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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  December 29, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST

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welcome to inside politics. john king is off today. president trump describes special counsel robert mueller as fair to the "new york times" reporter at his florida golf club, but listen to how some
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members of the president's own party describe mueller. >> it's outrageous to see this biased mueller probe continue. >> is the president's friendship with the chinese president on the rocks over north korea? 2018 is just around the corner, but some of the biggest political stories of this year are not going away. >> my republican friends will ultimately pay consequences for this bill in 2018 and beyond. republican party will never again be the party of tax cuts for middle class people. today will be the first day of the new republican party. one that raises taxes on the middle class abandoning its principals for its political pay masters. >> apparently the way to really underscore a point is to repeat it 16 times in 30 minutes. unaccompanied by any white house staff in the center of the grill
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room at his mar a lago resort, president trump insisted over and over in an interview with the "new york times" that there was no collusion between his campaign and the russians who meddled in the 2016 election. everyone knows it according to trump. that's why he seemingly expects special counsel robert mueller to see his way to the only fair conclusion. here's what he said. i hope that he is going to be fair. i think that he is going to be fair. there has been no collusion, but i think he is going to be fair. everyone knows the answer. there was no collusion. none whatsoever. this litany of fresh denials ams after the president's lawyer huddled, his team of lawyers actually huddled with the special counsel team sometime last week and sources say the president believed the investigation would end with his exoneration by christmas. now the president won't say when he expects it to finish, only that he hopes it is soon. he said i think it's bad for the
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country. the only thing that bothers me about timing, i think it's very bad for the country because it makes the country look bad. it makes the country look very bad and puts the country in a very bad position. the sooner it is worked out, the better it is for the country. here to share their reporting and insights, karl from the "new york times." business week's joshua green, franco oerd nez and plit col eliana johnson. thanks for coming in. it was your colleague that scored this interview. i won't ask you for the back story. i won't ask you for your trade secrets, but obviously this was vintage donald trump. never mind the content of what he said, but just on a whim, on an impulse decided i will talk to the "new york times." >> mike is a very enterprising guy and got himself insinuated into the dining room and managed
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to pull off a big interview. we should thank him for giving us something to talk about and what is often the dead time. >> i think that what the interview said to me is this is a reflection of trump's confidence in himself. he just thinks that after his decades of jousting with the new york press, he can sit down with the times reporter and he will come out ahead and he can handle the interview. everybody else is going to have to make that adjustment. there was an awful lot that you could pick up and run with. on the health care not just on russia, but on the russia investigation, does he protest too much? collusion? i don't know. somebody said scene times, no collusion. i think he wanted this to be over by now and it's just not over and i talked to some of the attorneys about it recently and
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they are expecting a slog this year. some of that was wishful thinking. he is going to be fair. we are almost done. it's just not happening. >> wishful thinking or pleas to the special counsel and his team. let's dig into that issue and i want to put up something else he said on the screen. he said i have the slight right to do what i want to do with the justice department. he went on to say for purposes of hopefully thinking -- i think he meant hopeful thinking, i'm going to be treated fairly and i stayed uninvolved with this particular matter. i think there is so much to read into that. first and foremost, that there is a warning. remember, justice department/bob mueller, i can fire you tomorrow, but i will stay uninvolved for now. wink, wink. nod, nod.
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>> he was essentially saying give me credit for my good behavior. i'm calling mueller a fair man. at the same time he is reminding people that i'm the president and i have the right to sumarily clean out the upper echelons of the justice departments if i see fit and will do so if i'm not treated fairly. it was bragging in one sense, but embedded within that bragging was a threat. >> sorry, i think he was also picking up on what is a real controversy in legal circles with this -- does the president have total authority over the department of justice and can he step in and fire an fbi director. can he fire bob mueller? would that be legal? and can a president obstruct justice? he is seen on and we have seen him tweet alan desh wits who is skeptical of prosecutorial
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power. he is a legal defender in this case. that's what he is getting at. the legal defenders who say the president has absolute power over the justice department and therefore the fbi to shut things down. >> he is leaving that question out there about whether he would get rid of mueller. a lot of people think this would be the straw that broke the camel's back. he pardoned joe arpaio and asked about prepardoning his family. he has not done things the typical way. he could potentially let mueller go or try to let mueller go if he crosses that red line that he's talking about. >> i don't think he could let him go directly. he would have to put someone in place. that was the threat that was implicit in his quote. i have the power to do this should i choose to do so.
