tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN January 10, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
paychecks coming through because congress will find a way to do it or, you know, whether that means that or the president using his own executive power. we'll see. >> dana bash, thank you so much for everything this hour and our special coverage continues with jake tapper. mark down february 7th, what could be a day of reckoning for president trump. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news, the president's former fixer agreeing to testify in public for congress about the work he did for donald trump. what secrets might he reveal? d.c. keeps squabbling while 800,000 workers' paychecks hang in the balance. president trump is visiting the border and hinting his mind may be made up about using emergency powers to fund the wall. plus, the tabloid that helped president trump bury his affair affairs talks about one of his
rival's affairs, jeff bezos. coincidence? welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the move by house democrats that is certain to draw the ire of president trump. former lawyer and fixer michael c cohen will tell the american people what he knows. cohen has agreed to testify publicly before the house o oversight committee, cooperating with robert mueller over crimes that he says were directed by donald trump. president trump has denied the char charges. he will almost certainly be talking about the hush payments to women but there will be a lot of questions. this will be a day president trump is going to hate. >> the biggest danger here, too, is that this is -- there's always danger when your biggest advocate, strongest enforcer, michael cohen in his former life working for donald trump, becomes your biggest detractor.
the other part of this, there's been this sort of missing element. what did the president know, when did he know it? it's very likely, or at least there's strong indications that michael cohen holds the key to those answers. the other thing to remember, too, when we asked this question, will it change any minds on capitol hill, will we start to see a run from the president on this, he's still a partisan ink blot in many ways. people in the past had said don't listen to michael cohen. he's not -- as a trump supporter, he can't be trusted. now we'll be taking his word as bible full of truth because he's going to be saying things about the president and people who were previously defenders of michael cohen, the president himself, will now be saying he's a liar. that much won't change. >> jen psaki, if you were advising house democrats, what will you tell them to do in terms of the hearing and michael cohen and all the secrets he could spill. >> the hearing itself will be a spectacle as we can all agree.
it will come out of the gate strong, that they will hold the administration accountable. they need to come to the table and get new information out of michael cohen. so don't spend too much time on the hush money payments because there's a lot known about that. it's been confirmed by michael cohen, by sdny, by basically every entity. >> rudy giuliani. >> rudy giuliani. you want to get to what kevin was talking about. what did donald trump know and when did he know it? >> about the russia investigation? >> and about many, many things, i would say, because -- and that's how they can kind of further this investigation. not investigation, but kind of further this narrative about trump and the administration. >> kristen, i want to get your reaction to a comment. from michael cohen, quote, i look forward to having a privilege to being afforded to have a platform to give full account of the events which have transpired, unquote. kevin is right, people who used
to say don't listen to michael cohen now believe him and the roles are completely switched but he will be under oath. >> sure. and he already now knows the penalty of when you do say things under oath that are not quite true just how serious that is. plenty of people have gotten ensnared through the process of this special counsel investigation in saying things to the authorities thant tha aren't quite true then paying the price for it. if i was advising house republicans on this, i would advise them to try to put very tight barriers around what should be asked in this hearing. you know, michael cohen's statement there says i'm going to talk about the events that transpired. almost anything could fall under the events that transpired. >> that's everything. >> right. and things like the russian investigation have strong bipartisan support. let's figure out what happened with regards to what russia did in our election, who knew what and when, but if it starts to dig into what did donald trump do in business practices that could be shady in the past?
