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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  July 20, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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has been a nevada prison inmate, and lately learned he will be going free. there was much to talk about including this unfounded claim. >> i always thought i have been pretty good with people. and i have basically spent a conflict-free life. i'm not a guy that ever got in the fights on the street with the public and everybody. >> well, that is simply not true, simpson has admitted to beating his wife and once pled no contest to spousal battery. a civil jury also found him guilty in the death of his wife and ron goldman. did o.j. simpson seem remorseful during the hearing? >> reporter: he did say he was sorry a couple of times but really he spent most of his time and talked about his self and how wonderful he was doing in prison and how great of a guy he was in life. and blamed some others for what
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happened. eventually he took responsibility, but didn't touch a gun he said, didn't realize the guns were there. he planned it because there are audiotapes of the planning of the kidnapping and robbery that ended up happening. and he did say are you packing heat? so he clearly knew during the trial in 2008 that there were going to be guns involve in this. ultimately, though, the parole board decided after listening to his testimony, the testimony of his daughter and friend and looking at all the other factors that go into this, which is how he did in prison, did he cause any problems? which he did not, he was a model prisoner to myself and others. he was a going to be paroled in october. >> also he had something who was the victim of the robbery speak on his behalf, i mean, that doesn't happen every day. >> reporter: that is absolutely true.
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it was actually extraordinary. i think the most emotional testimony in this whole thing was his friend and the memorabilia dealer who had a gun to his head that o.j. simpson was telling i want my stuff back. he wias the guy that came forwad and said look, o.j. simpson made a mistake but i want him out. let's listen in. >> it's time for him to go home to his family and friends. this is a good man, he made a mistake. and if he called me tomorrow and said bruce, i'm getting out, will you pick me up. sure, i'll be here tomorrow for you. >> reporter: clearly, the two are still friends. o.j. simpson mentioned that as well. they talked, he apologized to him and apologized for having some of his stuff although he said he was not the person who took it from o.j.
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>> thank you very much, i want to bring in the panel. jeff, going into this, did you expect him to be paroled? >> i did, my understanding of the nevada rules made it very likely he would be paroled. and i also think it was the right decision, as much as i think that o.j. simpson should be serving life in prison for the murders of ron and nicole, he was acquitted. i thought this sentence was excessive. i thought this whole las vegas case was basically payback and much as i would have liked to have seen him convicted, i think that is not how the legal system should work. and nine years for that case i just thought was too much. >> and do they look at you're a model prisoner? and of course it seems he was, and looking at the course he had taken and whether he followed through on the promises he made on the last one. >> i have to respectfully disagree with jeff on this, i don't think it was a slam dunk,
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a close call, his risk factors were a part of it. his age, the fact he participated in programs but at the same time the severity of his crime was very high and that made this a situation where the board had to consider all the factors. it means under the guidelines that it really could have gone either way in the case. and then once with that in mind, o.j. simpson opened his mouth. i think he was at real risk of getting parole denied in this case. >> you certainly covered this case -- >> yeah, two decades ago. i saw the same o.j. i did here 20 years ago. he is manipulative, shows no remorse for what he did. self absorbed, talking on an open mike joking making cracks about trump. i think jeffrey used a very good word earlier today. he is delusional. and i'm already making bets that he is somehow going to get himself in trouble. and we're going to be talking
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about him again. >> gloria, i wonder how you saw today's hearing? >> we have over 2 million people in prison. our jails and prisons today. and this system is one in which there are parole hearings taking place every single day. this makes the news because it's o.j. simpson. we have to figure out what kind of standard we're going to have? he may not be the nicest guy, as we said before, he was acquitted of something, and people want payback for that. but what will we do? keep locking people up and keeping them in prisons? this is an indicative example of what we do with our prisons, will we do it for social morality, although in nevada you don't have to have remorse as one of the principal issues in order for you to get out. what will we do here? he has been a subject that represents race, class, he represents the police department. his case represents all of these
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things and now it represents how the parole boards work. >> mark, to gloria's point, there does have to be some reward for inmates who serve their time well and don't you know, get into violent acts or bring in contraband. and from all accounts he served his time in a very exemplary fashion. >> look, i said before the hearing today that to my mind, based on his low risk assessment and based on the factors that this was a slam dunk. he is 70 years old. he has been in for close to nine years. he has no violations whatsoever. and mind you i have had parole hearings where somebody took nuts out of the commissary and got written up and that was called a violation. so you really have to admire the fact that the parole commissioners did their job. and i don't think it was that close. it was a 4-0 vote. you know, they had two people in reserve to kind of be a tie
