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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  February 13, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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game of i'm not touching you with trump. the more he says stop it, the more they're going to do it. they were like, okay, what woman can play who? oh, i can play jeff sessions. it's so beautiful. >> the highest rated "snl" in 22 years. >> higher than when he -- it's got to drive him crazy that alec baldwin beat him. >> i wish i had more time. "the lead" with jack tapper starts now. thanks, brooke. nothing like a north korean missile launch to save you from dinner party small talk. "the lead" starts right now. out like flynn? the president's national security advisor increasingly under pressure after he may have conveyed to russia that obama sanctions could possibly be lifted by president trump and misled everyone from voters to the vice-president about it. the situation dining room? president trump facing a major test on the global stage as north korea fires a middle east. the commander-in-chief setting aside his wedge salad to handle the crises out in the open at a
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mar-a-lago restaurant with dozens of diners within earshot. was classified information discussed? plus, 200,000 americans told to get out. the tallest dam in the country in grave danger, full to the brim, holding back a wall of water. are the waters finally receding today? good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jack tapper. the dow right now closing at a record high. lots to cover today. first we'll begin with the politics lead as we head into week four of the trump administration. the last man in the ear of the commander-in-chief in a crises situation may now himself be facing a crises, one of his own making. the national security advisor, the retired three-star general michael flynn has been described by various government officials as having discussed with the russian ambassador back in december then president obama's sanctions against russia, suggesting even, officials say, that those sanctions would be
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revisited under president trump. now not only did flynn originally claim he did not do this, he apparently even misrepresented the matter to the vice-president of the united states. cnn white house correspondent sara murray joins me right now. general flynn, as it turns out, is not the only top white house official under some pressure. >> reporter: that's absolutely right. there are questions about a number of officials in the white house but the heat is really on general flynn today. he was an early and ardent supporter of president trump throughout his campaign. now the question is whether his job may be in jeopardy. in a white house where staff turmoil is becoming the norm, today it's michael flynn's turn in the hot seat. on ease is spreading among trump allies and white house aides over whether president trump's national security advisor misled administration officials including the vice-president when he insisted he didn't discuss sanctions with the
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ambassador. >> that's a conversation he's going to need to have with the president and vice-president to clear that up. >> announcer: he contradicts past statements from white house officials and now flynn is unable to discuss that he discussed those sanctions. flynn endeared himself to trump with his staunch support on the campaign trail. >> the people want change. >> reporter: but a source says the president privately expressed frustration with flynn over the weekend. flynn isn't the only aid catching flack. on sunday, one of trump's friends, the ceo of news max, told cnn that chief of staff reince priebus isn't up to the job. >> i think there's a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff. >> reporter: now he's watering down his critique, saying the president doesn't necessarily share his concern. >> i'm not speaking for him. i'm speaking for chris ruddy as i always have and will continue to do so.
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>> reporter: multiple sources close to trump insist priebus's job is secure. one person the president is clearly pleased with, his top policy advisor, steven miller. tweeting, congratulations steven miller on representing this morning on the various sunday morning shows. great job. with trump's travel ban blocked by the courts, miller took aim at the judicial system, seeming to question the constitutional system of checks and balances. >> our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. >> reporter: but he also served up some glaring falsehoods. sinisting the only reason trump lost new hampshire was because people were bussed in to vote illegally. >> i can tell you that this issue of bussing voters into new hampshire is widely known by anyone's who's worked in new hampshire politics. it's very real, very serious. >> reporter: there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud in new hampshire, and miller didn't
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provide any to support his claim. now, this is the day when the white house had hoped to be focused on diplomacy. president trump welcomed his third world leader here, canadian prime minister justin trudeau. but instead, the questions are still swirling about what is going to happen to trump's top national security advisor, general flynn. he did not address that in a press conference today with trudeau. jake. >> president trump is also facing criticism on how he handled the serious international test while he was enjoying dinner with japan's prime minister, where he learned that north korea had launched its first ballistic missile, turning mar-a-lago into a meeting. michelle, is there anybody at the white house or the state department acknowledging that in retrospect they should have stood up and gone to a private room to discuss this?
