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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 19, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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it has taken hollywood a while to catch up to the fact pop culture has embraced black culture and put them in the super hero roles they deserve. so this is something that should have come earlier. it is happening now, finally. >> all right. christopher farley, thank you christopher farley, thank you for being with me. -- captions by vitac -- breaking news in the russia probe, the investigation in the white house, in the family and in the finances. the interest in jared kushner growing. he had an arsenal. new information today on the florida high school shooter as young survivors of this massacre back new generation of activists. plus, they infiltrated news
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feeds and minds, vladimir putin paying to write garbage and spread it on social media. today, the troll farm at the very heart of the russia probe. welcome to "the lead." we begin with breaking news in the russia investigation involving president donald trump's own family. cnn has learned that special counsel robert mueller's interest in the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, jared kushner, has expanded now beyond kushner's contacts with russia and now includes his efforts to secure money for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition. this according to multiple sources. during that time, kushner was also the lead contact for foreign governments trying on reach his father-in-law, the president-elect. joining me to break this story, also with us, sarah murray on a
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key new development. though i want to start with you. what is at the center of what you're learning in terms of mueller's investigation? >> that's right. cnn has learned that mueller is asking questions about jared kushner's dealings about the chinese and qatari investors. the new development is the first indication that mueller is exploring kushner's communications with contacts beyond rusch. the business dealings in question involve his working on the flagship building his company backs in manhattan. 666 which has been facing financial troubles which is over a billion dollars in debt. it is not clear what is behind mueller's specific interests in the finances and we have been
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told there have been no requests for interviews with the kushner family. >> you're also part of the team, you broke this story. what are the details of the meetings that jared kushner was involved in? >> there are two meetings that special counsel robert mueller's team is exploring. one of them involved a conglomerate. the new york had britain this meeting between jared kushner who was the head of the business. they were discussing an investment in 666 sixth avenue. the other thing that they're asking about involves jared kushner and a qatari investor. a very prominent investor there who is a prime minister. no deal was ever made and we've reached out to that investor. kushner, a representative for
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kushner declined to comment. >> so note panel it is qatar and china. >> this is first time we're seeing interest in investors that extend outside of russia. and it is unclear to us what the interest is, and what the curiosity from mueller's probe is, but it is the first time we've seen it expand beyond that. >> a different story for the trump campaign, another trump campaign adviser who is pleading guilty. >> this involves the foerm trump adviser rick gates. last week we were the first to report that he was finalizing a plea deal with robert mueller and he appears poised to cooperate. the "l.a. times" said that over the weekend, he will plead guilty to fraud-related charges. he is like toy intend 18 months the prison and he is willing to
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testify against a co-defendant, paul manafort. they both pled guilty in october for financial crimes unrelated to the trump campaign. >> now we have three former advisers to the president, two very significant, the former national security adviser, michael flynn, and the former campaign chairman who are pleading guilty to crime buzz also cooperating with investigators. >> that's why, gates cooperating will put additional pressure on paul manafort. we don't know if this is just dealing with paul manafort or if rick gates' cooperation is a building block if rocket mueller is trying to build up a potential case, the white house is down playing it, insisting they don't believe it will come near the west wing. ? & they've down played it before.
