. i'm wolf blitzer. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for much for joining us. we're tracking dwevelopments frm north korea to a surprising twist regarding a federal judge here in the united states criticized by president trump for being, quote, mexican. but we begin with a possible, repeat possible breakthrough in the move to try to resuscitate health care reform here in the united states. a source says the breakthrough
is in discussions between the conservative freedom caucus and house moderates. on another front, republican congressman tom cole of oklahoma sums it up this way. quote, differences have narrowed and this thing is very much alive,en quote. house republicans will talk legislative priorities on a conference call this saturday. we would expect health care repealing and replacing obamacare the effort to revive that legislative effort to be one of those topics. our national politics reporter m.j. lee is joining us with details. m.j., walk us through the behind the scene efforts under way to revive this health care reform. >> well, wolf, what we are seeing is some potential move minute on health care. what we know is that leaders of the tuesday group and the house freedom caucus have been talking throughout the easter recess to see if they can get to an agreement so that they can revive the health care bill that failed about a month ago. now, sources tell us that they have largely been talking about
the issue of whether some states can opt out of certain insurance regulations and also something to calm the nerves of nervous moderates. moderates have been urging other colleagues to make sure that some protections in obamacare, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, that those are preserved. these are the conversations happening right now. as you mentioned, there is a house wide conference call expected to take place on saturday. this is a call that often takes place as members are coming back from recess. it is a busy weekend as members are prepared to come back to washington. >> some republican law makes are are optimistic and others are remaining skeptical. what are their main concerns right now? the timing seems awkward. >> that's right. we are seeing a range of reactions. i spoke to congressman tom cole earlier today and he said that the members that he has been speaking with, and he is a supporter of the bill i should
say, that they sound cautiously optimistic. but he did note that leadership in particular, they are weary of moving too fast and basically putting a bill forward that they know would not have the votes. i have to say the reality is that the deep division that exists in the house conference between the moderates and the conservatives, those divisions are still there. we have some conservative members who have said that they simply will not accept anything less than a full repeal of obamacare and then there are the moderates who are weary of taking away some of the protections in obamacare so these conversations need to continue and these differences need to be hashed out before we potentially see a vote anytime in the near future. >> very quickly, m.j., assuming they're trying to get a vote before the 100 day mark of the trump presidency comes up, will the congressional budget office have enough time to score or report on how much this revised legislation would actually wind up costing and what its impact would be and how many millions
of americans might lose their health insurance? >> there are certainly many obstacles for such a quick turn around. no word yet from hill sources on whether we would see a new report. the other thing to keep in mind is that congress is going to be very much focused on funding the government next week and it's unclear that especially for some of these republican lawmakers who have these open wounds from the fact that this bill failed a month ago it's unclear whether whether they want to spend the energy, time and the capital to take a stab at health care. unclear if this is something we actually see in full action. we will let you know if we get any further reporting. >> it will be interesting to see if they do have a vote before the congressional budget office. m.j. lee, thanks for the reporting. the health and human services secretary dr. tom price would have to oversee the rules resulting from any changes to health care here in the united states. chief medical correspondent dr.
c sanjay gupta met with secretary price to discuss changes in the health care law. listen to some of this. >> let's get down to some of the numbers. one of the things that's different about these tax credits is that they are not income based. they are age based. why do i need, as someone who makes over $100,000 a year, why do i need the same tax credit as somebody making $20,000 a year? >> the tax code ought to be agnostic as to where you earn your -- >> still. why do i need the same tax credit as someone who's living near the poverty line? >> as you may know, that's the way that the bill they worked on years before defined the tax credit. based it on income. but when i looked at the folks who said how you ought to provide this is that income is not a det -- or the cost of the coverage that one receives.
