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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 20, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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happening now, terror list, president trump names north korea a state sponsor of terrorism. will the increasing u.s. pressure make kim jong-un more or less defiant. special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation is moving closer to president's inner circle. not backing down, the justice files a lawsuit to block at&t's takeover of time warner. at&t says it will take the case
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to court. are president trump's personal feelings influencing the decision? death toll, the number of people killed by hurricane maria in puerto rico may be nine times higher than thought. i'm jim acosta, you're in "the situation room." wolf blitzer is off. new pressure on north korea tonight from president trump, announcing he's returning the court to the list of state sponsored terrorism. the move clears the way for more sanctions against the kim jong-un regime and sports the maximum pressure campaign. we're also following the russia probe by special counsel robert mueller.
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they're to interview key inner circles of president trump's administration in the coming week. troubling developments tonight in puerto rico's hurricane disaster. a cnn investigation exclusive has uncovered some 500 deaths that should have been attributed to hurricane maria but were not. we're going to discuss all of that this hour. specialists are standing by. let's begin with president trump's decision to put north korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. jeff zelleny is working the story for us. it's part of the strategy to put maximum pressure on the kim jong-un regime. >> reporter: it is indeed. north korea is being added to the list of the state sponsored terrorism puts them in the list of syria, sudan and iran. rex tillerson came to the
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briefing today largely con seeding to the fact this is a largely symbolic move but it is a diplomatic move that puts more pressure on north korea. >> today the united states is designating north korea as a state sponsor of terrorists. it should have happened a long time ago. >> reporter: president trump trying to tighten the noose on north korea. putting it back on the list as a state sponsor of terrorism. >> this designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on north korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime. >> reporter: during a meeting at the white house today, the president unveiling the latest action against kim jong-un. later, rex tillerson said the symbolism of the move outweighed the practical effects. >> it is symbolic because it
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points out again what a rogue regime this is and how brutal this regime is, and how little they care for the value of human life. >> reporter: the president's announcement reversed a 2008 decision by president george w. bush who removed them from the terror list as part of negotiations that ultimately fell through. >> my hope is the list no longer exists -- >> with time running out, president trump rallying support for the tax plan. >> we're going to give the american people a huge tax kutd for christmas. >> reporter: after sailing through the house it faces st p steeper hurdles in the senate. >> if it passes the senate we'll get together -- >> reporter: several republicans are still undecided including senator jeff flake of arizona, who the president went after once again on twitter. senator jeff flake who is unelectable in arizona, was
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caught on stape saying bad thins about your president. the president was referring to a moment over the weekend where flake said this. >> comes the party of roy moore. >> a spokesman for flaim flake said he has yet to decide whether to support the tax plan. tonight the controversy over moore, alabama's radio active gop senate nominee is hanging over the white house. republicans have distanced themselves for more. for sexual misconduct, including lee corfman, who was only 14. >> he laid out blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to seduce me, i guess you would say. >> reporter: the white house sending conflicting signals on moore. senior advisor, kelly an conway
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said it was critical to have enough republican votes for tax reform. >> we want the votes in the senate to get this tax bill through. >> reporter: when asked whether the white house would be pleased with more in the senate, press secretary sarah sanders said this. >> obviously the president wants people both in the house and the senate who support his agenda, but as i said and as the hatch act prohibits me from going any further, we certainly think this is something that the people of alabama should decide. >> reporter: as the president ignored questions about moore, he did make time to fire back at the father of a ucla basketball player who played down mr. trump's roll in releasing three players from jail in china after allegedly stealing sunglasses. the president making the extraordinary statement saying i should have left them in jail. now sara sanders went on to say the president was happy and thankful those players were
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released so asked again we said those three u.s. citizens should have remained in jail she said the president was being rhetorical. >> we're glad they're out of jail. we're also following special counsel muller's russia investigation. mueller's team is scheduled to interview several senior white house officials in the coming weeks. jessica snyder is here with the latest. >> reporter: there is still a lot of work left for the special counsel to do. those interviews of key white house staff, those will happen in the next few weeks and now we know the british publicist who set up the meeting with donald trump jr. is ready to talk. there could be more bombshells to come if hints from witnesses interviewed are any indications. tonight new indications that revelations could immerge from the special counsel's probe. they're asking witnesses about
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foreign contacts and meetings that haven't been made public. they're specifically focussed on president trump's fired national security advisor motor vehicler. they're asking about the possibility that flynn was part of discussions in a plot that was never carried out. seeking the removal of a turkish cleric living in exile in the u.s. the special counsel will be interviewing key white house staff ers in the coming weeks, including hope hicks, and white house counsel don mcgahn. meanwhile, the british publicist who arranged the july 2016 meeting at trump tower between a russian lawyer and donald trump jr. and paul manafort is now breaking his silence.