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breaker. they didn't have to go to that. he was offered two and a half years, originally. he never took the stand. so it is not something where a judge enhanced the sentence because he lied while he was on the stand which was usually what we call the trial penalty. he got tax, tip and service charge when he got sentenced to nine to 33 years. it was i think harkening back to what jeff said it was a prosecution by proxy. >> jeff said he was over-penalized, but respectfully he was convicted of 11 felonies, some of which were class a felonies, so it would have been a mandatory six years, i agree he may have been over-charged but when it comes to the actual penalties imposed i think they were reasonable. >> but when you look at the fact
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that the guys who had the guns got slaps on the wrist, probation, very little jail time, puts the minimum -- >> he put together the whole thing, it was his idea. he made sure they were packing heat. he was the one going after his memorabilia. >> do you believe this was in terms of the legal system, some sort of payback for the acquittal of the murder charge? >> i think it's understood it was payback for the acquittal. that is the underlying theme here, whether or not you know yes, we know we looked at the video when people saw the vidal verdict and we had a whole discussion about why there were some jurors, white, that were disappointed and black jurors were jumping up and down. he ended up being the poster boy for black injustice, which of
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course within the black community, hint, hint, give you a private conversation, we still are going back and forth what he represents to the black community. but you know we have to agree there was this sense of finally justice was delayed. and now we're getting our justice in some way, shape or form. if he could have been in prison even longer, even the parole chairman said -- parole board chairman said that all of these opposition letters came in and why were they opposing his parole. not for this crime, not saying he didn't serve enough time on this crime, but because of the acquittal in the past? >> we'll continue this after the break and talk about the he cec of the simpson murder trial. and later on, the special counsel on the russian investigation and who is leading it. because each day she chooses to take the stairs. at work, at home... even on the escalator. that can be hard on her lower body,
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before the break we are discussing whether o.j. simpson was over-charged or over-sentenced for the las vegas crime, if it was kind of karma for the acquittal. now before you think on that, here is goldman's father reacting on simpson's acquittal more than two decades ago. >> i deeply believe that the country lost today. justice was not served. i and my family will do everything in our power to bring
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about the kind of change that won't allow what happened today to ever happen to another family again. >> back in with the panel, i mean, jeff, you spent so much time on this trial and wrote great work on it. as you were watching this parole hearing, i mean, as you think back to that time 22 years ago what did you think? >> i feel so conflicted about it, because i believe with all of my heart and all of my brain that o.j. simpson is guilty of the crimes, of the murders. you know, i have absolutely no doubt about that. so -- but i always thought this las vegas case was just bogus at some level. that it was trumped up. that it was over-charged and over-sentenced. and so i just felt torn about
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it, because i do believe that the legal system has to operate on a one case at a time rule. and we don't you know, use one case to punish someone for an unrelated other case. but you know i also think it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. and i didn't really shed any tears, the fact he spent too much time for this. >> mark, do you think this case in las vegas was payback in some ways? >> i think clearly it was payback, that you have a situation like i say when the prosecutor offers you two and a half years and then you end up getting convicted and you get sentenced to nine years. and you have a -- as you saw today, you have complaining witness/victims who have already made amends, it's clearly payback. jeff and i earlier in the day were kind of arguing and teasing each other, but in a strange way the three things that you have seen, the criminal trial, the civil trial and now the parole hearing to my mind all three got
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the right result. the criminal trial was a standard beyond a reasonable doubt. he doesn't have to testify. and any time if you knew the criminal courts building back in the '90s and what was happening there and johnny cochran kind of in his zone, that was the right result when you got a detective who is caught basically committing perjury. civil trial with a lesser standard where o.j. simpson can be called as an adverse party to testify. i think the jury there got the right result. and today i think the parole commissioners got the right result. so i'm not as disappointed in the justice system as a lot of others and i'm famously one who believes that it's broken in a lot of instances, but i think in this case i think people have to understand what you're dealing with. >> one of the parole commissioners addressed the 1995 trial. i just want to play what they said. >> i would like you to know we
