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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  March 5, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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good evening. we begin tonight with breaking news. you'll only see it here. cnn's pamela brown and kaitlan collins have just learned that president trump demanded a security clearance for his daughter ivanka over the objection of two top advisers, one of them retired four-star general. for the president, though, family came first. just as it reportedly did for his son-in-law jared kushner. special treatment by all appearances for both. cnn's pamela brown joins us now with details. so what have you learned? >> we've learned president trump pressured his then chief of staff john kelly and white house counsel don mcgahn to grant his daughter and senior adviser ivanka trump a security clearance against the recommendations, this is according to three people familiar with the matter speaking to me and my colleague kaitlan collins. as you know, the president has the legal authority to grant clearances. but most instances are left up to the white house personnel security office, which would then determine whether a staffer should be granted one after the
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fbi conducts a background check. but after concerns were raised by the personnel office, president trump pushed kelly and mcgahn to make the decision saying things like it's no big deal, they'll probably be leaving soon and going back up to new york. so that it didn't appear that the president himself was tainting the process in his family's favor. after both refused, trump grant the security clearances according to sources we've been speaking with. and of course this development comes on the heels of the "new york times" reporting, anderson, that trump ordered kelly to grant ivanka's husband, jared kushner, a top security clearance despite concerns raised by intelligence officials. white house press secretary sarah sanders says the white house cannot comment on security clearance issues nor can it respond to every anonymous source. kelly could not be reached for comment and mcgahn declined to comment for this story, anderson. >> let's just remind, pamela, our viewers of what ivanka trump herself said just last month about security clearances. >> the president had no
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involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance. >> so what's -- i mean, it's the exact opposite of what you've learned, right? >> it is the exact opposite. but several sources tell us, anderson, that it is feasible that ivanka was unaware of the red flags that were raised during her background check process as well as the president's involvement in it. a person familiar with her process, she said she did not seek nor have outside counsel involved in her process, as no issues were ever raised. and then a separate person added that she was notified by career officials that her clearance had been granted. now, we should also note just because concerns are raised about a person getting a security clearance it doesn't mean that person did anything nefarious and we do not know what the precise concerns were in this case. also, typically people aren't notified there are red flags in their background check. usually they're just told either you have this security clearance or you didn't get one. it is noteworthy, anderson, that
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the president himself denied to the "new york times" several weeks ago that he ever got involved with the security clearance for jared or his family and that he even claimed that he didn't know whether he had the authority to grant clearances. anderson? >> pam brown. great reporting. thank you. pam just mentioned this comes on the heels of that "new york times" reporting that the president intervened in jared kushner's clearance. one of the reporters on that story is maggie haberman, also a cnn political analyst. she joins me now. you were in the oval office interviewing the president in late january. he clearly lied to you about not being involved with jared kushner's security clearance. did ivanka trump's security clearance come up? >> i didn't ask her about her security clearance. but remember, these two were pretty closely linked. and some of the delays in her security clearance, some, i don't think all, had something to do with her husband's because married couples tend to be linked together. although this was an unusual circumstance in this white house obviously. it's not a surprise. he was much more focused as i
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understand it and as pam's reporting suggests, on jared kushner's clearance. that was really his focus in part because jared kushner had this portfolio, has this portfolio that deals with a lot of sensitive global issues. ivanka trump, however, also was under this same limbo status. and i think that it bothered both of them. you can say that they complained and pushed the president to do something. you can say as we wrote that they repeated ly made complaint about this to the president and it might not have been an outright pressure but just voicing their upset with it. whatever it was, the president intervened. it's not a surprise he did it with hers as well. but it does go to, as you noted, a real contradiction in what ivanka trump said on camera and what the president said. there is a world where it's possible she didn't know. it is not a likely world -- >> you think that's possible? >> it is possible. but it is not likely.
