tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN November 9, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
of that. so a lot could happen between now and then. best case scenario for voters in florida, it all gets done by the 18th of november. >> okay. everybody got that? ryan nobles, thank you very much in tallahassee. you've been extraordinary the last two hours. i'm brooke baldwin. thanks for being with me. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. get it done! we have breaking news on donald trump's central role in the possibly illegal hush money payoffs. "the lead" starts right now. a new wall street journal report says that donald trump directed the deals paying off a porn star and a playmate to keep quiet, and the feds know about it. how serious a threat might this be to his presidency? president trump's post election lashing out continues, as he insists he does not know matt whitaker, the acting attorney general in charge of mueller, a guy who president trump says, "i know matt whitaker." plus, why former first lady
michelle obama says why she can never forgive the president and president trump says, hey, the feeling is mutual. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with breaking news in our politics lead. the "wall street journal" revealing the closest, most direct connection of donald trump so far to hush money payments made to silence porn star, stormy daniels and 1998 "playboy" playmate of the year, karen mcdougal. clear indication president trump and his team have been lying to the american people for years and he may, in fact, have also broken federal election laws. the "the journal" reporting federal prosecutors have evidence of trump's direct participation in those mampayme, finding trump was involved in or briefed on the payments nearly every step of the way. "the journal" also laying out connections including he intervened to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen
people who have direct knowledge of the events, or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents, unquote. president trump, of course, infamously said he knew nothing about the payments. that was clearly a lie, according to this story. and one incident newly revealed today, the president allegedly told his former fixer, michael cohen, quote, get it done. after trump learned of stormy daniels' plans to talk publicly about their alleged affair. this was in the fraught, high-stakes era before the presidential election. but after the release of the "access hollywood" tape. president trump's attorneys have declined to comment. let's go to sara murray. the president's participation was even laid out by federal prosecutors' charging document of michael cohen. they just didn't name trump. >> that's right, jake. and i think the wsj story does a good explanation of how we got to the point where michael cohen was in a courtroom earlier this year, implicating president trump in this payment scheme.
and in those charging documents for michael cohen, it said that cohen coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including meetings and phone calls about the fact, nature and timing of the payments. and then, of course, cohen went to court and said he made these payments at the direction of a candidate for federal office, which, of course, was then candidate trump. now president trump. the other interesting point in the wsj story, there was this draft indictment, an 80-page draft indictment never filed against michael cohen that also detailed a lot of trump's involvement in this scheme. but, again, that was never filed. instead, cnn has confirmed that indictment existed but michael cohen got engaged in these plea negotiations so the public never saw the 80-page document, jake. >> the journal also lays out a 2015 meeting in trump tower. candidate donald trump meets with media executive, david pecker, he heads the company that includes the national enquirer. >> that's right. this is sort of a look at where this all began. it's this meeting between donald
trump and david pecker, ami declined to comment on this story. but in this meeting, donald trump essentially says, look, what can you do to help me? and david pecker apparently replies and says, well, what i can do is i can make sure that i can silence these women. i can make these stories go away if women start coming out and making these allegations against you. and so this is sort of the beginning, allegedly, of this scheme that now, you know, president trump has been implicated in, jake. >> all right. sara murray, thank you so much. appreciate it. let's talk about it with our legal experts. bottom line this for me. how worried would you be if you were donald trump or his counsel? >> well, it all depends on whether now that we've got a new acting attorney general, the southeastern district of new york is willing to actually do something about this. there are two aspects of this. one is the contribution aspect that there's a limit on the amount of money that can be given to a campaign. but mr. trump's campaign had to disclose that. and then there's the expenditure side of things. that has to be disclosed, as well. and if they communicated with each other to actually influence the campaign, that could be a
