tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 1, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
the boring company. the boring company insists the flame throwers are safe, just look at musk himself operate the bad boy, the safest toy since bag o' glass. follow me on facebook and twitter. i'm jake tapper. we go to wolf blitzer in the situation room. thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. memo war. senior officials say president trump is okay with the controversial republican memo alleging fbi abuses and is moving towards releasing it. sources say the president believes the memo could help him discredit the russian probe. raising hell, top aids are worried the hand picked fbi director could quit if the memo is released. wray warned that the memo is inaccurate. one source says it's raising hell within the white house. plain obstruction. did president's top aides obstruct justice in covering up
don jr. meeting with the russians? a stunning new report says the special counsel had hear from a former trump insider about potentially damaging conversation aboard air force one. failed missile defense. missile intercepter fails to hit the target in a live fire test. could that serve to embolden north korea? i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. we begin with breaking news as the president moves towards release of the controversial republican memo alleging fbi surveillance abuses. top white house aides fear christopher wray could quit if the president takes that step. given the fbi publicly stated warnings about the memo's accuracy and omissions of fact. sources say the president believes releasing the memo could help his effort to discredit the entire russia
investigation. democrats openly worry that the next step could be the firing of the special counsel, robert mueller. i'll speak with a congressman of the intelligence kmeecommittee, we have full coverage of the situation. jeff, what's the latest? >> wolf, we know the president has read this classified memo himself, and we also know he's poised to ignore the warnings from his own fbi director. as you said, hand picked, only six months on the job today. n now, there is fear at the white house this forces the fbi director out of his job, to leave his post. this comes as the memo is expected to be released as early as tomorrow. president trump not talking tonight about the extraordinary feud raving with the fbi. as the president moves closer to declassifying a highly controversial house republican memo accusing federal
authorities of mishandling the russia probe, cnn learned aides are worried and wray could quit in protest. he made frustrations clear, officials say, but not directly threatened to resign. after returning from the gop congressional retreat in west virginia today, the president did not answer questions about his fbi director. >> mr. president, are you worried the director may quit over this decision? >> reporter: tonight, cnn also learn the president has told friends in recent phone calls this could help discredit the russian investigation by expo exposing bias in the fbi. not all republicans agree. >> this memo is not indictment of the fbi, of the department of justice. it does not impugn the mueller investigation or deputy attorney general. >> reporter: the latest showdown between the president and justice department is embroiling
washington, and grave concerns about the o mamissions of fact. they down played the magnitude of the concerns. the president and advisers have reviewed the three and a half page memo to make sure it does not give away too much in terms of classification. a senior administration said, who added on friday, the white house will tell congress the president is okay with it. the white house has gone to great lengths trying to showcase due diligence, even after the president was captured on camera after the state of the union address tuesday night suggesting releasing the memo was a fore gone conclusion. >> as democrats join the justice department and fbi in saying this release poses a national security risk, paul ryan dismissed concerns. >> this memo is is congress doing its job in conducting legitimate oversight over a very unique law, fisa, and if mistakes were made and individuals did something wrong,
then it is our job as the legislative branch in government to conduct oversight over the executive branch if abuses were made. >> reporter: the memo poured more fuel on the already politically combustible house intelligence committee. accusing the republican chairman nunes of altering the document writing, it is clear the majority made clear changes to the version sent to the white house that committee members were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved. nunes a close ally of the president who served on the trump transition team admitted to editing the document, but called that a bizarre distraction insisting changes were limited to grammatical fixes and two changes remmed by the fbi and minority themselves. they are bound to keep the investigation alive. >> despite he claims innocence, no collusion, and ongoing effort by the white house and president to discredit and stop and end
