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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  August 1, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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that is it for us tonight. in for don lemon. thank you for watching and i'm going to see you tomorrow morning to start your new day with allison. so please take care. good evening. we begin tonight keeping them honest with the white house's latest admission about their credibility and their honesty. the washington post broke the story that it was president trump himself that his son donald trump released on july 8th when the new york times was about to reveal that trump jr. met during the russian campaign with an attorney. "we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children that was popular with american families yearess ago and was since ended by the russian government but it was not a campaign issue at the
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time" and we know he said this because he said it on the tv a lot. >> so he didn't have anything to do with the statement that don jr. put out that was being worked on by his team? >> no, the president did not draft the response. y i wasn't involved in the statement drafting, nor was the president. >> the president didn't sign off on anything. >> the president wasn't involved. >> the inaccuracies continue when the white house made the claim that nothing was inaccurate in the original statement even though it had to be updated several times. there was no mention of adopting the emails, just dirt on hillary clinton and the alleged ties to the russian government and the white house confirmed that the president actually did weigh in on the statement. >> the statement that don jr. issued is true.
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there's no inaccuracy in the statement. the president weighed in based on the limited information that he had. this is all discussion, frankly of no consequence. he didn't dictate. but like i said he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do. the statement that was issued was true and there were no inaccuracies in the statement. >> if i said to you jaws is a movie about going to the beach on fourth of july weekend. i guess that is in the movie somewhere, burt is that an accurate statement about what "jaws" is about? and the story from the lawyer is he wasn't involved. now the story flim white house is oh, yes, he was involved. he weighed in of course he did. he's a father and despite what we've all seen, they're still spinning the story that this meeting was about adoptions. it's not the first time we've
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been told to move along, folks, there's nothing to see here. little by little as more information comes out. at the press briefing, she said we're all wasting our time. >> everybody wants to make this a story about misleading. the only thing i see this leading is stories fuelling a false narrative about this russia collusion and based on anonymous sources and if we're going to talk about misleading, that's the only thing i see misleading in the entire process. >> givenen how much this narrative has shiftd, i'm not sthur white house should lecture anyone on the true meaning of the word misleading. they can cry phoney and fake all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that there's an open fbi investigation into whether anyone colluded with russia, senate and house committees are investigating russian medaling.
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and obstructiubjukobstruction o in a republican-controlled congress. they haven't finished. and with all the cries of nothing to see here, only to have missing pieces of the story to show up, if the white house expects explanations to hold water, "they're going to need a bigger boat." jeff, so the white house essentially caught changing their story once again but that inactuallied a miy ed admitting changing the story. >> and the reality is when i was in the press briefing room with white house press secretary sande sanders, she said yes, the president weighed in. he add his voice to the first statement in june of 2016. like any fathered would. the president's lawyer has been insistent he was never involved
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in the writing of that statement. he didn't know about it. so the white house added some new information to this broadening picture. it's not just a news story. it's an investigation going on here. i think as sarah huck aeb sanders was trying to deflect, talking about russia, clintons, other things. they acknowledged for the first time the president indeed helped craft that statement. so he knew about that shifting -- shaping of that narrative about that all important meeting on june 9th of 2016 between his three top campaign officials and the ru z russians. the white house said he weighed in. the washington post said based on their sources that he dictated it. i'm trying to imagine when the president of the united states throws his ideas into the group think of the meeting, i would think his ideas tend to dominate
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any discussion of what the statement should be. it's not like they're all spit balling and somebody's going to say oh, no, mr. president, that's not good idea. >> this is all happening aboard air force 1, flying back from hamburg, germany on july 8th. an eight hour flight or so and i'm told a lot of top advisors, including ivaurngau trump, others were in the president's office talking about all this. the reason this matters is we heard senator lindsey graham, he's one of the republicans leading this investigation. he said every question of the credibility, every time they change their story t makes us not believe them in the future. today is a development that we'll remember going forward for the first time. the new stories will continue. but investigators will mark this day. this is something they want to know more about and they'll
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learn more about it as this investigation continues. >> thanks very much. joining us now is constitutional law scholar. and what do you make of the white house saying the washington post report is much to do about nothing. but admitting that he did weigh in on the statement which contradicts what the president's own legal team had been saying. >> thanks for having me. you'll note that the white house did not reject the statement. if you look at mr. secelo's parsing of it as well. and tas udly while kwibling admits something happened. i think they've got another self inflicted wound over there, a anders anderson. he's already under investigation for obstruction and now he's engaged in something which could be -- we're not deciding it
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yet -- but could be shaping a witness's testimony about a critical event. that is a violation of criminal law 101. you just don't do it because it can constitute obstruction or witness tampering. >> should the president have been weighing in to craft -- help craft a statement for his son and if jared kushner is in the room as well, is that appropriate? >> well, no it's not a good idea. the president removed any crush space between him and the kau s controversy. you want to create some separation from the president. the critical crush suffice guarantee that you have some range of motion. as a controversy unfolds. in a blinding flash, the president wiped that out by directly participating in what was a really bad spin.
