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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 4, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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thanks for watching. happening now breaking news sweeping new probe. house democrats unlesh investigations into possible abuses of power and president trump's world. the judiciary committee chairman from dozens of people tied to the president, administration, campaign and business. could it lead to an impeachment push? t three others on the context with putin. what could they learn from the u.s. interpreters who were at the pleatin the meetings between the
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leaders? was he out to get cnn? and totally destroyed. tornados sliced through the southeast. one of them had winds of 170 miles per hour. at least 23 people are dead in alabama where that's wide path of total destruction with homes and businesses levelled. you're in the situation room. house judiciary committee is seeking documents from 81 people, groups and agencies ranging from the white house and justice department to the trump organization and the campaign, the president's political and business associates, his sons
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and russians. he says it is too early to discuss impeachment but any everyday gathered could form the basis of such proceedings. three others have written to the white house and the state department demanding documents and interviews relating to the president's secretive communications. congressman of the judiciary and foreign affairs committees and correspondents will have full coverage of today's top stories. let's go straight to our chief white house correspondent. how is the president responding to all of this? >> he isn't saying much but so far the president seems to be suggesting he will cooperate with this massive congressional investigation and just about everything related to donald trump. they say attorneys probably won't be complying with the request there what is a huge
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investigation. an expanse f allegation and nearly every corner of trump world. >> i cooperate all of the time with everybody. >> you'll learn about that as you grow older. it's a political hoax. no collusion. >> issued demands for more than aids and associates of the president from his family members to other close advisers past and present also targeted in the probe organizations tied to the president as well adds companies and others that may have aided mr. trump's campaign. the house judiciary said it's too early to talk impeachment. it. >> we don't have the facts yes. we are going to initiate proper
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investigations. >> the white house signalled it won't be complying saying in a statement the fact he would try to force the public disclose sure that he knows are protected by law proves he only wants to play politics. hugging the stars and stripes over the weekend the president made it clear what he thinks of special counsel's investigation. >> you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn't be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out. >> the president also expressed feelings for jeff sessions who recused himself in the probe. >> as you snow the attorney general says i will recuse myself. and i said why the hell didn't he tell me that before i put him in? >> he tried to rewrite history
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insisting he was joking in front of an audience. >> if you tell a joke, if you're having fun with the audience, if you say something like russia, please, if you can, get us hillary clinton's e-mails, please, russia, please. please get us the e-mails. please. >> but that's not true. mr. trump made the remark at a news conference there response to a question from cnn. he didn't sound like he was joking. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> but there may be flu calls for other investigations into trump's actions in officer.
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he ordered cohen to block the merger between at&t and time warner. the president is quoted as saying i have mentioned it 50 times and nothing happened. i want to make sure it is filed. i want that deal blocked. we should point out at this hour the white house has not responded to repeated questions from cnn about whether or not the president asked cohen to try to block that merger between at&t and time warner. we are waiting on a response. some of the targets investigation are just beginning to receive flonotification frome panel. he said one lesson he has taken is that it would be wise to hire a lawyer before joining a presidential campaign or administration. that is certainly the case with this administration. >> any one individual, they will be looking for washington lawyers over the next few weeks to respond to this request. thank you very much.
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let's go live to capitol hill. this is truly a sweeping investigation. what is the strategy right now? is it setting up an impeachment proceeding? >> yeah. it is possible down the line but emphasize down the line. when you look at this this is something that will take months. it will take weeks to get answers to those requests. i9 could lead to further discussions in terms of what actually happens next. i'm told repeatedly who are in the leadership positions is they want to take their time. they want it to be methodical. while they hear their cries for impeachment that is not their strategy. they want it to be a from sesz
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that if they eventually go down that road, a road that is just about as much about politics and public relations that they have a clear case to present a case that at this point they don't believe they have, wolf. >> is there just the first step? what comes next? >> yeah. there's no question about it. not only is it just the first step we are told there may be more than receive in the coming days and weeks. just the initial stage and they have to have about two weeks before they find out if they get any of the document s returned. we are hearing administration officials may not respond to those requests then you're talking about subpoenas. then you're talking about possible hearings to kind of underscore the point that it will be a lengthy process.
