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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  May 1, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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allow appropriate public access to this case. greene travels to syria in the summer of 2014 and not only spent time in the company of members of isis but ended up marrying an infamous isis terrorist. >> he is calling upon his followers to commit attacks inside europe. he says, quote, europe is a new battleground. he says, go and slaughter them. ambush them, shed think blog, take hostages, kill them. >> greene was born in czechoslovakia, raised in germany, met and married a u.s. army soldier. the u.s. army brought his husband to south carolina where greene enrolled in clemson's history department seeking her masters degree. >> she was a very hard working, conscientious student. >> reporter: this professor was green's thesis adviser. a few years after graduation, the fbi hired greene as a
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translator, assigning her to the detroit field office. she was tasked with helping investigate a terrorist labeled individual a in court documents. cnn has learned individual a is the german rapper turned isis fighter. greene was able to track the terrorist using three skype accounts. it turns out the fbi knew of only two. greene had sole access to a third skype account. in june 2014, greene told her supervisor she was making a trip to germany to visit family. instead, she flew to istanbul, travels south to turkey, crossed the syrian border with the help of the terrorist and disappeared. there in isis controlled syria, government prosecutors say she met up with the isis terrorist and not only married him but told him she was employed by the fbi and they had an open investigation into his
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activities. the professor says any tale involving terrorism simply could not involve the greene he knew. if i told you that she got wrapped up in a terrorist investigation where she's the target, i would assume you would find that hard to believe. >> i would be dumfounded by that. it would be lard to believe. i don't think there's anything in her background that would suggest to me or any of the people she worked with here proclivities in that direction. yes, i would be surprised. >> reporter: shortly after arriving in syria, she had a change of heart and within weeks was sending e-mails back to the united states. i was weak, she wrote in one. i really made a mess of things this time. the following day she wrote, i am gone and i can't come back. i am in syria. i am in a very harsh environment and i don't know how long i will last here but it doesn't matter. it's all a little too late. she went on, i will probably go to prison for a long time if i come back. but that is life.
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on august 6, 2014, she left syria, left isis and did return to the united states where she was immediately arrested. unlike other terrorism related cases, her arrest and plea deal would receive no publicity at all from the department of justice. the case quietly hidden. court records sealed for months. even after her case became a matter of public record, still silence. a look on the fbi and department of justice website show page after page of press releases about similar terrorism arrests over the years, but this one stayed buried until now. >> this is a very wild tale involving terrorism, the fbi, matters of national security. it's hard to imagine that there would not be public interest in it. >> reporter: scott glover discovered the court documents. >> i think it's a fair assessment to say, it's
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embarrassing when an employee with a top secret national security clearance secretly travels to syria and marylanrie terrorist. >> reporter: what's more stunning is how it ended. greene began cooperating with the fbi immediately upon her arrest. she pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism. the government said she skirted a line dangerously close to other more serious charges. the assistant u.s. attorney wrote, the nature and circumstances warrant serious punishment. similar cases have ended in sentences of eight, ten, 15 years in federal prison. greene was sentenced to just two. according to prosecutors, it was because of her cooperation. she's already out on probation but free. as for dennis, the german rapper turned isis soldier who married the fbi contractor, he remains at large and still a specially
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designated global terrorist. >> this is an incredible story. what's the fbi saying about this, about how it all happened? >> the fbi isn't saying much of anything about this case. what the bureau did say only in a statement is because of what happened here, the fbi took several steps to identify and reduce what they are calling vulnerabilities. >> no explanation of why it appears she was given such a light sentence? >> that explanation came from the department of justice where an owe fusfficial told us this line with other cases where you have someone lying to the fbi about terrorism but providing what they call significant cooperation once under arrest. i gotta tell you, we were given no proof of that, no nanalysis f that. most people facing these type of charges are getting much more severe sentences than this former fbi employee. >> incredible. drew griffin, thanks.
