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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  March 2, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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03/02/17 03/02/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >>'s editor, i am not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have medications with the russians. amy: attorney general jeff sessions is facing calls to resign over failing to reveal to senators two meetings he had with russia's top diplomat in washington at a time last year when he was a surrogate for the trump campaign. david kspeak with johnson, pulitzer prize winning journalist and author of "the
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making of donald trump" and james henry. then as donald trump continues his crackdown on immigrants, we look at the shocking case of an asylum seeker from el salvador who is being detained as she battles a brain tumor. >> free sara now! amy: we will speak to sara beltran hernandez's attorney and amnesty international, which is calling on ice to release the ill woman. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the justice department said wednesday attorney general jeff sessions met twice last year with russia's ambassador to the united states contradicting , sworn testimony by sessions to
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congress. the disclosure renewed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between the trump campaign and russia's government, and prompted calls from senior democrats for sessions to resign. during his confirmation hearing in january to become attorney general, then-senator sessions was asked by minnesota senator al franken whether he knew of contacts between trump campaign officials and russia's government. that there is any evidence anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? , i am not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians. amy: "the washington post" reported wednesday that sessions twice met with russian ambassador sergey kislyak -- in july on the sidelines of the republican national convention
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and in september in sessions' office on capitol hill. and the "wall street journal" reports federal investigators are probing sessions' contacts with russian officials. house minority leader nancy pelosi on wednesday accused sessions of apparent perjury and said in a statement -- "sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign." joining the call was maryland congressman elijah cummings, the ranking member of the house oversight committee. many top democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between top trump officials and russia's government. at least one top republican senator said wednesday he's open to the idea. this is south carolina senator lindsey graham speaking on cnn. >> it is clear to me that jeff sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about trump.
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so there may be nothing there but if there is something there, if the fbi believes it is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor. amy: "washington post" asked if they had contact. 19 of the 26 committee members who responded said no. in a statement attorney general , sessions said -- "i never met with any russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. i have no idea what this allegation is about. it is false." meanwhile, the "new york times" reports that the obama administration scrambled during its final days in office to preserve evidence of russia's collusion with the trump campaign. citing unnamed former officials, "the times" says obama's aides left a trail of evidence across different government agencies to prevent the incoming trump administration from covering up or destroying evidence. the white house is seeking to dramatically reduce the power of the environmental protection
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agency, slashing dozens of programs and laying off 20% of the agency's staff. the plan calls for the complete elimination of epa programs on climate change, toxic waste cleanup, environmental justice, and funding for native alaskan villages. it would slash funding for clean air and water programs by 30%. in a statement to the "washington post," william becker of the national association of clean air agencies said -- "these cuts, if enacted by congress, will rip the heart and soul out of the national air pollution control program and jeopardize the health and welfare of tens of millions of people around the country." former republican congressmember ryan zinke was sworn in wednesday as secretary of the interior. vice president mike pence administered the oath of office in a ceremony at the white house. >> we are confident your leadership, public service will
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seek to our nation's great natural resources and treasures as if they were your own. you will look after and be a steward of the interior of this nation and the vast natural resources of this nation with the same commitment to principle and integrity that is characterized her life. amy: former congressman ryan zinke has long promoted mining and logging on federally held lands. he's indicated he's open to reversing a ban on oil drilling in the arctic. zinke has also denied scientists have proven the human impact on climate change. in climate news, new research finds spring is arriving in the northern hemisphere far earlier than it did a decade ago. the report in the journal biology letters found that spring arrived 22 days ahead of normal in washington, d.c., this year. while in the arctic, some plant species began sprouting nearly a month earlier than normal. meanwhile, an argentine research base in antarctica reported
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wednesday it recorded a record high temperature of 63.5 degrees. the findings are consistent with models for global warming, and came as the last three years were successively the hottest on record. in immigration news, ice officers arrested 22-year-old undocumented immigrant daniela vargas in jackson, mississippi, wednesday shortly after she spoke out publicly about the detention of her family. the arrest further stoked fears that the trump administration is cracking down against dreamers -- immigrants brought to the u.s. as children, who received permission to live and work in the u.s. under president obama's deferred action for childhood arrivals program, known as daca. at the time of her arrest, vargas had a pending application for renewal of her daca status. meanwhile, police chiefs from cities across the u.s. are resisting a move by the trump administration to enlist local police officers to help deport undocumented immigrants.