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>> reporter: no, in fact, they're not responding at all to how this was handled or the criticism that has followed. we haven't heard back from the japanese government either because they were doing the same thing. granted, we don't know how sensitive the information was on those documents or what exactly they were saying there out in the open, but the unique weirdness of the situation was definitely not lost on the people who were watching it unfold, especially that officials were pointing cell phones which are hackable at the documents in an attempt to see them better. tonight, pentagon officials tell cnn north korea's latest launch shows kim jong-un's missile program is moving forward. >> north korea is a big, big problem, and we will deal with that very strongly. >> reporter: as the president considers how to respond, questions about how the white house handled the chaotic hours after north korea's leader celebrated test launching a ballistic missile 300 miles off
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the korean coast towards japan. it happened saturday night just as president trump, the japanese prime minister, their wives and aides were settling into an op lent dinner at trump's mar-a-lago resort in florida in full view of members and guests of the swangy club, a flurry of activity at trump's dinner table. one posting, holy molly, fascinating, the president reading documents with prime minister abe, aides using cell phones to help them see in the candlelight, a potential security issue. >> that shouldn't happen in an uncleared facility. the basic problem here though is what do we do with crazy north korea. >> reporter: eventually the two leaders left the table and held an impromptu press conference. >> translator: north korea's missile launch is absolutely intolerable. >> reporter: president trump's reaction? he cast aside remarks seen on
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the podium. instead, one sentence, 24 words. >> i just want everybody to understand and fully know that the united states of america stands behind japan. it's a great ally, 100%. >> reporter: not quite the same tone as when he tweeted a stern warning in january. north korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the u.s. it won't happen. so now comes the task of figuring out how to respond strongly as president trump said he wanted to today. keep in mind, last year there were 24 such ballistic missile launch tests by north korea, and finally the u.s. with the u.n. imposed unprecedented sanctions on north korea. of course that hasn't changed the country's behavior at all. so today, in fact, there's a special session of the u.n. security council to get to work trying to figure out what is the next step here, jake.
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>> michelle, thank you so much. we have breaking news on our politics lead. president trump has had seven cabinet positions filled so far, confirmed by the senate. now the president's pick for labor secretary may be in trouble as four republican senators may vote against andrew puz ner. who are these four republican senators and are they opposed or just wavering? >> they're wavering. they're not saying they're opposed yet because they're waiting for that all important thursday confirmation hearings. susan collins of maine, lisa mur cow ski, tim scott and johnny isaacson. all of them are saying they want to hear more at this confirmation hearing before they decide what to do with their vote. importantly, one reason why is this revelation that mr. puds ner hired an undocumented
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immigrant as a housekeeper and failed to pay taxes, later acknowledging that he did hire this housekeeper and did pay back taxes. even one committee member, richard burr of north carolina, had concerns with what happened with mr. puds ner's hiring of this undocumented immigrant. here's what he had to say. >> he has gone back and tried to make it right with late payments and payments for taxes. it would have been preferable had he done that when he recognized it but it didn't happen. i'd like to get through the hearing and see if there's anything else. this is not a disqualifier on its face, but if anything else matches with it, it's something the administration might need to think about. >> reporter: now, there are other controversies from his past, mr. puds ner's past that have come up, including a messy divorce that he went through three decades ago and allegations of domestic abuse. his ex-wife has withdrawn those allegations and apologized for them but she has appeared in the
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late '80s on the oprah winfrey show in disguise to talk about this incident. senators are reviewing the tape of that oprah winfrey show. susan collins telling our colleague that she is still reviewing that tape of the oprah winfrey show and determining whether or not that was a line of questioning she wanted to ask more puds ner at his confirmation hearing. a lot of these liabilities from the past expected to come up at that thursday hearing in addition to his own idealogical views which have prompted concerns from the left and labor groups. business groups, jake, coming out very hard. >> thank you so much. president trump was at dinner in public when he learned north korea had fired a ballistic missile so that's where he and his team planned their response, we are told. we'll talk to a key member of the house intelligence committee coming up next.
