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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  May 1, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. anyone up for a game of 20 questions or how about 49? that's the number of questions "the new york times" obtained that special counsel robert mueller would like to ask president trump. no surprise the president has something to say about all of this and taking to twitter with this. it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. witch-hunt. we'll fact check that in a second. more tweets to get to. first, then this, so disgraceful that the questions concerning the russia witch-hunt were leaked to the media. no questions on collusion. but, again, collusion is a focus of the questions including one of the most intriguing
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questions, like this, what knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign including by paul manafort to russia about potential assistance to the campaign. let's get to it let's dig into all of it, we'll start with shimon prokupecz with the latest. let's start with the question about -- i'll get to the question about paul manafort in a question. what of these questions stick out to you. >> the manafort question is a big one. obviously that one goes to the heart of collusion. we have done a lot of reporting concerning manafort and outreach. there is information in the intelligence world that manafort or someone was trying to either communicate with manafort or manafort was communicating with someone about potentially help in the campaign, russians, helping the campaign. in the 49 questions, there is a lot of little ones kind of that really paint a bigger picture of exactly what mueller has here and what he's looking at. certainly it goes to the question of obstruction, right. and that has to do with comey and the firing of the former fbi director. but specifically what mueller is asking for here is regarding the
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decision to fire mr. comey, when was it made, why and who played a role in it. that is an important part because it was over a weekend in new jersey, the weekend before he was fired, the fbi director, and people were there with the president before he made that decision. it was jared kushner and steven miller. that has certainly come up in our reporting as well. the other thing this really shows us is that there are questions about his business dealings. during the campaign, potentially, with russia. and that's relating to michael cohen who is now obviously in the news -- facing potential criminal charges, felix seder, who is cooperating with the mueller investigation, and others including foreign nationals about this russian real estate deal that they were talking about, development in russia during the campaign. and lastly, obviously, we have all these questions about collusion. and that is the communications this is why i think roger stone thing here stood out to me is that he's asking the president essentially what do you know
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about these communications between roger stone, his associates, wikileaks. that has been a lot of reporting that roger stone may have been communicating. roger stone is denight he commu communicated with wikileaks. the miss universe path in 2013, we have been doing a lot of reporting on that, mueller has gone back to look at the relationships that trump built in 2013. specifically it is agalarovs. that has to do with the trump tower meeting. they were instrumental in setting up that trump tower meeting with the russian lawyer. so that is also of interest obviously. >> it shows what you're highlighting, the range they're hitting on. >> this goes back as far back as 2013, even further back which doesn't seem to come up in this questioning, but we know the fbi
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has been digging far back into trump's business dealings and his family and his associates. >> shimon, stick around. depending on your reporting on some of this, also adding to the conversation is asha rangappa, former fbi special agent. and mimi rocha, former federal prosecutor. before i get to anything else, i want to ask you first about donald trump's response to all of this, if you will. part of his response. it gets to his tweet, which is it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened, witch-hunt. how does this fit into the legal definition of obstruction? that's been a big part of the conversation this morning. >> that is inaccurate what he's saying there. you absolutely can obstruct a crime that never occurred. the way that it works is, you know, somebody can think that they have done something wrong, illegal or just wrong, that they don't want people to find out about. the question is not whether there is an underlying crime that actually was committed.
