house is expecting to see from the attorney general's testimony tomorrow, which they will be watching every second of. >> reporter: sure. there have been a lot of
questions about whether sessions will invoke executive privilege and refuse to discuss his conversations with the president. i talked to a senior administration official earlier who said they expect this to play out similarly to happen like dan coats and mike rodgers were on the hill testifying. remember they were asked by senators whether the president encouraged them to downplay the russia investigation and they refused to answer the question. they couldn't reply with any legal standing. they wouldn't say the white house forced them to invoke executive privilege they just declined to respond and we could see something like that from sessions. >> thank you very much with that reporting. new questions tonight about jeff sessions' contact with russian officials ahead of this crucial testimony. brianna keeler is out front. >> reporter: the president seen today with the attorney general, trump has been seething that jeff sessions reduced himself from the russian investigation three months ago. >> it's an honor to serve u.
>> reporter: it's on the eve of what is expected to be a closed door congressional grilling of sessions but it will now take place in full view of the cameras. senators have pressing questions about the president's meeting with him and the former fbi director. >> the president asked that the room be cleared, the attorney general apparently hung back. i thought the attorney general should've said something. this man works for me. i think i should be here too, mr. president. but the fbi director ended up alone and that's where this began. >> reporter: senators will also ask sessions about this testimony during his confirmation in january. >> i didn't not have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. >> reporter: it was later revealed that sessions, in fact, had two meetings one of them a privacy audience in his congressional office with kislyak and perhaps a third
encounter as a washington hotel. the justice department has denied the hotel meeting but will sessions and the white house vague on weather it will exert executive privilege. >> it depends on the questions to get into a hypothetical would be premature. >> reporter: meanwhile. >> we were vindicated. >> reporter: the president's son backing his directed him to stop investigating now ousted national security advisor michael flynn. saying, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. >> when he tells you to do something, guess what? there's no ambiguity in it. there's no, hey, i'm hoping. you and i are friends. i hope this happens but you go got to do your job. for this guy as a politician to write a memo, he felt so threatened. he didn't do anything. >> reporter: the problem with
this explanation, president trump says that's not what he told comey. >> he did say under oath that you told him to let the flynn -- you said you hope the flynn investigation -- >> i didn't say that. >> so he lied about that? >> i didn't say that. i will tell you i didn't say that. >> reporter: and some new information just in to cnn, a u.s. district court judge has ordered the department of justice, the fbi and relevant agencies to produce documents by july 12th that are related to session escontacts with russian officials. that is information from my colleague aaron perez that he just got in and also communications between the white house chief of staff reince priebus and the fbi concerning the fbi's russia probe. this is something that came about as a part of freedom information act lawsuit that was brought by a watch dog group. >> thank you. and out front now, one senator who will question the attorney general tomorrow, democratic senator jack reed.
thanks for being with me and i want to start with the breaking news that you just heard. the secret service says they don't have any tapes of white house conversations to turn over. do you think the president could have a recording that the secret service doesn't know about? >> well, i think if he had a recording and it exonerated him, he would've made it public very, very quickly. so i think logically it does not appear that he has the tapes. now he continues to maintain that and he's the only one apparently that can demonstrate it so i would ask him, please produce the tapes. >> if he does have a tape, obviously this would mean he could produce it or destroy it, nobody would necessarily ever know if he chose to get rid of it, right? >> no. again, it just seems so illogical if he has an actual recording that exon rates himself and by implication
discredits mr. comey why would he just sit on it? i think he owes the american public if he has the tape, immediately not just himself but for the american public. >> one person who could shed light on some of this, the background here of the russia situation between comey and the president is the attorney general, the highest ranking trump administration official to testify in the russia probe. you'll be asking questions of him tomorrow. what will you ask, senator? >> i think it's important to establish why he was involved in the dismissal of director comey since he had recused himself from apparently all matters related to the russian investigation, and the president himself has indicated that he indeed based his dismissal of comey on the russian investigation. the attorney general's involvement is highly questionable to be blunt and i think those questions will be raised. >> now, there's also of course
