tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN December 5, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PST
this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. here's our breaking news on the russia investigation. the new court filing from the special counsel's office recommending no prison time for former trump national security adviser michael flynn. mueller's team cites the benefit the government has thus far obtained from the defendant's substantial assistance. it goes on to say some of that benefit may not be fully realized at this time because the investigations are ongoing. flynn's pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about conversations with the former russian ambassador. he is the first high ranking
trump advisor who agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's probe. let's bring in cnn's sara murray. good evening to you. what's your biggest take away from this memo? >> it's got to be the words substantial assistance and the memo for all it is redacted it does lay out how much michael flynn cooperated. he's been cooperating for over a year. the filing shows he sat for 19 interviews with the special counsel's office as well as other justice department offices. that indicates to us he not only cooperated on the special counsel's probe but potentially other investigations that have yet to come to light. this is really an enormous amount of cooperation from you know, one of these very early keel figures in the mueller probe and it really does get directly to the heart of what were people in trump's orbit saying to russians during the transition and the campaign. >> i'm wondering what we should read into this because there are
huge parts of this that are redacted because it will includes, quote, sensitive information about ongoing investigations. >> it tells you that there's still very active probes not only when it comes to the special council's investigation but it refers to a criminal investigation and everything afterwards is redacted. it said that flynn cooperated with other justice department offices. that tells you that he wasn't just involved necessarily in the special counsel's probe that he was probably helping out on other investigations that are no longer under the special counsel's purview. these are redacted because they don't want to give the targets a heads-up something is coming on don't want the public to know what they're still working on and there are more shoes to drop. >> sara, mueller is also saying flynn's early conversation helped him get others to cooperate. >> it's very significant.
put it look in the filings they play up the fact that flynn was a firsthand witness, there very early with donald trump throughout the campaign and throughout the transition. they say the fact that he came in and began cooperating early kind of sent the signal to other people they should also cooperate. you can imagine full are you someone involved in these discussions with michael flynn, if you're aware of these discussions that michael flynn was having with the russian ambassador and you see he strikes this can very public plea deal for mueller and nothing else, you know they're getting information from flynn. he also handed over seeksly a paper trail of corroborating are evidence and that did seem to make other people who they said were firsthand witnesses more likely to participate in the probe. >> let's bringing in josh campbell, juliette kayyem and
harold. harry, this memo lists at least three ongoing investigations where flynn is providing assistance one criminal investigation completely redacted in the document. another completely redacted. the special counsel's office also says is he cooperated into the investigation with links between the russian government and members of the trump campaign. talk to me about the significance of all that. >> well, it's tantalizing, first of all, he comes across as a model cooperator. as you said, it's important every prosecutor wants someone come in early to induce others. he did just that. obviously full-bodied including documents. but the details we don't know. there are three matters, one is this completely blacked out investigation. the other is what we would have thought of as the bread and butter of the matter, the russia campaign. then the third, this page here it -- has a read it, what's blacked out here should be a number 2. in other words, this says there's a whole other area under the ambit of the special counsel's investigation that he helped with. so it gives this kind of teaser
about a big area that will mueller senior pursuing that we don't -- that has not yet really come home in a way to make us aware of it. so what's not in there of course, is in some ways the most significant but generally, you see flynn a guy who broke it early and really gave a lot as sara just detailed. >> listen if i was at the white house right now, don't you think you'd be going oh, my gosh, am i part of that redacted part. what do you think the criminal investigation could be about, josh? >> don, when i first saw that piece and i'll preface this by saying i'm not about to talk about anything i learned when i was in the fbi, this is post my journalism days. the larger issue we haven't been focusing on in this case and this goes back to this issue of peter smith, who was this republican operative who was closely linked to michael flynn.