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welcome back to "the lead." president trump facing a serious test as commander-in-chief with north korea launching a new missile as general michael flynn is facing some pressure over his
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relationship in communications with russia. joining me now is congressman peter king of new york. he's a member of homeland security and intelligence committees. always nice to have you here. thanks for joining us. >> thank you, jake. >> so is there some new way of responding to this north korean crises, whether at the u.n. security council or working with our allies that we have not seen from previous presidents beyond military action that you think might work? >> i don't know if there's anything dramatic. i think there should be more action with the allies. i think the president may consider increasing military exercises in that region. may again hold high level talks with countries like japan, sending signals also to china, raising the issue with the u.n. even though i don't hold too much promise for what would happen with the u.n. i don't think there's an overnight answer. i think there has to be steady involvement, steady and consistent. again, if more sanctions can be imposed, that could help. again, perhaps military
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exercises in that region would send a signal. but again, it's not something that can be done overnight. this has to be a long, sustained effort. >> the photos that have surfaced of president trump handling one of his first international crises out in the open over dinner at his mar-a-lago resort, obviously we don't know the degree to which he discussed sensitive or classified information or looked at sensitive or classified documents, but does that concern you at all what we've seen? >> no. again, it would depend on what was said. if there's nothing sensitive or classified that was discussed, i don't think it's appropriate. obviously abe didn't seem upset by it. he's a major ally. again, unless there was something really sensitive or classified, to me it was not inappropriate. >> kellyanne conway just said that, quote, general flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president. cnn's jim acosta also reports that general flynn and
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vice-president pence who he apparently misled have smoothed things over. but beyond how president trump and vice-president pence feel about what general flynn did, there are obviously important questions here about what he discussed with the russian ambassador during the obama presidency about potentially lifting those sanctions. as a member of the intelligence committee, do you want to see the transcript of that phone call? >> i think we should. first of all, i do support the sanctions. i also have had a very good relationship with general flynn. i first met him when he was head of the dia, the defense intelligence agency, and he testified before the intelligence committee. he was one of the first people who was really onto isis and i thought he was extremely, almost prophetic in that. as to what he discussed with vice-president pence, that to me obviously does raise an issue. as far as dealing with the russians, to me there is a fine line. i'm well aware of the logan act and i know the civilians can't be negotiating with foreign governments.
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on the other hand, if you're coming into office on january 20th, there should be some prior discussion. again, you shouldn't be undermining the current administration at the time, the obama administration, as i said, i support the sanctions. a lot would depend upon what the content of their conversation was. if it was a general conversation saying, you know, wait until we're in, we'll discuss it more then or something along those lines, that may have been appropriate. but again, i know what the logan act says and i don't think any government official should be undermining a current administration. on the other hand, you do want to send some signal to friends and adversaries as the general position the administration is going to be taking. again, there's a fine line there and i would like to see the transcripts. >> as a member of the intelligence committee, i have to ask you, are you concerned at all that these actions by general flynn might affect the way that the intelligence community shares information with the executive branch? >> again, we'll have to see the full story. obviously there's a lot of
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intrigue going on here between members of the intelligence committee, the administration and people within the administration itself. i hope that can get sorted out and we can start dealing in a very adult and mature way. the issues are are too serious for this type of sniping to be going listen to what stephen miller had to say on the battle between white house powers and others. >> our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. >> will not be questioned. not by the legislative branch perhaps, not by the judicial branch, certainly not by the media. does that language bother you at all, sir? >> i fully support the entire intent of the executive order. i thought the court decision was wrong. having said that. the courts still have the final stay. i accept that.
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we have to find a way to work through that, work with it. they have to change the executive order to get court approval. that's fine but i don't think we should be questioning the supremacy of the courts. >> it's actually called the supreme court ultimately, is it not? congressman peter king. thank you very much. president trump's friend says reince priebus is in over his head. is the president already considering a staff shakeup? the name sandusky is back in the headlines. this time it's jerry sandusky's son and, yes, he is being charged with horrific crimes involving children. stay with us. d flavor into ever, which has its drawbacks. guys, know anything about this missing inventory? wasn't me! the cheeks don't lie, chet... irresistibly planters.
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welcome back to "the lead."
