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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  March 25, 2019 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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attack. >> thank you for allowing me to stand on your counter. >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, new york. thanks for joining us. don't forget you can watch "outfront" any time, just go to cnn go. anderson starts now. good evening. the attorney who made stormy daniels a household name and sparked the case that ended with michael cohen sentenced to prison is now himself at risk, if found guilty, of also going to prison. michael avenatti was charged in what the feds call a multimillion dollar extortion attempt and say the alleged shakedown was caught on tape. on top of that, he was charged in a separate case involving wire an bank fraud. he was arraigned just moments ago at a courthouse in lower man manhattan. we're expecting him to come out shortly and possibly speak to reporters. we'll bring you that when he does. there are also fallout from the summary of the attorney
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general's. robert mueller told attorney general barr he would not reach a conclusion in an obstruction of justice case against the president. that would be left up to barr. also the latest on democrats to make the full report public. but senator mitch mcconnell blocked a move. so there's that. a lot of questions remain. the first big answer being this. taken from attorney general barr's release, the investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in its election interference activities. that is both legally and politically enormous. insufficient evidence to make a case against the president or people close to him for criminal conspiracy with the russian government during the 2016 election. effectively, no collusion as the president has said all along. at least none that the special counsel believes can be prosecuted. there's good news for the president and arguably better for the country that the president of the united states
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did not criminally conspire with a foreign adversary to get elected. now, democrats and those who dislike the president may be disappointed, but for the country having a president that hasn't conspired with an enemy is good news. that said, the barr letter is not saying what the president says it says. >> there was no obstruction and none whatsoever. and it was a complete and total exoneration. >> well, in fact the attorney general who cited very few passages from robert mueller's report specifically cited this one with respect to obstruction of justice. quoting now, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. those were mueller's words. according to the attorney general, the special counsel did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. he deferred to the attorney general who decided along with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein that it did not, which leaves the question just
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what did robert mueller say about it in the body of his report? john dean certainly no stranger to moments like these had this to say to don lemon last night. >> we haven't really seen the underlying report, but i have some suspicions that the reason that he boiled this down the way he did is because it's not very attractive, don. while he didn't find -- his words are very different than barr's, i suspect. >> he suspects. and so do plenty of democratic lawmakers. in truth, we don't know one way or another. democrats have made releasing the full mueller report to the public their top priority. something the president today said he's also okay with. as it stands, we don't really know the underlying facts that went into the attorney general's decision not to pursue obstruction charges. on the conclusion front we don't know if the mueller investigators reached any investigation about why so many people lied about their contacts with russians. michael flynn, paul manafort,
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george papadopoulos. people involved in the trump tower meeting were caught in multiple lies. we still don't know why. we still don't know shall as carl bernstein points out, a simple factual account of what happened in all of this. nor do we know what's behind the president's willingness to give vladimir putin the benefit of the doubt time after time on russia's election interference. did robert mueller have a theory or provide any facts that bear on the question? again, we don't know. nor do we know what, if anything, the mueller investigation uncovered that potentially sheds light on any of these other investigations into the president and his dealings. what we do know, however, is that the report, if accurately summarized by the attorney general, dispels some of the harsher allegations against the president by democrats, by former intelligence officials and others over the years. we have a senator on the program who's said he's seen evidence himself of collusion. he said it before the barr summary came out. tonight we'll ask him whether he still maintains that. does the mueller report contain
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any evidence that supports the senator's claim? another unanswered question. as is the president's reaction to it all, which asked today whether the special counsel acted honorably in the investigation, the president replied, yes, he did. if that's really what he believes, it's certainly a far cry from what he's been saying for months and months, saying this about the special counsel. >> the problem with the mueller investigation is everybody has got massive conflicts. >> mr. mueller is highly conflicted. in fact comey is like his best friend. these people have the biggest conflicts of interest i've ever seen. i call them the 13 angry democrats. i could go into conflict after conflict. but sadly, mr. mueller is conflicted. mueller was not senate confirmed. because of all the conflicts, they didn't want to bring him before the senate because he's very conflicted. he's conflicted, and i know that his best friend is comey, who's a bad cop. he put 13 highly conflicted and, you know, very angry -- i call
