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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 27, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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pleaded guilty to conspireing to act as an unregistered russian agent. why didn't they investigate her further? better than obamacare. president trump claims he has a plan that will be better than obamacare if the administration's new legal assault succeeds. we're learning key figures have opposed the attack on the affordable care act. the vice-president has raised concerns. smollett mystery. he is free. the prosecute are is taking a lot of heat. chicago officials are outraged. the police union demands an outside investigation. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> multiple breaking stories. the american public is not
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buying president trump's claim he has been cleared. 53% say they don't think it exonerates the president of obstruction. a federal prosecutor says the grand jury investigation started by mueller's team is continuing robustly. breaking, the president has switched folk us from the mueller report to now an all out legal attack on owe bbamacare vg to replace it with something better. sources say there's no alternative plan and note that key cabinet officials oppose the move with even vice-president mike pence raising questions about the outcome. i will speak with the vice-president's chief of staff. our correspondents and analysts are standing by with full coverage. let's start with the breaking news. let's go to manu raju on capitol hill. you had a chance just now to speak with the chairman of the
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house judiciary committee, jerry nadler, about his conversation today with the attorney general bill barr. tell us what he told you. >> reporter: he spoke for about ten minutes with bill barr about the mueller report and about everything that's going on behind the scenes to discuss what to release involving bob mueller's two-year investigation into russia interference and potential obstruction of justice. this is a very substantial report. that's what barr told nadler. he revealed to him how long the report is. nadler would not disclose that. nadler said that bill barr would not commit to releasing the full report and the underlying evidence to congress and nadler said, that's not acceptable. >> i asked about the length and breadth of the report. he said it was a very substantial report. so substantial that i don't see how you can summarize it in four pages fairly. he said it was a very
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substantial report. i asked when we would see the report. he said, it will be a matter of weeks, not months, as we heard before. obviously, they're not going to meet the april 2 deadline the committee said. i'm very upset and concerned by that. i'm most concerned that when i asked whether he could commit that the american people and the congress would see the entire un-redacted report and the underlying evidence, he would not make a commitment on that. that is not acceptable. >> reporter: it's not clear when the public or congress will see the mueller report, how much the public and congress will see of the mueller report. it's also not clear what democrats will do next if their demands are not met. i asked nadler, now that it appears he will not immediate the april 2 deadline, what's next? what do you plan to do? he said, we will make those decisions as they come. he would not say that's what
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they would do next. the senate judiciary committee chairman lindsey graham spoke with bill barr last night. according to graham, barr indicated that the report could be released to congress by maybe mid april, maybe it could slip into may. he expected it potentially before april -- before may. nevertheless, jerry nadler is concerned about the fact there was no commitment by the attorney general to release the full report to provide the underlying evidence as democrats have been demanding. barr has been going through a process to make sure whatever is in the report does not overlap with any other investigations. he wants to scrub it for any sensitive security information. that's a process ongoing right now. how much the public seizeing, a big question. barr said he would not give the report -- he had no plans to give the report to the white house to review first. that had been one of the questions going forward. also, he said that barr did commit to testifying before the
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house judiciary committee. expect to hear him before the senate and how judiciary committee. nadler would not say if he would call bob mueller to come before his committee. he does plan to bring bill barr. a lot of questions tonight about just how much of the mueller report the public will ultimately see. >> good morning. glad you caught up with the committee chairman. manu raju on capitol hill. thank you. let's go to abby philip right now. the president was taking another victory lap of sorts, claiming vindication in the mueller probe. he suddenly shifted gears to an attack on obamacare. >> reporter: that's right. it's a sudden shift of topic for the white house. turning to obamacare, the president declaring that the republican party will become the party of health care. we're learning new details about the heated debate within the administration about what to do about this lawsuit filed by states attorneys general seeking to invallidate the affordable care act. on monday, we learned that white house counsel raised concerns
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about whether the administration had standing to join in on lawsuit. as this debate raged on, it was the president who made the final decision, deciding that the administration would join in on the suit to throw out the entire law. tonight, president trump is defending his administration's surprise decision to join a lawsuit that would entirely eliminate the affordable care act. commonly referred to as obamacare. >> phase one of the lawsuit, terminates obamacare, essentially terminates obamacare. that's the texas lawsuit. we think it will be upheld. we think it will do very well in the supreme court. >> reporter: sources tell cnn there's no such plan. >> we are going to be the republicans, the party of great health care. >> reporter: the administration's decision came after months of heated debate among trump's advisers. sources say, it still caught key lawmakers and some white house officials off guard. >> last year, i wrote to
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attorney general jeff sessions and protested the department not defending the parts of the law that provide protections to consumers with pre-existing conditions. now the administration is going way beyond that and seeking to invalidate the entire law. this is contrary to the tradition of the justice department which generally defends laws. >> reporter: cnn learned that alex azar and attorney general bill barr oppose the move. aczar worried the administration did not have a plan to replace obamacare. they hope to put the issue on the agenda for congressional republicans.
