tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN November 25, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PST
we'll stay on top of that. >> it's a very important step, though. super important. >> i hear you. when that happens, i bet we'll give you a phone call. stay where you are. >> thanks, jim. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> very good monday morning to you. it's thanksgiving week. i'm jim sciutto in new york. poppy harlow has the day off. the washington post is reporting fresh new details about an after the fact effort by the white house to justify the president's decision to withhold military aid from ukraine, according to "the post." white house lawyers conducted a conversation review that turned up hundreds of emails and documents showing conversations that attempted to rationalize the ukraine freeze after notably that whistle-blower came forward. why did they do that? key question. also today, an important ruling is expected that will have major implications on whether key witnesses will be forced to come forward in the future. federal judge any moment now set
to decide whether the house can compel former white house council don mcgahn to testify about his former boss, president trump. what does that mean for officials such as john bolton, who have refused to go in front of the impeachment inquiry. lawmakers are home for thanksgiving, but impeachment wheels still churning on capitol hill. have you heard of a vote mid december possible on impeaching the president? >> reporter: lawmakers are back in their districts this week, but staff very much at work, working through that report, the house intelligence committee is planning to produce, to send over to the judiciary committee to kickstart the actual impeachment and articles of impeachment process into gear. adam schiff over the weekend on "state of the union with jake tapper" did note that other hearings, evidence or witnesses could come to the forefront. as it currently stands, that is
not the plan. there are no future house intelligence committee hearings scheduled at this point in time. the focus now is on drafting that report and getting it over to the judiciary committee. some things happening this week that are sort of outside the scope of what's happening inside the intelligence committee but still super important. everybody with a keen eye on what happens with don mcgahn's case. that subpoena was issued in april. the real reason people care, it's the first real test of the white house's absolute immunity theory. if the court rules that mcgahn has to come to capitol hill, that doesn't mean that the flood gates will open for john bolton, mick mulvaney or others, but it will give people something to think about and at least the first court ruling against the white house on this interesting theory they've put forward. there's still some transcripts out there that need to be released that, have been gone over. from a career omb official, that
"washington post" story. omb officials, by and large, have avoided coming in, have avoided listening to subpoena requests. mark sandy did not. what he says in that transcript will be very interesting to read as we continue to piece together exactly what happened inside the white house with the hold on aid. jim? >> former federal prosecutor and democratic counsel to the white house during the clinton impeachment. a lot to watch. >> a lot. >> although this started before the impeach, don mcgahn's testimony. can the white house claim absolute immunity, as it were, or can they, in your view -- >> there is no founding in the constitution for absolute immunity. that's something that the white house has sort of invented. you think of the white house counsel and you think of privilege. we think of a lawyer and privilege and privileged communication. first of all, white house counsel is the counsel for the
president, office holder of the president. he has his own personal counsel, rudy giuliani. >> heard of him. >> you might have heard of him. that is his private counsel. there is no absolute immunity for this person. also if there was immunity, the president has waved that immunity. he let mcgahn testify many times to mueller. if there was privilege, he waved that privilege. i think that's what the judge will rule in this case. why that's important for the judiciary committee is they want mcgahn to testify about what he told a colleague, a friend, about what trump told him, what he said. i want you to fire mueller. he said mcgahn said to this colleague, i felt like it was going to be a saturday night massacre, recalling nixonian times when that's what happened in nixon times. the judiciary committee wants that language, that saturday night massacre language in front
of the american public, to set the table for the intent behind president trump -- i'm sorry to the justice. >> can that become its own article? >> absolutely. >> even though it's related not to ukraine? >> because what the committee would want to do, and you're setting it up as a trial for the senate. intent is so important in obstruction of justice articles. you want to show a pattern of behavior. it wasn't just that one july call. it's a pattern of behavior. this sets it up like that. >> so, let's say judge makes the decision to compel him to testify. >> right. >> there are other obstacles that republicans can throw in, appeals, et cetera, takes a while. >> of course. >> how quickly does this move to when the final word is delivered, you've got to testify? >> what could happen here is an emergency appeal, obviously, would be put in place and the judge herself could say no to that right away, because the judge can see here what's