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>> he suggested let the door open to pardoning mike flynn before this gets going. i think it was striking how different his message on mueller was from what we are hearing for the hill. >> definitely. why do you thinks that? >> i think because he is trying to butter up mueller, honestly. it undercuts that hill message that has been growing and now where the republicans are going to be saying well, this needs to go. you can say well, the president himself says i'm being treated fairly. there was a mixed message that didn't help. >> speaking of buttering up, i want to show everybody what he said about paul manafort who has been indicted. he said the following. i always found paul manafort to be a very nice man and an honorable person. paul only worked for me for a few months. again, so much in just a very few words. the way i read that was that he is signalling to paul manafort don't throw me under the bus if
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you have anything to throw. >> i am not quite sure how to read that. it's hard to distinguish what is the president's pension for repetition. he repeats himself a lot and tends to say i think of him as epitap epitaphs. >> he's a very nice man. >> an honorable man. i'm not sure he is dumb enough to think saying nice things would prevent paul manafort from throwing him under the bus, but it's an interesting question. >> i think he speaks through messages through the press. this is potentially a way he is delivering a message that he wants paul manafort and is reminding him of his loyalty or the loyalty he has. he did not talk much about flynn and that's a reflection of the political danger that he sees. the white house itself is talking a little bit less about flynn. they have seen how this is a risk. a legal risk that they need to be careful about.
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they are taking more precautions on that. >> the difference with flip, flynn has turned and is cooperating with mueller. by sending the positive vibes, he is hoping that fmanafort wil not go that route. >> he is saying i barely knew the guy and he didn't work for me long. he is completely loyal to flynn the entire time. >> that was funny. i like the paul that worked for reagan. >> and mccain. >> so this is one of my favorite quotes from your paper and the interview that he got. this is about how much the republicans love him. number one, i have unbelievably great relationships with 97% of the republican senators. i love them and they love me. fact check, karl. go. >> i will say that the relationship has been much improved by the tax bill.
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everyone loved the out come there and he had terrible relations with some of the republicans, but the president has shown this real capacity to look past anything that's happened before and just focus on the immediate and mitch mcconnell even said at the end, well, i have gotten to like the tweeting which he is really -- as usual it's overstated and we will see how 2018 works. i think you will probably see a little less love from some of the republicans on the hill. >> i think you are seeing the difference between love and fear. this is a situation where some of this is fear. the republican party i do feel is embracing the president. poll numbers show or approval numbers among republicans, not all, but republicans is 80% approval ratings. i think that's how low national approval ratings are. those who speak out against the
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president, flake and others, they get smacked and they get hurt. >> the other way in which they have shown their love and trump alluded to this, they have been very critical of mueller and the department of justice and the fbi and essentially created political space for trump to have a kind of twitter tantrum about how he has been treated. something very much on trump's mind even though in the context, he presented himself as the good guy that he thought mueller would be fair. >> i love the love versus fear. in power especially in political power, fear is more powerful than love. we will take a quick break, there are 12 house democrats in districts that voted for president trump. what can the party learn from their success? i went to hurl illinois to find out. >> i think there is a feeling among the working class folks
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>> president trump is blaming democrat for the lack of bitart partisanship saying they talk about working and don't follow-through. in an interview the president mentioned senator joe man chin of west virginia. he said joe is a nice guy, but he talks and he doesn't do
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anything. he doesn't do let's get together, let's do bipartisan. i like joe, you know. he's a great centrist, but he's not really a centrist. later in the interview, referring to democrats, he said they should definitely come to me on health care because we can do bipartisan infrastructure and we can do bipartisan daca. let's get back to the panel. very interesting that first of all i heard that he was telling people privately he was really going to try to pivot more to the center in 2018. the fact that he is saying this so aggressively, never mind who he plames is noteworthy. >> he obviously wants to start looking bipartisan after having a bipartisan year. the president is not my responsibility to go to the president. the president needs to reach out to me. the democrats are in a good