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what would miller, some of this is wheeling and dealing about the law, but the questions about kushner and the business dealings. >> sources we've talked to have stress that mueller is exploring this issue. one of the things we've been told is that mueller could be looking into whether kushner was mixing his personal business his work. we had an incoming administration. so perhaps mueller could be exploring whether or not there could be some kind of ethical violations. it is really not clear. it is important to note that we don't have any indication that kushner is a target of this investigation. certainly if everything we've been told, mueller is exploring this avenue. he is looking into it. >> would it make a difference, this took place during the transition, after president trump has been elected. he is the incoming leader of the free world. does that get on then profiting off the trappings of the office? >> certain reply could be one of
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the avenues. during the campaign he would be a private citizen. so perhaps there would be no violation. given the idea that he was going into an incoming administration, was going to have a prominent role in the administration, and he is having meetings with countries that he's potentially going to have to deal with policy and other issues. so perhaps maybe they're looking to see if there was any mingling of some kind. >> president trump has said repeatedly. if the mueller investigation gets into his family or his own finances, that would be a red line for him. are there questions that whether this falls under mueller's purrview? >> i think some say this might cross over into that line. i think it is important to note mueller has a very broad mandate. his authorization says he can look into any matters that arose or may arise from the investigation. if he believes this relates
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somehow into the bigger picture of collusion, into potential other issues like he is describing, this would be under his purview. >> fantastic reporting. thank you. joining me now, preet bharara, lead attorney appointed by president obama. your repacks mueller is now expanding his investigation to look at kushner's finances. >> this is the first i've heard of it. i'm watching the beginning of your show. we need to be careful not to speculate overly. but it strikes me the kind of thing he may be exploring, if this is true, and i caution he have one to see what comes of it. you want to make sure someone who comes into the administration who knows that he will have a job and is a conduty to the president. not only indirectly but as a family member. a son-in-law.
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if he is attempting to get some financial benefit from anyone, in this case as reporting suggests, from people who have investments from fortune countries. if he is trying to get some benefit on the one hand and because he is in the near future, going to have some power over policy, and quite a broad portfolio as he ultimately got, was there a quid pro quo? it is an unusual thing for someone who would have the portfolio that jared kushner would have, to be having gofrgss potential investment in his own sxoim that's potentially a criminal case. >> you often hear from people in trump world about conversations about business during the campaign. listen, they're businessmen, high flyers, this is name of what they do. from a legal standpoint, once the president is elected, is what you're saying, that enters a different legal category because then it would be attempting to use or to benefit
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from the office? or his connections to the high office? >> first of all, in any phase during the campaign, the actual presidency, it is a terrible look and it could be an ethical problem. i don't know if there's a distinction. my indication was that if you knew to a certainty and it was clear to the other party, you would have a role in government, like mike flynn, did for example, and this jared kushner would be. that's a problem and potentially criminal. >> to imagine the significance for jared kushner and others tied to him including the president's daughter, of course, when a special counsel like robert mueller starts asking questions, it doesn't mean he's going to file charges but he is at least interested. you have some experience with robert mueller.
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how significant is it that he's going down this path in terms of investigating? >> is it possible snong what bing bob mueller and a lot of great people who work for him and they work for me, they're very authorithorough. lots of questions will be asked that don't amount to anything. this could be that. and as you and i speak on television, there's a lot that we don't know about. for example indictment from last friday that involved charges against 13 russian nationals. nobody knew that was coming. that was a product of a lot of inquiry and discussion. >> thanks for lending your expertise. trump throws a twitter tantrum. all while just 50 miles away a community was still in mourning over a gun massacre.
