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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  June 20, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT

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this is the first time in four years two storms have been named simultaneously in the month of june. that's it for "the lead." you believe follow me, jake tapper, @theleadcnn. senate investigators say they'll start using banking records from the treasury's financial crimes unit to hunt for links between the trump campaign and russian financier. no records. the office of finance and budget says it has no records of recording equipment in the white house. when will president trump come clean that he may have made up that he had tapes from jim comey. the most expensive house race in georgia's sixth district, as democrats try to snag the seat traditionally held
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by republicans. north korea. the president expresses outrage over the death of an american student killed by north korea. does the president have a plan b? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news, senate investigators say they'll now start following the money looking for ties between the trump campaign and russian financiers. members of the senate intelligence committee say they've been promised access to backing records from the treasury department's financial crimes unit that tracks illegal money officerstransfers. that comes as the senate judiciary committee may start looking into possible obstruction of justice from the white house. michael flynn is once again at the center of things.
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democrats now say he may be cooperating with administrators. president trump cannot say whether he recorded conversations with the fired-up james comey. but the add administration offices say they don't have records relating to the installation or production of any recording devices in the white house. that comes as a response to a freedom of informations request by cnn. and polls will be closing two hours from now in georgia's sixth congressional district. historically the democrat seat the republicans are hoping to grab. it's a very tight race by all accounts, and democrats are hoping a win could be the start of a turnaround in the 2018 midterm elections. the white house says there is no reason to foretell future results. i'll talk to democratic senator ben cardin.
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and our guests are standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. there's breaking news right now into the probe of russia's meddling. lawmakers will dig into proper financial ties and may acknowledge if the white house has done any meddling of its own for the investigation. what's the latest? >> tonight senate intelligence investigators are set to receive treasury department data, as you put it, to follow the money, to look for financial links that might exist between the president, his campaign and russia. this is at the same time as another senate committee, as it plans on its own to look into potential obstruction of justice at the highest level. tonight, cnn has learned that members of the senate intelligence committee have been promised access to banking records. the treasury department's financial crimes unit. >> unbelievable!
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>> reporter: the goal, to look for possible big money links between the trump campaign or trump himself and russian financiers. >> i have long felt that the follow the money questions are right at the heart of our work in terms of telling the american people what has happened with our democratic institution. >> reporter: as the investigation into fired national security adviser michael flynn links to russia and others expands. now two top house democrats want to know if flynn misled others on security clearance paperwork about trips to the mideast in 2015. allegedly working on a plan for a $100 billion plan including nuclear arms plants, sales and russia. a hotel says records don't exist, that there seems to be a
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discrepancy to what he told lawmakers back in 2015 -- >> i just came back from a fairly extensive trip in the middle east -- >> and that he said he didn't engage in that business deal until months later. he did lie about ambassador kislyak, which is why he was forced to em battle. >> he thinks flynn is more than likely investigating with the operation. >> all the signals are suggesting that he may have already cooperated with the fbi and may for quite some time. >> they had a dead to rights for a statement that's happening flight front of you. second, comey reported that one of the things the fbi does with cooperaters is get them back up. flynn, who was never hired by a
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government agent again, went back and got his filings. >> reporter: so far law enforcement hasn't confirmed that. the judiciary committee working on their investigation and claiming they're also willing to look into the possibility of obstruction of justice by the president. they'll be meeting with congressman robert mueller to discuss the scope of the probe as both the house and senate intelligence committees will be meeting with the house tomorrow. >> okay, there is a lot going on, but one thing we haven't heard this week, at least not yet. what about the tapes? the white house has not said there are indeed recordings that exist of conversations between the president and fired fbi director james comey as the president has alluded to. cnn has asked several government agencies now through the government act about documents of recording,s the recordings themselves, and tonight the office of the budget says they don't have anything.
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>> thank you very much. a message when it comes to russian meddling. lots of clearanc answers on thi today? i suspect not? >> in his first briefing in eight days, sean spicer was eager to talk about tax reform and the health care bill. when it came to russian meddling in the election, which most everybody agrees is what happened, spicer isn't sure the president agreed. >> sean spicer wanted to change the cloud of the russian investigation. but not being briefed for eight days, sean spicer said he didn't know if he believed that russia medaled in the 209.