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receive hundreds of letters of support and opposition. and while we always encourage public input, the majority of the opposition letters are asking us to consider your 1995 acquittal and subsequent civil judgment, however, these items will not be considered in this case. >> thank you. >> that, i get, but if he said something in the parole hearing which is not true which i led a conflict-free life, is that something a parole commissioner could point out? >> i think it's something the parole commissioner could have pointed out and asked more what he meant by that. because he has a domestic violence offense as well. so for him to say this is i think contradictory, and i think she was within her right to ask him follow-up questions about. >> she didn't do. >> i thought they were unusually frozen, perhaps they were just freaked out by the attention. they didn't ask any follow-up
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questions. and why one of the parole officers felt obligated to wear a kansas city chiefs tie, i know o.j. simpson didn't play for the chiefs, but there are a lot of tie designs out there. he should have worn a different tie. >> he is obsessed with the tie. what if he wore a buffalo bills tie we would have a different discussion? >> it would be even more bizarre. >> you know, you keep bringing up payback, we're having a big conversation about it and ga garragos even said, well, we should have just gone by the law. but there were a number of things that took place in this trial that people thought were not fair. there was a large part of this country and the world thought it was not fair that he walked free when there was so much evidence that he killed two innocent people. and a lot of people think that race trumped justice in this case because of mark fuhrman,
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because of the tapes that were made. >> in my book, race law in american society, 1607 to present, we talk about 5,000 black people murdered in this country. and this one case, this obsession of so much of white america. we have police shootings taking place all the time and we don't see the same level of obsession. i would like to know when we're talking about race trumping justice, where is all the outrage when race is trumping justice all around america. this gets me about this case, within the black community and within a person that studies and writes about racial history, i don't understand this obsession and maybe that is why there was the split. and maybe that is why we're still talking about it today. >> because it was the first, i mean, that televised trial changed our business. it created -- >> it -- >> it should have been changed a long time ago. >> it never has returned to the same. >> it was unique on so many
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levels which is why people are so obsessed. >> a black man with money paid high class attorneys and got the result that klaus von bulow had been getting out reserve. that disturbs white america so much they will not let this man rest, i don't think this one case should be what symbolized our criminal justice system. >> one thing that is so interesting, i think for so many people they didn't see this case in context of what had come before it in los angeles with the police department and criminal justice system and african-americans in america. i think maybe in the african-american community they did see that context because many people had been living it. >> well, and one reason i think why last year with the series and the espn documentary brought back so much attention was because it was in the immediate aftermath of ferguson and "black
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lives matter." and just a reminder of how poisonous relationships have been between african-americans and the police for so long. and 20 years later when johnny cochran took advantage of that relationship, things alas, have not gotten a lot better. after the break, we'll have a lot more. and the tapes revealed friday at 10 p.m. eastern, we'll look forward to that, and the latest from the white house and what trump spokesperson had to say today, whether firing special counsel robert mueller is even on the table.
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go irish! see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. breaking news in the russian investigation, especially the president's outside legal team. cnn just learned the spokesperson, mark carolo has resigned. i want to read you more from "the washington post" we just got for the first time. i just want to read you the opening of this report. some of president trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or under-cut special counsel robert mueller, basing it on allegations they say he is
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granting pardoning of people connected with the probe. a second person said trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves. the article goes on to say trump's legal team declined to comment on the issue, but one adviser said the president simply expressed a curiosity of the reach of pardoning authority into the reach of the mueller investigation. this is not the case of, i can't wait to pardon myself. with the russian investigation continuing to widen, trump's lawyers are continuing to question the propriety of the work, they're looking at potential conflicts of interests which they say could work to stop his work which could work according to trump's advisers, a conflict of interest is one of the grounds that can be cited by
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special counsel to remove the person involved. the president is irritated that the russian probe could reach into his and his family's finances. the article went on to say according to the spokesperson, we have yet to independently confirm that detail to cnn, but it's been reported at "the washington post" and "the new york times." and this came after the day of the president's blowback with "the new york times," jeff zeleny has more. jeff, first of all, the red line and the idea from "the washington post" that the lawyers or president trump talking about or looking into or trying to explore possible pardons. >> reporter: anderson, it's so interesting, it gives you a sense of how much detail and time the president and his attempt are spending on this, their agenda. this has in many respects consumed a lot of his schedule and time.