crime. so we don't know how much information they have. i really think at this point we've seen so many of these mounting allegations against this president, the teflon president, it really comes down to the broader i think structural constitutional issues of whether there is going to be accountability at any level any more in our system of government. >> and what do you think? would you worry, were you donald trump or his lawyer? >> i would have worried the second david pecker got immunity. i would have known at that point in time that the prosecution had some incentive to say, we're going to inoculate you, essentially, at this point in time. whatever you're going to tell us is of enough interest we're willing to say we're not going to prosecute whatever you say. second point, the president is going to come back and say, hold on. there was maybe a dual purpose. remember back when john edwards ran for president and he had a mistress and there was the issue of the hung jury and they weren't buying the idea of campaign finance violations then because there was an ulterior motive for keeping her silent. here the president has a wife, businesses. he's going to tell you that's the reason he did it and that's
not a campaign violation. he asked, what can you do for my campaign. not what can you do to help me, to make melania happy, happy wife, happy life or my business great. the resulting actions he took would make me nervous, and i would have a direct connection to a campaign finance violation, among many other things as kim was talking about. >> and pecker, of the "national enquirer," met with trump over this payment to mcdougle, former playmate of the year and said he spoke to an election law specialist and decided it wasn't a violation for him to offer her money for whatever it was, columns that never ran. as a way to keep her quiet about her alleged affair. >> yeah. so, i mean, the question is whether it's being offered for purposes of actually helping the campaign. and as laura mentioned with respect to john edwards, i think the defense was that well, he was actually trying to hide his affair so he wasn't going to upset his pregnant wife. here we also have a timing difference, right? so these affairs occurred many
years before and these payments were made very close to the election. so that doesn't go in mr. trump's favor. but sure, i think the fact that not only is mr. pecker but mr. weisselberg, who was also involved in some of these arrangements or negotiations about how to pay these people off, he also has immunity. he's also talking. i think there is a strong case, probably, to be made against the president. then we had these constitutional issues. >> and then just to remind people, presidents cannot be indicted -- sitting presidents cannot be indicted, right? >> according to a guide line. it's not set in stone. frankly, guideline is never supposed to be. that seems to have been the pace up until now about a sitting president. but the word "sitting" is very important. we already passed the midterm elections and that could change with time. another thing to remember is not just weisselberg, not just pecker. michael cohen also made a statement in open court, along with his own guilty plea. he'll be sentenced a few weeks from now, beginning of december, talking about the president giving him a direct connection and really an order to violate campaign finance law and try to circumvent the accountability factor here. you've got these added things. perhaps michael cohen was not
the most sympathetic or even empathetic witness for people. maybe he seemed as though it was contrived and had something to lose. wasn't getting an old itch branch from anyone. but that coupled with weisselberg, who knows all of the finances, coupled with david pecker, who is the person who had the magazine and "national enquirer," it's mounting against the president. >> also the cohen raid and the documents they obtained. >> i just want to make a point. i think there is some confusion as to whether a president can be indicted. ken starr, my former boss in the whitewater investigation concluded yes, and so did the team in connection with the watergate investigation. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> so take just a -- just to go back into time until april, just to remind people, what president trump said when asked about these payments to stormy daniels made by michael cohen. he was on air force one, and this is when president trump, according to all evidence, lied to directly to the american people. >> mr. president, did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no.
no. >> why did michael cohen make it? >> well, you have to ask michael cohen. michael is my attorney, and you'll have to ask michael cohen. >> do you know where he got the money to make that payment? >> i don't know, no. >> so he claims he did not know about the payment to stormy daniels, and he didn't know where michael cohen got the money to make that payment. all available evidence is that those are lies. does it matter legally that he told those lies? >> i mean, it matters with respect to his credibility. but he didn't testify under oath or there wouldn't be any perjury type charge. i should say, you know, we have this looming concept of impeachment, as well. and for purposes of that, something like lying to the american public historically would be something that would be taken into account or could be legally taken into account. >> in august, president trump eventually relented and admitted he knew of the hush money payments but only later on, and claiming he didn't know -- he didn't -- it didn't come from the campaign. take a listen. >> did you know about the payments?