i tell you the person who's been at the forefront of doing reporting on this case is jason leopold at buzzfeed. he's been following the money. the case involved was this republican operative who claimed to have ties to michael flynn trying to pay hackers to gather hillary clinton's e-mails to authenticate them. leopold at the front, trying to figure out was he paying people, was he serving as a front for the campaign to try to go after hillary clinton's e-mails they were gathering from people linked to russia. that's a larger piece that we really aren't digging in. when i first saw that, that's what i first suspected. we don't know at this point because of the redactions. anyone in michael flynn's orbit to make engaged in any type of criminal activity with him regardless of what that was should can very worried right now. this goes far beyond the special counsel. >> we're told flynn provided documents and communications as
part of his assistance with the investigation. col corroborating evidence mean trouble for other members of trump's inner circle? >> absolutely. it's not just the inner circle now, it's, of course, the campaign. to give a flavor why we're here at this moment and greg miller of the west wrote a terrific book called "the apprentice," where he lays out flynn's first interview with the fbi. it is immediately after the inauguration. flynn is kind of there again, a little bit cocky, thinks he can maneuver dc, the d.o.j. calls over and says the fbi wants to interview you. and he takes the meeting without lawyers. this begins the lying, you're not allowed to lie to the fbi whether you have a lawyer or not which then unfolds seriously encompassing the trump presidency for the next two years. this began like two days after the inauguration. anyone in flynn's orbit either before the election, during the transition and those few weeks that flynn is the national security adviser is worried.
i read this from the national security perspective. yes, there's lots of redactions. there's twos audiences that don't need to read between the lines. first seniors anyone honestly did anything wrong because mueller is clearly saying talk to me early, talk to me often and tell the truth and i will ask for zero of your time in jail. right? i will not lock you up. that is a message because they clearly are gath heing more information. let's not forget, the other is russia. russia is an audience for this. this was an intelligence effort by russian to essentially turn michael flynn. he's an intelligence agent to give them information or benefit. their sources their campaign are now exposed. and i think that's good. i think that's good for mueller to say we will nope what you did and we will find out what you did because maybe when our government starts to be responsible again, we will wreak havoc on you as you have wreaked havoc on us to russia. >> i want to read more of the memo.
it says the defendant's false statements to the fbi about his contacts with a russian government emissary, the requests he conveyed to the russian government through that will emissary and russia'sance to that question were material into the nature of any links or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the trump campaign. one of the questions has always been was there a quid pro goal between the trump team and russia. whatever mueller has learned from flynn, does it get to the heart of that, do you think? >> i think it does. that was the interview he was talking about. based on our reporting some of the main questions that came out of that issue wasn't the logan act. no one inside the fbi or the department of justice was seriously going to prosecute michael flynn for the logan ac.
no one's been prosecuted since 1852. the issue was why he was lying to fbi agents based on the transcripts that were reported. when someone's sitting in front of you lying about something that you know to be true because you have corroborating evidence to it goes back to why. why was eliing? was there some kind cuff quid pro quo going on vis-a-vis the trump campaignable in russiaia. >> it also says several senior nebraska of the transition team publicly repeated false information about communications between him and the russian ambassador regarding sanctions. that sentence is followed by three and a half lines of redacted information. the white house sales flynn was fired for lying about his conversation to pen with sergey kislyak. do you think pence was really in the dark herele? >> it seems to me -- what i
first thought of i thought was pence and it seems mueller has so could be included. everyone in town knew that flynn was dangerous that the president told this to trump in the oval office two days after the election. the deputy attorney general came over to speak to the incoming administration about flynn's lies and. >> sally yates. >> and actually did only a file on the logan act. so there were many people that he apparently hoodwinked. he had his own kind of sort of closet operation involving turkey and an effort perhaps to acquire nuclear weapons that would meant that the russian sanctions also had to be lifted. so he was freelancing in certain ways that people were nevertheless aware of and that will independently of the whole trump issue posed dangers to the national interests. >> i want all of you to stick around. we have much more to talk about. the president's attorney rudy giuliani has some pretty interesting things to say about all of this. i'll tell you what he says. that's next.
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we're back now with breaking news tonight. michael flynn sat for 19 interviews with robert mueller's team. what he told them, giving prosecutors a road map for the russia investigation. josh campbell, harry litman and juliette kayyem rel back with me. this is what the president's lawyer rudy giuliani told nbc news tonight. he said there's a yiddish word that fits. he said. they don't have bubkes. he downplayed any concern what flynn may have said. fell had information to share with mueller, that hurt the president, you would know it by now. okay? and fox news says rudy giuliani likens the offense in the flynn guilty plea to spitting on the sidewalk with major repercussions for many. what does that even mean?