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>> are chances greater than zero that this congress could come together on a replacement? >> i doubt it. what is the republican party for? don't you think -- >> what's the republican party alternative? >> take the money out of washington. >> reporter: all this as the debate rages about why special counsel robert mueller decided against taking a position on whether trump obstructed justice. former fbi director james comey called the decision confusing, telling nbc news he viewed trump's over words as evidence of potential obstruction. >> he says, when i decided to just do it, talking about firing you, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. what did you think when you heard that? >> i thought that's potentially obstruction of justice. i hope somebody is going to look at that. >> reporter: the president's lawyer, rudy giuliani, offering this explanation about why mueller did not weigh in instead. >> i have a guess as to what
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happened. i think his staff was in debate over it. it's a question of interpretation. >> reporter: as democrats demand to see the full report, mitch mcconnell again blocked a democratic effort to call for the report's full release. despite trump's claim that the report is a total and complete exoneration, a new cnn poll shows a majority of voters say the president and his campaign have not been exonerated by mueller. instead, 56% say they believe collusion simply could not be proven. on the affordable care act, it seems unlikely that in a house of representatives controlled by democrats that they will move forward with a plan to replace obamacare. at the same time, republicans are also growing concerned this is an issue that has handed an advantage potentially over to democrats. democrats were mobilized by the issue of health care in 2018. it helped them pick up a number of seats in the house.
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now republicans are facing the prospect this issue is back on the table politically for them yet again. >> abby, thank you. abby philip at the white house. let's get more on breaking news, including from the former fbi director. sara murray is here. james comey says when he was fired, he said, i thought that's potentially obstruction of justice. >> yeah, that's right. potentially i think is the key word. james comey, being a little bit more open than he was when the investigation was going on. secondly, when you look at bill barr's summary of the mueller report, it doesn't say that bob mueller decided not to make a determination about this because there was no evidence anywhere. it says there was evidence on both sides. mueller lays that out in his report. certainly, what comey -- what happened with comey, what comey saw, what we all say, the president saying that russia influenced the decision, it does look and feel like obstruction of justice. we know mueller can see the full scope of the interactions. they know what trump was saying
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to his aides. bob mueller decided it was not a bulletproof case. otherwise, he would have written that. bill barr decided that there was not a prosecutable case there. >> you have new information on an individual that we reported extensively about who was int interviewed by robert mueller's team, we are talking about maria butina. >> we have talked about her a lot. her case is still ongoing. she's due in court in d.c. tomorrow for a status hearing. we are learning from multiple sources familiar with this that the special counsel's team actually questioned her in january. my understanding is this was a pretty brief interview. they met with her on this one occasion. they spoke to her for about an hour. they had questions about her interactions with gordon, a former trump campaign aide who worked on national security issues. she had a couple encounters with j.d. in the run-up to the election. they asked if she knew about the platform change that happened at the republican national convention. ultimately, the sources said it
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seemed like more of a formality. it didn't seem like she was central to their investigation. it is interesting to see these various investigations collide. >> lots going on. still very much. thanks for that, appreciate it very much. let's get more on the developments. mark short is joining us, the chief of staff to mike pence, also a former cnn contributor. mark, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> let's begin with the breaking news. we will move on to some of the other issues. on the mueller report, the chairman you heard of the house judiciary committee, jerry nadler telling cnn the attorney general will not commit to releasing the full report. would it be a mistake for the attorney general to withhold information that isn't classified or sensitive grand jury proceedings? >> wolf, i haven't read the report. it's hard for me to second guess the attorney general. i trust his judgment on this. i think the president's weighed in about his preference for as
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much transparency as possible. i certainly have confidence in the attorney general's decision. >> the u.s. intelligence community says the russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help donald trump. now the mueller report confirms that assessment. president trump has never fully accepted that conclusion. listen to what he said last summer in helsinki. >> my people came to me and others. they said they think it's russia. i have president putin, he just said it's not russia. i will say this. i don't see any reason why it would be. >> now that robert mueller has said so in his report, bill barr has accepted that. are the president and vice-president -- you are the chief of staff for the vice-president -- finally ready to accept once and for all that the russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election? >> wolf, i think there's a lot
