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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  January 23, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST

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white. >> i want to make a difference. i want to know that taking a stand wasn't for nothing. >> thanks to jessica schneider for that report. >> thank you, all, for being with us this morning, through all of the breaking news. we'll keep you posted on all of it. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm john berman. "at this hour" starts now. this is cnn breaking news. >> hi there. i'm brianna keilar in for kate ball wi baldwin. two breaking stories, both related to the russia investigation. first, word that the special counsel's probe has now breached the president's cabinet for the first time. cnn learning that robert mueller's team interviewed attorney general jeff sessions as part of its probe into russian meddling in the 2016 election. and whether the president obstructed justice since taking office. and there is a new twist in the
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president's ongoing feud with the nation's top law enforcement agency. word that the trump and sessions nearly lost their new fbi director. we have learned that christopher wray threatened to resign because sessions was pruessurin him to fire or reassign andrew mccabe. the president has made mccabe a target over and over again, suggesting that he's biased, and questioning why sessions has not replaced him. cnn's kaitlan collins is covering the story from the white house. first, to our crime and justice reporter shimon prokupecz. what do we know about sessions speaking to the mueller team? >> we have been told this interview, the meeting with mueller and his team happened last wednesday. lasted several hours. and presumably he was questioned about his knowledge concerning the firing of the fbi director and also the other key issue in this investigation, the contacts
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with russians. remember, jeff sessions was leading the foreign policy team for the trump campaign. members on that team have been questioned by the fbi. some have pleaded guilty, like george papadopoulos, george papadopoulos has talked about his conversations with the attorney general during the campaign. all of this undoubtedly something that sessions would have been questioned about. and just think about this, brianna, you have fbi agents who technically report to the attorney general, now assigned to the special counsel, who are presumably probably in this room, questioning the attorney general about his knowledge concerning the firing of the fbi director, and also the contacts with russians. >> shimon, i want to bring in kaitlan collins at the white house for us. you're getting some early reaction from the white house. what can you tell us? >> reporter: yeah, that's right, brianna, he found the press secretary sarah sanders in the white house a short while after
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we confirmed this. the only thing she would comment on this report that sessions was interviewed by mueller's office is to say that the white house is cooperating fully with the special counsel's investigation, something they have said for several months now. and she could not say if jeff sessions and president trump discussed his interview with mueller's office when jeff sessions was at the white house yesterday afternoon and cnn cameras caught him on that. for now, they're sticking with the line that they are cooperating with the special counsel's investigation and nothing further on that front. >> and what can you tell us at this point in time about whether the white house is seeing anything about sessions and sessions pressuring wray to get rid of mccabe. is the white house touching that? >> the white house put on a lengthy statement after it was first reported yesterday and they did not hit down the specific reporting, but said the president praised wray, complimented the fbi and said he had a problem with a few senior officials, but we have learned and confirmed today that the attorney general jeff sessions
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did pressure the fbi director chris wray to remove some of his -- remove or reassign some of the senior staffers over at the fbi, saying they needed a fresh start and we're told that he specifically suggested that the bureau's deputy director andrew mccabe and top lawyer james bakker. now, baker was reassigned late last year. we're told that wray threatened to resign if andrew mccabe was removed or reassigned from his post. so it just goes to speak to the level of tension in between the doj, the fbi, something the president has criticized multiple times. andrew mccabe specifically, brianna, saying he should step down and just as recently as early as december, the president said the fbi was, quote, in tatters. >> that's right. he did. kaitlan collins at the white house, thank you so much. joining me to talk more about this, we have cnn political analyst and washington bureau chief for the daily beast, jackie kucinich with us. reporter and editor at large for cnn politics, chris cilizza and
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garrett graph, the author of "the threat matrix mueller's fbi and the war on global terror." garrett, i'll start with what we heard shimon reporting, that sessions was ed meddling in the election. what specifically would robert mueller's team have wouldn'ted to get from jeff sessions in this interview? >> well, there are multiple different phases of this russia investigation that jeff sessions intersects with. first, you have sessions own contacts with russian officials like ambassador sergey kislyak during the campaign on the sides of the republican national convention, potentially a meeting at the may flower hotel during one of -- then candidate trump's foreign policy addresses