this contribute cam investigation, which is the only way he's going to prove his innocence, by the way, which is the bizarre thing here. >> reporter: so, tonight, the question is not if the memo is going to be released, but it is when. that could be as early as tomorrow. now, tonight, one senior administration official told us about the redactions not believing there's substantial redactions to the memo. they want to get this back in congress's hands and the committee, house intelligence committee expected to release it publicly after the president gives his final signoff, wolf? >> thank you. i want to bring in our justice correspondent, jessica snider, new reporting that the fbi still is not happy at all about this memo being released, even after some redactions. >> yeah. the white house might be talking about redactions, might be talking about accommodations, but a u.s. official that i spoke with familiar with the stance of the fbi say it's not good enough, the stance of the fbi yesterday is still the stance
today, and there's still serious concerns here. this is what the official said to me. he said, "the fbi said in their statement that this memo contained material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy," they continued to say" there may be editing of the text to the memo, but does not change the overall false narrative. it sounds like it's a spin to justify the release of the memo. there are still grave concerns about this memo." grave concerns, wolf, exactly what the fbi said about the memo yesterday, sticking with that stance yesterday despite changes or redactions. >> yeah, they don't want the memo out because they suspect it's basically false and misleading and provides a negative image of the fbi. you also have some new details of other breaking stories about the explosive report suggesting that the special counsel robert mueller will soon get details of an alleged coverup of the controversial trump tower
meeting in new york city during the campaign? >> that's right. we know among inquiries here, investigators have been keyed into that trump tower meeting, and the circumstances surrounding the subsequent two statements released. of course, the first one was misleading, did not tell the whole story, and now a new report suggests that hope hicks, the white house communications director, might have been part of the possible obstruction of justice. >> i'm mark corallo. >> tonight, the legal team is getting ready to talk to mueller and point the finger at one of the president's closest aides according to the "new york times" saying mark corallo plans to talk about a conversation he had with the president and white house communications director, hope hicks, in which corallo grew concern that hicks was planning obstruction of justice. it happened last summer after president trump huddled with hicks and others to draft what would be a misleading statement about donald trump jr.'s meeting
with a russian lawyer in trump tower in june of 2016. >> the president weighed in as any father would based on limited information that the he. >> reporter: down playing the meeting discussing a program about russian adoptions with no mention of what would be revealed, that the russians set up the meeting offering dirt on hillary clinton. in a comp call with the president and hope hicks, it warned the statement obscuring the purpose of the meeting would backfire because e-mails would eventually reveal the truth, but according to corallo, she replied, quote, those e-mails will never get out. at the time, he was alarmed at the implication. hicks' attorney fired back with this statement, she never said that, and the idea that hope hicks ever suggested that e-mails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false. corallo reportedly wrote down comments about the e-mails never
getting out and shared concerns with steve bannon according to the "new york times" and left his job thereafter. the words and recollection could factor into mueller's obstruction of justice investigation. >> if part of the intended audience was not simply the news but also for robert mueller and his investigative team, were they trying to steer them away from a trail, mislead the investigation? >> reporter: the president's newly new newly revealed comments to rob rosenstein could be part of the probe telling cnn that president trump asked rosenstein in september if he was, quote, on my team, and asked where the russian investigation was heading because rosenstein oversees the special counsel. cnn learned rosenstein responded, of course, we're all on your team, mr. president. shortly after this conversation? rosenstein testified on capitol hill and denied any requests of loyalty from the president. >> is it appropriate for the president of the united states to demand that a department of
