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tv   Wolf  CNN  December 5, 2016 10:00am-11:01am PST

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hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 7:00 p.m. in berlin. 8:00 p.m. in aleppo, syria. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we start with a new member of president-elect trump's cabinet. dr. ben carson picked to be the next secretary of housing and urban development. dr. carson was, of course, a highly respected pediatric neurosurgeon. one of 17 republican running for the republican nomination. when he dropped out in march became a top adviser to donald trump. house minority leader nancy pelosi is calling doctor, carson disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice also saying there's "no evidence doctor carson brings the -- that impact
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families." a remaining spot to be filled, that of secretary of state. over the weekend we learn add few more names on on that list of potentials including miami rodney, general pennsylvania -- petraeus and jon huntsman. there are others. and with us, jessica a couple weeks ago dr. carson been seem to be want to be part of the cabinet. what changed? >> reporter: wolf, you know, it was just a couple weeks ago a close aide to dr. carson said, dr. ben carson was not, in fact, interested in leading a federal agency. when his name was mentioned for health and human services. at the time, because dr. carson didn't have experience leading a federal agency and didn't believe that was his strength. then you go back to two weeks ago, and donald trump tweeted he was, in fact, considering dr. carson for hud secretary. and then it was just on
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wednesday, last week, that dr. carson put on his facebook page that an announcement was imminent. the question is, what changed here? you'll remember to back in december when dr. carson actually took donald trump on a tour of the blight the neighborhoods of detroit, including his boyhood home. so perhaps dr. carson believes he has insight into this. of course, hud is responsible for providing rental assistance to low-income families. also working on cleaning up some blight in inner cities. perhaps dr. carson believing he can make his mark. already the backlash has been swift. several democrats speaking out against his nomination. nancy pelosi, the house mine hort minority leading, disconcertingly an unqualified choice. of course, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell coming out in strong defense saying that dr. carson's long record of public service will be an asset for this administration. wolf? >> just getting word, jessica,
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that the former vice president al gore, who's over, right behind you inside trump tower, meet with ivanka trump, we're told trump told the pool of reporter s there, he had a chane to meet with president-elect himself. tell viewers what former vice president al gore was going there to begin with? >> reporter: donald trump trump never ceases to surprise us. al gore was in fact here at trump tower first and foremost to meet with -- >> actually, we just lost our connection at trump tower and will get back to jessica. important news, learned from the travel pool there, the former vice president al gore not only met with ivanka trump at trump tower, also with the president-elect as well. jim chute sciutto is with us. a lot of sensitive areas.
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you know this involving china. donald trump isn't backing down from accepting that-o ing thain call the courtesy phone call. first time a conversation in a long time between the leader of taiwan and either a president or president-elect of the united states. he's not backing down. china, by the way, lodged a formal protest, us a know, with the white house. saying the u.s. should stick to the one china policy. trump responded, did china ask us if it was okay to devalue their currency? making it hard for our companies to xbreet heavily tax our products? going into their country? the u.s. doesn't tax them. or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the south china sea? i don't think so. and just moments ago the white house press secretary, josh earnest said this -- >> there's no attempt and no effort and frankly no desire to make promises on behalf of the president-elect. when the president-elect assumes office, when he assumes the awesome responsibility of
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governing the greatest country in the world, that's something that something he'll do on his own. the assurances that we could offer the chinese government were the ongoing commitment of the u.s. government to the pursuit of a one china policy that we believe has benefited the united states, china and taiwan, but the -- the chinese government and senior officials in the chinese government are sophisticated enough to understand the complexities of the u.s. political system, and they understand that president obama's ability to set our policy towards this region of the world expire on january 20th. >> all right. so translate that for us. what we just heard. in rather diplomatic nuance tones. >> here's the thing. donald trump is picking a fight with china on the sweet, major
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issues that divide the country. trade, currency, et cetera, the south china sea and also taiwan. over the decades, particularly taiwan, almost spark add war. a set of rules, who communicates, treaties, et cetera to keep shots from being fired here. with a couple of tweets and a phone call, donald trump is upsetting that order, potentially. and ears are perking up. you saw josh earnest, sort of a measured statement. reay firming china -- u.s., one china policy. the foreign ministry saying u.s.-china trading relationships is mutually beneficial. i guarantee you, behind the scene, certainly not just in the white house, but in china, there's real concern here. i want to read something. chinese have a lot of ways to communicate. one of their state newspapers, from "the global times" in english language, chinese mouthpiece, this is about trump.
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he doesn't have sufficient resources to deal with china wantonly. his many words will not become deeds. most u.s. people won't want to sink into a major power conflict. raising potential effect of these words, laying it out there for the world to see. that's the level of concern that china that right now. >> obviously we'll see what, but if there is a high level of concern, so far officially, publicly, the chinese government of beijing, restrained in their reaction. jim sciutto, thanks very much. more on this transition. joining us from capitol hill, texas republican congressman mack thornbury. chairman of the house armed services committee. mr. chairman, thank very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me, wolf. >> start with china right now. what's your reaction to the uproar that developed over the 3569 few days over this 40-year break in this phone call between the president-elect and the president of taiwan? >> a couple things. one is, just on the level of common sense, it seems to me to
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be okay if the president of the united states talks to the leader of a major u.s. ally like taiwan. secondly, i remember that president obama has met with the dalai lama a number of times over his teen nunure, also a sensitive subject for the chinese, but it's been okay, and thirdly, i guess -- i think both countries are, and both leaders, are trying to feel each other out. we need a constructive relationship with china, but as a rising power, china is testing what they can get away with, and you mentioned, or the report mentioned building islands in the south china sea, et cetera. a little bit of pushback, and i think especially with enhanced u.s. military power, it's probably a good thing to help channel this relationship towards more constructive ends. >> is it your understanding that this phone conversation wasn't just the spur of the moment
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decision by the president-elect to accept this call from the president of taiwan, but had been in the works, considering it for weeks? >> yeah. i read press reports that say that. i don't know what the truth is. but, again, taiwan, a major u.s. ally, maybe it's okay if they talk. and otherwise, you know, i think there is some concern about hyping it out of proportion, bas as your report indicated it does not change the one china policy, which has been the mainstay ever since the '70s. >> as you know, retired general david petraeus is still a candidate to be the secretary of state. but tomorrow donald trump will officially announce what he's already announced. retired general james mattis as his choice for defense secretary. you're in charge of getting that legislation, that waiver passed in the house of representatives. he's only been out of uniform for three years. he needs to be out for seven
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years, and unless legislation is passed. do you see any problem at all in getting that legislation passed in the house of representatives setting the stage potentially for his confirmation in the senate? >> i think it will pass. i know a few leaders in national security, whether military or civilian, who are as respected and admired as jim mattis, and i think we all at the same time take civilian control of the military very seriously. so this has happened before with general marshall in 1950. you had an extraordinary circumstance with the korean war, an extraordinary leader. congress passed a one-time exception to the general rule, and i think that's analogous to where we are today. very difficult circumstances, extraordinary leader, a one-time exception makes sense. >> would you okay with petraeus as secretary of state? >> well, that does not require
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any sort of legislation to allow him to serve there. you know, i do think that some of these top military commanders gain tremendous diplomatic experience in doing their jobs. but each of them also has to go before the senate and their qualifications for that job will be examined, and that needs to happen on an individual basis. so, yeah. i think leadership from top generals is something that is attractive to obviously mr. trump and the country right now. you don't want to have a cabinet full of generals anymore than you want a cabinet full of lawyers or a cabinet full of businessmen, but there's real experience here that may make sense for the country. >> yeah. petraeus were not need a waiver just to be the secretary of state. he would still need confirmation by the u.s. senate. the house of representatives in his particular case, if he were to be nominated would not be involved. a quick question on mosul right
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now. how close is that situation to being resolved? in other words, isis being kicked out? >> not eminent. i think it's going to be weeks if not -- my guess is, a couple months, at least. this is really tough fighting. it is block by block. isis has had years to dig in, tunnels, ieds, all sorts of very difficult circumstances, plus they're using civilians as human shields. so it takes time, and i would say we're probably looking at another couple months before mosul is cleared. >> representative mac thornbury of text, chairman fts house armed services committee. mr. chairman, thank you very much. >> you're welcome, sir. coming up, investigators say a gunman stormed a washington, d.c. area pizzeria after a fake news story surfaced online, and was peddled, actually, by the son of donald trump's new national security adviser.
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plus, new details on a deadly fire in oakland, california. this fire killed at least 36 people. what we're learning now about the cause of the fire and what we're learning about the victims. potato truck. it's been touring the country telling folks about our heart healthy idaho potatoes, america's favorite potatoes, and donating to local charities along the way. but now it's finally back home where it belongs. aw man. hey, wait up. where you goin'? here we go again.
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the death toll is rising in a horrific fire that gutted a warehouse in oakland, california. 39 confirmed dead and officials believe the number will rise. 11 victims identified so far. the blaze raced through the building late friday during an electronic music show. a criminal investigation is now under way. the white house just released a state from president obama saying in part, while we still don't know the total of the disaster, we do know the american community is devastated and many people including young men and women with their whole futures ahead of them have tragically lost their lives. cnn's pargh vercammen is on the scene for us. what have you learned? what's the latest? >> reporter: wolf, right now in e unable to continue the bucket by bucket search. a precarious wall and they did not want to further complicate tragedy by having any part of
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this building go collapsing down on the first responders who are doing this grim work inside. so that part of this process has been suspended for now. they will resume later today, they say, and send people back inside. what have they done? they've cleared about 70% of the debris inside this building. it's a difficult task. because you've seen from the aerials, wolf, the roof collapsed, hit the second floor. then the second floor, parts of it, went down on the first floor and then you had a fire. so we have the 36 victims, as you mensed, that are confirmed dead. they still have 30% of this warehouse to look through and figure this is going to be a challenge. let's listen to what one of the top fire officials had to say about the problems with that wall collapsing. >> we have about a three-inch lean going into the center of the building. for us as firefighters working under a wobbly potentially
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collapsing exterior wall is extremely dangerous. we will not put our firefighters in danger at this point and we will not put alameda county sheriffs in that precarious situation with us. >> now back there drive, quick, one thing we found gut wrenching to listen to, wolf. they were asking for family members and anybody who thinks is missing to provide them with dna samples. vis-a-vis, say a comb or toothbrush or something like that. so they can go ahead and make a dna match, and have more than just the 11 confirmed victims identified and then, of course, the family's notified, wolf. >> what a horrific, horrific disaster that is. paul vercammen, we'll check back with you. thank you. coming up, europe's far right populist party energized by president-elect donald trump victory. who's in, who's out? what it says about the political
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italians woke up this morning to a government political turmoil. the italian prime minister matteo renzi resign today. he staked his lead on the italian parliament. it paves the way for anti-eu parties to step in. this political trend did not carry over to austria. voters sided with the pro-eu presidential candidate alexander van der bellen, defeated the candidate from the far right.
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talk about this with global affairs correspondent elise lavin. it appears the tide is changing, clearly, in europe afters historic british vote to leave the eu and the election be here in the u.s. of donald trump. what does it say about the political climate in europe right now? >> it's a mixed message, wolf. obviously both of these votes were playing in to these fears, this distrust of immigrants, distrust of more strengthening european integration. fears of islamic extremism, and both of those votes played into that. and also, these votes were an affirmation or indictment of europe, and in the case of italy that really sent shivers down the spine of europeans who feel italy voted no to a stronger europe. the whole european experiment. and in austria, alexander van der bellen was much more of a
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pro-european candidate over norbert hofer of the freedom party, rather more of an anti-free trade, anti-immigration, anti-eu kind of stance and also a lot of the kind of similar themes, these populist themes of donald trump that swept donald trump to victory. so it's a mixed message but clearly those fears of immigration, of free trade, of european integration with certainly at the helm, and secretary kerry, secretary of state john kerry, in europe, in germany and in brussels this week obviously going to hear a lot about the anxiety that europeans are fearing, because there are more elections coming this year, angela merkel up for re-election. francois hollande up for re-election. far right parties are gaining ground and the concern is that they'll be a domino effect, wolf. >> elise labott, good background. one of the best representations
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how much the global political landscape change. look at this photo shot in april at the g5 summit in germany. david cam roin, prime minister matteo renzi, resigned, france's president, francois hollande will not seek re-election. president obama finishes his term in office. one world leader left from that photo, talking about germany's chancellor, angela merkel. and mr. ambassador, thanks for join us. lots of turmoil and excitement going on in europe now. what's your reaction, first, to this stunning defeat for matteo renzi, the prime minister 6 italy? just in washington a few weeks ago. president obama hosted a state dinner in his honor. the final state dinner. clearly trying to help him. didn't work. >> of course, wolf. i cannot speak for italy, but seems to me, yes, he suffered a defeat on a reform issue. but i wouldn't overdramatize this. italy is a resilient democracy,
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even if times prime minister had changed. it will not spill over into other countries in europe. >> and what about germany? angela merkel is up for re-election, fourth term, if you will? how much has the dramatic changes in britain in italy, elsewhere in europe, impacted germany? >> well, there will be elections next year. there are ten months to go. that's an eternity in politics. chancellor merkel still enjoy as high pop lamularity of 54%. she's in a strong position, but we also have a populist party from the right which scored quite well in regional elections. not represented in the national public. >> they want germany to leave the eu? >> more anti-immigrant party. the consensus in germany, we should be pro-european is very strong. it's more an anti-immigration --
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>> listen to what was said about angela merkel back in july as far as her refugee policy, absorbing all of these refugees coming into germany. listen to this. >> take a look at what's happening in sweden, in germany, and in all of these countries that are taking them. it's a disaster. germany has never had a problem like this. they're going to end up doing a number -- i mean, they are very angry in germany. i used to think merkel was a great leader. guess what? she blew it. okay? she blew it, because what's going on there is disgraceful. >> remember, that's what he said in july. they've had a phone conversation since he was elected. right? >> a very friendly one. >> how did it go? >> and, wolf, you see, we don't take everything that was said in the election campaign at face value. i think now we're in a new phase. we have a new president-elect, a new administration and he will constructively and forward-looking with this administration. chancellor merkel is one of the most important leaders in europe. germany is the powerhouse of
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europe. so the two will work together well, i'm sure. >> and is there a dialogue between german officials, maybe you yourself, and others inside the trump transition? >> yeah. we had our contacts, as it is our duty to stretch out our feelers, but you know, the nominations are not yet complete. so we have to see how this team is being set up, but we have had contacts and me personally as well. >> and so basically what you're saying what he said then, that it's disgraceful, angela merkel's policies since refugees. since then that was then and now you're moving on, and the phone conversation was actually pretty friendly? >> i'm sure the two will develop a very constructive forward-looking relationship, because there are so many challenges for the two leaders. they have to work together in europe and beyond. >> what about the whole issue of, he says, the united states has to vet the refugees because isis, al qaeda, al shabaab,
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trying to smuggle in terrorists into the united states, and he said germany, one of the countries in europe just let anybody in? >> last year was an extraordinary situation. the most dramatic refugee flow since the second world war. >> how many people did you let into germany last year? >> around a million. >> a million people and they just came in without any background checks? >> no, no. they came in, in a -- not always orderly fashion. we just couldn't have shut off our refugee, our borders. it would have created a, a basic, major hue millitarian disaster, but now the numbers have gone down dramatically, and we are managing that much better, including from the point of national security. >> those million who came in last year are able to stay? >> a million. some are allowed to stay. those who are refugees. others just looking for jobs, have to be repatriated. >> which donald trump,
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president-elect, says some may be terrorists what do you say to him? >> we have meantime vetted them properly and our services are very vigilant. they have been detected islamic cells that were active there. so we are much better in control than last year. >> one bot up line question. with europe, with britain now out of the eu, how concerned are you, the entire eu, eventually is going to collapse? >> no. and that will not happen. but we have to make sure that europe stays coherent and resilient against challengers from the east. like a more assertive russia from the south, like instabilities in the middle east and in north africa and the lead verse to get together and i think they know what's at stake, and at stake is a peace project in europe, eradicating war and conflict from the european continent and delivering unprecedented prosperity. that is what the european union did for the citizens. >> we'll see what happens.
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peter wittig, german ambassador to the united states. thanks for coming in. >> thank you for having me. coming up, president-elect trump promising several more cabinet announcements this week. still unfilled, secretary of security. janet napolitano about to join us live. talk about his picks, his immigration policy and a lot more. we'll be right back. ept coming back on my long-term control medicine. i talked to my doctor and found a missing piece in my asthma treatment with breo. once-daily breo prevents asthma symptoms. breo is for adults with asthma not well controlled on a long-term asthma control medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. breo won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. breo opens up airways to help improve breathing for a full 24 hours. breo contains a type of medicine that increases the risk of death from asthma problems and may increase the risk of hospitalization in children and adolescents. breo is not for people whose asthma is well controlled on a
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president-elect trump has yet to announce his choice for homeland security secretary. among those under consideration, texas congressman mike mccall, chairman of house homeland security and former new york city mayor rudy giuliani, retired general john kelkelly.
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i'm joined by former secretary s homeland security, janet napolitano. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> of those three candidates, who do you think is best suited to have your old job, secretary of homeland security? >> well, i think what the president-elect needs to look for is a person who can multitask, because the department of homeland security includes everything from counterterrorism to natural disasters to immigration to cyber security, and a lot of times these things are all happening at the same time. so he'll want to find someone who can deal with multiple issues simultaneously. >> what are the biggest challenges you believe, the biggest security issues, facing the uncoming president? >> well, i think there are several. i believe cyber security is a
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key issue. i think the -- the russians and their activities in our election deserves a serious in-depth look, and that willish not just withes russians. that's just going to be an eschherissue for the next secretary moving forward. immigration. heard a lot about that during the campaign, but now you have to really look at it as what the united states is going to do. what's the best thing for the united states to do? what's the fairest thing for the united states to do? and then, of course, counterterrorism. the rise of the lone wolf. lone wolf terrorism. we've had several of those episodes. i think we can anticipate more. >> as you know, the president-elect has promised a crackdown on illegal immigration. university of california, announcing it will protect the privacy, protect civil rights of undocumented students. are you potentially setting
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yourself up torefor a fight wite new administration? >> no, not really. these students are the so-called dreamers. these are young people brought here by their families at a young age. almost all of them are in daca, the deferred action program that was set up during my term as secretary of homeland security. they've passed background checks. they've passed criminal history checks. they have done well enough in school to be admitted to the university of california, which is not the easiest thing in the world to do. they should be the lowest priority in terms of immigration enforcement and we want to make sure that that is communicated. >> as you know, the president-elect also says he will halt federal aid to what is called sanctuary cities set up to protect undocumented and don't comply with the federal
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government. what's your reaction to that? >> i think we should avoid those kind of either/or fights. the plain fact of the mat ster these are low priority issues, and he said he wants to focus og violent felons and gang members. those are the same priorities we had when i was homeland secretary and easier said than done. put the enforcement will it should be and not waste our time with false conflicts. >> as you know, madam secretary, some of the sanctuary cities, they don't hand over violent, convicted criminals undocumented to the federal government. many times just release them into the streets. that's a serious problem. >> yeah. i think in the unusual circumstance where that is going on, there needs to be a serious discussion between the department of homeland security and those cities. but in terms of, say, the
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university of california, what we have said is, look, our police officers, their focus should be on campus safety. that's what we pay them to do. that's what their focus ought to be. and not on being adjunct immigration officers. we've been very clear about that. >> and campuses across the country, the whole notion, if the president-elect decides to, sort of go full speed against these sanctuary cities, the university of california, is that going to be a sanctuary campus? all of your various campuses? what are you hearing about that? >> no. i think that for the university of california, use of labels like sanctuary, noble really know what's that means, to begin with. but that's not very helpful. we've spelled out that, you know, look, student documents are private documents under federal law. we're going to protect that privacy. our police departments are going to focus on campus safety.
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they're not adjunct federal officers. i want to be clear about that. on daca, daca was a good program when it was started. it's not a blanket amnesty. these are really good young people, students who have passed all kinds of background checks. daca ought to be continued. >> there are the so-called dreamers, as we all know. janet napolitano. >> they are dreamers. >> from the university of california. former secretary of homeland security. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, we're now learning new details about a very jarring incident at a washington, d.c. peets rizzeria. an armed man storming the pizzeria, saying he was investigating a fake story. details, when we come back. it's looking up not down. it's feeling up thinking up living up. it's being in motion... in body in spirit in the now.
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a very frighten being moment for customers at a pizzeria. a man walked in with an assault rifle and allegedly pointed it at an employee. the suspect told employees he came to investigate a fake online news story involving false accusations linking the
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pizzeria to a child sex operation. patrons were able to rush out of the restaurant while the suspect fired his weapon. no one was injured. outside the pizzeria in washington and also joined by jeff mason, white house correspondent. what do we know about this man? i take it a 28-year-old, edgar madison welch? >> reporter: that's right. that's his name, wolf. he's from salisbury, north carolina, and he is locked up right now, but he is expected to appear in d.c. superior court in a little while charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. now, authorities say he was here over the weekend, walked in with a rifle. apparently that rifle was fired, authorities say, when they took him into custody, they found two additional weapons, and amp they charged him, they sat down and asked him questions, and what he told them was a little surprising. of course, he said that he came here to self-investigate, if you
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will, the allegations against pizzagate. a pizzagate, of course, is that online internet false rumor that has been going around for quite some time suggesting that hillary clinton and john podesta, her campaign manager, were, in fact, involved in a child sex ring here. all of it totally false, but it started in late october and kept building through the election, continues to this day. there have been threats against this pizza institution here on connecticut avenue in washington, d.c. death threats. and the owner of this place had put out a statement in trying to clear the air, if you will. it says in part -- let me state unequivocally that these stories are false and entirely false. there's no basis in fact to any of them. what happens is promoting false and wreck lreckless conspiracy
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with consequences. i hope those who do this will look at what happened here and stop promotesing these falsehoods right away." of course, wolf, whether all of this publicity >> joe johns reporting for us. thanks. jeff, reuters correspondent, you're president of the white house correspondents' association. this is an awful aphenomenal none, a fake story developing into a guy walking into a pizzeria with a weapon. >> and the keyword there is fake, as you and joe said. there needs to be a distinction between actual news and fake news. it can lead to difficult cons. >> the problem, there are so many people that believe these fake stories. >> that's right. i think that's an issue for journalists. i think it's an issue for politicians. i think a very important issue
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for public figures as well. >> i think you're absolutely right. thanks very much for giving us some perspective. coming up, a destroyed wasteland. that's how our own correspondent is describing what's left of aleppo, syria. we'll live to the front lines of the besieged city when we come back. imagine if the things you bought every day earned you miles blgs with the united mileageplus explorer card, you'll get a free checked bag, 2 united club passes... priority boarding... and 30,000 bonus miles. everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. the united mileageplus explorer card. imagine where it will take you.
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generosity is its oyou can handle being a mom for half an hour. i'm in all the way. is that understood? i don't know what she's up to, but it's not good. can't the world be my noodles and butter? get your mind out of the gutter.
