booking a flight doesn't have to be expensive. just go to priceline. it's the best place to book a flight a few days before my trip and still save up to 40%. just tap and go... for the best savings on flights, go to priceline. hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. as pressure mounts, president trump giving an extraordinary interview in which he says flipping, meaning cooperating with law enforcement, ought to be illegal and argues against his own impeachment saying, quote, everybody would be poor. also, after dozens of very public insults against his own attorney general, the president with his most direct attack yet. why president trump says he should have never hired jeff sessions. and candid revelations from one of the jurors who decided paul manafort's fate.
why she says just one woman was the holdout on those ten undecided counts. all that coming up. let's start with the breaking news. "the wall street journal" is now reporting that david pecker, a long-time friend of president trump, was given immunity by prosecutors in the michael cohen case. remember, cohen just implicated the president of the united states in campaign finance violations. david pecker is the chairman of american media incorporated. that's the company that publishes "the national enquirer." the journal says pecker gave prosecutors details on the payments made by michael cohen to stormy daniels and karen mcdougal. payments michael cohen says were directed and coordinated by the then-presidential candidate donald trump. today the president talked about cohen's deal. listen to this. >> it's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal. you get ten years in jail, but if you say bad things about
somebody, in other words make up stories if you don't know, they just make up lies. alan dershowitz stayed composed. i've seen it many times. they go from ten years to a national hero. they have a statue erected in their honor. it's not a fair thing. but that's why he did it. he made a very good deal. >> all right. let's immediately go to our white house correspondent kaitlan collins at the white house. this is a big deal that a long-time friend and associate of the president of the united states, david pecker of american media, cooperating with federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity. what are you hearing of these latest attacks and the revelations about david pecker's role in helping michael cohen facilitate these hush money payments? >> reporter: yeah, wolf, you're right. this is a big deal, and it's not good news for president trump. "the wall street journal" reporting that david pecker and an editor at the national
enquirer have been granted immunity in this case. before, we had previously reported that david pecker had been subpoenaed in all this. we knew that he told prosecutors in the southern district of new york, which is investigating michael cohen and these hush payments made to these women alleging they had affairs with the president, that he told them that president trump was aware of those payments at the time. that would contradict what the white house and what president trump have tried to say for several months now, including prurp president trump on camera yesterday saying he didn't know about the payments until later on, even though there's an audio recording of him and michael cohen discussing how to make one of the payments. this is big news because david pecker is a long-time ally of the president. that's why he had a role in helping to cover up these affairs with these women. they were trying to quiet them so they would not hurt the president's chances in the election. now, what this means, they're getting immunity here, wolf, is
david pecker must have valuable testimony, prosecutors believe, and that's why they're granting him immunity in something like this. clearly a very big deal, likely something that is not going to please the president here, wolf, after you just heard him say that he believes that flipping, which revealing information you have so you could have a lesser sentence about someone, should be illegal. that is what the president said during an interview yesterday. now with this news, it certainly is not going to be welcome here in the west wing. >> another source of grave, grave concern, i am sure, for the president of the united states. david pecker granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation with the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, as well as the special counsel presumably. kaitlan, stand by. i know you'll be getting more reaction. i want to get some analysis.