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>> just very plainly, does the president believe that the russians interfered in the 2016 elections? >> i haven't sat down with him and talked about that specific thing. we've been dealing with a lot of different issues today. >> reporter: asked again, spicer gave the same answer. >> i have not sat down with him and talked about specific things. the election has fuel the investigation on capitol hill and by a special counsel. meeting the president of ukraine in if the. he had been in a coma after 17 months in north korean captivity. >> it's a total disgrace what happened to otto. that should never, ever be allowed to happen. >> mr. trump thought mr. obama. >> if brought home sooner, i
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think the. there would have been a lot different. otto is a disgrace. i spoke when i see family. his family is incredible what they've gone through. he should have been home a long time ago. >> reporter: at least ten americans were released from north korean custody during the last administration. it's painful mr. warmbier was not among them, but the effort on their behalf never ceased, even during the waning days of the administration. the president's approval rating has fallen to 36%, a record low. 57% now approve of his presidency. the russia investigation, 28% approve, 63% do not.
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the release of obamacare is still under wraps in the senate. while once championing the passing of the bill, the president now describes it as heartless and mean. senate democrats are seizing on the president's criticism. >> i think president trump summed up his health care bill best with one word: mean. for once, on the topic of health care, my colleagues and i find ourselves agreeing with the president. this bill is mean. sle mean. >> now, even as the president sums up the investigation, was he in collusion with tthe conve
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recording james comey? many believe there were no tapes. wolf? >> ben cardin, maryland senator, thanks for being with us. >> good to be here. thank you. >> the intelligence committee is now getting documents from the treasury department's financial crimes unit as they look at possible ties between trump officials and the russians. how telling could that data be? >> i think this could be very, very important. we know there's been a lot of contact between trump associates and moscow. to an extent there is financial dealings, that will, i think, help understand what knees contacts were about, how russia used the contacts, what americans did. money a lot of times will lead you to what you need to know about the reels ship. i think this is extremely important. >> yesterday in the situation room, your colleague told us he believes general michael flynn,
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the fired national security adviser may have flipped in not i think general flynn has an awful lot at stake during this investigation. he clearly violated laws. >> you might be surprised, if he was trying to give them a rift as to how these things are concerned. >> the u.s. now facing increased tensions with russia over the battlefield in syria. the u.s. now has shot down a syrian jet fighter and two dr e drones targeting american planes and actually coming within only five feet of an american plane, an unsafe buzzing incident over the baltic sea. how concerned are you over this
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escalation? >> if this is extremely dangerous, the united states is being pulled into a conflict, this time between the united states and the sovereign routine. there is no authorization for the use of mill. what he's doing right now is bringing us into a positive neshl bin congress. i think it is an extremely dangerous situation. couple that with his responsibiliti responsibilities. that is certainly not in keeping about our conversational protections about being drawn into a war. >> you originally said you are worried that a miscalculation with president trump said it
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could lead to some type of war. does this bring you concern? >> yes, that could have brought us into a conflict and we could have started shooting back and forth. i'm very concerned, with the way this is proceeding, that we could -- this judgment by mr. trump could allow us to be drawn into some major conflict. once you're there, it's so difficult to get out, and we know that the u.s. military presence in syria is not going to end the civil war, only negotiations will do. and yet it looks like we're being drawn into a military conflict. >> today it was pretty amazing when you listened to the briefing at the white house. secretary sean spicer on two occasions declined to say whether president trump was put into the hospital. >> we know it's. ls a single member of congress
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who would doubt the information. we had seen the same. the president clearly know there was an attack on his country. he clearly knows whether his conversations were tapped and yet he was seeing appear surd. right after the break, there is a lot more happening as we speak. let's see, there are the wildcats 'til we die weekenders. the watch me let if fly. this i gotta try weekenders. then we've got the bendy... ... spendy weekenders. the tranquility awaits. hanging with our mates weekenders and the it's been quite a day... glad we got away weekenders.
