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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  October 20, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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sometimes not funded at all. we provide libraries for underserved communities and schools. our whole goal is to spread literacy and the benefits of literacy. >> to see rebecca and her team transform a library, go to cnn that's it for us tonight. thanks for watching. good evening. john berman here in for anderson. the story the white house wishes would go away is not going away, partially because the president and his team won't let it go away, the white house, the president, the chief of staff all have been lashing out at a congresswoman who was there when the president called a grieving military widow, the wife of sergeant johnson. kelly spoke about it at length about the congresswoman yesterday. the president spoke about it all again tonight with fox news. >> he was so offended because he was in the room when i made the call, and so were other people, and the call was a very nice
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call. he was so offended that a woman would be -- that somebody would be listening to that call. he was -- he actually couldn't believe it. actually, he said to me, sir, this is not acceptable. this is really not -- and he knew -- i was so nice. look, i've called many people, and i would think that every one of them appreciated it. i was very surprised to see this, to be honest with you. >> we'll have much more on that later. we begin tonight with breaking news. in the russia investigation tonight we're learning more about who has been interviewed by the senate intelligence committee. >> we have now learned that the senate intelligence committee has interviewed several of the russians who did take part in a june 2016 meeting with donald trump jr., paul manafort, jared kushner. that meeting, of course, has been under enormous scrutiny in washington after it was revealed that donald trump jr. took that
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meeting once he was promised that he could get dirt from the clinton campaign and after he was told that the russian government was in fact trying to help his father win the presidency. now, we're now learning for the first time that several of the russians who were in that meeting did in fact meet and discuss this interaction with the senate intelligence committee, with senator richard burr confirming that to us. he did not disclose who precisely they met with. but what we do know, john, there were four russians who were in that meeting. including the russian lawyer, the russian lobbyist, as well as a translator and another individual who did work for a russian oligarch. this all comes as investigators are still trying to determine the extent to which donald trump, jr. and others tried to work with these russians as part of any sort of effort to effect or interfere with the election.
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donald trump, jr. said there was nothing to this meeting. it was simply a meeting. he then did he involved into a discussion of russian adoptions, he said. but that's something that investigators is trying to determine whether there's anything more to that. >> so this committee going through a checklist of who was at that meeting, both americans and russians. any sense who donald trump jr. himself will talk to the committee? >> that is an open question. now, the senate intelligence committee chairman richard burr has said that he wants to sequence this in a way that he can talk to everybody else who was in the room before talking to donald trump, jr. so this is a real sign, john, that the fact that they've interviewed several of these russians suggests they're getting closer to bringing in donald trump, jr. in for an interview. several other committees on capitol hill do also want to talk to donald trump jr., including the senate judiciary committee which privately had a staff interview with trump jr. last month. but there's a big partisan fight within the committee about whether or not to bring him forward to a public hearing. and that's something that one
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committee source told me could happen as soon as this month, but that has not been decided officially yet. no date set but the chairman of the judiciary committee chuck grassley has told me that a public hearing is probably unavoidable at this point. >> that will be interesting. any sense because you listen to republicans, even republicans on the senate intelligence committee who keep on saying we haven't found any evidence that collusion occurred. any chance they'll make some kind of definitive statement on that? >> it's unclear exactly when that will happen, john. there are republicans on the committee who are saying we need to wrap this up soon because there is no smoking gun yet including jim rich, one of the senior republicans on the senate intelligence committee telling me they have reached essentially a deadened on a lot of key issues or point of diminishing returns. but earlier this week i had a chance to ask senator mark warner who is a vice chairman of the committee and he said there are a lot more people still to interview. >> one republican member said this week that you have reached
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a point of diminishing returns in investigating this issue of collusion. have you reached that point of diminishing returns? >> listen, we want to keep this -- the number of individuals that the members have yet to see in terms of some of the principles that you and your colleagues have reported on, the members of the committee have not even had a chance to talk to the vast majority of those individuals. >> now, john, when i put that question to richard burr, i said, look, are you at a point of diminishing returns, elnot go there, but he said we are reaching a smaller number of people to interview and he says it's still his aspirational goal to get this investigation done this year. >> thanks so much for that breaking news. joining us now. gloria, i want to start with you. in some ways the white hot spotlight in russia has seemed to have faded over the last four