justice official or fbi director take a loyalty pledge? >> i don't have any opinions about that, congressman, nobody asked me to take a loyalty pledge other than oath of office. >> he did testify before congress that there was no loyalty pledge demanded to him, but could have interpreted it somewhat differently when the president said, are you on my team? he may not have interpreted that as a pledge of loyalty. he's going to have to explain, in other words, the differences. >> reporter: we know the deputy attorney general rosenstein was interviewed by the special counsel over the summer in the role of firing james comey and learned that mark corallo will be interviewed within the next two weeks, but, of course, the additional details about possible obstruction of justice, wolf, could come to the forefront in the interview. >> a significant interview with corallo, spokesman at the white house, quit at some point, and the counsel wants to know
precisely why he decided to quit that job. could be very significant indeed. thank you very much for that report. joining us now, a key member of the house intelligence committee, democratic congressman of california, eric, thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me back, wolf. >> an fbi source telling jessica there's grave concern about this republican memo, that there may be editing of the text, redactions, but it doesn't necessarily change that concern. what's your reaction to that? >> they have a right to be gravely concerned, wolf, we're in a first world democracy, and in democracies, you don't go after the police when they are investigating you. you don't sick the police on your political enemies. that's what the trump administration and now with the help of house republicans are doing. that's a real problem. a lot of people ask, well, this looks dirty and wrong. what does it mean? it's the rule of law being just
absolutely pulverized by a wrecking ball. we have to do all we can to guard it and stand up for it. i'm just really, frankly, ashamed that so many of my republican colleagues are allowing this to happen and are looking the other way, putting heads in the sand, or actually paddling in the same direction as the white house. i expected a lot better of them and the american people do too. >> as yousisting it's the role congress to engage in legitimate oversight of the executive branch of the u.s. government, and when they see something inappropriate or wrong, it's their responsibility to report it. that's what they say they are doing right now. they saw abuses going on by the fbi. >> well, they'll be judged by history, wolf. i have seen the evidence in realtime. there is not a shred of evidence that there's been an abuse of the surveillance process. however, the fbi and the democrats are asserting that this memo puts out false
assertions that would poison the well of public sentiment, that would hurt bob mueller's investigation, and how the fbi is perceived. we actually thought, well, why don't you at least let us put out a counterer memo putting this into focus. our memo is ten pages with footnotes, goes into great detail about who occurred, and the republicans voted to block the american people from seeing that. you have to ask yourself, what are they afraid that the american people would see? what the american people would see is new, unseen evidence that rebuts their points and bolsters the fbi's credibility and seriousness of the vision. >> what do you say to the speaker, palm ryan, insisting this republican memo does not imp kate rosenstein or mueller? >> what this memo does is it seeks to torch every floor of the fbi build ping to protect the president. that's what it will do.
it's unfortunate the speaker would take that tact. we expected better of him. i can't tell him how many times i'm asked at home we thought paul ryan would the adult in the administration, not the person to look at other way, and now worse, you know, working with the president to allow this to happen. >> as you know, your colleagues, house democrats, they are insisting there were material changes made to the republican memo, not just grammar or along those lines. can you tell us what the material changes were? >> yes. i was briefed on the changes. just so people understand, we voted to send out to the public, democrats voted against it, you know, this memo. nunes sent to the white house a different altered memo. that was not approved by the congress. there are at least five material changes that we have found. they omit very important
information. they cause further confusion as to what is going on. again, we believe that this just shows they are not honest brokers in this. they are working with the white house to pedal this narrative there's a taint, there's a problem at the fbi solely to protect the president. it's wrong. it's time -- >> i was going to say, when were the changes to the republican memo made? before or after the vote by the committee strictly along party lines to release it? >> the vote was on monday, and the colleague asked nunes directly, voting on word for word memo reviewed last week? nunes said yes, sending the content to the white house. we later learned and they acknowledged that that's not the memo they sent to the white house. again, this should tell you everything you need to know about what's going on here. >> are you concerned that the work of the house intelligence committee right now as a whole on russia and other matters
