tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 2, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
meddling and what isn't he sharing? under lock and key, senator rand paul blasts. tonight rand paul is asking members of his own party, what are you hiding? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. breaking news tonight. the attorney general sessions bowing to pressure from fellow republicans recusing himself from any investigation related to the trump presidential campaign. sessions' announcement coming in the midst of a new firestorm over his newly revealed contacts with russia as the feds and congress look into the trump camp's possible ties to moscow. democrats are demanding more, calling for his resignation and
a criminal investigation. nancy pelosi flat-out accusing sessions of lying under oath during his confirmation hearings. sessions told senators he had no communications with russia when asked about possible trump campaign contacts with the kremlin. the justice department now confirm that's sessions met twice with the russian ambassador to the united states last year. sessions insisting today that he was honest and correct during the hearing as he, quote, understood it at the time. shortly before sessions' recusal, president trump declared he has perfect confidence in his attorney general. this distracting from the president's visit to an aircraft airier. a senior official suggests the white house was blindsided by this new twist first learning of the contact when "the washington post" wrote the story overnight. we'll get the reaction from adam
kin singer. our guests and correspondents standing by. first, let's go to our justice correspondent pamela brown with the attorney general's recusal and the investigation into contacts with russia. pamela, what are you learning? >> wolf, tonight jeff sessions explained the decision to recuse himself and it came with his involvement with the trump campaign. he said he felt it was the appropriate thing to do because of his ties to the campaign. he mentioned no mention of his meetings in as a factor of this decision and he did nothing wrong. >> i have recused myself in the matters. >> reporter: tonight just three weeks into his job as the nation's top cop, attorney general jeff sessions announcing he is taking himself off any investigations regarding russia after revelations that he failed to disclose two meetings he had with russia's ambassador to the
u.s., a man considered by u.s. intelligence to be one of russia's top spies. >> let me be clear. i never had meetings with russian operatives or russian intermediaries about the trump campaign, and the idea that i was part of a, quote, continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government is totally false. >> reporter: the two meetings between sessions and the russian ambassador took place in july on the sidelines of the republican convention and then on september 8th when the russian ambassador met then-senator sessions at his office when he was a member of the senate armed services committee. at the time sessions was also a leading trump campaign surrogates. >> do you swear. >> reporter: at a sessions hearing on january 28 he denied any contacts between trump surrogates and russia. >> if there is any evidence that
anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i did not have communications with the russians, and i'm unable to comment on it. >> reporter: tonight sessions defending his answer. >> i was taken aback a little bit about this brand-new information, this allegation that surrogates -- i have been called surrogate for donald trump, have been meeting continuously with russian officials and that's what i focused my answer on. in retrospect i should have slowed down and said, but i did meet one russian official a couple of times. >> reporter: last night, when news of the meetings with russia's ambassador said, justice officials first said
sessions did not remember the details, then the spokesperson said sessions met with multiple foreign ambassadors. not as a trump campaign surrogate but a justice official also acknowledged superficial comments about the election did come up during those talks and then late last night in a written statement, sessions denied holding meetings specific with the purpose of discussing the campaign with the russians. saying, quote, i never met with russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign, i have no idea what this allegation is about. it is false. still, some democratic leaders are calling on sessions to resign. >> it would be better for the country if he'd resign. >> he has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust. >> reporter: it's not uncommon for attorneys general to recuse themselves from specific cases. including president obama's attorney general erik holder, a
u.s. attorney or the deputy attorney general would help oversee it. >> thank you very much. there is more breaking news tonight about other members of the trump campaign who also met with the russian ambassador to the united states. let's bring in senior white correspondent jim acosta. you just spoke to one of those advisers, what are you learning? >> i just got off the phone with j.d. gordon who served as national security adviser to the trump campaign. he's no longer with donald trump or the administration at this point. but he does tell me over the summer at the republican convention in cleveland he did have a conversation with the russian ambassador as well as other national security advisers for president, then candidate trump at the time. they all met at case western reserve university in cleveland for a gathering there and then j.d. gordon says he met with the ambassador at a cocktail
