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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 1, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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red line past you would consider military intervention in north korea? >> that's a tough question obviously. and that's why it's tough to be president of the united states and commander in chief. i would argue if we have conclusive evidence that the nor north koreans have the ability for about to launch nuclear missile that would hit the united states of america, given the ruler of that regime, would have to seriously consider preventive strike. but before that, i believe that we should have air missile defense systems in south korea and move through that expeditiously. there's a lot of political turmoil now in south korea as you also know that also
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contributes to the challenge. but this my friends is of immediate danger and we're going to have to use our best capabilities and senses in order to prevent what could be a catastrophic event because they do not think like us. finally china is the only country in the world that has a significant influence on north korea. we should expect the chinese to break the activities of the roe fund ruler in pyongyang. >> i would tell the chinese to tell the north koreans, if you go to developing a missile that will hit north america, you're going to regret it and we're going to stop it. do you know anything about north korea? this guy is nuts. killed half brother. shot uncle with antiaircraft
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gun. plenty of family issues. grandfather claims to have beaten the -- that's where they lost me as a regime. here's what i think. i think we would be nuts to allow a crazy man the ability to develop a missile to deliver a bomb he already has to your homeland. i don't want conflict any more than you do, but best way to avoid conflict is intervene before it's too late. if you're so afraid of conflict, you're going have it. ayatollah is a vicious nazi, what do about the iranian nuclear program. anybody that has a missile that writes on the side of it death to israel, i don't want them to have it. president trump has north korea
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right. i would tell the chinese if you tell this guy to stop missile program, that's provocative act against our country and he will regret it and mean it when you say it. >> and will be repercussions with china because of failure to act. >> noah, student at gw asked to not use last name because family member in the military. question about isis. >> are the attempts to defeat isis, obviously not succeeded thus far. and some suggested we'll never defeat isis unless we commit troops to war-torn regions. as military kid this idea brings back memories and -- less than pleasant and fears for the safety of members in the military. my question is are boots on the ground necessary to defeat isis?
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if so, how complete objectives keeping troops safe? >> great question. they're necessary. said three years ago on cnn, apparently nobody listening, needed 10,000 u.s. forces to help destroy isil. not 100,000. about the same to take raka back from isil in syria. anybody told you what winning looks like in war on terror? in world war ii, we took berlin and tokyo. if you're in the military, can't promise you won't be redeployed. need more troops in afghanistan, not less. if lose there, pay a heavy price because that's where started. the enemy -- we didn't have one
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soldier in afghanistan, dime of aid and attacked anyway. why? because radical islam in compelled by god to kill everyone in this room. if i can think of way to not send soldiers i would but choose to fight in their back yard and not ours. it's not a war against islam but a war against nut jobs. bottom line is sir your family members may have to go back. i can tell you only reason 3,000 of us died on 9/11 instead of 3 million, couldn't get the weapons and best insurance policy is having it over there. >> the pentagon is having changes in how counterterrorism missions are approved. military commanders could greenlight without the president's approval. are you okay with this?
