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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 1, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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happening now, breaking news. guilt and cooperation, fired national security adviser michael flynn enters a plea bargain in the russia investigation. he admits he lied to the fbi about conversations with the russian ambassador and now he's cooperating with special counsel, robert mueller. what information will he reveal? kushner's call. cnn has learned jared kushner directed flynn to contact the russian ambassador and that intelligence intercepts picked up kushner's conversations with foreign diplomats. as president trump's son-in-law the investigation's next target? start of the deal. the special counsel now has secured two plea deals in his russia probe, and he's moving closer to president trump's inner circle. will even more senior officials inside the white house face charges and will they cooperate?
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and verge of a vote. senate republicans say they have the votes to pass their tax plan after sweetening the pot for gop holdouts during marathon negotiations. a vote is expected tonight after the final bill is written and deba debated. what last-minute changes are being made? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm brianna keilar. you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> and we're following now breaking news on the michael flynn plea deal. and the potential legal risk for the president as well as his son-in-law. and others in mr. trump's orbit. flynn acknowledges he's now cooperating with investigators after pleading guilty to lying to the fbi about his russia contacts. the former national security adviser is the first person who actually served inside the trump
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administration to be charged by the special counsel and tonight sources tell cnn that jared kushner is the person identified in court documents as a very senior member of the trump transition team who directed some of flynn's contacts with the russian ambassador last december. prosecutors say that individual wanted fl eed flynn and other trump advisers and their contact with russian officials. aimed at influencing international policy. he has, quote, no anxiety about what flynn might be telling the special counsel and his team, but it is clear that robert mueller's investigation is intensifying, and it could have some serious implications for mr. trump and those who were closest to him. this hour, i'll be talking to senate foreign relations committee member ed markey, as we cover this major breaking
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story. and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by for us. i do first want to go to cnn justice correspondent pamela brown and pamela, it's really hard to overstate the significance of this plea agreement. >> that's right, brianna. we can't overstate it, today's charge against president trump's former national security adviser brings the russia investigation right into the white house. and the charge reveals flynn wasn't acting alone in his talks with russians, but he was acting in coordination with now senior officials in the trump administration, according to prosecutors. president trump's former national security adviser michael flynn arriving at a federal courthouse in washington today. before pleading guilty to lying to the fbi. making him the first person who worked inside the white house to be charged in the russia probe and the fourth campaign official to face charges so far. the charge and plea agreement center around conversations he had with then-russian ambassador
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to the u.s. sergey kislyak in december of last year. court documents show that others on the trump team knew of flynn's efforts. on december 29th, flynn called former deputy national security adviser k.t. mcfarland along with other transition officials at mar-a-lago, they discussed what to say to kislyak about the new sanctions being posed on russia by the frb president obama frb the obama administration. flynn immediately called kislyak asking russia not to overreact to those sanctions. shortly after that call, flynn briefed mcfarland that he did, indeed, discussions sanctions with the ambassador. according to two people familiar with the matter. but in january then-vice president-elect mike pence told the nation flynn assured him he did not talk about sanctions with kislyak. >> they did not discuss anything having to do with the united states' decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure
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against russia. >> reporter: then on december 31st, three days after their conversation about sanctions, kislyak confirmed to flynn that russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to flynn's request. also today, court documents revealed another interaction flynn had with kislyak. calling him at the direction of a, quote, very senior member of the transition about a coming u.n. security council vote on israeli settlements. sources tell cnn that person was trump's son-in-law, jared kushner. according to the filing, flynn and kislyak spoke about the incoming administration's opposition to the resolution and asked russia to delay or vote against it. cnn can also now report that there were intelligence intercepts that picked up kushner conversations with foreign intelligence targets, talking about efforts to stop the resolution according to an official briefed on the matter. flynn didn't respond to shouted questions when leaving the courthouse today, and afterward, visited his son, michael flynn jr., who was also a potential target of the russia
