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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  February 28, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PST

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all right. good morning, everyone. i'm poppy harlow in new york. jim is in hanoi this morning, the site of a surprise collapse of the president's second summit with north korean dictator kim jong-un. we'll dig into that in a moment. we are just moments away from the third and final day of michael cohen's test of endurance on capitol hill. president trump's former lawyer and confidant is appearing behind closed doors before the house intelligence committee fresh off an explosive appearance before house
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oversight. >> good to see all of you here from hanoi. the president had thoughts on the cohen hearing, even half a world away in vietnam. the big story here comes down to two little but important words -- no deal. >> you always have to be prepared to walk. i could have signed an agreement today. then you people would have said, oh what a terrible deal, what a terrible thing he did. you have to be prepared to walk. >> cnn has now learned the president's aides warned him in advance the north koreans were insisting on full sanctions relief and not willing to budge. still, we are told he thought he might face to face with kim be able to work something out, poppy. >> that's right. let's listen. >> they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety. we couldn't do that.
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they were willing to denuke certain areas we wanted but we couldn't give up all of the sanctions for that. we'll continue to work and we'll see. we had to walk away from that particular suggestion. we had to walk away from that. >> this is the key, poppy. this is the second time this president flew to the other side of the world to meet face to face with the north korean leader. the second time he left the summit without significant progress on denuclearization. it is good the sides are talking. we remember where we were more than a year ago with genuine fears of military escalation. that said, it is unclear what the path forward is here. as the president showed, north korea sticking to a maximalist position. that is, all sanctions must be lifted. that's a distance the president wasn't willing to go. so the question is what will bring north korea back from that position and what is the u.s.
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prepared to offer in return? the president said there is no third summit set. secretary mike pompeo said there are no talks scheduled at a working level at least yet. he didn't say they are going to stop talking. he said there are no new talks scheduled. the question is, the president imagined with the force of the personality, with the power of the personal relationship he's struck with kim jong-un, that that would be able to move the dial despite warnings he got from senior aides but he was not able to move the dial for a second time. >> jim, on that front, we are learning more this morning about how the president was advised by his key advisers like john bolton headed into the summit and how that shaped him eventually walking away from the table here. what have you learned? >> that's right. he was told apparently by his national security adviser john bolton, but also the special representative from north korea, steven began that in the daily
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planets leading up to the talks that north korea wasn't budging on the issues, particularly on sanctions. and that he was warned not to give in too much to them. right? they were conscious of that. the president felt he might be able to push north korea, get kim to move more than north korean negotiators had prior to the summit. the president was disappointed that kim wasn't willing to do that in those face to face meetings. so the president made the decision to, as he said, walk away. he called it a friendly walk away in the press conference earlier this morning. it was a walk away. >> right. >> that's significant. i should say -- and credit where credit is due. leading up to this you and i spoke about it repeatedly. there was concern from inside his own administration he may give up too much. the president holding the line here. >> that's exactly right. that's exactly right, jim. look, also significant and
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something we don't want to get lost in the conversation of the headlines out of hanoi is the fact that yet again, jim, the president took the word, the denial of an autocratic leader at face value. about the death and condition of otto warmbier, the american citizen detained in north korea who came back under the trump presidency. he's taking kim jong-un's word about what he knew about his condition. shocking. >> it was the most breathtaking moment from the press conference. a young american goes to north korea, is taken hostage by north korea. he's sent home braindead and he dies at home. the president taking the word of a brutal dictator who repeatedly has killed dissidents at home and abroad, that he didn't know about it. this fits a pattern. the president took putin's word over the intelligence committee's on interference in the election. he took mohamed bin sadin's word
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over the u.s. intelligence committee's assessment he knew of the murder of the journalist jamal khashoggi. listen. >> he felt badly about it. he knew the case very well, but he knew it later. you know, got lot of people. big country. lot of people. in those prisons and those camps you have a lot of people and some really bad things happened to otto. some really, really bad things. >> why are you -- >> he tells me that he didn't know about it. i will take him at his word. >> it was really a helsinki-like moment, similar to the heart stopping moment in helsinki when he took putin's word. here you have him saying i take him at his word. a remarkable thing to say given what we know about the north korean dictator. >> i wonder what otto warmbier's
