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tv   Smerconish  CNN  March 17, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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celebration in the umbc locker room after the historic win. this is a cinderella story all around. the point guard is from san juan, puerto rico, ravaged by hurricane maria that left his family without power. and the cavaliers came in as the top seeded in the tournament. they were favored by more than 20 points and espn tweeted with the upset, there are officially no more perfect brackets. the university of virginia is the champion of the tournament, out. that really hurts. i'm going for the underdogs the rest of the way. i'm ana cabrera in new york. live in the "cnn newsroom," we'll see you back here in an hour. "smerconish" is next. ♪
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i'm michel smerconish in philadelphia. welcome to you in the united states and around the world. former deputy director andrew mccabe fired friday night at so clock p.m., little more than 24 hours shy of his retirement. was this justified or political revenge? plus, russia continues to meddle in our news cycle poisoning a former spy in the uk, infiltrating our power grid and yet when asked the white house still not sure if they're a friend or foe. now with special counsel mueller subpoenaing the trump files is something going to give? i'll ask michael isikoff. and toys are no longer us. the retail giant to shudder the stores and who's to blame? >> you bought toys on amazon and
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i'm out of a job. >> but amazon is just one of the booming big tech companies along with apple, facebook and google. you'll meet the man who advocates breaking them up like ma bell with the railroads. and president trump's lawyers taking new steps to keep adult film actress stormy daniels silent saying she owes $20 million for violating the nda. can they prevent "60 minutes" from airing her interview? but first, jeff sessions fired andrew mccabe late friday, less than two days shy of his retirement. this stems from the internal review conducted by michael horowitz which hasn't been made public. the report is said to have found that mccabe misled investigators about his role in directing other fbi officials to speak to media. about the investigation into the clinton e-mails and the clinton foundation. attorney general jeff sessions'
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statement read in part, be both the oig and the other reports have indicated that mccabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media. for his part, mccabe said i'm being treated this way because of the role i played and the events i witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of james comey. shortly after the announcement, president trump tweeted. andrew mccabe fired, a great day for the hard working men and women of the fbi, a great day for democracy. sanctimonious comey was his boss and made mccabe look like a choir boy. he knew about the lies. joining me is jonathan turley. professor, this is one of those issues that evidence is our partisan divide. on the right today, mccabe's firing is being celebrated on the left condemned. i need you to be an honest
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broker. was it justified, this firing? >> well, it was justified in the sense that it was -- these were career officials at the office of professional responsibility that made this recommendation which is exceedingly rare. in fact, it's unprecedented for someone in this position. these are not political appointees. the opr quite frankly is not viewed as a particularly aggressive office so all of that makes this a relatively rare sanction coming from career officers. they clearly concluded that mccabe misled them and they -- that he misled on one of the core issues they were investigating. >> i remember from my cases of service in -- service of in the federal government, the inspector general's office was an arm's length away.
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i was running hud in five states. frankly, you didn't want to have anything to do with the inspector general's office and i want to clear up any misconception that people are thinking that jeff sessions or the president can exert influence over the i.g. because they can't. >> and everyone i know of speaks highly of he row -- horowitz and this office is isolated like a sherman tank. when this unfolded it's not the outcome. i said when we first heard of the report and the recommendation that i thought it was -- i thought it was a given that he would be fired. it would be -- it would be surprising for sessions to turn down this type of rare recommendation from the career staff. after all, he followed the recommendation of the career staff to recuse himself and i think rightly so. what is going to create an issue going forward is whether there's
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a criminal referral. michael flynn was indicted for making a false statement to investigators. now it's true that they were looking at him for other crimes as well. but there will be some that will argue why would you indict michael flynn, but an fbi -- a deputy fbi director is just worried about his pension, not prison? >> so which is the greater infraction? i think you're getting to this now. if in fact it occurred the way the inspector general says it took place which mr. mccabe i understand disputes, but in so far as he, "a," authorized the members of the fbi to speak to "the wall street journal," then "b," if he were untruthful about it under oath for which those does he face more exposure? >> it's the false -- the alleged false statement. as you you know, there's a great of background discussion that occurs with reporters from the fbi. and the doj.
