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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  December 3, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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>> i think what we are beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. >> the president is under growing scrutiny for possible obstruction of justice after he sent out a tweet offering a new reason behind why he fired the national security adviser michael flynn. the president tweeting just yesterday i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. well today, the white house is playing damage control, downplaying the tweet saying it was written by an attorney for the president. we have a team of correspondents and analysts for us. let's begin with the senate judiciary building this case on obstruction of justice. the crime and justice correspondent is with me now. what more did feinstein say about the case some. >> feinstein hit at the issue that i think we have all been having in this investigation.
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the fact that it's been hard to get at the truth. both for investigators at the fbi and the special counsel who have been looking at this for several months and the fbi has been looking at this for well over a year now. now we have two people, one very senior person who worked in the white house admitted to lying to the fbi about their contacts with russian officials about the purpose of the contacts. for fieinstein she said by her committee, here's her saying that today. i see it in the hyper phonetic attitude of the white house and the comments every day. the continual tweets.
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i see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director comey. it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the russia investigation. that's obstruction of justice. >> that is the key as the senator said. the lifting of the sort of russia investigation that frustrated the president. comby is certainly the former fbi director and the obstruction, whether or not that firing had anything to do with the investigation and the fact that the fbi would not let flynn go. remember the president asked the former fbi director and all of that still under investigation. what we learned today is the senate judiciary committee by feinstein's lead is trying to now look at obstruction.
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>> all right, it is a lot. we will look at a conversation and let me give you an idea of how the white house now is in the midst of damage control and the white house said the tweet was written by the president's personal lawyer john dowd. jeremy trump's tweet went out while he was in a motorcade. if this is all from the doing of the president. >> there are a lot of questions surrounding this tweet. what it does is is suggests that the president knew at the time when he fired michael flynn that he had lied to the fbi which of course is a crime, the crime that flynn was charge and pled guilty to on friday. now the white house and more
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precisely his personal attorney john dowd is saying he is the person who actually drafted this tweet. i spoke with him and he said while he drafted the tweet, he did not post it himself. he thinks it was the president's social media director who posted it. reporters traveling with the president yesterday and at the time when the tweet went out said they did not see john dowd at the time. it doesn't appear they were in the same location. john dowd now claiming despite this tweet suggesting that the president knew michael flynn lied to the fbi. john dowd, the president's personal attorney saying nobody knew he lied to the fbi, least of all, the president. again, all of these are the questions this white house is facing even as they should be celebrating their biggest legislative victory so far, tax reform. this russia investigation is impacking the president the way that business is done here at
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the white house and perhaps even the perception that the president has in the public. the day after this flynn news, the president's approval rating dropped to the lowest level down to 33%. it's not the first time the president hit that level. it's down to a third of the american public is thing him. those are difficult numbers when you are trying to get things done in washington. >> indeed. thank you so much. the president's tweet regardless of what althoughored it sets off more questions about the timeline of various explanations of the firings. here's what we know. after the resignation of former national security adviser michael flynn february 13th, the president said it was because flynn lied to the vice president, mike pence. february 14th, trump meets with the fbi director comby aey and
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i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, talking about flynn meeting with the rugsz ambassador. may 9th, trump fires director comey. that brings us to yesterday. there were a lot of other things in between, but trump sent out this tweet claiming he fired flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. this, a day after flynn pleads guilty to lying to the fbi about that meeting with the russian ambassador, sergei kislyak. this brings more questions. if trump knew then that flynn lied to the fbi, why wasn't flynn let go sooner and why would trump have asked the director to let flynn go and why was comey fired? was it to get rid of that russia
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probe? joined by michael zelden, good to see you both here. you first, michael. white house counsel confirming that he wrote saturday's or it's the partial attorney, john dowd saying he is the one who wrote the tweet about michael flynn knowing about him lying on the fbi. why would his attorney do that? >> well, either because the president asked him to do it or he made a terrible mistake. i have known john dowd for a long time and he's a good and careful lawyer. to throw cold water on dowd making a colossal mistake, yesterday you and i talked about this tweet and said yesterday i didn't believe it was true. i didn't believe that the president knew that flynn had lied to the fbi and that tweet was mistaken. i still think that's the case, but i don't know yet how it got to be drafted and who was behind