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the question is whether there was a crime that was being investigated. and in this case, that is very clear. we had this investigation going on. sometimes, you know, you'll have a case where it is not quite so clear there was an actual sort of fbi investigation. that's crystal clear here. it is really about was there an investigation going on. and did the person try to obstruct, to impede, to delay, you know, all sorts of different verbs you can use. his tweet is absolutely incorrect. i think we don't know here yet. it is also incorrect as a factual matter. we have absolutely no idea whether there is an underlying crime yet. in fact, these questions which are very telling, even without the answers, seem to suggest that mueller thinks at least some people are committing crimes. but as a legal matter, it is also incorrect that you cannot obstruct an investigation where no crime was committed. >> asha, let me ask you about this one, asking about paul -- asking about outreach from paul manafort, which i mentioned up at the top, paul manafort to
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russia for potential assistance to the campaign, so far there hasn't been anything really reported about manafort reaching out to russia for help. to you does this mean that mueller has something there or could they simply just be asking because manafort is in a whole bunch of other trouble? >> well, pretty basic rule of interviews like this is that you already know the answers to the questions that you're going in to ask. you still owe -- ask them in an open ended way, so the person can give their own version of it. but i suspect that they probably have some evidence of coordination between manafort and russia. this only makes sense in terms of what we already know about manafort, who is a subject of two fisa orders, which you can only get if you know that the -- if you can show a court that the person was acting, knowingly, on behalf of a foreign intelligence service. so we know they have some
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evidence there already. the question is was he doing any of that while he was in the campaign, and it is definitely a question that goes directly to the heart of collusion of direct assistance being solicited from russia. >> about this whole thing,coming out now, the mumueller investig has been kept so quiet. how they describe how this came about was so interesting. according to "the new york times," according to questions read by the special counsel investigators, to the president's lawyers, who compiled them into a list. that document was provided to the "times" by a person outside of mr. trump's legal team. so where does this come from then? >> a good question. the mueller team is pretty tight. i know just in having spent, you know, over a year now reporting this. >> exactly. >> but we know based on some of our reporting that when the teams met, the mueller team and the trump team met to discuss
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about possible interview, they gave them buckets sort of topics. this -- our understanding is that this came up, a lot of this came up as a topic. and that the president's legal team then decided to kind of -- with the special counsel craft some of these questions. but i want to touch on something about paul manafort, i think this is important, this question about collusion and whether this outreach, manafort is a very central figure in this entire investigation. and in many ways it is why there has been so much pressure on him with these charges by the special counsel. in the end, it is everyone's belief that they want paul manafort to cooperate in this investigation. for this very reason. there is intelligence, there was that was gathered by investigators, that indicated that paul manafort and we have done this reporting, either was communicating, outreach or something between paul manafort and people with connections to the russians. and that has always, we believe, been a concern for the special counsel and i think quite frankly they want to know more,
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more about that. we have been doing a lot of reporting on that. and it shows you that really manafort is a central figure in this investigation because of his extensive ties really to the russians. in the end. he was a chairman of the campaign at one point. >> that's right. even though they like to downplay how long he was with the campaign and his role. you're getting to this, when you take the totality and the theme and how the questions are crafted and what lurking inloo here, does it tell you anything about exactly what bob mueller is looking for from the president? does it tell you anything about what they might have already concluded? >> a couple of things. first of all, i don't know that mueller crafted these questions. >> also, that's -- >> that's important. he probably gave topics and the lawyers wrote the questions. but, yes, the information in the topics and the questions tells me that he's trying to get at what donald trump knew about actions and words and things that other people did. and it sounds like he has, i
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mean, this is reading tea leaves and i could regret saying this later, but it sounds like he has or is concluding things about things that other people have done. and, i think trump doesn't understand conspiracy law because he's saying, this isn't about me, basically. no collusion. but in fact the way the law works is if you knew that other people did things, and you in any way, you know, facilitated and knowing that that was going on, even if it is a small act, you know, you can be part of that conspiracy. and so i think it is very interesting that even though what he's constantly -- these questions are constantly geared toward, you know, what did you know about manafort, what did you know about kushner's actions? that's important. and that's exactly what a prosecutor, you know, wants to get at and know about his knowledge. >> about the timing right now, asha, there is 49 questions, these leak out now, the
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question, ahead of is donald trump going to sit down with bob mueller's team, will he face bob mueller, after seeing these questions published, do you think there is any chance he will? >> if his lawyers are smart, they will not let him sit for an interview. i think this covers so much ground, so much of it actually goes to not just what other people did, but his own tweets, his own interviews, his own words, his own actions, that can really get him into trouble because it is his own motive that will determine whether he obstructed justice. you know, i think that we kind of don't really have a good place to go because if he doesn't sit down for the interview, then we start entering into unchartered constitutional territory where mueller would have to issue a grand jury subpoena and then there might be a standoff and possible litigation. so at this point anyone's call as you know.
