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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  March 2, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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♪ ♪ captioning sponsored by cbs >> pelley: he swore to tell the truth, and insists he did. the attorney general denies lying about meeting with russia's ambassador. >> my reply to the question of senator franken was honest and correct as i understood it at the time. >> pelley: but jeff sessions removes himself from the f.b.i.'s election tampering investigation. also tonight, the commander in chief campaigns for his military buildup. >> we're going to start winning again. >> pelley: skinny genes-- the genetic disorder that kept her from gaining weight could one day help others lose it. >> i guess that's what i was put here to do, and that's why i was born this way. >> pelley: and in our series
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"living stronger," a cop serving and protecting with a style all his own. >> not a lot of people are aware of the power they have to make someone happy, to bring a smile to someone's face. this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: this is our western edition. today, attorney general jeff sessions recused himself from the f.b.i.'s investigation of russian meddling in the u.s. presidential election. this comes after the justice department acknowledged sessions met with the russian ambassador to the united states, sergey kislyak, during the campaign. sessions did not disclose this when he was asked at his confirmation hearing about contacts between the campaign and the russian government. sessions was a campaign adviser. u.s. intelligence has concluded the russians tried to influence the election.
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now the f.b.i. is investigating whether trump campaign associates colluded with russian operatives. last month, the president fired national security adviser michael flynn, after flynn lied to the vice president about contacts he had with ambassador kislyak. no administration official has been accused of collusion, but questions are being asked about why top trump officials have been evasive in explaining their meetings with ambassador kislyak. jeff pegues has today's developments. >> in retrospect, i should have slowed down and said, "but i did meet one russian official a couple of times." >> reporter: u.s. attorney general jeff sessions said that he would have no involvement in any investigation related to the trump campaign. the announcement came less than a day after sessions acknowledged having two meetings with russian ambassador sergey kislyak last year, something he did not reveal while under oath at his confirmation hearing when
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he was questioned by minnesota democrat al franken. >> and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? f 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 didn't have-- did not have communications with the russians. make america great again! >> reporter: in february, 2016, sessions became the first senator to endorse then-candidate trump. he defended mr. trump's positive comments about russia. >> donald trump is right. we need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that is putting this country at risk. >> reporter: in july, he had a conversation with kislyak at the republican national convention in cleveland. then, in september, the two met in the alabama senator's capitol hill office. sessions says the russian
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iobassador initiated the meeting. less than a month later, u.s. intelligence agencies would publicly blame the russian government for a wave of cyberattacks targeting the u.s. election, ultimately concluding the attacks were designed to help president trump. the f.b.i. counter-intelligence unit continues to investigate contacts betweens trump associates and russian operatives. during his confirmation process, sessions was asked in a written questionnaire if he had any contact with the russian government about the 2016 election. he responded, "no." he repeated that assertion today. >> i never had meetings with russian operatives or russian intermediaries about the trump campaign. and the idea that i was part of a "continuing exchange of information" during the campaign between trump sursurrogates and intermediaries for the russian government is totally false.
