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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 14, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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good evening. today the president of the united states stepped in front of cameras on the south lawn of the white house and denied ever working as an agent of a hostile foreign power. >> i never worked for russia. and you know that answer better than anybody. i never worked for russia. not only did i never work for russia, i think it's a disgrace
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that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax. it's just a hoax. >> you can say almost anything after that and it would not be hype. an american president on national television doing what no american president has had to contemplate doing which is denying he provided comfort to an adversary that just carried out an attack on the country he himself governs. the thing speaks for itself. so does the story in friday night's "new york times." the headline read, fbi opened inquiry into whether trump was secretly working on behalf of russia. that says it all. so does the story in "the washington post" this weekend which begins this way. president trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details on his conversations with russian president putin and discussing the linguist not to talk about what transpired. his took his interpreter's notes, officials tell the post, so his aides would not know what was discussed with the russians. and that speaks for itself. it's hard to be at a loss for words at this point.
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there's certainly plenty to say about all the contacts with russians, all the lies about those contacts, the criminal charges and convictions in connection with the line. the gaslighting. tonight, though, the headlines alone say plenty. so will our correspondents and guests including the former director of national intelligence as we all try to flush out the implications of these remarkable stories which are playing out as you know with the government paralyzed by a shutdown that appears to have no end in sight so far. let's begin with the breaking news on questions that special counsel mueller apparently still has for this president and the president's unwillingness to answer in person. we are joined now with the breaking news. what's the new information you have? >> well, anderson, special counsel robert mueller had made a request to the president's team asking for a follow-up of
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questions to the president. this time in person. you'll remember that just before thanksgiving, the president's team had a take home test which was written questions from the mueller team and the president and his legal team responded in writing to those questions. mueller had follow-ups and wanted to do that in person. and the president's team has now rejected that request. now, we're told the negotiations between the two sides are at a logger head. and the president and his team has become more hardened in their position. all but closing the door to answering any more questions from mueller. all in light of the revelation that the president's own former lawyer michael cohen is going to be testifying on capitol hill in the next few weeks. with that in mind, the president's team doesn't feel like there's any reason why the president should go forward with answering any more questions from the mueller investigators. >> i'm trying to think, would any other witness be allowed to stall for this long? i mean, this began, what? the negotiations over an
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interview -- i mean, was it more than a year ago at camp david? >> right. it was almost a year ago, anderson, that the two sides actually almost had a deal for the president to sit down with the mueller team at camp david to answer some questions. now, in the year that has gone on, obviously the president has changed lawyers, you know, and there's been a lot of back and forth. and as i mentioned just before thanksgiving is when the president's legal team finally turned in this take home test that we call these written questions from mueller. so no. most witnesses -- almost no witness i can think of would be able to stall questions from prosecutors for this long. but then again, you're talking about the president of the united states and he has certain constitutional responsibilities and that is what his lawyers have used to stall from answering any more questions from the mueller team. >> all right.
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evan perez, appreciate the breaking news. more on this and the larger story. james clapper is recent author of the book "facts and fears, hard truths, and the life of intelligence." i want to get your reaction quickly to this news that the legal team rebuffed questions from mueller for an in-person interview. the irony is the president feels -- the white house is saying it's perfectly okay for the president to speak one-on-one and privately with vladimir putin with no one else present, but for him to speak with robert mueller directly, that's a bridge too far. >> yeah, that is ironic, i guess. but i would tell you, anderson, i never thought that the president's legal team once he got one in place would ever agree to his speaking directly to the mueller investigation team.
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and particularly after the -- as evan says, you know, the take-home quiz was sent in and i have to think that just too many ambiguities and discrepancies and omissions that i'm sure the experts on mueller's team would like to follow up on. but i'd be very surprised if that ever happens. >> the truth is every time this president opens his mouth, and i don't say this sort of lackadaisically, it's likely he'll say something untrue. >> that's the challenge for his lawyers. that's part of the problem, obviously. >> i want to turn back to this pretty much bombshell report about the counterintelligence investigation. i don't want to date your career in military and intelligence, but pretty much spans most of the cold war. when you just take a step back and look at the fact that the president of the united states had to deny that he's a russian asset today on the lawn of the white house, that's incredible.
