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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  December 4, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST

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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. choose by the gig or unlimited. and ask how to get a $200 prepaid card when you buy any new samsung device with xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. click, call or visit today. welcome to inside politics, i'm dana bash. we begin with breaking news on what the president knew and when he knew it as his lawyers try to walk a legal tight rope. a source told cnn the president knew his national security adviser misled fbi investigators and the vice president and let michael flynn stay on the job for weeks before firing him.
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here at the table with me to share their insights and reporting, cnn is breaking the story for us. former assistant to robert muell mueller. sarah murray. this is fascinating reporting and we should give the context that over the weekend the president tweeted that he fired his former national security adviser michael flynn because he had lied to the fbi which of course raised the question we are talking about now. did he know that flynn was being investigated? what are you hearing? >> we understand that doug mcgann spoke with sally yates in january. after that meeting he informed the president that he believed that michael flynn had misled the fbi and lied to the vice president. we understand that sally yates who was the acting attorney general never characterized flynn's testimony and he never
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saw flynn's testimony. this was his belief. he did not tell the president he believed flynn was under investigation or that he committed any crime. that's the general essence of what we know. they later received a transcript of the conversation that flynn had with the russian ambassador. this centers around the sanctions in december. after having seen that transcript they believe that flynn had definitely misled pence and should be fired. >> the key here is that you are starting to answer the question from over the weekend. what did the president mean when he tweeted about lying to the fbi. you are told that the president did know or at least was told by the white house counsel that michael flynn lied to the fbi. put this in context on why it's relevant. >> it's important because of the timing of ooecheffects.
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the president was informed that his lawyer believed that flynn had lied and then it is only after "the washington post" story comes out that flynn is fired. we don't know what transpired over that period of time and if they learned other information. it was on the 14th of february that the president met with james comey and according to comey's testimony who is the fbi director at the time said he wanted him to go easy on flynn. this comes into a factor of what did the president know when he was saying that to comey and it will be up to the special counsel's investigation to determine whether that is obstruction of justice. >> that is the key? >> yes. >> that's what the whole story and this reporting is dancing around which is really, really important. because as of last week it seems as though a big piece of robert mueller's investigation is about obstruction of justice. michael, you worked with robert mueller and has been on the other side of this as a special counsel or prosecutor.
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what does this tell you? >> if it is true that the president knew that flynn misled the fbi and it's a tricky question about what is misleading versus lying. i think they are both offenses. if it's true that flynn misled the fbi and the president knew about it before he had the meeting with comey and if we credit comey's testimony that the president told him to stand down, that's very problematic. it's potentially obstruction of justice and more easily it's abuse of office. either way whether you believe the president can be changed with obstruction of justice, his lawyer said he can't and most scholars think he can if it's with corrupt intent. in this case he is on obstruction of justice or abuse of power line if he knew about the reporting and he told comb whea y
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what he said he did. you learned that john dowd, the president's lawyer not inside the white house, but outside is saying that his belief that the law makes it so that a president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice. that's an academic debate going on for a long time. he believes that it's not possible and others disagree. what are you hearing? >> wouldn't you rather be in a position where you don't have to make that legal argument? this is the essence of this problem since president trump came into office. it's not a question of collusion in the campaign. everyone in the white house insists tlfs here was no collus with russia, but the president's actions spurred this secondary question. is it the cover up that gets you in trouble and the actions you have taken since you came into
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the white house suggesting that they go easy and drop an investigation? could they be the things that cause problems for president trump even if we get to the end of the special counsel investigation and mueller determines there was no collusion with russia. >> we have the chief legal analyst jeffrey tube in and you have seen this excellent reporting about the white house chief lawyer that they told president trump he believed that michael flynn who was then the national security adviser lied to the fbi. this was before michael flynn was fired and the president told them to lay off michael flynn. what's your read? >> i know there are a lot of names and dates here. here you have an unusual situation. they go easy as i sit on an
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individual. i can't think of another example of that happening ever. okay, but it happened on february 14th. the president says to james comey go easy on mike flynn. the president's argument is i think he felt sorry for mike flynn and he thought he had a life of public service? he was sympathetic. that's one view and there is nothing criminal about that. if the president knew that mike flynn committed a crime and had lied to the fbi and then told james comb tow lay off and leave him alone, that very clearly, i think, establishes obstruction of justice. whether a president can be charged as we know is a separate topic. whether the crime was committed, if the president in fact knew
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that mike flynn committed a crime and told his subordinate, james comey, to lay off, that seems like obstruction of justice to me. >> as you eluded to the president's lawyer today saying no, no, he can't be charged with obstruction of justice because he is the president, there was another president in modern times who made an argument that he can't be charged with crimes. hang on, jeff. >> what you are saying is there are certain situations, that part of it was one of them where the president can decide that it's in the best interest of the nation and do something illegal. >> when the president does it, that means it is not illegal. >> there you go. >> button that up.