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president trump this president's day is about to depart florida. this after spending the morning at his golf course. a quick scroll through his twitter shows the president is still not over his anger at the ongoing russia probe. obama was president up to and into the 2016 election so why he do something about russian meddling? he expelled some three dozen russian diplomats and imposed additional moves. so he decided it would be
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unseemly to golf but today he was back on the golf course? >> reporter: we haven't been able to confirm that he was actually golfing. the white house not telling us whether he was or not but we know he did go to his golf course where he typically spends his weekends golfing. the advisers convincing him not to do that this weekend out of respect for those killed in parkland, only some 40, 50 miles from here in mar-a-lago of the so the president stayed inside. watched tv and became very agitated and then unloaded through his preferred method, on twitter. president trump spending the day at his golf course, only a few mile away from where two more teenagers were laid to rest after a school shooting massacre in a stream of angry tweets, trump focused more on the shooting. he decide not to go golfing
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saturday and sunday insteadment onning to stay inside. watching cable news and boiling into a rage after dining with his sons, eric and donald trump jr. who sources say encouraged the president to satisfy the a stronger stand against the fbi. following news agency mishandled the tip about the parkland shooter. the president then taking to twitter. not only to blast the fbi but also former president obama and other democrats for failing to stop russia's meddle in the 2016 election. a claim the white house defended monday. >> do you want to treat this as an act of war? or something very extreme? and have a very forceful response to russia. the first place they should look is at the previous administration. they knew with this effort in 2014. >> at one point during the tweet storm, the president said he never said russia did not meddle in the election. but listen to this from last july. >> i think it was russia but i
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think it was probably other people and or countries and i see nothing wrong that statement. nobody really knows. nobody really knows for sure. >> and more than a dozen tweets altogether. missing from the tweets, a harsh condemnation of russia. in fact, suggesting the biggest enemies are domestic. >> there are two group that's created chaos more than the russians. that's the democrats and the main stream media who continue to push this lie on the american people for more than a year. and quite frankly, americans should be outraged by that. >> i can tell you that rt russian state media picked up on those comments and rebroadcast them in russia. you can imagine that's a welcome tune to vladimir putin and some
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of his crone toys matter their campaign to sow discord within the united states is still a resounding success. >> it is not the first time those talking points have been on the same page. he give you more with the panel. the president in a series of tweets, as you noted, took shots at a lot of people. here's what he said about russia declaring victory. in fact, he said russia is laughing their asses off. if it is the goal of russia to create discord, dissxrupgs chaos within the united states, then with all the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. >> i don't think the president has worsened the divisions. i don't know if the american people were looking at what president trump says as it relates to the russia investigation as a rationale for
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whether or not russian meddling occurred. if you look at what the fbi said, it is that they wanted to sow discord and create division. they wanted socioeconomic lies. you look at political discord, the russia investigation has been a tremendous distraction. there's been no evidence of collusion. it is like the russians have been successful if they've been trying cause distractions and this type of effort to make us take our eye off the ball. >> i'm asking if you the president himself worsened or lessened it. >> i don't believe the president contributed to that at all. >> why did the president get so upset, so self-pitying late friday night and saturday snorng clearly because of the mueller indictments friday. he may have known rick gates, paul manafort's right hand man would flip and start cooperating
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with mueller. and i think that's being underappreciated. gates is extremely close to manafort. any conversation, i don't know him that well but i would assume manafort would tell gates about. gates is not just a window into manafort. he is a window to trump. certainly mueller can learn things from what gates heard from manafort. on the fundamental indictments, as i understand, what mueller did friday is he indicted those russians for conspiracy to defraud the u.s. he said they were unwitting accomplices and persons known or unknown. so that theory leaves it wide open to indict americans and maybe they could be minor participant in the trump campaign and associates. or maybe they could be don junior or kushner. i think trump is the one who
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seemed upset saturday morning. i think he was upset because he chatted with his lawyer friends and they said whoa, we're in trouble. >> simone? >> one on, these indictments, i find myself and a lot of other american people are like, he indicted 13 people they do not have in custody. i find interesting. what concerns me is that donald trump seems to be more upset about the mueller investigation and what came out from that this saturday morning than these kids who were shot in parkland, as well as school. so this just goes to show how wrapped up in himself he is. i think you saw the outrage from these students on twitter responding to the president's tweets over the weekend. and i think it is very telling. when the president says that his condolences, his thoughts and prayers, i don't think it is enough and i don't think it is sincere. >> another thing was the fbi
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once again, let me read that. very sorry the fbi missed all the signals by the florida shooter. this is not acceptable. they are spending too much time trying prove russian collusion. many are saying because they're a small number of agents involved in the mule investigation, that then drew resources and attention away from the warning that this shooting. do you think that is a substantive connection? >> i think that there's been multiare instances where they said the fbi dropped the ball when it came to the individual, the monster who shot up the 17, who killed 17 people. >> and the local authorities warned as well. >> so there is no dpout what he's tweeting is factual whuflt look at it, what the american people are saying, the fbi seems so consumed, the media is so
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consumed with this russian investigation, they seem to be trying to get that right before the when you someone is giving them actual evidence, they can't get that right. >> is there any -- i'll ask both of you. is there any substance to mixing visions of the fbi who look at shootings, the small number looking at -- >> i think it is confusing folks who do not understand how the fbi operates. they can walk and chew gum title. they definitely dropped the ball in the parkland shooting. but why can they keep rounding up. the fbi and not doing what they need to do on the parkland shooting and the mueller investigation. >> we'll have much more. please stick around.
