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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 6, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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quick question, yes or no, is president trump going to fire scott that's right thpruitt thi? >> i lean no. >> no. >> thanks for watching. -- captions by vitac -- happening now. nosedive. president trump raises the prospects of new tariffs on china and there's a risk of a trade war. one republican calls his latest statement nuts. the trump administration announces new sanctions on russia, hitting billionaires close to putin and a group of senior officials. is robert mueller's team expanding the investigation?
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and delaying the deposition. a judge grants trump's lawyer more time to respond to stormy daniels's lawsuit. does the president's claim to know nothing about the hush money payment offer an opportunity? president trump are doubling down on his threats of tariffs on china sending the dow down nearly 600 points. and an announcement of sanctions on russian oligarcholigarchs. president trump is shrugging off damages this tariff policy may
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cause to investors. let's to go our senior correspondent. >> in response to the president's threat, we've sustain stock market reacting. the white house paying close attention to the dow being down more than 500 points. today press secretary sarah sanders when asked if the white house wants a rid the war with china, she says the white house does not want that. president trump is not backing down. announcing thursday night he is threatening an additional $100 billion in tariffs against china. even if those threats rock an already volatile stock market. >> the easiest thing for me to do would be to close my eyes and forget it. if i do that, i'm not doing my job. i'm not saying there won't be a little pain but we'll have a much stronger country when we're finished. >> reporter: the latest threats taking many by surprise. ben sass issuing a harshly
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worded state saying hopefully president is just blowing off steam again. if he's even half cirrus, this is nuts. and larry kudlow saying he only found out about the decision thursday night. >> when did the president first tell you he would announce these additional $100 fwhl tariffs? >> last night. >> emphasizing those tariffs are nearly a proposition. >> this is just a proposed idea which would be vetted by ustr. nothing has happened. nothing has been executed. there's no there, there yet. >> but steve mnuchin said this on television. >> there is the potential of a trade war. it's not a trade war. the president wants reciprocal
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trade. >> the administration taking a tougher stand on russia announcing tough sanctions against 17 russian officials for meddling in the 2016 elections. >> what we would like to see is the totality of the change. we want to have conversations and look forward to building a better relationship. >> reporter: all of this -- cnn has learned the president recently floated the idea of replacing scott pruitt. despite the controversy and that chief of staff john kelly had advocated for firing the embattled epa administrator before the headlines get worse. so far that advice has not been heeded. the president is outright defending pruitt. saying do you believe that the
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fake news media is pushing hard on a story that i'm going to replace a.g. jeff sessions with scott pruitt who is doing a great job but totally under siege? do people really believe this stuff? so much of the media is dishonest and corrupt. >> the president feels the administrator has dawn good job at epa. he's restored it back tots original purpose of protecting the environment. it has unnecessary regulations out of way and we're continuing to review any of the concerns that we have. >> reporter: and the white house official confirming that the white house did meet with the epa administrator today. the source would not detail conversations. this just in from russia's foreign minister saying there will be a tough response to the sanctions on russian oligarchs. >> thank you very much. the united states is slapping new sanctions on that group of
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wealthy russians i know what their sxoims high ranking government officials. it reaches deep into are putin's inner circle. >> tensions have been mounting between washington and moscow in the wake of that poisoning of the former russian spy and his daughter. the russians responding. today's move, an aggressive attempt to go after patrrominen russians. the new sanctions announced today will hit several prominent russians who have ties to president trump's associates. including on the list, oleg
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deripaska who owns one of the largest aluminum producers. he has longstanding ties to paul manafort who according to the "washington post" reached out to the russian oligarch who reached out to president trump's campaign. also, viktor who had a prominent role at the same time will better ross will a large investment in the bank. viktor investigatelberg attended the swearing in. and torshin who has longstanding ties to the national rifle association. he had a brief interwax the president's eldest son, donald trump jr. and also played a role in an effort to arrange a meeting between trump and putin that