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amazing story. there are other stories to get to. the latest republican attempted health care reform looking like it may come up short on the votes it needs. president trump is standing by list claim that president obama wiretapped him. that may not be the most con stro controversial thing. jason carroll reports. >> reporter: president trump began the week making a series of comments that are raising more than a few eyebrows. the president drawing criticism in an interview he gave to the washington examiner where he questioned why the united states had a civil war. he suggested former president andrew jackson could have prevented it. >> i mean, had andrew jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the civil war. he was a very tough person. but he had a big heart. he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the civil war. >> reporter: that would have been impossible because andrew jackson died 16 years before the civil war even began. the controversies didn't stop
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there. president trump again re-visiting debunked wiretapping claims in an interview with cbs. >> you stand by that claim -- >> i don't stand by anything. you can take it the way you want. i think our side has been proven strongly. everybody is talking about it. frankly, it should be discussed. i think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. i think that's a very big topic. it's a topic that should be number one. we should find out what the hell is going on. >> i wanted to find out, you are the president of the united states. you said he was sick and bad because he tapped -- >> you can take it any way you want. >> i'm asking you, because you don't want fake news. >> you don't have to ask me. >> why not? >> because i have my own opinions. you can have your own opinions. >> i want to know your opinion. you're the president of the united states. >> that's enough. thank you. >> reporter: the gop is pushing to make headway on repeal and replace obamacare. this is gop lawmakers' second
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swing at reform. the first pulled in march after it became apparent the support was not there. this morning, a top trump adviser sounded optimistic about getting ahe health care bill to the floor soon. >> do we have the votes? i think we do. >> reporter: the votes are still not there. cnn's latest count shows as of now there are still too many gop lawmakers who are either opposed to the new version or undecided. one sticking point, coverage of pre-existing conditions. trump telling cbs the coverage is included in the new version of the bill. >> pre-existing conditions are in the bill. and i just watched another network than yours and they were saying pre-existing is not covered. pre-existing conditions are in the bill. i mandate it. i said it has to be. >> reporter: lawmakers who oppose the new bill say states can seek a waiver which would allowen insurers to raise premiums on those with pre-existing conditions.
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>> do you have the votes? >> reporter: the vice-president stopped by capitol hill today to meet with lawmakers but would not say if he managed to drum up more support for the new bill. anderson, within past few minutes, the president trying to clean up some of his comments that he made about andrew jackson. he tweeted the following. president andrew jackson who died 16 years before the civil war started saw it coming and was angry. would never have let it happen. it should be noted history shows that jackson never questioned the underlying difference between the north and the south during that period of time. that under dlying difference beg slavery. >> a major slave owner, more than 150 or so. where does the count stand for republicans on health care. >> it's looking tough for them. the gop can only afford to lose 22 votes and still get the legislation passed. at last count that we have, 21
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have said that they would still vote against the legislation where it stands at this point. 18 are still undecided. they have a ways to go. >> jason carroll, thanks very much. back with the panel after a quick break. ahead, president trump invites a killer to the white house, rod ree go duterte. pill on the shelf ou'vey to treat your tough nasal allergies... ...listen up. unlike pills that don't treat congestion, clarispray covers 100 percent of your nasal allergy symptoms. clarispray. from the makers of claritin.
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they're experts in things you haven't heard of - researchers of technologies that one day, you will. some call them the best of the best. some call them veterans. we call them our team. you heard the numbers are
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not looking good for republican lawmakers' secretaond attempt a health care reform. right now, there are still too many republicans either opposed to the bill or undecided. here is what charlie dent told me a short time ago. >> there are a few more no votes than 21 at the moment. i don't know what the exact number is. i heard numbers saying it's within two or three votes. as many as ten. so i would suspect it's probably closer to ten than two or three. >> you know some people who are planning to vote no who right now are not being counted? >> pretty much, that's correct. >> with me now our panel. congressman kingston, you heard congressman dent saying there are no votes not being counted. if this fails, what does if -- >> i don't think it would fail. if they have five to ten unaccounted for people in terms of where they're going to be,
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they're not going to -- the speaker can't afford to have this vote fail officially on the floor. i think what they're going to have do is keep fighting and keep fighting and keep trying to get it done. what i do know is every republican, whether he ran for a dog catcher or school board or president -- >> they ran on it. >> they all ran on repeal and replace. they have to do something. >> do you agree they have to continue on, whether it's piecemeal or trying to do a big change? >> i think for the overall -- like congressman kingston said, because obamacare was a central part of what republicans ran on since 2010, that resulted in huge legislative victories -- i mean huge legislative elections, even on the local level, people are expecting that. here is the problem, you have so many -- the demographics are changing in some of the republican districts. they're more purple districts. you have more of the moderates like charlie dent and others who are saying, this -- people -- this is going to take away