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>> not only okay, i think if we trust these individuals with command then should trust their judgment, particularly in quickly evolving situations. i had a lot of criticisms of the obama conduct for the last eight years, particularly the micromanagement of military and its operations. and you have to -- if you give these people positions of responsibility, then you hold them responsibility -- responsible. but i really believe dana that we have to have more latitude in the field to succeed. in afghanistan after all these years is a quote, stealemate an still don't have -- we have to give military leadership the
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power. >> he served in the army for 25 years and service included every major conflict including kuwait, bosnia, afghanistan and iraq. in iraq he lost both legs above the knee and normal use of right arm in ied attack. colonel. >> good evening. thank you senators for the opportunity to ask these questions, thank also for your service. given the past 15-plus years of war, how do we assure the military has the resources to institutionalize the lessons that we've learned? particularly with wounded service members and their families? >> well, sir, thank you are for your service, you're what america is all about, and can't tell you admiration and appreciation that your fellow citizens have for you. you've kept us safe and we thank
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you. it was micromanagement from the national security council staff, most of whom had never heard a shot fired in anger. that's one of the reasons why we have a stalemate today in afghanistan. we have to give the military what they need. cut by some 21% in the last six years. planes not flying, ships not sailing and guns not shooting because we've shorted the military and we've got to give them what they need. and second of all i think you would share my views. leadership of the military and national security apparatus are those tested as you have been and as you were. they really have the experience and knowledge and background and we can have great confidence in their leadership. thank you again. >> and to the veterans, every
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veteran out there seeking health care should have two sources. va system and if they don't like it, go to local doctor and hospital and rest us will pay for it. competition is the best thing that could happen to you. veteran not well served by va and lot of great people in the va, should have a card to go wherever i want to go to get services in local community. and rest of us sitting on the sidelines are going to pay for it and shouldn't complain about it because they deserve it. about the military, headed to the smallest army since 1940, does that make sense? smallest navy since 1915, how pivot to asia with navy that small. applaud president trump for understanding the needs to rebuild the military. you need to talk to john about his plan. but i want to waend this
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thought, as hawkish as i am and not hawkish, just realistic. dealing with crazy people and better get it right. never going to win the war through military force. if you take cities tomorrow from isil and don't have a plan for the day after, going to fall through again. don't have a governance plan, terrorists are offering a glorious death, we have to offer a hopeful life. people get tired. we have to stick with it on the military side but state department, soft power in the key to winning the war. president trump, don't destroy soft power. we can't win through military force again. >> you began to do it, but also formally russia the colonel and
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also kyle karpenter. thank him for service. awarded medal of honor for rushing toward hand grenade launched at him and fellow marines in 2010. president obama honored him with the medal in 2014. >> well, i would like to say thank you. you are a role model and inspiration. i also would point out you're one of the few aviators whose number of landings doesn't match the number of takeoffs. >> i was military lawyer prior to service. honored to be in room with three people like this. thanks. >> before we go, i have to ask you. harry truman famously said if you want a friend in washington,
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get a dog. but you two found each other. >> his dog ran away. >> so many people leading up to this town hall asked me how did they become so close and more importantly what is it about this friendship between the two of you? >> i think it's common interests, common ideals, common goals for our country. we mentioned my war experience. this guy for 23 years spent every time on active duty in afghanistan or zblooirk hiraq. >> is that how you got to know each other? >> really there was impeachment and lindsey was the star. presenting the case that the senate should decide guilty or not guilty. and he was reciting a passage where there were numerous phone calls made from the white house
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at 2:00 a.m. to try to get a hold of monica lewinski because the word was out maybe going public the next day. and congressman graham with the most solid occasion said where i come from, any man calling a woman at 2:00 a.m. was up to no good. i knew right then lindsey graham was a man i wanted to spend time with. he's entertaining, dedicated. and his beginnings humble. as many of you don't know. clg fact he raised his sister after his parents died. quite a great american success story. so it's common interest, common values. >> and sense of humor? >> sense of humor. wish our beloved friend joe lieberman were here, called us the three amigos. another wonderful person that we've enjoyed pleasure of his
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company for 25 years. >> senator graham, what do we not know about senator john mccain? >> that you can say on tv? >> say anything. >> what you see is what you get. there's not a private side of john mccain that is much different. he's cantankerous and can be a complete jerk to his closest friends and hug you dearly next. here's what started all this. john asked me to support him for president. you know why i did? he asked. no one ever asked me before. so over that, between then and now been all over the world with him and worst -- if he reads in the paper 5,000 people slaughtered, says we have to go there. why? but john to me has a quality really special. fight for his friends.
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i had six clients from mildly disturbed to completely crazy. john came down and stood by me because i worked with people on the other side to solve immigration problem. i'm a good conservative i think but don't mind working with the other side. john was going to be up for election and i wasn't most popular person on talk radio. he stood with me and followed me around everywhere i went. when i ran for president, most of you missed it, john was with me. bottom line is people he served with in jail will tell you the same thing -- in prison -- that i will tell you. he is loyal to his friends. he loves his country and if he has to stand up to his party for this country, so be it. he will die for this country. i love him to death.
