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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 28, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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excellent option as it often is, and that's what i mostly -- >> tried to bring it back to the law. it took a lot of me to step back and enjoy the entire conversation. >> as did we both. >> thanks for watching 360. time to hand it off to don lemon, cnn tonight starts now. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon. the president for a fifth day staying out of the spotlight today, saying nothing about all the challenges facing his white house. listen to what sarah sanders told reporters today. >> is he too busy to take questions from the press? >> we take questions from you guys every day, in a number of different formats. >> sarah sanders suggests they take questions every day. taking questions is one thing, answering those questions is another. sarah sanders can't or won't provide answers.
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>> nope. we have addressed this once again extensively, and we have nothing new to add. for any new questions, i would advise you to the president's personal counsel. we've spoken on this extensively, anything beyond that, i would refer you to outside council. >> there are multiple stories that deserve answers from this white house. answers that so far we're not getting. president trump's former lawyer floated the idea that the president might be willing to pardon paul manafort and michael flynn. that, of course, raises questions about whether dowd who resigned last week is trying to influence their decisions about whether to cooperate with mueller, dowd denied the whole thing, telling the times, there were no discussions, period.
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there's more coming out of the mueller investigation to tell you about. rick gates knowingly talked with a former russian intelligence officer weeks before the investigation. that allegation coming in the upcoming sentencing of the dutch attorney who worked with gates and manafort and interestingly enough is the son in law of a russian billionaire. if you think you've heard the last of president trump's nemesis stormy daniels, think again. her attorney wants to depose the president and his so-called fixer michael cohen, to ask who knew what and when about that $130,000 hush money payment to the porn star. wait, there is more. a federal judge allowing a wlaut to proceed that alleges trump took illegal foreign gifts.
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he received gifts from foreign officials. a white house official telling cnn distractions were getting in the way of carrying out the president's agenda. again, a very busy news night. i want to bring in pamela brown ryan liz saturday, and phillip mudd, good evening. thank you all for joining us. white house physician ronnie jackson is in, as a veteran's affairs secretary. it's the latest shake-up, just the latest one, what's the inside scoop, how did this all come about? >> this was a long time coming, at the same time, it's a pretty remarkable reversal of fortunes for david chulkin who had been
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praised by the president. he had joked at one time he would never hear the phrase you're fired. clearly that has changed as of today with the chief of staff calling him and telling him, that he was indeed fired. i'm told by a senior white house official that this started even before shulkin went on that trip overseas. he had been warned by several administration officials not to go on that trip, it could be appropriate to go given the optics around it, at a time when other cabinet members were in hot water for potential abuse of taxpayer funds. as we know, he went on that trip anyway, and the a.g. report came out, and the white house official i spoke to said, instead of shulkin staying quiet, accepting the report for what it was, the fact that he became combative with those around the president, trying to defend himself, that only made matters worse, and all of this is only the beginning of the end
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of his demise, essentially, and you know, the president himself has told people around him recently, he wanted to fire shulkin. i think there was a lot of surprise in the white house that shulkin himself didn't just sort of leave on his own accord, quit, given the reporting for weeks now, don. especially in recent days that the president was going to fire him. i don't think anyone's surprised by this. >> and how he felt isolated within the department. so ryan, dr. ronnie jackson made a name for himself earlier this year, remember when he gave the president that growing bill of health? watch this. >> he had great findings across the board, the one that stands out more than anything is his cardiac health. that's objective data. he has a lot of energy, a lot of energy and a lot of stamina, it's called genetics, i don't know. some people have great genes, the president he's very sharp and he's very articulate when he speaks to me, my day to day
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interactions with the president. the president is very intact, very sharp. >> he just missed the olympics my goodness just last month president trump talked about him being from central casting. was that his golden star to becoming va secretary. what are his qualifications to run the second largest agency. >> this is case study with how president trump chooses people. if you look at bolton, de geneva. if you look at larry kudlow and now with the white house physician here getting a big promotion, what do they all have in common? they all have excelled at going on tv and defending trump in the