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weeks, mostly because the mueller investigation has been going on behind closed doors. and the senate has been doing a lot of its work, the senate intelligence committee behind closed doors of the where do you think this all stands right now and the significance of his reporting that the senate intelligence committee is starting to talk to some of these russians? >> well, look, i think the done junior meeting is crucial. you have the campaign saying that there was no collusion with russia. then you have this e-mail which is about, you know, getting the dirt on hillary clinton and done junior expressing gratitude and hope, you know, that it works out. and then we hear that no, no, this was just about russian sanctions. so this is sort of the elephant in the room here. and people are wondering whether, in fact, it's evidence of more that was going on or whether it was just a meeting that went nowhere, as done junior says. and i think you're right. i think that the special
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counselor mueller is doing his interviews with current and former white house aides and the intelligence committees are doing their interviews. and i think that this is proceeding at pace. and i think what everyone is waiting for is trying to figure out what the special counsel has and what he is really interested in. >> yeah. he's not going to tell us that until or if he ever wants to tell us that. jonathan, to you, these russians talking to the senate intelligence committee, what is the key insight they could provide? what questions would you be asking them? >> well, for the moment this seems more political than criminal in nature. colluding is not a specific crime in this context. but obviously this is an issue of great importance to the public. now, the white house and the russians are likely to rely on other e-mails, including ones that were released recently where in trying to set up the
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meeting the russian lawyer at the center of was saying i just want to talk about adoption. and then it became we have dirt on hillary clinton in a sort of second generation of e-mails. that certainly undermines a criminal case. we don't know what mueller has. so there might be more there. but for the moment this is not -- if this is the elephant in the room, as gloria says, it seems to be getting smaller by the day. >> steve, do you want to weigh in on that in. >> yeah. i think the key is what jonathan said right at the end there which is that we still don't know what mueller has. so, you know, when we're talking about the senate intelligence committee, they're not really doing a criminal investigation. they're doing a political investigation. they're doing a counterintelligence investigation. whether any laws were broken really is going to be more mueller's purview than theirs, and so i think the real insight from man u's report is that if the senate intelligence committee is talking to these russian witnesses, i think you can bet your bottom dollar that bob mueller is as well and
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indeed probably has already. and at that point we're not just talking about the political theater of it. we're talking about whether the russian witnesses are contradicting sworn statements that other people have made to bob mueller and his team. we're talking about whether there are false statements coming out of these meetings. and so i think the real point here is that everything that's happening in the senate is really just a sort of distorted window into what's almost certainly happening behind the scenes with the special counsel, and that's where the rubber is really going to hit the road if and when we get there. >> steve, these russians talking to the intelligence committee have varying relationships with the russian government and the russian intelligence apparatus. so what do you think their motivation is? what would drive them to answer honestly the questions posed to them by the intelligence committee? >> it's a fascinating situation. and, you know, to answer the last part of your question first, i don't think that there's any reason necessarily whatsoever for them to tell
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anything close to the truth if they don't want to or if their russian handlers or the russian government doesn't want them to. remember, my assessment on this is these people were most likely cutouts, in other words, people that were sent by the russian government, not officials, not intelligence officers themselves, but people who had some sort of russian deny ability, i'm just a lawyer, translator, something like that. more importantly as a matter of law, i would be confused as to whether or not there is anything that they would say that could be trusted. i mean, could they be issued an oath? are they subject to any type of u.s. jurgs dikz. i'd also be very curious to know as to whether or not there were any official russians in the room with them when they testified. if i'm a russian intelligence officer i'm not sure i'd want my russian cutouts to be alone in a room with a bunch of americans who are trying to get to the bottom of what i was up to unless i had somebody there with him. so that would be a very interesting dwe to me. just the fact that they testified i'm not sure lends any