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same year. the tough new moves may have been announced by the trump administration but the president has been mostly quiet. >> we speak on behalf of the president. day in, day out. the president has signed off and directed these actions. i think that speaks volumes, actually, on how the president feels and exactly underscores what he said earlier this week when he said no one has been tougher on russia. >> after indicting 13 over allegations they sought to interfere in the 2016 campaign, investigators in recent weeks have questioned russian oligarchs traveling the united states including one who landed in the new york area and had his electronic devices searched. mueller's steam seizing on information gathered during a raid of manafort's home and in a
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storage lovinger. they used a warrant to get information on five at&t numbers to aid ongoing investigations that are not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving manafort. who was indicted on federal charges with you has denied any wrongdoing. after issuing a subpoena, mueller's team seems to be questioning trump business partners. one who witness multiple transactions kegting the efforts to expand his brand abroad. the report also says that they seal to be especially interested in transactions involving trump's business attorney who had deals many kazakhstan and russia and investigators seem to be looking temperature as well. cohen has denied any wrongdoing. his attorney we reached out to has not responded for comment
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and the question is whether that will breach the president's red line that he drew when he said that mueller should not be investigating the president's finances. it appears perhaps they are. what will the president do? it's an open question. >> thanks. we'll see what happens. joining me, a member of the house oversight and foreign affairs committees. thanks for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> these oligarchs, these pals of putin? >> i think there are a lot of people in the administration, in the foreign policy world and the intelligence and law enforcement world, who have long wanted to do this. this is a belated action. generally it's been the
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president who has been out of step with russia and his own administration. >> but now that he's authorized it, do you give him credit? >> i give him credit for doing it. i just wish it was a year ago. this president has been sending mixed messages and to vladimir putin personally. it makes you wonder, is there a consistent policy? i'm sure putin is wondering the same. >> there is a statement staying u.s. will get a harsh response to these sanctions against russia. quote, russia continues to frighten the rejection of merge visa and threaten businesses, freezing property and financial assets, forgetting that the freezing of money and private property is called robbery. they say we on like the advise washington to get rid of illusion that's we can be spoken to with the language of
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sanctions. what is your reaction? >> well, that's in line with russian rhetoric. this is the same country that has been accused of poisoning two former russian agents, or one and his daughter, in great britain and they were sanctioned by oh 20 countries for that including us. i'm not moved by the russian rhetoric. it is a smoke screen to hide the mafiosa like behavior of the russian government and the russian oligarchs. if we expel 60 russians, they'll expel 60 americans. you know they'll respond with sanctions against wealthy americans with individuals close to the president of the united
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states. maybe even president trump's son-in-l son-in-law. when they do that, what should the u.s. do then? >> well, i think the united states has to continue on multiple fronts. we have to insist on sanctions post crimea. we have to insist on sanctions post the 2016 election twoeflt insist on sanctions and tougher behavior after the poisoning in great britain. and we can't be intimidated by russian rhetoric or their tit for tat. in the long run it will be russia that loses. they don't have a lot of credibility or economic leverage. >> you serve on the oversight committee. your colleague, the ranking democrat, elijah cummings is calling for a hearing for all
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the ethics and concerns. do you think traid gowdy will agree to that? >> trey gowdy is a friend. when it comes to scandal in the trump administration, whether it be tom price or mr. pruitt, it has been crickets. silence. no interest in seeing, hearing or talking any kind of evil. i think it is scandalous. the oversight committee has an independent role for the united states congress as an institution and we're not doing our job. i'm not hopeful that chairman gowdy will do anything with regard to administrator pruitt. that's why i think that's right has to go. i think the the ethical behavior built up to the point, he is no longer credible. the documents they've been show
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the hand over, do you think they will issue those subpoenas? so far we've had he several dozen subpoena requests. ethical lapses, travel, security clearances and the like. he has responded to not one. he's not issued a single scene that. a i think that's a record for a cheryl of our committee. when president obama was in office, they were working overtime issuing subpoenas and launching investigations, trying to make hey where there was none to be made. >> you've just written an opinion piece in washington. i can think of no better thigif for the american people than for the president to dump mr.