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he says he has accepted special counsel muller's invitation for an interviewing, saying it's time to say what happened. and dismissing any suggestion it was part of a russian plot to influence the election. i thought it was the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard. no date has been set just yet for his interview with muller's team. but goldstone is insisting in that interview as well that he didn't mean to say that the russian government supported president trump when he wrote the e-mail to donald trump jr. instead he said he was speaking generally, and said the misinterpretation was likely the result of his rushed e-mail. jim. >> thank you very much. let's get more on all of this with the democratic congress of texas, the ranking member of the
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house arms committee. thank you very much for joining us, jacongressman, that there could be more meetings thalt could come to light? it sounds like there may be more meetings to talk about. >> the most recent revelations under score the importance of special counsel mueller's investigation, and ensuring his authority to follow those facts as far as they go, as high up as they go and ensuring they have accountability and justice. the essence of our democracy is at stake. this thing that distinguishes us from so much of the rest of the world that explains so much of our greatness is under attack and is open to question. and we have to be able to resolve those questions. and i have great confidence in
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special counsel mueller and i want to make sure he's able to see the investigation through all the way. >> do you think that the trump campaign colluded with russia, based on what you've seen so far? >> they certainly tried to include with russia. i think special counsel mueller is still following the facts to determine how effective they were in their ability to do that. i hope he's going to continue to follow those following president trump's swearing in and his attempt to obstruct justice and the investigation then ongoing from the fbi director that was later fired. so there's certainly the evidence that there was an attempt to include with russia. >> i want to switch to roy moore and what's happening with the senate race in alabama. we have not heard president trump really comment on roy moore and the white house appears to be fumbling around for a consistent message in all of this. let's listen to the various lines we've heard from the trump
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administration officials in the recent days. >> we want the votes in the senate to get this tax bill through. >> you should certainly be able to infer by the fact he's not gone down to support roy moore his discomfort in doing so. >> if the allegations are 2r50u he should step aside. >> he had thinks that the voters of alabama should decide. i think that's the most common sense way to look at it. >> what do you make of the white house point on? >> you have this extraordinary bipartisan consensus in the senate. you have the majority leader and minority leader and just about every single senator, even ted cruz, have withdrawn their support and disavowed roy moore and are voying they will not seat him should he be elected. it's important we have leadership from the very top and i think it's important that the
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people of this country know that someone who as a grown man prayed on children cannot be elevated to one of the highest positions of the public trust in the land. i think wi're waiting for that from the white house. >> you probably have seen this, another woman has come forward against senator al fran ken saying he grabbed her from behind while they were taking a picture. this is as he was a sitting u.s. senator. in your view what is the appropriate response at this point? should senator franken step down? >> members from both parties have said he should be referred to the ethics committee, senator franken himself have agreed with that, he's apologized, acknowledged it and owned it. i think that investigation should be allow today take place. but certainly this kind of behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable and unbecoming a
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member of the u.s. senate. i hope this investigation is allowed to take its full course and whatever the findings and the consequences are, i know that senator franken and the senate agree that's the best path for this to take. >> not to put you on the spot, why sit okay for everybody to say roy moore should be gone but not al franken. >> in the case of roy moore you have someone who as a grown man was preying on girls in his community, sexually abusing and assaulting these girls and young women. in the case of president trump you have someone who was boasting about sexual assault and preying on women and using his position of power to try to dominate women physically. bothing about it, caught on a microphone. in the case of senator franken, you have someone who was -- what he did was unacceptable, but i think in a different level of
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behavior, unacceptable still, but the kind of sexual assault that you had president trump brag about, the kind of predesignation that you saw from roy moore a completely different level. >> congressman, i want to get your reaction to the news we heard this afternoon, the justice department saying it will sue to block the at&t and time warner merger. are you concerned that president trump's personal views about cnn, the media at large, might have influenced that decision even though the department of justice says that's not the case? >> i think we should begin with some genuine concerns about the increasing concentration of power and wealth in this country. so i want to make sure we look at all the facts of this case before we judge it. what complicates it is someone like president trump calling the press the enemy of the people, instead of the best protection, circulatiing meems on twitter o