it could be unflattering to the president but not necessarily justified for congress to be digging into. >> sometimes these congressional hearings will be really organized and well thought out and somebody will say this is what we want you to ask about. this is what you should ask about. and it's done very strategically and then often times that's not what happens, however. often times members of the house pontificate. i assume you're hoping chairman cummings will do the former. >> i've actually talk ed to chairman cummings about his approach to investigations in general, not particularly this investigation, but all of them. what he has been very clear about is that he's not looking to score a home run off the first time at bat. he wants to methodically go through this. he talks a lot of the time about being a lawyer and building a case from the bottom up. so i think you're not going to see him do that. now what the rest of the people on the committee do, who knows? but one thing i'm curious to hear from michael cohen is a long time ago i stopped thinking
of donald trump as a politician and think of him as a former casino owner. once you put that lens on donald trump, he makes more sense. michael cohen may help reveal the shady characters and shady practices that the former casino owner does in the white house. >> quote, he will have a chance to tell his side of the story and we'll have a chance to question him. the american people deserve that. the other thing that's very clear, the white house is going to say cohen's a liar. in fact, he's going to jail because he's a liar and he's going to jail for three years because he's a liar so why is anybody paying attention to anything he has to say? >> they won't stop there. they'll build an entire syndicate to attack the credibility of michael cohen. i know we have high expectations for congress, doing like what kristen talked about, drawing a narrow box around what we can ask of him. i expect it will be a partisan
circus. members of congress that are aligned with president trump are going to just go at him with just trying to hammer him on his credibility. >> do you think that the hush money payments to stormy daniels and to karen mcdougal, that that should be a primary focus in terms of campaign finance irregularities and convictions or do you think that people should actually go in there and more investigatively, just try to find out about russia and crimes that they don't know about? >> i think they should not spend the majority of their time on the hush money payments. ongoing investigations about that. there's some questions that should be asked about that by congress but they need to have an orchestrated approach. the hardest challenge for democrats is not making this their showboating moment where they're going to get on the national map. and that's very hard to coordinate as sort of jamal was referencing, to put it mildly, but they will help themselves in the long run if they don't do
that. >> another breaking story today, major story, cnn exclusive. we just learned that special counsel robert mueller interviewed president trump's chief campaign pollster. the news seems potentially more significant after the revelation this week that paul man manafor gave internal polling data to a russian with ties -- the pollster worked with manafort on the campaign and ukrainian elections. let's bring in sara marie, who broke the story. do we know what he might have revealed to mueller? >> tony fabrizio was the campaign's chief pollster and knew about the inner workings of the trump campaign but has past business history with paul manafort, doing polling in the ukraine. he has declined to comment for our story. a person familiar with his interview says he was asked about this ukrainian polling
work he did with paul manafort. he was not asked about the proprietary trump campaign polling. we don't know what other topics may have been broached in this interview. this is coming at a time when prosecutors were digging into his business dealings and work in the ukraine. they were told by the justice department to dig into that stuff because they wanted to know how it dealt with the picture, if it did, to working with the russians. it's hard to know what tony fabrizio provided but he had his hands on a lot of pots there, jake. >> what might it reveal about the direction mueller is taking in the investigation? >> i think it reveals how big the scope of mueller's investigation is. tony fabrizio's interview is newly relevant and interesting because we got this bombshell revelation earlier this week that paul manafort was sharing polling data with a russian assistant. we had no idea that mueller's team had no idea what was going on, no inclination that manafort
was sharing this data with his russian i think it tells you that even if this thing is winding down, mueller has a lot more tricks up his sleeve and think it will come out in a drip, drip, drip, the next couple of months. jake? >> thank you very much. kristen as a pollster at the table, when you heard that paul manafort shared internal polling data with someone who had ties to the russian intelligence and mark sandberg -- sorry, mark warner, head democrat on senate intelligence said this is helping to provide information that the russians could use during their attack, during their cyber hack on the u.s. elections, what went through your mind as somebody who knows what is in there in terms of internal campaign polling data? >> sure. it depends on what was handed over and if it was cross tabs or top lines of a poll. in some ways that's a fairly
blunt instrument. it's not going to be the sort of thing that can help you very deeply microtarget ads to hundreds of thousands -- the sorts of things that russia is being accused of. you would need much more in-depth modeling and statistics. what you could know, for instance, if public polling was showing that trump was not so competitive in a state like wisconsin and internal polling showed he was more competitive in a state like wisconsin, if that was handed to an outside source, it would be of interest. it's incredibly illegal to do that, to share internal polling data with outside sources even within the u.s., that could provide help to your campaign, providing it to a foreign intelligence operation is even a step beyond. >> senator warner cited yesterday efforts that the russians made with bots and fake ads and all that stuff to