>> later on i knew. later on. but you have to understand, what he did -- and they weren't taken out of campaign finance. that's a big thing. that's a much bigger thing. did they come out of the campaign. they didn't come out of the campaign. they came from me. >> what do you make of that? is that accurate? it doesn't matter? they didn't come from the campaign, they came were me. >> let's follow the logic here. first it was his attorney. then it wasn't his attorney. then it's a matter of he didn't know about the payments and he knew about the payments. and then he signed on to a lawsuit in california saying actually, i want to have a hand in not only the stormy daniels' case but karen mcdougal. so you have this evolution of his stories, combined with the idea, now that i'm telling you this issue about it coming from myself and not the campaign, it shouldn't make a difference. and then you have the reporting aspects of it. and the reporting aspects of it, he no matter what, whether it came from the campaign or himself, had to report it. not in a single financial disclosure document, not in any campaign finance reporting obligations and the fact he paid or knew about it after the fact, imagine, if you will, the logical extension of that. all i have to do is not remember
long enough until after a campaign, and not report long enough. i can circumvent every single campaign finance law. that's never what it was intended to be and i think he's on the hook. >> hush money payments significant legally. forget the president for a second. just for anybody out there, hush money payments, a candidate running for office hides them. that's a crime? >> the request he is whether it can be considered an in kind contribution. if it's actual cash, we understand that. but if it's something of value and the timing, as we discussed, would be something of value, presumably. mr. trump at that point was close to stormy daniels, close to the "access hollywood" tape coming out, concerned about his candidacy and voting. so i think the argument would be, sure, that actually was a contribution in that it helped him get elect -- potentially get elected. so it would be, i think, probably triggered. trigger criminal implications under the campaign laws. >> thank you so much. appreciate your expertise. president trump feeling the backlash from his promotion of
now acting attorney general, matt whitaker, a man he now says he did not know -- though he originally said he does know him. we knew that, because he said it. also ahead, two words america never wanted to hear again. florida recount. it's back, and it's getting nastier by the minute. stay with us. (music throughout)
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for some, that number can be cut in half or more. the most common side effects are pain, redness or swelling at the injection site and constipation. talk to your doctor about aimovig. and be there more. in our politics lead, president trump lashing out even more than the brash businessman is usually known to do. ever since the midterm elections where republicans lost the house and democrats flipped seven governor seats, the president has alleged voter fraud in florida with no evidence. fired his attorney general. replaced him with a loyalist, whom even some trump defenders find unqualified. threatened to investigate house democrats if they investigate his administration. and personally insulted at least
four white house reporters, all of whom just happened to be african-american or latino. this presidential tear has come with some consequences, concern in the white house is growing over the backlash over president trump's new othing attorney general, matthew whitaker, repeatedly expressing a skepticism about the russia investigation. in a video, whitaker saying his first week on the job is going, quote, good. hours after the president tried to say he doesn't even know whitaker. cnn's pamela brown at the white house. pamela, what the president said this morning, he doesn't know matt whitaker. not true. >> reporter: yeah, that's not true. in fact, just last month, jake, the president was praising matt whitaker as someone he knew. now he is changing his tune amid scrutiny. president trump heading to paris and leaving behind a brewing controversy surrounding his
replachlt placement for jeff sessions. >> i didn't know matt whitaker. but he's a highly respected man. >> reporter: today attempting to distance himself from his newly promoted acting attorney general, matt whitaker, and the wake of controversy surrounding his pick. >> i don't know matt whitaker. matt whitaker worked for jeff sessions, and he was always extremely highly thought of, and still is. but i didn't know matt whitaker. >> reporter: whitaker was jeff sessions' chief of staff, a job he was appointed to last year and orchestrated by then white house counsel, don mcgahn, sources tell ynn. and while the president may not know whitaker well, sources say whitaker has been to the white house dozens of times, including meetings and phone calls with trump, who told fox news just last month -- >> i can tell you, matt whitaker is a great guy. i know matt whitaker. >> reporter: the president also a fan of whitaker's cable news appearances where he was often critical of the mueller investigation. >> the attorney general doesn't fire bob mueller but just reduces the budget so low that
his investigation grinds to almost a halt. >> reporter: whitaker was a cnn commentator before his appointment to the justice department. writing in an op-ed last year that mueller has come up to a red line that he is dangerously close to crossing. the comments causing some democrats to ask for his recusal in the russia investigation, saying his bias is a conflict of interest. >> so all of the time, i'm watching many different people go on many different shows saying many different things. that doesn't mean they're unqualified. >> reporter: whitaker's supporters counter there is no reason for him to recuse himself from the probe based solely on past comments. >> the choice was greeted with raves initially, and still is in some circles. you know, it's a shame no matter who i put in, they go after him. it's very sad, i have to say. >> reporter: the president is now looking for a permanent attorney general. topping his list, florida attorney general pam bondi,
alexander acosta, and campaign surrogate and former new jersey governor, chris christie. >> he supported me. he has good taste. i like chris christie, but i have not talked to him about it. >> reporter: and another person who has been in whitaker's corner was the head of the federal society, leonard leo. he had also been encouraging for him to take on the role of chief of staff to sessions. and in terms of the president distancing himself from whitaker, as one former white house official told me today, it doesn't make sense for the president to say he doesn't know someone who he just picked to run the justice department. >> that's a good point. pamela brown at the white house, thank you so much. let's show this picture of this air force one, president trump and his entourage just landed in france. the president is in france for a world war i centennial ceremony of the aramistas.
