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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 30, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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happening now, breaking news. suing the president. stormy daniels and her lawyers are expanding the legal case with mr. trump making the case she's been defamed. what does the porn star stand to gain after this new lawsuit after the previous lawsuit was put on hold? unhinged. we are learning the chief of staff john kelly is increasingly frustrated with president trump, questioning whether he can keep it together. standby for new details on the venting he's been doing behind closed doors. refusing to comply. the green party's 2016 presidential candidate isn't giving senate investigators everything they want in the russia probe as jill stein faces allegations she's played a role in moscow's election meddling. what is she holding back?
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and putin's poison lab. we're tracking the demolition of a chemical weapons base where the nerve agent used against a foreign russian spy reportedly was made. is the kremlin trying to destroy evidence of attempted murder? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're "in the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight, a source tells cnn that white house chief of staff john kelly told senior national security officials that the president was becoming unhinged. as kelly is growing more and more frustrated with his boss, also breaking right now, the porn star, stormy daniels, is filing a second lawsuit. this one accuses the president of defaming her by suggesting she lied about being threatened by a man who may have had ties to mr. trump. this hour, i'll talk to
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congressman david sisilini. and our foreign correspondents are standing by. first, we'll go to our crime reporter, shema, tell us more about this lawsuit. >> reporter: this lawsuit filed this afternoon is taking issue with the way the president was characterizing that sketch that stormy daniels and her attorney put out of a man that she claims confronted her, threatened her, after she vealed, after she came forward to "in touch" magazine she was having an affair with the president. suddenly, one day she's in a parking lot in california. and this man she claims who is pictured in the sketch approa approached her. the sketch does not come to light until several years later. a few weeks ago where her attorney and her released it. the president then reacted to that sketch in a tweet. and here's what he said. according to his tweet, he says,
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the sketch years later about a non-existent man, a total con job. playing the fake news media for fools. and then in parentheses, but they know it. this lawsuit takes issue with this tweet saying the president's tweet defamed stormy daniels, essentially calling her a liar. and then the lawsuit goes on to say that by calling the incident a con job, mr. trump's statement would be understood to state that ms. clifford, that stormy daniels was fabricating the crime and the assailant, both prohibited under new york state law as well as other states here. and wolf, the lawsuit here seeks about $75,000 in damages. >> all right. shiman, thank you for that reporting. we'll bring in our criminal defense attorney, the cnn legal analyst, joey jackson. joey, what do you think, do they have a case? >> wolf, there's a 0.0% chance
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of this case moving forward. let's talk about why. when you talk about defamation, you're speaking about a false factual assertion that impugns reputation. now, let's examine the facts. what are the facts? apparently there was some type of relationship, encounter, you know, sexual experience, classified as you will in 2006. not the issue here. what happens is in 2011, she apparently, because of wanting to sell the story or what have you, is approached in the parking lot. and so, there's no report as to what occurring, then she went in and then continued with her class along with her daughter. and then seven years later there's a sketch. why do i bring this all up? in order to prove a false factual assertion, you have to establish that those underlying events that she was threatened is true. moving off that venue, look to the actual tweet itself. the tweet igts itself is an opinion. the fact is i'm allowed to say this was a con job and that's ridiculous, et cetera, etc.