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>> it is. it is amazing. it's explosive. but it's not really surprising. and that's part of the -- what's overtaken us as a country. where they're just this steady stream of dramatic revelations. and, you know, now it's almost -- you know, we've become somewhat jaded to it. and that is -- that's a sad commentary in and of itself. because i certainly can't recall anything comparable involving a president over my 50-plus years in intelligence. and i was in the intelligence community during watergate. but nothing that happened then that approaches this. but yet we've sort of gotten jaded to it. >> yeah. i mean, you were saying that even in watergate, nothing approaches this. i talked to john dean earlier today on my facebook show and he was saying essentially the same
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thing. that, you know, even nixon, no one was questioning nixon's patriotism when he went to china. in fact, the reason he was able to do what he did in china is because he was viewed as such a -- you know, a patriot or somebody that was not going to fall into chinese hands. >> right. there was never any suggestion that i can recall and john dean would be obviously the better witness, but there's nothing i can recall involving the influence of even the allegation of influence by a foreign power as we have now. >> you said that if the fbi did not launch this counterintelligence investigation, they would have been derelict in their duty. that's a pretty strong statement. >> well, i feel that way. given the track record, the behavior of then-candidate trump and then president trump and then the firing of jim comey and then the acknowledgment on television publicly that he did
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it because the investigation into the russian thing. it just seems to me that the fbi taking its counterintelligence responsibilities seriously would want to look into what's going on here. and it is their influence whether witting on unwitting by the russians over president trump. and in the intervening year and a half or so, you know, his behavior hasn't done much at least in my mind to allay that concern. so i think the fbi was justified. i'm sure this wasn't a casual thing done after discussion around the water fountain or a coffee break. i'm sure the people involved and i'm sure it was a small number agonized over it. >> yeah. i can't imagine anybody would undertake an investigation of the president like this lightly particularly this early on. >> exactly.
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>> dr. clapper, thank you so much. a lot to talk about in this hour. thanks so much. joining us now is investigative reporter and author carl bernstein. also laura coates and steve hall. john, since i just referenced you, i want to start with you. that is correct, right? that you -- even in the darkest days of watergate, no one was questioning president nixon's essential patriotism? >> no. that was never an issue. it really wasn't a -- i guess one of the debates was would he or would he not obey a supreme court decision. i sort of intuitively thought he did have respect for rule of law and was not surprised when the decision went against him that rather than fight, he decided to
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resign and honor the rule of law. with trump in the same parallel situation, i can't imagine him turning over tapes and telling the supreme court, well, you've ruled against me, you come get the tapes. he's the tough guy. you know, there's lots of suspicion about trump. if he's not trying to give an impression of being an asset, he's doing a very bad job. >> carl, i want to ask you or start with this report that mueller has requested an interview with trump. trump's lawyers say no way. that's not a big surprise. >> not a big surprise. this president has at every turn tried to stiff, demean, and undermine and bury the mueller investigation. and he continues to do so. the real question -- two real questions. one, director clapper got to the question being a pawn. the evidence suggests, indeed,
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trump is, has been a pawn of the russians. of putin. and big question is witting, unwitting, half witting? mueller, perhaps, will tell us in his narrative which it is. but it seems pretty definite. there are many lawyers in the joint defense agreement who are representing clients in the white house who agree that the president is a pawn of putin. and why has he lied? that's what they ask. why has he lied at every turn? why have members of his family lied at every turn? why have his aides flynn, manafort, gates, on down the line originally lied whenever they're asked about russia? and also the question of his business interests which mueller has been looking at and which i suspect are going to turn out to be key in why, perhaps, he is so sensitive to what happens with putin and questions of russia. >> laura, the president's attorney general rudy giuliani
