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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  October 31, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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were women offered money to make false accusations against the special counsel. hunt for red october. russia, moving aggressively to modernize its submarine fleet and now warning it is going to conduct missile tests near the site of nato military exercises. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room". ♪ this is "cnn breaking news". breaking news tonight, president trump hammering home on immigration, trying to kbrks en up gop enthusiasm less than a week before the midterm election. right now he's on his way to a rally in florida, the first of 11 rallies he will be holding between now and election day, leaving the white house just a little while ago the president denied fearmongering with immigration, but also said he may deploy as many as 15,000 u.s. troops to the southern border, more troops than the u.s. has in afghanistan.
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he repeated his threat to override u.s. constitutional provisions on citizenship. i will talk about that and more with congress woman jackie speier of the intelligence committee and with the former u.s. attorney ferrera. let's go to chief white house correspondent jim acosta in ft. myers, florida where the president is getting ready to kick off his marathon campaign swing. jim, there's deep concern among some republicans the president is doing more harm than good. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump will be here in ft. myers in a short while from now to try to boost his party's chances in the upcoming midterm elections just less than a week from now. the president is getting some pushback from members of his own party as one top gop aide said to me earlier today, the president is screwing up the party's message. wolf, the president earlier this afternoon, it was not a surprise. he once again seized on the subject of immigration, telling reporters once again that he
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wants to change the fourth amendment right to birthright citizenship in this country, something almost every constitutional scholar says he can't do. >> you don't need a constitutional amendment for birthright citizenship. i may very well do it by executive order. >> reporter: less than one week before the midterm elections, president trump has picked a new fight, this time with a top leader in his own party, house speaker paul ryan, the battle over the president's pledge to end birthright citizenship in the u.s. with an executive order, something ryan says mr. trump can't do because it is in the constitution. the president tweeted, paul ryan should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, something he knows nothing about. that was in response to the speaker saying, hold on. >> well, you obviously cannot do that. you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. >> reporter: a senior gop aide jumped to ryan's defense, telling cnn this is a great way to screw up the message a week
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before the election, first the birthright comment itself and now attacking the top republican in congress who is trying to save our majority. >> not fearmongering at all. immigration is a very important subject. >> reporter: top officials like kellyanne conway insists it is an open question. >> there are scholars who say the 14th amendment has been misinterpreted and the supreme court has never given an opinion on this. >> reporter: her husband disagrees, writing in a "washington post" op-ed what scholars have stated, such a more would be unconstitutional and would be challenged and the challengers would undoubtedly win. the white house fixation on immigration is the october no-surprise with the president touting his move to send u.s. troops to the border to halt the caravan of migrants still weeks away. >> as far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out. we have about 5,000, we will go up to between 10,000 and 15,000 military personnel on top of
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border patrol, i.c.e., and everybody else at the border. >> reporter: the president is lobbying more insults one day after his trip to pittsburgh where he visited the scene of the mass shooting at the tree of life synagogue, accusing the media of hyping the demonstrations against his trip tweeting, melania and i were treated very nicely in pittsburgh, we were treated so warmly. the small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. the fake news stories were just the opposite, disgraceful. campaigning with democrats, former vice president joe biden says it is time for the president to stop demonizing his adversaries. >> we need to recognize that words matter. you have to understand that our opponents are not our enemies, they are our opponents. the press is not the enemy of the american people. >> reporter: as for the president's call to send up to 15,000 troops to the border, contrast that with the 14,000 troops in afghanistan right now fighting a real war against a
