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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  July 18, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. new cnn reporting about the president's supreme court pick. brett kavanaugh two years ago vowed to kill the old law with special counsel investigations. a justice kavanaugh could get a say if the new special counsel law faces a supreme court test. plus, the president now says he misspoke. of course he trusts american intelligence agencies over what
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vladimir putin says. the senate's top democrat notes the reversal was scripted and said the president looked like a hostage reading it. we'll hear from the president again any moment now. he's holding a cabinet meeting at the white house as we speak. at the table are several top officials who told the president yesterday he made a mess in helsinki and he needed to clean it up. that's the real story. here's the fake spin. >> mr. president, what's the big fuss? he didn't understand what the big fuss was about. went back and read the transcript and said i meant to say wouldn't, not would. >> we begin there at the white house with today's cabinet meeting and our wait to hear what the president says next about the helsinki summit. we'll bring you his remarks asap. watch to see if he's speaking off the cuff or again reading reluckar reluctantly from a script. we will revisit the difference between would and wouldn't. >> in a key sentence in my remarks, i said the word wu'll
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would instead of wouldn't. the sentence should have been, i don't see any reason why it wouldn't be russia. sort of a double negative. so you can put that in and i think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself. >> this morning the tabloid covers in new york making sure to lampoon the president's cleanup efforts. the new york daily news "lost in the woulds." and "the new york post," whoopski. you heard kellyanne conway say the president himself sussed out the error and worked quickly to correct it. the president worked on the rewrite but only after hearing a barrage of criticism from members of his own government inner circle and outside top advisers. jeff zeleny at the white house. you've done a lot of reporting on this. take us inside what seemed to be not only damage control day but a bit of a panic mode at the white house. >> no question this white house has endured a lot of firestorms.
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nearly all of them self-inflicted. yesterday was a different matter entirely, largely because the criticism was coming from the most loyal of quarters. "the wall street journal" editorial page, newt gingrich and others. the president had to try and clean this up. but we saw what his mood was this morning, seven minutes before 6:00 a.m., a little slightly earlier than we hear from him. that jet lag kicking in. people of higher intelligence are praising his performance in helsinki. that just isn't true. it's hard to find someone actually in this town and at this white house who believe he did a good job. i'm told he believes this is overblown criticism. he's not going to keep doubling down on it. so far the early word from inside that cabinet room which is still under way from the pool reporters inside that he is talking about jobs, the economy. he's going around the room talking with his cabinet secretaries. perhaps trying to change the subject here. but the subject remains that for all the questions yesterday
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about the cleanup, that was from the press conference out in public. the bigger questions remain, what did president trump talk about for nearly two hours with vladimir putin in that closed-door private one on one meeting? that is the question the white house has yet to answer. so there will be a briefing this afternoon. the president also giving an interview with cbs later today. that is the central question. what privately did they talk about, and we don't know the answer to that yet, john. >> i'm not going to risk holding my breath for transparency on that one. jeff zeleny, appreciate the reporting me. with me in studio to share their reporting, ploombergy margaret talley. and cnn's nia-malika henderson. as we wait to hear from the president, i want to go back and get all the reporting on yesterday in the sense that the president embarrassed himself. he won't admit that. embarrassed his party. embarrassed his team for not following their script and embarrassed the country.