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thank you very much. the white house says repeatedly said i wants the russia probe to end. the sprawling request is it makes investigations for many many more months. which line of inquiry could cause the most concern for the president? the trump organization is dead center of what the democrats are asking for. take a look at all of the names and organizations, the entities that are involved here. we are talk about the trump organizations and affiliates. people from inside the administration, people connected to the russia question as well as other questions, people who
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have no relationship to any of the other existing investigations. one of the questions i have is do the democrats have the staff to carry this forward? it seems like a lot they are biting off. i'm not sure they will be able to dig into all of this. they will get inan dated withun. >> and they want this information over the next two weeks. they are also asking the white house and state department for my information about the president's communications with the russian president putin. >> it is a significant request. why is there no read outavailable to the rest of the government about what was discussed in some of the
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meetings and the conversations between the president and the russian leader, putin. the question was the president trying to obscure people who are the experts in our foreign leaderships. was the president trying to obscure some of that information and that's what the democrats are after. i don't know how successful they will be in the end. some of this is protected by the presidential privilegeov of havg internal conversations without having the other branches dig in. >> all right. thank you. joining us is a member of both the judiciary and foreign affairs committee. thanks for coming in. >> my pleasure. >> they say this lengthy list,
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it is simply a fishing expedition. you're trying to score some political points. what's your response? >> it couldn't be further from the truth. we are asking them to produce what they have already produced. they cover a range of concerns with respect to corruption, abuse of power all responsibilities we haven't done oversight for two years. we are backed up. this is the beginning of our oversight. >> you have the staff and resources to deal with this enormous amount of information. >> we engaged two as outside consultants to help us organize our investigative
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responsibilities. we need staff i'm certain we'll get it. >> how will you prioritize? >> we are attempting to gather the evidence first before we make a determination first. we focused on three principle areas. these documents will inform how we move forward. it is really the collection of evidence so we can do our work. >> the other argument is you're basically duplicating what robert mueller and his team have been doing for two years. >> no. no. the special counsel investigation is quite limited. it has to do with any experience between the russians and trump campaign. other jurisdiction is much broader and also we'll be doing much of our work in public. it is also about bringing transparency so the american people can see what we are investigating and see what the
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administration has been doing. we can hold them accountable and american people can understand what we are doing. >> is all of this laying the grounds work for impeachment hearings? >> i think it's too early to say. i think if you look at requests for documents it gives you some sense of what we are focused on. it is the witnesses we hear from and the documents. >> in addition to the 81 names of entities and individuals do you expect more? >> yes. there will be additional names and documents that are made. >> give us a preview. >> there may be additional names we learned since the doks ms were repaired. when we conduct it we play add to this list as well. >> let's talk about what he said after michael cohen's testimony before the house oversight
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committee. they said the illegal hush money payments that were made was his idea, not the president's idea and you responded on twitter by saying this. he is now volunteering himself as a witness. i look forward to his testimony. so he isn't on this list of 81 individual and entities that you release today. are you sere aboious about call him? >> no. he was putting him in the position of being a witness. i think we know it is not true because we have a tape recording of the president discussing the hush payments. >> so you're not serious about calling him? >> no. if he has things to say he should say it under oath rather than as a commentator. >> you heard the remarks he had.
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he is ready to cooperate. are you confident the white house will honor this request? >> i certainly hope he does. the president always said he wants to get these investigations done quickly. it will facilitate it all the way around? >> absolutely. with ve a responsibility to do that for the american people. they deserve to moe the truth. it is to make sure. >> what if the white house claims executive privilege. >> they will contest it in court and hopefully prevail. it will not be the first time there's been a fight about the exercising executive privilege. a lot of this will claim executive privilege. it is a big document request. that's lot of work here.