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them angry democrats in. >> more now on the president's reaction. jim acosta is at the white house for us tonight. has the white house seen the full report yet? >> reporter: according to a white house official i spoke with earlier this evening, anderson, no, they have not seen the full report. as to this notion that robert mueller, the special counsel, informed the attorney general, william barr, three weeks ago that he would not be bringing an obstruction case, i asked the white house just a short while ago and got an answer tomg this. they say the president, the white house did not know about that, that mueller informed barr he would not be seeking any obstruction charges. over here they seem to be as much in the dark as to what's contained in the full mueller report as everybody else. it's in the dark as to whether or not they'll push for a full release of that report. we still don't have a straight answer on that. the president said in the oval office earlier today he's okay with that idea of releasing the report, but he's leaving it to the attorney general to decide what ultimately to do about
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that. >> in terms of the president declaring full exoneration, obviously the vast majority of the summary was a huge victory for him, no doubt about it, full stop. is there any concern about that narrow bit of nuance between mueller and barr on obstruction? >> reporter: not at this point, anderson. honestly they were too busy celebrating to appreciate the nuances of just about anything. i will say at one point in the driveway of the north lawn of the white house, i saw the white house counselor, kellyanne conway, almost dancing in the driveway as i approached her. she was beaming. multiple officials behind the scenes were jubilant over this news because they see this cloud being lifted over the president that's been there since the 2016 campaign, anderson. who can blame them? that cloud has been there for some time. as you mentioned just a few moments ago, there are all of these other investigations looming. the question is how the white house, how the president responds to all of that. but obviously the question moving forward, you know, is
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still why is the president -- why does he have this situation where every time we go out on a foreign trip, he seems to align himself with vladimir putin when it comes to this issue of interference in the 2016 election. that obviously is a question that we may have some answers to in the full mueller report. it's hard to imagine a situation, anderson, where the public never gets a full understanding of the answer to that question. but as you were just saying a few moments ago, we just don't know the answer to a lot of questions around here with the exception of the answers that the president and his team have been desperately seeking for the last two years now. >> jim acosta, jim, thanks very much. just moments ago we lerchd whe learned where the top democrat stands. what is speaker pelosi saying tonight? >> reporter: well, speaker pelosi had a private meeting with her leadership team early are this evening and she made it pretty clear that she believes the focus of her caucus going forward should not be on the russia investigation, should not
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be on the mueller probe, but should be instead on these economic issues, pocketbook issues, on their agenda. she believes that's how the party should focus going forward. it's in line with what she's been saying some time but in the aftermath of the bill barr letter, she wants to make it pretty clear to her caucus that it makes sense not to focus on all the fallout and the messy fallout from this, particularly in light of the finding that the trump campaign, according to bob mueller, could not find -- could not establish that the trump campaign was involved in a conspiracy with the russian government. now, i asked nancy pelosi about this leaving a meeting earlier this evening, whether she believes there's still collusion, and she didn't want to engage. >> speaker pelosi, are you ready to say there was no collusion between the trump campaign and russia in light of the mueller finding? >> i think that the mueller report was clear.
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>> reporter: she had i think the mueller report was clear, he was not exonerated. we tried to press her a little further. she said i'm not going to be having a press conference about the soul of our democracy in the hallway of the basement in the capitol. so it shows you, anderson, where she wants to keep her focus. but still, several of her committees plan to push forward. of course they're demanding by next week to provide the report to the house and the senate. also adam schiff told me earlier this evening he still plans to investigate russia interference. he said the criminal investigation that mueller launched is much different than a counterintelligence investigation that he's launching. he still wants to know if trump has been compromised by the russians, by financial interests at all. that's going to be still a focus for adam schiff. while pelosi wants to move forward and to talk about these issue, at least some of her committees still plan to probe these russia matters and will keep it still in the news, anderson. >> manu, thanks. joining us is senator richard blumenthal.