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he was reluctant. he thought what is all this about. he still thinks it's overblown. i am told that the secretary of state, chief of staff, national security adviser told him you have to clean this up. what got him to read that statement and even we'll play some of it, even as he read it you could tell he didn't want to. >> it's a combination of three things. that flight home where he's able to watch television up to a certain altitude can watch live television. he's watching fox news. and even if you saw the chyrons on fox news offering critical coverage. he had that entire flight to begin to process the coverage. and came home to find paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, republican leadership in congress that usually keeps a step back, being very forward in their criticism in addition to the usual suspects, john mccain, the strong foreign policy people who have never been afraid to speak out critically of the president. and then you had the internal
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dissent. the internal advice coming from throughout government and that meeting with some of those top officials just hours before he eventually came out and spoke to us. >> to the point, if you missed it yesterday, the president read a statement saying he misspoke. saying he meant to say would when he didn't say wouldn't. i may have that backwards. if you look at the president's tweets and statements about would russia have intervened as he believed russia intervened. any reason russia would have intervened. to look back at the last year-plus of american history, it matched what he said standing next to vladimir putin. he had two interviews with fox news right after the press conference with putin. if somebody on the staff said, sir, you messed up, there was a chance to fix it. he didn't. the white house had more than 24 hours to put out a new statement cleaning it up. they didn't. listen to a piece from the president yesterday. this piece tells you just about everything you need to know. >> i accept our intelligence community's conclusion that russia's meddling in the 2016
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election took place. could be other people also. a lot of people out there. >> if you watch that, he's reading until he looks up, could be other people. also the 400-pound guy in his basement is not off the hook. that's what the president wants to say. his staff told him you read this. fix this. and he read it, but he also does that. >> this is how the president likes to respond to these situations. he digs in for as long as he can and when he can't take the pressure anymore, he tries to walk back. but even the walk back isn't a true walk back. it's very confusing and then tries to walk back the walk back as we've seen in tweets this morning. this is what we saw with charlottesville. this is how he operates. >> yeah, and -- >> in the moment, the moment is what matters. he needed to perform. he's the president of the united states. the moment that mattered was standing next to vladimir putin who needs to be called out publicly. no matter what you say
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privately. we'll never know completely what happened in that one on one meeting. you are the president of the united states, the leader of the nato alliance. the moment was standing next to vladimir putin. not cleaning it up after. >> and the entire sort of atmospherics of that summit. and him standing there with putin was that putin seemed to be the leader and trump seemed to be the follower. putin almost seemed like he was the host of it. he went first in speaking. so it wasn't just this kind of narrow focus on would or wouldn't, which he tried to blame it on which was essentially saying the dog ate my homework. it was everything about that press conference. in that sentence where he talks about, you know, would or wouldn't, he later says he has confidence in both parties. meaning putin and dan coats. so that was the real problem, i think, and we saw him yesterday try to clean it up. and he very much telegraphs, he's forced to read this statement and he reads it like i'm eating broccoli and then he
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says what he really feels in a very free way, clearly telegraphing what he really feels. >> chuck schumer essentially calling it a hostage video saying the president was forced to read that. that's the world we live in today. but the white house seems to think in the earlier action from republicans on the hill, most of it seems to be, okay, we don't believe this, but at least he gave us cover to say let's move on. >> escape hatch. that's quite literally what everybody was looking for over the course of the 24-hour period. you go behind the scenes. you can talk about their public comments and condemnations, denunciations whether by name or otherwise or the complete silence. what the president said was extraordinarily offputting and concerning to republicans on capitol hill. there's 290-some odd of them in both chambers and the vast majority are all in agreement on this issue. however, there's also a recognition chis this is who th president is and they want some way around it. the interesting element, either senator bob corko, or marco
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rubio saying it's something. can we please move on? that's a key point. from the republican perspective on capitol hill and to some degree democrats as well, at least in talking to them, there were two audiences they were most concerned about. you mentioned the nato allies. the other was the intelligence community. and that was dan coats and concern that people would step down, that people that both parties trust and have confidence in would be so discombobulated that they would feel they had to leave. those were the driving force behind the scenes pushback that i know the administration was getting in phone calls regularly from capitol hill but also the need to say something publicly. you need to talk about the allies and your intelligence community. >> if you'd seen a dan coats' resignation or threat of resignation and ambassador huntsman resignation, something of that ilk, you would have been in a bigger crisis mode than we are right now. from a public policy concern or a foreign policy concern. this is not over from the
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stopping the hemorrhage iing. whatever we saw yesterday seems to have had some effect. enough of an effect to -- >> i want to bring in the former house speaker newt gingrich. he's on fox news repeatedly. he's dead right about the idea that he believed the president made a huge mistake and the president needs to hear from friendly outside voices because this is not a president who says i'm wrong easily. >> i frankly think he could give a major speech and put in context. i was as direct as i was the other day because i thought it was important to get his attention. he's not a guy, as you know, he's not a guy who likes to correct himself or likes to admit he made a mistake. i thought this is a big enough one that he simply had to stop and set the record straight. >> has he set the record straight, though, or just made clear he had to clean up parts of it and even as he