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instead of spinning out of the scandal, they deepened the scandal, they prolonged it, which is something of a pattern here. this is not witness tampering, it doesn't come close to that standard. you know there wasn't any plan for testimony on this point. it doesn't neat statutory definiti definition. i have a column in the hill newspaper dealing with that charge. it doesn't meet that crime. we have to be careful that everything the president does is not some perpetual motion machine under the criminal code. it can be ill advised, even moronic, but there is an effort to try to find crimes in everything that occurs here. there are serious problems here. there's a legitimate investigation going forward. this was a remarkably bad idea. but i don't think we should
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start talking about witness tampering. >> there can be little doubt. even my friend, jonathan won't deny there's a serious issue here. we can agree to disagree on witness tampering. but there is serious exposure, anderson, under obstruction of justice and it's not an isolated incident. and nobody is eager to make these allegations but it started with demanding jim comey's loyalty, asking comey to drop the flynn investigation. firing comey when he wouldn't follow through and now this latest question, agood enonly a question. was the president engaged in a cover up? is this the latest step? i don't think jonathan disagrees this was misleading. is this the latest step in that
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obstruction pattern? i think there's serious exposure here. >> you're right about that. but this was a spin. it happens in the city all the time. if you start criminalizing spins, half the city will be frog marched into a federal penitentiary. they try to manage messages. all a personality types. they try to control messages and events. it's hard for a lawyer to say the best thing you can do is nothing at all. you're making this a lot worse. but spinning a statement like that is not a crime. otherwise most of what happens in the city is a crime. >> we sgaut got to leave there. thank you both. joining me now is gloria borjer, mary catherine ham and becarry sellers. you heard the legal advice here, gloria. >> i think the president has a problem here. i think the statement was
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misleading that very best. that's the best way to describe it. i think there are questions being raised about whether what the president knew and when he knew it, to use an old phrase, and did the president lie to his lawyer? this is a big question we need to have answered. which is he's out there, saying the president did not touch this in any way shape or form. he was not out there dealing with this and now we learn he so h so-called weighed in or whatever that meentz and i think this white house has a lot of questions to answer, because not only was it misleading and what was the president doing even weighing in on this. there should be somebody there to protect him from the kiennd legal problems he faced. >> just the fact it does impact
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the president's credibility in the white house. >> team trump took a credibility hit today and where did that hit come from? from the white house podium. sarah huckabee sanders basically conceded that the trump team and his lawyer didn't have the truth in the initial telling of this. remember when sarah huckabee sanders first spoke about this. she would find out and get back to us. today she says he weighed in. he dictated. the large question here is someone should explain -- j i truly don't understand this. why is the white house pursuing a strategy here of drip, drip, drip instead of marshaling all the facts and coming out with a complete story? to your point about jaws? tell the story of the entire movie now so we don't have this every night where we say that's
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not what you said before. i think it's a significant problem. the other question is how did jared kushner allow president trump to dictate that statement? obviously jared kushner's concerned about his own legal ramifications. since this entire thing started with he and hits legal team going back to discover the additional meeting with the russians, apply for national security clearance and it all began with that email. so now we do need know did president trump read that email? because jared kushner, when he's sitting in the cabinet in air force 1, he knew what the full facts were of that meeting. how did he allow that statement to go through? >> what every legal scholar had said is people involved in investigations shouldn't talk about the investigation with other people. so jared kushner discussing this with president trump or at least having this conversation about the statement, just doesn't seem