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we also want to be thorough and careful in our work. >> take a look at this. this is the wall street journal poll that came out. the president's approval rating has gone up to 46%. i checked in the same nbc news poll last april it was only 39%. it has gone up to 46% even in the face of the democrats, launching all of these new investigations. how do you explain the increase according to the nbc wall street journal poll? >> the democrats just took control of the house. in a short period of time we'll reach that. we are focused on a bold infrastructure. we are just beginning our work. i think it is important to continue on the commitments we made to drive down health care doses, to rebuild america and
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raise family wages. >> are you concerned that all of this focus on these investigations may in fact from your per specific ifr wospectiv increase approval? >> i think we have the responsibility to do this work. we have a constitutional duty to find the truth in these investigations. at the same time we remain on issues on driving down cost of health care. we can do both and we have to do both. >> thanks for being us. democrated launched a campaign to in his administration, campaign, business and beyond. they asked to block which was
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cnn company. does it amount to obstruction? we'll be right back. this is a very difficult job. failure is not an option.a. more than half of employees across the country bring financial stress to work. if you're stressed out financially at home, you're going to be too worried to be able to do a good job. i want to be able to offer all of the benefits that keep them satisfied. it is the people that is really the only asset that you have. put your employees on a path to financial wellness with prudential. bring your challenges.
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a crime after the democrat controlled house judiciary committee requested documents from 81 people and entities in a wide ranging investigation of the president. let's ask what's ahead. you think this is simply a frame work for potential impeachment proceedings? >> sure. it doesn't mean it is likely or that on day one that's the conclusion that's going to be drawn but that's reason it is going through the judiciary committee and that it is as widespread as it is. 81 people and entities.
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virtually every person you have ever heard of kekconnected to donald trump. that speaks to how wide ranging we are talking about across inauguration, campaign, transition to president, administration and business. i think what you're seeing here is they are trying to lay it. it is a political endeavor that requires public opinion. it is to remind people. the public did not want bill clinton impeached. it failed in the senate and they paid the price. they are pliendful of the case. >>. >> the democrat ek majority is going to keep the investigations going for months and months.
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>> there is no question there are a lit any of investigations that democrats in congress noon pursue involving this president, his campaign and the transition as well as his administration and the way democrats frame this. it is not just potentially laying the predicate but also restoring oversight to congress they were reluctant to take on the president in any meaningful way. i don't think that all of these investigations are going to be equal in scope. i think that the focus will largely be on ties between the president and his inner circle and russia as well as the hush money payments and potential obstruction of justice by the president.
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it is important to remember that it isn't just something that democrats are producing out of thin air. it is being overseen by the southern district of new york. >> the white house reacted issuing a statement of trying to disclose private conversations. referring to executive privilege how solid is that in resisting requests? >> i think they will run into a brick wall on some of these. the president is seeking advice on something i think they can arguably claim privilege. a lot of these requests touch on issues. the firing of jeff sessions, what happened with michael flynn. these are all that mueller was interested in. ended up a very narrow set of
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questions about preinauguration events. it will be up to him whether he wants to press this. i predict we'll have a court fight over this and it will be up to them to subpoena the records and white house will have to resist it and a court will have to make the ultimate decision about it. >> 81 individuals and entities. it will be an enormous amount of work. >> it is. you know, what we have heard talked about today is just the tip of the iceberg. they are talking about interviewing these individuals. mueller has been at his investigation which is relatively narrow compared to what the congress wants to do for two years. let's talk about the 81 interviews. you start to find stuff that's interesting. i presume you have got to go back and subpoena the financial records. if you're interesting in how they communicate you think there's a conspiracy i wouldn't trust them when they come to speak. that is millions of records
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potentially not just over two or three years but going back obviously many years to when the trump business was involved in things like selling condos in new york city. so if you think this is interviews with 81 people or entities that will last a few months i look to say think again. it is at least mid-2020. i'm not that political but i think we are in a political campaign. >> this is only one of several new investigations that are about to begin. hold your thought for a moment. we'll have much more right after this. you might take something for your heart... or joints. but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish, prevagen has been shown in clinical trials to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪ means to fight the hardest battle,
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xfinity, the future of awesome. house democrats launching a wide ranging abuse of power involving president trump. let's talk a little bit about this. the president gave what a two hour plus speech on saturday before the conservative political action conference cpac as it's called. it didn't exactly go on script. listen to this. new green dealov or whatever th call it. all of a sudden they are trying to take you out. the attorney general says i will recuse myself.
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>> it's nothing. >> it's nothing that we shouldn't have expected. this is the reddest of red meat crowds. the fact that he spoke for two hours, i went through the transskatran transcript and he says all right. let's wrap this up. he goes on for another 70 plus minutes. there is part of that that is very appealing to the electorate. i heard so many times donald trump can't be lying. no one would lie and talk the bay way he talks. it is a remarkable thing that
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the president of the united states just returning from a summit about nuclear weapons in vietnam after a week in which his one time fixer, one of the closest turned to him and said he was a cheater liar and con man that he would devote two hours to a speech like this which i would urge people if they haven't read it you should at least read some of it. walking out and bear hugging was a precursor to everything that came after it. >> i suspect with his reelection campaign only beginning to gear up we'll be seeing a lot more of this. there he is hugging the american flag. i suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of this unscripted kind of speeches which clearly helped him get the republican nomination in the first place and win the election.
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>> it's not new for the president to go off script and to try to appeal to the reddest of red audience. he he has held rallies across the country since taking office where he has similarly gone on these tirades against not just democrats but also mens members of his own party and i think a lot of this centers on those republican voters who are still very much behind him, the support that he has within the republican party still hovers around 89%. as he does look ahead at his reelection campaign the question is that going to be appealing to those independent minded voters that broke and gave their votes to this if and what impact will it have on suburban voters that swung back in the midterms precisely because now that they
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have seen what you see is what you get. president trump ordered the chief economic advise or to pressure the justice department to block the merger of cnn's parent company time warner. i have been telling him to get this lawsuit filed and nothing happened. i mentioned it 50 times and nothing happened. i want it blocked. now we know the president hates cnn for whatever reason. he doesn't like cnn. that's not the way the president is supposed to behave with a justice department investigation. >> not in normal times.
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we had seen him come out publicly. it wasn't a secret he was against the deal. it takes it a big step further actually pressuring them to get the lawsuit filed. it is interesting saying he is browsing and cohen doesn't take it and made it very clear under no circumstances should you instruct that the justice department to do that. we haven't seen any indication to actually do that. they are saying there are no pressure. managed to keep a lot of evidence out of actual case that at and t eventually won. this is part of the larger pick clur of house democrats that will be pressing and there are more areas like this. >> all right. stick around. there is more breaking news we are following. we'll also get an update from the disaster area in central alabama where a nearly mile wide
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alabama authorities began notifying relatives. at least three of the dead are children. i stayed on the ground for nearly 24 miles victor, what are you seeing? >> we are seeing the evidence
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and the damage up close and hearing the personal stories about what is now the deadliest day for the state of alabama in connection to to flrnados. the ages are six, nine and ten years old. dozens admitted to hospitals across this part of alabama. we know that only by cnn's count ten of them are still in hospitals including a man who lived on this property. the coroner here is wroorking t identify some of those killed. >> we have wrapping up identification of those 23 with is exception of six that could not be physically identified by sight or tattoos and our next top is to fingerprint them we
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have talked with families. as of noon today i have flun reported as missing. we think we have everybody. winds at 170 miles per hour. >> terrible situation. all right. thanks very much. coming up a closer look at president trump's failed summit with kim jong un. why couldn't they make a deal? we are getting new details. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills?
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president trump is offering new explanations on why his talks with kim jong-un fell apart leading him to make an early exit. brian todd has been looking into this for us. brian, do the president's reasons right now add up? >> wolf, at least one of the president's claims does seem to add up. mr. trump indicated that the presence of a secret north korean nuclear site was a major sticking point. and he says kim jong-un's side was surprised that the americans knew about it. for a president who prides himself on the art of the deal, this was yet another agreement he couldn't close. >> sometimes you have to walk. >> reporter: but tonight, analysts say president trump may have walked away from north korea's kim jong-un instead of reaching a wide-ranging pact because of a closely-held north korean secret the u.s. knew. >> there are other things that you haven't talked about that you haven't written about that we found. >> the uranium enrichment plant. >> exactly.
