tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 27, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT
first 100 days of the trump administration. among our guests nikki haley. i'm jake tapper. follow me at twitter, spt jaketapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. >> happening now, breaking news. accused of a coverup, a top house democrat says the white house is protecting ousted national security adviser michael flynn by withholding documents from congressional investigators. and now new revelations that the pentagon is investigating flynn for taking money from russia despite being warned. >> the threat is real. an ominous warning from the u.s. secretary. general kelly says concern about a bomb hidden in an electronic device keeps him away. will the electronics ban on some flights entering the united states be expanded? shut down possible.
reignites as house republicans scramble to push through a revised healthcare bill, prompting a threat by democrats to oppose a critical spending bill, after multiple assurances from the white house will the federal government grind to a halt this weekend after all? in the cross hairs. north korea threatens the white house and u.s. aircraft carrier in a new video. behind the bluster, fake weapons that may belie the truth about kim jong-un's regime. we have an exclusive live report from north korea this hour. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." you're in "the situation room." ♪ -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> this is "cnn breaking news." >> we are following breaking news about fired trump security adviser michael flynn. documents released reveal the pentagon is investigating the retired army lieutenant general after payments he accepted from
russia and turkey. the documents also show that flynn was explicitly warned against accepting such payments. also breaking, blunt remarks by the homeland security secretary about the danger facing the united states. general john kelly says the electronics ban in effect on some planes entering the united states could now be expanded everywhere. he says, quote, the threat is real. it keeps him awake at night. . we're also following a renewed threat of a government shutdown starting this weekend despite assurances from the white house it would be averted. house democrats are now threatening to oppose a critical spending bill if, if republicans force a vote on a revised healthcare bill. we're learning new information about china's influence on north korea. a pivotal part of the trump's administration's effort to rein in the dictator, kim jong-un. we will have an exclusive live report from the north korea
capital later this hour. we are covering more with our guests including senator ed markey, a member of the foreign relations committee. our correspondents and expert analysts are standing by. let's begin with new revelations about fired trump national security adviser michael flynn. chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is joining us with the latest. jim, we know flynn was warned against accepting any payments from foreign governments. update us on the latest. >> reporter: that's right exactly right. we now know as well that the inspector general for the defense department is now investigating michael flynn, not just for violating army regulations but for breaking the law. that investigation starting earlier this month and now continuing, and the key here is, well, that he was warned about not taking these payments and appears to have gone forward and -- and exacerbated the wrong by not reporting those payments after the fact. >> any regrets about michael flynn?
>> thank you very much. >> reporter: tonight president trump ignoring a question about his fired national security adviser, michael flynn, after new documents show that flynn was warned he was prohibited from receiving payments from foreign governments. >> thank you so much for -- for inviting me and having me here. >> reporter: this one year on before he accepted tens of thousands of dollars from russian state television for this speaking engagement in moscow in 2015. the documents released by the house oversight committee show that the dia informed flynn that he could not receive, quote, consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoria or salary from foreign governments during retirement. despite the warning, the dia told the committee in the record they could not locate records referring or relating to general flynn's receipt of money from a foreign source, and the dia did not locate records from general flynn seeking permission or approval for the receipt of money. >> and we have no evidence, zilch, that he obtained
permission from the secretary of the army and the secretary of state to accept any foreign government payments as required by law. >> reporter: the inspector general of the department of defense has now launched an investigation. in a statement to cnn, the inspector general's office says the probe will cover, quote, if lieutenant general flynn accepted payments in violation of the clause implementing laws or department of defense regulations. >> i will be really, really a bit provocative here today for this -- for this session. >> reporter: the kremlin-funded news agency russia today or rt paid flynn 33,750 for his appearance in moscow in 2015. >> michael flynn. >> reporter: in interviews last year, flynn acknowledged accepting payment but denied the source was the russian government. >> i didn't take any money from russia, if that's what you're asking me. >> well, then who paid you? >> my speaker's bureau. ask them. >> reporter: now representative cummings says the white house is
refusing to release documents related to their probe. >> i honestly do not understand why the white house is covering for michael flynn. i don't get it. after the president fired him for lying. >> reporter: today white house spokesman sean spicer blamed the obama administration for renewing flynn's security clearance. >> all of that clearance was -- was made by -- during the obama administration, and apparently with knowledge of the trip that he took. so that's how the process works, and i welcome the department of defense's ig's review. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: also today, former trump adviser carter page, who was under an fbi investigation of his ties with known russian intelligence operatives, told cnn's chris cuomo, the allegations violate his civil rights. >> i've been the victim of one of the most horrendous civil rights violations in recent u.s. election history.
