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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  May 17, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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investigators and calling into question how the russia probe even began. >> in trying to get answers to questions and i feel that a lot of the answers having inadequate and i've also found that some of the explanations i've gotten don't hang together. so in a sense i have more questions today than i did when i first started. >> more on barr's comments in just a moment. first let's go to cnn's evan perez, more on the possible attempts to block hike alley flynn from cooperating. i mean, listen, you look at this and it just raises big picture questions right about why there was not sufficient evidence to charge for obstruction of justice, but let's speak specifically about what general flynn testified to here. who from the administration or congress was getting in touch with him and how were they pushing him? >> well, yeah, jim, i mean, this is a really brand-new information that we're getting. we knew that there was some of this outrage, but what it -- the specificity of this that is coming out in this new -- in
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this document that was newly unredacted really goes to show that there was this big effort to try to get flynn perhaps to change his testimony or to not cooperate fully with the special counsel. it does raise the question as to why no one got in trouble with that, perhaps that still could happen, but the mueller investigation has wrapped up and no one was charged with this. you know, you really get a sense from these documents that flynn was a very valuable witness to the special counsel, that's one reason why they recommended no jail time for him as a result of pleading guilty to false statements to the fbi. as you said, you know, there was somebody connected to the administration, somebody connected to the -- to congress who was doing this outreach and trying to get flynn to essentially withhold some cooperation according to this document. >> so tell us about this voicemail because if there's a taped conversation, far harder
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for the president and his allies to dismiss. what do we know about it? >>w this document sort of gives us a fuller explanation of this. in the mueller report there is a voicemail according to the report it says that the there is -- one of the president's lawyers reached out to flynn right as he was agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel and it says in part -- there's a part of it where it says it wouldn't surprise me if you have gone on to make a deal with the government, if there's information that implicates the president, then we've got a national security issue. so you know we need some kind of heads up. so clearly someone is trying to get to flynn just, again, as he's about to cooperate, right when his lawyers have notified the white house that he is no longer going to share information. again, this was something that was obviously concerning to people close to the president.
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>> as it should be. no question. evan perez, stay with me. for more on that barr is saying this morning, let's speak to cnn ju he seems to be saying that the preliminary results of that investigation presents issues that are of concern to him. >> concern indeed, jim. the attorney general is in el salvador, ostensibly there to meet with officials about ms 13, talk about immigration, something that's obviously a president's priority, all all roads seem to lead back to russia and he is opening a new front this morning talking about his review of the counterintelligence investigation and the surveillance of the trump campaign, in two different interviews telling the "wall street journal" that he's specifically interested in what happened before the fbi officially opened that investigation in july 2016. again, not going into any detail on the basis for his concern, but then telling fox news that he's seeing more things that just don't add up.
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take a listen. >> people have to find out what the government was doing during that period. if we're worried about foreign influence for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale. so i'm not saying that happened, but i'm saying that we have to look at that. >> now, as you hear there, barr saying i'm not sure that happened, something he has reiterated before, but, of course, that nuance is completely lost on president trump who is tweeting this morning that conclusively spying did occur, calling it treason and so the president clearly latching on to those kmeents from ba comments from barr, jim. >> as he does. >> as he does. >> let's bring shan wu and evan perez into the situation. laura, please stay there. shan, why doesn't a message from the president's personal lawyer to a key witness in the mueller investigation, why does not
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amount to obstruction of justice. i know the comment is veiled a little bit in that, well, this could be a problem for the president and you know how important he looks at these things, but is that not clear evidence from a legal standpoint? >> it seems like it is pretty clear evidence. i find it somewhat mysterious that it wasn't followed up on. obviously the lawyer, whoever that was making that call, would not be immune or protected from any type of charging. i have read some that mueller's team might have been concerned about privilege issues, i don't quite follow that analysis. there was no privilege in that conversation. from having represented both people who are cooperating and when i represent a client when someone else's client is cooperating, that conversation you have between the lawyers is very measured, very careful. really if i thought another person's client was cooperating the only conversation i'm going to have is really is your client
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cooperating? i am not going to send some veiled message like that because it reeks of intimidation. it's appalling that anyone would do that. >> connected with all the other times the president very publicly appeared to intimidate witnesses, plus the private conversations with he saw with james comey, et cetera. evan, let me ask you a question because barr is saying not only that he's going to investigate the investigators but in the early stages of this there are already things that have raised concerns for him. we had the fbi director testifying under oath just last week saying he has seen no evidence of spying. explain the disconnect here. >> you know, that's a great question because there's clearly two different ways that these two people are seeing it, both the fbi director and -- christopher wray and also the attorney general. here is what i think is happening, certainly the fbi director is speaking to his audience, his people who don't think that they did anything wrong. certainly nothing has been proved that there was anything wrong in this.
