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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  February 9, 2019 10:00am-11:00am PST

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hello, everyone. thank you for joining me this saturday. u.s. senator elizabeth warren just officially threw her name into the mix last hour. >> i stand here today to declare that i am a candidate for president of the united states of america. and she joins a rather crowded field of democrats hoping to replace president trump. right now, senator booker is making the rounds in iowa. he's at a meet and greet in marshall town after a busy day and a half of campaigning in the crucial state. these candidates are entering the fray. take a look as the democrat party is dealing with one explosive new report. in virginia politics. the latest surrounding lieutenant governor justin
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fairfax after a second woman came forward, a cuccusing him o sexual assault, something he denies. many of the 2020 hopefuls are now calling on fairfax, the lieutenant governor, to resign. let's start with cnn's m.j. lee, live for us in lawrence, massachusetts where elizabeth warren officially joined the presidential race and pledged her focus. describe what it was like during her announcement. >> it is official, elizabeth warren is now a candidate for president of the united states. if you listen to her speech, you heard her say one word over and over again and that word was fight. this is going to be so fundamental to her candidacy and her campaign this idea that people need to come together to fight and take on a rigged system. now, as much as fighting though, i have to know there was mention of unity and bringing the country together and healing when she said there is simply no
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room for bigotry in the white house. take a listen to what she said. >> whether it's white people against black people, straight people against gay people, families against emigrant families, the story is the same. the rich and powerful use fear to divide us. we're done with that. bigotry has no prailace in the l office. this is who we are. we come from different backgrounds. different religions. different languages. different experiences. we have different dreams. we are passionate about different issue.
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today, we come together, ready to raise our voices together until this fight is won. >> her smeech offered a good blueprint of the policy positions that are most important to her. no surprises there because these are one of the issues she has talked about so convincingly. after she announced her exploratory campaign on new year's eve. her anti-corruption bill taking on wall street. her support for medicare for all. her support for the green new deal as well. her proposal to tax the rich which she just unveiled last month. i try to count the number of times she said the word trump in her long speech and it was only twice. when she was talking about the fact she believes this is the most corruption administration in living memory. however, even though she was
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reticent to say the word trump in her speech, make no mistake about it, this is entirely about drawing a contrast between herself and the president of the united states and this of course is going to be what we see in the next couple of months as more democrats jump into the ring. how different candidates can stand out and make the case for being the best candidate that takes on president trump. fred. >> all right. m.j. lee, thank you. meantime, president trump's re-election campaign is already reacting to senator warren's decision to join the 2020 race. they did so preemptively before she took the stage. let's check in with cnn's white house reporter sarah westwood. sar sarah, what caught the trump campaign's attention? >> that's right, president trump's re-election campaign attacking senator warren before she started delivering that speech. lashed out at her policy platform and of course recycled
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the text on the controversy surrounding her claims to native american heritage. trump's campaign manager said in part, the american people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas like the green new deal. they'll eraise taxes, kill jobs and crush america's middle class. only under president trump's leadership will america continue to grow safer and more prosperous. this is the first statement from the campaign against a prospective democratic opponent. trump has not been engaging much with his potential challengers. but of course they are not also mentioning him. this has real been going on without president trump being a topic of conversation. trump has had a particular focus on senator warren. he's directed nicknames like po pock hanness. we'll see this rhetoric now that
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she's officially in the race. >> another democratic presidential hopeful is out on the campaign trail. that would be cory booker. he's out in iowa. right now, joined by ron brownstein, senior editor for the atlantic. and the atlantic's white house correspondent elena plot. good to see both of you. warren did not hold back. listen to a portion of what she said. >> we need to change the rules to clean up washington and end the corruption. we all know the trump administration is the most corrupt in living memory. but even after trump is gone, it won't do just to do a better job of running a broken system. we need to take power in
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washington away from the wealthy and well connected and put back in the hands of the people where it belongs. >> she went on to say trump is not a -- he's not the cause of what's broken. he's just the latest symptom, quoting her now, kicking dirt on everyone else. will that message resonate? >> warren is the personification of the widespread view in the democratic party that trump uses racism in the service of this. he tries to divide along lines to advance an agenda that benefits the affluent. that is in fact a widespread belief not only in the democratic party but among many political observers. i mean, you could see her strengths and her challenge in this announcement today. her strength is that she knows why she is running. she wants to run essentially a