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parents think hearing that. stand by, jim. also new this morning, secretary of state mike pompeo says no date set for a potential third summit between the president and kim jong-un saying both sides need to take time to regroup. i think that's telling, michelle. it was just this past weekend when pompeo said they were open to a third summit. >> it's not surprising they need to take time considering how frustrating this has to be for this administration at this time to have had this entire thing set up, to have had on the white house public schedule a signing ceremony for today and then there will absolutely nothing to sign, nothing to agree on. so clearly they need to regroup and do this. we just heard from secretary of state pompeo again. he said a few things during the
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press conference with president trump. on his plane now headed to the phillippines he spoke to reporters on the record. he seemed to be in a bad mood. several times berating the reporters for asking questions, trying to get more detail. what he wants to do is emphasize that there was progress made. what he doesn't want to give really any detail about the progress. so in the things the secretary of state just said about what was good coming out of the summit, he's quite cryptic. he says you should not assume that we didn't come to agreement on a whole number of issues. he says, we'll go back and work on these, but we have moved forward and have a shared set of understanding understandings he said the progress they have made put them in position to get a really good outcome. what that means and when the good outcome will happen, it doesn't seem they know
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themselves at this point. >> michelle, thank you very much. >> thank you very much, michelle. i'm joined now in hanoi by former pentagon press secretary and retired rear admiral john kirby. great to have you on. >> thanks, jim. >> credit where credit is due. there was concern the president may give too much. held the line. this is the second time a u.s. president traveled halfway around the world to meet face to face and the president had the expectation that personal relationship and his art of the deal skills could move the dial. they did not. is this a failure for the president? >> i don't know that i would call it a failure. he's dealing with a tyrant who doesn't empower anybody below him. i understand why the president was willing to re-energize the process which had been moribund after singapore by coming back out. i don't believe a third summit
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with kim jong-un is in order any time soon. you have to get the teams back there, start making meaningful progress on some sort of plan to go forward before they have yet another meeting. >> it's notable that not only is a third summit not scheduled at the top level, but secretary pompeo said on the plane they had not even scheduled a working level conversation. he said they hope to have them but haven't scheduled them yet. how do you bridge the distance now? with the president's comments the north koreans demanded a full lifting of sanctions. that's quite a demand, offering only to dismantle one of many nuclear facilities. how do you bridge the significant gap between the sides? >> it's a huge gap. it shows how intractable the problem will be. what i think they'll go back to is whatever progress pompeo alluded to, start from that and try to build out a framework for just mid level talks going
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forward. look for low hanging fruit. maybe it is the liaison office. maybe it is the end of war declaration. something you can build confidence on both sides. they are so far apart. you have to start chipping away at the trust. remember, jim, this is a country we have only just recently really started to talk to directly. there is no basis for trust between the north koreans and the united states. so they have to start just finding small ways to build trust. >> the otto warmbier moment. this president saying he takes kim at his word as he's taken putin at his word, crown prince of saudi arabia at his word, folks whose word you should not be taking in light of what we know about them and the intelligence community assessed. how shocking a moment is that speaking about the death of a young american? >> it took my breath away to listen to that. i can't imagine what it must have been like for mr.
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warmbier's family to hear him say that. i don't know why he would just take kim jong-un's word. it's possible that kim didn't know at the moment warmbier was arrested and put into detention. when he appeared on tv -- international tv when he was charged you've got to assume kim jong-un knew what was going on. they don't make many decisions in north korea without kim jong-un's awareness and tacit approval. it's a strange moment for the press conference today. >> remarkable one. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> poppy, it was quite a night of news here. we're going to be dealing with the repercussions for some time. >> i was surprised when i woke up and saw the headlines that this had fallen apart so quickly. then the press conference moved up by two hours, et cetera. that was certainly surprising and has really significant consequences. thank you. of course you'll be with me
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throughout the two hours. they are live in hanoi. also one day after the explosive public testimony, michael cohen is back on the hill for a third day of questions. he just arrived. day three, moments ago. what are lawmakers hoping to learn behind closed doors? we'll take you to capitol hill. prepare for the unexpected u with retirement planning and advice for what you need today and tomorrow. because when you're with fidelity, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward. because when you're with fidelity, when you switch out an old car part.$200 but you do when you switch to jackson hewitt. at jackson hewitt we help lots of people like you. that's why you get $200 when you leave your old tax service for us. so switch to jackson hewitt today and get $200.