let me read to you what michael cohen said before the federal judge in new york when he pleaded guilty to all those charges, specifically what he said about american media and david pecker and the role of the president of the united states in facilitating that $150,000 payment to karen mcdougal, the former playboy playmate. this is what michael cohen said. i'll read it very carefully. as to count number seven, on or about the summer of 2016 in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office, i and the ceo of a media company at the request of the candidate worked together to keep an individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and to the campaign from publicly disclosing this information. after a number of discussions, we eventually accomplished the goal by the media company entering into a contract with the individual under which she
received compensation of $150,000. i participated in this conduct which on my part took place in manhattan for the principal purpose of influencing the election. now we've learned since that statement from michael cohen that david pecker received immunity in exchange for his cooperation. >> this is truly stunning. reading from that, you can make it very obvious that david pecker probably made a beeline to the u.s. attorney's office in new york to say, excuse me, i know i've been implicated as well. also, you probably prepared for this long before. when the audiotape recording came out from lanny davis talking about a conversation recorded secretly by michael cohen and the president of the united states, he talked about david pecker and resolving all of the issues act information that might come out before the campaign. i'm sure at that point he was on notice he would be implicated at some point in the future. you see it happening in black and white in front of a court of law. now immunity means he'll be able
to testify in a court of law, to the grand jury, and before congress without penalty. >> richard, when the judge asked michael cohen this question, mr. cohen, when you took all of these acts that you've described, did you know what you were doing was wrong and illegal? michael cohen responded, yes, your honor. go ahead. >> of course. he's pleading guilty to a felony. in that allocution, he must testify truthfully before the judge that takes the plea. the judge must be satisfied that there's a basis for an individual pleading guilty to a felony before him. and so this information about a friend of the president's, long-time friend who may be involved in other such catch-and-kill operations on behalf of the president, now apparently corroborates under oath what michael cohen has
said. so this is a very important development. there's a furious attempt to discredit michael cohen on every possible area that he may be cooperating. very similar to what the nixon white house did with john dean. i find it interesting that michael cohen's middle name is dean. i learned something yesterday. >> very interesting indeed. margaret, this is something that clearly has to worry the president because they could go after michael cohen and say he's a liar, he's a cheater, he makes stuff up, he was only saying what he was saying about the president in order to get a reduced sentence, a reduced fine. but if you have backup, not only from all the electronic information they collected at his home, his office, his hotel room, his safe deposit box, but if they have backup from the head of the american media, the national enquirer's parent
publication, and a long-time friend and associate of the president, that's a huge deal. >> it is. what this week has done is move this firmly into the realm of the legal. it has been for months this balance between what's happening on the legal front, what's happening on the political front. the problem for the president is squarely in the legal realm, which is what matters. that could have political implications. you're still seeing republicans in congress trying to figure out, you know, what to do, how to respond, and whether to do any of it publicly. but this absolutely changes the dynamics of what we're talking about because there are now -- so far it doesn't matter what the president has said publicly. what's always mattered more is what people would say under oath. remember, the context of this, we were talking, have been talking all this time about whether the president would sit for questions with mr. mueller's team. i think in light of what mr. cohen did and now this report about david pecker, we understand how perilous that would be. >> and you mentioned it,
richard. catch and kill. you catch someone saying something bad about donald trump, you offer money, you kill the story, you never publish it. that's what the nature of catch and kill. everybody stand by. there's more breaking news. lau laura jar rhe laura jarrett at the justice department with another story. >> a rare statement from the attorney general, jeff sessions, today, issuing a brush back to the president after that fiery interview he game on fox. i want to read the full statement to you, wolf. this is truly extraordinary. we rarely hear from sessions, especially pushing back on the president.
he says in part, here, i took control of the justice department the day i was sworn in, which is why we have had unprecedented success at effectuating the president's agenda, one that protects the safety and security and rights of the american people, reduces crime and enforces our immigration laws, promotes economic growth, and advances liberty. he goes on, wolf, to say, while i am attorney general, the
actions of the justice department will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. i demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, i take action. however, no nation has a more talented and more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the united states. finally, he says, i am proud to serve with them, proud of the work we have done in successfully advancing the
rule of law. so clearly a push back to the president here. it's measured, but this is very rare, wolf. he never does this. the last time he issued this type of statement was back in february when the president questioned his integrity again, surrounding the fisa situation with carter page. but otherwise, he rarely does this, wolf. we expect him at the white house later today for an entirely different subject on criminal justice reform. >> it really is significant because the president of the united states in this most
recent interview with fox news, he really went after sessions. i'm going to play the clip. i don't know if we have it cued up yet. i'm going to play the clip of what the president said about jeff sessions, the man he named to be the attorney general of the united states, a man who has served as the top law enforcement officer in the united states and the president once again humiliated him publicly, rebuked him publicly, said the only reason he has this job is because he was loyal to him during the presidential campaign. if we have that clip, let me play it right now. >> he took the job, and then he said, i'm going to recuse myself. i said, what kind of a man is this? the only reason i gave him the job, because i felt loyalty. he was an original supporter. >> this isn't the first time, but it seems to be the most direct moment that the president has so publicly gone after the man he named to be the attorney general. >> it's true, wolf. it's interesting.