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it is, however, hard for me to fathom still why the president not only said to me that he didn't have any involvement in this but that he didn't think he could legally. >> part of cnn's report is ivanka trump wanted high-level clearance so she could study briefing books on foreign trips. why is she in the white house? like what does she actually do? >> in terms of foreign trips it's a great question. the way it was described to me by a couple of people who were familiar with the evolution of jared kushner's clearance problem be remember, we were told early on, i went back and looked at this recently, there were reports early on right after the president was elected that he wanted his son-in-law and daughter to have high-level clearances and the president did a tweet november 16th, 2016, that he wasn't doing that. another typically false news story. what ended up happening a couple of months later, they joined the white house, they both put in for security clearances. the way it was described to me by people who were around at the time was that jared kushner sat in on one briefing early on during the transition and he enjoyed it, he liked being a
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part of it. and wanted more. i think that there is a addictive quality to having access to this kind of information. what exactly ivanka trump needs to do with that information is unclear. she does have certain programs she has pushed for that have global impact. but those are primarily economic, not national security based. >> she's still making money, though, from the hotel, from -- >> yeah. it's going to raise a ton of obvious questions. it's going to raise a ton of questions about not actually stepping back from businesses. >> she's making millions and millions a year from this stuff. >> correct. and it is going to once again raise questions about the fact that the president and his family who are serving in the government did not really step away from the business. and these are just obvious questions. there's nothing surprising about them. >> also pamela mentioned that i guess based on her reporting that the president had said something like oh, it's not a big deal, they're going to probably go back to new york soon. if anything, that would be a
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reason not to grant them a security clearance, that they're just going to quickly go back to new york, they're going to be able to access secrets, they're going to go back to new york and re-engage in the world of business and jared kushner's going to re-engage with the qataris and the saudis and the chinese trying to get money to bail out 666, this building that was in trouble for his family. >> this is why i think chris christie was on this network with chris cuomo last week after our story posted making the point that this is why you don't -- yes, chris christie obviously his relationship with jared kushner is legendary, but he made a valid point for any administration, which is this is why you do not have family in appointed positions in the white house because it just clouds the judgment, impacts the judgment on every one of these steps and you had the president -- we had reporting that the president had been complaining about this lack of a security clearance for month around jared kushner to white house officials and asking them if there was anything they could do, not just don mcgahn, not just john kelly, but others. and nobody wanted to get involved in this. the president did not want to
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have his hand in it and ultimately had to. >> you've been covering obviously donald trump for decades. do you get the sense that he understands the presidency isn't supposed to be a family business or is it just that's the way the trump organization was and he sees no reason not to just continue with that? >> i think it's some combination thereof. and i think he's a 72-year-old man and he's not going to change and he has a real inability to say no to members of his family frankly i think is a big piece of it. and that's what you're seeing here. particularly his daughter. and i think this was just an obvious problem. this was always going to be a problem. the view that jared kushner and ivanka took was that there were not legitimate reasons that their clearances were being blocked, that this was all part of don mcgahn, the white house counsel, and john kelly, the chief of staff, disliking them. and it is certainly true that their relationships with them were toxic by the time this all happened. but wouldn't that have been a reason for them to -- i just
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don't understand the logic under which they would have wanted to prolong this clearance confusion. don mcgahn and john kelly. it's hard to understand what planet in which they'd be doing this to play games. i do know that john kelly has been accused by others of using the clearance system to go after people he didn't like. and i'm putting all of that aside because there were legitimate issues being raised as far as we understand it by the fbi and by others. >> all right. maggie haberman, appreciate it. thank you. joining us is "usa today" columnist kirsten powers, former rnc chief of staff mike shields, and cnn chief legal analyst jeffrey toobin. jeff, i mean, does it make sense to you that ivanka trump, a, has a clearance, b, claimed her father had nothing to do with it, and c, it appears according to the reporting that her father did have something to do with it? >> well, it makes sense because i've covered the trump administration and i know that nepotism is one of the guiding forces. but the real question at the
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heart of this here -- and let's stipulate that the president has the right to declassify any documents he wants, he can give security clearances to anyone he wants. but why -- what was it that the intelligence agencies saw in the background of jared kushner and ivanka trump that made them want to deny them security clearances? what was the financial, the personal, the political -- what was the issue? because that's why they review people for security clearances, because they want to protect the country from threats to national securi security. what was it? >> mike, if hillary clinton had won and she gave chelsea clinton a high-level security clearance over the objection of her white house chief counsel and chief of staff and hillary clinton -- and chelsea clinton's husband, who's also involved in finances, also got a security clearance, wouldn't republicans justifiably be screaming from the rooftops?
