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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 12, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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embassy, the chinese are building their biggest cultural center in europe. outside stands a statue of confucius. you don't need to understand proverbs to read the signs on confucius street. oren liebermann, cnn, belgrade. our coverage on cnn continues right now. happening now -- rules of impeachment. democrats on the house judiciary committee take a critical first step toward removing president trump from office by impeachment, approving a resolution defining the rules for the investigation. to late night, as the impeachment heats up, ten democratic hopefuls take the stage tonight in an effort to remove president trump by election. with the top tier of candidates facing off each other for the first time. cell phone spying, israel denies a report claiming it
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planted cell phones near the white house and other locations in washington. was israel trying to spy on president trump and his top aides? and incredible potential. the president gushs about what could lie in store for north korea, as he tries to sweet-talk kim jong-un giving. his nuclear weapons. does the future the president is touting actually pose a threat to kim? >> i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." ♪ with a party line vote, the house judiciary committee has now laid the ground rules for an impeachment inquiry into president trump, even as divided democrats struggle to clarify their strategy, and even what to call their investigation. democratic presidential candidates may be asked about it tonight, as ten of them face off in the first debate featuring all of the top-tier candidates on the same stage, including joe biden, elizabeth warren and bernie sanders. we'll talk about that and more
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with congresswoman madeleine deane who voted on the impeachment parameters today. the correspondents are standing by. first to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, i understand we may be hearing from the president fairly soon? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the president will be depart for baltimore in about half an hour from now. the bred, by the way, and gop are all but daring house democrats to begin impeaching mr. trump. the democrats hardly sound united on this issue. the president may choose to weigh in on impeachment as he leaves the white house shortly, a short while from now, about half an hour from where we are at this point for his speech in baltimore. the president, earlier this year, you'll recall, referred to baltimore as a rat-infested city earlier this year. talking top house democrats are setting the ground rules for an impeachment investigation into the president, accusing mr. trump of behavior that endangers american democracy.
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>> understand investigation poses a threat to our democracy. we have an obligation to respond to this threat and we are doing so. >> reporter: the president was all but tweeting bring it on, characterizing democrats as choosing impeachment over simply beat be him in next year's election. the republicans in the house are flat out daring democrats to get going. >> i dare to you do it. in fact, i double-dog dare you to do it. have the house vote on those 18 words and then go at it. why won't you do it? >> reporter: the gop is seizing coming from moderate democrats, exploring a divide that put house speaker nancy pelosi on the hot seat. >> come with me sometimes, and you'll hear what the american people are saying. they understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure. but if we have to go there, we'll have to go there. but we can't go there unless we have the facts. and we will follow the facts. that's all i'm going to say about this subject. >> reporter: the president
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likelyy on the subject in baltimore. tweeting cummings' district is a disgusting rat-infested mess. if he spent more time in baltimore maybe he could help clean up this dangerous and filthy place. >> those people are living in hell in baltimore. they're largely african-american. you have a large african-american population. and they really appreciate what i'm doing and they let me know it. >> reporter: cummings invited the president to his district to show mr. trump he's wrong about baltimore. >> a lot can be done with regard to would affect city that is significant. you know what, i want president trump to come to my district. i want him to -- oh, god, i want him to come. >> reporter: the president has moved on to his latest target, he just fired national security
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adviser john bolton tweeting in fact my views on venezuela and especially cuba were far stronger than those of john bolton. he was holding me back. seniorses tell cnn mr. trump they reward one of bolton's rivals secretary of state mike pompeo giving him the job as well. >> that would not be an unprecedented move. president nixon and ford did the same thing with secretary of state kissinger. at the same time, the president is looking at a slate of probably five, with secretary pompeo, five-plus. >> reporter: another big question for the president to answer in the coming days, gun control and whether he'll call on republicans to embrace universal background checks, a proposal supported by nearly all americans. >> why don't we spend some time going over to see mitch mcconnell and asking him why he doesn't want to save lives. >> reporter: the white house just wrapped up a meeting with some proposals on guns were presented to the president.
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a broad outline of some of the options under consideration. part of that presentation we're today, but not specific legislative proposals. and as for the president's comments that baltimore is a rat-infested city, the house minuority leader declined to sa, mr. trump should apologize, quote, i think the president coming should symbolize. on what the president tweeted earlier this year. >> jim acosta at the white house. let's get more on the key move by democrats on capitol hill toward impeachment. our congressional correspondent sunlen serfaty is on the scene. where does the speaker go here and is speaker pelosi willing to calling it? >> she's not, wolf. she's not calling it an impeachment investigation. and that certainly creating
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considerable tension with house democrats. it's a mixed message as to what exactly they're doing right now. and that is shining essentially a super bright spotlight on a very real and deep divide on democratic caucus on how exactly to proceed when it comes to impeachment and these investigations that they'ricinging they'ricing i picking up steam. it only makes this moment more difficult for house democratic leaders to handle, essentially, these actions within their party. and that political balancing act, especially, very much on full display here on capitol hill, when speaker of the house nancy pelosi did become very frustrate e frustrated, with many reporters' questions, myself included, as to why she is not calling the house judiciary committee's investigation an impeachment inquiry. or an impeachment investigation, even as the chairman of that committee does. >> reporter: you've long said
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that public sentiment is an important factor in deciding what you're going to do there. shouldn't you set the record straight? >> i have said what i'm going to say on the subject. that's it. we're legislating. we're focusing on the work that we're here to do for the american people. and part of our responsibility is to honor our oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the united states. and in doing so, we are getting, seeking the facts. i'm not answering any more questions on this subject. that is what we had said all along. that is what we continue to do. >> reporter: now, the democrats continue to publicly struggle over this language over impeachment. the house judiciary committee, they did take a significant, a procedural step, but a significant step forward today in outlining the parameters of their investigation. the way they will proceed forward and chairman nadler promising an aggressive number of hearings. saying it will go well beyond
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the four corners of the mueller report. and that starts next week with former chain manager corey lewandowski testifying on tuesday. >> thank you very much. let's get to this, democratic congressman natalie deane from pennsylvania. i want to remind the viewers you were among the first democrats in the house to call for impeachment. are you satisfied with the steps democrats are now taking toward that end? >> i am. i'm pleased with the leadership of jerry nadler and the committee to pass a resolution today that really sets forth the procedures that we're moving forward with. let's be clear, we are in an impeachment investigation. the president may not like hearing those words, but that is the truth from the top of our caucus on down. >> is nancy pelosi, the speaker, on board? >> i know she is because, though she may use different language.
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she's in a very different position. but everything we have done and the language that we're using, including impeachment investigation has been vetted by the speaker. she's a very powerful, smart woman. she has consistently said we are here to legislate, litigate and investigation. that's what we're doing. >> what's your message to your democratic colleagues who are still reluctant to even use that word impeachment to describe this investigation? >> well, i think, and i've spoken to some of them. i think they're very pleased that the judiciary committee is taking on the responsibility of doing this impeachment investigation. they want us to get the facts so that they can make wise decisions. they want us to make sure that we're upholding the constitution. they're pleased that we're looking beyond the four corners of the mueller report. we're now looking at what i call hardened payoffs and profiteering by this president and administration. so we're looking at all of the
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corruption, all of the deception, all of the obstruction. so my colleagues who are not on the judiciary are very please that we're doing this job. >> the president is clearly trying to exploit the division within your party. there is serious division as far as impeachment. do you think the lack of clarity is going to make it more difficult for you to make your case to the american public? >> there is no issue on this issue. and that is upholding the constitution of the united states. the rule of law and decency to public service. to a person in our caucus, they believe that this president is indecent. and they see in plain sight and also we read from behind closed doors of the corruption, of the attempt to profit, never separating himself from his oorgs. s organization. so i know the president would like to use that kind of division. it's not there it's in same present way. again, i want to take a look at what leadership has said. they know exactly what we're
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doing. we've done this in coordination. jerry nadler very closely in coordination with the speaker and the leader and the chair. and so the division is not quite what it's being made out to be. >> even adam schiff, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, he's reluctant to say this is formally, officially, an impeachment investigation. >> it's not necessary to use the magic words formally. we're in an impeachment investigation. jerry nadler said that plainly during the course the markup and the pass of the resolution. we're there. our committees is also looking at very important violations of emollients clauses. financial transactions. you know, this is something we must do. if i may, i do want to pivot and make sure it is not missed, the two other things that we did this week. we voted to protect our environment from the reckless drilling that this
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administration would like to hand off to pollute our waters and to harm our environment. so, we passed billings protecting us and our planet against more offshore drilling and drilling in the arctic. the other thing we did, very importantly, and i'm glad you're reporting on the president talking about gun violence. we passed three more bills out of judiciary that will save lives. i don't know what the other side is afraid of. i don't know what mitch mcconnell is afraid of. i don't know what legal gun owners are afraid of. we have legislation that will save lives. and the senate has been on recess since we passed the first two on february. but the american people need to know it. we're not only just doing investigations, we're protecting the planet and we're trying to protect the american public against the scourgech gun violence. >> well, you can pass this legislation, important legislation as much as you want. as you know, congresswoman, in the house of representatives, very often it's not even taken up for a vote in the senate. so it simply dies.
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>> it's strange abdication of their elected duty and sworn oath of office. notice how mitch mcconnell lately has been talking about he'll only take up legislation when he knows what the president wants to do. whether or not he will sign it. that's actually not how our democratic process should work. they should actually be legislating. this is not something that they're waiting to find out what the president should runnbber stamp. they need to pass legislation and see if the president will sign it. they need to be champions to save lives, to protect our planet and our constitution. >> congresswoman madeleine dean of pennsylvania. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for the chance. up next, just hours before the democratic presidential debate, senator elizabeth warren calls for a major expansion of social security. and later, israel flatly denies an eye-opening report that it's behind mysterious
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to houston, the top ten presidential candidate will share the debate stage for the first time. let's bring in political director david chelian. what do you expect committee high-stakes debate and what will be different? >> what you just alluded to is different, wolf. it's one night only. in this series of debates that the democratic national committee has put together they were two-night affairs. it was a 20-person field. democratic voters had to take 48 hours to assess what it looked like. tonight, it's all ten top-tier folks on one stage. so voters are going to have an opportunity to really size everyone up against each other who are really in the hunt for nomination. >> this will also be the first time that joe biden and elizabeth warren not only share the stage together, but they're right next to each other in the middle of that stage. >> yes, and this is sort of the
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matchup that everybody is waiting to see. all of the other permutations have occurred in the other debates. here you have the front-runner, joe biden, and the one candidate who has shown consistent upward movement throughout the campaign in elizabeth warren. they have a history going back over a decade when they did battle over the bankruptcy bill and biden was in the senate. there is clear indication from the biden campaign, that he is looking to draw contrast with warren 0 the stage tonight, in saying, it's not just about how many plans you have. you need to be able to show you can actually execute on these plans. show how you can take a plan and actually get it into law and help people. that's what biden is trying to paint. warren is like, yeah you have plans but they're pie in the sky. we'll see how warren handles that. it will be interesting to see if he takes incoming from other
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candidates. she hasn't experienced that but now she's on the rise, she has to be aware of that. >> just hours ahead of the campaign tonight, joe biden's campaign is releasing a new video. they're focusing in on one specific person, namely, former president barack obama. david, what's the strategy here? >> i thought maybe joe biden was going to change his name to joe biden obama for the debate. the strategy is simple, african-americans are the critical core of joe biden's support. we talked about this yesterday when our poll was out, wolf. that is what, it's african-american voters that are powering joe biden to believe in this race. and this so, according to polls, is one of the major reasons that people are considering joe biden. supporters of joe biden are excited about joe biden because of his eight years of service to barack obama. this is a critical part of his resume. he wants to have it out front,
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in the center, constantly in this debate. especially you remember in the last debate some of the democrats started picking apart the obama legacy or saying some things they disagreed with. you will joe biden basically hug barack obama every chance he gets. >> lots of african-american voters in the democratic primary in south carolina but not so much in either iowa or new hampshire, right? >> that is right. he's got to get through two very white states first before he can get to the nevada and south carolina. his campaign, the biden campaign, constantly points to the diversity of his coalition. but you are right to note, those first two states are not that diverse. they're overwhelmingly white states. and so i think you are starting to see the biden campaign try to temper expectations to try to buy him some time. and if he doesn't win those first two contests that he can still go the distance here. but as you know, wolf, once the ball gets going and voters start weighing in. you don't have much time to say
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why you're not winning contests. you got to win contests. >> david, as usual, thank you very much. to our viewers, an important note, we'll have full debate analysis later tonight starting at 10:30 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. our political and legal experts are here. we've got lots to discuss, and we will, right after this. anyone can deliver pizza.
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as ten democratic presidential candidates prepare for tonight's debates democrats of the house judiciary committee approved ground rules for impeachment inquiry of president trump. let's ask our political and legal experts. dana bash, you're there in houston for us. you're covering this presidential debate. what is today's vote, first of all, in the house of representatives, in the judiciary committee signal about the strength of this impeachment investigation? >> reporter: look, the train is on the tracks. that's what it signals. the question is, and what we've seen over the past couple of days is how democrats actually define what this train is. and the confusion, whether it's
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intentional or not, about what kind of inquiry this is, what kind of preparation this is, has been really fascinating to me to watch. from the house democratic leadership, including the speaker herself refusing to use the "i" word impeachment, instead, saying that we're going to investigation. we're doing inquiries, we're going to litigate. every other word instead of that. but the fact of the matter is, this is a big first step that the house judiciary committee took. and as you mention, i'm here in houston, where there's going to be a debate among ten candidates, vying for the chance to go up against donald trump, where despite the fact that almost all of them have said that they think an impeachment inquiry is the right way to go, if you give them political truth serum, they will say, even if that's the right thing to do, policywise, you know, just in terms of how democrats should use the majority in the house,
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politically, the reality is that they know it could very much hurt anybody who is on the ticket, up against donald trump, if it goes from an investigation and inquiry, further down the road. >> important point, indeed. laura coates, from a legal perspective, how does a vote in the judiciary committee today, what does it accomplish? does it give, for example, the congress more authority to get specific detailed information? >> well, it actually lays out a scenario of how they're able to actually conduct the investigation that they want to use that word. it's one of those just so we're clear, how this is going to work as it follows. first of all, jerry nadler now has the authority to convert committee hearings into impeachment hearings. that's a heck of a magic wand to be able to wave, if and when they do, certainly wrestle with and do away with the semantics argument. also they've outlined how specifically they're going to be answering questions.
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they're going to give counsel an opportunity to answer questions even after the hearings. they're also going to allow the white house to respond. i mean, this is a very big step, clearly laying out not only for donald trump and the administration but for the american people of what to expect, if and when, or whether they ever convert to an impeachment inquiry, it does do that. but it's one step, but how many steps more they will actually get to the fact-finding and the impeachment that's anybody's guess. >> rebecca, why are democrats still struggling using the word impeachment? >> i agree with dana, wolf, it's interesting to watch this wresting match unfold among the democrats. and it seems like they're trying at least now at this stage to have it both ways politically. they don't want to get too far over their skis on the impeachment issue. because they recognize especially for the democrats who are going to be in competitive swing districts in the upcoming elections this is going to be
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potentially a hand grenade of an issue. they want to tread carefully here. they want to make sure they have their ducks in a row before they say the "i" word. the train is on the tracks, they're moving in this direction. but it really is a question of semantics, and it does tell you about the political ricks but they're not saying those words. >> the house democrats, they're arguing amongst themselves of the use of the word impeachment. the democratic candidates are getting ready for a big debate tonight including joe biden. he leased a brand-new ad, focusing a lot on his connection with former president barack obama. is that a preview of the strategy? i asked question because you covered the former vice president for us. >> yes, it's a go-to topic for the vice president. there isn't an event where he doesn't remind that he was serving alongside barack obama.
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it's a point that his team figure they can capitalize on. in a state like south carolina where there are a lot of black voters, they often point to the fact, one, obama picked him. and two, that he helped push through the projects that biden was proud of. and the legacy that came understand fire. and there rose joe biden and the defender and protector of president obama's legacy. and that's something that he and his team want to continue toe express. >> interesting dana, you're in houston covering this debate later tonight. so what's the winning strategy for the democratic candidates sparring amongst each other? or simply trying to go after president trump? >> each of these candidates has a different answer to that, because they have a different necessity, depending on where they are, in the polls. for joe biden, the answer is, seems to be, going after donald
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trump. but also protecting his right and left flank physically. maybe not politically, but physically on that podium. since he's going to be right in the middle there. the telegraphing that we're getting and arlette knows this better than i do, that we're getting from the biden campaign is the fact that he realizes that he is for the first time on the stage with elizabeth warren. the one who has been the most asceto at least his aides are hoping he says something along the lines of plans aren't everything. maybe he won't say, i'm talking to you, elizabeth warren. but it's going to be pretty clear he's talking to elizabeth warren and talking about elizabeth warren's m.o. in this campaign. and i think you're going to see different variations of that from the different candidates. i think also it's fascinating area is kamala harris who is
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going to be guns blazing against joe biden for the first two debates. and all indications are from her campaign, telling us that is not going to be her strategy tonight. she's going to talk more about herself and more about donald trump. >> let me get arlette back in because this will be the first time joe biden and elizabeth warren are right next to each other. do you expect fireworks? or will they be sort of nice to each other? >> i think it's going to be an implicit contrast that each of the candidates going to try to make against each other. biden's advisers are really trying to downplay the fact that there's a head-to-head matchup. saying there are ten other candidates on that stage and that biden is focused on running his own race. but as dana mentioned, they're previewing the lines. they need someone who can deliver and execute. they've been saying that over the past 24 hours. the question is can biden deliver that if he's trying to hold on to his status as the front-runner. especially if he's going to have two figures to his left and
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right, bernie sanders and elizabeth warren who are really on a different ideological side of the democratic party. >> and the pressure is really on some of these other candidates who made the debate stage tonight. but they may only be at 2%, 3% right now. they've got to come up with something in order to continue their campaign. >> that's right. it's important to remember for these candidates, wolf, it's really a fight for survival tonight. obviously, the october debate has the same polling threshold to qualify as this debate tonight does. but when you look ahead to november, it's expected that the dnc is going to raise the polling threshold to 3%, 4%. so these candidates are going to be challenged tonight to start raising their profile, their polling to elevate a moment in november. >> some of these campaigns are running out of money rather quickly as well. everybody stick around, there's a lot of new news, including israel flattening the story that it's behind the
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while in the middle of a trip to russia today the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu strongly denied a politico report that israel is responsible for planting some mysterious surveillance devices right here in washington. a used to spy in cell phone conversations and turned up in sensitive locations including near the white house. our cnn national correspondent alex marquardt is working the
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story. alex, tell us more. >> look, wolf, the devices are called stingrays. the department of homeland security said they've seen evidence of their use before put this is an explosive allegation that politico makes that one of the u.s.' closest allies israel is behind it to spy on the president and his team. >> reporter: an adamant denial tonight from israel, following a report claiming that its intelligence services planted cell phone surveillance devices near the white house and other sensitive locations in washington, d.c. >> absolutely not. we have a directive -- i have a directive, no intelligence collection in the united states. no spying. and it's rigorously enforced without any exception. it's complete, complete fabricati fabrication. >> reporter: politico reports according to a senior u.s. official, israel was most likely behind a series of electronic
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spying devices known as stingrays. the goal the former officials tell politico was to spy on top white house staff and the president who is known to often use a cell phone whose security has been repeatedly questioned. >> if i'm a foreign intelligence officer in washington, i would want to listen in to his calls and his closest aides'. >> reporter: in april 2018, the department of homeland security confirmed to oregon democratic senator ron wyden that they found stingray-like activity in washington but did not say who was behind it. >> that can really be an entry point. a glide path for people who represent an extraordinary danger to our country. >> reporter: a stingray is technically known as an ims eye-catcher. it simulates a cell tower, triggering cell phones to connecting to them. the stingray can capture location and call and texts and other data streams, extremely
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valuable information on secretaries. the u.s. security said israel is possible that they can buy these and use them. >> the israelis have never stopped spying on us one way nor another. when they get caught is a slap on the wrist. >> and that slap on the wrist if it ever happened wasn't made public. we asked the fbi, the cia, they all declined. but of course, this white house is close to benjamin netanyahu supporting his controversial actions but as close as israel and the u.s. are, it's important to note that of course, the u.s. gathering intelligence on them as well. >> a lot of spying going on. we have not matched this politico story. >> but officials former and present tell me it's entirely plausible. >> continue to work the story. thanks, alex. coming up, does the departure of former national security adviser john bolton increase the likelihood of a nuclear deal with north korea?
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with his former national security adviser out the door,
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president trump is ramping up his charm offensive as he tries to sweet talk kim jong-un into giving up his nuclear weapons. the president was in full sales mode as he talked about a potential nuclear deal with north korea. what it could mean. >> right. the president seems obsessed with north korea to become a tourist paradise. he's pitching that idea to kim jong-un while siding with the dictator over john bolton. >> reporter: it's one of the most fascinating aspects of president trump's relationship with kim jong-un. >> north korea has tremendous potential. >> reporter: his fascination with turning kim's hermit kingdom into a public paradise. >> it's a great location as we used to say in the real estate business. >> reporter: on wednesday president trump maintained his optimism. not only that a nuclear deal with kim is there for the taking but there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if he and kim can strike their grand bargain. >> this can be one of the most
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unbelievable, you look at a country in terms of upside, this could be one of the most unbelievable experiments ever. north korea. >> reporter: trump has gushed about the potential for a north korean economic boom if kim's regime makes a deal with the u.s. striking the tone of a new york real estate magnate. >> they have great beaches. you see that when they're exploding their condition nannoe ocean. >> reporter: once he showed kim jong-un a video showing how fabulous it could be for a nuclear free north korea. analysts say there's a limit to what the supreme leader will tolerate. >> that brighter future means the economic development that the president touts. with economic development comes information and that is what will undermine his legitimacy and a brighter future is a dual
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threat to kim jong-un. >> reporter: coutrump says it wa mistake for bolton to have angered his north korean friend by suggesting north korea could meet the fate of libya and its former dictator who turned over his nuclear material to the u.s. only to see the u.s. help bring him down. >> when he talked about the libyan model for kim jong-un, that was not a god statemeod sto make. it set us back. >> reporter: here is what bolton said last year. >> it is requirement that kim jong-un agree to give away the weapons before you give any kind of concession? >> i think that's right. i think we're looking at the libya model of 2003, 2004. >> reporter: north korea called that a sinister move and called bolton a warmonger. >> i don't blame kim jong-un for what he said after that and he wanted nothing to do with john bolton. >> reporter: the libya model
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terrifies dictators like kim jong-un. >> the united states and others were not standing behind the regime and as a result he ended up going out in a really horrible way. for dictators the message there is that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. >> reporter: reasonable ianalys calling john's outster a victory for kim jong-un. they say with bolton out of the way the north koreans believe it will be easier to play the president and get a more favorable deal. >> bolton's remarks on north korea and libya undermine his tenure with the president early on. >> it really did. he made the remarks before the singapore summit with kim jong-un last year. just before the summit, cnn reported that state department officials, other sources inside the white house believe bolton made the remarks in order to
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blow up the talks and trump and other white house officials were caught off guard by the comments and angered by them. there's more breaking news next. president trump is talking to reporters right now outside the white house. stand by for the very latest. are we supposed to dance? ♪ boy bands without dancing are just ok. get a better than just ok unlimited plan with spotify premium included on america's best network. only from at&t more for your thing. that's our thing. we really pride ourselves on >> temaking it easy for youass, to get your windshield fixed. >> teacher: let's turn in your science papers. >> tech vo: this teacher always puts her students first. >> student: i did mine on volcanoes. >> teacher: you did?! oh, i can't wait to read it. >> tech vo: so when she had auto glass damage...
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happening now, pushing impeachment. the house committee ramps up its investigation of the president in first official vote related to impeachment, but are democratic divisions undermining the probe as some party leaders refuse to utter the i word. indictment risk. andrew mccabe could face criminal charges archdiocefter decision by the justice department. the big stage. all of the top ten democratic presidential candidates are about to debate in houston. will there be fireworks as joe biden and elizabeth warren go head to head for the first time? asleep on the job. safety officials report a lapse in oversight in

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