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people with cnn logos on their head being hit by wrestlers or freight trains. we shouldn't be having to have this conversation as serious an issue as it is and as potentially significant as the merger is. so i want to make sure we give this case its due read and understand the facts, but it's too bad that president trump, through his conduct, has forced us to bring this question up, whether this is personally motivated on the part of the president. >> stand by, we have more news to discuss. we're going to take a quick break. we'll be right back. ink you'll ? then we found out how many years that money would last them. how long do you think we'll keep -- oooooohhh! you stopped! you're gonna leave me back here at year 9? how did this happen? it turned out, a lot of people fell short, of even the average length of retirement. we have to think about not when we expect to live to,
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we're back with democratic congressman on rork of texas. first congressman, let's get more on the store from our cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr. >> reporter: what's so unusual here is not necessarily what this general said, but when he was asked a question in public, he was remarkably candid about the answer. president trump dez ig nasing north korea a state sponsor of
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terrorism has a military implication. >> it must end its missile development. >> reporter: the president's rhetoric about north korea's nuclear weapons. >> they will be met with fire and furry, like the world has never seen. >> reporter: causing deep worry he might suddenly order a nuclear weapons launch. >> 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 that he might order a nuclear strike that is wildly out of step with u.s. national security interests. >> the general in charge of nuclear weapons said if he got an illegal order from president trump to launch nuclear weapons he would not follow it. >> i provide advice to the president, he'll tell me what to do and if it's illegal, guess
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what's going to happen? i'm going to say mr. president that's illegal. he'll say what's legal and we'll come up with a mix of responsibilities to deal with the situation. that's the way it works. >> reporter: the weapon must be proportional to the threat, especially because nuclear weapons can kill tens of thousands of people. >> i think the general's remarks were forceful, plain spoken and blunt and also refreshing. it's important for the american public to understand the types of safeguards, the types of security measures we put around our nuclear arsenal and our nuclear strike capabilities. >> reporter: commands continue to say the obligation is on them to not obey an illegal order. >> it might surprise you if i told you i have been in situations in combat where we have had to take orders that were given to us and go back to
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our commanders and say the lawyers say this might not be legal to do these things. >> reporter: all of this taking on more urgency because the u.s. intelligence community and the south koreans believe it is possible, sometime in 2018, the north koreans will have the ability to launch a long-range missile with a war head on top that could be aimed at the united states. jim. >> this is becoming a critical issue. barbara starr at the pentagon, thank you very much. i want to get back to the congressman. how troubling is it to you that a top general in this capacity has to answer to these fears of an illegal order of a nuclear strike, we were reporting last week, there were members of congress and a nato partner worried about this. do his remarks put you at ease? >> they're encouraging. i feel like at this time, the
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institutions of our country are under stress. we talked about it earlier, the ballot box, the judiciary and now the u.s. military. how encouraging we are more than a match for this test and the moment. love to hear the general's answer, it increases our confidence in him to meet these challenges. >> it sounded like something he had to process, he had an answer ready to go. >> remember this isn't democrats talking about doing this. or talking about the president's finance, you have someone who's a chairman of the senate's committee, senator bob corker who questions the president's fitness to make these decisions and there has to be some check on that, the greatest check is the constitution, which vests the power to make war on other
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people in the united states congress, and it's about time that we reclaimed that power. you're see ago bipartisan consensus forming right now around the president's use of a first strike capability against north korea, but also the wars we're fighting right now in syria, iraq, libya, and all over the world. it's about time we once again think through what we're asking american service members to do on behalf of this country. the lives we're asking them to take and the lives they're putting on the line and far too often losing. especially under this commander in which i have, it's important that congress restore its right and the interest of the people we represent in making sure these wars are just, are necessary, we can articulate a definition of victory and with a strategy to underlie that and achieve that.