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it is always the misrepresentation. now keep in mind, that with flynn his meeting with the russians wasn't illegal or unprecedented, it was failing to disclose about the sanctions being discussed that led to his charge. this can spin further out of control. there was one line in mccabe's statement last night that i immediately flagged because he said that he had authority to do this and he conferred with the director. the director at that time was james comey. now, the problem there is that james comey said under oath that he never leaked information and never approved a leak. so if the inspector general believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about comey's previous testimony. and could get him into serious trouble. >> and of course, mccabe's response to all of this is that this is an effort to discredit him because of testimony he might be able to provide
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relative to the president and obstruction of justice. >> that's right. his statement was very, very strong. i mean, he's clearly feeling liberated from his previous role. he's able to speak as much as he would like. he certainly paid for that right with his pension. and that's a very sad thing. i have to tell you, i thought this whole thing was sad. this is man that had a really stellar career in the fbi and i find all of this -- in fact all of these controversies to be deeply sad. but that doesn't excuse what he did. but more importantly, even his statement is going to trigger another round of inquiries as to who actually knew about this and was this a leak to the media? comey has already been accused as you know of leaking information through a friend at colombia law school after he left. he removed material from the fbi that the fbi has indicated i think correctly so was fbi material. not subject to being removed
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from the bureau. some of that appears to be classified. so comey himself is not out of the woods on this and mccabe's statement doesn't help any. >> what do you make of the timing, 10:00 p.m. on a friday night? >> yeah. i really regretted that. you know, as you know, often people release things late on friday nights. i hate that, that approach. to try to sort of bury the news cycle. i thought it was unfair to mccabe. you know, if they were going to do this waiting until you go right up to the line of his pension was -- i thought a bit rough. but you know what? we're living in rough times and i'm not too sure doing it 24 hours before would have materially improved the situation emotionally for mccabe. >> yeah. but it did seem a bit vindictive. 10:00 p.m. on a friday night. thank you, i appreciate you being here. >> thanks, michael.
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what are your thoughts? tweet me @smerconish. ly read some -- i will read some responses. what do we have? he's draining the swamp, campaign promise, i do believe. this is a tale of two cities to those who are supportive of the president and conservative, this is a day of celebration and to those on the left who see this as being part and parcel of a cover-up, of obstruction of justice, they see it entirely different. do we have one more? i think we have a tweet as well. smerconish, isn't the firing of mccabe more of a threat to all government employees? complete loyalty to trump or you will pay the consequences? you see the differing ways that people are interpreting this and my response to to individual would be to say that the inspector general's office conducted an investigation. they said he informed the media when he shouldn't have and "b" he was untruthful about it. what do you expect to happen? up ahead a week full of
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russia news. they expelled 23 diplomats after condemnation for poisoning a spy. we learned of a threat to our power plants and robert mueller has subpoenaed the trump organization's financials. good thing we have michael isikoff here to break it all down. a bit of this. why not? your hotel should make it easy to do all the things you do. which is what we do. crowne plaza. we're all business, mostly. looking for a hotel that fits... crowwhoooo.a. ...your budget? tripadvisor now searches over... ...200 sites to find you the... ...hotel you want at the lowest price. grazi, gino! find a price that fits. tripadvisor.