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medicaid expansion, we could lose our election. this is a difficult spot for them. everyone remembers politics -- political science 101. i think that's what you are running into here with the speaker's inability to get the republicans on board because the districts are at stake here. losing an election is at stake. if they risk it there, you might get primaried by a democrat. if they don't do it, then you might get primaried by a more conservative member. it's a quandary. demographics in the districts and the medicaid expansion, people like that. >> there's the issue of pre-existing conditions, whether that's covered. the president says he mandated that is in the bill. people are saying, states can get a waiver to opt out. >> right. that's actually politically speaking, i think that actually might be a -- one of the few things about the bill that makes a little bit of sense. if you are a moderate republican representing a purple state, that state is probably not going
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to opt out. if you are a republican in new york state, you can say, look, we're not going to get rid of pre-existing conditions. we're not going to get a waiver to do that. if you are in another state, a deep red state, they may. politically speaking, the fact that they have had this compromise, which allows the states to apply for a waiver to opt out, i'm a little surprised that it's not -- that they're not getting more benefit from that. >> brian, how devastating would this be for republicans if they're not able to get it this time around? >> right now they're experiencing the worst of all worlds. i thought after they had to shelf the bill the first time it caused a lot of the moderate republicans to breathe a sigh of relief. because they weren't going to have to be put on the record and take a vote on an unpopular bill. the trump white house so desperate for an accomplishment and make good on the promise that republicans have been campaigning on, keeps bringing it up, keeping trying to put a new compromise on the
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republicans. it's constantly going to be back in the news for the next year and a half. democratic challengers running against the moderate vulnerable house republicans are going to have an issue from now to november of 2018. the president has actually made the predicament for the moderate republicans harder with his comments. he is promising the bill will be better on pre-existing conditions. >> that's the problem. president trump continues to not really stay on message. when the democrats passed this with president obama, everybody was on the same page. he was out there as the biggest supporter for a year on the stump selling this -- the obamacare bill. democrats got the democrats on board. republicans are all over the place on this. the president isn't helping the situation. he says one thing one week, promises something another, depending on the audience he is in front of. it's making house republican jobs more difficult because they can't get everybody on the same page. the timing of this is tough. if they don't do this, they will run into the budget wre reconciliation rules and the senate.
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it could be symbolic in the hours, because it's dead on arrival in the senate as usual. >> they have to pass a bill. they have made too many promises. there's no -- >> what about the idea that some supporters of people funded by the koch said to do this piece by piece by piece? >> i think that would be smarter. i think there are -- some things they could do through reconciliation, some things by executive order through tom price. other things that they can do legislatively through the appropriations process, such as risk corridors, the insurance company bailout. that was an appropriation measure. i was involved in it. i know you can do things like that to direct the funding. i do think they have to go home and say, here is what we did to address an issue in which we all ran. >> do you think the piecemeal idea, the koch brothers may be supporting of it, it will not sell well? >> i don't care if it sells well. if you are the republicans, you don't double down on a mistake.
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when you are in a hole, stop digging. the fact of the matter is that's not what the public wants. the public would be a lot more in favor of is something that president trump has suggested an openness to, which is taking a one off step to address prescription drug costs. there are democrats in congress that would work with the president on that. it would be an opportunity for him to put points on the board on the health care issue. it would be popular. he would be able to move on and pivot -- we powoke up where the president was going to put an infrastructure proposal out there. i said maybe after the bad press, he was going to pivot to an issue where he could find n consensus. >> if they did move piecemeal, is that something the president could support? >> yeah. i think it may -- we may end up doing that. it lacks repeal and replace and having this grand --
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>> or the flip side is try to fix what both sides can agree is broken. >> things like -- i can buy almost any product in the world in another state. but i can't as a georgian buy health care from alabama or new jersey. that would be a win. i think that would be -- >> that would seem to be a bill they might be able to pass. >> nobody disagrees with that. you have a president that's uninterested in the details. he is not being a good salesman. he prides himself on a deal maker, but he is uninterested in the details. he wants a cheap win. this is too big to do that. >> the andrew jackson comment, is the president being failly criticized? he said two things. one, he said if andrew jackson had been around during the civil war. then he seemed to indicate he was opposed to the civil war. he is now saying he would have been opposed to the civil war. >> you know, i think that if you
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look at history, andrew jackson actually intervened when south carolina tried to -- >> he talked about sending federal troops. he kept the union. so i think it was an accurate historic reference. >> he was a major slave holder that moved from -- he inherited around ten or so -- >> that doesn't mean he couldn't have prevented a war. >> come on. >> he was there during the -- >> if he was a supporter of slavery to the fact -- >> that doesn't mean you can't work for peace. >> okay. you honestly -- this is a nice try. i've been watching trump supporters try to candy coat this. it was an as nine thing for for donald trump to say. i don't know why he was going there with that with andrew jackson. i understand he has a fascination because people compared his campaign to andrew jackson's. he was trying to project that andrew -- if only andrew jackson could have fixed it. one person maybe if he had been there. like me, i could -- he is saying, i can do it.
