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tv   CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar  CNN  March 12, 2019 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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it just goes to show this is a frame that trump folks are looking at this. paul ryan failed on a major issue but republicans want to run on that forum. thanks for joining us on "inside politics." see you back here tomorrow. brianna keilar starts now. i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. underway right now, a stunning cheating scandal involving famous actresses, coaches and administrators at major elite universities all accused of paying and accepting millions of dollars in bribes to get kids into college. another week, another internal battle in the democratic party. today's debate, is impeaching trump worth it? plus, if joe biden is running for president, his speech today maify have been hi unofficial kickoff. as more and more countries involving boeing jets are
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involved in deadly crashes, why isn't the u.s. and what can passengers do? we begin with breaking news. wealthy individuals accused of using their money to buy their kids' way into college. federal authorities say they've charged 50 people in the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the justice department. those charged include coaches, college exam administrators. actresses felicity huffman and lori loughlin are both charged in what prosecutors describe as an elaborate scam. >> a central defendant in the scheme, william singer, will plead guilty today to charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the united states and obstruction of justice. the singer allegedly ran a college counseling service and something called the key worldwide foundation. between roughly 2011 and 2018,
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wealthy parents paid singer about $25 million in total to guarantee their children's admission to elite schools including yale, georgetown, stanford, the university of southern california, the university of texas, ucla and wake forest. >> now, those arrested include two administrators of the s.a.t. and the a.c.t. tests, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents. national correspondent brynbrynn brynbrynn brynn gingras is in boston. brynn, first just walk us through how this elaborate scheme worked. >> reporter: elaborate and enormous, brianna. you just described it right there as far as how big this was. investigators were looking into
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this for the last year. they called it operation varsity blues, and the mastermind, they say, behind it was a man named rick singer, and he is expected to be in court and plead guilty, according to authorities, within the next few hours or so. singer set up two plans basically to help get these parents into elite universities. one way they could do that, according to these court documents, was basically parents would have singer have someone take tests for them, the s.a.t.s, the a.c.t.s, actively physically take tests to obtain a better score. in addition, he would have someone change the scores in order to bring up their s.a.t. scores or a.c.t. scores to get into certain universities. another way would be to go through the athletic route. according to authorities, singer would bribe athletic officials, coaches, give them money and
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they would basically admit the student into their school as an athlete even if that person never played a sport. just incredible details coming out of this news conference that wrapped up about an hour ago. you named two famous actresses, felicity huffman and lori loughlin. they each of them allegedly took these separate routes with their daughters, felicity huffman allegedly paying $15,000 to get one daughter's test scores changed in order to get a better test score. as far as lori loughlin is concerned with this court paperwork, she asked rick singer to bacsically get her daughter admitted as a crew athlete, even though she never played crew. there are others waiting to turn themselves in. this isn't the end of it. the investigation is ongoing,
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brianna. >> and how many, that's the question. seth, tell us about the charges here. >> this is really essentially a two-stage criminal complaint. in the first stage, mr. singer was offering a two-path scheme where he could get your kid in with a critical conspiracy by either rigging the game with your a.c.t. scores or s.a.t. scores, or he had an in with assistant coaches where he could create a scam to get someone in through a sporting avenue by fraud and they would pose in pictures of other athletic bodies. not only was it a complete fraud, but they would launder the money through a nonprofit organization. so it wasn't enough to be
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involved in a scam to balance out the unqualified kids, but they took a charitable donation at the end of the day, too. >> that's money fraud. >> this is a critical complaint, it's not an indictment like what we're used to seeing with manafort and so forth. what that means is that these individuals have a right to appear before a judge. they're under arrest. they're going to go before a judge and they're either not going to waive indictment which means they'll be pelted with these charges or they'll plead it out. they're already facing 20 years. you'll see a lot of people fall like flies, i predict. >> mcgregor, you were an expert at m.i.t., one of the nation's most elite universities. have you heard of something like this, and if so, have you had a sense of how widespread this problem is?
