tv S.E. Cupp Unfiltered CNN August 25, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
welcome to unfiltered. here's the headline. the president has been very busy. on twitter that is. the past 48 hours, president trump has taken time out of his busy schedule of watching fox news to bash the fbi, his own attorney general, jeff sessions, crooked hillary, bob mueller and the angry media. he's tweeted out support for hawaii. love of ohio, where he spoke
last night. praise for lindsey graham who praised him. happy birthday wishes to vince mcmahon, a shoutout to kim and can area. absent, senator john mccain whose family announced on friday that he is ending medical treatment for a brain tumor he's been battling the past year. that's right. not one tweet of support for his family. not a single mention of the war hero and patriot who's given decades of his life to public service. not even a canned thoughts and prayers, nothing. here's the deal. it doesn't get any smaller or pettier than that and it's shameful. plenty of others have of course expressed their support for the mccain family and shared their appreciation for mccain's many contributions to politics and service. it marks the near end of a very long and tough fight by one of the world's toughest fighters. a fighter for freedom.
both his own and others. for democracy at home and abroad. for fairness and civility in politics and for his constituents whom he serve d fo two terms in the house and six in the senate. as a conservative of a certain age, i've been deeply shaped by both mccain's politics and his principles, even when we've disagrdis disagr disagreed, one could never question his motive, which was coup tri first. i've also had the honor of knowing his daughter and i am in awe of her strength. i'm thinking of her and her family. i want to talk about john mccain, the man with some of my colleagues and friends who have also gotten to witness his unique contributions over the years. david axelrod, cnn's political commentator and former adviser fehr barack obama joins me on
the phone. axe, i have to start with what is for me, the most memorable of his political moments. it was 2008 on the campaign trail at a town hall in minnesota. a supporter of his disparaged barack obama. take a listen. >> i can't trust obama. he's not, he's a, he's an arab. he's not -- no. >> no, ma'am. he's a decent family man, citizen that i just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. thank you. >> axe, tell me about that moment. what were you thinking as you watched that? >> well, we were thinking at least i was thinking that's the john mccain we feared and the john mccain we so admired. when barack obama was considering running for
president. because he is capable of that kind of moment, that brave, gracious moment and i mean i was blown away by it. i, i really, it, it really took my breath away to watch that. and it made me feel good to be an american. that a candidate for president of the united states would stand up in a forum, remember, it wasn't just that woman, but when he gave that answer, he got jeered by his own support making that point. and i thought what a big, decent, honorable thing to do in the midst of a presidential campaign. so you know, i think john mccain is an extraordinary person and having, yes i ran a campaign for another candidate who was running against him, i never doubted who he was. t i never doubted you know, how
deeply he cared about this country and how much he was willing to put on the line. he had proven it all throughout his life. and so that moment to me in many ways reflected the essence of who he was. >> yeah and this was, this was a feature not a bug as they say, of his political career. whether he was defending huma aberdeen or the khan family or standing up to his own party on torture. somehow his moral compass always seems to point due north. how remarkable figure was he? >> yeah -- >> is he. >> we've been blessed with figures like john mccain over the course of our history. but he is, he is in that sort of american hall of fame. you know, profiles in courage was a volume for a reason.
you know because it's hard to stand up for, it's hard to stand up for your principles. and -- especially against your own supporters. especially difficult political circumstances. mccain, he has revelled and we shouldn't speak of him in the past tense. he has revelled in those opportunities throughout his career. and you know, when i was doing the 2000s, he wrote it against a tax cut that his president was promoting because he said one shouldn't vote for a big tax cut in the middle of a war. he took on issues like climate change and worked across the al on tho on those issues. probably wasn't member of the senate when he took up campaign finance reform. with ffeingold, but he seemed t
revel in those moments when he could follow that north star that you're speaking of and do for his country, party. he you know, and honestly, it's so sad in this epic in which we're in right now to lose someone who is the, we should want in leaders in our country. >> i couldn't agree more. david axelrod, thank you so much for calling in and sharing your thoughts tonight. i appreciate it. next up, i want to bring in douglas brinkley, cnn presidential historian. john mccain famously did not become president though he ran twice, but few politicians who don't become president rise to the level of national prominence that he has. put that in perspective. >> you're right. very few. john glenn of ohio comes to mind, the great mercury
astronaut, but john mccain's going to be remembered forever in american history. he epitomizes duty, honor and country and might seem old fashioned. we're miss iing -- he loved thi compa company, comes from a family. when he was shot down, that was his 23rd mission. tortured down as a p.o.w. >> how much does mccain's military history shape his role? not only being a p.o.w., but also how that informed his foreign policy. his views on torture, on the iraq war, don't ask don't tell.