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like a wise idea. >> no. he should have been protected from this. i suspect he inserted himself into it. and i think there's a couple problems with it. one is in the reporting, talking about how donald trump did insert him in this. the instincts were to get there the information out and donald trump spoke. so what's that about? that would suggest he knew about the truth was and he told them not to do it. their other problem is they are only coming clean now because they were caught. they never said that's not really true. what happened was the washington post ran a story last night. now we're hearing that president weighed in. >> just like the times knew about the emails and were going to release them and don jr. -- >> is there a credibility problem? to sgl to seg reigate the
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communications channels -- sarah huckabee sanders should be talking about russia stuff. it may be past time for them to seg reigate these questions and push them all off on to -- >> they said they were going to do months ago and now we have sarah forced to answer these questions that have been contradicted. secondly, i'm not sure there's nothing much new here. the original new york times story drafted that the president was on air force 1. >> the times said he signed off on it but seccialo denied it. >> he did. but if you follow all the reporting, had it to begin with. if you believe there's a grand russia collusion conspiracy, you're go sit up reading the emails. if you think this is a hoax,
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you're going to dismiss it. >> ladies first. >> i assumed he was involved, which is partly the reading of the reporting and partly an indication of where my bar is with listening to the white house on these kind of things. i don't know what the truth there is either. but i think this speaks to an inability of this white house team to protect the president, other staffers who were brought in on this and it's bad judgment and the destingsz between a legal issue and bad judgment is really important. i think what should be dispointing is the part where they were going to be forth coming about this allegedly. >> and donald trump jr.'s attorneys talking. they were ready to give a more --
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>> let me attempt to unravel this pretzel. because this is something we've seen from the white house periodically. it's a three-step process. the white house lie loos and then the facts come out and the white house tells you don't worry about facts. what we know is this meeting was not about russia adoptions. and what do we dedeuce from that? the president lie said. and sent his own attorney on tv on sunday morning on face the nation, state of the union and gave up all of his credibility because he lied to. and to answer david's question. why would you lie? in this situation when jared kushner knows what's in the emails. we don't know if donald trump read the emails. and the reason you would lie is they're novices. the way they handle scandal is
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purely elementary. and maybe that's a travesty, maybe it's refreshing. >> we'll also hear what don trump jr. had to say about being transparent and whether anything else was going to come out. and james clapper. ♪ ♪ i'm... i'm so in love with you. ♪ ♪ whatever you want to do... ♪ alright with me. ♪ ooo baby let's... ♪ ...let's stay together...
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that the president weighed in on the statement that donald trump released. and the washington post reports the president dictated the misleading statement. they say he just weighed in on it. i want tataking a look back at donald trump jr. on july 11th after he released the email chain under pressure. >> i just want the truth to get out there and that's part of why i released all the stuff today. they're trying to drag out the story. they want to drip a little bit today. so i was like here it is. i'm more than happy to be transparent and cooperate. >> so this is all of it? >> this is everything. this is everything. >> it wasn't everything. we're still here. weeks later we're talking bouts this and it's not because we want to drip this out. it's because y'all are dripping it out. the idea that this is all just a media conspiracy and we're just
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doleing it out like starburst fruit chews every now and then. every day we're learning something new and it's only because reporters are digging and getting people to talk. >> a, it's ridiculous. b, i wonder how much the lawyers knew. you have to ask the questioning whether jay -- what he knew when he was saying everything to everybody. >> first of all why go on tv to discuss it when you're under investigation? >> well, he wasn't getting pressed. >> but this is everything? is. >> i think they don't understand if it's written down somewhere it will be found. if you told another person, it will befound. that's the way it always works and for some reason they seem to think they can control this and put out what they want to put out and everybody will walk away and leave it. >> it's not the press doing drip, drip, drip.