the issue that when it comes to the president, a core question is whether he obstructed justice by asking comey to end the investigation and as we now know according to comey's testimony the conversation happened in the oval office after the president asked sessions to leave the room. do you think that sessions will answer questions about that moment and any conversations that he had with the president about firing comey? >> i think he will be asked all those questions, why he left the room even though it appears that director comey had made it clear that it was inappropriate to have these discussions one on one with the president. then of course i think obviously the question is was he aware of the rational for the firing of comey, if that was the case why didn't he communicate that it had something to do with the russian investigation and why didn't he take himself out of the loop because he's recused himself. >> do you think he'll answer those questions but claim
executive privilege and still try to get credit for testifying? >> i don't know, frankly. i would hope he answered the question because the point is to clarify all of this. my suspicion based upon observing others, other members of the administration including coats they've been walked around the questions, they said they couldn't answer. they said it wasn't appropriate, et cetera. they never denied any of the suggestions that the president directed them to interfere with the investigation, but they refused to affirmatively say that. >> let me ask you this because this will come up tomorrow. you were in the closed door briefing with james comey and in that meeting he said the fbi was investigating a possible third undisclosed meeting between sessions and a russian official which would be hugely -- because he had prior meetings that it he did not disclose. this would be a third and still undisclosed meeting. from what you've heard do you
think there was a third meeting? >> i can't comment on anything that was said behind closed doors. that would be inappropriate. there have been press reports of a possible meeting. i think those press reports might trigger questions but i will not comment on what took place behind closed doors. >> let me ask you about the broader picture here. ivanka trump was on television today defending her father and here's some of what she said, senator. >> it is hard and there's a level of viciousness that i was not expecting. i was not expecting the intensity of this experience but this isn't supposed to be easy. i think some of the distractions and some of the veracity was i was a little blindsided by on a personal level. >> virsness and veracity the words she used. what do you think? >> first of all, you have to be
sympathic his daughter. it's her father who is the subject of all this criticism and comments, so i think she -- her statements seem very sincere, also appropriate for a daughter. the context of going back months and months and months is president trump did not refrain from being harsh, critical even insulting to people and, in fact, one could argue that he's lowered significantly the level of discourse here in the united states and now to claim that he's just an innocent victim in all this is a little bit hard to sustain. >> all right. thank you. >> thank you. and next, the president's first full cabinet meeting today was frankly pretty bizarre. nearly every person in the room heaped praise on the president on camera and the president is considering terminating robert mueller as special counsel. and more breaking news this hour, denis rodman heading to
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around. where nearly everybody praised the president to his face on camera. >> thank you for the honor to serve. it's a great privilege you've giving me. >> honored to be on the team. >> i want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again. >> i can't thank you enough for the privileges that you've given me and the leadership that you've shown. >> i want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the american workers. >> it's an honor to be able to serve you on behalf of the entire senior staff, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the american people. >> manu, this go around is getting a lot of attention. >> reporter: indeed it is. republicans actually feel okay about the president talking about their agenda, pointing to things they believe have been positive about what the trump administration has done.
democrats on the other hand are having some fun with this including senate minority leader chuck schumer who released this video just moments ago. >> i want to thank everybody for coming. i just thought we'd go around the room. lucy, how did we don't sunday show yesterday? >> your tone was perfect right on message. >> michelle, how'd my hair look like coming out of the jim. >> you have great hair. >> before we go any further, i want to have say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda. >> that's great. >> now democrats also quickly pivoted off of that to focus on what is happening here in the senate which is the effort to pass the health care bill to try to repeal and replace the obamacare legislation. we do know that republicans are trying to get that done this month and that's why the democrats putting the phoning on that even though they're having fun with what president trump did earlier today.