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>> well, look, president trump ran with his family. i mean, it wasn't a secret. they were involved with every aspect of his campaign. when he had a television show his family was a part of his television show. so the american people knew that his family were going to be sort of -- >> but the question is are you telling me republican -- i know you don't really want to answer this but -- it's hard to believe that republicans would not -- that you would not be, you know, saying are you kidding me? chelsea clinton is sitting around sitting in on meetings and going overseas and meeting with foreign leaders? >> look, there's a lot of things the clintons did that republicans would criticize. bill clinton arguably could have lost a security clearance if he was a government staffer -- >> so this doesn't bother you? >> lying about having an affair -- >> this doesn't bother you? >> if we're talking about the clintons -- what i'm saying is of course partisan politics are going to come into this. of course they are. but the fact of the matter is jared kushner actually has a real portfolio. he is leading middle east negotiations on behalf of the president and the president has the right therefore to say i
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want him to have a security clearance, my daughter's an adviser to the white house, i'm going to give her a security clearance -- >> but it doesn't bother you that he is seeking funding or having meetings in his business life with folks, middle east leaders, with chinese companies in order to get funding for his family's company? i mean, during the transition. that doesn't bother you? >> well, it's not a matter -- look, the president of the united states has a right to do this -- >> no, i'm asking you is it appropriate for jared kushner to, you know, on the one hand have business relationships with the same people that he now is apparently dealing with on a diplomatic basis? >> i think that stuff has to be sorted out. there's clear lines that they will tell you they have drawn on those issues. and therefore it's fine. >> kirsten, when does this stuff get sorted out? because you know, it's been two years now. and you know -- >> well, i'll answer your question. if the same thing happened with chelsea clinton, republicans
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would have gone bonkers. first of all, if she had just ever been offered a job in the white house, they would have gone crazy over that. and i think actually justifiably so. i mean, i don't think it's appropriate. i don't think i would have thought it was appropriate if hillary clinton did it. and i don't think it's appropriate when donald trump did it. and it's particularly inappropriate because he brought in people who really don't have any expertise in the areas that they're responsible for. they have no government experience. so if she took chelsea clinton and put her in charge of the middle east peace process, yeah, that would be a problem. i don't know, mike, why you can't just admit that. it's so clearly a problem. it's not a question of whether or not he has a right to do it. and then jeffrey raised a really key point around these security clearances is why does the government feel like they shouldn't have security clearances? i mean, you have don mcgahn setting aside john kelly and the issues that john kelly has with the president and jared kushner. don mcgahn has no reason when he was the white house counsel to
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try and deny the president what he wanted in this case. and yet he said he didn't think that the security clearance should go through. so there's obviously something that's problematic. and i think that whether the president has a right to do it or not you have to ask why he doesn't care what he's basically being told about the conflicts. >> i mean, jeff, this is the very reason that our nepotism, you know, laws or guidelines, but they don't apply in this case. >> they don't apply in this case. that's why companies have nepotism rules. that's why other parts of the government have nepotism rules. but the president, understandably, is exempt from these rules. but you know, if you acknowledge that the president has the right to put his family members in important jobs, shouldn't they have to once there abide by the same rules as everyone else? that is, get a security clearance on the merits, not just because their father
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overrules the intelligence agencies. i mean, that's what makes this so outrageous. if he wants to have them work for him, fine. but once there, shouldn't they have to get a security clearance like everyone else? >> mike, shouldn't the same rules apply? >> anderson, back to your point about hillary, think back to when bill clinton was elected and he openly said my wife is going to be a part of policy discussions. she led -- >> right. and that went over really well. >> and republicans -- no, you're right. republicans at the time criticized her. and democrats defended her and said wait a minute, she's a family member, she's involved with this p. >> no, that's not what happened. >> but she's in the white house -- >> she had expertise. >> she wasn't elected. she wasn't elected. >> what is jared kushner's expertise? what is jared kushner's expertise in middle east peace and what is ivanka trump's expertise in anything? >> well, the same expertise that a business person who runs for office who's never been a politician has brings to
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government which is they've negotiated deals, they've run a successful business, they've created wealth and created jobs -- >> there's questions about his success. >> he didn't run as an insider washington politician and neither are his family members. >> but he hasn't created a successful business it should be pointed out. he inherited it from his dad. his dad was in prison after what, i guess hiring a prostitute to blackmail another relative. so there's certainly questions about the family business. do you really -- do you really believe he's qualified to negotiate middle east peace? >> look, i believe that the trump ticket, the trump campaign, the trump brand was that business people who aren't politicians who aren't a part of how everything's been going in washington are going to come and do things differently. that's what they're doing. >> so you're totally cool with it. everything's great. >> experience they had to these issues. >> mook, thank you. kirsten powers. jeff toobin as well. just ahead, what the president said about cooperating with the growing investigation into him and what we're just now learning
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about plans to do the exact opposite, keeping them honest. later, the president claims he was a top student. learning about his efforts on his behalf to make sure his grades never see the light of day. we'll talk to the reporter who got that story ahead on "360." feel the clarity... of non-drowsy claritin... and relief from symptoms caused by over... 200 outdoor and indoor allergens. like those from pollen, pets and dust. because new memories start with dusting off old ones. feel the clarity and live claritin clear. parts of me i didn't even know. i find out i'm 19% native american, specifically from the chihuahua people. what?! that's... i find that crazy. it traces their journey in the mid-1800s from central mexico to texas. learning about the risks they took for a better life... gives me so much respect and gratitude. it just shed so much light in my past that
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crimes before taking office. that's what new polling from quinnipiac university shows. and at any other time with any other president in any known universe that answer would be just as unthinkable as the question itself. think about it. 64% of people, including a third of republicans, believe that donald j. trump was a criminal when he raised his right hand and took the oath of office. a full 45% say they believe he's committed crimes while in office. that ought to be shocking. now it's kind of barely surprising. but as normal as the completely abnormal now is, determining whether or not the president of the united states is a crook is still important. so is a president keeping his word, especially when it comes to the investigation. no matter what he may think of it. in case you missed it yesterday or in case you miss it now and all the denials and expressions of contempt for the inquiry, here's what he said just yesterday when asked whether he'd cooperate with the democratic-controlled house judiciary committee investigation. >> i cooperate all the time with everybody. and you know the beautiful thing? no collusion. it's all a hoax.
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you're going to learn about that as you grow older. it's a political hoax. there's no collusion. there's no -- >> i cooperate all the time with everyone. which would suggest he'll cooperate now. though he clearly believes there's nothing to find. he'll cooperate all the same because, as he says, he always does. again, that was yesterday. as the judiciary committee was sending out letters to 81 people, entities and organizations with connections to trump world asking for documents pertinent to the investigation. and the white house, they were also promising cooperation. but keeping them honest, just a day later all that talk of cooperation is kind of ringing hollow. officials are telling cnn's kaitlan collins that behind the scenes officials are planning to resist the document request even as they brace for more. as for the president himself, he began the day by hitting the old caps lock key on his electric twitter machine. "presidential harassment," he tweeted in caps. seems he left out the cooperation part. then addtion to the spirit of cooperation he called the probe "the greatest overreach in the history of our country and a big fat fishing expedition desperately in search of a
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crime." now, you might think that was about it for the cooperation today. but there was more. this time with a light dusting of bipartisanship. quoting again, "now that they realize the only collusion with russia was done by crooked hillary clinton and the democrats, nadler's shift and the dem heads of committees have gone stone cold crazy. 81 letter sent to innocent people to harass them. they won't get anything done for our country." keeping them honest, in addition to not sounding especially commentive, the president's suggestion that all 81 letters went out to what he calls innocent people, that's not true. michael flynn got a letter. he's a kovlthed felon. so is rick gates. paul manafort is a convicted felon. he's awaiting prison sentencing. george papadopoulos has already served prison time. roger stone is awaiting trial, hasn't been convicted. but those are just facts. those are real facts. not alternative ones. as is the fact that whatever the political motivations for the house investigation may or may not be it's hard to call it completely groundless. not when you consider the cases that robert mueller's already brought and won and what the southern district of new york is
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uncovering. the payoffs to porn actresses, the rulings against mr. trump's discredited charity, the sexual harassment allegations, michael cohen's testimony. there is plenty to look into. and you might think the president wants this to be over quickly, he'd be taking the advice of one of his old lawyers, ty cobb, who advised cooperation back in 2017 when it was just robert mueller in a republican-controlled congress doing the investigating. president didn't do that. key members of the campaign on instructions from the white house as you know refused to answer questions from lawmakers. sometimes kind of inventing a president -- a executive privilege, excuse me. but it wasn't real. it wasn't actually executive privilege. actual executive privilege has to be claimed by the president himself. the president railed in public against the investigation. >> it's a total witch hunt. i've been saying it for a long time. >> they have this witch hunt. >> they have this witch hunt. >> it's a witch hunt. that's all it is. >> they have phony witch hunts. >> it's like a witch hunt. it's like a witch hunt. >> the witch hunt continues. >> the entire thing has been a
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witch hunt. >> this is a pure and simple witch hunt. >> that's from the president who cooperates with everyone all the time. more now on the extent of any of president trump's cooperation with investigators. earlier today i spoke with mark warner, the ranking democrat on the senate intelligence committee. >> senator warner, how much do you actually expect the white house to cooperate with all these requests from the house? especially given our reporting today that they intend to try to limit what democrats can get their hands on. >> well, i hope the white house would cooperate. i mean, congress is a co-equal branch of government. we have a right to receive this information. i'm not going to get into the specifics of all the various requests that some of the house committees have made. but the fact is the american people deserve the truth and congress has a rightful role to provide appropriate oversight and again, i hope that the white house would move forward in cooperation. >> the white house is likely going to argue executive privilege applies here, and i'm wondering what you think about that because the president, he does have the right to withhold
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certain information from congress and certainly executive privilege would seem to apply at least in some of the cases here. >> i'm sure there are appropriate places where executive privilege would dominate. but what i understand is the white house may be issuing in a sense almost a blanket denial and that goes against the very nature of a co-equal branch of government. you know, my hope would be that -- my expectation i guess would be that the house made fairly extensive requests. there will be some back and forth. but at the end of the day the congress has the right to provide oversight including over all aspects of the executive branch including the president and the law's got to be followed. >> president obama's former senior adviser david axelrod criticized the scope of the document request. he said the wide-ranging nature of it too easily plays into the witch hunt meme.
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do you think he has a point there? >> listen, i have not reviewed all of the extensive requests from the house. i know that in -- >> but just the fact that it's so extensive, does that risk certainly just from an optics standpoint -- >> anderson, all i can tell you is with our investigation in the senate that's been bipartisan we've made a series of requests and we've been very successful with having those requests honored. >> i guess what is the end game in your opinion for democrats in all these investigations? i mean, certainly a lot of democrats have expressed skepticism about impeachment, particularly since the senate's in republican hands. if some wrongdoing is found and impeachment isn't on the table, then what? >> well, anderson, in our investigation we started over two years ago because a foreign power, russia, massively intervened in our elections and it has been bipartisan shown from the intelligence community. they did that to help donald
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trump and to hurt hillary clinton. part of our investigation has always been about following the facts, where the truth lies, and was there -- what level of collaboration or collusion was there between trump officials and trump campaign and the russians. the one thing we know at this point is that there was an unprecedented level of contact between russians and individuals from both the trump business organization and from the trump campaign. where that all leads, i'm reserving my final judgment until we see all of our -- all of the final witnesses and we can reach a final conclusion. >> just lastly the senate intelligence committee chairman richard burr asked today if he thought michael cohen was truthful in his testimony last week. he said cohen certainly has not been truthful in the past and that cohen made a lot of accusations and needs to substantiate them. certainly michael cohen has not been truthful in the past. we know that. >> michael cohen doesn't have a very good record of telling the truth. of course neither does donald
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trump. on certain of these areas that mr. cohen asserted we'll be able to have background documentary evidence one way or the other as we get additional documents. and if there was one thing i took away, i can't comment on the private testimony he gave to the senate intelligence committee, but from the public testimony it did appear at times that if mr. cohen was simply trying to smear donald trump he could have gone further. he seemed for cohen at least relatively restrained. >> senator warner, appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you, anderson. >> terminal so noh surprise that there's an intense feedback loop between the opinion hosts of fox news and president trump. now there's a new article in "the new yorker" that documents the connections, the details. we'll talk to the author ahead. ? ♪ ah, i'll look into it. [phone ringing] [beep] lisa jones! hey carl, what are you charging me for online equity trades? [nervous laughter] and do i get my fees back if i'm not happy? like a satisfaction guarantee?
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if you want any more proof of a clear and convincing feedback loop between the opinion hosts at fox news and president trump, last night the president posted a string of tweets quoting fox news personalities. there was one from tucker carlson plus a video clip of lou dobbs assailing the democrats' congressional investigations. he also quoted sean hannity. subjected to the biggest display of modern-day mccarthyism, which is the widest fishing net expedition. every aspect of the president's life, all in order to get power back so they can institute socialism @seanhannity." like i said, that was just last night. the reason that's important is because earlier that exact
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morning the "new yorker" zeroed in on the president's intense cozy relationship with fox news. right on cue as they say. joining me the author the magazine's chief washington correspondent, jane mayer. thanks so much for being with us. it can be hard at times to tell who's actually behind the wheel in all this. whether it's fox advocating for policy positions that the president then latches on to or if it's the president advocating for policy positions that fox news ends up latching on to. >> in fact, it's impossible sometimes to tell who's really calling the tune. i spent months working on this story and talked to more than 75 people and kept looking at fox and watching trump's tweets. and it's just a constant loop back and forth and back and forth. you know? days it seems like "fox & friends" starts with a particular subject and then president trump tweets about it. some days it's the other way around. but whatever it is, it's a continuous loop that you can
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see. >> there's also, i mean, the number of people from fox who now work in the administration. whether it's people in actual policy positions, contributors on fox like bolton, or bill shine, who is now, you know, dealing with communications there. >> and these are major posts. they've always been i think -- or at least in recent times there have been people from the media who've landed in kind of spokesman's jobs in various administrations. what you see in the trump administration is major posts are being filled by talking heads from fox. and so you also see the door revolving in the other directions. but the particular thing that got me going on this story was that bill shine, who'd been the president of fox news, became the white house communications director and deputy chief of staff last summer. and so you literally had someone from fox in the position of the
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top job controlling the president's message. and it's been -- there's been coordination ever since. >> you write -- your article opens up with this detail of, you know, sean hannity, press corps being led to where the president is on a trip and sort of brought in by the secret service en masse. sean hannity is already on location and basically he's part of the administration entourage. >> i mean, he's literally hugging members of the administration in this thing. and the other press are sort of kept behind the rope line by the secret service. it's -- i've been a white house reporter. i was during the reagan administration. i've never seen anything like it. and i talked to a lot of presidential historians. they've never seen anything like it. and of course the reason it matters is there's a concern that the country's biggest cable news network would be used as kind of a mouthpiece or almost state news. and that's what people worry about. and not just liberals worrying about it.
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there are a lot of conservatives who i talked to, people who used to be on fox who say there's no dissent, no kind of criticism of the president that's getting through on fox news. and there are exceptions. let's just be fair here. good reporters. >> chris wallace and bret baier, they're reporters. >> right. but the overall message there is just straight out of trump's mouth and back again. >> obviously shepard smith too has been -- >> very good. >> very fair in his coverage. it's interesting, though, because initially back when trump kind of first entered the race it didn't seem like fox news kind of knew which way to go on the president. i don't know if they were led by their opinion people or if it was something from the leadership from murdoch on down. but, you know, you think back to the days of megyn kelly and all that. i mean, i don't know if they suddenly saw the writing on the wall and realized, well, you know, the money for us is this guy and that's what led them kind of down this path.
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do you know how it worked? >> it is really interesting. rupert murdoch was a critic of trump's in the beginning of the campaign. and then roger ailes, who was running fox news at the time, as you say, was very uncomfortable with the situation. among other things, it was true that trump was getting glaet ratings. and it's still true. i mean, the thing is he's bankable. and there's a financial incentive actually for fox to do good news about trump. their ratings go up when trump looks good. and people -- their audience sort of turns away when there's bad news for trump. so they actually make more money by making him look good. >> you talk about in the beginnibegi beginning of the article whether fox is a propaganda basically machine for the administration. do you believe it is? >> well, i mean, i think it's a big concern. i think there are a lot of questions raised by all of this
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reporting i was doing. and there's more reporting to be done. but we've seen that there were a lot of favors that were done for rupert murdoch by this administration. it could be there are innocent explanations. people need to know more about it. and i think, you know -- i think that it's -- it's a situation that i wouldn't like to see in this country where we have state propaganda coming out of one of the largest cable companies. >> jane, again, it's a fascinating article. it's in the "new yorker." i recommend people read it. thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. >> coming up, new insight about the lengths president trump's friends went to to make sure his high school transcript never got out. after he said he heard president obama was a terrible student and talked about that. new reporting from the "washington post." i'll speak with that reporter next. there's little rest for a single dad, and back pain made it hard to sleep and get up on time. then i found aleve pm. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid, plus the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. i'm back. aleve pm for a better am.