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it's them. it's the trump team because they give a little piece of information where they think that will be sufficient and then more facts come out and another piece of information. >> the other thing i don't understand about the way the white house handles things is all their move along. there's nothing to see here, it's all based on the idea that everyone's an idulate and doesn't see what they're seeing. we know what those emails said. it didn't talk about email -- and she continues to say it's about russian adoption, which even donald trump jr. said was not an issue during the campaign. so if that was the pitch, he wouldn't have had the meeting. >> we all know what russian adoptions is code for, which is sanctions. there are a few things. as a hillary clinton supporter,
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we saw one trump campaign email and it was incriminating as hell and we saw thousands and 10s of thousands of hillary clinton emails. >> we'll never know with hillary's. >> there were 10s of thousands of them. >> well, there were 30,000. >> here we go. >> you opened it up. >> the second thing is the more important aspect with north korea, isis, iran, how will you ever trust the words coming out of this president's mouth, when the american public is going to need trust him most? that's the question. you want to say it's frivolous or we're all looking for this conspiracy theories. okay. the fact is we know the president mislead the public. what happens when we need to trust him? >> i'm well on the record as stating that these investigations need to go forth
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and the best thing for the white house here sfr all these things to wrap up and theyfindout there's no collusion. i've long stated and believed we're going to find out the russians 100% medaled in the election. that doesn't mean they need a colluding partner to do it. you saids this drip, drip, drips from them. well, the first storey was a couple of anonymous sources. the it president reads these things and continually frustrated about unnamed sources. >> sarah huckabee sanders saying she doesn't know -- >> i'm not disputing that. but if you can understand the president's frustration. >> about what? >> that we don't have one named source on the record saying -- >> my question is if you're lying about stuff that is stupid stuff to lie about -- he could have said before, jay could have
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said yeah, he consulted on the thing but it was don trump jr.'s statement. >> i think we turned a corner in not media attention and not the global collusion theory. but this email was in black and white. this is what was going on here and they were not telling the truth. they have bad judgment. to have better judgment and prudence -- >> let her finish. >> that's not the bar though. >> i'm just saying the truth. what do you want me to say? you want me to have my hands up here while i say it? you want it to be more dramatic. from day one. i don't like many of their behaviors but the distinction between a legal problem and that is important and if it changed
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anything, we'd be in a different place right now. >> i want us to be able to trust the president. that's all because democrats, republicans, blook, white, south korea south korea, new york, it doesn't matter. there's going to come a point in time in this currentry that the president is going to say something we need to hear and be ablt to trust. it's about the fact that no one can trust the president. >> i'm going to disagree with you. >> we're going to take a break here. up next i'm going to talk to james clapper about this and the credibility of the white house. what he thinks about this revelation today. whoooo.
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more now on the president's revolution that white house. the president weighed in on. it's in count rudiction to what the president's own lawyer has been saying. i'll speak with the former director of national intelligence to get his take on all of this.
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here's what he said recently about the russian meeting at trump tower. >> i think the russian objective here was one, to explore to see if there was interest in having such a discussion on offering up of course dirt on hillary clinton. and somehow at least create the optic or the image of at least u.s.a.ensably plausible deniability. and this is a typical soviet, russian trade craft approach. >> and general james clapper joins me now. does this white house -- are they credible in their public statements? >> well, there's certainly a lot of doubt about that and what's happened most recently i think just has the effect of casting more doubt on the credibility of what they say.
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and i'm kind of on the same page with mike hayden here. because to me the greater issue is the assault on truth in this country which could be pretty important to us. >> right. >> i worry about that and whaurts rr the definition of truth? this has a chilly, orwellying aspect about it. putting out a set of facts which don't comport with ground truth. >> and when they are contrujt r fronted with what is true, they simply deny what is true and say well, just sort of act as if everybody else is wrong. saying in this particular instances, which is pretty small instance, saying the original statement donald trump jr. put out that it is true and that's just not accurate.
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>> well, that's exactly right. i won't parse out the -- i'm not a legal scholar. won't parse out all this, but to me the bigger issue here is the image, the optic of lack of faith, lack of trust enwhat the white house says by this drip, drip, drip and the daily drama of some other revelation which sort of comes out halfway and then there's the back and forth in the white house press briefing and this is i think a very regrettable pattern and a huge distraction to the country in light of all the otherer issues and problems we had to deal with. >> so what happens when there is a national crisis and people need to know what is actually happening and to know that the white house is actually giving real information? i think back to from what i've
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read about the vietnam war. there was a problem about the military inflating body counts or self reporting and ultimately became kind of a -- was false. >> well, i lived through the vietnam war and i know exactly what you're eluding to. this again in a smacks of that to a surcertain extent and i do think it's tremendous problem for this country. it's very disturbing when even before you had doubts about the truthfulness and the credibility of what leadership this country is saying. and that's a terrible commentary. >> i want to give your take on two two things he i heard you say earlier that donald trump's making russia great again and the situation with north korea.
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>> i was perhaps being half fuseeshs about his eft -- it's curious slisitous, if i can use that word, of russia and the trump personally. i don't quite understand it. i think what people forget is the tremendous threat russia poses to us. they're embarked on a very aggressive and impressival modernization of their strategic weapons. they have the most sophisticated cyber capability of any adversary in the world and they're in violation of the if treaty and not interested in helping. they areert interested in undermining us and our system. with respect to north korea, i was heartened by secretary of state tillerson's statement
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about the need for diplomacy. i think that is is a secret here. >> do you think direct talks with north korea? >> excuse me? >> direct talks with north korea? >> i would be an advocate for that. i gave a speech in seoul last month in which i suggested we give consideration to opening up an intersection in pyongyang, much like we had in havana to deal with a government we didn't recognize and apart from the advantage of having an inresidence diplomatic presence would help us understand what's going on in north korea and importantly as a conduit for information to north korea. when i visited there in 2014 i was overwhelmed. blown away by the degree of paranoia and the mentality that exists there and of course when
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we saber rattle, all that does is heighten that paranoia in north korea. so i believe i'm very supportive of what secretary tillerson said bute reaching out to them because there's too much at stake to do otherers with. >> appreciate your time and want to welcome you to cnn as a new contributor. >> thank you. good to be with you. america's top prosecutor is weighing in as well. afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... 3-month old business... plus...what if this happened again?
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ask your doctor if switching to eliquis is right for you. what are all these different topped & loaded meals? it's an american favorite on top of an american favorite, alice. it's like abe lincoln on top of george washington. yonder. get your favorites on top of your favorites. only at applebee's. america's top prosecutor attorney general, jeff sessions has weighed in.
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sessions said they could impact community police relations. take a look at what the president said last friday. >> and when you see these towns and these thugs being thrown into the a back of the paddy wagon, thrown in, rough. i said please don't be too nice. like when you guys putd somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand -- like don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody. i said you can take the hand away, okay. >> today's white house press briefing, huckabee sanders was asked again about the comment. bacari, sarah huckabee sanders once again said -- >> i think as a country -- we had this discussion last night. we need be less politically
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correct. however, donald trump crossed a line. there are many parents who fear their children having encounters with law enforcement. there are many people who look like me afraid if they interact with police they're not sure how it will go. and so it's a very troubling statement when row see the leader of the free world condone that statement. when there are people who are actively law enforcement, trying to rebuild the system, which we feel is rotted from the core. and so i find a great deal of angest for him to make jokes about a matter that's not a laughing matter and he said it in new york. and i can't help but think about erick garner choked to death on the streets of new york. for the president of the united states to make a joke like that
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was comcompletely out of bounds. >> i'm going to set the policy conversation aside. i think it's one of the most worrisome civil problems we have. this reminds me of when people were foemnting outrage about the prisoners of guantanamo bay. maybe you were outraged. but if you live in trump country, you probably were thinking he was speaking about violent gangs and i -- i initially read this and it hit me wrong. i watched his comments several times. i think he was making a tongue and cheek remark to communicate a sentiment which is we're not going to coddal criminals in a trump administration and that hits his people just right. so through the political lens, that's the kind of conversation