could be compromised by this so that the u.s. intelligence community, the justice department, the fbi, other agencies in the u.s. government may now become reluctant to share classified information with the house intelligence committee going forward? >> wolf, as you reported in your opening segment, we have threats from north korea and all over the world that are not russia-related. we just broke an agreement with the fbi that we had that we would not release sensitive materials by voting out and releasing these sensitive materials. if we conduct oversight as speaker ryan is so concerned about, how are we going to expect them to come forward, the intelligence community, and give us the nation's secrets and allow us to look at whether they are violating civil liberties or acting in accord with the constitution if we broke trust with them? effects may not be felt today or tomorrow, but i promise you, they are more guarded when they come forward because we have shown that we can't be trusted and that we're willing to do the work of the white house to
protect them rather than to protect the constitution. >> should nunes, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, be forced off that panel? >> yesterday, yes. yes, wolf. when he went over to the white house on march 20 when james comey testified to congress to work with the white house is when he should have been gone. i hate saying that because i enjoyed working with him in the years before this, but he never left the transition team, and what this caused, collateral damage, is the house intelligence committee is in a position where our members are not -- we don't trust each other. the democrats don't trust the republicans anymore that they will do the right thing, and the leader is nunes, only speaker ryan can remove him, and, again, as we sit here today, speaker ryan is endorsing everything that nunes and the white house are doing. >> when you say "transition team," you mean the trump transition team. nunes a key member of the trump transition, helping in the transition from the obama administration to the trump
administration, so he was a key inside player for the then president-elect in that transition. what's your news, congressman, to the -- your reaction, i should say, to the news that white house aides now are deeply concerned that the fbi director, chris wray, on the job for six months, could resign in protest if and when this memo is released given the strong words to the white house saying, don't release the memo. >> that would be a loss for the country if he resigned. i know the men and women at the fbi that come before our committee, we see them across the country, they want to keep their head down and stay out of politics, but sometimes when, you know, such big lies are told to the american people, they can't stay quiet, and i commend him for speaking out yesterday to tell the country how disgraceful and how reckless it would be if this memo was released, one that fails to put forward the full picture. i hope he does not do that, but sometimes people who would otherwise be silent to do their job have to speak up, and we
need more people like him. >> yeah. in a statement yesterday, i just want to remind our viewers, the fbi said as expressed in the initial review, we have grave concerns, used the word "grave," grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the accuracy. official public statement, extraordinary from the fbi about this development if the republicans release the memo. extraordinary if you think about it that he would stay on the job, he would stay on if the president simply slaps him down and releases it anyhow. i guess you agree. >> i do agree, wolf, and we, again, we need more people at the department of justice to start pespeaking up. we can defend them because we know the evidence, and i know it's uncomfortable for them, but now is the time for leadership because these republicans are willing to risk the republic to protect the president. >> eric swalwell, thank you so
much for joining us. >> of course, my pleasure. more breaking news as the president is closer to releasing the controversial gop memo alleging abuses. amidst of the talk of a u.s. strike on north korea, could they be emboldened by a failed test of the u.s. missile intercepter? my's longest. jimmy (shouting): james! he's survived record rain and a supplier that went belly up. so while he's proud to have helped put a roof over the heads of hundreds of families, he's most proud of the one he's kept over his own. brand vo: get the most out of your money, whether you're using quickbooks smart invoicing to get paid twice as fast or automatically tracking your mileage. smarter business tools for the world's hardest workers. quickbooks. backing you.