that's a big part of his legacy, is it not? >> it really is. as you well know. the pentagon never had somebody that was a better friend. he was reagan conservative, but he could criticize reagan. he did no 1983 over sending u.s. marines to beirut. we lost hundreds of marines there in a bomber explosion. reagan was wrong, but beyond that, he never forgot vietnam. he collaborated with john kerry and max cleveland, bob kerry. there was a whole class of vietnam vets and they never forgot their service to our country in southeast asia and the men and women who fought there. >> that did so much for our returning veterans and our veterans as a general
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if you thought a good night's sleep was going to settle the president's rage against his own attorney general, jeff sessions, you'd be wrong. this morning, the president wasted no time escalating his attacks, tweeting jeff sessions said he wouldn't allow politics to influence him only because he doesn't understand what is happening underneath his command position. highly conflicted bob mueller and his gang of 17 angry dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. no collusion. he's looking to direct attention away from the allies ensnared in various legal issues including a conviction of paul manafort, the guilty plea of his former attorney and body man, michael cohen and the immunity deals of david pecker and long time trump organization cfo. but truch's recent attacks on sessions have come worrying he's getting ready to fire the embattled ag. as shocking as that would be,
the president might have some support from the move from his on again off again golfing buddy, lindsey graham, who said last year there would be holy hell to pay if trump were to do just that. now, however, take a listen. >> clearly, attorney general sessions doesn't have the confidence of the president. and the country and after the election, i think there will be some serious discussions about a new attorney general. >> here to discuss this this and more is jim hims. congressman, the president seems to have some buyer's remorse when it comes to attorney general yjeff sessions. if you were sessions, what would you do? would you sort of keep your head down and just do the job? would you resign? try to reason? seems like he's in a tough spot. >> he is. you know, knowing that he doesn't have his boss's confidence, i think what he's
doing and i'm not hugely familiar with jeff sessions, particularly a fan, but i'll give him a will tlot of credit up yesterday saying we will not be influenced by politics. that's a long, long tradition in the department of justice. it was good to hear him say that. it was less good to see senator graham who seems to be b all over the place with respect to donald trump, in some ways open the door to donald trump firing sessions. the issue on firing sessions is will the senate confirm a new attorney general. >> right. which is is a whole other you know can of worms. are you concerned, trump has a history of these distractions. are you concerned he might do it? he basically tweeted a threat this morning saying he might have to get involved. >> well i think he's got to consider a bunch of things. first of all, firing the attorney general because you don't like an investigation into you, that is obstruction of justice. now you know people are going to say but he has the authority to do it. of course he does. but if it is done as part of
malfeasance, done for an unlawful or bad reason, it could be obstruction of justice. my guess is that some of the lawyers he has around him are are probably talking to him about it. then there's the political reaction. what doesn't get covered enough is we watched him day in and day out for over a year now slamming this vest ginvestigation, which been hugely productive. mr. president, there's one thing that proves you are innocent as you claim to be and you do away with the one thing, you've got a real problem. >> the investigation. let's talk about that impeachment paradox though. because democrats are wrestling with this. on talking about impeachment may drive republican turnout. on the other hand, to sort of ignore all of this would be to normalize this and this isn't normal. what do you think? should democrats call for trump's impeachment? heading up to midterms? >> no, they shouldn't and tlas long distance between calling out behavior which i think we're
doing and impeachment. there's two reasons. there's a lot of people out tr who were emotional and angry and they should be and i understand there's stir out there making a lot of noise. two things. number one, we should not move forward until we have all the facts. the only time we're going to have facts is when mueller finishes his work and issues his report. we can't let this go to a country go to a place where without fact, without the results of an independent report, impeachment becomes something you do when you don't like who won the presidency. i don't want the country to go there. >> while i have you, michael avenatti, he has announced he's forming a superpac to support his candidate for president. how seriously are you taking michael avenatti 2020? >> i'd always said anybody could be president of the united states. not sure i believed it until 2016. you don't tell avenatti you
can't do it. i guess what i'm a little sad about, i really admired the extent to which he was aggressively standing up to the sliming of his client. now he has sort of fully entered into the political real m and put on a partisan team jacket. >> he is his own client. >> that makes it hard for him to be an youder on this. >> do you think he has a chance? >> i have long since given up who has a chance. i'm sure we'll see 20, 25, 30 people showing an interest in the democratic nomination. >> it could happen. thanks so much for joining us. >> as the midterms approach, what should both parties be doing to drive turnout? ron! soh really? going on at schwab. thank you clients? well jd power did just rank them highest in investor satisfaction with full service brokerage firms...again. and online equity trades are only $4.95... i mean you can't have low cost and be full service.