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he wants to foment. >> i'm also a conservative who thinks we have a problem with excessive force and this communication problems between cops and communities. so it's a jest that wood be wider not to make. it's bad judgment. but i'm more concerned about the policy side. we shouldn't act like it's a directive but it can be badly encouraging. i'm concerned with silver asset reform where they've changed that policy on the social justice front. but as you were pointing out about the politically correctness thing. there's a washington post piece this descended into. president trump's reference to paddy wagon insults irish americans like me. >> i hear that. i hear scott's comment about
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guantanamo bay. and maybe me and you need to have a sit down and a different conversation. maybe we need to talk to the families of a tamir rice, who wuz a 12-year-old child. maybe we need to sit down and talk to the families of walter scott, and keith lamont scott who didn't get the benefit of their humanity. maybe there is a disconnect and maybe in this country we're talking beyond one another. but whether or not it's scott jennings or someone in trump country is a level of empathy for those of us that register that as fear and if can have that level of empathy for an issue near and dear to my heart, i should be able to sit down j the same level of empathy with you. >> i agree with you. as i said i think the tension is
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extremely worrisome. the president was actually speaking about violent gangs and so if you're one of his supporters and you're listening to that peach and you hear him talk about the violent ms-13. >> and there are people who should get empathy who have been in that violence. >> and you have the liberals come in and say -- >> this is not a liberal -- do you understand that some people look at me as being inherently dangerous because i'm a black male? do you get that? do you understand that in. >> i agree with you. you don't have to keep yelling at me. >> i'm not yelling at me. we have an opportunity to have an amaze congversation. >> but i'm trying to tell you the conversation he was having about ms-13 too, a lot of people was right on. was it bad judgment? maybe. it maybe it it didn't help but through a political lens, you can see it two conversations he's trying to stoke on a lot of
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issues. i actually think it's the same thing on the transgender thing. he says things and he wants certain pee tool react one way and other people to react a different way. he's shathe master of it. >> i just want donald trump to care about people who look like me and when he does that, maybe we can acknowledge the president wants to fix systems we find oppressive and harmful to people of colorer. >> co author of the book "end of discussion". >> speaking of which. >> a new lawsuit alleges fox news and the white house colluded on a fake news story about a staffer to shift attention from russian hacking. the answer to it all. ♪ we want to need each other. ♪
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explosive new allegations are coming to light today in a lawsuit filed by a fox news contributor. the story begins last july when staffer seth rich was murdered in what dc police believe was attempted robbery gone wrong. his murder was spun into a baseless conspiracy theory. this new lawsuit alleges it was fox news who purposely cooked up the false story with white house input. what's more, that allegedly president trump signed off on it. randi kaye picks up the story from there. >> reporter: when democratic national committee staffer seth rich was killed, a conspiracy was born. caught up in it, this man. >> i do believe i was used as a pawn in this entire thing. >> reporter: his name is rod wheeler. he's a former dc homicide detective and fox news
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contributor. and now he's filed a lawsuit against fox news. wheeler claims he was used to help fabricate a story connecting the murder of seth rich to the wikileaks release of thousands of e-mails from are the democratic national committee. the idea being that rich was murdered by some sort of dnc operative in retaliation for the leaks. all of this despite the fact that police say rich's murder was the result of a botched burglary and that this is key, authorities had already determined that russians hacked the dnc e-mail nzs and gave them to wikileaks. what was the goal? >> i think their goal based on the e-mails and the voice mail messages that i got from the ed bukowski was to dedunk this russian hacking it narrative. >> reporter: butowsky is a financial news commentator. the alleged goal to detract from the russia investigation was not only push bid butowsky but
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according to the lawsuit it was done in coordination with the trump white house with butowsky even arranging wheeler to meet with then press secretary sean spicer. spicer has acknowledged meeting them but said he was unaware of any contact involving the president. still, just two days before the article was published on fox's website, butowsky left this voice mail for wheeler. >> hey, rod, it's ed. so a couple minutes ago i got a note that we have the full attention of the white house on this. and tomorrow let's close this deal. >> reporter: hours later, this text from ed butowsky to wheeler. not to add any more pressure, but the president just read the article. he wants the article out immediately. and according to the lawsuit, ed butowsky sent an e-mail to fox news producers and anchors encouraging them to push the
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narrative that russia wasn't behind the hack. it seemed to take hold. >> this issue is so big now, that the entire russia collusion narrative is hanging by a thread. >> reporter: according to the lawsuit, butowsky had also texted wheeler before the article was published saying, the narrative in the interview s youmight use is that your and malia's work prove that the russians didn't hack into the dnc and steal the e-mails and impact our election. >> i thought it was horrible because what did that have to do with the murder of this guy that i was investigating? wheeler insists the fox reporter attributed faked quotes to him, one even suggesting he had information that there had been an e-mail exchange between seth rich and wikileaks. he called butowsky to find out why. >> one day, you're going to win an award for having said those things that you didn't say. okay? >> keep the award. let's just tell the truth here. >> you're going to be begging to own those words.