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pruitt. >> well, he's a mission to dismantle environmental protections across the board and that's his career. suing the epa to block positive regulation to protect air quality, water quality, and the like. now he's in the job, heading an administration that he doesn't really believe in, he's been systematically dismantling. his ethical behavior goes way beyond pale. he's given raises to two employees after being told not to by the white house. and used authority to do it, circumventing the normal process. and then lying about whether he knew about it. and of course he's demoted five people who questioned his ethical behavior. he has a security detail 24 hours a day which is very unusual for an epa
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administrator. as many as 20. that's unheard of. the speaker of the house doesn't have that kind of security detail. he built a special sound proof room for his headquarters office. no other administrator has ever said they even needed such a thing. he's not in the intelligence world. and of course, his travel, had to travel first class ostensibly because someone once questioned him with he got on an airplane and that was pretty spooky. welcome to the world of public service. >> thanks for joining us. breaking news coming up. president trump meets with scott pruitt. up to his neck in scandalous allegations. will the president eventually stand by him? and a judge gives president trump more time on respond to the lawsuit by stormy daniels.
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president trump met with his embattled environmental protection agency administrator, scott pruitt. he is facing numerous questions about his expensive travel and other ethics issues. sarah, what are you learning? >> even today, as press secretary sarah sanders gave him this boost in confidence saying
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the president thinks he's doing a good job, as that was happening, another scandal was breaking. the lobbyist land lord that pruitt got in trouble with latest last week, it emerge that had he was renting a $50 a night apartment for someone whose firm was lobbying the epa. the land lord said they had to force him out by changing the locks. that he was late to pay sxrenlt didn't quite get the hints when they said it was time for him to move out and find a new place to live. they said he was the kato kaelin of capitol hill. this comes after one scandal after another for scott pruitt. and other scandals as well. >> too many to count. >> the big one was this emergence where there's a huge rift among senior staff.
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people who were upset about things like unauthorized pay raises. security details being asked to use lights and sirens. expensive air charters that he wanted hiring. a $70,000 bullet proof desk that they considered buying. and as people began to push back, career staff and political staff within the epa, a rift began to emerge among those senior staff members. some of them saying they were demoted or iced out because they raised concerns or refused to cooperate with these requests. >> at least for now the president says he's doing a fantastic job. he's on the job. we'll see how long that lasts. thank you. coming up, president trump wants to end the military presence in syria. as the u.s. consults with alibis a withdrawal of troops, heavy
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fighting continues. we'll take you to the war zone. and more time granted to donald trump for the stormy daniels lawsuit.
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a senior white house official confirms president trump met with his embattled environmental protection agency. director scott pruitt earlier today. also breaking just now, another member of congress resigns amid a sexual harassment scandal. texas republican blake farrenthold settled a sexual harassment claim and never paid taxpayers back that money. he promised he would. what do you make of this? >> he already announced he wouldn't run for reelection and that was a big headache at the time because he he had these he claims against him. but there were demands that he pay back this. at a pair money to settle a former staffer who had sued him and they settled out of court. today with the news of his resignation, the campaign arm said i hope blake is true to his
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word and pays back the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used as settlement. going on to say, congress must hold themselves to even higher standards here. so republicans have a little scar now from this congressman that was embroiled in this scandal. >> he's now i think the fourth member of the house and senate to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. other issues, you take a look at the picture. conyers, franklin, ruben kihuen from nevada. there are five altogether. >> it is really surprising that it has taken him this long to leave. some of them left for lesser offenses than actually having a case settled and then saying you'll pay it back and then never actually doing it.
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republicans need to clear the deck, that are outstanding things are out of the way. things are improving slightly but democrats still have the advantage. they know it will be tough. >> as of today, he is no longer a united states congressman. blake farenthold. the more these scandals emerge about scott pruitt, you think it is over but then every single day more emerge. how much longer can this guy survive? >> when up you thought it was over, i didn't know if you meant his tenure or these stories coming to an end. when you get to can someone survive in this administration, that's the answer.
