hello, i'm wolf blitzer, it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 8:00 p.m. in moscow. wherever you're watching around the world, thank you for joining us. up first, president trump tackled some major issues, with a new plan to limit legal immigration into the united states. the president has just signed a bill to impose additional sanctions on russia, but it also restricts his ability to ease restrictions on moscow and he announced a trump to restrict immigration in the united states.
it's called the rae's act to limit the number of highly skillskill ed -- unskilled workers. >> this will limit immigration to people who can speak english, support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy. the rae's act prevents newingmi. let's begin with russia sanctions, the congress passed the bill by an overwhelming margin and it gives congress, not the president, the ability to ease those sanctions on russia. and ryan nobles is up on capitol
hill. jim, the president signed the bill, but he certainly didn't celebrate the event. tell our viewers what he's saying about this new sanctions law. >> reporter: that's right, wolf, and we should point out unlike other acts that the president has taken here at the white house. this did not happen in frofnt o the cameras, and one of those bills that accompany -- limits the president's ability to lift sanctions on russia. after the 2016 election, the obama administration slapped sanctions on russia, restricting them from those compounds. and along with signing that legislation, he release ad
std statement saying that i favor tough measures to punish and
detd deter destabilizing actions by iran, north korea and russia.
in its haste to pass this legislation, the congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions. the president does intend, the administration does intend to exercise it's authority in terms of the implementation of this law and we should also point out, wolf, there was another statement that was put out by the white house from the president on all this and it said that he signed this bill for the sake of national unity, which is a very interesting statement, wolf, because it obviously acknowledges some of the deep concerns that exist, not only on the democratic side, but even on the republican side, about the russia investigation, about what's going on over here at the white house. if you recall, it was just yesterday when sarah huckabee sanders, the white house press secretary acknowledged that
trump tried to craft that statement by donald trump jr. about that meeting he had with russia during the campaign. and during the signing of this bill, the administration is trying to move on and deal with some of the public relations fallout of this russian investigation which is ongoing. >> ryan, you're up on capitol hill, the bill passed by a vote of, what, 98-2 in the senate, 419-3 in the house of representatives. congress would have been able to override a presidential veto, so he signed it into law, but the message he sent to lawmakers, it very clear, this is significantly 234rsignificant ly flawed an contains uncongressional p uncongressional -- constitution m provisions. >> it's by far the most bipartisan thing that congress
has done in 2017. it's clear that the congress doesn't trust the white house much when it comes to russia. and open conversations with the white house about this particular bill. he said publicly, that the fact that the white house has not really given strong state of thes as it relates to russia is one of the reasons that this bill had to be passed and provide more controls by the congress as it relates to the implementation of sanctions like these. this is another indication, wolf, of kind of the rocky relationship between capitol hill and the white house right now and it's not just democrats, there are more and more republicans that are uncomfortable with that relationship, it even tracks back to the health care debate. so this was a loud and clear message from this congress that they are a co-equal branch of government and part of their job is to keep the white house in check. >> the president clearly does not believe that. we're going to get into that a little bit more, ryan nobles, jim acosta, guys, thanks very
much. let's discuss all these late breaking developments, i'm joined by republican senator bill cassidy of georgia. you were part of the 98 that voted in favor of the russia sanctions. he said it was significantly flawed, it contains a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions and he then added this in a statement, and let me read it to you.