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real enemy. of course, not all of those troops sent to the border will be anything like that kind of combat role you are seeing in afghanistan right now, wolf. as for the president's comments on pittsburgh, it is worth noting a tweet he put out earlier this afternoon where he praised one gop congressman, keith saying he was impressed with him more than other political figures. that was a jab at the political figures that did not want to be seen with the president as the city is in mourning. the 14th amendment, the right to birthright citizenship in this country, it is almost a guarantee, wolf, the president will bring it up again tonight at all of the rallies in the final stretch of the midterm election cycle. he has been seizing on the subject of immigration. make no mistake, he probably will once again go after that 14th amendment right to birthright citizenship. when he says he can do it by executive order, the viewers at home should know he can't. wolf. >> yeah, he wants to wow up that republican base though. he thinks it is a winning
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political issue. jim acosta, thank you very much. now a cnn exclusive. tonight sources close to the former white house counsel don mcgahn are telling cnn in his last day on the job president trump blamed mcgahn for robert mueller's appointment as the special counsel for the russia investigation. our political correspondent sara murray is here with the latest. why is the president blaming mcgahn for the robert mueller investigation? >> well, wolf, some might say the president's decision to fire fbi director james comey is really what set a special counsel being named. look, we know that the president and don mcgahn have had a rocky relationship. on his way out the door, the president expressed his sort of blame that the special counsel is there at all, that the russia cloud is still looming over this white house. you know, don mcgahn has cooperated extensively with robert mueller in his probe, but i think this is just another indication of the friction between these two men. remember, it was a very awkward departure for mcgahn. trump sort of announced on twitter he was leaving. he announced in an associated
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press interview who would be replacing him. we know don mcgahn threatened to quit a number of times when he was at the white house. we are told, however, the president did compliment him on some of his stronger suits while he was there, like stocking the courts with conservative judges. >> we are also learning this mueller and his team are referring to the fbi a rather bizarre claim from some, you know, right wing elements out there for -- they want the fbi to investigate this. >> bizarre is the right way to put it. i mean it is hard to say if it was supposed to be a smear campaign against robert mueller, if this was maybe also some kind of plan to try to discredit the media. but follow me for a second down this rabbit hole. it starts a couple of weeks ago. journalists start getting e-mails from this person who claimed they've heard from a republican lobbyist offering money in exchange for making false allegations against robert mueller. well, the special counsel's office gets wind that there's, you know, a person out there who might be offering money for false allegations and they say in a statement, which is rare
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from the special counsel, when we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the fbi for investigation. so around this same time a 20-year-old far right internet personal, jacob wall, takes to twitter and says a scandalous story is coming about robert mueller, and jack birkman, a republican lobbyist says he's going to hold a press conference and bring forward a woman with a sexual assault allegation against mueller. after this, another woman comes forward, this time a vermont law professor. she says, i also got a weird e-mail from sure fire intelligence. she shares the e-mail with cnn and shows that sure fire intelligence wants to offer her money for anything she knows about the special counsel. now, we know wall is tied to sure fire intelligence because of a lot of internet sleuthing, but perhaps the funniest or more damning detail is when you call the company's number it redirect's to wall's mother's voicemail. there's a link between wall and
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sure fire intelligence and he admits to "the daily beast" there's a link between sure fire intelligence and jack birkman. this is what is going on behind the scenes. birkman denied he offered to pay women any money. wall says it all sounds like an internet conspiracy and he says he is still going forward with this woman. it has not gone well in the past when he tried to do it with other conspiracy theories but we will see what happens. >> very bizarre. >> very bizarre. >> thank you very much. let's get more on all of this. democratic congress woman jackie speier of california is joining us. she is a member of the intelligence and armed services committees. thank you for joining us. let me get your immediate reaction to this apparent effort to try to smear the special counsel, robert mueller. >> sure fire is a misfire, and i think they are going to have to regroup. it underscores though how desperate many people are in the circle around the president to
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try and bring down the mueller investigation. that's what this is. it is pretty patently obvious. so i think that they have been found out in a way that they weren't planning on being found out and there's a mother involved in it on top of it. it is a little laughable actually. >> it is very, as i said, bizarre situation. so roger stone, who has been a close associate of the president for many years, he appeared before your committee, the house intelligence committee last year. do you think he knew ahead of the time, ahead of time that wikileaks would release those hacked e-mails during the presidential campaign? do you think he was coordinating with wikileaks or the trump campaign, becau think he wanted coordinate with wikileaks and he certainly, i think, was made aware of what wikileaks was doing. whether or not there was coordination really is reliant on seeking the subpoena power