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we brought many points up, i think they were surprised that we knew. >> reporter: sources say during the talks kim made the bold offer to dismantle the main site of his nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but trump apparently wanted more. experts say north korea has at least one secret nuclear plant that the kim regime has never acknowledged but that trump reportedly said must be shut down. this complex called kang song just outside pyongyang could be the place president trump was referring to based on its layout, heat signature and its security. former u.n. weapons inspector david allbright and researchers at the middlebury institute, believe kim's regime is still producing crucial material for nuclear bombs. >> at kang song, they're using gas sentcentrifuges, rotor asse, spinning part inside and producing weapon-grade uranium for nuclear weapons. the sigh mte may have 6,000 or
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of these centrifuges. >> reporter: tonight there's debate in and outside the government of whether it was a good idea for president trump to walk away and reject north korea's offer to dismantle its big nuclear production site even if kim jong-un wouldn't acknowledge other sites. >> listen, initial step shutting down yeongbang would have to be good but followed pretty quickly with a measure that should shut down the production of nuclear fuel nationwide. >> reporter: even as experts blame the standoff over nuclear sites as the reason for the collapse, trump seems to be suggesting another cause tweeting his former lawyer michael cohen's devastating testimony the same day, quote, may have contributed to what trump calls having to, quote, walk. there's also continuing fall yacht from trump's comment in hanoi that he took him at his word that he didn't know about the deteriorating condition otto warmbier.
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>> do you take kim jong-un at his word? >> the president takes him at his word. >> what about you? >> my opinion doesn't matter. >> reporter: over the weekend, the president defended his remarks. >> i'm in such a horrible position because in one way, i have to negotiate. the other way, i love mr. and mrs. warmbier and love otto. it's a very, very delicate balance. >> reporter: analysts say maybe the president should have completely avoided bringing up the case with kim. >> i don't think on the one hand that the president can seriously point a finger and say, you are responsible for the death of an american citizen. especially in the course of negotiations, i'm not sure what that gets you. on the other hand, saying something like i don't think he knew, in a situation like north korea, is not helpful. >> now, all of this comes as the u.s. and south korea have announced they're no longer going to hold the large-scale joint military exercises that the north koreans have been so
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bothered by for so many years. those militaries have said they're going to scale back those exercises and hold much smaller drills, in some cases even virtual exercises. president trump said today he didn't discuss that with kim jong-un in hanoi. he made the decision long ago, he says, because the exercises are so expensive. wolf? >> brian, will scaling down those military exercises hurt the united states and south korea as far as dealing with the potential north korean threat? >> wolf, military officials from both countries say it will not hurt that effort. they say they can achieve the same kind of readiness for an attack they had before but analysts say both sides are going to be ready to ramp up those exercises again if these negotiations with north korea break down completely. >> all right, brian, thank you. brian todd reporting. coming up, breaking news. house democrats launch sweeping probes into possible abuses of power in president trump's world. they seek documents from dozens of people tied to the president, his administration, his campaign, and his business. just one free hearing test at
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happening now, breaking news. demanding documents. house democrats launch a sweeping investigation of president trump seeking information from dozens of people in his orbit including his sons, his son-in-law, and many familiar faces from the russia probe. do they have evidence of high crimes and misdemeanor? conversations with putin. democrats also want details about the president's communications with russia's leader. pushing for interviews with mr. trump's translators. will the substance of secretive chats be revealed?
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blocking the deal. a new report says the president personally tried to enlist the top white house aide to help stop at&t from buying t ining t warner. is it proof mr. trump tried to block the merger involving cnn's parent company to punish this network? and deadly tornados. we're learning more about the raw power and the horrific destruction as twisters rip through arkansas and georgia, killing nearly two dozen people including children. we want to welcome or viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on the new investigation into every corner of president trump's world, as democrats look wide and deep into possible obstruction, corruption, and abuse of power. the house judiciary committee is demanding information from


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