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>> congressman, thank you for joining us. we also invited senator ted cruz, whose seat you're trying to win to join us, but he declined. he's enjoying thanksgiving this week. we hope you do too. >> up ahead, a woman who said roy moore molested her when she was 14 years old, gives details. did the government drastically under count the death toll from hurricane maria's disaster? we get there are some responsibilities of love you gotta do on your own. and some you shouldn't have to shoulder alone. like ensuring your family is protected, today and tomorrow, no matter what the future brings. see how life insurance from lincoln can help start protecting your family's financial future now, at lincolnfinancial.com.
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a woman who says republican senate candidate roy moore sexually molested her when she was 14 and he was in his 30's is giving new details of the abuse. let's listen to her account, she spoke -- she's now spoken publically for the first time. we have a bit of that, let's play it. >> at 14, i was not dating. at 14, i was not able to make those kind of choices. i met him around the corner from my house. my mother did not know. and he took me to his home. after arriving at his home, on the second occasion that i went with him, he basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to
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seduce me, i guess you would say. and during the course of that, he removed my clothing, he left the room and came back in wearing his white underwear and he touched me over my clothing, what was left of it, and he tried to get me to touch him as well. and at that point i pulled back and said that i was not comfortable, and i got dressed, and he took me home. but i was a 14-year-old child trying to play in an adult's world, and he was 32 years old. >> roy moore denies the allegations and says he does not even know you. >> i wonder how many me's he doesn't know. >> how foufrl powerful is it to that in her words? >> i thought it was powerful, i
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thought she was clear, and i thought she made important points. i felt it was powerful when my colleagues reported this two thursdays ago, but this is additional information. you have the adult lee corfman telling her store on camera, one thing that hasn't been talked about enough this is exactly why, for those of us, i will include myself in this, who believe her story. this is why we have a rule against children dating adults. there's no such thing as consent in the situation. the way she laid it out, she was young and unable to deal with the situation. that's why we have the rules. >> jeffrey toobin compelling interview. let's listen to kellyanne conway talking about the alabama race. >> doug jones in alabama, don't be fool hehe'll be a vote again cuts, he's weak on borders,
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terrible for property owners. that's why he's not saying anything and the media are trying to boost him. >> so vote roy moore? >> we want the votes in the senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through. >> jeffrey toobin, the white house says they want the votes. >> i think what you're seeing now is basically an acknowledgement on the part of anyone who is conscious that roy moore did this, and abused all of these young girls, but he's going to be a loyal republican. and so people should vote for him anyway. kellyanne conway said it today. sarah huckabee-sanders in effect said it today. the governor of alabama, she said it yesterday. is that he's going to vote the republican party line so we don't care who we abused. that's sort of what -- that's the position of the republican party right now. >> as you know, there's another
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accuser coming forward talking about senator al franken, saying she was groped or grabbed by the senator a few years back. what does it say if democrats are demanding that roy moore leave the say but saying we'll let the ethics committee handle the franken investigation. >> there are some clear differences in the cases. i think we should be really clear about that. a 14-year-old is a 14-year-old. and al franken, what dhe is photographed and it's there. i think democrats need to be really careful. there are two camps of democrats on this. there are some people who have been on this program and said he needs to resign. then there are others, many of his colleagues in the senate, both democrat and republican, that say let's let the ethics committee handle this. i think how they deal with this, will show whether it's partisan
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for the sake of partship. there are differing opinions no one is coming out strongly saying we need to make an example of al franken and use him as an example of how the situations need to be dealt with. no one is ready to do that, but at the same time, al franken is acknowledging he did something wrong. >> just to switch back to the topic that barbara starr was talking about a few moments ago, this top general in charge of america's nuclear weapons saying he is going to refuse an illegal order from president trump if the president were to call an order what he believes to be an illegal nuclear weapons strike. how is it we're having this conversation and did that surprise you what the general had to say about this? >> that didn't surprise me. we have two related issues here. one is whether president trump would order an illegal strike and the second is whether the military would implement it.