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it and what was the purpose in crafting and releasing such a tweet. it did create a huge mess for the president as a consequence of it. it's not true. it's just not true. he did know it. >> why are you convinced that was a mistake and he did not know about lying to the fbi. why would that be out of the realm of possibilities in your view? as opposed to it being a slip. >> anything is possible and i should be careful in this administration of making definitive statements, but at the time only people that could have possibly known about this where the fbi agents with director comby and sally yates. i don't believe any of them replay laid that information to the white house. it defies protocol between communications between the white house and the justice department
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about ongoing investigations. it defies logic. a lot of things defy logic about that investigation. this is possible, but it's not realistic. >> huh. so then shimon, that tweet went out with the president's handle leading whether it be the mueller team and the committee leader feinstein that there was responsibility with this tweet coming from the president. how might this be either redirecting energies or focus of these various investigations as it pertains to russia? >> this perhaps can be used as evidence in a case of obstruction that the president knew that michael flynn was under investigation for this. outside of that, when you think about it, the president knew that michael flynn was under
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investigation. we reported on it and he knew that the fbi questioned him about his contacts and the former russian ambassador. the attorney general, sally yates went to the white house concerned about some of those contacts and concerned that michael flynn was compromised and because of those contacts and because he lied to the vice president about the contacts. no matter what, the president before even this tweet knew that michael flynn was under investigation. just to back up what michael just said, look, our reporting has been that sally yates, the former attorney general when he went to the white house never characterized how that interview went. how michael flynn's interview went with the fbi, whether he lied. i think she said she did not want to characterize it to them. there was indication to people we talked to at the time that the fbi didn't feel that he was lying.
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whether or not the president knew there was an investigation, we don't believe that he necessarily knew that michael flynn lied to the fbi. that's what i think was sort of the surprise in that tweet. >> so then michael, to your premises that perhaps the president was mistaken and he didn't know because the fbi would never reveal to him that michael flynn lied way back and yesterday was kind of a mistake on his part in that tweet. in other ways, do you then see that a case is building on obstruction of justice as we heard from feinstein who pointed to the michael flynn plea deal and the other indictments and because of that a substantial or significant case is being built on obstruction of justice? >> i think there a lot of pieces in this puzzle that will form the basis for an obstruction of
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justice investigation by mueller. the request that the flynn investigation be dropped. the firing of comey. the request of congressional committees that they drop the investigation. the request by trump of his chief of staff and members of his national intelligence team to pressure the dropping of this. there are a lot of requests to drop this investigation. as we look at the tweets, the tweet to me that is the most legally problematic and the most recent tweets is the president's tweet that you put up which said that he did not ask comey to drop the flynn investigation. >> that was from today. can we pull that up. that was today. i don't know if that's an effort to clarify what he said yesterday or just to say let me set the record straight. do we have that? keep going. i will tell you what it said and
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you will see it. i never asked comey to stop investigating flynn. >> with an exclamation point at the end. now you have director comey, former director comey testifying under oath he was specifically asked to drop the investigation. the president now saying that's a lie. essentially that's not true. i never asked him to do that. i think there is going to come a point in time where mueller will put the president under oath. if the president repeats that which is in this tweet, the special counsel has to make a determination of who to believe. what i was saying before, the president having asked a host of other people to see if this investigation into russia of which flynn is an ind grtegral , it's hard to think about comey versus the president. if the president lies in this
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deposition or grand jury and sticks to this tweet, you have obstruction of justice pieces of the mosaic and on top of it, a lie. that's a real problem. >> okay. bottom line, gentlemen, these tweets as innocuous as they seem, it ends up potentially being evidence because they are statements from the president whether it was crafted from somebody else on his handle and that could be problematic. who knows, maybe thinking positively for him, maybe it would exonerate him. maybe the white house sees it as exonerating too. michael, thank you so much. still to come, a tightening race for the coveted u.s. senate seat in alabama with the democrat takinga slight lead over roy moore. from ironing candidate trump's pants, to chocolate malts and
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fish sandwiches. bizarre details in a new book to be released detailing what went down behind the scenes of the trump campaign. we will discuss that coming up.