>> reporter: michael flynn's lawyer released a statement after the oversight committee's press conference this morning, saying that fully unredacted letters regarding this speech in russia would show that michael flynn briefed the defense intelligence agency both before and after that speaking engagement in moscow. wolf, this clearly something that the defense department is looking into deeply, and that's the kind of question they're going to want to answer going forward. >> on another matter, i know you're following the breaking news, jim, from the department of homeland security. tell our viewers what you're learning. >> reporter: this is a truly remarkable comment from the department of homeland security secretary general kelly, retired general kelly i should say, saying it is possible that he's considering expanding this ban on hand-held electronics on airlines. a few weeks ago we know that they banned those on certain airlines coming to the u.s. from certain middle eastern airports where there are concerns about vetting, could they -- were the security clearance -- security measures strong enough there. general kelly is saying they
might expand that beyond those countries, possibly to all flights. he said, as well, this is a threat that keeps him up at night. i have spoken to counter terror sources on this, wolf. the concern here is that terror groups have developed the ability to shrink electronics to a degree to get them inside iphones and ipad s, et cetera, and they're now sharing that intelligence more broadly. it is a threat of great concern. here is the comment from general kelly. >> the threat is real, and this thing could expand, and i'm looking at it three, four, five six times a day. it is the thing that keeps me awake at night. >> reporter: the thing that keeps him awake at night. i have heard that as well, wolf, from multiple counter terror officials. they are concerned about electronics on airlines, principally the group have been aqap, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, but now the concern is they may be sharing that technology with other groups. that makes it difficult for
security services to figure out how to prevent those devices from getting on airplanes. it is a real concern and something that you and i and our viewers may have to face going forward, even on flights here possibly in the u.s. >> that's a concern indeed. jim sciutto, thank you very much. efforts by house republicans to push through a revised healthcare law have renewed the threat of a government shutdown starting this weekend. our senior white house correspondent jim acosta is following late breaking developments for us. jim, the drama is unfolding as president trump closes in on those first 100 days in office. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. that drama is back. it has returned. the white house is now saying even after they assure the public just days ago there's a possibility of a government shutdown, just as other aides are saying up on capitol hill right now because this new fight has emerged over a government spending bill that would keep the federal government open. keep in mind that white house, president and his top aides are
blaming democrats who are not in charge up on capitol hill. less than 48 hours before president trump hits 100 days in office, the threat of a government shutdown is back. >> the democrats at the last minute have come in and thrown a lot of monkey wrenches into the ability for this to get done, despite the president doing everything that he can to show good faith to keep this going. so it is not just a question of -- it is they keep moving the goal post. >> reporter: the president piled on twitter as families prepare for summer vacations in our national parks, he tweeted, democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. terrible. republicans leaders in congress say they're nearly ready to pass a spending bill to keep the government open. >> i would be shock they want to see a government shutdown, democrats would want to do that. >> reporter: democrats insist they will not cooperate with gop efforts to pass a spending bill if republicans try to rush through a new effort the repeal and replace obamacare. stenny hoyer said in a statement if republicans announce their intention to bring harmful trump
care bill to the house floor tomorrow or saturday, i will oppose a one-week continuing resolution and will advise house democrats to oppose it as well. >> i'm not sure they would tie the health harbour town care bill to what -- that would be the height of stupidity. >> reporter: the sudden return of the shutdown drama threatens to spoil white house efforts to tout their 100 days achievement. on monday press secretary shun spicer said the government would remain open. >> we feel confident it is not going to shut down. >> reporter: about a key agenda item, his vow to renegotiate or pull out of nafta. >> we will renegotiate. now, if i'm unable to make a fair deal, if i'm unable to make a fair deal for the united states, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, i will terminate nafta. >> reporter: 24 hours ago, the white house signalled the president was about to give notice that he may withdraw from the free trade agreement, but after phone calls with the leaders of mexico and canada the white house said the president agreed not to terminate nafta at this time. the president has repeatedly