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accusers denies claims he sexually assaulted a former costar while her alleged victim is sticking to his story. according to this week's woman shell story n 2013, italian actress lured a 17-year-old actor to her hotel room. plied with him alcohol and forced sex. importantly, the age of consent in california is 18. what we know for sure is she paid bennett $300,000 this year as part of a deal to keep him quiet. this disorienting turn of events is already being used to discredit the me too movement. so what happens next the crucial. if me too supporters myself included assert the victims should be believed, then we must believe her accuser. if we assert the system protects the powerful and revictimizes the victims, we must condemn her for taking advantage of the very system because if this important wreckening in america is going to survive, it must be
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let your perfect drive come together during the final days of the lincoln summer invitation event get 0% apr on select 2018 lincoln models plus one thousand dollars bonus cash. with all the news of convictions and indictments against trump's frepds and allies, the president's inner circle is beginning to look more like a police lineup than a well oiled political machine. his former attorney, guilty plea. former campaign chair, convicted. first congressional supporter, indicted. his second congressional support e indicteded. it's a far cry from the promised swamp draining that catapulted him into the presidency. democrats are capitalizing on the news.
a tool they used effectively in 2006, but will it work again? my guests, former executive director, kevin madden. kevin, indictments, convictions, a president who hates his own attorney general, you see where i'm going. can republicans really hide from all of this? i know it's august. but they have to confront this at some point. >> in 2006, i was on hill in 2006 and i remember i tried to talk to reporters back then. back then, it was only 15 seats that was a 15-seat margin in order to keep the majority. i remember telling reporters i don't think we're on the ugly side of 15 yet. ended up losing about 20 30 seats. one of the things that republicans right now will learn from the 2006 is that you cannot deploy hope as a strategy. they have to get very, very active right now.
in recognizes there is a national jet stream out there in this political environment right now that they have to get out of and they've got to try and find ways to really just localize and impersonalize their races. if it becomes a referendum on things like michael cohen and the daily news cycle of indictments or plea bargains, they're going to be in big trouble. but if it becomes a contest between them and their opponent, they may be able to weather the storm! what do democrats do? i know. i talk to democrats in congress. they want to run on policy, but some of this is too good to ignore. >> yeah, some is, but they have to resist the temptation to engage in a strong way because you know, there are voerts throughout that don't know what's going on. they're watching in it in day in and day out. needs to get discussed. i think it's two pronged. on the one hand and i say this
as a rule of them, that voters will tend to forgive a liar, but not a hypocrite. if he can point out that republicans, and if we can point out that this administration has been hypocritical in ignoring them, that's one thirng but we've still got to talk about economic issues. >> kevin, the immunity deals. tip of the iceberg? seems like we're going to get more of f these over the next weeks or months. >> there's two troubling trend lines in this. the evidence continues to mount against the president with regards to wrong doing. and then there seems to be more and more people coming out and flipping. so inside the white house, that has to be very troubling. and what's odd is that this is a president who always promoted the idea of loyalty and you know always talked about how this was something that he valueded. and b even those closest to them talked about how loyalty to the president was one of their key