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>> reporter: eric o'neill, a former counter-intelligence officer for the f.b.i., says everyone at the russian embassy is part of the kremlin's spy network. >> but there has to be that understanding that you're not just talking to a politician or a diplomat. you're talking to someone who will feed into intelligence. >> reporter: we now know other trump associates also met with kislyak, either during or after the campaign. they include michael flynn, adviser carter page, and mr. trump's son-in-law, jared kushner. iott, today, the white house described the kushner meeting as an inconsequential hello. >> pelley: jeff pegues, thanks. investigations are also under way on capitol hill where we find nancy cordes. >> i do think he should recuse ofmself. >> reporter: dozens of republicans concluded today that sessions was simply too close to the trump campaign to be in charge of investigating it. >> i would recuse myself if i were in his shoes right now. >> reporter: democratic leaders in the house and senate
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went further, calling on sessions to resign after 22 days on the job. >> the top cop in our country lied under oath. >> there is something very inappropriate to dramatically mislead congress. elf?eporter: why isn't it enough for him to recuse himself? why does he have to resign? >> look, the attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the land, and already his integrity and independence has been questioned. >> reporter: sessions served in congress for 21 years and has many close friends here. >> he's a man of integrity. >> reporter: they argued today he didn't mean to mislead and had every right as a member of the armed services committee to meet with a foreign diplomat. idaho republican jim risch: p in the last couple of years, tve probably met with a high-ranking official of half the countries on the face of the earth. >> reporter: but given tensions with russia, meetings with that nation's envoys aren't as common. oklahoma republican jim inhofe has served on armed services for
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two decades. when is the last time you met with the russian ambassador? >> i don't think i ever have. >> reporter: committee chair, john mccain, has kept his distance from ambassador kislyak since 2014. >> i was sanctioned by vladimir putin. and so i doubt if that would be a very pleasant encounter. >> reporter: democrats say sessions, a former prosecutor, should have known that his testimony was leaving the false impression that he never met with any russian officials. some republicans, scott, say it was just an honest mistake made in hour 11 of a very tense confirmation hearing. >> pelley: nancy cordes on capitol hill. attorney jan crawford is our chief legal correspondent. jan, as you might expect, democrats accused sessions today of perjuring himself before congress. what is the law on that? >> reporter: scott, that is a very high bar, and i see no way attorney general sessions would be prosecuted for his testimony. i mean, to be convicted of lying to congress, you have to give
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testimony that you know is false, and sessions said this afternoon he was thinking the question related to whether he had contacts in connection with his role as a campaign surrogate, not as a u.s. senator. so, in that context, and when you look at the actual questions, his statements would not be considered false under the law. >> pelley: now that sessions has recused himself, what does that mean to the continuing investigation? >> reporter: well, i mean, democrats are saying that sessions' recusal is just not enough, and it's a little late, since he's been in office for three weeks. and they're calling for a special prosecutor. now, a spokesperson for sessions says he will not be involved in those discussions, which means it will fall to the acting attorney general, dana boente, who was nominated by president obama, to decide whether or not a special prosecutor should take over the investigation. because, remember, sessions' choice for deputy has not yet been confirmed by the senate. and, scott, you're also seeing some calls for an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate any wrongdoing that might not rise to the criminal level.
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>> pelley: and the special prosecutor, of course, would take the investigation outside the justice department. jan crawford for us tonight. jan, thank you. we have breaking news tonight so we'll go right to the details of this developing story. >> reporter: scott, president trump has just responded to attorney general session' decision to recuse himself. the president says partisan politics are to blame for this saga. here's the entire statemented just moments ago by want president. "jeff sessions is an honest man. he did not say anything wrong. he could have stated his response more accurately but it was clearly not intentional. the whole narrative is a way of saving face for democrats after losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. the democrats are overplaying their hand. they lofts election, and now they have lost their grip on reality. the real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified other and information. it is a total witch-hunt." it is worth noting the president does not say whether he agrees