i think some of us have become almost numb to the daily tweets. just recently he said the attorney general was missing in action. he sort of does thee daily tweet storms on the attorney general on a variety of other officials, including bruce ohr, a career official here at the justice department. he's talked about withdrawing that man's security clearance. so the president has lashed out frequently on twitter, but it's another thing to go on fox, to make those type of statements about your own attorney general. dle clearly today jeff sessions had enough. we'll see what the reaction is. we'll see what the interaction is between the two of them at the white house later today. if we can catch that on camera. it's also interesting, you know, leaders on capitol hill today were questioned at length about whether the president could fire jeff sessions before the midterms. they were unanimous in saying that would be a political disaster. >> yes, they were. all the republicans we caught up with, the senators and members
of the house of representatives, they were very supportive of jeff sessions. we're going to take a quick break. lots of breaking news we're following right now. much more right after this. hydrl breaks through the competition olay eyes with b3 complex hydrates better than $100, $200 even $400 eye creams. that's something to see. olay at&t provides edge-to-edge intelligence, covering virtually every part of your business. so this won't happen. because you've made sure this sensor and this machine are integrated. atta, boy. & yes, some people assign genders to machines. & with edge-to-edge intelligence, you'll know your customers love this color, & don't love this one. never getting grape again.
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he got his job as the top law enforcement officer of the united states was because he was loyal to donald trump during the presidential campaign. let's get reaction right now from republican congressman ryan costello of pennsylvania. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. so give me your reaction to this exchange. a pretty extraordinary exchange. i don't think i've ever heard a president publicly rebuke an attorney general along these lines and now the attorney general jeff sessions saying to the president, you know what, i'm not going anywhere. we got a job to do. >> i agree. i haven't heard it either. i would agree with your reporter who coined it rare and measured. i think it's more than anything else jeff sessions who's probably had enough. if you listen to conservative radio or certain news channel, every single day jeff sessions is just getting lit up. i think what the president did in sort of describing what he wants his attorney general to do also makes it a little more difficult for whomever the next attorney general is who has to go through senate confirmation.
loyalty is not the test for an attorney general. fidelity to the law, independence, and following the law and protecting individual rights and upholding the constitution is the standard. so the president's description of something other than that, i think, is a little troubling. and then my final point there is the laws of political gravity don't always apply to a president in realtime. this president has actually demonstrated that sometimes they don't apply at all. we're in a situation now where i think you're going to speak about the a.m.i. issue, where the color ration of this is looking different now. >> it certainly is. if the president so much dislikes, distrusts, can't stand jeff sessions, why doesn't he just fire him? >> well, it would reflect poorly upon him, number one, and while
it would be problematic, i think, for republicans to have to answer those questions, it would also enable republicans the ability to assert some independence. i think middle america is looking for republicans to stand up and call balls and strikes fairly here. so while i think it would be a problem for the president, i don't subscribe to what some are suggesting that somehow this would be a problem for republicans. i do think that confirming someone else becomes extremely difficult. this obviously then clouds or makes it all the more challenging to get judge kavanaugh through confirmation in the coming weeks. >> yeah, he doesn't want to do anything that's going to undermine that confirmation process. as you correctly point out, there are midterm elections, critically important midterm leck elections, coming up in november. i've heard from some people close with jeff sessions. he really feels he's got a job to do for the american people as being the attorney general. he's afraid if he were to
resign, for example, the next person who comes in might not necessarily do the job that he's trying to do. i assume you've heard similar things why he's not submitting his resignation. >> well, added to that, wolf, i serve as a member of congress. there are some time where i bite my lip on things i disagree with. i think those that serve in government feel that they have a skill set and experience that they're best suited to do that job. otherwise, why would they be doing it? i think in the case of the attorney general, who is a very conservative u.s. senate, policy-wise, outside of this issue, he's probably been as conservative and as principled and as aligned with the president on policy, immigration, drug enforcement, right on down the line, as any attorney general you could expect out of a conservative
