tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN November 14, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
that person. >> unbelievable. mj lee, sara ganim, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. you can follower me on twitter @jaketapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer right next door in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. lacking total recall. attorney general jeff sessions testifies that he now results a trump campaign meeting at which russia contacts were discussed. why couldn't he remember it at an earlier hearing? sessions denies ever lying to congress. does he just have a faulty memory when it comes to russia? politically motivated? the president says he is not improperly influenced by president trump, so why has he now asked federal prosecutors to look into the clinton foundation as demanded by the president and congressional republicans? unfit for office. as a growing number of republicans call gop senate candidate roy moore unfit, majority leader mitch mcconnell
says he's discussed the matter with president trump and has looked at the options to keep moore out of the u.s. senate. and nuclear button. a number of democrats voiced concern about president trump's command of the nuclear arsenal, calling him unstable. are there enough checks and balances to keep any commander in chief from launching an impulsive nuclear strike? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. breaking news. the attorney general jeff sessions under oath again today denying before a house committee that he ever lied under oath about trump campaign contacts with russia. sessions has previously testified he was unaware of anyone in the campaign who had communicated with russia but he now recalls the march 2016 meeting where a campaign adviser george papadopoulos suggested he could arrange a meeting between then candidate donald trump and
vladimir putin. sessions still insists he doesn't remember the details of the meeting, although he does remember that he pushed back against the papadopoulos suggestion. the attorney general also says president trump has not influenced the justice department, but his justice department is following up on the president's demand to investigate gop allegations against hillary clinton and the obama administration concerning the sale of a uranium company to russia. sessions did say he'd need a factual basis for naming a special counsel on the matter. and other lawmakers today are voicing concerns about president trump's ability to order a nuclear attack. senate democrats are calling the president unstable and volatile. warning that his heated rhetoric, quote, could turn into nuclear reality. all that comes as north korea warns that the presence of three u.s. aircraft carriers off the korean peninsula is pushing the region toward war. i'll speak with democratic
congressman david cicilline of the judiciary and foreign affairs committee and our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage. let's start with the breaking news. the attorney general jeff sessions gets an all-day grilling by lawmakers, denying that he ever laid about the trump campaign russia contacts but admitting that he left out some things in previous testimony. let's go to our senior congressional correspondent manu raju. manu, take us through this testimony. >> reporter: yeah, a lot of do not recalls from jeff sessions today under questioning mainly from house democrats about those russia contacts. he said he did not remember carter page, the former foreign policy adviser, suggesting that he was going to go to russia shortly before he actually did. he did not recall michael flynn having any discussions with that former national security adviser about the rnc platform. he also said he did not recall george papadopoulos suggesting a meeting between president putin of russia and candidate donald trump. only until recently did he learn about this. the 88-year-old top democrat on
the committee john conyers told me perhaps jeff sessions has a memory issue because he's getting, quote, old. this is a criticism, however, that republicans are saying is just simply unfair. >> do you solemnly swear -- >> reporter: attorney general jeff sessions testifying that he now remembers a march 2016 meeting with george papadopoulos, a campaign adviser who wanted to set up a meeting between donald trump and vladimir putin. >> i do now recall that the march 2016 meeting at the trump hotel that mr. papadopoulos attended, but i have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting. >> reporter: sessions in previous testimony said he was not aware of any communications between campaign surrogates and the russians. papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the fbi about his russian contacts. sessions went on to say rejected papadopoulos' request to set up a meeting between trump and putin. >> i wanted to make clear to him
