tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 4, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
happening now, breaking news. trump was told, cnn has learned, that the president new that michael flynn misled the fbi when james comey says he was pressured by mr. trump to stop investigating flynn. what will this mean for the special counsel's obstruction of justice probe? questions of bias. disturbing new details about the fbi agent who was fired from robert mueller's team for apparently sending anti-trump texts. cnn has learned about a pivotal change he made to comey's public statement on hillary clinton's e-mail investigation. go get 'em, roy. the president calls alabama's embattled senate candidate fully endorsing roy moore, despite allegations he sexually abused teenage girls when he was in his 30s. will that help or hurt moore? and land giveaway. mr. trump travels to utah to drastically reduce the size of two huge federal monuments.
cnn is on the scene for the biggest rollback of federally protected land in u.s. history. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news tonight. new information on when president trump knew that michael flynn hadn't come clean to the fbi, information that could be crucial to the special counsel's investigation of possible obstruction of justice. cnn has learned that the white house chief lawyer told mr. trump back in january that he believed flynn had misled the bureau and should be fired as national security advisor. that was before the president's february meeting with then fbi direct james comey when comey said he was pressured to back off of his investigation of flynn. tonight, as more questions arise about mr. trump's legal risks,
his personal lawyer is arguing that the president is immune to being charged with obstruction, reminiscent of richard nixon's claim after watergate. also breaking, president trump is now fully and publicly endorsing alabama senate candidate roy moore, even phoning him to say, quote, go it 'em, roy. the president seeking a republican victory, despite multiple allegations of past sexual abuse by moore involving teenage girls, including a woman who says she was molested when she was only 14. and cnn has learned that an fbi agent dismissed from robert mueller's team changed a key phrase in the description of how hillary clinton handled classified information from grossly negligent to extremely careless. the agent has removed from mueller's investigation this past summer for sending private messages that appeared to favor clinton. this hour, i'll talk with house intelligence committee member
jackie speier. our correspondents and specialists are also standing by. let's go to jim sciutto. jim, this question of when president trump learned that flynn misled the fbi clearly is critical. >> no question. you can be forgiven for being confused about what the actual white house story is here. first the president tweeted that he knew flynn lied. then the president's personal lawyer said he wrote the tweet. since then cnn has learned that the white house counsel did in fact inform the president that flynn had lied, all very critical and crucial questions for the special counsel's investigation. tonight, the latest white house story on when the president knew his national security advisor had lied to the fbi. cnn has learned that chief white house counsel don mcgahn informed the president in january that he believed that flynn misled the fbi and vice president pence about his conversations with the russian ambassador. but the source familiar with the matter said mcgahn did not
explicit lly tell the president that his lying meant flynn violated the law. the president tweeted saturday, quote, i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. however, soon after that tweet, the president's lawyer, john dowd, told cnn that he, not the president, drafted the tweet. that account raises the question, what did trump know when soon after he urged then fbi director james comey to drop the investigation into flynn. >> i took it as a direction. i mean this is the president of the united states with me alone saying i hope this. i took it as this is what he wants me to do. that's why i understood him to be saying was what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> president trump has disputed comey's account. most recently in a sunday morning tweet writing, quote, i never asked comey to stop investigating flynn. just more fake news covering another comey lie, exclamation
point. congressional democrats aren't quips convinced. >> i think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. i see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director comey and 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. >> pressed again today on when he was told about flynn's lying, the president spoke mostly about his former opponent. >> i will say this, hillary clinton lied many times to the fbi. nothing happened to her. flynn lied and they destroyed his life. i think it's a shame. hillary clinton on the the fourth of july weekend went to the fbi, not under oath. it was the most incredible thing anyone has ever seen. she lied many times. nothing happened to her. flynn lied and it's like they
ruined his life. it's very unfair. thank you very much. >> mr. president, when did you find out he lied to the fbi? >> of course lying to the fbi is a federal crime and his lie is extrickably tied to the russian investigation. wolf, the then acting attorney general, sally yates, considered those lies important and damaging enough that she thought they opened the then national security advisor to potential blackmail from russia. >> you're also getting some new information from the courts right now about paul manafort, the trump campaign chairman who was seeking an opportunity to avoid being under house arrest. >> that's right. a little more than a month after he was arrested for multiple crimes related to his work for ukraine, for the pro-russian government of ukraine, he violated the prosecutors argue the terms of his plea agreement. he was allowed some freedom of movement. he was allowed out of house arrest, allowed off of gps
tracking in exchange for him putting up $11 million in property assets. during that time as well the judge instructed him not to make public comments related to the case that could prejudice the case and yet the special counsel found out as recently as last week he was working ghost writing an op-ed, along with a russian known to u.s. intelligence. you could make the argument even though he is now going on trial here that he has the right to make a living. this is paid work. but the special counsel is arguing that this fell under the terms of that agreement because it would be making public comment. it might prejudice the case. it's an investigation of russia and he was writing this editorial with a russian known to u.s. intelligence, so it will now be up to the judge to decide whether the terms of this plea agreement are rescinded. >> as part of the bail agreement he was not supposed to make statements to the media, and here he was drafting an op-ed, an editorial that would be for the media. >> newspapers are part of the media. >> that's correct.