reception later on that evening in cleveland during the republican convention and gordon says he was a part of the effort that was pushed by the trump campaign to put some language in the gop platform that essentially said that the republican party did not advocate for arming the ukrainians in the battle against pro russian separatist. that was a big issue that was flaring up at the time of the republican convention. that effort was ultimately successful and successful in having that language in the republican party platform. i asked gordon y that, why did you advocate for the language? he said this is the language that donald trump himself wanted and advocated for back in march at the meeting at the unfinished trump hotel here in washington, d.c. gordon said then candidate trump didn't want to go to word war 3 over ukraine. and he advocated for long in
that republican party platform that reflected then candidate trump's comments. i asked him were there any conversations with the russian ambassador that he would view as inappropriate, was there any chatter about a quid pro quo, colluding with the russians to help the trump campaign and he said absolutely not. that would have been inappropriate. he said his comments to the russian ambassador was what he was saying publicly in panels and tv interviews, that the u.s. and russia should have a better relationship. i can tell you this, that the white house is aware of j.d. gordon's comments. they were first reported in the usa today newspaper, but he told me that he did have a conversation with sara huckabee sanders who is the deputy press secretary at the white house to brief her on the conversation was the russian ambassador and other security advisers to the candidate at the time that that did occur over the summer. >> jim, a senior administration
officials also confirm a meeting between that same ambassador official in the trump tower with trump officials, trump advisers. . tell us about that. >> this was first reported in the "new york times" but cnn has been able to confirm through a senior administration official, sara murray was able to confirm this that, yes, in fact, michael flynn who was a top adviser to president-elect trump back in december along with jared kushner the president-elect's son-in-law at the time met with the russian ambassador at trump tower in december. that is now being confirmed by the white house through a senior administration official. it does appear this have been multiple contacts between the russians and top advisers to the president, president-elect and then candidate trump over the summer last year. >> yeah, that russian ambassador must have been pretty busy with all of those meetings. jim, all of this comes this
latest uproar as the president traveled today to newport news virginia. you were with him on that trip. you had a chance to ask him about the attorney general. >> that's right, wolf. we traveled with the president down to newport news. he toured the gerald ford and it was during that tour of the aircraft craft that we asked him about the attorney general. i asked the president whether jeff sessions still has the confidence of the president he said yes, he has confidence in jeff sessions. here is what he had to say. >> mr. president, do you still have confidence in the attorney general? >> total. >> mr. president, should sessions recuse himself? >> i don't think so at all. i don't think so at all. >> when did you learn that sessions spoke to the russian ambassador. >> i didn't know at all. >> when were you aware that he spoke to the russian ambassador.
>> i wasn't aware at all. >> reporter: we should point out on the way back to wsh waashing wolf, the white house press secretary sean spicer did hold a brief gaggle with reporters. he continued to insist that there is no quote, there, there when it comes into investigation or ties into the trump campaign, trump advisers and the russians. but clearly, wolf, when you have the attorney general recusing himself, when you have national security advisers over the summer meeting with the russian ambassador during the republican convention there is some there, there, wolf. >> jim acosta over at the white house. we're joined by congressman of illinois, a member of the foreign affairs committee. thank you very much for coming in. >> you bet. >> we'll get to sessions in a moment. >> what do you make of all of the meetings that certifying a
keslyia had with administrators and jared kushner, son-in-law, and michael flynn, now the foreign national security adviser at the trump tower. >> yeah. >> seems like they're coming out of the woodwork. >> i wish the administration would just release basically any contact that's ever happened to get them out there. i don't know if necessarily these meetings were improper or not. jared kushner was acting as an ambassador for the incoming administration. they have every right to talk to the ambassador, this is what we're looking for. and the ambassador is doing his job. i've met with a russian bass doctor in the past. i was asked today by a former colleague if i would meet with a russian ambassador, i won't do it now because i don't meet with regimes that kill people.
in terms of if there is anything nefarious here, we need to let the house intelligence committee do their job. >> did sessions do enough by simply recusing himself in any future investigations introfling trump campaign officials and the russians? >> i think he did. the recusal was the right move. he's not necessarily admitting guilt. he's saying we need process that people can trust. i think it was the right move to do for him to recuse himself. in terms of what we -- the thing that concerns me right now you have some on the right and some on the left that are turning this into a partisan fight. some folks say don't look at the russians at all. some over here are saying the russians basically ran the trump campaign and jeff sessions needs to resign. we need to be calm and relax.