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senator blumblumenthal, do you e that the democrats should focus their message and move on? >> we should definitely focus, anderson, on the challenges ahead to our country. infrastructure, that is rebuilding our roads and bridges, health care, making it more widely available and reducing the costs of pharmaceutical drugs. veterans issues and our national defense, which is increasingly complex and challenging. but at the same time, we need to protect our nation against the continuing russian threat of meddling in our election. that was the purpose of the mueller probe at the very outset. it began as a counterintelligence investigation, and we need to know and see that mueller report. all we have right now is the barr summary. so we can establish how close the wrongdoing came to proof
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beyond a reasonable doubt, whether there was noncriminal wrongdoing by the trump campaign. clearly there is evidence of some cooperation there. and also very, very importantly, the statement by mueller, one of the few statements quoted in the barr summary, that the president is not exonerated on the issue of obstruction of justice. >> you said earlier today that, quote, there is evidence of collusion, no question. do you stand by that claim? because it sure seems like robert mueller's conclusion is very different. >> we don't know what robert mueller's conclusion is because we haven't seen it. all we've seen is the barr summary. even if the mueller report says that he could not establish, that's his word, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that's a very high bar. there may still be evidence. in fact there is already in the public realm. and that evidence is what i was
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citing. for example, the president's encouragement of the russians to provide more hacked information. his knowledge of the wikileaks release and his encouragement there, his negotiations on the trump tower moscow at the same time that he was praising vladimir putin. a string of highly significant public evidence of cooperation that may have only been tacit, without criminal intent, but his own campaign manager shared polling data, sensitive, private polling data with the russians while they were attacking this country through a campaign of misinformation. >> but that is all things that robert mueller likely looked at, and yet still came away -- i mean it's one thing, yes, the president said in a press conference, you know, russia, if you're listening, i can't remember the exact quote, finding the e-mails. but mueller knew that, looked at it and still said no crime here.
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>> and that's why we need to see the report. i can't emphasize enough how important transparency is. we have the barr summary. we do not have the mueller report. we have no idea what his reasoning was. absence of criminal intent on the part of some or all of the trump operatives who engaged in cooperation and what looks like conspiracy but maybe not, without that culpable intent, but also on the issue of obstruction. after all, obstruction is an effort to hinder an investigation. the fact that there was insufficient evidence of conspiracy may be due to the hindering of the investigation, and that's the essence of obstruction. that's the crime where mueller did not exonerate the president. >> the trump campaign, as you know, sent out a memo to the media today accusing you and others of lying to the american people about claims of
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collusion. they clearly see you as ripe for attack. what about that? are you worried your credibility has taken a hit? do you feel you have anything to apologize for? >> well, in that letter, apparently, i haven't actually seen it, but they took a part of a quotation without the whole of it. the second part of it said in effect whether there are going to be criminal charges remains to be seen. so i stand by the contention that there is evidence. it may not rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. i know as a former prosecutor that sometimes that proof comes very close but it has to be beyond a reasonable doubt, and particularly when it's the president. it's a very, very high bar. so the effort to discredit critics is certainly not a new phenomenon for this administration. i'm going to continue to speak out. i won't be deterred or silenced.
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>> but shouldn't the bar be high? i know in a court of law, it's beyond a reasonable doubt. given the seriousness of this, given it's the president of the united states and it's as serious as it gets, shouldn't the bar be that high? >> absolutely. it is under the law. i respect the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard. but at the same time in order to prevent wrongdoing of this kind in the future, congress continues to have an oversight function. we have a responsibility, independent of the special counsel, to devise new legislation reforms that will safeguard against this kind of russian interference in the future. that's where there is bipartisan agreement, as well as on the need for transparency. after all, the president himself said today that he's in favor of transparency. if he's serious about it, he'll back the bipartisan bill that i've introduced with senator grassley to require it. >> senator blumenthal, appreciate your time. thank you. we'll get a pair of legal
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opinions now. carrie cordero and robert ray. carrie, what do you make of senator blumenthal's claim that there was collusion but it didn't rise for the level of a crime? >> well, i think there's probably something to it. senator blumenthal should be in a position to know some information that perhaps is not available to the public. and the crime of conspiracy, which is what the theory of collusion is, would be a high level. that would be a high bar to meet to be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that there is evidence supporting a prosecution. so i think that there probably -- there could be some information available to those in a position of access that is something below a criminal prosecution standard and above nothing there. >> robert, do you agree with that? >> i think that might be trying to parse things too finely.