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if we had courts of law fills with people who had opinions and that people were able to make actionable complaints against them, we would have to build new courthouses. the president always tweets about thing. he puffs, some would argue he fabricates and does other things, but you're allowed to do what he did, which is specially expressing an opinion. on the issue of impugning reputation, she has already admitted that, you know what? she charges more as a result of this entire lawsuit. so how has her reputation impugned? are people really saying, because of trump's tweet, she's a liar, she's subject to scorn, to ridicule, to shame, oh, my goodness! really, stormy daniels? so, at essence, i get and understand and am not impugning michael agonatti, but this lawsuit has no merit whatsoever and i think it goes nowhere. >> joey jackson, helping us appreciate the latest development. thank you very much. you'll be back later this hour. now to the president and his relationship with his chief of
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staff, john kelly. cnn learning new details right now about the extent of john kelly's frustration with his job and his boss. let's go to our chief white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. we're hearing some disparaging comments that were made by the chief of staff, john kelly, about president trump over the last several months. my colleague, jeremy diamond and i, hearing that john kelly has made comments about the presidents in reference to a couple things. one being, after the president said he wanted to start pulling u.s. troops out of syria, my colleague, jeremy diamond, hearing from the senior administration official that after that discussion took place, the chief of staff believed that the president was becoming unhinged. the word unhinged used by john kelly about the president. and i will also tell you, wolf, i talked to an administration official earlier today who said the president was the target of some, quote, salty language by john kelly after the two men
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clashed over who would replace john kelly at the department of homeland security. so there have been a number of occasions that we're hearing about, wolf, when the chief of staff has used some disparaging language about the president on areas where they just have disagreed. now, my colleague, jeff zeleny, is hearing from a white house official that earlier this afternoon, john kelly went into the oval office and talked to the president about some of this face to face, mainly in reference to an nbc report that came out earlier this afternoon in which it is reported that john kelly called the president once an idiot. that was according to nbc citing a number of administration officials. apparently john kelly told the president in the oval office earlier this afternoon that that did not take place. of course, john kelly, we have been reporting here on cnn has also released a statement calling that report total b.s. but wolf, it's obvious to just about anybody here in washington
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there's a very damaged relationship between john kelly and the president. consider earlier this year, just back in march, when john kelly joked publicly about how he felt god was punishing him for leaving the department of homeland security and taking on the job of white house chief of staff. here's what he had to say. >> i have almost no right to be up here on this stage. and when i was in the department -- >> you have every right to be here. >> i miss every one of you every day. truly, six months, the last thing i wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of homeland security. but i did something wrong, and god punished me, i guess. >> now, it's obvious john kelly was joking in that venue, but we heard behind the scenes from various administration white house officials that there's friction between the two men. but wolf, just to give general
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kelly every chance he has to push back on this story, we'll go ahead and put up the full statement from the chief of staff, john kelly. he says, i spend more time with the president than anyone else. and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. he always, john kelly goes on to say in the statement, knows where i stand. and he and i both know the story is total b.s. i'm committed to president, his agenda and our country. that from john kelly, the white house chief of staff. he says, this is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to the president and distract from the administration's many successes. we have been hearing that perhaps there's an effort afoot to move john kelly over to the department of veteran affairs. but i talked to a white house official late last week who said, no, that is not happening. john kelly is not going to the department of veterans affairs, but people inside trump world, both here in the white house and sources close to the white house, have been talking about that as a possible landing point for john kelly to give him a
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graceful exit out of this white house. it seems, wolf, with all of this reporting about some of the disparaging comments that john kelly's made about the president over the last several months, that this relationship has deteriorated between the president and his chief of staff. obviously, not the kind of relationship you want between the president and the person in charge of the staff over here at the white house. wolf? >> absolutely. jim acosta, thanks very much. joining us is congressman davidson who is a democrat who serves on the foreign judiciary committees. congressman, let me get your reaction to what you just heard, the latest reporting on the john kelly relationship with the president. what do you think? >> well, unfortunately, it's just the most vent example of the chaos in the white house. this is a white house that has had a number of people leave, difficulty in finding new people to replace them. a lot of disorganization. it's very, very disturbing when a chief of staff is making that kind of assessment to the president of the united states. and the people that are hurt are the american people. we need a functioning government