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the white house plan would also withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. in a joint letter sent to congress tuesday, 61 sheriffs and police chiefs wrote -- "we can best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government. threatening the removal of valuable grant funding from jurisdictions that choose not to spend limited resources enforcing federal immigration law is extremely problematic." president donald trump wants to give defense secretary james mattis and other top military officials a freer hand to launch military raids outside of u.s. worsens without presidential approval. that's according to the daily beast, which reports the move could give wide latitude to generals to launch operations like the raid in yemen that cost the life of a navy seal and killed 25 civilians, including nine children under the age of 13. president trump told a joint
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session of congress on tuesday the yemen raid captured large amounts of vital intelligence that would prevent future terrorist attacks. but nbc news reports that multiple military sources said raid produced no actionable intelligence. meanwhile, a top u.n. official said u.s.-backed saudi-led airstrikes are exacerbating yemen's humanitarian catastrophe. you and emergency chief -- u.n. emergency coordinator stephen o'brien spoke to reporters while touring southern yemen. >> the best humanitarian solution is the violence stops, the guns fall silent. in the meantime, we have to do everything we can to support the people who have needs of food, of water of warmth, and medicine. we need to also make sure we do everything we can to protect civilians from the terrible threat of war and all the
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terrible abuses that go on. amy: o'brien called for an end to a saudi blockade of yemen's ports to allow food and medicine to arrive. the u.n. warns some 14 million yemenis are hungry and at risk of famine. in iraq, residents of the besieged city of mosul say an airstrike leveled a mosque and flattened nearby homes, killing both isis fighters and civilians. at least three witnesses told reuters they were unable to count the number of dead because the situation remained too dangerous. a pentagon spokesperson said he wasn't aware of a strike targeting the mosque. the blast came as a coalition of u.s., kurdish, and iraqi forces seized control of the last major road out of mosul on wednesday, trapping isis militants in the western half of the city. in afghanistan, the taliban is claiming responsibility for attacks across the capital kabul thursday, which killed sixteen people and wounded dozens more. one suicide attack targeted an afghan intelligence agency building. another suicide bomb struck a police precinct in western kabul. this is one of the officers wounded in the blast.
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i i was in the office when heard an explosion. right after the explosion, i took a position and tried to get out of the office. when the second explosion took place, i became unconscious. when i opened my eyes, i found myself in a hospital bed. amy: in syria, a top u.s. general said wednesday that russian warplanes mistakenly bombed syrian anti-government fighters who were being trained by the united states. army lieutenant general stephen townsend said u.s. advisers were close to the assault when the bombing occurred. russia's defense ministry denied its warplanes fired on positions held by the u.s.-backed syrian arab coalition. meanwhile, the united nations said wednesday the syrian military deliberately targeted a u.n. aid convoy near aleppo last september, calling the forced evacuation of opposition-held parts of the east of the city a war crime" in canada, three adult children of president donald trump joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony wednesday for the new trump international hotel and tower in vancouver.
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this is donald trump, jr.. >> this has been an amazing journey. amy: protesters gathered outside wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony, where they chanted and held signs proclaiming, "love trumps hate." cnn reports the vancouver high-rise will cater to wealthy investors, like an executive at a major abu dhabi bank, seeking to park their money in real estate investments. the trump organization doesn't directly own the tower, but will instead collect licensing fees from the project's owner. many government ethics experts say the investment puts
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president trump at risk of violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits people holding federal office from accepting payments from foreign governments. we will look at president trump link to that bank over tower after headlines. in georgia, a judge handed down the final two sentences this week against a group of 15 people who terrorized black residents of the city of douglasville, driving around town in pickup trucks emblazoned with confederate flags, shouting racial slurs, and threatening to shoot black people. witnesses testified that over two days in july 2015, members of the group, which called itself "respect the flag," shouted the n-word at black motorists and harassed customers at local businesses. at one point, the group drove onto the property of a black resident who was holding a birthday party for an eight-year-old child, shouting death threats and pointing a gun. members of the group were found guilty of violating a street-gang terrorism law.