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on the latter issue i think the general's comments are being somewhat overblown. the military has a long-standing policy of questioning, and ultimately not implementing, any illegal orders. so my sense is the general re was restating the policy op on whether president trump would order an illegal strike, in my experience working for two presidents, lawyers are part of the entire policy development process. so in this case, you'd have pentagon lawyers, white house lawyers involved in developing nuclear strike options and presenting them to the president. so president trump would know, before he took any decision, whether something was legal or not. and i can't imagine he would order something that was illegal knowing that the military will not implement an illegal option. that would just be a waste of time. >> it is an interesting conversation to have because obviously when the president
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talks about fire and furry we know what that means and obviously that conversation is something that's happened, we've heard not only the general talk about it but up on capitol hill and nato allies. just ahead a death toll nine times high erthan what the government is reporting from puerto rico's hurricane disaster. it is an exclusive you don't want to miss. i realize that ah, that $100k is not exactly a fortune. well, a 103 yeah, 103.
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tonight a cnn exclusive. hurricane maria's devastatining strike on puerto rico, is more deadly than people realized. funeral homes are learning 499 people who should have been counted in the toll were not. leyla santiago is in san juan for us tonight. that is a huge discrepancy. >> here's why the numbers are important. if you don't have a good grasp on how the deaths happened, where or why, it could be a missed opportunity to protect people in the future.
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it's one of the reasons we decided to look into the death toll's accuracy. what we found is there are plenty of reasons to question that death toll. these are the images they'd rather remember. the ones catching him squlojoki with his family. but there's another image his daughter can't stop thinking about. the moment she opened the door and found him on the ground. she says if maria had not passed straight through here, she believes her dad would still be alive today. she believes his nerves, stress, during hurricane maria led to a heartattack when maria struck in september. he had a heart attack in february but had recovered. just minutes before maria made landfa landfall, she tells us her
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father complained of breathing complications. when her uncle calls 911, he was told help was not available. >> no one has come to ask questions regarding the cause or the situation surrounding his death. >> reporter: over the same month last year, the number of deaths increased by 472. the government is reporting 55 people died at the hands of hurricane maria. >> it's accurate based on the factual information we received, yes. >> reporter: this is puerto rico's official in charge. politicians news outlets like cnn has raced againsts about the accuracy of the numbers. so we decided to count for ourselves. cnn called 279 funeral homes. we were only able to reach about half of them. we asked how many of the deaths
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were believed to be related to maria, despite the official death toll, they claim 499 hurricane-related deaths in the month after the storm. that's nine times the government's numbers. >> reporter: why the gap? >> as i said before, i work on factual. i can't work on i believe. >> reporter: so we described pepe's case. >> gentleman is at home, has a stroke, the person with him calls 911. 911 says we can't get to him in time because 150 mile an hour winds are pounded us, is that a hurricane death? >> absolutely. >> allow me to introduce you to pepe, that was his case. the discrepancy begins here, the death certificate, a doctor marked it natural.
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natural doesn't go to forensics. and forensic says if they don't get the cases, there's no way to know if it's related to the hurricane. doctors are not obligated to report if the hurricane contributed to the death. >> they should, you're right. will they be obligated to do it by law, no. i submit there's a moral responsibility to do that. >> reporter: he plans on squing legislatures to change that. and that's not the only issue. he admits he needs people to flag cases, too. >> you're the first person, the first media outlet, i'll say it publically, that brings in information to verify. >> is that the media's job or your job? >> it's our job to take care of 2, 900 bodies. to see that the doctor certifies that the deaths occur in the way
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it happened. >> reporter: he tells us he will investigate the multiple cases cnn brought to his attention. >> why is the government of puerto rico not double checking and why isn't the government of puerto rico doing what cnn did, calling these funeral homes one by one, visiting these families one by one? >> fun ral homes are not the person to tell us what the person die or not die of. >> reporter: he says families should be notifying the government. loved ones like pepe's wife who tells us at the time not to make sure their loved one was counted in a statistic, rather to make sure he had a proper good-bye. they were married when she was 20 and she misses him. families trying to make sense of tragedy and a death toll.