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russia has expelled 23 diplomats after the recent nerve agent poisoning in britain. america finally announced some sanction against russia for the meddle and a russian threat to our power grid was revealed. plus, special counsel robert mueller has subpoenaed the trump organization to turn over documents including some related to russia. the implication is that it's widening to examine the potential role of foreign money in president trump's political activities. joining me is michael isikoff who penned a best selling number one seller in the country. one of the many takeaways as i read your book thus far there's
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a recurring cast of characters, russian nationals who have been around president trump not only recently but i'm thinking of the folks at the trump tower meeting or meetings but going back three decades. >> right. well, look, there is a three decade history of trump trying to do business in russia. but what's significant and what i think helps explain mueller's subpoena for these trump organization records is you take a look at that notorious trump tower meeting, the one where the trump campaign is offered derogatory information in the form of official sensitive documents from the russian government. who set up the meeting? it's rob goldstone, the publicist who sends the e-mails to donald trump jr., but he's acting on behalf of the russian
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oligarch, and the aspiring pop singer. and then you -- we know and that trump -- these are the people trump was doing business with. in moscow. in 2013. they were his partners in the miss universe pageant. they formed the agreement to build a trump tower moscow project in moscow -- in russia, in 2013. donald trump jr. is put in charge of the project. ivanka trump flies to moscow to scout for potential sites with agholoroff. you have to understand the relationships between trump himself and the people who set up the meeting. so it's perfectly logical and makes sense that mueller would want to subpoena the records to see everything that the trump organization has about its
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relationship with the agholoroffs. >> as i read the book i'm very dubious of the idea that the meeting took place at trump tower and you talk about a second meeting that that could have taken place without the president being notified. he knew the personalities in the room. it's strains cre duality that they wouldn't have said, we're about to have this meeting. >> right. as you point out we disclosed in the book and earlier trump -- an earlier trump tower meeting that took place with trump himself and emma agholoroff and other key players. that's january 15th. they go to trump tower and meet with trump, they're welcomed by him there and trump indicates
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that -- he tells agholoroff about his plans to run for president. when you connect the dots and see the personal relationships there, you know, it's -- obviously it raises the sort of questions that you just raised. >> michael, for 30 years now president trump wanted to build in moscow. never got it done. when did he come the closest and why did the deal fall apart? >> well, there's that first trump tower project which i have just been talking about with the agholoroffs, february of 2014, ivanka goes to moscow to look for properties, what's happening at this time? putin is annexing crimea, he's intervening in the ukraine and that's followed quickly by sanctions imposed by the obama administration and the european union and this is what leads to the collapse of the project.
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a majority russian government owned financial institution was targeted in those sanctions. rob goldstone is quoted in the book as saying that that's what led to the collapse of the project. so it came close then. but then he tries again. through another -- another associate. a former felon named felix sater and they set up a deal for an -- a letter of intent that's signed for a trump tower project in moscow. this is in october 2015 while trump is running for president. trump at that very moment was pursuing another deal/project in russia. that is -- you know, that would have required putin's approval. so when you see that, you start to understand a bit trump's strange affinity for putin and his flattering public comments about putin. he needed putin's approval for
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the business deal he was trying to accomplish. >> and as i think you have made clear, we showed that headline from the friday times about mueller now seeking documents via subpoena power from the trump organization. you think what you offer in this book is an explanation of what mueller's looking for. what's he looking for? >> right. well, you know, like i said before, i think what he's looking for is to understand the relationships between trump and the key players in this. the only surprise to me, michael, is why it's taken him so long to issue this subpoena because it seems as we lay out in the book pretty basic to understand -- to understanding what was going on in that trump tower meeting and what was likely going on during the campaign. now, the trump organization has said it was voluntarily cooperating with trump turning
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over -- with mueller turning over documents that had been requested. if that's the case you have to wonder why the subpoena would have been issued unless mueller's people saw indications or signs that not everything was being turned over. >> it's a good observation. why did they need to use the subpoena power? michael isikoff, thank you i appreciate you being here. >> thank you. what are folks saying via twitter and facebook? from facebook, i think. i'd rather trump goes down because of russia than stormy. i think there's a play on words in there somewhere, olivia. still to come, trump's lawyers now say adult film actress stormy daniels owes him $20 million for violating the nda but can they prevent the "60 minutes" interview from airing? and toys "r" us is the latest store to shutter the stores. for the good of business, we have to break up amazon, google,
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♪ opening statements are scheduled to begin on wednesday in the justice department bid to stop the at&t acquisition of time warner. time warner is of course the parent of cnn despite working here i don't have a dog in this fight. i have not spoken to anybody within the company about the deal. a report noted that this is first time in four decades that the justice department has sued to block a merger between companies in different lines of business. the justice department argues that the deal would give at&t the power to charge its competitors more for time warner's content or to block the content entirely from the likes of comcast, verizon and charter. the justice department opposition was announced in
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november. but a lot has happened since then. cvs said it would buy etna and signa sought to buy express scripts. but there's been no justice department opposition to any of those deals. which begs the question of whether opposition to the at&t/time warner deal is politically motivated. after all, president trump has been a vocal critic. >> at&t is buying time warner and thus cnn. a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few. >> but if you want to talk about too much power in the hands of too few, shouldn't we at least be asking about amazon, apple, facebook and google? in a moment, an nyu professor whose students get recruited by the giants who in his view, they
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enjoy unfettered economic domination and hoard riches on a scale not seen since the monopolies of the gilded age. consider that amazon is worth more than walmart, target, ross, best buy, nordstrom, macy's, jcpenney and others combined. toys "r" us will shutter all the stores in the u.s. this is one of debt with which the company was saddled by the private get investors but the next time you need "star wars" legos you'll go to amazon. the domination in our lives by big tech is unmistakenable, but nobody seems particularly upset about it. certainly not members of congress who in any other context would be raises question -- raising questions and i think i know why.