>> he's the top officer in the country and the accusation against him that on two occasions during his confirmation hearings during the senate judiciary committee he did not tell the full truth. >> i certainly think he wishes he could go back and specify that more. in terms of how i've seen it, is it technically perjury, i don't know, i don't think so. you have to have intent and what it seemed like to me they were in a discussion with senator franken about the campaign's interactions with the russians and when he was asked about those interactions he wasn't thinking in his term as a u.s. senator. is he clarifying that, it sounds like from his press conference. i don't know if that constitutes perjury or reason to resign. >> what he said today is he should have done when asked by franken and lay hi about contacts with russia, he should
have said well, i didn't have any contacts with russia -- this is what he should have said, in my opinion, i didn't have any contacts with russia, i spoke about ukraine other national security issues in my capacity as a member of the armed services committee but i did have those -- those campaign related issues didn't come up. he should have done that then. >> he should have. but again, it's all about intent in terms of whether there was a lie or perjury. you look at the perspective of these accusations about coming down about massive collusions with the russians and if he is totally innocent, he's thinking if you're trying to involve me in some way i'm in this massive collusion, i haven't had any contacts with the russian ambassadors during the campaign, forgetting that sometimes you have casual interactions. >> senator lee hi said to him have you been in contact with anyone from the russian government about the 2016
electioneer before or after election day, he said in his answer, no. >> right. >> no. what he should have said, what would you have said? >> i would have said i've had contacts with a russian ambassador. now, in that question it says about the 2016 election. >> right. >> he could say there was a superficial comments. about every meeting we have we talk about the presidential election, in terms of can you believe how this is going. in terms of the 2016 election thing, it's not -- >> i'm interested now. he said i'm -- i did not talk about the during the campaign about the -- the russian ambassador came into his meeting. he said he had two senior aides, two retired aides. i know colonels you know colonels. they take notes. i'm anxious to see if they're going to release those contemporaneous notes to see if the senator is telling the truth
that they only discussed ukraine, other national security issues, did not get into the campaign at all. you'd like to see those notes as well. >> i will. if they exist. >> you assume they take notes. >> they could. i've had meetings with ambassadors where notes were not taking and just talking about contemporaneous issues. we need a full accounting in a bipartisan way, which is why i'm trying to corral everybody from hysterics and making accusations. the american people need answers. >> there are 26 members of the senate armed services committee and based on "the washington post" reporting they've checked, our reporting, it looks like he's the only senator that actually met with the russian ambassadorment usually russian ambassador meets with representatives from the senate foreign relations committee. >> yeah, i've heard reports that a senator from missouri claimed she never met with him on
twitter claimed. >> that's senator -- >> right. those are just reports. it is natural in the course of doing work to meet with ambassadors. i'm not excusing. i'm just saying we need a calm answer instead of jumping to conclusions. >> it's interesting, originally in a statement that he put out he didn't recall details about the meeting but now he's apparently recalling a lot of details -- you're smiling. >> i'm laughing because that is funny. and i'm thinking about meetings i've had and i have no memory of things i just did yesterday with folks. but then when you think about it, you come up. what i want is a full accounting in a bipartisan way of what communications they had or didn't have. it will serve to put this to bed. >> darrell issa, republican congressman, thinks a special investigation is justified do you agree. >> i think i've heard -- let's
let the intel committees do the work on the senate and house side. let them do a full accounting, get the information, they have the area to do it in terms of a classification. if we're not happy with the results or believe this was not done correctly, then this may be a next step. this is a perfect place to start without turning it into a partisan food fight. >> senator rand paul, republican, as you know, he marched over to the house side on the capitol he wanted to see a copy of the house bill to repeal and replace the affordable care act, obamacare that's now being reviewed by republicans in the house energy and commerce committee. i believe you're a member of that committee. >> i am. >> as a member of the committee, did you see a version of the house obamacare repeal bill? because he is very angry they did not allow him to see that. >> he's the master of theatrics, this is rant paul out there getting his name out there
walking over with a bunch of cameras and trying to make a big scene. this is what he does. i have seen a copy, we're in discussions right now, is this the final thing, where are we going from here. it's not in the senate. the idea that a senator can bust into the house of representatives -- this is coming out very soon. people service the details and we'll be able to have that decision. >> thank you for joining me. just ahead more on the attorney general, the bombshell on the recusal, and the trump campaign contacts with russia that we're just learning about tonight. stay with us. , i trained as hard as i could to stay alive. i have more than 30 pieces of shrapnel still in my leg. but i still push myself to the limit. if it weren't for my tempur-pedic, i wouldn't be able to sleep on my left side at all. my unit put in a special request to get one and i realized that tempur-pedic was exponentially better than anything else. it gave me a huge performance advantage,