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that we had in the committee that wasn't used to get the direct messages of roger stone, because that's how he was communicating with julian assange. >> if the democrats, your party, win control of the house of representatives next tuesday, what do you think is on the agenda for the house intelligence committee once it is chaired by a democrat? >> i think we're going to do the job we were first required to do, and that is subpoena those that we were unable to pursue under the nunes committee, and we will do a comprehensive review just like the senate bipartisan committee is doing. but, again, ours became so much a pawn of the president that we weren't doing our job. >> and you will have subpoena power, so you're going to go after a lot of documents i assume, is that right? >> yes. we need to go after a lot of documents that roger stone has, that donald trump jr. has, and
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that others that we had attempted to get but were unsuccessful. >> let's turn to the president's closing arguments in these days just before the midterm elections. you served on the armed services committee. do you see any reason to send between 10,000 to 15,000 u.s. troops to the border with mexico right now? >> absolutely not. we're sending 10,000 to 15,000 troops, which means we are going to spend between 100 and $150 million so that he can have his -- i guess his surprise, his october surprise, but they can't do anything. they can't arrest anyone. i hope to god they can't shoot anyone. so they become a -- a public display of power and a human wall, but for what purpose? to somehow keep breastfeeding mothers and shoeless children from being able to come here and
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seek asylum? and we're talking about a number that will almost exceed the number of border patrol agents we have. we have about 19,000 border patrol agents. we will have between 10,000 and 15,000 troops on the border. it is an expenditure of money that the taxpayers should not have to put up so that the president can try and, you know, get a vote that he is seeking from his base. the american people are seeing through this, and i think you are going to see a real november surprise come november 6th. >> the president, however, he describes the people in those caravans, in his words, as thugs and gang members, as he seems to think calling some of them middle easterners will make people fearful. you are a member of the intelligence committee. have you seen any intelligence that there are middle easterners
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moving through mexico, about 1,000 miles from the united states? >> there is absolutely no evidence. what we have seen from the president is that he will throw out whatever red meat he can, hoping that it will be devoured. and when he doesn't see it being accepted, then he moves on to something else. 5,000 troops wasn't enough, so he then said it was going to be 10,000 troops. meanwhile, how many troops did we send to puerto rico to help after the hurricane? i mean when have we been responding to the american people in a way that he's willing to respond on the border to people that are seeking refugee status. >> yeah, the president says middle easterners a lot of people think he's trying to suggest there are terrorists moving through the caravans towards the united states. the president is also arguing right now that he can with a signature, stroke of a pen, change the 14th amendment to the constitution with an executive order, as it is called. you're a lawyer.
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would that executive order if he were to sign it ending birthright citizenship, the 14th amendment to the constitution, would that be constitutional? >> the ink on his felt tip pen would not be dry before a constitutional challenge would be filed. it would never go into effect. once again, it is his effort to throw anything he can up against the wall to see if it sticks in an effort to try to drive up the numbers of his base. i don't even think it is the republican base anymore, but he is -- he is truly just grasping at straws in an effort to try and save his majority in the house, which i think he's going to lose. >> even the house speaker, paul ryan, said the president simply can't do it. the president really went after him today for suggesting that, at one point suggesting paul ryan doesn't know what he is talking about. he says paul ryan should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship,
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something he knows nothing about. our new republican majority will work on this, closing the immigration loopholes and securing our borders. bottom line, congresswoman, what do you think the impact of all of this rhetoric will be on the results next tuesday? >> well, i hope the american people will recognize that the president will lash out at anybody, even members of his own party. he will eat his young if necessary in an effort to stay as powerful as he possibly can be. i think the american people will recognize that we need a check against the executive. that's why there are three equal branches of government, and it is time for the congress to be that check against the president's efforts to try and operate outside of the constitution. >> you going to be the majority you think? >> well, we're not going to take anything for granted. we're going to continue to make our case to the american people that the affordable care act is something that we're going to protect, preexisting conditions is something that is going to be maintained, and we're not going