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welcome back. just moments from now michael cohen will kick off his third day of testimony on capitol hill. this after an explosive nine-hour public hearing on wednesday. >> in that hearing cohen called his former boss, the president, a racist, con man and a cheat. today what he says will be behind closed doors in private. manu raju is on capitol hill. how will today be different other than the fact that we won't see it and where does congress go from here with
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michael cohen? >> i talked to adam schiff about that. he said he wants to drill down much further on a number of topics that did come up yesterday. he believes there is more they need to ask, specifically they want to ask if there was a white house role in editing or the false statements made to this committee in 2017 when michael cohen downplayed significantly the trump organization's pursuit of the trump tower moscow project back in the campaign season of 2016. of course he later pleaded guilty to lying to congress and suggested there is a more extensive involvement in yesterday's testimony. he said the president was more heavily involved and said the white house attorneys had edited -- attorneys to the president edited those false statements. this is something the attorney for the president denied. it's something they want to push further. schiff also told me they'll try to corroborate some of the claims michael cohen made and
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expect a lot of questions about what cohen said yesterday about roger stone, that trump associate telling the president about his outreach to wikileaks. that came up yesterday. more questions expected about that today. so we'll see if they learn anything new. adam schiff believes it will be a focus of today's hearing behind closed doors. >> you'll be all over it. thank you very much. let's bring in cnn legal analyst ann milligram and ross. ann, in terms of the lack of use of the word impeachment yesterday by democrats on the oversight committee, it was striking. and after we heard for example, from can among man from california saying when she was asked if the president should be impeached she said there is growing evidence an impeachment pleading can be made but it needs to be evaluated. did you hear anything from michael cohen that makes you think impeachment proceedings
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are more on the table now than they were 36 hours ago? >> i think what michael cohen did was he gave us some additional information that's incredibly relevant to things we knew and some new information. the one place he gave more testimony yesterday than we have heard before relates to the payments to stormy daniels. the showing of a personal check that was written to him by the president of the united states to cover it up. that's a campaign finance violation. we knew it already from the southern district pleadings. to hear michael cohen talk about it and show one of the checks the president had given him to pay him back for the contribution that cohen made to stormy daniels is significant. it's still a question of will the house move forward on impeachment for something that happened prior to the time donald trump became president. cohen's testimony actually may be more impactful going forward talking about donald trump, jr.,
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roger stone's conversation, taxes. potentially tax evasion. those are, i think, the interesting things that came out yesterday. >> ross, to that point, the president claimed in his press conference overnight that michael cohen exonerated him on collusion with russia. not clear what he was basing it on. the fact is and i think ann referred to this. on the russia piece of the investigation michael cohen, in fact, said the president had advance knowledge via roger stone of the wikileaks releases and had advanced notice of the june 2016 trump tower meeting, a heads-up from donald trump, jr., something donald trump has denied. if those claims are true, if the special counsel has something to corroborate that how significant in the broader russia investigation? >> those could be both very significant.