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news. new confirmation that the trump advisers met with the russian ambassador to the united states during the republican convention in cleveland and later in december at trump tower in new york city, this after the attorney general jeff sessions recused himself from any investigations related to the trump campaign, following revelations that he met twice with the russian ambassador last year. we're joined now by democratic senator sheldon whitehouse. he's a member of the judiciary committee that held jeff sessions confirmation hearings. >> good to be with you. >> how much do these meetings between trump campaign advisers and the russian ambassador to the united states concern you, especially meetings during the campaign at the republican convention? >> the meetings raise some very important questions. i think we absolutely have to know what the subject matter was of those communications back and forth in that meeting. and then secondarily we need to
know whether attorney general sessions then communicated with the trump campaign, whether he was, in fact, an intermidairy in these meetings and what the communications were with the trump campaign. until we know that, we don't know how deep this hole is, but it does call for further investigation and it absolutely, positively disqualifies the attorney general from going forward. so his decision to recuse himself was necessary, it was necessary even before this set of fact, but this made it just perfectly obvious. >> the white house press secretary sean spicer was asked about these kinds of meetings during the campaign. he was asked two weeks ago if these meetings occurred and said, there is nothing that would lead him to that conclusion. does that concern you? >> well, they don't seem to be vetting themselves for derogatory information. so they continue to say things that end up being not quite
accurate as the truth begins to come out. and i think over time they'll learn that that's a mistake, but for now i think it's important that the attorney general has recused himself. there is a rule actually at the department of justice that disqualifies anyone with a political or personal relationship from the subject so why this was a hard call to begin with, i can't understand. >> did the attorney general go far enough by recusing himself? because as you know a lot of your fellow democrats on the house and the senators, warren and pelosi, they believe he should resign. >> for now, all that i have asked is that he recuse himself. if it turns out that the content of the communication with the russian ambassador related to the trump campaign, related to trying to disadvantage hillary clinton and help donald trump, and if that message was then passed on to the trump campaign and there was back and forth between the trump campaign and the russian ambassador in which
senator sessions then was the intermidairy, then this gets very deep in a really big hurry and at that point he becomes a serious target of that investigation and he has real problems on his hands. for now i think his recusal is enough for me anyway. >> do you want the attorney general to appear before the judiciary committee as senator lay hi is now recommending to testify? >> i think he needs to make a clear statement under oath about what took place in these meetings with the ambassador and whether there were related conversations with anyone associated with the trump campaign. those need to be clear statements, they need to be forthright, fulsome and they need to be, i think, under oath. and the committee is one good place to do that. but if he wants to find another way to reassure the american people this was not part of the russian effort to manipulate the
outcome of the national election, make me a proposal, i'm happy to listen. the judiciary would be a logical place for that to take place. >> you had a chance to meet with the fbi director james comey. i believe lindsey graham went with you to that meeting. what can you tell us? >> we are about to launch the subcommittee investigation into the trump/russia connections. so we wanted to make the director of the fbi aware of that, we wanted to let him know that as he was prepared to describe whatever was going on at the fbi investigating this, that we would respect the traditional protections for ongoing investigations and we wanted some clarification when he could about where those boundaries were so that we knew not to stray into areas that would interfere his investigation. we described some of the early topics that we intend to raise in the opening hearings and he seemed satisfied with those. we're going to stay in touch.
the fbi has an important role to play. congress has an important role to play, and we need to work together to make sure we're not stepping on each other's toes or interfering with the investigations. >> do you have confidence in comey's handling of this investigation? >> so far i have no reason to doubt him. and as we go forward we'll learn more. >> senator white house, thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> more on the recusal and the communications between trump advisers and moscow's advisers to the united states during the campaign. life can feel like a never ending search for food that won't cause bloating, gas, or inner turmoil. try pronourish. a delicious nutritional drink that makes a great mini meal or snack that has protein and fiber. and pronourish has no gluten or high fructose corn syrup. and is low in fodmap ingredients that can trigger digestive sensitivities. the search is over.