>> happy hanukkah. i didn't believe that he actually said it. i think giuliani knows bubkes. >> i think that was the first time i had seen it spelled out. bubkes. anyway, go on. >> so this is consistent with where giuliani -- giuliani is sort of out of the loop and then creates can these diversions about well, if we don't know the it now, then therefore we will never know it. the reality is we know it now. everyone's focused on the black lines and what they're editing out. those lines are telling us something significant. they are blacked out because there are significant ongoing investigations still. and then just to turn it a little bit or add one more thing, and yet mueller is comfortable telling a court now we do not want mike flynn to go to jail.
what does that tell you? that tells you they already have a lot of other stuff to go forward with these other investigations and we're finished with flynn. so if you're anywhere near this, you should get a lawyer. i mean, i never thought i'd give advice to these peel, get a lawyer because mueller does, you know, knows more than bubkes at this steak. >> harry another key line. a senior government leaders should be held to the highest standard. that's true, but what bearing does that have on the legal case against flynn or any other public officials? >> oh, you know, i think it bes double duty here. you know, on the one hand, it says flynn -- and this is after a section that says how serious the lies were and in fact, rebuts what will giuliani was just suggesting, but then goes on to say look, he diagnose part from these lies the honorable
and upstanding thing as he has throughout his life. the second sort of inference there is there are many in the government that mueller has been dealing with who have not been similarly admirable. and you know, it's possible to me by the way, that that whole other section that we don't know about may concern the obstruction conduct that flynn at least knew about and in fact it was his investigation that will trump tried to make -- to ask comey to back off of. so that would be a kind of classic bad government action in contrast to flynn's you know, acting upright and owning up to his mistake and criminal conduct. >> so we mentioned the acting attorney general sally yates remember going over and saying flynn is compromised telling the white house that. after trump asked comey to let flynn go. trump is a man who has shown
zero concern for anyone but himself. why do you think he was trying to save flynn, josh? >> so i think he wasn't trying to save flynn. he was trying to save himself. full think of the way the flynn situation went down, he was sitting there in the oval office talking to jim comey and asking him to please let this investigation go. this was a day after flynn had been fired. michael flynn case was a disaster for the white house on two levels, legally and politically. legally because it appears the president was trying to obstruct an ongoing fbi investigation and a liability for the white house because of the way it went down. the morning flynn resigned, he was sitting in his office talking to a conservative website and boasting how the president had confidence in him. later that day, "the washington
post" drops an article that says no, sally yates was here 18 days ago warning you your national security adviser was a walking time bomb and then they let him go. it looked so terrible. they tried to make it go away. >> i forgot when you mentioned in the oval office. then they had that will dinner date together. >> the loyalty dinner. >> so there was more than one interaction there. what does this tell us how mueller is approaching the rest of this investigation, juliette? >> i think we can get clues in all of this. and just i want to combine it with the week that we're having. this week it's tuesday. this week will end with further filings. >> thanks for reminding us. >> on manafort, i'll see you friday night as always. manafort and cohen on friday. so put all of these together. in some ways this is just your typical case different defendants are treated differently depending on what they give, how truthful they
are, how forthcoming they are and what will goods mueller or the investigators have on them. in ways each of these cases is different. if you look at totality, it's important we do because every detail can get confusing. paul manafort, michael flynn and michael cohen are the three stools it the trump presidency. they are the personal lawyer, the political adviser and the national security adviser. look where they all are now. so the idea that this isn't already touching donald trump, it's there. it's holding up this trump presidency and the question is, where does this go and how close does it go to either, if this touches jared or one of the sons, it is the equivalent of touching donald trump in terms of how the president will react. you hold on. that's all i can say to viewers. just hold on. but the system is showing itself to be pretty resilient. >> leave it to juliette to put it in perspective for us.
the guy who ran the campaign for critical time, the national security adviser, the president's personal attorney and personal fixer, that's what we're talking about in terms of being under investigation and facing possible time behind bars right now. thank you all. we'll end on those words. >> we should expect more of this in those memo. there's going to be a lot of the redactions we can now think. that's how mueller is operate we'll be covering it and you'll be analyzing it. thanks, i appreciate it. tonight we learned just how much one trump association michael flynn is cooperating with robert mueller. what will that mean for the president and other trump allies?