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bill barr had some skepticism before he became attorney general. the question that i think arises is there is a part of this "wall street journal" interview in which bill barr raises the question of whether or not there could be changes in the way the fbi handles counterintelligence investigations. in other words, you know, we may raise the par, so to speak, before we allow you to open these investigations. that's a big deal if that ends up happening. i'm sure he's going to hear from wrist wray that if you do that then there are things we might miss and then we will all remember, we will all go back to that day when bill barr said we have to change the standards. >> raise the bar. i'm going to let you copyright that, evan perez. i will always quote you if i repeat that. laura, let me ask you a question. you have multiple investigations now of the investigators, barr is to go his own, you already have the inspector general pursuing one as well. i wonder based on your reporting the danger here of possible criminal referrals, i mean, is this political or are we seeing
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potential evidence of legal wrongdoing here that could lead to prosecutions? >> well, it's interesting. the case that they have right now, they're calling it a review, they are not each calling it a full scale investigation that's being led by john durham, a u.s. attorney, obviously somebody who has subpoena power and grand jury power. they are saying this is not actually a criminal investigation, they are just saying it's a review. so clearly they want us to take it seriously obviously and this is something that's significant obviously, the fbi, the cia, the director of national intelligence are all looking at this. so it's a significant moment but yet they're saying it's not criminal. i'm not sure how those are going to jive. at the same time as you mentioned the inspector general michael horowitz is looking at a narrow slice of this, but he is only looking at the situation surrounding the surveillance warrants that the fbi obtained on that former trump campaign aide carter page that we have heard so much about and the renewals that happened there. >> laura, just for the moment so
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our viewers know what's going on on the right side of the screen that is the president leaving trump tower in new york, white house north some have called it in his motorcade there. sorry, laura, complete your thought. >> so the inspector general, the watchdog over at the justice department he can't bring charges himself, but what he can do is if he finds any sort of wrongdoing that rises to a criminal level, then he can refer it to a u.s. attorney for prosecution. so that's what we saw in the case of the former director of the fbi, andrew mccabe. so in that case obviously he didn't bring the charges, but he can refer them out. but we haven't seen any evidence yet that that's going to happen. we just don't know yet what the inspector general has actually found. >> okay. >> there's been a lot of speculation on it but we haven't seen any evidence of it. >> before we go i want to ask you, shan, big picture here, the folks at home can get lost in the details, wonder how this all matters. it strikes me that robert mueller lake effect ifl
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decriminalized seeking and accepting foreign help in an election campaign, even from an adversary such as russia. now you have the attorney general possibly criminalizing elements of an investigation, a counterintelligence investigation of foreign interference in the election. what does that mean for 2020 when we know that russia is going to attempt to interfere again and what message does that send not only to russia, other countries, but also to americans involved in the campaign as to what they can get away with? >> it's a very troubling message. i think it's an open invitation not only to russia but other foreign powers to actively interfere, that they should be emboldened by our reaction to this. not only that, now you have the attorney general of the united states saying basically, hey, don't worry about it because i'm questioning whether we did the right thing even looking at the meddling. it's just so odd and unprecedented for the attorney general to come out and justify why he's doing that. this is something you do quietly, you let the ig or someone else do their work. it's just ridiculous that he's
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coming out and explaining that he's concerned about the american people wanting to be informed if there is a thumb on the scales. if he's concerned about that he should be looking at himself in the mirror. >> how about the russian thumb on the scales. this kind of stuff matters. i know it's hard to keep track of, but it matters and we have another election coming up. thank you all very much. today treasury secretary steve mnuchin is expected to miss another deadline, imagine that, to turn over copies of the president's tax returns. as congressional committee, house ways and means, has the legal right to request. what is next in this showdown between democrats, congress, in fact, and the administration? and after a week of tension building between the u.s. and iran "the new york times" reports the president has now told his acting defense secretary he does not want to go to war. so what's the u.s. policy? we will have the latest. plus all fixed? boeing says it is done updating software for its 737 max. is it safe to fly? big question. ience with usaa has been excellent. they really appreciate the military family