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investigation. in a statement, flynn acknowledged wrongdoing saying "my guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision i made in the best interests of my family and of our clun tountry." last month trump's former campaign manager paul manafort and rick gates were indicted on conspiracy to launder money among other charges. both men have pleaded not guilty. trump campaign former policy adviser george papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about his communications with russia nationals. the white house tried to downplay the significance of the flynn revelations today with one source close to the president telling cnn that everyone lies in h washington. president trump has long maintained there was no collusion with his campaign and russia. >> the entire thing has been a witch hunt, and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but i can always speak for myself and the russians. zero. >> reporter: but as the investigation intensifies, so
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does the scrutiny on the president and his inner circle. a person familiar with the transition effort said the u.n. effort kushner was a part of was well known in the collaborative effort by various transition officials including reince priebus and steve bannon. this person says none of them ordered or directed flynn, meantime, flynn could face up to five years in jail. today the judge said he could impose a harsher or lighter sentence. brianna? >> pamela brown, thank you for that report very much. we do appreciate it. michael flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the fbi. one of the key questions tonight, why did he lie in the first place? i want to bring in cnn justice correspondent evan perez. so, evan, you have flynn who is this top figure early on in the trump white house, in the campaign, in the transition, so this deal that he cut, what really stands out to you about it? >> it's an incredible deal, i mean, first of all, if you read the court document the, they're at least alleging that he made four false statements and only charging it as one. i mean, this is thing that usually you can charge him with
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four different counts of lying. if you count the forms that he filed for lobbying registration, that's additional three, so seven counts they could have gone. this is an incredible deal he got here. the other thing that stands out, brianna, what we're hearing, you ae heard from pamela, there are people close to the white house floating a version of events, perhaps what kushner, himself, and others have testified to or in their interviews with the special counsel, robert mueller, and that differs significantly from the facts that robert mueller has filed in court, clearly these are the facts that robert mueller believes are true, based on not only what flynn has said, but also based on additional evidence that they've gathered. it tells us there's going to be a clash here of stories and we don't know where that goes. is it kushner that could be in trouble? because he testified that something differently from what they believe to be true. we don't know. but there's certainly, i think, additional investigation here, which will tell us a lot more.
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>> some might look at michael flynn lying to the fbi and they say, well, that could have been to conceal the fact he had violated the logan act. he was part of the transition. he was not yet part of an administration. he was meddling in foreign affairs by having these phone calls. but that's a really kind of antiquated law. it's never been -- >> it's never been charged. >> it's never been used. so what do you think of that argument? >> well, look, i think you don't necessarily need to charge anybody with this -- with violating this. it might not even be a constitutional -- might not even be a constitutional law, might not hold up. >> yeah. >> but you can certainly use it as leverage, it's something you can use as part of the investigation and it clearly shows, these documents show, in court today, show that the special counsel is willing to use the logan act at least as a leverage point, as a pressure point in order to get something else. and it appears to be what they're doing here sh they', th trying to pursue a larger case, perhaps a conspiracy case.
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again, there's a lot more we don't know about what they have in the evidence they gathered so far. >> there's so much more. evan perez, thank you so much for that. i want to talk more about this breaking story now with snaenat ed markey, democrat on the foreign relations committee. senator, thank you so much for being with us. when you see this plea deal, what does that say to you? >> is well, what it says to me is that bob mueller is continuing to proceed very methodicallywell, what it says that bob mueller is continuing to proceed very methodically. he now has a guilty plea by flynn and papadopoulos. he's indicted manafort and gates. so it's clear that he is moving step by step. but in flynn, he just may have the master key that unlocks the doors to the -- to the campaign that donald trump was running, to the transition period of donald trump, and to the time that he was national security
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adviser during the trump first month in office. this is one man who on all of these issues that potentially go to the collusion that existed between the russian government and its entities and the trump campaign, that could provide the roadmap to that final door which is the oval office. >> so, senator, some people will look at this and say, well, look at what he pled guilty to, this wasn't necessarily about collusion. you know, the question of whether the trump campaign coordinated with the russian government in a way -- in a way to give them somehow the upper hand when it came to the election. what do you -- what do you say to that? i'm assuming you see some dots that can be connected. >> yeah. i think that's what's happening here. what mueller clearly allowed flynn to do was to plea bargain.