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where jeff sessions and sergey kislyak were also present. and then, remember, he was involved during the transition and then obviously now as attorney general. so he has a window into the discussions that the president had had with him, around jim comey's firing, around that rod rosenstein memo that led purportedly, though the president himself has contradicted this theory, that led to jim comey's firing. so jeff sessions has been in a lot of rooms that bob mueller is trying to get inside himself now, looking back. >> and what does it say to you about where this investigation is. just the timeline of it. what point we're at? >> well, it is not necessarily that this is a new avenue that we have never imagined. we sort of always imagined that this investigation would end up at jeff sessions' door right
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now. but you have to imagine, shimon made this point, this is an unprecedented moment for fbi agents and prosecutors within the justice department to be questioning the head of their own department in what is a sprawling criminal matter. this gives you some sense at this point that bob mueller knows a fair bit and is fairly confident about the outline of the basic facts because you don't go to a high profile central witness like jeff sessions unless you have a pretty good understanding of the questions that you're going to ask and like any good prosecutor, a pretty good understanding of the answers you're going to receive. >> jackie, the other part of this story about the russia investigation and the thread we're pulling now is understanding that sessions himself tried to pressure the trump appointed fbi director to
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clean house really at the top, including the deputy director andrew mccabe. so seeing sessions interviewed by robert mueller's team just underscores even how much more problematic it is that an ag would be doing that. >> right, he has been not in the president's good graces for a while. so whether this is an attempt to try to make it up to the president, the fact he recused himself from the russian investigation, that early on, but the fact that it used to be that you thought the president may maybe didn't understand the role of theious departme justice dep. now it seems like he doesn't care, based on this reporting that session was told by the president or pressured by the president to pressure the fbi. he's pitting his own ag against a key law enforcement agency under his per view and that is doctor that's troubling. >> that's such an interesting point jackie makes. he knows he's not supposed to be
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doing this, but it doesn't seem that that's a particular concern to the president. and certainly jeff sessions trying to get back in his good graces. >> jeff sessions doesn't have to look that far to find out what donald trump thinks of andrew mccabe. he was advocating andrew mccabe get rid of. it is trump pressuring sessions publicly and saying -- this water trickles downhill. he doesn't, to jackie's point, he does not respect the traditional separation between the executive branch and law enforcement. he feels his purview is sort of everything, they work for me, don't they, they're -- technically in the sort of, you know, the hierarchy chart of the government, yes, they do. but most presidents have avoided that he is not -- kaitlan mentioned the comment about the fbi being in tattered. he's attacked andrew mccabe, james comey and fired jim comey.
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the cia and intelligence community, the unwillingness to accept the unanimous conclusion that russia actively sought to interfere in our elections to benefit him and hurt hillary clinton, called it a hoax last week. this is a -- this not a one off, two off, three off. he voiced there are deep state actors emwbedded in the federal government that are out to get him because they don't like his politics. >> this is the sitting attorney general. >> i think garrett made a very good point, that yeah mueller wouldn't have interviewed sessions if he didn't have a basic understanding of the facts. the closer we get to the president himself, the more significant this is. and the fact that he's -- we're now inside the cabinet, it seems unprecedented. >> do you think, jackie, that the president -- obviously he's
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looking at this. how would he be responding to this if past is prologue? >> we'll see. he hasn't -- his lawyers have been able to keep him quiet on some parts of this. but we'll see if it boils over. you know, when he turns on the tv at night and is watching the news conference of this, i think we may see. it is hard to predict, of course, with this president, but he's never really been shy at expressing his displeasure. >> garrett, sessions wasn't under subpoena. what do you make of that? >> i think that there is not a lot to read into that. the administration's view has been that they are trying to cooperate fully with the special counsel's investigation. and that seems like what we are continuing to see here. what we're seeing, of course, what we're learning particularly with some of these capitol hill interviews as they're unfolding, there is a more nuanced level of cooperation, where you have people sort of purportedly
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willing to testify but then invoking all sorts of strange executive privileges that may or may not actually exist. you know, i think that what is just hard to really wrap our arms around as jackie and chris were saying here is just how unprecedented and almost untenable this situation really is. where, of course, jeff sessions is technically recused from the russia investigation, but andy mccabe, jim baker, the general counsel and deputy director of the fbi, these are critical figures to this investigation and the obstruction investigation into jim comey's firing. and you still have jeff sessions making pronouncements, trying to apply pressure about those individuals, these are people who are career nonpartisan, apolitical government officials. exactly the type of people that you would want in these jobs.
