tv CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar CNN November 21, 2018 10:00am-11:01am PST
institutions under constant attack by the president. in this case pretty serious senior pushback. thanks for joining us for "inside politics" today. have a nice thanksgiving. don't go anywhere. brianna keilar starts right now. don't go away. i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. under way right now, using his power to target his political rivals. did the president go too far this time? rudy giuliani reveals two of the questions robert mueller asked of the president including one about donald jr. the new fury over the president pardoning the saudis in a murder comes from his political allies. and what about the troops on the border away from their families for the invasion that is not. the president's telling response. up first, keep your friends close and your enemies under investigation? a source says president trump asked justice department
officials on several occasions whether there was progress into looking into hillary clinton's dealings, and he wanted white house counsel don mcgahn, then white house counsel, to ask the justice department to prosecute her. "the new york times" first reported on trump's request to prosecute clinton and former fbi director james comey. cnn justice reporter laura jarrett joining us on this. what more do we know about the president's actions and also how officials responded to them? >> i think what this reporting sheds light on is not only how mcgahn warned him of the dangers on doing something like this, how it could cross a red line, but how the president has still sought to keep tabs with what is going on with hillary clinton at the justice department. my colleague pamela brown discovered he's made requests of deputy attorney general, and then matt whitaker, then sessions chief of staff. whitaker would come in prepared
with questions and answers. he knew it was all coming. he would come in ready to talk to the president about this. of course, the president's critics say this is all highly inappropriate. take a listen to what the president said on the campaign trail when he previewed he would do exactly this. >> if i win, i am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, baugh there has never been so many lies, so much deception. there has never been anything like it. we're going to have a special prosecu prosecutor. >> there you have it, brianna. he said he was going to do it and he's tried to do it. we're learning more about matthew whitaker's financial dealings. we saw his financial disclosure forms for the first time yesterday. it showed he's making nearly $1 million from a conservative group. what do they do? try to agitate towards the
investigation of hillary clinton. president trump is turning in his homework. so what happens now? the president submitted handwritten answers from special counsel robert mueller and investigators. rudy giuliani says mueller can still try to get more answers about potential obstruction of justice. giuliani also reveed some of the questions asked. among them, whether the president knew about don junior's meetings with the russians, his own comments about finding dirt on hillary clinton and his comments asking russia to find clinton's missing e-mails. you'll remember that from the campaign trail. senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny is in west palm beach where the president is spending the thanksgiving holiday at mayor laere lago. >> we do know his lawyers have submitted questions. rudy giuliani, one o of the
president's lawyers is saying, look, it's very likely this is not over. he told our pamela brown earlier this morning, he said it's very likely that robert mueller's team, the special counsel's team is likely to ask more questions, potentially dealing with obstruction of justice and the time during the transition to the presidency and the presidency itself. giuliani says his legal team would fight that. he said that would be a violation of executive privilege, that they would indeed fight that. brianna, it underscores the reality that even as the president finally submitted those questions, this is not likely the end of the road there. as we head into the beginning of holiday season, important to point out this probe, this investigation still very much hanging over the president's head as he was last year. while some of those questions are in, it's delphly a sense from rudy giuliani, one of the president's lawyers that more might be to come here. the president again blasted this as a witch hunt yesterday as he left the white house. so far today he's been quiet
about this investigation brianna. we'll see how long that lasts, a sunny vacation here, six days. the president spending time on the golf course as well as likely on twitter. brianna? >> that you can bet on. jeff zeleny in west calm beach. without apology or remorse the president saying u.s. financial and diplomatic interests far outweigh the government sanctioned and orchestrated murder of a journalist and resident of the united states. the strongest reaction so far may be from democratic congressman gabbert. quote, hey, donald trump, being saudi arabia's b word is not america first. what are we hearing from republicans? >> there is push back from republicans, ones that have pushed the president to go
farther to at least repudiate the crown prince of saudi arabia, one being senator bob corker, the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, saying, i never thought i'd see a day that the white house would moonlight as a public relations firm for the crown prince of saudi arabia. he's demanded a determination within 120 days about whether or not the crown prince deserves to be sanctioned under the federal magnitsky act. the president will have to make that determination. some of the president's allies, too, going after him, including lindsey graham, saying i firmly believe there will be a strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against saudi arabia including appropriate members of the royal family. he goes on to say for this barbaric act we defied all civilized norms. when we lose our moral voice, we lose our strongest asset.