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to have the lowest possible sentence to just one count. but it was in return for full cooperation on everything that mueller wants to obtain in terms of information about the collusion that may have existed between the russians and the trump campaign. one person who clearly had very close contact with the russians throughout this entire process was michael flynn. he is most likely the key person who was in the meetings that has the information that can now help mueller to provide the next few steps that are going to be necessary to finally put all the information out in public for the american people to understand what happened to our presidential election last year. >> before president trump fired the fbi director jim comey, he asked him to drop the investigation into michael
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flynn. with this news today that michael flynn has pled guilty, that he has a plea deal with the mueller probe, what do you think about that ask of comey? >> well, i think that clearly the president wanted comey to just end the flynn investigation. and ultimately, i think that's the key to comey's firing. and mueller's appointment was clearly something that trump never anticipated. he never saw that coming. and so that's why we have to be very careful now because flynn is clearly the key person that donald trump was most concerned about, and now for the american people, bob mueller is the key person we have to be concerned about to make sure that he stays on the job, able, unfettered, to be able to conduct a full investigation no matter where
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these facts may take him. >> it's now clear that a number of the trump transition team members, this is what's clear in the charging document that seems to be a warning to those folks for mueller. when flynn talked to the sienio official of the transsaition th senior member was with, quote, with other senior members of the transition team at the mar-a-lrktsmar-a mar-a-lago resort. that's mueller putting them on notice, i'm not buying this narrative that flynn was going rogue and doing this on his own. he's saying here thereere a number of people who were knowledgeable of this. what do you think about that? especially as you consider president trump saying repeatedly, zero, i had nothing to do with russia? >> yeah. as every day and week and month goes by, we're learning that the earlier denials by jared kushner, by donald trump jr., by
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so many of these people about their knowledge of any relationship with the russians, is just false. and so what flynn is going to be able to do is to provide the additional information, clearly, to mueller, that helps this investigation to get right to the bottom of what this trump operation knew and when they knew it and potentially what the president knew. and when he knew it. >> all right. senator, stand by for us. cnn actually has new reporting in this charging document, flynn spoke to a very senior member of the trump transition team. turns out that was jared kushner. we're going to get your reaction to that in just a moment.
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we're back now with senator ed markey. following what is arguably the biggest breaking news yet in the russia investigation. that would be the guilty plea by fired national security adviser michael flynn. and the deal that he struck to cooperate with the special counsel. so senator, new reporting by cnn, jared kushner is that very senior member of the trump transition team who directed flynn to contact foreign governments including russia on the u.n. resolution about israeli settlements. what does this mean for jared kushner? >> what it means if cnn's reporting is accurate, that jared kushner should no longer
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have a security clearance. we need to have a full investigation of this issue as well. we know, obviously, that jared kushner now had information, was talking to the russians and we need now to further probe this. we've now pierced into the inner circle of donald trump's circle including his son-in-law. doesn't get any closer than that to the ftpresident. it's time now for bob mueller and congressional committees to ask the questions that the american people want the answer to. >> your republican colleague lindsey graham has sort of warned president trump about pardoning michael flynn. i wonder if you think that's a real possibility, clearly that's something on lindsey graham's mind. do you think the president would pardon flynn? >> i never thought the president would fire bob comey, but he
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did. jim comey. the issue really is not whether or not we think he may, or may not, we have to on a bipartisan basis provide protection for bob mueller. we have to ensure that he has the insulated position to do this investigation to ensure that the american people find out exactly what happened during our presidential election last year. so it's good that lindsay is saying this because it has to be bipartisan. the president has to understand the consequences if he seeks to pardon michael flynn. because there will be an explosion, not just in the house and the senate, but all across this country because it will be clear that now the president is trying to engage in an obstruction of justice to prevent this investigation from closing in on the oval office.
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>> legislation to insulate bob mueller has been introduced as you know. it has a long way to go, though. do you think that is something that is going to move forward in congress? do you think the special counsel is safe? >> i think that it's very important that it's lindsey graham. i think it's very important that other republicans are saying that it is imperative for the president not to in any way interfere with this investigation. to not fire bob mueller. and i think that if he attempts to do so that you're going to see legislation move if there's any hint at all that bob mueller's job is in jeopardjeop >> all right, senator ed markey, thank you, sir, we do appreciate your time on this very busy friday. and just ahead, there's more breaking news on the michael flynn plea deal. the possible legal risks for the president. parts a and b and want more coverage, guess what? you could apply for a medicare supplement insurance plan whenever you want. no enrollment window.