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forgive me if your head is spending now because this morning it appears it is the president who is trying to ease tensions between the u.s. and iran. according to the "new york times" mr. trump informed patrick shanahan that he does not want to go to war. this comes as the u.s. says it has images of iranian commercial vessels carrying missiles. cnn has not reviewed the intelligence which has led to this assessment. the government has yet to provide further evidence of that claim. vermont michaela pereira, acting secretary of defense patrick is that han and general joseph done ford are expected to brief all senators on iran next tuesday. joining me now to discuss iran is the president of the council on foreign relations also the author of a great book "a world in disarray" a fitting head line it seems. ambassador, thanks for taking this time this morning. >> good morning, jim. >> the president telling his defense secretary he doesn't want to go to far with iran, calm things down. a couple weeks ago the u.s. was
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sending another aircraft carrier group to the region talking about this intelligence. can you discern a clear trump policy on iran today? >> there is no at clear trump policy on iran but there is a pattern here. the president often stakes out wildly ambitious goals, denuclearization of north korea, essentially embracing regime change in iran, a remaking of the chinese economy and then he often is either stuck there or has to contemplate backing down. he also has a real aversion to the use of military force. a big part of his campaign and presidency has to dial down the american military presence in the middle east and indeed i think his entire approach to foreign policy is he believes that too much foreign policy is a waste and that instead the united states ought to be focusing its resources at home. so it actually to me isn't surprising. his problem, though, and you see it time and time again is he ends up with an enormous gap
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between his ambitious goals and his very limited willingness to do things on their behalf. >> one other common thread is that in pursuit of those goals at each of the places you cite, north korea, china and iran, it's the same cajul. for north korea to abandon nuclear weapons, for china to change its economic model and for iran to come back to the negotiating table here. it's failed in each instance, hasn't it? >> you're exactly right. we're asking an awful lot of economic tools be they sanctions or tariffs and history suggests that we are simply asking too much of them. what you see is an unwillingness and i'm not criticizing this, but an unwillingness to use military tools for the most part. what i am critical about is an unwillingness to use diplomacy. if it's all or nothing in the case of north korea and denuclearization we're going to end up with nothing. what about some type of a limited deal.
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same with iran, what about negotiating some kind of agreement. we didn't like the old nuclear agreement, what about a new one that extends some of the limits on iran and maybe includes missiles. with china we can't get them to remake their economy, what about trying to nail down those areas of program where we can. so that's what i don't understand and in particular is the aversion to really using diplomacy. for someone who is so known for the art of the deal, what happened to the art of compromise? >> you have said that with iran this administration should say it's ready to rejoin the iran nuclear deal, perhaps amend it and use that kind of as a path to nuclear talks. for political reasons it appears president trump has no reason in doing that. as he backs down from a military standoff is it correct to say iran has successfully played trump, at least in this skirmish? >> i'm not sure about that. one, inn the president may be open to negotiating a different deal with iran, he said he's willing to talk, he likes dramatic gestures, so i wouldn't
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rule that out at some point. meanwhile, iran is really hurting from the sanctions, they are paying a price there, it's not going to be enough to bring down the government, won't be enough to curb their imperial ambitions in the region or even their long-term nuclear ambitions, but they are hurting and, again, i think that does set something up. i don't think that either side, quite honestly, wants a war. for the united states we've got our hands full around the world and, iran, jim, as you know, has all sorts of tools. a war against iran will not simply be fought in iran. iran will not simply be on the receiving end. they could use hezbollah to attack israel, this he could use militias or terrorists to attack assault and battery, this he could use their cyber capabilities all over the world. so war against iran is not some quick and easy enterprise. >> no question. they have tentacles outside the region, even, hezbollah. richard haass, thanks very much for joining us this morning. >> thank you. will we finally see the
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president's tax returns? you have a right to it. it's in the law. the treasury secretary has until tonight to turn them over. what will democrats on the house ways and means committee do if he misses that deadline again? we're going to ask right after this. it turns out, they want me to start next month. she can stay with you to finish her senior year. things will be tight but, we can make this work. ♪ now...