>> dr. gupta is joining us to talk more about his interview with secretary price. sanjay, what does dr. price see as the best way to keep people from falling through the cracks of any new republican backed health care law? >> it seems what he's most focused on is making, you know, health care plans as affordable as possible for people so they buy and have more choice and can afford a lower priced plan. the concern is and this is something that came up in the interview is that you can create a plan that's very cheap, but it really is not doing anything. these plans, for example, you have health insurance, but it doesn't cover inpatient care. so if you get in an accident or you get some illness, it may not cover what is the most crucial part of your hospitalization. so yes, he wants to get people covered, but -- that's how he says he's going to keep people from falling through the cracks. the question is are they going to be good enough plans when
somebody actually needs it. >> sanjay, as usually, we're also following another looming battle for the white house. this one is an ironic twist. the federal judge curiel, the very judge president trump criticized has now been assigned a high pro fefile deportation c. he called him a hater, questioned his mexican heritage. trump then defended the racially charged attack right here on cnn. >> i have been treated unfairly by this judge. this judge of is of mexican heritage. i'm building a wall. i am going to do well with the hispanics. >> so no mexican judge can ever be involved in a case that involves you. >> he's in a society that's very pro mexico. that's all fine. i think he should recuse
himself. >> judge curiel was born in indiana by the way. jessica schneider is joining us from washington. rosa fluoresce rosa flores is joining us from chicago. his comments were defined by paul ryan as textbook racism and now they're back in the spotlight. up date us on the latest. >> wolf, you said it. the controversy and the backlash over then candidate trump's remark were wide ranging at the height of the campaign. it was speaker ryan, mitch mack k mcconnell, even newt gingrich -- let me break it down for you. he first began his rant in may, 2016, calling judge curiel biased, hostile and then made the leap to say that judge curiel was being unfair because he was mexican, even though judge curiel was actually born in indiana. candidate trump reasoned that since he wanted to build a wall with mexico if he became president which of course he did, judge curiel would be
biassed a biassed and couldn't do his job. when asked by jake tapper isn't the definition of racism saying someone can't do their job because of their race he said no. the judge was presiding over the trump university fraud case. that case settled. now judge curiel will handle this high profile immigration case. at this point, though, it is just dealing with some demands for disclosure from immigration officials, but we'll see if president trump unleashes yet again. >> tell us more about the case that judge curiel will be overseeing right now, what it could mean for the president's immigration crackdown. >> well, this lawsuit is a foia. it's over the release of deportation documents.
the dreamer involved is a 23 year-old. he claims he was wrongfully departed on february 18th, but dhs says they do not have any record of that happening. and so what his attorneys are asking the federal government to do is to turn over those specific documents. here's one thing that dhs and his attorneys do agree on. and that is that he was later detained on february 19th and deported on february 20th. they don't contest. that however, his attorneys are saying he should have never been deported because he has doco protection. we know that is protection that is given to dreamers, individuals who were brought to this country as children, and so that's the dispute. that's why these two worlds collide now, wolf, because it's a foia lawsuit, this individual
is asking the federal government to re-lease the documents of his deportation. >> we'll have more on the illegal aspects of this case. rose and jessica, thanks very much. still ahead, rising tensions on the korean peninsula. a defensive military drill by the u.s. and south korea putting north korea on a higher state of alert. and the photo of north korea's nuclear site that is surprising everyone. we have details coming up.
. breaking news this hour. we've just learned that china has put some of its military forces on high alert as a reaction to rising tensions with north korea. the move comes as north korea has increased threats over the possibility of a preemptive strike and as a u.s. carrier strike force prepares for deployment near the korean peninsula. barbara starr is joining us. what more, bar bara, are you hearing about these prep raratis along the border with north korea? >> a number of aircraft have been put on alert. they've been put on higher alert or brought up to a full readiness standard through increased maintenance.
but why is this so significant? because this the chinese -- oh the u.s. believes the chinese are doing to be ready for a north korean contingency. are they talking about a u.s. military attack? this is what the u.s. military does not like to see. rises tensions for not very clear reasons and this is the kind of thaing that can lead to military miscalculation in a region. this is why many people say being unpredictable about what you're doing with your military force may not be what you want to do in a time of high tension. that perhaps being very clear about where your aircraft carrier is and what it is doing is a much better way to go. what would the chinese do with these aircraft? would they attack the u.s.? would they attack south korea? would they fly into north korea? nobody knows. nobody knows what contingency they're really preparing for.