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that is focused on raising family incomes, reducing the cost in people's lives and making sure people are prepared for good-paying jobs in the 21st century. that's what we have been attempting to put forth in the democratic agenda. we need to have an opposition party, the republican president and his party are capable of taking on these channels. it is sad, it is disappointing, there's a lot of chaos in the white house, but it is hurting the american people focused on better jobs, better wages for a better future. and expect us to get work done for them. >> the former secretary of state, as you recall, rex tillerson, reportedly called the president a moron. the former fbi director, james comey, he calls the president of the united states morally unfit. and now this, this is now the president of the united states being viewed by some senior staff. what role do you believe congress should play? >> well, i mean, look, congress plays a role, the senate plays a role in confirming certain administration positions. but i think it really is our
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responsibility in the congress, particularly in the foreign affairs committee, to make sure that our voices are being heard on important foreign policy issues, to be sure we are deeply engaged in the white house on domestic issues, but ultimately the president has a staff he has to rely on. and what is disappointing is the people that work closest with him and have the best eye on him have come to the conclusion or about the limitations of his leadership. so it's the churn, it's the chaos, it's the every day, another story, that's preventing the work being done for the american people. so it is not good for the country, it's not good for the president, it's not good for the work that needs to be done. but it is what it is. i mean, we have a responsibility to kind of keep pressing hard on the issues that matter. and engaging as much as we can to help shake this, but the president has his own team he has to rely on. and this is just the most recent example of people in the
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administration who have come to the conclusion and made these sort of assessments of the president. >> let's talk about the future of the iran nuclear deal, which the obama administration worked out with the other permanent members of the u.n. security council as well as germany. the president now says that the u.s. got nothing from the deal. he also says that prime minister netanyahu's speech in tel aviv shows that he, the president, has been 100% right on this issue. he hates the deal, he thinks it is awful. do you believe he will actually, though, withdraw from the iran nuclear deal by the may 12th deadline? >> i hope the president does not. this is a deal that is working. his own administration has certified that the iranians are in compliance with the terms of the jcpoa. a number of high-level administration officials have acknowledged they are in compliance. there was one objective of that agreement, to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon. it's working. it's an international agreement. we're in the midst of beginning negotiations with the north
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koreans. it's important that they see the united states as a country that keeps its word. and that if we reach an agreement to thedenuclearize th it would be a terrible mistake for the president to undo this. it is not just our deal, it is a deal with the p5 plus 1 partners. this will make sure that the breakout period is extended and we'll know in the iranians violate it. so we should not undo the agreement that is working. >> the president -- i was going to say, the president disagrees with you. he says ripping up the deal would send the right message to kim jong-un in north korea if he were to withdraw from the iran nuclear deal. so what impact do you think it would have on potential nuclear negotiations, the denuclearization of the korean peninsula, north korea giving up its nukes if the u.s. were to withdraw from the iran deal? >> well, if you have the iranian agreement and the united states rips up the deal, it's hard to
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see how that could help achieve the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. they are going to look at it and say, if we reach an agreement with the u.s. and comply with it, they may not honor their part of the agreement. so it is a terrible message. and what we should be doing is, working outside of the agreement to address the ballistic miss e missil missiles. and we should demonstrate to the world that america keeps its word. the agreement is to achieve an objective from iran getting a nuclear weapon. it's working. they are in compliance. our word should mean something. and as the north koreans watch this process, we need to demonstrate them that we keep our word. if they think we won't keep our word, it will make it much more difficult to achieve our objectives on the korean peninsula. >> congressman, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. just ahead, are john kelly's days as the white house chief of staff numbered? we'll talk more about his frustrations and the warning that the president is becoming, quote, unhinged. and is vladimir putin trying
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( ♪ ) (grunting) today is your day. crush it. angie's boom chicka pop whole grain popcorn. boom! we are following breaking news out of russia right now. president putin and the kremlin are being accused of covering up what happens inside a chemical lab by having it demolished. many believe it developed the nerve agent to poison an
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ex-russian spy and his daughter. fred pleitgen is here with this base and has more on why it is being torn down. >> reporter: we found out the base is not being torn down, but the remnants are being incinerated by the russians. the russians say that's because they want to decon tame nigtami ar area. however, if these pieces are incinerated, it would also destroy any sort of traces of nerve agents and make it impossible for investigators to find out if they were the same ones used in that attack in england. here's what the lab is about. the chemical weapons research center around 600 miles south of moscow. once the centerpiece of soviet nerve agent development and the british believe the chemical used to poison the ex-russian