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and chris wray is fighting hard to preserve that independence in a pretty difficult situation. he said to me, actually, sort of years ago, he was talking about jim comey and bob mueller and what he learned from them, that chris wray said, you know, that the fbi director is about the toughest job in government, and that there aren't that many people who can weather the slings and arrows of that job and chris wray is learning right now just how true his own words are. >> chris, one of the next stops for sessions could be the hill. so many facets to these investigations. you think about all of these administration officials, and sort of how they reserve the president's right to invoke executive privilege, garrett was referring to this -- how they're basically saying executive privilege had they may or may not have grounds for it. what do you think will happen
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with sessions? >> jackie mentioned this, he's not -- you would think going back to the hill would be somewhat friendly territory for him in that he served in the senate from 1996 until 2017. but he is both struggled and run into very tough questioning. a lot of it came from someone who is not there anymore, al franken. but on his role in the russia investigation and he has struggled, you know, i would think he has been more -- a little bit more open than some of the other people who have come up there, but he has also done this thing that you mentioned and garrett mentioned, how do you reserve the right to let the president invoke executive privilege? it doesn't make any sense. he hasn't invoked executive privilege, but he could. you could use that for almost anything. look, bob mueller, i think -- i still think the mueller investigation is the one that ultimately is going to yield -- >> that's what i was going to
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say. he has partisan cover when he goes to the hill. with the controversy about the text messages, with the fbi agents, that have now -- some are gone missing apparently, they will want to talk to him about that. and kind of maybe detract attention from what is going on in the mueller probe. it seems the mueller probe is the main event. >> two separate conversations. democrats asking about the russia steph and the republicans trying to fix things up and ask about the text messages. >> thank you so much to all of you. breaking news, one person is dead, many more rushed to the hospital after a shooter opens fire at a high school in kentucky. these are live pictures that you're looking at. stay with us for an update. (vo) i was born during the winter of '77. i first met james in 5th grade. we got married after college. and had twin boys. but then one night, a truck didn't stop. but thanks to our forester, neither did our story.
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right now, at least seven people are being treated at hospitals after a deadly shooting at a high school in kentucky. cnn has confirmed that so far at least one person has died as we're getting new information in. i want to go to cnn's alison
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kosik. what can you tell us? >> so the shooter is in custody. we do not know if it is a student. we do not know what his or her motive was. but, yes, seven people have been transported to hospitals, two of those people were taken by medical helicopter to vanderbilt university medical center located in nashville. the school, by the way, located about 20 miles southeast of paducah, kentucky, the school located in benton. one other victim, one female at the high school was shot and taken to a different hospital. she is said to be okay. shots rang out around the time that the high school was starting the day or right around that school was going to begin the day. and we know -- we're hearing reports of first responders really jumping into action.
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benton city clerk beth cooper telling cnn that the benton police department is located right inside city hall where she is, and she said when they got the emergency call, all of the officers in the police department rushed to the high school. also assisting the investigation, atf, fbi on the scene as well. we're also getting a statement from kentucky governor matt bevan. he says this, this is a tremendous tragedy, and speaks to the heart break present in our communities. it is unbelievable that this would happen in a small close knit community like marshall county. >> this is a small community, just grasping with the very beginning of this. alison, we know you're keeping an eye on this. thank you so much. in the meantime, the government shutdown may be done. but the battle over immigration reform is just heating up again. senate democrats agreed to reopen the government with a shorter continuing resolution.