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said it would happen over my dead body. they keep talking about there's a perjury trap. obviously if you're telling the truth, it's hard to be trapped. >> you know, it's hard when giuliani tries to hold onto these sort of quips and these tag lines when they don't actually make sense any longer. he talks about the fact that the president of the united states in front of many cameras said he wanted to speak and clear this whole matter up. but the timing of why they're saying this is very important, anderson -- remember. after trump handed him his written responses, that take home quiz everyone was referring to, look at what happened almost immediately. almost immediately michael cohen was brought back into the new york court of law. there was a question of whether manafort was lying. you had the glimpses now. flynn came back into the picture as a person who was already ready to be sentenced of a year. the timing of that is not coincidental. it was a jigsaw puzzle being put
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together. and that statement, those locked in testimonies are now going to be part of that clearer picture. giuliani is no fool to think that this coincidence just happened. it in fact, triggered a number of things. perhaps that's the reason he doesn't want to have the client's statements held up against his actual oral discussion. now, the problem with that if you're the prosecutor in this case is that how am i to really assess the credibility of your statements, assess whether you, in fact, are telling me the truth or not. if i'm just looking at a written and vetted statement. that was always the concern. and giuliani is aware of it. >> steve, turn back to the counterintelligence investigation we got into the top of the program. you said there's a unifying threat to all of this in regards to trump and russia. >> yeah. first i think you have to remind ourselves quickly it's worth doing what we mean by counterintelligence. so by counterintelligence, what
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you're looking for is somebody working on the inside of the federal government in this case russia and who's doing so from the inside. the fact this might be the president of the united states is pretty chilling. and when you start looking at the competing stories, if you will, the competing narratives as so why this happened and what the president is up to, on the one hand you've got all sorts -- we have two years worth of data. this is all open source information. either press people or get their hands on which sort of leads back. sort of not something -- pretty directly leads back to russia. over a hundred different contacts that go back to russia from either trump or the trump campaign or the trump team. and if you look on the other side, what you get is things like it's a big fat hoax. you get the basically playground equivalent of, you know, i know you are but what am i kind of thing. so there is a lot of unifying information that indicates as to the concerns about what's going on with trump. and there's not a whole lot out there that explains any
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innocence. there's a lot that leads towards the guilty side, but not anything near as much as to explain why it is all these things can somehow be explained naturally and incidentally. >> i've got to take a quick break, but i want more on this discussion. later, what a member on the committees wants to know about all this. what he wants to know about the meetings the president wants to keep secret. can they subpoena the linguist? and where are those notes? later the congressman, his newest racist remark. the late reporting on the punishment his colleagues have just meted out. we'll talk to dr. cornel west about congressman steve king on "360." how do you gauge the greatness of an suv? is it to carry cargo... or to carry on a legacy? its show of strength... or its sign of intelligence? in crossing harsh terrain... or breaking new ground? this is the mercedes-benz suv family. greatness comes in many forms. lease the glc 300 for $479 a month
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of an american president possibly being a russian dupe. talked about the lack of a true innocent explanation except for schoolyard taunts which as it happens goes far back. >> from everything i see has no respect for this person. >> well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president. >> no puppet. no puppet. >> and it's pretty clear -- >> you're the puppet. >> you're the puppet. joining us again, carl bernstein, laura coates, and steve hall. let's start with this report that president trump has gone to great lengths to conseal the details of his conversations with vladimir putin. we also don't know what was said between him where he confiscated the notes from the interpreter and told the interpreter not to say anything to other officials. what does that say to you? >> yeah. it's very concerning and not a good thing. you know, typically the way this works and i've prepared seniors and principals for meetings with
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presidents with people overseas. the whole team gets together because national security is a team sport. the quarterback can't do everything by himself. neither donald trump nor any other president republican or democrat that i've worked under is an expert on russia or anything else for that matter. so you get briefed up by your team beforehand. there are some strange circumstances which occasionally the principal would say i'd like to do this one-on-one. it does not happen often. and more rarely with the president. but inevitably at the end of it, the president or the senior comes back and then back briefs the team that briefed him. everybody wants to share the wealth. everybody who wants to protect u.s. interests wants to compare notes, see what happened, what worked, what didn't work. and above all, the principal that went in wants to come back and say you gave me good prep or this didn't work out like you told me it would. the fact the president didn't do that is explained by one thing and that he wants to keep something secret. he's hiding something which is