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the job that he's doing is a job that union identifies republicans across the board. so he's doing exactly at the epa what the president and his supporters would think. we do know the president doesn't like these distracting bad headlines. the stories don't seem to end. that's why we can't conclude that he's safe. we'll just see if the president can withstand more negative headlines. >> and let's talk about robert mueller's investigation. we've learned as recently as march 9th, mueller used a warrant for five more phone numbers. what does that tell but the investigation? >> it is moving. he looks at evidence he gets.
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he determines if there's more evidence that that initial evidence leads the and he pursues it. in this case it was the day before the secondary indictment against manafort that he got this new warrant out for information. we see this. we see stopping of russian oligarchs. this is just moving in a textbook matter about how a prosecutor moves. all the indications that this would end in november, december, valentine's day, those were all false leads. he is moving forward and it is expanding. >> there's an inside piece. what we used to call link analysis. i pick you, wolf blitzer up, as a target. i look at you, your financial information.
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then i see david's name. the when you have termite damage, you take wall out, you realize there's a web behind it. link analysis allows you to go to phone numbers which i'm sure would happen in this case. the most interesting piece to me, we're now a couple years into the investigation and they are finding so much with dozens of lawyers and more investigators, that they're still uncovering new phone numbers. that tells me we have an investigation that's really broad. we've been reporting on this, the russian oligarchs, seven, 12, koimss they control, 17 senior government officials. one of those individuals. the son in law of putin. you know the russians will
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respond even as the president keeps saying he would like to have good relations with russia and he would like putin to come to the white house. i think we had wondered whether the white house was willing to go far enough on russia to risk further deteriorating the relationship. i think this is an indication that they are willing to go there. i think it has as much 22nd the nerve agent attack on put pressure on washington to stand by them. today sarah sanders faced questions on why the president doesn't seal to be willing to utter the words with his own mouth. russia will probably retaliate and they are ready. >> do you think they might retaliate, since putin's
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son-in-law has been sanctioned? >> what effect lyft is unknown. russia has until this point tried to do tit for tat. we expelled 60 diplomats, they expelled 60 of ours. we sanction the son-in-law, and he might very well. >> i would be worried about whether there are retaliatory sanctions by the white house. they might say, you want to come after friends of putin? we've got some dirt on trump campaign members, family members. i think there are implications beyond diplomacy about when the russians finally say, we thought the president was chance. it looks line he'll roll so we'll roll out some nasty things. >> stick around. more news. a cnn close-up look at today's very heavy fighting in syria.
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isis is nearly 100% defeated and u.s. troops should come home very soon. we're getting details about a judge's late breaking ruling in the stormy daniels lawsuit against president trump. if this was a real emergency, i'd be freaking out. but thanks to cigna, we can do more than just look heroic. we can help save lives by getting you to a real doctor for a check-up. nurse, this thing's defective. please don't touch that. we are the tv doctors of america. together with cigna reminding you... to go, know, and take control of your health. doctor poses! cigna. together, all the way.
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breaking this afternoon at the pentagon, james mattis said the united states is in consultation with our allies and partners over the implications
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and desire to bring all u.s. forces home from syria very soon. even though the president says nearly 100% of the territory once held by isis has been liberated, we're still seeing very heavy fighting. let's go to our senior correspondent. fred is joining us from damascus. tell us what you saw. >> reporter: the russians and the syrians are facing heavy fighting. we got to a place that was recently taken back by syrian government forces. it had been under siege for a very long time. when we got on the ground in this place called eastern ghouta, it was absolutely flattened. i didn't see a single building that was completely intact. many of them totally flattened all together. and it was interesting to see.