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to turn it into -- you can have preexisting condition coverage, but it is going to cost you a lot of money. it should be part of the mandated benefits, which is part of the affordable care act. we want infrastructure building. we want more jobs and we want to deal with the corruption that has plagued this administration. >> congresswoman jackie speier, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. all right. just ahead we will have more on the attempted smear campaign against the special counsel, robert mueller, and why it unraveled. plus, i will speak about that and the breaking news with our senior legal analyst, the former u.s. attorney -- there is he. with safelite, you can see exactly when we'll be there. saving you time for what you love most. >> kids: whoa! >> kids vo: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪
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tonight the fbi is investigating an attempted right wing effort to smear the special counsel, robert mueller, with a sexual assault allegation. let's talk about that and much more with the former u.s. attorney, our cnn senior legal analyst, preet bharara. preet, a spokesperson for the special counsel's office released a rare public statement. i will read it to you and our viewers. when we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the fbi for investigation. what do you think is behind this rather bizarre effort? >> i think what is behind it is cynicism, fear, panic perhaps, desperation. you know, peter carr, whose name you had on the screen a second ago, was a spokesperson for the justice department for a period of time, or a subdivision of the
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justice department, when i was u.s. attorney and he had a lot more to do in that position. during the time he's been the spokesperson for the special counsel's office, no offense to him, but it is one of the easiest jobs you can have in public relations because he doesn't speak. he is a spokesperson that doesn't speak because the mueller team doesn't say anything, and they're as tight lipped as any prosecutorial agency you will ever see. as you point out, the fact he made a statement about these supposed allegations tells you something about how seriously they take them. i find it odd that this kind of effort would be undertaken a week before the election, but maybe not so odd. maybe it is understandable. i'm curious to know what all of the facts are. you know, when things like this come fofrd, yrward, you want to you take a step back. not that i think anything untoward happened on the part of bob mueller, that would be astonishing to me, but it is odd certain women were contacted, one woman in particular i have seen or heard on television who is a professor at a university, claims she never met bob
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mueller, doesn't know bob mueller. i don't understand why exactly she was pursued, why people thought if it is true that she would be prepared to say for relatively modest amount of money, ruin someone's reputation and put herself in the spotlight. it doesn't make a lot of sense to me, so i would like to see more facts come out. >> it is a very, very bizarre situation. let's talk about some of the other issues going on right now. the president just a little while ago on the white house lawn as he was leaving the white house to head down to florida, he said that he hasn't been subpoenaed by robert mueller and his team, but do you expect the report from the special counsel in the coming months without an in-person -- not a written, but an in-person interview with the president? >> i do. i think the prospect -- we have been talking for some months, wolf, after, you know, weeks -- after weeks and weeks and weeks, that the president keeps maneuvering through his lawyers a way not to have an in-person interview. it is his right. some people suggested he could even take the fifth and it
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wouldn't harm him so much politically, but we have seen this wrangling back and forth about written questions, about an in-person interview. it seems to me based on the commentary and based on the risk to the president himself that the likelihood of that happening is very low. i also think the likelihood of a report by mueller is obviously very high, and it becoming public is very high. when you say, can we expect it in the coming months, months, yes, but not years. i don't know if it is a month or two months or eight or nine or ten months. it is impossible to tell. >> on a very different subject, i wanted you to watch and listen to what the president said -- once again, just a little while ago -- about the 14th amendment to the constitution which grants american citizenship to anyone born here in the united states. listen to this. >> birthright citizenship is a very, very important subject in my opinion. it is much less complex than people think. i think it says it very loud and clear in the constitution, that you don't have to go through the process of whatever they're