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we're following breaking news. new phonfirmation that trump advisers met with the russian ambassadors to the u.s. during the national convention to cleveland last summer. also a senior administration official confirms to cnn that the fired michael flynn and jared kushner met with the russian ambassador to the united states at trump tower in december. just a little while ago the attorney general jeff sessions recused himself from investigations into trump campaign communications with the russians known to u.s. intelligence. sessions was under pressure after it was revealed that he met with the russian ambassador to the united states during the
campaign. let's get some more on the breaking news with our experts and analysts. gloria, we now know there were meetings between trump campaign advisers during the convention, during the campaign with the russian ambassador to the united states. but those meetings were denied by both the vice-president of the united states on january 15th and the white house press secretary on february 14th. listen to this. >> i'm asking you a direct question. was there any contact in any way between trump or his associates and the kremlin or cutouts they had. >> i joined this campaign in the summer and i can tell you that the -- all the contact by the trump campaign and associates was with the american people. we were fully engaged with taking his message to making america great again all across this country. that's why he won in a land slide election. >> i'm just trying to get an answer. >> of course not. why would there be any contacts
between the campaign. chris, this is all a distraction and part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of the presidency. the american people see right through it. >> back in january, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the russians. now, today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the trump campaign, not even general flynn had any contact with the russians before the election? >> my understanding is that what general flynn has now expressed that during the transition period -- we were clear during the transition period he did speak with the ambassador. >> talking about during the campaign. >> nothing that would conclude me that anything changed. >> the next day jonathan karl asked the president the same thing, gloria and he denied any contacts. we learned there were contacts during the transition and during the campaign.
>> during the convention, in fact. i think we have to explain this. i think either they're disorganized, they didn't know or they're misleading journalists. we just don't know the answers here, wolf. look, some of these contacts may have been innocent hand shakes, you know, get acquainted. by the way, the russian ambassador is a very busy guy, as we've discovered, clearly trying to do his job. and so of them may have been talking about policy. we just don't know. what we know, wolf, is there is an awful lot of smoke here, and they have to clear this up one way or another. i think they owe the american people an explanation here about where these meetings were, who was involved in them and who occurred. if i were running this white house i would put it all out. put all the information out there because when you don't want is a kind of drip, drip,
drip, which we see here. if it's all innocent, and if it was just a bunch of pro forma meetings, put out chapter and verse, put out those details and let the american public know. >> the first rule of damage control, it's better that you put out the embarrassing information and let your -- than let your adversaries put it out. >> this drip, drip, drip, is not helping them. have you had any contact with the russians. because these things coming out and it's -- as you said gloria, it's not like we know if they're hiding them or they're just disorganized or perhaps maybe some of their -- maybe it's -- missed the memo, i don't know. or they forgot which a lot of them have said. it just really doesn't square. and there needs to be an explanation. but knowing the trump administration perhaps they'll just try to issue something tomorrow and distract everybody.