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i only i can do it. historically, that's just so not true. the american -- our country for 30 years tried to prevent the civil war with all different things that led up to it. i'm talking about from where andrew jackson is going on, from the missouri compromise, that didn't work. kansas nebraska didn't work. all these things. one person could have prevented that? >> i think there's indignation by trump critics who found one more issue -- >> saying that one person who was a slave owner and that slavery wasn't the main reason? >> caesar was alive today or if only george washington was here today -- >> why can't you guys just stop and say that what the president said was stupid? why do you feel the need to just constantly defend everything this man says? it was ridiculous. i mean, i don't get it. >> one second. >> i'm not a big fan of andrew
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jackson. we should have replaced him instead of hamilton on the $20 bill. i don't agree with what trump said, actually. but i think that it's an interesting point that he was trying to make. maybe it's better left for dorm room philosophy and sitting around in dorm rooms saying this revision is history. i will say, my son's named -- great britain was able to stop slavery. they didn't have a civil war over that. it just so happens america is a very different place, a different country. we are -- our history played out the way it did. to sit around -- >> the south was built on the back -- >> slavery. >> a lot of economic interest in keeping slavery going. i would say this, i don't think it's inherently evil. trump is wrong. but i don't think it's evil to say what he said. >> i want to say in 2017, i
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think it's surreal the president is stoking a debate what caused the civil war. he is your crazy uncle at the thanksgiving dinner table. it's not just ignorant. he is stubborn and willful in ignorance. while he is creating these self-inflicted wounds, today he got his lunch eaten by congressional democrats on the spending measure. his agenda is evaporating before ourize on health care, on the spending bill. he issued ultimatum after ultimat ultimatum. democrats won on -- >> he did win on -- >> instead of talking about those wins, he make -- >> up next, the surprising meet and greet options on the table for president trump. he would be willing to meet with kim jong-un and duterte. another sign the president like dozen thinlikes
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hey you've gotta see this. cno.n. alright, see you down there. mmm, fine. okay, what do we got? okay, watch this. do the thing we talked about. what do we say? it's going to be great. watch. remember what we were just saying? go irish! see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. president trump has vowed to do things his own way. he is proving it tonight. he has been praising two
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controversial leaders, both of whom he said he would be willing to meet with. more now from jeff zeleny. >> reporter: with a nuclear threat looming and tensioning rising, president trump declaring that he would be honored to meet with kim jong-un. >> if it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, i would absolutely -- i would be lon honored. >> reporter: the choice of words raising eyebrows. >> at a very young age he was able to assume power. a lot of people tried to take that away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. he was able to do it. obviously, he is a pretty smart cookie. >> reporter: sean spicer offering an explanation for trump's view. >> he assumed power at a young age whether his father passed away. there was a lot of potential threats that could have come his way. he has managed to lead a country
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forward despite the obvious concerns that we and so many other people have. he is a young person to be leading a country with nuclear weapons. >> reporter: spicer sought to temper trump's compliment saying the conditions do not exist for the president to hold talks with north korea. >> we have to see the behavior ratcheted down immediately. there's a lot of conditions that would have to happen with respect to the behavior to show signs of good faith. >> reporter: the president stirring controversy after extending his hand to the president of the philippines, duterte. he invited him to the white house despite a brutal human rights record. he is accused of killing thousands of his own people in his war on drugs. he once called president obama an expletive. once senior administration official told cnn the white house invitation was neither expected for planned. it came during a weekend phone call between trump and duterte which the white house described as a very friendly conversation.