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most over the top way. and flattering his ego, i mean, there's just a tried and true formula if you want to work at the top levels in this government. and as you pointed out, don, the va has enormous challenges, it's almost 400,000 employees. it's in the middle of a very fierce policy debate about privatizing some of the va services, and has some real chaotic management issues, and frankly it doesn't seem like donald trump went out as a sort of head hunter, recruiter might, and look for someone to fit the -- you know, to match the institution and the problems that it has. this gentleman. if you look at some of the twitter feeds of obama officials who worked in the white house, enormous amount of positive reactions about this person personally, but if you look at the people who know about the va
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and challenges, i haven't heard anyone say this is the top qualified person to run that organization. >> just last month there was the report that trump was considering his personal pilot to run the faa. is the selection of dr. jackson a living embodiment of trump's number one priority, which is loyalty or maybe working for fox news? >> i think it is. the president has repeatedly talked about his interest in having subordinates fight in front of them, he likes conflict, he likes chaos. look at the people who have differed with him. the attorney general recuses himself from the russia investigation. the secretary of state who says something different about north korea, the president gets fired while he's on the john. i mean, you get the chief of staff, who's obviously noted in the republican party. i guess he wasn't liked by the
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president because he brought in bad news. the point i'm making is, these appointments reflect the president's priority on loyalty. regardless of your qualifications. look at ben carson, what is he doing in housing and urban development, he's a neurosurgeon. loyalty is above your qualifications for the job. by and large, i think loyalty trumps. >> even that statement caught you off guard there. >> let's talk about this new york times report that john dowd is floating the idea of pardoning paul manafort, michael flynn. how is the white house responding to that. the white house has said it's unaware of this the special council in the white house said he wasn't privy to any of these discussions. the only discussions he's been
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privy to is with the press. doud said he wasn't part of this. the president has sort of talked about this internally, the idea of pardoning michael flynn. and what the range of his pardoning powers is. which is broad. john dowd reached out to the attorneys for michael flynn and paul manafort to bring up the idea of trump pardoning them, this raises the question of whether he brought this up reportedly to influence their decisions before they struck any sort of deal with mueller's team or cooperated with them. there's no indication or no reporting to support that dowd actually discussed this with the president before he made these calls. but there are divided opinions in the legal community about whether this could constitute potential obstruction of justice trying to influence them. some argue that the president
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has broad pardoning authorities, this would not constitute. others say it could. those authorities aren't unlimited and you can't use it to impede an investigation. john dowd denies he had these discussions. >> she mentioned it, and without getting into the specifics about obstruction of justice, let's keep it simple. why would there be conversations of pardons if there was no wrongdoing. shun the the president at least want to find that out first? >> that is the interesting question here, i think everyone's getting hung up on his pardon authority, which all legal scholars agree is vast and unchallenged. the supreme court can't touch it, he can pardon whomever he wants to. the question -- the obstruction question hinges on whether dangling a pardon. in other words, throwing out the idea you may pardon these guys.
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whether the act of dangling it could amount to obstruction. i think that's a different issue. the pardon dangle versus the actual pardon. and look, there's -- you know, and i think mueller will -- seems to be obviously we know he's looking into obstruction of justice more generally, and he has -- it seems like he has from the questions that we know he's asked other witnesses, he views a lot. he views several of the president's previous actions as obstruction. if this fits a pattern, then he could throw this into the mix. for legal experts. that's the question, whether the dangle itself has some kind of interrupt intent. not whether he's allowed to pardon flynn or manafort, which everyone agrees he can. >> quickly, you can -- the thing about pardoning is, even if the president did that, mueller could talk to michael flynn and
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paul manafort. even if that did happen, that wouldn't preclude the special council from talking with them as part of the investigation. >> yeah. >> so another story that we need to talk about, there's also the reporting tonight that rick gates had repeated contacts in the final weeks before the 2016 election, with a person with ties to the russian intelligence service and gates knew about those ties. how big of a problem is that for the president. >> if you're the special council who advised, this is a bone for a dog. i mean on the surface it looks simple. gates has flipped, he's going to be talking to mueller about his contacts with his russian -- what he knew. i don't think that's the most significant series of questions mueller would have. let me give you a few that would be interesting especially for gates. who in the campaign knew about this beforehand? who knew about it after. did someone ask you to do this beforehand? who did you speak to on the russian side.