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cnn looking at a troll farm. plus, from students to survivors to speakers. demanding the president take action on guns. plus, how many guns he managed to buy. with expedia one click gives you access to discounts on thousands of hotels, cars and things to do. like the garland hotel for 40% off.
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the kremlin claims it did not interfere in the election. a well known troll farm located in st. petersburg, russia, and backed by a close ally. in an interview, one former employee talked about the american nerves. saying there was a strategy
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document that was necessary to know all the main problems of the u.s. tax problems, the problems of gays, sexual minorities, weapons. and that's a strategy you can say was laid out in great detail friday. well, right now, matthew, you had a chance to look around the building. tell us what you found there. >> reporter: i have. in fact, we came here earlier today to st. peters burg expecting to see it all closed up because it was supposed to be moved on and shut down because of all the attention. but that's not what we found. there were office workers taking cigarette breaks and things like that. at one point they start taking out packaging from what seemed to be a new batch delivery of computers. i went around the back of the building, we're not allowed in it, to see what they've thrown away. it looks like it is polystyrene.
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we saw they will taking out the fwrokss what looked like new computers that were delivered there. that's interesting because this place is said to have been closed down. >> all right. well, i'm not above going through trash to get to the truth, jim. i also spoke a bit later on to one of the people taking cigarette break. and i said is this the troll factory? he's like no, no, we're journalists. we work for a company called nev65 news. it is owned by the same man said to have bank rolled it. >> he is and someone with quite close ties to vladimir putin. >> yeah.
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he is known as the putin's chef because he has a very lucrative catering business to provide meals for the defense ministry. he has his fingers in all sorts of foreign affairs pies when it comes to russia. for instance, he is a figure that is associated very closely with wagner, a private military company which provides mercenaries to ukraine and to syria. this is somebody who is a key figure in this country. >> more than a chef. thanks very much. bringing their outrage right to the president's door. students staging a lie-in. this after an emotional weekend of funerals, vigils and rallies for the 17 people who died in one more school massacre. will washington listen this time? that's next. this is something that i'm
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welcome back. this is a live look at a memorial in parkland, florida. it probably looks familiar because we've seen things like the so many times before. just heart breaking. there was a show of solidarity and defiance outside the white house in washington. teenagers. they staged a dramatic lie-in to honor the 17 students and teachers murder in the parkland, florida, and to demand reforms to the nation's gun laws. it comes as the shooter made an appearance in court. martin savage has been there from the beginning. we know that this gunman made cuts to his own arm. he planned to buy a gun after he broke up with his girlfriend. a clear profile. >> reporter: right. this is from information coming from the department of children and families. that was 2016 dlefl an
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investigation of nikolas cruz. they were alerted to him because of something he put on social media. he was cutting his arms and talking about getting a gun. so investigators talked to him and his mother and others who knew him but eventually decided he was of low risk to do harm to himself or anyone else and that was a little less than 18 months ago. three families from parkland, florida, are holding memorial services for their children. all teen victims. in nearby ft. lauderdale, a procedural hearing for the confessed school shooting for those responsible. the students who survived said enough is enough telling college students, you're either with us or against us on gun control. >> we can prevent some seriously nasty sxrims some seriously indescribable tragedies from during. if somebody doesn't want to do that, that's pathetic. >> we are losing our lives while
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the adults are playing around of the will. >> reporter: president trump saw the students over the weekend but was unsure what steps to take, according to two people familiar with the matter. in a news statement this morning, the white house said while the discussions are ongoing, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal back ground system. this as we learn nikolas cruz was able to obtain at leaf ten rifles before carrying out the attack. >> we had rules and he followed every rule to the tee. >> they brought the gunman into their home four months ago after the death of his mother. they told abc news america, the two were texting until minutes before he opened fire. >> he told my son he was going to the movies. he said he had something to tell him. and my son pressed him, he said nothing bad, bro. the last text my son got was yo.