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>> that's a very nice note to end on. >> can i just -- >> one more thing? >> we talked about some very tough issues tonight. and i still believe in america. i still believe we're the greatest nation on earth. i still believe that we have the best military and by far still a shining city on a hill as ronald reagan called us. if there's one thing i would urge all friends on both sides of the aisle, look at ronald reagan and tip o'neill, at time when republicans and democrats sat down together for the good of the nation. it's not accident we have low approval ratings, american people want us to get things done for them and need to do it in bipartisan fashion. that's what we're dedicated to
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trying to do. >> that's a very nice place to end. senators thank you so much. wanted to thank senators mccain and graham for being here, my alma mater, george washington university and those watching around the world and here. don lemon right now. thank you very much. poignant moment to end on. begin with breaking news. broke during the town hall with two of the most powerful republicans in the senate. new reporting about contacts between a top trump official and the russians. that's where we are going to begin on "cnn tonight." attorney general jeff sessions as adviser to the trump campaign had meetings with the russian ambassador to the u.s. but can't
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disclose them at confirmation hearings. joined by greg. correspondent at "washington post." you're reporting that senator jeff sessions spoke with russia's ambassador to the u.s. during the presidential campaign, contacts he doesn't disclose in confirmation hearings. what are officials telling you? >> not just during the campaign but as recent as september. at height of the alarm in washington about the russian hack of the u.s. election. in the middle of all that that sessions has a private meeting with the russian ambassador in senate office. two or three months later is asked during confirmation hearing, did you have any contacts or communications with russians during the campaign and can't remember that meeting several months earlier. >> i have the sound bite. let's listen to it. >> if there is any evidence that
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any one affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities, i have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and i didn't have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. >> so he was asked about that during his confirmation hearings. and that was the exchange with senator al franken. flat-out says he didn't have communications with the russians. you're saying that's not true? >> that's not true. and aside from spoken words in the hearing, he had to answer questions in writing, including one from senator leahy asked did you have contacts with russians in the campaign, answer a single word, no. whether -- how to characterize
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what he's saying and extent to which it is at odds with our understanding of his meeting, his spokesperson is arguing that he was meeting with this russian ambassador in capacity as senator and therefore his answer in the confirmation hearing was not being misleading. i think that's a difficult point of view to sell. >> but he was asked generally if he had any contact with russians during the entire event. but let's put this up. spokesperson saying. absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as senior member of the armed service committee, asked about trump campaign meetings not as senator and member of the armed services
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committee. is that a valid difference? reason for not disclosing it in his confirmation. >> he's trying to imply it's routine. our story tried to assess that by contacting every member of the armed services committee we could. senators routinely meet with ambassadors and heard back from 19 of them, and sessions the only one to meet with the russian ambassador. talking about a meeting that happened in middle of unprecedented attack by the russian government, alleged attack on the 2016 presidential race. decision to meet with the ambassador in that moment and failed to remember that several months later is really problematic. >> go through it a little bit more. officials tell you that sessions did not consider those conversations relevant to the lawmakers' questions. what else did they say about it?