cram and corker are in the minority. brianna, most republicans have been silent including the two top republicans in this congress, both senator mitch mcconnell, the majority leader and paul ryan, now speaker, have yet to issue any statements about whether they agree with the president or they agree with corker and others who are demanding tougher action. i've asked both of their offices to comment. neither of them have provided one yet. this could impact things going forward because if only a handful of republicans want to move forward with the leadership, it's now prepared to push the president and take firmer line. perhaps the president won't do that. but the big determination within 120 days, whether or not any additional sanctions will be imposed, the administration needs to make that choice. we'll see how congress responds
after that happened nchts president trump's calls about possible abuse of power. a former person involved in watergate says even president nixon would be concerned. here is what cricket tore john dean told our john berman. >> if i had to channel a little bit of richard nixon, i think he'd tell this president he's gone so far. this is the sort of stuff of a banana republic. >> you, of course, were involved with watergate. you just said richard nixon would tell donald trump he's going to far? >> i think he would. >> jack quinn, former white house counsel of the clinton administration, now a cnn legal analyst. what did you make, jack, of john dean's comment there? >> i agree with him 100%. richard nixon was impeached for a number of different things. one of them was obstruction of justice. another was abuse of his office to protect himself and his
corrupt colleagues who had engaged in wrongdoing leading up to the impeachment. the same thing is going on here. remarkably enough, president trump's lawyers seem to think the president is incapable of obstructing justice, is incapable of breaking the law because he's president. this is not saudi arabia. this is america. no one is above the law including the president of the united states. he will be held to account for anything that is tantamount to obstructing justice or other whys breaking the law. let me add to this. mr. whitaker, if what he's doing here is channelling inside information from the special counsel's investigation to the president for the purposes of undermining that investigation, he will be in serious trouble as well. >> what makes you think he may be doing that? is it the tweets following
whitaker's appointment? >> once -- well, look, i don't have evidence that he's been doing this. that said, it's interesting that once he was in place, the president's temperature clearly went up and he was in a fit, a peak, really irritated. with whitaker in place, he has something of a line of vision into the investigation. as a legal matter, the special counsel's office reports to matthew whitaker. matthew whitaker, before getting that job, expressed opposition to the investigation, said that hillary clinton is the one who should be investigated for links to russia, i mean real nonsense. he was clearly and without any doubt opposed to continuing this investigation. so he's got a line of vision
into the -- the president has a line of vision into the investigation through whitaker if he and whitaker choose to use it as such. what i'm saying is, if that provides information to the president which can be used to obstruct the investigation or hinder it or result in starving it to death, that in itself could well be -- if my opinion would be obstruction of justice and trouble for both mr. whitaker and the president. >> while i have you here, i want to ask you about saudi arabia. the president siding with saudi arabia when it comes to the murder of jamal khashoggi, a "washington post" journalist, a resident of the u.s. it's important we say this. you represented 9/11 families who have wanted to sue saudi arabia but have been unable to do so because of the actions of the u.s. government. >> i still do. >> you still represent them. president obama vetoed the idea saying this would open the u.s.