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talking about. and, by the way, this is not a constitutional amendment. you don't need a constitutional amendment for birthright citizenship. i believe that you can have a simple vote in congress or it is even possible in my opinion -- this is after meeting with some very talented legal scholars -- that you can do it through an executive order. now, i'd rather do it through congress because that's permanent, but we can certainly do it through -- i really believe we can do it through executive order. >> all right. your reaction, preet? >> i think it is wrong in basically every respect. once again you have an issue raised a week before the election because it is a hot button topic i think donald trump feels resonates with his base. it is consistent with what he has been saying about this caravan, that he thinks everyone should be scared of. it is consistent with what he says about certain kinds of countries where people come from, in his discussion about building a wall. i think it is intended to divide people. i think it is intended
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to make people annoyed at immigrants, legal and illegal immigration. i think that whether or not you believe that it is a good idea that the 14th amendment provides for this right of birthright citizenship, i don't know any scholar, even ones who otherwise believe that it is not a good policy and could be interpreted a particular way, i don't know anyone who reasonably believes you could undo the language of any provision of the constitution through an executive order. you wonder what is next, the executive order that tries to undo the two-term limit that presidents have had for a number of decades. it is not done that way. it can't be done that way. i imagine, like with so many things, what the president is not after, you know, a legal victory in this regard. i think he is focused more on having this fight and having this battle, because it is something that i think, you know, causes people who support him to be animated and maybe gets them out to vote. i don't know he will ever issue such an executive order. he has made statements about
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issuing pardons to other people before and all sorts of other things. that clip you just showed suggested i may do this, i may do that. what that does is it heightens the rhetoric and it heightens the divisiveness. i think as one of your prior guests said, the congresswoman, the moment he tried to issue such an executive order, which in some ways i would welcome, which may sound odd, because it would immediately be a huge constitutional fight and i think donald trump would be handed a resounding defeat by any judge, democrat or republican appointed. >> all right. preet, thanks very much. let's see what the president does. clearly he thinks it is a political issue six days before the midterm elections. appreciate it very much. >> thanks, wolf. happy halloween. >> thank you, you too. president trump's marathon campaign swing, 11 rallies between now and election day. how divisive will it be? plus a cnn exclusive, we're learning how the president blamed his own white house counsel don mcgahn for the appointment of the special counsel robert mueller.
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more on the breaking news. president trump denying fearmongering but making stunning any immigration claims tonight as he tries to build republican momentum for tuesday's midterm election. jeffrey toobin, the president also saying he could send up to 10,000 to 15,000 u.s. troops to the border with mexico. he says he can simply sign an executive order ending -- denying citizenship to the
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children born here in the united states of undocumented immigrants. what do you think of all of this? >> well, it is a neat trick to demean both the united states military and the united states constitution in the same day. i mean to use our brave troops as a stunt, you know, spend millions of taxpayer dollars to move them to the border, completely unnecessary, just to motivate the base. god forbid if something were to happen to one of those troops down there. it would be just a totally pointless, horrible loss. and then to invent the authority to end birthright citizenship, which you can't do by legislation and you certainly can't do by executive order, again, just to motivate the base, this is how donald trump has chosen to be president. >> you have to do with it an amendment to the constitution. that needs two-thirds majorities of the house and senate or among
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the states. david swerdlick, the president got very upset when it was pointed out to him by house speaker paul ryan, to which the president responded with this tweet. i will read it once again. paul ryan should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, something he knows nothing about, exclamation point. our new republican majority will work on this, closing the immigration loopholes and securing our border. is this what republicans want six days before the midterm elections, the president slapping the speaker, paul ryan? >> two takeaways from this, wolf. one, i think it is a little late in the game for speaker ryan to grow a backbone. he has had opportunities over the course of the last two years to sort of set the president straight on any number of policy issues, now this is when he does it when he is out the door. my response to that is whatever. my second comment on trump specifically in this case is i think he wants to talk about this. he would rather talk about