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good to have both of you on. ryan, we'll start with you because you heard rudy giuliani's response and trump ally in mark meadows said this had tonight on the filing. he said "good news for the president." do you see good news here? >> no, i mean, look, we can ignore most of that. it's just spin and bs to try and downplay the gravity of what's happening here. and i think you know, despite the fact that so much was redacted in these memos there are three really important things we learned tonight. one is that mueller was so impressed with flynn's cooperation that he gave the lowest possible recommendation of jail time. right? >> the juliette said that's a thank you. >> look, remember when flynn was first reported to be a cooperator what most analysts said, well, you only get a good deal full give up someone above
you. he was the national security adviser for the president. there aren't very many people above him in the white house hierarchy. beak only the vice president and the president. right? so that is incredibly significant. >> what's number two then? you said. >> number two is that he -- the document does say that he told them about communications between the transition team and conversations with the russians. right? so mueller knows everything about that will whole set of issues concerning sanctions and he surely knows whether president trump directed flynn to do anything that's potentially illegal. and third of course, we have a mystery investigation that's redacted in this memo that was so highly sensitive that it's completely blacked out but referred to in other parts of the memo. >> every time someone goes one,
two, three, i expect you to go to three, what is the third one? i can't remember. >> energy department. >> which you run right now. how weird is the universe. he couldn't remember the department of energy. >> right. >> what do you think, mark meadows says this is good news for the president. do you think it's good news. >> i can't imagine how it would be. tonight is a bombshell but in the context of the last week, we have donald trump doing a written answers to robert mueller. you have michael cohen coming out and admitting that he lied to congress and he's obviously talking to robert mueller. now you have michael flynn who isn't just talking. hasn't just talked to robert mueller but has talked so much and so convincingly and so willingly he is being now recommended zero jailtime. >> you have manafort. >> never mind paul manafort, right? so there's so many different angles and the possibility that
president trump not only maybe directed michael flynn to violate the logan act but possibly, i don't want to get over my skis too much but what about the written answers to robert mueller and the possibility that not only are the written statements being contradicted by what will michael flynn and michael cohen have said but bill evidence that they might have presented. >> corroborating evidence. >> right. >> yeah. so no jail time. what do you read into that? if you were the president or anyone in his orbit and his allies, what would you take. >> a couple things here, right? first of all, as ryan said, i think that this is a thank you. but i also think it is a message. you know, just the other day donald trump tweeted to roger stone basically, sending a message look, if you don't talk, if you stick with me. >> i'm going to pardon. >> you i'm going to pardon you. i think this is robert mueller saying there's another game in town. there's someone else who can be
your sherpa who can protect you and that's me if you play ball. >> okay. listen, after filing tonight's michael flynn's son tweeted this. god is good to those who have supported us throughout this process, thank you from the bottom of my heart. i will never forget you. so ryan, does flynn junior's reaction make it obvious they weren't expecting a pardon from the president? >> well, if you read the universe of flynn supports what they've been tweeting and saying this last year, they've generally been supportive of president trump, right? and they've generally sort of echoed his positions on the mueller investigation and his politics generally. i think what will the son is saying there is thank you, bob mueller, for recommending the lowest possible sentencing there. right? i think that's what he's saying. i think flynn's brother tweeted something similar. the other thing, don, that this
memo reminds us of is the core investigation, right? trump associates' relationship with the russian government's attack on our election, right? so links. the collusion question is very much alive in this memo. right? that is the core of the investigation and he makes it clear that that is not -- that is not a settled question yet. >> i got to run. we're out of time. thank you both. i appreciate it. it's only tuesday. lots more. more on the week ahead of us than behind us. thank you very much. i appreciate it. just weeks after losing the wisconsin's governor's race the republicans in that state are rewriting the rules in a last-ditch effort to curb account power of the incoming governor. plus, a touching story from a spokesperson for president george h.w. bush. when 41 was briefed about his funeral plans an, he asked with humility, do you think anyone will come? yes, mr. president. they'll come. i'm going to talk to the
do your rig right. shop online or find your store at 4-w-p.com. republicans in wisconsin were wiped out of their state's top offices in this year's elections and to many it seems like they are, plain and simple, sore losers. gop lawmakers are moving to strip the incoming democrats of key powers before they take office next year. they're working to pass bills that will effectively prevent democratic governor elect tony evers and incoming attorney