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>> i've never heard of anything like this happening. it's really a travesty. i think for me the biggest travesty here is that a number of -- it sounds like from the indictment, a number of the children involved here in and of itself is awful, but received fake diagnoses of learning deficie disabilities. it does a disservice to those who actually have those disabilities and need help in showing potential with these tests. >> i get a sense of how heavy this subject is to you as you're seeing something you never knew existed. what do you think about the students who have worked hard, do not get in, and they hear about this? >> i think it just underscores how overall inferior the process is. many admissions officers hope to embrace a process of selection
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where they admit the best students to that college or university, but in reality there is just a significant amount of forc forces in that student we just don't know about that take place that go into the selection process. it's not nearly as mirocratic as we hoped it would be. >> we know these people hopefully donate to universities or they're an alum. how real is that and isn't that already an opportunity to take advantage of the system, and how do you see that different from this? >> i think it's an excellent question. i think one of the processes that many people don't know about is that there is -- many universities have a development office that deal directly with families, donors, alumni, and then there's the admissions
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office. there is some pretty substantial barriers that exist between the two so that decisions don't take into account whether family can donate or has donated. you see the name on a building, you see the name on an application and sometimes it's sort of an implicit decision that takes place. i think, you know, there are ways to do this and there are ways to not do this, and this to me is just -- it's just exceptionally unethical, and i think it's going to end up being larger, it sounds like it will be larger than what was discussed today, and i think it's going to do a lot of harm to schools, to admissions offices, because now they're going to have -- the onus is on them to show this is a fair process or as fair as it can possibly be. >> mcgreggor crowley, seth blair as well, thank you for your legal expertise. trump respondents are responding to house speaker
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nancy pelosi saying trump is not worth it. and former vice president j dick cheney -- joe biden, pardon me -- basically saying he's running for the 2020 race. the calls are growing louder for boeing to ground the jets involved in two deadly crashes. what do you do if you're about to fly on one? pardon the interruption but this is big! now with t-mobile get the samsung galaxy s10e included with unlimited data for just $40 a month.
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saying if this equation changes, she says, there is something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan. democrats say that's why they're continuing the oversight process with several investigations in play. here's some of the reaction today to pelosi's comments. >> i agree that we have to proceed with caution, and that is the position of the overwhelming majority of the members of the house democratic caucus. >> when public opinion is in support of removal, i'm confident the impeachment will go forward. >> i think the speaker is absolutely right that if the evidence isn't sufficient to win bipartisan support for this, putting the country through a failed impeachment is not a good idea. >> reporter: do you agree with that, not pursuing impeachment? >> at this time, yeah. and we don't have the mueller report yet. i think we have to wait to see what's in that report. >> it's fair to say that if the speaker doesn't support that move, it's not going to happen.