but it's all due to rising tensions and i think it's fair to say there are many in the u.s. military who want to see this thing cool down. >> it's also interesting that china has suspended at least for now all flights on air china between china and north korea. barbara, as you know, the u.s.s. carl vinson and accompanying war ships in that strike force, they're expected to arrive along the corikorean peninsula when? the deployment is taking time because it was originally moving in the opposite direction closer towards australia. tell us when we expect this carrier battle group to be near the korean peninsula and also about this new photo of north korea's nuclear site. >> the latest word we're get suggest the carrier strike group will be sometime next week, which is just a few days away, in the area of the sea of japan
between the sea of peninsula and japan. very important because this is the same piece of water where u.s. naval ships have operated during times of high tension in the past according to u.s. officials, so they believe that the north koreans, the chinese, the region will understand the message there. there will also be u.s. submarines there. they will be able to conduct covert surveillance missions against north korea. covert surveillance, very important right now, because the u.s. continues to believe that very thing you were talking about that north korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test, underground nuclear aeft tt ate time. this commercial satellite image re showing north koreans at the site on the surface up top apparently playing volleyball. no one can exactly say why. we are told this volleyball is
something that they have engaged in before. it would indicate the test certainly wasn't imminent when they were at the site playing volleyball, but u.s. military satellites, u.s. intelligence assets, continue to watch around the clock. they still believe a test could come at any time, wolf. >> i'm always impressed that the detail that those sat lielgelli images can pick up. volleyball clearly something that's intriguing. thank you very much, bar bara starr. some major military maneuvers, teaming the u.s. military and u.s. troops with south korean forces. paula h paula hancocks is there. >> this is between the u.s. and south korea. more than 80 aircraft involved in this.
also 1,500 plus personnel that are part of this. it is routine. it is annual. we hear this has been months in planning. it's not a specific time frame, but of course it is an interesting time frame given what's happening on the peninsula at this point. we know from the people involved in this, they don't have a specific enemy in mind when they're carrying out these drills. but bear in mind north korea is saying that the u.s. has pushed the situation on the peninsula to the point where nuclear war could break out at any moment. north korea doesn't like these drills. they do not like to see what this kind of dress rehearsal for an invasion. the u.s. says this is defensive in nature. we also know that china doesn't like seeing these military drills. they have suggested that these drills should be halted and then potentially north korea would suspend their missile program. it's not a suggestion washington would accept.
>> thank you. is there a possible breakthrough as far as health care is concerned here in the united states? we'll ask our next guest trent franks. you see him right there right after this quick break. i'm so frustrated. i just want to find a used car without getting ripped off. you could start your search at the all-new carfax.com that might help. show me the carfax. now the car you want and the history you need are easy to find. show me used trucks with one owner.
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>> thank you. >> let me get your quick fix right now on where repealing and replacing obamacare stands. house speaker paul ryan says the finishing touches, his words, are being put on a revised pease of legislation. we know the freedom caucus and you're a member of the freedom caucus, fiscal conservatives, and a more moderate so-called tuesday group, they have been talking. as far as you know, where do those discussions stand right now? do you think some compromise could emerge as early as next week ready for a final vote on the house floor? >> well, it's my opinion that that is the case, wolf. i'm convinced that the good news is that whatever comes out of this negotiation i believe is going to result in a better bill than we would have had before. so any reticence that some of us might have had i think is going to ultimately pay dividends. >> so you're up beat that something could be revived? >> i am.