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let's bring in cnn's senior white house correspondent jim acosta. so, jim, the white house claims that the president just is not worried about any of this, but i'm sure there's some anxiety at 1600 pennsylvania. >> reporter: plenty of it, brianna. the white house is trying to put distance between president trump and michael flynn's guilty plea. it's clear today the russia investigation is creeping close tore the president. a senior white house official existed there's no anxiety here at the white house about what flynn might tell investigators, but we're also told there are worries inside the white house as to where this investigation might go next. >> comment on michael flynn being indicted, sir? can you comment on michael flynn being indicted? >> reporter: president trump was silent when asked about his former national security adviser michael flynn pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators about the retired general's contacts with former russian ambassador sergey kislyak. inside the white house, the president's lawyers were once again busy shielding mr. trump from the investigation. in a statement, white house attorney ty cobb described flynn
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as a former national security adviser at the white house for 25 days during the trump administration. and a former obama administration official. the statement adds flynn's false statements mirror the false statements to white house officials which resulted in his resignation in february of this year. nothing about the guilty plea, or the charge implicates anyone other than mr. flynn." >> we discussed a lot of different situations, some wonderful and some difficulties. >> reporter: but the white house statement ignores the fact that obama warned the incoming president to stay away from flynn in the oval office two days after the election. nine days before he was sworn into office, mr. trump refused cnn's attempts to ask whether his campaign had contacts with the russians before the election. >> mr. president-elect -- >> go ahead. she's asking a question. don't be rude. >> mr. president-elect, can you -- >> you are fake news. >> reporter: the next month, the president defended flynn's contacts with the russians. >> mike was doing his job, he was calling countries and his
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counterparts so it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't do it. i didn't direct him, but i would have directed him because that's his job. >> reporter: the president went on to suggest there were no contacts during the campaign. >> russia is a ruse. i have nothing to do with russia. i have nothing to do with russia . to the best of my knowledge, no person that i deal with does. >> lock her up! >> reporter: flynn who repeatedly led chants about lock her up to hillary clinton -- >> we do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law. lock her up. that's right. >> reporter: spoke with ambassador kislyak during the transition, but transition officials never mentioned flynn spoke to the ambassador about new obama administration sanctions against russia. >> call centered around the logistics of setting up a call with the president of russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in and they exchanged
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logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. that was it. plain and simple. >> reporter: former fbi director james comey says the president pressed him to drop the case. >> understood him to be saying that what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> reporter: president has also repeatedly tried to knock down new revelations in the russia probe tweeting in march "mike flynn should ask for immunity" and that "this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss by media and dems of historic protorsion. q" " proportion." the president tweeted, "the fake news is working overtime." as paul manafort's lawyer said there was no collusion. and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign. few people knew the young low-level volunteer named george who was already proven to be a liar. check the dems." the democrats say they won't work with flynn who is a senior white house official. >> they can't distance
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themselves from president trump's national security adviser who has acknowledged a crime. >> reporter: now, senior white house officials said it was not just kushner but multiple officials inside the transition who discussed flynn's conversation with the august ambassad ambassador. this official also went on to claim the obama administration, that's right, the obama administration, quote, authorized flynn's conversation with kislyak, a former obama administration official with the national security office for the former president called that claim from the trump white house, quote, laughable, brianna, and as for the president, we are told he feels, quote, sorry for flynn tonight. >> all right, jim acosta at the white house. thank you for that report. i want to bring in our team of correspondents and analysts to talk about all of this with us now. and susan hennessey, you first, you were formerly an attorney with the nsa, the national security agency. when you look at this plea, what does it tell you? what's the takeaway to you? >> i think sort of the initial thing is considering the range
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of exposure flynn had, right, we've seen really reports about a pretty astonishing range of potentially illegal conduct from not filling out his forms properly, violations, all the way over to the sort of alleged plot to kidnap a turkish cleric. you know, this is a pretty good plea deal, right, this is about six months in jail, $so 10,000. >> pretty good for him. which means it has to be pretty good for whoever he was agreeing to it with, right? >> exactly. i think what we can assume from this is just that he had a lot to give mueller that mueller thought was important if he's going to let flynn off this easily. >> phil mudd, you are nodding your head. >> absolutely. let's look at the timeline here. the first line out of the document talks about conversations going back, we know, to december 29th then flynn lying to federal officers in january. last i checked, we're now on december 1st. which is when we get the guilty plea. what do you think the mueller people and before him, the comey people, were doing in the interim? they're collecting information, including financial
