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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 24, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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happening now. breaking news, shutdown possible. tonight, the white house isn't ruling out a paralyzing government shutdown, threatened by the president if congress doesn't fund the border wall that mexico was supposed to pay for. will mr. trump take drastic action, it could back fire on him and his party. a mess. the president won't stop beating up on the top republicans in congress, accusing them of creating a new political mess, further alienating the people he needs to get his agenda passed. is there any strategy behind the relentless attacks? oversharing. as critics dream of shutting down the president's twitter account, he is stirring up even more controversy by retweeting a jab at president obama posted by someone known for making
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anti-semitic statements. and hurricane threat, a dangerous storm is gaining strength right now, and could hit the gulf coast in a matter of hours. is the trump administration ready for what could be the first natural disaster on the president's watch. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking tonight. president trump is briefed on a major disaster likely to unfold in the hours ahead. a new warning was just issued on the danger from hurricane harvey. it is on track to hit the texas coast as early as tomorrow night with life-threatening and catastrophic flooding expected. harvey is rapidly gaining strength as it churns through the gulf of mexico. people are racing for supplies and evacuations are under way. also breaking, the white house says the president remains committed to building a border
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wall, leaving open the possibility that mr. trump will make good on his threat of a government shutdown to make it happen. gop leaders are warning about the political danger of that. some lawmakers in both parties balking about funding a wall that mr. trump promised mexico would pay for. also tonight, the white house is firing back at a republican senator who's questioning mr. trump's stability and competence, calling the concerns ridiculous as tensions between the president and his own party ratchet higher. press secretary sarah huckabee sanders is trying to down play the president's feud with gop leaders, but mr. trump is pouring more fuel on the fire in new tweets. he is again slamming mitch mcconnell for failure to repeal obamacare and accuses paul ryan of making a quote, mess out of efforts to raise the debt ceiling. this hour, i talk about those stories and more with reuben guy
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aig a, from the armed services committee. our specialists are also standing by. first, to senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. the president isn't backing away from multiple fights with fellow republicans. >> reporter: that's right, the list keeps growing, he continues to air complaints about professional leaders from his own party as the white house is trying to ease tensions that may shift into overdrive with the white house openly considering the idea of government shutdown to force congress to pay for a wall on the border, the same wall the president promised mexico would fund. over here at the white house, it is sounding like border wall or bust. president trump is once again trolling one of his favorite twitter parties, his own party. tweeting the only problem with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell after hearing repeal and replace for seven years, he failed. that should never have happened. no big deal says the white house. >> i think the relationships are fine. certainly there are going to be
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some policy differences but there are also a lot of shared goals. >> reporter: despite talk of shared goals, the president is threatening to shutdown the government if congress refuses to fund a wall on the border with mexico, a threat the white house isn't knocking down. >> we know that the wall and other security measures at the border work, we've seen that take place over the last decade and we're committed to making sure the american people are protected and we're going to continue to push forward and make sure that the wall gets built. >> reporter: still outraged over his defeat on health care, he is playing the blame game on raising the debt ceiling, a battle next month that could rattle financial markets. he claims he tried to attach a debt ceiling measure to a bill for veterans, claiming paul ryan didn't do it. now we have a big deal with dems holding them up as usual on debt ceiling approval. could have been so easy. now a mess. ryan's response, don't worry. >> we will pass legislation to make sure we pay our debts and we will not hit the debt ceiling. >> does it get tiring, us asking
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about the president every time we see you? >> reporter: mcconnell is trying to lower the temperature about questions about his relationship with the president while explaining what he is up against in the senate. >> i am asked what is being majority leader of the senate like. best answer i've been able to think of, it is a little bit like being a groundskeeper at a cemetery. everybody's under you, but nobody's listening. that's what you get with 52-48. >> reporter: top gop aides on capitol hill have had it, one source telling cnn the president is attacking leaders while we are selling his agenda. >> and for our friends in the senate, oh boy. >> reporter: frequent target of his ire, lindsey graham sees a strategy in his outbursts. >> running up against mitch mcconnell and lindsey graham and others, the congress is unpopular with the republican base, there's nothing unhinged