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that was it. that was about 2:18. >> student groups plan to discuss school safety on wednesday in tallahassee. the sail day president has pledged to hold a listening session with students and teachers. stoneman douglas survivors say all ideas should be on the table. >> the we need a multifaceted approach the this extremely complex problem. if we don't have that, this will never come to an end. >> as you look at the memorial that continues to grow, there is another vigil. this one in neighboring coral springs. it is worth pointing out that nearly half the student body of this high school comes from coral springs. this is a tragedy felt across many neighborhoods. >> no question. thank you so much for being there, martin. be sure to join us wednesday night for a special town hall. the students of stoneman douglas demand action. that will be wednesday night,
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welcome back. my political panel is with me. the president is open to changes in backgrounds checks. that's quite a wide area. it will be about the details here. this is result of a conversation with his sons and geraldo rivera over the weekend at mar-a-lago. do you see a president here who might be moved by the tragedy we saw in parkland to break with
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his party? >> again, donald trump is more upset about the mueller investigation than the young people who lost their lives last week. i think the president can help be behind something that results in gun control and actual codified legislation, i'm all here for it. we need to know what he is all here for. his track record is he is all over the place. when we were talking about the tax bill, donald trump needs to be very specific and his administration needs to be very specific with what they will back. i think it is the young people who are pushing to make the changes. the roet response no single gun law can stop it. do you see an openness? not only from the president but other republicans? >> absolutely. no single gun law will deter
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temperature. you can have all the gun control legislation. if you have a desire to really carry out stuff, that you're going to do it. i think i like how he's approaching it. the fact that the president and the administration did put out something very specific. that's the republican backed senate bill. senator cornyn out of texas, the president said he is open to that piece of legislation. i also give him credit for having a listening session with some of the survivors from the parkland shooting. that is showing the president is willing to listen and people have said, i don't know if it is true, that he was walking around, asking people, getting a pulse on how they felt about gun control. let's be clear. this is not one thing that the president himself can do alone. it will have to take the entire congress the also act which they failed to do well before president trump came into office. while president obama was in office as well. so this will have to be
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bipartisan. i appreciate that the president is at least open and signaling where he has to be open. >> the voices that we've heard from students, survivors of classmates, of the 17 killed or students of some of the teachers killed, have been particularly powerful this time. have a listen to this. >> we don't have to encourage them to get those guns. we can make it harder. absolutely make it harder and we can prevent some seriously nasty sxrims some seriously indescribable tragedies from during. >> every answer is a solution because we haven't tried any of them. this kid was reported to police dozens of times. there were warnings and yet he was able to buy ten weapons. will republican lawmakers be open to making it harder to get weapons like that? particularly assault weapons like the ar 15? >> i don't know. i think it is possible this time. both in terms of making it
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harder to get them and lessen their killing power. i'm not a gun person so i don't understand all this. remember after vegas? there was agreement for about 48 hours. >> it got punted. i know because i follow it every week. it got punted to atf which is in a year-long process. they've gone out for comments to see if they might change the ruse. in terms of a legislative fix, it went nowhere. it could be reduced to making it harder and you would have to make anything possible to make it as effective. >> you make the point of the will a frequent republican point that people will still kill if they want to. what's wrong with making it harder? >> nothing for those who are mentally unable to get weapons. >> why doesn't congress pass a law and the president sign it? >> you have to ask sxong the president. i would tell you when you look at chicago, from martin luther