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>> that are argument has been discredited. the articles of impeachment passed by the house judiciary committee cited obstruction of justice. that was impeachment and not prosecution. no doubt that impeachment could be based on that, but the idea that the president is literally above the law as president nixon was saying historically has been largely discredited. >> want to get you in here. you spent all your days here. >> we are talking about the president's tweets getting him into trouble and now into legal trouble. this has been the story of this presidency time and again tweeting about whether he was wire tapped by president obama and turned out not to be true and tapes in the oval office and turning into weeks and weeks of distraction. perhaps he provided more evidence for robert muler to investigate that can lead to
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something very, very serious, a legal problem that leads to who knows what. it's remarkable that this shows the problem he has with his twitter feed. >> when the president went after james comey, according to comey's testimony, what made him set off a series of actions that brought robert mueller and his special counsel into the job. you had a thought on that nixon tape? >> article three in the clinton impeachment was the same obstruction of justice. dowd can make an argument as jeffrey said that maybe statutory obstruction of justice. he does the constitutional right to do. there is no question from clinton and nixon that obstruction of justice is an abuse of office, impeachable offense. >> i think that -- i don't expect the president will be silent on twitter or elsewhere about this.
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i have to imagine he will continue to provide fodder to this because he is frustrated that he can't get out from under this. the further we get along, the harder it is for the white house to make the argument that there is no there there. we are seeing guilty pleas and indictments. while the president is hopeful this will wrap up quickly and mueller feels like he has lines to continue to chase. the president is not good at hiding his frustration. that could create new legal troubles for him and it's worth noting that lawsuits are citing the president's tweets and trying to use it as legal evidence on one side or another in court. these are theories being tested. i don't expect him to be quiet. >> information now that we are learning thanks to this reporting, i guarantee you the white house and the president himself did not want out there, but we are learning it as a way to try to explain that tweet
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over the weekend, saying that he knew that michael flynn lied to the fbi. >> the latest explanation from the white house has been that in fact john dowd, the lawyer drafted the tweet. john dowd is 76 years old and i don't think he is so up on this whole twitter thing. >> he made that pretty clear. >> for just shows that one of the things lawyers always tell clients to do is shut up. you can never get in trouble for something you didn't say. here we have this endless attempt to explain and accuse and examine the underlying conduct. the president keeps digging a hole deeper for himself with the assistance of his lawyers which is not what lawyers are supposed to do. >> final word. >> that's exactly right. one of the biggest losers in
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this weekend leading up to the reporting is dowd. his attempt to disassemble the tweets and say it was amalgamation of ty cobbs makes him look like a liar and that's not what you want your lawyer to look like when your client has the same problems. >> the word clumsy comes to mind and it's a nice way to describe it. thank you all. thank you for your excellent reporting. up next, he danced around it for weeks and president trump is officially backing alabama candidate roy moore despite explosive allegations of child molestation.
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when food is good and clean and real, it's ok to crave. and with panera catering, there's more to go around. panera. food as it should be. alabama voters have just over a week left to decide how they will vote in the state's controversial senate election.