happening. i mean, judges are people too, believe it or not, beneath the robes. they can see, look, if we don't allow this to go forward it's not going to happen in time and what's going on, the name of the groun. >> brown may be thinking that way. but leon has been take iing due time. i guess from a practical perspective, you know the courts well. >> right. >> does this practically force one of these witnesses to come forward before the democrats' current timeline? >> it may force mcgahn. the other witnesses like john bolton are looking at this. does president hold the other witnesses absolutely to be able to testify and say this is what i can stand on? no, it doesn't for sure, but it may open not a flood gate but a trickle gate. >> okay. the new gate. >> the new gate. >> let's talk about these emails that "the washington post" is reporting on, after a decision
was made to hold back this ukraine aid, there was concern, white house did a little review and were looking for retroactive justification. >> they were looking for cover. >> that clearly blows up a gop defense that this came out of nowhere, but legally, can democrats get their hands on those emails for the impeachment inquiry? >> they're certainly going to try to. the white house has said you're not going to get hold of them. what's more important than that is roll the tape back, as i'm sure the democrats will do during the trial, and look at all the questioning that was already done. they don't even have to get the tape -- the emails. look at all the questioning that was already done during the hearings about the diplomats were peppered with these questions about this is the normal course of business this is just all normal, the holding back of aid. well, clearly, it wasn't. so as you can see from the emails we now know. so there goes that defense.
already it was already seen to be a farce. >> well, lots to watch in the course the next few hours. lis wiehl, thank you very much, as always. of course, there are a lot of politics. political reporter for the times. lisa, maybe i could begin with you. you have court cases that could go the democrats way, could not. let's say they do. let's put the brakes on here because we might still get witnesses that could attest to the president's direct involvement whether it's don mcgahn or eventually john bolton. do you see democrats waivering at all on the very aggressive timeline they have? >> no. i think for democrats the best impeachment is a quick impeachment and that's the sense that there is in the house, in part, because there's a pretty strong feeling that this is going to be a party line vote, that it's unlikely any republican also break ranks and that this process is already --
then, of course, the process will move into the senate where it's likely to run into the the iowa caucuses and the beginning of that presidential primary. and i think a lot of people in washington expect that the final verdict will be delivered not in the senate on president trump but next fall when voters actually go to the polls. so, you know, democrats don't really want to do anything that could mess up their ability to win that election. and they're worried if this draws out, it could do that. >> but, jeff, i suppose, straight party line vote -- we all watched the hearings and you heard the comments, moderates like will hurd coming out saying inappropriate but not impeachable, which seems to be a lot of what folks are holding on to here. politically that's not the best result for democrats either, straight-up party line vote. >> it's also exactly what nancy pelosi wanted to avoid. the things we were watching in the run-up to this was the
speaker in the months before these actual hearings began, saying you need to have bipartisan support for impeachment. there needs to be can clear evidence. republicans are taking those words and throwing them back at her, throwing them at the democrats and saying, in these two weeks of public impeachment hearings, you have not moved the needle and you have not found a smoking gun. that will certainly add to the partisan climate here in washington and on the campaign trail. >> lisa, i've heard a lot of interesting things on television through the years. this interview with rick perry in the last 24 hours was pretty remarkable in the way that he spoke about the president to a friendly audience i want to play it and get your thoughts. have a listen. >> god used imperfect people all through history. king david wasn't perfect, solomon wasn't perfect. i gave the president a pager on those a month ago.
i said mr. president, people say you were the chosen one, and i said you were. >> you are the chosen one. i mean, is that a demonstration of just how far the republican party has come to be a party of trump? >> well, i don't think that's exactly what the founders intended when they talked about separation of church and state in terms of how a monarchy, but i do think that rick perry's sentiments are reflected in the evangelical community, strongly in support of president trump and sees him as this imperfect messenger. his personal life isn't exactly where they would like it to be, but he has delivered on many of their top priorities, particularly when it comes to abortion rights and other social issues. i do think that rick perry is expressing a sentiment that's fairly common among some of the president's strongest supporters in his base. >> jeff mason, another moment
this weekend. again, it gets to gop being the party of trump. john kennedy defending a baseless conspiracy theory regarding 2016 election interference. i'll play that and take a listen. >> who do you believe was responsible for hacking the dnc and clinton campaign emails? was it russia or ukraine? >> i don't know. nor do you, nor do any of us. >> the entire intelligence community says it was russia. >> right, but it could also be ukraine. >> russia tried to interfere in 2016. also, ukrainians themselves tried to interfere also. >> there's nothing to back that up. jeff mason, in the simplest terms, why are senators, smart ones seemingly willing to proffer what we know is russian propaganda?