that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the russian government or any other foreign government for that matter. >> reporter: in one of many heated exchanges with house democrats, sessions insisted that his answers have not changed and he did not lie. >> you did have communications with the russians last year, isn't that right? just a yes or no. >> i had a meeting with the russian ambassador, yes. >> as exactly the opposite answer that you gave under oath to the u.s. senate. so, again, you're lying to the u.s. senate or you're lying to the house of representatives. >> well, i hope the congressman knows and i hope all of you know my answer to that question i did not meet with the russians was explicitly responding to the shocking suggestion that i as a surrogate was meeting on a continuing basis with russian officials, and the implication was to impact the campaign in some sort of nefarious way. and all i did was meet in my
office with the ambassador, which we didn't discuss anything like that. so i just want to say i appreciate the congressman's right, i guess he can say his free speech, he can't be sued here, so i just -- my response. i'm sorry that -- that's my response. >> reporter: but when pressed to more details, the attorney general frequently said he couldn't recall, something he repeated more than 20 times. >> i don't recall it. i don't recall it. >> i don't recall it. >> reporter: sessions also took aim at wikileaks and its role in the election. even though trump praised the group during the campaign. >> i'm not a fan of wikileaks. >> reporter: sessions' comments come after donald trump jr. released private twitter memb s messages between him and wikileaks that took place during the 2016 presidential campaign, revealing that wikileaks repeatedly contacted trump jr. who apparently replied on two occasions when wikileaks told him about an anti-trump super
pac that was about to launch. trump jr. responds that he will ask around. on another occasion, wikileaks encouraged trump jr. to push a story about hillary clinton. trump jr. responded, quote, already did. following up with a question to wikileaks that wasn't answered. wikileaks continued its secret twitter outreach until july 2017. now donald trump jr. did disclose those wikileaks communications to the senate judiciary committee. the chairman of that committee told us earlier today the communications he found are, quote, very innocuous. democrats on that committee don't agree. they're pushing for a public hearing. something that chuck grassley has not yet agreed to. wolf, some other news in the jeff sessions hearing today, he said the women accusing roy moore of sexual misconduct are believable. he essentially said he had no reason to doubt them. he also said there are 27 leak investigations looking into classified leaks that have occurred. and, wolf, he also disclosed
that he has recused himself from nearly ten investigations that are happening at the justice department but he did not disclose which investigations those were, wolf. >> lots of news during the course of that hearing. manu raju up on capitol hill, thanks very much. it wasn't just democrats holding the attorney general's feet to the fire today, cnn's ryan ryan nobles is with us right now. ryan, jeff sessions got it from both sides. >> no doubt about that, wolf. the attorney general had a tall task today. he had to convince republicans that he was taking seriously their concerns about hillary clinton while at the same time assuring democrats that the department of justice remains independent. >> reporter: attorney general jeff sessions facing pressure from his fellow republicans to investigate former secretary of state hillary clinton. >> what's it going to take if all of that, no not to mention the dossier information, what's it going to take to actually get a special counsel? >> it would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the appointment of a special counsel. >> and is that -- >> reporter: the grilling of sessions comes after republican
members of the house judiciary committee sent the attorney general a letter requesting a host of investigations and the setting up of a special counsel to look into claims that russian interests donated to the clinton foundation with the goal of getting approval for the sale of a canadian uranium mining company to the russian atomic energy agency while clinton was secretary of state. the justice department responded to that letter, promising, quote, the attorney general has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. and sessions confirmed that position in today's hearing. >> do i have your assurance that these matters will proceed fairly and expeditiously? >> yes, you can, mr. chairman, and you can be sure that they will be done without political influence and they will be done correctly and properly. >> reporter: up until this point, sessions has yet to confirm any investigation into clinton exists. but today left open the possibility that one could begin at any time. >> we will make such decisions
