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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 30, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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a reported weight loss. your doctor should monitor your weight and may stop treatment. upper respiratory tract infection and headache may occur. tell your doctor about your medicines and if you're pregnant or planning to be. otezla. show more of you. breaking news. disaster in alaska. a powerful earthquake hits the united states causing far reaching damage in major city. we're getting new video and information. placing blame. as the president attends the g20 summit, the white house is accusing robert mueller of undermining relations with russia. mr. trump is defending his decision to cancel a one-on-one meeting with slatd mirrvladmir . the special counselor warns that paul manafort could be put back on trial as mueller tries
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to prove that manafort lied to prosecutors. he may be poised to reveal new evidence in the russia investigation. very legal and very cool. that's how president trump is describing his business dealings with russia trying to down play new revelations by his former lawyer and fixer. we're following all the fall out from michael cohen's cooperation agreement with the special counsel. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer live here at the begg20 summit and you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news having an impact on president trump tonight right in the midst of the g20 summit. a powerful magnitude 7 earthquake hitting alaska.
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the governor has declared a disaster. there are report of extensive damage and multiple aftersho shocks. the president has been briefed. this as the president is on the defensive of the russia investigation the day after michael cohen's game changing guilty plea and cooperation agreement with robert mueller. tonight the white house is accusing mueller of undermining u.s. relations with russia. the president keeps insisting that mueller's new bombshell had nothing to do with his decision to scrap a one-on-one meeting withvladimmir putin. first, let gee's go straight to major earthquake on alaska. what's the latest? >> reporter: the anchorage police department has warned of major infrastructure damage. they have teaming out right now assessing the damage. so far we have seen minor damage
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to hospitals and schools. those after shocks just keep on coming. the terrifying moments the massive 7.0 earthquake rocked anchorage. women on the sixth floor of this courthouse ducking under desks and the building rocked for what was 90 seconds. >> oh, my god. >> it's okay. >> reporter: the quake forcefully shaking the airport before the lights go out. trying to run out of terminals, alerting inbound flights not to land. >> there was an earthquake here. >> reporter: on the ground outside the airport this row
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collapsed leaving a vehicle stranded in middle and there's reports of sink hole downtown and rock slides blocking roads elsewhere. buildings quickly evacuated in the city. this cnn affiliate news room badly damaged. all anchorage stations knocked off the air. >> i was standing right over here. >> reporter: many residents who lived here their entire lives say this is the worst they've ever felt. >> you hear it and feel it. you're looking around thinking it won't be that big. it's going to pass. things get worse. things start falling. just scared it's going to happen again. it was absolutely terrifying. >> reporter: it seems that very strict building codes up there
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in alaska could have saved many lives here. other good news is there was a tsunami watch. that's now been lifted. as i said, the after shocks keep on kcoming. 45 of them at my last count. there's a chance we could get an after shock stronger than the original earthquake which was a 7.0. wolf. >> all right. we'll stay in very close touch with you. thanks for that update. mpl let's go to president trump. he's here at the g20 summit. he's feeling the heat from the russia investigation back home in the white house. jim acosta is here. jim, there are a lot of distractions for mr. trump on this trip. >> reporter: that's right. first we should point out white house officials say president trump is being briefed on the latest damage reports coming out of alaska after the earthquake there. the president is still meeting with world leaders here at the
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g20 with one notable exception. russia's vladmir putin . the white house insists that has nothing to do with the russia investigation. down in argentina president trump appears to be trying to tango his way out of one dip employee m diplomatic dance. >> thank you so much. >> reporter: the president suggested his decision to scrap a formal meeting had nothing to do with the russia investigation. it was in response to moscow's escalating tensions with ukraine. >> yukraine. we don't like what happened. we're not happy about it. nobody is. hopefully they'll be able to settle it out soon. we look forward to meeting with mr. putin. on the basis of what took place with respect to the ships and
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sailors, that was the sole reason. >> reporter: the white house went further saying the russian witch hunt hoax is doing well. unfortunately, it probably does under mine our relationship with russia. the president is in full damage control mode after his former personal attorney michael cohen pleadsed guilty to lying to congress about a moscow real estate project. his discussions with trump extended well into the 2016 race. just been signing a new trade deal with mexico and ka canada president trump was down playing that woman slbombshell. talked about it on the campaign trail. lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in russia. put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn't do the project. witch hunt.