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class-based campaign on restoring the middle class. running into the rich having too much power. she has an agenda that relates to that rationale. on a debate stage, she is going to look impressive but she has two i think big challenges. one, historically, white liberal democratic candidates who can't get a reasonable share of african-american voters to vote for them don't win. that is just the absolute history from gary hart to bernie sanders. that's the first problem. the second problem is that if sanders runs, which all signs are he will, as our colleague at the atlantic reported the other day, again, going to be moving closer to her, her lane could be very crowded. you could see assets on why she could be a strong candidate. also see what the challenges will be. >> you could see, she does embody the fighter mentality, she was up there professing about she had very strong messages being a fighter, holding the powerful accountable and then saying, i'm quoting her
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now, race matters and we need to say so. ron thinks that is going to be to her detriment. that may not resonate. how do you see it? >> i think ron is right. it's not just something elizabeth warren has to worry about vis-a-vis african-americans but as we saw in texas, fred with o'rourke coming quite close to besting ted cruz in that senate race in november, there are a sizable number of white suburban republicans who are disenchanted with this president and may be very well looking for some reason to vote against him come with november. el elizabeth warren is not that person. that's why you see so many observers waiting with bated breath to see if someone like biden does get in the race, to see if somebody like sherrod brown who does speak to working class americans quite effectively, to see if these people do get in the race. once that happens and you have that progressive ring filled up and you have the more moderate ones start to get clustered,
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that i when i think this white house has to worry in effect that members in the, you know, on the fringes of the base will actually consider defecting come november. >> she made some pledges, you know, if elected president. she also made this pledge while on the campaign trail. >> we need to end the unwritten rule of politics that says anyone who wants to run for office has to start by sucking up to a bunch of rich donors on wall street and powerful insiders in washington. so i'm opting out of that rule. i'm not taking a dime of pac money in this campaign. i'm not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. >> so, ron, you know, it's become very expensive to run. how will she make the money? in order to stay in the race? >> it is amazing.
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the development of the small donor base that allows you to raise unprecedented -- look how much beto has -- we talked about beto o'rourke raised in texas from small donors. i think she will be able to raise money from a small network. i'm not saying she can't get african-american voters to support her. i'm say shing she must do it. it's been something that's been tripped up by white liberal candidates in the past. they haven't been able to. why you saw so much emphasis in her speech on racial inequities from home ownership to wealth building to criminal justice. that is the challenge for candidates like warren. it's been the bridge too far for them in the past. it's something she has to figure out a way to get over, to cross that bridge if she's going to really stay in this race, you know, for the long haul. >> and back to the money, i guess it's not unrealistic, you know, in modern times. barack obama, like it was $10 pledges online and, you know, really appealing to young voters. but elena, you know, elizabeth
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warren, how will she -- i mean, she has the name recognition. she's been on the national stage for a very long time. but how will she be able to be viable by not taking pac money, not taking lobbyist money? >> i really don't think the concern will be too much about how she'll be viable, how she'll have the funds she'll need to run an effective national campaign. it's more about whether this line that i'm not going to draw a single track from a lobbyist or take any donation from a super pac. does that resonate in 2019? this is of course being barack obama railing against the insider influence of washington. donald trump did quite effectively as well. i think for a democratic candidate to use this message most effectively, in trying to rally support from the middle class, has to look at specific policies from the trump administration such as tax reform and really ways in which
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it was not helpful to the middle class but just to corporations and affluent people in this country. just to put it out there you're not taking checks from lobbyists is not the type of message that proactively gets people to turn out. >> go ahead, ron. >> you can see from the speech today she is likely to stand out in the debates. i mean, she is probably the furthest ahead in the, quote, ideas primary on the democratic side. a lot of specifics on a lot of subjects. i think that will help in her fund-raising. part of the map she's got is iowa and new hampshire. only one of them will be viable after both and that's right on a collision course early on in this calendar. >> ron brownstein, elaiena plot thank you. senator cory booker, he's also out on the campaign trail. he's making his case to voters in iowa today. here's cnn's rebecca buck.