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position here. they can hopefully from their perspective do deals from the administration, but if they don't get what they want, they didn't want to work with us going into the election. that's what we will see. >> the president is not entirely wrong here. like all relationships, it goes two ways. the energy in the base has been and continues to be really filled with anti-trump fervor and there is not a huge amount of incentive for them to work with trump. but i do think the president in saying he wants to have a more bipartisan year is acknowledging a political reality. the issue is he has to pivot to infrastructure and daca. he needs to work with democrats on it. i don't think he feels in his belly he is liking democrats more, he is acknowledging the underlying political reality. >> there is that that there is fervor in the ways even places like west virginia where the president won by like a billion
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points. also it's the yet that the republicans decided to do things that no democrat account go for. >> the one thing they don't seem to recognize, bipartisanship is not a matter of loyalty to the president or being nice as the president likes to put it. it's about policy. a lot of these bills were so heavily skewed to the right. take the tax reform bill that early on some republicans thought a democrat could repeal the individual mandate that is so heavily towards the very wealthy. >> never mind repealing the individual mandate. >> i was going to say there is a little more oxygen for bipartisanship after alabama and after virginia and after tax reform is done. maybe he can pivot a little bit. the operatives that i have spoken to were connected to the white house and said there is a lot of interest in getting daca
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as well as infrastructure. >> at the same time he is saying we will have this wall. >> that's a negotiating tactic. >> he is still saying that and they are not going for that. >> senator manch shin chin is one of a small band of democrats who are urging the party to learn from its mistakes. the sin of losing working class voters who are the backbone of the democratic party. now there were exceptions. democrats who did well with what we call trump voters. sherry bustos is one who won districts that donald trump won as well. i visited her in the northern illinois district to see firsthand how she did it. >> why do you think the democratic party is losing so many white working class voters? the very voters that were the backbone of the democratic party for generations? >> i think there is a feeling among the working class folks
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that we are not focusing on what's important to them. that is are we talking about making sure that their wages can go up? are we talking about the strength of the middle class and do we have the policies that support that? are we acknowledging that their wages are not what they were when we had better times. the answer is no. we don't feel that way. for your colleagues who are trying to figure out what your execute sauce is, how you talk to a trump voter and relate to a trump voter in the way that democrats have not been able to do, what's the answer some. >> be in the moment. listen to people. i like to say we have been made with two ears and one mouth. we should use that proporti proportional proportionally. a lot of democrats come from districts and most democrats come from districts where the left rules and where racial
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politics are real and identity politics are real. >> uh-huh. what i would say to that if we as a democratic party want to be in the minority then ignore talking about jazzing the economy. that's how we will perpetually be in the minority. we have a program called build the bench. i was traveling all over the country working with candidates and recruiting candidates to run for congress. we discovered that we were struggling in the districts to find candidates that really fit the districts. >> why is that? did they just not identify as democrats? >> well, in some cases they were not made to feel welcome by the democratic party. i don't believe in a litmus test. i believe we are a big tent party and we have to act like that. it doesn't mean we are going to be on the same page on every issue. >> back with the panel, you were nodding your head. >> i think that you have to give
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democrats the district. i think what you will see from democrats like sherry bustos, they will say look at what trump and the republicans did. they promised you they were going to be for the working class and passed a tax bill that helps the super rich. democrats feel that they lost that message during the last presidential election and they are going to reinforce that and i think there are people in the democratic party that say hey, you know in some districts we need people who support gun rights and get people who are antiabortion and we can work from that. they did it in the past when they did win the house back. >> in 2006 it's a different time now, but how big of an is she this still? 2016 seems like so long ago and tries to learn the lessons for it. donald trump is president because a lot of traditional
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democrat who voted for sherry bustos voted for him. >> the brilliance to me of the trump-bannon message in the presidential campaign was built around economic populist. we are make america great and bring back jobs. what the president has done has satisfied the desires of establishment culminating in a tax cut skewed towards the very wealthy. if you look at where the energy is with bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. that can mean a successful in mid-term. >> in the short-term in the mid-term, you had people like sherry bustos arguing we need a strong message to counter the republicans in the short-term. the former dnc chair howard dean said we don't need that. we need to do this. in the off year elections for congress he said your message is i'm not the president. that is all you need. take a listen.