because it's very significant. my administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the congress in these various provisions and will implement them in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. he seems to be suggesting, senator, he's going to decide, what is constitutional, not constitutional. he's not simply going to
implement what you guys on capitol hill want. your reaction? >> there has always been differences between executives and congress when it comes to foreign affairs. but we as a legislative body wanted to clearly say that russia's recent actions are beyond the pale and they deserve some response. obviously congress has their own tools, but i hope that the president and the congress will work together as opposed to against each other. >> he clearly has that threat there, he will decide how to implement it. and he goes one step further. and he really slams the u.s. congress in a separate statement he released. the bill remains seriously flawed particularly because it e encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate. congress could not even negotiate a health care bill
after seven years of talking. by limiting the executive's flexibility, this big makes it harder. as president i can make far better deals with foreign countries than congress. he's really giving congress a slap right there. i want you to react to that. >>chuckling, that's such a trumpian statement. the fact is that the congress has a role in this, we're exerting that role, if the president comes up with a better deal, we'll be open to that, however we felt there had to be a response to some of the actions that russia has taken recently. >> he says it's unconstitutional and significantly flawed. he's basically suggesting he will decide how to implement it, whether to implement it and he's not going to really pay that much attention to it. but let's get on to some other
critically important issues, he's had a number of meetings with some of your republican colleagues, later today he extended an invitation for tom cotton to visit the white house. >> he clearly wants to repeal obamacare, but we're doing it differently, we're bringing in governors, hearing from their medicaid directors, finding out what would make a bill work for them. if you look at the data, if you look a state which increases coverage, it has much more to do with the actions of a governor than it does with preexisting coverage. i think it's a really good direction to go in. >> let's talk about the immigration policy that he unveiled today, he announced that the united states -- he
wants the u.s. to switch to what he called a merit-based system, givi . do you think this is something that could work and do you think the votes are there to make a significant change like that. >> i think that's been proposed in the past and absolutely i think that would be well received. i don't have a clear read on what democrats would have to say about that, but we want folks who will make our economy more prosperous, and the folks that will are those that come with skill sets or with capital that can again create jobs for americans who are already here. that is the sweet spot in immigration policy. if the president advances that i would like to think there would be bipartisan support for that. >> and republicans are already saying what he announced today goes against the tradition of the united states, not just to welcome in rich people or people who speak english, but welcome immigrants of all types and give
them a chance to experience the american credream. what do you say to that? >> this is not about those who are coming here, but those who are already there. if an immigrant comes into a community and then creates a business that creates thousands of jobs. i think the president is doing that. i think that's the better way to go. >> you're a physician, a final question on health care right now, you're a member of the senate health committee as will, the chairman of that committee, lamar alexander, a man you know well, he announced that the committee will hold bipartisan health care hearings, he really wants to work with the democrats now, now that repeal and replace has failed in the senate. do you believe there is an opportunity now to come up with some bipartisan legislation that will fix many of the problems of the affordable care act, obamacare? >> already, i think the chairman has an agreement with the ranking member to work on cost sharing reduction payments at least through 2018.
those families who are looking at 40% increases in their premiums, republicans tried to address that recently, we failed unfortunately to get 50 votes. nevertheless, that would address this issue through 2018. so there's already a bipartisan solution to an immediate problem. i have always been about personally getting something bipartisan and i am working to that end. up next, president donald trump says his mexican counterpart called him to praise him on border security. but guess what? mexico's president says that call never happened. we have new information. plus the u.s. says it's successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile today after tensions with north korea increase. ideli. that's why you drink ensure. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals.
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the transcript obtained by politico, the president says and i'm quoting now, i got a call from the head of the boy scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, close quote, the boy scouts ended up apologizing actually for president trump's speech and an official tells us that they're not aware of any phone call between the boy scouts and president trump. and now a phone call between the president of mexico. >> even the president of mexico, their southern border, not that many people are coming because they know they're not going to get across our border. which is very complementary. >> president enrique pena nieto has not been in contact with president trump or the white house.
so, chris, what about these phone calls? the president makes a hard statement, quickly denied by various groups. >> a hard same that paints him in the most possible favorable light. they said it was the greatest speech ever delivered. you know, he is a serial exaggerator, this is not new, everything is the best, the newest, it doesn't always matter what he's talking about. but these are relatively trivial things, but if you are willing to, let's say, stretch the truth, if possible make it up from whole cloth, but at least stretch the truth regarding phone calls, or if you made them at all. , sure, i'm sure does raise doubts about what can be believed and what can't. obviously when you're the president of the united states and you're dealing with foreign leaders, if there's a pattern
that you exaggerate a lot or you don't tell the truth a lot, that's a big statement. >> it's a shame it's not colonial america, he might have a shot to become king, which i think he would actually like. but the president of the united states exaggerating this way, he can't be believed, to the media, to the american people, but other leaders around the world, and that has a real impact. not today, not as we sit here, but if something really bad happens, and the president needs to sit aside the world stage with correredibility, he's undercutting his correct over and over and over again. >> you remember the controversial meeting that his son, donald trump jr. and others had with a russian hour at trump tower in new york city last summer. initially the president's