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i'm jake tapper. sticking with politics now. lots to discuss with the panel. bill, obviously many reports of frustration and division inside the trump white house. though we just had a message a few minutes ago from kellyanne conway saying general flynn enjoys the full confidence of president trump. is that real or is that the statement you hear right before you get fired? >> could be either. could be either. i was struck by the chris reddy statement, the guy who runs news max. a member of mar-a-lago. when i was there, he snuck me in there. six, seven months ago. didn't tell donald trump. got to look around. nice place, i guess. he saw president trump late friday afternoon in florida -- >> let's play the clip. news max' ceo talking to brian stelter over the weekend. >> i think there is a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff. i think reince priebus, good guy, well intentioned, but he clearly doesn't know how the federal agencies work. i do think the president is not getting the backup he needs in
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the operation of the white house and sometimes the pushback that he needs, which you would have with a stronger white house counsel, a white house chief of staff. >> phil. >> chris lives in florida. he is not here in d.c. obsessed with the inner tick-tock of things. how would he know that of reince priebus. who was the last person he talked to familiar with the runnings of the white house? a man named donald trump. >> he probably had a half hour drinks with donald trump. then he's on tv saying that. if i were reince priebus, i would be more than a little nervous. >> i think there are mixed impulses on the part of donald trump. he likes chaos. he thinks is benefits him. i think he enjoys a situation in which nobody totally feels the ground secure under them. and he has shown himself very willing to shake up his staff. he did it repeatedly in the campaign. on the other hand, three weeks into your presidency looking at a 55% disapproval rating by far the highest ever for a president
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this new. any kind of change looks like retreat, like you're conceding to the opponent. i am guessing his natural instinct is being offset by his reluctance to give credence to the argument of his critics. >> amy, do you think trump is delivering a message through his friend? >> you have to remember what reince priebus was supposed to do for the trump white house. he was supposed to be the more professional, more experienced politician. so it's -- when ruddy says that, you wonder, priebus compared to whom? it's almost like trump is saying i tried the more standard person who they told me i needed. maybe i should just go with my instincts, with my own people. that's the concern, not that priebus is -- that trump wants to really replace him with somebody more professional. he was supposed to be that professional. >> you know, the individual comparisons are not precise but there is a certain similarity to what we saw under ronald reagan where you had jim baker, the
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professional, as amy said, kind of the liaison had the professional traditional party. ed mease, who was the true believer in the steve bannon roll and michael dever who was there for the president. the jim baker was such an unparalleled political operator who was able to pull this all together and point it in one direction. that was the first white house i covered. you worked in that administration. i think today we don't have that. there are not many jim bakers. you have the sense that all the planets are spinning into space without a sun to hold them into orbit. >> who is the most jim baker-like figure in the senior level of the white house? gary cohn. no government experience. his title was ceo at goldman sachs. well respected. tough manager on wall street. impressed trump very much with the business-like get to the bottom of it attitude.
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a couple pieces in the newspaper this weekend. gary cohen is the adult in the white house. >> white house policy adviser stephen miller repeated president trump's evidence-free claims of voter fraud in new hampshire saying people from massachusetts were bused in by the thousands. tom wrath, a former republican attorney general of new hampshire said today it never happened. listen to fergus cullen, a former state republican chairman of new hampshire. >> the idea that people are coming to new hampshire to commit fraud on a massive scale like this is just preposterous. it needs to be called out as untrue. >> yeah. and steve miller did not back down at all from it. he was pushing it and pushing it, which also adds a little twist to the question of whether flynn would be in trouble for lying per se. steve miller said things on television this weekend that were demonstrably false and he was praised by the president. it's hard to know whether the
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allocation of jobs and praise is really about standards or if it's about favors or just the personal relationships with trump. if you watched steve miller during the campaign, this is the kind of guy he was. he would warm up for trump, he would get the crowds going. trump saw him do that. trump -- it seemed to energize him. it seemed to be what he wanted his crowds to hear about him and what he wanted to hear about himself. i think that we are not going to -- we certainly have not heard the last of the voter fraud, the implications that our system is corrupt, that it's undermined, that it's -- there is something fishy about it, if it arrives at any -- any result other than a trump victory. >> that's the thing. he never -- it's not that he ever fails. it's that someone steals something from him. here you have -- he is angering republicans in new hampshire. >> look, when this started -- i think when this started it originally seemed to be talking about the allegations of voter