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mornings are for coffee and contemplation. that was a really profound observation. you got a mean case of the detox blues. don't start a war you know you're going to lose. finally you can now find all of netflix in the same place as all your other entertainment. on xfinity x1. . in syria, government forces are gaining ground in the battle for the city of aleppo. the regime has been pounding rebel-held areas for weeks trying to retake all of east aleppo. as rebel territory shrinks, could this signal a turning point in the bloody civil war? our senior international correspondent fred pleitgen has more. >> reporter: driving through a destroyed wasteland that until recently was one of the main battlegrounds in syria. aleppo's district was in rebel hands until last week when
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government forces moved in with crushing firepower. 13-year-old udai shows me where a rock had landed near his house and describes the fear he felt as the war waged. we were very, very frightened, he says. normally we would hide in the basement, but luckily that night we slept on the first floor because that's when two rockets hit right over here. his little brother is clearly traumatized by the horrors he's witnessed and still weak for living under siege for weeks with no food and water available most of the time. as rebels lost their grip on this place, many residents fled, trying to escape with their lives and not much more. now they're coming back, some haven't seen their houses for years. this man left in 2012 when the rebels took this district. now he's trying to salvage any belongings in what's left of his apartment.
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i am very sad because everything is either destroyed or ransacked, he says. we found these pictures under the rubble. even the walls are destroyed, but we will come back here and rebuild. the battle for aleppo is far from over, but syrian government forces clearly have the upper hand. taking about half the rebelles' territory in the past week alone and continuing to push their offensive with massive firepower. like in so many districts that have been taken back by the syrian military, there is massive destruction in this part of eastern aleppo. but there's no denying the shift in momentum in favor of the syrian military and also the boost in morale that many of their soldiers have gotten. troops loyal to syrian president bashar al assad tell us they believe they could capture all of aleppo. the rebel headquarters was right
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here, he says, so the loss of this district was a big blow to them. you can see how our shelling is pounding them, and that shows their morale is collapsing. rebels left behind a makeshift cannon when they fled here last week. so far the opposition hasn't found a way to shore up their defenses in the face of this massive and possibly decisive syrian government offensive. >> fred pleitgen is joining us on the phone. he's in aleppo. i want you to be really careful over there, fred. we know the syrian military is getting help from the russians, iranians, lebanese, hezbollah. who is helping the rebels? >> reporter: well, it looks like the rebels aren't getting very much help at all anymore. one of the things we're seeing is the enclave they hold in eastern aleppo is getting smaller every day. seems the syrian government made headway last night. of course, the situation here is also getting worse for the
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civilians who are still trapped inside there. there's very little food there, very little water. also very, very cold here in aleppo. one of the things we've been seeing in the about 48 hours we've been on the ground here, i think you might have just heard that mortar being fired, is exactly that. a lot of shelling going on, heavy weapons being used, a lot of aircraft in the skies, bombing 24/7. it doesn't let up at any point during the day or night. you can really see how the rebel-held areas in eastern aleppo are under a complete assault night and day. the syrian government used to be hell-bent on trying to win it back as fast as possible. certainly doesn't look as though they'll be letting up any time soon, wolf. >> this is the final battle, is that what we're seeing right now? >> reporter: well, certainly looks that way for aleppo and certainly looks like -- there are efforts in the u.n. to try and get a deal to stop the
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violence. people really don't think that has a chance. >> fred pleitgen, be careful over there. one of the few western journalists courageous enough to get to that scene. that's it for me. i'll be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." the news continues right now, right here on cnn. hello on this monday, i'm ana cabrera in for brooke baldwin. president-elect trump just nominated the first african-american to his cabinet and he's gone on a twitter tirade against china. this after chinese officials lodged a complaint with the u.s. over trump's phone call with the president of taiwan. now, trump tweeted this. did china ask us if it was okay to devalue their currency making it harder for our companies to compete, heavily tax our products, going into their country? the u.s. doesn't tax them. or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the south china