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>> it is just a shoulder shrug is how we're ending this one. asha, mimi, shimon, appreciate it. a lot to dig through. coming up, he says he didn't call the president an idiot, but reports indicate that chief of staff john kelly isn't on great terms with his boss either. we'll get the latest from the white house on the central relationship in the west wing. plus, the one letter with massive implications. why a typo from the white house raised eyebrows around the world and could have dramatically changed the status of iran's nuclear program if even for just a few minutes. we'll be right back. patrick woke up with back pain. but he has work to do. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. aleve. all day strong. ♪ with expedia you could book a flight, hotel, car and activity all in one place. ♪
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house, she's no bs, what is happening there today? >> reporter: john kelly coming out quickly and publicly to deny this report, shortly after it was published. he issued a statement, we don't often hear from john kelly directly like this, but he did call this bs, he said that he spends more time with the president than anyone else and he said he always knows where i stand and he and i both know this story is total bs. john kelly said he's committed to the president and his agenda and the country and he said this is another pathetic attempt to smear the president. but he's not just denying it publicly, kate. we're also told he did so in a face to face meeting with president trump in the oval office yesterday, saying that this report isn't true and though cnn hasn't independently confirmed the idiot remark, we have reported that john kelly referred to the president as unhinged. we know that the two of them, their relationship is not what it once was, it is quite deteriorated because of several reasons and that john kelly is not involved in as many decisions as he was when he was first brought into this west
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wing. there is a difference here in this report, we reported the secretary of state rex tillerson referred to the president as a moron, that was something tillerson never denied, never spoke to the president about explicitly to deny it, so certainly a difference here. we both know this president is not someone whos like to be undermined, he doesn't like someone to question his intelligence. and hasn't publicly said anything specifically about john kelly, no vote of confidence there yet. >> didn't he challenge tillerson to an iq test? >> yes, he did. >> three and a half years ago. thanks, kaitlan. great to see you. let's see what happens next. let's bring in editor at large chris cillizza and cnn political analyst washington post white house reporter josh dawsey. this is -- on this episode, this has been a pretty forceful denial from both donald trump and john kelly. what do you make of it? >> i think it is possible that maybe the word idiot wasn't used, but i don't think there is
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any dispute that john kelly and donald trump are not what they once were. obviously john kelly was touted by donald trump as bringing discipline, military man, better than what he viewed as an ineffectual reince priebus' chief of staff. i think it is more evidence that donald trump is tough on the furniture, to use that idea, which is it is just hard to work for him. he doesn't really listen, he mostly does what he wants, he scape goats people, he says things that get out in front, you have to try to make policy around it. it is just a very tough job. so just donald trump is unhappy with john kelly my strong sense is that john kelly is unhappy with donald trump and his style of management and leadership. i just don't -- whether you call him an idiot specifically or not, i don't see this lasting that much longer, that partnership. >> you think kelly is on his way
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out? you've been saying that for months? >> that is true. and john kelly, by the way, has -- we have got reporting repeatedly, well, john kelly threatened to resign or said he would resign and he didn't. keep that -- i just think at some point here donald trump wears hard on people. i think, you know, six months is like six years with him. and i think that kind of timeline means that john kelly is probably headed for the exits in the not too distant future. >> you spoke with kelly's deputy about all of this. what does he say about the fact that people around the president are going to the press with stuff like this. >> well, i think inside the white house there say clear realization that john kelly does not have the support of his staff that he once had, one that he put around the rob porter episode when different people thought john kelly gave conflicting stories about how he handled it. his staff is not disputing that people are telling the press this, just saying he didn't say it. rarely speaks on the record to
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any reporter and yesterday did a whole round of interviews. also seemed according to my sources in the white house a realization that they don't really trust the press shop and others it defend kelly as much. the central argument was john kelly is a marine, he is someone who respects the president, of course, there are moments of frustration, whether the two of them clash and screaming matches in the oval office, but he respects the president and ca y carries out the orders of the president and did not call him an idiot. we also have not confirmed he used the word idiot. we know he frequently gets frustrated with the president and spoken in dericive terms about him at times. >> we have heard him talk like that, even in interviews. >> i think josh's point is important, which is no one is really disputing the fact that they have a contentious relationship. kelly is saying we have an open and frank relationship and, sure, that sometimes means we're going to clash, but that's good.
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and the negative side is they have a contentious relationship and it is not -- creativity and positive things do not come from it. it is mostly negative. but i don't think anyone is disputing that, that donald trump and john kelly, first of all, are radically different people. their backgrounds couldn't be more different. the idea they would get along perfectly makes very little sense based on what we know of human nature. no one is disputing that they clash. is it clashing that is cut right? is it clashing that gets in the way of john kelly doing his job effectively or is it something that just, you know, is part of the daily day of dealing with donald trump. >> josh, what about the -- what does this all do to the reporting that we see in the wall street journal that kelly is being considered to be the next secretary of veterans affairs? what does this do to that? >> white house officials have pushed back hard on that possibility and are saying that he's not up to be a finalist for that job. the president as we reported,
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others have repeatedly musings about people, what about this person for that or this person for that. it is hard to know how serious he is. our reporting indicates that that is not a very likely possibility. but it could happen at 5:00 p.m. today too and, you know, that would be what it was. so really hard to know sometimes with these personnel decisions. the president as we have seen time and time again, different things and leaves everyone guessing. >> i wonder what rex tillerson is thinking today. the other official who may or may not have said something about donald trump behind closed doors, but never denied it when asked directly about it multiple times. guys, great to see you. i would never call you a moron. >> hey. coming up next, the president, the porn star, and the new lawsuit. stormy daniels slaps the president with a defamation suit, a stunt or a real case? you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? flonase relieves your worst symptoms including nasal congestion,
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stormy daniels filing a new lawsuit, this time against the president himself instead of his personal attorney. now claiming donald trump tried to ruin her reputation after he had released a sketch last month of a man she says threatened her and her young daughter in 2011 to stay quiet about donald trump. the president followed that sketch with this tweet. calling the man not existent and the whole thing a total con job. does stormy daniels have a case here and what is this all about? with me right now, cnn legal analyst paul callan is here with me. paul, also to be clear, you have a lot of questions about stormy daniels' attorneys approach on this, strategy on this, why? >> i think it is an extraordinarily difficult defamation case. suing somebody for defamation, that is for attacking your professional reputation or accusing you of being a criminal and damaging that reputation is very difficult. even a strong case is difficult.