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in return for a promise to work on immigration issues including a solution for daca, for dreamers. and they have just 16 days to make this deal. at this point it is not clear how negotiations are going to move forward and the white house already is seeing the president's position on the dreamers, depends what they get for border security and the wall. joining us to discuss this is mario diaz-balart. the majority whip in your conference, steve scalise, this morning said to politico playbook, march is really the timeline, the house wasn't part of that deal, meaning the senate deal, we're not going to pass a bill that has amnesty. there are things that would anger our base that i don't see us passing in the house. now, you are someone who supports protections for dreamers, young people brought to the u.s. undocumented, but who know no other home besides
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the u.s. do you worry that your conference will not be able to support whatever compromise comes out of the senate? >> i worry that the two extremes, right and left, will do everything possible to stop a deal from happening. here's what i think is the situation in the house. there is strong bipartisan support to protect those dreamers, make sure they permanently and forever be in the united states legally, and there is also, i think, strong bipartisan support that understands that we have to do that, protect the dreamers, but also want to make sure we don't have another million a month or a year or three years from now so there has to be an agreement. i felt very positive about the first meeting in the white house that was very public, when there was agreement about four things that have to be part of the deal. a number of us are work in a bipartisan way to get the four things done. and i generally believe that we're going to succeed. those conversations were already taking place in a bipartisan way
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before the schumer shutdown which i think was needless, just wasted time and, again, just frankly ridiculous. >> you mentioned the bipartisan support in the house, which makes me wonder if the speaker would rely on that. because it is entirely possible if the senate does pass something that comes out and moves over to your chamber, i think it is easy to see a pathway where it gets enough votes in the house but it may require the speaker to rely on democrats. do you think he's willing to do that? >> brianna, what makes no sense is passing something at the senate, for example, that the president won't agree to. we all know what the magic formula is. >> let's do this in order. because before it goes to the president, it goes to your chamber. so if it can get through your chamber, but it actually requires being put on the floor and being subject to possible support from democrats, taking
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off some of the members on the right side of your party, should the speaker do it? >> well, again, the concept that either a house bill can be shoved through the senate or a senate bill can be shoved through the house just doesn't tend to work. so that's why i think it has to be -- >> what do you mean? it happens all the time. the president has been jammed on other things. >> look, it happens from time to time but not something of this nature, of this complexity. those conversations are taking place. it has to be bipartisan with buy-in from the white house, otherwise there is nothing doing, and bicameral. there are a lot of conversations taking place. i feel optimistic. i think the deadline, i think march is the drop dead deadline. bad things happen before then. i think we have to get this as soon as possible. here is the sad part. there were serious conversations, whether it was the -- the group of four and the leadership, bicameral, bipartisan that were taking
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place. there were other conversations taking place, bicameral and bipartisan, and then all of a sudden for some reason you had the senate democrats saying, well, we're not going to do this unless we have conversation. >> but, wait, there were bipartisan discussions that the president totally shut down. but before the shutdown there was a bipartisan proposal and the president rejected it and it seems what is consistent is that there is bipartisan confusion over where the president stands. if you're saying it is so important to know where the president stands, he would have to sign off on this. they don't know what he wants. >> well, except that it is pretty clear what he wants and more importantly than that, there was an agreement that the entire world and the american people saw it televised where there was an agreement about four thangz have to be seriously addressed. and then -- >> those are four broad pillars sort of. those are four areas. >> those broad pillars, you're right, they have to be negotiated, there was a group of folks negotiating those four broad pillars.
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two members, few more, decided they have a different deal, they can do that. that's positive. that's all great. but, again, the concept, just a handful of members can stuff something down either the senate or the house or the president is just not going to happen. here is the good news. there are a lot of real conversations taking place. they have to continue shutting down the government, all it did was waste time and taxpayer money and a lot of other things. so now that we're reopened, we can start once again where we left off, which was bipartisan, bicameral conversations, and with the white house. i don't think there is a lot of confusion. there should be no confusion where the white house is. they want to secure the border, make sure we have -- there is border protection and willing to deal in a reasonable, i think very generous way with these daca folks that deserve legalization, i think we'll get there, we have to lower the decibels, lower the rhetoric.