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in a conservative christian state like alabama, that might be a tough sell. what are people telling you? what we observed is doug jones with a 3 percentage point lead over the republican roy moore within the margin of error. the allegations of improp or
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behavior and sagging numbers and this state that hasn't been in a century. they say they don't believe as brought against roy moore. this was not the candidate who donald trump endorsed in the run off. president trump in light of the allegations against moore has been careful to explicitly endorse roy moore. we learned that the president will be traveling to florida just 25 miles from the state line for a campaign event of his own. not to alabama or stump for roy moore, but what's interesting where the president will be within the media market that includes mobile, alabama and south alabama.
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they had roy moore's back all along and he will be in this state. he will be there on tuesday. he is keeping up a heavy schedule and spending a lot of time in metropolitan areas and as many have said to me, they said they are ready to pull the lever at the polls. >> wow. very fascinating strategies leading up to december 12th. thank you very much from birmingham. the allegations surround says roy moore is split and mitch mcconnell and stepping back from previous criticism of roy moore. paul ryan is standing by his early call for the alabama republican to lead the race.
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they will make the decision a week from tuesday. >> you are prepared to take action if he is indeed elected. >> they will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win. >> i'm focused on congress. roy moore is trying to come to congress. my job as speaker of the house is to make sure that's an institution we are proud of. the allegations are very, very fair. >> joining us to talk about it. our commentators and john thomas. good to see you both. so john, you the republican worked for roy moore's opponent luther strange's campaign in the run off. what do you think about this split in republican leadership & how that may influence the out come.
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who was more anti-establishment and why roy moore succeeded and bested luther strange. the more that senator mcconnell and speaker ryan speak ill of roy moore. it doesn't hurt roy moore's case. i will bring your attention to a poll that was released today and showed roy moore up by six. real clear politics shows roy moore up by three. the number one issue it's as if voters are weighing and who is best to drive the conservative agenda. >> why isn't that part of the question that has so many voters perflexed? they have the job at blufring
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the lines. denying the allegations and there is a lot of noise going on. alabama is such a red state. they care deep ly about gay marriage being legalized. of roy moore supporters, donald trump has a 97% approval rating. he is incredibly popular in that state and want to make sure that legislative action gets taken on stuff they agree on. they know that doug jones is not on their side on those issues. >> issues of morality are important, but then, dave, it seems like there is a dissect of which moral issues are important to the voters. how is the democrat doug jones seizing on that or is that explains why he is seeing.
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>> and i think the race is significant and this is a state that donald trump won by a whopping 28 points and gone republican for decades. we have a razor thin margin with a democrat within striking distance of winning this seat is significant. i think ultimately there are several things that doug jones will have to capitalize on to move forward. he is going to have to continue making the character argument that is helping him run up the score with the more moderate voters and that's why he peeled off support for roy moore. he has to run up the score with african-american who is make up about 23% of registered voters. he has to get obama level turn out with african-americans that. combined with strong turn out for moderate white voters in 1220. barack obama got about 15% of the white voters in alabama and he needs double that. it's a dunkz of running based on
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character and less on issues like choice and making a case of the more moderate voters and electrifying the democratic base. >> dave and john, thank you so much. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> republicans are trying to enjoy that victory lap after passing tax reformerly yesterday morning. will they reconcile key differences in the house and senate versions. get it to the president's desk by christmas? will it be that christmas present that the president promised? we will discuss, next. hey, man. oh!
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the fate of the president's massive tax reform moves back to the full congress this week. the house and senate now have to reconcile the differences between the senate and house versions. some of the key differences between the two versions are the number of tax brackets and also the tax rate individuals will play. also at stake are state and local income tax deductions and whether the mortgage interest rate deductions get to stay as they are. senators have been promoting the bill's provegzisionprovisions. >> they will say they will slow the tax taxes. >> over the last three years they work on every aspect of the bill. >> even the joint committee on taxation has projected that the tax bill would stimulate the economy to produce hundreds of billions of additional revenue.
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including the dean of the columbia school of business and former chairs of the counsel of economic advisers and they believe it will have this impact. so i think if we can stimulate the economy and create more jobs, that does generate more revenue. >> let's bring in chris liu, a deputy secretary of labor. a sern nior economics analyst t donald trump. good to see you as well. the criticism that is the bills are helpful to the wealthy and hurtful to the poor and middle class, do you believe the calls will help reshape the bills during this reconciliation period? >> the train left the station and they will be able to reconcile it in a way to gets it through congress, but there are significant differences.