>> it's a great question, jim. it's hard to answer. it's clear that they're willing to dismiss the intelligence. chris wallace was spot on when he responded to the senator saying that all of the u.s. intelligence agencies believe it was russia, that tried to interfere or did interfere, rather, in the 2016 election. they're willing to put that aside. they want, in many ways, to, i think, stick with the theory that president trump has clearly raised and clearly believes, which has led very much so to this impeachment process because he was seeking investigations and lessoning to rudy giuliani when he raised these issues about ukraine. politically, will that eventually hurt them? that's also a tbd question. right now, it doesn't seem to be. and right now it's in line with president trump's strategy of sticking with the base. >> until russia interferes again in less than a year's time. lisa lerer, jeff mason, thanks to both of you. top official fired over what the pentagon says was a secret
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note this. a republican defended a baseless conspiracy theory that ukraine, as well as russia, interfered in the 2016 campaign. somehow senator john kennedy said we don't know what's true. that's patentally false. the intelligence community said that russian president vladimir putin order ed an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the u.s. presidential election. troll farm, quote, sought to influence the 2016 election by harming hillary clinton's chances of success and supporting donald trump at the direction of the kremlin. and as fiona hill, the president's own former top russia adviser testified under oath last week, the ukraine
conspiracy theory itself is russian propaganda. >> some of you on this committee appear to believe that russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, ukraine did. this is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propulgated by the russian security services themselves. >> that's right. russian propaganda. i wrote a book about russian interference and other aggression "the shadow war," how many digital fingerprints tied the act to russia, well-known to u.s. intelligence, as a former top nsa official told me the russians didn't even try tri-to hide. nicole roths hadh a very personal encounter with crowdstrike, which helped to trace that russian hack and joins me now. great to have you on, nicole. you cover these stories very closely. tell us about crowdstrike and
what they told you about russian interference. >> well, back in 2016, it was pretty clear from the forensics, as you said, jim, that russian actors were to blame. two groups. fancy bear and cozy bear, really well-known to the cyber community had left their digital fingerprints all over the hack at the dnc. now crowdstrike was familiar to me, and many who cover the industry, because the founders who trump has said the company is own by a wealthy ukrainian. there's no truth to that. it was founded by three american citizens, all who came from mcafee. one of them was born in moscow and now lives in washington and is an american citizen. the other two are american citizens as well. and one of the things that a lot of people don't know about crowdstrike is that while these guys were at mcafee, they wrote one of the seminole reports on
chinese cyber espionage. it was a big report they did. i think there was a series of three or four reports where they wrote about in quite a lot of detail about just how invasive chinese cyber espionage had become in the united states. and at the time, and crowdstrike won't say this, but i know this from my own reporting. at the time, the guys who wrote this, they had named china in the report, and intel that owns mcafee was very uncomfortable with the naming of china for business reasons. part of the reason they left to go start their own company was to focus intensely on the chinese cyber es pichlt onage program. >> china and russia could very similar things, election interference, a whole host of cyber maened activities here. a baseless conspiracy we know is russian propaganda, what answer
would they have as to why they're going down this path? beyond crowdstrike, the u.s. intelligence community, senator intelligence committee chaired by republicans concluded with confidence it was russia and russia alone. what excuse do they have for this? >> they have not offered a very good excuse. and, you know, let me also point out that the idea that crowdstrike sent a server, the dnc server to ukraine is just a dumb theory, to be honest, because 100 something servers at the dnc that were compromised. it was not just one server, okay? so the idea that crowdstrike sent one server to ukraine is a preposterous idea. and trump said over and over again that they never gave the servers to the fbi. that's not how it works. the fbi will come in and take an image of those servers, which is basically a forensic copy. they rarely come in and actually