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♪ ♪ ♪ olly. president trump moves towards releasing a controversial republican memo alleging fbi abuses even though the top aides fear that could cause the fbi director christopher wray to quit in protest. they said the fbi has grave concerns about the memo saying it spins a false narrative. they demand republican leaders remove the man behind the memo,
talking about the house intelligence committee chairman nunes. joining us now, a former chairman of the house intelligence committee, former democratic congressman, dan, thank you very much. >> thanks, wolf. >> one of your other former chairman of the committee, mike roge rogers, a cnn contributor, said releasing this memo by the republicans would be a disservice. what do you think? >> it's worse than that. i think it jeopardizes our intelligence operations because what it does is it sends to the world the trouble spots we don't have our act together here at home in terms of collection of intelligence and in terms of operations. it's a terrible problem. it's disgraceful this level partisanship, release of the memo, people want to protect the president more than the country. that's a disaster. >> have you seen anything like this before? when you were chairman of the intelligence committee or since? >> when i was chairman, it was a long time ago, i had a very good relationship with the republican members, by ranking member, did everything collaboratively, cooperatively, did not always
get along, but we never disregard the views of the fbi and other lead intelligence people in terms of releasing information that could be classified. i just -- this is something that i don't think we've seen in this country ever before. >> so when the fbi issues a statement saying that they have grave concerns about this material being released when the assistant attorney general sends a letter to the committee saying this would damage sensitive cooperation with friendly foreign governments and could undermine the collection of sensitive sources and methods, how that is done, you say? >> i say i agree with them. it would scare me to death to think we could be releasing this kind of information. it's almost as if some of these people need a timeout, like, parents do to their children. i mean, something's wrong in te terms of the behavior. it's so partisan, that the national interest is coming second to the political interests. >> why is nunes and republican majority and house intelligence committee from your perspective
doing this? >> well, i think the times are much more partisan and political than when i served a long time ago, and when democrats and republicans got together on national security issues, everything is tribal now. it's divisive and almost warf e warfare, so even something like that, fbi said, don't do it, jeopardizes the security of the united states, we would have never dreamed doing this 10-20 years ago, republicans or democrats. the behavior is bad. it could be damaging to the country. >> so if -- the next time the house intelligence committee wants to get classified sensitive information either from the fbi or from the cia, from the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, they are going to be reluctant to share that information. >> well, i would certainly if i were head of the fbi or cia be worried about this. that's why what's needed now more than anything else is working together. in some places, congress does a great job working together, but
today, times are so political, difficult, and tough, it's made much more complicated by presidential interference into the situation, that it's very difficult for them to do their job, and, again, the point that congressman swalwell made, all the problems in the world, north korea nuclear threat, everywhere in the world, we lose authority to prove we know what we're doing. it's not just picking a fight with members of the committee, but picking a fight that hurts america. >> why should the average american watching now care? it sounds complex. >> they want trust their government knows what it's doing, and if there's anything that defies trust in our government competence and their case in mine. this is a case of that. >> if this is sensitive information that damages sources and methods or cooperation with friendly foreign governments, why are the top security advisers, law enforcement advisers allowing him to go ahead and release this memo and
presumably tomorrow? >> well, it's very difficult to speak truth to power as president. you know, i mean, i've seen incidents of that myself. you do need people who are not just willing to sit around and accept it, and would be nice to see more people who would be willing to accept up, take a risk, and speak truth to power. >> christopher wray fbi director speaking truth to power, saying don't release it, causes grave concern. see if they listen to him, and if not, we'll watch closely. >> if he quits, that's a dangerous situation in terms of america's national security interests. >> we'll see what happens with the deputy attorney general as well. dan glickman, thank you. >> thank you. more breaking news, closer to releasing the republican memo alleging fbi abuses. sources say the president feels it will help him discredit the entire russia investigation. u.s. missile intercepter failed to hit the target in the latest
alleging fbi surveillance abuses and the white house probably will inform congress about the decision as early as tomorrow. a u.s. official tells cnn the fbi has grave concerns about this memo despite talk of possible redactions. let's bring in our specialists to discuss this and more. gloria, it looks like a lot is being done by the administration to call into question the entire integrity of the russia probe by mueller. >> well, that's what -- that's what this is about. this gives them a way to muddy the waters, not only the nunes memo, but you're going to have an inspector general report that comes up probably sometime next month that the administration believes will not be helpful to law enforcement, and this allows them to muddy the investigation without attacking bob mueller directly, and they don't want to attack bob mueller directly. their stance has been we're cooperating with his investigation, et cetera, et cetera, but you can attack his
investigation and investigators in law enforcement and contaminate the waters so that should bob mueller at one point or another say, hey, look, i need to talk to the president, they believe they may be on terra firma. this is the president's view that he's fighting back, and that this is his way to do it without attacking the special counsel. >> you're one of our contributors, what impact does this have on the entire mueller-russia probe investigation knowing that the president of the united states potentially actually wants the memo to come out because it could discredit that probe? >> i think from the day-to-day operations in terms of mueller's team and what his people are doing to push forward on this investigation, this is going to be background noise to them. they are not impacted by this, but at some point, mueller is going to complete the
investigation. there's going to be a report. i think what this is really about is no matter what that report says, he wants to make sure, the president wants to make absolutely sure when it comes to whatever koconsequence there may be as a result of the mueller investigation, that's called into question. by putting out the memo and discrediting what's happening now focuses on the instance here. >> even the effort alone to go ahead and discredit the entire mueller probe, couldn't that be seen as some as obstruction, an obstruction case to make it look like this whole thing is awful? >> i mean, it certainly is a pattern of behavior. i mean, there can be no debate about any of that. look, we've had jim comey, said in january, i need your loyalty, i expect your loyalty. comey's fired. after he's fired, andrew, the then acting director at the fbi, who did you vote for?