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about it, it is a political strategy i'm not so sure is thought but a very thought out strategy. there's nothing crazy about it. it's a political strategy. >> reporter: the white house did address the criticism of the president's handling of charlottesville. asked about gop senator bob corker's stinging assessment of the president. >> the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the confidence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. >> reporter: press secretary sarah huckabee sanders lashed out. >> i think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium. >> reporter: for the moment, the president's attacks on his party have yet to back fire after poll after poll shows some support is slipping, conservatives stick with the president, proving again the gop is hardly the party of paul ryan and mitch mcconnell, it is the party of trump, but wolf, government shutdown could shake all of that
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up. >> certainly can. jim acosta from the white house. thanks very much. let's talk a little more about the internal battles between the president and republicans in congress, we are joined by senior congressional reporter manu raju. how do the republican leadership, how does the republican leadership plan to get its agenda through if it keeps fighting with the president? >> well, it is going to be difficult. they're going to try to work around the president. they know that they cannot afford a government shutdown, this is what mitch mcconnell, paul ryan, they lived through that in 2013 when that happened, and it was very difficult couple weeks for their party, the damage lasted for some time. they did well in the 2014 mid terms, but know the damage will be done significantly if that happens or if there's a debt ceiling increase that fails to pass congress and leads to debt default. those are the two must pass items. the question is how does the president deal with this, he doesn't get border wall money,
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he is almost certainly not getting that approved by this congress. the president holds firm, does he veto a bill passed by congress that doesn't include border wall money? don't know that yet. interesting signal from sarah huckabee sanders today suggesting a debt ceiling increase without strings attached to cut spending. that's what conservatives demanded. the white house sticks to that position, they're willing to fight with conservatives on that key issue, wolf, we're not even talking about things they want to get done, big ticket items like tax reform, infrastructure, part of the president's agenda, uncertain how that gets done. just talking about the basic essence of government. that's enough to worry about. >> he passes legislation without funding for the wall, he will have no choice but to sign it, like he had no choice to pass the legislation that passed overwhelmingly in the house and senate, he hated it, said it was bad, but he wasn't ahead and signed it into law. >> i think that's the calculation of republicans, end
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up taking say the president they believe a lot of the threats, talk now is bluster. at the end of the day, the president will back down when there's overwhelming spieupport keep the government open. maybe a veto could be overridden, he may not want to go the government shutdown route. could be a game of chicken when it comes down to it. paul ryan said they may have a short term extension, may not get the job done by september 30th. >> encouraging if members of your own party think it is bluster coming from the president of the united states. all right, thanks very much for that report, manu. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> listen to what the white house had to say on president trump's threat to shut down the federal government over the funding issue of the proposed border wall with mexico. listen to this. >> he campaigned on the wall, he
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won on talking about building the wall, and he's going to make sure that gets done and he'll continue to fight for that funding, ensure it takes place. let's not forget there were a lot of democratic senators that also voted for border security and border fence, and hopefully some of those same individuals will talk to members in their current party, maybe we can get a bipartisan group to support that and make sure it happens, because this president is going to see it through. >> all right. what are the chances, congressman, that you and your democratic colleagues in the house would support funding for the president's proposed border wall with mexico? >> first of all, we're not going to support the border wall. it is not our job to fulfill his campaign promises and his ego. he made a promise, he said mexico was going to pay for it, there would be no american taxpayer dollar, he should find the money over there. to begin with, the border wall is stupid, it is not smart border security, that's not the actual way you want to secure
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the border. and at the end of the day, there's many more important things we need to worry about. we have to get to the debt limit, about to shake up markets if we continue the threat we may not fulfill our debt. in general, this is typical donald trump administration, a lot of bluster and instability. end of the day, he is not going to get what he wants. >> he won the white house in part on that familiar promise about the border wall and mexico paying for it. listen to this. >> we are going to build a great border wall. we will build a great, great wall. we're going to build the wall, don't worry about it. we will build the wall 100%. i promise, we will build the wall. and who's going to pay for the wall? who's going to pay for the wall?