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one of the most important is the individual mandate and can take away health care from 13 million people. i am concerned about where it is with tax increases for people less than $75,000 and the trillion of debt it adds even after you could for what economic growth is. there is still a ways to go. >> if you take it at face value, are you concerned this could add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit in the process? >> i have been working on this for two years with donald trump. we have been waiting a long time for this day. if you look at the differences between the house and senate bill, there is about a 90% overlap. i would like the house to accept
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the senate bill and they don't have to go for another bill. i will predict there will be a tax cut signing before christmas. on the issue of the trillian dollar increase and the debt, of course i'm concerned about the debt. i have run the numbers. you can't get a reduction in debt or deficits if we continue with the growth rates we had under brack where we are growing at 1.9%. the debt is going up and up. we need growth and people working. we are already -- a lot of liberal economists said is impossible. we are growing at 3.3%. i do think we can get 4% growth and that will have an impact on more revenues for the government and people getting jobs. >> that stimulus and the promise of the trickle down economics working in the past 20 years, the theory has not proven to be
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beneficial for the middle guy. why is it going to work this time? >> that's right. it's not just the economists that expressed great skepticism about the growth, but a committee on taxation. frankly it's history as well. you look at the 2001 bush tax you cans over the 2012 tax cuts in the state of kansas. they never produce the job growth, but the wage growth they suggested along the way. that's one of the reason yes this tax bill is so historically unpopular. this bill is more unpopular than the tax hike from president bush. >> how is it such an unpopular measure can be passed by an unpopular congress and potentially signed by our very unpopular president? >> let me ask you.
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>> go ahead. >> go, chris. >> this is clearly about coming up with a political win for an unpopular president after an unsuccessful first year. the consequences will be seen in the elections as to all the people who voted for it. >> the stock market want this and investors and businesses want it. look what happened just in the last month or so with the roaring stock market we have right now. red hot economy. one of the things i told republicans is you hurt the economy if you don't get this done. with all due respect, we tried it your way for the last eight years and the economy never grew faster than 2%. donald trump has been in office for 10 months and we va 3.5% growth. the tax cut has not even taken effect yet. the republicans will be fine in
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the 2018 elections and donald trump will be reelected if the economy is doing well like it is now. >> we will leave it there. >> chris liu, thank you so much. together, great things come in twos. like t-mobile and netflix. right now when you get an unlimited family plan, netflix is included. ho ho ho! t-mobile covers your netflix subscription... best christmas gift ever! you can binge watch all year long. now you're thinking christmas! and now when you buy any of this season's hot new samsung galaxy phones, you get a second one free to gift. that's one samsung for you. and one to give. t-mobile. holiday twogether.
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it's what's inside the person who opens it. ♪ give ancestrydna, the only dna test that can trace your origins to over 150 ethnic regions- and open up a world of possibilities. ♪ save 30% for the holidays at >> welcome back. in a cnn exclusive, traveling into the depths of libya and uncovering slave auctions of migrants taking place. the findings ignited international condemn nation from the un security council to the african union. they urged libya to take urgent action to end the slave trade of people.
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>> we knew there there were a number of these auctions going on and we knew they happened once or twice a month. i think it was probably the longest few days. among the longest few days of my life. >> we needed to push to try to get access to the people. >> there are one to two auctions every month. there is one happening in the next few hours. >> i don't honestly know what i was expecting going in. i couldn't figure out how you could mentally process selling other human beings. when i heard them, we heard them speaking about these people that they were selling as merchandise, it made sense. you needed cog civ disenance.
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you needed to dehumanize someone. >> finally it's time to move. >> you still have a job to do. to distract you a bit from what they balanced, when you were sitting there, it felt like everything was having in very, very slow motion. he knew we needed to hit and getting him to use the word auction on our audio to confirm it's an auction. they sold 12 people on that night and having all of that as evidence. >> i remember being outside. and there was a massive room and the front is over to the elements. there was a cage. a wire cage and people were looking at me from the other side. i remember thinking if there was a gorilla in there, people would
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think how sad. then it turns out there were over 1,000 people in there. >> every day in an environment like that, not being able to take a good shower and sitting there not having the food you need and being thirsty. every hour counts leaving them behind in an enclosed space like that. and you can't just go to a few people and say how can i help you in you are willing to help them all. >> there was a point where alex and i were interviewing victory. the 21-year-old who had been enslav enslaved. i was overwhelmed. >> his dream is to be a designer. he wants to come to italy and
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work as a stylist and maybe one daywork with dolgy and gabbana. >> and why not? >> exactly. i think this is the first story in a long time where there was something really fundamentally heart breaking about people's dreams being exploited in that way. i think we were all thinking that we just hope we can do justice to this. >> it it enlightened a world. thank you very much. thank you for that very terrible story. we'll be right back.