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>> initially said he didn't recall that meeting when he was asked about it. at confirmation hearing. hard to imagine given how russia was on the top of the headlines every day in the fall that he didn't anticipate a question about russia and ties to the trump campaign. i think -- i mean to his credit, his own spokespeople are acknowledging these meetings, not arguing they didn't happen or refusing to answer questions about them. but they're just trying to navigate a pretty narrow line here by saying he met with them as senator, not as trump campaign person, when sessions had been one of the first senators to sign up with the trump campaign. had been adviser to the trump campaign for months and months and months by that point. and for that very reason, that was probably one of the key
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reasons that the russian ambassador was seeking to meet with him. >> read a line from your report. in the case of the september meeting, one department official who came do the defense of the attorney general said there's just not strong recollection of what was said. that sounds almost to me, correct me if i'm wrong, like what flynn said about i just don't recall the conversations. if we talked about sanctions or not, i just don't recall. does that sound similar to you? >> there is a bit of an echo there. and this is the same individual, sergy kizic the russian ambassador who was fired just last month. again a senior official in the trump administration having contact with the russian ambassador and having a terrible
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time recalling what took place in that conversation. >> so again, read a little bit more. "the washington post" contacted all 26 members of the 2016 armed services committee to see if any lawmakers besides sessions med with kiz lack. and -- did not respond as of wednesday evening. as far as you know no one else had any conversation with anybody from russia besides jeff sessions. >> that's correct. and from several of the members we were told that the reason was exactly what i was pointing to a few minutes ago, just the optics of it would have been terrible. because of what was happening, russian hack, information operations campaign to upend the election, i think these senators were deeply relulctant to engag
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with anyone from the russian embassy. >> thanks for coming on. joining us now by phone, evan perez, what can you tell us about the two meetings between jeff sessions and the russian ambassador? >> in addition to the september meeting, also one on the sidelines of the republican national convention in cleveland. event held by heritage foundation and according to justice department, about 50 ambassadors there and one of the people on the sidelines of it and who met with the now attorney general jeff sessions was the russian ambassador. context of all of this, obviously "the washington post," my friends there did a great job
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on the story. but context here is that the russian bats is considered by u.s. intelligence to be especially their top spy in washington. not only top spy but top spy recruiter. this is the reason why when mike flynn was in seemingly routine contact with him and then lied about it and misled the vice president about meeting with him, that's one reason the intelligence agencies and fbi were very concerned because they felt if you're going to meet with the guy and not recall or mislead when you are asked about it, that raises some questions. then he is considered to be the top spy recruiter for the russians in washington. that's one reason why that's
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raising concerns. >> here's -- evan why was the top russian spy at the convention to begin with? >> i was at convention and ran into a lot of ambassador. both democrats and republicans invite as courtesy, ambassadors from all these countries. obviously you know, you've got friendly countries like britain and czech republic and france who show up, sort of celebration of american democracy. they do invite them. not considered to be unusual but russians there for a different reason. to gather information, spy on the american electoral process and as greg aptly pointed out, in middle of all of this, carrying out a very audacious operation to disrupt and
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influence the u.s. election, which succeeded beyond their wildest dreams obviously. so they had a lot more impact than they ever realized. >> so the spokesperson is saying here. how can be in capacity if meeting with him on the sidelines of the convention? >> right. and here is the problem for the senator. they lot of times answer questions more openly than lawyers and attorney generals tend to. when al franken, the senator asked that question, you would think simply say i can't comment on anything that's coming up.
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but he freelanced and answered question, saying i was a surrogate and don't know of any contact between the surrogates and russians. >> because not directly asked that by senator franken. last part of his own accord. said i didn't do it. >> he offered up additional information that al franken didn't ask him. that's going to be the issue. obviously as you have pointed out, there's a lot of push from the democrats and at least one republican for perhaps consideration of a special prosecutor. there's going to be an increase, i think already in inbox i'm seeing statements from members of congress saying that jeff sessions needs to recuse himself from any matters -- investigation. >> there's one from adam shift
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tonight, said should recuse himself if he didn't reveal two conversations with the russian ambassador last year in confirmation hearings. >> i suspect by the end of the show get a ton more of those and by tomorrow morning see a lot more of that. because what that presents for the attorney general is a problem he probably didn't anticipate as a problem. this is ongoing serious investigation by the fbi and now will be questions as to whether or not he can reasonably oversee that as attorney general. and i think you're going to see more and more including republicans have trouble explaining why that shouldn't take place. >> stand by evan. bring in now the panel. margaret hoover, mark preston, dana bash, thank you for joining
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us. well done dana, first of all. >> happy birthday. >> senates john mccain and lindsey graham both talked to you. frequent critics on president trump on russia. you asked about this reporting that sessions spoke twice with russia's ambassador to the u.s. and didn't zplodisclose that in confirmation hearing. play part of this. >> if there is something there and goes up the chain of investigation, it's clear to me, jeff sessions, my dear friend, can't make this decision about trump. may be nothing there but if there is something there that fbi believes is criminal in nature. for sure need a special prosecutor. if that day comes, i'll be first to say needs to be somebody
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other than jeff. >> as you heard him talk about, there's still a big if. as far as we know, justice department haven't gotten far enough to know that they have the there there to take it to the level that senator graham was talking about. that's one issue. other issue is why didn't jeff sessions disclose this in the confirmation hearing. heard senator graham on the committee that oversees, first line to approve sessions at confirmation hearings. didn't want go there. understandably because the story breaking as we're on the air. didn't know enough about it. but there's no question it is open. if you think about if the roles were reversed, jeff sessions still chairman of the judiciary committee which he was or ranking republican on the judiciary committee, which he was, what would he say about it.