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>> we're here in marshalltown, iowa, where booker is set to speak to a very crowded room of democrats here. making his first impression on his first visit to iowa as a presidential candidate. he had a full slate of events yesterday traveling the state from mason city, iowa, to iowa city in the evening. he finished up past midnight. he's keeping a busy schedule. harkens back to his days running for city counsel in newark and also for mayor, when he tried to knock on every door, meet as many people as possible. saying no candidate is going to outwork him in the state of iowa. this is a first in the nation caucus state, where the primary process begins. booker's team is hoping with a strong showing in iowa, they can get a burst of momentum heading into the later states. new hampshire, south carolina and beyond. so this trip, they're laying the groundwork for that.
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booker's message, that he has a unique set of experience. he's the only one who was a former mayor. the only senator, he says who lives in an inner city and can relate to those types of problems. he's also bringing a message here in iowa of unity and love. not going after the president. not even going after republicans writ large. he says he's not in this race to beat republicans. he's in this race to unite the country. of course, it's too early to know whether that optimistic positive message is what democrats will be huckhungry fo this election cycle. back to you. >> all right, rebecca buck, thank you. meantime, former starbucks ceo and potential 2020 candidate howard schultz will join cnn live from houston to talk about his possible independent run in the 2020 election. he joins our poppy harlow tuesday night, 10:00 eastern.
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still ahead, democrats flexing their muscle, an oversight power opening new investigations into president trump. i'll talk to congressman denny heck of the house intelligence committee about what they hope to learn next. ♪ the unknown beyond the horizon. that was once our frontier. but today, a new frontier has risen. and this is the vehicle crafted to conquer it. introducing the first-of-its-kind lexus ux and ux f sport, also available in hybrid all-wheel drive. experience amazing at your lexus dealer.
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-please. -okay. (vo) the only network to win in all four major awards is the one more people rely on. choose america's most reliable network on the best device: iphone. get iphone xr on us when you buy another. the democrats with oversight hearings on everything from president trump's policies to his personal finances. acting attorney general whitaker testified in a contentious hearing before the house judiciary committee. whitaker says he has not spoken to trump about the mueller probe but he did not defend the special counsel investigation, refusinging to say it was not a witch hunt. soon various house committees will be holding hearings on trump's finances and russia among other things. democratic lawmakers want to know if the president's financial interests are driving his actions.
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with me now is congressman denny heck, a democratic representative from the state of washington and a member of the house intel committee. good to see you, congressman. >> thank you. >> what did you feel you learned from matthew whitaker's testimony before the judiciary committee that might help you when he is before the intel committee? >> i don't know we learned much of considerable utility from him. i think he was painfully aware as the top law enforcement officer in the nation that thus far there's been 139 criminal charges, 37 indictments or plea deals and four prison sentences meted out to people associated with president trump. including mr. cohen who is going to prison here in about a month for lying to congress. and mr. stone who very well may go to prison for lying to congress. >> a part of your committee investigation will focus on the president's finances and trump says that's harassment and it
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crosses, you know, a red line. what are you concerned about? how do you expect to get access to those financial documents? >> first, i don't think the president really has much moral authority to make that assertion until and unless he's willing to at least sit down for an in person deposition. i mean, he won't even do that, let alone sit in front of a hostile committee for 11 hours and fred you know to what i specifically refer. but obviously i think it's not just democratic lawmakers who want to know whether the president has financial entanglements will compromise him in his administration of the american government. it's the american people who want to know is he compromised. is there a conflict of interest. is there something being put ahead of america's national security and america's best interest. >> so who specifically would you want, you know, to hear from? who do you want to testify who can actually bring answers?