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credence to what they'd actually say. >> that's interesting to keep that in perspective. donald trump jr. it seems like unavoidable that he testifies in public to a different senate committee right now. put that in perspective for us. the son of the president of the united states could be giving sworn testimony on television to a senate committee? >> yeah. that would be pretty interesting. i'd tune into that, wouldn't you? look, i think the questions that they want to ask him are going to revolve around whether he told his father about this and, you know, he has said that he didn't, but obviously they're going to look at e-mails. they're going to get other testimony from other people. and the question is going to be not only what he told his father about this, but about that statement that came out of air force one that day when they were coming back from the g 20 and all of these staffers were in with the president of the united states trying to come up with a statement about what this meeting was about that had to be
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revised a number of times because it turned out not to be true. so they're going to want to know what done junior's involvement was with that, what the president's involvement with that. and of course, this goes in the end to the question of was anyone trying to obstruct in any way, shape or form any investigation into russian involvement into the election and was that statement a part of this. so there are a lot of questions that they want to ask donald trump, jr. that are of great deal of interest to the american public. >> all right. that seems like a good question to ask a lawyer. we know reince priebus has been called in to testify to the special counsel. sean spicer. these are people who only worked for donald trump during his presidency. so really only the issue of obstruction could be, you would assume could be of interest right there. how hard of a case is that to prove? >> well, i think it's a much more difficult case than people make out to be. you know, obstruction of justice
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generally raises the questions of obstruct what? are they obstructing the grand jury investigation which is the more classic type of case? this meeting in the trump tower with the russians was pretty early, and it's hard to imagine that would be a case for obstruction. but we obviously don't know what mueller has. but the danger here is that when people go on the record, their risk is magnified. as a criminal defense attorney, this is the most precarious time for a client, in my view, because you have to stay between those navigation albeconsequence, make sure that you haven't contradicted statements that you've made earlier under lays like 18 usc 2001, which is lying to federal investigators. and in the mix you have these sort of live tore pea dose in the water which involves paul manafort. mueller is putting a lot of pressure on manafort to see, obviously, if he will cooperate and give him something.
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>> and a lot of these people don't necessarily have the same interests right now, certainly legally speaking. all right. thanks, everyone, so much. coming up, it's a story the white house wants to go away, but they keep talking about it and saying things, frankly, that just aren't true. chief of staff john kelly makes a false claim about the congresswoman. the white house won't acknowledge the mistake. we're keeping them honest next. also ahead, the white house also refuses to acknowledge that two former presidents were criticizing the current president. they didn't say his name, but honestly, the point was pretty clear. when only the best will do... one of a kind tempur-pedic delivers. only tempur material precisely conforms to your weight, shape and temperature. it provides up to twice as much pressure relieving power, so you won't toss and turn. and tempur-pedic is the best at minimizing motion transfer from your partner, so you won't be disturbed during the night. you'll wake up, feeling like a champion. only the best carry tempur-pedic. find an exclusive retailer
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way. the problem is it won't go away if the president his administration and the press secretary keep saying that are not true. yesterday the white house brought out chief of staff john kelly to talk about it. today sarah sanders says that should have been the end of it, but it was the president who had to try to get the last word late last night he tweeted, quote, the fake news is going crazy with whacky congresswoman wilson, who was secretly on a very personal call and gave a total lie on content. now he's talking about representative frederica wilson who is close with the family of sergeant la david johnson, one of four u.s. service members killed earlier this month. the congresswoman was with the widow when the call from the president came. both the congresswoman and the woman who raised sergeant johnson say the call left the family feeling disrespected. all this week on this program we've focused on gold star military families. anderson heard their stories, heard about their fallen sons and husbands. how much they loved them. and again, we would like nothing more to focus just on them. the white house really makes that impossible by continuing to
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say things that are not true. the latest example is john kelly's attack on the congresswoman yesterday. he told a story about going to the dedication of a new fbi field office in miami in 2015 dedicated to two agents that were killed in a fire fight against drug traffickers. he falsely claimed that at that dedication representative wilson took credit forgetting funding for that building. here is how he characterized her speech at that event. >> and the congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money and she just called up president obama and on that phone call he gave the money, the $20 million to build the building and she sat down. and we were stunned. stunned that she had done it.