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anything immigration related because he and his advisers think it an mates the republican base in a way other things don't. even though it looks like a rift among the republicans, he can spin it around and say, i'm against the establishment. >> let me let ron brown in on this. go ahead, ron. >> it is interesting. i look at what he is doing as an implicit form of trash. people are talking about whether the election is a wave. i think it is the wrong lens through which to view it. if you look at this unusually big battle field, we have the potential for realignment. you are seeing enormous risk and movement away from republicans in white collar suburbs in virtually every major metropolitan area across the country from philadelphia and new jersey, minneapolis, orange county, even potentially orau and atlanta and houston and texas. on the other hand, you are seeing much less movement away from the republicans, less risk for them in the blue collar
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areas where trump is still strong. while emphasizing these issues which have the potential to help republicans in rural areas but deepen the problems they're facing among the white collar suburbanites recoiling from trump, i think the white house is implicitly acknowledging that the house is essentially gone and they're trying to limit the extent of the losses and protect themselves and maximize their opportunities in the senate where they're competing largely in these rural, you know, heavily white, more midwestern states, heartland states. so in a way the fact that they are emphasizing -- he is emphasizing the cultural issues at the end of the campaign to me is a sign of weakness as any strength. >> you know, rebecca, the president always likes to shape the news as much as he possibly can, but there were two stories this week, awful stories, the serial bomber and the mass murder at the synagogue in pittsburgh. apparently, you know, being consoler in chief not necessarily one of his strengths. in a tweet today, he sort of insulted those pittsburgh leaders who were busy at
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funerals, dealing with those who have suffered. he wrote this. he said, yesterday in pittsburgh i was really impressed with congressman keith -- far more so than any other local political figure. his sincere level of compassion, grief and sorrow for the events that took place what in its own way very inspiring. vote for keith! what do you think about that? >> well, on the endorsement, first of all, wolf, you have to work hard to make an endorsement by the president into a net negative, and that's what president trump was able to do by mentioning this horrible tragedy in pittsburgh in the context of the up coming midterm luxes. if i were the congressman, i think he is probably feeling some grief and sorrow after that tweet in addition to what he was feeling already from this terrible tragedy. but, look, the president is out of his comfort zone. he doesn't like, as you mentioned, having to be a moral leader, the comforter in chief. he views the world through the
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price many prism of wins and losses. he views everything through the prism of politics. if you can't have the discussion on that turf, the political turf, he feels very uncomfortable and you get tweets like that. >> there were other tweets as well. jeffrey, go ahead. >> i mean it is just unbelievable. i mean, you know, it just shows how, you know, inured we have become to this. i mean the fact that he's criticizing these politicians for going to funerals for a mass murder that took place in their community instead of waiting by his airplane, i mean it is like -- you know, the politicization of this tragedy, it is not even effective, but the attempt alone is just g grotesque. >> ron, this whereas the deadliest anti-semitic attack in american history. 11 wonderful people were at services saturday morning, they were praying and a gunman walks in with an ar-15, three pistols,
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glock pistols, and starts killing people. >> and a gunman repeating arguments broadcast into living rooms every day on fox and being echoed by the president, you know, essentially this is an invasion, using that language, that is threatening the country. it really does, i think, reinforce -- you know, if you look at why are republicans struggling so much in this election in these white collar suburban places that are thriving in the economy? and it is, you know, largely concern about trump's behavior as president, its impact on the cohesion of the country, on the fabric of the country. these kinds of attacks raise those concerns, make them more immediate. i would just point out, the fact that he is ending the campaign emphasizing these divisive social issues, particularly on immigration, just reinforces, inflames all of those doubts. i think all of the suburban republicans in close races are looking at this i think in the same way, as essentially he is throwing them overboard in an attempt to both limit the damage and to maximize their chances in
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the senate. but i cannot imagine there is a suburban republican in a close race who is happy after these horrific, this horrific violence to spend the last few days of the campaign arguing about whether to end birthright citizenship. >> yeah, it is a fair point, you know. the house minority leader, nancy pelosi, david, was on stephen colbert's show and she made a prediction about what is going to happen next tuesday. >> let me say this. up until today i would have said if the election were held today we would win. >> what happened today that changed that? >> now i'm saying we will win. we will win. we will win. we will win. >> please don't say that. do you want to say that on hillary's fireworks barge she cancelled? >> what do you think? >> so she wants to project confidence. look, speaker pelosi -- or former speaker pelosi has been doing this a long time.
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she knows what she is doing. that being said, we are talking about a generic congressional ballot of seven or eight points. president trump still has a 44% approval rating, right where he was on inauguration day. for any democrat, including leader pelosi to get cocky in this situation i think is a mistake. >> let's see what happens. everybody stick around. don't go too far away. we have a lot more right after this. hi i'm joan lunden. today's senior living communities have never been better, with amazing amenities like movie theaters, exercise rooms and swimming pools, public cafes, bars and bistros even pet care services. and there's never been an easier way to get great advice. a place for mom is a free service that pairs you with a local advisor to help you sort through your options and find a perfect place.
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gavin newsom has lived the rich made him powerful. but he's done nothing to help us. every day i work harder. rent, food, and gas prices climb. poverty, homelessness-- gavin admits it. we created-- it happened on our watch. what you see out there on the streets and sidewalk happened on our watch. now he says he'll have courage, for a change, but gavin's had his chance for eight years,
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and he never lifted a finger. it's time for someone new. john cox, governor.
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a spokesman for robert mueller says the special counsel's office has now asked the fbi to look into an alleged and rather bizarre plot to pay women to make sexual assault allegations against mueller. jeffrey toobin, what is your reaction to that? >> well, it is pretty bizarre and it is nothing i have ever heard of involving a prosecutor. i think it is indicative of how hard people are trying, at least some people are trying to discredit mueller. this is obviously false, a fiasco, you know, not based on reality, but i think it is just a message to mueller of what he's in for if and when he becomes public in his accusations about the campaign, the 2016 campaign. once he files a report, you know, the silence will end and he will re-emerge as a public figure, and i think he can look forward to these kind of
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assaults against him, and this one may be actually a crime. >> because the fbi is now investigating. he referred it to the fbi. >> potentially, potentially attempted blackmail, mail fraud. you know, there are a variety of crimes it might be depending on what actually happened, but i think it is a trailer for the kind of attacks, most of them constitutionally protected, that mueller will face if and when he issues a report. >> what do you think, ron? >> well, look, i think it is obviously a very bizarre plot, but i think it is also strangely files in or fits in to the kind of underlying theme of this election, which is whether or not there will be any kind of check on the president. you know, congress, the republican congress obviously made the decision early on not to provide anything like a check, and yet, you know, we see voters -- although the issue is not directly engaged in that many places, gravitating that
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way. cnn put out polls in arizona and nevada, and in each case 90% of the people who disapproved of trump said they would vote for the democratic candidates for senate. that is very high. i think the issue of whether there will be any kind of restraint is something that is going to matter a great deal next week. helping republicans in the place where trump is popular and it will be a real weight for republicans to carry up the hill in the places where there are doubts. >> rebecca, we now know the russia investigation -- we have known it for a while -- clearly weighing heavily on the president's mind. cnn is reporting in the final meeting the president had in the oval office with mcgahn, he blamed mcgahn for creating the special counsel, robert >> well, it's ridiculous, wolf. this isn't don mcgahn's fault. lawmakers have supported this investigation. this investigation is about donald trump and donald trump's
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campaign and that's the beginning and the end of it. and donald trump knows that, but he is someone who just cannot accept any blame ever about anything. he takes the credit very quickly, but he never accepts blame. and so he sees this investigation over which he has no control. it's frustrating for him personally and professionally. we've seen that frustration from him time and again on twitter and in public. and so he needs someone to blame. and don mcgahn was there in the room at that time. i'm sure he blames other people as well. he blames jeff sessions, as we all know. but he himself cannot accept that blame. >> keep in mind -- just keep in mind, you know, we're listening to nancy pelosi as if it's a done deal that the democrats are going to retake the house. if the democrats don't and if the republicans keep the senate, mueller is skating on very thin ice. i mean the president is dying to fire this guy. if he gets a vindication, an