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>> one of the things that the new chairman of the house intelligence committee has indicate head would lid he woul are some of the records from deutsche banc. there was a point in time when american banks basically would not touch the president and he had to go to deutsche bank in order to receive financing. we also know that deutsche banc has been under some withering criticism, an allegation that they laundered money for the russians. among a lot of things we would like to know is who's guaranteed all the loan hess s he supposed from deutsche banc. and potential conflict of interest. >> coach that hearing with whitaker, saying the president blasted this hearing, you know, tweeting this, saying the democrats in congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see. when the republicans had the majority, they never acted with such hatred and scorn. the democrats are trying to win an election they know they
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cannot legitimately win. i guess he's not thinking about all the investigations, you know, probing that did take place when president obama was in office from affordable care act to benghazi, et cetera. what is your response? >> the president has neither grasp of recent history, nor grasp of the constitution. he obviously is forgetting the benghazi hearing. he was the loudest proponent of the ridiculous birther accusation against obama. he doesn't understand the constitution. its first article sets forth the responsibilities of the congressional branch and its obligation to undertake oversight and accountability with the executive branch. our constitutional responsibility. on the first day of office, each of us raises our right hand and swears he will uphold that and give full faith and allegiance to that and that's what we
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intend to do. >> is it just the feeling in the first two years he didn't have that with republican controlled senate in the house and now things are different and so it's going to be much more of what we saw yesterday, over the next two years perhaps? >> well, look. how many times can we say that the man's given to hyperbole, right? my colleague on the intel committee indicated we were going to perform an mri on this business dealing with an eye toward are there conflict of interest relationships here. and as we do that, i'm pretty sure he's going to claim that wasn't an mri, that was a colonoscopy. that's the kind of hyperbole he will engage in. he has exactly, count them, four plays. attack, deny, play the victim, and change the subject. literally just about every utterance that comes out falls into one of those categories and often bears absolutely no relationship to the truth whatsoever. >> congressman heck, thank you for being with us. all right, still ahead,
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white house officials shrug their shoulders at congress' deadline to address the murder of "washington post" journalist jamal khashoggi. this as a new report suggests the crown prince threatened to put a bullet in khashoggi a year before his death. the new details next. oh no. your new boss seems cool, but she might not be sweatpants cool. not quite ready to face the day? that's why we're here with free hot breakfast. book at hampton.com for our price match guarantee. hampton by hilton. when did sleep become something that requires effort? with tempur-pedic, it doesn't. enjoy our most advanced pressure-relieving material for the deepest sleep you've ever had.
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journalist jamal khashoggi. a senior official in the administration tells cnn, quoting now, the president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests. end quote. congress demanded answers from trump following reports the cia concluded the crown prince had ordered khashoggi killing. aaron miller joining me, he was a senior adviser in the state department and has written several books on the middle east. good to see you. is there a precedent, defying congress? >> i think the president -- i mean, may not be familiar with the constitution, but there is separation of powers. the president, unlike the supreme court of congress, is the energizer bunny of american foreign policy. the president never goes in or out of session. there is an enormous amount of discretion on the past of the president. in the face of what is almost
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incontrovertible evidence. cia reports suggest a year before khashoggi's murder, the crown prince was threatening to do him mortal harm. it strikes me what you have now is a fundamental challenge between a president determined to protect the crown prince and his relationship with saudi arabia against the congress determined i think to continue to investigate and to -- >> can't congress just bypass him and go straight to justice and say give up the goods? the same kind of report the white house has? >> yes, it was triggered in october. 120 days, the president has to make an accounting as to whether or not senior levels of the saudi arabia government are responsible in any way, shape or form for khashoggi's murder.
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what the president has done essentially is ignore the deadline. congress this week, past week, passed a resolution drawing, again, on global magnitsky act, which now gives the president 30 days. i just think in the end, i think congress is acting the way it must in this regard, president has enormous influence and power. unless you get a veto proof majority in both houses, i suspect the administration will continue to protect the crown prince and relations with riyadhy. >> so the president has made the arm deals but over blaming them for khashoggi's death, you know, is there ever a kind of geopolitical argument to be made out for what the president seems to be saying? >> look, saudi arabia's an important country for the united states, there's no question about it. over the last 18 months, mohammed bin salman has
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determined american interests, yemen, the boycott of qatar. and the targeted killing successfully of khashoggi. >> in another country. >> in a third country, yes. and a resident of northern virginia, i might add. >> right. >> as you know, a fellow contributor to "the washington post." >> yes. >> got to find balance. this relationship quite frankly is out of control. they're driving the train, not washington. >> and then "the new york times," you know, reported that a year before khashoggi was murdered, the crown prince was furious with him and told an aide he would use a bullet on him. at what point does -- will we ever see the trump white house kind of conceding, you know, to these reports, this kind of, you know, evidence that it's based on and perhaps even order sanctions over this? >> it's hard to see that.