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♪that warms my heart, ♪but lying and cheating ♪has torn us apart ♪and i'm moving on.
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. .
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welcome back. from steaming candidate trump's clothes while they're still on to rivalry between key members of the staff and angry outbursts. a new behind the scenes look at what life was like working on the trump campaign and it comes from trump confidant and former campaign manager corey lewandowski who was a senior political commentator as well teamed up with david bosse to write a new book entitled "let trump be trump" and in it it
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says sooner or later everybody who works for donald trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place. did lewandowski contemplate quitting as campaign manager? here's what he told nbc's meet the press this morning sdw. >> how many times did you think about quitting? >> i never thought about quitting but when you give up the sacrifice to your family and he demands perfection and deserves it, we wanted that campaign to be perfect from the time the music was cued to the time he walked on and off the stage. he's so good at the little details, that's what we were referring to. the interior face-off. it's happening many times. >> cnn politics and media reporter joining me now. hadas what do you make of the insights of the book and we called him a confidant but i wonder if after the release of
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this book is lewandowski still going to be kind of cool with trump? and vice versa? >> here's what we know about this book. "the washington post" obtained an advanced copy of the book. it's supposed to be released this week. we haven't seen a full copy but what "the washington post" says is that while lewandowski writes about the moments trump is screaming at him, where he is a vindictive, that lewandowski is very positive about the president and saves his skuring for paul manafort. but there are some moments in this book that really revealing about the president. and i'm not sure how the president might take to them but lewandowski has been continued to be loyal even as he was fired and even this book sounds as though he just heaps the praise upon the president. >> what about the timing because
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it's interesting to hear lewandowski talk about how trump is married to detail. and now we have got this e-mail that came out from the president yesterday talking about the firing of michael flynn as it relates to the fbi, lying to the fbi and not being clear with the vice president and then it was the personal attorney for the president who had come out and say wait a minute, it was me who did that. that would kind of undermine this whole bit about attention to detail. i wonder about the timing of this book and lewandowski and bosse's words here how this might not be great timing for the white house. >> i'm sure any book that detail the every day happenings are going to be dissected by all of us and also i'm sure by the people currently in the white house. i would be shocked though if lewandowski and bosse didn't give a heads up to the white
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house about it. donald trump as we know is the marketer and all about appearances. behind the scenes when it comes to the actual policy and details, you don't necessarily see that as much. i've talked to sources who say within the trump family when he was running his private businesses he was always the deal closer, close the deal. open the new building but when it came to running the buildings he wasn't the one interested in the details. you can understand why he might be really into how the campaign events looked from the music to the closing speech. but when it comes to these more detail policy things he's maybe not as involved. >> okay. food always says a lot about a person. right? i remember all that was written about with president clinton and his love for mcdonald's and making a bee line to mcdonald's on a jog and what lewandowski writes about is trump's love for
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fast food. >> yes. we learned from this book a bit more specifics about the president's mcdonald's order which includes two big macs two filet of fish and a chocolate malt. actually this brings up a question brought up in the press briefing this week on friday i think where we were -- or the press was asking when are we going to see medical records? are we going to see the president go to the military doctors? this fast food diet play into that. how healthy is the president? >> all right. perhaps opening the pages of the book, also opens a few inquiries about all kinds of other things about the campaign and now the presidency. thanks so much. appreciate it. good to see you. the senate ju dishd area committee appears to be building on a possible obstruction of justice case against the president of the united states.
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hello again and welcome this sunday. we continue this hour with the remarkable announcement from the ranking democrat leading the senate's russia probe. dianne feinstein says today the senate judiciary committee is building a case against president donald trump. >> i think what we're beginning to see


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