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>> to that point, some of your fellow republicans in their messaging on the shutdown talked about dreamers in a way that is different than i've heard you talk about them. take a listen to mitch mcconnell. >> the american people can not comprehend why the senior senator from new york is advising his party until he gets what he wants on the issue of illegal immigration. the situation does not become urgent until march. >> the president tweeted democrats are far more concerned with illegal immigrants than they are military or safety and our dangerous southern border. he said the decibels need to come down. does that bring the decibels down? >> again, all this happens and i
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understand -- i think the decibels need to come down on all sides. but this shutdown takes place at a time and nobody can deny this when there were productive bipartisan negotiations and then senator schumer said, unless we have productive bipartisan negotiations, we're going to shut down. they're already taking place. i'm not here to point fingers. thank god that's behind us. what we have to do now is lower the decibels, sit down, most of this has to be done quietly and privately to reach a resolution. i think we're going to get there. we have to get there. we have to stop the deportation of these almost 800,000 young people who don't know another country. and part of that has to do that we have to also secure the border. i think those are logical things we have to do. i think there is enough of us republicans and democrats that are willing to put partisanship politics aside to get it done, so let me tell you, i'm optimistic. stress difficult. i'm cautiously optimistic that
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the adults in the room will prevail. >> we hope your cautious optimism is on point. congressman mar yio diaz-balart joining us from beautiful miami. we have more developments in the president's alleged hush money, money that came from his poer personal lawyer. we'll have that next. it's absolute confidence in 30,000 precision parts. or it isn't. it's inspected by mercedes-benz factory-trained technicians. or it isn't. it's backed by an unlimited mileage warranty, or it isn't. for those who never settle, it's either mercedes-benz certified pre-owned, or it isn't. the mercedes-benz certified pre-owned sales event. now through february 28th. only at your authorized mercedes-benz dealer. there's nothing more important than your health.
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donald trump's lawyer, his poer personal lawyer, is facing questions over a reported payment to stormy daniels. a watchdog group is filing an official complaint with the department of justice and the federal elections commission. the wall street journal reports that trump's lawyer michael cohen paid this actress $130,000 to keep quiet. about a month before the
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election. and the whole point was to keep quiet about an alleged affair that happened back in 2006. so here was some of the legal ramifications, we have paul kalyn. paul, thank you for being with us. tell us if you see a sign here of an actual campaign finance violation. does that allegation hold water? >> well, brianna, i see a situation where there is going to be a lot of embarrassment for the president because a lawsuit has been filed, there is a complaint, formal complaint been made, the federal election commission will have to look at the complaint, but i think in the end, nothing will come of this because the president's lawyers will say that this is not a campaign contribution, even if it was hush money, it is not a campaign contribution. he did it so save his marriage, not to advance his political campaign. and there is also a precedent as to what happens when these things make it into court and that's that famous case
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involving john edwards, north carolina senator who ran for -- was vice president, running for president in 2008. and he got contributions of almost a million dollars and then he used that to help support his mistress and the mother of a child who had been conceived out of wedlock and he was brought to trial on it and ultimately acquitted on one charge and hung jury on the others. so i think that precedent probably would say these are really hard cases to prove. >> the john edwards standard. it is so interesting, not a very high one, obviously, as you point out. if the case can be made that this is not a campaign finance violation, then this complaint to the doj, you would expect that would go nowhere. >> i would think it is going to be a real uphill battle on it. if you look at the way corporations have functioned in the united states for a long time, in sexual harassment
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cases, they constantly negotiate confident agreements and settlements with women and men who bring sexual harassment complaints. so confidentiality agreement, hush money, the same thing. it has been going on in corporate america for many, many years. and what trump's lawyers are going to say is this is no different than confidentiality agreements in any kind of civil litigation. nothing criminal about it. >> legally, okay, it seems like legally probably president trump, those around him are okay. but how does this change just the equation in general? how does this -- you said this is going to be a headache for him. >> i think it is going to be a headache. he survived, but he survived other claims by numerous women of sexual harassment. and, of course, he survived the billy bush bust incident. so he seems to be somewhat immune to the charges in the way that other presidential candidates have not. this is a porn star and the