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let me get technical with you. i want all their contact information. and i want to see if anyone in the trump camp used that contact information, for example, the e-mail, phone, text. there's a series of avenues you can take here that are fascinating, beyond just the meeting itself. i want to know if there's anything beyond the meeting and if anyone else met with the russian in the campaign. >> the show is just starting and we have three stories that could have been the lead story, that we could have covered the few hours here. the va secretary out. then we have people talking about pardons and then a trump campaign aide speaking to russian intelligence services. only the a block. >> what a news day. >> thank you. >> when we come back, much more on the trump campaign's russia connection. the bombshell that rick gates knowingly talked with a former
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we're good. terminix. defenders of home. before the break, we were talking to phillip mudd about the bombshell investigation that rick gates knowingly talked to a person involved with the russian intelligence service. pay close attention to this that comes from a court filing from robert mueller's team.
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the person rick gates talked to lived in kiev and moscow and worked for one of paul manafort's companies. the fbi believes that person a had active links to russian spy services at the time of the conversations with gates. person a may be a person who worked for manafort for years on behalf of numerous russia linked oligarch's and political parties. the conversations between gates and person a coming in september and october of 2016. weeks before the election. a fact that mumer's team says was pertinent to the investigation. that allegation coming in a recent report from prosecutors about upcoming sentencing of alex vander zwann. he lied about his own
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interactions. his father is a russian billionaire, recently named in the treasury department's list of russian oligarch's. what does all this tell us about where the mueller investigation is headed? did you guys keep up with that? that's a lot. this was a shocker from robert mueller, from the legal perspective, as he builds his case. how significant do you think is his new connection? >> quite significant. the beauty of cooperation agreements, it's unlikely they would have had access to this information. but for the cooperations agreement already solidified between gates who has plead not guilty. you have access to this information, the reason why you have cooperator agreements, and that could have been decided not to name person a. talked about how it's pertinent
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to the investigation without detailing the specifics, tells you there's an ongoing investigation going on, they don't want to show their hand, they likely have other information they want to explore. they don't want the public to know about that. it may compromise their ability to prosecute effectively. >> the question remains, what did rick gates and person a discuss. and did the president know about it. he's denied his campaign had anything to do with the russians can they really keep saying he didn't? >> certainly he can. i mean, you'll recall -- i forget the name of the individual, but it was more related to man in a for the where some russian contacted the campaign and wanted to get a briefing on what was going on manafort said, sure, we'll talk to him. and nothing more. this isn't the first time we've
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seen some sort of contact between manafort and gates. and someone they have worked with in their work with pro russian forces in ukraine. they both have that long history before they ever came to the campaign. is this the same person, a different person. and what did they talk about. >> this happened during the campaign. >> yeah, that wasn't the first one, i was using the other one as an example. that was during the summer. rick gates is cooperating with the special council. is it likely this came from him? and if so, mueller knows what they talked about? he has to know. >> it probably came from him. well, we know there are a lot of trump associates who have had contacts with a lot of russians including russian spies. people have lied about it. some people have now plead guilty to various crimes who are
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cooperating with the special council robert mueller, of course, this is exactly why president trump and his lawyers may have been contemplating using pardons to try to get people not to talk. but that in itself is going to get the president in deeper trouble this is a very bad situation for the president, as people are starting to talk to robert mueller about what they know. there are a lot of russians running around, making contacts with a lot of people who are close to the president and his campaign. >> there certainly are a lot of dots, whether there are connections, we don't know. listen, and that's what they're investigating, sarah sanders was asked about the new york times report, the president's former lawyer floated the idea of pardoning paul manafort and michael flynn, here it is. >> sarah, are pardons on the table for anyone involved in the
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russia probe? >> i would refer you back to the statement from ty cobb in the report that you're asking about, in which he said, i've only been asked about pardons by the press, and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the white house. >> can you say that no one here has discussed pardons in this case? >> i can say that ty cobb is the person that would be most directly involved in this, and he has a statement on the record saying there's no discussion, and there's no consideration of those at this time. >> she wants no part in this, why would the president's lawyers be floating a deal for a pard? >> well, you saw a lessen in deflection. i didn't say we didn't have an active discussion, it wasn't being discussed about the issue. you have the president of the united states saying he would pardon sheriff joe arpaio.