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even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. >> so keeping them honest, there is video of that speech and kelly's claim just isn't true. in fact, the sun sent nel posted the speech. representative wilson speaks about the fbi approaching her office wanting the building dedication to happen in four weeks. >> everyone said that's impossible. it takes at least eight months to a year to complete the process through the house, the senate and to the president's office. i said i'm a school principal, and i said excuse my french, awe, hell, no. we're going to get this done. immediately i went into attack mode. i went to the speaker, sbeerk
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boehner, and i said mr. speaker, i need your help. the fbi needs your help. and our country needs your help. and we have no time to waste. he went into attack mode and in two days pulled it out of committee, brought it to the floor for a vote. we presented it. we all voted, and i dashed it over to the senate and put our senators on notice. put it on your radar. senator nelson and senator rubio, who i believe have representatives here today, they hot lined it to the senate floor in just two days. and guess what? the president signed the bill into law this past tuesday, april 7th, 2015 with a bang, bang, bang. >> so she spoke about how she got help in naming the building quickly. really the bulk of her speech
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was speaking glowingly about the courage of the two fbi agents and law enforcement and first responders in general. she was wants talking about getting money at all as general kelly said. today white house press secretary sarah sanders was pressed about that inaccuracy. >> she was talking about naming the building -- >> she was also talking about -- >> who she then went on to efuse civil praise. >> she also mentioned that and she also had quite a few comments that day that weren't part of that speech and weren't part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there. what general kelly referenced yesterday. >> tell us specifically, because -- >> exactly what he said. there was a lot of grandstanding. he was stunned that she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself. >> le come out here and talk to us about this -- >> i think he addressed that thoroughly. >> he was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. >> if you want to go after general kelly, that's up to you, but i think that -- if you want to get into a debate with a four star marine general, i think
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that that's something highly inappropriate. >> keeping them honest and with all due respect, as long as pay government official says things that are not true, we will continue to report it even if it's a general who says it. if the white house truly thinks generals should be off criticism or questioning, they may want to tell the boss. here are ai few where he criticized generals martin defrp i, general coal inpowell. so he's done it. let's go now to sarah murray at the white house. the sarah, i do understand the pgs sarah sanders just released a statement in regards to what she said in the briefing earlier that the media shouldn't question a four star marine general. what's she saying now. >> reporter: obviously the white house has gotten a lot of push back from that remark earlier today, the notion that no one should push back against a four star marine general. remember, that's something that came out of her mouth not john kelly's mouth. this evening she seems to be trying to moderate that comment
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a little bit. she said in a statement, of course, every one can be questioned, but after witnessing general kelly's heart felt and somber account, we should all be able to agree that kbung his credibility on how best to honor fallen heroes is not appropriate. now, obviously questioning his credibility in this is a different thing than just questioning his version of events, whether that was an accurate statement what he was talking about when he was describing the congresswoman at that 2015 building dedication. onousel the tape did not reflect the same thing that general kelly recalled, as you pointed out. >> no. it's a false equivalency or a straw man he's creating there. no one was questioning his credibility on the issue of how to honor fallen soldiers. they were questioning whether he made something up about her speech in 2015 and he appears to have done just that. at the briefing earlier, sarah sanders also mentioned that they were allegedly -- that there were more comments that congresswoman wilson made off-camera at the event that day. what's the white house saying about that? any evidence? >> well, this is a little perplexing because obviously the
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video of this speech that the congresswoman made came out and she does not make comments that reflect what general kelly's version of events were. so today sarah sanders said there were other comments. she was grandstanding elsewhere of the she mentioned the funneleding elsewhere. we wnt to the white house and asked a number of aides whether they could provide those records, whether they had any records of those so far. nothing from the white house. we are still waiting to hear. john. >> all right. thanks so much. joining us now, cnn military analyst -- general hurt ling, can we start with you. first of all, can i ask you permission to ask you a question as a retired -- is it okay that i ask you something? >> i just wanted to say, john, i don't mean to be flip, but are you sure you want to get into a debate with me because i think i have most of the facts. >> what about that? what about the notion and sarah sanders said it today and president trump, you know, implied it in the interview with fox news that because he's a four star general, anything he
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says should not be questioned. >> well, first of all, like him, i am also a retired general, and it puts him in the same cats gory as i am, which is retired. and even when he was active duty i would say you would certainly question him and he was before congress on multiple occasions being questioned. so that whole line of philosophy is right down the drain. it's just ridiculous. and, again, what i'm concerned most about, john, is the fact that we are using this general officer, my generals, my military to continue the divisiveness that is within the government today. this is about demeanor. i'll give you a term. it's about table manners. how do you treat one another sitting around the table? is it continual insult? is it continual attempts to find fault with someone else for what they said or what they did and continuing to -- or are we trying as a nation to really address some of the key issues that face us today?