attributes and now they're all engaged in self-preservation. so if we continue to see these trends, inside the white house, you have to worry about that. >> some on the left as you heard me talking to congressman hunt, some are are talking about impeachment, he thinks that's a bad idea. it's a double edged sword for democrats, right? >> it's hanging out there. like yeah we're going to be able to live under that, but is it something we actually are going to engage regularly. in between now and november, i don't think so. let's, let us win back the house first then we can talk about whether any of these actions actually rise to the level of impeachment. my fear though is that as we continue to talk about that, even past the midterm elections, that it still clouds the economic message that we could be putting out there in advance of 2020. so i don't want us to get bogged down in that. we've got to talk about -- >> the hard e thing about the economic part of this is that
the economy is humming right now. if there's one thing that all voters feel good about it is the economy. so that is why i think you're going to see this pull by so many democrats to really make this front and center. the scandals or the idea of corruption or these distractions. make that center of their appeals to voters. and the problem there is that you do tend to then make it more partisan at a time where they need to try and kind of appeal. >> and let me add quickly, one of the things that isn't disc s discussed ach the trouble we would have is that republicans were so good at gerrymandering us in part of this country. it's an uphill battle. that's why i think it's easy for us. to be able to talk about these scandals, but take change the big d to a small d democrat and then focus on bread and butter issues. >> thank you both. i'll ask a republican senator why his colleagues have been so quiet about all the president's
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august is notoriously and historically a slow month for politics. congress is home. folks are on vacation or busy with back to school. not this august. ohm rosa and giuliani making headlines or bizarre interviews, michael cohen, paul manafort, the hits just keep on coming. isn't great news for the president or gop. with democrats poised to take the house in november, republicans are quietly hoping
to just get through the rest of the month unscathed. on the latest controversies violaing cohen, senate republicans are being particularly careful, saying little if nothing at all as if there's nothing to see here, but to be b clear, there is plenty to see here. it's not just that a number of republicans have been indicted on felony fraud charges. it's not just that the president is rying to you about what he knew and when, it's sochl policies that this president has cajoled the republican party into supporting. who will pay the price and when? for this and more, i want to talk to senator tim scott. start with the latest news, democrats are no doubt going to use all of this to pay republicans as the party of corruption. how can the party depend itself against that? >> there are a number of individuals on the other side of the aisle that have their own problems with law enforcement and integrity, so i'm not going
to jump into that lake because there's not much that will be accomplished by throwing dirt either way. i will say that we have had perhaps most productive congress in the three decades. if you're lolooking for progres further than what we're finishing in august. nine out of 12 of the proep ration bills we've appointed. one eighth of all circuit court judges, historic tax reform. regulatory reform done. there's no question from policy perspective, we are looking at the most productive congress in three decade. >> yeah k i want to talk to you about policy. for sure in a minute. let me just, of course. it's important to me, too. but let me just go back a little bit. with that sort of a what aboutism that's happening on the left so it doesn't matter that it's happening on the right, the corruption? >> what i said was clear. you're opening comment had to do
with what was happening on the republican side. my point is that corruption and lack of integrity happens in people, not parties and so when it happens in people, the parties pay the price, but without question, what we're seeing today is not new. it's unfortunate. we should be repulsed by things that are inconsistent with the best morays of our country, but the truth is, it is not a republican silo that this is happening in. no question. it's happening on both sides of the aisle. i'm not defending what is indefensib indefensible. just suggesting if we're going to make progress as a country, we should foeg on the things that unite and bring us together. >> my point though is that democrats are going to focus on that corruption as a strategy. >> sure. >> obviously. what is the, should the party's defense be? is it just that democrats are corrupt, too? >> no, i mean i think if you take two bites together, you find a good strategy, number one.