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he's been exercising and tauting his ability to do so and the complete pardoning power of the president. it should surprise no one that two people that are close to the trump inner circle. one of his earliest supporters, michael flynn and paul manafort would have had that option to pardon them. i suspect if trump knew about that conversation, and if it existed. it would have been prudent to mention it for defense counsel, it was always a possibility. however, what it tells you in a more sinister fashion is perhaps the president of the united states or his team was hoping to influence the witnesses testimony or their ability or willingness to be very open and forthcoming with robert mueller. if that's the case they're trying to influence the witness in a way that obstructs justice, you open a new can of worns. i want to talk about two other court cases the president is talking about tonight.
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stormy daniels attorney wants to question the president under oath. has the president violated the constitution by receiving illegal gifts to proceed.
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president trump facing a massive and expanding russian ya investigation while two other legal battles heat up. stormy daniels and her attorney want to see president trump deposed under oath. the federal judge allows a lawsuit about the president violating the constitution with the way he's conducting his business empire to move forward. back now with laura, ken and richard. in this moment, is it a stun the by stormy daniels attorney or will he get to depose the president? >> i don't think it's a stunt. i think he's trying to capitalize on being between a rock and a hard place. i want to show that this contract is not valid, i have every right that says a sitting president can answer to civil actions that happened before he was president. in federal court. now he has the right to do so.
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if you're going to deny the actual contract exists, we have to litigate that issue before we go to arbitration. the court is likely going to look at this and say, we're going to go to arbitration, it will be behind closed doors, it won't be for the court of public opinion. any statements he's making to be deposed is premature. >> this story has been in the news for months. what do you think is the most damaging about this case? >> just the drag on, it's just one more thing on the scale about as we saw recently. i mean, the president's favorability numbers have gotten better or less bad, depending on how you want to phrase it. and the economy has gotten better. i think all of this is just piling together, it's the national enquirer category of presidential news. and i'm not sure it does
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anything new. the fact that it drags on, i'm sure that's part of the stormy daniels strategy, from her perspective, notoriety is a big deal here, she gets a benefit from that. this whole discussion is part of that i do think it will end up in arbitration. >> notoriety aside, there is room for making an argument about her being an opportunist, there is the campaign finance law that was added to the complaint against the president of the united states and michael cohen. that has more weight than the more salacious as spects of it. the court will resolve the issue of arbitration, before it ever let's the president of the united states testify in arbitration. >> this is something that happened years ago. i don't think people really care about the affair, again, that's between him and his wife. they care about the payment 11 days before the election, that's what this story is about. richard, a federal judge ruled today that an illegal lawsuit
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against president trump will be allowed to proceed. this case was brought by the maryland and d.c. attorneys general hosting events at the trump international hotel in washington, d.c., explain why this is a big deal? >> this is one of three lawsuits. and i've been involved in all thr three. that have been brought against the president in his official capacity, asking a court to look at foreign government money coming into the trump organization. one of those suits was ours in new york for a responsibility and ethics in washington. the judge dismissed that, saying we do not have standing. we've appealed that, this judge in maryland has said that the attorney general in maryland and district of colombia, they do have standing to bring this suit with respect to the hotel.