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the very strong impression i got when he went to the podium in helsinki. he doesn't even want an interpreter in the room hence the confiscation of the notes and promises of secrecy. >> and he's supposedly this tough negotiator and in helsinki, putin offered this incredible offer to have people over here and we'll send our investigators over there. it was ludicrous. >> he did more than that. he also said he -- trump believed vladimir putin on the question of russian interference in the campaign and did not believe his own intelligence community. one of the real questions here is, where are the republican patriots in the congress of the united states? i want to tell an anecdote. why aren't these republicans saying, what did the president know, when did he know it. mr. president, you've got to come clean to the american public. not just to mr. mueller. this is obvious. you need to explain some things
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here, mr. president. when nixon had been totally devastated, had been impeached -- articles of impeachment voted by the house, barry goldwater, the nominee of his party to be president led a delegation of republicans down to the oval office. and nixon said to barry goldwater, how many votes do i have in the senate? nixon didn't want to leave office. barry, how many votes do i have because i think the senate will keep me from being convicted. goldwater looked at nixon and said you may have four votes and you don't have mine. the question is, where are the republicans in terms of the vital national security questions raised about a president of the united states who obviously has been manipulated whether he is, again, half witting, witting, unwitting. where are the demands that say,
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mr. president, this is the most serious thing that a chief executive of this country has been accused of in our recent history. you need to explain to the american people, come on. let's hear it. we've heard none of that. and that to me is the other dimension of this whole story that we need to start hearing from mitch mcconnell. what's going on, mr. mcconnell? >> laura, we are learning tonight that democrats are mewling subpoenas for the interpreters at the meetings to compel them to testify what was said. how likely is that? >> well, you know, it's likely in the sense that it's like an executive privilege. executive privilege is essentially you have to keep secret and confidential in private communications between the president of the united states and people who are part of his cabinet. you want that because you want the president to have candid conversations to get the advice that steve was talking about to be able to be briefed and be able to understand
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foundationally what's ahead of him. the issue, however, is that relates as i said to people who were part of his cabinet. it wouldn't necessarily relate to an interpreter or somebody who spoke to this person with a third person in the room meaning vladimir putin. it goes away in terms of the privileges. like if you had attorney/client privilege and you had someone who was neither the attorney or the client in the room. the privilege issue goes away. now it's the idea of the other side of the coin. and that's one of the reasons that congress can come in and for the reasons you're talking about in terms of where are the republicans or where might be the democrats on this issue, i suspect part of the reason on this issue they are reluctant is somewhat identified as a slippery slope in the sense of you can have that candor but you have the interpreter. at some point, there will be a conflict. and what will you do. in this case, perhaps the cost benefit analysis is in favor of getting the subpoena power for the interpreter and letting the people know. >> john, quickly.
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are there any other actions that could be taken to learn what the president and putin talked about multiple times? >> well, there is a presidential records act. theoretically, you might find somebody with standing to go off and get those materials so they're preserved for history. that act was passed in the aftermath of watergate. nobody was more secretive than richard nixon who wanted to take his tapes and papers back to san clemente. but the congress said no. that's when they adopted the presidential records act. >> thank you very much. coming up, "the washington post" about the lengths the president went to keep those conversations secret, i'll talk about what they want to know about the actual notes the interpreter took. do they still even exist? we'll be right back. chicken?! chicken. chicken! that's right, candace-- new chicken creations from starkist. buffalo style chicken in a pouch-- bold choice, charlie! just tear, eat... mmmmm. and go! try all of my chicken creations! chicken!