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of evidence that russia has been a maligned character in a lot of this. they have been looking to sew seeds of discourse. i accept they interfered. can i say why i think some of the coverage has been deranged? you continue to see news stories, russian collusion, and yet never does the media say which president armed the ukrainians? was it trump or obama? trump. which president decided to bomb syria and in that action actually killed several russian mercenaries? it was trump when obama said he was going to draw a red line in the sand. which president pulled out of nif? it was trump. which president kicked out more diplomats? it was trump, not obama. which president has put more sanctions on? it was trump. it was not obama. just today you saw the president again make statements about
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russian interference in venezuela. this president has stood up to russia time and again. the media continues to push this notion about russia collusion or perhaps even on your network i saw this weekend when the story broke, cnn was saying, why is he talking so nicely about putin? you are not actually looking at the facts at what this administration has done and how hard it has been. >> why doesn't the president flatly say what his intelligence community is saying, the director of national intelligence dan coats says? why doesn't he say, yes, the russians did it and putin is wrong? >> wolf, look at what he said simply today about venezuela. he has stood up to russia. i think that it's time the media begin look agent ting at the re this. >> you are the chief of staff to the vice-president. the relationship between dan coats and the president took a serious blow after that summit in helsinki with putin.
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nbc says your boss, mike pence, intervened to prevent coats from quitting late last year. do both the president and the vice-president have faith in dan coats? >> yes. i think as you know, the vice-president was governor of indiana. he has worked with dan coats and has a friendship with him. if the president didn't have confidence in him, there would have been a change. they have confidence in dan coats. i have seen the reports. i have nothing to add to them. >> let's turn to the trump administration's new effort to completely repeal obamacare in the courts. millions of americans count on the affordable care act for their health insurance as you know. take a look at this. 52 million americans benefitted from the pre-existing condition protections under obamacare, with 12.7 million gained coverage under the medicaid expansion part of the affordable care act, 11.4 million americans
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bought coverage on at ed fthe affordable care act exchange for 2019. if the efforts succeeds to repeal obamacare without a replacement, what happens to those many millions of people? >> let's step back and get to how we got to this point for a second. the reality is that obama administration argued the individual mandate is not a tax. justice roberts determined it was and the law could stand. when we repealed the individual mandate, it actually penalizes those earning $50,000 and less the most, more than 58% of those who are paying the penalty are earning under $50,000. we were able to repeal that so americans didn't have to pay that tax anymore. you created a second set of court proceedings and in texas they ruled that now the individual mandate is no longer required. then whole law unfolds. it's our position that the obamacare has not been positive for america. there were estimates 24 million
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people on obamacare by 2018. in fact, the reality was, it was a third of that that signed up. prices increased for individual premiums over 100%. it has begun to stabilize because the administration has -- >> what happens if it goes through the courts, the president has instructed the justice department to go ahead and support this -- these court decisions to completely get rid of all of obamacare. what if that happens and there's no replacement that has passed the house, passed the senate and been signed into law by the president? >> the president will be putting forward plans this year that we hope to introduce into congress. the reality is that the court decision is likely not until the summer of 2020, by the time it would reach the supreme court. we don't know how they would rule. the president has said repeatedly he would not sign any law until it protected pre-existing conditions. what you will see as far as
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republican plans will be offered will provide insurance across state lines, able to look to reduce premiums and provide more freedom. we're happy to have the debate with democrats as they continue to march towards socialized medicine. >> the decision that was made this week to go ahead and support these judicial rulings against obamacare, clearly has divided a lot of republicans. you know this. your boss, the vice-president, apparently according to a lot of reports raised concerns about what would be the political impact of this move, at least right now. kevin mccarthy told the president, this decision at this point makes no sense because democrats won big in the 2018 elections. they took over the majority in the house of representatives by running on health care. do you worry democrats will take advantage of this current fight over health care and help them in 2020? >> no, wolf. quite the contrary. i think the republicans won elections in 2012 and 2014 -- i'm sorry in 2014 and 2010 and
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on promises to repeal and replace obamacare. we welcome political debate about whether americans want more choice, more choice, lower premium or a march towards socialized medicine. we welcome that. i would correct one thing. the vice-president has had no distance from the president on this. i saw the access report and i would like to correct the record that the president -- the vice-president fully supports the president. >> to be precise, the vice-president did not express any concerns at all to the president about the potential political fallout from issuing this decision right now? >> the president has been very supportive -- i'm sorry, the vice-president very supportive of the president's determination on this and does not have separation from him. >> but you didn't answer the question. did he express any concerns? >> he has not. >> he didn't express concerns about the -- >> the vice-president was -- if you recall, he was chairman of house republicans in 2010 when we won landslide elections.