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they are having these active conversations. we've heard it from speaking with officials who are familiar with this as well. the red line is so interesting. in the interview last evening, the president was asked if the family finances, if that was what robert mueller started to look into, would it cross a red line? and the president said it would, but the question is what, and the press secretary was asked repeatedly would the president seek to remove the special prosecutor if the red line was indeed crossed. and finances became an issue but she said no, he would not, but she said look, it's supposed to be on russian meddling. that would be outside the scope. but you get the sense this is the type of follow the money investigation here and that is obviously a worry to many inside the president's team. >> and let's bring in alice
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stewart, and our panel, what do you think of this, about the president's special powers to pardon himself, this is not a context stuff, i can't wait to pardon myself. >> it's like they time it with your show. you don't look into pardoning an innocent person, if they have done nothing wrong. we're running out of benign explanation. >> couldn't you make the argument that donald trump who has no experience in this would just ask his legal advisers if it gets to that and what are my options? >> oh, by the way, how do i use this nuclear button, but we would rather he not. this is not just like how do you work the air conditioning system in the west wing, this is a man who plainly acts like he knows they will find something. he never will release his taxes. he flips out about the slightest question that mueller may look
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at his finances. he goes on and on about russia. pardon me if it looks like the guy is preparing to fire himself and fire mueller. >> well, as a pushback to that, the story mentions a second source says this is only being discussed among the lawyers, so we need to tamp it down a little bit. anderson, if you're wondering why trump supporters are so distrustful of the establishment class in washington it's this story and what we see going on. supposedly when this special counsel was announced it was purely about looking into this alle allegion, that there was foreign interference. now it is they're looking into different business ties or transactions from seven, eight, ten years ago nothing at all to do with the campaign. i think it's time for a little bit of critical thinking here. i think a lot of people are looking at this and saying okay, have they gotten to the end of
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the rainbow, and there is no correlation with a certain entity. i think it raises a lot of questions. >> joining us on the phone, "the washington post," carol, can you explain what we read -- several paragraphs of the point, what are the main points because it seems like various number of people have talked about possible conversations going on among the legal team of the president. and the word pardon. >> yeah. so two things are really going on here, anderson. one, the president and his various teams of lawyers, remember, there is one on the inside and one on the outside. they're all eyeing the fact that mueller's investigation is not your average prosecutor checking into one thing. it's a sprawling investigation that could involve a lot of things. and also he is learning that it could involve his own personal finances. so each of the team of lawyers have different perspectives.
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but many of them are urging him to not be on the defense but a little bit on the offense, looking at the conflicts of interest within the special counsel's office, bob mueller's own potential conflicts in handling this investigation. you know, you have read of course about members of the team that may have made relatively modest donations to democratic candidates. you can expect the trump team talking about that. so it's an effort to really question the parameters as well of this investigation. you have heard the president say, in fact, to "the new york times," that you know this is inappropriate for mueller to be looking at my businesses. in addition to that, the president has asked the question, curious at the moment about whether he can pardon his allies, aides, family members and himself and lawyers on his
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team are looking at that. >> it seems like one of the people in the article says this is not in the context of i can't wait to pardon myself, according to a close adviser that you quote. >> yes. >> so as your understanding, it's -- the president has kind of just looked or raised questions about what are the parameters of pardoning? >> correct, which is a pretty interesting thing for a president to be asking at this stage in the game. and we thought it was newsworthy. >> jay seculo is also quoted in your article, concerned they were talking about palm beach real estate transactions several years ago. and the bloomberg reporter who reported it today, that may be one of the things. they may be looking back as far as a purchase of ten years ago or apartments purchased by russians in a building that trump built by the u.n. >> yeah, and i think that what
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you can feel coming out of this white house is the tension and anxiety about how far is this going to go? you may remember, i'm sure your viewers and you do, that ken star's investigation about whether or not the president had a relationship in the white house, in a rural part of arkansas that no one had never heard of. certainly this team is mindful, i have heard them discussing it like where are we going here? are we going to look at every condo in the unit as the president remarked, that may have been purchased by somebody who was russian? are we going to look at the market, were they fair market prices? are we going to look at every bank transaction that involved a russian bank and obviousligarch?