donald trump. he doesn't work there anymore. we have rosenstein in the cross hairs because, according to cnn reporting, donald trump asked rosenstein whether he was "on my team", so there's no question that donald trump either misunderstands or does not care about the traditional line drawn in terms of the executive branch and the justice department, of that independence, now, does his willingness to sort of blur out that line amount to obstructing the investigation? i don't know. i mean, but there's clearly a pattern of behavior here. >> you any, the source familiar with the fbi's position told our jessica snider today that releasing this memo would still give the fbi grave, grave concerns. using this word repeatedly now, "grave" potentially meaning life and death concerns. you don't use a word like that casually. >> yeah, but the administration
and the president in his opinion seems to have cover at least from republican leadership. you see paul ryan now two days in a row saying he agrees that the memo should be released. he, in fact, is the only one, by the way, who could remove nunes from the investigation who we thought had rescued himself from it. that's a separate question. paul ryan seems to try to double down on the other hand saying this shouldn't have any sort of influence or impact on the mueller investigation. you are reporting, however, and dana and others reported that the president thinks otherwise, that this would impact and discredit the mueller investigation, and at this point, i am kind of surprised that chiefs of the other intelligence agencies have not stepped up and spoken up as well. remember, this process does not just affect the fbi. it's not the tools that just the fbi uses. other investigative agencies and intelligence agencies use it as well. it's a much larger scope.
i'm surprised we're not hearing from those heads as well. >> also, gloria, i want your mediate reaction from this, learning rick gates, who has been charged by mueller, he was one of the deputies, the trump campaign chairman, that attorneys representing rick gates are now withdrawing from the case according to a new court filing they provided a reason to the court, but it's under seal of the we don't know what that reasoning is. attorneys for the -- but there are new attorneys representing rick gates, tom green, for example, part of the defense team. he and attorneys from his firm received entering the building where the special counsel mueller works. that happen today. it's raising all sorts of questions. earlier attorneys are gone. new attorneys are now walking into the building where mueller works. what's that suggest? >> well, the obvious thing that
it suggests is that gates cut a deal, that come green is there to deal for gates with special counsel. it could be something as simple as the fact the attorneys represented him on bail issues and don't represent him anymore, but i think when you see somebody like tom green there known as a prominent attorney who cuts deals, you have to believe that's what's going on behind closed doors now. >> quick, to add to gloria's point, with the focus on the nunes memo, rightfully so, we lose the bigger picture sometimes that gloria touches on no matter what you think of nunes, bob mueller, you have two trump aides who pled guilty to lying to the fbi.