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contrast that with so much of what he said many the past. including this declaration days before he was sworn in office. russia has never tried to use leverage. i have nothing to do with russia. no deals, no loans, nothing. the reality is then candidate trump never talked about the moscow project on the trail even as touting the benefits of improved ties with russia. >> they say putin likes trump. he said nice things about me. he called me a genius. he said we're going to win. that's good. that's not bad. that's good. some of my opponents say we want you to disavow that statement. why? if we could get along with russia, wouldn't that be a good thing instead of a bad thing. >> reporter: even as top aides pushed back on questions about his business dealings with russia as paul manafort did during the democratic convent n convention. >> mr. trump has no financial relationships with any russians? >> that's what he said.
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that's obviously what the position is. >> reporter: at the g20 putin is making the rounds. talking to crown prince mohammed bin salman. another leader president trump may only see briefly as the u.s. is distancing themselves from the kingdom in riad. putin was all smiles with the prince. >> president is kscheduled to meet with other world leaders includie ining china. there are some rumbles inside the gop over mr. trump's changing stories on that moscow project. one said it would have been a different campaign in 2016 had the public known about that project. wolf. >> good point. thank you very much. let's talk a bit more about all of this. president of the united states is here on the world stage. he's under a lot of pressure in
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the russia investigation back home. i'm joined by our international diplomatic editor. the white house says this whole mueller investigation is damaging u.s.-russia relationships. is that true? >> this is what the russians would have us believe as well. the russian president spokesperson said cancelling the meeting raises tensions between the two countries. the russians are enabling that message. they would have that a lack of meeting to address such things as weapons control. the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty. something both want to deal with. that's not getting dealt with. that's the type of context they are putting it in. >> i suspect the relationship was damaged by the russian med ling during the presidential election in 2016 than what's going on right now. since that's happened, since every one has known about it,
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sat down with vladmir putin and we think back to helsinki and the summit. he could not have been happy with that meeting. on that particular issue the russians don't feel they are taking any heat when president trump gets in the room. >> president putin believes that what he had hoped would be a stronger u.s. russia relationship during the trump administration has been undermined by the russia probe, the reaction in congress. >> i kind of get the sense if you go back to g20 last year. when putin sat down with secretary of state rex tillerson and president trump and the russian foreign secretary and sat down together they had a really extended meeting. you got the sense at that moment trump, putin was looking in the eye and measuring him up. even at that stage after two and a half hours realizing that this was man who he couldn't rely on. at least to go back home and deliver on whatever commitments he was getting.
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i think it was a sense of weakness now. putin must being looi inlooking saying president trump is so toxic that whatever leverage i thought i had is falling away. as the mueller investigation continues, he can only be thinking this is getting worse. it's not going get better. >> other dramatic development unfolding here is the saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman. how is he being received? now is that playing out? >> let's face it right now in a sort time it will be a big dinner behind closed doors and president trump will have the opportunity to talk to him and get a chance to go around the table and talk to other leaders. we won't really know. so far he got a high five from president putin which seems bizarre to all of us who follow and listen to what the cia has been saying.