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allegation is she was paid off for her silence while melania trump was pregnant. i think this is really bad generally for a politician, particularly for a sitting president. but i don't know. i can't explain it. it is a political issue and he seems somehow immune to personal attacks. so we'll have to see how it plays out. but i think legally it is not going to go any place. it will be a big political issue. >> paul kalyn, thank you very much for your legal insight. up next, more on breaking news, the russia probe, now reaching inside of the president's cabinet. attorney general jeff sessions has spoken with the special counsel, with problem ert mueller's team. does this mark a new phase in this investigation? we'll discuss. you do all this research
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we have breaking news on the russia investigation and word that robert mueller's investigation has touched the president's cabinet. cnn has learned that the special counsel's team interviews attorney general jeff sessions, concerning the investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election. and whether president trump has obstructed justice in the year since he took office. joining me now to discuss is cnn political commentator and former special assistant to george w. bush scott jennings and jesse o'connell with us as well. jesse, i want to challenge you a little bit with the question which is we hear democrats say so often that nknow the white house is not cooperating enough, but jeff sessions was not subpoenaed, he spoke to mueller's team. is this some of the cooperation and transparency that democrats
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would like to see? >> well, look, we certainly welcome any cooperation with the investigation. this has been an ongoing investigation since donald trump took over the presidency essentially and we welcome the transparency in that. i think that what is most concerning about all of this is that as you said, this is the first time we have seen this reach a cabinet level position of the president. we already have seen this investigation lead to four indictments to folks who pled guilty already at the highest levels of trump's campaign. so i'm not sure that this is cooperation so much as they got to talk to these folks because americans want answers to this question. it is outrageous that donald trump continues to suggest that, you know, that there has been no issues around this when intelligence agencies have already proven that. i think this investigation has to continue on and americans want that. so i'm not sure they really have a choice about that. >> scott, what do you think? >> that's not surprising that attorney general sessions would be questioned. he certainly was part of the campaign and was seen in some
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photographs with people that we have seen in the news regarding the investigation. he went willingly. he is cooperating. there is no subpoena. he's repeatedly said he wants to tell anybody anything that they want to know. and he's showed up not just for this piece of the investigation, but also in front of congress on numerous occasions. i think if you're looking for a silver lining to this, for the trump white house, it is that they tend to interview people from the bottom up and so if you're interviewing a cabinet official at this point, perhaps, this is speculation, but perhaps blessedly this means that potentially the investigation is winding down. >> that is some silver lining, we may have a little ways to go yet, though. i wonder what you think about learning that he spoke to mueller's team at a time when we also learned first reported by axios that sessions was pressuring the fbi director to vacate basically senior positions, including andrew mccabe who has been a specific
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target of president trump's. that one is pretty bad. >> well, i don't know if we can connect the timing of these two things. we don't -- >> i'm not connecting the timing. i'm saying this is the timing, right? we have this one story and he's being -- just sort of in a way shows that sessions who is supposed to recuse himself from some of these things is exerting pressure, pardon me, where many observers say it is very inappropriate. >> well, but nothing has happened. and we had some reporting on this, but the man is still on the job. and the white house has expressed confidence in director wray and attorney general sessions i'm sure went in there and answered all the questions honestly and to the best of his ability. that's all anybody can ask for here is for people to show up, cooperate and answer questions and be truthful and i have a lot of confidence that that's what jeff sessions is doing and will continue to do because i think frankly he's one of the best people that donald trump recruited for this
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administration. >> jesse, what do you think? >> i couldn't agree more. i hope that sessions is truthful in this. i think he gave some testimony that he had to explain to congress later and i think that we hope that he is being truthful because this is something that we have to get to the bottom of. and, you know, i certainly hope that this investigation can conclude more quickly rather than not, but the reality is that this investigation continues to lead to more and more things. a little bit like an onion. peel one layer back, there is another layer. we need to allow this investigation to go forward, take as long as it needs to take and that is certainly something we expect the president, his administration and anyone involved in his campaign to participate in. >> you want this to wrap up soon? >> i want it to wrap up in whatever way is required for robert mueller to get to the truth. that's what americans need. we have to step back for a minute and remember what this is about. this is about the fact that russians interfered in an election and find out who was involved in that. we this is important not just for where we are today, but for the future.