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as long as we're caught up in this craziness, and it is craziness, we're going to are not solve some problems and come together and do the things that leaders do, which is pull all sides together. >> general kelly said some really important, meaningful things about sacrifice and the appreciation for sacrifice and what families of those gold star faels have to do. really important that people should hear, but it's difficult to take that into account when he also says that are proven know proven not to be true. sar sa sanders was asked if he was going to come out and complain what he said yesterday and she said he addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday. do you agree with that? >> no. thoroughly in terms of he talked about it and gay a lot of detail. the details weren't accurate themselves. and look, i was a spokesman. that was my stock and trade in the navy and then at the state department. and when you get something wrong, it doesn't matter from what level, you issue a correction of the you just admit it. you say, look, the fact are
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wrong, we misstated it and move on. all she did today in addition to showing her ignorance about the military culture and all of us should be open to scrutiny and questioning, in addition to that she i think flurngd the fundamental rule of pr, which is if you make a mistake, admit it. >> paul, i want to ask you because again, general kelly did say things that were deeply meaningful about sacrifice and gold star families here. does it distract from that message when, again, he also said things that were not true. >> yes. this is all political now and i think it's gone on for a week. the country is exhausted by it. there's another term which is important here is command climate. the president sets it for the entire white house. and i think what we've seen here is a tone that's more focused on internally than externally. another pattern is tremendous, very dangerous which is using our trops as a shield politically over and over again, whether it's the national anthem. deepening the division that
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exists not just between our politics but between our military and the civilian population. that's very bad. that's bad for america and it also distracts us from fighting our enemies who are right now probably thrilled to see america ripping itself apart. the president has got to set a dpoel. what's the point here? where are with going in where does this end and i think that's what the president lael needs to address right now. how is it going to help our military, our gold star families, america. >> all right. guys, stick around. hang on one second. we're going to take a quick break. also we do have breaking news on the ambush that really is at the center of controversy and again finding answers to that are so important. we have new details about where sergeant la david johnson's body was found and what it could mean for the investigation. stay with us. and non-24 can make me show up too early... or too late. or make me feel like i'm not really "there." talk to your doctor, and call 844-234-2424.
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as we mentioned tonight, the white house apparently would like nothing more than for this whole conversation about military families to go away. listen to this. >> i think that it's real simple. you guys are the ones talking a lot about that story, and he felt it was important to address you and all of america directly. this story has been given an enormous amount of coverage over the last 48 hours, and he thought it was important that people got a full and accurate picture of what took place. it should have ended yesterday after general kelly's comments, but it didn't. it continued. and it's still continuing today. >> as we pointed out, the president, though, in his own way continues to keep the story going. again, he talked about it in another interview airing tonight on fox. let's bring the panel back in. admiral, let me start with you
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here. how do we now get past this? how does this move forward? what should the white house say over the next few days? >> nothing. they should just stop talking about this. i mean, aside from correcting the record about general kelly's comments about the wilson speech, aside from that they should just stop and they should focus on the families of the fallen, making sure that those families of those four soldiers get all the support that they need and just stop talking about it. i mean, he couldn't help himself and as you said in another fox business interview tonight. instead of making this a competition, just make it about those families and stop talking. >> general hurt ling, last night you said that you thought that one purpose of general kelly going to the podium was to sent a message to the president of the united states. for him to look at what he's doing right now. any sense, any sign that the message resonated? >> i don't know. i did say that. i say it may have been an attempt at leading up.