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and democrats to to turn over six years of president trump's tax returns. joining us me to discuss that and other issues congressman kildee a many of the house ways and means committee. thank you for taking the time this morning. >> thanks, jim. >> so the treasury secretary is going to miss another deadline today. i'm curious what your next step is because this is clearly an administration strategy to say no, sort of damn the consequences to all these requests. >> well, the chairman, chairman neal, has been consulting with house counsel and we will pursue every legal avenue available. i don't think the prosise avenue has been determined, but the one thing the administration should understand, we are not walking away from this. we are going to make sure that the law is enforced. section 6103 of the tax code is really clear, it says that the irs shall furnish or freshly
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department shall furnish tax return upon request of the chairman of the ways and means committee. this is not a choice for them. they don't get to choose which american laws are comfortable for them to follow. we are a country that is governed by law and that does not exclude the president of the united states and they seem to think that upon his election he's exempt from the laws that make him uncomfortable, that's just not the case. >> seems a fairly simple statement and yet the white house is sticking with this plan. big picture it seems that the trump administration is frustrating what was a democratic plan here to pursue a whole host of investigations. i'm going to quote from "the new york times" here, they had a plan to dramatize the special counsel's damning but dense report on national television in their committees, an may get his probe with vivid testimony from witnesses but appears that those witnesses will not come before the committees and i wonder if you're concerned that the white house has gotten the better of the democratic plan here. >> well, they may in the short term because obviously they can
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stall and avoid ultimately adhering to the law and answering subpoenas and having witnesses appear before congress, but there is a third branch of government that is intended to resolve disputes between the authority and the constitution of the other two branches, so it is my belief that ultimately many of these questions are going to go into court and the president won't be able to just tweet in court or go to a rally in court and try to apiece his base. he's going to have to persuade the judicial branch that he has superior authority over congressional authority or even over the constitution and he is going to fail in that effort. >> on another topic, just a broader mueller probe and the effects of the mueller probe into the president, we're now learning that michael flynn, of course, the former national security adviser to this president told robert mueller that the president's personal lawyer john dowd delivered a message to him in effect that cooperating with miller --
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mueller, rather, would be a problem for the president. in your view how is that not obstruction of justice or an attempt at obstruction of justice? >> well, it's chilling, first of all, to see that report because it paints a picture of a presidency that does do everything it can. the law set aside, to protect this president. and it does appear to be obstruction if in fact that's true. it's one of the reasons that we absolutely have to have access to the full unredacted mueller report. this is the congress of the united states, it's a public document that was paid for by the taxpayers, we have oversight responsibilities and the fact that we have to speculate on aspects of this investigation when we have a responsibility to act upon the information provided in that investigation, as mr. mueller pointed out in his transmission to us, is really frightening. this presidency is closing out the american people. they do not want eyes on the business that they are conducting. one does have to ask the
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question why not? what are they trying to hide? >> fair question. finally if i can ask you because this just broke in the last several minutes and that is that the trump administration, the president, is delaying by six months auto tariffs that were planned targeting japan and the eu, to be clear, not china, those tariffs continue here, but of course great state of michigan has a few auto plants and auto workers there, i wonder what your reaction is to the president's delay here. do you welcome that change? >> well, what i would like to see from the president is a far more intentional strategy on all of this. i'm one who believes that there is an appropriate use of tariffs when some of our trading partners are bending the rules to their favor, but unfortunately the president has taken sort of a me x approach to this. there are instances where we have to make sure we protect american workers, but the problem is the american auto industry including domestic auto
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producers rely upon a global supply chain and sometimes i think the president likes his unilateral authority so much that he doesn't think about the downstream consequence. that's what i'm worried about. we need a targeted approach to deal with those bad actors but not do things that could ultimately slow down the economy and hurt american workers. >> congressman kildee, thanks very much for joining us. you see the market opened down nearly 200 points at the start, this following broad drops overseas as well, continuing concerns about the trade war between the u.s. and china. other news we're following this morning, boeing says that it has fixed now the software linked to crashes of two of its 737 max jets. so will the faa agree to let the planes fly again? are they safe now?