without regard -- hear me, without regard to politics, ideology or bias. >> reporter: that could bring with it a whole host of new issues for the attorney general, who is already struggling to regain the trust of president trump. before he left on his trip to asia, the president tweeting a not so subtle warning to sessions and his team not to ignore his concerns about clinton. writing, quote, everybody is asking why the justice department and fbi isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with crooked hillary and the dems. the department of justice is supposed to operate independently from the white house on law enforcement matters and democrats warned that a new probe into the president's primary political opponent would show the administration is too involved in doj business. >> in a functioning democracy, is it common for the leader of the country to order the criminal justice system to
retaliate against his political opponents? >> mr. conyers, i would say that it's -- the department of justice can never be used to retaliate politically against opponents and that would be wrong. >> reporter: and it also raises questions about the specific role sessions himself will play. during his confirmation hearing in january, sessions said this. >> to be very clear, you intend to recuse yourself from both the clinton e-mail investigation and any matters involving the clinton foundation if there are any? >> yes. >> reporter: a promise he was asked to reiterate today. >> do you stand by that statement, yes or no? >> yes. >> reporter: even entertaining the notion of a clinton investigation brings up the possibility that its purpose would be to provide the trump administration with a political distraction, one that could potentially take the focus off the special counsel probe into russia's influence on the u.s. election. in part because of this promise
made by president trump during the campaign. >> if i win, i am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. >> reporter: a point democrats use to press sessions on, but he resisted. >> it's a promise that your boss, he hired you, to fulfill. are you going to fulfill? >> we will comply with the law with regard to special prosecutor appointments. >> reporter: and he vowed to protect the department of justice's integrity. >> we will not be infected by politics or bias. we will make only decisions we believe are right and just. and we're not going to use the department to unlawfully advance a political agenda. >> one promise that should please republicans today, sessions said he planned to root out the leaks coming out of the administration. he described the leaks as
reaching epidemic proportions. and, wolf, he claimed at one point that there are 27 open investigations into leaks by the justice department. >> ryan nobles reporting for us. thanks, ryan, for that report. joining us now, a member of the house judiciary committee, democratic congressman david cicilline of rhode island. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> i want to play an exchange from your questioning of the attorney general jeff sessions earlier today. listen to this. >> now returning to the papadopoulos issue, in your october 18th testimony you purport to have forgotten this conversation about -- by mr. papadopoulos about russia that you put an end to. you said you weren't being dishonest, you simply forgot it. remember that testimony? >> something like that, yes. >> okay. when did you remember the remarks of mr. papadopoulos? when did that memory come back to you? >> i think it was when it -- the press came up with it or some -- it was revealed in the press. >> that was the first time you remembered it? >> i would recall that my
october statements -- it was a broad question. >> mr. sessions, i have a limit. i'm reclaiming my time -- mr. sessions, you were a senior campaign official and a member of the national security team. did you ever exchange any e-mail, text message or any other communication to or from mr. papadopoulos about russia or any other subject? >> repeat the category? list of things? >> exchange any e-mail, text message or any communication to or from mr. papadopoulos about any subjects? >> i do not believe so. i'm confident i did not. >> did anybody ever forward to you a communication from mr. papadopoulos? >> i don't recall it. >> did anybody from the campaign ever communicate with you about mr. papadopoulos? >> i can't say that there were no conversations about him before or after this event. >> all right. congressman, were you satisfied with the attorney general's
answers on papadopoulos? >> no. wolf, throughout the hearing the attorney general said on many, many occasions i just don't recall. he said his testimony remained the same but, of course, he gave very different testimony to the senate committee. and then he refused to answer questions as we probed more about the comey firing and about mr. papadopoulos saying those involved conversations with the executive branch and i don't want to answer them or i can't answer them. i pressed the chairman. he wasn't invoking a fifth moment privilege or executive privilege, he simply said i don't want to answer the question, either it was embarrassing or would have revealed some damaging information. there is no such ability to not answer a question. he's a witness. we're doing our oversight responsibilities. he took an oath. he was required. unfortunately, the republicans, including the republican chairman, protected him from answering some of these difficult questions by invoking this, you know, i'd rather not or can't answer it without invoking a real legal basis to do so. i was very disappointed.