general josh paul from delivering on their campaign promises by restricting their power. if the bill passes the republican led senate and govern walker signs off, these measures could reduce the state's number of early voting days. restrict the governor's power to make key appointments and require approval from the gop majority legislature for decisions traditionally made by the governor and attorney general who both be democrats. specifically that last point. that's a move that would likely block the new democratic attorney general from withdrawing the state from a federal lawsuit against obamacare which is something democrats campaigned on and won. many wisconsinites are not happy about the proposals. listen to protests while legislators were in session earlier today. they might not like the noise but republican lawmakers are standing their ground and they
are very honest about why they want to pass these bills. >> listen, i'm concerned. i think that will governor elect evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to wisconsin. >> joining me now is the democratic governor elect of wisconsin tony eavers. they're very honest why they want it. thank you so much. is this a power grab, plain and simple? >> certainly. and we had lots of people voting for us, voting in the last election november 6th and we won. we won fair and square. we won on the issues. we won fully knowing what i'm about and what scott walker is about. and i will see this as essentially republican majority trying to repudiate and turn back the clock and turn back the clock. that's not going to happen. we're working hard to make sure it doesn't happen but it's
something that i think is an embarrassment for the state of wisconsin. >> but the word is that this is a very high potential of passing. >> oh, absolutely, it is. they apparently they've been working on there for months. apparently they must have thought scott walker was going to lose because clearly, if scott walker would have won, we wouldn't be talking tonight about it. >> do you have any recourse if it does pass? >> well, certainly we'll try to work convince the governor to veto it. that's and you likely prospect. after that, we've been working with all sorts of folks within the state thinking about issues and how we can symptom it. we have several strategies in place. but everything's on the table for litigation to other actions. >> but the statehouse is going to remain in republican control when you take office. can these measures do you think be reversed or do you think you'll be stuck with them if they are passed?
>> well, given the rancor and the posturing going on now, i think it's going to be very, very difficult. the time to stop it is now. that's the bottom line. of course, we can try to reconstruct it during a budget or some other time. the fact of the matter is this is bad public policy and telling it the people of wisconsin their vote doesn't count. clearly i can't believe the republican majority thinks that's a good idea. >> given these tactics how are you going to work with republicans? >> well, don, i'm an educator at heart. that's what i've done my entire life. i always try to reach common ground. we will continue. we're elected to accomplish things for the people of wisconsin, not fight with the other side. so we're going to continue doing that. this is going to make it muff more difficult. >> governor elect evers, i
mentioned some of the main proposals. talk about other ways republicans are trying to restrict your power with gun laws, for example. >> certainly, they're taking over my authority within the capitol building to make it a gun-free zone. i've done that will now in my present job as state superintendent and the legislature with this proposal will have that will final authority. and the governor would not. so the entire thing is, frankly, a hot mess. and whether it's the issues that you talked about, there's 141 payables of bad stuff in there. so we have a lot of work to do internally to make sure it doesn't pass. we also have to prepare for the opportunity or not the opportunity the conclusion that it may pass and we have to respond accordingly. >> many of these restrictions are going to affect the promises you made to votes are during the campaign. do you think the legislature is subverting the voters' will? >> well, especially if you talk about the issue of pre-existing conditions and getting the affordable care act lawsuit, both the attorney general and i ran on those issues. i said it 15 times every single day. there's no surprise that that
was the intent to make sure that we have those protections for pre-existing conditions and making sure that we don't be hypocritical and be at the same time trying to get rid of the affordable care act. everybody knew that's what we were going to do and clearly that is one of the things they want to stop us from doing. >> i mentioned a lot of protests. there were a lot of protests today demonstrating on your behalf. what's your message to wisconsinite who's don't like what republican state lawmakers are trying to do? >> they have to speak up now. this isn't just democrats and folks that voted for me. these are people that will respect wisconsin's democracy. they need to make sure they will connect with their level late tors and especially the legislative leaders. >> thank you, governor elect. i appreciate your time. >> thank you, don. touching scenes in the capitol today as the bush family visit the family patriarch. we're going to talk to pierce bush as a family and america prepare to say good-bye.