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the more important distinction is what senator blumenthal is talking about would be what standard he might consider appropriate to pass upon an article of impeachment. obviously there, as gerald ford famously said, impeachment is whatever a majority of the house of representatives says by way of an article of impeachment. i do think, though, that the standard still would be is it a high crime, emphasis on the word "crime." and the justice department now, through the office of special counsel, has made a determination both with regard to collusion and with regard to obstruction that there's not sufficient evidence that a crime was committed. it seems to me -- by the president. it seems to me that that finding has consequence, and it not only has consequence insofar as the criminal law is concerned, but it's certainly, although it's not determinative, it does bear upon the question of what the
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congress intends to do about it, if anything. >> carrie, last night you accurately guessed that attorney general barr did not take only 48 hours to reach his decision regarding obstruction. i wonder what you made of the news that barr had roughly three weeks from mueller that mueller wasn't going to make a decision on obstruction, that it was going to be up to barr. >> i'm glad that we were able to get that reporting today and i think it makes a lot more sense than the narrative that appeared to some over the weekend, which was that perhaps he decided within 48 hours. that just didn't make sense to me. i think the reporting today indicating that he had been briefed on it, that he had some time to think about it, i'm sure he was briefed on what the special counsel was going to put in the report before it was delivered, and so i think that reporting made a lot more sense and is consistent with how an attorney general would handle a significant decision like this one. >> robert, do the american
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people have the right to know what the facts are that led mueller to not exonerate the president on obstruction? >> i think they're entitled to context, and that would include facts, obviously, to understand the prosecutorial decision-making. i don't believe it is correct as some democrats have suggested that that means that the congress is entitled to what amounts to the entire investigative file. >> underlying documents, not just the report by mueller. >> but, anderson, i think as a practical matter, it's incumbent by way of disclosure of the final report in some fashion to provide the american people with context in connection with the facts that were gathered during the course of the investigation, to understand the basis of the
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prosecutorial decision that was made. >> just for learning the actual narrative of what occurred in terms of russia's involvement in trying to influence the election, the mueller report would have more details in that that would be beneficial for everybody to learn, democrats, republicans. >> i think in order for the public to be able to put together the entire narrative of what transpired around 2016 election, it's going to take piecing together several parts. part of that is looking at the charges that the special counsel brought already in terms of particularly the indictments of the russian intelligence officers and their activities, part of it will come from the special counsel's report, whichever portion of it, however much of it is able to become public, part of it will come from the senate intelligence committee's investigation, which is ongoing in which they presumably will wrap this year, and then there may be another
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part that will come from other investigations perhaps out of the house. i don't think that there's going to be one document that summarizes it all. i think it will have to be an assimilation of all of those different inquiries and investigations. >> i might add also, that i think it's going to be amplified in part by testimony that you're likely going to see from the attorney general, if not from bob mueller himself. i imagine sometime probably as soon as april. >> robert, if you believe the mueller report should be released to the extent possible, what is the extent possible? obviously anything classified would have to be scrubbed. >> right. >> or redacted. anything about directly grand jury related i guess would also have to be redacted. >> maybe not. i can also imagine insofar as the president is concerned that if there's a question about disclosure of necessary grand jury material in order to provide appropriate context for
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the american people, i can imagine the department of justice going to a court to get a court order to open up some of that. i think where you're going to see the department resist too much disclosure is with regard to uncharged other individuals. >> fascinating. robert ray, thank you so much. carrie cordero as well. michael avenatti has just stepped out after being charged. let's take a look. >> i will take a brief statement but will not be accepting any questions. first of all, i want to thank the federal agents for their professionalism and courtesy today. they were outstanding throughout the process, and i wish to thank them for everything they did today in connection with this matter. as all of you know, for the entirety of my career i have fought against the powerful. powerful people and powerful corporations.