the greatest challenge that we have with the health care issue is we've had to do it through reconciliation because of the 60 vote no be da-- that means to r and replace the full blown version of that is not possible. we have to do something less than that. that's very frustrating to some of us. we're doing the best we can. i think the big story is the rules of the senate making it almost impossible to get something to the senate floor with the very polarized environment. >> let's talk about north korea. we've just learned that china has put some of their military forces on higher alert. this is tensions clearly continue to heat up on the korean peninsula right now. what's the latest information you're getting? how tense is that situation? >> well, wolf,
let me just say that there is a moment in the life of nearly every problem like this when there is an opportunity for it to be seen
and clearly understood and still time to deal with it effectively. and that moment happened back when wendy sherman was negotiating this deal with north korea. she was the architect of the north korean nuclear deal. they paid the ransom, but they did not secure the hostage. and ironically north korea had already gone nuclear when they did the same
thing with iran. and i'm frustrated deeply because this is a serious situation now and it seems that my friends on the left are more interested in expressing their feelings than they are the outcome of these deals and that the number of one qualification for negotiating a deal is somehow having catastrophically failed at it in a previous instance. so this is a very serious situation that we're starting to face now. and the president of the united states has far fewer choices than the last one did eight years ago. and the options that he has are
far more dangerous than they were. >> because you make a fair point that the north korea nuclear deal negotiated during the bill clinton administration, clearly that didn't work out the way everyone hoped it would work out. what you're suggesting now is te nuclear deal worked out during the final year or so of the obama administration could end up the same way. only yesterday rex tillerson -- >> that's exactly what i'm suggesting. >> they said so far the state department concluded in their 90 day review that the north -- that the iranians are complying with the agreement. they're doing all sorts of other bad things, but with the nuclear deal, they're complying. and so what are you suggesting? >> why wouldn't they, wolf? that nuclear agreement puts them on a firm clear path to becoming a nuclear armed nation. there's no reason for them not to comply with it. and that's the unfortunate aspect of it all. of course, you know, there are
two components to every threat. that is the intent and the capacity. we are now seeing a situation where some of the most dangerous people on earth are beginning the capacity to do us harm. we're relying on their intent not to. and iran is on a very frightening path and i hope the president can do things necessary to interdict that path. >> so what are you suggesting? what can he do? >> i'm i'm suggesting at this point that he has to rely on other things that iran is doing that are outside the framework of what they should be doing and applying enough pressure to at least move towards a regime change, because if we don't either interdict the president trajectory, we could see nuclear terrorism in our lifetime and that is not a casual statement. i have 8-year-old twins. i'm pretty angry that somehow we, under the administration
prior here, have just let things get to the point that they are. now i think that we're in a pretty significant situation. north korea tested nuclear potential weapons five times during the obama administration and that puts it in perspective in my mind. we did essentially nothing. >> and so if north does a sixth nuclear test in the coming days or weeks, what should the u.s. do about that? >> well, when they first started doing the missile tests, my suggestion was that we should have had egis capability to take down their missile test. but as i said, without speaking in terms that only inflame or escalate the situation, the president's options now are fewer and much more dangerous. but we cannot, we cannot let either north korea or iran remain on their present trajectory. it is a threat to the united
states. it's a threat in iran's case to isreal and we just can't let that happen. unfortunately, this is sort of the harvest of a left wing ideology that simply stands by with a golf club and ignores some of the dangers that are in front of us at this point. >> congressman trent franks, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, sir. >> up next, strong words from the secretary of state rex tillerson on the threats coming from iran. listen to this. >> an unchecked iran has the potential to travel the same path as north korea and take the world along with it. >> talk about iran and north korea with a member of the house foreign affairs committee. there you see him. democratic congressman. he joins us after a quick break. and a one-coat wonder named "grams".
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. trying tchina putting forceh alert. a u.s. defense official says chinese missile capable bombers are among the forces now on alert. meanwhile more threatening talk from north korea as the united states flexes its own military muscle in the region. the max thunder drill as it's called with south korea is billed as the second largest military flying exercise between the two countries. today's drill takes place as north korean state media issues a new warning saying the u.s. would be, quote, completely destroyed if north korea launched a preemptive strike. democratic congressman david s cicilline is joining us. tensions with north korea clearly showing no sign of
letting up. if anything, they seem to be intensifying. under what circumstances, congressman, would you support u.s. military action against north korea? >> well, i think, wolf, before you even talk about that, we have to do all that we can to really deescalate this potential conflict. what i think is really happening here is symptomatic of a larger problem. the lack of staffing with hundreds of positions remaining unfilled at the state and defense department, important positions and the absence of a decision making process. these are complicated foreign policy questions. they require kind of the best and brightest and a real system for evaluating options. i think what we're seeing in a number of areas in north korea is just the most recent example is the absence from this administration of a real understanding of the importance of a thoughtful plan of consistency, of professional staff to help create options and
share those with you. what i think we cannot do is continue to escalate this rhetoric. this is a very serious situation. we have to continue to rely on china's intervention and keep pressure on the chinese. we of course don't want to uniify korean peninsula but don't want a military conflict in the region. >> you made headlines recently when you suggested or implied at least that president trump would possibly risk war with north korea to boost his own popularity. what was the basis of your saying that? explain what you had in mind. >> sure. actually, what i said was that wat we want to be certain of is that a president is not responding to the political benefit of an action. i think the president saw a sort of bump in his popularity after the syria strike. it wasn't part of a plan. it wasn't something that was developed in response to a real strategy. it was sort of a one-off response. i saw some bump in his
popularity. then there was the mrt other ofl bombs in afghanistan which i think some folks greeted with great admiration. what i said was we want to be sure our president is making decisions in the best interest of the american people afterthought full consideration of all the implications with really the best advice from people who are deeply knowledgeable about the region and not in response to what he might see as a political benefit. >> let me just press you, congressman. are you suggesting that the launching of those 59 tomahawk crews missiles against bashar al assad air base from which chemical weapons were used against civilians, including kids in syria, was a politically motivated move on the part of the president or the use of that m.o.a.b., the mother of all bombs, to go after that isis tunnel and cave, that was a politically motivated movie?