>> there was fun made but it's also very serious that they would choose to do so. what is the significance of that? john avalon, editor in chief of the "the daily beast," and mark preston. john, you're with me. obviously the chuck schumer bit whatever your politics are, one could get a chuckle at that. that moment -- this is their first meeting all together. the cameras are there and that's what they say to the president. significant? >> yeah. this is going to go down as the dear leader cabinet meeting and maybe they should all get matching uniforms. >> referring to north korea. >> this is creepy. whether they were coached to say something positive or merely felt outdo the other, that's not the way we do things in this country. it looked like a hostage video at times and so this was something that should trouble anyone particularly republicans who would normally tear the
obseekness of it. >> was the praise genuine. the only way to of the president like them or listen to them is to say something like that at the beginning? >> erin, i'm sure they were thankful to be in that position but at the same time you question, is this their version of the loyalty test to this president? we've seen presidents come and go, and many administrations have had people who were supporters but also who told them this may not be exactly what needs to be done and the question is on the table now, is this -- are we seeing something like the emperor with the new clothes in this meeting today? it was a historic meeting. he has his full cabinet but that begs the question, you also have to remember, when there is service to this president, power means service to the people. so who is it, is it the people or this president? total loit to this president or
the people? >> was this an emperor has no clothes moment? >> no question about it. i spoke to a very close ally of president trump shortly after we aired this on tv and said, what did you think of this and the person said to me, it was a great idea that went terribly awry. get the whole cabinets together, let's talk about big issues and you have this. john avalon, you stole my criticism there because when i watched it, i thought this is what happens in north korea when kim jong-un sits down at the head of the table and surrounds himself by his generals or political advisors. >> we only played 33 seconds on it, it went on and on and on. >> it was 11 minutes. >> pretty stunning and unpress denltsed. when you said this is a version of the loyalty pledge, that was you or john or april, this is a president who has made it clear. he has made it clear loyalty
matters. if this was a version of the loyalty pledge it fits with who he is and what we have seen, let me show you. >> he's been loyal to trump from day one. and been very loyal to what we're doing and what we represent. i want to thank some of our great people that are here tonight, mayor julie. i'm a loyal person. you got to be loyal to people if they do nothing wrong. >> is that fit with what you saw today? >> there's nothing wrong with loyalty in politics. that's a political virtue that was preached by the kennedy and bushes. this is different. debasing yourself in front of the cameras to pledge total loyalty to the person of the president not the office and one notable descent in that meeting james mattis so honored to represent the men and women of
the defense department. he didn't pivot to say bring a thousand flowers out every time donald trump walked in the room. there was a lot of self debasement. >> do you think some of those in that meeting would admit in private that they wished they didn't do that or that they felt ashamed now looking back at that tape or anything? >> perhaps through their best friends and their spouses but beyond that i think it would be political suicide for them to do so. everybody at that table, very successfully in their own right whether in business or politics and to do that was just amazing. >> april, let me play for you the ceo president of christopher reddy and he told pbs, the president's considering firing robert mueller which would be a bomb shell of epic portions if it actually happened. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that
option. i think it's pretty clear about one of his lawyers said on television recent limit i think it would be a very significant mistake. >> is there any way he would actually do it, april? >> well, let me give you a little bit of insight from inside the west wing right now. one of my sources reached out to me just before we went on air and they said there's mass hysteria in the west wing about this. we don't know if it's going to happen or if it won't happen but what we do know, if indeed the president does fire mueller, it shows that he's impeding the process yet again. some would even say it's obstruction of justice again. this process has to play out, because of what he did with comey and also calling for the investigation -- there's a lot of smoke and there's a lot of alarm bells going off. now the question is where's the fire?