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we love our gadgets. nobody is particularly eager to stand up for a cable stovepipe, but hands off my amazon account. don't interrupt my ability to google anything. but no matter how much we enjoy them, these big four are in danger of thwarting the rest of the country's economy. i want to know what you think. go to my website, answer today's survey question. given the market dominance of amazon, apple, facebook and google is it time to bust up big tech? and now silicon valley soul sucking machine scott galloway writes that amazon, apple, facebook and google have an impact on our daily lives unlike any company in human history and his conclusion is yes, big tech must be busted up. scott galloway is a professor at nyu stern school of business. i know when this conversation
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ends the tweets will come and people will say who is that socialist you had on? disabuse them of the fact that you're a socialist. >> i'm a full throated capitalist and i think key to capitalism is competition. they're no longer competitive because of the dominance of the companies thank you for pointing that out. i'm a proud capitalist. >> are they monopolies in the conventional sense of the word? are they akin to what ma bell was before the breakup? >> so i would argue yes, but a monopoly in itself isn't necessarily a bad or an illegal thing. it's abuse of monopoly power. a company like google which has 92% market share and then rather than taking you to the point of best information but rather to a place they can monetize is abusing that monopoly power. 92% share of a sector search and
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now by dollar volume is greater than the advertising market of any country with the exception of u.s. and will probably blow by it in two years. facebook has four of the top five apps in the world and squarely on snap and putting it out of business. you can go on and on. amazon has 70% share of voice probably the technology of the future and responsible for a quarter of all retail growth and a half of all online sales yet we don't seem to be worried about the concentration of these companies. >> is the reason that we're not worried -- that which i said in the commentary which we love use of the technology. to your point not even bernie sanders says anything about this as far as i know in the congress. >> yeah. there's a deeper thing going on here and that is as a society i believe we no longer worship at the altar of kindness, but innovators of money. we are so impressed with the kids and we read every day in old media about how awesome
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innovation is, but yet we don't talk about the reality there are half as many businesses being formed today as there were 40 years ago. there were half as many public stocks as there were 20 years ago. small chains can't -- chains can't get out of the crib. if you look at the rise of the big tech and the decline of the wages of the middle class, you would have a difficult time saying there's not a correlation. the amount of power these companies can achieve, low cost of capital, the scale, their ability to put small companies out of business and as i said, put big companies out of business prematurely is having a real impact on our economy. it's small business two-thirds and it's never been easier to be a billionaire, but tougher to be a millionaire. facebook has technology that goes out and assesses if an app is getting traction and then it
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adopts the features into one of its app and it goes and buys it. the markets are failing. >> professor, i pulled a graphic from your work in esquire. relative to facebook and google which says, the facebook and google are together worth $1.3 trillion. you can merge the world's top five advertising agencies with five major media companies and still need to add five major communications companies to get only 90% of what google and facebook are worth together. you have similar data relative to amazon. but you know there's a response to a lot of this. i'll go with amazon. amazon loves to say, well, 4%, that's all we have. that's our only share of u.s. retail. >> so 4% is a number and you're right, it's the one they use, but here are the other numbers. they're 40 % of all online sales. they have 70% share of voice. and get this, they have prime or
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they have video distribution recurring revenue relationship with 80% of wealthy household and two-thirds of all households in the u.s. earlier you talked about the president wanting to restrain at&t's acquisition of time warner. at&t has 120 million phone subscribers that's the distribution and then cnn or time warmer has some fantastic content. amazon has 70% distribution, 70% of homes have prime video. and they're the second largest spender in the world on original scripted content at $5 billion just behind netflix. but we need at&t to sell adult swim? one of things is happening, either the call of restraining the acquisition is insane or they should have been broken up a decade ago. google has youtube and has pre installed on 2 billion android devices. so the notion that that company