amanda, president trump has been wanting to get rid of the ex attorney general, jeff sessions, since spring of 2017 when he recused himself. and he puts in this guy. a month ago he says he knows him. today he says he doesn't know him. it's all very bizarre. but do you buy the idea he's not really familiar with this guy? >> i believe that he has watched his cable news appearances. and that is what trump thinks qualifies him for the job. when, in fact, it should disqualify him. but -- >> why should it disqualify him? >> because he's obviously impartial and had his mind made up about the investigation. i think we need to spend why jeff sessions was fired. he was fired. that will naturally open up a larger obstruction of justice case. jeff sessions left a big clue in the first line of his resignation letter which says, "at your direction," i am resigning. any investigator has to ask, why did the president ask him to resign? obviously, there's conversations there. and the president's own
statements serve as a witness. he has said publicly many times, this is a witch hunt. had you told me you were going to recuse, i never would have appointed you to the position. because he wanted jeff sessions to obstruct the case for him. i think this is all very plain. but this is going to be part of the case later. he made it worse for himself by doing this. >> do you -- let me play some video of president trump talking about matt whitaker and get your response. >> i can tell you, matt whitaker is a great guy. i know matt whitaker. >> i don't know matt whitaker. matt whitaker worked for jeff sessions and was always extremely highly thought of and still is. but i didn't know matt whitaker. >> i'm very confused. i'm very confused. >> i don't know. i don't know. i don't know why he does that. but i think amanda is right. he knew enough about him, right? he may not know him intimately, but he knew enough about him to know the only thing he cares about. and the only thing he cares about is the mueller investigation and what he thought about that and the fact
that he thinks that it's a witch hunt. and that he's -- and he's somebody who is clearly very loyal to trump and is probably going to do what trump wants him to do. unlike session, who was loyal to trump but his own person. he was going to take positions -- >> more loyal to the constitution. which is why he made the decision to step away. he did the right thing. and for those who didn't like jeff sessions, you can have your quibbles with him, but he was doing a great job for the president and his agenda and attorney general. he's probably one of the most competent cabinet secretaries we had. trump didn't like he wouldn't be his roy cohen. he said, why isn't he protecting me. not understanding the concept that jeff sessions' duty is to uphold the constitution, not be a loyalist to donald trump. so it's quite obvious, to amanda's point, that absolutely matt whitaker was chosen because he was a lackey, really, in the media. and he went after the mueller investigation in terms that the
president used, as well. don lemon even had on his show last night someone who came out and said matt whitaker was doing this as an audition, hoping he would get noticed so he could get a job with the president and look where it's landed him. >> it's a good strategy. know your audience. my understanding is matt whitaker was -- he was chief of staff at the justice department under sessions, put in there not because sessions wanted him, but the white house wanted him there. my understand is that jared and ivanka are big fans of his and put him in there. there are a lot of people at the justice department who thought he was -- spy is too strong a word, but somebody there to report back to the white house about what was going on. so he really is a loyalist. >> i think were a big fan of his. i think the white house has been surprised at the amount of blowback. i think there was not a wide awareness of some of the controversial statements he's made on legal precedence on the role of the supreme court, on his controversial actions on
behalf of a business that's been labeled a scam, forced to repay money to the people who had come to use services. so i think that's been something of a surprise. and that may well be one reason that the president used to know him but doesn't know him any more. >> the president quit taking advice on these issues from jared? jared reportedly was a fan of firing james comey, which is how we got the special prosecutor. and if he's a fan of installing whitaker as attorney general, which as i believe it will expand, the obstruction of justice case, he needs to quit asking jared for advice on these issues and maybe kellyanne conway -- >> also, this is to point out, this is what happens when you don't have a white house counsel. don mcgahn is not there. and i'm sure he was probably a firewall for these kinds of things that trump wanted to do before where he probably said, uh, no, mr. president, that's not a great idea. that position is vacant also. so who is advising him, other than jared on these things? >> also, how about google,
right? google -- >> they stopped at the youtube searches. >> truly. this is easily accessible information. it wasn't like you had to hire a private detective to dig this information up. >> everybody stick around. coming up, but wait, there's more. a new cnn investigation into matthew whitaker's days as a u.s. attorney and his big embarrassment after investigating a political opponent. you will see this first on "the lead," next. stay with us.
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matt whitaker is a highly respected man. but i didn't know matt whitaker. but he's a highly respected man. because he was a really distinguished u.s. attorney in iowa. and he was approved by everybody. because to be u.s. attorney, that's top of the line. >> a highly respected man, approved by everybody. according to president trump. not everyone seems to agree with that statement about the acting attorney general, especially if you talk to those who know him from those days in iowa. cnn's drew griffin is in des moines uncovering some questionable cases from whitaker's past. >> reporter: when fired attorney general jeff sessions walked out of department of justice and shook hands with the man who would take over at least temporarily, this iowa state senator was aghast. >> well, i initially thought, i can't think of a more ill-qualified person to assume that role, based upon my
experience with him. >> reporter: matt mccoy has a history with president trump's new acting attorney general, matt whitaker. and it is not a good one. in 2007, mccoy was a young, gay, rising star in iowa's democratic party. matt whitaker was the young, conservative republican u.s. attorney for the southern district of iowa. at the time you were indicted, you were openly gay, the only openly gay? >> yes. >> reporter: legislator in the state of iowa. you were a democrat. you were considered a rising star. do you think that's why you were targeted? >> i absolutely believe that's why i was targeted. >> reporter: the federal indictment was brief. the u.s. attorney was accusing mccoy of attempted extortion by a public official. mccoy says it was a $2,000 business dispute with a private consulting client who wouldn't pay a bill. those facts didn't matter to whitaker, he says, who brought the full weight of the federal government against him.
>> i believe it was a political prosecution. there's no doubt in my mind. i'm 100% certain that it was. >> reporter: here is all you need to know about the case. the u.s. attorney's office, under whitaker's direction, spent more than two years going after mccoy using the fbi, a paid informant, secret recordings, a special prosecutor. and after two years, it took a jury mere minutes to reach its verdict. not guilty. >> that's correct. i was acquitted within really 20 minutes. >> reporter: whitaker was criticized heavily in iowa's press. reporters asking, why was mccoy prosecuted? legendary "des moines register" asked, if the u.s. attorney's case was misplaced zeal or partisan politicking. >> this for most u.s. attorneys' decision in court would have been embarrassing. >> yes. >> did it appear embarrassing? did he apologizing? >> no, he never reached out to
me. >> my name is matt whitaker. >> reporter: his career sputtered in 2009. he tried and failed to become an iowa supreme court justice, tried and failed in a run for senate. he seemed to have limited success in private practice. then in 2014, using the legal system as a political weapon, he found an entirely new career. backed by conservative republican donors, whitaker became director of the foundation for accountability and civic trust. f.a.c.t. the nonprofit claims it is dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics and transparency in government by demanding the truth. under whitaker's leadership, critics say it became a tool to attack democrats through the legal system. f.a.c.t. went after dozens of democrats. democrat organizations. and especially hillary clinton. filing ethics complaints, federal election commission complaints. anything it could do to legally hamstring democrats.
>> i think when you're looking at an organization that is focused almost exclusively on investigating individuals of one party and one political persuasion, and that the head of that organization is now going to be installed as the attorney general of the entire united states, that sets off a number of alarm bells. >> reporter: matt mccoy doesn't need an alarm bell. he is frightened by the prospect of matt whitaker in a position of power. >> it's very frightening. because i know how pliable he is. >> reporter: you mean an attorney general who will do whatever the boss wants. >> absolutely. without question. >> reporter: and jake, that is matt mccoy's biggest fear, that matt whitaker will do what his boss asks him to do, the president, regardless of the constitution or the law. jake? >> drew griffin in des moines, iowa. thank you so much for that report. great. another sub par remake. this time the florida recount
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by tomorrow we should know if not one, not two, but three races in florida will need an official recount. right now only mere tenths of a point straight candidates in florida's race for the u.s. senate and the race for governor and the contest for agriculture commissioner. and as the lawsuits start rolling in, it all brings back nightmares and memories of
hanging chad and butterfly ballots. let's go to the state capitol in tallahassee. we have a lawsuit filed to make sure all accounts are counted, especially in south florida. what's the news? >> reporter: yeah, that's right, jake. a pair of lawsuits filed by rick scott against the supervisors of elections in palm beach county and broward county were ruled on earlier today. scott did win both of those cases. the judge ruling that the supervisors of elections down there did violate the public records laws here, and they need to release all the information that they have about this vote tabulation. but the big question is, does this have any real impact on the overall vote counting? because that information is required to be into the secretary of state by noon tomorrow. and that's what could trigger this big and potentially historic recount. forgive the people of florida if they're having flashbacks. 18 years after a historic and controversial recount of the 2000 presidential election,
floridans and their boards of election are back in the spotlight. and already the accusations are flying. >> every floridan should be concerned there may be a rampant fraud happening in palm beach and broward counties. >> the governor has decided to abandon the most fundamental of all rights, because he fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted. >> reporter: three statewide races in florida are so close that a massive recount of the vote will likely be necessary. at stake, a u.s. senate seat and the governor's mansion. but before the recount can take place, the vote needs to wrap-up, and every couple of hours the margins change. >> by wednesday morning, that lead dropped to 38,000 votes. by wednesday evening, it was around 30,000 votes. this morning, it was around 21,000. now it is 15,000. >> reporter: the margin between republican rick scott and democrat bill nelson has
tightened by more than 40,000 votes since election night. a dramatic shift that has democrats encouraged and has republicans sounding the alarm. >> there's bad things going on in broward county. really bad things. i say this. he easily won. but every hour it seems to be going down. i think that people have to look at it very, very cautiously. >> reporter: the president later mocked the process on twitter and seemed to joke that the russians may be at fault. to be clear, there is no concrete evidence of fraud or manipulation. but there are serious questions about the collection and counting of votes in two major counties. palm beach and broward. while the rest of the state has wrapped up its count of all but provisional ballots, new votes from both places continue to trickle in, and it's not clear just how many total votes were cast. the confusion has led to protests outside the broward supervisor of elections office. >> lock her up, lock her up!
>> reporter: democrats feel bullish about their chance to make up ground in the senate race. >> we believe when every legal ballot is counted, we'll win this election. >> reporter: the governor's race is more of a climb, but democrat andrew gillum, who conceded on election night, is now promising he would make sure every vote is counted. >> we're hopeful that every single vote will be counted in this race. and that way all of us can walk away feeling extremely confident about what each and every one of us did. >> reporter: and about those allegations of fraud by both president trump and governor scott, today the florida department of law enforcement, which was requested by governor scott to look into this issue, said they had a conversation with the secretary of state here in florida, who, by the way, is appointed by rick scott. and the secretary of state said there are no allegations of criminal activity as it relates to the vote count. now, that could change over the next couple of days. but, jake, even though republicans are charging that there could be something afoot
here, there is simply no evidence. and at this point, it's just about making sure that is every vote gets counted. >> thank you so much. and president trump has been tweeting, you know -- i guess this was a conspiracy theory joke. you mean they are just now finding votes in florida and georgia, but the election was tuesday. let's blame the russians and demand an apology from president putin, ha ha. but rick scott said that liberal democrats are coming in to steal the election. i mean, there is no evidence of wrongdoing. but there are allegations being made by some pretty powerful politicians. >> that's right. so what's going on is a count. this is a slow count. you can accuse officials in these two florida counties of being incompetent in designing a ballot and counting the ballots cast. but there is no evidence that there is any fraud involved. and you see the president actually raising questions not only about the legitimacy of the vote in florida, but also in arizona, he tweeted that in the arizona senate race, which now
looks like the democrat may well win, maybe they should have another vote. >> there's a couple of things about this. a., it's irresponsible for the president to be weighing in on this. what's happening in florida, i lived there for a couple of years. and this is, you know -- it happens all of the time down there. particularly in broward county. this election supervisor was put in place in 2003 after the one prior to that was removed by governor jeb bush at the time because of incompetence. and now brenda snipes continually incompetent. but for the president to inject these other things is just inappropriate. however, the irony of him bringing up the russians involved, there was actually evidence that there were russian hackers that tried to get into the voting equipment in broward county during one of the elections recently. so that actually has happened. also down there -- marco rubio has been criticized for tweeting about what's been going on there. and i think unfairly.
they're not accusing fraud. no one is saying not to count. but what's happening is that brenda snipes, she's been accused and a court found that they destroyed ballots, they opened up secret mail ballots. >> in this election? >> no the in this election. in past elections. there's a history of problematic behavior in this county. so the scrutiny is absolutely warranted. and the "miami herald" and "tampa bay times" has documented this. >> i don't know anyone who has been alive for the last 20 years would doubt that there is incompetence in florida elections. the question is, as rick scott said, quote, unethical liberals are trying to steal this election. that seems like a rather strong charge. >> there's plenty of proof that there were problems in broward county, as tara pointed out, with brenda snipes. there were ballots destroyed in the 2016 primary for debbie wasserman schultz race. she has been sued in court for making confusing ballots.
that was known. >> snipes was sued, not wasserman schultz. >> governor scott should have dismissed her. he had the power to dismiss her. now he's throwing her on charges of fraud with no evidence. i think he should be asking questions why he didn't take action sooner. >> let's hear brenda snipes' side of it. here she is responding to rick scott, the governor, calling for the florida department of law enforcement, fdle, to investigate voter fraud claims. take a listen. >> rick scott would like the fdle involved, he says. that's what he's asking for. can you come talk to us about it? >> i'm not prepared right now. >> she basically says he's in charge of the fdle, and she's not -- >> she owns it. >> she owns it is the term. it's interesting, because a story i read in the "miami herald" is that candidate rick scott made this request, but
florida governor rick scott has not actually in writing made an official demand or instruction for the fdle to do this. >> i think this is more of a pr stunt than they're actually concerned about fraud going on. because there's nothing fraudulent happening. they can't even point to anything fraudulent that has happened. >> they say it's fishy that somebody found in the closet a box that contained provision -- >> so count them and see what they are. >> fine. but the other thing some republicans are complaining about is they're counting ballots that have come in after election day but that's how the law works. it just has to be post marked. they're trying to make that out as being some sort of fishy behavior. and i just think this is what republicans do too much. they make these accusations of fraud where there is no fraud. and then when you have actual voter suppression problems going on like we had in georgia they do nothing and say nothing. >> one thing we know from the 2000 experience, the pr matters.