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and jim, according to forensics, they visited secemeteriries, funeral homes, and they said many of them were not true, they called them rumors. you heard the secretary in our piece was the first to flag specific cases that could be hurricane related. he has given us his word that he will be looking into them, investigating them, getting back to us and adding. >> so important that the death in puerto rico be certified properly and that we get a proper accounting of how many people died there. it could mean fema assistance for the families. what can you tell us about that? >> reporter: yeah, there's actually a program, it is a fema program that assists families in paying for funeral expenses, maximum of $6,000, but for that -- for a family to qualify for that program, they must be a
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certified or the family member must be a certified death for fema to even consider helping with those funeral expenses. >> all right. latelily santiago with a very important broadcast. just ahead, president trump a game changer for late night tv. when heartburn hits, fight back fast with tums smoothies. it starts dissolving the instant it touches your tongue. and neutralizes stomach acid at the source. ♪ tum -tum -tum -tum smoothies! only from tums ( ♪ ) more people shop online for the holidays than ever before. (clapping) and the united states postal service delivers more of those purchases to homes than anyone else in the country. ( ♪ )
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coming up tonight. cnn special report late night in the age of trump. >> this is got to be a crazy one. >> every day there's something nuts. >> you're not the potus, you're the blotus. >> wait, how long does this wall have to be? >> he's the most mocked man in america. >> that is the problem with the media. >> monopolizing late night. >> it's hard night to feel like you're being redundant. >> kim jong-un as rocket man. >> kim jong-un as rocket man. >> dominating nl. >> he's like a mime producing raw material. >> he's blowing up scripts. >> the pace of the news.
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>> stop it. >> so much faster. >> me first. >> making and breaking careers. >> it's like a little churchill, excuse me. >> would you say you're on a mission to take him down. >> i would like to see him brought down to the ground, preferably in handcuffs. >> you're turning into a real [ bleep ] dictator. >> has late night gone too far? >> has it gone disrespectful of the office of the presidency? i think so. let's get more with the host of tonight's special brian steltzer. he's also the host of reliable sources. brian, it looks huge your special tonight. as president trump permanently changed the late night landscape and who has the best impersonation? alec baldwin? >> yes. >> trump has permanently changed the late night world. he has given these shows endless amounts of fodder and that's why we decided to do this
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documentary. president trump has inspired these comments whether stephen colbert or seth meyers or jimmy kimmel. mostly men who host these shows. some of them were not having that much success in the ratings until election day last year and now these shows are channelling the hopes and fears of trump's critics. they're like a release valve for blue state america. these comics are saying this is a crisis moment in the america but for the comics it's a career opportunity and the ratings are way up for shows like stephen colbert. >> and for this documentary you go behind the scenes as these shows get put together. what's a normal day like with these programs in the trump era? do they literally rip up the scripts before they go on? >> they do. that's one of the most interesting things to see. these the time of day that 11:30 or day time shows are taped. they have to tape later in the evening because of all the news.
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about your impersonators, alec baldwin gets a lot of attention. i think anthony atamonec has an amazing trump impersonation. it takes him two hours to put on the makeup, a fat suit, a ball cap for a special hair piece but he's fascinating and in the documentary he sounds like a buy og grandfather. i think you'll be surprised by what it says tonight. >> what's the most surprising thing you learned in this documentary? >> i think it's that these comics, they have second thoughts. are they only preaching to the choir. are they only talking with folks that already agree with them? these shows are part of the polarization of america. viewers are tuning in. the ratings are sky high for these shows even though the election was last year. >> as we know these programs are a big release. brian stelter, thank you very much. you'll be wrapping it all up tonight in the late night in the age of trump that airs tonight
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at 9:00 eastern only on cnn. we'll all be watching for that. i'm jim acosta. thank you very much for watching tonight. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next the president picks a side, he won't take roy moore to get out of the race and the aids make it clear he wants an ally in congress. is trump willing to back a man who allegedly misconduct a 14-year-old over a republican. let's go "outfront." i'm erin burnett "outfront" tonight. anyone but a democrat. the white house making it clear today that it's better to cast a

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