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>> and that's fair. information just coming out. wouldn't expect them to know about it as you were. but question is, republicans on the hill saying i've heard there's no there there. so shouldn't be investigated. is this now increasing calls and cries for independent, special prosecutor? >> sure. and senator graham said that he -- effectively didn't use name but agrees with darryl isa about the need for special prosecutor if they come to the point in the justice department, the fbi, that there is a there there. but think separate from that don, there is no question that senators lindsey graham and john mccain made abundantly clear today, they're going to make sure that investigations on capitol hill, particularly within the intelligence committee, are robust. the house is its own beast but in the senate, the intelligence
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committee is stacked in such a way you have republican -- senator mccain is ex-officio member. could go on and maybe vote if he would like to but sitting members, susan collins, marco rubio and others, republicans in the majority party making sure they say this is going to be robust and be real. when i say this, it is looking into not just what russia did to try to meddle in u.s. elections, but also whether or not there were any contacts or more importantly collusion between anybody in the trump campaign and the russian government. >> stand by. going to bring in margaret and mark. but first this is what attorney general jeff sessions told al franken in the confirmation hearings in january. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump
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campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians, and i'm unable to comment on it. >> very well. without divulging sensitive information, do you know know about this or know what compromising personal and financial information the russians claim to have? >> senator franken, allegations get made about candidates all the time. been made about president-elect trump a lot sometimes, smoeft most of them, be virtually all proven to be exaggerated or untrue. i will say to you, i have no information about this matter. have not been in on the
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classified briefings, not a member of the intelligence committee, so not able to give you any comment at this time. >> margaret you've heard that. as republican consultant -- first is this bad? >> optically it's terrible. what is interesting, story is just breaking so to be really generous and as republican i like jeff sessions and glad to have him in the office but it's really strange and troubling that two senior administration officials have had proven contacts with senior russian officials and lied about it and hid it. what is concerning to me as republican supportive of the administration is not the crime but the cover-up. why is jeff sessions not being truthful, especially at time when all the background discussion, backdrop and discourse of the hearings was
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russian intervention in u.s. elections. not like it wouldn't have occurred to him or he would have completely forgotten he met with the russian ambassador in the united states. and to say this is because of capacity as senator, you can say that but why did no other member of the armed services committee meet with the russian ambassador. >> but if you're meeting with the russian ambassador, meet people all the time and i'm sure -- but meet ambassador and someone who is spy, whether you know it or not, wouldn't you remember? >> that's not the -- whether he's a spy -- >> if you met with russian ambassador, wouldn't you remember? >> i believe it's typical of him to meet with ambassadors all the time. but not like u.k. ambassador, we have sanctions against russia right now, escalating 2.0 cold
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war scenario with russia right now, so yes don, think one would remember it. >> dana says and common wisdom is calls will increase for independent investigation here. investigative committee. so jeff sessions is going to be in on all of the information. he oversees the justice department and fbi. is it going to be incumbent upon him to recuse himself from investigation? >> i think republicans would be smart to try to get him to recuse himself only to protect themselves. at some point they're going to have to step away and no longer be defending jeff sessions. we don't know what was said and meetings could have been fine. could have been talking about anything. we don't know. that's where the investigation has to go -- >> could have been innocent but why not just say you met with him. could have talked about nothing.