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"the washington post" about how the president tried to keep his conversations with putin secretive, you can choose your own adjective. not letting them discuss the meetings with anyone in his own administration according to the reporting. just before air time tonight, i spoke with congressman eric swalwell. democrat from california and a member of the house intelligence and judiciary committees. congressman, i'm wondering what your reaction is to the news the president's legal team rebuffed robert mueller's request in recent weeks for an in-person session to ask follow-up questions. >> this evening the question has shifted from whether the president is working for the russians to what evidence exists that the president is not working with the russians. i think an unwillingness to sit down with the special counsel demonstrates a continued effort to obstruct and delay the inevitable. >> do you believe that mueller might still try subpoena the
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president? >> it's an extraordinary step and i hope he does it. no person is above the law. >> as for president trump and vladimir putin, obviously your party has control of the house intelligence committee. do you plan to subpoena the president's interpreter to find out what exactly he said to putin in hamburg and elsewhere? >> six months ago adam schiff and i made a motion right after this happened in helsinki. it was fishy then, the fact he met one-on-one with putin with only an interpreter in the room, the way he blamed the united states and took putin's side at that press conference. we wanted the interpreter then. now we know that the notes have been effectively destroyed by the president. and we've seen the president take actions on russia's behalf. >> you say the notes have been effectively destroyed. i know chairman schiff just a few moments ago questioned weather the interpreter's notes have been destroyed.
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do you know that they have been? >> well, if donald trump took them as "the washington post" story states, then they're effectively in the hands of the subject. and, you know, i don't trust donald trump to turn them over. we know in the past he's known to rip up important pieces of paper and destroy them. notes that are important for presidential records. there's been reporting on that. so i see it as we have no way to obtain the physical evidence now other than getting it from donald trump, someone who has wholly uncooperative. >> would it be possible to bring the interpreter in for questioning whether or not they have notes? >> yes. again, the notes just memorialize what occurred. you can rely on a witness' account. you can imagine it was probably pretty memorable for this interpreter. something she did not forget watching the president and vladimir putin, you know, talk to each other. so she would be a reliable witness. >> "the times" report the fbi was so concerned the president could be compromised by russia after he fired comey they launched this counter intelligence investigation.
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you combine that with "the post" report that he went to lengths to keep his conversations with putin secret, does that track with your own suspicions? >> yes. the suspicions from when the president -- after the russians were attacking us to go to a press conference and encourage the russians to keep hacking. the suspicion is he and his team his family and his business welcomed and encouraged the russians to help. and now we of course learned about the trump tower meetings, the effort to put a trump tower in moscow. this is a person who wanted to work with the russians. the russians were helping him. and the concern with him right now is that today as we speak, our president is still working with the russians. we can't answer that. and actually when he was asked just two nights ago, he couldn't either. and he tried to clean that up finally today. >> it was pretty incredible to see him, you know, asked that question on the south lawn of the white house if he'd worked for russia. that's extraordinary. i'm wondering do you believe his denial? >> i don't because he took two days of heat of people saying who would not be able to deny it
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if they were confronted with it and that was the truth. and of course he didn't deny it on that fox news interview. and then, you know, two days of criticism, i think he came around and realized that wasn't the right answer. but again, i'll take the first response from this president. because i think that was probably the correct one. >> congressman swalwell, appreciate your time. >> thank you. steve cortez, kirsten powers, and jeffrey toobin. jeff, first of all, cnn reporting that the president's lawyers have rebuffed an in person interview with mueller. could mueller do a subpoena? is that something the justice department would even allow? >> he could. i think this negotiation has all been in lieu of a subpoena. the one thing a subpoena would guarantee would be a court fight. because giuliani and all the trump lawyers have made clear he would not comply voluntarily. and that really raises an issue of timing. i think it is clear that mueller wants to wrap this thing up. he'd like to interview donald trump.
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he'd like to do it orally instead of, you know, the take-home exam that's already happened. but you're talking about months of delay even if trump -- if issued the subpoena. the big impediment is the delay that would come. and an uncertain outcome. i think legally the idea of a grand jury subpoena to the president, i think mueller would probably win. but it's not at all clear. >> as a supporter of the president, does it concern you that the president's own attorneys seem scared, concerned enough about their client and what he might say one-on-one with mueller to not let him sit down for an interview? but if that's the case, why should the american people have confidence that he can sit down one-on-one with vladimir putin in a room with just an interpreter and carry on an appropriate conversation and not say something, you know, that's
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not true or say something and have no records of it. >> you know, look. it does not concern me at all. i'll tell you why. even totally innocent people who are the targets of an investigation do not willingly in the united states subject themselves to interrogation by those very investigators. on top of that in this case robert mueller is not an independent counsel. that no longer exists. he works for the justice department. the justice department we hired donald trump to be the head of. the idea he would submit to an interrogation by his own subordinate is absurd on its face. it's totally illogical. and then of course why would he only put himself at risk of perhaps misspeaking on something innocuous? >> wouldn't he might misspeak on something not innocuous in front of vladimir putin? >> listen, that's a good point. why should he speak freely to vladimir putin?