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more breaking news. president trump speaking out on the death of the american student after his release to american customs. he is looking for some retaliation of some point and seems to be pointing fingers at the obama administration. we're back with ben carter on the foreign relations committee. senator, do you agree with your colleagues, senator mccain, senator marco rubio, among others, that otto warmbier was murdered by the kim jong-un regime? >> i clearly believe the regime is responsible for his death. the manner in which he was handled in north korea, here's a healthy person who ends up with significant brain damage while he's in custody. it clearly indicates that he was mistreated by the regime which led to his death. it's a tragic, tragic circumstance, and it just points out one more reason why the united states needs to be firm in our relationship with north
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korea. >> so what would be the appropriate u.s. response? >> well, you know, we have multiple issues. we not only have the death of this american, we have the threat of a nuclear confrontation with north korea violating their nuclear agreements, we have ballistic missile violations that north korea has done. there are numerous violations. what we need to do is isolate the regime, and that means china needs to be more cooperative with the international community in providing a blockade of economic assistance to north korea until they change their behavior. we have not seen that from the chinese government. so i think we have to be firmer with china in order to get north korea to change their equation. there's limits as to what we can do directly against north korea. we know that they have missiles pointed at south korea. we know that's only a few miles away from seoul. we know that there are literally millions of people that are at risk of casualties if we start a
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war there. so we have a limited option and we have to be careful that we use the opportunities that we have to bring about a change in north korea. >> the president tweeted this today. i'll put it up on the screen. "while i greatly appreciate the efforts of president xi and china to help with north korea, it has not worked out. at least i know china tried." so what is the next step, because that regime is about as isolated as possible. >> i don't know where the president has gotten his information that china has tried. i'm not aware of any change in policy of china as it relates to north korea. we know that north korea is dependent on china off their energy, we know that north korea is dependent on china for imports. we know that, and we have seen a little cooperation from china in cutting off those vital economic ties in order to force north korea to bargain. so i think the president in this case is making up a
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justification for china. china has not done what it needs to do. >> senator cardin, thanks for joining us. >> my pleasure. coming up, more breaking news. senate investigators say they'll start digging for links between [sound of wrench] [intricate guitar riff] [engine starts] [guitar continues]
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election and russia. we've been told they were provided access to data from the federal crimes units. walk us through how this works. using that kind of data how do they follow the money and see potential ties between trump associates and financiers? >> if you want to know why the fbi should be involved in the technical aspect and how they should prevent future elections hacking, this is it. tracking over the last year or two. pretty simple proposition, right? then i look at texts, e-mails, phone calls going over the course of the last 36 months. then i'm going to do interviews with dozens of people and determine how those interviews correspond to reality over time, in other words, who is speaking the truth and who is lying over time. then we have another added feature, the fourth feature over
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this. i'm going to look at transactions between jared kushner, michael flynn and i'm going to look at dirty russians they might have been associated with. this involves layers of operations overseas. it's not clear the senate will have the technical capability to do this. this is why i look to people like the special counsel robert mueller to undertake this investigation, because there is a lot of expertise you need on this. >> the fbi has the expertise that the members of the senate intel committee and the staffers do not. >> not only that, but wouldn't you defer to the fbi doing this stuff? i would. >> let's see what they can find out. sean spicer, rebecca, over at the white house today, he said that the president will finally clarify whether or not there are recordings of his conversations with the fired fbi director james comey, maybe by this week. why is it taking so long to get a simple answer? in early may the president tweeted about, quote, tapes, and
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we still don't know if there are tapes. >> that's a great question. maybe they're just giving us fodder for daily panel discussions. they feel like we've had this question multiple times now. everybody loves a good cliffhanger, wolf. we'll get an answer this week because they're looking for a firm deadline. the house intelligence committee told the white house to produce tapes if they have them or a response if they do not by june 23rd. that's this week. and so the white house doesn't really have a lot of time to mess around with this any longer. it's not clear why they have dragged it out to this point. it's really only built up interest in this issue, and so whether they do or don't have tapes, people keep talking about it. this is not the issue that the white house wants to be talking about right now, but we're going to know sooner rather than later what the truth is here and whether the president critically was telling the truth in the first place. >> we are told by our colleagues up on capitol hill, bob mueller, the special counsel has arrived
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on capitol hill. he's been having a series of closed door meetings with members of the house and senate involved in these investigations, not an open session or anything like that, but to make sure there is no overlap, no problems between his investigation, criminal investigation, and the oversight investigations going on in the senate and the house. but i want to get to something really intriguing. at the white house briefing today, as you saw on two occasions, sean spicer said he didn't know what the president believes whether or not the russians interfered, meddled in the u.s. presidential election. he said he hasn't had that conversation with the president. even though we heard from the heads of all the u.s. intelligence agencies and the fbi that there is no doubt the russians did interfere. why does the white house need the president to say he believes him? >> the president has been kind of all over the place on this issue. he said it's fake news. he said it could be a 400-pound
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man in his basement, he said it could be china. i believe at one point he said it might be the russians but he wasn't sure. so he hasn't -- not knowing what he thinks today on it, it is maybe a valid answer given how many answers he's given on this particular question. that has been settled by every major intelligence agency in this country. >> if you have the director of national intelligence, the fbi, the cia, the nsa, all the agencies on this exact same page, why wouldn't the president believe that? >> because he wants to set a different direction for russia. i tell you, the people in the intelligence committee are grinding their teeth at this. the president of the united states has the right to determine how we deal with vladimir putin. below that there are technical issues, issues that require the national security agency, the central intelligence agency, to look at data that shows who accessed, for example, dnc democratic computers and there's
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a very technical question. if you're on the intelligence committee and you're sitting there now saying, the president of the united states has decided he's got more capability to analyze who accessed democratic computers during the election than the national security agency does. he can do more than vladimir putin. that is really frustrating. >> i think the president's silence speaks volumes, the fact that the secretary doesn't know what the president thinks about this issue is astounding. it's so big that we're having conversations regarding this issue. i think any other president, you would know as press secretary what the president thinks about this issue. >> the president sees this as a reflection on him. he sees this investigation as a reflection on his election. the fact he doesn't want this to be a conversation about his
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legitimacy, he has ties to that, ever since this became an issue we discuss. that's probably one of the reasons he doesn't want to answer that question. >> he's saying all these investigations are a witch hunt, and he uses other phrases as well. stand by. much more coming up. the president sounding off on the death of an american college student who returned in north korea in a coma. is he pointing fingers at the obama administration? help people find their way. fastsigns designed new directional signage. and got them back on track. get started at and got them back on track. there's nothing more than my so when i need to book a hotel room, i want someone that makes it easy to find what i want. gets it. they offer free cancellation if my plans change. visit booking.yeah. a trip back to the dthe doctor's office, mean just for a shot. but why go back there, when you can stay home...
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we're back with our spernlispern specialists and our experts as we watch on capitol hill briefing members of congress to make sure there is no overlap or problems in his investigation. let's get back to another major story we're following right now. reb rebecca burr, the president reacting to the death of otto warmbier who died yesterday. listen to what he said. >> that was a total disgrace what happened to otto. that should never, ever be allowed to happen. frankly, if he were brought home sooner, i think the result would have been a lot different. he should have been brought home that same day. the result would have been a lot different. what happened to otto is a disgrace. and i spoke with his family. his family is incredible, what they've gone through. but he should have been brought home a long time ago. >> it sounds like he's at least
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in part blaming the obama administration for failed opportunities to get this young man home. he spent 17 months in north korea. >> well, it's not entirely clear to me from that statement, wolf, whether trump is trying to send a message to north korea or blaming the obama administration or both. one question for the administration and trump in particular moving forward is what would they do differently? there's still americans being held by north korea. what would they do differently to try to guarantee their release? and is there anything they can point to in terms of how the obama administration handled this that they can say, well, they clearly missed an opportunity? because as admiral john kirby has said on this program, they were working this tirelessly. john kerry would mention this every time he was speaking with his chinese counterparts. they were aware of this issue when they were trying to solve it. but the problem with a state like north korea is they don't always respond to rationale
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incentives, they don't act like a rational actor, so it's not clear how you handle a situation like this. >> the past five months he couldn't get him out, either, eventually he did. let me read the tweet he put out today. while i greatly appreciate the efforts of president xi and china to help with north korea, it hasn't worked out. at least i believe china tried. do you believe china tried? >> i suspect they spoke to the north koreans, but we're five months into the administration. you cannot throw them out the window five months in. we have potentially four years of a trump administration. not only including nuclear bombs but ballistic missiles. if i were the president, i would hold back from saying that china didn't perform here.
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the chinese, be careful about saying too quickly they didn't perform. >> there are three other u.s. citizens held in north korea, at least two u.s. citizens held in iran as well. just ahead, the special counsel, rob mueller, he's up on capitol hill right now. you see some video coming in. he is set to meet with leaders of the house intelligence committee behind closed doors. we're standing by for some potential comments. plus, breaking news. satellites show new activity in a keynote nuclear site. we're gathering details. we'll share them with you after the break. hen we're on our way. you can see exactly when we'll arrive. mom: sure. bring it! tech: i'm micah with safelite. mom: thanks for coming, it's right over here. tech: giving you a few more minutes for what matters most.
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breaking news, robert mueller is set to meet with leaders up on capitol hill. right now we're standing by to see if lawmakers will make public comments after that closed door meeting. we'll have live coverage of that if it happens. but first, all political eyes are on georgia right now where polls will be closing in a very, very high stakes special house election that some see as a referendum on president president trump. our senior washington correspondent rihanna keeler is on the scene for us. rihanna, republicans have held this seat for decades. >> reporter: they certainly have, wolf. the fact this election is close is astounding but there is a lot of enthusiasm for democrats for their candidate jon ossoff. there are so many republican voters in the sixth district, but talking to multiple people in the campaign tonight, they are all nerves. here in georgia's sixth
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congressional district, republicans have held this seat since 1979. but a 30-year-old democrat could change that. >> how you all doing? >> reporter: jon ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and congressional staffer, is neck and neck with former georgia's secretary of state, republican karen handel, to fill the seat tom price vacated. >> it seems like democrats in no way even feel like they can work with president trump. their constituents don't want them to do that. is that something you're open to if you're elected? >> i will work with anyone to improve quality of life here, to grow a local economy, andly stand up to anyone who doesn't have this community's best interests at heart regardless of personality or priority. >> trump only bested hillary clinton by a point and change. even the president's agriculture
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secretary, former georgia governor sonny purdue, acknowledged the liability while campaigning for handel this weekend. >> some republicans may even be turned off by our president, and i don't think you are. i'm not, because let me tell you, the president keeps his promises. >> reporter: trump took to twitter this morning to urge georgia voters to support handel, and he has fund-raised for her, too. >> you know, she's run against someone bhos goiwho is going to your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care, and he's for open borders -- lots of crime -- and he's not even able to vote in the district that he's running in. >> reporter: it's one of handel's strongest attack lines against ossoff. while he grew up in the district, he now lives outside of it, within a few miles. >> it is not about the national implications, it's about who is best suited to represent them in washington, to be their next congressman. it's me, someone who has the
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experience and the relationships in this community. my husband and i have lived here for almost 25 years. that's longer than my opponent pretty much has been alive. he still doesn't live in the and the out come of this hotly contested race, much of that money being poured into television ads. >> karen handel cut off funding for planned parenthood cancer screenings when she was an executive at susan g. komann. >> reporter: it is the republican shooting drawing attention in recent days leading both campaigns to denounce the spot. >> now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting republicans. when will it stop? it won't. if jon ossoff wins on tuesday.
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>> reporter: now, polls, wolf, are going to be closing here at 7:00 p.m. we should be getting an early date appoint, but an important one not too long after that when we see where the early votes lie. both campaigns expect jon ossoff will outperform karen handel in the early vote and she will outperform him in the day of voting. we'll get a sense of how much ground she'll have to nmake up here not too long. >> we'll watch the results. brianna keeler reporting live from georgia. the spy satellites now have detected new activity at an underground nuclear testing site in north korea. these latest developments come as president trump weighs his options following the death of a young american student soon after he was returned from north korean detention center in a coma. brian todd is gathering details for us. brian, what's the latest? what can you tell us? >> reporter: wolf, tonight
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president trump and whiz security team are under pressure to go against kim jong-un. while the white house weighs its options, experts say some of the more damaging forms of retaliation could be so secretive we may never find out about them and that adds to the president's dilemma. president trump expressing anger tonight over the death of american college student otto warmbier. >> it's a total disgrace what happened to otto. that should never, ever be allowed to happen. >> reporter: tonight the pressure is ramping up on the trump administration to retaliate against north korea for warmbier's death. is this a red line against north korea? >> any time there is a death involving north korean actions does cross a red line. >> reporter: a military strike against kim jong-un's analysts say is too dangerous an option. kim might retaliate by firing his missile at seoul or japan. or he could attack the 28,000
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american troops in south korea. but a cyberattack on kim's growing missile program could be an option. there may be attacks, yes, we can take on missile launches. there may be attacks we can take on the command and control center to send a signal to north korea. um not see the result of that, but kim jong-un will. >> reporter: experts a hacking the internal calls and e-mails and putting them out in public is a possible retaliatory move. the u.s. and the u.n. have economic sanctions already in place against north korea. targeting luxury and imports and exports which help kim's military. those could be expanded. but what could hurt north korea more analysts believe is if the u.s. applies so-called secondary sanctions against kim's chief ally, china. >> it's pretty well known there are an extensive set of chinese entities that help north korea evade those arms sanctions by the united nations. we've had a limited number of cases where we've gone after chinese firms for those reasons. we could greatly expand that
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number. >> reporter: tonight president trump signalling he believes china's efforts with kim jong-un have fallen short tweet, quote, while i greatly appreciate the efforts of president xi and china to help with north korea, it has not worked out. at least i know china tried. the administration says it's looking at a possible ban on american tourists traveling to north korea to ensure no other americans meet warmbier's fate. experts say the administration has to be careful in its response so it doesn't put the three americans currently being held by north korea in any more danger. but the president, they say, likely has to show he's doing something. >> if he fails to send a clear visible signal after the death of a young american in the hands of this north korean regime, he will be seen as lacking credibility. he'll be seen as weak around the world. >> reporter: experts say one broad stroke move that could hurt this man financially is if the u.s. pressures countries in the middle east and elsewhere to
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expel north korean laborers. an liflts say there are tens of thousands of north koreans working construction and similar jobs all over the world and they bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. most of it they say goes right into the pockets of kim and his inner circumstance many. >> brian todd, thanks, brian very much. coming up, breaking news. this special counsel robert mueller is up on capitol hill right now set to meet with top lawmakers in the house and intelligence committee. we're standing by for more information. for your heart... your joints... or your digestion... so why wouldn't you take something for the most important part of you... your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish, prevagen is now the number one selling brain health supplement in drug stores nationwide. prevagen. the name to remember.
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fothere's a seriousy boomers virus out there that's been almost forgotten. it's hepatitis c. one in 30 boomers has hep c, yet most don't even know it. because it can hide in your body for years without symptoms, and it's not tested for in routine blood work. the cdc recommends all baby boomers get tested. if you have hep c, it can be cured. for us it's time to get tested. ask your healthcare provider for the simple blood test. it's the only way to know for sure.
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the feds financial crimes unit is giving senators information that could potentially reveal any secret ties between the trump team and russia. what will they find when they follow the money? referendum on trump, we're standing by for the first results in the special election that's widely seen as a test of the president's popularity. can democrats felipe house se seat -- flip a house seat that's held by republicans for decades? senate gop leaders say they are on the verge of releasing details on their health care bill cloaked in secrecy. tonight the white house admits even the president may be in the dark about the legislation. and aggressive maneuvers, an armed russian jet buzzes a u.s. reconnaissance plane as moscow threateneds to shoot down american aircraft in one area. u.s. and russia are getting closer to an open and dangerous conflict. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."


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