i think the principal lesson that we learned from this hearing is the independence of the attorney general has been significantly undermined and he did nothing to restore confidence in the members of the committee and the american people that the justice department remains independent from the executive branch. >> congressman, will you push the chairman of your committee to bring jeff sessions back for more questioning? >> absolutely. and when he brings him back, we're going to insist again that he require the attorney general to answer questions. unless he has a privilege to invoke, he's obligated to answer the questions truthfully and honestly and the republicans on the committee should insist on that as well. i pressed the chairman as hard as i could to ask him to order the attorney general to answer the questions. he refused to do that and i think it did a disservice to our oversight responsibility and to the american people. >> the attorney general was questioned heavily about his decision to ask senior federal prosecutors to take a close look into whether to appoint a special prosecutor should be
appointed to investigate the clinton foundation, the uranium deal with russia. what did you make of his answers on this very sensitive subject? >> look, i think this is a completely made up story and effort to distract away from the very serious business of the special counsel and the ongoing intelligence investigations. i think even jeff sessions, the attorney general of the united states, said, look, you need facts before you can appoint a special counsel and i think dampened the spirits of the republicans on that point. so i know, you know, they sent a letter, they got a response right away saying they would look at it, but i think the attorney general made it clear that even he certainly at this point doesn't see any basis to do it. he said you need facts. the fact you want it to happen isn't enough. >> he was a little bit vague but the president of the united states, as you know, not vague at all. he fully wants this investigation. congressman, stand by. there are other new developments unfolding. we'll continue the interview right after a quick break.
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our breaking news. the lengthy conversational hearing, attorney general jeff sessions recontrols an apparently spotty memory when it comes to the trump campaign and russia but he insists he's never lied under oath. we're back with democratic congressman dav congressman of rhode island. congressman, the attorney general was also asked today about the twitter direct messages that were exchanged in 2016 between donald trump jr. and wikileaks. sessions said he did not know about them at all. he was not a fan, he said, of wikileaks. were you satisfied with his
answers on that? >> well, i mean, he was asked directly what he thought about wikileaks and he said i'm not a fan. that obviously is contrasted to what the president of the united states said during the course of the campaign where he said "i love wikileaks." we, of course, now know that wikileaks was involved in distributing stolen e-mails against the democratic nominee. so no one should love wikileaks. but i think his answer was at least that he doesn't like them and that was good to hear from the chief law enforcement official of the united states. >> would you like donald trump jr. to come before your committee? >> absolutely. i think during the judiciary committee has important oversight responsibilities. this is the first time we had the attorney general before our committee since he was sworn in. we have been pressing the chairman to allow the judiciary committee to fulfill its oversight functions and bring witnesses before the committee. so far the chairman of the committee has not done that. we should be doing that, absolutely. >> all right congressman david
cicilline, thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. coming up, more breaking news. democrats voiced concern about president trump's command of the nuclear arsenal, calling him unstable. are there enough checks and balances to prevent an impulsive nuclear launch by any commander in chief? >> under existing laws, the president of the united states can start a nuclear war without provocation, without consultation and without warning. it boggles the rational mind. ♪ if you wear a denture, you not only want a clean feeling every day, you want your denture to be stain free. did you know there's a specialty cleanser that's gentle enough for everyday use and cleans better than regular toothpaste? try polident cleanser. it has a four in one cleaning system that kills ten times more odor causing bacteria than regular toothpaste, deep cleans where brushing may miss, helps remove tough stains, and maintains the original color of your dentures when used daily. for a cleaner, fresher, brighter denture, use polident every day.