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quote/unquote cleaned it up, he sort of added to, the i really don't want to be here. they're making me eat my peas. >> that's why it doesn't seem like he set the record straight. i think he has set republicans on a path where they feel like they can come out on television and talk about this. he essentially gave them a very thin, almost transparent fig leaf but they're happy to take it and say, listen, we can move on. we'll see what he says. as you pointed out, he sort of walks back and then walks back the walk back. we'll see what he says going forward. it will probably be more in line with, oh, it might be the 400-pound guy sitting on the bed in new jersey. >> we'll hear from the president any moment now. we know they're discussing some other administration initiatives, including the good news. the administration can talk about, about the economy. we'll bring you that and see if the president takes questions about helsinki. as we go to break, this is far from the first time the president's critics have claimed is this when he finally crossed the line? it was three years ago today he
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welcome back. today, another, a new answer from the president causing another and a new wave of shutters among wftern allies. the fox host tucker carlson asked president trump a question that other u.s. presidents have answered consistently since 1949. if a nato ally is attacked, would the united states rush to defend them? the nato charter says an attack on one is an attack on all. there is no ambiguity. but this president doesn't seem to see it that way. >> let's say montenegro which was joined last year, is attacked. >> i've asked the same question. montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. they have very aggressive people. they may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in world
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war iii. but that's the way it was set up. >> score that as yet another trump gift to vladimir putin. montenegro is one of several smallernato members who report constant russian meddling and bullying. officials there say they have evidence that putin's security service tried to orchestrate a coup, assassinate montenegro's prime minister and overthrow its western friendly government just two years ago. this is what happens when you have a president who doesn't really care about history and doesn't study history and doesn't read his briefing books. the question from tucker carlson was if montenegro is attacked. number one, if they're attacked, the nato charter, article 5, is pretty clear. number two, the idea saying they're an aggressive people. well, if they attack someone else, the nato allies are not obligated. it's a defensive alliance. you can ask george w. bush in iraq. the nato allies did not rush to join the united states in iraq. but what is that? >> i read the original question
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as a softball question. it's a question that has an obvious answer and you just say the answer and move on. but the answer actually opened up -- >> the answer if you've read your briefing book is the nato allies stand together. if you want to, that's a perfect opportunity to say and vladimir putin, listen closely, you have been messing in this neighborhood. stop. that's the answer. >> it's an opportunity to draw a red line because president trump has tried to distinguish what happened with crimea as something that happened on obama's watch. he's much tougher. it would never happen on his watch. here's an opportunity to make a point like that with a nato country and also it's an opportunity to thank montenegro for their effort, their contribution towards the u.s. effort in afghanistan. it's an opportunity to do a lot of things, none of which are what happened. >> forgive me but if you're a trump voter, there goes cnn again or the mainstream media. listen to this voice here. this is john bolton. he is currently the president's national security adviser. if you are a trump supporter, you've known him for a long
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time. he's a conservative voice. this is him when candidate trump raised the same doubts about nato and the nato charter back in -- this is two years ago. here you go. >> and he offers this hypothetical, if a baltic state is attacked by russia that he would decide then whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether these nations have fulfilled their obligations to us. that is an open invitation to putin to attack. the leader of the nato alliance, the creator of the nato alliance shows weakness or uncertainty, it destroys those structures of deterrence that we worked for more than 65 years to build up. >> could not agree more. >> shout out to the "inside politics" team for finding that. it's funny because that interview and that sound came from a moment that when i was reading the comments last night, i immediately flashed back to the republican national convention in 2016 when the president sat down with "the new
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york times" and made those comments. i remember being dumbfounded because i think margaret and i were on the same trip with president obama in estonia. and some of the baltic nations in that region where this is central to everything for them. the russian threat is considered real. the alliance with the united states is considered the fabric of kind of what they do on the defensive posture. we have troops in those places. this is the architecture and infrastructure. and i think the ambassador makes a really good point. okay. what matters practically when he says this. when he just raises questions. what matters is the posture of the united states can or cannot create an opening for a president of a particular country to act. as he's done repeatedly in georgia and crimea and other places. the real concern when you talk about those countries, the baltic nations, the tip of the spear of the alliance, this creates -- consider it at least. open the door. that's the real concern. at least that i've heard really
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from -- >> it raises questions about what putin and trump talked about. >> right. >> did this come out at the meeting? did he say something -- >> i just want to bring this in. i want to bring this in. it also brings up, this is the parallel universe with mike pence in montenegro last year. >> my friends, montenegro proves that the open door remains open and so will it always be for those european countries that share our values. contribute to the common defense and strive to achieve security, prosperity and freedom for their people. and to all the leaders gathered here, let me assure you under president donald trump, the united states will continue to stand with you as you pursue your european future together. >> right. literally no one, none of those top people in the president's orbit, not his national security adviser, vice president, secretary of state, head of
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intelligence, none of them believe what he said on that fox interview. >> none of them share his views. none of them believe what he said or wanted to have anything to do with what he did in helsinki. they're trying to clean it up. i will use a phrase that he likes to use. he's president. they're not. >> i thought you were going to say, we'll see what happens. up next, if he's confirmed, brett kavanaugh may one day rule on the legality of the mueller investigation. video uncovered by cnn might give us a clue into what he thinks about these things. e big, but now it's time to find my dream abode. -right away, i could tell his priorities were a little unorthodox. -keep going. stop. a little bit down. stop. back up again. is this adequate sunlight for a komodo dragon? -yeah. -sure, i want that discount on car insurance just for owning a home, but i'm not compromising. -you're taking a shower? -water pressure's crucial, scott! it's like they say -- location, location, koi pond. -they don't say that. it's like they say -- location, location, koi pond.