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here, because you're suing about the statement made by the president in that particular tweet, she's is going to have a real problem. because number one, stormy daniels has made herself a public figure. she's just like a politician now and there is a higher standard involved in cases involving politicians. you have to prove that the president said this with actual malice. the president also has a defense that because he is a political figure, the first amendment might protect him because he views this as a political attack on him, not just like two ordinary citizens fighting about something. so i think because of those two things he's got a problem. the third and final thing is that if you look at the actual wording of the tweet, he says it was a total con job. but he doesn't mention who is doing the conning. is it the attorney, is it the sketch artist, or is it stormy daniels? so it is vague, the wording that is listed in the tweet. so a lot of problems with the
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case. >> i heard you also raise the issue of whether a jury would award stormy daniels damages in this case and you brought up her profession, working in the porn industry as a complicating factor. michael avenatti, he was asked about that this morning, and he responded. i want you to listen to this. >> okay. >> regardless of a woman's profession, she is still entitled to have people speak about her in a truthful manner. all because you engage in a certain profession does not mean you check the ability at the door to be treated with respect and dignity. i think it is outrageous, especially in today's day and times. this isn't the 1950s where people just turn a blind eye to this nonsense. >> does he have a point? being a porn star does not preclude you from being able to tell the truth. >> it doesn't. we're talking about an important principle, but when you try jury cases, you put 12 ordinary people in a jury box, and they're going to hear that she probably has made between 200
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and 500 pornographic films now, she has a legal right to do that certainly and shouldn't hold that against her. but some people will hold that against her. and most lawyers would look at this and say, it lowers the amount of damages that are going to be awarded in the case as a result because some jurors may say her reputation has not been damaged. the final thing i would raise on what are the damages in the case is this. she's being accused of lying about whether she actually had sex with the president. the president denies that it happened and she said that it did happen. so when you're arguing this to the jury, you have to say that saying you didn't have sex with the president or if the public believed that is defamatory in some way. in other words, that's how her reputation has been damaged because the president says she didn't have sex with him. is a jury going to give a lot of money for that? i don't think so. they might give a symbolic award, sometimes say we award $1 in damages because they want to send a message she has a right
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to sue and that the president has the right not to disparage the reputation of another person. but recovering a huge amount of money, it is not going to happen in this case. >> this doesn't even get to the fact that this is just one suit, this doesn't even get to where things go then with the other lawsuit filed against michael cohen, donald trump's personal attorney, now on hold. michael cohen is facing a criminal case. this is a tangled web. thank you. great to see you, thank you. coming up next, why the white house walked back a major statement on the status of iran's nuclear program next.
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this morning, the israeli prime minister is doubling down on his assertion that iran has been lying for years about its nuclear ambition.
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listen. >> there is an enormous amount of new information that we didn't know, that shows how advanced they were in their bomb-making work. so that's the first thing. second, if people knew this, then how could they close the file and say they never did anything like this. this was the condition for entering the deal. >> same time, the world's nuclear watchdog says there is no evidence of iran trying to develop nuclear weapons after 2009. netanyahu says they still can't be trusted and the deal never should have been struck because of it. this all comes just 12 days before president trump is expected to decide whether to leave iran nuclear deal altogether making the time of netanyahu's announcement all the more provocative. with me now to discuss, aaron david miller and cnn military and diplomatic analyst retired rear admiral john kirby, former spokesman for the pentagon and the state department. great to see both of you. john, did benjamin netanyahu
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move the ball here? did he present new information? >> those are two very different questions, kate. let me take the second one first. no, he didn't. nothing he said was information we didn't already know, that had most of it been declassified by the bush administration. he made the compel case of why the iran nuclear deal was so important in the first place. he seems to be arguing that because they have all these records and data that their intentions are impure and they'll cheat in the future. that's why the deal has such a strong verification regime in place, but his argument is because, like i say, my notes from history class at the university of south florida, that means i'll want to go back and get a ph.d. it is a weak argument. whether you move the ball or not, i don't think he did, i don't think he was trying to. i think he was speaking to an audience of one, mostly, that was trump and to his base, to try to shore up the president's pending decision on may 12th about whether or not to stay in the deal. he's giving trump something that