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the big issue is if. i almost felt a sigh of relief with the president's comments. think about how close michael cohen has been to donald trump, to his family, his businesses and for how long. it almost felt like the president was relieved that it wasn't worse yesterday than it was. we didn't learn a ton new yesterday. we learned more details and there were more threads about things we already knew. in terms of the russia collusion angle, the president actually has a point that michael cohen really didn't do much to further that narrative. >> not that narrative, ross. it's an important point. >> exactly. >> but there is something else. let's listen to this exchange between illinois congressman morey and michael cohen talking about the sdny. let's roll it. >> is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding donald trump
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that we haven't yet discussed today? >> yes. again, those are part of the investigation that's being looked at by the southern district of new york. >> a lot of the coverage this morning is pointing to that as potentially being the most damning for the president despite the no collusion statement by michael cohen. so what else could the sdny have? >> i agree. probably the most significant thing cohen said is the thing he didn't say where he said, i can't talk about it because there is a pending investigation. it becomes interesting when we think about the fact the president is under investigation for obstruction of justice at the beginning when he fired jim comey. it's interesting what, if anything, cohen knew at the time. any other actions by the president whether it relates to russia or other things. michael cohen left open -- he basically said, i know of other crimes but i can't talk about them because they are being investigated. that doesn't mean the southern
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district of new york charges the president or anybody else. it provides information to us that the investigation in the southern district is still going strong and there is more potentially to come. >> finally, ross, this is something we heard about before. michael cohen reiterated that conversations about a trump tower project in moscow continued far longer than the president previously acknowledged well into june, after the president was the republican nominee. it was clear he would be the republican nominee. there are political implications but from a legal standpoint, anything wrong with a candidate to the presidency of the united states continuing discussions with a hostile foreign power about a lucrative business project during the campaign? >> when you put it like that it doesn't sound good. i think you and ann actually hit on -- i think the big potential vulnerabilities and issues right now. one, what was happening with
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that deal? there are so many questions we just don't know the answers to. that's an issue i think we are going to learn more about. it is the investigation of the president and his businesses. we just don't know where it will go or when. i will add a third one i think is really a ticking time bomb. that's the obstruction issue. there is a lot that we don't know about. we know the special counsel has done a lot of investigating, interviewed a lot of white house staff including the white house counsel. that's a potentially explosive area for the president. >> that's a lot of lines of inquiry. thank you very much. we're going to stay on top of it. president trump flying home from hanoi empty-handed after his second face to face summit with kim jong-un. was it worth it? what's the next move for the trump administration? >> we are moments away from the
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well, it is happening again today. day three in a row of cohen testimony now under way on the hill. >> it was quite an ugly day of partisan bickering in front of the house oversight committee on wednesday. were there any political winners here? with us now political correspondent for the "new york times" alex burns.
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good morning to you both. let's take a listen to the president weighing in on this and something he actually liked from michael cohen. here he was. >> he lied a lot. it was interesting because he didn't lie about one thing. he said no collusion with the russian hoax. i said i wonder why he didn't lie about that, too, like everything else. >> so he's a liar when he is and when he's not he's telling the truth? >> well, the president seems obsessed with the russia answer that michael cohen gave. even though so many of the other answers that michael cohen gave directly implicated the president in a number of different criminal acts though cohen said he can't say for sure that president trump was cocolluding with the russians during the campaign. he said he believed president trump would have done anything to win. he dropped circumstantial evidence that may have implicated the president in
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potential crimes during the campaign. though president trump seemed to be happy with what michael cohen said about russia he won't be happy with the months of investigation democrats can pursue about taxes, campaign finance allegations as well as self-dealing with the charity, bank fraud, tax fraud. there are a number of different avenues of investigation the democrats will be able to draw on. even if there is no collusion allegation, the other allegations are enough to give the president a world of hurt for the next several months. >> alex burns, i think folks at home after days like this want the basic answer to the question what's different now. what's changed? prior to cohen's team, democrats told me in private that they would need a significant revelation to make the
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possibility of impeachment credible. but you did hear some democrats say there is a growing evidence that an impeachment pleading can be made. i wonder in your conversations with democratic lawmakers did wednesday move the dial for them? >> i don't know, jim, that it revealed facts on its own that shocked them into thinking that an impeachment fight is the right choice right now. i do think talking to democrats and frankly some republicans as well who are certainly not enthusiastic about impeaching the president, it is becoming easier for them just on a mental level and emotional level to imagine the circumstances that would lead them to pursue impeachment. the questions he declined to answer, the specificity with which he described the role other people who could be called to testify played in alleged criminal activity. you do start to see a somewhat clearer picture of events that
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could lead to an impeachment claim. i think it is important to note that the democrats who are sort of most directly involved in the question of impeachment are still steering well clear of that. there are events that could transpire either from the mueller investigation or the southern district of new york or their own investigation that will make it hard to tell the democratic rank and file in the house, no, we are not going to do that, period. >> let me ask you about the republicans here. a veteran of both bush white houses writes this morning in the times, quote, republicans on the committee tried to destroy the credibility of cohen's testimony not because they believe his testimony is false but because they fear it's true. what do you think of that? did they succeed in destroying the credibility of michael cohen?