so what's difficult here is this. this attempt to muddy the waters to use gloria's right term. it is in some ways i wish people focused on the fact that these people, mike flynn pled guilty to lying to the fbi and is now helping the mueller investigation. that's not a media creation or democrats creation. no one compelled mike flynn to plead guilty other than flynn because he lied to the fbi. >> remember, you have the justice -- the trump justice department signing off on continuing with the warrant to correspondent to surveil carter paichb paige. this is the trump justice department, not prior to the election. >> yeah. >> you know, at the same time, you have president trump going to the greenbriar today talking about how he supports law
enforcement. on the other hand, he's fighting law enforcement. tooth and nail on this release of the nunes memo. i mean, it is in his interest now in terms of his own prosecution to destabilize law enforcement and to say they are contaminated. >> if rick gate flips, you wonder what he knows potentially that could be a benefit to the special counsel, mueller, get a reduced statement, a plea bargain agreement, what he knows about other stuff. you worked for the intelligence community, u.s. military, what are the consequences for u.s. intelligence if this memo is released? >> i'm less concerned about that than i was a couple days ago. people suggested those concerns have been mitigated. there's a greater concern that i have now. you know, one of the interesting things about the process is that it's not only extremely complex,
when it comes to the details of the warrant, but it's classified. so i can see a scenario in which a body of information is put together in a memo like this, and that information could be released and through omissions of complimentary or other information, it's misleading to the public. that's the concern here, that the fbi will not be in a position to come forward and correct that information. >> right. >> because it's classified. >> which is, by the way, a point that chris wray and rosenstein made. >> grave consequences if they release this. guys stand by. a fail test of the u.s. missile int intercepter causing concerns. will that embolden kim jong un? them, they have no idea! t it's not theirs. it's mine. mine. mine. mine. the new lexus rx 350l with three rows for seven passengers.
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growing threat posed by the north korean leader kim jong-un of ballistic missiles capable hitting any part of the united states with nuclear weapons. lets bring in brian todd, working on this story, what have you learned? >> we have new information divide between key players on president trump's national security team on whether to launch a preemptive first strike against korea. an interceptor failed a critical
test from kim jong-un. >> pentagon today confirmed a test similar to this one and an interceptor in hawaii missed hitting its target. the system is designed to protect the u.s. from any missiles launched by kim jong-un. despite the failure, they still learned crucial information of the system. analysts are worried how north korea, the young dictator is rapidly vamping his ballistic missile program. >> it as long as they helicoptc advance their program, maybe some day they'll evade those defenses. sources are telling cnn tonight of a growing division inside the trump administration of going offense specifically on whether to hit north korea of a preemptive first strike trying
to get kim to stop his build up. tillerson and mattis are urging caution of a danger of a first strike. >> reporter: on the other side, hr mcmaster and one of his top deputies are insisting that the trump team should consider a strike or prepare for one. t former nsc victor cha had his name pulled because he warned the president's team that a first strike of nuclear could lead to a daughter and son i ra. >> it under scores he was not hawkish enough for them and the fact that he expressed concerns of the strategy just shows how serious the trump administration is considering it. the apparent choice of cha have draw widespread bipartisan report on capitol hill. he spoke often to cnn of the
north korean threat. >> our preemptive strike is risky in dealing of this threat. cha turned down for an interview. he again argued that a preemptive strike could lead to carnage under ground, a view at odds with the president or some members of the team who argued that sanctions have not worked to build kim's arsenal. >> reporter: tonight, some analysts and generals are echoing cha's warning that kim may retaliate if the u.s. wanted a strike. >> it will be a very physical violent fight. the potential casualties of the first hour of the conflict could be tens of thousands. obviously, a nuclear response we are talking about millions of casualties over night.
>> reporter: another warning from analysts of a bloody nose strike that would under mine korea and could bring the chinese into conflict. wolf. >> you are learning new details of some of the things that they have unsettled with victor cha as he's taking over the u.s. ambassador to south korea. >> the source familiar with the situation told cnn that during their preparations, officials asked cha if he felt he can manage the -- including the potential of evacuations of americans from seoul. >> he's no longer considered the next u.s. ambassador to south korea. brian todd reporting. coming up, sources say the president believes the member alleged fbi could help him
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