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fraud, about peak and pride. i couldn't have lost the popular vote in a fair vote. it had to have been stolen from me. the fact that they keep returning to these arguments suggest that they're trying to pave the way for further restrictions on voting. you saw the obama administration going to court repeatedly against texas, north carolina, and other states when they tried to impose new hurdles, identification requirements limiting voting. the trump administration seems to be getting into a position to lay the groundwork for going in the opposite direction and having further restrictions either at the federal level, unlikely or supporting states as they do so. >> go ahead, amy. >> i would add to that, think of all the people president trump has told us not to trust in the last week. judges on various courts. voters in new hampshire. pretty much anybody who is not very, very close to him at that moment. anybody who is not exercising a specific kind of executive power. >> do you think, bill, that
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there is a method to this, that he wants to have more voter i.d. laws? or do you think this is him grabbing onto the latest wild conspiracy theory he read on info wars. >> i think it's play to his vanity. i could not have lost the popular vote and i couldn't have lost the state of new hampshire. they love me up there. had to be voter fraud. >> i have no idea what he said to the russian ambassador but national security is different from this other stuff. this other stuff is rhetoric, lies, achievement out of personal vanity or achieving domestic personal goals. national security is a different situation. at the end of the day maybe the questions about michael flynn. what we saw saturday night, everybody is laughing about it. mar-a-lago, the japanese. it's unbelievable to make an announcement after a north korean missile test the way it was developed. you reported this. trump did not read the statement prepared for him. he decided to say one sentence. that's a problem. his one sentence was we stand
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with japan. our problems with north korea and missile tests are not limited to the fact that japan is an ally. >> south korea. >> proliferation issues and other issues with north korea. that's why the state department and -- wrote up a two-page statement which he refused to read. almost 200,000 americans forced to evacuate as officials fear a wall of water from a breached dam to sweep them away. stay with us.
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because safety is gave us the power to turn this enemy into an ally? microsoft and its partners are using smart traps to capture mosquitoes and sequence their dna to fight disease. there are over 100 million pieces of dna in every sample. with the microsoft cloud, we can analyze the data faster than ever before. if we can detect new viruses before they spread, we may someday prevent outbreaks before they begin. we're back with our national lead. frantic emergency repairs under way in california after a massive hole was found in the concrete spillway at the oroville dam, the tallest dam in
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the united states. it could lead to the uncontrollable overflow of water. worst case scenario. a 30-foot wall of water unleashed. that threat has led to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people in the area. bringing in cnn correspondent paul vercammen in oroville, california. crews worked overnight. has the crisis been averted? what's the status? >> it has been averted for right now. if you look, you can see the water cascading out of the dam into the feather river. this is exactly what they want to happen right now. you can see there might be a bulldozer. you can tell that these are huge, huge plumes of water, if you will. 100,000 cubic feet per second. what does that mean? it means way more water is now coming out of this dam than is going into it. that's important. it's alleviating the problem. and the water level is being reduced dramatically as we speak right now, jake. their goal is to get this dam
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50 feet below, and the dam is right over here. they want to get it 50 feet below the spill level. obviously it had crested and gone above it, 901 feet, tallest in america, just the other day. >> paul, cnn weather is predicting there could be more rain coming to the area later in the week. would the dam be prepared for that? >> reporter: that's what they're trying to do, shore up the dam. there is, as you pointed out, a breach in the spillway. also this extra spillway that they built. they're bagging up rocks. smashing rocks. they intend to dump it into the breach. also, the big move behind me, as they get so much water moving out of the dam and down-river in a safe manner. that is a big part of the strategy right now. >> paul vercammen and oroville, california. thank you very much. to breaking news in our national lead. a horrific story. jeffrey sandusky, the son of convicted sex abuser jerry