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because he's not under potential legal duress to speaking to vladimir putin. now, i wish he didn't have to go to the lengths he went to assuming the reporting is correct to try to protect confidentiality. but unfortunately there are people whether they're his own political appointees or whether they're intelligence operatives. people have been leaking highly confidential one-on-one head of state conversations from the oval office. it's treasonous in my view but it's happened. and because it has it's prudent this president would take precautions that are perhaps unprecedented. >> the interesting thing about that is that means the russian government has all the information of what was discussed but the u.s. government does not have that information. i'm not sure why that somehow should make us sleep better at night. >> when you say the u.s. government, once again, as we hired him effectively through the election, we hired him to be our chief foreign policy officer. so when you say the u.s. government -- the u.s.
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government of foreign policy does not exist outside of the president of the united states. he is the architect of american foreign policy because we elected him for that position. >> it actually does. >> but he's not a king. he's a president. >> no one said he's a king. >> well, you are talking about him like he's a king. because, you know, typically what has happened with every other president before him is that you do coordinate with other people in your government. and other people are able to brief on what happened in the meeting. they know themselves for internal discussions. what happened in the meeting, they're able to have access to notes about the meeting. so that they can help formulate foreign policy and they can make sure that any agreements that were made, you know, for example in one of the meetings, the russians were under the impression that we made a couple of agreements with them that nobody in the u.s. government knew about. so this is just basic functioning. the idea you think it needs to be confidential and kept from other people in the government, that's really unprecedented. that's not -- i mean, i would have to ask why does he need to
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keep it so confidential from everybody else in the government? >> can i just -- >> go ahead. >> there are checks and balances. absolutely. that's what the congress is for, number one. and their oversight is absolutely legitimate. >> and they have no idea what happened in the meeting. >> no, but we know his foreign policy. we know what he is doing. and by the way -- >> we actually don't. >> his foreign policy is tough -- yes, we do. we know for example that the u.s. military literally killed hundreds of russians in direct -- >> i knew you were going to bring that up. >> you know why i bring it up? it's really material to this conversation. if he were somehow in cahoots or indebted to -- >> he came out of that meeting in helsinki agreeing with vladimir putin that it would be a great idea to have russian investigators interrogate u.s. personnel. and he thought that putin's denial of the hacks was really strong despite what dan coates
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and all those american intelligence officials -- he was really impressed. jeff, we haven't heard from you. >> to go back to steve's original answer. why do his lawyers not let donald trump talk to investigators? because donald trump lies all the time. donald trump has lied thousands of times since he's become president. and his lawyers being the good lawyers they are don't want him to do it when it would be a crime. i mean, i just think that is a completely straightforward and obvious point. second, the whole reason senior officials talk to each other, heads of state talk to each other, is so they make commitments to each other and promises. and the only reason that -- someone has to know that from the american side or it's useless. so this is completely without precedent. this insistence on the part of the president that only he knows what went on there. and it leads to a very sinister
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interpretation that there is some sort of relationship between the two of them that the president doesn't want anyone else to know. >> okay. except, jeffrey, the evidence points the other way when we look at actual actions by the united states regarding russia. as i mentioned, slaughtering hundreds of their fighters in syria, cruise missile attacks in syria with russian jets on the ground, sanctions in the ukraine -- i'm sorry. arming ukraine. sanctions against moskow. our patterns in this administration show exactly the opposite. our president is unafraid to take on vladimir putin. >> you think this president is unafraid to take on vladimir putin. i mean, i don't see really any -- you're talking about a few specific actions. in general, this president has never said anything negative about vladimir putin. has he, steve? >> i will concede, for example, the helsinki presser was to me -- >> no. has he said anything negative
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about vladimir putin to your knowledge? >> i don't know. but i know what he's done. and a thug like vladimir putin and he is a thug, he respects actions and force a lot more than he will pay attention to maybe some harsh words from president trump. believe me. he cares a lot more about the ukraine being armed and about his soldiers being killed directly in combat with america than he cares about maybe getting some disturbing comments out of president trump at a gaggle. >> just interesting. i mean, kirsten, just interesting the president who, you know, is more than happy to insult just about everybody else has never said anything. i mean, not that i can recall at all. >> it's not just that he hasn't said anything critical about him. it's he's fawned over him at various points in time. so i don't think that the examples that you laid out, steve, in any way i think paint a picture of the u.s. being hard on russia. and the sanctions that were imposed were imposed against his will. he didn't want to do that. >> we got to take a break. steve cortez --