former president george w. bush, his wife, laura, and members of the bush extended family visited the capitol rotunda tonight to honor the family patriarch, president george h.w. bush, as he lies in state through tomorrow morning. the family greeted people gathered in the rotunda to pay their respects to the late 41st president of the united states. tomorrow's a national day of mourning in honor of george h.w. bush, whose life will be celebrated at a state funeral at washington's national cathedral. president trump will attend along with all of the living former presidents. joining me now is pierce bush, one of president bush's
grandsons. thank you so much for joining us. my condolences. >> don, thank you so much for having me. it's an honor to be here with you celebrating the life of an incredible man and the world's best grandfather. >> i'm glad you size said from the family, we don't want people to mourn, we want people to be happy and smile and celebrate his life. and that was a great way to contextualize this. so thank you for saying that. i've got to ask you, pierce. you were there at your grandfather's home when he passed. so without prying into anything too personal, can you share what being with him during the final hours, what that was like? >> sure. you know, a number of years ago, don, i was with my grandparents, both my grandmother barbara bush and my grandfather, and they were having a friend that had a huge family that was dying of cancer. and they would visit this
friend. he was always by himself. and i remember distinctly my grandmother saying, you know, pierce, i know when it's our time to go we're going to be surrounded by loved ones. and they certainly were. both of them. this friday night my grandfather was there with my dad, maria, his best friend in the world secretary james baker, susan baker. i had the honor of being there with my wife. and his pastor was there. and it was just such a peaceful transition, don. we held his hand. we said we loved you. and in typical george h.w. bush fashion, his last words to everyone he talked to were "i love you more" and "i love you too." he was always looking out for the other guy. >> we've watched since his body arrived in washington, we have just been watching closely, we've been watching him lie in state. we've been watching all the interactions and the reaction there. and i know you guys were at the white house today because the first lady hosted you and 20 other family members for a tour
of holiday decorations. going back to the house where he and the first lady, barbara bush, once lived, tell us about that. >> you know, don, my cousins and i are blessed to be a part of this family. first and foremost, my grandfather is a normal guy. but some of my earliest memories are, for example, spending christmas at the white house in camp david. really, when you get to be my age, now i'm 32, you just realize how lucky you are. so you go and you see the christmas trees. and frankly the memories just flood back of some of the greatest family get-togethers that you could possibly imagine. >> what do you want to leave us with, pierce? >> most of all, i'm going to always remember my grandfather as just one of the world's most decent and kind human beings. and i hope people reflect on this time and dedicate themselves to the thing my grandfather called them to the most, which is service above self. finding ways to make a difference. it's really what's best about america. my grandfather realized that. and i hope americans take action to honor his great legacy.
>> pierce, i want to thank you for that. and just on the sentiment of what you said about people who even were his rivals he got along with because this is 95-year-old former senator bob dole paying his respects. he was helped out of his wheelchair to salute his fellow world war ii war hero george h.w. bush. and although the two men were political rivals at various points in their careers, here he is showing the utmost respect for his friend. the kind ever respect and civility that we need in this country. our thanks to pierce bush. we will be right back.
when this week's cnn hero learned that kids in his close-knit community were sleeping on the floor, he went from businessman to bed maker. and what started as a single good deed helping one family in idaho soon spread to helping 3,000 children across the nation get a good night's sleep. meet 2018 top ten cnn hero luke mickelson. >> mattresses, sheets. i'm just a farm kid from idaho. i grew up here. what i didn't know was there's kids next door who are struggling. i had kids sleeping on the floor. i was making a six-figure salary but i fell into this need i discovered wasn't being filled by anybody. i quit my job because i wanted to do this full-time. the need i have isn't financial. the need i have is seeing the joy on kids' faces, knowing that i can make a difference. >> luke's non-profit, sleep in heavenly peace, that's has
delivered well over 1500 beds to children across america. go to cnnheroes.com right now to vote for him or any of your favorite top ten cnn heroes, now at cnnheroes.com. thanks for watching. our coverage continues. don't lock him up. robert mueller recommends no prison time for michael flynn because of substantial help with the special counsel. it is a national day of mourning. a state funeral this morning for the late president george herbert walker bush. stocks take a big tumble. wall street realizes the trade war with china is far from over. if he was in front of the a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. there's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw. >> republican senators furious after a cia briefing on the