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he also questioned president obama's intelligence, telling the associated press back in april of 2011 that he heard that obama was a terrible student and he should show his school records. well, wouldn't you know, just a few days later the headmaster at mr. trump's own high school got an order from his boss to find trump's school records and help bury them. that's new reporting tonight in the "washington post." in a moment i'll speak to the reporter who had the details. first let's just point out that this all goes to something michael cohen said in testimony
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last week, that the president was determined people not see his academic records. >> i am providing the committee today with several documents. copies of letters i wrote at mr. trump's direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the college board not to release his grades or s.a.t. scores. >> well, joining me tonight is "washington post" reporter mark fisher. >> mark, can you just explain exactly how president trump's high school records were buried? >> yeah. this is going back to 2011, when trump was considering running for president in 2012 and he was out there attacking president obama, saying tea should release his academic records and that he was a poor student. and immediately after that, within hours really, after trump made that statement the top officials at the new york military academy where trump had gone to school for five years received calls from wealthy alumni who were friends of
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trump's ordering them to find trump's academic records, retrieve them, remove them, and hand them over to those alumni supposedly for safekeeping. well, the top people at the school did the first part of that. they went and found, they combed through a basement archive and found the records and they brought them to the superintendent of the school. and he decided not to give them to those alumni but rather to bury them in a place where no one could find them on campus. >> so they are literally buried? >> well, i don't know about literally buried but they are hidden somewhere on campus. and the idea was that they would not be retrievable by then current members of the school staff. >> last week during his testimony michael cohen said he had threatened the president's schools over his records. did you find out if cohen was in fact behind this? >> well, cohen was, as he said last week, was threatening trump's colleges and high school and ordering them to make sure
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that there was no record of his academic achievement that was available to anyone. and so that's the message that filtered down to the headmaster and superintendent of the military academy. so he apparently was not in direct contact with the school officials. but this was filtered through other people. >> so who knows where the president's high school records are now? >> well, that's not clear. the folks at the military academy now aren't talking. and at all of the schools that the president attended people are saying these are records that are governed by privacy law and are not available to the public unless the president decides that he wants them out there. and he has said repeatedly that he's not going to let them out, even as he has claimed that he was a top student at the military academy and elsewhere. and that turns out not to be the case. >> probably none of this would really matter unless donald trump hadn't gone after president obama about alleging things about his grades.
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obviously, there's a certain level of hypocrisy there. it was -- he did say -- i think his exact quote was he was one of the top guys at the whole school. right? >> that's right. he said he was one of the top students at the military academy. we don't have his records. we've spoken to some people who've seen them and they report that they were mediocre. but we don't have the details on that. and we wouldn't have them unless the president decided that he opened up those records. >> maybe they're under audit or something as well. marc fisher, appreciate it. thank you. >> thank you. >> let's check in with chris, see what he's working on for "cuomo prime time." chris? >> i think it is a vexing question to try to figure out which -- >> i like the word vexing. >> i thought you'd like it. it's a word guys like you would know. what lies matter anymore. you broke that very compelling news about security clearances, not just with kushner but with ivanka, the daughter. that's another lie.
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same way. what matters to people? it seems pretty clear to guys like us that people who support him don't care about the lying. they expect nothing better from this political process. he's just -- it's basically like judging someone in a bar fight for using bad language. i think their expectations, their disaffection is so extreme they don't expect anything better. so how do you make people care about the things that matter? part of that is what we select to talk about. part of that is them raising expectations. tonight we've got somebody who says he wants to do that. governor hickenlooper of colorado has entered the race for president. what's his case to them? why will he be something better? is it just about trum being bad or does he have something to offer? and we have exclusive reporting. the crisis on the border is real but it's not what the president has told you. what the "new york times" came out with today about the flow right now is nothing compared to what is feared to be coming. i have those numbers. i have who they say is coming. and it is frightening because we're not ready. >> chris, 11 minutes from now.
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we'll see you then. thanks very much. the man president trump wants overseeing america's public lands is coming up in an exclusive investigation. what he may have already done for his former clients. ♪ ♪ ahhh, ha. ♪ ♪ oh yeah, baby. ♪ ♪ like a fool i went and stayed too long. ♪ ♪ now i'm wondering if your loves still strong. ♪ ♪ ooo baby, here i am, signed, sealed, delivered, i'm yours ♪ applebee's 3 course meal starting at $11.99. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood.
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snuxt president trump . the new epa administrator who lobbied on behalf of the, overseeing public lands as a public oil lobbyist.