presidency. so this really relates to one thing and one thing only, and that is, i think, he wants -- we can go back to what president trump said about eric holder. he had a lot of things that were negative towards president obama, but the one thing he said was he protected the president. he wants an attorney general that's going to protect him from he views as an illegitimate investigation. i don't think it's illegitimate. most people don't. i think michael cohen pleading to what he did, paul manafort pleading to what he did, and some of the other indictments that mueller has secured with russian interference demonstrate that it is a legitimate investigation. >> michael cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts. paul manafort was convicted on eight counts. but let me get your reaction to the other breaking news, congressman, that the head of american media, the parent company of "the national enquirer," david pecker, a long-time friend and associate of donald trump's has been granted immunity in exchange for
his cooperation, his testimony, setting up the hush money payment to karen mcdougal, the former playmate, for $150,000, working together with michael cohen, the president's former lawyer. what's your reaction when you hear that he was granted immunity? and how much damage could he do to the president. >> well, my hunch is he will confirm what michael cohen said, that there was some sort of coordination on paying these women in order to keep them quiet. i think a lot of the american public thinks that way. the central question is, is it a campaign violation or is it a fall crime? then we ask ourselves the political question. is paying off two women heading into an election in order to keep them quiet, to help you win an election, is that impeachable? we know that's a political question. the irony here is for as much as
republicans don't want to answer that question right now, democrats don't want to answer that question. there are hints here of 1998 and president clinton all over the place. i think as this unfolds, we may find more similarities between the two. that's where we're headed in terms of what the american people are going to get exposed to and what members of congress are going to have to ask moving forward. >> congressman ryan costello of pennsylvania, thanks so much
for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> coming up, we'll get more reaction. democratic senator jeff merkley will join us. we'll follow up on the attorney general's biting response to the president after the president publicly disparaged him. we'll be right back. from the first loving touch everything that touches your baby should be this comforting
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fact that david pecker of american media, a long-time friend of donald trump's, has been cooperating, testifying with the federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity. >> well, wolf, i'll fell you that inquiring minds want to know exactly what information he has on the president. but it must be a significant amount of substantive information to be granted immunity in this fashion. >> you make a good point. they wouldn't be granting an individual immunity unless they really believed that individual had relevant information, potentially, about crimes. >> and michael cohen has put forward his story. he's now pleaded guilty to eight felony charges. the white house is disputing his story. i think this fits into the picture of the prosecution in that case, saying let's make sure we bring in the perspectives that all bear on the legitimacy of michael
cohen's testimony. >> if there was corroboration from david pecker, from the various documents, the electronic information, all of that stuff that was collected in that early morning raid on michael cohen's apartment, his home, his hotel room, his safe deposit box, if there's backup information saying that the president directly coordinated and directed the payment to karen mcdougal, $150,000, the former playmate, in advance of the election to make sure that information would not come out in the days leading up to the election, what does that mean to you? >> well, in summary, michael cohen is saying the president directed me to commit a crime. the question is, is michael cohen's statement enough on its own? certainly i think given his history, any jury, any judge would look at that and say there has to be a stronger case than
just michael cohen says so. i think that's probably exactly what they're locking down. but then the question is, so, if the president is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator in this illegal campaign act, this felony, then at what point should we stop proceedings on kavanaugh? because quite frankly, there's also great reasons to not consider him because we don't have the documentation on the positions he's taken in the past. the republicans are vetting that information, only feeding a small amount to the democrats. that's not the transparency you need to exercise advice and consent. now there's a second massive conflict of interest of a president essentially trying to print himself a get out of jail free card. >> but you would need a republican or two in order to get a simple majority to hold back on that consideration of brett kavanaugh to be a united states supreme court justice, isn't that right? you can't just do it with democrats. you're in the minority.