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>> well, he signed it. what more could he do? >> they're weakening them now. appreciate it. more breaking news tonight. in a dramatic move house republicans will not name republican steve king to any committees. this after his racist comments to "the new york times" last week. all the details coming up. i'll also talk to dr. cornel west for his reaction. ta owners? yeah - yup would you be surprised to hear that honda is the most reliable car company? honda's reliable. well actually, it's not honda. really? what!? - toyota! it's not toyota either. chevy! based on a nationwide survey, chevy is more reliable than toyota and honda. wow! get $4,500 total cash allowance on select equinox vehicles in stock when you finance with gm financial. that's 16% below msrp on this chevy equinox. find new roads at your local chevy dealer.
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in a major move tonight, house republicans say they will not give congressman steve king any committee assignments in the new congress. that's after he wondered aloud
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to the "the new york times" and kwi i'm quoting, "white nationalist, white supremacist, how did that language become offensive. mitch mcconnell today said that king's comments were, quote, unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position, unquote. mitt romney said king should flat out resign. we're joined now with the latest. what does this mean? he gets no committee assignments. effectively what does that mean? >> this strips him of a lot of his power up here on capitol hill and amounts to the first real reprimand of steve king coming from members of his own party. this is something that was voted on unanimously from members of the steering committee. those are the republicans that essentially dole out the committee assignments. tonight they said no assignments for you, steve king. that was announced in the last hour by mccarthy. it does not go as far as many democrats up here on capitol hill are calling for, essential resolution. this is very rare, embarrassing, cutting for any member of congress. does not go that far. but certainly it does have teeth.
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king was a member of three committees. agriculture. he's a member of the small business committee and most notably the judiciary committee where he stood be ranking member of a subcommittee. so that perhaps is where it hurts the congressman the most. now, tonight, steve king is responding. he's criticizing this move by his party. he continues to say that his comments were taken out of context. >> all right. thanks very much. with me now is dr. cornel west, professor at harvard university. first of all, dr. west, your reaction to the congressman being stripped of his upcoming committee assignments. is that enough? >> well, i think it's a positive thing to see a republican party say something against the vicious legacy of white supremacy. you know, steve king has called precious mexican brothers and
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sisters dirt. that seemed to me to be good reason for him to be punished. he said some other very ugly things. he has a confederate flag in his office even though iowa fought on the side of the union. so he's got fascinating justifications and moves to make there. but the important thing is this, though, anderson. that we should never confuse a particular villain with a larger tradition. the white supremacy is a larger tradition. it takes a number of different forms. i'm a little disturbed by some of the liberal self-righteousness. because it has liberal versions. it has leftist versions. it has centrist versions. that's right wing versions that has fascist versions. same with male supremacy and anti-muslim, anti-arab hatred. we have to keep track of these as moral issues that have political consequences. so we shouldn't think that by reprimanding one individual, that somehow the republican party has cleansed itself of its racism. i would say similar things for
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the democratic party. they're on a certain kind of crusade and i'm with them when they're critical of white supremacy. but they've got one in their ranks in the liberal move. so we have to understand white supremacy is an evil shot through all of us. we have to come to terms with it. i don't like this sense of somehow we have one villain trump looks like the tyrant in plato's republic. he's isolated. he's highly desperate, and he'll do anything to survive. well, he is going to go. you and i talked about this months ago. when i said he is going to meet his match in mueller, and he's going to meet it. once that report comes out, even to the degree in which it's half transparent, trump's gangster activity will be revealed. but the question will be, how will we keep alive the mechanisms of accountability so that our self-righteousness
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won't allow for thinking that somehow that same kind of corruption won't happen. >> it's a reminder for everybody to continue to look at their own behavior and their own words and be vigilant. >> absolutely. >> steven king said a lot of racist things for a long time. i found it odd, the wording of this, when did the term white supremacist become a negative term? there was never a time when that was a positive term. i don't understand even the formation of the alleged question that he asked the times. >> no, but i think we have to keep in mind, my dear brother, that white supremacy was the norm for hundreds of years. and at that moment, in those particular instances, white supremacy was a positive thing. the schools that he went to probably taught him white supremacy was the norm.