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prison sentences after 13 years. the incident came a month after white supremacist dylann roof, who appeared in photos holding a pistol and waving a confederate flag, massacred nine worshipers at the emanuel ame church in charleston, south carolina. and legendary talkshow host and actor oprah winfrey hinted wednesday she is open to running for president in 2020. she was asked about a possible run for the white house during an interview with david rubenstein of bloomberg tv. >> i actually never thought -- i never consider the question even a possibility. i just thought, oh. oh. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the trump administration is facing a new scandal as the justice department has
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acknowledged attorney general jeff sessions met twice last year with russia's ambassador to the united states. sessions'sdicts sworn testimony to congress. in january in his confirmation hearing, then senator sessions was asked by the minnesota senator al franken whether he knew of contacts between trump campaign surrogates and russia's government. evidence that any anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? senator franken, i am not aware of any of those activities . i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians. amy: "the washington post" reported wednesday that sessions twice met with russian ambassador in july on the sidelines of the republican national convention and in
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september in sessions' office on capitol hill. "the wall street journal" reports federal investigators are probing sessions contacts with russian officials. house minority leader nancy pelosi on wednesday accused sessions of apparent perjury and said in a statement -- "sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign." joining the call was maryland congressman elijah cummings, ranking member of the house oversight committee. many top democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between top trump officials and russia's government. at least one top republican senator said wednesday he's open to the idea. this is south carolina senator lindsey graham speaking on cnn. jeff is clear to me that sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about trump. there,e may be nothing but if there is something there,
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if the fbi believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor. amy: earlier this morning, attorney general jeff sessions briefly spoke with an nbc reporter. >> well, i have not met with any russians at any time to discuss any political campaign. and those remarks are unbelievable to me. i don't have anything else to say about that. thank you. amy: we are joined now by two guests. johnston, author of "the making of donald trump." he's is the founder and editor of the dcreport.org. also with us is economist and lawyer james henry, who has investigated comes ties to russia. his most recent report is titled "another cabinet pick with sigrid ties to putin and oligarchs." he is talking about wilbur ross. i want to turn first to david
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cay johnston. so much has been released in the last 24 hours. both by "the washington post" and "the new york times." can you talk about the significance of these revelations? >> well, their significance is that it shows how we have to have an open public investigation of donald trump. and to paraphrase richard nixon, people have got to know their president is not a traitor. the intelligence committee chairman and the house has are ready said, well, i've not seen anything. of course, he has not started his investigation. we don't need of the intelligence committees that meet in secret investigate this or a special prosecutor. what we need is a public investigation beginning with getting donald trump's tax ones thenot only the irs has in its possessions and they can subpoena from trump if yes not destroyed them, but also
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those that he has had to produce litigation around the country, have the staff review those so that we know how much money he got from the russians, which russian, who he has great interest to, who he has business partnerships with. notice how desperate donald trump is to make sure we do not investigate this. just sessions tries to blow off sessions triesf to bluff he spoke to the russian ambassador. twice in the hearing and in a letter said he had no contact with the russians when he was, by his own account, surrogate for the trump campaign. this is very important. we really need to make sure there is an open investigation and this is not swept under the intelligence committee rug. amy: let's talk about what attorney general sessions said. he said as a surrogate for the trump campaign. he was making a distinction between that and being a
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senator. "the washington post" pulled 19 of the 26 members of the senate armed services committee on which he serves and none of them said that they had met with the russian ambassador to the united states. >> well, yes. i think it is significant he was later asked in writing another question, the answer was one word, no. jeff sessions is experienced politician. he has been masterful at anduring his racist conduct attitudes. that is how he got all the way to attorney general. absoluteas shown at an minimum that he cannot have anything to do with the investigation of donald trump. he was the first senator to back donald trump. he has made it clear he does not think there is anything here. he has to recuse himself at an absolute minimum from any involvement. what donald trump once first and