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spy and his daughter was produced. >> it is very possible that this was developed here. >> reporter: now new claims in the british media, saying moscow seems to be covering up its tracks and is tearing down the former plant in. the mayor is quoted to say the remnants of the lab are currently being dismantled and will be incinerated. although official russian documents indicate work on destroying or converting the buildings was mostly complete by 2014. one of the scientists who worked at the shikhany site now lives in the united states. just hour important was shikhany for the chemical weapons
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production? taken on the tour in 1987, the soviets showed their poison gases and sarin and the weapons to deliver them. when the u.s. and the soviet union signed up to the chemical weapons convention, work began to dismantle both sides chemical arsenals. the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons certified last year that russia had destroyed all the chemical warfare agents but would not confirm to cnn that its inspectors had visited shikhany. >> russia used these chemical weapons convention destroying all the age-old weapons, keeping intact the new generation of chemical weapons. they circumvent this chemical weapons convention. >> reporter: the kremlin has not responded to cnn about claims
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the shikhany site is still being demolished. and wolf, i said at the beginning, it's a nuclear weapons lab, it is a chemical weapons lab, sorry for that. however, the russians maintain they have nothing to do with the attack with the poison agent. the west is not buying that, much to the dismay of vladimir putin and the kremlin. wolf? thank you, fred pleitgen. and vents from the commander in chief saying the president is unhinged. could john kelly be the next high-level official to leave the white house? and with one lawsuit already on hold, how will stormy daniels' new case against the president hold up in court?
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conversation with each other all the time. but we know from our own reporting that the president and kelly have had some problems going back quite a few months. remember the time when kelly told a group that the president was not fully informed on immigration issues and needed to have education on that issue? that did not please the president. the way the firing of rob porter was handled also did not please the president. the president, in the end, has grown frustrated with the way kelly has isolated him from his old friends. i'm told that sometimes he goes into the situation room to actually make phone calls to these people. and now we know that he's gotten his cell phone back. and what we see is kelly backing off a little bit from trying to isolate the president. i think out of a kind of sense of, it's not going to work. and both jared and ivanka, i think, feel the same way as the
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president. so i think, in a way, while kelly has tried to isolate the president, i think kelly himself has become more isolated. >> and what does this say to you, david, that there are so many important people around the president. remember, rex tillerson when secretary of state, reportedly called the president a moron. and now this -- so many are making these kind of disparaging comments to the president during the closed door meetings. >> sure. as gloria said, kelly denies these things, but let's just say this is, in fact, what is going on. i think it says that there's a lesson to be learned that should have been learned a year and a half ago, which is that if you go into the administration as a senior official thinking you're going to be the moderating force, forcing president trump down the chute of the way traditional america thinks, you're in for a rude awakening. also, it's the same for the chief of staff. you've had people like leon panetta on your set, wolf, talking to you to say, if you
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don't have complete control as chief of staff between the link of the staff between the president and the flow of the information and the decision-making process, if not the ultimate decision-making authority, you are no longer effective in that. >> samantha, you worked in the white house on the national security council, you look at the disruption going on, what do you think? >> i think that john kelly needs to resign. i don't see what part of his job he's able to do well. the train is fully off the rail. either somebody leaked something that was true, which means the chief of staff is not leading by example, he's calling his boss names, or someone leaked something false about the chief of staff, which also means that he's not able to control these leaks. he was supposed to have a security clearance process to deal with this kushner issue. jared kushner is still in foreign meetings above a secret level. i would like to know what part of his job john kelly's doing well. >> a lot of these people who don't resign, and are very upset and not confident in the president, they say they are staying put to protect the american people because they're
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patriots. >> i just don't believe that. i don't see what function john kelly is doing. the patriotic thing to do would be to leave and let someone go in that is able in some way to manage the president. that's the job of the chief of staff. and, by the way, to manage the national security council team. >> are there others who might become the new white house chief of staff? or is the president going to restructure it and be, in effect, in charge of everything? right now, larry kudlow reports that the new national security adviser, john bolton, reports to him. no more intermediaries through the chief of staff. >> we know that the president has, is now looking for comfort. and he feels he's figured out how to manage this job, that he doesn't need anybody anymore to tell him how to do it, because he's not new at it anymore. so whoever comes in as chief of staff isn't going to be a chief of staff in the traditional staff. the president will be his own chief of staff. i mean, maybe he'll bring in some old friends, who knows. but, you know, the point is here