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offering the plan and plot that will kill jamal khashoggi. he met privately with the indian prime minister. there were agreements there to put further investment into ind india. teresa may went to his residence to meet with him. she went prooifivately. in that context he kind of gets what he wants. the only leader here who stood up to him was the french president who spoke to him face-to-face. there was a camera close by. it was close by and caught that interaction. it looked like tough interaction. i think if you look at the way that he's interacting is he's
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getting the rehabilitation he wants. he skroucould have an extended conversation at this private dinner. at the moment you think that crown prince mohammed bin salman is feeling quite pleased with how this is going so far. >> we'll see how it unfolds tonight and tomorrow. thank you very much. let's get some more perspective now. >> well, i find it strange that the president would say that cancelling of the meeting was based on what happened in the ukraine and in the black sea and
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had nothing to do with mueller investigation. then a few hours later they talked a talk ed about the mueller investigation undermining the relationship. i think it's clear to anyone who understands these issues. russia is the primary villain in undermining the relationship. not only to their effort to syria. not only the cyber attacks on our election system. those acts by russia very aggressive acts by russia are what are undermining the relationship with the united states. sgl >> did president trump do the right thing by not meeting with
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russia and not meeting with the saudi crown prince? >> i come from the school that says that when you have a g20 meeting, the purpose of that is diplomacy. it gives the president of the united states the opportunity to do a number of bilaterals with world leaders. to be able to talk about some of the key issues that are impacting on our national security. i regret the fact this president decided he was not going to sit down with putin and confront him directly on what is happening in the ukraine and what is happening with regards to the nuclear agreement and what is happening with regards to continuing cyber attacks on our country. all of those issues, the president of the united states ought to be willing to stand up and speak directly to vladmir putin about doing that. that's the whole purpose. i think when the president
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cancels those meetings it feeds into this impression of weakness and that's what putin is taking advantage of. he's taking advantage of the united states because he reads weakness in the united states and how we react. he's going to continue to be a bully as long as we don't stand up to him. >> thanks to robert mueller we know one of the president's closest associations was communicating directly with the kremlin about the trump tower moscow project. cnn has learned they floated the idea of giving vladmir putin a penthouse in that building, in that trump tower. you're the former cia director. how concerning is that to you? >> well it's very concerning because it's essentially providing a prescribe to a foreign leader in allowing him to have some kind of plush suite
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in the trump tower. we have to wait for bob mueller to fully investigate this issue. we do have the cohen plea now. it does indicate that there were efforts to construct the trump tower. it would not surprise me that mr. trump as a new york developer would offer all kinds of goodies to try to attract their approval or building that tower. i'm going to wait for the bob mueller investigation to determine exactly wa was invo e involved here. if there was this offer, it raises serious concerns. >> the project wasn't publicly known until after president trump took office. did the russians have leverage over him?
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>> i think that this investigation has always been focussed ultimately on following the money. there's no question that mr. trump is a new york developer was very interested in exploring the opportunities there and probably exploring financial ties to russia as well. if the mueller investigation determines were a number of financial ties between mr. trump and russia, there's no question that that would have impacted in terms of the relationship between mr. trump and his dealings with russia. that is the heart of the issue that i think bob mueller is looking at right now. >> do you believe that this
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russia investigation has now become an existential threat to the president trump presidency? >> i think what has happened in these last few days is that the mueller invis gaestigation has crossed the bridge that president trump had warned them not to cross which was to look deeply at his finances and particular finances that related to russia. in doing so, in beginning the investigation in that issue and beginning to connect the dots as to whether these relationships were extensive, who they affected, who were they related to, what were the decisions that were made based on those financial ties, those are all the issues that bob mueller is
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investigating. we are without question at a very critical point in terms of the mueller investigation that will determine whether or not this president faces serious problems or whether or not we will have two more years of the trump presidency. >> thanks so mump fch for joini us. we praesappreciate it. i want to talk about the developments in the russia investigation. what was the latest on that? >> the hearing today after the stunning revelation, allegations made by the special counsel that paul manafort had been lying to them during his cooperation and interviews with the fbi and the u.s. attorneys part of the special counsel's investigation. today was generally a status conference. the judge wanted to hear where
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things stood. paul manafort was not in court. what we learned was important and that is that paul manafort could face more charges. there could be things he's facing that we don't even know about yet and the other thing what we have learned is this case will go on for quite some time. the judge now intends to sentence him sometime around march 5th. she's going to rule before then whether or not the government's claims that paul manafort violated his plea agreement are the case and whether or not she should extend his sentence. whether or not she's going to be more harsh on his sentencing and pa paul manafort who is 69 will probably face the rest of his life in jail. >> michael cohen, the president's long time lawyer yesterday said he was working on a deal for the trump tower project in moscow well into the
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2016 presidential campaign. could ivanka trump and donald trump junior be in more more scrutiny based on what michael cohen has now said? >> that could be the case. we know that don junior as has been reported testified through three congressional hearings to different committees in congress about this meeting. most of his testimony has not been made public. some of it has been shared with the special counsel. what we do know according to some sources is that don junior was aware of this deal. ivanka was involved in the sense she was offering suggestions on architect and also thinking maybe a spa would be named after her at this hotel. those were the ways in which the family was involved. what's important is don junior's
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testimony. whether or not it matches up with what is the truth. ultimately what the special counsel in this case is investigating. what's important in the end is whether or not his testimony in any way contradicts what michael cohen said has happened and is now sworn to report. he said he lied to congressional investigators to defend and protect the president. >> let's see if it's consistent with what the president said in his written responses to robert mueller's written questions. thank you very mump. let's bring in cnn senior legal analy analyst. thanks for joining us. the president tweeted earlier this morning calling his pursuit of a real estate deal in russia, he said it was very legal and very cool. his words. was it very legal as the
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president insists? >> well it wasn't very cool for a lot of reasons the people have been talking about for the last several days. with respect to whether it's legal or simply legal. something is lawful or it's not lawful. frankly, i think it remains to be seen depending on houw much other evidence of contact and activities come to light. the principal way in which the president might be in jeopardy is understandable is if written answers given to bob mueller's office he's told a story that's false and contradicted with corroboration by michael cohen. also if it's the case that the president of the united states tried to get michael cohen to lie about negotiations that were going on and timing ofe ining o negotiations that were going on when michael cohen was testifying before the senate. that also puts the president in some legal jeopardy.