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democrats seized on the call saying an invitation to the white house amounted to an endorsement of the philippine leader. trump risks giving dee duterte's actions an american stamp of approval. the president defended his decision saying in an interview, you know, he is very popular in the philippines. he has a very high approval rating in the philippines. spicer said improved relations with the philippines were needed because of u.s. interests in the region. >> it is an opportunity for us to work with countries in that region that can help play a role in diplomatically and economically isolating north korea. >> reporter: it's the sign of the president's affinity for strong men. >> it's great to be with the president of egypt. >> reporter: from inviting egypt's president to the white house to praising the leaders of russia and turkey. >> jeff zeleny joins us from the
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white house. in the call with the president of the philippines, it wasn't in line with foreign policy. >> that's right, recent foreign policy. there has been a long relationship between the u.s. -- of course, that changed during the final months of the obama administration, largely because of the expletive that the president referred to mr. obama as. the trump administration trying to reset all of that. they say because of the rising nuclear threat in the region there, they need the philippines on board. certainly, it raised eyebrows here at the white house. as we talked to administration officials, the invitation was not a conveyed to some people in advance. they were surprised by that. we will see when and if that actually happens. the philippino president is not sure if he could schedule this in. he has other trips planned abroad. >> jeff nel zeleny, thanks very much. the latest on may daypro tests. arrests have been made. one of the most dangerous gangs
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in the country has members in 40 states. president trump spoke out against them. who are they and why do they inspire so much fear? if you have to severe plaque psoriasis, isn't it time to let the real you shine through? introducing otezla, apremilast. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. some people who took otezla saw 75% clearer skin after 4 months. and otezla's prescribing information has no requirement for routine lab monitoring. don't take otezla if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. otezla may increase the risk of depression. tell your doctor if you have a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, or if these feelings develop. some people taking otezla reported weight loss. your doctor should monitor your weight and may stop treatment. side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, and headache. tell your doctor about all the medicines you take,
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may daypro te protests have peaceful around the world. there have been arrests in portland. set a fire and damage a police car. mike bivens is on the phone. you were there in the middle of all of this. there was a larger protest. then it was canceled or the permit was taken away because of the actions of some of what the police call anarchists. explain what happened. >> okay. there was the annual may day protest which this year they had a march. last year they didn't do a march. this year they decided to get a permit and march. the local anarchists, they decided to schedule their protest at the same time and place as the permitted protest. they didn't get a permit. when the permitted portion started to march, the -- at the
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front there was rose city. i guess it's a group. they were -- something is going on here. they pretty much got in with the protesters and then were like throwing stuff at cops, breaking windows. eventually, the police canceled the entire march. encouraged everyone to go home. then the black clad protests kept going, winding through the city, downtown and with police chasing them and throw iing grenades that make a loud boom. people were lighting fires. eventually, the cops swarmed in and tackled them outside of city hall and made a mass arrest. >> we saw some of the so-called anarchists throwing flares, one into a store after they broke through a window. we're seeing that right now. >> i didn't see that one. >> also into a police vehicle which police put out very quickly.
