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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 28, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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ader is weighing in and throwing sessions a lifeline undermining mueller as the special counsel keeps the trump legal team waiting, rudy giuliani defends his performance as the president's attorney. giuliani now openly admits that his main job is to chip away at the trust in the russia probe. warning of violence. the president is now predicting dangerous consequences if republicans lose the midterm elections and control of congress. stand by for his truly stunning remarks to religious leaders. and falling apart. kim jong-un's regime warnings the u.s. that talks of denuclearization may collapse as the pentagon chief says american war games will resume in the region. we're getting new information about nuclear tensions now on the rise again. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitz, he you'er, you'
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situation room. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on republican support for jeff sessions after the attorney general and the president took their feud to an ugly new level. tonight, the senate gop leader is expression total confidence in sessions as some other gop lawmakers are suggesting he may be gone soon. this, as mr. trump looks for new outlets to vent his anger and frustration after a week of stewing over the criminal convictions of michael cohen and paul manafort. mr. trump now picking a fight with google as he tries to distract from his problems and the cloud of the russia investigation. this hour, i'll talk with senate judiciary committee member senator richard blumenthal and former defense secretary and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. first, let's go to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, the president is threatening multiple social
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media sites right now. >> that's right, wolf. president trump started some new fire storms today warning going it will better be careful accusing the search engine of discriminating against conservative voices including himself. the question is just how far the white house is willing to go. one top adviser said the white house may start investigating google. president trump has just taken his battling against the news immediate yo ya to the next level. now he's warning he may be coming after social media companies like google, facebook, and twitter. >> i think what google and what others are doing, if you look at what's going on on twitter, if you look at what's going on on facebook, they better be careful because you can't do that to people. you can't do it. we have tremendous -- we have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in. they're really treading on very, very troubled territory. >> reporter: the reason behind the president's rant, he doesn't like the news reports he sees when he searches google tweeting, google search results for trump news shows only the
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viewing reporting faked news media. they have it rigged for me and all others so that almost all story and news is bad. they're controlling what we can and cannot see. this is a very serious situation. will be address the. white house economic adviser larry kudlow told reporters the administration may investigate the practices of social media companies. >> we'll let you know. we're taking a look at that time, we'll let nowio. we're going to so doh some investigation and analysis, that's what we do. >> reporter: google released a statement dough nieg it's politically -- and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology. the president esocial fixation shouldn't come as a surprise. at a rally in west virginia last week he began echoing the complaints of some conservatives who claimer that treated unfairly on social media. >> there's too many sources. every one of us is sort of like a newspaper are, you have twitter, whatever you have, facebook. but everyone, you can't have censorship. >> even with this new crusade,
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the president hasn't given up on one of his older rallying cries, his demand that mexico pay for a wall on the border. >> we will build the wall and who's going to pay for the wall? 100%. >> reporter: one day after he announced the new trade deal with mexico, he insisted the mexican government will one day fund that wall. >> yeah, the wall will be paid for very easily by mexico. it will ultimately be paid for by mexico. >> reporter: another unry solved issue for the president, the fate of his attorney general after a top republican senator lindsey graham suggested the end may be near for jeff sessions at the justice department. >> the president's lost confidence in jeff sessions. and i'm telling you what everything in the country knows. this is a dysfunctional relationship. we need a better one. >> reporter: the senate majority leader made it clear he disagrees. >> i have total confidence in the attorney general pit think he ought to stay exactly where he is. >> as for the law, mexico's foreign minister tweeted this out. you don't have to read between
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the liends here. it says we just reached a trade understanding with the u.s. and the outlook for the relationship between the two counts is very positive. we will never pay forever a wall, however, that has been absolutely clear from the beginning. wolf, the president said today it's very tes to make mexico pay for the wall. he hasn't explained it to us. wolf. >> it's interesting because within the past hour or so we've learned that the president had some truly stunning remarks to evangelical leaders last night behind closed doors over at the white house. tell our viewers what we've learned. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. startling but not surprising the president last night met way group of evangelical leaders over here at the white house, had dinner. this was the event you saw the president finally say something kind about john mccain saying he respected the late arizona senator. but once the cameras were pushed out of the room, moved out of the room, the president had some other remarks and he used some very incendiary language to talk about the stakes for the republicansed in the upcoming midterm election dollars. we. i this up on screen and show you what he said. here's a quote from what he
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said. i think we're popular but there's a real question as to whether people are going to vote if i'm not -- and going on here with this statement, on the ballot and i'm not on the ballot. a lot of people think i don't like congress, people say. the president goes on here in this statement, i'm not voting because the president doesn't like congress. it's not a question of like or dislike. president continuing here with this statement, it's a question that they will overturn everything that we've done and they will do it quickly. and here's the part that's very concerning. president goes on to say, and violently. and violently. there is violence when you look at antifa. these are violent people. so, wolf, the president there conflating antifa, which is a far left group with the democrats who might potentially take over in congress. the president saying there could be some kind of violence of the course, wolf, we've been settling our elections in this country very peacefully for a very long time. it's unclear exactly what the president meant there when he made those remarks. >> it's stunning indeed.
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very ominous. jim acosta, thank you very much. let's talk a little bit more about jeff sessions future and whether he has the support he needs among his former republican colleagues in the senate. we're joined by our congressional correspondent, phil mattingly is up on capitol hill. we heard mitch mcconnell, the senate majority leader, express his total confidence in sessions. >> reporter: it was a very strong statement, a statement with an intended audience. that audience being the man who inhabits the oval office. i want you to listen to it again because as you know, the senate majority leader doesn't mince words and waste words. this is what he had to say about jeff sessions. >> seems to be renewed interest, including by some members of your conference, in the job that attorney general sessions is doing. does he still have your confidence? do you still think he's doing a good job in that role? >> yeah, i have total confidence in the attorney general. i think he ought to stay exactly where he is. >> now, wolf, let me give you some behind the scenes to that based on several aides that i've been talking to. there's a recognition amongst
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senate republican leadership that a firing of jeff sessions would set off kind of a trail of what one told me would be epic disasters over the course of the next couple months. obviously leading into the midterms. there's every recognition that has senator lindsey graham said the damage to the relationship between the president and attorney general is likely irrelevant represent personal. but the damage to republicans politically going given his recusal from the russia investigation is very real and a relevant concern. i will tell you this. there's also the procedural issue that the fact that senate leaders don't think they would be able to get a new attorney confirmed not because democrats would be so opposed to things but also republicans as well. so while you have sen several republicans come out and mention the idea of a new attorney general, i'm told explicitly and you heard from the majority leader top republicans right now, they don't want any part of it. >> phil mattingly on capitol hill. thank you. we're following new developments in robert mueller's prosecution of paul manafort.
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there's been a delay in the former trump campaign chairman's second trial. the judge now granting a request by the defense to push back opening statements a week to september 24th. let's bring in our justice correspondent evan perez. evan, what else came out of today's hearing? >> reporter: well, that was the big news is the fact that the defense wanted this trial delayed. they ended up just getting another week. so instead of september 17th, which is when the jury selection process is going to begin, they're going to begin opening arguments in this case on september 24th which buys them another week. paul manafort just came off another trial, he was convicted of eight -- on eight of 18 counts. and so that was the concern of the defense is that essentially they said we're just coming off one trial and we need time to prepare for the next trial. the jury -- i'm sorry, the judge here in washington had a little bit of sympathy for that argument. in the end, though, a lot of this hearing today was focussed
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on trying to refine some questions, some 49 questions that jurors here in washington are going to be questioned about before they decide whether they can sit and be unbiased and hear this case against paul manafort here in washington. in the end, one of the things that -- the discussion today in court was whether or not jurors were going to be asked whether or not they voted in 2016, whether they had any thoughts about ukraine and the former government of ukraine which is, of course, who paul manafort was working for. in the end, the judge decided that jurors will not be asked whether they voted in 2016. the question of course, is whether or not they can find a jury here in washington which voted overwhelmingly for hillary clinton whether they can find an unbiased jury. think that's the big question that the defense is raising. the other question that came up today, wolf, was whether or not this trial even stays here in
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washington. the defense raised the possibility that they might want to try moving this case out of washington, of course they failed do that in the case in virginia which, of course, was the one that just concluded last week in alexandria. wolf. >> suburban washington, d.c., alexandria, virginia. thank you very much. joining us now senator richard blumenthal. he's a democrat and serves on the judiciary and armed services commit ties. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> i want to get to that in a moment, but let me get your reaction to what we just learned that the president said behind closed doors. last night snaim heard on audiotape what he said. he told these' van gel cal leaders once again captured on an audio recording, quote, they, meaning the democrats, if they become the majority, they will overturn everything that we've done and they will do it quickly and violently. and he repeated, and violently. there is violence. when you look at antifa. these are violent people.
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senator, your reaction. >> my reaction is that donald trump seems to be taking another page from his charlottesville playbook, demagoging and fear mongering, equating two completely different sides of a political equation and, that rkt -- if he's interested in stopping violence he ought to be talking to law enforcement agencies like the fbi and department of justice rather than degrading and demeaning them. >> when he says there will be violence, there is violence, they will react quickly and violently, it sounds so ominous. this is the president of the united states delivering that kind of warning. >> it's more than only muss. it -- ominous. it's to is you preece turnout and create fear and apprehension, and to undermine our democracy. it's totally reprehensible and irresponsible and i think it is
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unworthy of the office of president of the united states. >> it is pretty startling to hear the president speak, even though it was close to the press, it was to evangelical leaders. but once again cnn did hear an audiotape. >> thank you to cnn for reporting it because everything the president of the united states says speaks forth the presidency. >> those are pretty ominous words indeed. let's get your reaction, senator lindsey graham, he now says it's basically a done deal, these two men, sessionsing an the president, the attorney general, they really can't work together. the president has a right to have anyone in his cabinet he wants to have. you heard mitch mcconnell, the senate majority leader disagree, thinks he has total confidence in sessions. here's the question, though. if sessions is gone after the midterm election, you have confident the mueller investigation will continue? >> that's really the pivotal question because the only reason to fire jeff sessions is as a precursor or a path to fire rod
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rosenstein and the special counsel mueller. and that's why there would be, as lindsey graham said, a year nag july, holy hell to pay. >> he's changed his mind now. but he also says anyone nominated to replace sessions must promise during senate confirmation hearings and colluding in your judiciary hearing committee that this individual promise not to interfere, allow mueller to get the job done, finish his investigation. >> that may be a hope, but i think it is somewhat unrealistic to expect the president of the united states who says that his major complaint about his attorney general is in effect he failed to protect him, failed to stop an investigation. he would not tolerate an attorney general who then would allow that investigation to proceed. and i think for the sake of american justice and the investigation, allowing someone who is right now and unindicted
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coconspiracy as the president is, and in very where wrongdoing, law breaking relating to corruption of his own election would be a grave mistake. i agree with the majority leader that jeff sessions ought to stay where he is and i think that a number of my colleagues, i can tell you this point very bluntly. i've talked to a none my colleagues, i think there would be holy hell to pay, that's a red line. >> do you think if sessions is gone, one way or another, either he resigns or under pressure or the president fires him, a new attorney general could be confirmed by the senate? >> never say never, but confirming an attorney general in this united states senate, i think would be near to impossible because not only is their personal sympathy for jeff sessions having followed the department of justice rules, it wasn't a matter of discretion for jeff sessions to recuse himself. those rules apply to him, he followed them, and the united states senate isn't going to
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reward donald trump by confirming someone else. >> if he were to fire sessions, the department attorney general rod rosenstein would be the acting attorney general, the president has no great love for rod rosenstein either. so if he fires him you move down that chain of command. let's talk about rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. he's trying now, he's open to the strategy of undermining mueller and the entire investigation as a witch-hunt, a rues. mueller is slightly more distrusted and trump is a little ahead of the game. does this fit into a pattern, the statements he's making are the statements the president has made of obstruction of justice? >> there is a pattern of obstruction of justice. right now there's a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the united states. and of course the president's implicated in wrongdoing, having nothing to do with that charge or collusion. but rudy giuliani has embarked on a pattern of trying to demean and degrade the special
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prosecutor, try the special prosecutor in the court of public opinion joining the president and surrogates in the united states congress. some of my colleagues on the house side who have tried also to discredit the special counsel. it is part of the pattern and is looks very much like obstruction of justice. >> if president trump doesn't agree to sit down for an interview with robert mueller and his team, do you think the special -- how far do you think mueller will do go in terms of subpoenaing the president if necessary. >> in my view, this investigation cannot be completed without an interview or some testimony under oath by the president of the united states. right now, he's implicated as a unindicted coconspirator. there are other charges that could be brought against him and i've said before, we've talked about it, that he could be indicted even though he's in office and the trial postponed. but he has to come before the grand jury by subpoena. if he refuses a voluntary
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interview. >> in that michael cohen pleading, he pled guilty, he and the prosecutors, the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, they said the president was not indicted, the president was certainly not charged with anything, but they did say he did conspire with michael cohen and others for those hush-money payments to those two women as a result. you say he's an unindicted coconspirator. >> correct. >> thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, will the president fire sessions and try to seize could be patrol of the russia investigation? and if he does, will it work? i'll a he'll get the take of a former white house chief of staff in the clinton white house. lots more coming up.
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( ♪ ) (grunting) today is your day. crush it. angie's boom chicka pop whole grain popcorn. boom! we're back with breaking news. conflicting takes among top republicans about the attorney general jeff sessions and whether president trump may fire him in the months ahead. tonight, the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell is expressing confidence in sessions after senator lindsey graham warned that sessions' relationship with mr. trump is, quote, beyond repair. joining us now, the former defense secretary. he served many roles here in washington, including white house chief of staff, cia director among many. thanks so much for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> i want to get to all those issues but let me get your reaction, mr. secretary, the comments the president made last night beyond closed doors in a
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closed door meeting with evangelical meetings at the white house if the was captured on an audio recording which was then shared with cnn. he urged the minute sterss, the evangelical leaders to support republican candidates because if they lose control of the house, the republicans to the democrats, the president said this. they will overturn everything that we've done and they doll i quickly and violently. violently. there is violence. when you look at antifa. these are violent people. let me get your reaction to the president warning of violence here in the united states if the republicans lose the majority in the house. >> well, it is cause for serious concern when the president of the united states is predicting violence as the result of a free election in this country. our constitution provides for peaceful transition as a result
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of elections. and, you know, i was chief of staff to bill clinton when he lost both the house and the senate in a midterm election. but he ultimately came back to work with the speaker, speaker gingrich to be able to get things done. i think this president has to be willing to accept the will of the american people when it comes to an election and stop threatening the american people that somehow violence will be the result. >> it's pretty shocking when you hear those kinds of words. you correctly point out from the president of the united states. let's move on. if you could, look at it's developments from your per spikttive as a former white house chief staff to president clinton, would replacing jeff sessions as attorney general of the united states allow president trump to exert more control over the russia
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investigation? >> well, you know, i'm sure that's been the argument within the white house that somehow that could be the result. but my sense is that it could produce nothing but more trouble for the president of the united states. he's been threading very close to obstruction of justice, calling the special counsel a witch-hunt. he's dismissed people that were involved in this investigation. he has rudy giuliani who has made clear in "the new york times" today that the whole purpose of their effort is to undermine the credibility of the special prosecutor. and if he were now to take steps to remove the attorney general, i think it would clearly represent a pattern of obstruction of justice. >> how far do you think robert mueller and his team should go to try to secure an actual interview with president trump?
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you think they should subpoena the president? >> well, you know, it seems to me that the president keeps saying that there's nothing here and that he's innocent. and my experience is when people are innocent they have no problem telling the truth and they want, in fact, to get the truth out. so i think it would be in the president's interest if, in fact, he is innocent that he would use the opportunity to be able to have this interview with the special counsel. it obviously appears that they've been bobbing and weaving on this issue for a long time and that ultimately that may not happen. in which case, i think the special prosecutor obviously has to make a very important decision here whether or not to seek a subpoena of the president of the united states or whether
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they can try to work out some approach that would allow the president to respond to questions in some fashion. think that's what the special prosecutor is probably trying to focus on. >> i'm sure he is. let's turn to north korea while i have you, mr. secretary. defense secretary mattis announced today that u.s. military exercises with south korea will now resume after president trump suspended them in a concession to kim jong-un. is that an admission that at least the president so far hasn't gotten anything in return from north korea after the singapore summit? >> well, it strikes me that secretary jim mattis took the right step in making clear that we're going to continue now to proceed with exercises with the south koreans. that was extremely important to our defense posture in that part of the world. i -- it's hard for me not to describe what happened here as a
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failed summit. and in many ways this was probably doomed from the beginning. because the problem was that while both leaders met and they exchanged words and exchanged hand shakes, there was never the preparation and substance that had to be worked on in order to make sure that the north koreans would, in fact, proceed to denuclearize. none of that preparatory work was done. there was no agreement as to the steps to be taken. none of the preparation took place. they had a summit, they shook hands, but there was nothing underneath to support what they were trying to agree to. and i think we're seeing the consequences of that now. >> on a different topic, a sad one, mr. secretary, the country clearly now remembering and honoring senator john mccain this week. tell us about the relationship you had with him and the legacy he leaves behind.
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>> well, i knew john for almost 40 years when he got elected to the house, i was a member in the house from california. and welcomed him to the house at that time. look, bottom line is that john mccain is an american patriot. he fought for this country. he believes deeply in the values. he believed deeply in the values that this country is all about, the values of our democracy. and he was someone who was willing to fight in order to make sure that america would be a better country. i had a close relationship with him both in the congress and as director of the cia and then as secretary of defense. and i always felt as tough as it was sometimes to deal with john that he truly believed that it was important to do the right thing. and i think that will be his
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legacy, that whatever -- whatever problems he faced, he continually devoted himself to doing the right thing for the country. >> good point. he certainly did. thanks so much for joining us. >> nice to be with you all. just ahead, to republican senators openly discuss the fate of their former colleague jeff sessions. what would a new attorney general mean for the fate of the mueller investigation? and rudy giuliani now suggesting the president's team has been effective in discrediting robert mueller and his entire investigation. is that something he should be openly boasting about?
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how much more does congress need to see? donald trump has now been implicated in two felony crimes, and he's all but confessed to them on fox news. no one is above the law, so we have to make sure this president doesn't use pardons to cover up crimes. if you agree that a president should not be allowed to pardon himself or his associates, join us at the washington establishment
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breaking tonight, some key senate republicans appear to be at odds on whether the attorney general jeff sessions should stay or go. majority leader suggesting he has total confidence in sessions. senator lindsey graham sounding open to seeing sessions fired after the midterm elections arguing the president's relationship with his attorney general is, quote, beyond repair. let's bring in our analysts and david. i want to play the clip. this is senator lindsey graham earlier today talking about the future of the attorney general. >> the president's lost confidence in jeff sessions and i'm telling you what everybody in the country knows. this is a dysfunctional relationship. we need a better one. is there somebody who's highly
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qualified that has the confident of the president? will also understand their job is to protect mueller? yes, i think we can find that person after the election if that's what the president wants. >> clearly the president agrees with sessions on almost everything except the fact that he recused himself from the russia probe. david, is that enough for the president to dump him? >> well, senator graham has set himself up in this role as sort of the honest broker or marriage counselor between the attorney general and the president. but there's a flaw in that logic. as you say on every other issue attorney general sessions is pursuing the trump agenda. his retro gressive agenda, he's openly articulate the president trump's view on immigration. it's only on the mueller investigation because of the recusal and his deferral to the deputy attorney general this they're at odds. so there's no point in replacing him unless you're going to get something who will do what the president wants, shut down the
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investigation. but that's not what senator graham is saying. >> let's talk about that. jeff sessions were replaced, robert mueller woe, the to the acting attorney general rod rosenstein who's the deputy, that's the guy he reports to right now. he could be would be the acting. but if there's a new attorney general, how much control would the president then have over the russia investigation? >> you know, i think he wishes it would empower him to control the investigation, obviously. but that's not going to happen. it's easier said than done. first of all rlt any new attorney general would have to be confirmed by the senate. the senate republicans have long said that mueller should continue do his job and he shouldn't be -- the president should not be interfering with that. so they would grill any new attorney general in confirmation hearings to make sure coleave mueller alone. that being said, the president could sperk the senate with a resource appointment or using this obscure government procedure where he names somebody who's already confirmed in another position to become attorney general for a short time. for instance, there are rumors that he was going to do this with scott pruitt in -- for the
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former epa chief, put him in charge. if he did that he could get rid of mueller but there would be serious hell to pay on capitol hill and the voters, they could put democrats in the house and impeach him. >> ron, let me get ron first and then i'll get jeffrey in. mitch mcconnell says he has total confidence in the attorney general. weigh in on the point that rachel just made, there are these obscure regulations that would allow the president to effectively take control. >> you wanted me or jeff to jump in. >> ron, go ahead. >> yeah. i think the mcconnell statement is about november. it's not about jeff sessions. i actually think lindsey graham is a better predictor of where congressional republicans' sentiment would be after november. i mean, there's nothing in the last 20 months i would think that would lead you to conclude that mitch mrk connell would stand up to protect sessions after the election if getting rid of him is still what the president wants to do. i think mitch mcconnell who is a
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shoed political operator, he can read the polls as well as anybody, he knows there are a lot of traditionally republican leaning voters who may like some of the economic policies that have been pursued over the last 20 months but who are very uneasy about the president ecommitment to the rule of law, very uneasy about kind of all the windows breaking and norm shattering that's going on and i think he correctly understands that firing sessions between now and november would really underscore the signal that the president does not believe he could face any constraints and indirectly would highlight the reluctance and the refusal of the republican congress to impose any meaningful constraints on him. >> i disagree with every word rachel said there, respectfully. the republican senators air bunch of stooges who will do whatever trump wants. they will confirm whatever he wants, and if he fires jeff sessions, they will all -- i mean fires mueller, the new attorney general, they will all say, oh, i'm very concerned and they will do nothing.
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this is a republican party that is owned by donald trump. the senators are owned by donald trump. and they will do whatever he wants. he wants sessions out, sessions will be gone. sessions is a dead man walking and they will install, if they have the majority, which seems likely that they will, they will install someone. and that person will fire mueller with absolute impunity. >> and you think that even moderate republicans like susan collins or murkowski would go along with that kind of strategy if the president were to fire session, fire mueller, fire rod rosenstein, they would still go along with that? >> what would they do? i mean, what power would they have? there would be an attorney general who fired them and they would say, well, i'm very concerned, i'm very dispointed by this decision but then they would do nothing. >> there's a slim majority in the senate and so if murkowski and collins were to come out and say we're not going to go for this, he wouldn't be able to confirm someone. however, i understand what
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you're saying it in that republicans have long said if the president crosses x, q, and z line then we're going to put him in check and they haven't done that. however, democrats could take the house and the political check would then come in the house with impeachment proceedings. so, you know, there be a -- >> and that's why i think the mcconnell signal is about november, not -- i mean, it's written in kind of disappearing ink or its a check that is, you know, that's going to be post dated because the odds that i agree with jeff, the odds that mcconnell and the republican senate would truly draw a line in the sand to protect jeff sessions and perhaps even robert mueller after the election seems to me very problematic. i think before the election they recognize what a strong signal it would send this kind of dismissal, not only about president trump and his commitment to the rule of law, but how ineffectual they have been at dissuading him from his impulses. >> everybody stick around. there's more we need to discuss. the president now resorting to a major scare tactic trying to keep congress in republican hands.
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does he really believe there will be violence if his party loses the midterm election?
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we are back with our analysts and a new warning by the presidents. the president saying there could be violence if republicans lose the midterm elections and democrats could take control of one or both chambers of congress. david swerdlick, let me read what the president told a closed
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meeting of evangelical leaders at the white house last night. cnn heard an audio tape provided to us of what the president said. among other things, the president said they, meaning the democrats, if they're the majority they will overturn everything that we have done and they will do it quickly and violently, and violently, he repeated it. there is violence when you look at antifa. these are violent people. those are startling words from the president, predicting there's a change in control of the house, for example, there will be violence on the streets of the united states. >> wolf, the president is there addressing evangelical leaders. he has all of these personal corruption leaders and personal scandals surrounding him. he knows if he starts to lose these evangelical leaders it is not good for his grip on the base. what does he do? instead of giving them a general message about, look, vote for republicans in the fall because we are backing your policy preferences, he turns it as he does with so many things into this zero-sum struggle of good versus evil, divide and conquer.
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that's his way of trying to keep people on his side who are now basically stuck, having endorsed him in 2016. >> rachel, he -- >> but that -- >> hold on one second, rachel. he has been warning of a lot of disastrous things, for example if he were to be impeached but also if the democrats take control. >> if the democrats impeach him the stock market will crash. he is lashing out. clearly he sees it as a serious threat. a lot of republicans i have talked to on the hill, especially after last week with the whole debacle in court, they think they're going to lose the house. he is trying to send a signal, to scare people into turning out. honestly, if democrats take the house they can't roll back his policies. they will be more of a check on the president. they will be there to potentially start investigations and potentially impeach him, but, you know, they won't be able to pass anything because they still have the republican senate and he won't sign any of their bills. it is not true. >> jeffrey, go ahead. >> let's go clear also about what is going on here. the theme here is, i'm donald trump and i'll protect you from
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the scary, black people. antifa is widely perceived as an african-american organization, and this is just part of the same story of lebron james and don lemon and maxine waters and the nfl players and the ucla basketball players. this is about black versus white. this is about donald trump's appeal to racism and it just happens all the time. we never say it -- we don't say it enough for what it is, but that's what is going on here. >> what do you think, ron? >> well, look, i don't disagree, but i would frame it more broadly. i mean i think trump basically has portrayed himself from the beginning as kind of the last line of defense for his supporters against all of the forces that he suggests are trying to take america away from them. sometimes it is coastal elites like his attack on google this morning, and sometimes, often, it is minority leaders like all of the attacks that jeffrey
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mentioned. the key though is -- and what he said to the evangelical leaders fits into this i think, is that he is presenting himself in effect as a war-time president for red america, only the war is largely against blue america. i mean we've had presidents who have been accused of sliding voters outside of their base before trump, i think really is the first one who actively kind of tries to demonize the voters and parts of the country outside of his base as a way of consolidating and mobilizing his own supporters. division is essential. it is integral to his entire strategy. of course, the price on that is it puts enormous pressure on the less partisan piece of the republican coalition, mostly white collar suburban items ait is where they face the greatest risk this fall, among the voters who look at what is happening and say, this is too much chaos for me. i want more checks and balances. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> i don't know, ron. i think it is black people and brown people. you know, yours is a
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sophisticated analysis, but i think it is as ugly as it could be. let's not forget donald trump is -- became a politician by making up a racist lie about the first african-american president of the united states. >> but have you ever heard -- >> it is an essential part of it, jeffrey, but it is not all of it. >> do you remember -- jeffrey, i was going to say, do you remember a time when president warned of violence on the streets if his party loses? >> beats me. i can't remember it. >> i don't remember it either. >> no. >> all right. guys. there's more news we're following. north korea has just laid out the stakes as nuclear tensions with the united states clearly now ratcheting up again, as the president's understanding with kim jong-un now falling apart. ♪ we're voya. we stay with you to and through retirement. so you'll still be here to help me make smart choices? well, with your finances that is. we had nothing to do with that tie. voya. helping you to and through retirement. let someone else do the heavy lifting. tripadvisor compares prices from over 200 booking sites
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tonight we're learning more about the deteriorating relationship between the united states and north korea. right now sources telling cnn that top officials in kim jong-un's regime have warned the u.s. that talks on denuclearization may fall apart. let's go to cnn's will ripley who has done extensive reporting inside north korea for us. he is in hong kong right now. will, tell us more about north korea's message. >> reporter: so this letter, the existence of it was first reported by our colleague josh rogin, and the essence was conveyed to me by several sources who say essentially it was the north koreans letting the united states know if pompeo were to go to pyongyang as
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scheduled he might walk away empty handed unless they're prepared to move to end the korean war which has been in a ceasefire since 1953. they want the peace up front because they want security for their leader, kim jong-un. they think only a peace treaty will guarantee the united states won't essentially invade. the u.s., trump administration officials, according to "the post" feel the peace treaty should come towards the end of the process, not at the beginning. so the two sides on this one issue have really -- they haven't been able to come to terms and it is putting all of the denuclearization talks in jeopardy right now. sources also telling me not only are the talks at stake and they could fall apart, but if diplomacy fails north korea could resume their missile activities we saw before the period of diplomacy. >> how are the north koreans likely to react to latest comments by defense secretary mattis that the u.s. does not plan to suspend any longer those joint u.s./south korean military
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exercises? >> reporter: well, it depends how they interpret the remarks because when you listen to mattis it sounds like the large-scale exercises that were indefinitely suspended, those remain suspended but they will be consulting with the state department to decide if that decision still holds given what has happened with denuclearization. what he was saying is the other smaller joint drills that are ongoing, those are going to continue. we know the north koreans are angry and outraged by those. they even blasted the u.s. last week for joint drills with japan. they view any military activity with the united states and its allies like south korea and japan as essentially a dress rehearsal for an invasion, and they have used that to justify building missiles, enriching nuclear fuel prior to late last year when they instituted the pause. >> in the meantime the north koreans have suspended their nuclear testing as well as intercontinental ballistic testing, right? >> that's right. and u.n. ambassador nikki haley
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pointed it out as a positive sign. even given the difficulty in the denuclearization talks. it seems as if some in the trump administration are holding on to that as hope this still could be salvaged. >> excellent reporting, will ripley, as usual. thanks to our viewers for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. out front next, breaking news. polls closing in three important elections tonight. what will tonight mean for republicans hoping to hang on to the slimmest of majorities in the senate? plus, is jeff sessions' future as attorney general now in doubt? one republican selling out sessions while others are coming to his defense. and breaking news, a new recording tonight of president trump behind closed doors telling evangelical leaders there will be violence should democrats win in november. what exactly is he talking about? let's go outfront.


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