discourage african-americans from voting at all. and he cited that as possibly something, if it was in this data, maybe it would be relevant. again there's so much we don't know about this. that's also something worth exploring more. in pennsylvania, philadelphia, milwaukee, detroit, maybe african-americans were less sold on hillary or even voting at all. >> again, we don't know what was in there. what we do know about polling in general is it's not always just the state of play. it's also some strategy in there. if we're looking at an argument, it will tell you which argument fairs better than another argument with particular populations that you're concerned about. it gets to that question, does it suppress african-american voters? we have no idea what conversations they were having with these particular characters and what we know now is that every single thing that the trump people tell us about their relationship with russia is not
accurate. we can't believe what we know now is all there is to know. >> president trump had been saying no contacts with russia. no contacts with russia. take a listen to what he had to say, kevin. >> do you know that paul manafort was sharing polling data from your campaign with the russians? >> no, i didn't know anything about it. nothing about it. >> the thing that's most problematic about it is don't look at a pollster as somebody who is measuring sentiment. they are essentially the chief data and research leads on a campaign. and if there is going to be a credible charge of collusion, probably the strongest place where it would be most effective would be use of data and research. i think that's what's tuckly troubling about this particular angle that the special counsel seems to be taking. this is the direct link of using data and research. as kristen mentioned you can't even share this with a super pac. what makes you think you could share it with a foreign power's
intelligence officers? that's where -- this is not conclusive. >> not at all. >> but it is quite damning and very problematic. i think the white house would be -- they're making a mistake in trying to dismiss it. >> as more comes out about this, which presumably we'll learn more, including what the document was. if we look at that information often on polls you have things testing with this particular wording would work best with this audience. now, trump may not have used the wording that was in this poll but if any of these ads use this language, that's very damning for that as well. to see if specifics like that are in there and compare it to the ads run on facebook and other social media channels to see if the data was used. >> were you surprised when you found out that -- well, there are two trump dislikers at the table. were you surprised when you found out about manafort sharing
this information? >> no, i wasn't surprised. there is a piece in the movie about this that one day will be done that is so specific that i guess it was a little bit shocking on that level, but not surprised that manafort did this. these were his friends. he was clearly in touch with them, had access to all kinds of campaign information. this is the first interesting connector of polling and data that we've seen, though. >> president trump saying he will almost definitely declare a national emergency to fund the border wall. one word that the white house counsel office is inviting aides to use over and over and over to bolster their pending legal case, that's next. [clap, clap] ♪ hey, jen, which tie says, "trustworthy but also fun"? gold down, oil up. oil down, gold up. this is too busy. we need to make sure people can actually use this stuff. which one says, "hours of free live streaming coverage without cable or subscription fees"? aluminum, aluminum? you ready, zack? oh, we're ready. welcome to the show. let's make finance make sense.
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oligarches. as the white house legal team prepares to fight the special counsel's report. >> reporter: president trump hasn't said if he will keep the special counsel's report private. >> we'll see. >> reporter: adding 17 more lawyers to its team. the new team believes a large portion of the information in mueller's investigation should be protected by executive privilege, even exploring the possibility of have iing only a heavily redacted version of the report be released to the public, but democrats are vowing to make the full mueller report public. >> i'm prepared to make sure we do everything possible so that the public has the advantage of as much of the information as it can. >> as we await the release of the mueller report, the president said he had no
knowledge his former campaign chairman paul manafort shared internal polling data with his russian associate before the 2016 election, a potential example of coordination between the campaign and the russians. >> you know that paul manafort was sharing polling data from your campaign with the russians? >> no, i didn't know anything about it. nothing about it. >> acting as the go between, it was ultimately intended for two powerful russian oligarches who owed manafort million. >> one of the oligarches denies requesting polling data, but as far as the robert mueller probe, all reporting is showing an ending point. >> what president trump has said publicly. >> that's right, jake. we've learned investigators have been focused on conflicting
public statements by president trump and his team that could be seen as an effort to influence witnesses and obstruct justice, according to people familiar with this investigation. now the line of questioning adds to indications that mueller views false or misleading public statements, same as to the press or public as obstruction of justice and that could set up a potential flash point with the white house and the trump legal team should that become part of any final report from the mueller investigation. jake? >> pamela brown, thank you so much. appreciate it. as anger over the shutdown spills into the street with federal employees protesting, mr. trump goes to the border and makes it clear he wants to a border wall.