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63 republican house seats on the promise of repealing and replacing obamacare. >> that was then. the democrats ran on the issue of health care. >> i know there's been sort of, i think, a recreation of what transpired. there's no doubt that democrats picked up 40 seats. i think a lot of americans like divided government. there's a lot of issues in that. they want to push the narrative it was on health care. there was a lot of issues in the 2018 election. >> republicans coul s couldn't and replace when you controlled both houses. why would it be easier now that the democrats control the house? >> i'm not sure it would be. i think the reality is that going back to our last efforts, we were not able to muster any support from democrats, despite our efforts to try to i think provide lower premiums and more choices for patients. as we look forward to the next coming years, i think the question will be what happens in the courts.
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if the court decisions are such, then hopefully, there would be a bipartisan effort to say we need to fix this and come forward. you are probably right, there isn't much incentive for democrats to work with republicans. >> people are nervous about losing their health insurance if this current judicial battle gets to the supreme court and the supreme court decides to side with the president and there's no replacement in the works. you have a lot of work going on. congratulations on your new job. we will stay in touch. you are always welcome to join us here. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> the chief of staff for the vice-president, mike pence. jussie smollett is free. the prosecutor is taking a lot of heat. after two crashes of its 737 max airliners, boeing unveiled a software overhaul. lawmakers want officials to explain why boeing is allowed to regulate itself.
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so much mystery surrounding this case tonight. the prosecutor's office, which brought the case against jussie smollett facing unrelenting pressure for sulddenly dropping the charges. chicago's fraternial order of police is asking william barr to get involved in the prosecutor's decision to drop the charges against jussie smollett. >> we will ask for a full investigation on the matter. why the charges were dropped and the state's attorney involvement in the case. >> reporter: the prosecutor is at the center of the controversy, being scrutinized for questions unanswered, explanations not accepted. >> there's more here that we're not being told. >> reporter: mcgatt said he made the call to drop the charges. among the reasons he says were smollett's history and the nature of the charges against him. >> he had no prior felony background. he had no history of violence.