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at this stage, has everything kind of calmed down? >> i mean, there isn't as great a number. let me tell you what happened. there was the arrest outside of city hall. they put the protesters into a police van. then they basically drive them around the corner to the central precinct. the protesters, they followed the police through the central precinct. that's where we are at, around the corner from city hall. basically, i witnessed protesters being loaded on to a trimet, the local transit authority, the public transit. they're using these transits, taxpayer funded buses to transport protesters around in. we're waiting here. it's a stalemate. >> mike, i appreciate you covering this with us. thanks so much. president trump's
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immigration policies motivated some of the protesters. over the weekend, president trump repeated his promise to build aw wall along the u.s. an mexico border. >> we will build a wall. don't worry about it. go home. go asleep. rest assured. that's the final thing. we need it. we need it. if the democrats knew what the hell they were doing, they would approve it so easy. because we want to stop crime in our country. obviously, they don't mind illegals coming in. they don't mind drugs pouring in. they don't mind -- excuse me, ms-13 coming in. >> it's not the first time president trump mentioned ms-13. the reference might be lost on many people. consider yourself lucky if you don't know what ms-13 is. it's worth knowing who they are and why they inspire so much fear. >> reporter: these two men smiling and waving at the camera were in court in march this year charged with killing a texas
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woman in a satanic ritual. it's unclear if they did it. but police believe they are members of one of the most dangerous gangs in the country, the ms-13 gang. >> the original kids that started ms were mostly stoner kids that were into heavy metal music. the ms-13 gang is an american creation. it was an american born on this soil here in los angeles. >> reporter: the gang began to take shape here in los angeles back in the late 1970s. many of them settled here just outside downtown. they were mostly teenagers from el salvador who fled the conflict in their country and banded together here on the streets of los angeles forming the gang mainly to protect themselves from other street gangs. alex sanchez is a former ms-13 gang member who now rehabilitates others. why do you think so many like yourself joined this gang?
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what were they seeking? what were they looking for? >> see, many of us had experienced violence in the home country on the way to school i used to see decapitated bodies. that's why the gangs became an option. >> reporter: the ms-13 gang has been on the fbi's radar since the early 2000s. they are known for savage beatings and cutting the fingers off victims. even drug cartels sometimes hire them as their muscle. the justice department believes there are roughly 10,000 ms-13 gang members in the united states. living in more than 40 states. as part of the ms-13 initiation, new members are often asked to commit murder. and are suggested to a brutal beating by fellow gang members that lasts 13 seconds. >> the 13 seconds is just an initiation in which a youth is willing to take the pain of it to be accepted, to be acknowledged, to be able to feel protected. >> reporter: it's all part of
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the allure of ms-13 that has led to 30,000 members worldwide. back in the late '80s and early '90s, the u.s. deported them back to their home countries. many of them had come here to los angeles as kids and didn't know much about their own country. once back home in places like el salvador and honduras, they gave rise to ms-13 in central america. >> they were embraced. being from l.a. is like being a celebrity. >> reporter: immigration and customs enforcement tells cnn, ms-13 is now involved in cross border crime, too. like human smuggling, extortion and drug smuggling. but according to former member alex sanchez, all the government's talk about how deadly ms-13 is only adds to their appeal. >> it feeds on the ego of the gang, because every gang wants to be number one. every gang wants to be the top ten list. most dangerous gangs.
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>> in the intro we placed a bit from president trump saying building a wall would stop them from coming in. is there evidence to support that? >> not at all. in fact, what we found is the opposite. the experts we spoke with say that the wall at the border will do nothing to slow down ms-13. we talked about this cross border criminal activity that ice mentioned ms-13 is involved in. no evidence that that would stop. you have to remember as we mentioned earlier, ms-13 was born on the streets of los angeles. the united states exported those gang members and then it grew in central america. many of them are actually american citizens. this is a gang that grew and got stronger in u.s. neighborhoods and in u.s. prisons. not everyone, every member of the gang is an illegal immigrant. now there are cliques popping up in cities like virginia and new york, not close to the border. one more point is if you listen to the fbi and the department of justice, they can't even put a real number on how many of these
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gang members are illegal immigrants and how many are american citizens. the border might not even be the problem after all. >> thanks. the white house says president trump is considering revamping laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. is it talk or could he do that? we will look at that ahead. so tell us your big idea for getting the whole country booking on choice four words, badda book. badda boom... let it sink in. shouldn't we say we have the lowest price? nope, badda book. badda boom. have you ever stayed with choice hotels? like at a comfort inn? yep. free waffles, can't go wrong. i like it. promote that guy. get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed. when you book direct at
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white house chief of staff reince priebus is taking heat for saying the trump administration is considering