the republicans understood much more than the gore democratic forces did in 2000. and they found that even having bob dole sit at recount stations when they were looking at chads -- thank god we don't have chads any more. they have a higher rate of finding republicans for doing that. that's one reason we see people coming out -- republicans coming out. and senator nelson also filing lawsuit because they know that it's not irrelevant to make a fuss about it. >> no. the r campaipr campaign is a hu of it. >> and it was really about transparency. yes, there is more counting going on. but the repoproblem is they wer reporting them. >> weren't revealing where they were coming from. >> you're supposed to report every 45 minutes. they haven't reported in almost a day. so this way, they can say, look, if there is anything fishy going on, great. but they have nothing to compare it to, because they're not properly reporting. so it was a transparency issue. also with transparency, in palm beach county, you have
another -- right now a court hearing going on in palm beach where the election supervisor is saying, no cameras are allowed in while we're looking and inspecting these ballots, because there are signatures involved. so is that really the reason? or they just don't want the level of scrutiny? so they've got a lot of problems down there. >> finding out long before florida started, there was a big narrative battle between republicans and democrats of fraud versus voter suppression. that's what's going to play out here. >> thanks one and all. next, president trump taking on former first lady, michelle obama, his pushback today to her, unforgiving words. stay with us. today, 97% of employers agree
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lady, michelle obama not holding back when it comes to criticizing her husband's successor. mrs. obama says she will never forgive donald trump for his role in pushing the birther lie, questioning whether the first african-american president was actually born in africa, which he was not. she claims that he, trump, put her family in danger by spreading these conspiracies. cnn's kate bennett joins me now. kate, president trump has now responded by not surprisingly, punching back. >> this is what he's known for. this is what he does. and certainly, not holding back against michelle obama. he's not one to let an opportunity to cut down go by. but with her new book, michelle obama seems to be up for the challenge. former first lady, michelle obama, gracious with the trumps on inauguration morning, is done with niceties. now revealing her husband's successor has made her, quote, body buzz with fury. she has recently warned that her
new book, "becoming," out next week is -- >> candid, honest, totally and utterly me. >> reporter: and she is utterly unforgiving. in new excerpts published by the "washington post," obama says she will never forgive trump for questioning whether her husband, the nation's first black president, was born in america. >> there's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like. >> reporter: it's underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed, but it was also dangerous, she writes. what if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to washington? what if that person went looking for our girls? donald trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family's safety at risk. the president today responding from the south lawn. >> she got paid a lot of money to write a book, and they always insist that you come up with controversial -- well, i'll give you a little controversy back. i'll never forgive him for what he did to our united states military. >> when they go low, we go high.
>> reporter: the obamas have pushed back on trump before. president obama upping the intensity ahead of the mid terms. >> when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can't work. >> reporter: trump quick to rile up his own crowds. >> barack h. obama. >> reporter: but michelle obama's feelings towards trump are not necessarily partisan. after all, she warmly embraces republican president, george w. bush. >> he is my partner in crime in every major thing where all of the formers gather. so we're together all of the time and i love him to death. >> reporter: and when his mother, barbara bush, passed away earlier this year, the obamas sat with first lady melania trump at the funeral, where she arrived without the president. >> it is sort of an unspoken rule that former presidents avoid directly criticize sitting presidents, but it appears that rule does not apply to former
first ladies, jake. >> or former presidents, for that matter. kate bennett, thank you very much. finally from us today, we finally know the names of all of the people who were killed in that horrifying shooting in thousand oaks, california, wednesday night. dan menrique. noel sparks. alana housley. mark meza jr. sean adler. justin meek. cody coffman. his friend said she is the reason she survived. telemachus orfanos. blake dingmann. ja jacob dunham.
ron helus. may their memories being be a blessing. join me sunday. we'll have an interview with senate minority leader, chuck schumer, only here on cnn. our coverage continues right now. have a great weekend. happening now. breaking news. involved in the payoff. a bombshell from the "wall street journal" reporting federal investigators have evidence that donald trump was deeply involved in the hush money payments to a porn star and a playboy model. did he violate campaign finance laws? false denials. as backlash grows to his pick for acting attorney general, president trump now says he doesn't even know matthew whitaker, but just last month, he said he knows him as a great guy. attacking the obama