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the rebels were overmatched as far as fire power. they dug tunnels and we found whole place to be like swiss cheese. they were very elaborate. weapons making facilities. it was only place the rebels managed to escape for a while. >> you've been reporting all week for us from inside syria, fred. from what you've seen, the people you've spoken to on the ground, what is the state of the war right now? >> i think it has become completely clear, that russia is by far the most powerful player on the ground. if you look around the damascus area, tuesday doesn't play a role. not in the war, nor diplomatically, nor would the syrian capital think that.
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the russians are by far the most powerful player. we're on the ground here. it seems like the rebel forces might be trying to negotiate with them. they're negotiating with the russians. it shows how powerful vladimir putin and his troops are here. millions have been left homeless refugees as a result of this with no end in sight. thank you very much. more breaking news coming up, including hue judge's new ruling affects stormy daniels' lawsuit against president trump. , little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not an injection or a cream.
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more breaking news as a judge makes an important move regarding stormy daniels and president trump's lawyer. what's the latest? >> it's another win. a federal judge in california saying president trump doesn't have to respond to daniels' lawsuit until the court rules on whether this case should be tried in a courtroom or behind closed doors in arbitration. and in a sign of the apparent
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acrimony between the legal teams, the judge noted the two sides failed to reach agreement on the extension on their own in part because stormy daniels' lawyer was traveling. he said this could and should have been resolved in a civil matter without involvement by the court. more time is what the stormy daniels lawyer wants. a judge granting the request to push back the day by which they must respond to the suit until after a ruling on whether the case must be settled outside a courtroom if private arbitration. they argue if a judge approves their motion to compel private arbitration in the case, that is to move it out of a courtroom behind closed doors, they won't need to respond. daniels' attorney, michael avenatti, is opposing the request. adult film actress is fighting to be released from an agreement
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to the to talk about an agreement with trump. she argues it's not valid because trump didn't sign it. cohen paid her $130,000 to keep silent days before the election. all this before the president himself weighs in on the matter for the first time afterunchara denying he knew anything about it. >> that handful of words potentially opening trump up to legal trouble down the road, says daniel's lawyer. >> it's like christmas and hanukkah all rolled into one. you can't have an agreement if one party claims they knew
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nothing about one of the principle terms of the agreement. the president just shot himself in the foot. this is a man who is not disciplined. >> and he is vowing to refile the motion monday and said he's anxious to test the truthfulness of trump's comments. >> michael cohen called me within the last week or two. >> and what did he say to you? >> he suggested that it would be appropriate for me to go out into the media and spill my guts. >> reporter: are you here at the behest of michael cohen? >> no, no. no. not in any way, shape or form. >> but he did tell you to go out and spill your guts? >> right, yes. >> reporter: davidson now telling cnn owen referred to
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client to her after he sealed the deal with stormy daniels. >> he needed help with tom arnold, who tweeted several times last fall, that labella, a producer on the "apprentice" possessed damning information about trump that arnold claims involved russian president vladimir putin. labella told cnn a friend did call davidson on his behalf but he never considered davidson his attorney because he never paid him. then just last month arnold tweeted michael cohen had chuck labella hire keith davidson to try to keep me quiet about tr h trump, miss union and 2016.
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>> what's not clear is just what arnold knows, what information he has about all of this, if he has any at all, and how he got it. >> thanks very much. there's more breaking news. russia with a harsh response on sanctions on high-ranking officials and billionaires in vladimir putin's inner circle. i'll talk to a man who says he's been the target of death threats. here you go little guy.
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on wealthy cronies of vladimir putin, including his former son-in-law. why is the trump administration taking a tougher stand against russia's election meddling now? seeking clinton's e-mail. a trump campaign adviser thought he had access to e-mails deleted from hillary clinton's server that he wanted to use against her. >> what do prosecutors hope to find after getting access to five telephone numbers from paul manafort? and stormy delayed. the president's lawyer was just granted more time to respond to the porn star's lawsuit as her attorney is taking another shot at trying to depose mr. trump under oath. new fallout tonight now that mr. trump has broken his silence about daniel's hush deal. we want to


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