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affirmation from the voters next week, i think mueller's days are numbered. >> what do you think, david? >> i think jeffrey is right. what is really going to change, if anything, after the midterms is whether or not democrats have subpoena power, the chairmanships they need to look into questions they have been up able to get answers to because the republicans control the committees in both houses. >> jeffrey, does the president not understand the role of a white house counsel as opposed to a personal attorney that he might hire? >> no, he doesn't, because he thinks the entire federal government works for him. >> yes. >> yeah. >> he thinks jeff sessions is his private lawyer. he thinks don mcgahn was his private lawyer. he doesn't like his private lawyers, he keeps getting rid of them. this is someone who thinks that a bad result is the fault of the people around him, not the underlying conduct. he's the one who fired james comey. he's the one who told lester holt he fired him because of the
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russia investigation. this is all on him, but he lashes out at the people he holds responsible. >> everybody stick around, hold on, there's a lot more we're following. there's other important news as well, including this. russia announcing plans to test missiles near a major nato military exercise. plus, the growing concern over russia's submarine fleet and very aggressive efforts to modernize it. ndshield fixed. with safelite, you can see exactly when we'll be there. saving you time for what you love most. >> kids: whoa! >> kids vo: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪
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russia has notified nato that it will conduct missile tests in the very same region with a major nato military exercise is taking place. russia has already flown some bombers in the area as well. our senior international correspondent, fred pleitgen, is joining us from moscow right now. fred, on top of this, there's growing concern about russia's very aggressive moves to modernize its submarine fleet. >> yeah, absolutely, wolf. the u.s. says that the russians are spending a lot of money not just building new submarines, but making the submarines that they have more lethal and using them more aggressively than they have at any time since the end of the cold war. we got access to the u.s. unit trying to counter russia's underwater moves. here's what we saw. the nuclear submarine, one of russia's newest, on the prowl. test firing intercontinental ballistic missiles from under the sea, putting america and its
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allies on notice. >> they're letting us know that they're out there, they're operating in much greater numbers and places that they have not operated before. >> as tensions before the u.s. and russia rise, america says it's not overly concerned about vladimir putin's fleet of war ships. but that the stealthy and powerful subs pose a serious threat to american and allied navys, supply lines and even ports. america is reacting, sending its most advanced p-8 anti-submarine planes to the northern atlantic region and spending $34 million upgrading its base in iceland, where cnn was given exclusive access. >> the ocean is big. it's a chess match between the sub commander and all the asw assets that are trying to find them. >> submarines are now one of the centerpieces of russia's navy, the u.s. says, like the massive
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oscar class, nicknamed the carrier killer because its mission is destroying u.s. aircraft carriers. and the modernized kilo class, now capable of carrying cruise missiles. cnn was on hand when they launched several hitting isis targets. a threat the u.s. has to respect and react to, the top commander tells cnn. >> we can no longer take for granted that we can sail with impunity all of the oceans, whether it be the north atlantic, the baltic, the black sea, the mediterranean or the arctic ocean. >> the u.s. says it won't be intimidated by russia's submarine fleet but it is rallying allies to get serious about countering moscow's underwater moves. >> wolf, the u.s. also says the arctic is more and more becoming a contested area and the russians using those submarines to project power in that area. once again, a big concern for
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america and its allies, wolf. >> major concern indeed, reminding me of the bad old days of the cold war. all right, fred, thank you very much. fred pleitgen reporting live from mouse could yscow. to our viewers, thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. outfront next, the president is threatening to send up to 15,000 troops to the southern border. that's more than the u.s. has in afghanistan, and it's all to halt a caravan 1,000 miles away. is this all about scaring the voters? plus my reporting on who the president blames for robert mueller's investigation. hint, not himself. and our outfront race of the day, nancy pelosi is not on the ballot in kansas, but why is a race there all about her? let's go outfront. good evening, i'm


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