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but still to margaret and other folks' points. did have meetings. to say you didn't meet with someone is just factually not true. but go on. >> i was getting to that. i agree with you. contextually, the timing and multiple occasions, meeting with russian ambassador at time when there was concern about russia having influenced our election. john mccain just said tonight, have no doubt what the russians tried to do to your election could have destroyed democracy. pretty heavy statement from someone like john mccain regarding a nation that we think may have tried to influence our elections here. having our attorney general right now having met with them during the campaign, optically it looks bad. but i do think that republicans at some point will have to push this off their plate and let the investigation go where it needs to go. >> what is the impact on what
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evan and "washington post" are reporting of the meetings at sidelines of the republican convention? impact? >> at this point looks like has potential to be a game changer in that it's going to be pretty hard to see how jeff sessions doesn't recuse himself at very least. special prosecutor is, you know, potentially down the road. but in the short-term, the question as we're hearing more about this is should he recuse himself? and the calls are likely to come. it's one thing to come from democrats, but it's quite possible, even probable we're going to hear from more republicans to do it. for the reason mark just said. to protect themselves and integrity of whatever investigation is going on so at end of the day they don't have people saying oh, no, no, it
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wasn't real because you have the chief law enforcement officer, head of the justice department potentially compromised. >> i know you want in but report this. elijah cummings calling on jeff sessions to resign at this moment. what's your response? >> it's a bit early. expect it from partisan democrat. issue here is about recusal first and foremost. can't have head of the department of justice that oversees department that's in charge of investigating domestic espionage to have somehow met with the top russian spy twice during a campaign when we know that country was trying to -- the elections. but recusal is bare necessity. >> loretta lynch recused herself from any decision regarding
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hillary clinton because of the meeting of hillary clinton and loretta lynch, who was attorney general at the time, on the tarmac. >> absolutely. but you know there's a possibility that donald trump may go to jeff sessions and say, i want you to stay where you're at, not going to get pushed out. let's not forget that one of donald trump's top aides was a top aide to jeff sessions. somebody close by his side, influencing his policies. we may see that. not sure we're going to see something happen in the next 24 or 48 hours but see if at some point the pressure gets so high that jeff sessions has to. >> and can i just add -- >> quickly. we'll come back. >> loretta lynch, she did say she wouldn't be involved in the decisions but didn't completely remove herself from the investigation, which could be an example of why they potentially need to do it differently this
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time. >> i meant bill clinton on the tarmac. >> you were right. >> stand by, reporting that attorney general jeff sessions, when he was still senator and adviser to the trump campaign, had meetings with the russian ambassador to the u.s. but didn't disclose them in the confirmation hearings. one high ranking democratic congressman calling for jeff sessions to resiechbgn. we'll be right back. t traps to e mosquitoes and sequence their dna to fight disease. there are over 100 million pieces of dna in every sample. with the microsoft cloud, we can analyze the data faster than ever before. if we can detect new viruses before they spread, we may someday prevent outbreaks
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and david gergen join later as well. spoke to republican strategist, who said give him credit being presidential for an hour after his speech but tomorrow back with russia, russia, russia. where the news is going. good 24 hours off last noob night's speech but new questions about russia right now. no rest anytime soon. >> there is no rest and interesting to hear from lindsey graham and john mccain who tried their best to talk about support for donald trump and how they want him to succeed but lindsey graham said it sunktly and simile that russia seems to be president trump's blind spot and they want to try and help him with that. what we heard from senator mccain and graham, i think this thought tightly held by
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certainly democrats and probably not of republicans on capitol hill that russia is america aesz enemy at this point and vladimir putin is a thug and killer and united states has to be careful how to deal with them and seems to have become a blind spot for president trump. only seen him in last couple of weeks come out with rough words or tough talk for russia and vladimir putin, but by and large really kind of ignored it and ignored calls from the likes of mccain and graham to take a tougher stance again vladimir putin in russia. >> last month several news organizations reporting about the meeting with michael flynn and russian ambassador, white house, vice president denied it, many others, turned out to be true. he had to resign. people are now calling on -- maybe a little bit early -- for