the challenges that we see from a moral perspective or ethical is pervasive in humans. number two, if you're looking for a strategy, it is the fact that we are the most productive congress in three decades. more americans have more money in their paychecks. the regulatory environment that has been taken down a notch or two is allowing for a sustained progress. we have a 4.1% growth rate in the second quarter of this year, looking at 50-year low in unemployment rate if it's economy, stupid, the economy is giving us reasons to be optimistic. >> and look, i feel for you. i know lawmakers like you want to be focusing on helping people and legislation that does that. to that end, i know you cosponsored a bipartisan bill the president signed into law as part of the tax bill late last year that creates opportunity zones in local communities. that are continuing to struggle, particularly are poverty. i talked to paul ryan about
opportunity zones earlier this year. explain to viewers what they are. >> yeah, opportunity zones is a way for us to take a look at this longest economic expansion since 1854 and figure out how come there are areas or pockets in this country that have not benefitted from that economic expansion and do something about t. the opportunity i sponsored gives us an incentive to bring back capital into those communities. here's a chance for us to bring it back. the incentive is a ten-year deferral on your capital gains tax. the good news if you're looking for bipartisan opportunity, here it is. myself, corey peterson, bennett from colorado as well as every republican in the senate voted for this legislation. so we are in good shape from a bipartisan perspective looking to tackle poverty. we should have a war on poverty,
not on poor people. >> it's a really good idea. i had a great conversation with paul ryan about it. it make as lot of sense. leets talk about some other policies that have been in the news. lately. tariffs. child separation. a spending bill that raises the debt and deficit to staggering levels. frankly, i don't recognize this republican party. is it just that trump has an r next to his name that republicans are sort of okay now with being a party of prekism and ripping families apart and whildly reckless spending? >> hit the emotional issue first. because i think it's important for us to separate the difference. on the family separations, the republican party came out aggressively against that policy. and because of that position, the doj and administration changed their steps. which is a good thing for the american people. it's a good thing for the soul of the country and frankly, it's the right thing which is why it's the right thing for the country.
as it relates to tariffs, the vast majority of us said we do not like tariffs. some more aggressive than others, but the fact of the matter is that you can look in south korea sg and see the negative impact of tariffs. what the president is trying to do is to reset the conversation globally, making sure that our companies have access to coun countries where today there are head winds called tariffs coming into those countries when there aren't tariffs coming in. so the unfortunate reality is you know because you're brilliant is the fact when you pay a tariffs the only person to pay is the consumer. so us, head iing towards a new barrier, an a unique way, it really is. and for us to head towards a new barrier environment with europe is a good sign, a good signal. i hope we get close to it and china, china is we'chinese tari and trade to deal with theft.
our goal should be to deal with theft. it's legislation called sif yous which gives us the ability to hammer the chinese when they're doing things not in our nation's best interest and when they're requiring our companies to give them our intellectual properties in order to do business in china. so i don't necessarily agree with the tactic, but i understand the rationale. >> you know the president campaign eed drain ining the swg on being a law u and order president, but this week, he seems to be at odds with both. your colleague, senator graham, opened the door for a post midterm ousting of jeff sessions after previously saying there would be holy hell to pay. so should the president fire jeff sessions? >> listen, i think the president deserves to have attorney general that he has confidence in. it's obviously he does not. i will say that jeff sessions has done so far overall, a good
job. it's hard for us to take a look at jeff sessions and say that he has not been doing what's in the best interest of the country. >> i agree. so that's a yes, you think the president should fire jeff sessions because he should have an attorney general he's comfort bable with? >> let me say it differently. here's the truth. the president should have a cabinet that he's confident in. and comfortable with. when that is not the case, it is his right to replace those individuals. what would do if i were president is a different question than what do i think president trump will do. i think president trump has clear on what he plans to do. i think jeff sessions has been a good, consistent attorney general. for me, skin of the game in a e ability to do something.
i'm going to focus on quwhat th president can do. is it legal and ethical? absolutely. i think the mueller investigation has to be finished before the president does anything with jeff sgss and if that is his prerogative after the mueller investigation is complete, that's his prerogative. >> senator scott, thanks so much for joining me. i really appreciate it. >> yes. >> okay. we'll be back after a short break. we're drowning in information. where in all of this is the stuff that matters? the stakes are so high, your finances, your future. how do you solve this? you partner with a firm that combines trusted, personal advice with the cutting edge tools and insights to help you not only see your potential, but live it too. morgan stanley.