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or this merger needs to be restrained and the companies with five or ten times the distribution of content don't need to be broken up seems irrational. >> final quick thought. the most powerful person in the world according to you it's not putin, it's not trump. who is it? and why? >> oh, hands down it's mark zuckerberg who has assembled a community more vast than christianity and 2.2 billion people and has license to take that mood up or down. he's not elected. cannot be removed from office and last year tried to get a shareholders to agree to a three class shareholder system where he can end up owning none of the company and control it. facebook has been weaponized by foreign actors. if cnn had been weaponized by russia, the advertisers would have run from it. the markets are failing,
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michael. time to break the guys up. >> it's a really provocative subject. thank you, professor. see how the poll goes. go to and answer the survey question on this issue. given the market dominance of amazon, apple, facebook and google, do you agree with the professor it's time to bust up big tech? let's see what people are saying in the accounts. what do we have? okay, knock it off. bust up big tech look at all of the choices people have for shopping these days. you must own a bricks and mortar store. hey, vicki the last thing i'd want to own today would be a bricks and mortar store. up next on friday president trump's attorneys filed to move stormy daniels's lawsuit to him to federal court and claims she owes $20 million for violating the nondisclosure agreement. but can they prevent "60 minutes" from airing the anderson cooper interview that's
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you recall daniels accepted a $130,000 payment in exchange for her promise to remain silent about the alleged affair which trump denies. meanwhile, anderson cooper has taped a "60 minutes" interview with daniels due to air next sunday. do trump's lawyers have any means to prevent it from airing? joining me is the executive director of the media research center and he was previously "the new york times" in house lawyer for 30 years. counselor, can they stop "60 minutes" from airing that tape? >> no, there's no way they can. i think it's kind of laughable. number one, you know, cbs was worried about they would have put this interview on tomorrow rather than waiting a week, putting it back a week. i don't think they have any real fears, but secondly and more importantly, the first amendment directly says you can't do that. it says government can't abridge speech. so that goes directly to what trump and his lawyers are trying
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to do here. which is stop speech. and the first amendment says you can't do that. and the supreme court and the pentagon papers case of course said that you can only do it maybe if the publication would result surely in direct and immediate and reparable damage to the country. and this hardly meets that standard so i don't see any way that the trump folks can really stop this interview from being aired. >> do you think that cbs has any exposure? everything is a double entendre in this case, in so far as they put her on the air and she's violating the nda? >> no, i think they have to be careful about exposure, particularly when it comes to potential claim of invasion of privacy, but in terms of the nda cbs isn't a party to the nda. it's a question of whether trump is a party because he didn't
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sign the document. but putting that aside, i don't think they can get the cbs -- because cbs is not part of it. there's a claim called tortious interference of contract but that's not apt in this setting. so i think the answer is no, the nda shouldn't bar cbs from airing this or subjecting them to liability. >> michael aif notty who represents stormy daniels was here with me last weekend. has anyone offered to pony up the $1 million to protect her and say, here, i'm good for it, go tell your story? >> at least ten individuals in the last three days alone. >> george freeman, what do you make of that? at least ten folks stand there, checkbook ready to protect her if in fact she's held accountable. >> well, cbs shouldn't be one of those. cbs shouldn't be indemnifying