not exactly a brilliant move on his part. we'll see what the judge decides. jim sciutto, thanks very much. let's go to the white house right now for more on the president and his legal strategy against potential obstruction of justice charges. our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta, is on the scene for us. jim, as we learn more about what president trump knew about michael flynn's lies, the president has been speaking out about the man he fired. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. president trump is showing a lot of sympathy for his former national security advisor, michael flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators. the russian investigation seems very much on the president's mind as he officially offered an endorsement to an accused child molester. but it's the president's senior team that put forward an argument that essentially the president is above the law. just as the president is sharing his personal feelings for his form er national security
advisor -- >> well, i feel badly for general flynn. he's led a very strong life and i feel badly. i will say this. hillary clinton lied many times to the fbi and nothing happened to her. flynn lied and they destroyed his life. i think it's a shame. >> reporter: mr. trump's legal team is offering a preview of a potential defense in the event the special counsel's office makes its way to the oval office. the president cannot obstruct justice because he's the chief law enforcement officer. the president's outside attorney told axios, and has every right to express his view of any case, a case echoed by professor alan dershowitz on fox news. >> he has constitutional authority to tell the justice department who to investigate, who not to investigate. >> reporter: that ignores the fact one of the former articles of impeachment brought against bill clinton and richard nixon was obstruction of justice. >> well, i'm not a crook.
>> reporter: president trump is also lashing out at federal investigators, tweeting that the fbi's reputation is in tatters, worst in history, but fear not, we will bring it back to greatness. as to his claim that hillary clinton lied to investigators, james comey said that didn't happen at a hearing last year. >> we have no basis to conclude she lied to the fbi. >> reporter: with the russia investigation apparently expanding, the president is out to preserve his party's majority in the senate, tweeting his endorsement for republican roy moore in the senate race in alabama. according to the gop candidate's campaign, the president talked to moore over the phone and cheered go get 'em, roy. he no longer seems to be waiting on whether allegations of sexual abuse against moore are proven true, as the white house once indicated. >> the president said in his statement earlier this week that if the allegations are true, then roy moore should step aside. he still believes that. >> reporter: mr. trump all but said he believed moore's denials late last month. >> he totally denies it.