promised to get tough on nafta. >> we're going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of nafta for once and for all. cannot continue like this, believe me. >> reporter: then there are the questions about the pet as emerging tax reform plan and how far it goes to give relief to middle income americans, a question top officials are struggling to answer. >> can you guarantee no one in the middle class is going to pay more? >> that's our objective, absolutely. >> is it a guarantee? >> i can't make any guarantees until this thing is done and on the president's december. >> reporter: democrats argue the tax plan is a giveaway to the rich. >> massive tax cuts for the very wealthy, crumbs at best for everyone else. >> reporter: now, the white house is pushing back on the notion that the president is softening at all on nafta. they say -- aides are saying next week the president is likely to begin the process of renegotiating that free trade agreement. wolf, if the president were to fall short of renegotiating or withdrawing from nafta, that
would, again, be another major policy reversal from this president on what was a critical campaign promise during that election cycle, wolf. >> yes, it was. jim acosta at the white house. thank you. let's get more on all of this. democratic senator ed markey of massachusetts is joining us. he is a member of the foreign relations committee. thank you for joining you. >> you're welcome. good to see you. >> let's talk about breaking news. secretary kelly is saying that the electronics ban keeps him away at night, that the threat is real. he said the ban now on bringing electronics, ipad s, iphones on to planes from anywhere in effect could expand everywhere, not just a few of those countries. have you seen intelligence, senator, supporting this? do you think it should be everywhere, that ban should be expanded? >> well, it should be a concern. mo ham aud atta and the other nine highjacked two planes from logan airport in 2001. they used box cutters inside of
the passenger cabin. then they created a catastrophe in our country. they try to find the easiest way in order to create an event which they believe will have a terrorizing effect upon the american people. i had to fight for five years in order to pass a law -- which i was successful in 2007 -- to screen all cargo on passenger planes in our country. the airline industry and the cargo industry fought me from september 11th of 2001 all the way to january of 2007. we know how al qaeda, how isis operates. we know what they're trying to do. we know that they put airlines at the top of their terrorist target list. so they'll look for any aperture to be successful. so our goal has to be to close it down. if there is credible information that says that there is now a way that they are exploring in
order to take explosive devices on to planes using the electronic devices of passengers, then we have to put in place these safeguards that ensure that they cannot be successful. we have gone from september 11th of 2001 until today, we have done the job. we have to look at these new threats because they're constantly trying to develop the means to achieve that end. >> all right. that's a good point. let's move on to some other developing stories right now. the white house saying the onus is on the obama administration. the obama administration for offering retired general michael flynn a 2016 security clearance after his 2015 trip to moscow. is the obama administration responsible for not catching that flynn was paid for that russia speech? >> look, the trump administration has to stop blaming and they have to start explaining.
obviously this man, general flynn, was the president's national security cadviser throughout the entire trump campaign, then throughout the transition he played the same team -- he played the same role, and then he was actually appointed national security adviser. the trump administration had a responsibility to ask all of the questions about whether or not there were conflicts of interest that general flynn was bringing to this job, and what the house oversight committee has asked is for the trump white house to provide all of the documentation as to what he questions they asked general flynn because clearly in the campaign and then after the campaign there was a clear impression that was left that there was going to be a very strong relationship between president aboputin and presiden trump, and we have to know as the american people what, in fact, was going on. that's why more than the
pentagon, more than the house and senate committees, we now i think need a special prosecutor in order to get to the bottom of this case. >> senator, there's a lot more we need to discuss, including the nuclear tensions right now with north korea, but we have to take a break. we will resume our conversation right after this. are made with smarttrack®igners material to precisely move your teeth to your best smile. see how invisalign® treatment can shape your smile up to 50% faster today at invisalign.com 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.
region, a u.s. guided missile submarine is in south korea along with a new anti-missile defense system that will be up and running within days as well as tens of somehows of u.s. troops stationed in south japan. we are back with democrat senator ed markey, a member of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, i know you're concerned there could be a miscalculation, an accidental war with north korea. how likely is that as all of these tensions ratchet up? >> we don't have great communication with the north korean government. this is not like the old era between the united states and the soviet union where there was a red phone that kept us in constant contact if there was an emergency that was escalating. here for the most part we're flying blind. we don't have the level of communication that i think can help us to ensure that any military maneuver we're making or the north koreans are making in response doesn't accidentally
cross a trip wire that could result in an engagement that could be conventional initially and then escalate into a nuclear conflict. >> you want a direct dialogue between the u.s. and north korea? you want u.s. officials to start talking to north korean officials? >> i think it is imperative that the united states talk to the north korean officials. there is no military solution to this standoff with the north koreans. they have nuclear weapons, and they have a delivery system. right now they can destroy south korea and could destroy japan, so they have nuclear weapons right now. we don't want to have an accident to occur. we don't want a misunderstanding to lead to an escalate kalgs that could be disastrous. we have to work with the chinese, establish a negotiation process with the north koreans while we tighten sanctions around the north koreans with trade so that we have a real dialogue, but not one that's relying upon this military route
because, ultimately, that's not going to give us the solution to the problem that we have with north korea. >> senator markey, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. thanks for having me on. >> we will have more on north korea coming up. we also will have an exclusive live report from inside the north korean capital of pyongyang. think again. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. learn more at esd.ny.gov
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michael flynn. also today house democrats released documents they say raise serious questions about whether flynn concealed receiving tens of thousands of dollars in payments from russia and turkey. let's get the insight of our experts. phil mudd, the dia we are now told specifically told general flynn he could not accept any sort of consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoria or will salary from foreign government. it sounds like he took a it lot of money from two foreign governments, indirectly maybe, but still foreign government, from russia and turkey. >> yes. look at this. the net is tightening and at some point you have to feel bad for this man who did service for the country. the fbi has a legal piece. he has tremendous jeopardy. the congress is going to hammer him in hearings. let's look at one angle we have not discussed. when you leave government as i did, one of the question is how do i make a second income. two implications from what we're seeing from the defense
intelligence agency today, number one you have to believe he will not have a security clearance in the future. his ability to make a living in the secure world will disappear. over time the defense intelligence agency will say your future in terms of consulting on contracts we have, all disappearing. so i think you've got a financial implication that will affect him. before i forget, there's one other piece to this. somebody is going to have a question about his pension. somebody at the department of defense, and this is going to go up to secretary of defense, is going to say, do we owe him his full pension or should he be ratcheted back. in addition to the legal piece i think there's financial jeopardy he faces, wolf. >> potentially he has bigger problems than his pension if he is being investigated now potentially for a felony. >> right. and there are multiple investigations going on right now. look, he could go to jail. the bottom line is what we don't know, we will let the investigations move forward, but he could end up in jail. to phil's point, his reputation has been destroyed. he spent 33 years in the service, a three star general. not very many people make it to that level.
quite frankly, the earning potential as phil says is gigantic when you reach that level. who wants to hire him, even if he is cleared, wolf, who wants to hire him now after going through this? >> top democrat on the house oversight committee, elijah cummings, rebecca, says, i honestly don't understand why the white house is covering up for michael flynn. this is a serious problem for the white house, for the president who named him his national security adviser. >> right. so the reason the white house gave for not responding fully to the documents request from the oversight committee, from cummings and from chafes, they say it was because some of the documents they requested would have had classified confidential sensitive information even in them, and take was thehat was t rationale. sean spicer added they didn't think his call logs while at the white house employed by the president are relevant to the investigation. they're making that judgment call. it is their right to do so, but
it does raise suspicions about why isn't the white house cooperating fully with this oversight investigation, what are they hiding from the public or from congress about mike flynn, and they're not really fwifg us any answers to those questions at this point. >> you know, phil, the white house, we heard from sean press secretary, he is blaming the obama administration. general flynn went to moscow in 2015, but in 2016 during the obama administration his security clearances were renewed. so you have a problem, blame the obama administration. >> look, there's threw people at fault. forget about obama, forget about trump. the first responsibility -- and i went through this confirmation process. it wasn't a confirmation process for flynn, but there has to be a process to go on the national security team for the president. first responsibility is for him to declare what he did. it is not clear he did. the second, you're right, is for the defense intelligence agency and they have questions to answer, to secure somebody's clearances over time. is he recertifying he is not
taking money from foreign governments. time out. i'm throwing a penalty flag. for the white house to say, we don't have anything to offer on whether we vetted him for a top secret job is a little bit disingenuous. they have to have documents for how he got in the position. >> or they're saying they have documents but they don't want to hand them over. they think they have reason to withhold them. i think congressional lawmakers are sending signals they don't have reason to withhold. >> everybody stand by. there's more we need to assess and discuss. let's take a quick break. we will be right back. nobody does underwater stunts, sylvia. except me, of course. this is my stop. adios! ♪ if you're a stuntman, you cheat death. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do.