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in one word, never. the nsa and cia are going through the intercepts of the intel collected over the past year to see whether or not there's context here. whether or not there are others that suggest the crown prince was interested in targeting. may never get the so-called smoking gun, but what we got, commonsensewise, u.s. national interestwise, stand up for u.s. valueswise, is enough. enough to do something significant in order to hold saudi arabia and the crown prince accountable for this ghastly horrific murder. >> david miller, thank you. still ahead, an extortion scandal, jeff bezos against the national enquirer. how does saudi arabia, back to that, factor into all of this?
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a threat to expose embarrassing photos of the world's richest man might instead expose grossly unethical and legally questionable tactics of the company that allegedly leveled the threat, the national inquirenquirer publisher ami. accusing ami of extortion and blackmail. to back up the claim that bezos shared e-mails that he said ami executives sent him. threatening to release intimate photos of him and his girlfriend unless he publicly states the enquirer's coverage is not politically motivated. more now from cnn.
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>> reporter: hitting back at stinging allegations and retch lati revelations by jeff bezos. saying it believes it acted lawfully. it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with bezos. american media inc. also promising to launch an internal investigation into bezos' long list of claims, including what he called extortion and blackmail when ami threatened to release risque photos. sources telling cnn federal prosecutors are also looking into his accusations. bezos alleges ami had a cozy relationship not just with the trump white house but with saudi arabia. last year, ami put out a 97 page glossy magazine heralding the crown prince and his vision. the saudi embassy in washington claimed they had no involvement or knowledge of the publication with prince mohammed bin salman
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on the cover, a man the cia concluded ordered the violence murder of khashoggi, of "the washington post." according to sources, nbc officials got an electronic copy of the probe kingdom magazine about three weeks before it came out. a top saudi official says he has no idea of any relationship with ami. adding it's like a soap opera. and told cnn as far as he knows, the saudis did not press ami to public negative stories about bezos. the biggest of which was the expose on bezos' extra marital affair, which people around him believe was a political hit job, alleged payback for his newspapers dogged reporting of president trump and the alleged role in the cakhashoggi murder. paying a so-called catch and kill fee involving karen
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mcdougal about her alleged affair with trump, which he denies. then flipping, cooperating with mueller's team in exchange for immunity to detail those paint s payments made by trump's lawyer. the splashing story about bezo's infidelity, calling him jeff bozo on twitter, saying this about the looming divorce from his wife of 25 years. >> i wish him luck, it's going to be a beauty. >> reporter: no doubt this is a complex web of allegations and personal history but what bezos, without proof, is saying here is clear that ami had reasons to protect and promote the saudis and his newspaper, "the washington post" and their coverage of the murder angered ami's friend, driving home the point the expose of the affair and attempted blackmail were politically motivated. cnn, washington. all right, jeff bezos' accusations could raise some serious liable issues for ami
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and its chief. joining us, avery friedman, civil rights attorney and law professor. and criminal rights attorney richard freermaiedman, good to you both. unethical, all of that, but are the alleged acts by ami illegal? >> no. the issue here i think is whether or not jeff bezos can somehow counteract the disclosure of risque photographs and publications. there is no legal issue here. he's trying to argue that this is going to some kind of conspiracy among the saudis and trump and pecker, the publisher. the issue is, is what's being published truthful? untruthful, okay, there's an issue -- >> credibility? >> yes, it's the credibility and
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also this is critical, it's first amendment. the idea of engaging the justice department to look into this after there's a threat of exposing information about bezos, there's nothing untruthful about it. he's just saying the leaks were dirty and the justice department should jump into this thing. i think it's a violation of the first amendment. >> okay. well, is it a misuse, you know, of this powerful tool, you know, richard, the power of information? and is there anything that would then make these acts illegal? >> just had to catch my breath for a second. okay, with all due respect to avery, when you have the typical type of extortion cases, it's someone saying if you don't give me is00,000, we're going to break your legs. there's physical violence and the threat of coercion to abstain thing. here what ami is saying is we're going to publish all these damaging materials to the public