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with the decision by the attorney general to recuse himself. and his tone, particularly that line about democrats losing their grip on reality, markaise real departure from this week's message of unity delivered during a joint session of congress. many democrats tonight reiterated their calls for jeff sessions to resign. the political battle lines are clearly drawn. paula reid, cbs news, washington. today, president trump promised more warships, planes, and weapons to a visit to america's new aircast carrier the "gerald r. ford." mr. trump praised the ship, but he has been harshly critical of its cost. here's david martin. >> reporter: nothing symbolizes american military might more than an aircraft carrier, which is why president
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trump went aboard the navy's newest carrier, the "gerald r. ford," to promote his plans for a military buildup. >> we will give you the tools you need to prevent war, and if required to fight a war, only do one thing. you know what that is? win. win! we're going to start winning again. >> reporter: but as the most expensive ship ever built, the "ford," which will begin its sea trials next month, stands for something else as well. >> the "ford" is a poster child for how you don't build a ship. >> reporter: ray mabus should know. he was secretary of the navy during the obama administration. >> they were designing the "ford" while they were building it. not a good way to build a ship. this is just a dumb way to build any type of ship, but particularly something as big and complicated as a carrier. >> reporter: started during the bush administration, the "ford" incorporated new technologies, including an electromagnetic launch system-- here being tested witha dead weight-- to replace the traditional steam-powered catapult. >> not only price went through
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the roof, but the schedule just became terrible because-- because there were so many new technologies, and it was so unproven. >> reporter: the "ford" is expected to cost just under $13 billion, and that's not counting the aircraft it will carry, including the f-35 joint strike fighter, which will cost the navy close to $100 million a copy. under the current schedule, the "ford" will not be ready for combat until 2021, which means donald trump will have to get elected to a second term before he can send it into action. scott. >> pelley: david martin at the pentagon. david, thank you. still ahead, a genetic discovery may help people lose weight and the cop setting an example for living stronger. so i liked when my doctor told me i may reach my blood sugar and a1c goals by activating what's within me
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>> pelley: we've come across fascinating development in science. a woman who could not gain weight may have helped find a solution for people who gain too much. here's jim axelrod. >> reporter: abby solomon's purse looks like a traveling pantry, full of sugary snacks. >> my life basically revolves around food. >> reporter: and, yet, for all she eats, she's in a constant battle with starvation. abby was born with a rare genetic disorder called neonatatal progeroid syndrome. the mutation mangles noses and makes abby look prematurely old.
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it also prevents her body from making enough asprosin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. this sounds like it really does control your life, doesn't it? >> yeah, yeah, it's always on my mind. >> reporter: she's not hungry, but still needs to eat all the time. the food feeds her brain just enough glucose to keep her from passing out, but it's only a few bites until she feels full. abby consumes half the amount of normal calories for a woman her age, and at 5'10", weighs just 99 pounds. you're eating and eating and not gaining weight. >> right. it's-- i mean, it's weird. i agree. >> reporter: dr. antul chopra doesn't think it's weird. >> i think we are very fortunate that our paths crossed, mine and abby's. >> reporter: he thinks it could be an exciting breakthrough in the fight against obesity and diabetes. >> so here's a normal mouse. >> reporter: a medical
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geneticist at baylor college of medicine in houston, dr. chopra analyzed abby's d.n.a. >> these are mice that have abby's mutation. >> reporter: and replicated her condition in lab mice. so this is a skinny mouse. >> that's right. >> reporter: and this over here are normal-sized mice. >> that's right. >> reporter: he's now developing an antibody designed to shut down asprosin's effect on the body. >> that would be the hope here, that we can inject diabetic obese humans with antibodies against asprosin, and if it works anything like how it works in mice, i think it has a game changer. >> reporter: it certainly would be for thomeshia jones. >> i don't like looking at myself in the mirror. >> reporter: 17 years old, she weighs 380 pounds. >> i was getting picked on every day, like, nonstop. >> reporter: while thomeshia is learning better eating habits at texas children's hospital's
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teenaged obesity program, she is desperate. >> and we talked about the surgery. >> reporter: next month, she'll have bariatric surgery. if you could do this without having to have surgery, would you? >> yes, most definitely. just the thought of surgery is scary. >> reporter: abby solomon's d.n.a. may soon offer hope to people like thomeshia jones. >> that's so cool. i mean, i guess that's what i was put here to do, and that's why i was born this way. >> reporter: finally, abby's appetite is voracious: hungry to help. jim axelrod, cbs news, austin, texas. >> pelley: coming up, healing the heartland.