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go to contrave.com. st . back with our prit cal encounter terrorism experts as we follow new and alarming breaking new. retired general john kelly is warning the ban on laptop computers and other electronings aboard some airline flights could expand. there's growing concern can he says terrorists may have come up with a way to hide bombs in electronic's battery compartments. >> the threat is real, and this thing could expand, and i'm looking at it three, four, five six times a day. it is the thing that keeps me awake at night. >> how worried she americans be, phil? >> let's give you a report card on national security. if you look at the stuff we talked about, stuff like north korea, people coming across the southern border, southern border gets a d, north korea is a b moving up. they don't have the capability yet to reach the continental
united states. this is an a heading towards an a plus. you do not sit in the intelligence community and shut down some aspects of air travel that is forcing people to put laptops in the belly of an aircraft unless you have specific intelligence that indicates that terrorists have the capability to put an ipad on a plane and blow up the wall of a plane. if you want to rank threats, this is at the top. >> i used to hear similar words from former homeland security secretary jay johnson to what we heard from the new homeland security, keeps them up at night. jeh johnson used to say this home grown terror issue keeps him up at night as well. will there be a government shutdown this weekend? >> i don't think so, no. i think we've seen donald trump come to the table and understand that he would be blamed for it, and, look, i think there might be a little bit of drama, you know, tomorrow, but the bottom line it is not going to be the point where we think the government will shut down. federal workers are told to the stay home and then they get
checks six months from now because of their lost wages. >> yeah, somebody said on the show yesterday, donald trump, president trump celebrates his first 100 days in office and there's a government shut down. >> right. >> that wot not be -- >> he is at a rally in pennsylvania saying what a great job he has done and the government is shut down. doesn't make sense. >> do they have the votes in the house of representatives to pass repeal and replace obamacare? >> it doesn't look like they do yet, wolf. it is a process. as you know, they have to whip these things. they have to try to apply pressure to where they can to some of the members on the fence. this time though it looks like they'll need to win over the moderates as opposed to conservatives. the freedom caucus say they're on board with the new version of the bill. so i think you will see the whip team working very hard on the house side trying to get some of these moderates to come over. but i don't think it is there yet. i don't think we're going to see it. >> even if they get the 216 votes on the house floor, mark, it has to go to the senate where there's a bigger problem. >> it is symbolic. they wanted to win before the
first 100 days, wolf, we all know that. to your point, it goes to the senate. senate republicans are not for it. certainly senate democrats will not be for it. let's assume the senate passes their own type of legislation, then they go to conference committee and vote again. this is not going to happen today, tomorrow, perhaps not even this year. >> guys, thanks very much. we will stay on top of all of these issues. coming up, fake weapons. peks er pe experts say some of the military equipment north korea recently showed off may not be real. could china be the key to defusing the crisis? stand by an exclusive live report. our own will ripley is in pyongyang. we are going there right after this. listen up, heart disease. you too, unnecessary er visits. and hey, unmanaged depression, don't get too comfortable. we're talking to you, cost inefficiencies and data without insights. and fragmented care- stop getting in the way of patient recovery
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. amid the increasing tensions with the united states, north korea just released a new propaganda video of simulated attacks on u.s. war ships and on washington. the trump administration is pushing china to use its leverage to convince kim jong-un's regime to dial back the provocations. cnn's will ripley has been looking at how much influence the chinese actually have. he's standing by live in the north korean capital of pyongyang. will, we're going to get to you in a moment. first, cnn's brian todd has been talking with experts who suspect some of the weapons north korea recently showed off may not be real. brian, what have you learned? >> reporter: wolf, tonight we have new information on the very impressive munitions kim jong-un put on display in a massive parade recently. our analysis reveals some of the weapons were outdated, others outright fake. it doesn't stop kim from
flaunting fire power in parades and on video. ♪ >> reporter: in a new north korean propaganda video, the white house and an aircraft carrier are in the cross hairs, a carrier and the u.s. capital are shown blowing up. it is the latest installment in intimidating images from the regime. here kim jong-un enters on the red carpet flanked by officers. he beams with pride at the weaponry on display, but tonight a closer look reveals some of these weapons are far less deadly than they seem. >> i think the parade was based more on impressing their leader, kim jong-un, than impressing an adversary. >> reporter: this was the grandpa raid on april 15th, the day of the sun, north korea's most important holiday of the year held on the anniversary of kim's grandfather's birth. it was impressive. icbms and other missiles rolled by. soldiers and commandos goose stepped, brandishing imposing