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if you don't stop your investigation into how we obtain those materials. >> right, to threaten your now livelihood, right? >> yes, and if you don't give us this public statement that our investigation is not politically motivated. so there's a benefit. all the elements of extortion are there. the question is, is it only physical violence that brings extortion prosecution or is this sufficient. here, it's reputational damages. it's embarrassment. still a multimillionaire. he's getting devorlgsed anyway. is that sufficient? the southern district is looking into this. i think it turns into how ami obtained the materials. if they obtained them in a criminal fashion. how did you get to that? that may be where some criminality is taking place. no, no way? >> but think about this, if -- they're not saying, well, you know, the national enquirer is shaking me down for money. the national enquirer is shaking
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me down, threatening violence. they're saying we have a right to publish. we would like to talk about what we can do to resolve it. or is it one publication trying to influence the content of the ownership of another publication? >> well, intriguing question, but it does default on the question of first amendment. as soon as you have people in power say we want to shut down the press, that has profound first amendment implicationings, freedom of the press and i think that's what this case is about. >> let me tell you what's at stake here. if the southern district prosecutes, they'll take the plea agreement that pecker/ami entered into which gave them a free pass on the campaign violation crimes that he's going to prison for four years, a pass on that, and any other crimes they admitted to, probably an extortion case against them and who knows what else. this is very serious for ami and
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pecker. >> ami, you know, deal involving the southern district had everything to do with the michael cohen payments to the two women, you know, donald trump and all of that stuff. >> that's right. >> it's amazing how so much of this is either intertwined or very complicated -- >> right, and bezos is not -- look, bezos is not out of his mind when he makes the connections that, number one, ami has borrowed a lot of money from the saudis. they published that dossier with the public relations thing. that he published that. trump hates bezos. pecker and trmp were very close. you know, if it looks like a duck and smells like a duck, it could be a duck. it could be. the mere fact that the potential exists is just incredible. >> richard, avery, thank you so much. we never have enough time.
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that was so good. >> an hour, fred. >> we need a whole hour. avery, richard, all right, thank you so much. >> take care. >> we have so much more straight ahead in the newsroom right after this. remember that degree you got in taxation? (danny) of course you don't because you didn't! your job isn't doing hard work... ...it's making them do hard work... ...and getting paid for it. (vo) snap and sort your expenses to save over $4,600 at tax time. quickbooks. backing you. state of the art technologyt makes it brilliant. the visionary lexus nx. lease the 2019 nx 300 for $359 a month for 36 months. experience amazing at your lexus dealer.
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. right now, the last push to eliminate isis in syria, the u.s.-backed syrian democratic forces are trying to push isis away from its last sliver of controll controlled territory. cnn's ben wedeman is in eastern syria. what can you tell us?
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>> we're about a kilometer and a half or a mile from the front lines, but the front lines have been pushed back at this last bastian of isis, in eastern syria. the push to retake this town on the ground began about three hours ago. what we've seen is air strikes, outgoing artillery and mortars and heavy machine gunfire going in. very little in the way of resistance. we've spoken to commanders here on the ground, who say that the forces of the syrian democratic front, that's that kurdish arab force, backed by the united states, have been able to make significant progress into the town, and they are surprised at this point by the little resistance they've come in contact with. they did tell us though that they expect the resistance to be much stiffer, when the sun comes up. but during the night, they've really been able to make good progress. we did hear earlier in the day,
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that in fact, there is some infighting among the isis fighters because some of them have essentially decided they want to surrender. they realize that this fight is hopeless, but others, hard core dedicated battle hardened fighters appear to be in the position they just want to fight to the very end. there you go. there's a big boom in the background. now, we understand that there are still civilians inside this town. this is a town known as baguzan-fokani. earlier today, we are on a hill overlooking the town and we saw people coming out, civilians, juan 14-year-old boy with a very badly wounded right leg caused by mortar fire. as i said, this battle is probably going to go on overnight and continue into the day and probably get much more intense than it is right now.
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>> we can see that activity building, very volatile and still very dangerous. ben wedeman, be safe. thank you so much. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪
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