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what's going to be critically important is getting the judge to decide what the emonthly u meants clause means. he's taken the position that it only prohibits payments in connection with an office. >> that's not what it says. from foreign governments or entities controlled by foreign governments. it's going to be important how the federal judge interprets the constitution, explain it to the president so he can understand what the rules are here, at this point he's refusing to comply with the constitution, and not just with respect to this hotel, with respect to the entire trump business empire which is taking money from foreign governments. >> when i was attorney general, judges wouldn't let us bring cases if we didn't actually have injuries. and i would note the judge in this case, the maryland case
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said that maybe maryland's convention center and d.c.'s convention center might be losing some business. the word might is what i zeroed in on that would have never passed mustar when president obama was the president. we had to show actual injury we can prove today. i wonder if this standing is going to hold up, like any other constitutional lawyer, i'd love to see this defined. i don't think that's a bad thing, i think that's a good thing. you still need to show injury. >> it's going easy on these folks. >> no, i'd like to see this defined. i think it makes perfectly good sense it needs to be done the right way. i take exception with how easy this has become to do relative
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to how it was in the last administration. >> i appreciate your point. the last president did not own businesses, didn't own hotels or -- >> yeah, but you're just talking about the emoluments clause. i'm talking about the the whole constitution. i think the whole constitution is important not just this one clause. >> i agree. the whole constitution hasn't been implicated with what just happened, the court didn't give a final judgment on all the things you're talking about, it simply said it can continue to proceed at this point because unlike what happened in the new york case. it's a notion that there are businesses who are claiming and they have sufficient injury they're able to show right now at this point in time, to show that people are booking hotel reservations in particular areas, and transferring to the president's hotel, hoping to have some benefit derived from that, the court has been clear in washington, d.c., they're not going to extend this notion of emoluments outside of places like mar-a-lago, it's going to
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have an interesting impact on the rest of the nation, even for now, the judge's decision is premature. >> while the trump organization is not a party to the lawsuit, the decision today narrows the scope of the case, and the court has yet to rule on several additional arguments, which we believe should result in a complete dismissal, obviously trump would love if this case were dismissed, but what kind of legal trouble could the president be in here, if this case doesn't go his way, richard? >> well, i think that the judge would first interpret the emoluments clause and explain to the president what it means. then enjoin him from receiving those profits and benefits in connection with that hotel, it might be up to other courts to enjoin profits and benefits from
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foreign governments in connection with other parts of the trump business empire. and also there's congress. congress has an obligation to enforce the constitution with respect to the executive branch. if the president wants to violate the constitution, he needs to be removed. and congress needs to get off its behind and investigate these emoluments and investigate this all i'm hearing is they don't want to deal with it. i think the judge has a critical role here in explaining what the rules are, then we're going to go about enforcing the rules. >> we will see as this moves on. >> we have a revolving door in the white house. today it is the va secretary, tomorrow, who knows. how can the trump administration govern in the midst of one shakeoff after another after
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trump firing another member of his cabinet late today. as the mueller investigation thickens and stormy daniels
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clouds gather i want to welcome dan rather. the author of what unites us reflections on patriotism. >> nobody in this business is legendary. >> thank you, sir. >> we're covering this white house, it feels like we're all just trying to keep up what does this say about the state of the trump presidency. >> some people would call it chaos, i just call it wednesday. another wednesday in the trump administration, i think it's important for younger people, and people who have lived a long time, this is unprecedented in our history. we've never had anything like this in the white house. we're talking about the chaos factor, that you stand aside and put it into some context and you would say, donald trump and his
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administration could not organize a motorcade, trump and his people come around and say, this is how i have always done business. chaotic, is this a good way to run the country? >> if that's where we are right now, where are we going? the va secretary replaced by his personal doctor. we have his former lawyer talking pardons possibly. we have campaign aids speaking to someone with ties to russian intelligence. where are we going? >> well, i learned a long time ago, if you try to read the tea leaves before the cup is brewed, you could get burned. i try not to talk about what's going to happen ahead. from a historical perspective, it's clear that the defining
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hallmark of a trump administration -- the defining characteristic of his administration is going to be all of this stuff involving russia. it may be a defining characteristic of this whole era. you see all this stuff come through, you say, where is it going, what does it mean? >> if you focus on -- it's the russian thing. did he collude did anyone in his campaign conspire. further indications that might be the case, that's the way to kind of put a flame around this, the second way is to look at the corruption. when you say alleged corruption. such things as the overlapping of his business dealings with the presidency, which is part of what one of those court cases is about today. >> you hit the nail on the head. >> we don't know, collusion or no collusion, no one knows what robert mueller is doing this is
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a lesson in die viting one sfl he may have had ties with russia. >> the new republic magazine has a long article about what's been happening since trump's been president with some of the business dealings with the family in india. it's a very revealing article in what it alleges. two things to keep your eye on. everything has happened vis-a-vis russia, and the other increasing indications that there are serious questions about corruption in the overlapping business with the business of the u.s. government. >> is this why you recently tweeted. with mueller looking at everything from his finances to obstruction of justice, multiple
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lawsuits, revealing a sordid personal life. donald trump has no shortage of categories of legal jeopardy. i'll take russian dealings for 400, alex. is that why you? >> yes, exactly. >> maybe if he had divested, he may not be in this mess. >> well, weil never know. there have been some administrations in the past that have had issues. >> i want you to stick around. i'm going to ask you, do you think he's going to try to get rid of mueller? the present isn't normally good at staying quiet when people attack him. so far he's been quiet on stormy daniels.