we're following multiple breaking stories right now, including attorney general jeff sessions repeatedly insisting he did not lie under oath when he said he knew of no interactions between the trump campaign and russia, even though his story keeps changing. let's bring in our political, legal specialists. and jeffrey toobin, sessions was grilled today on that 2016 campaign. i want you to listen to what he had to say about that meeting he had with george papadopoulos, who recently pleaded guilty to those charges filed by the special counsel robert mueller. listen to this. >> i would like to address recent news reports regarding meetings during the campaign attended by george papadopoulos and carter page. among others. frank, i had no recollection of this meeting until i saw these news reports. i do now recall that the march 2016 meeting at the trump hotel that mr. papadopoulos attended,
but i have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting. after reading his account and to the best of my recollection, i believe thaadt i wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the russian government or any other foreign government for that matter. >> show you a picture of that meeting, jeffrey. there you see papadopoulos in the middle. the president, then the candidate donald trump at the one end, jeff sessions, then a senator from alabama on the other end. seems like a big shift in his statement right there. >> well, you could call it a contradiction. the last time he testified under oath, he was asked all about russia. that was the focussing of the questioning, especially from senator al franken and he said categorically he knew of no contacts between the trump campaign and russia. today, he said, oh, by the way, i do remember my contacts with
george papadopoulos and i instructed him not to have contact with russia. now he said his memory was refreshed. all of us have had that experience of having our memories refreshed, but people are going to have to draw their own conclusion about whether he was disassembling the last time or now or bother. it is a marked contradiction. >> do you want he was effective despite that contradiction, mark? >> let let me answer two ways. if you're a democrat, no. if you're a republican, yes. i think as he walks away from capitol hill tonight and goes home, i think he's going to say to himself i performed well enough, i didn't get myself in a lot of trouble, and more importantly president trump is going to look at what he did today and he's going to be happy. as we know, every senior aide that goes out and speaks publicly speaks to an audience of one, and that's donald trump. >> the senator was asked a lot today about his decision to let the justice department and the prosecutor there come up with a
decision whether to name a special counsel to investigate hillary clinton, the clinton foundation, the uranium deal with russia. this in the aftermath of the president criticizing the justice department for not having a formal special counsel do that kind of investigation. >> yeah, i think jeff sessions is in a really tough spot here because we know the president wants him to do this and it's not clear that jeff sessions wants to do this. i think his answers today were really interesting because, you know, he had a congressman, a republican pushing him to say, we've asked you, 20 of us on this committee committee have asked you to appoint a special counsel, why haven't you done it yet? that's exactly what the president is saying now. jeff sessions' answer was essentially we have to have a factual basis to appoint a special counsel. we can't just do it on a whim based on what looks like a crime or what you might think might be a crime. so there's that. i think the letter that basically authorized his justice department to look into this was read as an indication that maybe he might do this, but i think it could also be read as an
indication that jeff sessions is looking for something to offer to the boss to say, hey, i'm looking into this. that may not actually result in a special counsel but just gives him a little bit of an out here. >> but there was a weirdness about that whole subject. because earlier he said i'm recusing myself from anything related to hillary clinton. today in his testimony he said, well, i can't discuss recusal because it has to go through some ethics committee. that's not something i've heard before and i didn't understand why he didn't say in a straightforward way i'm recused, unless he was trying to cultivate favor with the boss who is still angry at him for recusing himself on the russia matter. >> very angry about that. how did you see it? >> you know, just following on what jeff said, what i was surprised was his ability to not answer questions and then not evoke executive privilege. >> correct. >> basically saying, listen, i'm not going to answer it. that's longstanding policy. and turn to the chairman of the committee who provided the cover, bob goodlatte said let's
move on, your time is over. really stonewalling democrats from trying to get any answers. yet again, he didn't have to invoke executive privilege. if he had done so, would have led to greater questions heading into tomorrow. he doesn't have to face them. >> one of many, many reasons it's good to be examed ined by committee that is controlled by your party. like refusing to answer questions, like five minute rounds of questions, all are due to the fact that bob goodlatte, a good loyal republican is chairman of that committee. >> five minutes goes very, very quickly, especially when you're a lawmaker who likes to hear himself or herself speak as well. >> but that's only about 100% of them. >> not just quick question and answers, it's answers and answers. all right. stand by. a lot more coming up. we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. more people shop online
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we're back with our political specialists. and, abby, republican senators today they surprised a lot of us by saying they were going to put into the tax bill, the tax reform bill, at least the senate version of it, a repeal of the individual mandate, part of obamacare. which will eliminate health insurance for millions of americans right there. how is that going to play as far as the moderate republicans in the senate are concerned? you can't lose more than two if you're going to get this legislation passed. >> well, it's interesting. think this idea is -- most people agree it complicates the