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i will never stop fighting that good fight. i am highly confident that when all of the evidence is laid bare in connection with these cases, when it is all known, when due process occurs, that i will be fully exonerated and justice will be done. thank you. >> that's michael avenatti appearing live in downtown new york after spending at least several hours in court. we're going to have more on the charges against him on both coasts in new york and california as well by different prosecutors. we'll have that in just a moment. also later the president saying people did evil things, treasonous things that launched the russia probe. he seems to be talking about top intelligence officials at the end of the obama administration. just ahead we'll talk to one of them, former director of national intelligence, james clapper. rcedes, how about letting your hair down a little? how about a car for people who don't play golf? hey mercedes! mix it up a little.
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break, attorney michael avenatti has just left the federal courthouse charged as a defendant. here is the latest on both. can you just explain what these cases are? >> that's right, anderson. so the u.s. attorney's office in manhattan charged michael avenatti with extortion saying that he and an unnamed co-conspirator tried to shake down nike, telling nike they were going to release damaging information about the company at a sensitive time just ahead of its quarterly earnings announcement unless they were paid as much as $25 million. now, prosecutors said that when nike learned of this and the lawyers from nike, they immediately brought it to the authorities' attention. they worked together and had audio and video recordings capturing some of michael avenatti's threats. in one of these threats, avenatti said i'll go take $10 billion off your clients' market cap. i'm not f'ing around. avenatti told nike's attorneys, i'm not continuing to play
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games. you guys know you have a serious problem and it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. in los angeles at about the same time avenatti was charged by prosecutors with wire and bank fraud. in that case prosecutors allege that avenatti tried to embezzle more than $1 million from one of his clients to pay his expenses. they also allege that he submitted phony tax returns to a bank in order to get more than $4 million in loans. anderson? >> how does mark geragos fit into this? he was a cnn contributor up until today. >> a source familiar with the investigation tells me that mark geragos was the unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in this case. geragos has not been charged with any wrongdoing so far. he was a cnn contributor until today. >> all right, appreciate it. i want to go deeper on this. paul callan joins us and shan wu as well. shan, looking at the new york case first, what do you make of these charges? >> very unusual. i expect a very robust defense
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by avenatti claiming that he was just zealously representing his client and trying to get a settlement. it sounds like he is asking for hush money, not necessarily illegal, and he's familiar with that kind of case. >> so it's not illegal to ask for hush money? >> well, when we talk about it as hush money it sounds more illegal. but when you reach a settlement, there's usually a nondisclosure clause and nondisparagement clause and that's the equivalent of being paid to be quiet in the future. >> paul, how strong do you think these charges are? the federal prosecutors case, the new york case, does avenatti saying things like i'll go take $10 billion off your clients' market cap, does that go beyond a normal lawyer in a tough negotiation? >> well, the u.s. attorney for manhattan, anderson, called this the use of a law license as a weapon of extortion. the claim is that avenatti was claiming that he had to be paid as much as $25 million not to
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give a press conference, which would have embarrassed nike. but it's -- it is an unusual set of charges in new york. i have to think, by the way, that his california case might be even more serious and possess a greater danger to avenatti. >> why is that? >> well, the california charges allege that he embezzled $1.6 million from one of his clients and he took that money and used it to fund his law firm and a coffee company that apparently was having financial problems during that time period. in addition, he borrowed $4.1 million from a mississippi bank using fraudulent copies of tax returns. now, in these tax returns, he claimed that he had made multimillions of dollars per year. in fact federal prosecutors say for several years he didn't even file federal tax returns and he never made the a340u7mount of m that he claimed.