he says it didn't happen. >> reporter: the president is facing new accounts of his own misconduct. billy bush, who was with mr. trump when he made lewd comments about women got on tape. >> grab them by the [ bleep ]. >> reporter: pushed back on reports that the president is somehow claiming he never made the offensive remarks. of course he said it, bush writes, and he laughed along without a doubt this was hypothetical hot air from america's highest rated bloviater. black in october the president defended the comments. >> that's locker room. >> reporter: with controversy swirling, the president is trying to stay in the holiday spirit. announcing that he's looking to republicans in congress to pass tax cuts. >> we are now one huge step closer to delivering to the american people the historic tax relief as a giant present for christmas. remember, i said we're bringing christmas back? christmas is back. >> reporter: besides tax cuts, the white house and members of congress are also working toward
avoiding a government shutdown this month. nancy pelosi and chuck schumer say they are coming back to the white house later this week. of course that is after their recent meeting with the president was scrapped. that was when the president said democrats were not interested in a deal. wolf, we'll have to wait and see if they make that date. >> we'll see what happens later in the week. jim acosta, thank you. joining us now, a democrat involved in the house russia investigations. congresswoman jackie speier. congresswoman, thanks for joining us. >> great to be with you, wolf. >> after speaking with then acting attorney general sally yates, the white house counsel, don mcgahn, told president trump that he believed michael flynn, his then national security advisor, had misled the fbi in his interview. if that's the case, and president trump went on later, days later to then ask the fbi director, james comey, to drop his investigation into flynn, do you believe that is obstruction of justice by the president? >> i think that if you connect the dots, you get to obstruction
of justice, yes. i don't think the american people are stupid here. they see what's happening. and i think within a short period of time, there's going to be serious repercussions. >> do you believe this potentially could be grounds for impeachment? >> i believe it could be. again, we have to wait for the special counsel mueller to complete his investigation before i think anything can move forward. >> do you believe the statement by the president's personal lawyer, john dowd, that the president can't obstruct justice because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the united states? >> it's actually mind boggling that a high-priced attorney with lots of smarts would say something so stupid. we are a country of laws, not men. we have had a number of presidents, as you pointed out, that have had as part of their potential impeachment that they have obstructed justice. obstruction of justice is against the law. >> on saturday, the president
tweeted this. he said, quote, i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. he has pled guilty to those lies. it is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. there was nothing to hide. is that an admission that don mcgahn, the president's white house counsel, did tell president trump that flynn misled the fbi? >> i think what it tells us is that the president is so focused on trying to keep mike flynn from spilling the beans. i think he is willing -- the president is willing to throw virtually anyone under the bus. but for some reason he went to director comey trying to get director comey not to take michael flynn out and i think the result is that we see him now trying to get michael flynn to be very circumspect in how he proffers to the special counsel.
>> the president's personal lawyer, john dowd, says he wrote that tweet, that controversial tweet for the president. it went out in the president's name. do you believe that? >> you know, it doesn't matter. we have to take responsibility for anything that goes out under our name. so he either wrote it himself, the president, or he approved it. and to me it makes no difference who wrote the tweet. >> there's more breaking news, congresswoman, that we're following. i want to get your reaction to the news that paul manafort, who was the trump campaign chairman, was working on ghost writing an article for ukrainians and russians, especially a russian with ties to russian intelligence as recently as last thursday, was working on that article. an apparent violation of his bail agreement that he was not supposed to deal with the media. >> stunningly stupid. stunningly stupid. i think that the -- that all of
the conditions of him being out on bail should be revoked. i think he should be on a gps anklet because i think he is a threat that would leave the country. >> why do you think -- why do you think president trump over the weekend renewed his attacks on the fbi? >> because whenever he is attacked, the first thing he does is attack back. he's done it about the cia, he's done it about the fbi, and you know that he's in trouble when he always goes back to the campaign and tries to bring hillary clinton back into the conversation. he won the presidency. act like a president. he doesn't seem to be capable of doing that. >> what does it say to you, congresswoman, that the fbi director, the new one, and the attorney general, jeff sessions, they have been silent in the face of these attacks? >> well, i do think that they on the one hand work under the president, but there is an
independence that the justice department brings. they're not going to get into a mud-slinging match with the president. so the better part of valor here is just to be silent, i believe. >> your committee will be hearing from donald trump jr. on wednesday of this week. what questions do you have for him? >> well, of course the first thing we're going to want to ask him is more about the meeting because there's -- there is a lapse in the e-mails that he has. i also want to know about his engagement with julian assange and wikileaks because clearly there is a relationship there as well. and i'm firmly convinced that julian assange was an operative for russia in our election cycle. >> there's more breaking news, congresswoman speier. i want you to stand by. we'll resume the interview right after this. . ( ♪ ) you are going to be a big surprise. (whining) aww, i see a big puppy.