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that the president is going to run the show. nobody else is going to do that. that is the way it worked at the trump organization. and that is the way it's going to work at the white house. >> i want to get joey jackson into this conversation. earlier we spoke about the new lawsuit stormy daniels and her attorney have filed against the president for defamation. you don't think there's much of a lawsuit there, but did the president create this opportunity for all this publicity for stormy daniels and michael avanatti by posting that tweet, which said she was involved in a con job? >> wolf, he really did. and it's all about discipline or lack thereof. obviously, when you're a lawyer advising the president, i don't know whether it just falls on deaf ears or what have you, but you create issues whenever you speak. to gloria's point, the fact is is that the president is going to do what he wants to do. he's not going to be managed or
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be told, whether this is introduced to public domain, i don't think this is a suit, but the reason this isn't lawsuit is because you're allowed to express an opinion. this can impugn reputation. you have to establish that factually she was threatened. i think that's an open question. and different minds can disagree as to whether that occurred. then you get to the issue of whether the president is expressing his issue saying it's a con job. if the president was sued for every tweet that was out there, boy, oh, boy, we would have litigation every day and night. it would be ridiculous. then finally on the issue of rep tagt -- reputation, some could say this with stormy daniels could create more for her.
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>> the iran deal could send the right message to kim jong-un about a no nukes deal involving north korea. >> that's the wrong message, because it would bolster the point that the president arbitrarily pulls out of the agreement for no reason. but i would have to wave the red flag here. when it comes to iran, president trump has said this is the worst deal ever. and that he's going to rip it up because it is narrowly focused on north korea's nuclear weapons program and not all the other willing behavior. but with north korea, he's doing exactly the same thing. he's negotiating solely based upon their nuclear weapons program and not everything else. so this double standard he's having between iran and north korea is really something that we need to pay more attention to. >> the difference is that this is his deal and the iran deal was president obama's deal. >> and you think he's going to rip it up by may 12th? what are you thinking? >> i think it is increasingly looking likely. it's clear there are problems with the iran deal, but the iran deal we talked about before was meant to buy time. and it bought time.
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if president trump thinks he can get a better deal, then he should make that case. but all he has said is it's a bad deal and that he can do better. never specifying,like sam said, what is different about this deal. >> this was all choreographed today. >> i agree. >> you had the phone call between trump and netanyahu. you had the meeting with pompeo. and then suddenly you have the, you know, the powerpoint presentation by netanyahu. i think it's a way of talking to macron and merkel and theresa may who all had their plan last week for their own intervention with trump. and this is the response to that. >> we'll see how it plays out in two weeks for the president to make a decision on the iran nuclear deal. just ahead, what is former presidential campaign jill stein holding back from russian investigators and why? [ drum roll ]
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breaking news tonight in the russia investigation. the former presidential candidate jill stein tells cnn she objected to turning over some documents to the senate intelligence committee. let's go live to our chief national security correspondent jim ashoe to. jim, what is stein objecting to? >> she says the objection is too broad. that it will go into areas constitutionally protected in her view. now, she did earlier provide
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some documents, specifically relating to that 2015 gala dinner in moscow attended by the russian president. and also by president trump's former national security adviser michael flynn. but this request, she says, goes too far. it's too broad. and this comes as we learn from democrats on the house intelligence committee that communications between russians involved in the famous 2016 trump tower meeting made the live denials from trump and his aides about whether there was follow-up to the trump meeting. since the june 2016 trump tower meeting between donald trump jr., jared kushner, paul manafort and russians offering dirt on hillary clinton was revealed, trump jr. and trump aides have repeatedly and emphatically denied there was ever any follow-up. >> there was no follow-up because there was nothing there to follow-up. >> there was no information given, there was no action taken, there was no follow-up. >> did you have any contact with
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this woman again? >> no. >> did you have any contact with him again? >> casual, something like, he was going to be in town again. >> reporter: information released by the democrats in the house intelligence committee contradict the multiple follow-up communications with the russians involved. their interest repealing a u.s. law the nomitsky act which punishing those involved in this. rod goldstone reached out on behalf of a russian businessman who was also involved in arranging the meeting. the e-mail from the russian oligarch aras agaralaf.