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her because they look like they're in cahoots and that would hurt them in the claim we're talking about. but she's obviously made a marketing decision that the $130,000 is peanuts compared to what she could make going forward. >> so the president has filed through a new lawyer, same lawyer who took down gawker by the way on behalf of hulk hogan, a joineder of defendant of donald j. trump, here's what i think is going on. he's trying to get the federal court involved so as to make sure this case stays in arbitration. there was one line that jumped off the page at me. mr. trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by law. what will be interesting to see is whether he can stay sufficiently removed from that underlying agreement. in so far as maybe he says, hey, michael cohen negotiated that, i guess. i had nothing to do with it. but it's a valid agreement nonetheless is that the needle
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he's trying to thread? >> i think it is. and i think it's -- he's going to be unsuccessful. he stepped into this more than he had heretofore. the notion he has nothing to do with the $130,000 gets sillier and sillier as we go along. i want to go back to the exposure. i think cbs has to be careful in terms of what she says and whether it subjects them to tinvation of privacy -- the invasion of privacy dispute. for example talking about specifics about the sexual act could be viewed as an invasion of privacy, notwithstanding it involves the president of the united states. he's entitled to some privacy as well. on the other hand, i should point out if for example she has to say something about his penis size in a way -- i'm sorry it's early in the morning to talk about this, but in the way he's opened the door to that because he's bragged about it as i
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recall in the debate with marco rubio. he's opened the door for this discuss but nonetheless, cbs has to vet this story carefully to be careful and as you point out the lawyer he now has is the lawyer who made that privacy suit against gawker. so they have to be careful about invading privacy and making sure that what she says about sex has some sort of newsworthy angle. >> perhaps this will finally be the case where we test that size of hand hypothesis. george freeman thank you for being here. i appreciate it. >> thank you very much. a pleasure. still to come, your best and worst tweets and facebook comments. what do we have? smerconish, he had an affair with a porn star, what's new? loads of businessmen have affairs with porn stars and they're people too. not going to hurt him politically, but will the red ties get totsed out of the white house?
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coming up, given the market dominance of apple, amazon, facebook and google is it time to bust them up totally? go to today, smart planning is helping the new new york rise higher than ever. as the world leader in unmanned aerial systems, we're attracting the world's best talent
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and pg&e has been a partner helping us to achieve that. we've helped the marine mammal center go solar, install electric vehicle charging stations, and become more energy efficient. pg&e has allowed us to be the most sustainable organization we can be. any time you help a customer, it's a really good feeling. it's especially so when it's a customer that's doing such good and important work for the environment. together, we're building a better california. interesting. i have no idea which way this goes. poll question is smerconish right now. given facebook and google, is it time to bust up big tech. 8,000 votes cast, survey says, wow, 59% say yes. i would have surprised whatever the result is.
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because i don't know where the passions lion this. my hunch is we all so love lt gag ety. he says, looking at the iphone, while we may think economically thinking they have too much power, i hope it won't effect my google search. wow, you really go way out of your way to support any and everything trump does, sycophantic. my hunch is rich. they don't tell me this in advance. next is, smerconish this is not a tell of two cities. this is wrong. see? now what am i doing treating the right wing too fairly.
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there are not two sides. there are. and guess what, i'm against both sizes. i'm for the middle size where common sense prevails and data dives conversations. what's next, kathryn? you got another one in there. smerconish, are the tweets you read on air actually composed by yourself? i don't know how to say your handle, but i guess i've just proven that that is not the case. not only do i not write them, i don't see them, until you see them. we have this crazy operation here where i'm in front of a camera in philly and screening them and sending this em em and sending them to new york, and atlanta so i can respond. i'll keep the poll question up. you can catch up us any time on
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top of the hour. you are in the cnn newsroom. i'm ana cabrera in new york. the news is are we closer to constitutional crisis? the president says he will not fire him. but the president's lawyer sending up a prayer that the investigation suddenly disappears. wishful thinking? those questions clearer picture how the special counsel could