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for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. we're back with house intelligence committee member jackie speier as we follow multiple breaking stories. congresswoman, i need you to stand by for a moment. we're getting some new information with an fbi agent dismissed over the summer by special counsel robert mueller and the agent's role in the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. our justice correspondent, evan perez, is following the story for us. what are you learning, evan? >> well, wolf, the former top counterintelligence expert at the fbi who led the hillary clinton e-mail investigation and then worked for special counsel robert mueller's investigation is now under scrutiny as the
white house argues that there's political bias in the ongoing russia investigation. he was removed this past summer from the mueller team after internal investigators founding private messages that he sent to appeared to mock president donald trump. now, we've now learned that during the clinton probe, he's the fbi official who changed a key phrase in how the fbi ended up describing clinton's handling of classified information. electronic records show the changed draft language describing clinton's actions as, quote, grossly negligent to extremely careless. the change isn't a small thing because it could have had significant legal implications for hillary clinton. the federal law governing the mishandling of classified information establishes that criminal penalties are due for gross negligence. we're told by officials that the drafting process was actually a team effort, wolf, with a handful of people reviewing the language if any changes were made. cnn has also learned that he was
the fbi official that signed the document that officially opened the investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election. he worked as the number two official in the counterintelligence section and he was considered one of the top experts on russia at the fbi. all of this now is likely to add to the political firestorm over the russia investigation. the white house and congressional republicans want the fbi to provide more documents because they think that there could be some political bias in the handling of both the clinton investigation, wolf, and the trump/russia investigation. >> the president has been tweeting extensively about this, as we know, evan, thank you very much. let's get back to congresswoman jackie speier. congresswoman, based on what you just heard from ecvan, is this something that the house intelligence committee should investigate? >> something i'm hearing for the very first time and it certainly is worthy of our review. i will say the fact that robert mueller stepped in so swiftly last summer when he found out
and evidently was doing internal reviews of many of the staff there and swiftly had him fired suggests to me that he's not going to tolerate any kind of bias within this investigation. >> does it concern you at all, congresswoman, that we're just finding out about all of this now? he was dismissed over the summer. >> well, we do know that he was dismissed over the summer. that was something that was made public. no one really knew why. now it's coming out why. i guess this is a leak that we have gotten wind of and that's something that obviously chairman nunes doesn't like but has some value from his perspective. i think we should review it. >> president trump tweeted fbi agent led clinton e-mail probe. now it all starts to make sense. does it raise questions about the integrity of the entire clinton e-mail investigation, which went on obviously for a long time? >> so the investigation and
certainly the final statement that was made, gross negligence versus very poor judgment, there's a difference there, there's no question about that. that's a decision that was i would believe made by a number of people because the wording and the crafting of that was so key. so i don't think it was just one person making that decision in the end. but that's something we should look at. >> congresswoman jackie speier, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, is the president prepared if robert mueller makes a case for obstruction of justice? we'll talk about the evidence. and new questions about the trump team's legal strategy. and why would paul manafort put his bail deal in jeopardy by having contact with a russian with ties to the spy world in moscow? ♪ it's red lobster's new ultimate surf & turf event. get ready these 5 pairings are gonna floor ya. like our new feast with lobster-wrapped scallops and a juicy sirloin, plus a savory lobster-and-shrimp smashed potato. and our new lobster and seafood-topped filet?