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>> reporter: in that conversation, weighs basically acknowledging to you yes, it's true, you didn't say these things but they sound good and we're going to use them. >> that's exactly what he was saying. they knew i never said these things. i challenged them immediately. >> reporter: fox retracted the bogus story a week after it was pub accomplished and told cnn in a statement today that the accusations that fox helped to detract from coverage of russia collusion is completely erroneous. and that it has no evidence that rod wheeler was misquoted. ed butowsky told cnn it was all just a joke and today white house press secretary sara huckabee sanders pushed back on allegations the white house played a role in this scheme. >> the president had no knowledge of the story and it's completely untrue that he or the white house involvement in this story. >> reporter: randi kaye, cnn, new york. >> randy just got the statement for the attorney for rod wheeler who told her he wanted to depose
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the president. the attorney says "we're going to litigate this case as we would any other and want to talk to anyone who has information and ha means the president and sean spicer." joining me is brian stelter. to depose a sitting president seems like a long shot. this private detective was on fox talking up this story. >> he was part of the promotion of this conspiracy theory, the theory supporting the idea the president had nothing to do with russia and suggesting it was the actual the dnc. maybe the clintons somehow shared these dnc e-mails with wikileaks. it's fundamentally all about disputing russia collusion idea. this conspiracy theory is popular in the wamp sbachs of the internet. fox promoted it thanks to wheeler and thanks to this reporting. now wheeler is saying i was misquoted, misled. i was defamed. it's going to be a tough case but it could be revealing into there guy butowsky is e-mailing people at fox telling them what
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angles to push. >> we've got the quotes. there they were in randy's piece. very unusual at a normal television news operation but maybe not unusual for fox news. >> democratic operative e-mailing people what they should be talking about. >> a lot of this about fox seems highly unethical. the trump white house pieces need more reporting. sean spicer was at a meeting with these guys at the white house. there was talk about this theory in the white house. we know the president promoted other conspiracy theories like wiretapping claims and things like that. he's never braupt seth rich. this is about two alternative universes. we talk about it all the time. you either think the russia story is a big deal that needs investigation or it's a hoax. you're about to interview al gore, similar on climate change. you either believe it's a pressing issue or buy into the denialism. the two alternative universes idea is coming through in this story a lot. >> these are allegations made in
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a lawsuit. people make allegations all the time and it could just be not true. >> we need more reporting on this and if it ever gets to the point of discovery and depositions we'll learn a lot more at an that point. >> brian stelter, appreciate it. thanks for watching "a.c. 360." the cnn town hall, "al gore: the climate crisis," starts right now. tonight, the climate crisis in-depth. >> every night on the news it's like a major haiku, the book of revelations. >> one of the world's leading voices on climate change, former vice president al gore. taking questions about the most pressing issue for the planet. his warning to president trump. >> what were you thinking? >> and his call to action. we're here for a special cnn town hall on the climate crisis with former vice president al gore. i'm anderson cooper. i want to welcome our viewers watching in the united states and watching around the world. consensus in the scientific community is clear. sea levels are rising. the oceans are warming. but there'