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>> in your article you quote one lawyer involving the case, saying this is ken star times a thousand. >> yes, indeed, we'll see if that bears true. but certainly -- >> that is what they want people to feel. it could times a thousand may be over-stating it. but remember this is a president who as a business person has claimed to be engaged in billions of dollars in deals. he has had five, four or five different casinos in atlantic city. he has been a major force in new york real estate, having all of those financial transactions scrutinized. i think that will be an interesting thing if that happens. >> i appreciate your reporting, carol, thank you for being with us. we'll pick up the discussion with the panel after a quick break. when you really want to save big
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back now talking with the late breaking news we just got from "the washington post," and "the new york times," the way the trump team is looking to under score the special counsel,
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robert mueller. jeff, from a legal standpoint, what can the president do about pardons? >> he can pardon anybody he wants. one of the legal questions that has never been resolved is whether he can pardon himself. one of these things that is maybe not so terrible, you know, when i covered the star investigation, i wrote a lot about the backgrounds of some of these prosecutors. hickman ewing. they were politically conservative people who got involved working this case. i thought it was appropriate and interesting. if trump supporters want to write that there are abundant democrats on robert mueller's staff, i think that is fair game. this is you know -- high stakes stuff. people's backgrounds are relevant, i don't think there is anything sinister about that. >> i don't know, i think the
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timing of this "the washington post" and the "the new york times" bombshell, too. and i think this could be an administration that is a bit worried about what they could be hearing if they do agree to testify. you hear the president talking about red lines last night, there are warning signs -- >> in fairness, he was asked by "the new york times," they used the term red line, he agreed to it. it was not just -- >> he could have said i'm not going to talk about red lines but he said anything that is related to my business, and therein lies the issue. because a lot of this russia deal does go back to his business interests, his sons boasted about it, in fact talked about the meeting that donald trump jr. had last year that involved russian businessmen that had apparently some inside scoop on hillary clinton. so it does go back to russia, whether or not the president wants to acknowledge it or not.
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>> one important thing to keep in mind, the white house was adamant that the investigation is on russian meddling. that is true, but you also have to go back and look at the original doj directive back in april. it was broad, and said to look at any links or correlation between the russian government and campaign. a lot of the times as you know you follow the money. we've seen talk of soho development, palm beach, ms. universe moving to moscow in 2013. these are all ties that need to be investigated. if they had nothing to hide which i certainly hope there is no there, there, and hopefully that will be the case they should open the doors wide open and the talks about pardons are a little premature. but open it all up, get it out there and get it behind us. >> you could make the argument if there are loanngstanding tie
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between donald trump and russian banks that might have been the preamble to what happened -- >> think about what he is investigating, he is investigating this russian meddling. and you have to say, what incentive would russia have had to weigh in on the american election to this extent, on behalf of donald trump, what leverage would it have to get donald trump elected? so of course it's absolutely relevant to bob mueller, very much in his purview, to look at this problem of real estate sales where you have properties in palm beach that are selling for double the market value with respect to money laundering. you have to look at that because it may very well explain the motive here on behalf of the russians and may well establish a connection that would be entirely relevant to a collusion link. and i want to make one point, prior to that a few years back
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he had the same job i had at the justice department, and i overlapped with many career officials that were still there when i was in the obama justice department. they all spoke highly of him. having a great amount of personal integrity, i suspect it may actually mean something that he is stepping back from this today. >> i think anderson when you look back at the headlines from when mueller was announced, let's look at the abc headline, robert mueller to oversee the special counsel into the russia probe. and you look at justice department, special counsel to oversee the investigation into the ties between russian and officials. this is clearly an attempt to look at some sort of link -- >> obviously the headline is actually the next sentence in the directive to mueller, actually is very broad -- >> but i have it in front of me.