tax effort a little bit more, but i think the dynamic that's playing out right now on the hill is that republicans are thinking they can't say no to an individual mandate repeal. it seems like the lowest common denominator, the one thing that they could do, that they might have to do because if they're faced with a vote they can't defend it to their constituents if they say no. john mccain indicates that he's potentially in favor of voting in favor of the tax bill if it's included. susan collins is kind of on the fence but notably she didn't say no, she said i think it's complicated but she didn't say no. i so i think republicans are, you know, they might get it and they might get a little bit more extra cash to give to middle class voters which might be more important ultimately to them than other considerations. >> all right. some studies have suggested 13 million americans would lose health insurance if the individual mandate goes away. >> and you know what happens to people who lose health
insurance? they die. they die at a faster rate. they die younger. they die sicker. and, you know, we always talk about health insurance in political terms and i understand that, but it is worth pausing to remember that people who lose health insurance die. and that's something that should be figured into the calculus. >> so is it going to -- how is it going to impact package of the senate tax cut bill? >> well, a couple of things. so you have it on the senate side and whether or not they're able to keep at least 50 votes together right now, it looks like they're getting there, but the question is what happens on the other side of capitol hill with the house bill and the fight over that. will that be included in the bill? if not, when these two bills come together. they're very ambitious about trying to get this tax bill done by the end of the year. i'm a bit negative to think that anything on capitol hill can get done, you know, in a couple of months, let alone a bill as massive, as controversy and as detailed as a tax bill in such a short period of time. >> there is one other dynamic to take into consideration.
if they do this individual mandate in the tax bill, they're going to use those savings most likely to reduce taxes for middle class families, but if they ever come around to health care reform in the future, they're not going to have that money available to them. it's actually going to make health care reform harder if they ever try to come back to this issue again. so i think as we get into -- it's only been a couple of hours. they haven't fully committed to this yet. if they get to the details some senators say, hey, i'm not willing to throw, you know, to sacrifice a short-term gain for a long-term reform that we want, then maybe they might have a little bit more trouble with this. >> also the argument that you are cutting the individual mandate for the middle class. i think that's a debatable proposition. you're also cutting the estate tax, the corporate tax rate. >> property tax. >> those are not middle class tax cuts. those are gifts to wealthy people. >> you know, mark, an interesting development in the roy moore saga today. >> there is other news today? okay. >> he's the republican senate candidate in alabama. not just mitch mcconnell but the
house speaker paul ryan, they all want him to go away. it was very interesting, mcconnell now wants sessions to give up his job as the attorney general, go back to alabama, who was the u.s. senator from alabama for 20 years, and run as a write-in candidate, thinking that he could beat the democrat. >> right. i think that's wishful thinking. i'm sure that jeff sessions is thinking to himself, that's not a bad idea if we can make this work. look, they're in a world of hurt right now, republicans are. right now they're heading towards the point where they're very likely to lose this seat. but forget about politics, it should be done on the basis of what we know at this point, roy moore needs to leave the race. i don't think he will do so on his own volition. >> they have no leverage over him. he's an independent actor. >> what if the president of the united states, he will be back here in washington tomorrow, he comes out and says roy moore must go? >> or what? or what? i just don't think that the president has that leverage. >> but he can be sworn in and he can be turned around and
expelled. i think that's what you'll see. >> maybe yes, maybe no. >> even if roy moore steps down or does whatever, he's going to remain on the ballot. it's a problem for republicans regardless. there is no easy fix. i think the reason the jeff sessions scenario is so, you know, appealing to republicans is because he has such high name recognition. it might be their only chance if they want to do a write-in, someone who people can easily remember and just put their name down, otherwise i think it's just going to be a long road. not even the current interim senator might be able to accomplish that at the -- at this late stage. >> mitch mcconnell keeps talking about lisa murkowski who lost the republican primary in alaska, was a write-in candidate and she's now still a united states senator from alaska. >> wishful thinking. alaska, a lot different than alabama. smaller state. her father was the governor, senator. she's been a senator a long time. different circumstances. >> sessions is well-known in alabama. >> absolutely. it's a hail mary. >> stand by. there is more breaking news we're following. north korea now warning that
u.s. naval exercises off the korean peninsula are moving the area, the region closer to a nuclear war. some u.s. lawmakers are sounding alarms at the same time over president trump's ability to command u.s. nuclear weapons. >> even general kelly, the president's chief of staff, can't control the president's twitter tantrums. as a result, many americans share my fear that the president's bombastic words could turn into nuclear reality. (vo) when i brought jake home, i wanted him to eat healthy. so i feed jake purina cat chow naturals indoor, a nutritious formula with no artificial flavors. made specifically for indoor cats. purina cat chow. nutrition to build better lives. duncan just protected his family with a $500,000 life insurance policy. how much do you think it cost him? $100 a month? $75? $50? actually, duncan got his $500,000 for under $28 a month.