remove the hardware itself. they don't need to. as long as they get a copy of what's on those servers, they're good to go. so, i don't know why the republicans keep propulgating this russian propaganda, other than it fits with this idea that trump does not want to recognize that russia may have helped his election victory in 2016. >> and republican lawmakers -- >> and i say that -- >> -- appear willing to back that kind of psychosis almost for political reasons here i want to ask you again, because you know how much russia is up to this sort of thing. by the way, we have an election less than a year away. how does it help russia to have an american president and american lawmakers help spread and defend a conspiracy theory? >> well, it just helps -- it does not address the fact that we're now heading in to one of the consequential elections in
the past decade and if we can't agree on the basic facts that russia and russian hackers interfered in the 2016 election, then we're not going to be any better off this time than we were four years ago. and, you know, we also should point out that mitch mcconnell refuses to bring any election security bill to the senate floor and through our reporting, and i'm sure you've heard the same, a lot of it is because of the fact that any kind of election security bill is seen by this administration as yet another reminder that russia did intervene in the 2016 election. and what's horrible is that from all the reporting, we also know that it's very unlikely that russia is going to run the same play book that they ran in the last election, and we're still playing catch-up to 2016, where we can't even agree on the basic facts that russia did interfere. >> raise the question, who is
defending the next election and the term negligence comes to mind. nicole perlroth, great to have you on and this conversation as we get closer to election day. >> my pleasure, jem. something tells me democrats relaxing after high-stakes hearings on the hill. celebrating a successful business trip together is easy, if you're staying at holiday inn. of millions of americans during the recession. so, my wife kat and i took action. we started a non-profit community bank with a simple theory - give people a fair deal and real economic power. invest in the community, in businesses owned by women and people of color, in affordable housing. the difference between words and actions matters. that's a lesson politicians in washington could use right now.
lawmakers head home for thanksgiving break. the hearings did not sway, as far as we know, a single republican. with me now, ro khanna, who serves on the budget committee. thanks for being here. >> thanks to have me on. >> he still wants to discuss this with his constituents and colleagues, hasn't made a decision to impeach. have you seen enough evidence to impeach the president? >> i have. i think the evidence is overwhelming. the president pressured zelensky to dig up dirt on joe biden and when would aid. to me, that's an impeachable offense. >> as you know, your republican colleagues noted, and to be fair, it's largely because the white house didn't allow witnesses to testify, but still a direct line hasn't been drawn
to the president with the president telling someone in the administration, do x, right? withhold this aid. i just wonder, since you have court cases that may compel witnesses to testify, including one today regarding don mcgahn, former white house counsel, why not wait until you have the opportunity to at least expend all legal recourse to get those witnesses to testify? >> first of all, i think ambassador sondland's testimony establishes a direct line to the president. but the reason why chairman schiff has left open the possibility of more witnesses is there is the don mcgahn decision today. if we can expeditiously get a mick mulvaney, don mcgahn or john bolton to testify, we will do so but we're not going to wait months and months and let the white house drag out the process. >> how long are you willing to wait, then? that opens you, does it not, as to whether you're following a political timeline as opposed to
the most substantive timeline to complete the impeachment inquiry. >> i think the evidence is already overwhelming. you have representatives saying let's follow the facts and then the white house is asking him to walk that back. there's nothing that will convince the republicans in the house. if we can get more evidence, we will do that. many of our colleagues believe that the evidence is already overwhelming and enough to vote for impeachment. >> i want to quote a democratic fund-raiser from a story on the hill who said the following. after three years, the country was sick of hearing about russia, now the average american doesn't understand or doesn't care about the case we're making on ukraine, democratic fund-raiser waring patience, if you want to call it that, with another investigation, justified or not. how concerned are you that democrat also pay a price, particularly in swing districts, in 2020? >> i'm not concerned.