>> no, that's absolutely right. i go back to the health care debate where so many people thought that because the republicans in the majority, because they had campaigned against the affordable care act, they would wipe out health care for 22 million to 32 million americans. we kept hoping that at least one republican senator or at least two would step forward and say, we really do care about the health care of americans. we're not going to do this. that happened. in this case, we want one or two senators to step forward and say, we really do care about a legitimate confirmation process for something as important as the supreme court. >> you might need more than one or two because there could be two or three or maybe four democratic senators who will go along with the republicans at this critically important time just before the midterm elections. let me move on to another issue while i have you. the attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions, now publicly pushing back against the latest very brutal criticism from the president of the united states. what do you think? what's your reaction? >> well, there's many things
that jeff sessions has done that i completely disagree with. i disagree with his horrific child snatching policy. i disagree with his pushing for the muslim ban based on one's religion. i disagree on his cannabis policy. but in this case, he is right to push back against a president who is saying he wants a personal lawyer in the position of attorney general. that is not what the position of the attorney general is. there is a higher obligation to the law. for jeff sessions to say i will not be improperly influenced obviously is a direct response to what the president has been saying publicly. >> yeah, this feud escalating right now very, very dramatically. senator merkley, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, and i'm on my way to sit in on that meeting between sessions and the president. it will be interesting. >> let us know what happens. appreciate it. thank you very much. coming up, we're going to continue following the breaking news.
sessions doesn't have the confidence of the president. >> that was republican senator lindsey graham saying he expects president trump to fire jeff sessions but after the midterm elections, warning him to wait until after those elections. let's discuss this extraordinary development. richard, i'm curious, you were a former watergate special prosecutor, a federal prosecutor. what do you make of this battle that is now under way? the president humiliating the attorney general very directly in this fox news interview and now the drirect statement from sessions saying i've got a job to do. >> this is very, very bizarre among a plethora of bizarre things that occurred. the president is acting like a new jersey crime boss. he has talked about cooperating defendants, whiin drug cases, organized crime, pornography,
child abuse. unless you are in a position to put pressure on an individual who then gives up other criminal activities and other criminal actors, you can't operate as a federal prosecutor. many of the members of congress, former prosecutors, they have to know that what the president is saying is totally out of bounds. to be attacking the idea of a guilty individual giving up others and hoping to reduce his sentence, that doesn't mean they're giving false testimony. prosecutors are very careful to make sure that doesn't happen. so saying -- calling cooperating witnesses like john dean, who was the most corroborated witness in my 50 years of practicing law, a rat because he told the truth and the jury
believed him and he was corroborated by the watergate tapes in everything that he said, that's bizarre. somewhere along the line, particularly talking about giving a pardon to manafort, members of congress have got to scratch their heads and say, how do i go back home to my constituents? do they earn $60 million and then refuse to pay taxes on it? hide that money, lie to banks, get convicted by a jury in virginia, and then get a pardon. what is the president saying when he considers such a thing, and does that once again bring into sharp focus the fact the president himself has refused to divulge his own tax returns. >> paul manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, convicted on eight counts of stealing from the american people millions of dollars that he owed the american people by refusing to
acknowledge the money he was receiving from the pro-russian ukrainian government in ukraine. at the same time, not acknowledging that he had that money and not declaring he was a foreign agent. that's another trial that's going to be coming up in the next month as well. when people around the world look at what's going on here in washington right now, and you've been doing a lot of analysis on this, what do they see? >> from the russian perspective, talk about america divided. the president and he is team are trading warring at the same times on the law enforcement system. obviously a win for russia. but wolf, i've worked on foreign assistance around the world. a key pillar of our foreign assistance program is promoting the rule of law. in developing countries and with our allies and partners. at this point, how do the state department, usaid, and others say you should have an independent judiciary? there should not be an abuse of power by an executive branch to influence investigations in a country when we're not practicing what we're preaching abroad here at home when the
president tries to abuse his power. and finally, if you're a foreign country, whether an enemy or a friend, logically speaking, would you invest as much effort in negotiating with president trump right now, watching this swirling around, knowing he may not last that long. there's a strong chance there are going to be moves against him. again, logically, i think you're going to step back, wait and see what happens, and probably not engage as substantively. >> laura, when the president goes after those individuals who, quote, flip, he says it should almost be like a crime to flip. explain what that means. these individuals, the president basically saying to these individuals, don't cooperate with the fbi, with law enforcement, and don't become a rat. >> that means that the president of the united states fundamentally misunderstands the role of the executive branch of government, which he is the head of. under it is the department of justice and the fbi. there's a concerted effort to try to get corroboration and people to cooperate with information that you would not otherwise be able to have. as ben was saying, it doesn't