private attorney jay sekulow said that the president had nothing to do with a statement that was released that said the president was not involved, didn't know anything about it. but yesterday, sarah huckabee sanders, she said this. >> the president weighed in as any father would based on the limited information that he had. >> that's clearly a shift. is this significant? >> i think what we're seeing now is this constant pattern of false and misleading statements is going from beyond the political realm to having broader implications. so are fact checkers at "the washington post" have actually logged 836 false and misleading claims by the president during the first six months, that's more than four a day if you can believe that. and these have been political issues, but now there's a special counsel investigation, robert mueller is more than likely going to take a look at the role trump had in crafting
the statement and initially putting out a misleading statement. he's parking l ee's participati efforts. >> this is why the notion of his children being so involved is so harmful. think about what sarah huckabee sanders is saying, with apparently a straight face, saying oh, he's just doing what any father would do, the president of the united states, taking the lead and offering a misleading statement about a meeting with the lurussians who are trying to get -- as any father would do to get in the middle of that. you just don't want your children involved, let alone start lying about whether you're dictating the statement or not. >> let's get to the russia sanctions legislation, the president signed it into law today, major piece of legislation, there was no photo opportunity, he didn't bring in members of congress. it was overwhelmingly approved
in the house and the senate. he did issue a couple of statements, basically suggesting you know what? it's unconstitutional. it's significantly flawed, i'll implement it in the way i want to implement it because i'm the president of the united states. >> but i mean that's essentially what he said. again, a continuation, we have seen this will health care and other things, he doesn't gas or believe in the separation of powers. he believes that if you work for him, and he views anyone in the federal government as someone who works for him. as senators have made clear, we don't work for you. but jeff sessions has dual responsibilities to the american public. so he doesn't understand or care about that. this statement is, and the way in which it was done, wolf, with no fanfare, compared to the other things he's signed, where
there was a rose garden ceremony, but what he's saying with this statement, is i'll do it, but i'm not happy about it. >> he goes one step further and he slaps congress and he says, you know, you guys couldn't even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking. as president, i can make far better deals with foreign countries than congress. >> if you had read this statement, you would have thought it was a statement about not signing it. >> what the statement does is accomplish two things, one, it counts to drive a wedge between the administration and congress, already members of congress, particularly in the senate, are very frustrated with the administration and the blame he's putting on them for the failure to repeal and replace obamacare. this also continues to perpetuate this idea that
there's not a clear plan on russia. the same time that the president is all but rejecting this legislation. >> and you have tit for tat. it seems like putin has said let's ratchet up cold war style tensions with the united states and you have seen it with military deployments in eastern europe. that is going to upset nato and our european partners and here you see a president who really doesn't see russia as a threat. but has now backed these sanctions, europe is really going to again come complaining about this white house. >> and one important thing to note, how isolated donald trump is, not necessarily within the country, but within the republican party. look, donald trump is the only one that has this view of russia, maybe you throw in rex tillerson, maybe he had some objections too. this is a man on an island.
this is not a republican view in any way, shape or form. >> crishris calizza said that t is a -- and david gregory. coming up the donald trump administration is taking direct aim at affirmative action. a new report reveals that the department of justice, now exploring ways to sue universities over their policies that take race into consideration and we're going to speak to the former president of the naacp, cornell brooks who's standing by live.
is the trump administration preparing to take on college affirmative action programs suspected of discriminating against white applicants. that's what the "new york times" and other publications are now reporting. the times says the justice department is recruiting lawyers to work on, quote, investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions. cornell warm brooks is a contributor and naacp president. glad you're part of our team right now. a justice department official, speaking on background, off the record background to cnn is pushing back on the "new york times" story, some say it does not represent any change in department policy. i know this is a subject close to your heart. this is a civil rights division over at the justice department. what's your reaction? >> it does seem to represent a change, in that as a veteran of the department of justice, i worked in the civil rights
division, to have essentially the front office assume a set of responsibilities and then recruit attorneys from the department. in other words, this work is generally done by the education sites, point one. point two. to suggest that we need to look at college admissions, you do not have college and university presidents talking about, decrying discrimination in their offices of admission, we don't see a human cry in the streets in terms of discrimination in offices, college offices, of admission. this seems to be a bait, race-baiting if you will. meant to address the ideological concerns of the president's base. there's no basis for this at all. >> you've seen some of the action cases that have been
disputed where you have a white applicant who has better grades than the african-american applicant, the african-american is accepted, the what type applicant is not accepted. >> which did a review of this several years ago and with alana kagan recusing herself decided with the principal of affirmative action, race being used as part of the admissions process, a criteria in the process. we don't see white applicants being discriminated against, categorically, globally, what we see are offices of admissions using race and ethnicity as part of a process to develop a diverse campus and student body. that's what we have going on here. so the fact that you don't see university presidents asking for
this. what we see is this opposite. universities and colleges concerned about the chilling effect here. how then can colleges and universities prepare students to lead the country if they have campuses that do not look like the country. >> that was the university of texas at ought tin austin, a 4- at least hold iing affirmative action. >> i'm concerned about it, and the reason i'm concerned about it is it sends a chilling message. we don't see any legal basis for it. the supreme court has spoken to this issue quite recently. there's no demand for it. but it sends a very chilling message to our colleges and universities across the country. so i don't see this as going in a positive direction, in fact i see it going in a very dangerous direction. and the fact that we have a justice department is diverting resources from the real business of the department.