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sandusky arrested today. there were felony and misdemeanor charges filed. what do we know? >> reporter: jake, there are 14 charges against jeffrey sandusky involving two girls. they happened several years apart. the charges were uncovered when one of the girls told her father that sandusky texted her repeatedly asking her to send him naked photos. the father contacted police -- the girl's father contacted police. in the course of the investigation the police discovered another girl known as victim number two in the complaint, who said jeffrey sandusky asked her to engage in oral sex with him years before in 2013. both say sandusky tried to use excuses to get them to participate. saying at one point he had studied medicine, and other time that he believed one of the victims had shared a nude photo of herself with her boyfriend
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and he wanted to see it. around the same time that this was happening, jeffrey sandusky was publicly defending his father on child rape charges, that he was facing, appearing on a video on youtube. >> knowing my father is innocent. hopefully people will actually listen and take it to heart. >> reporter: jeffrey is one of six adopted children of jeffrey sandusky. sandusky, the former penn state football coach who is serving a 30-year sentence for molesting ten different boys, 30 men in total have settled lawsuits with penn state university over sex abuse claims involving jerry sandusky. jake. >> jeffrey sandusky appeared in court on these charges today? is that right? >> reporter: that's right. his mother, dotty, was there as well. jerry sandusky's wife. reportedly she was emotional,
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crying in the courtroom. she has been a staunch defender of her husband's, always maintaining he was innocent of the charges against him, the convictions of four child sexual abuse. now she says her son is innocent too. jake. >> thank you very much. coming up, are the nation's spies withholding findings from the president. one former nsa analyst says yes. he will join me to explain next. and another department store says thanks but no thanks to some trump family brands. is the presidency bad for the trump bottom line? tomorrow's the day we'll play something besides video games. every day is a gift. especially for people with heart failure. but today there's entresto... a breakthrough medicine that can help make more tomorrows possible. tomorrow, i want to see teddy bait his first hook. in the largest heart failure study ever, entresto was proven to help more people stay alive and out of the hospital
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welcome back to "the lead." continuing with politics now. we have some questions about the trump administration's continued strained relationship with the intelligence community. one former nsa analyst claims the relationship is so rocky officials are currently holding back information from the white house. john schindler laid out reasoning for the claims in a column writing in part, quote, the president has repeatedly gone out of the way to antagonize spies, mocking them.
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the guru he is referring to would be president trump's national security adviser, retired general michael flynn. what did the nation's spies tell schindler and what's the impact within the trump administration. he joins me now. >> you are saying spy agencies are beginning to withhold intelligence from the white house fearing sensitive information is at risk. that's a pretty strong claim. who told you that? >> horse's mouth. friends of mine who are still in senior positions in the intelligence community. my report referenced the national security agency, nsa, my former employer which contributes the lion's share of the intelligence that our government has, frankly. holding back anything has a lot of important implications for our national security. i think we have reached a crisis point here. >> why would they worry about sharing information with the president of the united states, who is the commander in chief after all? why would they not share the information? >> part of it is counter
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intelligence concerns. people in trump's inner circle have ties to particularly the kremlin that are deeply concerning to anyone experienced in counter intelligence. there is that reality. on top of it, trump blows off a lot of his intelligence briefings. the president's daily brief, the famous pdp, most sensitive intelligence document in the world is something he gets intermittently. he is having his national security council often distill it down to one page of no more than nine bullet points. why should you put things at risk to exposure if the president is not paying attention anyway, frankly. >> in your column you write, in the event of a serious international crisis of the sort which eventually befalls every administration the white house will need the best intelligence possible to prevent war, possibly even nuclear war. it may not get the information it needs in that hour of crisis and for that it has nobody to blame but itself. are these individuals that you are talking about who say they are withholding information from the executive branch -- does it
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occur to them it might be more dangerous to withhold the information than to share it? >> absolutely. i think they are fully cognizant of that. these are intelligence professionals. these are not political appointees. they've been in the spy business for decades and understand exactly what's going on here. and it is their hope that there will be changes to this, there may be a shakeup in the national security council, we'll put forward frankly more reliable individuals who are of unquestionable loyalty to the united states and not foreign countries to get past this situation. this is completely new. it would have been perceived as complete fantasy a year ago in the intelligence community, in the pentagon, that you could have a white house where these security concerns would exist. again, it's all uncharted. we're learning as we go. all we know right now is there is intelligence not reaching the white house because our intelligence agencies are afraid that it will be exposed. >> and obviously your report got a lot of skeptical reaction from some people, supportive from