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here is what i'll say too, john, to answer your question what you just asked john. and that is, you know, we are wrapping ourselves in emotion and, you know, ar stolgts a long time ago said we should combine our arguments with fact, reasons and emotion. and slopgs we keep wrapping ourselves in the flag, there's no one that loves the flag more than me, the country more than me, but if that's the only thing we're looking at and not the facts and rational behind different arguments, we're going to be in trouble. it's not only a requirement for our governmental officials to stop using the military and the flag as the barrier to all the things we do. you know, it's up to the people too to really find out the facts and the reasons behind things as opposed to just the purebred emotion that comes through to the forefront in several of these argument and that's what we seem to be doing lately. >> paul, you said that the military community, the vet answer community is not -- there
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is diversity of opinions. but from folks you've talked to, people you're close to, how are they responding to the last five days. >> they're disgusted and img on some levels they're did he moral iced and some folks are pulling away from the discussion, pulling away from politics. and i think we're looking for leader shim. i think this country is starved for leadership. and i think we're looking for a call to action. often it comes from the white house, so that's the opportunity here for the president. what should everyone do? if they really want to support gold star families, what should they do. the president can direct money. he can direct attention. he can direct the media. he can also focus on other things like in phoenix today a 33-year-old veteran shot himself at the va. we have a massive suicide problem. he just has to shift that twitter account on to something else and everyone else will follow. >> i will say, admiral, i felt like i personally have had more discussions with gold star families this week than in a long, long time. hearing from them has been
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valuable. i mean, there is something that has come out of this. >> yeah. i think that's right. i think the elevation that has come from the media korng in that regard has been healthy. look, i think three lessons should come out of this entire sad week. one is that these gold star families all grieve in their own way. none of them suffer this kind of sorrow in sort of a cookie cutter approach and you need to respect that. number two, messages transmitted don't always mean messages received. yes, you may have said the aim sa thing to all four families, but at least in one case it was received in a way that hurt them. and he should just recognize that, be man enough to recognize that it was received in a different way and apologize for it. and number three, and this gets to paul's excellent point. i think it's time we have a very serious conversation, not just about the cold star families and the families of the fallen and the wounded but about the civil military divide in this country and where it's going and how we can bridge those gaps. all of us have responsibilities. certainly us vet's, but every
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american does. and i think we need to have a serious conversation. and to paul's point, that's what the president can be folk issing on right now is how to have that conversation in a mature, thoughtful way. >> guys, thank you all for having this mature, thoughtful conversation. i do think it's a really important one. up next, breaking news about the deadly ambush that is at the heart of this whole thing. cnn has learned that sergeant john's body was found nearly a mile from the attack. what the pentagon is now saying about this when cnn 360 continues. where you can compare multiple quote options online and choose what's right for you. woah. flo and jamie here to see hqx. flo and jamie request entry. slovakia. triceratops. tapioca. racquetball. staccato. me llamo jamie. pumpernickel. pudding. employee: hey, guys! home quote explorer. it's home insurance made easy. password was "hey guys." it's home insurance made easy. ♪ ♪
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we have breaking news on the ambush in niger that killed four u.s. soldiers including the one who was the subject of president trump's condo lessons call. four administration official familiar with the investigation tell cnn that johnson's remains were found nearly a mile from the central location of the am buck. cnn pentagon correspondent joins me with more. you've got new reporting on how the pentagon is beginning to narrow down what happened to sergeant johnson. what are you learning? >> they are putting the pieces together, john. what multiple sources are telling us us from the administration is the pentagon now calculates that he was found perhaps up to a mile away from the central part of the ambush. now they're trying to figure out how did he get there? who saw him last? where did they see him? how did he, in fact, become separated from the other members of their unit. clearly one of the key pieces of information will be what other
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members of the team are able to tell military investigators about the ambush and about how it all unfolded. a top general now in charge of that investigation. >> officials previously told cnn that the french air support was not authorized to fire or drop bombs during this fire fight. now you're learning this was not the case? >> right. there's a bit of a clarification. and, you know, first reports often when new reports, additional information comes in people clarify things. so we want to be very up front about that. what officials are now telling us is the french did have authority from niger to fire their weapons, but the jets that came in, they fly high. they move fast, and the pilots were not able to discern the difference on the ground where the u.s. troops were, where the insurgents were. they didn't want to hit the u.s., obviously, so they did not, in fact, fire. >> barbara, one other key development today. we're learning the fbi is assisting the nigerian authorities in the