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polls show a very tight race and the embattled republican candidate, roy moore, just got a much needed shot in the arm from president trump. he fully endorsed moore accused of assaulting a then 14-year-old girl that moore denies. trump ignored the allegations and argued the politics saying the democratic opponent doug jones would be little more than a pelosi-schumer puppet. another boost could come when the president holds a rally just across the alabama border in pensacola, florida. it's not just coming from the white house. perhaps more surprising, top republicans, some of them have come out against moore now seemed resigned to letting the voters decide and deal with the aftermath later if he's elected. >> well, i think we are going to let the people of alabama decide a week from tuesday who they want to send to the senate and
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we will address the matter appropriately. i have already said in the past that i thought this was the matter that would have to be considered by the committee. multiimately it's up to them to make that decision and they will make it depending upon whether judge moore ends up coming to the senate. >> do you believe he should be in the senate? >> i'm going to let the people of alabama make the call. the election has been going on a lot of time and there is a lot of discussion about it and they will make a decision. >> joining us is john mccormick and jackie kucinich of the daily beast. wow. that is a 180 from mitch mcconnell. they will likely argue it's not a 180 because he said it's up to the voters, but he for weeks was going a whole lot further saying he shouldn't be elect and should dropout and everything he could
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think of to get moore out. >> largely it's an acknowledgement that moore will be in the race. he is obviously not getting out of the race and connell's campaign in a lot of ways was to get president trump to side with him and call on moore to dropout and hopefully they concoct a scheme where another republican will get in and save the seat. the shift in tone is rather striking. given the serious concerns that he and other republican leaders had raised just two weeks ago and to now say whether or not he thinks he should serve is the same nan mitch mcconnell said is not fit to be a senator. if he does win, what will the senate do? will the ethics committee do an investigation and look at the past conduct that others have been questions. will they go to expelling him that will require 67 senators to
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do a rare thing? there are a lot of questions about how firm the leadership will take if he is elected. >> they want to drag this out and have more news cycles dedicated to roy moore. he will generate a lot of his own. it doesn't seem like he will have a positive view towards mcconnell. should he be a senate. the amount of political capital they can expend. they can do a cost benefit analysis. >> that's the key of whether or not as people like lindsey graham said he will destroy the republican brand. just this morning the president did actually call roy moore on the phone. that is according to his campaign manager. she said judge moore just got off the phone with president trump and we have his full support. thank you, mr. president. let's maga. make america great again of
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course. you have been doing a lot of good reporting. what is the single biggest driving factor. is it as cnn heard that they can't fathom a democrat being elected from alabama or is it that the president maybe supports him or is it that we can't let washington tell us what to do? >> you are talking about the remaining likely voters. there are a lot of republican leaning voters who are no longer likely voters. they will stay home. it's such a republican state that roy moore is doing about 25 percentage points worse than a typical republican. that's not enough to make him lose. what you see on the ground in alabama is that nobody believe the allegations. i think donald trump's endorsement is casting doubt on the allegation and that helped like 17% of trump voters said they believe the allegations
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after trump weighed in. that went down to 9%. you will decide this election. in three or four weeks since the allegations are not the most heinous allegations. a girl said she was molested by him and no holes have been poked in that evidence. you have a lot of voters who are saying we don't really believe the accusations. maybe the other allegations that are not quite up to that level that he dated 17 and 18-year-old girls which is young. >> maybe they just don't believe it? >> they don't believe all of it or say he dated somebody who was too young and nothing bad happened. we just believe the most serious allegations. >> i want to play a robo call that the president's daughter in law did for -- it was a little bit -- i wouldn't kay too cute,
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but clever is a nicer way to say it, inviting alabamans to florida for the president's rally on friday. >> donald trump's rally will take place at the center. >> she is clearly not endorsing roy moore. she didn't mention roy moore. she is trying to lure people over the border to florida. very different from the kind of quote that we heard from the president's daughter. people prey on children are yet to see a valid explanation. i have no reason to doubt their accounts. lara trump is not saying she believes roy moore, but she is
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trying to galvanize support and attendees for her father in law's rally from alabama. >> absolutely. we know that one of the reason that is the president has been hesitant to believe the allegations against roy moore because of his own experience. then candidate trump before he was a candidate for sexual harassment and the president repeatedly denied those and that's part of the reason he is so willing to stick up for roy moore. womeny error lu are reluctant t forward. one of the women making the most serious allegations, people are not poking holes and doubting her account with any facts that rebut that. people don't believe her anyway. people are questioning her motives and they can't believe this woman finally decided to step out and share her story. this is a man on the cusp of becomes a senator. she found that to be alarming.
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not everyone in the white house is comfortable with where the president is at, but he is the president and he made a decision and so it goes. >> the message that the president is sending that it's okay to go after and attack the accusers in the political arena even if the allegations are so serious. >> politics matters more. getting that vote matters. >> everyone stand by because the president has another target. the fbi. we will talk about that after a break. cancer challenges us. to find smarter solutions. to offer more precise and less invasive treatment options than before. like advanced genomic testing and immunotherapy. see how we're fighting to outsmart cancer at cancercenter.com/outsmart but he hasoke up wwork to do.in. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill.
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>> the promise to disrupt washington, but it's not clear voters thought he meant. from his twitter account after years of comey with the phoney and dishonest clinton investigation and more, the reputation is in tatters. worst in history. we will bring it back to greatness. a quick detour from the way back machine in time. long, long ago. see that picture? j edgar hoover kept extensive files no the to fight crime, but to use it as weapons. to marilyn monroe to martin luther king,jr. he was so powerful even nixon was afraid to fire him. we digress. president trump points to the removal of the fbi agent over anti-trump bias. tainted, no. very dishonest, he wrote.
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fbi wrote under review and fox and friends and clinton money going to wife of another fbi agent in charge. then this morning the president said this. >> i will say this. hillary clinton lied many times to the fbi and nothing happened to her. flynn lied and they destroyed his life. i think it's a shame. hillary clinton on the fourth of july weekend went to the fbi not under oath and it was the most incredibly anybody had ever seen. she lie and nothing happened to her. flynn lied and it's like they ruined his life. very unfair. >> just a little fact check. james comey, the fbi director testified under oath that hillary clinton did not lie to the fbi. that's a very important fact check. this is real. the fact that this fbi agent who
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was apparently very well respected did something that you are not supposed to do which is send a political text. it gives the president fodder for all of the hyperbole that he has out there about the fbi. this was a bad move. >> it's giving republicans on the hill fodder too. chuck grassley and the chairman has been long after trying to figure out what happened with the clinton e-mail probe as wel contempt until they get more information about this fired agent and he will actually be allowed to be interviewed by the house intelligence committee in the next several weeks. this is a case of being convenient for the president to have this controversy emerge to shift the focus from the very serious charges of michael flynn
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and everyone else. the difference between hillary clinton and what he said this morning as you mentioned, hillary clinton, you don't know if she lied. michael flynn did. it's going to be a problem for the white house. even has that other controversy about mueller's team continues to unfold. >> you know, i have had this said to me by people in and around trump that they said this to him which is you have to be careful when you go after the fbi. even when there is a bad seed and even at the time when people were mixed about their then fbi director, if you appear that you are going after the institution, they can turn on you. they are powerful. >> but when has this president heeded the advice of the legal team or the people around him? he does what he wants and there was radio silence initially
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after flynn pled guilty and it took 24-ho hours for the presid to get his phone back from whoever was holding it or catch up with the news. whether or not this comes back to bite him, we will have to wait and see. he's not going to be filtered for anyone no matter what the cost can possibly be. >> there are people who are close to the president who would rather see him vent on twitter, for instance, rather than to take action. they see it as a release valve in the morning. if you take to twitter and go after jeff sessions or hillary clinton and yell. >> can they buy him a diary? >> twitter is like president trump's journal. you are not waking up and firing someone in the morning who can set off an additional investigation or questions about obstruction of justice. some have begun to embrace this as this is part of this president and who he is and it's better than the alternative. >> except that you have an agency where there are people on the frontlines all over the
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world working to defend and help this country. let me read a quote from the "new york times" of a former fbi spy hunter about morale. men and women are working tirelessly to protect the united states and its people. when he says what he says, it's an insult and degrading for the men and women to protect this great nation. >> i think that's a fair point, but all the talk that the fbi might seek revenge for trump going after them undermines this idea of independence. as much as we talk about this, we need to be talking about we will follow-up wherever it goes. as for trump with the what aboutism with hillary clinton, the clintons in general. a lot of trump supporters are saying unless they uncover treason or an underlying crime, there is nothing here. bill clinton was impeached for
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permanenting himself and obstructing justice. he was hiding an affair with monica lewinsky. there is real trouble for trump. >> the current fbi director is supposed to come to capitol h l hill. the sound of his silence is perplexing to a lot of people particularly inside the fbi agents like the one i just described who are wonder ing why he is not defending his people. >> he is in a box because he speaks out now and perhaps he can see the same fate as james comey. >> that's unlikely. >> who knows. he will be asked about this on thursday. i'm sure he will say the opposite of what the president tweeted. he was asked at a hearing earlier this year and may have been his confirmation hearing and whether or not he agreed with the president's assertion that james comb he a low regard and there was no morale. you contradict the president there and you say it on
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thursday. this was the way for them to do it. >> republicans on the verge of doing what republicans like to do best. pass a major tax cut. more on that after a break. alright, i brought in high protein to help get us moving. ...and help you feel more strength and energy in just two weeks!
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>> congress is on the verge of passing the biggest tax overhaul in a generation. both chambers approved bills to slash corporate taxes and reduce individual rates as well while eliminating popular deductions. the next step is to negotiate a final bill that can still win enough republican votes to pass.
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the differences that need to be worked out, should the individual rates expire like the senate bill or end the alternative minimum tax be fully repealed which the senate tax did not do. what would the fate of mortgages and medical expenses owe and should the bill repeal obamacare as the senate bill did? none of those are necessarilyyi insurmountable. they have a tax bill on the president's desk by christmas. we are back with the panel. there is so much to digest here. first let's talk about how this came to be. while most people were sleeping at 3:00 in the morning friday night into saturday, the senate did pass this bill. it was not a pretty process. that is something that democrats are going on social media and
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highlighting and showing the bill. let me give you one example. john tester of montana looked into a camera and held up the bill and showed everybody what it looked like. >> this is your government at work. here's the bill as it's written. here's the modifications that are in it. i can read one word. it's called add this language. can you tell me what that word is? if you can, you got better eyes than me. this is unbelievable. >> i think it was attributable, but we get your point, senator. the last monday adds are not small things. $10,000 property tax deduction. tax savings for private or home schooling. tax breaks for gas and oil operators. i wonder who put that in. scrapped repeal of the corporate amt. you were there late into the
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night on friday night. we have all seen the sausage made before. it is not pretty when you are up against a self imposed deadline. >> any bill like this, the longer it hands out there, the more people throw arrows at it and the more unpopular it is. imperative for the leadership is they had the votes and they were going to jam it through and get it passed to no end. they started to delay the vote until monday. they failed in that regard. this is not a partisan thing. democrats did the same thing when they were in power. when they had the voes for ob a obamaca obamacare. they went through the committee process and the like. you remember. >> hold that thought. we happen to have the tape. john boehner in 2010, folks. roll it. >> can you say it was done openly with transparency and
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accountability? without back room deals and behind closed doors hitten frdd the people? hell no, you can't. have you read the bill? have you read the reconciliation bill? have you read the manager's amendment? hell no, you haven't. >> john boehner classic. you were somewhere around the house when he was delivering that speech. this is the way it works. it is one of the many reasons people look at washington and go like this. the republicans did run on this notion and more on the house and the senate to be fair of reading the bills and understanding what they are voting on and not rushing it through. it's not as if it's a minor piece of legislation, but it's the biggest tax overhaul in a generation that affects every person. >> they did the same with health care. the bills were passed in the dead of night.
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i don't think it was early in the day when that bill passed. it's just a matter of who is in charge. governing is harder than a campaign slogan. the leaders especially because in the house there is no earmarks. they used the pressure valves to get things done. it's to their own peril. we will see how this bill is reacting to it and how it is implementing should it pass. >> before we go to break, i top the give our viewers a little bit of insight into something that you wrote which is really, really good, guys. you should check it out on the daily beast. it is about how you spent your maternity leave. congratulations. we know you are just back. the words from the day before my daughter was born say neonazis, many sides and repugnant. that's where the political world froze for me on august 14th around 1:00 p.m. when i went into what would be 21 hours of labor followed by 3.5 months of
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maternity bliss. in those 90 or so days i missed approximately 55,541 news cycles and that's just inside the white house. >> just an estimate. >> it is so true. you give such perspective of stepping out and back in. so much happened and nothing has changed. >> you still have at the end and i feel like it is hard to catch up in one way. at the end of the day, it kind of stays the same. democrats are trying to figure out how to come back and republicans are still trying to govern. we are seeing that with what's going on with roy moore. >> and the president is still tweeting. happy birthday. >> thank you very much. >> former host billy bush takes on president trump and why he said the president is indulging in provisionist history. that's next.
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>> former tv host billy bush said it was the president's voice in the infamous "access hollywood" tape. bush is speaking out saying the president is questioning the authenticity of the recording that came to light at the end of the campaign. bush lost his job at nbc's "today" show for his part in that 12-year-old tape where trump bragged about grabbing women. bush said in part, of course he said it. we laughed along without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from america's highest rated blow i havator. we now know better.
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sarah murray, billy bush will be on colbert tonight. he is clearly trying to use this moment for some rehab to get himself back in. what is this due to people you talked to in the white house. not only is the president bringing this up in private, you have the guy who was on the tape doing something. >> on the one hand, you understand where billy bush is coming from because he paid a steeper price and the president of the united states did for the comments on the tape. he lost his job and candidate trump became president of the united states. you can see why he might be able to rehabilitate his image. for the white house, this continues this news cycle and the fact that he continues to stew over past political fights privately. most people in the white house know that a lot of that stewing is not going to be private forever. it will continue to spur news cycles like what we are seeing
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now with billy bush back in the spotlight ready to rebound what happened on the tape. that is not what most people want to be focused on. there is a feeling among aides that there is a certain amount of this and you have to swallow hard and stomach it. say i'm focussed on tax reform. >> in addition to the political question, there is the cultural question. billy bush in this op ed and we will hear more from him and they are now trying to come out as the defender of women. he also said he believes the women who have accused donald trump because of bush's interactions with trump. is that also where we are in today's world that men who are involved in this if they see an opportunity to be on the right side are? >> i think certainly you have billy bush thinking this is the ability to rehabilitate himself and that's not saying the right thing, but it could be part of it. >> what will the president say when he is asked directly is
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this tape authentic? what will he say? >> maybe he was asked on air force one. who knows. stay tuned for that and much more. wolf blitzer is up after a quick break. that was just a'ight for me. yo, checi mean,t dawg. you got the walk. you got the stance.. but i wasn't really feeling it. you know what, i'm not buying this. you gotta come a little harder dawg. you gotta figure it out. eh, i don't know. shaky on the walk, carriage was off. randy jackson judging a dog show. i don't know dawg. surprising. what's not surprising? how much money lisa saved by switching to geico. wow! performance of the night. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
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hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here and from wherever you are watching,ment president of the united states cannot obstruct justice so said president trump's lawyer and a new legal defense that is raising lots of eyebrows. plus on the attack, as the pressure builds in the investigation, the president lashes out at both the fbi and the department of justice. america's top law enforcement agencies. is the u.s. moving closer to a preemptive strike with north korea. they call on families to leave south korea. let's start with the breakin

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