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others. is there anything specifically that any of -- others who were formerly in the intelligence community questioned about your report that you want to address about -- i mean, some seem to think you're going by anecdotal information instead of a broad theme of withholding. >> well, certainly, look, in -- currently serving intelligence personnel will not come forward and destroy their careers over this. this is a generic problem. i served in the ic for a long time. i have friends inside. i did a great deal to expose hillary's e-mail gate problems from the i.c. perspective. my track record i think speaks for itself. everything i said about that turned out to be true and i am confident these sources are telling me the truth this time as well. i am confident that i know who my friends are and that they are in the jobs that they are in fact in. >> john schindler. writing a column for the observer, getting a lot of attention. thanks for your time. >> thank you. president trump angry at
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nordstrom for dropping his daughter's brand. how will he respond now that even more stores are following suit? that story next. tech: don't let a cracked windshield ruin your plans.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning to the money lead now. more trouble for the trump brand. sears and kmart are just the latest major u.s. retailers to announce they're dropping some trump brand products. this comes after president trump blasted nordstrom on twitter last week for the company's decision to discontinue ivanka trump's line which nordstrom blamed on slumping sales. cristina alesci joins me.
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is it more about politics or brand performance? >> right now it's about spin. the retailers want the public to believe that a decline in sales for trump products drove their decisions. ivanka's camp and trump's in general would like people to believe that the retailers are just taking cheap shots. now, look, based on my reporting, the decision to drop trump brands are tied to both money and politics. >> it's beautiful. it's shimmery. elegant. and at $39.99. it is an unbelievably affordable. >> reporter: this may not have been the publicity ivanka trump was looking for. nevertheless, the biggest audience in years tuned in to "saturday night live" after t.j. maxx and nordstrom's distanced themselves from the fashion lines. sears and kmart also dropped the brand. a highly controversial plug from the white house and an attack on
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nordstrom from the president himself come as sales of vau ivanka's brand drop. online sales for ivanka's fashion brand were down 26% in january compared to the same time last year. a spokesperson for ivanka trump's line tells cnn, we have seen our brand swept into the political fray, becoming collateral damage in others' efforts to advance agendas unrelated to what we do. adding that the brand saw increased sales last year. >> there are two ways to look at sales data. one is the full year versus trends. you might see a pattern that's not very positive. the result is you'll pull the product off the shelf. >> reporter: nordstrom says the choice to drop ivanka's line was based on performance, not on politics. and the decision doesn't seem to hurt nordstrom. the company's stock jumped immediately following the controversy. celebrities such as rosie o'donnell and chelsea handler took to social media to troll
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trump with photos of their purchases. >> the donald trump brand tends to skew older. focusing on older males who may not be as sensitive to things he is saying. the ivanka trump brand is focusing on urban millennials who are sensitive to what's going on. as a result they are pulling back their purchasing on the brand. >> reporter: it was still a busy weekend for at least one trump brand. president trump's mar-a-lago club in florida which recently doubled its membership dues, provided the high-profile backdrop with a visit with japan's prime minister shinzo abe. a presidential placement unlike any other. this story shows retailers especially are worried about a back lash from consumers so much so that they are willing to take a risk and wade into politics, which is not something they typically like to do if it means preserving their bottom lines. this is definitely new territory for corporate america. >> cristina alesci.
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thank you so much. follow me on facebook and twitter @jaketapper or tweet @t. i turn you over to wolf blitzer who is next door in a place i like to call "the situation room." thanks for watching. breaking news. full confidence. top trump aide kellyanne conway says embattled national security adviser michael flynn has the complete backing of the president. but sources tell cnn, quote, the knives are out for flynn over his call with the russian official that may have included an illegal discussion of sanctions. intelligence chorus. president trump talks about north korea's missile test with japan's prime minister on a restaurant patio at the president's florida resort as diners look on. aides provided lighting with their cellphones. were the leaders looking at potentially sensitive documents. borderline. president trump defends his travel ban during a