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>> from nine years -- previous. >> says any matters. >> has nothing to do with the campaign. >> that may very well explain, if donald trump jr. himself said in 2008 -- >> we see a lot of money coming in from russia. it may very well explain how they had the contacts that don jr. was very easily able to set up meetings and coordinate in june of 2016. it's absolutely relevant. >> if they had all of these ties why would they need to find this 400 pound-like ex-music producer to go ahead and make introductions. >> think of the music producer, the connections in russia -- >> that is where the lawyer for the russians initially said early on in the week but then we learned that actually they didn't really need it because actually there are connections between the trumps and his family and the family had a relationship in this actual meeting. so the lawyer early on was portraying this as oh, this russian attorney just used the pop star as -- because she was
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an acquaintance of his, the fact they sent a representative into this meeting do you not find that curious? >> all roads lead to russia. why is donald trump, our president, more loyal to vladimir putin than to jeff sessions, the politician who has been most loyal to him? even jeff sessions he is throwing under the bus when the heat comes on for russia, the purview includes quote, any matters that oh rose or may a rise directly from the investigation, now directly is important. we can't go fishing, we can't go like -- >> we're in deep sea fishing right now. >> i don't think so. >> i think it's come -- >> but the administration. >> you know my old mentor always told me. the reason trump is reacting is because there is there, there, there is something about russia with this man that sets him off. >> or are they simply making the point because no one is going to? >> another few words right after
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what paul just said, matters that a rorose or may arise, i p there is nothing here. the problem is there is so many changes, if the story changes that is what got bill clinton and what potentially could happen here. so the or may arise -- >> we have to take a quick break. we're going to hear from somebody who listens extensively about the workings of the campaign and get his reaction on the breaking news. cool it yo. in just 3 easy steps, enjoy the comfort of 2 times the cooling boosters from the #1 selling coldest air. nothing cools like a/c pro.
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but sounds like we're seeing early rumblings. it's a blow to outside legal entity that the white house set up. steve bannon back in may set up an and a professional spokesman with experience in justice matters, mark garallo, who resigned tonight. the idea, if the white house, off the russia investigation and mueller into an outside entity, it would free up the daily briefings and wouldn't dominate the news in quite the way it has, so the fact that there's been reported tension between lawyers in the trump outside legal team and now corallo, himself, the fact he resigned shows the plan is beginning to splinter. >> the president, himself, gives a long interview with "the new york times" yesterday going into details about it, going after
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mueller. attorney general sessions who he also obviously, you know, seemed very upset about, was the first member of congress to endorse then-candidate trump, ended up being a big player for his campaign. you wrote about how sessions knew there were big risks in doing so. what were his concerns initially? >> well, there were. sessions really was a pivotal force in the rise of donald trump's presidential campaign because as he said, although trump had won victories in new hampshire primaries, he joust wn in the south carolina primaries, at the time sessions endorsed him at the end of february, he did not yet have the endorsement of any elected republican at the federal level. this was a big deal and it happened on the eve of a series of southern primaries. most of which trump wound up winning. i tell the story in the book about how once again steve bannon spent months brokering this alliance behind the scenes. bannon wasn't a member of the trump campaign at the time. he was the publisher of breitbart news.
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the right wing website. but he knew sessions. he cared a lot about these issues. and he knew that sessions was sort of the original trumpian populist in the senate before trump came on the scene and knew it would be important to get that kind of endorsement, that kind of mainstream affirmation for trump if you were going to go ahead and get the nomination. i lay out the scene of how sessions essentially got cold feet at the last moment and sat in a rental car while steve bannon talked him off the cliff on his cell phone, lo and behold, he has a private meeting with trump on his plane and the next day makes a surprise a apeerns at apeerns at a trump rally. this is a big derail of somebody who's very important to donald trump. >> were you surprised to hear the president's comments yesterday to "the new york times" in. >> i was. yeah. i mean, it had been clear for quite a while that trump was unhappy about sessions' recusal, but sessions is a very loyal
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cabinet member and he's instrumental to trump implementing his agenda because he is the top law enforcement official in the land. and so the things that trump cares most about cracking down on immigration, criminal justice reform, policing and matters like that, and a lot of these executive orders all trace back to the attorney general, to jeff sessions. right now, he has a loyal ally in that spot, but if he fires sessions or if sessions feels offended and resigns, trump is going to have a real problem filling that role. >> josh green again, the book is "devil's bargains." jason is a supporter and defender of the president. do you wish he'd not give that interview to the "times" yesterday in which this is, you know, buy america week, make american week, and obviously to refocus things on, you know, going after mueller and saying what he said about sessions doesn't make, you know, people
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pay attention to what the white house wants them to pay attention to. >> i thought that the president's comments regarding director mueller i think were going to come at a certain point in advance of next week, whether they were in yesterday particularly or whether they were going to happen, say, tomorrow, for example. >> wanted to somehow -- >> i think it was important to get that message out there as we're seeing this -- we talked about in the previous session, this mission creep, we see this moving away from this alleged coordination into business deals and such that don't seem to have anything to do with the campaign. with going back to -- >> you think it's intentional that he made those comments about mueller prior to the testimony of this son and of manafort? >> or for the news cycles that are coming up, i don't know the exact thinking. obviously i wasn't chatting with the president about that issue. i think regarding general sessions, i mean, look, i think the president is right in his issue about the recusal. but i wish he hadn't brought that up. one of the things that the president stepped on yesterday was an absolute mastery of getting the senate reengaged on the health care issue.