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jeff sessions to do the same thing. what's your take? >> it's so reminiscent of the issues that hillary clinton was dealing with with her e-mails, seems to be drip, drip, drip, you have a new development resurfacing and raising questions about the credibility of the trump administration. with the flynn situation, lot of the attention with the media is focused on whether flynn misled vice president pence, et cetera. but this is such an unusual case, you have the american people looking at tape of jeff sessions in that hearing and just not understanding the connection, why he didn't make a connection between those two things. >> this is what a spokesperson for the attorney general put out. there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. last year the senator had over
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25 conversations with foreign ambassadors. as senior member of the armed services committee asked about meetings for the trump campaign and not meetings as senator and member of the armed services kmeechlt for the fir-- committe. may make some sense but for the one he had on the sidelines of the convention, does that hold water? >> all of this going on at time of heightened concerns and reports about russian intervention in u.s. elections. so a, you would think recognize he's there as u.s. senator and most senior official supporting republican nominee for the president of the united states. >> as you said, don't know what they talked about. grand kids, flowering. >> the issue isn't that they had the conversation but issue is why did he really see it not fit
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to disclose those communications. >> here's what he said in the confirmation hearings in january. >> 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? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians. i'm unable to comment on it. >> that appears to be a mistruth based on what we know. >> this is from the reporting tonight. part of the article in the washington post, cnn confirmed by reporters. asked to comment, franken said if it is true that attorney general sessions met with
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russian ambassador during the midst of the campaign i'm very troubled that his response to my questioning was at best misleading. and added it is now clearer than ever that the attorney general cannot in good faith oversee investigation of the trump/russia connection and he must recuse himself immediately. what do you think mark? >> i think senator franken is right. if i was republican senator, would say the same thing. perhaps make the phone call privately so as not to amp up any more noise around the subject. but again talking about president donald trump, who does not necessarily follow the normal pattern of how things happen. and he may be saying to attorney general sessions you're staying where you are. just for context, irony that maeve is out at ronald reagan presidential library right now,
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talking about somebody -- hallowed ground for republicans and conservatives. fought against communism and heralded as fighting against the soviet union and donald trump is having to answer questions as republican president in the white house. it's bizarre situation. >> we've been making comparison against former attorney general loretta lynch. astute person said she didn't deny meeting with bill clinton and wasn't under oath for confirmation at the time. how is the comparison valid? >> just because at time when investigation is ongoing or we're in the middle of investigation, to have attorney general have a private conversation, it's just not very smart. i think the word optical used by margaret earlier is correct. it's not good optics. >> this all came out tonight due
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to diligent reporting from us and "washington post" but former president george w. bush is back on the scene tonight. he talked about the press and president trump tonight. listen and we'll discuss. >> the press holds people to account. power is very addictive. and it's corrosive if it becomes central to your life. therefore there needs to be independent group of people who hold you to account. and so i answered that question. of course the headlines were bush criticized trump. therefore i needed to say, there should be a free and independent press but it ought to be accurate. i made the decision after my presidency not to criticize president obama, and i feel the same way about president trump. and people say why.
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first of all, the office of the president is more important than the occupant. and i believe it undermines -- i believe that undermines the office of the presidency. >> it's interesting. and very straightforward. didn't mince words there right maeve. is he more poised now to be heard now that president trump is in office, not necessarily criticizing him directly? >> this was really interesting event. it was a long q & a session with the former president where trump was really only one small piece of the conversation. but it did seem as though president bush was trying to walk back what was interpreted as heavy criticism of donald trump earlier this week by making points about the importance of the press and being held to account. tonight he said obviously it would have been easier had he
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made that other statement. but it's interesting to hear from a former president about not wanting to second guess the man who follows in his shoes, talking about how difficult that job is. at the same time, president bush has said a lot of things about trump this week that really have taken issue with his policies both on immigration, on the targeted travel ban, and it's -- so it's very reflective former president here tonight. >> got to take a break. more on the breaking news when we come right back. is a gift. especially for people with heart failure. but today there's entresto... a breakthrough medicine that can help make more tomorrows possible. tomorrow, i want to see teddy bait his first hook. in the largest heart failure study ever, entresto was proven to help more people stay alive and out of the hospital than a leading heart failure medicine.
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