that is to say, when you set up a special shop to represent victims that don't exist. in other words, you have a attorney general who is ignoring obvious discrimination in plain sight in favor of looking for nonexistent discrimination in every crabkra cranny of society. why is the department not looking at discrimination at the ballot box, at police -- what we have here are ideological victims that don't exist and that simply represent rachial
that new policy. we're also learning more about what could have been an unintended but very real consequence of north korea's intercontinental ballistic missile test. there was an air france passenger plane with about 200 people on board in the area, just about 60 miles away, a normal path for some airlines takes them only about 10 miles from where that north korean ballistic missile splashed down, with no advance warning. officials fear that passenger planes potentially could be accidently hit. here with us the former ambassador to the united nations bill richardson who's been to the middle ea north korea ten times. you called this most recent ballistic missile testing by north korea a game changer
because it went as for as it did. how does this right now raise the stakes? >> it raises the stakes enormously, it's the highest level of tension i have ever seen the peninsula. the problem is not just the instability that it's caused, but the technology advances of kim jong-un, the fact that china helps us put pressure on kim jong-un, the fact that north korea seems to be going the other way policy wide. so i'm worried about what they're doing. >> they're improving their capability. the u.s. launched a intercontinental ballistic missile went 400 miles, the u.s. ballistic missile went 4,000 miles. is that a showing to north korea, basically saying to the north korean regime, don't mess with the u.s.?
>> it is a show of force, and i think it's necessary, but at the same time, you mentioned that i believe so -- incident with the france airliner. the danger is very strong, because kim jong-un appears to at all cost wants to further its nuclear capability. >> yesterday rex tillerson, the secretary of state was reaching out to north korea. >> we're trying to convey to the north koreans, we are not your enemy, we are not a threat, but you're -- hopefully they can begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future. >> you have dealt with the north
koreans, will they respond to that kind of outreach with the u.s. secretary of state? >> there's a chance they might respond because in the past we have said we're not going to talk to the north koreans because we reward bad behavior, they have to stop some of their missile and nuclear activities. it seems that the secretary of state said, no, we're ready to talk. i think it should be at his level, meet the north korean foreign minister, who we met on that trip. he is now the foreign minister, reid, is now at an asian conference and have a dialogue and see if there can be some kind of an understanding and accommodation, diplomacy is not giving in, talking to somebody is not giving in. i like the talk about dialogue as opposed to we're going to have a pre-emptive military strike, we're going to arm the
south koreans. >> south korea wants some diplomacy at the same time. they have been reaching out to north korean. but i want you to listen to lindsay graham, the republican senator from south carolina, he's been speaking out very, very strongly on the threat from north korea. >> it's up to president trump to deliver a very firm, unequivocal message to north korea and china, and secretary tillerson's job is to find a diplomatic solution, i would suggest what he said about north korea was at best unartful. >> at best. what is it at worst? >> i think it gives mixed messages and they continue to believe we're not serious. i know what a military attack would look like in north korea, it would be horrible, it would be devastating and it may be the only action to protect the homeland.
>> i have great respect for lindsay graham. i think the secretary of state, this is the latest policy. we're ready to have a dialogue, i think talk about a pre-emptive strike, war is inevitable, is not helpful because it inflames tensions. i think we have to continue to work with china, although in the end, i don't think china will help us with north korea to get on the same page with south korea, because we're tied together. there's 30,000 american troops in south korea, 50,000 in japan. we don't want a war is inevitable kind of discussion. we want diplomacy, dialogue, some kind of understanding. >> you're clearly with rex tillerson rather than lindsay graham. thanks for joining us as usual. it not common to see a cabinet secretary turn down
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a whopping $80 million currently sitting around unused by the u.s. state department, this according to a new report in politico. congress allocated the money to go toward fighting isis propaganda and russian disinformation but secretary of state rex tillerson refuses to touch it. the reason? he reportedly doesn't want to upset moscow. let's bring in our global affairs correspondent who's joining us. you've been reporting on this. what are you hearing? >> well, what i'm hearing is that, you know, state department officials telling me this was slightly mischaracterized. it's true that this some $80 million is sitting both in the pentagon, $60 million in the pentagon, $20 million at the state department, for use to counter russian and anti-isis propaganda. what state officials are telling me is that they're not happy with the proposals that have been sent to them from this office, the global engagement center, which is, you know, has been created to combat some of
these propaganda efforts by isis and other groups around the world so they are trying to work through proposals, and what they say is secretary -- one of secretary tillerson's aides told me that they don't want to throw good money after bad, and when i spoke to congress staffers on the hill, they say, look, we don't want to throw good money after bad, but congress appropriated this money. we want to see that it's spent. >> see if it is spent. all right, thanks very much, elise, for that update. up next, an explosive new lawsuit that accuses fox news and the white house of working together to push a false story to the masses. we're going to speak with one of the lawyers at the center of the case. that's next.