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the nominee is currently the acting secretary. now a review of industry requests shows the interior department appears to have been working overtime to grant requests to the very company that he lobbied for. here's the senior investigative correspondent drew griffin. >> it was advertised as press conference. acting secretary of the interior, visiting the martin luther king jr. national park. when the speeches were over -- >> that will conclude our press conference today. >> it was clear he wasn't about to take any questions. >> excuse me, sir. drew griffin with cnn. we thought this was a press conference and we thought we would get a few questions to ask you. we're doing a story. >> there may an good reason he and his staff are uncomfortable about questions on camera. because since he's been at the department of interior, a curious pattern has emerged.
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>> the fact that more than a dozen of your former clients have been getting favors through the department of the entirer i don't since you joined -- >> you're welcome -- >> is that just a coincidence? >> since he joined the agency, the department of interior has made at least 15 policy changes or decisions specifically requested by his former clients that benefited them. according to a cnn analysis. >> we're seeing a raft of favors, both large and small being granted. everything from specific projects, giving green lights, to large he policy that's are either being rolled back from the obama administration or moved forward in the trump administration. >> david bern hart defines the washington, d.c. revolving door. moving between government jobs to a major lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. now, this oil and gas lobbyist is back in government service. appointed first as deputy secretary of the interior by president trump in 2017, and
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promising in this ethics letter not to be involved, to recuse himself from any decisions involving 26 different groups, mostly in oil and gas, that he has lobbied for but only for a certain amount of time. curiously, 13 of his former clients have gotten what they wanted from the department of the interior since he's been there. and one name keeps popping up again and again. the independent petroleum association of manager, or ipaa. one of the group's requests, do something about the sage grouse. >> the deteriorating health of the bird has sparked the largest land conservation effort in u.s. history. >> 2015 the obama administration implemented a protection plan for the bird which meant lots of federal lands across the west would be either off limits or more difficult for oil and gas exploration. the ipaa, his former client, repeatedly lobbied department officials to loosen
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restrictions. records reviewed by cnn show bern hart involved in three meetings on the issue. ipaa and other groups thanked him for his involvement. by december of 2018, the trump administration released a plan to amend sagegrouse protections and open vast swaths of open land for oil drilling. the industry requests and actions taken go on and on. fracking, offshore drilling, easing of safety requirements, former clients asking and receiving favorable decisions from the government agency run by the former oil lobbyist. >> we're talking about the literal fox guarding the hen house. this administration doesn't seem to mind that a lobby lift regulate the very industry they used to work for. >> emthe secretary is fully in compliance with his recusal agreements. and critics who say he is
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granting favors are categorically incorrect, either misunderstand the law, or they are deliberately misleading. with the competitive enterprise institute defends the acting secretary's actions this way. >> dave bernhart is not pursuing his agenda or that of any people he worked for as a lur. he is pursuing the agenda that president trump won the election on and is implementing. >> but the acting secretary isn't so eager to talk about any of that. >> i'm happy to visit with you at any time. this is not the time but talk to my press folks. >> to be cheer, your press folks have told us you are inaccessible for the next several weeks. >> they haven't talked on me. i'll talk to them. we have a flight to catch. >> within minutes of this conversation, bernhardt's staff was sending an e-mail to cnn confirming there will be no
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interview. >> it seems like the bottom line is all these decisions may be helping david bernhardt's former clients but they said that's just policy, not granting specific favors. >> that's right. it is a distinction they make between benefiting the industry in general that happened to benefit a former client. because the changes are part of a bigger matter, the interior says it is all okay. david bernhardt is not violating any rules. >> and i'm sure his former clients are pretty happy about this. they get what they want and they don't have to pay him. >> the international petition petition organization says they have had no direct contact with him since he joined the department and these policy changes they are getting are changes they've been fighting for for decades. so you have the trump administration with an oil lobbyist at the interior department and a coal lobbyist at the epa making those dreams come true.
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>> great reporting. thank you. >> that's it for us. i hand it over to chris. >> welcome to primetime. the president pulled another fast one with the security clearance, this time for his daughter ivanka. democrats are asking for answers. the white house reportedly ducking. can the democrats take on all of this president's problems or is the hunt going to backfire? we're going to bring in one of the top investigators. plus exclusive reporting for you tonight. the real crisis at the border. it's one the president isn't selling. it's one a wall will not fix. the people trying to keep us safe are worried and i'm going to tell you why, only here tonight and the latest candidate to enter the 2020 race is only here tonight, why does governor john hickenlooper think he's the one to take out the president? what do you say? let's get after it. >> if you got nothing to hide, why don't you comply?