to lawsuits. the families very much feel saudi arabia is being protected. with your extensive knowledge of saudi arabia, what is your concern with the president siding with saudi arabia and what you feel has already been the deck stacked for them? >> well, our lawsuit goes on. it is still active in the southern district of new york. we're not going anywhere until these families get justice. the president's behavior toward the khashoggi killing is baffling, inexplicable, and i'm sure that the new congress will want to get to the bottom of it. first of all, he, the president, keeps repeating that we're getting hundreds of billions of dollars of business from saudi arabia. that's baloney. there's simply no truth to it. what he's talking about are some defense contracts that were initiated in the obama administration, and we have still only seen only a fraction
of the deals that were promised to president obama. this idea that there's lots and lots of contract work going to american defense companies and others is simply not true. there's no $450 billion. at best so far we've seen $15 billion. 15 is a lot smaller than 450. secondly and importantly, in terms of -- the president is counting investment that the saudis said they will make in the united states. where are the saudis going to invest their money if they don't invest it in the united states? every country in the world wants to invest in the united states. are they going to put their money in russia, in china? i don't think so. lastly, in terms of buying arms from the russians or the chinese, who is going to service them? saudi arabia is already well armed with american equipment.
if they want replacement parts, they can't get them in moscow. they can't get them in shanghai. they have to get them right here in the united states. this commercial argument doesn't hold water. it makes you wonder what's really going on. i hope the new congress will get to the bottom of it. >> jack quinn, thank you so much forgiving us your expertise. >> thank you. as the president sides with the saudis, one senator says this shows the president's autocratic tendencies and weakness on the world stage. he'll join me live next. just in, chief justice john roberts speaking out in a rather rebuke of a sitting president. hear how roberts addresses the president's attacks on judges. ordinary eggs? not in this house. 'cause that's no ordinary family. that's your family. which is why you didn't grab just any cheese. you picked up new kraft expertly paired cheddar and swiss for eggs. beat that! kraft. family greatly. starts with looking buiat something old,nk
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president trump's friends and enemies. the president talked about the importance of his relationship with saudi arabia's crown prince, mohammed bin salman. so important that he'll ignore the murder of a u.s.-based journalist. there are also kind words for north korean dictator kim jong-un. the president has taken aim at retired admiral william mcraven. hammered members of his own party for not kissing his ring on the campaign trail and attacked the media again and again and again and again. joining me is rhode island senator jack reid from the senate intelligence committee and senate armed services committee. thanks for being with us. i want to read part of your statement which is unusual to read your words back to you, but they're so significant, you said
this white house statement is a stunning window into president trump's autocratic tendencies, his limited grasp of world affairs and his weakness on the world stage. it's interesting, there are republican lawmakers who agree with you on this. so what can congress do? >> well, congress can step up. we have legislation that would require a thorough review of the killing of khashoggi by an international independent authority. we can't trust the saudis to investigate themselves. they've manufactured more and more stories about what took place in their consulate in turkey. it's baffling. they're not going to investigate. we need an international investigation. we need sanctions addressed at not just the underlings, but the people that ordered this. it looks based on intelligence that it was all the way up to the crown prince. and today or yesterday, my
colleag colleagues, senator corker and senator melendez asked for a definite conclusion about the involvement of the crown prince. i think that's important, too. we must take steps. not only is the president ignoring this grotesque incident but encouraging more. as you pointed out, he's very friendly with kim jong-un who had his half brother killed. he was fawning over putin in helsinki and putin has a lot of blood on his hands. this is not the way to conduct foreign policy. >> let me ask you. if you do something, if the senate -- if the house, let's say -- i just wonder looking at the senate, still controlled by republicans, it's hard to think of a situation where senate majority leader mitch mcconnell would jam the president, where he would take something and think he could force the president to sign it. he doesn't generally move forward if it's something that
the president isn't going to sign. so what would you do? >> well, first of all, if there was momentum coming out of the house, and then together with the bipartisan support evidenced by senator corker and senator graham, that's hard ultimately to ignore by senator mcconnell or others. it's the right thing to do, by the way. not only is it politically appropriate at the moment, it's the right thing to do. there's also a situation of our ability to approve transfer of arms to vapor other countries, and i think it would be very difficult to get congressional approval of those transfers unless something is done by the president, by the administration. >> i want to ask you about this "new york times" report that says president trump wanted the department of justice to prosecute hillary clinton and former fbi director jim comey. when you look at that, he was
rebuffed by some of his aides and by officials. but if he had been allowed to do that, would that be an impeachable offense? >> it certainly would have been a shock to the system. our legal system, and i think he got wise counsel by don mcgahn and others that it would be inappropriate will both legally and politically. it would have triggered i think a significant reaction in the congress and in the country. that's more important, in the country. as a result i would hope he would abandon those notions of trying to retaliate against political foes. at best he could have asked for an investigation. as don mcgahn pointed out, the fbi could have simply refused by saying there's insufficient evidence even to conduct an investigation. but again, it shows this incredible sense of
self-entitlement, of being able to lash out at will, be able to ignore the facts and the law. making a statement in that letter regarding the crown prince that he may or may not have ordered the killing, what does it mean? that is a stunning sort of statement by a president of the united states that the reality is unimportant if a leader of a foreign country orders an assassination? that's the type of behavior that people are becoming more and more uncomfortable with. >> senator jack reed of rhode island. we really appreciate you being with us. >> thank you very much brianna. just ahead, the president asked about keeping troops on the border during the holiday despite the fact there is no caravan emergency. hear his response it's really interesting. a rare rebuke by chief justice john roberts about president trump. hear what roberts just said. makes more holiday deliveries to homes
[ neighing ] [ sigh ] it's bring your own phone, not pony. so i could've taken the bus? yeah. bring your phone. switch your carrier. save hundreds a year with xfinity mobile. call, click or visit a store today. chief justice job roberts pushing back against the president for describing a federal judge who ruled against his migrant asylum policy as a, quote, obama judges. the statement says, we do not have obama judges, trump judges, bush judges or clinton judges. we have an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their
level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. that independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for. joining me, washington bureau chief for "the daily beast" jackie kucinich and former rnc communications director doug heye. jackie, how extraordinary is this? >> justice roberts is seen as someone with a moderating effect. someone who will save the court or perhaps keep it at a certain lev level. >> last year we heard president trump use the term so-called judge after the ruling against his travel ban. what do republicans need to do as the president attacks the
judiciary? >> i think there's a difference between what they would lying to do in ply private and what they do in public. in private this is another example of the rhetoric from the president that they don't like. the reality is they speak out too forcefully, they become the subject of the tweets. it's a very difficult thing for republicans to do given that trump is at 90% approval within the party. it's not something that i like that they're not speaking out more forcefully. but that's the political reality. >> you see judge roberts coming to the court's defense. >> no one can fire him. >> very good point. i want to talk about nancy pelosi. it seems increasingly likely that she is going to be speaker because marcia fudge has decided she is not going to run. that said, there were more than a dozen democrats who said they don't want pelosi. one of them flipped today. what does this mean for nancy
pelosi? is she doing a happy dance today? >> i think it's a little early for a happy dance. she still has a math problem, doesn't have the votes she needs to become speaker. that said, she's the best whip that the house has ever had, that i've ever soon on either side. you work for the whip, so no effect to kantor. she knows her caucus. she knows where people's pressure points are in order to get them to get the vote. >> your point is she's highly effective which is what jackie just said. something else you said which i thought was interesting which is, as the team is working to secure the majority and ensure there's no surprises, you said there's this discussion which we've heard about her saying, hey, i'll only be a single-term speaker, it will just be a transitional period. you say that's a terrible idea.
this is interesting, you say that's a bad idea. >> let me be clear, i'm not endorsing nancy pelosi. if i were a house member -- >> look at your cup. >> this is a fire pelosi cup. we launched the fire pelosi campaign the night of the obamacare vote. the reason is she was very effective. if she had been ineffective, we would have been more inclined to run against obama in 2010. she helped us quadruple the funding goals we had for the campaign. you both covered it, a bus tour of 178 stops in the lower 48 states. she was incredibly effective. she's amazingly effective in her role as speaker, as a whip. which i say she shouldn't hamstring herself, if you announce in advance you're a lame duck, people will treat you very differently. they're already looking for the next best thing. as we saw with paul ryan, so much of the lastier and a half has been about who the next
republican speaker will be while we already had a republican speaker. the best thing for democrats to do for themselves politically. i would be nervous if i were steny hoyer or james clyburn. the frustration young democrats feel is very real. but pelosi is their best asset. >> your conversation is in t"th daily beast". >> let's talk about the interior secretary. you had ryan zinke. he referred to the fires being due to lack of forest management. what's he doing here? when you look at a lot of the recent fires that california has had, many of them are on federal lands managed by the department he's in charge of. >> i feel like for secretary
zinke, a lot of roads lead back to logging. he's from a former logging town. we've seen reports where he has tried to open -- has argued for opening federal lands for more logging. this is a priority. it seems like he is frankly using a crisis to promote this again. >> even if it's not warranted, what he's saying. we'll leave it there. doug heye, you'll get the first word next time. stormy daniels' lawyer accused of domestic abusement we're now learning what an actress says michael avenatti did to her. the president calls on one republican party who lost his race. he'll be joining me life to respond next. applebee's bigger, bolder grill combos are back. now that's eatin good in the neighborhood. ♪
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♪ president trump going even further to bolster his unfounded claims that a caravan of migrants headed for the u.s. are dangerous, quote, invaders as he puts it. cnn has learned exclusively the president is giving troops new authority to engage with migrants. this is violation of the law that says the military should engage in law enforcement. there's no proof that the caravan is full of criminals and terrorists. when asked what message he had for the thousands of troops spending time away from their families to protect the border
of this so-called invasion, as he puts it. it is not. here is what he said. >> don't worry about the thanksgiving. these are tough people. they know what they're doing and they're great. you're so worried about the thanksgiving holiday for them. they are so proud to be representing our country on the border where, if you look at what's happening, mexico, the people from tijuana are saying, these are tough people, they're fighting us. they're in fist fights all over the place. these are tough people coming in. joining me now, carlos curbelo from florida. thanks for being with us this holiday week. i want to get your thoughts on this. until the president was asked that question there, he had barely brought up the caravan since election day. you have said this caravan talk, all this scary talk was an overreaction, that the move to put troops on the border was an overreaction. as you look back on this, do you think this was a political
stunt? >> brianna, good afternoon from miami. a couple thoughts on that. first of all the united states has every right to defend its border. in fact, we have a responsibility to make sure we know who is coming in and out of our border and that people coming in are doing so legally. having said that, what the president is doing i think is, number one disrespectful to our customs and border protection agents. these are highly qualified people who are perfectly capable of defending our borders. they've been doing so for very many years, and the situation at the border has gotten better over time thanks to their hard work. this is also disrespectful to these troops. these men and women -- the president is right, they are tough. but we should be using them in the most effective and efficient way possible. again, they're just not needed at the border. customs and border protection is not capable of handling that situation. so those men and women should be
allowed to go home or go back to their bases so they can be with their families because they are not needed at the border. this was a creation of the president to make people believe that there is this horrible threat at our southwest border. not the case, and by no means do i condone illegal immigration. by no means should this caravan be allowed to just march into our country. but the point is, we already have the resources that we need at the border to keep us safe. >> the troops may be tough, as the president said, as you reiterated. there's no way around it. it stinks to have an mre instead of a thanksgiving dinner with your family. i wonder, when you look at the president as he thinks about what these troops are doing, the idea of protecting against, say, a real threat, maybe a sacrifice to make, but maybe not protecting against or for a
political stunt. do you think the president understands that? >> i'm not sure, brianna. i do know that the president thought this immigration issue would help turn out the base during the midterms. i any in some of those red states it may have helped. i think a lot of those republicans running for senate would have won anyway. i can also tell you that in a lot of suburb districts like mine, especially diverse districts like the ones we have here in south florida, that type of rhetoric really hurt because people saw through it and people here understand that, again, our law enforcement officers, i.c.e., customs and border protection who i fully support, are more than capable of keeping us safe. they do so every day. the president really trying to grandstand on this issue, drawing attention to something that is not unimportant, but isn't the crisis that he tried to sell.
>> you are an outgoing member of congress. you did lose your re-election bid during the midterms, and president trump called you out. i'm sure you heard this a million times. let's take a listen anyways. >> on the other hand, you had some that decided to, let's stay away, let's stay away. they did very poorly. i'm not sure that i should be happy or sad, but i feel just fine about it. carlos curbelo -- >> i wonder as someone who is leaving washington, you have some freedom to speak. what are your parting words? what do you want to see? what needs to change aside from the president pronouncing your name incorrectly. >> that's right. i'm not italian. i'm cuban american. where he's most obviously wrong is the fact that in my district i was the top performing republican. a couple friends of mine who
were on the ballot, rick scott who will be the next senator from florida, he got 44.35%. my friend ron desantis who will be the next governor of florida got about 45.5%. i got close to 50%, a little over 49%. that's proof that in districts like mine people appreciate independent-minded candidates who will speak the truth. i've always spoken to truth, brianna. now after my election, during my election, my four years in congress, i was always true to myself. that will certainly continue now. i think that's what the american people need across the board, whether members of congress are republicans or democrats, call it honest, say the truth, speak your mind and put the country over your party, over any politician every day. >> congressman, we really appreciate your perspective today. >> thank you, brianna. good to be with you. >> happy thanksgiving to you, and a programming note.
we are just two days away from an epic showdown between two golf legends -- are you a golf nut like me? this is going to be exciting. tiger woods and phil mickelson facing off. a $9 million prize at stake. don't miss the match this friday 3:00 p.m. eastern on bleacher report live and pay-per-view. mark zuckerberg defending his own actions as facebook comes under serious fire and reveals whether stepping down is a possibility. plus more on the major story, president trump reportedly asking the justice department to prosecute his political enemies. was this an abuse of power? cnn speaks with the widow of the utah mayor killed while serving in afghanistan. this is an emotional interview that we'll have for you ahead. if you're on medicare,...
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extraordinary, wonderful, remarkable, just some of the words used at the funeral to describe major brent taylor, the utah army guardsman was killed less than three weeks ago in combat in afghanistan during his fourth tour of duty to the middle east and south asia. his widow, jenny, spoke to cnn about spending this thanksgiving and future thanksgivings without her husband and what she's going to tell her kids about him. >> we always come back to how grateful we are. thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, it's a day of reflection. our hearts are full. our hearts are broken, but our hearts are full. when i talk to our children, not just now but into the future, it will always be with a sense of
pri pride, to be able to be a soldier's daughter, a soldier's daughter, a soldier's wife, mother is an honor. not everyone is able to pick up an uniform. and he wasn't forced. something within him, his connection to god drove him to want to serve our country and not just from a desk job in america. he wanted to be where the action was. he wanted to be where he felt he could make the best impact, have the greatest cause or the greatest chance of making progress, helping other people, and our children know that. you know, it's interesting to think three weeks ago their father was killed, but their entire lives he's been in public service. our daughter megan, our son lincoln, this is their fourth deployment, too. brent was already a soldier when they were born. they've been born into this great american heritage.
so though, again, we're heart broken and i think we're still in shock, i think the heartache will come to weeks and months and years to come, i'm sure we will revisit this grief as we come to milestones, graduating high school, going to college, starting their own families, you regrieve the loss of not having a parent with you. but we're also very open in our faith, brent is still with us in our heart. we have his memory and his legacy. we might not have his physical body, but his physical body has been away from us a lot, in our maurj a marriage and our childrens' young lives. we'll make sure on thanksgiving and every day that that's what we'll talk about when we remember their dad. >> taylor was 39 years old. he was the father of seven
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beginning, now comes the report on how trump tried to use political details against his opponent. he wanted don mcgahn to ask the justice department to prosecute hillary clinton on a number of occasions, but it was mcgahn who rejected the request. "the new york times" reports that the president wanted to order the prosecution of james comey, the former fbi director, who trump fired, but was strongly advised not to do so, again by mcgahn. it's not secret the president wanted prosecutors to move in on clinton and comey, more than a dozen or so of his tweets expressed that sentiment, such sass this one, quote, so many are asking why isn't the a.g., special counsel looking at the many hillary clinton or comey crimes? and remember this, this was before the election. >> if i win, i am going to