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accused of obstructing justice to theat the fbinuclear war, and of violating the constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth. if that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become? i'm tom steyer, and like you, i'm a citizen who knows it's up to us to do something. it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet today people in congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons.
and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right. our country depends on it. tonight north korea's complaining that the presence of three u.s. aircraft carriers off the korean peninsula is pushing the region closer to a nuclear war. this comes at the same time there's breaking news here in washington as senators question whether president trump is stable enough to have command of the u.s. nuclear arsenal. cnn's brian tom is working this story for us. tell us. >> very stark and sobering observations from this hearing, wolf. even from a nato ally about
president trump's fitness. it comes after months of personal insults, threats of annihilation between the president and kim jong-un which have only escalated. >> they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. >> tonight with military tensions with north korea at a dangerous level lawmakers are openly voicing concern about president trump's mental and emotional fitness to launch a nuclear strike. >> we are concerned that the president of the united states is so unstable, is so volatile as a decision making process that is so quick soughtic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with national security interests. >> a source tells cnn a nato ally has also raised concerns about the president's command of
nuclear weapons. his past comments like one on the campaign trail about bombing isis has caused critics to lash out. >> i would bomb the [ bleep ] out of them. >> experts said if a nuclear tipped missile were to be launched against the u.s. presidential authority to retaliate is unquestionable. but what if he wants to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on an enemy? >> in the other context where the president's waking up and saying an extreme -- the president alone could not effect a strike. he would require lots of people working with him to make the strike happen. and they'd be asking the questions that would slow down that process. >> experts say military officers could question the president's order, but they really couldn't stop it short of a full on mutiny. and slowing the process down, they say, is relevant.
>> today you have a system so finally tuned that from the moment the president gives a launch order the first nuclear missiles would leave their silos just four minutes later. >> president trump always has a military aide by his side. carrying launch codes, communications equipment. former aides told cnn they had to undergo rigorous psychiatric and emotional screening as does everyone else in the nuclear chain of command. everyone except the commander in chief. >> there's nothing in the system meant to check whether the president is crazy, is drunk, is high or whether there is any even valid jeo political reason for a nuclear launch to be ordered snch. >> despite our repeated request,
the white house has not responded to the concern of his critics who have questioned the president's emotional stability. but we're told the white house has tried to ease concerns by arguing the system operates like all before him, has enough checks in place he would be discouraged from making any rash move. >> you've been speaking with experts about the kind of firepower president trump has control over. what are tay telling you? >> they tell us right now america's nuclear arsenal consists of about 900 nuclear war heads which range from being about 10 to 20 times more powerful than the bombs which destroyed hiroshima and nag sake. coming up, breaks nuch am attorney general jeff sessions testifies he now recalls a trump campaign meeting in which russia contacts were in fact discussed. couldn't remember it at an earlier congressional hearing. does he just have a faulty
campaign's links to russia. why is his recollection of other key events still so fuzzy? justice for all? democrats pounce on sessions after his deputy reveals a special counsel probe of hillary clinton is being considered. is president trump pressuring the justice department to go after his political enemies? moore troubles. top republicans are desperately trying to make senate candidate roy moore go away after a new allegation of sexual assault. tonight the house speaker joins the chorus as the senate gop leader reveals she's been talking about this with president trump. and hitting health care. a surprising new twist in the tax bill debate. why are senate republicans suddenly hoping to use the legislation to try and destroy obamacare? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. and you're