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like i said, it's a low level felony. >> reporter: arguments that one former federal prosecutor doesn't buy. >> this is a most serious crime, faking a hate crime, lying to the police. >> reporter: he seemed to make the argument that in a city racked with violence, prosecutors' resources would be stretched. >> we are focusing our resources on combating violent crime, gun crime and drivers of violence. >> every prosecutor will tell you that a crime that involves lying to the police and faking a crime is every bit as critical to the criminal justice system as violent crimes. so that is in no way an explanation for dismissing this case. >> reporter: there are questions tonight over whether a secret deal was reached to get smollett's charges dropped. an idea smollett's attorneys have flatly rejected. >> there's no deal. the state dismissed the charges. >> reporter: the prosecutor says there was negotiation with
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smollett's lawyers. >> i called an alternative disposition in that he agreed to do community service, he agreed to forfeit his bail -- the remainder of his bond to chicago and in return for him doing those things, we agreed to dismiss the endiindictment. >> reporter: questions are rac d raised over kimberly fox f. she recused herself from the case. fox then suggested to the police that they turn the case over to the fbi. moves which police union officials want investigated. >> why did that occur? what happened? why wasn't there a special prosecutor put in place? >> reporter: a question so far not answered by the prosecutor's office. then there's the question of communication. chicago police and the mayor say the prosecutor's office never told them before that they were
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considering dropping the charges. >> not only did they not inform myself, the fact is when we came off the stage after the largest police graduation and promotion, find out about what's happening here, it makes no sense. >> you don't do that without consulting with the police. you don't do that without telling the public in a high profile case, this is why we did this. >> reporter: so far, there's been no explanation from the prosecutor's office for why they didn't consult the police on the decision. moments ago, tina chen, the woman who contacted the lead prosecutor in the case and prompted the lead prosecutor to recuse herself. >> brian todd reporting. thanks very much. just ahead, more on this hour's breaking news. the towilliam barr discussing t mueller report with the chairman of the judiciary committee and not committing to the eventual
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conversation with the attorney general. >> i just had a conversation with the attorney general. i asked about the length and breadth of the report. he said it was a very substantial report. so substantial that i don't see how you can summarize it in four pages fairly. they're not going to meet the april 2 deadline the committee set. i'm very upset and concerned by that. i'm most concerned that when i asked whether -- he could commit that the american people and the congress would see the entire un-redacted report and the underlying evidence, he would not make a commitment on that. that is not acceptable. >> sort of a reminder how much discretion the attorney general has in deciding what to release. >> a reminder that robert mueller is not an independent counsel. he is an employee of the department of justice whose superior is william barr. william barr gets to decide with
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almost complete discretion, as you point out, what to release and whatnot not to release. there's a clheck on him in term of political criticism. as a legal matter, i don't really think there is much of a check. it's possible that the house of representatives could issue a subpoena and that fight could go on for full release of the document. based on the law as i understand it, i think barr has the upper hand and we will see how much he chooses to exercise. >> nadler wouldn't say in this little interview he did whether he would issue a subpoena down the road. he certainly is leaving open that option. laura, nadler did say that barr committed that a version of the report would be released in weeks, not months. what does this process look like right now in deciding what to release? >> part of what justice officials are doing right now is scrubbing the report for underlying sources and methods,
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national security information, information about ongoing investigations and most importantly grand jury information. they can't just fork over the entire report, because turning over grand jury information is actually a crime. while understandably, everybody wants to see everything having do with this report, certain parts are going to have to be redacted. that's what a small team of officials are working on over here. i'm told a person who was on the special counsel's team who was detailed there is back at justice who is intimately involved in all of this. so they're working on it. it's going to be a process. as barr said, it's going to be weeks here and could take us into april as he also confirmed to nadler and also senator lindsey graham. >> david, nadler said that barr did agree -- i'm looking at the notes. did agree to come and testify and he will wait to hear what barr says before they decide whether robert mueller himself will come and testify before the committee. both of those will be incredibly
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important events if they both occur. >> incredibly important. i think they have to check the box with interviewing attorney general barr before they can go and interview special counsel mueller. that's the sequence of events. as jeffrey said, barr is the boss. once you get barr in there, the key question is, if by then he hasn't provided the substantial proportion of the report as laura said, most people expect that they will redact highly classified information, grand jury information, other than that if barr is saying to the american people and to congress, you can't see this, that we have been working on for two years, that your money has paid for, the first question is, why not? why is this content that we the american people do not subscribe to? >> can i just add one point? laura gave that very accurate list of the concerns. continuing investigations, grand jury material, classified information. it's possible to act like those are ironclad categories and it's
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clear what falls into which category. if you are a public official and you want to see something released, you can look at those categories and release a lot of material. if you want to use those categories as an excuse to keep things secret, you can do that, too. the idea that the justice department's hands are completely tied here, which is the idea they're trying to put out, it's simply not true. there's a lot of play in the joints of these. >> i think that's right. to jeffrey's point, the bottom line is that's what lawyers do. we make arguments to advance our interests. to the extent that an argument is advanced to protect material, certainly, you protect it. to the extent it is advanced to why it should be released, everybody gets to release it. that's just the way it goes in law. >> sabrina, the cnn poll, do you think it exonerates president trump of collusion?