no. they were clearly military operations. what i said about the syria strike is because the president has not explained what his policy is and what the u.s. plan is with respect to syria. we don't have an understanding of exactly what he intends to do. one military action is not a substitute for a policy. what i'm saying is we need to hear from the president, what role does he expect the united states to play in ending the war in syria f. that includes military action, then he has a sp responsibility to come to congress and seek a use of military force. in afghanistan it was made by a four star general. what i do think we have is eight president who is obsessed with his standing in the polls, more than any president in recent history and we need to understand and demand that this administration make decisions and explain them to the american people and not for any other reason. i raise that because we have an unusual kind of devotion to polls and standing in polls so
much so that when the polls don't reflect him doing well he denounces the polls and said they're not correct. an explanation about what the policies are in the different regions of the warlorld, we all have to be on guard that decisions are made in the best interest of the american people and hopefully that some value will be added because it will make him more or less popular. we want these life and death decisions to be made wisely and prudently and considering all of the implications. >> so top of all of these other tensions, russian bombers, nuclear capable bombers now have been spotted off the alaska coast twice within a 24-hour period. what message is russia trying to send u.s. fighter jets had to go up and intercept those russian bombers. what is the russian message right now? because this is a dangerous situation as well. >> it is a dangerous situation.
i think the russians are testing this administration in many ways. i think it's further evidence that russia is not an ally of the united states. i hope this will persuade the president to stop cozying up to vladimir putin and understand that the interest of vladimir putin are very much at odds with the interest of the american people and of the united states. they are obviously engaged in destabilizing activities in many parts of the world, but this is just another sort of poke at the u.s. i think in a very stressful time to test the capacity of this president and this administration to manage multiple challenges, forgn policy changes at the same time. >> key words multiple challenges and there are multiple challenges right now. congressman david cicilline of rhode island, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> coming up ahead the legal fight ahead for the 23-year-old deported from the united states earlier this year. he claims he should have been protected under a program
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u.s. district court judge curiel will be hearing the immigration lawsuit brought by lawyers for a 23-year-old man, juan manuel montes. lawyers claim that he was deported despite having daca protection. they're seeking deportation documents from the federal government. the executive director of the immigration lawyers association ben johnson is with us. thank for joining us. explain the legal issues right now, what judge curiel has to determine. >> well, the case in front of the judge right now really is about access to information. unfortunately, in a.immigration court they don't have a right to see the file and the charges made against him. the case begins with the lawyers on behalf of juan trying to figure out exactly what the file says. they've done a freedom of information act request, the only way to get discovery in immigration court sadly. >> the argument is the federal
government alleges he inappropriately left the united states even though he had cdaca protection. he snuck back in. they checked his records, found out he was in mexico illegally and then they deported him. >> that's what they're saying now. their story has changed a couple of times in terms of saying they didn't deport him and then saying he had somehow violated his stat skpus and now they're seeing he had previously left the united states a couple days before and she essentially sort of removed himself and then he tried to come back in illegally. montes has denied those claims and if there is evidence of him departing the united states and there being two interactions with the federal government as he claims, that would be reflected in the file which is the why the lawyers want access to the file. >> he's a dreamer. he was a child when he was brought to the united states. originally the federal government said his daca
privileges had expired in 2015 and they took >> yes. >> so that's another reason that they are questioning the credibility of the department of homeland security on this one. >> they have changed their story a couple of times. they have issued a statement to the press, oddly enough, but they haven't released the file to the attorneys. again, the attorneys for mr. montes are alleging that he was forcibly removed by border patrol a couple of days before. he's been here since he was 9 years old. he has family here. they apprehended him at the border. was there one contacts or two contacts? that would be borne out by the file. >> and judge curiel has this freedom of information lawsuit to get the federal government to >> yes.those? the department of homeland security has issued a press release but they haven't released a file to mr. montes'
attorney. >> judge curiel is in charge of this. randomly, he was selected? >> it's an interesting twist, yes. he got randomly selected for this. he deals with government cases all the time. i think everybody expects he will be looking way past this. >> interesting legal case. we'll see what happens with all of the documents once they are released to the 23-year-old lawyers. benjamin johnson, thank you for coming on. >> no problem. up next, mike pence praising the muslim-majority country for modern islam. is he reaching out in the aftermath of the travel ban?