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when he pulled comey aside that day and said, you know, i think you ought to go easy on general flynn. what did he know at that particular time. and also i might add that it raises questions about why it took so long to fire flynn. i mean it took about three weeks, as we know, and if they knew this information, and they thought that he had misled the fbi, which would mean, by the way, that your own national security advisor would likely have his security credentials revoked, why did it take so long to make this happen and why did it only happen after it was revealed that he lied to the vice president in a piece in "the washington post." >> samantha, you served on the national security council during the obama administration. how do you see it right now? >> from a national security perspective, if trump knew that flynn lied, he should have been fired immediately for at least
two reasons. first, historically part of the job of the national security advisor is to be an honest broker between government agencies who are working on national security like the fbi. if flynn lied to the fbi, he was no longer an honest broker. he had a bias, he was no longer fit to serve. second, part of the fbi's job is to protect the american people from intelligence operations and espionage. if flynn lied to the fbi, which we now know that he did, he directly undercut the work of a national security agency and, therefore, undercut the safety and security of the american people and can no longer fulfill his duties. >> he's confessed to lying. >> indeed. >> to the fbi, pled guilty. jeffrey, the president's personal lawyer has put out this argument today that the president can't be found guilty of obstruction of justice because he's the president. first of all, why make that case now, and do you believe it holds up? >> well, john dowd is clearly
floundering around and is making trouble for his client right and left. but as a technical legal matter, there is an unresolved question about whether a sitting president of the united states can be prosecuted for anything, obstruction of justice, stealing a car, anything, because the president occupies a unique place in our constitutional structure. what is quite clear is that a president can be impeached for obstruction of justice. bill clinton was impeached for, among other things, obstruction of justice. the house judiciary committee voted to impeach richard nixon for obstruction of justice. so it is clear that a president is not above the law, but whether he can actually be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, that's really something the supreme court has never resolved and there are a lot of differing views on that. >> rebecca, i want you to listen to what dianne feinstein, the top democrat on the senate judiciary committee, said on sunday. listen to this even before cnn did report that don mcgahn, the
president's white house counsel, told the president that he believed that the then national security advisor, michael flynn, had misled the fbi. listen to this. >> i think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice. i think we see this in the indictments, the four indictments and pleas that have just taken place and some of the comments that are being made. i see it in the hyperfrenetic attitude of the white house, the comments every day, the continual tweets, and i see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of director comey and 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. >> so if you're in the white
house right now, how concerned are you about those comments? >> sure. well, they should be concerned. even though dianne feinstein is a democrat, she is someone who is very careful with her words, tends not to buy into the whole partisan hysteria that you get with issues like this sometimes. she is really, really careful. so when she says something like that, that's something that you want to take seriously. but at the same time, wolf, i'm sure the white house has contemplated these legal scenarios. they have a whole team of lawyers working on this, some of whom may be doing a slight disservice to the president at this stage like john dowd, but even so they are being paid to think about these potential scenarios. at the same time, if you take a step back, regardless of whether the president does face charges ultimately of obstruction of justice, whether he's able to be charged with that, if the debate we're having right now in the public sphere is whether the president could legally be charged with obstruction of justice, that is not the conversation that the white house wants to be having at any point. that means things are going very padly for the white house.
>> and there's another breaking story, gloria, that we're following involving paul manafort that was the trump campaign chairman who was charged, pleading not guilty, but he's out on bail. but all of a sudden we're now learning that contrary to that bail agreement, he's actually helping draft an op-ed for ukrainians and russians with ties to russian intelligence, a potential violation of that agreement. >> i think you have to ask what was he thinking, and i think what he was probably thinking is that he's trying to earn a living, to be honest. and this is what he does for a living. and, you know, the attorney -- the special counsel's office is making the case that it's a violation of their agreement. >> only in washington, d.c., is the only possibility of making a living doing vladimir putin's bidding. you know, there are people who make a living doing other things and maybe mr. manafort should explore those.
>> it's interesting -- it would be interesting to know how they found out about this, since it was unsigned and it's, you know, it's not in his name. >> well, there are still people -- >> and it's ghost writing. >> there are still people in the united states government who don't view vladimir putin as a great friend, and they actually do surveillance of those things and they actually learn things. >> surveillance of ukrainians who are close to putin and russians who are close to putin as well. samantha, stand by, everybody stand by. there's much more coming up, including a voice of authority says there's no doubt about what president trump said on that infamous "access hollywood" videotape. why is billy bush now calling out president trump? >> we're ready, let's go. make me a soap star. businessoing... ...so he got quickbooks. it organizes all his accounts, so he can see his bottom line. ahhh...that's a profit. know where you stand instantly. visit quickbooks-dot-com.