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murdered dnc staffer seth rich. fox news and possibly the trump administration. ed butowsky is speaking out. he told cnn the lawsuit is just an attempt by ron wheeler, the fox contributor filing the lawsuit, to make money. >> this was tongue-in-cheek talking just texting, wasn't serious because rod wheeler was always looking for a job because he has no money, and by the way, this lawsuit is all about rod wheeler trying to get money. >> the lawsuit accuses butowsky of working with the white house on a false and eventually retracted fox news story about the murder of the young dnc staffer. butowsky denies the claim. doug is an attorney for rod wheeler, joining us from new york. doug, thanks very much for joining us. what's your response to what we just heard from butowsky? >> well, you know, i watched that interview last evening with your colleague, chris cuomo, and actually was highly entertaining because much of what he said
made absolutely no sense. you know, take, for instance, the text message that he sent to rod wheeler. he said that the president read the article, he wanted it out immediately, and now he's trying to say that that text was somehow a joke. i mean, this was not a laughing matter. this was a text message. there was no emoji at the end, no smiley face. it wasn't a joke. ed butowsky, as he said in his text, was in conversations with the white house, with the president. he was actually brought rod wheeler to the white house to meet with sean spicer. sean spicer admits that. and what we see, actually, is that sean spicer says the meeting had no agenda. they just sort of arrived at the white house, and they had no agenda. that makes no sense. and then yesterday, we saw the spokesperson for president trump say that, well, it's not really that abnormal for the spokesperson to speak to a member of the press, which might be true, but don't forget that rod wheeler and ed butowsky weren't writing this article.
malia zimmerman of fox news was. >> let me get some of the news out there. you've suggested, i believe, that as part of the lawsuit, you wanted to pose both president trump and the former press secretary, sean spicer. first of all, do you think that's realistic? do you think that might happen? >> we're going to treat this case the way we treat any other case. we're going to seek to take testimony in terms of getting documents that might be relevant and then we're going to seek to take depositions and the president might -- through his counsel, try and get a protective order, might say he's too busy. he finds time to play over 20 rounds of golf. hopefully he'll find time to sit down with me and answer questions. >> what would you hope to gain from that. >> it's part of the bigger picture here. what you see is the motivation for ultimately defaming rod wheeler in the may 16th article. why did they want to attribute quotes to him that weren't true?
as we set forth in the complaint, the reason for that was because the white house in conjunction with fox wanted to steer the narrative away from the russian hacking scandal and steer that towards seth rich, which is really a tragedy. i feel -- my heart really goes out for the rich family for being part of this. >> what do you say to the allegation that your client is broke and he's simply seeking money? >> that's just not true. i mean, what he was hired to do was to do an investigation into the murder of seth rich. he wanted to do that. unfortunately, he was used as a pawn in this case by ed butowsky and fox news. he was used as a pawn, again, to steer away the narrative, and that's all documented, not only in text messages, but also in voice recordings. the case is strong and not only with a statements made in the may 16th article false but you also have ed butowsky and malia zimmerman admitting that those quotations were false. >> what kind of damages are you seeking? >> well, we're going to seek damages for rod wheeler's
reputation. because of what happened, there were many, many articles criticizing him that blamed him for this article when it wasn't his fault so we're going to ask a jury to award what they believe is reasonable to repair and restore his damages. >> all right. douglas, thanks so much for joining us. that's it for me. i'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in the situation room. in the situation room. the news continues right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> we are on briefing watch again today. the white house press briefing to begin in the next little bit as president trump makes several major moves on multiple critical issues, health care, sanctions and immigration. right now, i can tell you that he's meeting privately with ohio senator rob portman as this new bipartisan effort, you heard me ri