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trump can point back to and say, you see, look, based on what netanyahu said, i'm fully in the right to pull out of this deal. >> maybe in that regard he did move the ball. the direction moving towards trump to get out of the deal. aaron, michael hayden suggested that when it comes for netanyahu on this issue specifically you have to take it with a grain of salt. listen to this, please. >> with all due respect to the prime minister, and i realize he's not an intelligence source, all right, but we have certain labels, certain caveats we give to some sources and for some sources who actually report good information we also have to point out so that you understand the motivation of the source, we believed his remarks were designed to influence as well as to inform. and i think that might apply to what the prime minister said yesterday. >> aaron, do you agree? >> no doubt that the prime minister wants to be the coach, the cheerleader and the player and he is clearly all three with
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respect to the jcpoa. he's on the verge of a major political victory, getting the president to begin the process. what he'll actually do, our president, is another matter. begin the process of exiting the jcpoa. i agree generally with what john said. i think there is one important point that these -- that this treasure trove of documents reveal and that is the issue of intent. and it reflects, i think, a genuine concern and problem with the jcpoa. one scientific knowledge enters the consciousness of a nation's scientific community, it can't be extracted or expunged. i do think the eyian e y irania the verge of developing a nuclear weapon, absolutely not. do i think they want to contain the know how and the technical reports to put them in a position to do so? at some point, if required or necessary? absolutely. and that i think is the real
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problem. we are never going to sleep or have a good night's sleep given the nature of this regime and the fact that it is driven by a profound mix of grandiosity and security. this agreement is highly flawed but it is functional. walking away from it without a plan b i think is a political interest of the president, but not in the national interest. >> there is also then how the white house is talking about all of this, john. the white house put out a statement last night that said this, in part, iran has a robust clandestine nuclear weapons program that it tried and failed to hide from the world and its own people. has a robust nuclear weapons program. the white house later changed that has a robust program to had a robust program. explaining the error as a typo. this word changes everything. you handle communications for state defense. how does this happen? >> i go back to what mark twain said, the difference between the
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almost right word and the right word is a big matter, a serious matter, the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. i think that -- look, they'll say this is a typo. i think to some degree we have to take their word for it. not like i never made typos. two things i would say, one, i think it is a freudian slip. i think there is a strain of people that wanted to word it as has, present tense. they felt that was stronger and probably more in keeping with the theme of netanyahu's presentation. and number two, when you correct a statement like that, at least when i was in at the pentagon in the state department, not only do you repost it on the website, you send out an aggressive overe-mail to the press corps to say we made a mistake, here is where you can find the link to the new statement. they reposted it. i think that was a little bit shady. >> aaron, can i ask you, former secretary of state condoleezza rice was speaking out this morning, on cbs and about the iran deal in general. let me play it for you.
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listen to this. >> i wouldn't have signed this agreement to begin with. i said that before. i think it was a weak agreement, particularly on verification. it allows iran to break out after specific period of time. i probably would have stayed in for alliance management reasons more than anything else. but i don't think that it is the end of the world if the administration leaves the agreement. >> she doesn't think it is the end of the world if the administration leaves. are the fears overblown? >> the end of the world? no. it is not the end of the world. you're dealing with a broken angry dysfunctional middle east, you see the situation in syria. you've got arab regimes melting down in yemen, in libya, iraq is more stable, but highly questionable whether it is a functioning state. no, it is not the end of the world. it just leaves -- it is going to leave the united states more isolated. it is going to afford the russians and the chinese more advantage.
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and right now given the face-off between the israelis and the iranians in syria, which is extremely worrisome, it is going to raise the question as -- about whether or not there are any constraints left on any actor and this, i think, is not a good situation and at a very bad time. finally, while i don't think it is going to affect kim jong-un's calculations about whether to do a deal, with trump or not, and it is going to provide him with an excuse if this heads south to basically walk away. so, again, it is in the political interest of the president, but it is not in the collective national interest. >> and we should learn much more very soon. great to see you. john, thank you so much. great to see you. coming up next, a cnn exclusive, new allegations against white house dr. ronny jackson, this time not coming from a democrat. stand by.