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almost 250 years ago, two lanterns were hung here to warn of the incoming attack on america. today we have to acknowledge what our president won't: our democracy is under attack again. donald trump praises vladimir putin and meets with him on foreign soil, while rejecting our own law enforcement officials who say putin launched a hostile attack on our last election and is planning to do it again this year. why would an american president want to meet with a dictator who's trying to undermine our democracy? is trump again getting played by putin, or is he conspiring with a man who helped put him in office? if paul revere and other patriots had waited to act until it was safe or politically correct, we would never have the country we have today. it's time for congress, republicans and democrats, to put their political interests aside and act on behalf of our country.
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to put their political interests aside
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welcome back. about 90 seconds away from hearing from the president of the united states. he had a cabinet meeting at the white house and went around the table asking people at the ta table, including his daughter ivanka to talk about administration things they are working on. the administration says still a priority. the president takie inine ining at the end, including about the helsinki summit. it's an important moment. the president won't put it this way, but he made a mess. he tried yesterday to clean it up. he's getting mixed grades on the cleanup effort. this is day three of the president back on u.s. soil after a tough, tough week abroad. insulting european allies, then the meeting with putin.
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you're trying as an administration to get the train back on the tracks and as a republican party, you're watching this because every moment that passes gets you closer to the november elections. >> the economy is -- and it's actually like a decent path. a new communications director. trying to figure out, okay, so like it's wednesday. what do we do now? that's the path they're taking. now you have a split which is what is the political path forward between now and the midterms. how dangerous is this going to be? and then you have the actual thing that matters. i know politics matters but the thing that matters which is when is the u.s. foreign policy? did he agree to do anything with putin? what happened? >> let's listen to the q&a with the president right now. >> thank you all very much. appreciate it. thank you. >> is russia still targeting -- >> let's go. make your way out. >> we're finished here. >> let's go. >> let's go. >> thank you very much, everybody. >> make your way out. we're doing very well. we are doing very well.
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we're doing very well. probably as well as anybody has ever done with russia. and there's been no president ever as tough as i have been on russia. all you have to do is look at the numbers. look at what we've done. look at sanctions. look at ambassadors not there. look, unfortunately, at what happened in syria recently. and i think president putin knows that better than anybody. certainly a lot better than the media. he understands it, and he's not happy about it. and he shouldn't be happy about it because there's never been a president as tough on russia as i have been. okay. thank you very much. >> [ inaudible ]. >> let's go. make your way out. we're finished. let's go. >> thank you very much. >> several thank yous from the president. the arm cross there is a tell when the president is frustrated and annoyed and doesn't want the media in the room. to the question of, is russia
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still interfering or meddling, the president said no. his own homeland -- his own director of national intelligence just said the other day that he sees russian activity, nefarious activity, including interfering in the united states as a flashing red light and compared it to the days before 9/11. so dan coats is on a very different page than the president of the united states, am i right? >> yeah, and a very different page than members of congress, governors, folks on the ground in states across the country. there has been real concern and real signs already that russia continues to meddle. and with an eye towards 2018, possibly with an eye towards 2020. this is the president ideally, i guess, trying to do damage control. we saw that yesterday. but doing damage during the damage control. as much as he wants to move forward to -- whether it's talking about the supreme court or talking about tax, you know, tax cuts, and get republicans back in the fold, it's hard to do that.