>> fill mudd i'm anxious to get your input, talk a little bit about that. >> he should be active. look at this going back to last summer when he evidencely met with some of the officials. if you're looking at this from the kremlin and you hear a lot of positive words from at that point candidate trump but on specific issues the campaign is a black hole. think about what trump might have been talking about or thinking about sanctions. what were his intentions on sanctions, syria, ukraine, on the iran nuclear deal. if you're the ambassador, your responsibility as a diplomat, i don't think it has anything to do intelligence, is to walk close to the president's people on issues critically important to russia and moscow, what are you thinking. the ambassador will be thinking
we have perspective on the ukraine. i don't think the meetings are significant. two meetings over the course of months, not a big deal. the issue here is politics and integrity. after the meetings you had the attorney general magically forgetting to mention them in the hill meetings. i don't see it as a big deal. >> you know the old adage the cover-up sometimes is worse than the actual misdemeanor. let's talk a little bit about potential misdemeanor or felony. you're a professor of law, you study the perjury requirements. did the attorney general during his confirmation hearings, did he lie and was that perjury? >> you know, wolf, if he didn't, he came awfully close to the line. so the federal perjury statue refers specifically to material statements that the speaker knows to the false. you played the clip. senator sessions in response to franken said he didn't have any communications with the
russians. now, perhaps he meant he didn't have any communications about the campaign. but that's not what he said. that's pretty close to the line. of course, i don't think this justice department is going to be in a big hurry to prosecute attorney general, but the larger point is here exactly what gloria and phil and jackie have been saying. if there is nothing wrong with the substance of the conversations, this they're appropriate contacts, why all the cloak and dagger which we're seeing is not working and is going to lead to all these calls for investigation. >> more investigations. should there be a special prosecutor involved? >> you know, i think that's a really good question. there are two different issues here. the first is whether anyone broke the law. did then-senator sessions commit perjury when he responded to franken and leahy. it will be focused on the criminal piece here. there is a broader question here
that the justice department is not the right body to answer here. i think that's why you're hearing calls for a special select committee that can look at the contacts and not just the legality. >> phil, in addition to serving in the cia, were detailed to the fbi. do you have confidence that the fbi can get to the bottom of these allegations? forget about the perjury for a moment. but the much more series allegations that there was improper contact between trump officials and the russian government? >> i do. and i would expect it to take time and i would not expect to hear a lot about this especially after the debacle of the series of comments that comey made about the e-mail investigation. if you're sitting in the cia this is a three foot putt, wolf. they have to look at the transcripts of any nsa officials. and meanwhile not just interview dozens of people but go back and
do reinterviews. after the initial interviews, are there discrepancies. to make another comment. one thing i haven't heard that i'd like to hear is something called the murder board. when you go into a hearing of that magnitude, you go into premeetings within your team to ask a question and to prepare for the questions you're going to face. if you want to tell me that sessions' team didn't ask him repeatedly before that hearing you're going to get told, what you knew about russian contacts and what contacts you had, if they didn't prepare for that question, i'd be shocked. one of my questions is not just what he said whether he prepped for the question. >> the thing about senator franken's question was it was in response to breaking news from cnn about campaign surrogates, having contacts with russian officials and what he said today and i listened really carefully. he said, i was taken aback by
this new information. meaning he hadn't been prepped on it because he -- it was breaking news and he said that's what i focused my answer on. i should have slowed down and said i did meet with one official, the russian ambassador. so this was how sessions explained it, saying that he was sort of caught off guard about this. and that was whether you believe him or not, that was his explanation today. >> he had a chance to elaborate in the written answer to senator leahy. >> that would be my next point. >> he should have come completely clean and he could have said yes i had two meetings with the russian ambassador but not about the campaign. jackie. >> speaking of being caught off guard this threw off the republican party. they had a good 48 hours of not having to deal with a can dal from this administration. i was up on the hill today getting reaction from republican
senators, you could see it on their faces when they got off the trains in the basement of the capital. they didn't want to answer questions about this. they wanted to talk about healthcare, taxes, anything else than another scandal inside the trump administration and one that involves one of their own, someone that they confirmed, they put through. this is yet another distraction but yet another problem that is throwing them off their message which should be the economy and making the country better. >> can i say one thing about sessions today? he went out of his way to kind of dis the russian ambassador saying that their conversation, in fact, now that he recalls it was a little bit testy because they did talk about ukraine and he said the russian ambassador made the indication that everybody else was wrong on ukraine and that russia was right. >> that's his job. >> of course, the more -- the more that senator sessions recalls that conversation. >> exactly. >> the harder it is to
understand why he didn't deem fit to disclose it. wolf, we get to the real problem here. either this is all just a lot of smoke as gloria said just obscure and innocuous contacts or something being hidden that someone needs to get to the bottom of and i think the problem that folks on the hill even trump supporters is that it's increasingly looking like the latter. let's take a quick break. we'll be right back. travel with my daughter. roller derby. ♪ now give up half of 'em. do i have to? this is a tough financial choice we could face when we retire. but, if we start saving even just 1% more of our annual income... we could keep doing all the things we love. prudential. bring your challenges.