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>> they seem laser focused on targeting michael cohen, calling him a liar. saying he lied about things in the past. that seemed to be the focus. because cohen provided evidence and pointed to other potential witnesses that may not hold up. if the democrats decide to bring other witnesses including mr. weisselberg up to congress, the republicans won't be able to tarnish him as a convicted felon or liar. he's been at president trump's side for decades and is not charged with any specific crimes. that strategy may only take them so far. there were no questions defending president trump on the substance of the various allegations. they were trying to tear down michael cohen. the fact that michael cohen provided evidence and provided names of other people who might be able to speak on some of his allegations makes it difficult to continue that strategy as a republican tries to tarnish his
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credibility. they may not be able to do the same for the other people involved. >> cohen referenced his role in alleged wrongdoing here. you have to imagine he'll be called to the hill. only the special counsel has heard this testimony. now it might be heard in public. >> that's right. i think that would be pretty substantially different from what we heard yesterday. it was vivid and powerful in many respects to hear the words directly from michael cohen's mouth in front of a house committee like that. i don't know that there are that many americans who will be stunned at some of the things he said at this point. the american people never heard
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from alan weisselberg or anybody else in the trump administration who has not been put forward by the president and his allies at some point or another. to the extent that democrats in the house decide they are going to take some of these figures in the president's world or witn s witnesses in the quiet investigations and put them on the record for the american people to see for themselves, that could be more politically consequential maybe than what we saw yesterday. >> alex burns and tolu, thank you very much. >> ahead for us, the art of no deal. the president walked away from the north korea talks. what's next?
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welcome back. president trump is on his way back to washington after his second summit with kim jong-un ended abruptly with no deal. trump was certain he could get an agreement though he was warned repeatedly in advance kim jong-un would not budge on the demand that the u.s. lift all sanctions on north korea immediately. let's discuss now with the democratic senator bob me nnend of new jersey. thank you for taking the time. >> good to be with you, john. >> so for a second time in a number of months the president travels to meet with the north korean leader and leaves without progress on denuclearization. were these talks, in your view, a failure? >> well, look, what we saw in hanoi was amateur hour with nuclear weapons at stake.
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the limits of reality tv diplomacy. i said well before the second summit that, in fact, the work of discipline, strategic preparation and diplomacy was critical if we were going to achieve any success here. unfortunately that proved to be true. there was a lack of the strategic building towards understanding what the absolute north korea position would be and whether or not it was possible to find ways to move that. what i worry about is that the president, by giving kim jong-un the international -- not only recognition but almost acceptance from going from pariah to accepted international leader has squandered the leverage that we have. the question is, will china walk with us as well or are they going to continue down the path china, russia and others have
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done which is begin to have less sanctions enforcement and engage north korea economically without us having achieved virtually anything. >> now, there was concern even from within the administration that the president might give up too much here searching for a win or a headline to distract from the cohen testimony. he did not. he held the line. do you give him credit for holding the line in effect and demanding more from kim? >> well, look. without a full briefing i'm not sure whether that was the best choice. but i do give him credit in this respect. if you are not going to get a good deal then you do need to walk away. the problem is that you don't set yourself up for that proposition as the president has, give kim jong-un international recognition, weaken the international
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cooperation we have had for sanctions against north korea, get china that needs to be a critical player to achieve success here. not engage our allies sufficiently that are critical in the region. japan and south korea by way of example. so, yes. it's better not to go ahead and enter into a bad deal. but you don't put yourself in this position in the first place. i think that's one of the critical shortfallings. one of the issues we have is americans are less safe today than when the president started because kim jong-un continues to enrich material. he already tested an int intercontinental ballistic missile under the president's watch. >> the president denied assessments to that effect at the press conference. the most jaw-dropping moment was the president taking kim jong-un's word for not knowing about the horrendous treatment of otto warmbier who left the