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then agalarov wrote the p.e. or president-elect knows ross well. two weeks later on december 2016, aras agalarov's son texted don jr. about a business venture in russia writing, quote, just wanted to check with you if you are okay with us partnering up with them and launching the project. thank you, amin. he has refused to publicly comment. >> am i clear? you're not going to get a comment. am i clear? yes or no? >> reporter: they were not the only ones to follow-up. the russian lawyer who last week admitted to nbc she is an informant for the russian government e-mailed the trump
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team just days after the election. again, the topic was getting the monitsky actions. >> clearly there's an expectation there on the russian side that they may now have success with the act. >> so you're saying it has the impression of the quid pro quo? >> it certainly does. certainly the russians thought they had reason to believe after the campaign they may now get the help they sought in the meeting in trump tower. >> based on interviews with witnesses interviewed by the special counsel, we know both the trump tower meeting and the misleading statements about the subject of the trump tower meeting are or at least have been, wolf, of interest to robert mueller. >> i'm sure they have been. thank you very much, jim ascriuto. and the national republicans
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are fighting against one of their own in the key battleground state of west virginia right now. they're desperate to defeat an ex-con and disgraced coal executive seeking the republican senate nomination in next week's primary. dana bash traveled to west virginia and is back here now. dana, republicans feared candidate john blackenship could derail a lot of their effort to hold onto the senate. >> and that is what it is all about. they are very concerned about it. and they really, what they don't want is a repeat of the embarrassing defeat that they had last year in alabama, where the republicans put up the controversial roy moore who lost the senate seat to a democrat. now heading into november's midterms, the stakes are even higher for the gop clinging to their narrow majority in the u.s. senate. >> jobs, jobs, jobs will solve a lot of our problems. >> reporter: soft-spoken and lacking in charisma.
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republican don blackenship doesn't come across as a candidate party leads are concerned about, but they are. republicans trying to hold on to their senate majority are terrified of blankenship winning the primary in west virginia and losing the opportunity to beat one of the most vulnerable senate democrats joe manchin. they think that joe manchin will beat you easily. >> they don't really believe that. what they believe is i'm going to win. >> reporter: it's a trump 2016 message on steroids. all the gop candidates are tripping over themselves to align with the president who won west virginia big and is still very popular here. but blankenship is most like the president, a hard-liner on immigration and trade, a businessman openly disdainful of fellow republicans in washington. even throwing a racially-charged accusation at senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, calling
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him soft on china because his wife, transportation secretary elaine chow, has business ties there. >> i have a father-in-law who has connections to the brass in china. >> my father is an american who lives and works in new york. and i don't have a comment about ridiculous observations like that. >> you said some pretty harsh things about mitch mcconnell. >> i haven't said anything harsh to other people that's not been said more harshly about me. >> reporter: senate republicans biggest concern with blankenship? he recently got out of prison. the former massey ceo was convicted of conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards after a mining explosion killed 29 people in 2010. what do you say to west virginia voters who think you have blood on your hand and shouldn't represent west virginia in the senate because of your role in a
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very deadly mining explosion? >> the thing i would say to them is that the deadly explosion is one of the biggest reasons they should vote for me if they have family members or are involved in the coal industry. unlike any other person that i know of, i stood up against the establishment when they falsely claimed the explosion was caused by the coal miners. >> reporter: he insists he was set >> reporter: he insists he was set up. >> blankenship is not a victim. >> reporter: do you think he can be a tough opponent politically? >> absolutely. >> reporter: but some national republicans are taking unusual steps to make sure that doesn't happen. running this ad. >> convicted criminal don blankenship. his company got caught pumping 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry estimating water supplies. >> reporter: and democrats are
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jumping in to tear down evan jenkins and patrick morrissey. two leading gop candidates they consider bigger threats to manchin. it's the first time blanken ship is on the ballot, but he's spend years using his wealth to build the republican passenger in virginia, which he says gives him goodwill with gop voters. >> it looks like the gop attacks on blankenship could be working. a new poll shows blankenship is trailing in third place, but he has something the other republican candidates don't have and that's money. he's really rich and he's spending a lot of his own money. he told me he's not even keeping track of how much money he's spending because he said if he did, he may stop. >> thank you. there's much more breaking news right after this. joy! what? hey, thomas! whatcha doing? mother's day shopping. okay. any ideas? well, everyone wants the iphone. and they want it on verizon-- america's largest, most reliable 4g lte network.
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to lead healthier lives and that's invaluable. ♪ we're getting a unique look tonight inside president trump's meeting with the german chancellor angela merkel on friday, including some rather surprising comments by the president about russia's vladimir putin. our senior diplomatic reporter is here with exclusive details. tell us what you're learning about what the president apparently had to say during these meetings with putin. >> yeah, well, first they had this one-on-one meeting, which was lengthy. we're told it was calm. and that trump asked merkel a lot of questions, and he was
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really focused on how to deal with vladimir putin. that's what he wanted to know. because she has extensive experience on this. officials familiar with the discussions are also saying at times, trump, even though he asked a lot, he didn't seem to always be listening to the answers. that's similar to what we've heard in the past from, day, the brits, who said that in trump's dealings with prime minister theresa may, he seemed to be more in transmit, rather than receive mode. >> we also today heard the president seem to suggest pretty forth rightly that the u.s. is going to get out of the iran nuclear deal over the next several days. do you know what he actual told merkel about that? >> we're not getting direct quotes from this, but we know crystal clear, the sense that the europeans are walking away from these meetings befo. before he met with merkel, he met with the french president macron, and they come away saying they're very certain he's going to back out of the deal.
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so macron had this last-ditch effort to keep him in the deal. emphasizing this is something new, we can craft a side deal and deal with everything in the side deal, including iran's ballistic missiles and inspections, you name it. we can do this. and the germans were surprised by this. they didn't really like this idea because they feel like the iran nuclear deal is working right now. but merkel also felt, we're told in this meeting, that she wanted to try to save this. so she stuck to some of these things that macron suggested, but, again, kept emphasizing that, look, this would build on the jcpoa. but he didn't seem very convinced. >> did merkel and macron coordinate their strategies going into these back-to-back meetings with the president? >> for sure. the european have been working on this with the united states for a long time. for months they're been having these discussions on how to fix the iran deal. because the europeans have problems with it too.
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they think certain things could be tougher or fully enforced. but we were told out of the macron meeting, that trump didn't seem to have a great grasp on the detail of what these discussions have been with the europeans. so there's some frustration there, and again, they walk away thinking, it's extremely likely that trump is going to back out of this deal. >> what about angela merkel's relationship with trump? he obviously spent a whole lot more time with the french president, macron. >> we're told in one-on-one meetings trump behaves himself, he's very calm. he has a discussion. not always the best listener, but they can get along. but then later, there was a meeting with merkel where they described trump as agstated and hammering merkel about unfair trade and tariffs, saying he might put tariffs on the germans on automobiles, hammering them
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for not contributing enough to the defense budget. they were very surprise d by his tone. >> not surprisingly, the white house deny these kinds of details. >> they seem to be pushing back but not giving detail. >> that's it for me, thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news, white house chief of staff john kelly calls the president unhinged. kelly called trump an idiot. kelly denies that. is kelly the next to go? plus, talk of the president getting the nobel peace prize for north korea. and a top republican distances himself from the president, who will win that fight? let's go "outfront." i'm erin burnett. "outfron "outfront" tonight, a senior administration official telling cnn

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