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trying to change libel laws in order to sue news organizations. >> it's something we've looked at. whether it goes anywhere, that's a different story. >> do you think the president should be able to sue "the new york times" for stories he doesn't like? >> i think newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. >> no surprise that sean spicer was asked about those remarks at today's briefing. >> can you tell me who is pursing that? >> i think the chief of staff made it very clear it's something that's being looked into substantively and logistically. the president talked about it on the campaign trail. >> that is true. the question is whether it would be doable and what would it mean for the press. a lot to discuss with jeffrey toobin, jeffrey lord and david
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g gergen. >> just because you don't like a story, you can't sue somebody. >> that's right. ever since 1964, the supreme court has said that public figures can't sue unless they can show basically intentional falsehoods or reckless disregard for the truth on the part of journalists, which is a difficult standard to reach. what is significant, the supreme court is closely divided on abortion and affirmative action. this is not particularly controversial. there are eight or nine votes for this -- the actual malice standard as it's called. so what the trump administration would have to do to change this would be to amend the constitution. and that's obviously very difficult. >> so it has to be not only is the story not true but there's malice involved. you knew it wasn't true and you did it anyway? >> exactly. that's difficult to prove because journalists actually
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don't publish knowing false hoods very often, notwithstanding what a lot of people think. >> david gergen, this white house is not the first white house to consider actions against the media. president nixon certainly looked into the idea or was on tape asking about whether "the new york times" could be prosecuted for the pentagon papers. >> every president i've known has complained privately about the sullivan case. nobody likes it. but they never complain publicly about it, nor do they recommend or start stirring the pot and say, maybe we ought to do this. bill clinton and his team, he hated "the new york times." he thought they were so unfair. then along comes george w. bush, thought they were so unfair. along comes obama, you know, at a certain point, that's the way the game is played. that's like getting into the nfl. there's an old saying from harry truman, if you can't stand the heat, don't get in the kitchen. >> jeffrey lord, would you want
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to see libel laws changed? >> as you know, i'm a fundamentalist. i think the first amendment is the end all and be all of democracy and free debate. i attended the white house correspondents' dinner. it said celebrating the first amendment. but i've since talked to my conservative friends, rush limbaugh, sean hannity, all of whom can recount when their first amendment rights were under challenge, liberals never bothered to defend them and were working to bring them down in their individual roles as talk radio host or magazine editor, et cetera. i really think the left has gotten themselves into a serious problem. they are very intolerant. the scenes in portland is indicative of the thought process here.
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that in turn feeds the trump situation which -- and i must say -- he spoke to me about this a couple years ago before i ran for president, that he was very concerned about the libel laws. we have to be careful but i'm for the first amendment, period. >> i think actually this serves donald trump's political interests pretty well. you know, on saturday when he gave that speech opposite the white house correspondents' dinner, a lot of it was about attacking the press. >> right. >> his base really doesn't like the press so saying terrible things about the press is useful to him but in terms of actually doing anything about libel law, it really is impossible. >> is it just a media organization or, for instance the president says that the president is the enemy of the american people. is that something he could be sued for? >> no. it's opinions that are always protected. now, it's sometimes difficult to draw the distinction between fact and fiction. you can be sued if you say someone is a criminal.
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but if you say someone is a jerk or a fool, those are always protected. and enemy of the american people, that is in his opinion and clearly protected. >> so you can't say crooked hillary? >> jeff is right, otherwise i'd be a very rich man. >> i think, an anderson, the situation like with steve bannon, to undermine the institutions of democracy and discredit them for a variety of reasons. bannon believes that they are corrupt and all the rest but i think you have to see these attacks on the press in a broader context. >> it's all part of that? >> yes. >> and clearly these folks that showed up in harrisburg for president trump, they really believe the press misrepresents. they totally believe this. >> right. it doesn't mean they're right, though. >> well, there in lies the next
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17 years of your show. >> 17? why 17? david, all presidents have complaints about this? >> absolutely. that's what accountability is all about. it holds you to accountability and transparency. if it weren't for the press, it would be a much more corrupt country. if the press weren't in there, when you're out of power, you want the press to be the bulldog and making sure things are -- >> and the thing about being president is you always have access to the public so you can always respond and always get your version of the facts out, which is sort of how the first amendment is supposed to work. >> thanks to everybody. we'll be right back. so i stepped on this machine and got my number, which matched my dr. scholl's custom fit orthotic inserts. so i get immediate relief from my foot pain. my knee pain. find a machine at
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that's it for us. time to hand things over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. president trump will speak by phone with vladimir putin tomorrow afternoon. that's according to a white house official. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. that call coming amidst allegations of russia's interference with our election and what role, if any, trump aides may have played. let's get right to our senior political