republicans and democrats alike are calling for this investigation for the process to continue and for this president, if he does decide to do that, it would be a big problem for him politically. >> just to hammer home april's point. the fact that chris rudy said that today is trooul troubling. it would be a dark day for democracy if this was done. there's no rational reason to think the president wouldn't do it. he fired the fbi director. you didn't think bill clinton wanted to do that. but you don't do it because even if you're in trouble you have a sense of respect for the process and we haven't seen that from this president and so this is a dangerous thing to be doing right now and it's happening. >> thank you all. trump says he's ready to talk about his meeting with james comey under oath. what could that mean for the president who coined the phrase,
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president's rocky relationship with the truth. in 2007 trump sued the author of this book, trump nation, the art of being the donald for writing that trump was not actually a billionaire. but in a sworn deposition, he was repeatedly caught by lawyers having made past statements that were either exaggerated or false. 30 times according to the book's author tim o'brien who spoke with cnn's brian stelter. >> and i was fortunate to have a great legal team that simply let him walk into that trap. he said ex-publicly and we prevented him. >> reporter: there's the story how much he was paid for a speech 2005. you got a million dollars. >> a speech? yes. >> for the learning an ex- >> yes, that's true. it's actually more than that. >> but under oath trump said it was actually less than half of that. $400,000. in the book trump told o'brien i had zero borrowings from my
father's estate, i give you my word. i think a small amount a long time ago like in the $9 million range. >> back when the art of the deal came out he spoke about truthful hyperbole, people he had met, how much money he had, how successful he was and he's never -- we had decades now of trump frequently lying or exaggerating about a wide range of things. >> reporter: including about secretly recording conversations which he told o'brien he did but in the deposition trump said, i'm not equipped to tape record. i figured the only way i could make him write what i was actually saying was to have him at least think he was being tape recorded. >> so i have a total net worth and now with the increase it'll be well over $10 billion. >> reporter: how much is he worth? it goes up and down with markets
and with attitudes and with feelings he responded. even my own feelings but i try. >> alex is here with me now. so what happened to trump's lawsuit against o'brien. it was dismissed and he appealed and it was thrown out again. trump has admitted to the "the washington post" that the goal of his suit was to hurt o'brien. he never read his book but told his lawyers, quote, go sue him it will cost him a lot of money. >> thank you very much. and now let's go to jonathan turley former nixon white house counsel. john dean, you just saw -- the record speaks for itself as alex is reporting. the president exaggerated facts about payments or how many people worked for him. he now says 100% testify under oath about his privacy conversations with james comey. do you think he'd tell the truth under oath? >> i think he's truth challenged at this point.
i know an attorney in july 2015 who had done a number of depositions with donald and said that -- he could never tell the truth. he couldn't get through a deposition without distorting and misrepresenting and dissem bling and lying. so i don't think he can get through a deposition or a grand jury without it. he's at high risk because of his propensity for hyperbole. >> jonathan, do you think he should testify under oath, that he would tell the truth? >> i look at these things like a criminal defense attorney. we tend not to want our clients to go under oath unless they have to if they are potential target. the greatest danger people in washington is generally a violation of an a statute called 18 usc 1,001 and it's when you make a false statement to a federal investigator. that's what trips up people in washington because we have a
city filled with apersonality types who try to create narratives. trump's not the only one. and there is no exception for truthful hyperbole. it's the type of thing that can get you a criminal charge. it's a much more available tool than something like obstruction because it's a very simple crime to prove and that's what trips people up in washington. >> the person obviously investigating whose telling the truth here on this crucial moment of jim comey and donald trump on a loyalty pledge, on the general flynn investigation is going to be bop mueller and we just heard a friend of the president's just come out and say that the president in his view is considering firing the special counsel. let me replay that moment. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option. i think it's pretty clear by one of his lawyers said on television recently. i think it would be a very
significant mistake. >> do you think he'd do it? >> i don't know. if he thinks the republicans will stay with him, he might just try it and see how far he can push it. if he can keep knocking out investigators and people who might cause him a problem, then he can stay there without any threat to his presidency. right now he's under dire threat and knows it. it would clearly be an act of obstruction but a sitting president under current policy at the department of justice is not subject to indictment. impeachment is the only remedy for that action. >> let me ask you about this, jonathan. you heard chris ruddy saying that's his opinion. but you just heard april ryan from american urban radio network. she just said that her -- a source just called and told her there is mass hysteria in the white house tonight about this,
