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donald trump jr.'s initial statement about his meeting with a russian lawyer avoided key details and now the white house admits the president helped craft that response. trying to convey to the north koreans we are not your enemy. but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us. >> america's top diplomat says the u.s. is willing to talk to north korea while others are contemplating a military response. plus fox news is facing a lawsuit that claims the president was involved in a face news story.
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we will explain. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm rosemary church and this is "cnn newscenter." the story about donald trump jr.'s meeting with a russian lawyer last year is changing yet again. after repeated denials from the president's attorney the white house now says donald trump acted like any father would, offering direction but not dictation on his son's explanation. cnn's jim acosta has more. >> reporter: yes the president was involved in the statement that obscured the true meaning for the meeting. >> the president weighed in as any father would based on the limited information he had. >> reporter: the question came
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after a "washington post" story that the president dictated the story and inaccurately claimed that the meeting was goes focused on russian adoption that was active and popular with americans years ago. trump junior released three payments of e-mails later. and would be very useful to your father. talking to reporters on air force one the next day the president was talking up the adoption explanation saying they talked about the adoption stuff which was a big thing at the time but nothing happened. a story he was still using at a news conference the following day. i guess they talked about adoption and some things. adoption wasn't even a part of the campaign. but nothing happened from the meeting. zero happened from the meeting and honestly i think the press made a big deal over something that a lot of people would do.
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>> reporter: asked about that initial statement from donald trump jr., white house outside counsel jay sekulow insisted that the president was not involved. >> i wasn't involved in the statement drafting at alln nor was the president. i assume that was between don junior and his lawyer. and you know that, and so to put this on the president, i think is just absolutely incorrect. >> reporter: leaders from both parties say the president's involvement in the statement is another concern for the russia investigation. >> if it's true i think it's of serious concern but we don't know that it is. >> if you had the e-mails available to you you would understand that the meeting wasn't about adoption that the e-mail chain shows that it was about the russian government wanting to help the trump campaign. i don't think the statement helped don junior. i don't know what role the president played, if any. here's what i would suggest that when you put out a misleading
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statement it's going to be hard to convince people to stop looking at other things. >> the other question is whether the president will sign a bill to ease sanctions on russian. we should point out congressional leaders are not concerned that the president would veto the bill because it has enough support in congress to override any veto. jim acosta, cnn, the white house. >> joining me now from our london studio, brian class is a fellow in comparatively politics at the london school of economics. thank you so much for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> it's hard to keep up with all the twists and turns of the story but now the white house is telling us that president trump did what any father would do and simply weighed in on what turned out to be his son's misleading statement issued last month on that meeting he had with a russian lawyer last year. what does this all signal to you
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and where do you think this is going? >> the trump administration lies until caught on many stories and it follows the same cycle we saw here. you start saying it's fake news. then they get caught so they say, okay, it was a non-issue just about adoptions. then we find out it was a serious meeting that was quite likely part of an espionage operation. so then the story becomes maybe it is a big deal but donald trump had nothing to the with it. now we're finding out he did have something to do with it and we are supposed to take everything else at face value and think this is what any good father would do. but the credibility of the white house really matters on all sorts of other issues. time and time again with every twist of this story, the white house is destroying its
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credibility which hurts america. >> and i do want to ask you more on that. it's worth noting that the concession by the white house that mr. trump was involved in the drafting of the initial statement contradicts what the president's attorney jay sekulow has been saying all along. what are we to make of a contradiction like that and what's the political damage to a president who appears to mislead the country on a variety of issues? >> well, it's lying until caught. and this is what is happening over and over and over. it happened with michael flynn and all sorts of aspects of the russia investigation and now with the don junior e-mails. it makes you ask more questions and raises concerns about a cover up and the obstruction of justice that could be associated with that. when you have a president who is telling lies and the lawyers are
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telling lies on behalf of the president it calls into question any sort of integrity of any white house statement going forward. that is a serious problem. when something like the crisis in north korea is cropping up we have to believe the president is telling the truth. it's why it's a bigger issue than just the russia investigation. the credibility of the most powerful person on the planet is really important and it's gone. when we have months and months of statements that once actually checked turn out to be false, misleading, dishonest or lies. this is why it is bigger than just the e-mails would suggest. >> what would you expect special counsel to make of the role president trump played in the drafting of this statement as muller investigates any collusion between the trump
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administration and russia. >> one aspect is was donald trump aware of the meeting when it happened? he said he was not. but he promised new dirt on hillary clinton right after the meeting promising dirt on hillary clinton was confirmed. mueller will be looking at that closely. the second aspect is a clear intent to cover up details and that speaks to intent of the president to not show the full truth of what happened. that is important because you can no longer claim that the president was simply acting in good faith. this is a clear example of the fact he is acting in bad faith and trying to obscure the details of an ongoing investigation for possible criminal wrong doing. >> while this is playing out, does mr. trump's base care about any of this and would they agree with the white house this is all of no consequence?