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who? it will be a great wall, mexico is going to pay for the wall. mexico is going to pay for the wall. mexico will pay for the wall. and mexico is going to pay for the wall. and they understand that. mexico is going to pay for the wall. believe me. 100%. but in a leaked transcript as you remember of one of the president's first phone conversations, one of the first phone conversations with the mexican president, the president agreed not to say mexico would pay for the wall. he said this, this was in the transcript that was leaked, his conversation with the mexican president. you cannot say any more that the united states is going to pay for the wall. i am just going to say that we are working it out. believe it or not, this is the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important thing that we're talking about. so what do you think, congressman, are the trump
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voters in your state, arizona, upset the president seems to be at least in a private conversation with the mexican president backing out of that campaign promise? >> no, not really. the president is playing his base for fools, not just on the border wall but on so many other issues, promising to be pro-worker, he is not pro-worker, there are so many things he has lied about, whether he was going to not attack medicaid, you know, he said he wouldn't do it, he did it. the man continues to lie. at this point, trump supporters though are still supporting him. however, the overall voter in arizona, at least polling i have seen says the border wall is not popular, as a matter of fact it is not popular in any of the border states and there are no border republicans that are supporting the border wall, so in reality we have to focus on making sure we're representing the majority of america. the president won the election for many reasons, including some
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russian involvement, including some voter suppression, but he did lose the popular vote, and i can't for 100% say the border wall was the thing that put him over the top, but let's look at the reality. spending $1.6 billion on something that doesn't give any more security to fulfill the ego of the president is bad policy, and playing chicken with the debt limit or government shutdown at the same time is not a good way to go, but if they want to do that, republican party wants to play that game, i don't think there's much good political payback when it comes to that. >> that 1.6 billion would be a down payment, i think building it would be millions more. tuesday night in your city, phoenix, i think in your district in phoenix, maybe not, he did carry arizona in the presidential election, reminded all of us when he was speaking in phoenix, the president expressed skepticism that nafta
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talks, north american free trade -- speculating the u.s. will end up probably terminating the trade deal. how would that impact your constituents? >> anything that disrupts markets, especially trade, without any path is horrible. we can do some work on nafta, but if you're going to abruptly change it, i think that's problematic. at the same time, it is a treaty. the president does not have carte blanche power to get rid of anything, he still has to go through the senate at the end of the day, and i don't see that happening, but i'm not surprised. i think donald trump wants to talk as much as he can, and i think he believes the lies that he is saying and more importantly, the hardcore trump supporters believe his lies and will continue to. >> "the wall street journal" is reporting that the pentagon will soon receive guidelines from the
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white house, from the president, that would change treatment of transgender americans currently serving in the u.s. military, and stop the military from admitting transgender americans going forward. you serve on the armed services committee, you're a military veteran. what's your reaction to that? >> well, i think it is deeply ironic and kind of sad that a person that did everything to stay out of the war such as donald trump who admires and holds the military to high regard would try to stop brave american men and women that want to volunteer to join. and more importantly, the only reason he's doing it, it is not because of a security issue or because these men and women can't serve and serve well, not because of financial issues, it is because he wants to throw a bone to his christian conservative base and again, that's not how you should execute our armed services policy, our national security policy. we need everyone in the fight. we need the smartest people, the strongest people, and need them
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all to be fighting with us, no matter who they are, and the fact that the president doesn't understand that really tells us where his mentality is. >> there's more to discuss. i have to take a quick break. we'll resume the conversation in just a moment. mind if i sit here? not if you want your phone to work. let me guess, you can't livestream your lobster roll. and my mobile pay isn't connecting and i just got an unlimited plan. right plan, wrong network. you see verizon has america's largest most reliable 4g lte network and now unlimited plans start at $40 per line, you know what i am saying? (laughs.) oh this is your seat. definitely. yep. just tucking it in. nah, i wasn't going to pull it out. when it really, really matters you need the best network and the best unlimited. now plans start at $40 per line for four lines.
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allergytry new xyzal®.ou have symptoms like these for relief is as effective at hour 24 as hour one. so be wise all take new xyzal®. following breaking news. hurricane harvey gaining strength through the gulf of mexico to the texas coast. new advisory warning of
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life-threatening rains, winds and flooding when it finally makes landfall as early as tomorrow night. we'll have much more on hurricane harvey coming up. right now, i want to go back to the democratic congressman. as the white house tries to down play the president's latest attacks on members of his own party, the president's approval numbers as you know are right now below 40%, he is openly feuding with leaders in congress, fellow republicans. who in your party is rallying voters to try to take advantage of this situation? >> well, i think i'm happy to say we have many people rallying our voters, even down at the local level. tom car esteban santiago and keith allison doing a nationwide unity tour. we have bernie sanders, cory booker, going on and on of democrats touring the country now and really trierg to ener jies our party. more impressive is the fact that
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this is a grass roots effort. if you saw who was coming out to protest the muslim ban, that wasn't organized by some progressive party or the democratic party, that was everyday americans realizing american values were at stake and were going to go out and organize themselves. the one in march was organized by women that felt they needed to voice their opinion that the administration was going to be bad for the agenda of women, organized by individual women, not by the democratic party. and the movement that sprouted in every district is started by a grass roots movement. those groups plus the activism of the democratic party are the key to winning elections in 2018, i am proud to say we have a strong bench, proud to say we're going to do very well. the reason we do well is because the american public has woken up, realize the trump agenda is not going to give us better jobs, better wages and better standard of living.
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>> you realistically think the democrats can be the majority party in the house of representatives in 2018 and in the senate for that matter? >> i certainly think in the house we can. i can't speak for the senate, not being a senator, but from what i've seen, traveling the country and the level of activism that's happening in every district, it is historical. you know, i have seen people from all walks of life that have never been involved in politics attending some very long democratic party activist local meetings, precinct meetings, and normally you don't get a strong showing there. now you're seeing in some of these local meetings 200, 300 people showing up, and that's in arizona, so-called red state. i can't imagine what's happening in some other states, and certainly what's going to be happening, some swing districts where republicans are really on the bubble, so i do believe we have a chance, we have to do a lot of things right, keep fighting, continue our message
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that we're the party for the working class of america and obviously there's a lot of runway to the election, but i think we're going to get there. >> you guys have a lot of work to do. republicans are the majority in the house and senate, they have the white house, they have most of the gubernatorial, the governor offices and state legs tours, the democrats have an uphill struggle right now. congressman, as usual, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, thank you wolf. just ahead, is the president serious about shutting down the federal government to get his border wall with mexico built or is he simply bluffing. we're going to talk more about that. and tracking hurricane harvey now, its path to the gulf coast and potential for catastrophic damage. new details just ahead. i mean wish i had time to take care of my portfolio, but..
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you get up to 5 lines of talk and text at no extra cost, so all you pay for is data. see how much you can save. choose by the gig or unlimited. xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit, or go to following multiple breaking stories this hour, including hurricane harvey gaining strength tonight, expected to strike the texas coast as a major hurricane. also breaking, the white house refusing to walk back president trump's threat of a federal government shutdown unless congress funds the border wall with mexico, he campaigned on and insisted mexico would pay for it. >> on this threat of government shutdown if congress doesn't secure funding for this wall, how is that not a concession from this white house that mexico isn't actually going to
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pay for this wall and american taxpayers will? >> again, this is something the president is committed to, he's committed to protecting american lives and doing that through the border wall is something that's important, it is a priority and we are moving forward with it. >> he's not saying that mexico is going to pay for it. >> he hasn't said they're not either. >> let's dig deeper with our correspondents and specialists. nia, how seriously should people take the threat of government shutdown if there's no funding for the border wall. >> the white house isn't backing down from this, this is something that president trump talked about in the spring, this idea of maybe it is time for a good old fashioned shutdown. unclear whether this is sort of a stunt, a political strategy, is it the opening bid in negotiation that he wants to have with this congress. i think the problem is his political capital is kind of little at this point, his relationships with folks on the hill aren't great either, and not a lot of people want this wall. $20 billion. even if you talk to border
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states, border state representatives, they don't think this is a good use of spending. i think what's clear, if he follows through on this threat, essentially it will be him getting divorced from the republican party. the fallout would be tremendous, it would essentially be him on his own, independent actor and separate from the republican party. >> he won the election, kaitlin, with that familiar promise. listen to what he said. >> we are going to build a great border wall. we will build a great, great wall. we're going to build a wall, don't worry about it. we will build the wall 100%. i promise, we will build the wall. and who's going to pay for the wall? who's going to pay for the wall? who? it will be a great wall, mexico
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is going to pay for the wall. mexico is going to pay for the wall. mexico will pay for the wall. and mexico is going to pay for the wall, and they understand that. mexico is going to pay for the wall. believe me. 100%. >> but in that leaked transcript of his first phone conversation with the mexican president, he basically acknowledged mexico wouldn't necessarily pay for the wall. he said this, you cannot say any more that the united states is going to pay for the wall. i am just going to say that we are working it out. believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important thing we're talking about. was that an admission in that conversation with the mexican president that mexico is not necessarily going to pay for the wall, just don't talk about it any more, i won't talk about it, you won't talk about it, and then at his rally in phoenix, you didn't hear him say mexico would pay for the wall. >> absolutely. he has known since january that
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mexico is not paying for this wall. you could see it from that frustrated transcript. later on in that call he said whoever is paying for the wall, it would all come out in the wash, just stop talking about it in the media. biggest thing he doesn't like is criticism in the media saying he is not going to pay for the wall. what it comes down to, he wants this wall, he promised this wall time and time again during the campaign, and now he knows mexico is not going to pay for it, and congress doesn't want to pay for it, so he doesn't know what to do. he knows if this wall is not built, his base is not going to be happy, that's the reason they elected him, and he doesn't want that blame on his shoulders. what we are seeing him do is put the blame on congress for not getting the wall built. >> how does he get out of this mess right now, rebecca? >> there are kind of a few layers to this mess. wolf, you need to fund. government, there's the political issue of donald trump wanting the money for this wall, then you have all of these other agenda items, all of these other
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republican priorities that he and republicans in congress want to get done, so how do you balance all of these demands at a time when donald trump is also attacking republican leaders and his fellow republicans on twitter. so step one, stop tweeting, stop angering your own party, stop angering people in congress you need to help you pass these priorities. step two, prioritize. this is something that this administration has not done well and you have to question why is this the time that president trump wants to get the money for this wall when he needs a victory in congress, he doesn't need another loss at the hands of congressional republicans. and he needs to fund the government. so layout these priorities in a way that makes sense. >> and he was busy tweeting this morning, he criticized senate republican leadership. listen to what he tweeted early in the morning. he said i requested that mitch mcconnell and paul ryan tie the debt ceiling legislation into the popular va bill which just
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passed for easy approval. they didn't do it, so now we have a big deal with dems holding them up as usual on debt ceiling approval. could have been so easy. now a mess. then he tweeted this. the only problem i have with mitch mcconnell is that after hearing repeal and replace for seven years, he failed. that should never have happened. this feud that he has going on with the majority leader, the speaker of the house, how is that going to impact these critically important issues because they're coming to a head next month? >> they're coming to a head rapidly. the president has a point. the republicans had seven years to come up with a health plan, it didn't come to fruition. now it is time for him to move on. it is unbelievable that he is playing a game of chicken not with the democrats and with the rival party but within his own party and his own legacy is in peril. we are weeks away from a potential budget crisis, debt ceiling crisis. what struck me is something that leon panetta said on this network earlier this week.
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he said the biggest mistake a president can make is to come across, think he is the smartest man in the room. he is very inexperienced when it comes to politics. true, these congressional leaders are unpopular as well, but they're more experienced and pragmatic. we may see a point where they start working around him as opposed to trying to work with him. there was a report that came out this afternoon that said congress and the senate may release their own tax plan without a white house tax plan to accompany it. >> really a significant issue. right now, both those matters. billions and billions of dollars of u.s. taxpayer money is at stake and the markets could react very negatively as well. just ahead, a controversial retweet from president trump taking a dig at president obama. was it appropriate? where's gary? 'saved money on motorcycle insurance with geico. goin' up the country. later, gary'
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breaking news. millions of people in the path of hurricane harvey now are being warned tonight to prepare for a life-threatening storm to hit the texas coast. we're going to have the latest forecast in a few moments. stand by for that. meantime, want to get back to our correspondents and specialists. nia, buzz feed obtained from the cia this memorandum that the former cia director john brennan wrote december of last year
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during the transition in which he discussed how significant the russian meddling in the election was. he had these words, many talking about briefings with members of congress, many but unfortunately not all members understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue, and they are very supportive of the process that is under way. what jumped out at me is unfortunately not all, in other words, some members of congress didn't see it as very important. >> back then. and it is clear that from donald trump's perspective he thinks members of congress, of his own party, are too interested at this point in the russian investigation and not really running cover from him, we've seen reporting on that, manu raju reported on this, this idea that he had these very tough conversations with members of the republican party because they are investigating it. we have seen over this last period going back to last year when there were reports and
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there was information that the russians were meddling in the election, some members of congress didn't want to go public with that. mitch mcconnell, barack obama went to him, said is this something that we should talk to the american people about, but he didn't want to. that sort of roieflects that. some on the hill didn't take it seriously. donald trump now thinks maybe republicans are taking it too seriously. >> another issue, "new york times" is reporting that the new white house chief of staff john kelly is controlling the flow of information to the president. read a couple of sentences. mr. kelly's first day on the job, held a small meeting with top aides to the president after a staff meeting. he told them oval office access to mr. trump which was nearly universal to people coming through the west wing would be
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strictly limited to appointments only. the exceptions mr. kelly said were the president's wife and his son. looks like there's a much more streamlined situation unfolding in the west wing right now. >> that's true. i thought when reince priebus was chief of staff, people could walk in and out of the oval office and he didn't have a ton of respect for him, didn't see him as his equal. they all understand that john kelly is in charge and listen to him. reince priebus issued similar memos about what information is getting to the president and people didn't heed his warnings. people are heeding john kelly's warnings more seriously and we're seeing that people can only go by appointment now. what we have to remember with the reports is that the president is the same president, and is largely the same staff. this may be a honeymoon phase
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where he is controlling what information the president is getting, but the president still talks to a lot of people, calls people outside the white house for advice on issues, he is still getting a lot of information that john kelly may not know about. >> who gets to decide if ivanka trump can walk up, speak to her dad as a daughter, or whether she has to wait and go through the process as senior adviser. >> sounds like that's up to her discretion, wolf. you bring up an interesting point here which is that jared kushner and ivanka trump, even when operating as senior advisers to the president, they're never going to be separate from their roles at members of his family. gives them special status and gives their advice special status. >> they may be more disciplined thanks to john kelly, he can do what he wants. he wants to tweet, he tweets. give a speech at campaign rally, and phoenix off the rails, he
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can do that. he is the president. >> some may call kelly's honeymoon a honeymoon from hell. this honeymoon, the president went off and said there were good guys on both sides following what we saw last week in virginia, and comparing anti-fascist protesters to people there with the fascists and neo-nazi protesters as well, so i'm not sure what kind of wonderful honeymoon kelly is having, but he is trying to put along some discipline in this white house, and i think from all of the reporting he seems to acknowledge there's only so much he can do with a 71-year-old man that takes to twitter whenever he wants to. i believe he tweeted three minutes ago some of the tweets are presidential, some obviously are not. >> we'll check that out as well. everybody stand by. much more coming, including the breaking news we're following on hurricane harvey, closing in on the united states tonight. it could be the most powerful system to make landfall since
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superstorm sandy. parts of texas right now are being warned to brace for almost three feet of rain. we'll be right back. hey, i'm the internet! i know a bunch of people who would love that. the internet loves what you're doing... build a better website in under an hour with... ...gocentral from godaddy. the internet is waiting. start for free today at godaddy. if you have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's, and your symptoms have left you with the same view,
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♪ "zorba ♪ e greek" by mikis theodorakis ♪ the all-new volkswagen tiguan with available pedestrian monitoring. the new king of the concrete jungle.
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we're following breaking news. a life threatening storm surge taking direct aim at the texas coast. our meteorologist tracking it. the hurricane expected to make land fall as a major hurricane. possibly the most powerful storm since super storm sandy and some areas could see almost three feet of rain. >> unfortunately, that's the story. the computer models have been kind of playing games all week, but now they are agreeing with land fall. it is what happens after land fall that is the big problem here. we're talking about this today when this is the 25th anniversary of hurricane andrew. but when it comes to harvey, early this morning, upping its status to category one hurricane. it's been nine years since
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anywhere has had a land fall of a hurricane but 12 years where we had a major hurricane. some want to say what about sandy, but that's for another day. this will make it so category three strength, maybe even stronger. right now, sustained winds, 85 miles an hour. at land fall, we could see winds sustained at 111, gusts at 140, 150. 16 million are shaded in colors here. red is the hurricane warning, and that gives us a good idea of where evacuations are going to take place where ground zero is, near corpus christi. after the midnight hour tomorrow night. more likely during the darkness of the wee hours of saturday unfortunately. when you look at the computer models, you want to see them all agree. we call them the spaghetti plots. here's our fear, and we saw this a couple of days ago, there is no dominant steering current.
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so this could be catastrophic. watch what happens to the computer models. they meander everywhere. that says stalling and the last thing you want with a major hurricane is to stall. a few of them come back offshore, regenerate its strength and take it back in for a second land fall. if it's close enough to continue to feed on that moisture source, it's going to continue to be strong. so besides the deadly winds and the storm surge, the heavy rain is the big fear. as this system stalls, everything in purple from west to san antonio up to austin, that's 10, 20 inches of rain fall. other models drop even more. areas of white, 20 maybe 30 isolated 35 inches, that is crazy when you are talking about from corpus christi, victoria to the houston area. this system we could be talking about this in the same area come late tuesday and into wednesday.
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this could be a disaster. there is no doubt about it. i think this is going to stretch the emergency services in the state of texas in the days ahead. >> we'll have extensive live coverage throughout the day tomorrow and all of us remember 12 years ago this week katrina hit new orleans, a category three as well. we'll watch harvey in the coming hours. meanwhile, there is other news we're following. later tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern, cnn films presents the story of elian gonzalez, the young boy who's mother drowned as they fled cuba. he was rescued and placed with relatives in miami. but his father and the castro regime demanded his return sparking international drama. >> reporter: they were summoned
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by president fidel castro for what he calls the second stage of the battle of the masses. thousands demonstrated in front of the u.s. diplomat in havana. the boys father joined other cubans demanding the child be returned. >> american immigration official wills interview the father in cuba, give him a chance to prove his paternity. >> we had this very unusual circumstance of a father in cuba asking for the son to be returned to him. it was pretty unprecedented. i mean, typically people who came to the united states from cuba came because they wanted to stay here. >> the stand off ended in april of 2000 when federal agents took elian from his miami relatives and returned him to cue be. our political commentator joining us now from miami with more. anna, you remember the protests
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from your time in miami over these years. how significant was that moment for u.s.-cuban relations? >> it was a huge moment, not only for u.s.-cuban relationships. it was a huge moment for cuban and cuban relationships. he became the symbol, the pawn of the struggle between the cuban-american exile and the cuban castro regime in cuba. they were fighting over this kid. protests were going on in havana and miami. it was such a dramatic five months. he came -- he was rescued right before thanksgiving. he was taken right before easter. and, wolf, i remember the hurt of this community. it was also something that i think had great political significance. i remember how many cubans kept saying, were so angry at the clinton administration, at janet
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reno, who was from miami. so a lot of her friends from south florida felt detrayed by a lot of that decisions and a lot of those cubans i remember saying come november we will remember and came out in droves to vote against al gore in a state that was decided by 534 votes. you will remember that we had a democrat cuban american mayor in miami dade at that point who didn't endorse al gore because of the elian decision. and, so, there was political ramifications. there was ramifications on family law and precedence that was set and a hard time for the cuban-american community. >> we're still feeling the effects from the issue all these years later. thank you very, very much. an important note to all of our viewers. the cnn film airs later tonight,
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tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. erin burnett outfront starts right now. outfront next, president trump lashing out at critics questioning his fitness for office, including the country's former top spy. i talked to james clapper about trump's angry response. i'll give you his revealing side of the story. plus, is the president trying to pressure republicans to shield him from the russia investigation? new details about a phone call with a leading senator. and more fall out from trump's charlottesville comments. a top rabbi will not even get on the phone with the president. let's get outfront. i'm jim sciutto in again to want for erin


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