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country after being held hostage brain dead and later died. this morning rick santorum had harsh words for the president. have a listen. i want your reaction. >> the fact that he walked away to me is a wonderful moment in his presidency. but this is rep rehensible what he did. he gave cover to a leader who knew very well what was going on with otto warmbier. again, i don't understand why the president does this. i am disappointed to say the least that he did it. >> what damage does that do for a u.s. president to take a position like that? >> enormous damage. the whole question of human rights in north korea has not even been raised. it is a problem for kim as he seeks international recognition. we should be raising that as well. the thousands that are in
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concentration camps and jails. those who have been killed. those who have had to flee. otto warmbier, a united states citizen, to say he believes kim jong-un, the president has a propensity for this. he believes putin as it relates to things putin says. he believes, you know, kim jong-un. he seems to find warmth with awe authoritarian dictatorships and believes them when they have records of violating international law and human rights than to believe our own intelligence community. >> senator bob menendez, thank you very much. >> thank you, jim. really important. all right. will he run or is he not going to run? former texas congressman beto o'rourke said he's decided. ou a. this round is on me.
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former texas congressman says he and his wife have made a decision about his political future. one source tells us that he has ruled out running for the senate in 2020. that's not what you rur all waiting for. you want to know if he is going to run for the white house. he says an announcement is coming soon. my colleague is covering this noncampaign campaign from texas. you spoke to the former congressman last night. what did he tell you? >> reporter: we received the statement that he put out in which he says amy and i have made a decision. i wanted to talk to him to get
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more details on what will an announcement look like. when will it happen and goat more details as to what it could be. i specifically asked him, are you running to become the next u.s. president? listen to what he had to say. >> i will be making an announcement soon. i will be making the same announcement to everyone at the same time. >> are you running for president? >> that's all i'm going to say. >> when will you make that announcement? >> soon. >> reporter: soon. that's all we got. soon. we really won't go into much detail. let's back up a little bit. this comes after an interview with oprah in which he said his deadline was by the end of the month. check your calendar. that's today. he didn't make a decision by the deadline that he set, but we are all just waiting to hear what that is. we have learned that he doesn't plan to run against senator
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cornen, but now we need the next one. what will he run for? >> good job on those questions. you weren't going to let him get away without at least saying something. what i find so interesting is that do you not make an announcement that you are not going to do something? how tight lipped is everyone on team beto being? >> reporter: he has said that he wants to do something to make a difference in the future for this country. he certainly has been all smiles in the last 24 hours, but it's hard to find out exactly what he will do next because it is a very, very tight circle. he really has just a few people in that inner circle that are advising him. this will probably paint the picture for you. yesterday, after he made that statement, i called his sister to see if she had anymore information and she found out through us.
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so even his family is still wondering what will come next from the former congressman. >> because sometimes family talks. i guess he really wants to tell everyone at the same time. thank you very much. live for us in el paso, texas. >> a really significant thing happened yesterday. there was a lot else going on. the house passed the most significant gun control legislation that we have seen in more than two decades. yesterday lawmakers in the house with bipartisan support passed a bill that would expand background checks to cover virtually all firearm sales. it seems unlikely it will get the 60 votes needed to make it out of the republican-controlled senate. michael cohen is back on the hill this time getting a grilling by lawmakers and staff from the house intelligence committee. will it be as explosive as yesterday's public hearing?
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good morning everyone. i'm poppy harlow. jim sciutto is in hanoi covering a historic summit. this summit happened with not a lot to show for it. we will talk about all of that, back state side in washington, michael cohen is answering questions as we speak behind closed doors behind the house intelligence committee. it is the third congressional hearing in three days for the president's former lawyer and fixer who is headed to prison this spring for lying to congress in part. >> even here in hanoi amid a summit that we now know was


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