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much more on the breaking political news, the attorney general, jeff sessions removing himself from any possible role in the investigations of russia's role in the presidential election. we have new information tonight in the death of kim jong-un's half brother with two alleged assassins facing charges. north korea is putting their own spin on the story as they discuss the growing nuclear threat. brian, what are you finding out? >> reporter: we are told top members of the national security team are in the middle of a review, trying to come up with ways to counter the missile threat. one saying flat out, kim jong-un can't be allowed to have a nuclear capability. this comes along the backdrop of officials, aggressively
inserting themselves into the murder of kim jong-un's brother. kim jong-un's regime determined to present their own narrative in the death of his half brother. a top korean diplomat con frants a person calling him a false name he was traveling under. the official refused the assertion that kim jong-nam was murdered. the brother had an ongoing heart condition. >> a strong indication the cause of the death is -- >> north korean technology must be amazing that without access to the body have determined it's a heart attack because he had a heart condition, though they refuse to admit kim jong-nam was
murdered. >> reporter: tonight, malaysian officials say the only north korean detained in the case is being released from custody and deported. police don't have enough evidence to charge him. three other north koreans believed to be in malaysia are wanted for questioning. the north koreans aren't making them available. four others are believed to be back in pyongyang. >> they don't play by the international rules. >> they characterize the death as a sophisticated operation. that same official says kim jong-un can't be allowed to have a nuclear capability. tonight, another administration official tells cnn there's a review under way for officials to come up with a way to counter kim's weapons threat. military options are always on the table in these discussions. general walter sharp, who
commanded u.s. and allies forces say the u.s. should be ready strike north korean missiles on their path before they are launched if there's an imminent threat. >> the way you deter north korea is have the capability and the demonstrated willingness and the demonstrated planning and exercises to be able to respond strongly enough that north korea clearly understands that if they do that provocation they will be hurt more than we will be. >> reporter: general sharp says if u.s. forces hit kim jong-un's missiles first, he could retaliate and possibly on the 28,000 u.s. troops in south korea. u.s. forces might need to preempt that hitting conventional forces at the same time they strike missile facilities. dangerous proposition. >> certainly is.
thank you very much. much more ahead on the breaking news of the attorney general. we want to give you a heads up about an important cnn series. they explore the beliefs and practices of faiths around the world in the cnn original series entitled, "believer." they travel to india to talk about the peculiar practices of a religious. >> thanks. okay. all right. okay. maybe i'll take this off right now. thank you. thank you. why are people on that side of
the river so afraid? [ inaudible ] >> a mistake like somebody distracts him. i can be polite. >> the religious scholar is joining us. tell us more about "believer." >> this is spiritual adventure series. it allows me to go around the world and immerse myself in groups around the world to do what they do, experience their faith the way they do so as a way of opening up windows into
other world views, other ways of thinking about the world. you know, not all of it is as unusual as what you just saw, but i do get myself in trouble on a regular basis, actually. >> tell us more about what we saw. it was obviously scary. >> so, that's the agori. they are a 500-year-old hindu sect that rejected the concepts of purity and pollution of hinduism. the way they prove that is taking part of theatrical displays of self-pollution, for instance covering themselves in the ashes of dead or consuming rotted meat. everything that would appal a mainstream hindu. what's amazing is there are other agori who have taken that belief, but put it in to practice a different way by, for instance, opening hospitals to take care of leprosy patients or
taking care of low cast or even outcast children. in every one of those episodes, what you are going to see is a religion that seems frightening, exotic and foreign, but once you become one of them, what you recognize is it's not as scary as you thought and perhaps you, yourself, share some of those beliefs. >> what were you thinking at that moment? >> i was pretty scared for my life. you know, he threatened to cut off my head and throw me into the gangi's if i ask one more question, which i'm sure you have experienced occasionally with a guest. i'm 100% in. that was the deal i made with the communities. let me in. let me be a part of you. i'm not there to judge you, i'm there to experience what you
experience so i rode it out. >> thanks for joining us. thank you that everything turned out okay. sunday night, 10:00 p.m. eastern for the premier of "believer." that's it for me. thanks for watching. breaking news. the attorney general, jeff sessions fighting back, insisting he didn't lie about his contacts with the russian ambassador. we are learning about multiple contacts between the trump campaign and the top diplomat to the united states. who is this russian ambassador. an undocumented immigrant detained, almost deported. why he doesn't blame donald trump. let's go "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnett. sessns