mean you're giving false testimony because you have an advantage about why you cooperated or how you cooperated. we want to incentivize people being forthcoming with the federal government and federal investigators. the executive branch is well aware of that. jeff sessions is well aware of that. the person who's not well aware of it is the president of the united states. and it's for what he specifically is targeting and emasculating him about. it's an area for which he himself may be a subject or a target of an investigation. so it's him saying, i do not care whether you support me in every other area of the law and order i've talked about on the campaign trail and going forward, but if i myself would ever be considered not above the rule of law, then i want something done about it. that fundamentally subverts the entire system. he needs a civics lesson or at least a reminder that this particular attorney general, he may work the at pleasure of the president, but he works for the people of the united states. >> take us inside the white
house, margaret. what are they thinking over there? >> you have seen them sort of dial back the way they're making public statements and public pronouncements as it has become clear with each revelation over the last 48 hours that the fact basis they've been given to go out to the podium and talk about may not be accurate. it is now their own reputations on the line and all of them have some degree of either legal jeopardy or at least being brought into this legal investigation. you're going to see a retrenchment, trying to be careful about what you now say from a podium because it may to the -- not be true. when it comes to general sessions, what you're seeing now is november as a really important piece of timeline. that's now perhaps the boundary of how much time mr. mueller has, perhaps the boundary of how much time mr. sessions has, perhaps the time frame is shorter. so inside the white house now, the public posture is everything
is fine. we're not in a crisis. that was their posture as of yesterday. internally, you're going to see a retrenchment and figuring out of what they want to discuss publicly and how they want to discuss it. >> everybody stick around. there's more news we're following. lots of breaking news today. i'll speak with a conservative writer making waves right now for arguing that michael cohen's hush money revelations make president trump's presidency right now, in his words, illegitimate. i was on the fence about changing from a manual to an electric toothbrush. but my hygienist said going electric could lead to way cleaner teeth. she said, get the one inspired by dentists, with a round brush head. go pro with oral-b. oral-b's gentle rounded brush head removes more plaque along the gum line. for cleaner teeth and healthier gums. and unlike sonicare, oral-b is the first electric toothbrush brand accepted by the ada
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a previously scheduled meeting on prison reform. as we watch that, i want to bring in cnn global affairs analyst max boot. he's joining us right now. max, you've written a very explosive new article in the "washington post" calling the president illegitimate. explain to our viewers. >> well, this is based on what's happened the last few days. not just the conviction of paul m manafort, former campaign manager, and not just the fact michael cohen his longtime personal lawyer also pleaded guilty to eight felony counts but the fact michael cohen said in court that donald trump, his client, directed him to break federal campaign laws when he paid off these two women who allegedly had affairs with donald trump. so for the first time since watergate, wolf, we have a president who is an unindicted co-conspirator charged with violating federal law. that's an unprecedented situation. and what i believe is that donald trump is actually even
more illegitimate than richard -- because nobody imagined that the watergate brea brea break-in won richard nixon the election. was a a landslide. look how close the 2016 election was. donald trump believed it was imperative to pay off these women otherwise he might lose the election. we also know the russians intervened in the election on his behalf and we have reason to believe that michael cohen might provide more testimony evidence an that, and so when you take the russian intervention, the fact that trump violated campaign finance laws to pay off these women, that's how he won the election. so i believe fundamentally, at this point, he is an i illegitimate president. we're in a situation we never faced before. >> you say members of congress are being enablers. explain. >> well, when you have a situation like this, think it's imperative for congress to open an impeachment inquiry. here the president has been implicated in court on violating
federal law. that's something we cannot allow as a nation dedicateded to the rule of law. the president is not carrying out his oath of office. he's trying to obstruct the investigation. and he's been caught out in having apparently violated federal law. so maybe he has a good defense. he certainly has not presented one today. congress should be opening an impeachment inquiry instead of trying to look the other way and pretend this is not happening. republicans are violating their oaths of office. they're not taking seriously the ways in which donald trump is violating his oath of office. >> all right. max boot, helping us appreciate what he sees as the enormity of this crisis right now, max, thank you very much. this just coming into cnn, republican congressman duncan hutter and wife pleading not guilty to charges of stealing campaign funds. lavish meals to vacations to a plane ticket for a pet rabbit. stand by.
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