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with respect to the negotiating in and of itself back in 2016 is the thing that causes him legal jeopardy depends on what the other understandings were and depends on what the candidate about to become president trump was offering to those folks. does it have something to do. we don't know yet. were there other benefits that would be given in exchange for it. i predict that robert mueller knows a lot more about them and we have to see. >> i suspect you're right. i'm sure mueller knows a ton more than any of us know. would offering vladmir putin a 50 million dollar penthouse raise any concerns even if the deal was never finalized? >> depends on what the facts and circumstances are. there's a possibility and argument that the offering of a 50 million dollar penthouse to a
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particular person who is a leader of another country, not just a random official and not just a private citizen raises the spector of bribery. it doesn't seem very legal and doesn't seem very cool. on top of the things i've said that one ofrt w the ways you kn something is not appropriate is when they lie about it repeatedly. donald trump has lied. michael choen hohen has lied. other people have taken to lying about it. that's the kind of things that makes prosecutors not only understand whether or not someone has done something unlawful or if the people in their minds knew better and knew what they were doing was unlawful. >> yahoo news is reporting that robert mueller is interested in the role played by the president's children. could they face potential legal
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trouble as well? >> i think that anybody who is surrounding the president and in communications with michael cohen and others, specially with respect to the moscow real estate deal in 2016 is in potential legal jeopardy. the reason for that is the same reason why the president might be in trouble. that is who said what when and for what purpose. the reporting i understand that's come out and the record reflects that donald trump, that don junior has testified to folks in congress that with respect to the moscow deal that ended and was done and dead by the end of 2014. now you have other people saying something different in the form of michael cohen. if anybody took to the congress false statements, i think that's a problem. the other implication of that, not to overstate it, the other implication of whether or not people were taking statements false to the congress including one to which michael cohen has plead guilty when you think
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about the powers beyond bob mueller, the powers that reside in congress itself with impeachment and trial, it becomes maybe a bit more difficult to sweep things under the rug when the fraud that was perpetrated and the illegal activity that was talked about was perpetrated on the congress itself. given they are the body start ng t in the house and later the senate that deals with the question of whether or not there's been abuse of power. if donald trump and members of his family were involved in the way michael cohen seems to suggest by his plea allocution then i think there's a lot of trouble, yes. >> next friday, a week from today, the special counsel will provide details on why they believe that paul manafort violate his cooperation agreement by lying under oath to the fbi and the federal prosecutors. could that hearing give us significant new insight into what kind of information mueller and his team now have? >> it could.