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boeing now says it has completed a software fix for its grounded 737 max jets, but the update will have to win approval from u.s. and international regulators before the planes can return to fly. the system played a role in the crash of two jets operated one by lion air in october, another by ethiopian airlines in march. 346 people died in those crashes. in both accidents the anti-stall system pushed the plane's noses down while the pilots struggled to retain -- regain control. joining me now is former faa safety inspector and cnn safety analyst david susie. david, looking at this now, these were multiple failures by boeing throughout this, both before the first crash, after the first crash, before the second crash. i just wonder how can flyers be confident that the fix boeing says it has now makes these planes safe to fly?
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>> jim, it's unbelievable what they've gone through to try to make this safe. there are still questions, there are still things that need to be certified. the faa comes in and they say, yes, it's fine, but the question, jim, is why did they say it was fine the first time and not this time and that has to do with the fact that safety is really an iterative process. as tragic as that sounds, we really have to learn from these things and make sure that those lost lives weren't in vain and that they are responded to appropriately. the question again is why wasn't this caught in the first place. i think boeing still needs to look deeper to regain confidence for all of us. >> since the lion air crash pilots complained -- pilots complained that they were not informed of the mcas system as it's known, that it was even on their plane. i just wonder how is that not gross negligence on the part of boeing, not to let pilots know? because throughout this boeing
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is sort of in a -- you know, a side way blamed it on foreign pilots, but these were american pilots complaining about this. >> absolutely. it's been known and it goes back, jim, to a critical error that happened within boeing when this aircraft was in design and that was that this system was categorized as something that wasn't a flight safety issue and by design it really wasn't at the time. what happened is it became a safety of flight issue when they stopped -- when they started relying on it, allowing it to move the horizontal stabilizer in a way that's nonrecoverable. it was lack of foresight on behalf of boeing to say -- and the faa because the faa was part of the certification as well, so why they didn't recognize this as being a safety of flight item, that's the issue. that's why they didn't inform pilots because they didn't think it could cause this accident. >> this gets to a bigger picture issue, how much of these safety judgments, the faa farms out to
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the manufacturer, which, of course, has its own incentive you might say, certainly a big financial incentive perhaps to downplay some safety issues, and will these crashes fundamentally change that process so that the faa has more oversight and is not letting planes self-certify these safety issues? >> i think self-certify is a little bit of a -- too much going too far because they still do certify it through the faa. the question -- and i don't think anybody intentionally says i'm going to do this for profit -- >> the question is about mixed incentives, the proper incentives. you and i have spoken about this before that the manufacturers have too big a role in that certification process. >> exactly. that's probably a better phrase, jim. the fact is that right now they're not focused on that. the faa and boeing are focused on fixing the problem and that's
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short term. there really has to be something deeper than that and perhaps with the new faa administrator coming in, perhaps with the senate and congress investigating this that will change, but it's been there a long time. this is something they've always relied on. it would cost billions of dollars to not have that in the system. so it's not going to go away quickly, but the question is what are they going to do about it to improve it the way that it's supposed to be improved. >> well, big questions for flyers certainly as well. david, always good to have you on. pete buttigieg is one of three democratic presidential candidates who served in afghanistan or iraq. why he thinks his time serving overseas sets him apart from the current president. that's coming up. >> it's not like i killed bin laden, i don't want to overstate what my role was. but it certainly was something that was dangerous. stop fearing your alarm clock... with zzzquil pure zzzs. a drug-free blend of botanicals with melatonin that supports your natural sleep cycle
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and if you're pregnant or planning to be. ready to treat differently with a pill? otezla. show more of you. ready to treat differently with a pill? leaders of the democratic party. for over two years, this president has broken the law... and nothing happened. you told us to wait for the mueller investigation. and when he showed obstruction of justice... nothing happened. when this president took money from foreign governments and blocked the release of his tax returns... nothing happened. and when his administration illegally refused to testify nothing happened. now you tell us to wait for the next election? really? really? really? this is why we volunteered, raised money, went door to door and voted in the last election. our founding fathers expected you - congress - to hold a lawless president accountable. and you're doing nothing. nothing. nothing. he broke his oath of office. he's defying you. he's laughing at you. and he's getting away with it. this is our democracy. but congress is part of the system and the system is broken.
