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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  June 30, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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by this commission as well. all right, guys. thanks very, very much. that's it for me. i want to thank all of our viewers so much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation. erin burnett starts right now. >> out front next. did the trump white house try to blackmail two television anchors? this has the president cozy ties with the national even quirer raising hard questions tonight. >> more states revolting, rejecting calls from trump's election fraud panel to turn over voters' personal information. plus, a congressman is calling for a medical examination of the president, asking is he physically and mentally up to the job. that idea gaining steam among democrats tonight. let's go out front. >> good evening. i'm jim sciutto in tonight for
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erin burnett. shocking claims of a tabloid hit story. the subjects of the president december garaging and widely condemn tweets allege they were threatened by top people inside the white house. they say they were encouraged to apologize to the president for their coverage of him in return, they say, trump would get a nasty story about them to go away. the alleged story, a tabloid hit job. trump himself appears to acknowledge some of this, but insists that's not how it went down at all. he tweeted, watched low-rated morning joe for the first time in a long time. fake news. he called me to stop a national even quirer article. i said no. bad show. we should know trump is friends with the tabloid's publisher. the paper said today there was no involvement on its part.
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but this could cause trouble for a president already on the ropes with embarrassed members of his own party. is this a case of blackmail? did trump issue a threat to gain more favorable media coverage? has he created another problem for himself politically and should the president of the united states be investigated for this? let's go out front with jim acosta. jim, is the white house rejecting these new allegations? >> well, jim, i did talk to one white house official who said that joe scarbrough did speak with jared kushner about this national even quirer article, but he told scarbrough to talk to the president, which does raise the question why would the president of the united states have any sway with the national even quiner? this source did go on to say there was no offer of a quid pro quo to kill the story in exchange for softer coverage of the president. when asked about one of those news articles, the deputy press
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secretary said during one of these off camera briefings today she said she had not talked to the president about it. that was the only question on this subject, jim, because the briefing today only lasted 16 minutes. the president was asked later on whether he regretted these tweets. he acknowledged the question in the room, but he did not answer it. jim? >> another briefing that wasn't televised. >> that's right. >> all of this leading to new scrutiny for president trump's ties to the national even quirer and its publisher. >> president trump beats the press daily. >> fake news! fake news! fake, fake news. fake news, folks. a lot of fake. >> but he had some powerful friends in the media. now two of his former pals. >> donald trump. >> donald. >> are turning on him. accusing the white house of
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threatening them. saying president trump yielded this super market tabloid like a weapon. it highlights trump's long-time relationship with the national en enquirer. >> they say it went down in the spring when white house aids called. >> we got a call that, hey, the national enquirer is going to run a bad story about you guys. if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story. >> a white house official says the tv stars have the story mixed up. and it was really scarbrough calling jared kushner speaking help, trying to kill the story. scarbrough says he has the text messages to prove they pressured him to grovel to trump.
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>> they published this story about the newly engaged couple's previously marriaged, but not before harassing their families. >> the tabloid denied calling her kids and said it didn't know anything about the white house connection. the president has a long history with david pecker, ceo of the parent company. remember, it endorsed the president during the 2016 campaign. their first endorsement of a candidate in 90 years. and it went after trump's rivals. >> the president of the united states has a bully pulpit unlike anybody else. he plants in david pecker's national even quirer a lie about him. >> trump said pucker should run "time" magazine. >> and brian stelter is with me now and former communications director for the ted cruz campaign and former obama white
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house ethics czar. we should also note he is involved in a lawsuit against president trump over receiving payments from foreign governments. let me start with you. does this look like blackmail? >> well, jim, it does. it depends of course on whose version of the facts you believe. and then there is an additional issue about whether it's legally actionable. but however you slice it, it's not right for a president of the united states to behave this way, even if you accept the story as he tells it. >> yeah. and so many of these questions come down to that. they're partly political questions as much as legal questions. but paul since you are a lawyer and i have you here with you. i have the extortion by officers and employees of the u.s. to be assuming an act of such under color commits or attempts an act of extors shall be fined or imprisoned for three years.
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you look at that code. you are a lawyer. if you had a case like this brought before you, would you think there is a case here? >> no. there are a couple problems with the case. extortion is -- you think of it in terms of a mob shake down. it's a threat of harm coming to you in the future. this gets more subtle because this is not that the president will hurt scarbrough. this is he will not make a phone call to stop one of his friends from hurting scarbrough. >> that's not exactly a giant intellectual leap there. >> this is why there are lawyers in the world. this is a very technical legal defense. that is probably enough to shield him. there is a second thing that shields him as well. under that statute you have to be acting in your capacity as president. we know that the publisher of the national even quirerer is a friend of trump and a prosecutor
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would have to prove that he, peck, backed off on the story or would have backed off on the story because trump was president as opposed to because trump was a good friend. how would you prove that? >> it's remarkable we're having the discussion. they published multiple negative stories about trump's opponents during the campaign, including ted cruz's father was involved in the kennedy assassination, and then carson left a sponge in a patient's brain, which carson said was not accurate. just incredible collection of stories there. trump and the publisher have been friends for decades. when we look at that history there, do you think there is an agenda to help the president and hurt his opponents? >> based on my knowledge and just the information that we have at hand and the headlines that you showed, as brian
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indicated, the national even quirerer did endorse president trump. he has hailed his friend to be the ceo of "time" magazine and says that the national even quirer should receive a pull litser. we saw them cover stories not true and the source of one of those stories, the five affair story, the single source named in that story was roger stone, a former advisor for president trump. when asked about this on the campaign trail, then candidate trump didn't criticize the magazine for doing so. he said they have been right about stories in the past. so make of it what you will. those are the facts as they are. but the key take away from that is they have a history of writing negative stories about many candidates. donald trump was never one of them. >> i'm glad you said not just
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negative but preposterous. brian, you laid out just a lot of the history here and used the word weapon, weaponizing information, in effect. is that the nature of this relationship? do you think that's not accidental, that's an intentional relationship? >> this is a story about how trump world works and how the media are not all negative. he has positive relationships with breitbarts and with the national enquierer. >> why is it so important to him? >> yes, exactly. pecker is growing in stature, buying up magazines, creating
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more of a media empire and it makes you wonder how much is happening behind the scenes. we don't know. i spoke with a source who said this relationship is being overstated. pecker and trump are not all that close. but when you look at the coverage, you can see a pro-trump tilt to the coverage. there is no denying that. >> as propostrouse as some of those stories were, they took up air time. i want to ask you this because some of these questions, okay, let's say there is no legal case and frankly let's grant that it is difficult to bring one of these about, these are essentially political questions, right? what is the political damage? will there be political consequences for this kind of thing. what is your view? >> in my view at this stage of the game, i think there has been so much emphasis or news coverage on trump tweets. what we're talking about now, i view this as super inside baseball. i think the morning joe fans are engaged in this. they were never trump supporters
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to begin with. but for the majority of people across this country i think what we're talking about is white noise and this is not going to influence them one way or another. the key is for the president and republicans in congress to keep their eye on the prize, get some legislative accomplishments done and i don't see this specific story having a huge political impact on the president. >> we have seen the president and his aids try to neuter or silence critical voices in the press. this is one of the most interesting examples yet because it involves scarbrough who was his friend. we are seeing the president not wanting to hear criticism and this was pretty blatant. >> a lot of republicans have come out to call him out for these comments. let me thank the panel. out front next, more republicans ripping into trump. is his agenda in serious danger? and breaking news, revolting, more states tonight saying no way, refusing to hand over voter information for trump's voter fraud investigation.
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it is -- the fact that we're talking about it right now, rather than talking about the merits and demerits about what might come next on health care goes to the very heart in the way in which he's hurting himself with these different, you know, 140 character rants on twitter. >> and, yet, the president threw another wrench in the health care debate today saying if republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on, they should repeal and then replace at a later date. sara murray is out front near new jersey. sara, republicans not happy about this latest tweet from the president, even though this one is actually on the topic they wanted him to tweet about. >> reporter: well, it certainly does throw a wrench into the plan that republicans were proceeding with. they are preparing to take a difficult vote on health care. and the goal was to do repeal and replace at the same time. in fact, this was the goal because days after he was elected, president trump said these things would happen near
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simultaneously. but today he threw a wrench in those plans, suggesting that if this bill, this republican health care bill cannot pass the senate, then maybe they should move forward with repealing obamacare and replacing it later down the line. the white house insisted the president's thinking on the subject hasn't changed. here's what sarah huckabee sanders had to say. >> the president hasn't changed his thinking at all. he's campaigned on repealing and replacing obamacare. >> now, the white house may be insisting the plan hasn't changed, but officials who were working on this on capitol hill say this really does equate to throwing a hand grenade into this process. it was difficult to get the votes they needed to pass it through the senate. they can only lose a slim margin of senators and the worry that there is a back up plan or a plan b could send conservatives
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to their corner and send the signal they don't need to negotiate on this health care plan. there might be something they like better coming down the pipeline. so while conservatives have been waiting for the president to weigh in on this issue, this maybe is not what leadership was hoping for. jim? >> sara murray with the president in new jersey. former special advisor to obama and trump supporter. if i could start from you, you are hearing this from a lot of republicans. is the president making it harder for his own party to get this health bill over the finish line? >> no, i don't think so. i think this is part of the negotiating process. i have seen this at close hand when i worked on capitol hill and in the white house. there is a lot of going back and forth. a lot of phone calls, a lot of public statements, a lot of statements that say a when they really mean b, c or d. this is part of that process.
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to me this is proceeding and i would suspect the president is making phone calls even though he's on fourth of july holiday. >> do you buy that argument from jeff? >> no. good try. good try. i think that trump -- i this that trump should put out a new edition of his work, the art of blowing the deal. you do not do this if you are in a serious negotiating posture. he took this off the table. he put his troops to work on one direction and then with no warning, based on a tweet, reversed his direction. he's now destroyed the leverage of the people who were trying to get this thing done the way he said with no head's up. that is called blowing the deal. now, he may find some way to get out of it, but you cannot pretend this is a good way to do business and it is not a normal way to do business when presidents are trying to get major legislation done. >> jeffrey, let me ask that question. i mean, if you are for instance
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trying to get conservatives on and you say we'll repeal it now and talk about something later, what's their incentive to give a little ground on their hard line position? i'm trying to understand your argument for saying that's going to help the negotiation along, rather than hurt it. >> what i'm saying that donald trump is a master negotiator. he, like ronald reagan was a negotiator. and donald trump has certainly made a career out of this. i think he knows in his bones how to do this. he knows when to throw the carrot out, when to withdraw the carrot, when to bring the stick out, et cetera. so he will apply them alternately as he feels sufficient to get to his objective. >> that's a generous view of the president's negotiating so far as president. do you see evidence of that where he's successfully used those skills from the white house? >> what jeffrey is pointing out
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is the great hope that the trump supporters had in him. and some of them are still trying to hold on to those hopes and they tend to rearrange the facts to fit that narrative. listen, i give the president when he does stuff that's good. but this ain't good. this is not the way to do it. >> the old sports saying that it ain't over until it's over. it ain't over. >> it's not over, but i'm going to tell you right now, if your assignment from the president of the united states was to go into this incredibly difficult environment and to get a deal that would let you repeal and replace at the same time, the one thing you do not want is for the president to suddenly say, and never mind we could do it another way. because what that means is the people you had gotten to the table and you were trying to get a concession from, they have an incentive now to hold off. they say, wait, why should i
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give you anything if i sit on my hands this thing could blow up and i could get everything i want the day after tomorrow. this is not the way you do negotiators when you are dealing with the kind of stuff you deal with in congress. maybe a real estate deal, but not for the u.s. congress. >> let me ask you this, van. so health care gets stalled this week. but let's be honest, this week you had two major pieces of immigration legislative, restrictive new immigration law and also you had the putting into effect a modified travel ban, but the trump travel ban is now in operation. it's the law of the united states of america. are we missing those steps, those fulfillment of his campaign promises? >> yes, we are. and part of the thing is we talk about the distraction the republicans feeling distracted. i think you could also say the democrats are distracted by some of these crazy tweets and the
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mica thing because the attack on sanctuary cities is a big deal in the real world. he rolled out on energy policy that environmentalists may have complaints about. maybe it all washes out for him, but i would say if democrats stay focussed on policy and republicans don't pretend this crazy stuff is actually helping anybody, if he wants to be a normal president and be success, this is not the path forward. >> the travel ban is a great example of this. they rolled it out and it immediately wound up in court. they finally got it settled. they got what they wanted. >> they got part of what they want sgld th wanted. >> there is always going to be roadbloc roadblocks. it happens all the time. you have to have a steady vision, but you do get it done.
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>> happy fourth to both of you. >> happy fourth. >> same to you, my friend. >> next breaking news, a growing list of states snubbing the white house over trump's voter fraud probe. my next guest calling the president's effort sinister. and ivanka trump says she wants to empower women. so why is she silent about her father's vicious tweets targeting a woman? dishes. like coastal lobster and shrimp, with shrimp crusted with kettle chips. or new, over-the-top lobster and shrimp overboard. but it can't last, so hurry in. we're working with leading sustainability experts to develop higher standards for food. so you can be sure you're getting higher quality ingredients, that are also better for the earth. get $30 off at
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asking states to turn over, among other things, personal data on individual voters, things like dates of birth, political voting history, social security information and information regarding felony convictions. tom foreman is out front with more tonight. tom, the white house says that the information they're asking for is, quote, publically available. but that's not true, is it? >> well, not according to the secretaries of state for many of these states which have said we have specific statutes in these states that say we cannot release all this information. some of this is not available to the general public, certainly not in a way that could be made public, which is what the white house said they are going to do with this information. so, no, it is not public information in the sense that anybody could just get it and you get it by calling the secretary of state's office. many are concerned about privacy. others are concerned about the basic motivation behind this and the whole idea that this is about voter fraud because many
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of them say that is simply a myth. there is no voter fraud. >> we should remind our viewers this investigation, it really started with the president's unfounded claim right after the election that three to five million people voted illegally. illegal votes cast in the 2016 election. a lot of folks looked into this, tom foreman. is there any evidence to back up even a fraction of that claim? >> no. there is no evidence from any credible source or study at this point to say that there has been any kind of widespread voter fraud in this country. absolutely not enough to justify the president's claim that he actually won the popular vote. jim? >> there is your answer there. couldn't be clearer from tom foreman. the former missouri secretary of state and founder of let america vote. and rick santorum, senior political commentator.
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also a presidential candidate. senator, i want to start with you because what's notable about these 27 states who were refusing this white house request is that many of them are, in fact, republican-led states. mississippi is republican. secretary of state released a statement saying in strong terms that he's not going to comply. he is going to tell the president's commission, quote, go jump in the gulf of mexico. is this request from the commission a fair request in your view? >> i think a lot of people are concerned about this social security number that even the last four digits. that's certainly privacy information and certainly raises concerns i think from a lot of privacy advocates. a lot of those are republicans. >> how about voting history, too? >> voting history is available. i mean, you can usually check voting history. campaigns use voting history all the time. we use it for super voters. so that doesn't concern me so much. but the one thing that jumped out to me was social security,
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the last four digits of social security. maybe they could amend it. i understand why they're trying to do it. and, you know, to the previous report that there is no evidence of voter fraud, that's just ridiculous. there is all sorts of studies been done about noncitizens signing up to vote. in california it's easy. >> but to be fair, senator, the president said three to five million votes. and i'll just quote one of the studies. it was -- i can't count the zeros, but it's 0.0002% where it's been substantiated of illegal voters. >> well, look, the bottom line is there has never been really good studies. jason was the secretary of state. did you ever really test to see whether people could vote illegally? did you send them into voting places and see if they could vote under dead people. the city of work did and they
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found out 97% of the people that tried to vote illegally were able to vote illegally. so i don't think it's done very much. i don't think people check. >> 97% of what figure. >> 63 people went in. 63. >> dead people or felons that couldn't vote and 97% were allowed to vote. >> senator, let jason answer. he's got a fair amount of experience here. what is your response? >> well, i conducted more elections investigations than any secretary of state in the history of my state, and there has never been a case of voter fraud in missouri. you are more likely to be struck by lightening as an american than to commit voter impersonation fraud. the purpose of this request, the purpose of this commission or the most recent request is to figure out who you voted for so they could determine whether or not to push you off the voter rolls. there is no good explanation for
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why they would request your political party as part of this information. what's happening here is that this all started with the biggest lie that a sitting president has ever told and now in order to try to validate that, try and justify that insane action, they are taking insane action after insane action. you mentioned the mississippi secretary of state. he came to missouri in 2012 and campaigned against me. this is not a liberal we're talking about. this is a person who is saying under no circumstances are you going to get this information about my voters. >> senator, what is your response? >> well, my response is that jason said he investigated it. i asked the question. he didn't answer it. did you ever send people and try to get people to vote, you know, impersonate people? did you ever run a scam investigation to see how easy it was to do it, or did you simply investigate what reports were of potential voter fraud? there is a big difference. and the fact is i'm not aware of anybody doing any kind of real
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testing of the system to see how easy it is to do it. >> jason, your answer? >> well, actually you are. because that's happened in kansas where millions of dollars in taxpayer money was spent in order to find a handful of cases of voter fraud moving nothing, done by the secretary who is the one that issued this request and in a hilarious and ironic turn is now refusing to fully comply with the request in his capacity as the leader of what i refer to as the voter suppression committee to re-elect the president. >> we just put up the results. so 1.7 million kansas voters they studied in over two years, they found nine voter fraud convictions. i can't do the math of how low a percentage that is, but that's quite a tiny number, isn't it? >> i just keep coming back. you have done a great job of avoiding my question. but the fact is trying to find voter -- >> trying to break the law, senator? no, i did not.
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i did not send people in to break the law. >> investigators do this all the time. don't tell me breaking the law. you know better than that, jason. >> no, actually voter impersian nation fraud is what you're asking about. >> i am asking if you conducted a sting operation, and the answer is no. but the ones that have actually found it very easy to do. so you're suggesting well just because it is easy to do doesn't mean that people are actually doing it, which means you believe in our honor system in america. i believe in a system that prevents fraud and makes sure we don't have fraud, not trusting people's honor they're not going to break the law. >> final word, jason. >> sure. all right. well, let's start with the fact if they really wanted to do with this commission was make it so you could make sure there was nobody registered to vote in multiple states, they would have a national website that allows you to do registration so it would be impossible. but they're not going to do that and the reason is because they are not interested in having more people registered to vote.
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the entire purpose of this commission is voter suppression, is to make it harder for folks to vote when those folks have a nasty habit of not voting republicans. >> we have will hato leave it t ivanka trump says she supports women. but why is she silent about her father's tweets? and testing trump about whether he is mentally fit for the job. le's tastes. honey, what do you want for dinner tonight? oh whatever you're making. triple cheddar stuffed sliders. sold! badda book. that's it?. he means book direct at for the lowest price on our rooms guaranteed. plus earn free nights and instant rewards at check-in. yeah. like i said. book now at
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defending the indefensible. senior advisor kellyanne conway tried to explain trump's attacks on a female anchor and why she isn't condemning them. >> i didn't say i endorsed his attacks. i never said that, george. what i said is i endorse his ability to fight back when he is attacked. >> walking a fine line there. jason carol is out front tonight with more. >> while the administration looks toward trying to turn the page over the debate about the president and his comments about women, three women close to the president have stood by him. the first lady, senior white house advisor kellyanne conway and his daughter ivanka. >> policies that allow women with children to drive should be the norm. >> ivanka trump perhaps the most
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vocal member of the administration, promoting and empowering women noticeably silent on her father's tweet, a tweet lawmakers on both sides of the aisle viewed as sexist. this violence from a women whose twitter bio reads wife, mother, daughter, sister and advocate for the education and empowerment of women and girls. ivanka trump in the past has defended her father's treatment of women. this past april trump was met with boos when she explained her reasoning to a women's panel in berlin. >> he's been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of -- >> you hear the reaction from the audience, so i need to address one more point. some attitudes towards women your father has publically displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he
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is such an empower for women. what is your comment on that? >> i think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women. >> white house advisor kellyanne conway on the other hand publicly defended the president's latest tweets. >> large parts of the media are covering personal insults about the president and really denying america's women their rightful knowledge on what he's doing for them. >> the president hasn't come out with a plan. but that's decides the point right now. >> you keep interpreting me, george. and fairly to the american people, particularly women who tune into these shows to get information about what's going on for them. >> and then there is the first lady, who through a spokeswoman,
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defended her husband as she has stated in the past when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back ten times harder. that reaction surprised critics from someone who made cyber bullying a priority. >> if he does something that you think crossed a line, will you tell him? >> yes, i tell him all the time. >> all the time? >> all the time. >> and does he listen? >> i think he hears me. but he will do what he wants to do in the end. >> for ivanka trump, her silence comes after her own observation about the, quote, viciousness in politics. >> it is hard. and there is a level of viciousness that i was not expecting. i was not expecting the intensity of this experience. >> so, jim, officially still a question mark whether or not the first lady or ivanka trump for that matter privately expressed
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any sort of displeasure over the president's tweets. but without question one point is clear going forward, it is not just the president's credibility at stake when it comes to his stance on women's issues. it is the first lady's credibility and ivanka trump's credibility as well. >> most of the country as well. thanks very much. out front next, is trump mentally fit to be president? that is a growing question among some democrats on capitol hill. one congressman leading that charge will join me next. and health care for rural america now in jeopardy. >> if there is a medicaid cut, it is going to be bad. >> how bad? >> very bad. s a story about mail and packages. and it's also a story about people. people who rely on us every day to deliver their dreams they're handing us more than mail they're handing us their business and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, we never forget...
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new tonight, growing democratic support for one congressman's bill that could potentially oust president trump from office, looking to create a commission to determine whether the president is physically, mentally able to do the job. he's able to use the 25th amendment as his justification. it says, the president is -- if the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of office, the vice president
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shall assume the powers and doodoot -- duties of the office as acting president. so the 25th amendment sets, understandably, quite a high bar. why do you believe, and what evidence do you see to justified exercising the 25th amendment with president trump? >> well, it's not up to me or any member of congress. it says the vice president of the united states and a majority of the cabinet can review the fitness of the president, or the vice president of the united states and a majority of a body to be set up by the congress. and the congress has not set that body up yet. the 25th amendment is 50 years old. this is the 50th anniversary of it. so it sets up a body for this presidency and all presidencies to come to discharge the responsibilities of the body under the 25th amendment.
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>> you cite it's 50 years old. it was enacted as we understand it after john f. kennedy's assassination to create a process if the president is incapacitated. but as you mentioned there, the way it's set up, a majority of the cabinet appointed by the president, they would presumably support the president and you have republicans controlling both houses of congress. what are your actual chances of getting such a commission established in the current political environment? >> well, i think we've got a constitutional responsibility to do it, not just for the trump presidency but every presidency to come. it contemplates the possibility of a temporary disability, and it's been invoked several times, including when president reagan and president bush underwent surgery. but this is a provision that's not been fully implemented and it's time because the physical health of the president and the mental health of the president is of fundamental importance to
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the national security to have country. and the continuing effectiveness of the government. so i think that some of the current events have concentrated our mind on the problem. but we need to set this up as a matter of institutional responsibility as congress. >> there are those -- even among democrats who look at an effort like this and say listen, we have to focus on the next election and beating president trump in 2020 or try to gain back the senate or the house in 2018. how do you answer that criticism? why this effort opposed to focusing on the normal political process we call elections? >> i agree with that. i have a great project where we have 06 college and high school students learning how to do political organizing and we sent them down to georgia and they're organizing in virginia. so we're doing that, too. but this is a matter of fundamental national security. we've got to make sure that we have a president who is able
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faithfully to discharge the duties of office. again, this is not just for one president, but for all of the presidents. i think it's something we can come together on in a bipartisan way. the provision of the 25th amendment make sure there are bipartisan checks. nothing happens without the vice president. and if the president resists and says that he or she is fit when these bodies say that he or she is not, it goes back to congress and you would require a 2/3 vote to override a presidential decision to defy a finding by the vice president and majority of the cabinet or the congressional body that he or she is no longer able to discharge their duties. >> and there is quite a high bar there. congressman, thank you very much for taking the time. >> the pleasure is mine. up next, life and death at stake in rural america in the battle over health care. we have a special report tonight. o the people you love, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment?
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tonight, as president trump is pushing to repeal obamacare now and replace it later, new congressional budget office numbers show the senate bill would cut medicaid spending more dramatically than thought. without that capital, more rural hospitals would be shut down. and for many americans, that means life or death. >> reporter: here in richland, georgia, just two hours south of atlanta, it's a different world from the big city. access to basic services including a hospital, is not a guarantee. doctor in town since the nearest hospital shut down in 2013, nearly 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. and now hundreds more are at risk. to add insult to injury, the facility was shuttered with little warning.
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>> one day it was open, and it closed by friday. >> reporter: what was that like? >> it was very devastating. >> reporter: dr. raju, who was the chief of staff, is now in high demand. >> i see 22, 25 patients a day. >> reporter: you're the only doctor here if >> i work full time monday through friday. >> reporter: most patients are elderly and 95% are now on medicare or medicaid. under the new health care senate bill, these subsidies should shriv shrivel. >> if there is a cut, it's going to really impact. >> reporter: how bad? >> very bad. >> reporter: with the nearest hospital a 45-minute drive away, residents of richland live in a medical desert. it makes the jobs of ed lynch and his small crew of emts even harder. his two ambulances service an area larger than los angeles that receive an average of 1200 calls her year.
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>> they can be hung up at the hospital three, four hours before they get a bed. we can go hours without coverage. >> reporter: since the hospital shut down, they've become mobile emergency rooms. >> rural georgia is dying. there used to be hospitals littering the whole state. >> reporter: it's more than just an inconvenience. with no hospital close by and dr. raju nearby, this woman had to call an ambulance when she caught the flu. >> it would have been so much easier to get fluids right here, which is what i needed. >> reporter: but without a hospital, others haven't been so lucky. >> i can remember having to ventilate something, i've seen people i know all my life die. we can't save everybody, but it's nice to save the ones that we can. >> reporter: rural residents are in a public health crisis. hospitals like this one are closing across america, but
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especially in the southeast. here in georgia, the state has identified up to 50 other small-town hospitals in danger of closing their doors. jim? >> thank you, nick. and thanks for joining us tonight. i'm jim sciutto. "ac 360" starts right now. good evening. if you wore were youed that the president of the united states, the most powerful in the world, might go a morning without lashing out at a morning talk show host, you can rest easy. they accused him of trying to use the power of his office on the national enquirer to get them to back off unflattering coverage of him. they did not present evidence, but say they have phone records and text messages and kept msnbc aware of what was going on at the time. the president claims it was joe scarborough who sought out his help with the national en.