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conciliatory tone with the muslim world. listen to this. >> as the largest majority muslim country, it frankly is an inspiration to the world. we commend you and your people. we strive for the brighter future. >> pence, by the way, turned the largest mosque in the region tweeting that the visit humbled him. nice conciliatory tone. different than some of the tone we've heard before. >> right. these are people clearly concerned about a travel ban and what he said was modern islam and he did not talk about radical islam. and i think what he didn't say is almost as important as what he didn't say. he didn't talk about radical islam and made a conciliatory speech to kind of the modern
world over there and the population of 220 muslims who are mostly moderate and they have had their own problem with islamic terrorism in that country. so it was probably well received. >> let's talk about bill o'reilly who has been removed by fox news. he'll leave with a $25 billion payout as part of the settlement. roger ailes, the former leader of fox news, emerged with a reported $40 million. how is this going to play when people look back at the sexual harassment accusations that were leveled against both of them? >> first of all, i would say that the women who took him on got together $13 million and bill o'reilly, the reports are,
has gotten $25 million. >> 13 million in connection with the sexual harassment accusations against bill o'reilly. >> and i think the question is whether fox news is going to face more lawsuits and whether he's been indemnified against those and whether in exchange for not paying out his full salary, that fox news will take care of those kind of legal bills. so i think if you're a shareholder, you're going to add up the 40 and the 25 and the lawsuits and you're going to say, this was absolutely the right decision that the company made. >> remember, the president, who has been a friend of bill o'reilly for a long time, for 20 years, if not longer, in that interview he gave to "the new york times" a couple of weeks ago, president trump says, i don't think bill did anything wrong. and he strongly suggested that bill o'reilly should not have settled those lawsuits and made those payments. the president is going to have a
news conference with the visiting italian prime minister coming up. how do you think he'll respond to the latest developments? >> you know, i was thinking about that and i remember what he said about roger ailes. he said that he thought it was sad and that he admired what roger ailes had done for fox news and i think he may take the same tone with o'reilly. i don't think he's going to say he didn't do anything wrong here but i think he's going to talk about how important o'reilly has been to cable news and what a groundbreaking person he was, et cetera, et cetera, and how he is saddened by this turn of events because o'reilly is a friend of his. but will he take on and defend the sexual harassment? i kind of doubt it. >> i wonder if in fact he'll say anything about it at all. >> we'll see if someone asks. he hasn't tweeted yet. >> he hasn't tweeted about it yet. we'll see if he does. gloria, thanks very much. thanks to all of our viewers for watching. i'll be back at 5:00 p.m. in
"the situation room." at 3:00 p.m., presidnt trump will hold a news conference with the visiting prime minister of italy. we've have live coverage of that. in the meantime, the news continues here on cnn right after -- well, right now. top of the hour, i'm ana cabrera in for brooke baldwin. the white house may be looking to take another stob ab at a campaign promise of repealing and replacing obamacare. the effort comes ahead of congress returning to washington next week. the timing could prove tricky. the white house wants to get this done before trump's 100th day. that is next saturday. we're learning top house republicans may be nearing some type of an agreement. the president may have hinted at this on tuesday.