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>> and the president also saying that no president has been tougher on russia. on there, you have to actually split the conduct of the administration with the conduct of the president. because the treasury department has slapped sanctions. mike pompeo is tough when he speaks. his intelligence team, like dan coats is very tough on russia when they speak. they have done things from a policy perspective that are tough. the president stood there the other day and said nothing when vladimir putin -- didn't criticize him publicly for election meddling or for syria. stood there when vladimir putin presented himself as a voice of compassion for syrian refugees. the president said nothing about putin's role in creating the crisis. stood there and said nothing when putin criticized the u.s. missile defense system. >> to some degree, the congress as well which imposed a new strict sanctions regime nearly the last administration. one the white house wasn't very comfortable with. you look at what defense secretary mattis has done. their posture in ukraine. what they did in terms of action versus russian contracts which
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the president alluded to where hundreds was the estimate were killed in syria. the administration's actions, and this goes back to what margaret was saying. when you go through the national security officials, their posture, tone and tenure on russia is the complete opposite of what you see from the president publicly. therefore, their policy has mostly matched up with that. capitol hill republicans have done the same thing. massive increases to defense spending. trying to push the president to take more action in places like ukraine and syria when it comes to dealing with russia. the difference is the president's public remarks. and i think the thing that i'm always struck by, people are like, pay attention to the actions, not what he says. when you're in the world of international diplomacy, what you say and particularly where you say it, on a forum or in a format you're next to the russian president, historically matters. >> george w. bush knew on 9/11 he could trust the people on the other end of the phone when he called and needed their help. if something happened on the other end, would people trust
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donald trump if they needed his help? that's the price of this. hopefully we never have to test that. jeff zeleny is live at the white house. administration tried to pivot away from bad days, bad moments, bad weeks, bad mistakes. is that what this is? >> john, that seemed like it. the entire cabinet meet chicago -- meet chicago ing which is d bit of a show. the news the most important matter for all of washington and the world is the president's comments on russia. and by saying quickly at the very end of that, is russia still a threat saying, no, to me it sounds like he's back where he was on monday. at odds with his u.s. intelligence community. at odds with the director of the dni dan coats who said very clearly, the red light is still flashing. mitch mcconnell, the senate majority leader yesterday had a message directly to moscow saying don't do this in the midterm elections. so the president of the united
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states saying right there in the cabinet meeting saying that, no, russia is not still a threat. to me, it's essentially perhaps in a kinder way but not taking the advice or the information from his own intelligence community. so we'll see if the dni has a response to all of this and certainly, john, i think that sarah sanders at the first white house briefing in a long time will be asked about that specific question today because all the evidence here in washington from both sides suggests that russia is still a threat. the president, though, said no. >> it's a great point, jeff zeleny. it's a great point because on capitol hill now, every republican, democrats, too, democrats will rush to issue statements saying that's not true. every republican involved in these issues, including several to happen to be up for re-election have to decide, do you agree with the president or disagree with the president? that's the policy implications, the strength of the western alliance, the trust between the president of the united states and key nato leaders, whether
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they are the big fish like germany or little guys like montenegro. that matters in terms of geopolitics and on big days in the world. here in the political sphere in the united states, though, every republican has had to be asked the last few days, how about that putin meeting. that went great, didn't it? now the president says russia, stop meddling. >> we've reached a phase in the damage control, cleanup process in trying to clean up he actually makes more problems for republicans. now republicans on the hill get asked about this. sarah sanders will get asked about this at the briefing. and the cycle will continue on the day when the white house was trying to shift to the economy and talking about other things. moving on from russia. now this is going to continue. >> i'm going to take a risk because the russia thing is the big thing. there's another thing about this that's striking in the sense there's always this conversation about the reality tv presidency. what does it say that he goes around his cabinet meeting and calls on ivanka trump. she believes in this paid leave issue. has gone up to capitol hill. she's done some town halls.