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it's natural. black people are inferior and brown people were inferior and he accepted it. uncritically. >> we know morally and spiritually it's been evil but that evil has been at the center for a long time, and this is one of the challenges for the congress. if congress were to punish every racist, it would be a much smaller collective body, my brother. that's not racist against people like me, black people, but brown people and yellow people and so forth and so on. how do we bring the pressure against trump, make sure that he's accountable? i hope even be able to push him out of office but then allow for people that are going to be honest enough with themselves and others to be persons of integrity and persons willing to call a spade a spade and willing to call what is right what is right. >> one also has to remember that
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congressman king has been voted into office multiple times and that this -- >> exactly. >> he's not -- he's had a lot of people behind him that supported it time and time again. >> we were glad to hear what mitt romney said today. saying it's time for him go. when he was running in 2012 he went to iowa and said i can't wait to work with him. he's a good guy. come on, mitt. i'm glad you're taking a stand today but in 2012, has steve changed that much? that's why people are so cynical about politicians. too many of them will say anything. we want to know what they really feel inside. what kind of morality and spirituality do you really have when it's unpopular to tell the truth. not just to win the next election. >> it's also interesting that a censure. more extreme, that as of yet has
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not been agreed too. you would think how can you not censure with one of the top leaders in america? >> it's true. when you look at the silence in the face of trump's how many of the ugly language he's used. those republicans raised their voices in that regard? i think, again, it's going to be a question of a moral and awakening behind the fight for truth and justice that has everything to do with poverty and everything to do with wealth and equality and everything to do with a foreign policy in which africa and asia are still viewed as somehow less significant, counting much less
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than other parts of the world. this is a larger issue that we're wrestling. but i'm glad that the republican party has finally said that the white supremacists ought to at least be punished in some way. >> >> always good to have you on, thank you. >> check on chris. >> he is worried about the moral and the spiritual, i'm going to take on the factual. i understand that people get buried in the noise surrounding the president and the curiosity of investigators about his russia connection. so what we're doing today, really, the team did it for me. this is our best effort yet to break down all the major points that the president has to answer for that raise legitimate suspicions. so we're going to layout the facts. >> you only have an hour. how are you going to do that? >> i said the big ones. i talk fast. that's the one upside of being from queens. we're also going to talk to a
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member of the house judiciary committee. what is he willing to accept as a republican on that committee. what does he call proof? we're taking on steve wing as well. what is he going to do? >> a major follow up to the reporting we brought you last night. pg and e under investigation in connection with the fires in the state. the major announcement. the company made now. we'll bring that to you next. with my hepatitis c,
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california utility unite pg&e announced it's filing for
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bankruptcy. for the campfire. it's believed the fire was started when a power line came in contact with trees and it's not the first time the company has been under investigation for fires in california. not for a long shot. they failed to follow state regulations to maintain equipment. in one month in 2017 alone, pg&e equipment caused 17 out of 18 fires. often after falling branches or trees came into contact with power lines. the ceo also stepped down. the company said it was going to look for replacement with extensive operational and safety expertise. we're going to hand it over to chris for cuomo primetime. >> i am chris cuomo. welcome to "prime time". we have new information about how far this president has gone to hide and mislead about his russia dealings. facts first tonight. our most comprehensive reckoning to date, a compilation of all