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when you put all those things together, federal prosecutors say he faces 50 years in prison as a maximum sentence in california. so those are dangerous charges for him. >> shan, the unnamed co-conspirator referred to in the complaint, said to be mark geragos, who again was a cnn contributor, no longer is as of today, what role do you think he could have had in all of this? at this point he hasn't been charged with any crime. >> very interesting he was not charged. that's generally frowned upon to use this unindicted co-conspirator idea. we're familiar with it with nixon and president trump has been talked about in that realm as well because the person doesn't get a chance to defend themselves in court, they're not actually indicted. it sounds like geragos might have been a co-counsel or also working on the matter legally with avenatti. the question is why is he not indicted? immunity is a possibility or maybe the evidence against him is a little more ambiguous. very different where two
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attorneys are charged in a case where they could argue they're representing clients. >> if you've got immunity, and we don't know, what what would indicate, that he was cooperating? >> yes, that he was cooperating and the prosecutors would value that cooperation in order to give him immunity. >> cooperating, would that be afterward or while the investigation was going on or both? >> it could be both. it's hard to know right now. >> paul, if -- obviously it's a remarkable turn of events, given sort of how michael avenatti came into the spotlight, the allegations that he was making against michael cohen and others. if true, you said this is for both, is it 50 years for both if you're adding up both indictments? >> no, actually, anderson, the california federal prosecutor said the statutory maximum for the charges he was facing in california was 50 years.
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now, of course, that doesn't mean he'll get 50 years. however, on top of that, you would have the new york charges. so that's the maximum sentence he would face. he wouldn't get a sentence that high, but this is a very serious charge that if convicted he would go to prison for these charges almost certainly. >> we'll obviously continue to follow it. paul, thank you. shan wu as well. just ahead the president blaming former intelligence chiefs for the russia investigation. former director of intelligence james clapper will join us. or child. or other child. or their new friend. or your giant nephews and their giant dad. or a horse. or a horse's brother, for that matter. the room for eight, 9,000 lb towing ford expedition.
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now that robert mueller is done investigating the president, white house press secretary sarah sanders is
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calling for congress to investigate former top intelligence officials. >> if congress is so gung-ho to call people up to the hill i'd start with comey, clapper, brennan and other people in the fbi who perpetuated this absurd lie and this absurd idea that the president of the united states was somehow a foreign agent and colluding with another government. >> joining us now is former director of national intelligence, james clapper, author of "facts and fears, hard truths from a life of intelligence" and was named there by sarah sanders. director clapper, what is your reaction to what sanders said? >> first, i wonder if she was conflating or confusing collusion, whatever that is, with the russian interference. certainly those of us that she named, john brennan and jim comey and i are part of the group that were tasked by president obama to put together all the reporting we had on the russian interference. which we did. president obama directly and
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personally confronted putin about the russian interference in september, and did not accept at face value putin's protestations. john brennan directly did the same thing with his counterpart on october 7th of '16. we put out a statement. i say we, jeh johnson and i put out a statement, pretty forthright one, warning of the russian interference in our election. this is a month before the election, which unfortunately got drowned out by the "access hollywood" tape revelation. on december 29th, the administration issued a series of sanctions. 35 russian operatives, et cetera. and then on january 6th we issued our intelligence community assessment documenting the russian interference in which we had very high confidence in the evidence that we presented to then president-elect trump at trump tower. i think what gives rise -- now,
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i will once again emphasize that in that intelligence community assessment there was nothing about collusion because we didn't have sufficient evidence of that to include it. and i have so stated publicly, starting with march 4th of 2017 when i appeared on "meet the press." and i consistently said we didn't have the evidence at the time contemporaneously and it was my great hope that the mueller investigation would resolve that once and for all, and apparently it did. regardless of your political stripes, whether you're an opponent or proponent of president trump, that's a good thing for all of america. i would just note that my former general counsel, robert lid, has written an excellent treatise on the nuances of the language in the barr memorandum, which without going into it will just say emphasizes the importance of tran transparency and having access, public access to the entire
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report. >> in terms of things you have said on television subsequently, however long you've been talking on television, do you regret anything you have said in terms of raising questions about the president's behavior or some of the things the president has done or said? >> no, i don't. and i have put that in writing in my book as well. i have concerns, as do others, and i have tried to be factual and temperate and moderate about it, but i do have concerns. no, i don't have any regrets. >> and do you still have the same concerns about, you know, the president, his relationship with vladimir putin, his tendency to side with vladimir putin against, you know, former intelligence officials or even his current intelligence officials? >> i do have concerns about the president's unwillingness or inability or whatever to call out the russian interference in
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the election. i would just point out that one of president obama's objectives in tasking us to do that report on the russian interference was to hand it off to the next administration. so the trump administration would have that as a basis for taking action against russia, which sort of hasn't happened in some ways. >> so just lastly, you've said before that you don't understand what you say are the strange personal deference to putin by the president. does barr's summary of mueller's findings, because that's all we've seen, clear that up for you at all, or you certainly want to see the full report? >> well, like everyone else, i would very much like to see what mueller actually said in his report. and hopefully answer some of the unanswered questions that i think still linger. the three and a half page summary that the attorney general provided, which was, you know, it's kind of like
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headlines, details at 11:00 sort of thing, doesn't cut it. >> director clapper, appreciate you being with us. thanks. >> thanks, anderson. up next, new reporting from "the washington post" says president trump asked some of his top aides for ways to limit federal funding going to puerto rico still struggling from the hurricane back in the fall of 2017. we'll have details, ahead. biopharmaceutical researchers. pursuing life-changing cures in a country that fosters innovation here, they find breakthroughs... like a way to fight cancer by arming a patient's own t-cells... because it's not just about the next breakthrough... it's all the ones after that. you won't find relief here. congestion and pressure? go to the pharmacy counter for powerful claritin-d. while the leading allergy spray only relieves 6 symptoms, claritin-d relieves 8, including sinus congestion and pressure.
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ever since hurricane maria struck puerto rico back in the fall of 2017, the trump administration's response to the disaster has been controversial, certainly. you might recall these images, president trump tossing paper towels into a crowd after he visited the island, while the mayor of san juan was criticizing the administration's relief efforts. today "the washington post" says the president asked top advisers for ways he could limit federal funds to a still struggling puerto rico during an oval office meeting earlier this year. on the byline is josh dawsey. josh, can you explain your story about the what the president is saying about puerto rico? >> he is wanting to limit the housing and urban development grants, known as hud grants that go there as well as food stamp assistance to the island. obviously the island was racked by hurricane maria and has struggled to get back on the grid. people still without power. lots of folks there in desperate need of government assistance. the president has instead said that he prefers money to go
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towards other disasters in the continental united states. he thinks that puerto rico's officials are misusing the money, are not giving it to their citizens properly. he really doesn't want any more money to go there and told his aides that. there's currently a battle over the next round of disaster funding and food stamp money. the president is putting his finger on the scale to say he thinks puerto rico has received enough and doesn't need anymore. >> is it -- is there anger toward puerto rico on the president's part? is it, as you say, that he just feels like they're misusing the funds? do we know how it's going to affect any federal aid headed to the island? >> well, it's an amalgamation of both. the president grew frustrated with political leaders after the storm. his public tiffs with the mayor of san juan and kind of grew to believe that puerto rico's officials on the ground were not particularly competent. he also has been concerned that he doesn't think puerto rico is spending its money correctly. he made a "wall street journal"
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story from late 2018 that shows how some bondholders and folks in the private industry were benefitting from federal government funds and that really set him off by the accounts of several different administration officials we've spoken to. since then there's been a desire to really cut back on the funding that goes to puerto rico. how much has that impacted residents? >> well, my colleague went to puerto rico last weekend and spent several days on the ground and found there were a lot of people in desperate need. more than a 40% cut. people that run social safety net programs, nursing homes, people living on the cusp of just trying to even get back to where they were near before the storm, really still struggling in puerto rico and the portrait he painted there was pretty grim and it's a place where all the elected officials say they need
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more. >> what role is congress playing in this? any that could be passed or signed into law? >> there's legislation that could come up as early as this week on puerto rico assistance and a number are pushing heavy for it. you have some republicans that are pushing for the country to get more but and fires that are part of the package and it's a meltding pot of money that goes and what the president and the white house wants matters quite a bit in these discussions. >> appreciate it. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> all right. chris is back. let's see what he's working on for cuomo primetime at the top of the hour. welcome back. >> it's good to see you my friend. some things are simple. some things are complex. puerto rico, simple. they got the numbers wrong there and they got the importance wrong there and they have been carrying it through as some type
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of vendetta. i was there on vacation with my family. the help is real. the need is real. it's that simple. complex is why i'm here in washington d.c. i came here to get the president's two main lawyers. we'll have them both on tonight. listen to this, i never heard of this before, they're tag teaming my show with sean hannity's show tonight. it's such a statement that where we are as a culture that they'll be switching mid show going back and forth on the two shows preaching to the converted on one and preaching to open minds on the other. it's a really weird time but we need to have an understanding of what this report means and what we still need to know and we'll get deep on that tonight. >> all right. about seven minutes from now. thank you very much. still ahead, the father of a first grader killed in the sandy hook massacre died of suicide. he's just one of three apparent suicides in the past week or so with possible ties to school shootings. more ahead. at fidelity, we help you prepare for the unexpected
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sad and difficult news to report tonight that's a reminder to us all about how fragile human life is and how important it is to reach out to help or those in need. the father will have oi ail girl murdered in the newtown massacre was found this morning. his daughter was six when she was killed along with 19 other children and six adults at sandy hook elementary in 2012. he founded a nonprofit that focused on violence prevention through research. i spoke to him and his wife about their daughter in 2013 for a cnn documentary. >> she was such a wonderfully
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fun child and she would light up. i wish that you got to meet her. you would have been blown away. she was fun and funny. she would have made you smile. every day we need to get out of bed and jen came up with just a beautiful idea to get us out of bed and every day we try to find something of beauty. something that makes you feel the world is a good place. and then every day we want to make sure that we try to, really strive to give back something of beauty. something to the world. >> striving to give back something of beauty to the world. he was 49 years old and the cause of death is an apparent suicide. it's often impossible to know for sure what may be in someone's head or heart that leads to depression and sometimes to death by suicide but there have been several other recent deaths we want to make you away of. in florida mourners are grieving the death of a 2018 graduate of
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mar margory stoneman douglas high school. she survived the attack last year. her mom told cnn affiliate wfor that she suffered from survivor's guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. another student also died by suicide. the student is a sophomore according to the miami herald. we don't know what caused these people to have these thoughts and act on them. it is important to know that help is available. reaching out for it can be hard and it's made harder by the stigma that still surrounds suicide and made harder by the silence that also surrounds suicide. it's not easy to talk about it if you're having thoughts of suicide and it's certainly not easy to talk about if someone you know is suffering and you want to help them. it's often hard to know what to say or how to help, but reaching out in both cases and talking,
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that is essential. there's help out there and it's just a phone call away. if you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, you can call national suicide prevention lifeline. we're showing you the number at the bottom of your screen. 1-800-273-8255. 1-800-273-8255. there's also a text line and you can text home to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from an organization called crisis text line. it's very popular among young people in particular or anybody that may be more used to or comfortable with texting than on the phone. counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. we had an important and extension conversation with the chief medical officer earlier on our show on full circle.
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it's our daily interactive newscast on facebook and that's posted right now and it's an important conversation with a lot of detailed information that could help you or someone that you love. it's at cooper full circle and that's where you can watch us every weeknight at 6:25. the news continues. i want to hand it over to chris for cuomo primetime. >> thank you for addressing it. it's not easy for you. it's not easy for a lot of people to hear but we all need to listen. thank you for making the effort tonight. the need is great. i am chris cuomo. welcome to primetime. we're in washington d.c. why? bob mueller is done. the biggest question for me is why did mueller leave the door open on one of the biggest questions. why did he punt on obstruction? wasn't that his job to make a decision? it has partisans running on opposite conclusions. what we didn't need. so we came to washington d.c. to discuss the fall out with the two main lawyers working with the president. rudy giuliani is sitting