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investigation. what can you tell us about that? >> they are doing that. they are looking at the intelligence, trying to figure out exactly who the unsurgery ents were, what part of isis they belong to and if they can begin to identify the insurgents and go after them. i want to also add in that the pentagon today is very adamant they did not stop looking for la david johnson. they made a point of making sure we knew that nigerian, french and u.s. forces were on the ground around the clock looking for him during that 48-hour period he was missing, john. >> thanks so much for pushing for answers here. some insight now on the fbi's assistance with this investigation. joining me now retired fbi supervisory special agent. the fact that the body of sergeant la david johnson, the remains were found nearly a mile away from the scene of the ambush, does that make it more challenging for fbi investigators to now get answers? >> john, sure accident it's going to be extremely daunting going forward. we understand that flying out of
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new york or flying out of fort diks where the fbi response team coming out of the new york office would be launching from, it's 5,000 miles across the atlantic ocean and parts of africa to get to niger. it's a daunting task, but the u.s. government has been doing this for a long time. they assemble what's called a foreign emergency support team. it's run out of the state department. it's an inner agency team which will certainly have fbi investigators on board. it will have folks from the state department and it will have security folks, communications folks, logistics. >> so this rapid deployment force, what will be their immediate mission? >> john, the rapid deployment team is part of the crisis management response capabilities of the fib. what their job is going to be, it's really a number of things. first and for most now that the area is going to be secure, and you're going to use military assets to secure it, but they'll also bring in fbi swat teams and hostage teams to secure it.
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they'll bring in comms so they'll have security communications to the embassy as well as back to the united states. it's going to be a pain staking crime scene investigation. the difficulty in this is we're not conducting a crime scene investigation in birmingham, alabama or in milwaukee. we're doing it 5,000 miles away in an area that's sub sa har an desert especially two weeks after the ambush meaning some of the evidence could be done, some of the evidence or telltale siems of whether this was bow ka ha ram or isis. >> look, two weeks after in what could very well be hostile territory. so based on your experience, how difficult is it going to be to get the answers that everyone wants here? >> it's going to be difficult, john. but as daunting as it is, i've got the utmost trust and confidence in the folks that are going to be handling this piece. i've seen it done from the east african bombings in august of 1998 to the eastern european war
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crimes investigations in the sloeb adone mill oh sa vehicle and turning up mass graves that had been paskel put together two years prior. i'm confident. these teams have got experience of recent in benghazi, in parts of africa, other parts of europe. they know what they're doing. it's going to be taunting but they're accepting the best investigators and security folks and we should get some answers here soon. >> thanks so much. >> up next, the white house responding to former presidents bush and obama's criticisms about this era of politics by saying they weren't talking about president trump. really? we'll get into that next. there are 24 hours in a day... tempur-pedic helps you get the most out of every one of them. only proprietary tempur material precisely conforms to your body, instead of pushing back. you get up to twice as much pressure relieving power, so you won't toss and turn. and tempur-pedic is the best at minimizing motion transfer from your partner. so you won't be disturbed during the night. you'll sleep deeply...
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today the white house responded to scathing criticisms from former presidents bush and obama against the current direction of american politics. this is what press secretary sarah sanders said. >> in general does the white house feel it's appropriate for past presidents to be critical of the sitting president? >> i'm not sure the last time they spoke, but our understanding is that those comments were not directed towards the president. in fact, when these two individuals, both past presidents, have criticized the president they've done so by name and very rarely do it without being pretty direct, as both of them tend to be. so we'll take them at their word these comments weren't directed towards the president. >> take them at their word, she says. the only problem is they haven't
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actually said whether or not those comments were directed at president trump. what they did say yesterday speaks for itself. president bush pointed out fascial nationalism, politicians who say things to get the base riled up. michael duffy, the code of conduct between former presidents. david, simple questions, any doubt in your mind that presidents obama and bush were talking about president trump? >> none. none. they're both -- harbor deep sense of offense. i think hostile captures the mood. of people around those former presidents and i think the presidents themselves. >> david, how unusual is it? you have vast person when it comes to both presidents and former presidents how unusual is it to see something like this?