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>> in the off year elections for congress your message is i'm not the president. that's all you need. in 2018, not being donald trump is enough. >> is not being donald trump enough if you are a democrat? >> if you listen to bustos, that's not enough just to be against donald trump. if you were just against donald trump would doug jones have won in alabama? what bustos is saying is you need a bigger message and you need to go after jobs and the economy. the democrats need a message and need to bring something more to the table and not just being the anti-trump party. >> bustos is talking about the long-term and talking about the party identity for the next 10, 20 years. howard dean is talking about 2018 and saying that the anti-pathy to the president is so strong that the democrats have to do little more than essentially have a pulse in the mid-term elections to succeed. i do think that sherry bustos is
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getting attention aside from being an impressive politician for making an argument for the identity of the democratic party whether it should look like hillary clinton or sherry bustos. >> speaking of the president, as we go to break, we want to show you brand-new video of president trump back on the golf course today at trump international in florida. i believe we have it. it's day 89 of his presidency that he spent on the golf course. he invited members of the u.s. coast guard to golf with him. again, totally fine. nobody argues with the idea that the president more than anybody needs to blow off steam and golf and it's actually nice when he does things like invite people from the coast guard and other services who are defending and helping this country. okay. up next, is the presidential promans coolinga off?
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>> it's an honor to have gotten to know you. we have develop and have developed a wonderful relationship. >> my feeling towards you is an incredibly warm one. there is great chemistry.
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affairs correspondent. elise, what did you make of what the president said in this "new york times" interview about china? >> i think everybody on president trump's team is trying to dampen his real impulses to go after china on trade. now he is looking at china even though president xi treated him better than anybody has ever treated any leader in the history of the world. it was the best day in anyone's life. china has not done enough on north korea as far as president trump is concerned. since his administration has come into office, they have done more than they ever had for signing up for resolutions and un security counsel resolutions. the toughest sanctions ever. cutting off 90% of north korean exports of oil. if you look at past sanctions and what he is talking about in the past week, china has been
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skirting the sanctions. president trump is once again as he has done many times before warning china if they don't get tough on north korea they are going to get tough with them on trade. i think the problem is right now that president trump and the history of the u.s. has been may be overestimating what chinese can do. if you talk about scholars and experts, china doesn't feel that it really has all that much influence. if it pushes china, maximum pressure also leads to war. if that -- if the chinese and north korean regime starts to stabilize and you have all this chaos and south korea is involved and the u.s. is involved, that leads to war. if you are china, you are looking at two bad options that lead to war. >> i think if you take a step back at the whole idea that he, the president ran as somebody
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who was going to be tougher than anybody on china with regard to trade and the fact that he is so transparent about the fact that he changed that because he hopes that china deals on north korea. this is another part of the interview. he said china on trade ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything. i can be different if they are helping us with north korea. if they don't help us, then i do what i always said i want to do. he is just out there about how transactional it is and at the same time it's a warning to china. >> it certainly is. it's amazing to me how strong and aggressive he has been in the public statements, particularly because privately he is so differential and nice. in a way he works better with autocrats than the democratic
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leaders of europe. he has got kind of this business autocrat leadership. i would say one person we should closely watch in this situation is general kelly. general kelly could play a big role here. obviously trump loves his generals. i think being such a volatile situation in kelly's background, he could help trump go over these waters and maneuver enough of the gamemanship to approach this in a delicate, but proper way. to be strong and smart. >> we were talking about this in the break. what precipitated all of this was the president tweeting about china being caught red handed and getting oil into north korea. he admitted to the "new york times" he got that information from watching fox news. he said it was very recently. in fact i hate to say it was reported this morning, yes, it was reported on fox. oil is going into north korea.
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that wasn't my deal. he sees it and tweets it and causes an international incident. >> my first reaction to that was it's scarey that he is getting that intel from the media. >> it's not the first time. >> right. but you would think that -- >> this has been circulating and the treasury department put out a muted statement last month. there is a debate going on in the administration between the panda huggers and the panda punchers. clearly president trump wants to be a panda puncher and hit china. there are many in this administration not just in the state department that are more china huggers. they get more with sugar than vinegar. that's why the administration has been public low called out china on that particular oil shipment. they have the pictures. they put out the pictures. what they didn't say is we believe that this ship is linked to china. they have known this for
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sometime. president trump has been briefed on it, but probably heard it on fox news and it refreshed his memory and he said we have to tweet that. >> the president talks a lot about his expertise in business and in a tweet this morning he offered some advice to the u.s. postal service. here's what he said. why is the u.s. postal service which is losing many billions of dollars a year while charging amazon and others so little to deliver packages making amazon richer and the post office dumber and poorer. coe jeff bezos has been a target in the past and also owns "the washington post." trump tweets that a bitter cold in the east could use a bit of that good old global warming. what did he mean by that? we get the reality check from the weather center.
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>> breaking news now on cnn. north korea and the chances of a new ballistic missile test possibly within a few days. u.s. military officials today are telling cnn that the north koreans are moving equipment that is consistent with preparations for a ballistic missile launch. the possible time frame is sometime after new year's day. secretary james mattis told reporters that the u.s. still prefers a diplomatic resolution to the tension with north korea, but his job is to provide military options. stay with cnn. we are watching these developments. in other political news president trump is catching some heat for his tweet about global warming. he appears to be poking fun at the notion of climate change suggesting good old global warming would be welcome on the east coast on these cold days. lots of comments followed,
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pointing out the difference between weather and climate along with links to scientific study says proving that the earth is indeed getting warmer. allison is at the weather center in atlanta. where do people get it wrong when they equate the climate with the weather some. >> so the best analogy i can give you is whether is the outfit you are wearing today where as climate is your wardrobe full of trends and patterns overtime. there is two distinctions. weather is what's happening right now. that's why meteorologists give you a to-day forecast. climate is 30 plus years of averages. here is a look at north america as a whole. the current look. all of the blue areas are looking at temperatures about below average. the temperatures in the southwest are the regions that are well above average. here's the thing you have to
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understand. we set a lot of record lows, but we set over a half dozen record highs yesterday in the southwestern u.s. when you hear climate change, often called global warming, it is a global scale. now you look at the earth. only this region of north america was much colder than average. everywhere else was much warmer than average. when you look at the whole year, record highs. we had over 33,000 record highs set this year and only under 9,000 record lows. the overall trend is that more of record highs are occurring with the heat than we are seeing with cold. it's that difference between weather and climate, a smart meteorologist friend of mine gave me that analogy and it stuck with me. it makes total sense. >> appreciate it, allison. the new year is around the corner. some political figures ousted by scandal are vowing to stay in the spotlight in 2018.
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>> here's my promise to me. i may be leaving the senate, but i'm not giving up my voice. your insurance company
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>> president trump went after his own attorney general, jeff sessions again in his interview with the "new york times." he said i like jeff, but it's too bad he recused himself. he's talking about sessions recusing himself from the russia investigation of course. i don't want to get into oilt loyalty, but holder protected president obama. totally protected him. trump'sative with sessions and love of loyalty will be a recurring theme in 2o 18, something we like to call given the new year's holiday, a political hangover. our panel is ready to share some of their hangovers and i will start with you.
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i'm just talking about political hangovers. >> not implying that. not yet anyway. >> i want to get you to talk about it. >> you will see in state after state after state. people that follow the model of judge moore that do not need to raise money from the elites and the crony capitalists and the fat cats in washington, d.c. and new york city and silicon valley. >> how much is moore's defeat changing that? >> i don't think it's changing a lot. the nationalist and the bannon wing of the party will continue to be a party for republicans. we have seen over the last few weeks how problematic that can be with doug jones, a democrat getting electied in a red state like alabama. a breitbart affiliated candidate and challenger to paul ryan
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erupting in anti-semitic tweets and white supremacist tweets. what's clear from that clip, these guys will continue to be a headache heading into the mid-term election. >> you are looking ahead to the immigration and specifically what to do about the dreamers. the deadline is in march for either congress to act or the president to act or the dreamers are going to effectively be kicked out of the country. let's take a listen to what the president has said about that. >> we love the dreamers. we love everybody. i have a love for these people who hopefully now congress will be able to help them and do it properly. i can tell you speaking of members of congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. >> there is a deal in the works we know. keep allowing the dreamers to stay in this country legally
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with citizenship in exchange for border security or something along those lines. you mentioned this earlier. just today the president tweeted the following. the democrats have been told and fully understand there can be no daca without the desperately needed wall at the southern border and end to the horrible chain migration and lottery system. we must protect our country at all cost. i read that as learning a lesson from the last time he met with chuck and nancy and appeared to give away the store on immigration. at least showing the base i'm trying. >> it's an internal battle that he has. he is certainly sympathetic to the young immigrants who came with their parents and at the same time he has his base that he needs to satisfy. i think this is an issue that democrats and many republicans want to address. there is bipartisan momentum to get this done.
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there is talk that maybe it can get done earlier in the year, but as we know in congress, they need their backs against the wall. they really need their backs against the wall. why? because of what josh was talking about. the further conservatives are going to push back the bannons and the bannon friendly folks are going to push back and it's hard to do. they'll come to march fifth and can they get it done earlier? i'm not sure. can they even get it done by march 5th? trump has talked about maybe even extending it. it could be a big deal in the mid-term elections. i have spoken to white house sources who told me this is a concern. i talked ed ted to congression sources that there is concern they could face political ads from democratic opponents who are listing all their constituents who could be potentially deported. >> interesting. karl, for you it is the major legacy issue for the president and for republicans in congress.
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judicial nominees. let's listen to what the senate majority leader says about that. >> today the senate will continue another historic week with more of president trump's impressive nominees to the federal bench. >> the nominations will be a flash point, but not just judicial, but executive branch. republicans are very frustrated at the pace that democrats are slow walking these nominees. they want to change the rules again to shorten some of the time. i think that could end up being a big fight. with democrats looking to possibly win the senate, they don't want to cooperate. if they took over the senate, they have a lot of leverage over nominees. this is going to be a potentially ugly fight as the year goes on amidst the talk of bipartisanship. >> and then what happens with the secretary of state. take a listen. >> you have a cattle ranch and you don't want to say anything
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about senator calling and suggesting you have been gelded before the world if it's not anything that bothers you. >> i checked. i'm fully intact. >> i did not expect that answer. >> i had to run that again. that was amazing. what's your sense on rex tillerson? >> rumor is about his imminent departure since he was sworn into office. i expect that to continue to swirl around him into the new year. many expect him to depart january or february, but we had been hearing that for months so it will be something we continue to watch. >> the question is whether or not his big bed yesterday and your paper in the "new york times" was more of an attempt to say look, i want to say or an attempt to say look -- >> establish a legacy of some sort. >> thank you, everybody. happy, happy new year. appreciate you all coming in. you can ring in new year's eve with anderson cooper and
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andy cohen beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for joining us. i will see you back in a few hours at 4:00 p.m. eastern on the lead. bryanna keilar is up after a break.
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>> it is 1:00 in washington and 9:00 in moscow. wherever you are watching for around the world, thank you so much for joining us. unscript and on the record, president trump gives an impromptu and wide ranging interview to the "new york times" and said the russia investigation is making the u.s. look bad. from russia with regret. the kremlin sizes up relations calling the current state of affairs one of the major disappointments of the year. and china rejects trump's accusation of violating


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