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43% say yes. 56% say no. >> that reinforces there are unanswered questions. part of that is because we haven't seen the full report. part of that pertains to counterintelligence with respect to russian interference. the special counsel could not establish a criminal conspiracy between the trump campaign and moscow. we don't know what the special counsel had to say about the pattern of contacts between members of the trump campaign or associates of the president and various russian individuals, including those with ties to russian intelligence. there's a trump tower meeting in june of 2016 where the trump p campaign was offered information about hillary clinton. there's roger stone and his contacts with wikileaks and the allegation he reported back to a senior official in the campaign. the list goes on and on. until the public sees that full report, we don't know what to make of the context we heard about and what came of the conversations. >> we want to see that full report. everybody stick around.
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there's more news we're following. just head, after two crashes of its 737 max airliners, boeing unveils a software overhaul. lawmakers want government officials to explain why boeing is allowed to regulate itself. so, you're open all day, that's what 24/7 means, sugar. kind of like how you get 24/7 access to licensed agents with geico. hmm? yeah, you just go online, or give them a call anytime. you don't say. yep. now what will it take to get 24/7 access to that lemon meringue pie? pie! pie's coming! that's what it takes, baby. geico®. great service from licensed agents, 24/7.
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breaking news. ahead of a senate hearing on airline safety, boeing announced overhauls of the flight software
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pilot training program for its 737 max airliners. the jets involved in two recent crashes that killed 346 people and forced the planes to be taken out of service worldwide. during this afternoon's hearing the inspector general told jurors tjuror senators it has shaken confidence in the agent's reputation of being the gold standard of aviation safety. another 2020 presidential can't takes center stage. cnn hosts a town hall with cory booker. we are on the scene of tonight's event. david, that's a key early primary state. it's been a battleground of sorts for presidential candidates. what can we expect tonight? >> you are right, wolf. this is the first in the south primary. that's what happens here in south carolina. a little less than a year from
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now when south carolina democratic primary takes place, you are going to see an electorate that looks different than iowa and new hampshire. 60% is african-american here in south carolina. that's a key difference. the town hall here in orangeburg, it's a town home to two historically black universities. that's going to make a big part of the audience that cory booker will field questions from. it's a big moment in cory booker's presidential campaign. he has been focused more on smaller events, small town halls in small towns throughout iowa, new hampshire, around the country. he did not do the big kickoff rally we saw others do. this is a moment now when he is before a national audience at a key moment in this campaign. the first quarter fund-raising deadline is coming up. of course, we're just a couple of months away from the first critical debate as all the candidates are sort of scrambling to figure out how they get seen, noticed, make
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their mark in this very crowded democratic primary. >> that first democratic presidential debate is in june. that's pretty close. thanks very much. to our viewers, be sure to watch the cnn presidential town hall with senator cory booker. don lemon moderates later tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern. up next, the cnn exclusive. the former russian ambassador to the united states reacts to the mueller report which says the russians did meddle in the u.s. presidential election. signed by a record label.y my ss a record deal? unbelievable. whenever we're about to get on a stage for a huge audience, i always give my dad, like, a facetime kinda moment. you see the crowd, you see the emotion. you know, he has that experience for the first time with me, . a rockstar. (both laughing) (announcer) the best network is even better when you share it. buy the latest iphone for you, and get iphone 10r on us for someone else. and get apple music on us, too. only on verizon.