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>> michael duffy wrote an excellent book about this. so i'll wait for him to answer part of that. but let me take a crack at it. it's extremely unusual, so early in the term, for former presidents to break ranks. there is a club, a fraternity, and it has certain rules, and one of the first rules is former presidents try to keep their mouths shut, they clearly violated that rule, but they have done it because they think other rules have been violated by this president. a president should be a uniter, not a divider. you are elected as head of your party, but you speak for all americans. secondly you are supposed to bring out the best of america, as lincoln said, to speak to the better angels of our nature. and thirdly, you're supposed to be -- the current president, the incumbent is supposed to occasionally reach out to his predecessors and speak wisdom and advice and in turn they try to help him.
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that rule has gone by the boards as well. >> so michael, to david's point, was this a violation of club rules? >> david summed it up perfectly. it's been a situation where the current president hasn't reached out to his predecessors, and i think to just go one step further, i think that certainly in the case of obama, but really more notably today, yesterday, in the case of george w. bush who was very careful about criticizing his predecessors said nothing critical in eight years about barack obama. i can think of one thing, and that was light at best. for george w. bush to give this speech at this moment is not an accident. it was both a plea for democracy and the kinds of human frailties we need to keep it alive. it was also a defense of the office of the presidency. don't forget, when you've been the president, you know how frail and tricky that office is,
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to maintain its power, and they don't like it when someone comes in and seems rather bent on undercutting, if not destroying the office. what you're going to see more of, former presidents saying don't mess with this the institution is too important to both parties, too important to the republic to be treated this way. >> michael, what we see in public in george w. bush, george h. w. bush, at least michelle obama and former president is really beyond a pleasant relationship, it's fun, it's funny. that's what we see in public. what's it like behind the scenes, though? >> i think what you see is what you get. it's interesting when you see bill clinton and george w. bush. they're the two presidents who are if not the closest in terms of their i do a they are the second closest. two men both born in the summer of 1946. they come from different parts
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of our country, different parts of your culture. they have become great friends just as clinton and bush's father have. and you're right about michelle obama and george w. bush. these are relationships that are real and, of course, you'll see that tomorrow on stage in college station when five former living presidents are gathering. that's only happened a few times in our whole nation's history. so this is kind of a moment where people who have had the office and respect the office and are concerned about the office's future will be together and speaking. we'll see if this comes up again. >> david gergen, the speeches yesterday from presidents obama and trump didn't feel like advice if you listened to them. it seemed like a takedown of trumpism, a specific takedown. honestly, trumpism specifically in its own way is a takedown of the presidencies of barack obama and george w. bush. these things stand in opposition
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and trumpism, as it were, won the last election. >> it won the last one, but there are more elections to come. i think both former presidents have their eyes on the future. obama has his eye on the coming election in virginia. it's only right around the corner. that could be a beltway election. if the democrats lose that race, they're going to be demoralized, but if they can win that it's going to charge them up for the 2018 getting candidates. i want to go back to this. the unusual thing about it is that each one of these presidents over time comes to see himself as a link in a long chain, you have this office for a brief period and you are the steward of the office and of the country's well-being. for this brief period of time. they like thinking of themselves as stewards and they have a natural tendency to become friends after leaving office. or consulting each other. definitely bill clinton with the
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bushes but look at gerald ford and jimmy carter going back time and time, as michael wrote about. nixon of all people became the person that bill clinton turned to on soviet affairs. so these are important relationships. the two of them have turned against this president is a serious matter, it's a big deal. >> it is a big deal. we'll see what happens going forward. interesting to imagine one day president trump joining this club. how will he be a member of that? up next, new reaction from president trump on the war of words between his chief of staff and congresswoman fredricka wilson, why he says he was surprised, next. today, a focus on innovation in the southern tier is helping build the new new york. starting with advanced manufacturing that brings big ideas to life. and cutting-edge transportation development to connect those ideas to the world. along with urban redevelopment projects worthy of the world's top talent.
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while the white house says yesterday's statement from chief of staff john kelly should have been the end of the controversy over the president's call to a grieving widow the president keeps talking about it and he's continuing the administration's feud with representative frederica wilson who was there for the call. this is what the president said tonight in an interview with fox news regarding general kelly's speech. >> he was so offended because he was in the room when i made the call. so were other people. and the call was a very nice call. he was so offended that a woman would be -- that somebody would be listening to that call. he was -- he actually couldn't believe it. actually, he said to me, sir, this is not acceptable.