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now she's talking about it again. but we're 18 months into the trump administration. has the president twisted the arms of the republican house or the republican senate? if this is so important to talk about at cabinet meetings, to get them to actually vote on it? >> it's unclear, was this sort of like, you know, ivanka asking for this platform? it's unclear why they wanted to spend such precious time giving -- >> they put her front and center sometimes when they want to look softer, gentler. >> it would be helpful if she was spending time on reuniting moms with their kids and dads with their kids but never mind that. i think one of the things we know about this president, you mentioned the television presence. and part of that is his rush always to declare victory. you know, in that a problem is solved. he doesn't like the process of it. the problem with north korea is already solved. he essentially has said the threat is over. it's the same thing he's doing here with russia. it's like let's hurry up and get
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to the season if i until lfinal start the next season of uncertainty and then two or three episodes into the crisis, i'll declare everything solved. >> the short answer to your question is, no, he hasn't twisted a lot of arms on this. republicans and democrats on capitol hill give ivanka trump a lot of credit for her work behind the scenes on capitol hill. she's up there constantly. they enjoy meeting with her. the difficulty, and thises goe back to trying to rush things. this is not a policy -- >> it's a democratic policy. >> ivanka trump has tried to work out some split the baby type of way of doing this. and it's a very real proposal and proposal that i think has some legs to it. but it's difficult. and it's complicated and ideologically it splits from where the republican party traditionally is which means you need the heft of the oval office to push something through. at this point, the president hasn't focused on it. and it's not a grand policy. it's not in administration defining policy. if you want to move something
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that moves in the opposite direction of where some republicans are, you'll probably need the president's help on that. >> or proof that you want to do something, not just talk about something. that would be my question there. if it keeps coming up, give it a try. make them vote. quick break. we'll be right back. always have been. when i found out i had age-related macular degeneration, amd, i wanted to fight back. my doctor and i came up with a plan. it includes preservision. only preservision areds 2 has the exact nutrient formula recommended by the national eye institute to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd. that's why i fight. because it's my vision. preservision. also, in a great-tasting chewable. man: are unpredictable crohn's symptoms following you everywhere? it's time to take back control with stelara®. for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease, stelara® works differently. studies showed relief and remission
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new developments just in to cnn. the republican congressman jim jordan has now been interviewed by a law firm investigating what he did or did not know about possible sexual abuse at ohio state university back when jordan was an assistant wrestling coach. sunlen serfaty has the latest. what do we know about this
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interview? >> jim jordan sat down on monday in ohio with the investigators. this law firm that's looking into this osu investigation. and this is significant. this was something they've long been talked about, that they want to do. the last two weeks since the congressman has been engulfed in this scandal, he said he had an intention to sit down with the investigators, and now he has. these investigators are looking into the osu doctor, dr. strauss, who has been accused by many athletes, wrestlers at ohio state university. accused of sexual abuse. this is not an investigation into jim jordan but certainly as we've been reporting, how he gets pulled into all of this is many wrestlers said while he was the assistant wrestling coach at the university in the early '90s that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse they say he knew about at the time. a big back and forth between a law firm and the congressman the past two weeks whether they contacted him or not, requested a formal sit-down interview for
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this investigation or not. at the end, turns out they sent that investigation request to the wrong e-mail address for the congressman. so they've formally sat down this week in ohio. keep in mind, jim jordan has defended himself saying that he was not aware of sexual abuse at the time. he has only acknowledged locker room discussions defending himself and questioning the motivation, planting seeds of doubt from the motivation of many of these athletes who have spoken out. >> sunlen serfaty live on capitol hill, appreciate that important update. we'll keep our eye on that. up next for us -- new video now destined to become a flashpoint in the big supreme court nomination battle. george woke up in pain.
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itthat's why i lovel the daily fiber wfiber choice,ood alone. with the fiber found in many fruits and vegetables. fiber choice. the number one ge recommended chewable prebiotic fiber. welcome back. some new cnn reporting today that gives important insight
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into the supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh. two years ago speaking at a conservative think thank, judge kavanaugh spoke scornfully of the old law governing independent counsel governme investigations. >> i think justices of all stripes agree that it's important but not an inexorable command. it's not inflexible or absolute. >> can you think of a case that deserves to be overturned? >> yes. >> would you volunteer one? >> no. i'm going to say one. morrison v. olson. >> they said that's the independent counsel statute case. >> it's been effectively overruled but i would put the final nail in. >> cnn's manu raju uncovered that video and joins us live from capitol hill. let's be clear first. the old independent counsel law is not the new special counsel law that bob mueller is operating under.
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but democrats still think that makes a relevant point, correct? >> no question about it. they're raising significant concerns. you take this, in addition to his writings expressing skepticism about whether a sitting president can be indicted and it raises questions in the minds of democrats about how he views special counsel robert mueller's investigation. democrats today reacting very strongly saying he should recuse himself from any matter involving the mueller investigation. if you were to be confirmed to the supreme court and saying they plan to press him very aggressively at his confirmation hearing. >> in many instances, he has come down on the side of a strong executive who would somehow be protected from the ordinary investigation and prosecution that other americans are subjected to. >> we're talking about a dangerous and potentially profoundly damaging appointee to the highest court in the land two believes the president is above the law and can, in
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effect, override the supreme court. >> i don't think it carried much weight at this point. >> and that last comment comes from the senate judiciary chairman, chuck grassley. republicans have a much different view about this because they know the independent counsel is different than the special counsel. independent counsel operates more freely than the special counsel. reporting up the chain of command in the justice department. it's important to note if that ruling were to be overturned, it would presumably make it easier to dismiss robert mueller as special counsel because they'd not need a reason to dismiss him under existing regulations which could be constitutional because of that ruling which was upheld in the supreme court in 1988. >> important reporting. manu, appreciate it. and obviously judge kavanaugh has to answer that as he goes through the one on one courtesy calls and the confirmation hearing. gives democrats more reasons to say, worries and doubts. at the moment, at the moment, the buzz in town seems to be
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kavanaugh has a ways to go but in the early stages, he seems okay. >> he seems in great shape when you talk to republicans. because all they need to do is keep their conference together. that technically is the majority leader's only goal. if they can get all 50 of their present senators to go forward and feel comfortable right now at the early stages of where lisa murkowski and susan collins are, those are the keys there. the interesting part is underscoring what's the democrats' line of attack going to be? you heard health care, roe vs. wade, independent counsel, special counsel mueller. they'll need to narrow that down and figure out what hits and what resonates with those two republican senators who they need to peel at least one of them off. i've talked to a lot of democrats trying to figure out what's the strategy here? how are you going to fight this fight that's a clear uphill battle for you? they make the point we're at kind of the first stage of the first quarter. they don't have -- they don't have the documents. they have the 300 cases that he wrote while he was a circuit court judge.
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in terms of his career, thousands, perhaps millions of documents they want. they don't have that yet. and until they get those, until they get a better sense of what issues to hone in on, we'll not have the best idea. but initial stages when you talk to the majority leader's team and white house, they feel good. >> unless there's something we don't know or unless kavanaugh somehow messes up in these hearings going forward. the special counsel question. presidential power there is a big question that will come up. when he says in that tape there, he's talking about the special counsel law but stare decisis. not flexible. not absolute. is that enough to get murkowski and collins? the two republicans who care about roe v. wade saying talking about the independence counsel there but on the broad principle if it's not absolute, does that mean you're up to changing roe v. wade? >> are there cases that you feel like should be overturned? he, obviously, answered it in that setting. >> that's a great point. did he open himself up?
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he won't do that again. >> he won't do that again but he'll argue, you did it there. why won't you do it here? i think it's a sort of victory for democrats is basically getting their base riled up, and it will be over roe v. wade, over obamacare and possibly over this idea of presidential powers and hoping that that matters in 2018. >> i would add one quick thing. i am intrigued as to your point whether or not the video is more important in that regard than talking about morrison which there's bipartisan agreement was a flawed decision to some degree. >> you'll sit with a bunch of conservatives and answer these questions. why won't you sit with the united states senate. more on the breaking news. president trump says russia is not currently targeting the united states. his own administration disagrees. wolf picks that coverage up in just a moment. have a great day.
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man: are unpredictable crohn's symptoms following you everywhere? it's time to take back control with stelara®.
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for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease, stelara® works differently. studies showed relief and remission with dosing every 8 weeks. woman: stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before or during treatment, always tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop any new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. some serious allergic reactions can occur. do not take stelara® if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. man: are you fed up with crohn's symptoms following you? talk to your doctor today, and learn how janssen can help you explore cost support options. remission can start with stelara®.
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yea,that and homeowners, renters, motorcycle and boat insurance. huh.that's nice. what happens when you catch a fish? gecko: whoa. geico. more than just car insurance. see how much you could save at i'm ok! hello, i'm wolf blitzer. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. president trump talking tough on russia after walking back comments from his jaw-dropping news conference with vladimir putin. at a cabinet meeting only moments ago right here in washington, he said no president in the history of the united states has been tougher on russia than he has. and here's what else he had


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