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will. he may not do it directly. he may have someone else do it, for example bring in a new attorney general who won't have to recuse himself. and the attorney general will reach a decision, quote unquote. but it's hard to imagine a scenario going forward where he doesn't at least try to get rid of mueller. i don't know whether he succeeds or not. but that echos the nixon administration and watergate, the famous saturday night massacre when the president did fire the special prosecutor. and it was a fire storm that resulted in many ways in nixon losing the presidency. somebody has to tell trump that. i know your instinct to get rid of this guy. but be careful because in the nixon case it led to his end. >> that's what lindsey graham is saying. he says this would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. >> lindsey graham, note a republican from a strongly
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republican southern state, south carolina. that will be the message. but part of the answer to whether president trump fires mueller or not will be his judgment of how many people in congress would back it or how many would take the lindsey graham position. >> what about the public response? >> well. >> is that a factor. >> it's a factor. and there has to be somebody telling president trump that the longer you wait the greater the public reaction against it might be. >> yeah. let's talk about stormy daniels. this is the fifth straight day the president is keeping a low profile with no public events on the schedule. the current plan for him is to continue avoiding the topic because it's not hurting the poll numbers. can he continue to stay disciplined. >> if he stays disciplined he can have a great effect. my personal opinion is that this stormy daniels story has legs that it's going to be around for
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a while. one because her attorney is doing a good job for. but the idea that president trump one way or the other might have to go under oath on the stormy daniels case will keep that story alive. also there is this. what if anything did stormy daniels and her attorney have that they have not yet revealed? if you remember in the monica lewinsky case she had the famous dress. do stormy daniels and her attorney have something comparable >> he has said he doesn't have -- a blue dress. but who knows what else they have. it could be a bluff. but who knows. my question is the longer it goes on, though, just the -- the back and forth, the bombardment in the media, you have covered and studied a number of administrations. how long can someone keep quiet about this issue? is it going to come to a point where he has to talk. >> when you are president you
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can stay quiet forever unless the courts force you to do otherwise, which was of course the case with president clinton. so until and unless some sort somewhere moves on it, the president by -- if he remains silent he can stay silent for a long, long time. my guess is that will not turn out to be the situation, that i think down the road you will hear more from this story. but we will see. >> you know, you said the foreign is doing a good job. he wants to depose the president, wants to hear from president trump himself. will we see that? and can you imagine a united states president being imposed about a case involving an adult film star. >> hard to imagine but remember president clinton eventually had to answer questions. and i can't imagine it. i'm not predicting it will happen. but if it does happen that will fit very large into the story of the trump president. >> dan, always a pleasure. >> always a pleasure thank you for having me. >> say hello to your lovely
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wife. >> thank you very much, don. why president trump is reportedly obsessed with amazon. does he have a ven debta against them? and is this any way to govern?
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langston langston galloway. i'm don lemon. 11:00 p.m. on the east coast. live with new developments and another cabinet shake-up. david shulkin fired and replaced with white house physicianen ronny jackson, another member of the administration is out after weeks of rumors he was on the chopping block. following in the footprints of fired fbi director andrew mccabe. secretary of state rex tillerson. hr mcmaster, and so many others. look at the screen. and inside the trump white house tonight, they've got to be wondering who is next? i think that's a very good


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