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i think we're all interested in and it's very interesting to see the ways in which paul manafort was telling lies. that the special counsel is obviously and understandably upset about. however i'll make the following point. to the extent we get an unredacted version of that document and everything is laid bare and we're able to read it that maybe could tell us less about where they're going because it would have to be the case that the mueller team didn't think it was compromising any ongoing investigative activity if they are engaging in it. to the extent they wanted to document the lies that paul manafort has told them but pursue things relating to those topics against other people. my guess is they would like to have some portions of that document, if not the whole document under seal. i expect we'll see some things. we may not see all things. the fact we may not see all will indicate maybe not with precision and the identification
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of targets but the mueller investigation is active and going further. >> as you point out, accurately, they know a lot more than what the public knows right now even those of us who have been covering it as closely as we have. thanks for your analysis. wo we'll have much more coming up. we're going to dig into the white house complaint that mueller probe is under mining the u.s. relationship with vladmir putin's russia. are the new revelations about president trump's business dealings in moscow giving the russians leverage over him? i know you want to leave me for schwab,
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we're back. we're covering the g20 summit. president trump is dining with world leaders even as the russia investigation is clearly intensifying back loam wihome w increased focus on him and his family. the white house is trying to discredit robert mueller by accusing him of undermining relations are russia. president trump going further with his latest twitter attacks. last night the president tweeted this and i'll quote from the tweet. this is an illegal hoax that should be ended immediately. how much do the recent mueller investigation developments
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increase the pressure on the president? >> they do increase the pressure on the president because michael cohen is someone very close to president trump. he's been irked by the developments related to him. we have seen that as the president was departing yesterday when he came out unprompted and made that statement calling michael cohen a weak person and saying he only hired him because he did him a favor a very long time ago. clearly, the president is still preoccupied with this even though he's in argentina. he was tweeting out excerpts from cable news from the michael cohen development. it's still something that is on the president's mind that is hanging over his trip even though he's got a series of diplomatic problems to deal with as well.
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all of that is happening while he's still tweeting and focusing on the latest developments in the russia investigation. >> the president defended the trump tower moscow project by saying every one knew hef was running his business high pressu pressure. he said the project was very legal and cool. what do you make of that defense? >> it contradicts what was initially said about the trump tower project specifically. michael cohen had initially suggested that discussions over the project had seized in january of 2016. we know they were ongoing up until june of 2016. well into the presidential election.
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c cohen said that russian officials were not response ifr to discussions about the project. there was talk of giving a penthouse to putin himself. the deal feel apart. a big question for robert mueller and his team will be was there any quid pro quo. this will be a subject of that inquiry. >> good point. the temperature is also rising for his children in this investigation. >> i think that's right.
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i think he should be feeling nervous right now. donald trump junior's testimony appears to contradict michael cohen's testimony. don junior testified this trump tower moscow deal ended in 2014 and did not continue into 2016. michael cohen has said that did continue well into 2016. not only did he keep the president apprised, he briefed the president's family members. the senate intelligence chair made a poipt of noting his committee has made referrals to the special prosecutor for what they believe to be false statements. unclear who that might refer to ultimately. i think that trump junior may have a serious false statement issue on his hands. if it does turn out his statements were incorrect there's the larger question of why was he lying and was he intended to cover up potentially something more nefarious.
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>> the white house says the mueller investigation undermines the u.s. relationship with russia right now. you think they have a point. >> i think there's probably a case to be made that putin looks at trump perhaps as damaged goods as a result of the impact of the mueller i venvestigation. it's weak case. >> russia is why the u.s.-russia relationship is in bad shape. it's their interference in our election. their aggression in ukraine and the failure to help bring civil war in syria to an end. that's what's really driving this relationship down so far as it's gone. i think trump is distracted, he himself is causing problems bilaterally and multilaterally because he can't let go. >> we're covering this g20
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summ summit. how do you think these world leaders are reacting? >> we know how they are reacting. we know they watch every development just as closely as we do here in the united states because it affects the relationship. it affects their ability to get their agendas done. look what we have seen in the past. when trump has something hanging over him, when something negative has happened at home and he's in a foul mood, his talk with even the u.s. closest allies do not go well. we see him meeting with either angela merkle of germany or france and venting and ranting on them about trade. world leaders teams are telling me they have no idea which way it's going to go between trump and chinese president on their trade dealings because they feel that trump is in state of mind where it can't be predicted
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whether he will go with some of his hard liner advisers or change the tune. they have no idea if he's going to go along even with the communique, the group statement that comes out after this. they feel like what's going on domestically contributes to that uncertainty. >> see if they will issue that joint communique. stand by. much more right after this. machine from the groundbreaking director of forrest gump. comes welcome to marwen. [ ding ] what happened to you? i got beat up, because i was different.