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>> i think we have seen a remarkable resilience among the base to accept improper behavior. we saw it in the campaign with the "access hollywood" tapes, with lies. what turned the base is when trump went after jeff sessions. so there is a resilience to let trump get away with lying and mishonest statements and i don't think that's going to change for the 20 to 30% who like donald trump no matter what. but that doesn't matter because you cannot governor a country effectively with 37% of the country behind you. he is the most unpopular president in american history at this point and it's having ramifications on his ability to deliver on promises. that's where the base might turn i the coming days. >> thanks for joining us live from our london studio.
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appreciate it. the white house says president trump still intends to sign off on tougher sanctions against russia. the bill passed congress with near unanimous support but mr. trump has not said or tweeted anything about it. reporters asked if he signed the bill yet. >> he has not but as we put out a statement earlier this week he will. >> what is the delay here? you guys have had this since friday. what's holding him back? >> there's nothing holding him back. there's a legal process. they're going through that and he'll sign the bill. >> let's head to moscow now and clare sebastian. on his tour of former soviet republics, mike pence insists that he will sign the bill very soon. how is that being received in russia? and what is being sate about mr.
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pence's trip here? >> the president knows very much his vice president vocal indeed on his comments that the president still intends to sign the bill that's not going to make a huge different to moscow they have already closed two diplomatic embassies in moscow and will cut 700 people from staff. but as for you know, the visit of mike pence to eastern europe, his itinerary speaks volumes. he has been to estonia which is a nato country own russia's western border. he was in georgia yesterday. that is an aspiring nato country. and today he is in mont negro
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which is the newest member of nato. nato expansion in eastern europe is something that russia continues to strongly oppose and vice president pence on this trip has been strongly expressing his support for nato countries and baltic countries. the kremlin says they don't have a problem with the u.s. forging bilateral relationships with these countries, but they do when it comes to engs passions of alliances. but certainly this trip coming at a time when we have new tensions is creating an even more tense moment here. >> indeed. and clare, u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson is heading to manila this weekend. he is likely going to meet with russia's foreign minister. they are expected to talk about the order to cut u.s. diplomatic staff. can we expect anything
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significant to come out of that meeting? >> this is the first time we have heard the secretary of state address this issue. he said the cuts to the diplomatic personnel here in russia makes the work of that mission more difficult and he will bring that up with sergey lavrov at the asean summit. as to whether this will make a difference to what has been done, that is unlikely. but i think it's worth noting that both sides have saad they do hope for an improvement of this relationship in the future and there are plenty of areas they would like to work together particularly in the fight against terrorism and in the resolution of the syrian conflict. but i think when it comes to the sanctions issue there is an impasse between the two sides. >> we'll see what comes out of
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that meeting. many thanks. the white house is considering its next moves after north korea's latest missile launch. a u.s. senator raises the alarming possibility of war. the venezuela government jailed two opposition leaders, what does this mean for what is left for the country's democracy. we will ask the former u.s. ambassador to venezuela. back that and more in just a moment.
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of their kind endorsed by aarp. remember - these plans let you apply all year round. so call today. because now's the perfect time to learn more. go long. welcome back, everyone. the fbi has a new leader. the u.s. senate voted on tuesday to confirm christopher wray as the agency's director. he assumes the post after president trump fired former director james comey in may. he said he would work independently from the white house and would resign if he's asked to do something illegal or immemorial. and attorney general jeff sessions emphasized the importance of lawful policing at a conference on tuesday. his comments come after
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president trump made controversial remarks encouraging officers to be rough with suspected criminals. sessions say the remark was made in jest and added this. >> in community based policing was a big part of reducing crime for 20, 30 years in america. we can't back off that now. we need to get better at it, more careful at it and making sure we do it in a lawful way and it's not offending our friends and neighbors. >> sessions said he would defendny officer performing their job lawfully but is not afraid to prosecutor officers who do not. the white house is considering a response to north korea's latest missile launch. rex tillerson echoed calls for china to step up pressure on pyongyang but emphasized that beijing is not to blame for the
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stand off. he said that the u.s. is willing to sit down for talks with the north but only if pyongyang halts its nuclear weapons program. >> we do not seek a regime change or the collapse of the regime. we do not seek a reunification of the peninsula or an excuse to send the military north of the 38th parallel. we are not your threat but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond. >> diplomacy is the preferred option. one u.s. senator says war could be next if talks failed. brian todd has the details. >> all out war with north korea, a real possibility being put forth by a key member of the senator armed services committee. president trump told lindsey
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graham there will be war with north korea if they continue to threaten america with its missile program. >> if there's going to be a war to stop him it's going to be over there. and he's told me that to my face. >> graham says no one wants a war but the president has more of a responsibility to protect the american homeland than the region around north and south korea. senator graham's remarks don't help the situation. >> what senator graham is says is that a host of those folks are going to die. that's a message we do not have to remind the south koreans of. they know. that. >> dianne feinstein who is on the intelligence committee told msnbc there's more to the danger than senator graham seems to realize. >> lindsey graham should get a classified briefing like the ones i have had and sit down
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with secretary mattis. >> the press secretary issued a dire warning about armed conflict. >> it will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering since 1953. it will involve the massive shelling of an ally's capital which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth. it would be a serious -- it would be a catastrophic war. >> kim jong-un has a million man army and bolstered his military near the dmz. much of the forces are in underground bunkers ready to fire on seoul at first withiff an attack by the u.s. >> they could cause a lot of damage. >> there are about 28,000 u.s. troops in the region. the u.s. and south korea would
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win that war. but tens of thousands of people killed in the for few days. >> it would be a nasty fight. we would encounter barriers of tough foe. they have been there forever. they know the terrain. >> the pentagon is not commenting. a white house official would not comment on what senator graham said but sold us that the president consults with members of congress with their input and he is open to using diplomatic pressure to get north korea to change course. an aid to senator graham said it is worse pointing out that -- which general marks says is irrelevant. and alexandria field joins us from seoul, south korea. any option that includes u.s.
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military action would unnerve south korea of course given it will be the one that pays dearly with its proximity to north korea. what is being said there about this discussion of war? >> it's stunning to hear a u.s. senator talking about the deaths of thousands of people in south korea especially right here in seoul. this area includes 20 million people. we're 35 miles from the dmz. you heard brian todd say that it is widely believed that if north korea were to launch an attack what they could kill thousands of people quite quickly. stunning to hear a u.s. senator talk about this. but you have government officials making a tempered response to those comments. one government official was asked about the comments today, he reiterated he feels the u.s. and south korea's positions have not changed and south korea does not wish the failure of north
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korea, does not wish reunification through assimilation and it is the position of the south korean government they believe that the u.s. stand has not changed to this point. you have heard so many different lines coming from washington that it has to be raising alarm or concern behind closed doors. >> of course. and now u.s. secretary of state ti rex tillerson mentioned the possibility of talks with north korea. that's something that south korea has been trying to push. could that be the answer to the crisis? and if it is, how would that work exactly? >> that's part of the platform that got south korea's president elected to office. arguing for more enkbajment with north korea and seeing that as the path forward. you heard the president saying he would be willing to meet with
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kim jong-un under the right circumstances and the south korean government has extended an invitation for talks with north korea. you do hear secretary of state rex tillerson now seemingly trying to push for a diplomatic response but with a precondition that north korea would have to agree to denuclearization and that's not a new idea. talks with north korea broke down in 2008. we haven't seen official talks with north korea since then. and this isn't the first administration to lay out this idea of precondition. so this raises questions about how you would get north korea to agree to these talks and on what terms? >> indeed. a lot to work out there. joining us from seoul in south korea where it is nearly 4:30 in the afternoon. new sanctions are not
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stopping the venezuela president from targeting political opponents. how the government is defending the arrests. the trump administration fights back against an allegation that the white house was involved in a fake fox news story. the details are ahead. stay with us. ids to be scared. to struggle. they're learning resilience, and tenacity. here's to the moms who show their kids that every step -even a misstep- is a step forward.
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and a warm welcome back to our viewers joining us here in the united states and around the world. i'm rosemary church. let's update the main stories this hour. the white house now says donald trump weighed in on a statement from his son explaining a
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meeting with a russian lawyer last year to get dirt on hillary clinton. the president's attorney has repeatedly denied mr. trump had any involvement with the misleading statement which claimed the meeting was about dopgs. rex tillerson says that the u.s. is willing to hold talks with north korea if the country stops its nuclear program. he says that pyongyang is posing an unacceptable threat and the u.s. must respond. apple shares are surging after the company predistincted it would hit $52 billion in sails in the fourth quarter. that suggests the new iphone will launch in september.
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president trump says that nicolas maduro is responsible for the health and security for two opposition leaders. they were taken from house arrest in the middle of the night and thrown into jail. lopez suspected it might happen weeks ago. he recorded this video urging more anti-government protests even if he was put behind bars. >> translator: if you are watching this video right now, that is precisely what happened because they got arrested again, illegally and unjustly. a prisoner of conscious. a prisoner for wanting a better venezuela. but that is what venezuela is like. that is the situation of our country. millions of venezuelans have
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been jailed. we have more now from caracas. >> we are seeing a very defiant president nicolas maduro as he speaks out against the united states and the international community saying he will not allow anyone to interfere with venezuela's sovereignty but we are seeing an emboldened maduro who is taking steps against opposition leaders, the faces and voices that have been critical of his government. and we're talking about lopez and -- they were taken into custody in the middle of the night very dramatic video coming in particular of the case of -- you can see a group of officials who took him overnight while he was in his pajamas and he resisted. you can hear a man yelling, asking for help while neighbors
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watching in the area were yelling dictatorship, were yelling they are taking him to ale alert others in the neighborhood. the international community is using that to describe what is happening here. president trump has already placed sanctions against individuals tied to president maduro. he also is going after maduro himself. what he has not done yet and what no one in the international community has done is targeted the oil industry here. venezuela once one of the richest countries in latin america, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. and the united states is a market for that. they buy a lot of oil and that has not been targeted yet. why, that remains unknown. there could be impacts on both sides. gas prices could go up as a result. in venezuela, you could see the economy really deal with some
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pain and this is an already collapsing economy, dealing with food and medical shortages, people who are struggling just to get the daily things they need, food like flour and sugar and basic medical supplies like ase tylenol and people wishing they could live in the venezuela that once was. laila up santiago, cnn, caracas. >> we want to talk more about this crisis in venezuela. thank you for being with us. so this is a great concern. you have these two opposition leaders in venezuela who have been sent to prison by the highest court in the land. because of their stand against the vote on sunday. what is likely to happen to these two men? >> they are political prisoners.
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both had been in prison for years, or released just right before the vote. and then were picked up again immediately after the vote. if the situation continues as it is, they will be held for a very long time. and i would expect they be joined by other political prisoners in the country. >> and we know at this time that the wife of one of the opposition leaders, posted on her twitter account a recording that was made back on july 17, correctly predicting that he would be sent to prison again. and he has called and urged his supporters to fight on for political change. we know that president trump has basically said that he will hold president maduro responsible for anything that happens to these two men. but this is the problem, what sort of impact is that likely to have at this point now? >> i don't think it's going to
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lead to maduro releasing the prisoners or from picking up other people. there are judges taking refuge in the embassy of chile. there are other people who are going to be arrested. this sham election on sunday was a door that maduro took the country through that you can't go back. you can't undo it very easily. so there's got to be pressure from around the world. there is a foreign minister's meeting on thursday. the organization of american states, the european union don't recognize the results of this sham election. and it's one in which maduro cheated. he was only playing against himself and he inflated the number of people who turned out to vote. >> it's a matter of timing now isn't it? we know that the president of
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venezuela, maduro has hailed this election a victory and intends to go forward and rewrite the constitution. what would be the consequences of that? >> the main consequence would be for him to stay in power. he doesn't want to hold an election for the national assembly election should be coming up. governors and mayors should have been last year and was not. there is supposed to be a presidential election in 2018. that's what he doesn't want to have happen. he would lose all of those. by rewriting the constitution they can postpone or eliminate the elections, extend his man date in officer and he has to be praying oil prices go up. that's the only thing that venezuela exports and he has to be bet for i can put this off long enough the oil prices will go up. and somehow he will get through all this. >> that's the problem, the
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backdrop to this is such a poor economy and then of course you've got this possibility of more u.s. sanctions. against venezuela. how is that going to play into this? >> the economy is a mess. if what the world bank estimates is true it means in two years the economy will decline 30%. i mean, that's the same size as the decline in the u.s. economy during the great depression. it's just gigantic. and oil production is dropping by the way. not increasing but dropping. >> they're in a fix. they can't import food or medicine. inflation is out of control and they don't have the money to reinvest in the oil fields. >> we are writing the constitution by maduro is going to make matters worse, clearly but keep him in power and that's his goal.
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>> that's his goal. the only thing that is going to increase is the number of political prisoners, and corruption. corruption is the hallmark of this government. >> thank you so much for coming in and planing this all to us. preappreciate it. we'll take a short break now. stim still to come, a lawsuit that alleged that fox news fabricated a story with oversight from the white house. and only one network can be the best... verizon. just named number one in the nation by rootmetrics, the largest independent study. in call, data, speed, and reliability. and awarded number one overall network for the eighth time in a row. because only verizon has the best network and the best unlimited.
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welcome back to cnn newsroom. the white house is denying claims in a lawsuit that they concocted a fake story with fox news in an effort to shift focus away from the ties to russia and centered on the murder of a staff member for the democratic
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national committee. jake tapper has more. >> reporter: the unsolved murder of seth rich continues to get a huge amount of attention. >> reporter: it was an explosive story that was later retracted. a new lawsuit filed today says the white house and a wealthy trump supporter were behind the news smear working to craft the story that the lawsuit claims would put to bed speculation that president trump colluded with russia. a claim that the white house and president denies. >> it's untrue the white house involvement in the story. >> reporter: with the totality of everything else in this case -- >> the plaintiff is rod wheeler who was hired to investigate the murder of rich by a trump supporter, also a fox commentator who paid for the investigation on behalf of the
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victim's family. both men met with white house officials to discuss the story in april. >> production of journalism is not always a beautiful thing to behold. and in this case it was ugly. >> reporter: as a reported the lawsuit claims that is the way the president wanted the article. he denies is allegations telling cnn the lawsuit is bs. but wheeler has a lit any of text messages and e-mails. >> you may get allegations of stories misreported all the time. what you don't have is a blow by blow documentary account of what occurred. >> reporter: i got a note that we have the full attention of the white house. on this. and tomorrow, let's close this deal. >> reporter: after allegedly
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sending a text to wheeler. he wants the article out immediately. when asked about the exchange, he says he was joking. enter sean spicer who was asked for reaction after this false story broke. >> i don't -- i'm not aware of -- i generally -- i don't get updates on dnc staffers. i'm not aware of that. >> what he didn't mention was the meeting he had about the story the month pryer. today they said we hope it brings an end to a conspiracy theory surrounding our beloved seth. >> and earlier my colleague chris cuomo spoke to ed butowski
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and here is what he had to say. >> did it happen? the sean spicer meeting? >> i had a meeting with sean spicer and brought rod wheeler along. and it was about this audio recording that of -- saying there is a mirror copy of the hard drive of seth rich's at the cart division at the fbi. >> you know he says you got his reporting wrong. you took two and two and made 45 out of it. >> maybe that's his math. i'm not saying anything. listen to it. i'm not con cluzing anything at all. >> when the source of the material says your conclusion about it is wrong -- >> it's not my conclusion. what is my conclusion? >> you saw it as something that was important enough to bring it to sean spicer.
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he just took a meeting? >> yeah, i said i was going to be in town. and rod wheeler was a tag along because at the last minute i thought why don't you join me. and get to know sean and meet and so on. my conversation with sean about this recording lasted about one minute. he said, ed, i don't know anything about it and i don't want to know anything about it. and we ened up talking with other things believe it or not because we get our shirts at the same place and we talked about the new cotton material on these shirts. >> do you think it's coincidental there seem to be these meetings that trump officials take they don't know anything about but they take the meeting anyway. like when we heard from don junior that he didn't know what the meeting was about but took it anyway and they started to
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talk about adoption. this seems similar to that in terms of a scenario. you know sean but not that well and ask him for a meeting and he takes it and you come in and tell him about this tape and wind up talking about shirpts. sounds convenient, right? >> let me correct you. >> please. >> i have no idea about donald trump jr. and this and that. i want to talk about sean spicer. we know each other. we're not good friends but we're friendly. i told him i wanted to talk to him about something. >> you didn't say what it was about? >> no. >> were you surprised he said he would take a meeting with someone he kind of knows but not that well? >> i was happy. so apparently he liked me more than i thought. >> chris cuomo talking to a trump supporter and republican donor. let's take a break.
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a very warm welcome back to you all. maxine waters had a timely exchange with the treasury secretary last week and her words have gone viral and for some evens to go spell. jeanne moos explains. >> reporter: her latest reclaim to fame. >> reclaiming my time. reclaiming my time. reclaiming my time. >> the time belongs to the gentle lady from california. >> she felt steve "m" mnuchin was not answering her question. >> i was going to tell me -- >> reclaiming my time. >> with the house -- >> reclaiming my time. >> perhaps mr. chairman i don't understand the rules. i thought i was allowed to answer questions. >> reclaiming my time. would you please explain the rules? >> reclaiming time became a thing. >> reclaiming my time.
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reclaiming my time. >> reporter: the dance remix was fun. but it's the gospel one that will be honored. >> i'm reclaiming my time. i'm reclaiming my time. >> reporter: broadcast performer michael killgore loves aunty maxine and says it sent him over the moon. >> it hit me hard. >> reporter: it took him 20 minutes to whip this up. >> reclaiming my time. give me the answer to my question or don't open your mouth again. >> singing gospel is like breetzibreet breetszing to me. >> we didn't leave a message. >> reclaiming my time. >> reporter: just like a 5-year-old does. but michaels was thrilled when waters commented on his video
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saying he would be. >> headed to the grammys. okay. >> reporter: it's time for me to stop and allow you to reclaim your time. >> my time. >> jeanne moos, cnn. new york. >> you know the rules when it's mi my time. thanks for your company on "cnn newsroom." i'm rosemary church. connect with me on twitter. early start is next for our viewers in the u.s. for everyone else, stay tuned for more news with isa soares in london and have yourself a great day.
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admit he had a hand in crafting the admission but how far did he have to go? a new report this morning raising concerns about the future of affirmative action policies. and republicans are starting to defy president trump on health care and other issues. the gop pushing back against his call for


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