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that's how you say fwoob to a pen pal, not a brutal dictator, but that's precisely what president trump said to chairman kim jong-un when he abruptly announced on friday he was canceling secretary of state mike pompeo's planned trip to north korea. trump tweeted, "i have asked secretary of state mike pompeo not to go to north korea at this time because i feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclear six of the korean peninsula." he added, "secretary pompeo looks forward to going to north korea in the knee future. in the meantime, i would like to send my warmest regards and respect to chairman kim. i look forward to seeing him soon." yes, and please thank mrs. kim for the delicious cookies she baked. for more on this, retired rear admiral john kerr irby. what do you make of warmest regards? >> i think it's his sort of
sophomoric way of making sure that he can keep the lines of communication open and he still wants to move the negotiations forward, and i think he thinks that kim is wowed by that kind of flattery. i think -- i see a little bit of this as him giving himself a hug. he clearly doesn't like the fact that this isn't going so well, i think he was caught offguard at how hard it is to negotiate with these guys and this is a way of sort of telling himself and his supporters, this still matters. >> i thought it was stunning when i saw that. so, what do you make of the actual substance of this, pulling out of this visit? do you think it's a smart move by the administration or do you think it's sort of a sign of a failed approach? >> no, i do. look, i think secretary pompeo is more than aware of how hard this is going to be. i talked to a korea analyst who said, negotiating with them is like playing chess with a chimpanzee. you make really clever moves to put their king in check, they reach across, grab your queen
and eat it. they don't know a lot about how to negotiate. i think pompeo understands that. i think president trump is just now coming to that realization. i think this is a good move. i don't think they should have put pompeo on the schedule to go anyway right now. now, they've got a new envoy they just named, very well respected, was a policy expert, mostly on russia, inside the bush administration. i think that's a smart move. and i think now they should let him be the one to make these trips and to start doing this negotiating at that level. >> interesting. hang tight. i want to move to another important topic, and that is the syrian civil war. bashar al asaisad announced a n offensive in idlib province. the u.n. warned it will likely be a civilian blood bath. these latest moves along with releasing death tolls for the first time suggest, to me, that assad believes there are no longer consequences globally.
is he wrong? >> i don't think that -- i think he does -- has made that calculus and i think now that he's had russia and iranian support for so long and he's been able to prosecute this war so brutally, without much international sanction. he's got economic sanctions on him, but the trump administration did strike twice in syria to check his use of chemical weapons. but he does know they're in the end game of this war. russia wants it over. >> yeah. >> and idlib is really the last big stronghold for the opposition. so, i can see why this is a move that's worth making. but i'll tell you what, it certainly could spark a real conflict with turkey. turkey does not want to see idlib go. and they've made it very clear this is a red line for them. >> not to mention, there's talk that 700,000 refugees could pour across the borders, syrian borders -- >> i've seen estimates of 2 million. >> that should be, for americans at home watching, that's a
national security issue here at home. >> absolutely. >> why is that? >> well, it's going to further destabilize the region. turkey is already hosting 3.3 million, the most of any other nation, hosting 3.3 million syrian refugees. you throw another 700,000 to 2 million, that's going to destabilize turkey, going to make that alliance much more tenuous than it already is. so, i think -- yeah, and then, of course, you have the syrians that are moving, the refugees moving into europe. one of the worst refugee crisis we've seen since world war ii. so, obviously, this has major consequences. >> yeah. it's hard to convey with all of the news going on just how serious this is. lastly, you know, half a million people have died in this conflict, as you know. now our aid to saudi arabia and yemen is proving disastrous for civilians there on the ground. how do you think history will judge the decisions we have made in syria and yemen? >> i believe it will judge them harshly. >> it's a big question, i know.
>> i think it will judge them hashly. and many people, you know, even in the administration i worked in -- >> i know, yeah. >> feelings of regret that we didn't do more, we could have done more to prevent syria from getting where it is today. and in yemen, it's a complicated issue. saudi arabia has a right to defend itself and it has been attacked from the border, across the border in yemen by iranian-backed. but they have not used precision and diligence. i'm glad to see that secretary mattis is sending a three-star general over there to talk to them about that. >> i'm glad you with here. admiral kirby, thank you. for you at home, thank you for joining me. please keep the mccain family in your thoughts and prayers tonight, i'd appreciate it. "cnn newsroom" is up next with ana cabrera. (vo) this is not a video game.
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you're life in the "cnn newsroom." thank you for being with me. i want to start with president trump again taking down his attorney general, saying jeff sessions doesn't understand what's going on. here's the tweet. jeff sessions said he wouldn't allow politics to influence him, only because he didn't understand what is happening underneath his command position. it's just the latest slam from a president who continues to publicly chastise his attorney general. it comes on the heels