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midwest an the midwest and the south spent another day recovering from an outbreak of tornadoes. there were more than two dozen in seven states. three people were killed in illinois, and one in missouri. more than 100 homes are damaged. a new study by the centers for disease control tallied up america's sleep deficit, and more than one-third of americans aren't getting the necessary seven hours. lack of sleep is estimated to cost the economy $411 billion a year in lost productivity. coming up, the cop on the beat. to folks everywhere whose diabetic... ...nerve pain shoots and burns its way into your day... ...i hear you. when that pain makes simple errands simply unbearable... ...i hear you. i hear you because my dad struggled with this pain. make sure your doctor hears you too. so folks, don't wait. step on up. and talk to your doctor. because you have places to go... ...and people who can't wait for you to get there.
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who are setting an example of how to live life to the fullest. omar villafranca now with a cop who embodies the spirit of the law. >> reporter: when officer arthur parker directs traffic in front lark hh school in plano, texas, the 57-year-old keeps the cars and his body moving, surprising some drivers. >> someone called and said,"hey, there's a drunk-- one of your officers is drunk in the middle of the street." they got a real call. >> reporter: but to students and staff who know officer parker-- or o.p., as he's called-- it's nothing new. he's worked as a school resource officer for the past 27 years, and he's living stronger by keeping people safe and spreading joy. >> he makes them laugh. >> reporter: janice williams is the high school's principal. >> my first impression was, "oh, my gosh, this is going to be the person that's going to be protecting us? because he did his normal, goofy o.p. thing, and went into some
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kind of character, and he's kept me laughing ever since. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: to keep students motivated-- it's a 5k, what are you going to play? ♪ ♪ parker even taught himself a tune for every situation. history lesson. ♪ ♪ trying to get kids moving along in the classroom. ♪ ♪ >> luke, i'm your father! go to class! >> reporter: to the teens at clark high, he's a confidant and a confidence booster. >> o.p., he really tries to find that connection. >> reporter: sapida abbasi and sirnic mbua are students. >> he's mostly just taught me how to just be confident no matter what. >> when it's fun, like, he's always fun. like, when things get real, he's strict. >> reporter: last year, officer parker was voted plano police officer of the year. to show their appreciation, the students came up with a secret plan.
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( applause ) they surprised the police veteran with a pep rally. parker believes making other people smile is the key to a happy life. >> i feel like i have so much to give, and i've still not given enough. not a lot of people have the opportunity or are aware of the power they have to make someone happy. ♪ what you gonna do when they come for you ♪ >> reporter: omar villafranca, cbs news, plano, texas. >> pelley: and that's the cbs evening news for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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department, half the staff is raking in more than a quarter million dollars each. good evening, i'm al kpix 5 news begins at 6:00 with bay area firefighters cashing in. in one department half the staff is raking in more than a quarter million dollars each. good evening, i'm allen martin. >> i'm veronica de la cruz. despite ever tightening budgets, hefty paydays are actually becoming the norm for a lot of firefighters. but one department tells kpix 5's jessica flores paying out a lot of overtime is saving taxpayer money. >> reporter: that's right. in 2015, data shows firefighters here at the san ramon valley fire district made $200,000, $300,000, even $400,000. some groups are calling that outrageous but i talked to the fire chief here and he explains the numbers. a hard day's work as a firefighter in san ramon could be adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year according to data collected by
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the watchdog group, transparent california, more than half of the san ramon valley fire district's full-time employees make more than $300,000 a year in total compensation. >> does it make sense that a battalion chief in san ramon should earn over $300,000 a year in total compensation when our governor only earns 1 $80,000 a year in compensation? >> reporter: the fire chief says the $300,000 figure doesn't tell the whole story. it includes pension and benefits. so in reality, he says, firefighters take home about half of their total compensation. >> so if somebody makes a dollar, we end up spending close to 90 cents for their pension. so that's a dollar ninety roughly and then we also have the cost of healthcare. >> reporter: so that's why he says it can be cheaper to pay a firefighter overtime than hire someone new with an extra set of benefits. >> savings on the other side can be upwards


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