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irregularities about what michael flynn was doing. what happened in the past month or two? i suspect those amounted as susan was suggesting to significant charges. they went in and said, either these are going to get laid on you, or you better lay yourself something on the table that's huge. and i'll tell you one more thing, i don't think it's been a week or two since flynn was cooperating. i think it's been a while? >> really? >> when the feds went in to talk to jared kushner, whatever it was a week or two ago, i suspect they already knew the answers to every question they asked him. they wanted to see whether he was going to lie about flynn. >> what does that tell you, evan, about what all of this means for jared kushner especially when we learned through cnn's reporting, very good job to you and your team, that jared kushner was the very senior administration official who instructed flynn to get in touch with foreign officials including the russian ambassador about a u.n. resolution? >> we know jared kushner went in to speak to the special counsel in early november, and we now know the version of events that bob mueller believes to be true. this is the document that was
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filed in court today. and what we know is at least from talking to people who are close to the white house, is that there's a different set of events. there's a different version of events that they have arrived at and that is probably the version that jared kushner testified to, or gave an interview to, when he met with the special counsel. so that could present some problems. if he said that, for instance, he didn't order this, but they have evidence that he did, and they certainly believe that he did, then that is -- that potentially creates problems for him as to whether or not he was telling the truth. and, look, the other -- what with e leawe learned here, it wasn't just flynn freelancing here. >> sure. >> he was clearly talking to people inside at mar-a-lago, inside the administration, they knew what he was doing, that he was having these conversations with sergey kislyak. it wasn't just an
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what the president said then.
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>> excuse me. no, i fired him because of what he said to mike pence. very simple. mike was doing his job. he was calling countries. and his counterparts. so it certainly would have been okay with me if how did it, i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't doing it. dr. charles krauthammer the other night say he was doing his job. and i agreed with him. since then i watched many people said that. i didn't direct him. i would have directed him if he didn't do it, okay? >> so interesting to me because he really seems to defend mike flynn so often. we've seen this affinity from the president for mike flynn in ways we haven't seen when other people like paul manafort,
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george papadopoulos, his low-level staffer. saying he should get immunity, telling comey he's a good guy, shut down the investigation into him, makes you question, is it because flynn knows so much or feels a sense of loyalty to him or is it a little bit of both? it's an interesting dynamic because we've seen him not distance himself from flynn in the way he's done oawith others the white house was trying to do that saying he was only there for 25 days or whatnot. clearly -- >> obama administration official. >> right, who obama fired. >> most likable one. >> there were times where he was considered to be a running mate to be a runn to the president. reached out to him and told flynn to stay strong. it's very interesting to see the dynamic between the president and flynn here. >> it certainly is, evan, when the president said that there, you wonder why didn't -- why wouldn't that have been michael flynn's defense? because the things he's pleading guilty to do have to do with the logan act. the fact that he was very
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involving himself in foreign policy before he was supposed to really be in a position to do that. but now it makes you wonder when you look at that, it's not necessarily about the logan act, which it seems would be difficult to bring charges, it's not something that's really been done and seems harder to believe this isn't about something much larger and involving more people, especially when you look at the words in the charging -- >> right. exactly. i think that's exactly where i go. when i look at the document here. this is not about the logan act. they're not going to stop there. that's not really what the end game is here. it's clear they believe that's a leverage point, pressure point to use to get to something bigger. the view here that you can see beginning is that they believe there's a larger conspiracy and so this is only, you know, a sort of a step to get to that. which is to get flynn to point fingers and tell us exactly who directed him to make these phone calls, who knew about it and who directed, you know, sort of the
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false stories that were out there. >> david axelrod, final word to you, when you look especially as a former top adviser to a president, you look at where we are here, look at michael flynn being in some hot water although he could be in hotter water and now you see fingers pointed and clear warnings being made from the mueller investigation toward other people in president trump's inner circle, where do you see this going from here? >> it look, i think if i were sitting in the white house for all of their brabravado, if i w sitting in the white house tonight, i would be deeply, deeply disturbed. everything about this document suggests that this investigation is headed up and now they've got a guy who was deeply embedded in both the campaign and the white -- you know, the transition, certainly, and was very close to the operation and very close to these matters, you know, to russia and these matters that are under review.