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>> we want to see what democrats think and we have the congresswoman who represents new hampshire. you sit on the committee and it's nice having you with us. >> thank you for having me, brianna. >> do you agree with speaker pelosi that impeachment not meant to happen for the democrats? >> i've always thought he was unfit to be president, and that being said, i think the special counsel needs to finish his report, issue his report, see what it says and review that report with the understanding that the decision to go forward with impeachment is a really significant and grave one and it's not something we should do lightly. >> there is a scenario where -- i mean, it is possible to imagine that the mueller report does raise some issue of major crimes committed, but perhaps republicans decide that they are
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going to stand by the president. i wonder if you think in that case, is there a duty on the part of democrats to pursue impeachment if the president has committed significant crimes even if it may be a political disaster for your party? >> again, i think it's really important just to see what the special counsel finds and proceed from there. but i do think it's really important that we always evaluate whether to go forward with the overall impact that decision would have on our country. >> and the overall impact meaning -- >> well, how divisive it would be. and certainly, you know, we are going to have to see whether -- if the mueller report really substantiates criminal behavior or impeachable behavior, what the reaction of our republican colleagues are. i understand the concern people bring about protecting the constitution, but i also think we have an obligation to work
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together as americans to move our country forward. and that's one of the things that you have to balance in this overall discussion. >> so being from new hampshire, you know you can't really throw a rock there without hitting a presidential candidate, and former vice president joe biden teased his future in that regard a bit this morning. he told a cheering crowd here in washington that -- they were rather energetic and he said he may need their energy in a few weeks. would you support a biden candidacy? >> look, i think vice president biden has a great case to make to the american people. and i think we also have a really robust and excellent group of candidates in the field right now. my job in new hampshire is to make sure we have the welcome mat there and make sure that we are vetting all of these candidates. what i know about the vice president and what i know about our candidates is they're going to fight for working families and make sure we have an economy that works for everyone, and that's really what this election
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cycle is going to be about. >> so despite -- i want to talk to you now about the president's budget. because despite his promises to protect medicare, his budget would cut billions of dollars from the program, $845 billion from the program. and it also makes deep cuts in medicaid, it cuts social security. you're on the senate finance committee. the dollar amount, this is a wish list. it's not going to stay the same when all of this is said and done, but what's your reaction to the president as he does make his priorities clear hero po-- here posing cuts to medicare? >> this is something he said he would never do. he said he would never cut medicare, and his budget cuts both. anti-opioid epidemic grants,
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that's good. there's more for cybersecurity, that's good. but overall this is a budget that will take us backwards. in addition to medicare and social security, deep, deep cuts to medicaid and the ending of medicaid expansion which is one of the critical tools that people on the front lines of the opioid epidemic have at their disposal and tell me how critically important it is to them all the time. on the one hand, the president is maintaining some opioid funding, but when it gets to the health care system that can really help us in that regard, this budget takes us very far backwards. it also would allow, again, insurance companies to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. so, again, leaving more americans uninsured, toogd all of the costs that come with that. so at the end of the day, this is a really irresponsible budget in which the president is also
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breaking promises that he never made. what we know we need to do is build a stronger, more effective health care system that brings the cost of health care down but make sure we're expanding coverage to everybody. >> the budget does have a key promise and that is money to combat the opioid epidemic. you mentioned it there. that is something among the few proposals in here that you say you can look at and get behind, right? >> i can get behind that, but if you go ahead and keep the money speckly targeted for opioids and you end medicaid expansion, you're undermining the whole effort. because medicaid expansion covers substance use, disorder, treatment. so it's absolutely critical. you take that away, and you're going to have more people again who can't access treatment. the two things are confidential.
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i can support the opioid money staying the same, although we could use more, but it isn't going to be very effective if they end medicare expansion and cut and cap traditional medicaid. overall, this is a very backward budget and it's going to undermine critical health care services for millions of americans. >> i want to ask you about something the "washington post" is reporting, where former vice president dick cheney told vice president pence that the u.s. was losing confidence in the united states and that they were closer to barack obama. >> we have never seen a damaged foreign policy than what we're seeing with donald trump. he is cozying up to our adversaries like putin and kim jong-un --