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every single american should want that. >> jesse o'connell, scott jennings, thank you to both of you. i do appreciate it. still ahead, the trump administration is slapping tariffs on certain foreign products. it is a direct shot at china. we'll discuss next.
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call now to request your free decision guide. and learn more about the kinds of plans that will be here for you now - and down the road. i have a lifetime of experience. so i know how important that is. . president trump is moving forward with his campaign promise of an american first trade policy. in the next few hours, the president is set to sign sharp new tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines. but the decision could spark trade trends with china and other trade partners, all of this ahead of president trump's trip to the world forum in davos, switzerland. i want to bring in foreign national deputy supervisor under president obama, tony lincoln, with us. aside from thinking about how this move might affect foreign relations, just on its face, should there be a tariff on
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solar panels and washing machines made in china? >> brianna, it's really a double-edged sword. it may be that some of our manufacturers are being unfairly competed against by foreign manufacturers from china and south korea. but when you impose a tariff, it ends up being a tax on americans because the products in question, in this case solar panels, washing machines, they get more expensive, so we have to factor that in. but the real problem is this. if we go down this road with tariffs, the other companies are going to retaliate. they impose tariffs on our companies, our products. we need to be able to sell around the world. 90% of the consumers live outside the united states. then you get in these cycles where you have a trade war. there is a better way to do this. >> do you think this really could spur a trade war? >> it could most certainly spur the chinese and the south koreans to retaliate. go to the world trade
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associations, you've got a gripe, have it litigated. the other thing we didn't do, the president is right that sometimes there's unshared competition. other countries get to have lower environmental standards, lower worker standards, lower standards for property. they need to level the playing field so our companies can be treated fairly. >> it seemed clear there just wasn't an appetite, and that seems to be among american voters that they didn't want to your point there. we're getting a sense of how china feels about this. they put out a statement expressing strong dissatisfaction with the decision, okay? so that's very diplomatic. but we know what they mean, right? the timing of this. now let's put it into needing help from china when it comes to north korea. north korea is a massive global threat right now. what do you make of the timing of this? >> the timing is not great on two fronts. >> also diplomatic. >> we need china to exert real
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pressure on north korea to get it to come to the table to negotiate something on the nuclear weapons and missiles. but we also don't need division with our closest partner and ally, south korea, right now. south korea has responded to this diplomatic overture with north korea on the olympics. that's going to divide us with south korea. adding this to the mix right now really doesn't help. >> do you think, as we just discussed, we weren't going to have tpp. the u.s. wasn't going to have tpp no matter who was in the white house. >> if hillary clinton had been elected -- >> she would have found an alternative or something? but there is such an animus when it comes to a trade agreement. maybe she would have repackaged it in a different way. do you see a move towards that create a very difficult situation when it affects the u.s. asking for help from
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international partners? >> it does, but it's complicated. when you look at the polling, actually support for free trade and agreements have actually gone up. i think we've daone a really ba job explaining it. i think we've done a bad job of explaining when done right, it makes it fairer for trading around the world. but the alternative, getting into self-destructive trade wars, is not going to benefit anyone, least of all the american people. >> just real quick, how do you square president trump's talks with china? how do you square this with that? >> the president says one thing one day, he tweets the opposite the next day. it's hard to keep up. now he's going to davos. this is really oil meeting water because the entire davos crowd, the things they care about is everything the president has shown disdain for.
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climate change, free trade, p protectionism, avoiding conflict, avoiding populism. up next, more breaking news. attorney jeff sessions being questioned by john king. we'll pick that up after the break.
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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thanks for sharing this busy news day with us. a major development in the russia investigation. jeff sessions interviewed for several hours. a school shooting that left at least one person dead

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