munitions. a former military intelligence officer who has war gamed against north korea, saw things amiss with the weapons displayed. >> these are type 88 rifles, ak-74s with a grenade projectile. you are seeing that here. now, these rounds are dummy. these rounds are fake. but this capability is so outdated -- i mean it is the capability the north koreans stole from the united states during the korean war. we stopped using this in 1961. the reason this is not a menacing weapon to an adversary is because it has a high failure rate. >> reporter: at first glance these appear to be sophisticated grenade launchers, but experts say they're really outdated bullet magazines with a high failure rate. we are told some missiles at the parade were likely mock-ups. experts say it is too risky for them to display the real thing. but the flaws may not have been just with the weapons. >> even the sunglasses have a problem. >> right. you expect a commander to look like the soldiers he is commanding. in this case you have a
commander of this commando force wearing $5 sunglasses, flat face sunglasses so they're not ballistic. they don't protect him from a blast. >> reporter: but one analyst says for the north korean audience this kip equipment doesn't have to be combat ready. >> staging realistic image of north korean military and society is not the point of these parades. i mean these parades are supposed to show what north korea should be rather than what it is. >> reporter: neither north korea nor u.s. officials we reached out to commented on the observation of outdated or fake weapons at the parade. analysts say despite the flaws on display, this is not a military to be laughed at. they're a million men strong, they're fit, they're well-trained, committed with legitimate artillery backing them up, pointed right at seoul and at 28,000 american troops in the dmz. >> they had thousands of rifles carried by the troops at that
parade. what do your analysts say about those? >> reporter: mike says these -- there are real questions about whether some of the rifles had had ammunition in them. he says the regime sometimes struggles to manufacture enough ammunition for its weapons, and, of course, there's the security component. parade. >> brian, thanks very much. as we said the u.s. is looking to china to pressure north korea into dialing back its military provocations but just how much influence do the chinese really have? will riply is in the north korea capital right now. he has an exclusive report for us. tell us what you're seeing. >> reporter: we had some very rare access wolf to places that outside media normally is not allowed to step foot in including north korean stores where we found a number of products from china on display, a sign of just how much influence north korea's neighbor really has here.
north korea says it values one thing above all else, self-reliance. a concept they call ju khe. driving around the north korean capital it's clear this independent nation is not entirely self-reliant. many everyday items are imported from cars on the streets, electronics in the stores, even food in the supermarkets. these shelves are surprisingly full of imports especially from one particular country. it's interesting a lot of the canned food items you see here come from china. there's a lot of trade happening between the two countries despite heightened international sanction. >> china is north korea's neighbor and most important ally, a powerful fay tron that pumps billions of dollars into this still largely impofrdished economy. we're not allowed to see live outside the capital, inside people say life is getting
better. >> translator: under kim jong-un our living standards are improving says this doctor. north korea economist say china still accounts for at least 70% of their trade and not just consumer items. a chinese oil pipeline literally helps keep this country's engine running. president trump is urging china to use its economic leverage to punish pyongyang for provacative behavior. north korean officials say china's actions won't effect their weapons development. whatever new sanctions we're likely to face, we're not afraid. everyday north koreans also insist they'll be just fine with or without china. we don't worry much says this housewife. we have a strong military. we can overcome anything. despite five nuclear tests in the last decade, beijing has been reluctant to get too tough on pyongyang.
where 28,000 u.s. troops are based. china also worries a destabilized peninsula could trigger a refugee crisis at its border. china has taken some steps to sank north korea temporarily suspended coal imports. but in the first quarter of this year trade is still up nearly 40%. the true test will come if pyongyang keeps its promise to launch more missiles and conduct more nuclear tests. that's when north korea's self-reliance may truly be put to the test. and that is really the remarkable thing that we see on the ground here. people say that even though they're living standards have improved because of trade with china and their living standards might go down dramatically if china were to cut off north korea, they actually told me they'd rather go back to the days of the great famine than have their country give up its weapons. weapons that were on display at that big military parade.
this is an authoritarian regime where opposing voices are not tolerated. >> will, thank you very much. there's breaking news ahead here in "the situation room." details of the pentagon investigation into fired national security adviser mike flynn why one top democrat is accusing the white house of a cover-up.
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russia ties as a top democratic accuses the white house of a cover-up. tonight the trump team has a stunning defense suggesting it's the obama administration's fault. last minute legislation, house republicans press forward with their new attempt to repeal and replace obamacare but their hopes are colliding with another urgent goal to keep the government running. is a shutdown eminent? >> broad strokes, the president's bullet point plans for sweeping tax cuts leaves americans guessing about the bottom line. new questions about whether the middle class will pay more while the trumps pay less. and palace intrigue. for nearly 100 days the president's top advisors have been wrangling trying to consolidate their power, we're going to tell you whose up and down at this pivotal moment for the white house. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're