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>> do you agree with dick cheney? >> what i agree with is comments that say that donald trump's foreign policy is very dangerous. it's rash, it's impulsive. he puts the word of foreign adversaries like putin ahead of the word of our own intelligence professionals. he decides, without consulting the military or intelligence, to suddenly pull out of syria. and has no strategy or discipline when it comes to foreign policy. that is very harmful and very dangerous. >> senator maggie hassan, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me on. the list is growing longer and longer. airlines are grounding the boeing 737 max 8 involved in two recent crashes. u.s. regulators are making a
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romney -- could you find two people more apart -- are some of the lawmakers calling on the faa to order the part. the two airlines, united aameri airlines and southwest, have not seen the evidence that the plane should not fly. donald trump said, airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. pie rots are no -- pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from mit. two weeks ago in vietnam, trump made a sale of two dozen boeing max planes. a spokesman for the allied
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pilots association. the flight attendants association says tpts the f ait flight association to jump in. should they be grounded right now? >> we certainly appreciate the concern and thank you to the president for reaffirming the importance of having pilots in the cockpit who are highly trained and experienced. certainly we're concerned. the difference here at american is after the lion air crash, we did have meetings with boeing, and we expressed our pilots' concerns over this. boeing then finally disclosed to us a system that led to the nose down that everyone has focused on in the lion air crash, and that system, we asked for software changes. those changes was just announced by the faa yesterday along with additional training. what's unique in american airlines, and boeing reaffirmed this for us, we have indicators in the cockpit unlike any other carrier in the u.s. that i'm
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aware of. we've had them for over 20 years. they're aa indicators. >> they're angle indicators, right? >> thank you, angle alert indicators, and it gives us an alert prior to this. this is not to connect it with the ethiopian crash. we're waiting for the details on that, but we deeply, deeply respect and also are equally concerned about the information coming out of that. but it's too early to make decisive decisions and we're confident that those aircraft are safe for the systems that we are aware of. >> so you're basically saying that you have this angle of attack indicator, and because of that, you think it would compensate for any problems with the plane and you're not calling for the planes to be grounded, just to be clear, although you say you respect that people are calling for that, a lot of them are. a lot of influential people, too. i want to talk about boeing because it was after the lion air crash in the fall where they
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put out more information in a really unprecedented move, information that pilots like yourself didn't previously had about this plane that clearly they should have had. is boeing doing all that it should here? have they fulfilled their responsibilities? >> since the lion air break of trust, they have. i want to point out that not only indicators but the pilots have identified the process and the procedures to stop that mal did i malady in the aircraft and stop the whole process from happening. president trump is right, the pilots being aware of this and others streaming information to us, that happened after the airline crash and boeing has updated that with additional training and software update. again, we don't know what happened with the ethiopian crash and we are certainly reserving judgment based on that information.
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pilots work on facts. we're human beings and we're asking those questions. we're just as concerned, and we'll see what happens as we go forward. every minute counts. that information is key. >> dennis, can i ask you about the president's tweet? has automation helped with safety? he is expressing concerns and you're appreciative he's saying there should be experienced pilots, but his automation in some of these computers, have they helped keep planes safer? because we haven't seen any mechanical failures. >> it is the enhancement of safety, not the replacement for experienced pilots, period. i want that technology, it helps me out, it's part of my equipment and my crew, essentially. but when that goes afoul, i need to use stick and rotor skills and bring that aircraft back and protect those people. that's why we're there. >> dennis t arktajer, thank you
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much. we have stunning breaking news. felicity huffman and lori loughlin are among dozens of parents charged in bribing school administrations. ivanka trua book that says wanted ivanka and jared kushner out of the white house. liberty mutual insurance. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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for democrats. some people echoing that, saying it would be too divisive. she also said that president trump is intellectually and ethically unfit for office. i want to talk about this with a.b. stoddard, associate editor for "real politics" and legal analyst gloria borger. what do you make of this and the fact that it's creating a bit of a division here? >> it is because there are progressive democrats who say, wait a minute, she shouldn't be ruling that out. i think nancy pelosi did it before the mueller report came out, which is very important in the timing because it made it clear she wasn't reacting to anything that was in the mueller report. she's saying let's just slow down here. she looks at the polls. a majority of americans, even though a lot of them believe the president has done something wrong, they don't favor impeachment. they're sick of it. they're exhausted by it. she doesn't want this to get in the middle of an agenda the democrats might have, so she's
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saying, hold off, it's just not worth it. >> what do you think? >> i agree with gloria. you're looking at a woman who wants to hold the house in 2020 and wants her party to win the presidency. it's true, the founders intended for a remedy that would look like this. and if it's never used, it's never going to be used. how do you turn someone out of office? but you're looking back at the clinton example, you're looking at the republican party that's not going to convict him and therefore it would be a wasted effort on the house side, could be a political boon to the president. so it becomes a political issue, no longer a legal constitutional issue. she's saying politically it's not worth it and she knows it's better for her party to run against a weakened president on the other side than divide the country in this way. i think gloria is right to say
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that they shouldn't come out now about this. >> this is what representative rashida tlaib said to manu raju. >> i'm going to move forward, obviously. it's important there is a transparent process. no one, not even the president, should be above the law. >> a.b. that's going to be the feeling of a lot of voters. >> that is what rashida tlaib is telling her voters. she is freeing them for saying whatever they want to say, and then she can say, my school principal won't let me. >> she's taking the hit for her members, and that's probably saying to them, look, you can do what you want to do, and blame it on me, i'm the bad guy here, and that's okay. now, all of this, of course, let's see what's in the mueller report. let's see what occurs --
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>> because she didn't fully close the door on impeachment. >> no, she did not. this is sort of a before mueller. she didn't close the door. she wants to see what is presented, but she kind of said, slow down. i don't want us to be the party of just throwing him out of office and people will think we want to delegitimize him. >> but i just talked to -- i said, is there a situation where crimes are clear but republicans don't come on the side of democrats on this? and she said you have to look at how divisive this is going to be. it seems like she's saying it doesn't matter what the evidence bears out but what the result of impeachment will be. >> exactly, there are already legal opinions that he's obstructed and done things in office. there are things outside the mueller report that might merit
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impeachment but it's not something they can seek through the constitutional end, it's all political now, and it's not worth the division of the country unless the republicans come and throw their own leader out of office and join an impeachment process. how the foreign minister is giving american diplomats just hours to leave the country. and a remarkable story of survive. we ha -- survival. we have an exclusive interview with a man who spent his life in syrian prisons starting when he was 15. a series of answers, ahead. kick it outside!! shoot the three! shoot the three!! yessssssss!!!!!! are you...ok? no, no i'm not. i think i pulled a hammy.
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civil war has ravaged syria. it began as a peaceful uprising against the country's president, bashar al-assad, during the arab spring. it rapidly escalated when the regime responded with a violent crackdown. and as you know, hundreds of thousands of people have died in the fighting in syria or they've been pushed out of their homes. countless more have been arrested, thrown in prison, subjected to horrific torture. and we have a very important cnn exclusive interview that we are bringing you today. omar al-shogre, who spent three years in various syrian prisons including saydnaya prison, which is dubbed a slaughterhouse. thank you for sharing your story. thank you so much for telling us. we need to know what's going on.
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describe what it was like for you. tell us what happened, how it started. >> the first time i was in the administration, i was in the administration because i was with a lot of people in syria. >> you were demonstrating. >> yeah. i was 15 years old and people were demonstrating. for me it was fun. i had no idea what dictatship means. i was just a child. i was a child thinking the bullets protect us. but the bullets were shooting people for the first time, and my best friend died next to me and they arrested me for the demonstration. >> they arrested you during the demonstration and then they put you in prison. and it's just two days. >> two days for the first time. i was arrested seven different times. the last time was three years between 2017 a.
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i was going through two hours of someone's counting outside the door, and you should get out the toilet after ten seconds. then you go back to your cell, you have 40 centimeters square, and you sit down. there is no walls. the walls is people sitting next to you, the person to the right -- there's an engineer behind you, well-educate people. >> four hours of torture a day. >> long time. >> what is the torture? >> the torture -- it depends on which time is it. if you're in prison or not. when you're in prison, they start with taking out your nails. >> taking out your fingernails? >> yeah. then they use electricity almost all the days. >> electricity, they shock you? >> absolutely. they do that. they have a systematic way to torture people, they know, and
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they torture with starvation and other ways of torture when they give you a lot of food but year not allowed to foods. you just can look at the food, and put the food outside the room when you're extremely hungry. >> they're trying to break you psychologically? >> yeah. it's important to them to break you psychologically. they don't want people to think about getting out. in case people have aid, they'll think about freedom. when people's hungrier, going to think about food, only food. >> so they beat you a lot, you talk about that in an extraordinary ted talk. you hear them beating other people. throughout this process, you lose essentially your entire family, right? inside and outside of the prisons. >> yeah. i was arrested with three cousins. two of them -- of them died in front of my eyes. one of them died in my arms, and the third one was a female cousin, the same age as me. i heard she was killed, but i had no -- i was not sure.
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then i -- there was a cousin who told me they killed all my family. but -- >> they killed your family in a massacre, right? >> outside the village where like people was only demonstrating, like with the flowers, getting out with flowers, just asking for freedom or just for better life, nothing else, they kill people for that reason. >> why were you released? >> i was released -- a lawyer, getting into prison, had a good contact and after paid money and get me out. communicated with my mother, said i have your son, if you pay money, you get your son. my mother paid money to get me. my mother paid at that time. >> there is something happening in the u.s. as we're looking toward the 2020 presidential elections. one of the democratic presidential candidates, gabbard, who met with bashar al assad in 2017 was asked at one of the cnn town halls if assad is a war criminal.
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here's what she said -- >> i think that the evidence needs to be gathered, and as i have said before, if there's is evidence that he has committed war crimes, he should be prosecuted as such. >> you're not sure now? >> everything that i have said requires that we take action based on evidence. the evidence is there, there should be accountability. >> she won't say, has not said that he committed war crimes. she won't call him a war criminal. how do you respond? >> there's a lot of evidence. there is the wounds on my body. there's a lot of -- not a lot, but there is survivors can tell you about prison. how many people are being killed? i have -- i had a vigil for my father being killed. there is a lot of evidence. a lot of videos, a lot of commentary. there's everything -- >> what happens when politicians here will not even depending on whatever they want to see with the policy in the middle east, but they will not say what is happening? what does that do for people in
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syria like you, like your friends who may still be there, and what does that do for the legitimacy of the regime? >> for the first thing as -- from prisoners, the first thing that we think about when we're in prison, no one is -- no one think about us. no one care. we die in silence. and the same thing with other people in the war in syria. they know, no one is caring -- why people don't do that, do you think i deserve to survive? if you think i do, other people do, as well. why you today look at me -- some people look at me and say, you deserve to get help, but you don't do any -- don't need help right now. but there is other people in need. you don't do anything. one time they thought i died. they put me in this room. i wake up with all dead bodies, and the door was closed. i should just -- look at dead bodies, someone is dead, and his eyes is open. do smiomething, move, try to ta
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myself to the door. someone opened the door and said, what are you doing here? i said, i -- i still alive. and they said, why? you should die. >> omar, your story is so important to hear. thank you so much for talking with us and sharing it. >> thank you. a new investigation tried to president trump, this one stemming from his former attorney and fixer, michael cohen's testimony on the hill. why the new york state attorney general is asking for records related to multiple trump projects. also, stunning details from a brand-new book on ivanka trump and jared kushner revealing how ivanka reportedly had to defend her father after the charlottesville protests. the white house just responded to that book. 's see, aleve is proven better on pain than tylenol extra strength. and last longer with fewer pills. so why am i still thinking about this? i'll take aleve. aleve. proven better on pain.
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and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi, this is xfi. simple. easy. awesome. xfinity, the future of awesome. are you watching cnn, i'm brooke baldwin. remember back in the day when you studied really hard and you made that list of your dream colleges and you took those standardized tests and snt all the extra time on scholarship applications, and then waited with bated breath for the letter or e-mail to come in the mail? yeah. turns out if you are rich and famous, you could have paid for it. check this out. this -- this huge hunk of paper, thank you, that's the criminal complaint the justice department announcing today it hasha

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