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king day to what happened in parkland, there were 17 -- >> all i'm -- >> my point is -- >> hold on. >> black or brown. we wouldn't be talking about the times of legislation we could or could not make happen. if he was yelling allah akbar, they would have swooped in -- >> that's not true. >> i think -- >> we have a muslim ban. there's a whole muslim ban -- >> did they change laws after san bernardino? >> you don't have to demagogue this. >> what insaying -- >> you don't to have make it about race. >> okay. be clear. white supremacist slipped through the fingers of the fbi. repeatedly. this is a pattern. what about -- >> do you mean the fbi doesn't care -- >> i'm not saying that but there is a pattern. we cannot ignore a pattern in this country. so this young man trained with a
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white supremacist paramilitary in florida. had he been training, in my opinion, had he been black or brown people training with the paramilitary in florida, the fbi would have done something about it. thank you for your passion. it is a passionate issue for anybody. this is the reason we're going to have this town hall on wednesday. to talk about this deeper and it is a conversation we'll do our best to keep one on cnn. thank you very much. the president attacks the fbi again after the bureau admitted a major fumble in a warning about the parkland killer. i'll ask what it is like inside the ranks right now.
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president trump is taking aim at the fbi to stay agency is focusing too much on russia. joining me now, josh campbell who worked at the fbi for 12 years. if i could ask you first, what is morale like at the agency now? and most importantly, is it affecting the attacks or affecting the fbi's ability to do its job well? >> that's a good question. i heard from some of my former colleagues over the week had were doing a little venting and their message was clear. that is that the fbi's mission is and always will be the protection of human life. that's not to say they can't simultaneously protect the united states from foreign intelligence service who's are seeking to do harm. they can do both. i think the main takeaway is that the fbi has to be held accountable for this issue with florida. they have to be. we have to get to the bottom of what happened. what i fear is when you combine that with the russia investigation, it becomes more
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political. ironically, i don't know if this was the intelligence of those criticizing it, but it takes the heat off the fbi. when you make it about politics, at least half the country will say, that's just politics. we don't to have pay attention. >> the ap reports there were an average of 2,100 calls a day in 2017. tips like the one they received about this shooter. is it fair, trust me, i don't want to take any responsibility off the fbi but is volume an issue? >> i think that is something they'll get to the bottom of. i had a very proud career with the fbi. it is an organization with a very storied history. but i'll hold them accountable. i think they have to do that. they have a no fail mission. i think that will get to the bottom of it. we have to separate that from politics. we have to make our law enforcement agencies better and i think this review would do just that. >> the president's attacks have been fairly consistent prior to the parkland shooting.
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and we noticed the poll. it found 48% of americans approve of the fbi's job. 36% disapprove. particularly when you look at republicans. 53% who polled disapprove of the job the fbi is doing. are you concerned the president's attacks on the bureau are feeding in? having some effect on the way the people look at the bureau in. >> i think as someone no long we are the fbi, i can say it freely. when people go to the fbi, they check their partisanship at the door. this is one of the most puzzle aspects. the law enforcement is seeing a dwindling level of support. is this a purposeful snake is this mainbly politics and one investigation or is this something may last a generation? it is a direct consequence of these attacks for political reasons on the organization. >> thanks very much. be sure to follow me on twitter.
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you can tweet the show here at "the lead." "the lead." that's it for lead leyde today. -- captions by vitac -- we're learning that special counsel robert mueller is looking into son-in-law jared kushner's efforts to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential transition. even as kushner still has a full white house security clearance. tweet and sour. president trump attacks former president obama in an extraordinary tweet tirade. democrats and oprah. is the president trying to distract from the special counsel's indictment of 13