i think people are sick of is scandal after scandal. we saw this with richard nixon. the country said we want something new. you had jimmy carter's election. we saw this, frankly, with bill clinton, when the country elected george bush. after russia, after ukraine, people are going to say let's start anew and we're going to have a new president in 2021. >> but the difference between, as you know, nixon and clinton and this, in both those cases had you party members cross party lines. it was republicans on the senate judiciary committee who moved against nixon. that forced the resignation. >> i think we may have some republicans look at the evidence and vote against this president. susan collins, lisa murkowski
and even mitt romney is a possibility. we are living in more partisan times. i think most people are saying why are we not getting anything done on prescription drugs when the house is willing to pass a bill, hr-3, why haven't we gotten anything done on infrastructure? they blame the culture in the white house, scandal after scandal, and they want someone who will get something done for the american people. >> congressman ro khanna, thank you for your time. and let me wish you and your family a happy thanksgiving. >> thank you, jim. happy thanksgiving to you and your family as well. accused of war crimes. as he goes, richard spencer takes a parting shot at the president. i'm a regular in my neighborhood.
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this morning, an extraordinary development at the pentagon. spencer fired by mark esper, stemming from the case of navy s.e.a.l. eddie gallagher, who was convicted by a military court for posing with a corpse of an isis fighter. president trump later reversed that decision. on his way out, spencer took a parting shot at the president, accusing him of undermining military discipline. also, in effect, forcing him to violate his oath. joining me now, barbara starr. i understand you've been speaking with the defense secretary, other reporters. what's the latest you're
hearing? >> defense secretary mark es pechesper has just met with a small group of reporters to explain why the navy secretary was fired by him over the weekend. according to mark esper, the defense secretary, the navy secretary was engaged in back channel communications with the white house to try to basically assure while there might be a review of gallagher, he would get to keep, at the end of the day, his s.e.a.l. status, which was very important to him. and that's not what esper had been pushing for with the white house. esper had been pushing for letting the military justice system take its course. what's so striking here is spencer mentions none of this in his resignation letter, no mention that he was doing backchannel negotiations with the white house. esper says when he spoke to spencer over the weekend, he
readily admitteded it and it was at that point esper told him he needed his resignation letter. now president trump also agreeing to what esper is going to do, which is let eddie gallagher retire with his s.e.a.l. status intact. so at the end of the day, gallagher gets what he wants, trump gets what he wants. the navy secretary goes. and a lot of confusion, because it's still not really clear why spencer thought he should engage in these backchannel communications with the white house and not tell the defense secretary anything about it. esper had no idea, he says, that the navy secretary was doing this and he says that is a violation of chain of command, a violation of procedures in the defense department and, if you can't agree with an order, you've got to resign. >> but we also know spencer, the two-star in charge of the navy s.e.a.l.s was not happy with the
white house intervening in a case of military justice but also in a disciplinary decision here n light of all of this, was esper, the defense secretary, willing to challenge the president on his interference in this case? now esper has said gallagher cannot get a fair hearing on the disciplinary issue, so we're just going to let that slide. >> well, after spencer -- i think his thinking is after spencer engaged in these communications with the white house that no one knew about, to now send this to a navy review board of noncommissioned officers would be placing an undue burden on them, that no matter what they would decide, people would say it was a precooked deal and that there was unfair treatment. esper is now saying that gallagher needs to get out of the navy. that will happen, we believe, on november 30th, and that the entire department needs to move on. an awful lot of time and effort has been spent on this. >> no disciplinary action as
well. barbara starr, thank you very much. >> sure. dozens of young elephants captured in the wild in zimbabwe now locked up, here is the picture, in cages in china. the exclusive report on why this is happening and the understandable global outrage. s. you don't need to go anywhere dad, this is your home. the best home to be in is your own. home instead offers personalized in-home services for your loved ones. home instead senior care. to us, it's personal. home instead senior care. there's a company that's talked than me: jd power.people 448,134 to be exact. they answered 410 questions in 8 categories about vehicle quality. and when they were done, chevy earned more j.d. power quality awards across cars, trucks and suvs than any other brand over the last four years. so on behalf of chevrolet, i want to say "thank you, real people." you're welcome. we're gonna need a bigger room.
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dozens of young elephants roaming free weeks ago are now being held in china. zimbabwe captured and sold the animals, saying it is completely legal and a way to pay for conservation efforts. here is cnn's david mckenzie. >> reporter: young, wild african elephants, captured, sold and sent to china, to fill amusement parks and zoos, but first they will be broken here. this cell phone video is an exclusive look at the latest shipment from zimbabwe, in cage after metal cage, the signs of suffering are clear. just weeks ago, there were groups in the park. capture these elephants as they separate the youngsters. not the very youngest but the young elephant from the rest of the herd and scientists say
elephants are incredibly social animals, they develop bonds for a lifetime and by ripping them away from their families and sending them off to a foreign country, they say, it's extremely difficult for the elephant that goes and the elephant that remain. new rules preventing overseas shipments from countries like zimbabwe come into full effect at the end of november. park officials say they will abide by those new rules but animal rights inspector says he has already seen a shift toward secrecy. for the past year, officials blocked his team from entering the park, claiming they needed special permits that were not actually required. he fears that the sales won't end, they'll just go underground. >> what was it like being pushed away?
>> i'm a government-appointed inspector, and it's all mandate to see the welfare of those animals. they don't belong to the national parks. they belong to the people. >> gps coordinates of where these elephants have been kept. some 30 elephants shipped to china caused global outrage. animal rights activists and park sources told us just beyond this gate, elephants were left behind and were getting prepped to be sent away. is it not possible to come in now with you, just to have a look? >> this place, all the clients who come here, they are cleared by the manager. >> reporter: we went to management and were repeatedly refused entry. they told us there was nothing to see, but they did agree to an on-camera interview. why is zimbabwe selling elephants to china? >> it's part of our management plan. we have rangers in this part who spend 21 days in the bush,
protecting these animals. they don't have uniforms. they don't have tents and they don't have food. we believe that the elephants must pay for their upkeep. they must also pay for their protection. >> reporter: but protection for zimbabwe's elephants is far from assured. elephants are dying, more than 200 in just the last few months, succumbing to the severe drought that's hit the region. in this lean season, elephants in the wild are suffering, too, but ranger says better to let nature take its course. do you think it's good that elephant are sent away to zoos to china, pakistan, the u.s.? >> i don't think it's wise. they're the pride of our country. our animals, our children. >> reporter: these elephants taken from zimbabwe remain trapped, far from home. david mckenzie, cnn.
>> just an alarming story. brazen break-in at a museum, leading now to a manhunt in germany. police say the value of what the thieves stole right there is immeasurable. i am totally blind. and non-24 can throw my days and nights out of sync, keeping me from the things i love to do. talk to your doctor, and call 844-214-2424.
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europe's oldest museums and then made off with priceless treasures. the value of those items so great, authorities say their worth simply is incalculable. now a manhunt is under way. how did they get away scot-free? phil black joins me live from london. phil has been covering the story. you see some of the priceless treasures that were in the museum taken away, i guess, in broad daylight this heist was. police now trying to find the perpetrators, as they remain on this manhunt around germany. phil black joins me now, live from london. >> reporter: jim, by the initial description when you first think about it, this sounds like some incredibly elaborate movie-style heist. but the reality was far simpler. from the local police today, something not much more than a smash and grab.
the green vault is considered one of the most wealthy treasure chambers in all of europe, and yet somehow two men were able to break in through a window, walk up to a glass cabinet filled with priceless, we are told, sets of jewels and jewelry, smash it and then get out, make off with that jewelry and simply not been seen, and they've not been seen again. not so far yet anyway. so, that's where we stand at this point, as the police now mount a manhunt to try to find out just who these people were, how they got in and, of course, where they have gotten to now. the reality is that we are told the value of these jewels that have been taken are priceless, simply because they are too well-known, they are so valuable, so well known that they can't be sold on the open market. that suggests, we are told, that they are likely to be sold to perhaps an elicit private collection on the black market and perhaps even broken up
individually for the purposes of those sales. the people responsible for this collection, the officials who run this museum, say that would be an absolute horrible thought, given their cultural and historical significance. jim? >> phil black, thank you very much. thank you for joining us today. i'm jim sciutto. "at this hour" starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. thank you so much for joining me. we start this morning about new details of an extensive effort from inside the white house to justify the president's decision to withhold aid to ukraine after the president ordered the money be held up. according to "the washington post," a white house review found emails from acting chief of staff, mick mulvaney and budget officials searching for a legal explanation for the hold after the fact, reportedly after president trump's july 25th call with the ukrainian president and
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