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. we're back here at the g20 summit in argentina. president trump is skipping any the formal one-on-one meetings with crown prince mohammed bin salman and vladimmir putin. do you believe that's a missed opportunity to hold these two leaders accountable? >> i believe that's the only reason to have meetings with these two individuals is to hold them accountable and be as stern about that as possible. since the president has communicated that he's not interested in holding him accountable and he's proven in the past to not be willing to stand up to putin, it's probably a smart decision on the white house to not have him have the meetings and be a let down and more of an embarrassment. the g20 is about diplomacy. it's about the chance to get things done. missed opportunities are something you have to look at when it comes to meetings you're
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not going to have. i think in this case, probably not the worst decision for them since he was absolutely not going to intend or put himself into a position where he had to be strong or stern with either leader. >> what do you think? >> okay, true. you make the case that the administration does that you still meet with world leaders when terrible things happen like say putin meddling directly in the u.s. election or russia taking over ukraine. you make the case you still need to maintain the relationship then suddenly you cancel a meeting right after the news comes out of mueller investigati investigation. it's little odd and this could have been a chance to do something stronger than came out of helsinki. >> we saw the two leaders they shared a very warm greeting today. they were high fiving each other with a lot of smiles. what do you make of that?
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>> i think it was clearly for the benefit of rest of the world and it was a bit disgusting to watch. these are two leaders who have brutalized their leaders. the cia said that crown prince mohammed bin salman ordered the execution of jamal khashoggi. because the president of the united states has extended him cover by signing with on a autocratic regime that allows the crown prince >> this appears to be getting a lot of negative pushback. even though the president has this sort of fondness ultimately it is the american people who decide what american values are and what americans stand for and not the president. i think some of the strong negative pushback is a remind their collect ifrly, you flow, we are disgusted by this.
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>> all eyes tomorrow on the president's dinner tomorrow with president xi of china. we have questions on whether they will be able to avert a major trade war that will have huge ramifications. what do you anticipate? >> it will be a high stakes dinner regardless. sit the first time they are coming face to face in over a year now. they have been in a stalemate over this trade war. everyone is waiting to see what the outcome is going to be. white house officials aren't going as far as predicts what will happen. mike pence was in the same place as president xi. he gave a tough speech about china's economic policies. you also have to look at who has the president's ear on this. his economic advisers are
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divided into dtwo camps. you the nec director on one side who want the president to compromise with china. on the other side you have peter from the white house trade office. not only does he not want him to compromise he wants them to go suffer on the tariffs. guess who will be sitting there? peter navaro. they won't predict what will happen because it is a president that will change his mind on a moment's notice. watch for him trying to say that he has a win here or he has secured another step in some game that he is playing with the trade war with china. >> all right. very good point. there is much more we are following as putin breaks bread with world leaders at a dinner here. one country is pointing the finger directly at him. an attempted assassination with
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>> the united kingdom determined that the president ordered a poison attack on british soil. we are following this dramatic development. tell us what you're learning.
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>> they have telling us that not only could many more people have ended up dead in this case but they also told our colleagues that when you look at all of the different parts of this plot it could only have happened with the approval of putin. the number of people that could have been killed is in the thousands. a deadly chemical attack so brazen they believe it could only have been ordered from the very top by putin himself. the nerve agent targeted. he fell ill along with his daughter. they have since recovered. a couple found the discarded pol bottle, opened it and the come died. >> nothing happens in russia
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when it comes to security. there are no rogue operations in china. >> putin denied russia was behind the attack. he has not hit his feelings. >> he is just a spy, a traitor of the mother land. he is simply a scum bag, that's all. >> they said the attack was carried out by these men. he accused the men of being agents with russia's military and suggested the order came from higher up. >> it is a highly disciplined organization with a well establish established chain of command. it was approved outside the diu at a senior level. >> they claimed they were simply tourists. they gave an interview to russian television. >> our friends having suggesting for a long time we visit this wonderful town. there is the famous cathedral not only in europe but in the
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whole world. >> and on top of putin ordering personally that assassination the officials are stunned by what day call the recklessness of car rrying around that much deadly poison. >> thanks. that it. up next, team trump blaming mueller for undermining the relationship with russia. what about the russians indicted for attacking. former campaign chairman could face new charges, possibly a retrail. the breaking news and a 7.0 earthquake. all of this in alaska. the after shocks still

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