about whether or if the president would actually fire bob mueller? >> i would be surprised if he did that and had many friends even among the republicans on capitol hill. it would be a disastrous move. my guess is that congress would respond quickly by moving forward to renew the independent counsel act which many of us suggested might have been the best approach all along. that is an act that guarantees that you don't have situations like this, but it would be an incredibly self-destructive act. i can't imagine any person logical person, rational person taking that step. >> john dean you've been in a white house going through this when you look at the nixon white house. when you think of that reporting, there's mass hysteria to describe the feeling in the white house tonight about whether the president would do this, what is the significance of that, when you have that sort
of feeling in a white house? >> well, this white house never did set up any effort to wall off and protect the staff at wide -- at large from these kind of repercussions from what the president's doing. they have no war room. they really don't have any defense mechanisms working. it's ad hoc from event to event. the white house is not getting its work done. you can see that in its failure to fill empty slots that the president has appointees. they're not getting any legislation out in front of the congress. they're really doing very live at this point other than being on the defensive. >> jonathan, john, thank you both. more breaking news. travel ban fail for the president tonight. a new development on this. we have that after this and then cnn exclusive reporting. denis rodman about to land in north korea. what is he doing there this time? does it have anything to do with
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ruling today against the ban. the fight now headed to the supreme court. california's attorney general one of the loudest voices against the travel ban and he's out front tonight. thanks very much for your time. the attorney general says that there have been recent attacks referring it would seem obviously to manchester as one example, to london as another. you still think they don't have a point? >> they don't because in the united states of america we do everything we can to make sure that anyone who wishes to come into the country goes through a vetting process and so far as we've seen, the vetting process has worked. >> and when you hear sean spicer which he said today, he said that their confident the executive order by the president, the revised one of course is lawful. they believe it will be upheld by the supreme court. you are joining the lawsuit from prevent that from happening. when do you think we will know the supreme court's verdict? >> we'll know pretty soon because the supreme court has to make a decision as to whether or
not it will accept the case and when that ruling comes out it should come out before the end of this year. but i'm not sure why sean spicer is confident given that every court that has had a chance to look at this has ruled against the trump administration because it acted unconstitutionally. >> of course as the attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions that just put that statement out, the breaking news we had at the top of this interview. he of course is going to be the highest ranking member of the trump administration to testify in front of congress. that will happen tomorrow. it comes on the heels of james comey's bomb shell testimony last week. do you think at this point that there is a case for obstruction of justice to be made against this president? >> erin, we're certainly in the territory of obstruction of justice. we certainly need to see more facts to be able to make a strong case, but there's no doubt that the elements of abuse of authority and obstruction of justice are beginning to pile up, and how you make a case in
what form you make a case it really does depend if you're in a court of law. it's different from an impeachment in what the standard would be. there's no doubt that the elements of obstruction of justice and abuse of power are now before us. >> now, there's also, of course, one of the news max chris ruddy, you may know his name. a friend of the president's. he is saying that the president could be considering firing mueller. of course he's basing that on a television interview by one of trump's attorney. it's not on anything the president told himself himself. if the president were to do that, even if there's no crime, even if the president never did anything wrong but he's fired the fbi director and special counsel, would that in your view be obstruction of justice if there is no underlying crime? >> erin, that would be a chilling development too reminiscent of watergate. all of that, again, would add up
to whether there's a strong case to be made of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, but i think it goes beyond that. it goes to the issue of can the american people trust the person in the white house if he is firing the person whose supposed to independently and objectively investigate the matter. there you have to start asking, what is the president so desperate to hide from the american people? >> before we go, the attorneys of maryland and washington today filed a lawsuit. they say the president is profiting from his office and violating the constitution by accepting foreign money through the trump organization like hosting parties at his hotels. i know the trump organization has properties in california. are you going to sue? >> we're looking closely at that, because we have to do everything we must to protect the people of california, the consequences of the president's action reverberate throughout the country and certainly in california so we want to make sure that anything that harm the
people of california, we do whatever we can to stop that. >> all right. thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you. breaking news, dennis rodman on his way to north korea right now. why does this have anything to do with president trump? cnn exclusive, inside the secret missions of two navy s.e.a.l.s killed fighting terrorists on the front line. >> it's a big tragedy we lost both of those men because they were outstanding heros for our nation.