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russian officials have openly gloated over the mueller report summary, finding no conspiracy between the trump campaign and russia. in a cnn exclusive, our senior international correspondent, fred pleitgen, spoke with the former russian ambassador to the united states, sergey kislyak, who was in the oval office when president trump disclosed some secret information to russia's foreign minister. fred is joining us live from moscow now. so what did ambassador kislyak tell you, fred? >> hi, wolf. such an important figure in the transition period, of course, also in the early days of the trump administration. also because of those communications with michael flynn that, of course, flynn later admitted to lying about. i asked sergey kislyak how he felt about the findings of the mueller probe, and he basically tried to dismiss at least the
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ones that were negative towards russia. here's what he had to say. >> i think the whole story about the russian interference is a hoax. so the mueller report doesn't change too much to me. >> but do you feel personally vindicated by this? because there was a lot of talk about your phone conversations with michael flynn. >> i am a professional. i do not have personal feelings. what is important for me, it's the quality of russian-american relations. they have become victim of what is happening in your country. first of all, you need to return to normalcy in the united states in political reality. to be able to judge the world around you, including russia in a reasonable way. and then you will return to the understanding that you and us can do a lot of things that serve your interests and ours, and interests of international stability. >> so essentially, wolf, what
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sergey kislyak was saying, who, by the way, is now a senator from the zir an being region says he believes the u.s. needs to restore relations with the united states and russia to what they were before president trump took office. wolf? >> based on your conversations over there, do the russians actually believe the relationship with the u.s. could be restored? >> you know what, i think a lot of them believe it's going to be very difficult. i was speaking with sergey kislyak about that, as well. and he said he hopes president trump can deliver that for russia. he doesn't believe it's going to happen any time soon. and one of the things that he believes is that what the russians keep saying is they believe there are other forces at play. obviously, he means congress, he means others who are adversaries of the president in america. one of the things you keep hearing from russians again and again is they feel that the relations are as they call hostage or victims of political in-fighting inside the united states, not many people in
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russia believe that it's going to change any time soon. >> yeah, the u.s. blames the russians for interfering in the u.s. presidential election. midterm elections, they say they're doing the same thing in the upcoming elections. fred pleitgen, thanks very much. meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are dead, millions facing famine now after four years of the war in yemen grinds on. the u.s. senate voted to cut u.s. support. but the united states remains the largest arms supplier to the saudi-led coalition. our senior international correspondent, sam kiley, got rare access inside the rebel port city of hudadu with this exclusive report. >> she's on the brink between life and the abyss. like her country, she's been weakened by poverty and attacked by external forces. she has a liver infection, her kidneys are failing and malaria is inside her brain. she is 10.
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if she lives to remember anything, most of her memories will be a war in yemen. disease spreads fast. in the next door bed, the nearest child has meningitis. the next one over, a despairing teen who tried to hang herself. bombs landed at the main gates of the hospital a few months ago. the staff are rarely paid, but still come to work. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> translator: of course, if we see people who can't find medical care, we have to rescue them. even if this hospital was under bombardment. when there are clashes, we remain here. when they attack, the hospital stays here. if we don't relieve the suffering of these people, who would? >> u.s. support for the saudi-led war against iranian-backed houthi rebels is under pressure in the senate. but still -- [ speaking in foreign language ]
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the usual suspects, america and israel. not surprising, though. the u.s. is the biggest arms supplier to saudi arabia and its allies. its u.s. bombs planes and vehicles that have helped the saudi-led coalition force its way into the outskirts of hudada. they're marking the fourth anniversary of a war that's killed an estimated 60,000 people. a couple of miles from the front line. >> there are obviously many thousands of houthis who have gathered here in hudada, and it's this city that's absolutely central to the survival of the whole houthi mission. it's through the port here that almost all of the food comes to feed some 70% of the population. but they're incredulous after four years of war that the united states and the united kingdom continue to supply weapons to the saudi-led coalition.
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>> the u.n. has warned that 10 million people are one step away from famine. >> how many? how many blood from our body to stop the war? >> and you know that the u.s. senate is putting pressure on the trump administration to stop support for the saudis. what do you say to that? >> our people -- our people -- our children, every day, kill us. in my school. kill us. >> actually, they are just thinking of their own benefits, from, you know, saudi arabia and gulf countries. they are rich they want to milk them. you know? as i think trump. >> that is a sentiment that's reflected on the walls of hudada. that's the saudi king's head on a cow, and the u.s. president is filling golden pails at the other end. sam kiley, cnn, hudada, yemen.
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>> sam, thanks very much. and to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." you can follow me on twitter and instagram @wolfblitzer. tweet the show @cnnsit room. erin burnett is next. releasing the mueller report. this is according to the chairman of the judiciary committee in the house. why is barr e fusing to do it? and the white house admitting it does not have a new plan to replace obamacare, even as trump brags republicans will come up with something better. and chicago's controversial chief prosecutor breaking her silence in the jussie smollett case. now saying her office could have proven smollett guilty. so then why drop the charges? let's go "outfront." good evening i'm erin burnett. breaking news. attorney general bill barr

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