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new allegations coming out about president trump's former doctor and former nominee for head of the va. new documents show that vice president pence's personal doctor alerted them last year about ronny jackson. the story is breaking right now. manu, what happened? >> they were saying this was nothing short of vicious rumors, but they were talking about conduct raised by vice president pence's doctor when he wrote a
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series of very detailed memos that were provided to the vice president's chief of staff and also the white house chief of staff john kelly that we have now obtained at cnn. pence's doctor accused jackson at the time of violating patients' private rights after there was an emergency. after they raised the alarm to vice president pence, the doctors had a confrontation. jackson said she was intimidated, he felt he was addressing in aggressive behavior that made the physician feel uncomfortable and dismissing concerns that pence's privacy was violated, suggesting that hipa didn't always have to be foeld llowed at the white ho. this was in line with don tester
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who was named publicly and this was largely dismissed at the white house, kate. coming up next, i cannot go back to my country. that from just one woman, the first migrant to be processed at the u.s.-mexico border as she and many others are seeking asylum. but if the president says they're not welcome, what's going to happen? we'll take you there. hilarious. with claim-free rewards. switching to allstate is worth it.
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>> reporter: what i can tell you is the eight people who have begun their asylum process is a sign of hope for those here. you can see that they're living under tarps, they're sleeping on blankets, on concrete. that's really the only blankets separating them from the pavement, kate. what those eight people represent to them is a sign of hope that they will actually begin to be able to have a life in the united states. but some perspective on this. even though that is day one for those eight people and we heard cheers in the crowd as that news was announced, it is going to take them years, approximately six years, to find the end, some sort of resolution for that asylum processing. there are about 620,000 people who have no resolution yet or are still waiting on the list, kate. so despite all of that, the people who are here, the children who are playing here say they are not going to move, that they intend to wait here as long as possible for the hope of
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having a life in the united states. kate? >> all right, we'll continue to follow with you. thank you so much. today is also the day that president trump's deal of aluminum tariffs were supposed to go into effect, but the president pushed the deal back 30 days to give the european union, canada and mexico time to negotiate the deal. tina -- christina sat down with them. what do you say? >> the idea is to close down the amount of goods that u.s. buys from china versus the amount of goods it sells to china. right now it's 37 billion. the country wants to cut that down. china says no way. both of them are posturing like
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they have the upper hand. listen. >> we're not looking to pick a fight. this is about trade disputes, this is about negotiating what's good for american companies and american workers. it's a one-sided deal. we bought over 500 billion of goods from them, they buy 135 billion from us. >> they lend us money. >> again, plenty of people can buy our treasuries. >> china is the largest holder of our debt. >> i'm not concerned about that at all. treasury securities are the most liquid securities in the world. >> reporter: as you can hear, kate, mnuchin is very confident that china cannot retaliate. just to put this into perspective, though, china is the biggest holder of the u.s. debt. and if it wanted to retaliate and hurt the u.s. economy, all it has to do is not buy more u.s. debt at a time, by the way, when the u.s. is actually borrowing a lot more money to pay for tax cuts. so in that sense, many
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economists and people on wall street are very concerned that china could hurt us, could drive up borrowing costs, make it more expensive and really halt the growth and work against the administration's objectives of getting to that 3 and 4% target that it wants to hit, kate. >> christina, also on the issue of tariffs, you have mnuchin heading over. included in that delegation are top folks who don't agree on tariffs. you've got kudlow who is an anti-tariff, peter navaro who is pro-tariff. what side will they be taking? >> reporter: you are very right about that. right now the administration is fixated on showing a unified front. they are all swimming in the same direction at least publicly. how things play out behind the scenes is a big question mark. i actually did push mnuchin several times on this point, and he was not willing to show any
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of his cards on that front. but you're right, there are very big disagreements on that team, and how this gets resolved, and whether or not the president will stay off twitter and stop antagonizing the chinese is also a big question. >> that is probably the largest unknown of anything as they head over to china for these negotiations. christina, thanks so much. thank you for bringing us that interview. thank you all for joining me. "inside politics" with john king starts now. thank you, kate. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. we now know what the special counsel wants to ask the president and the list is a wow. most allies of the president say he would be nuts to sit down for an interview. count your tuesdays. midterm elections now six months away. cnn shifting more houses toward the democrats. the public insisting it is

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