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we're back with our political team as president trump throws his full support right now to the alabama senate candidate, roy moore, calling him on the phone and saying, and i'm quoting the president now, go get 'em, roy. so, rebecca, some mixed signals coming out, but all of a sudden all in for this republican candidate. >> well, absolutely, wolf. part of that is because we are at a new phase in this election
when a few weeks ago republicans thought there was still time for roy moore to get out of the race, still time potentially for a write-in candidate to mount a rival campaign to roy moore, you heard those statements from people like mitch mcconnell saying he should step aside, very strong anti-roy moore statements from republicans. now it is too late in the game for a white knight to come in and save the republican party and the choice for them now is down to roy moore, the republican and doug jones, the democrat. you're seeing that given that two-person choice, many republicans are looking past what roy moore has done, the allegations against him, and saying they need a vote in the senate. that's exactly what the president has said with his endorsement today. >> what a difference, gloria, between when the president said today, go get 'em, roy, a total endorsement of roy moore. ivanka trump not that long ago in an interview with the associated press said there is a special place in hell for people who prey on children. i have yet to see a valid explanation and i have no reason
to doubt the victims' accounts. what a difference a few weeks make. >> by all accounts, the president was not happy about that. ivanka has not retracted that statement in any way, shape or form. you know, i remember interviewing her during the campaign and she said, you know, when i disagree with my father, i let him know. but i usually -- i don't take it public. well, at that moment she made a statement first and then her father now clearly, clearly disagrees with her because he doesn't want to lose control of the senate. he needs that vote for lots of things that could be coming up in the next year. and honestly, while there are republicans who have said, you know, we should unseat him if he gets elected, count me as one of the people who would be very skeptical about whether they would do that. >> and it comes as billy bush in an op-ed article confirms that the then private citizen donald trump did in fact say all those words on that "access hollywood"
videotape, even though the president apparently in private conversations is suggesting maybe that video was doctored. >> yeah, you know who else confirms that it was donald trump's voice, it was donald trump over and over again during the campaign. but now there was some apparently reporting that he's fantasizing that it wasn't him. but it's really quite a remarkable piece by billy bush in "the new york times." who knew he'd be so woke, this guy. he's like saying -- >> wow! >> he's saying, you know, donald trump is guilty of all the -- you know, he's not just talking about the tape, he's saying i believe that he abused all these women. you know, i guess unemployment does that for billy bush. he's like changed. >> samantha, on a very different subject, we're waiting for the president presumably on wednesday to make a major announcement as far as the u.s. position towards jerusalem being the capital of israel, whether or not to move the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem. we're hearing that he will sign the waiver, not moving the
embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem, at least this time. he's supposed to do it every six months. but he will declare, we're told, that jerusalem is the capital of israel. >> i'm thinking about this from the perspective of what is the objective here and timing. if the objective is to promote stability within israel and within the region, i don't see how this is a wise decision right now. we know that arab states are against this. the king of jordan has been quite public about that. we have wars raging in syria, iraq, yemen and not even to mention the threat of terrorism. undoubtedly, this would introduce more instability at a very tense time. also from a timing perspective, we're all very much aware that the state department is under enormous pressure right now. we have personnel cuts, we have hiring freezes, we have budget cuts. and it's no secret that secretary tillerson's credibility is also under fire. now, typically the state department would lead negotiations with arab states if this kind of decision was being taken because they have
experienced negotiators, they have years of experience working with countries in the region, and all of this pressure on the state department makes me think that they weren't in the load, that perhaps kushner was in fact leading this discussion. and i don't think that that forebodes a positive outcome if this is announced. >> but why would you need the state department when you have a 36-year-old unsuccessful real estate developer to do -- >> versus years of experience. >> yeah, to do your negotiating about the most complicated foreign policy challenge in the world? >> elise labott and i did a piece on this today where it's very clear that the friction is strong between these two. and it's been strong for a very long time, because this is jared kushner's portfolio, when in fact it should probably belong to the secretary of state. >> you think? >> yeah. >> for good reason. >> the traditional way. i will point out that back in april, the russian government, the ministry of foreign affairs in russia, put out a statement saying that east jerusalem should be the capital of a new
palestinian state but then went on to say at the same time, we must state that in this context, we view west jerusalem as the capital of israel. so russia a bit ahead of trump if in fact trump goes ahead and declares west jerusalem the capital of the state of israel. all right, guys, stand by. there's more news we're following. president trump dramatically reduces the size of two huge national monuments in another effort to undo the work of democrats. ♪ ) more people shop online for the holidays than ever before. (clapping) and the united states postal service delivers more of those purchases to homes than anyone else in the country. ( ♪ ) because we know, even the smallest things are sometimes the biggest.
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breaking tonight, president trump orders the largest scaling back of national monuments in the history of this country. bill weir is in utah for us, where the president made the dramatic announcement, environmentalists seem to be outraged, right? >> oh, yes they are, and along with them, the outdoor industry, and the five native american tribes who call these sacred lands home. the folks who left here today, the president gave a speech at the capital rotunda, they were giddy. they were conservatives who see this as a thumb in the eye of
big government, since this is your land, why don't we show you around? >> let me show you the epicenter of what is the biggest environmental fight of the day. yep, there they are. those are the bears ears. bears ears national monument is 1.35 million acres. that's over 2,000 square miles of wild western vistas. hosting a fortune in natural gas and uranium. >> folks like mark mariboy, these sites are worth more than any mineral. to the nav vow and hopi, these canyons hold the spirits of
their loved ones. >> they live among us. >> these are your neighbors? >> yes. >> the person who carved this art 1200 years ago, signed all their work with a wolf paw. equally striking are the bullet holes. >> they didn't want to work with us, in fact, one of the county commissioners said, you guys lost the war. you have no business talking about this. >> they rallied the support of rich outdoors men. and lobbied the feds that they got their wish. weeks before leaving office, barack obama declared bears ears off limits to any new drilling or mining. some cheered it, others saw it as tyranny.
>> it didn't feel like, it hasn't felt right for a year. >> phil lyman is among the trump supporters who spent the weekend cheering president trump's decisi decision. they point out that the biggest poorest county in utah has four other monuments, they don't want elite elites polluting their playground. >> you are using a tool that will bring hoards of people to a place that is very sensitive. there is nothing we want to unprotect. there's 13 layers of protection on artifacts and vegetation. >> there are loopholes in those rules that you can drive
drilling rigs here. >> he formed an advocacy group and is building a visitors center with whatever donations he can collect online. if this place was anywhere but utah, it would have been protected as a national park a long time ago. because of the politics of utah, this place is still a debate. >> the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. >> and the head of patagonia says he's ready for a long, legal fight fp. >> we're losing this plan, and we have an evil government. and not just the federal government, but evil politicians out of utah. it's evil. i'm not going to stand back and let evil win. >> what's his net worth? you have patagonia waiving the
flag while he's completing exploiting the outdoors for industrialized tourism. >> if these rocks could talk, they would tell us centuries of bloody human content before the united states decided to set aside the special corners for we the people. this is your land, but bears ears is a reminder that how it is used all comes down to how you vote. just in a couple hours since the president left the rotunda, we've seen statements from the navajo national council, the national trust for historic preservation all condemning this, all hinting at lawsuits, and you heard from the head of patagonia. you check out their website right now, it's a black screen with the words the president stole your land. no one has every challenged a president on shrinking or expanding, this one may end up
all the way to the supreme court. this is a fight that will go on forever. they've been fighting this for centuries. >> a beautiful land out there. thanks for your report. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. erin burnett out front starts right now. out front next, above the law. whether the president obstructed justice, his lawyers say it's not possible. he's the president. the former campaign chairman contacting a russian while he was on bail. and breaking news, the supreme court allowing the trump travel ban to take effect as he wished it to. i'm erin burnett out front
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