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don't you think it's just great to see the fact that you've got a guy there on the stage with his husband and it's normal, it's not -- >> i think it's absolutely fine. i do. >> but isn't it a sign of great progress in the country that that's just -- >> yeah, i think it's great. i think that's something that perhaps some people will have a problem with, i have no problem with it whatsoever. i think it's good. that's president trump there recognizing the significance, even the positive progress of a gay man running for president is something that has set south bend, indiana mayor pete buttigieg apart in a very crowded democratic field, but it's buttigieg's time in the
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military that he says helped him come out. cnn's jeff zeleny sat down with the mayor to talk about his military service. >> there's one chapter of his life that pete buttigieg often turns to. >> somebody who served in afghanistan. >> when i went overseas. >> when i was packing my bags for afghanistan. >> reporter: the 37-year-old mayor of south bend, indiana, deploys his military service as both a sword and a shield, whether taking questions about his experience or quieting anti-gay protesters, afghanistan is often his answer. >> it's one more reason why it might not be a bad idea to have somebody in the white house who actually served. >> reporter: his time as an intelligence officer in the naval reserves and a six month deployment to afghanistan makes his already gold plated resumé shine even brighter, yet buttigieg rarely talks about why he joined the service after graduating from harvard and studying as rhodes scholar. it was 2008 and he was volunteering for the barack obama campaign in iowa where he
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saw many young people signing up for the national guard. >> i had that experience in iowa and realizing that some communities were almost emptying out their youth into the military and some were barely serving at all. >> reporter: now he's one of three presidential candidates who served in america's longest wars in iraq and afghanistan. joining congressman tulsi fwab bart and congressman seth molten. after five years of reserve duty he deployed to afghanistan in 2014. military records reviewed by cnn show buttigieg was part of a unit assigned to identify and disrupt terrorist finance networks. it was largely a desk job, but he also worked as a driver and armed escort. >> look, it's not like i killed bin laden, i don't want to overstate what my role was, but it certainly was something that was dangerous, you know, people that i knew unfortunately were attacked. >> reporter: do you think you would be able to make this run as credibly without this military service?
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>> well, i think at a moment when obviously people are looking for contrasts it helps me demonstrate the difference between how i'm oriented and how the current president is. >> reporter: jason mccray still remembers the day he met buttigieg at their training in south carolina. he didn't know the man assigned to be his battle buddy was also an indiana mayor. >> one of my early memories is he had an ear bud in and he was learning a language, i think it was dari. i don't remember other folks that were picking up a language at that point in time. >> reporter: he was interested in afghanistan, was studying and consuming everything about it. >> yeah, for sure. >> reporter: a dozen people who served alongside buttigieg in the reserves and in afghanistan who spoke to cnn described him as mature and, yes, ambitious. but several said he was hardly alone on that front. >> to go through a deployment in afghanistan is probably less dangerous ways to check the box. >> reporter: mccray and his wife sue are watching their friend's campaign from afar with interest. >> when i first met pete it was just a wife going to say
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good-bye to my husband and we just happened to meet a battle buddy. >> reporter: so buttigieg mentions afghanistan at virtually every stop on the campaign trail. he does say it's time for a new u.s. policy there. noting that soldiers enlisting now were not even born at the time of the september 11th terrorist attacks. as for his own enlistment here in chicago in 2009 he said he was not doing that with politics in mind. he said you never know if military service will be politically popular or not. jeff zeleny, >> hundreds of millions of dollars flow from trump organization businesses to the president's pockets each year. now, cnn takes a new look at how the president and his family do business. as a financial advisor, i tell my clients
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not to worry about changing their minds in retirement. you may have always imagined your dream car as something fast. then one day you decide it just needs to be safe enough to get her to college and back. principal. we can help you plan for that.
