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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  March 26, 2019 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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women. >> cnn new york. >> thank you for joining us. ac 360 starts now. good evening, another busy night. controversial statements that you hope would stay behind closed doors. but we begin with something that the president talked a lot about today in private and public. robert mueller's conclusions. a justice department official telling cnn that we could be reading his report within weeks and not months. confirming that no one at the white house has seen a copy and the president today said what you're about to hear him say. he almost certainly had not read the entire mueller report.
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>> it was great. it could not have been better. no obstruction. no collusion. it couldn't have been better. >> the president is painting with a broad brush there. he's suggesting that he's seen the mueller report when there's no evidence that he has. now to be generous, the president isn't always precise with his language so assume that he's conflating the mueller report with attorney general barr's four page summary of it which is all anybody has seen but even then he's falsely characterizing the collusion. it does not say there's no obstruction of justice. it says that he, the attorney general decided not to pursue an obstruction case and it is the passage quoting while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. as to the no collusion claim it's certainly more favorable to team trump and good news for the
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country. but the fact that the president didn't do that is good news for america. quoting from the barr summer, quote, special counsel's investigation did not find that anyone associated with the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with russia in it's efforts to influence the 2016 u.s. presidential election. so he found no evidence of chargeable crimes and that's a major vindication for the president. was there inappropriate comment. awful but lawful. we won't know until the complete mueller report comes out. until it does neither we nor the president or anyone else can make blanket statements about what robert mueller did not or did uncover. the barr summary says the special counsel identified two main efforts to influence the
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election which is what the intelligence community has maintained. the president resisted that collusion and has a long history of giving vladimir putin the benefit of the doubt. we'll talk to retired colonel ralph peters for his perspective. so the collusion question may be answered but what remains unanswered is one, why the president has acted the way he has continually toward putin over the course of the last three years. >> and indeed, anderson, that's the primary question. it's astonished me that we all lost sight of that. everything else is important. from the question of obstruction of justice to whether or not there was formal collusion but the issue of whether vladimir
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putin and his cronies have any direct influence over the president of the united states and his decisions, i cannot imagine a question more important i can't imagine something that should be a higher priority for our intelligence agencies and unfortuna unfortunately we may never get the right answers but it comes back to exactly what you said. why won't the president ever criticize putin? >> the president said one thing which is wouldn't it be great if we could get along with russia? it would be a good thing and not a bad thing. might it also be as simple as him having an affinity for strong leaders or wanting to emulate them or being intimidated by them.
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and he eliminated some sanctions. >> well, in the through the looking glass world of trump things are possible that we would have never thought possible before but trump has criticized at some point every other leader. but he won't criticize putin and why does he want sanctions? why has he been slow rolling sanctions? why does he just dove tail with putin's view of the world. anderson, i may butterly wrong. i may be influenced by my background as an intelligence officer but again, i go back to what has been not addressed. the steel dossier. given trump's behavioral profile
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he was a perfect target and if you want various explanations, the steel dossier is a viable one. did the russians help trump because they hated hillary so much? it may be a combination of many things but at the end of the day we need to know whether vladimir putin has any control over the president of the united states. why does he have to meet with him behind closed doors without witnesses. i look for patterns and the trump pattern of behavior with and toward putin troubles me de deeply. i want to stress something. i'm not for the democratic party. both parties failed us. last election we had a choice between lucifer and satan.
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i care about the united states of america. i want it to be fairly and honestly governed. i want american security and i need to know more about this. i can't let it go. i can't let it go. the steel dossier rings true to me. >> obviously the barr memo is all we have seen. i'm wondering how important is it to you that the mueller report be released. we now learned it will be weeks and not months. >> we're going to be arguing about this for awhile and when we do get something in weeks it's not going to be complete. we'll see what we get and with the initial reaction, i was
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reminded of the bowrey boys when they used to say don't trump to contusions and i'm afraid a lot of people have been jumping to contusions. i want to see what's in it but everything that was in that brief barr letter matters. of course it matters. i'm a little disappointed -- i believe in robert mueller as a man of integrity. i was a little disappointed that he didn't make a decision one way or the other about obstruction of justice. i trust his findings. so it's not a question of getting trump as much as i may dislike him personally. as an american citizen the best outcome for me would be the president is blameless and flawless and russia has no grip on him. >> thank you very much. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> for more perspective on what we might actually see in the mueller report, also former nixon white house counsel and cnn contributor john dean.
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so barr is saying they'll make a version of the mueller report public in weeks. how much discretion does he have about what ends up in the version released? >> except for grand jury material and national security decisions which might require a judge to give permission for material to be used. he has a lot of discretion to let us see everything. >> he could redact stuff. >> he could and what we know is that we have a very basic finding about, quote, collusion or no conspiracy with the russian government and the
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conclusion about an obstruction that may or may not have been an obstruction. we need to see everything about it. because presumably the whole muller report will tell a tale. there will be connective tissue. we know almost nothing from what he served up the other day except a legal conclusion that's very important. in terms of a narrative of what happened either with the russians or with an obstruction or non-obstruction, we know nothing so far. >> in terms of the doj saying it has no plans to give the white house an advanced copy of the mueller report, a, that doesn't mean they wouldn't brief them in advance of more details in the mueller report, i assume, or does it? and also do you think it's still possible that the white house is
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going to demand to see if there's anything on executive privilege? >> that would be one of their arguments. they want to see if something should be withheld because of executive reasons. they want the precondition that they could later invoke executive privilege. that would not be a reason to breach the norm where they get a deep briefing on this before it's sent over. there could be like a 24 hour period to with hold it going public if they want to exert privilege. there's another area that will be withheld which is the cases referred out for other u.s. attorneys to look at and if there's material of that nature in there that will be it. >> they wouldn't want the public, their hand, prosecutors in various jurisdictions. >> they don't want to tip them
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off so that will be withheld too. >> the president is a very good marketer, obviously and has an incredible knack for defining things in a certain way so he's saying the whole report is great when he habsn't seen the report >> he got a football and he ran with it here. what he did get was a good reading in the first part about, quote, no collusion or conspiracy with very carefully stated the russian government. and he'll keep running with it. we saw mr. giuliani running with it this afternoon on situation room. there's another element with this. that's the whole classified counter intelligence
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investigation. and how much of that could be redacted in such a way that congress, the senior members of congress can get that part of the story. all of this fits together. we need after two years to definitively know what happened not just with the president of the united states and his campaign but what the matrix of all of this that we have been talking about and debating, journalists have been writing about. there's been huge controversy. an it's now presumably the means of finding out a good deal that could clarify thing ifs the attorney general of the united states and president of the united states is willing to find this material out and the republicans on the hill, this is not a good piece of news that mitch mcconnell the republican leader stepped in and said well
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maybe we won't pass that resolution that says this material should be released. >> we heard from eric holder yesterday saying that he never actually received anything from a prosecutor without a charging recommendation. how outside the norm is it? >> very outside of the norm. certainly in a federal system. it's very unusual that mueller did not make a recommendation and it's hard to believe that he was hung up on so what decision to make. >> can i ask john a question? >> i'll ask you outside. >> coming up next, new reporting on what the president said this afternoon about the mueller investigation and his new effort to unravel obamacare. all of it when cameras were not rolling and after all of that
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why did authorities just drop all charges against jussi jussie smollett? chicago's mayor is furious. details ahead.
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then picked through a litany of pet peeves or concerns or legislative issues. he wanted the party to focus on health care. he thinks that's incredibly important. he was critical and had charts on the amount of money that the government has spent toward puerto rico after hurricane maria and that i think caused a lot of attention afterwards but look, this is feeling valedictory for him. >> we learned that back in february the president was talking about ways to limit aid to puerto rico. he brought charges today. was anything determined about what he wants done or not done? >> no, he compared spending for puerto rico and places like texas and these red states in
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southern america had been spending their money better. i think this is a remark that he thinks plays well with his base of support but at the end of the day puerto ricans are american citizens and he's talking about how they deserve less relief money. this is a president that comes from new york that was hit by a terrorist attack on september 11th, 2001 and anyone that suggested that new york should not get aid afterwards was criticized pretty aggressively and it's interesting seeing how he's going about this. especially considering the very large puerto rican community. obamacare suggested again and the republican party will
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file the suit yesterday to get rid of the aca entiretily and it was a move that was criticized by some even within the administration and health care was an issue in 2018. the president is coming off of arguably his best few days in two years of his presidency and to immediately step into a controversy struck some people as surprising. >> he wanted an investigation into the russian investigation. >> he did bring that up. he has talked about having lindsey graham investigate the investigators and how the mueller probe came to be. he sounded interested on that. he expressed on twitter desire to have james comey come testify before the senate. we'll see where that goes. >> all right. thank you very much.
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>> more on the question of what democrats do with this moment. joining us today is kirsten powers. should it come as any surprise that the president is as maggie says in a good mood right now? who wouldn't be? >> no, of course. there's a major sigh of relief among the president and people around him that were also caught up in this investigation and they have a lot to be happy about in terms of the finding around collusion. there is still a question of what is actually in mueller's report and if democrats are able to get their hands on that it may be a different story and not make the president so happy. but for now he has a lot to be happy aboutened it's strange to
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be bringing up health care, an area where the republican party is not favored when it comes to electoral politics and you'd think he would be focused on what is pretty much one big win for him. >> one of the things is also talking about getting vengeance on those he feels wronged by. do you think that's wise? >> with mall lass toward all, i haven't looked to see what president reagan said after iran contra and the review board. it was a review board. he said this, i studied the board's report. it's findings are honest, convincing and highly critical and i accept them. he called for unity and moving forward. that's ronald reagan and i don't think anybody is going to confuse donald trump with president reagan but it is interesting. he can't get out of his own way. i don't know if it's because he
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is worried that the full mueller report won't be quite as nice as the carefully selected 65 words that we got from attorney general barr. that's all we got. and i would guess knowing that barr was put there by trump that they're pretty favorable to trump because that's what mr. barr wants to see and belief. maybe it's just what he does but i'm sure he's worried. >> do you think the idea of bringing up obamacare, do you think that has anything to do with concerns about weeks from now the mueller report coming up and people still focussing on it? this gives people something else to focus on?
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and it's a lightning rod issue? >> i would find issues he stands for that are popular with the american people and repealing obamacare would take away the protection of pre-existing conditions of which half of all americans have a pre-existing condition. it would deny health care instantly if he wins this lawsuit to 23 million americans that now get health care and are better off for it. it is a stone loser politically. it's evidence of how he has never been above 50%. he's never had majority support. maybe it's because he does want to take away health care. maybe i ought to start believing that he's serious when he says he wants to take away health care from 23 million americans.
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>> something else was that he forgave hillary clinton after the election your thought on that? he brings her up a lot. >> what does he need to forgive her for? i was puzzled by that, i don't know, you know -- she didn't do anything to him. so i mean, they ran against each other, of course we look at past presidents and the friendships that they have formed. president bush and clinton became good friends. you just don't see this kind of inability to move forward the way that he now needs to forgive her and about a former, somebody that they ran against. a former opponent.
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>> how do you expect to listen to that and is it something that you firmly believe in. >> i strongly believe in it. i asked her about impeachment and she said what do you think? i said i think your position is we're all for it as soon as the republicans ask you to do it. that is her position and it has been since the beginning of this term of hers as speaker and it's very wise. constitutionally wise most importantly but also politically very wise. there are some democrats who want to rush toward impeachment i long thought that that was a big mistake. democrats now have some power and look what she is doing.
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i think she's been brilliant on this. >> thank you very much. up next, more breaking news, prosecutors make a stunning announcement in the jussi jussie smollett case. why chicago's major and superintendent are outraged. thanks to priceline working with top airlines to turn their unsold seats into amazing deals, family reunion attendance is up. we're all related! yeah, i see it. and because priceline offers great deals by comparing thousands of prices in real time, sports fans are seeing more away games. various: yeah-h-h!
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>> they say they staged an elaborate hate crime against himself but then suddenly the same prosecutor's office dropped the charges. the move stunned chicago's mayor and police superintendent that weren't made aware of the
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decision in advance. both were visibly angry at a special conference this afternoon because the police say hundreds of hours of manpower were deployed in the investigation because it makes victims of actual hate crimes reluctant to come forth. >> there's no sense of remorse. the fact is, wolf, in this act, he not only obviously all the resources of the police to investigate and get to the bottom of a alleged hate crime that turned out to be a hoax, the financial problem but then taking all the notions of hate crimes and the reasons we have those laws on the books is to protect people of faith, racial background, sexual orientation that they cannot be a victim of crime, a violent crime of any nature because of who they are, how they believe and who they love. he used that for his self-promotion. >> his lawyers say he, in fact,
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was attacked and misinformation lead to a rush to judgment against him. to make matters more confusing an assistant state's attorney said we did not exonerate him unquote. we'll talk about how unprecedented and frankly confusing the whole moment is. but first how we got here. >> i gave the description as best as i could. you have to understand also that it's chicago in winter. people can wear ski masks. >> when actor jussie smollett broke his silence he was indignant. investigators scoured dozens of videos from surveillance cameras but were unable to find any evidence of the attack on camera. these two men were brought in for questioning though and after 47 hours they confessed to attacking smollett but here's where things get murky. they told investigators jussie paid them to do it.
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>> who [ bleep ] would make something like this up or add something to it or whatever it may be? >> still police said they had evidence that the actor paid two men, brothers, $3,500 to stage the attack. and gave them money to buy supplies. so despite his very public denials, prosecutors charged him with disorderly conduct. accusing him of staging a hate crime. he directed their attention to a surveillance camera he thought would capture the incident. >> he told investigators it was caught on camera. turns out the 45 second attack was just out of view. officials also say the actor knew the two men he paid in the attack. both did work on the show empire and one provided him with illegal drugs.
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smollett pleaded not guilty. >> i'm left hanging my head and asking why. why would anyone, especially an african american man use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations. >> soon the alleged motive became clear. he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked. >> same reason why police say the actor sent himself this threatening letter on the set of empire just days before the alleged attack. his case seemed to be edging toward trial when suddenly just today charges were dropped. >> do i think justice was served? no. what do i think justice is? i think this city is still owed an apology. >> this is a whitewash of justice. he's still saying he's innocent and still running down the
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chicago police department. how dare him? how dare him? >> jussie smollett sticking to his story despite evidence that his attack is nothing more than a stunt. >> i have been truthful. i would not be my mother's son if i was capable of one drop of what i have been accused of. >> joining me now cnn legal analy analyst. >> does this make sense to you? they're saying he's exonerated essentially, that's how he is portraying it. he did two days of community service and paid a $10,000 fine which seems to indicate some form of guilt of something, no? >> yes but normally you'd see more accountability before you dismiss 16 counts handed down by
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a grand jury. this is a bizarre and unusual way to resolve such a serious case. the reports were that 12 detectives spent over 1,000 hours investigating this case. that's an enormous diversion of resources in chicago, a city that suffered from gun violence that's been widely publicized in the past. and this is an unusual disposition. >> how unusual is it for the police superintendent to come out and declare that justice has not been served? >> listen, i understand that he's upset and reasonably so. a lot of resources were expended and there was sufficient evidence to indict and things jussie has not been able to explain. so there will now be an asterik after his name because there's always the lingering question of why would you seal all the
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information relative to this incident unless you wanted to hide evidence of wrong doing? who pays $10,000 and says let's call it even steven. this is an example of the haves and the have notes and right now people that look like me are celebrating because two weeks ago police officers were acquitted for the murder of antoine rose and the shooting of charles kinsey so now it feels like for black folks the system is working in their favor. he didn't kill anybody and this was a minor offense. he won this battle but i don't think he's going to win the war at the end of the day. >> what do you make of the fact that the prosecutor that made the decision to drop the charges says he done believe smollett is innocent. >> that's right. he has said this is not an exoneration by any stretch of the imagination. he compared this with thousands of other cases where there were
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false reports to police and this disposition is consistent with those cases. >> so that's the argument, that this was in line with other penalties that -- why seal the case file? >> the case would be sealed because any case that gets dismissed is automatically sealed so that really wasn't unusual but it does block further inquiry as to why they did this. my experience has always been that when celebrities are involved in charges like this everybody knows the public is watching and you need a transparent handling of the case. so that the public knows this guy is being treated fairly even though he is a celebrity. instead you have this secret proceeding where suddenly these charges are dismissed and frankly i think it does a disservice to future victims of racial harassment and attacks
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that may not be believed because of a false claim made in this case. >> the prosecutor justified the decision by saying his office prioritizes violent crime and he doesn't see him as a threat to public safety. is that a valid reason -- >> no. >> paul, i'm sorry. that was for cheryl. go ahead. >> i'm sorry. excuse me. >> the prosecutor has autonomy over what they want to press and file charges on. they get to do whatever they want and give whatever reason and rational for doing that. number one they weren't given advanced notice and number two who overrides the will of a grand jury indictment. >> i want to add one thing, i think also the prosecutors botched the case. they let the two men that alleged attacked him go free.
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so three people involved in a crime, one gets charged, two go free. what happens at the time of trial when they testify at odds to one another? it would be a very difficult case to win. so i think they botched the case when they presented it the way they presented it and this is an easy out for them. >> great to have you on. president trump once again upset about the amount of federal funds earmarked for disaster aid for puerto rico. coming up we'll talk to the mayor of san juan about what the president is saying now. nasty nightime heartburn? try alka-seltzer pm gummies. the only fast, powerful heartburn relief, plus melatonin so you can fall asleep quickly. oh, what a relief it is! (video games have evolved.addle) why hasn't the way you bank?
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at a luncheon today president trump complained about the disaster relief sent to puerto rico in the wake of the devastating storms a year and a half ago. he visited the island shortly after hurricane maria struck. he drew controversy tossing paper towels to the crowd. he recently held a separate meeting and asked for ways to cut relief funds to the island. just before air time spoke to the mayor of san juan. >> what's your reaction of the president complaining that puerto rico is getting too much relief funding and the way it's being spent? >> well, the president continues
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to show his vindictive behavior toward puerto rico and continues to make the crisis work. we're talking about a gap of 600 million dollars that's needed. so he wants to huff and puff but he is ensuring that people don't have food to put on the table. he doesn't understand that we're still recuperating from a devastating situation which he made worse. by the way, by causing a humanitarian crisis. just to give you an idea, 1.3 million puerto ricans out of 3.2 million that live in puerto rico are receiving some sort of nutritional assistance. so that means that about 43 october of the population needs this to put food on the table. of that 1.3 million, around 45%
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are children, elderly, or people with severe disabilities and we continue to hear about the humanitarian crisis and the human crisis because the president is too stubborn to do what's right. >> what do you think is the source of that and how much of this is political? that, you know, a number of the states, the relief efforts he's looking at in various states and praising or in red states and puerto rico is not? >> it's totally vindictive and i'll tell you why the president came down to puerto rico for a couple of hours and one of the things that he said at a meeting that i was at was i hate to tell you puerto rico you have thrown
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our budget out of whack for all the money we have thrown down here. that was the same afternoon where he threw paper towels at people. an image that will forever live in the hearts and minds of people all over the world and that does not reflect at all the goodness and good heart of the american people and the spirit of hundreds that have come down since to help and support us beginning reconstruction. remember something, president trump looked bad in the eyes of the world. he was not up to bar. he didn't do what he was supposed to do. he couldn't get it done because he lacked leadership. so now, rather than looking at himself and seeing what he could have done better, he blames the people of puerto rico. he blames anybody that does not agree with him. now i have a message for the republicans in congress. you don't have to be held hostage to a vindictive behavior
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from a president that cannot get it done. it's your duty to not let 1.3 million people in puerto rico starve. 3,000 already died because donald trump could not get it done and what i am pleading with you is not to condemn others to die because it just seems -- and the question for the president is how many deaths -- how many deaths of puerto ricans will be enough for him to do right by us. >> i appreciate talking to you. thank you. >> let's check in with chris and see what he's working on. >> how are you doing my friend? >> good. >> so we have jussie smollett. what are we going to do? >> what are you going to do with that? >> they made him a deal. was this about politics or a hole in the case? the prosecutor should have said a lot more and the fact that they're not is suspicious. we're going to look at what should be obvious and what still needs to be known. the word of the day will be
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exonerate. the prosecutor went out of their way to say we're not saying he's exonerated. prosecutors don't exonerate people. they're ability guilt or not guilt. why was it used in the mueller report? we'll talk about both but another big issue for us tonight is health care. and then politically what happens if they're successful when they have nothing to take it's place. >> a lot to look forward to. we'll see you then. still ahead, the republican senator's unusual attempt to battle the green new deal using aqua man, the empire strikes back and a bizarre portrait of the late ronald reagan. the ridiculist is next. but you're not, because you have e*trade, which isn't complicated. their tools make trading quicker and simpler so you can take on the markets with confidence. don't get mad. get e*trade.
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i'm talking about giant size posters on the floor of the senate. today it was taken to a new level by mike lee, republican of utah. >> this is of course a picture of former president ronald reagan, naturally firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a dinosaur. >> a few things, i'm a little concerned that he requires both a machine gun and rocket launcher. do you remember hearing that air force one was just a terodactyl. as for the senator, he was just getting warmed upment. >> you might never have thought you'd see that on cpan but give
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it a couple of weeks. >> this is a picture of aqua man. a super hero from the undersea kingdom of at llantas. i draw your attention to the 20 foot impressive sea horse he is riding. >> he's 7th in line to the presidency right after tramp from lady and the tramp. you might be asking how many giant posters did he have today? to which i say how much time do you have? >> these little cows represent the population of america today. on the right is the future population under the green new deal. every cow i spoke to said the same thing. boo. >> this might have played great in the office. i don't know. i'm no gal lettlagher but that line didn't work.
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>> he had plenty of other time to win back his audience but from the sounds of the microphone that were picked up it was two guys that wandered in. swift reaction came, if this guy can be senator you can do anything. >> these images are from sharknado 4. he bravely fought the animal off with the tennis racquet he keeps by his desk precisely for occasions such as this. >> yeah, i keep a tennis racquet around too but it's to get blitzer away from my stash of kalua. >> the solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love,
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get married and have some kids. >> okay. i love babies. i got no problem with them except they do seem a little judgey. babies are judgy. anyway, there you have it. the problems say it all. >> i felt for the woman whose job it was to keep going along with the senator and then have the next giant thing ready to go. she probably had to practice that and was worried about it all day. the props said it all. send your regards to aquaman and ride that dinosaur. that actually happened in our government on capitol hill. news cons.
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>> anderson cooper, anti-baby, i see the posters now. smack wolf away from my stash of kalua. things i never thought i'd hear at least not tonight but it was good. i am chris cuomo. welcome to primetime. tonight the jussie smollett prosecutor is trying to explain a move that has the police and the mayor there fuming. the charges are dropped there but the case is headed straight to cuomo's court and a new scare for the boeing 737 max 8 jet. this time in the sky over florida. what was it doing in the air in the first place? and the president stomps his victory dance just long enough to trample on obamacare. does the law support it and how