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and back when the senate -- when the health care bill was going through the house, everyone said it was dead. and the president got engaged and he's the one who got it across the finish line. he got engaged in that same way yesterday, both in style and in substance. really engaging the senators to do that. i think the timing of the -- i wish he would have put it off by another day or two. that would have been my request. >> meanwhile, brian fallon, chuck schumer, democratic leader in the senate, used the sessions betrayal to lobby and to gig his colleagues on health care. he tweeted this out this morning. two words to senate gop. when donald trump says i'll have your back, when you vote to repeal health care, jeff sessions. >> great shot because he's telling them, they know it, believe me, if you're in a foxhole with donald trump, write a will. >> the president also threw republican senators under the bus in "the new york times" interview. they add a lunch abohad a lunch care. in the interview the president turns to russia, i talked to a bunch of these senators who all
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said they, too, would have taken a meeting with these russians had they gotten the e-mail that my son did. now they're in this situation where they're put in an uncomfortable situation, the president saying they would do something we all know most of them would have never done. >> don't we have to have some humility about, you know, saying at this table as we said all through 2016, oh, donald trump said such a dumb thing, you know, he insulted john mccain, he insulted megyn kelly, it's going it be terrible for him and it never was. so i just think, you know -- >> until it is. >> he may know something we don't know. about -- >> now he's got to worry about an audience on capitol hill. i agree with your point in the campaign, jeffrey, clearly as we saw all the way up to november 8th, his base was loyal until the very end and they're remaining so until now. to a certain extent. grant him that. he's got a constituency he can't afford to offend on capitol hill. the example today, chuck grassley is going out there giving interviews to manu raju in the hallway saying he's going
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to issubpoena donald trump jr. d paul manafort -- >> send a marshal. >> upping the ante we wouldn't have expected two, three months ago. you can't disaggregate it against the comments he made against jeff session. sessions was a colleague of theirs. they're offended by -- >> i applaud him for engaging senators yesterday on health care. i think that's smart. not only did they campaign on repealing and replacing obamacare, he did, too. all of them have a vested interest in making sure they follow through. >> we have to take a quick break. up next, john mccain weighs in on john mccain. we'll be right back. it's a good thing we brought the tablets huh?
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before we go tonight, word about senator john mccain. last night on this program, we reported the terrible news he'd just been diagnosed with brain cancer. almost immediately, of course appropriately, the tributes and good wishes poured in. one person we zndidn't hear fro last night was the senator, hils. that changed today. in a tweet he wrote, "i greatly appreciate the outpouring of support, unfortunately for my sparring partners in congress, i'll be back soon. so stand by." senator mccain, we cannot wait for that. thanks very much. thanks for watching "360." time to hand things over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news. president trump's lawyers reportedly seeking to undercut robert mueller's russia investigation. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon.
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the "washington post" is reporting the president is asking whether he can pardon aides, family, even himself. that comes as he doubles down on his warning to mueller that looking into his family's finances would be a fireable offense. white house spokesman sarah huckabee sanders saying trump's warning made clear mueller, quote, should not move outside the scope of the investigation. now members of the president's own party are warning him not to fire mueller. meanwhile, attorney general jeff sessions vowing to stay on the job. in his words, "as long as that is appropriate." we have a lot to get to this evening. i want to get right to cnn's senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny. cnn politics executive editor at large, i should say, chris cillizza, and political analyst april ryan. my goodness. every night there's something. jeff, i want to get to this big news from the "washington post" tonight. here's what the "post" is reporting. this is a quote, "some of president trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut