tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN January 4, 2018 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
always do. it's an amazing sight, as i say, even those of us who grew up in western new york. important note to all of our viewers, stay with us later tonight for a cnn special report on the trump presidency, one year later. that's coming up at 11:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. thanks for watching. erin burnett outfront starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news. we have an advanced copy of the book rattling the white house tonight, this as the campaign to take down steve bannon is in full swing. my guest, a trump white house insider. plus a former trump aide quoted in the book speaking out tonight, also my guest here. and a yale psychiatrist making a stunning claim to lawmakers that trump is unraveling. i'll speak with the congressman who got that briefing this hour. let's go outfront. and good evening, i'm erin burne burnett. outfront tonight, the breaking
news. this is it, the book. we have a dcopy. it is be released tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. four days ahead of schedule. even as team trump issues a cease and desist order, the publisher's response, we see "fire & fury" as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse and are proceeding with the publication of the book. now, among the new revelations we have just found reading through this was this quote from steve bannon about ivanka trump and her husband, jared kushner. bannon telling wolff, the author of the book, she was a nonevent on the campaign. she became a white house staffer and that's when people suddenly realized she's dumb as a brick. a little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding how the world works, what politics is and what it means, nothing. once you expose that, you lose some credibility. jared just flits in and does the arab stuff. this just the latest revelation here. that again a quote from steve bannon coming as a seemingly
desperate sarah sanders launched this bomb about steve bannon who helped get her boss elected to the highest office in the land. >> i'm not aware that they were ever particularly close. i would certainly say that they have spoken a few times since he left the white house, but it's not like there were regularly scheduled calls or -- and certainly no meetings between the two of them. >> not particularly close. and her boss, the president, today also tries to revise history and wipe bannon from memory. >> i don't talk to him. i don't talk to him. i don't talk to him. that's just a misnomer. >> okay. that's the same donald trump who said these things about steve bannon. >> bannon has -- you know, i like him a lot. he's actually a very good guy. steve is very committed, he's a friend of mine. i have a very good relationship, as you know, with steve bannon. steve has been a friend of mine for a long time.
>> not just a friend, just a good guy, a friend for a very long time. that's what the president said. and the two of course do seem particularly close in photo after photo. here they are greeting the tesla ceo, elon musk, in the state dining room as trump signs an executive order about the oil pipeline industry. and this, trump speaking on the phone with vladimir putin, and who is there? steve bannon. and then when they worked together in the white house, check this out, their offices, steps apart. in fact the only person who sat closer to the president of the united states than bannon was president trump's son-in-law, jared kushner. even the official chief of staff, reince priebus, sat farther away from president trump. and of course as trump knows well from his real estate days, power is all about location, location, location. slamming bannon, though, was only part of the white house operation today. the press secretary tried to rip the book itself and its author, michael wolff.
>> could you just give a few examples of things that have been said in this book that are false, that you would like to set the record straight on? >> there are numerous mistakes, but i'm not going waste my time or the country's time going page by page talking about a book that's complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip, because it's sad, pathetic, and our administration and our focus will be on moving the country forward. >> okay. it is not complete fantasy. i want to make it clear, we have not independently corroborated many of the details in the bombshell book, but let's just take two examples. two of the people who are in the book are verifying part of what's in it. trump supporter anne colter confirmed her quote to "the washington examiner." she said to trump nobody is telling you this but you can't, you just can't hire your children. and janice minn said everything she knew about an intimate d
dinner was true because she was there. she said i was one of the six guests at the bannon/ailes dinner party and every word i've seen is accurate. it was an astonishing night. ailes, referring to the former head of fox news, roger ailes. jeff zeleny is outfront. jeff, does the white house feel like they are winning the fight against bannon and the book here tonight or not? >> i don't think they know the answer to that question yet and this is why. every quote from steve bannon in this book undermines exactly what the white house has been trying to do for more than a year and that is discredit the russia investigation. steve bannon added new credibility and authority to all of that, depending on what comes from that. now, in terms of actually winning the war at the moment, they are point out inconsistencies in the book. yes, there are a few things that may not be as they said. sarah sanders raised this today, the fact that the president knew speaker boehner and michael
wolff said he didn't know who that was. not true. we've heard donald trump talk about john boehner for years. but on the whole this has rocked the white house, this has overtaken their agenda. they wanted to start 2018 talking about immigration. republican leaders i'm told are going to camp david this weekend to talk about the agenda. on the same day this book is coming out. so the president will be meeting tomorrow at camp david at the very moment this book is coming out. so the reality here is in terms of winning or losing, i don't think we know the answer to that yet. one thing is clear, the president had a close connection to steve bannon. we'll see if that's ever rebuilt or not. at this point it seems unlikely, erin. >> that is for sure. of course another thing that is for sure is this book is a best seller. outfront tonight, the white house deputy press secretary. i appreciate your time coming on to talk about this and give your side of the story. you heard sarah sanders downplaying the relationship between president trump and steve bannon today. the reality, you just saw it.
bannon was in the room constantly. i was in a meeting, right, it was kellyanne conway, reince priebus, sean spicer, jared kushner, the president, at the time the president-elect, and steve bannon. he was there all the time. >> okay. i mean i'm looking at a picture now, you're showing multiple people in the same picture. it wasn't like the president was sitting alone with steve bannon plotting and deciding how to move forward. i mean obviously steve bannon was on the campaign. obviously he was in the white house. but he wasn't on the ballot. the people voted for donald trump. steve bannon was not some svengali for the campaign. donald trump was able to defeat 16 republican candidates, accomplished republican candidates, seven weeks before hillary clinton could defeat three and that was without steve bannon. we just passed tax reform without steve bannon so i'm not sure what you're trying to get at here. even you just made the point that you haven't corroborated so many of the stories in this book. i do want to make one point if i may. >> right, but i don't want to confuse that with that we've tried and failed and are saying
it isn't true. i'm just saying cnn has not had the time to go through and corroborate that. i just want to make it clear. >> this morning i released a statement on behalf of the white house about a meeting that president donald trump was having with several sitting united states senators about a major agenda item moving forward and it was immigration. i received no -- and i also had an on the record statement in that e-mail. i received no fewer than three inquiries from cnn asking for corroboration, which is exactly what cnn is supposed to do. however, this book comes out and you guys run it lock, stock and barrel out deciding to corroborate any of it ahead of time? what we're showing you are steve bannon's quotes, which were on the record from steve bannon, okay? he has not questioned any of them. that is all you have seen on this program right now and of course as i point out, janice minn corroborating a dinner she was at and ann coulter
corroborating his. >> sean spicer denied his, mick mulvaney denied his, so i just want to know where it stops because it's pretty obvious that there are many discrepancies. this is full of false information, inaccuracies, and quite frankly this author is quite frankly a crackpot, fake news fantasy fiction writer and it's been proven time and time again. by his own admission he says he's loose with the facts and journalists say that's his reputation. so let's not run this wall to wall on cnn saying it's all factual, it's not. >> again, what we're saying is this is what the book says and the quotes i'm sharing are from steve bannon. i want to talk to you about some of the allegations who they are attributed to say they happened, okay? >> okay. >> but first i want to talk about the effort today to say steve bannon wasn't a big player, wasn't instrumental to the winning, all the things you just said. it's not just the pictures, which you're right, it's not just him and the president, but
it includes jared kushner, who i think we all know is close to the president. >> who's still there, by the way. >> right. i'm just simply saying if you've got a group and it's jared kushner, steve bannon, the president and someone else, i think people know the point i'm making. it isn't just the pictures, it's what the president of the united states himself said about steve bannon, who again is on the record in these quotes in the book. here's the president. >> i have a very good relationship, as you know, with steve bannon. steve has been a friend of mine for a long time. i like steve a lot. steve is very committed. he's a friend of mine and he's very committed to getting things passed. i like mr. bannon, he's a friend of mine. bannon has -- you know, i like him a lot. he's actually a very good guy. >> steve is a very good guy. >> now the book comes out and, what, he's just a total liar? all that's false? i'm trying to understand. >> well, that was then and this is now. obviously over the course of mr. bannon's time in the white house, you've seen the results that he produced, which was
zero. the president fired him for it. it's obvious that mr. bannon spent his time in the white house talking to mr. wolff as opposed to doing his job and preparing the president for victories. you just pointed out the fact that he had not really done anything in the white house. you're pointing to a few quotes the president had said about mr. bannon, but right now mr. bannon came out and lied about the president, attacked his own family, so all bets are off now. >> what about today saying they weren't particularly close. she used the past tense. the president is saying they were very good friends. so who's a liar, sarah sanders or the president? you know what i mean? >> that's ridiculous. the only liar here is steve bannon. >> okay. so let me just ask you about the steps you all are taking. you put the cease and desist letter out -- >> we didn't, that's the president's own personal attorneys, not us. >> the president's attorneys, team trump said cease and
desist. they're not ceasing and desisting. in fact they have pushed the publish date up by four days. it's coming out tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. the publisher says we see it as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse. what's your response to that? >> i'm no attorney so i'm going to leave the attorneys to litigate with the attorneys for the -- the spokes people for this piece of tabloid trash, but it's pretty obvious that if i were an attorney, there are plenty of accusations in that book that have already been disproven. there are plenty of accusations in that book that are not credible. and again, i'm not an attorney but it seems like i'd have a field day with that in a court of law. >> let me just take one. janice minn, editor for "the hollywood reporter" was at that dinner which included roger ailes and steve bannon. she said that it was an astonishing dinner, everything in the book is absolutely accurate. one of the exchanges that was reported in the book about that dinner went like this. what has he gotten himself into with the russians, pressed
ailes, that's referring to the former fox news chief roger ailes. mostly said bannon, he went to russia and thought he was going to meet putin, but putin couldn't give an expletive about him so he's kept trying. now a person at that dinner said that actually happened. your response? >> mr. bannon wasn't even there during these meetings, these conversations. so i don't exactly know how he's credible in this. i'm not exactly sure who she is -- >> he was obviously at the dinner because he had the conversation with roger ailes. >> i'm saying i don't know anybody else at that meeting -- or that dinner who's corroborated that. >> yes, janice minn was there and is corroborating that. >> i'm saying who else was at the dinner? >> now that's two people. that's bannon and another person at the dinner. roger aim eailes is obviously n longer alive. >> that's what i'm saying, you're using one person to try and make your point. i'm telling you there are multiple people at the dinner. you're just picking and choosing which ones to believe.
>> they are the only two that have spoken. no one else at the dinner has come out and said it didn't happen. >> you're cherry picking that. so cnn who does a good job trying to make sure an immigration meeting happens at the white house and the attendees are there, you're just running with this as fact. >> there's all kinds of rules on sourcing. often two sources would be what you would go with, especially when they're named. i'm just giving you an dpampl where two people at one dinner said something happened. what's your response? your response is they're both not telling the truth? >> right, there are more people than just those two at that dinner is what i'm saying. you're trying to double source something and i understand that, that's fine. but there are other people at the dinner as well. >> right. and i look forward to hearing what they have to say. if they start coming out and saying that didn't happen, we will report that as well. of course no one has yet at this point. >> i hope you do. >> and we certainly will because what matters is getting it right and getting the facts right. but that's the bottom line. >> i want it duly noted you just said that.
>> yes, and that's what we do every single day. thank you so much, hogan, i appreciate your time. >> absolutely, thanks, erin. i want to go to mark preston. your reaction, mark. >> well, a couple things. i think the most important thing that hogan said out of that interview, erin, is that he said all bets are off now. meaning that the war that we've been discussing or we think might come to fruition between steve bannon and between president trump is very much real and is very much not going to be over any time soon. we saw steve bannon kind of try to put i guess a fig leaf or olive branch out to the president by saying some nice things on his breitbart radio program, but the fact of the matter is it's clear that the president wants blood now from steve bannon. >> look, they're engaging in a he said, he said, he said, she said, whatever it is. well, two said that but how many more people -- you heard that whole exchange and back and forth. they want to raise doubt on everything in here, and as he points out, there are some things in here which are directly contradicted, the people who are in, not about
that particular exchange but others that people said didn't happen. they think that raising more questions will cause a problem. but of course the book will be a top best seller. how does it play out? >> it plays out this way. if we go over the past year and take the book and overlay it with the reporting with cnn, "the washington post," the associated press, there does seem to be a lot of similarities. certainly the way that donald trump came to decisions. one of the most important things that i read that came out of that book is the disinterest that we saw from president trump when it came to details about very important subjects. people that i have talked to over the past year have corroborated that. they told me that he was very disinterested in these details and the chaos in the white house is very much real. >> yeah, certainly we have that. there's a couple instances of things in here that i know from talking to the people involved also happened as reported. again, a couple out of many, but we'll see as the reporting continues. thank you so very much, mark.
next, did trump really need a crash course on the constitution? the man who briefed him mentioned, quoted in this book, will be my guest next. and growing alarm tonight about trump's mental state. a yale psychiatrist actually briefed lawmakers about it. and the big chill. the bomb cyclone as it's called crippling cities across the entire east coast. the storm's pressure expected to drop to a level that you would see in a massive hurricane. smoi but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. it's the best thing that ever happened to me. every great why needs a great how.
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breaking news, the publisher on the bombshell book ignoring a cease and desist request from president trump's lawyers to stop publication. the book will now go on sale tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. instead of next tuesday. a book by an author that the white house is doing absolutely everything it can, of course you just heard hogan gidley tried to do and sarah sanders tried to do earlier today. >> if you were calling the michael wolff book a book full of lies, didn't this white house give michael wolff all the access that he wanted? >> absolutely not. in fact there are probably more than 30 requests for access to information from michael wolff that were repeatedly denied,
including within that at least two dozen requests of him asking to have an interview with the president, which he never did. >> wolff, though, said he had extraordinary access to trump. he said he was able to take up something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the west wing, an idea wolff claims was encouraged by the president himself. wolff says he conducted over 200 interviews over 18 months, says he has tapes and says those interviews include the president himself and most members of the senior staff. also according to axios, the reporting outlet, wolff says some of those conversations are taped, including those with steve bannon. so outfront now, one of the people quoted in the new book, sam nunberg. good to have you back on, it's been a while. the white house is calling the book complete fantasy, sad, pathetic. you just heard hogan gidley in a similar vein. you spoke to michael wolff for the book. >> three times.
>> you had conversations. you're quoted in the book. you're mentioned in the book several times and now we're looking at it, sam hasn't seen all of the times, but one time he quotes about how you were explaining the constitution to trump. >> right. >> he quotes you as saying i got as far as the fourth amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head. tell me the context in which this happened. >> sure. first of all, the context of it was that the president before the first debate, i was out of the campaign starting around september of 2015. the president before the first debate was going to one of his properties in europe and we were trying to get a lot of issues in before he left so he couldn't get these gotcha questions or infamous gotcha questions before the 2016 cycle. the infamous one asking rudy giuliani the difference between a sunni and a shia. i was able to go over some of these questions where i thought possibly on the constitution some people either on the stage as competitors or some of these moderators would try to ask him quick questions. it wasn't to teach him the constitution. he knows the constitution.
it was to say here's per se something that has been asked before. we didn't get -- we only got to the fourth amendment there and at that time he remembered. besides running for president, he was running his business. so i'm not criticizing michael. i like michael. a political book, i believe it's not nonfiction, but on the other hand, they use puffery and try to create a narrative. >> so you did get as far as the fourth amendment. you don't know his motive for becoming disinterested. >> he had a ton of things to do. one other thing in general that i wanted to say that's perhaps not in this book is the president and i had a common disagreement. the president was 100% correct and i was incorrect. >> about whether there was going to be a gotcha question. >> in general what the average voter wanted. if the average voter wanted cerebral esoteric minutia answers, then they weren't going to vote for donald trump to begin with. the president understood if he was going to win the nomination,
he understood this better than me that it was going to be about big ideas. >> so you're getting to the motive of whatever it was, disinterested or -- >> and i'm not spinning for him. i'm a supporter of his. i don't work for the white house and don't try to make money off the white house. from where i stand he's appointed the best judges. >> and you agree with his politics. you were working for them briefly. many of the quotes here, rupert murdoch, expletive, and by the way, that's the trend all the way through the book. >> there's a lot of cursing. we're new yorkers. you know what i mean? this is a very aggressive type -- >> and those quotes are in there. >> yes. >> but most of them consistently point to trump's wide-ranging ignorance. you're framing that, it sounds like in this conversation, the context of he had other things to do or he judged that the voter wouldn't care. >> in general -- >> but what's your takeaway about his ideas and interest in
policy. >> in general, he is a stubborn, stubborn man in a way where you can argue with him about what he needs to know, you can argue with him about what he wants to do, but i tell you what, he's sitting in the oval office. say what you want about him, he got 306 electoral votes. he won the states that i didn't think he was going to win up to four days before when i was talking to people in the campaign and the trend was going there. and i could see that and i'm surprised from reading the book. i don't know this because i don't talk to him while he's in the white house. i can see he's not going to change. that is him. that is it. >> so you know steve bannon well. >> yes. >> you just heard hogan gidley come on and say they don't know each other. it's absurd. >> he did a pretty bad job, by the way. >> were they close? >> they're very close. they were very close. i can tell you when i worked from the president from 2011 through 2015, and i was essentially with michael stone and roger stone, the only people supporting and believing that he could be elected president, there were two people that would take our phone calls.
steve bannon at breitbart, chris ruddy at news max, that was it. and he was a very good person for us to get -- you know, to spring ideas off of. i'm sorry that this happened. i disagree with what steve said about don junior. he should not have said that. steve should also not havin sin waited anything about money laundering with the trump organization. i had nothing to do with president trump's business or president trump's business. anything i heard of anything, there was nothing above the letter of the law there. >> look, i think you're putting the nuance here, which is important. overall -- >> yes. >> -- the president is saying bannon is sour grapes, he's lost his mind was his quote. >> yes. >> you were let go from the trump campaign and then sued for allegedly leaking information. that's what they have said. what's your response if they come out and say hey you, you're just sour grapes, you're a liar, as you heard hogan try to do about everything in the book. >> my response is i hope the president is very successful. i'm not trying to get a job in the white house. i think it's amazing that he won
this election. i i think he's a man of historic proportions. one of the things he took a quote out of context was he's going to be the most famous man in the world. i support his re-election and hope to be able to donate to him in 2020. my point is anything i told michael, the point was this guy is a very unique, interesting guy. you're not going to see this. the same way you're not going to see another barack obama, you're not going to see another donald trump in the oval office. >> thank you very much for your time. now let's go to our chief analyst gloria borger and richard painter. gloria, a big takeaway from sam. he's not denying what was said in terms of what he said. obviously he's trying to say maybe that the nuance of it is a little bit different when it's coming in but he's not saying that that moment did not happen. >> no, he's not. look, his point i think to you
is that donald trump is different from anyone we've ever seen in the oval office. >> right. >> that he's unique, he's interesting, and he's stubborn. this is who he is. and that, you know, he didn't deny the anecdote at all, but it seems to me as if he said this is the guy who won. >> right. >> that's who he is. >> it is what it is and that's who he is. so take it for what you want. but it is what it is. richard, president trump's lawyer, that cease and desist letter, they sent it. the response is no. they think it's an extraordinary contribution to american society. they are not pulling it out. but this -- pulling the book out. i'm sorry, in fact they're rushing it to the press. yet the white house is fighting this so aggressively. i don't know if you heard hogan gidley but everybody is a liar, liar, liar. why not just ignore it? >> i don't know why the president is doing that.
apparently that briefing on the constitution, up through the fourth amendment, i assume he spent the whole time speaking of the second amendment and guns. the first amendment he has no idea of. there is absolutely no way you can go into court and get a judge to enjoin the distribution of a book. even "the new york times" when they were publishing classified information in the pentagon papers, the courts were unwilling to hold that "the new york times" violated the law by doing that, the same with wikileaks. we do not enjoin publication of anything. this book doesn't even contain classified information. libel suits cannot be brought by public figures unless they show an extremely high degree of malice and reckless disregard for the truth. those suits can only be brought after the fact, after the book is published.
so this idea that you can ask for cease and desist is utterly ridiculous. it shows no understanding of the first amendment of the constitution, and we just don't do business that way in this country. in russia or some other country maybe the president can say that a book can't be sold and shut down the presses. not here. >> all right, not here. as we said, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning that book will be on the shelves, four days earlier than planned. thank you both. next, remarkable meetings between lawmakers and a yale university psychiatrist who said trump is, quote, unraveling. i'll speak to a congressman who was briefed and can tell you what was said. and president trump taking credit for north and south korea talking. does his own secretary, secretary mattis, agree? ♪
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because getting what you need should be simple, fast, and easy. download the xfinity my account app or go online today. new tonight, the president's mental health was the subject of a meeting between a dozen lawmakers and a yale psychiatrist who believes the president is, quote, unraveling. news of this unusual meeting coming as the white house for the second time in as many days is defending the president's mental health. >> what's the president's reaction to the growing number of suggestions both in this book and in the media that he's mentally unfit to serve as president? >> the same way we have when it's been asked before, that it's disgraceful and laughable. if he was unfit, he probably wouldn't be sitting there and wouldn't have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the republican party has ever seen. this is an incredibly strong and
good leader. >> sunlen serfaty is outfront in washington tonight. so what can you tell us about this meeting, how it came to be and who was there? >> erin, this briefing happened in early december up here on capitol hill. a small group of lawmakers took this briefing, about a dozen democrats and republicans and at least one republican senator took this meeting. this meeting was set up by a former u.s. attorney at the request of many lawmakers. a briefing specifically to look at donald trump's fitness, mental fitness to be president. i spoke with one of the psychiatrists that briefed these lawmakers, dr. bandy lee from yale university. when i spoke to her today, she said the lawmakers in that briefing were engaged, they were asking questions, interested, and specifically in that briefing she said she believes according to her professional opinion that donald trump is showing signs of impairment is what she told them. she believes he's become very
unstable very quickly, that he is unraveling. again, in her opinion. and that she believes he seems to be losing his grip on reality. and she left that meeting, erin, with the impression that many lawmakers were legitimately concerned about president trump's mental health. a big side note to all of this, one that dr. lee did emphasize in my conversation with her today, she said she's not in a formal position to formally diagnose his condition given that there are certain protocols for medical professionals and given that she has not examined him herself. >> thank you very much. i want to go to maryland congressman jamie raskin who met with the doctor. i appreciate your time. what did she tell you? >> well, i think she spoke to a lot of people in the mental health community in telling us that there are growing signs of paranoia, delusion and isolation in the president's behavior. any hope that we had that it might turn around or get better was dashed by the discussion.
she and other mental health professionals we've spoken to have said there are other people who they have treated with the same kinds of symptoms and there's basically no real medical cure for the condition that he's demonstrating and their object in treating people with these symptoms is to contain them and to keep them away from weaponry. >> so contain them and keep them away from weaponry. and you're saying she is not the only professional of her level of expertise who said this to you? >> well, dr. lee, of course, editted a book called "the dangerous case of donald trump." and there are dozens of essays and articles in there. i read the book before she came down. you know, there's this group called duty to warn with thousands of mental health professionals. now, from our perspective, we're not psychiatrists, we're not mental health professionals, that's not our job. but it is our job to enforce the constitution. and the 25th amendment has a way of dealing with this potential
crisis. >> and i want to ask you about that, it's about fitness to serve. but first sarah sanders, she says it's disgraceful and laughable to question the president's mental fitness. he wouldn't be in the oval office if he was unfit. what's your response to that? she has a point. the man went through a grueling campaign and he won. >> yeah. to begin with, the president himself has called people a nut job, a basket case, accused other people are going insane as recently as yesterday when i think he said that steve bannon was losing his mindin. to the psychiatrist that looks like a massive projection on the part of the president. look, this is america, we've got the first amendment and everybody has a right to speak whether in a book or from the oval office and people can talk. my interest is doing our duty under the 25th amendment. 50 years ago both houses of congress, overwhelming majorities of democrats and republicans alike said we've got to prepare for the possibility
of a president who becomes physically or mentally impaired and unable to execute the powers and duties of office. and there are two ways that the provisions are activated under the fourth provision of the 25th amendment. one is the vice president and the cabinet can act, but the framers of the 25th amendment knew that the cabinet -- >> that's not going to happen. >> so the other is the vice president and a body to be set up by congress. that body unfortunately was never set up. in 50 years that body has not been set up, but we've got legislation to do it. today the 57th co-sponsor joined the legislation and it's a bipartisan body appointed by republicans, by democrats, with a chair appointed by democrats and republicans together with psychiatrists, with physicians and with former states people on it. so there's nothing to be afraid of because this body will act in the interest of the country and that's what the 25th amendment is all about. >> okay. so let me ask you, though, to this point. your republican colleague in the senate, richard shelby, today
said i don't know the president well but i spent an hour and a half with him back in september, just the two of us talking. he seemed to be lucid. i think he's different, i think he's unique. we're all unique individuals. that's his description of it. look, we all know it, the guy isn't like pretty much anybody else. that's unique. that doesn't mean that he's unstable. is it possible you're blowing all of this out of proportion? >> well, every person in the country is unique, undoubtedly. the question is whether or not you are constitutionally capable of executing the powers and duties of the office of the presidency of the united states. you know, we have 535 members of congress. we only have one president, and that person as the president reminded us this week has control over nuclear weaponry and the ability to take the world to war. so this is -- this goes beyond the normal push and pull of the daily political gossip. this goes to the question of the security of the country, the
survival of our people and people around the world. so i just think that we need to take our responsibility seriously. there's enough questions that have been raised that we would not be doing our constitutional duty if we don't set the body up in the event that things continue to spiral downward. >> congressman raskin, i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you very much. and next, president trump taking credit for talks between north and south korea, which, bby the way, historically important thing, a big success. his own defense secretary doesn't seem quite to agree with who gets the credit. and the east coast frozen. laguardia airport in new york barely reopening. other airports completely shut down. a massive cyclone bomb.
new tonight, president trump at odds with his defense secretary over north korea. trump personally taking the credit for talks between the north and south, tweeting in part, quote, with all the failed experts weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between north and south korea right now if i wasn't firm, strong and willing to commit our total might against the north? well, the defense secretary, jim mattis, certainly isn't giving trump the full personal credit here. >> those talks clearly are the result of the amount of international pressure and they are a way, i think, for north korea to start talking while keeping it contained to a benign issue.
>> ian bremmer is president and founder of the eurasia group. it's great to have you in person, ian. >> good to be here. >> the president came out taking full credit, that's the way he operates, saying it's international pressure, it's a much broader thing. which is it? >> i'll give him partial credit here. stuff he's done well. he's gotten the chinese more onboard, tougher sanctions, including at the security council as well as cracking down individually because he linked it to american trade. he made it a high priority issue. that's worked. he's also forced the north koreans under pressure to consider that talks with others would be a good idea, right? so you give trump some credit for that, more than you would obama. but north korea testing all these icbms, ramping up on that, which is quite dangerous, doing it because they're concerned, they feel like they need a stronger deterrent before they go into negotiations. they have definitely picked that up because of trump. most importantly, south korea, our ally, going by themselves to
talk to the chinese and the north koreans because they understand that trump's america first policy sure as hell isn't a south korea first policy. they have to worry about themselves. that's what they're doing. that's an ally that isn't as strong of the americans right now working their own game. >> all right. so the president finished that tweet, i said in part. the end of the tweet said fools, referring to the experts who said that he wasn't doing a good job. talks are a good thing. now, look, a lot of people would say of course talks are a good thing, exempt the president for himself said talks were a bad thing. in october he tweeted i told rex tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, when you know something like that you know he's about to slam you, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man. okay, so now talks are a good thing but then they were a bad thing. >> the thing about trump is his ability to pivot 180 when it serves his purpose at the moment is vastly greater than any other
president. mexico is going to pay for the wall, now they're not. >> he thinks it's a strength to be completely inconsistent. >> i don't know if he thinks it's a strength. i certainly think that he's in the moment. he's tactical, he's not strategic. in that regard, if there were the potential for a deal between north and south korea, that trump would have personally savaged a month ago, he could swoop in and say my deal. we could see a break-through because of trump's inconsistency but we could also see war. >> that's a pretty terrifying binary choice. >> it's binary. >> the last 20 years haven't been good. a whole bunch of presidents kicking the can down the road. >> building in one direction. but no one ever said there's going to be a binary outcome, which eventually i guess there would have been. >> eventually the alternative is we just learn to live with a nuclear north korea. >> and that's the way it is, as the united states has done with nuclear power after nuclear power. >> yeah. i mean i think it is certainly much more likely today that a
miscalculation will lead to war on the peninsula. >> and what's your take of the my button is bigger than yours, which at best was juvenile? >> yeah. but i will also say that 98% of the coverage that i've seen at least in the united states this week on north korea has been about the button. >> yeah. >> and by far the most important point on north korea is that for the first time since kim jong-un has become leader, the north and the south koreans are now talking routinely by telephone directly. that's actually what matters. it matters because it could lead to a break-through and it could isolate the americans against north and south korea. we should be talking about that, but it's not entertaining and trump knows how to get us worked up by putting these tweets out. i mean it is a useful strategy. >> all right, ian, thank you so much. wonderful to see you. >> you too. next, blizzard warnings maine to florida. the berweather bomb cyclone, th is the technical teller, delivering. and the president's bizarre appearance at the briefing today. he was 200 feet away.
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cyclone wreaking havoc. jfk closed. too dangerous to take off. hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded. savage winds pushing frozen massachusetts bay over its banks. foot of water surging through boston. homes and buildings surrounding by floating chunks of ice. cars submerged, frozen and conditions are getting worse because of the temperature plummeting. alex this is incredibly powerful storm. what is it like where you are right now? >> reporter: you're right. this bomb cyclone exploding up and down the coast of massachusetts, mass flooding into homes and roadways. leading to rescues in homes from vehicles. here in boston this afternoon i watched flood waters come up over the docks of the boston harbor, mixing with snow in the streets.
creating this slush-like thing that looked like molten lava, told tide reached 15.1 feet, possibly tying a record from 1978 blizzard. snow not falling but gusting all around. watched crews working all day to clear the roads. this is in center of boston, done a pretty good job clearing this road. 750 vehicles out clearing roads, sidewalks, throwing down salt to make it safe for people. city officials asking people to hunker down and stay at home for their own safety and so they can do the work to clear the streets. in terms of the snow, look at all of this, this is all from the last 24 hours. falling at rate of two to three inches throughout course of the day. reaching as you see now, around a foot i would say. up to my knees.
in some parts up to 16 inches. it's not the know that officials are worried about. bostonians and people from massachusetts can deal with snow and cold. used to it. but wind that follows the snowstorm, the extreme cold, temperatures down to under zero, possibly setting records, can lead to power outages. governor of massachusetts has said 24,000 outages already and could crow, people losing heat is danger they face. >> and airports closed across the east coast, worst is still to come. cold is crippling and perhaps greater in some places than anything ever before seen. >> yeah. these crews -- city can deal with snow. that's not what they're afraid
of. arctic temperatures. talking about go to minus seven between now and sunday. temperatures that we're told by scientists are seen on mars. can have a crippling effect as you said. power and heat, that's dangerous situation for people who have been told to stay home but now home, possibly without power or heat by the tens of thousands. erin. >> thank you alex from boston. breaking news in the russia investigation from robert mueller, "new york times" reporting tonight that president trump told the white house's top lawyer to stop attorney general jeff sessions from recusing himself from the russia investigation. white house counsel mcgahn according to "times" told sessions and he did not listen
as we know. "times" said upon hearing that he was going to recuse himself president erupted in anger in fronts officials saying he needed attorney general to protect him. special counsel robert mueller has learned of this. on the phone, michael zeldin, cnn legal analyst, worked with bob mueller. the "new york times," michael schmidt reporting. way he wrote first sentence is important. president trump gave firm instructions in march to the white house's top lawyer, stop the attorney general jeff sessions from recusing himself in the justice department investigation into russia. firm instructions to the white house top lawyer. what does it mean? >> well, it means that the president wanted don mcgahn to try to talk sessions out of his belief that the justice department regulations that
prohibit him from being attorney general on this didn't apply. mcgahn failed to convince sessions of that. he was quite clear in his testimony that he believes -- correct in his belief -- he has no choice but recuse himself because of the role he played in the campaign. mcgahn tries, sessions adheres to the law. mcgahn fails, president erupts. what that is relevant mostly to russia investigation is whether it's another brick in the wall as we keep calling it of the president's obstructionist behavior. >> do you think it is obstruction when you hear this? >> no. i think the president has the right to say to his white house counsel, go talk to the attorney general, try to convince him he doesn't need to do this under the president's interpretation of the law.
because the attorney general doesn't agree with him and does recuse himself, doesn't make it obstructionist behavior. but it does speak to the president's state of mind about the russia investigation and how concerned he was about how much mueller might do damage to his presidency and that he needed as they say in the "new york times" article, a roy coen, someone to protect him from mueller. he's concerned about mueller but can't get his attorney general not to obey the law. good for sessions, bad luck for the attorney who has to deliver this message and obviously bad luck for the president because he's still enmired in this mess. >> the justice department is fighting back tonight michael, spokesperson telling us about this report from michael schmidt, a top notch reporter from the "times," could not and would not happen.
plain and simple. this is the way they handle everything in the trump administration, just say point blank something didn't happen. maybe it didn't, maybe it was slightly different or maybally point blank lie. it's hard to tell the difference. >> mcgahn had to know at this point there were clear regulations that prohibited attorney general from overseeing matter involving political campaign in which he was active participant. wasn't a choice for sessions, that's what he testified to, that's why he recused himself. mcgahn has a client demanding an outcome that's not obtainable. that's just the way it is. maybe the justice department's point of view is he didn't order sessions to stay on but rather tried to convince mcgahn that sessions didn't have to do this,
there's word smithing that could be a more benevolent interpretation of this. but no matter what, this speaks to how afraid the administration and president particularly is of the mueller investigation. >> thanks to all of you. ac "360" begins right now. good evening, more on the breaking news shortly. "times" new reporting. first the book, cnn has the book that anyone inside the white house or anyone outside is talking about, worried about, laughing about for furious about. fire a"fire and fury," michael s expose. trying to block it and publisher advanced the release date. sourced heavily to fired white house chief strategist steve bannon is rocking