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it's all part of the singular focus of pr push from the white house. at the southern border today, surprise appearance by the president in the press briefing room a week ago. the president's first and only prime time oval office address, not to mention the president making a big show out of walking out of negotiation, meaning with democratic leaders at the white house yesterday. also part of this singular push, a slue of demonstrably false claim. >> when during the campaign i said mexico was going to pay for it, obviously i never said this and i never meant they're going to write out a check. >> except here is the thing. donald trump did, indeed, say that he would force mexico to make a direct payment to the united states. we reported it on this very show, april 5th, 2016. today donald trump unveiled his trip to make mexico pay for his
wall along the southern border. mexico must make a one-time payment of $5 to $10 billion to the united states to construct the wall. we got that off his pay for the wall campaign memo, which is still readable. you can go to donaldjtrump.com right now. it reads, quote, it's an easy decision for mexico. make a one-time payment of $5 to $10 billion. kaitlyn collins is at the white house. in anticipation of this stalemate continuing, the president canceled a different trip for later this month. >> if you want a sign that this shutdown isn't going anywhere fast, the president announced in a trip a week and a half away he's going to cancel it, blaming democrats for why he's not going to switzerland, even though white house officials were privately expression concern about what the optics would be if the president traveled to davos, rubbing elbows with millionaires and celebrities while hundreds of thousands of federal workers weren't getting a paycheck. what this goes to show is that
they do not believe that this shutdown is going anywhere. >> politicians in washington are saying oh -- they don't know the first thing about -- they've never been here. >> reporter: making the case for his wall on the border, after suggest i suggesting he may declare a national emergency to build it. >> i have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. >> reporter: after storming out of negotiations with democrats the day before, the president telling reporters today he will bypass congress if they can't make a deal. >> if we don't make a deal, i would say it would be very surprising to me that i would not declare a national emergency. >> reporter: the president's third meeting with democratic leaders ended in anger after house speaker nancy pelosi refused to fund his signature campaign promise. trump, claiming today that negotiating with china is easier than talking to democrats. >> and i find china, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable than crying chuck and
nancy. i really do. i think that china is actual ly much easier to deal with than the opposition party. >> reporter: the president pushing back on senator chuck schumer's claims that he raised his voice and pounded his fists. >> i don't have temper tantrums, i really don't. but it plays to his narrative. i very calmly walked out of the room. i didn't smash the table. i should have, but i didn't smash the table. >> reporter: but as the president played coy about whether he will declare a national emergency, sources telling cnn the white house legal team has started preparing the legal justification for doing so, including advising aides to ramp up calling it a crisis, suggesting the more times they say it, the more times they can cite it in a legal defense. >> security and humanitarian crisis at the border. >> reporter: mike pence back on the hill today meeting with lawmakers, even as some members
of the president's own party voiced skepticism with trump about using his emergency power. >> emergency declaration is something, obviously, that has been kicked around, contemplated but i think, frankly, i'm not crazy about going down that path. >> but some republicans believe he's already made up his mind. >> after listening to the president yesterday, listening to him this morning and listening to speaker pelosi, i think he's going to invoke the national emergency act. >> reporter: declaring a national emergency is still not a sure thing here at the white house, but sources tell us that the white house likes having that card in their pocket because they believe it serves as a negotiating tool with democrats but they are getting worried about how long this shutdown is lasting because even white house officials who feel they've been able to effectively message this shutdown so far are worried about what's going to happen, starting tomorrow when those first federal workers aren't going to get those paychecks when saturday it will
become the longest government shutdown in u.s. history. jake? >> thank you. i happen to agree with senator john kennedy, republican of louisiana. he says he's pretty sure president trump is going to invoke the national emergencies act. i think that's probably true. he has said everything other than i'm doing it right this minute. do you think he gets any pushback from republicans in congress? >> some but not enough. i think it will be facile. i agree with senator kennedy, that he's going to move in that direction. there's been such a lack of clarity in whatever strategy coming out of the white house on this is so short sighted. but that lack of clarity almost guarantees we won't have a negotiated solution on this. if i were to guess how this plays out, the president will declare a national emergency. he will start shifting funds and then he will declare victory, of course, and then he will allow the government to reopen and we'll move on to a legal fight. and for the next three months we'll be right back here again, fighting about this all over again. there doesn't seem to be any
real off-ramp here when it comes to a negotiated settlement. >> do you agree? is that what where you think we're going? there will be a legal fight. >> absolutely. >> house of representatives under the national security act can vote against what the president does. then it goes to the senate and the senate will have to decide what it wants to do. it will be interesting to see if all 53 senate republicans stick with the president on this. they might not. >> i don't see how the president has another option left. he has painted himself into this corner. he has to do something. he does this. it goes to court. he can fight about it, wash his hands and say it didn't work. the interesting thing to me, though, there's a lot of conversation about both sides being dug in. the problem here is that the democrats already came over to the republican side more. they passed republican bills. the idea that they're appealing to the base, holding firm, trying to put irs agents and tsa agents back to work. there's nobody in the streets arguing for more law enforcement than the democratic base they moved to republican positions to
try to get that done for the sake of moving this argument and the president is the one who hasn't moved. >> look, the republicans should be standing in front of trump and preventing him from doing this. this sets a crazy precedent. what it is basically doing, a big legal fight for sure if he does this. saying the president of the united states, if he doesn't like how a negotiations process works and his pet project isn't funded, he can move -- >> president obama using -- >> this is an authority that historically is used kind of by the military. when they have an enemy combatant and create a structure, right? this is taking money that is
congress' responsibility to appropriate and letting the president use it for a pet project. so they may argue that but i think this is a hugely dangerous -- >> what they've seen is donald trump gets no kind of care for customs and traditions. >> republican national committee sent out a video saying in a number of interviews members of the democrats in the house and senate have expressed a willingness to allocate funding for some sort of border wall or fence or barrier. here is just a couple of them. >> all of that is fine. >> some fencing is useful. barriers are useful. >> certainly you need barriers and we support barrier. >> the question from republicans is so what is the problem? something called a fence,
barrier, whatever? >> this has been the most perplexing strategic choice that the president has made. we want money for border security is the sort of thing that gets 70 plus percent support. it's quite popular and, frankly, polling that i've seen shows prior to the last couple of weeks when you ask republicans what does president trump mean when he asked about the wall. >> it may be he's being true to what he really wants, that he really wants a wall, wall all the way across. even his advisers at the time have wobbled on that. no, you can't do it all the way across. it is just baffling. >> a wall wall. >> lack of clarity makes even
his strongest allies on capitol hill worry about getting to a negotiated settlement. >> republicans and democrats push back and say wall is a medieval solution to this problem with technology, sensors. president trump seized on that yesterday and again today about this idea that medieval is a criticism. here is a little bit of president trump at the border today, talking about the criticism that a wall is medieval. >> they say a wall is medieval. so is a wheel. a wheel is older than a wall. and i looked and every single car out there, even the really expensive ones that the secret services uses -- believe me, they are expensive -- i said do they all have wheels? yes. i thought it was medieval. the wheel is older than the wall. do you know that? >> actually it's not true. walls are older than wheels. but regardless of that -- >> do you think they even have message meetings at the white house? i'm not sure what happens when they stand around a table and
try to -- >> they may. the fact is, it doesn't matter because president trump is determining the messaging. that's why it's nearly impossible to do any of the communications or press jobs there. i will say you've seen democrats actually shift their messaging in the last couple of days because donald trump and others who are supporting him have sort of said democrats are weak. they don't want border security because it's popular. they made this more about the government shutdown. they've done that on purpose. when speaker pelosi said it was amoral, that was something that a lot of democrats you showed were worried about. many of them have voted for it. many don't want to look like they're weak on border security. there has been a shift. instead of talking about the wall and the wheel and whatever that crazy thing just was, if he kept hitting on border security, he would be boxing people in, in a more effective way. >> do you agree? i know you don't think that the messaging machine and the white house is operating as well as they could be, but do you agree that they have scored some
hints? >> rather than calling the wall medieval or using the message that it is mean, people have been saying that donald trump's policies are mean and that doesn't make his supporters not like them. instead, the argument should be, i think, from democrats that the wall would not be effective. what the president wants to achieve is border security that a lot of folks who come to the country illegally, they're not coming across the southern border. they're coming across the northern border or through airports and what we really need for border security is what we, as democrats, come out and say we want. >> did you think the changing time lines and contradictory statements of the trump administration on their syria withdrawal policy lacked a certain, i don't know, coherence? secretary of state mike pompeo tried to clear it all up today. see if you can make sense of what he had to say. that's coming up.
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every protest the same demand and shutdown and stop punishing federal workers. as of now, there's no apparent end in sight. phil mattingly has more from capitol hill. >> why are you rejecting it at the expense of the health, safety and well-being of the american people? you take an oath to the constitution or an oath to donald trump? >> today on capitol hill, partisan frustration boiling over, as both parties and the president seem further away from
a deal to reopen the government than ever. >> leader mcconnell and senate republicans have a responsibility not simply to wait for the president, but to intervene. >> reporter: senate democrats taking to the senate floor to call for legislation to end the 20-day shutdown, a futile effort immediately rejected and called out by senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> last thing we need to do right now is to trade pointless, absolutely pointless showboats back and forth across the aisle. political stunts aren't going to get us anywhere. >> reporter: republicans, for the moment, standing firmly behind president trump and his position that a border wall must be funded in any deal. democrats still furious about a white house meeting the president simply walked out of one day ago. >> not only was the president unpresidential, surprise, surprise, yesterday in his behavior. i think the meeting was a setup
so he could walk out but -- >> reporter: the war between congressional leaders taking place as senate republicans continued to meet behind the scenes to try to hash out an off-ramp, one that would include temporary protections for the dreamers brought to this country by their parents in exchange for wall money. >> wall plus something else. >> reporter: senior white house aide jared kushner to oversee the group's work, seen as a hail mary pass defined more by distrust and broken deals than any success. so much so that one senior democratic aide when asked about its prospects texted cnn simply "lol." leaving the dynamics for a deal one day away from federal workers missing a paycheck completely unchanged according to mcconnell. >> all four congressional leaders must sign off and the president must endorse it and say he will sign it. that's how you make a law.
>> reporter: leaving senate democratic leader chuck schumer with three parting words on the senate floor that for the moment won't be addressed. >> open the government. >> reporter: jake, those republican talks have completely fallen apart. senator lindsey graham saying a short while ago, i've never been more depressed about moving forward than right now. it's a stalemate right now and likely to be for days ahead. jake? >> phil mattingly, thank you. top diplomat trying to clear up confusion about the united states' syria policy by falsely stating that the mixed messages coming from the trump administration are an invention of the media. they are not. mike pompeo currently on a tour of the middle east, saying there is no contradiction between his words and what the president has said despite the administration's ever-changing timelines for troop withdrawal pl plans. 30 days, 120 days, then whenever
conditions are met. from the state department. >> reporter: in the daily evolution of what exactly the u.s.'s plan is in syria, secretary of state mike pompeo in cairo today said he wanted to be clear. >> that's no contradiction whatsoever. this is a story made up by the media. president trump's decision to withdraw our troops has been made. we will do that. and so it is possible to hold in your head the thought that we would withdraw our forces, our uniform forces from syria and continue america's crushing campaign. >> speaking from a country that has imprisoned tens of thousands of political prisoners and journalists, pompeo blasted the american press for what he called making up the confusion over different things, different members of this administration have said at different times over the last few weeks. >> they're all coming back and they're coming back now. we won. >> we'll be discussing the president's decision to withdraw but to do so from northeast
syria in a way that makes sure that isis is defeated. >> i never said we're doing it that quickly. >> even administration officials privately acknowledge and various u.s. allies have addressed confusion about publicly from a 30-day withdrawal to a four-month withdrawal process to one now contingent upon a number of political variables. then in a speech, pompeo shed little light on how long troops will stay in syria, on whether this is a fast or slow withdrawal, sounding something like both in the same breath. >> america will not retreat until the terror fight is over. president trump has made the decision to bring our troops home from syria, but this isn't a change of mission. we remain committed to the complete dismantling of isis. the isis threat for our part, air strikes will continue as targets arise. >> administration official acknowledges to cnn that this will be a long process. for logistical reasons and
because diplomacy will take time. >> secretary pompeo was probably doing the right thing by trying to shore up the complete uncertainty that has been inflicted on the saudis, israelis and allies in the middle east to say nothing of the kurds. >> another standout line from pompeo's speech today, when america retreats, chaos often follows. when we negative our friends, resentment builds. when we partner with enemies, they advance. those are all things that this administration has been harshly criticized for doing, for stepping away from international institutions and agreements, angering the u.s.'s closest friends and becoming chummy with certain dictators. jake? >> michelle kosinski at the state department. why was the justice department spending so much time and money looking into donald
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xxxx. president trump commented . president trump commented on jeff bezos, a man the president has slammed time and time again ever since he bought "the washington post." now the billionaire finds himself a target "the national enquirer," which has developed a reputation for going after president trump's enemies. is its latest scoop part of that? >> reporter: the supermarket tabloid that used to do a lot of dirty work for president trump has a new target, amazon ceo
jeff bezos, the world's richest person who became a twitter target of president trump after he posted. seemingly spared no expenses to spare what they say is bezos' extra marital affair with a former tv anchor. it tracked him across five states and 40,000 miles. according to the enquirer, bezos' lawyer told the publication it was widely known that he and his wife had been long separated. hours before the story broke, bezos announced on twitter that he and his wife, mckenzie, were divorcing. >> i wish him luck. it's going to be a beauty. >> reporter: the world's richest person may be newsworthy, but it tends to focus on celebrities and politicians not the forbes list. the national enquirer says it was good journalism and nothing
more. doggedly investigating this story for months and details uncovered by our team and presented to mr. bezos' representatives for comment earlier this week underscores the kind of investigative reporting that the publication has long been known for. media insiders wondered about the donald trump connection. >> i have respect for jeff bezos but he bought the washington post to have political influence. he wants political influence so that amazon will benefit from it. >> bezos has not been shy where he stands. >> it is a mistake for any elected official in my opinion. i don't think this is a very out there opinion to attack media, journalists. >> tenquirer has been known for being cozy with the campaign of then candidate donald trump. under its ceo david pecker
admitted in court documents it worked with the trump campaign to pay former play mate karen mcdougal for exclusive rights to her story about an alleged affair with trump. the tabloid then killed the story. trump has repeatedly denied he had the affair. pecker, along with ami's chief worked with former lawyer michael cohen to deal with negative stories about trump. both received immunity in federal prosecutor's probe into cohen last year. howard was one of the authors credited on the bezos report. a source of knowledge with the enquirer's news gathering says neither the president nor anyone within the administration had knowledge the tabloid was pursuing the bezos story. another source said it's fanciful to suggest enquirer pursued this because bezos is a perceived enemy. it was pursued because he's the world's richest man and a
newsworthy subject. jake we reached out to both bezos and sanchez for comment to the enquirer report. neither responded to our request. jake? >> jason carroll, thank you so much. you can follow me on twitter or at the lead cnn. our coverage on cnn continues right now. happening now, back against the wall, president trump returning from the southern border, declaring he's almost ready to declare a national emergency to get his wall built. with negotiations in the state of collapse, is that the only way to end the government shutdown? i never said this. one of his key campaign slogans was that mexico would pay for a wall. now the president insists he never said those words or actually meant them. so if he starts building a wall, are u.s. taxpayers now on the