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i'd be very concerned about them. brianna, let me say real quickly, i think we all ought to step back. i did. when i watched michael flynn walk into that courtroom. walk into that building today. i said, you know, to myself, this is a sobering but awesome event, a guy who is 1 mon11 mon was one of the most powerful people in the world and walked into the courthouse and pled guilty to a crime. what it says is we're a nation of laws and there's no one who is immune. that's something that should sober the white house tonight as well. >> a point that michael flynn made that people are not above the law. he made that himself. david axelrod , thank you so much. phil, evan, kaitlyn, i really appreciate it. coming up, we're going to stay with our breaking story. we're digging in to the flynn plea deal. and contacts with russia and vladimir putin.
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they appear out of nowhere. my secret visitors. appearing next to me in plain sight. hallucinations and delusions. these are the unknown parts of living with parkinson's disease.
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what stories they tell. but for my ears only. what plots they unfold. but only in my mind. over 50% of people with parkinson's will experience hallucinations or delusions during the course of their disease. and these can worsen over time, making things even more challenging. but there are advances that have led to treatment options that can help. if someone you love has parkinson's and is experiencing hallucinations or delusions, talk to your parkinson's specialist. because there's more to parkinson's. my visitors should be the ones i want to see. learn more at moretoparkinsons.com [vo] quickbooks introduces he teaches lessons to stanley... and that's kind of it right now. but rodney knew just what to do...he got quickbooks. it organizes all his accounts, so he knows where he stands in an instant.
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ahhh...that's a profit. which gave him the idea to spend a little cash on some brilliant marketing! ha, clever. wow, look at all these new students! way to grow, rodney! know where you stand instantly. visit quickbooks.com. my name is jamir dixon and i'm a locafor pg&e.rk fieldman most people in the community recognize the blue trucks as pg&e. my truck is something new... it's an 811 truck. when you call 811, i come out to your house and i mark out our gas lines and our electric lines to make sure that you don't hit them when you're digging. 811 is a free service.
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i'm passionate about it because every time i go on the street i think about my own kids. they're the reason that i want to protect our community and our environment, and if me driving a that truck means that somebody gets to go home safer, then i'll drive it every day of the week. together, we're building a better california. this hour, there is no telling what michael flynn may be revealing to the special counsel's team. now that his plea deal has been signed and unsealed. we're going to have more of our breaking news coverage of this huge development in the russia investigation. let's bring in cnn's brian todd.
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so what more are you learning about flynn's russia contacts? >> well, these court papers today reveal interesting information, brianna, they reveal information we did not know before today, that russia's ambassador to the u.s. told michael flynn that russia would not retaliate immediately to u.s. sanctions leveled last year. and the ambassador said that specifically as a result of a request flynn made to him. we have new information on the motives for these deals. flynn's motives and the russians. on russian state-sponsored tv in recent days, sergey kislyak, russia's former ambassador to washington, the man at the center of michael flynn's legal troubles, had great laughs with his hosts as they mocked the mueller investigation. >> translator: if it's not difficult, can you list those whom you met with and spoke on the phone so we know who will be going to jail or at least be
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summoned for questioning, flynn, sessions, who else? >> translator: there are two problems here. first, i will never do this. second, the list will be so long that i won't be able to tell you in 20 minutes. >> reporter: it carries a sting tonight. as we get new information from court filings about flynn's urgent back-channel calls with after flynn consulted with a top trump aide as mar-a-lago, he called kizzine lack and asked for russia not to escalate the situation. a source told cnn he told him they would revisit u.s. sanctions and look favorably on russia if it didn't retaliate. key question tonight. what were the trump teams motives for reaching out? >> the larger trump team wants a better relationship with russia. i think for flynn, his motivation had to do with what he saw as the main threat fwens against the united states, which was not russians interfering in our election and trying to understood mine our democracy,
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but a world view that sees islam as the real threat and i think that flynn thought he could make some kind of bargain or arrangement with the russians on this. >> soon, vladimir putin's surprise response to flynn's overture, no retaliation, at least for now. trump tweets his appreciation. great move on delay by v. putin. i knew he was very smart. what was putin's motive for making that deal? >> one is he wants to see whether or not there is a possibility of having a better relationship. two, sanctions are hurting russia. they're biting and they're biting an entourage that's around putin and three, putin hates the act and for sure that that is a piece of it and trying to figure out if there's a strategy to roll back. >> it is an american law which sapgss individual russians close to putin. putin is furious over it. in these deals, michael flynn was the perfect messenger for both sides. u.s. intelligence intercepts
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found them bragging they had cultivated a strong relationship with flynn and believed he could use him to influence trump. >> he was at a gala dinner sitting next to putin and was certainly friendly enough with him to be seen joking and lay f laughing with him in that context. >> so did vladimir putin get what he wanted from those early dealings with the trump team? in some ways, he has not. sanctions against russia still in effect and another round about to kick in. the act still in place, but on the other hand, putin has not been punished by president trump as much he might have been by hillary clinton and analysts say since trump took office, america's image abroad has been tarnished, its leadership thrown into question. all of those developments they say they say are victories for putin. >> and there are concerns tonight about where putin goes from here, right, and his efforts to influence trump and the u.s. political process.
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>> sure are. sources say he's going to pull more strings to try to manipulate him and keep an eye on the 2018 midterm elections. there are huge concerns that putin is going to meddle in those. >> for more breaking news coverage of michael flynn's guilty plea and his deal with the special counsel, we're also going to get a live update from the senate as republicans push toward a vote on the gop tax bill. will there be any last minute issues? find out ahead. ( ♪ ) this time of year is all about family. and we'd like you to be part of ours. so our chevy employee discount is now available to everyone. you pay what we pay. and not a cent more. we're so happy to share this with you. it's our way of saying happy holidays. and welcome to the family. the chevy family. use your employee discount for everyone to get $4,500 below msrp on this 2018 chevy equinox. find new roads at your local chevy dealer.
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tonight is the trump white house faces the reality of michael flynn's new plea deal, republicans are hoping to finally ram through a vote on their must pass tax bill and cnn congressional correspondent phil matingly is on the hill tonight following the the action. >> it's a rather remarkable moment. republican leaders have the votes, just not a bill. they're expected to vote on this within hours. the whole process has been postponed as republican leaders have tried to put deals they made to get those votes into place into legislative text. that could lead to hasty issues, maybe potential drafting errors
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and democratic attacks. democratic senators taking to twitter, posting separate pages of a draft amendment circumstancirculating now that shows write ng the margins of the bill text as republican leaders are trying to put this together. it understood scocores two thin. the process came together quickly. it was less than 24 hours ago that republican leaders had stalled out on the bill. no longer. they have 51 votes in the affirmative for this bill, but ends score something else. the political imperative republicans feel to get this done. this is something that hasn't been done in 31 years. there is no real expectation they could get this done in just a matter of weeks and yet, here they are, just a few hours away from completing a historic vote on the senate tax reform bill. it would have to be reconciled with the house. they are clearly on track right now but they need the final text first before they can have a vote. >> so will republicans know what they're voting yes on? >> they know what the deal is is. it's just a matter of had they
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read it in full. this is 400, 500 pages of legislation. i don't think any republican senator can tell you they've read every page. >> phil on capitol hill tonight. thank you so much. thank you for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. >> "outfront" u next, the breaks news, michael flynn cooperating with bob mueller. his guilty plea bringing the russia probe into trump's center circle. now in the cross hair, jared kushn kushner. plus, the white house distances itself from trump. and breaking news. senators still working on last minute changes to the tax bill before a vote tonight. do they know what they're about to vote on? let's go "outfront." and good evening. i'm erin burnett. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world tonight, "outfront," breaking news. flynn flips, putting jar

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