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foremost year, amy, is to make sure there is not a proper investigation. donald trump, who i have known 30 years, has a long history of compromising the fbi, compromising grand jury's, compromising the federal office so that investigations of him are not properly done. people really need to make sure, demand, we have an open, public, bipartisan, no holds barred investigation. and it starts with review of donald trump's tax returns. amy: i want to go to senator jeff sessions speaking in 1999 when he backed the impeachment of president bill clinton. >> as a former federal prosecutor for 12 years, attorney general for two years am a i know and believe very deeply in the rule of law and the fact that honest testimony
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is required if we argue have just as america. so the problem is, not a personal conduct -- people on both sides of the isle have over and over again. we know that to be true. but the fact is, we are dealing with allegations that suggest perjury or obstruction of justice. the president has a full -- should be given a full opportunity to respond to that, but fundamentally, we're going to have to wrestle with that and that issue will not go away. amy: their senator sessions talking about perjury and obstruction of justice. the significance of this, david cay johnston? >> will come in the case of donald trump, keep in mind, donald trump lies as easily as you and i breathe. he is, by becoming president of the united states, the number one con artist in the history of the world. he has spent his entire adult world deeply in the embrace of
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violent felons, russian mobsters, and you can mobsters, assorted swindlers and crooks. he has cheated his own workers at a pay, cheated small business people out of their fees. he has swindled investors in properties that were branded with the trump name. it is critical to understand you cannot rely on anything that donald trump says as president of the united states, but especially when he knows he is stopped from hiding in his closet. has spentue jim henry a lot of time digging into the russian connections here, and they are vast, deep. they go back more than 30 years. an important element to understand about why this matters with the russians, who are the russian oligarchs? a state-sponsored network of international criminals. donald trump has had so many involvement with them involving
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the trump soho hotel, the sale of property, and other things jim can talk about. then we get wilbur ross, the commerce secretary, who is in bed with these guys up to his eyeballs. amy: we're going to talk about that in a moment. us, they johnston with pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter, author of "the making of donald trump." we will be back with him and jim henry in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue our discussion about the trump administration facing a new scandal as a justice department has acknowledged attorney general
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jeff sessions met twice last year with russia's ambassador to the united states, contradicting sworn testimony, sessions gave during his confirmation hearing. we are talking to david cay johnston, the investigative reporter, pulitzer prize-winning journalist, as well as james henry, economist, lawyer, who has investigated trends ties to russia. his most recent report is titled "another cabinet picked with secret ties to putin and oligarchs." i want to begin with you talking about these revelations that have just come out and what you find most significant. >> i think the contradiction in the u.n.,ns speech to the senate, and also is a conflict of interest here in terms of having to preside over the fbi investigation at the same time that he may well have had conversation -- this ambassador is a pretty significant player in the russian orbit.
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he was a fellow who had the conversations with michael flynn that coughlin into trouble. the russians have said themselves they had all kinds of contacts with the trump team, so here we find sessions trying to draw this kind of phony boundary between what he does as a senator and what he does as one of the leading foreign-policy advisers to the trump candidacy. odor oft has been impropriety to it. he ought to recuse himself. i don't know if the answer is a special prosecutor or some other approach, but i do think he has basically discredited himself. amy: you also have "the new york times" expose today that we just talked about in the headlines, reporting the obama administration scrambled during its final days in office to preserve evidence of russia's collusion with the trump campaign, citing unnamed forme
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officials the times says obama is a left a trail of evidence across different government agencies to prevent the incoming trump administration from covering up or destroying the evidence. the trail, including passing sensitive information to congress coming giving evidence that a relatively low classification levels so it never of people could see it, also sharing information with european allies. yes situations like the nsa picks up a lot of information and it is not come through, but they started to go through it, gather that information, caterize it and start to disseminate it. the significance of this? >> we have our own intelligence community very concerned about this administration. the second thing i picked up from that report, amy, we have the dutch, the u.k., the german agencies as well basically beginning to corroborate some of the elements of the steel
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memorandum, that came out originally in the summer. this is the mi six guy who was making all of these allegations , a lot of details there, but basically, finding these other intelligence agencies, the united states is not the only organization of the only country with intelligence agencies, they are coming out with findings that are basically corroborating some of the elements of that commission that there were in fact meetings of the trump team with russians in europe during the period the steele memorandum claimed. very important. i think we're going to have to see exactly what that means. amy: in canada yesterday, i mean, you had trump's address to the joint session of congress on tuesday night. i believe the only or one of the only world leaders he mentioned was justin trudeau tuesday
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night. well, yesterday in canada, in vancouver, president trump's children, tiffany, as well as who and donald trump, jr., run his empire, joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trump international hotel and tower in vancouver. i just want to play a clip -- this is don trump, jr. >> coming from someone who has expressed with a generational family business, i know it is not always easy, not always so easy. i would like to thank the press -- just getting. [laughter] it is great to see you here. i am shocked. no, it is great to be here. this has been an amazing journey. amy: james henry, you are an economist. this is a hotel. the first trump hotel and apartment building, eight-hour,
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-- tower, that has been opened since, i believe, trump has become president. talk about the significance of this event cooper tower. >> i contrasted with a tower that just went bankrupt or donald trump had some very strange business partners. some of them connected to our favorite folks the russians. thiste a long piece about in december. you can dig it out. look, i think the trump family should be encouraged to do business. it is great they are out making towers around the planet. in fact, the whole family should go back to what they probably do best, which is building tower hotels. this tower, i mean, i think it is unclear how much employment it will create or whether the market they're targeting isn't just the ultra
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affluence. that is typically their style. i think the most important that we have been trying to understand here is all of the incredible affiliations and -- dubious has had part is from russia and former soviet union, a lot of money flowing into his organizations .rom russian capital flight essentially, what donald always says is, i don't have any business in russia. the point.is not the point is he is in an awful lot of business with russians and a lot of those projects basically look a lot like money laundering projects. .my: so talk about this when it comes to vancouver and specifically just having read your piece, talk about felix sadr and who he is. >> he is a convicted felon.
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he also happened to run a called aith a partner rock, a big investor in a project called the trump soho, that basically went belly up. bayrock went belly up. felix and his partner have been accused of being a conduit to the former soviet union money that was flowing into these projects. that is a matter of litigation that is before the courts now. but it is the case, the further you look into felix and his partners, the more curious situation becomes. he was convicted and then had a very generous plea deal in 2000 from loretta lynch, despite the fact he had been convicted of felonies for $40 million financial scam, he never served a day in jail. he then did a very big plea bargain with the justice
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department and essentially, we think he may have been helping the cia repurchase stinger missiles in afghanistan with the help of his russian friend. anyway, that is a smoking gun we need to investigate. but to this day, he has been involved -- his latest thing was to propose a kind of relaxed sanctions on russia with respect to the ukraine, just in january, using trump's personal lawyer michael cohen as a conduit. the fact these kinds of people are floating around the trump organization, just in and out of the door, is very disturbing. ip's goes into a lot of the different networks. amy: staying on felix, you actually show the business card , which says --
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the trump organization. >> at some point he was an adviser to trump. he was meeting with them in their office. they were scheming to do projects all over the planet. he was making campaign contributions to the trump organization this summer. they have distanced themselves from him. this is a fellow with been convicted of slashing someone with a margarita glass. the issue more broadly, just beyond felix sater, how to get in the bottom of all of these allegations? i think david's point about needing some kind of independent investigation, maybe a national commission on this whole issue, just to clear the air, is essentially the way to go. report i havet been doing -- i want to turn to that because, the sater story has been done. we know it is out there. it still needs work. at the most interesting thing i
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have come up with lately is about our new secretary of commerce investing in a russian owned bank that is basically up to the minute involved in money-laundering. he has three partners in that bank who are wealthy oligarchs. one of whom is a kgb agent appointed by putin to the bank, the bank of cyprus. 50% of that bank is russian owned. so wilbur ross is the fellow we are talking about. we presented our report over the weekend, several u.s. senators took the material there and asked ross questions about all of his connections with these folks. but he never responded. on monday, the u.s. senate voted 72 to 27 in his favor. i just find this outrageous, amy. yet another case. amy: but talk more specifically about wilbur ross.
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again, the wealthiest, i believe, of the cabin members. your subtitle "there is still time for senators to examine will ross and his mysterious russian controlled bank in cyprus." talk more specifically about this and the men he made and why this matters right now. >> he invested in this bank, which is the largest bank in cyprus. it has a long -- cyprus is a big offshore haven, especially for russians. most of the direct investments that go into russia are going through cyprus. his first partner in the bank, his co-vice chairman, was a guy who was a kgb agent appointed to that position by putin because there were a lot of russian shareholders and the bank after he went belly up. czar of partner was a and he don't only sold
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donald trump or bought donald trump's house in 2008 for $95 million in palm beach, but he was also tagged as bird dogging the president on the campaign trail. intersecting with his landings in places like charlotte, north carolina, and las vegas. all over the campaign trail, 319 on theserbus same routes. what were they up to? why was he intersecting with the presidents campaign? bigthird partner, another russian investors, he has four companies in switzerland, one of which has been implicated in the intelligence spying, tapping people's internet connections. unacceptable.f the final thing is, wilbur ross personally nominated as the ceo
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cyprus,- this bank of the former head of deutsche bank, which is, as david said, implicated in something like $10 billion of russian money-laundering. and joseph ackerman was there for 10 years. all of this happened on his watch. his reward is to become head of the wilbur ross-run bank of cyprus. amy: he was fined $600 million for helping wonder russian money. way to bank, as you point out, extending morek, than $300 million of loans to trump that remain outstanding. >> that's right. out to a whole lot of smoke, a few fires breaking. more and more contradictions in the administration's position.
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i would say if you're looking at this statistically, we are now up to maybe the odds of this being -- happening just by probability is like one in 10,000. there is something going on with this administration. way, for example, you could explain all of the positions that donald trump takes that are perfectly aligned with those of vladimir putin on nato, and the eu, on pipelines, on human rights, on immigration. i mean, it is like they are kissing cousins. amy: i want to turn to massachusetts senator elizabeth warren speaking out against wilbur ross' confirmation this past monday fore he s confmed. r. sstree llionaire with a long history of profiting from the suffering of others. he also has shady ties to vladimir putin's russia. this is not normal. it is shameful if we ignore all
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of it as we evaluate the president's nominees to critical foreign-policy and national security jobs. amy: that was senator elizabeth warren. with that, he was confirmed. i want to wrap up with david cay johnston. this breaking has just come in. house majority leader kevin mccarthy and house oversight reform committee chair jason chaffetz, but republican, are calling on attorney general jeff sessions to recuse himself from a justice department probe into alleged ties between trump campaign officials and russia's government. elected officials are calling on him to recuse himself and others are calling for his resignation. if you can summarize what james henry has said and where you think this is all headed. headedink all of this is to serious trouble for donald trump. i said during the campaign i do not believe trump could get through one year as president of
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the united states. the question we need to ask is, why do the republicans come up until now, not want to know and what do they not want to know? there is so much smoke coming out of the basement of this building that if the fire to permit said, oh, there is no fire, just moke come and did not burned after the fire onto we would talk about what a scandal. i think you're seeing really experienced professional politicians among the politicians are becoming to realize their interest in donald trump's interests are not aligned. you're going to see them stop defending donald trumps lies, his excuses to his utter incompetence. and protect themselves. if they are smart, they will agree to a no holds barred investigation. of course, if they get rid of donald trump as president, either through impeachment or exercising the 25th amendment in which the cabinet and the vice president can effectively remove
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the president and make mike pence vice president, they then get one of their own, mike pence, and the white house. but this is the beginning of the end, not the beginning. and all that is required now is a thorough, honest, open, no holds barred bipartisan investigation to get at the connections. and what jim has shown in his long report for d.c. report d --creport.corg is compelling enough to raise questions about what in the world is going on in the republicans not asking the right questions? hopefully, these announcements that were just made by jason chaffetz and congressman brady will signal that we now need a ship and republicans on capitol hill are looking out not for donald trump, not for the republican party, but for our country so that we can get to the issue of, to paraphrase
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richard nixon again, people have got to know their president is not a traitor. if he is, they have got to remove him yesterday. amy: we will leave it there. house majority leader kevin mccarthy and house oversight and government reform committee chair jason chaffetz both calling on attorney general jeff sessions to recuse himself. david cay johnston, we will link to your piece, author of "the making of donald trump." jamesyou so much to henry, economist, lawyer, senior adviser with the tax justice network. we will link to your pieces in the american interest and easy report -- dcreport.org. when we come back, and immigrant fleeing from violence in el salvador comes to the united states. she is in the hospital with a brain tumor. backakes her in handcuffs to jail. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as president trump continues his crackdown on immigrants, we turn to a shocking case of an asylum seeker from el salvador who is being detained as she battles a brain tumor. sara beltran hernandez first came to the u.s. by crossing the u.s.-mexico border in november of 2015. she immediately gave a sworn statement to border patrol agents that she sought to escape death threats she had received from gang members in her home town because her partner is a police officer. since then, she has been held in various jails, detention centers while her asylum case is , pending. saraon february 10, bryn esplin beltran hernandez collapsed while she was held at the
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prairieland detention center near dallas, texas. the 27-year-old mother of two was taken to the texas health huguley hospital. she was also bleeding from her nose and reportedly suffering from convulsions and memory loss. doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor more than half an inch in diameter and said she needed surgery. it took eight days before she was given permission to call her relatives to tell them where she was and the state of her health. her lawyer asked that she be transferred to a hospital in new york city, close to where her family lives, but the request was rejected. last week, the staff at huguley hospital reportedly told beltran she would be transferred to another hospital for an operation. but instead, she was removed from the hospital with her wrists and ankles shackled together in handcuffs and taken back to detention. this week, doctors told beltran she has a large pituitary macroatonoma tumor that is not life-threatening, but "could continue to grow" and needs close monitoring and regular mri's. she still suffers from severe pain in her head, numbness in her face, and has difficulty
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walking. today she has a bond hearing before an immigration judge who could grant her release. for more, we go to dallas to speak with sara beltran hernandez's attorney, fatma marouf, who is also the director of the immigrants rights clinic at texas a&m university where she is a professor of law. also joining us in dallas is bryn esplin, assistant professor in the department of humanities and medicine at texas a&m school of medicine where she teaches bio-ethics. on monday, esplin accompanied sara to her doctor's appointment and has spoken to her in detention about the care she received. and here in new york, justin mazzola is deputy director of research for amnesty international usa, which has launched a campaign calling on ice to release beltran. welcome all of you to democracy now! let's begin with fatma marouf. you are her lawyer. can you tell us how it is possible that this woman suffering from a brain tumor is taken out of the hospital in shackles back to the detention center? >> it came as a great shock i
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think to all of us. it happened the day after i attempted to visit her in the hospital and was refused entry into her room where she had two guards from the detention center posted at all times. had twoamy: this woman guards -- had she committed a terrible crime? >> no, no history whatsoever. she was fleeing for her life. the detention center, when they took her to the hospital, they left two guards who never left her side. she spent, as you mentioned, several days, almost a week, and was denied access to her attorneys as well as to her family. she was just alone, terrified, not speaking english. amy: how did you find her? >> after i went to the hospital to try to understand what was happening and subsequently talked to people within the
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department of homeland security as well as within the hospital, we were told she would be moved to a hospital in dallas. suddenly, the next day, she was taken back. we are not exactly sure what happened. there are a couple of different discharge notes in her medical records. it seems the doctors decided that she was stable all of a sudden that day and released her back to immigration custody. they had scheduled and appointed an appointment for her the following monday. we were very concerned about the break in her health care, where she was going to have to go back to the detention center where the care is extremely limited. she is visited only once a day by a nurse in the detention center. she is receiving tylenol for a brain tumor. we did not know how urgently she needed surgery at that time. amy: she was in the hospital for eight days. no one knew where she was when she had just been given information that she had a brain
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tumor? >> that's right. i think which you first got there, she somehow managed to make a call to her mother and told her mother where she was. put herpened was, ice on what they call a no contact list, which is something i've never heard of before. it basically keeps the location of the patient is secret. she is not even registered at the hospital. when her family tried calling the hospital to ask for her, they would just say, there is nobody by that name. someone locally in the area was asked to go and see if she was there and i found her there. -- as someone locally in the area, i was asked to go and see her was there and i found her there. the guards yelled at me and said, no one is even supposed to know she is here. , can you talkin about your concerns as a bioethicist about what has sara beltran, a woman fleeing violence, fleeing for her life from el salvador to the united states? >> sure.
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numerous concerns, some of which we have into that already. i was made privy to the case and concerned when i heard she was on a no contact list. i thought i could prevail upon other hospital services, such as the chaplain or social work to get involved and to offer her some support. because as you said, she was told she was suffering from a brain tumor. the nature of a neurological condition like that, obviously, impacts the ability to comprehend, to have memory. she had symptoms that were aligned with this injury, not being of little reach out to social support to share in decision-making, to talk about ere extremely w problematic. so i was thinking that would work. receptive inseemed
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providing spiritual care. at that point i sort of recused myself and thought all was well. then as we mentioned, she was discharged suddenly back to the detention center and told she would have a follow-up appointment on monday with under a surgeon. at that point, i felt more obligation to go and meet with her -- moral obligation to go and meet with her to get a sense of how she was doing. from a human being standpoint, but also what she understood about the nature and extent of her condition, what opportunities she had to ask meaningful questions, how i could better support her because her english is limited, it was very difficult for her to comprehend all of the nuances of a neurological injury like of the jewish terry tumor. i asked if it would be -- if she would feel comfortable with me coming with her to her appointment on monday. she enthusiastically agreed.
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so i had her sign a written agreement to that inside a doctorate releasing health information to me. i showed up early to her appointment and that with a clinical staff, explained who i was in a patient advocacy cassady and waited for her to arrive -- capacity and a way to avert a arrive. i can confirm unequivocally she arrived not only in handcuffs, but shackles from the hands, waste, and feet, brought into the clinic where all of the people in the visiting room were made privy to this, could see , and was escorted back to the examination room. it was only when a clinical staff asked her to sit on the patient she struggled to do so in these chains when the officer was prompted to then remove the shackles. so i sat there with her, held her hand, tried to make the best of a telephonic interpreter that
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the officers were trying to use to help her fill out this past medical history and forms. that was not working. both the connection was terrible and the nature of these technical medical jargons was very difficult to translate. insistedspital staff that a person come and translate. so we waited for nearly 45 minutes to an hour for that person to arrive. sara was still suffering from severe symptoms. she lay down and held her head. had to be aroused when the nurse came back into the room. we met with the doctor. it was just concerning to me that all of these other people, not just the clinical staff in the physician, were made privy to very personal health information. it is difficult to talk about and be honest about past
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clinical information, such as hiv status, heightened protected health information like psychiatric history, and all of a sudden these strangers are in her room hearing her past medical history, her current prognosis and diagnosis. and i think from an ethical standpoint, that really impedes the ability to give accurate permission and feel trusted. and then to be able to ask questions in a meaningful way. amy: i want to bring justin mazzola into this conversation, the deputy director of research for amnesty international usa, which has launched a campaign aimed at winning sara beltran's release from detention. had president trump's address to the joint session of congress and he keeps on repeating his going after the bad hombres, the criminals that
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threaten our national security. can you talk about how sir beltran fits into this, who she is, this woman from el salvador? >> yet your membership was detained under the obama administration. in response to the flood of families and even unaccompanied children, coming up from the northern triangle are fleeing instability and violence in those countries, including el salvador where sara is from. the policy of the administration then was, deterrence -- detention as deterrence. they wanted to send a message, this is what you are going to face also secretary jeh johnson was very vocal about that and was criticized for that, but continued the policy. you have asylum seekers, people who are cominge up here and as they cross the border and say they have a fear of going back to their home country, they are immediately detained pending determination
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-- amy: we have 45 seconds. explain what you're calling for. >> ice should be using their discretion with regards to their parole process to release sara so she can get adequate medical care and be able to live with her family who are already here -- john amy: in new york. >> in new york until their challenge on her claim is completed. amy: fatma marouf, this is a bond hearing today? >> it is before the dow's court and we're hoping the judge will issue a bond. amy: do you know how much she will have to pay, whether she can do this? >> we don't know until the judge issues the order. her family has been working hard to gather money in order to post bond. when we know the amount, then they will immediately post it if they have it. amy: we will continue to cover this. people should go to democracynow.org and we will put out what happened to that hearing. fatma marouf, attorney for sara beltran hernandez, bryn esplin
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and justin mazzola, thank you so much. much. [captioning made possible
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