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safer browsing, and more. plus it helps to optimize your network's performance. giving you the best coverage from attic to basement. so you can focus on streaming your favorites. not finding a signal. make the best wifi even better,with xfi advantage. simple, easy, awesome. the financial disclosure forms are out, and the president raked it in. he made at least $434 million just last year, $40 million of that came from his hotel in washington. just steps from the white house. a hotel that a lot of foreign leader come to stay at. they take a deep dive into the organization and how others have been caught up in his big financial adventures. >> sandra of suburban san diego
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was immediately interested in the trump ocean resort in baja, mexico. a big reason, it didn't have a southern california price tag. >> we don't make that kind of money where we're driving around in a ferrari or lamborghini. we're regular, normal people. we met this lady who showed us brochures of what it's going to look like, and they're going to have a spa, and it's going to have a pool and a tennis court. it looked so beautiful. >> beautiful. and she thought a great investment, because she thought she was buying from a man with themitis touch. >> whatever donald trump touches turns fantastically gold. >> they signed their purchase agreement in december of 2006. >> 12/8/06. here's the purchase price. >> what they could afford. >> the letter confirms we're in receipt of the total deposit of $125,000.
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>> they would lose every penny. >> it's hard when you feel like you have been ripped off. by a big name. it's just, you start to be like, how could this have happened? >> the trump ocean resort baja mexico was never built. construction never got beyond this. a giant hole in the ground. >> so there's my hole. that's what i bought. my hole. >> goodness. erin burnett is here with me now. so, i mean, you know, real losses by real people. it's moving to watch this. you say that she thought she was buying from donald trump. was she? the name was all over the materials. >> she has a brochure, and it says developed by one of the most respected names in real estate. you would think he's the againer. he wasn't. here's a letter from the developer, and trump's name is at the bottom. we'll be installing a web cam that will allow you to watch
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construction progress. it never got beyond a hole in the ground. she and her husband lost their entire deposit. there was a class action lawsuit. a lot of people joined it. they settled. sandra and her husband, they couldn't afford to join it at the time, so they're still out every dollar of their money. >> this looks deliberately misleading because the pred's signature, now recognizable because he's the president of the united states, is right on the bottom of the letter. >> it seems that way, then you see it in places like ft. lauderda lauderdale, same thing. in the fine print, maybe that's where you find the words, oh, he's not the developer. he actually did a deposition, of course, under oath, do swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. i do. he says he was not the developer. when you say you're developing, that doesn't mean i'm the developer. he literally says that. but you know, it's time and time again, and property after property. what you so, he has the licensing, and they weren't ever built or they failed or went bankrupt. all the people who put their
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money in, and so many people believing in him, the midas touch, they're still recovering. >> this is not isolated because you have the trump university scandal, which operated in a similar way, right? >> absolutely. and you know, i talked to a woman who was trying to rebuild her life and her career during the financial crisis, joined trump university. she says she put all in about $160,000 into classes, into real estate that her mentor said this would be a good idea. well, she got about $30,000 odd dollars back in the settlement, but she's still recovering and rebuilding her life. yet again, it became a familiar refrain. she believed in the man she saw on television. >> that's connected to his political message, is it not? i'm this tremendous business success, therefore i will be a successful president. >> he got to a point where banks wouldn't really lend him money. he had try to to find other ways. he went to countries. >> name one of those countries.
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>> ajar bijohn as a country. and he also, just, we again, we saw it time and time again. he would license his name. and that's what he really did. so he would put no money in. others would lose everything they put in. he would still walk away, you know, in one case, we found $30 million to $50 million alone. property failed, donald trump still made money. >> that's the thing you hear in new york from genuine property developers. we build stuff. can't remember the last time trump actually built stuff. this was more his business model, putting his name on those developments. >> that's exactly what it was. >> really important because you're connecting the dots on a lot of things that might be hard for people to follow. so glad you did it. don't miss it. it's going to be a cnn special report, the trump family business, tonight, 9:00 eastern time, right here on cnn. >> very good friday morning to
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you. i'm jim sciutto. poppy has deday off today. as the world waits to hear from robert mueller, attorney general billium barr gets his message out on the russia investigation. barr taking digs at how the whole probe began, and he's not pulling punches when it comes to the special counsel's decision not to make a decision on obstruction. >> were you surprised that he came back with no recommendation on that obstruction charge? did that surprise you? >> yes, that surprised me. >> how come? >> the function of a prosecutor is to make a call one way or the other. >> well, barr's shot coming as we're learning that the president's former national security adviser michael flynn told the special counsel that people tied to the president or congress potentially tried to obstruct justice. we may soon get a chance to hear those conversations if a judge rules by the end of today or later this week to release tapes that flynn

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