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new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. learn more at esd.ny.gov wreaking news, dennis rodman is on his way to north korea at this time. our cameras caught him on his way to the secretive country. will ripley is out front live in pyongyang. rodman is one of the very few americans to have met kim jong-un. he also knows president trump. does this have anything to do with president donald trump? >> i was first tipped off about this last week and couldn't believe that dennis rodman is returning back to north korea
after that infamous trip that was described as a train wreck where he was drunk and out of control, where kim jong-un because of rodman's out of control behavior. and now we have him returning to north korea. we also know that rodman has appeared twice on "celebrity apprentic apprentice", president trump's former reality show, so rodman knows him well. he said he would come and negotiate on behalf of president trump if he was asked to do so. >> these things don't happen by chance, it's fair to say, he knows the president, he's friendly with the president. is the state department giving any comment about this, will? >> reporter: when we checked with the state department, they said they are aware that rodman is coming here, and they stress
it's not an official visit. however he's not a diplomat. this is a very tense time. north korea has intended to launch 16 missiles, this is on track to be their busiest year in launching missiles. the university of virginia student and also a naturalized citizen, will he be negotiating on behalf of these four american citizens? >> a pretty stunning development here, a lot of questions we need answers to about dennis rodman tonight, tonight we'll keep following that, next we'll have extraordinary details about how americans risked their lives and died while serving the united states fighting terrorism.
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new exclusive details tonight about how two navy s.e.a.l.s lost their lives in secret missions fighting terror. >> reporter: navy s.e.a.l. ryan owens 36, killed in action in january in yemen during a nighttime raid targeting al qaeda operatives. it's one of the most dangerous missions that special operations forces are called upon to carry out. navy s.e.a.l. kyle millican 38, also killed but in somalia last month, also during a raid. congressman scott taylor, a former navy s.e.a.l.s sniper.
owens and millican served for years on high risk combat missions, new details now revealed of their extraordinary service. owens was posthumously awarded the bronze star, in a never disclosed battle against 400 al qaeda militants in to 15, u.s. officials say it all happened deep inside war torn somalia, this secret battle raged for three days in july of 2015. owens leading a 12-man team alongside african forces targeting 400 enemy militants, constantly ambushed and attacked with small arms, machine-guns, anti-aircraft guns, rocket propelled grenades, mortarings and improvised explosive devices. owens repeatedly exposed himself
to enemy fair. he helped buddies who were pinned down and wounded and guided medevac choppers under fire. >> he was a great guy, highly talented. >> reporter: from somalia to yemen, iraq, syria and afghanistan, it's largely fallen on special operations forces to wage battle against isis, al qaeda and their affiliates and they are increasingly paying with their lives. five killed in action in 2017, t 22 since june 2014 when the war against isis began, taylor like so many who served on the front lines rejects the controversial pentagon view that when u.they e military advisors, they are not -- >> he was an advisor to somali
forces, alongside them in the line of fire. >> you certainly can't blame the operator for -- they're there on the ground with the force they're helping. >> millican also had years of combat, in 2017 alone, 48 combat missions in iraq, on the one mission, he helped evacuate three wounded s.e.a.l.s under fire. they were part of ground breaking procedures for future national mission taskings. in the world of special operations are the most classified requiring presidential approval and remaining secret for decades. after their service to the nation, after both men were killed, the pentagon both acknowledged that both had served with s.e.a.l. team 6, the
secretive unit that killed osama bin laden. >> barbara starr, thank you very much. boots on the ground or not, their lives are on the line. thanks so much to all of you for joining us, "a.c. 360" with anderson cooper begins right now. good evening, thank you for joining us. we begin with what could be the rumblings of another major event. a close friend of the president came out of a meeting at the white house today and went on pbs news hour and said this about special counsel robert mueller. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option, i think its pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television reepcently. even though i don't think