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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 26, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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to push through seem paramount right now. >> thanks for taking the time for speaking out on those issues. thanks for joining us. i am jim sciutto for erin tonight. "ac 360" starts right now. good evening, the president has arrived back in washington tonight facing the latest storm over the newest item on the long and growing list. the president calls the latest item fake news. and even before last night's bomb shell about his efforts to fire mueller, president trump mocked the idea that any of his actions so far could be legally problematic. >> now they are saying did he fight back. >> what is collusion mean? >> if you fight back, oh, it is
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obstruction. >> keeping him honest, this is what mueller could be. long and exhausting by no means exhaustive. item 1 january 27 of last year. comey had dinner with the president. he said the president asked him if he wanted to stay on, then said i need loyalty. >> have you ever had those requests before from anybody else in the government? >> no. and at that point, i am the director of the fbi. the reason congress created a ten-year term is that the director does not feel as though they are serving with political loyalty owed to any particular person. >> the new york times had broken
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the news that new york law enforcement and agencies had been conducting investigations into counterintelligence with links. february 13, national security advisor michael flynn was forced out. he has since pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi. the next day, february 14 at a briefing in the oval office. the president sends everybody out of the room except comey. telling him this against flynn, he is a good guy. i hope you can see things clear to letting it go. >> flynn had been forced to resign the day before. and the controversy around general flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he
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had lied about the nature of hiss conversations with the russians and that happens on the day before. on the 14th the president makes specific reference to that. and what i -- account of the russians. >> was that president in an attempt to obstruct justice. the president had been riding and publicly deriding him. stop investigating flynn. was than aattempt to obstruct justice. the very next day may 10th in a
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meeting, quote i just fired the head of the fbi. he was crazy, a real nut job. i face great pressure because of russia. i am not under investigation. firing comey took the pressure off. and if to dispel any doubt that russia factored into the motivation for firing comey, the president said so outloud the next day to lester holt. >> knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, an excuse by the democrats for having lost the election they should have one. >> the day after that send thg tweet, comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the
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press. at the time press secretary spicer saying that is stating a fact. on may 17 rosenstein. he goes on to tweet attacks on rosenstein, comey, mueller, the fbi which he says at one point is in tatters. all of which continues to this day. according to this source familiar to the matter the latest pressure to push comey's replacement. we go back to the time line on june 12, trump friend went on pbs news hour and dropped this bomb shell. >> i think he is considering
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special counsel. it is clear by one of his lawyers said on television. i think it would be a significant mistake >> we learned the president ordered it only to back down at the last minute. at the very least the president and his people for months have been less than honest about this and including the very moment it has been happening. >> the president has a right to, he has no intention to do so. >> the president is not discussing firing mueller. we are cooperating -- he has not discussed firing bob mueller. >> i haven't given it any thought. i have been reading it from you people. no, i am not dismissing anybody. >> are you considering firing mueller? >> no not at all. >> is there any chance the
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president will fire robert mueller. >> no. the answer to that is no. >> [ inaudible ]. >> no i am not. >> we now know according to multiple news outlets this isn't true. these are most of the incidents that i just mentioned is the sum total indication an attempt by the president to obstruct justice. as we said, the president just now back in d.c. with the controversy swirling in and out of our white house, that is where we find our pam brown. pam, did he or any of the white house staff talk about the plan to fire mueller? >> he did not. he only would say that his trip to davos was a great trip, a successful trip. he did not address the bombshell revelations that he directed mcgahn to fire mueller.
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although the white house is letting his other comment stand that he made in davos. claiming this revelation, this news fake news saying the russia investigation is a hoax. other than that the white house is mum. given that, and given the news, you have to wonder what the future meetings will be like between the president and his white house counsel. we are told by sources that up until this point, don mcgahn wanted to stay in his role, happy in his role. this could set up for awkward meetings. in terms of mood and reaction to this in the white house, a sense of surprise by the revelation. they knew this past june was a period of intense time, a lot of anxiety going on as one source said. really touch and go. a lot of them didn't realize the
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extent to which this tension boiled over with don mcgahn threatening to resign. how will this impact the negotiations going on. one source told me the fact that he ordered don mcgahn to fire mueller could be an extra layer in the obstruction case and whether the president will sit down and talk to robert mueller still ongoing at this hour. anderson. >> thank you very much. joining us now is cory booker. president trump ordering mueller to be fired taken together with everything we know so far, to you does it rise to the level of obstruction of justice. >> to me, it is a troubling fact pattern. and we see this president who has in my opinion very authoritarian tendencies that
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upset, more than that, destroy the norms of our democracy and border on things that i think could arise to the attention or i know arising to the attention of the special prosecutor. this is somebody as you said through that long fact pattern has made it his opinion to intimidate or punish people. whether it is jeff sessions or robert mueller himself. we have a serious situation with this president that ultimately is unchecked right now and doesn't see himself as being subject to be the rule of law. even going as far as like dictators in other nations to call for the arrest and persecution and prosecution of his former opponent. we are in trouble can times here. and i have been advocating in the senate along with lindsey graham to do pragmatic things to
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provide checks and balances. >> the president said the other day he described what he is doing as fighting back. you are saying goes beyond fighting back. >> clearly, if he means what he says that he has done anything wrong and hasn't colluded with the russians hasn't in any way been involved, he should do what he said when he was citizen trump to others. if you have nothing to hide let the investigation run its course, cooperate with the investigation and submit to interviews and let this move on much he seems to be acting as somebody who has something to hide and try to use power in a way that does pervert american norms and traditions and could possibly end up being criminology acts. >> a number of the president's allies say regarding the firing of mueller nothing happened. and mcgahn putting his foot down
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shows it is functioning properly. >> think of where we are in the united states. a lot of people now hey, good that we have a few people who are good in the white house protecting us from the president's tendencies from his inclinations and passions. where his impulses seem to be dangerous contrary to american norms destructive in a functioning democracy. the only thing separating this president from disastrous outcomes is the courage occasional courage of people in his circles who have to literally threaten him with leaving, threaten him with resigning. that to me doesn't seem like a very good situation. in fact it is something to me tantamount to potential crisis
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in the future. congress needs to be taking pragmatic steps, not just pragmatism but moral urgency to make sure that we have the right protections in place. >> this bill that you and graham proposed in august, with are does that stand now? >> i am encouraged that lindsey graham and i partnered on this. chuck grassley granted a hearing. so i am hoping after this crisis, when people get back, we will find more momentum to getting this bill pass. not only for this moment in time. we have a nation's law set up that a president who is in power and under investigation by a special prosecutor can order the firing of that special without
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accountability. so it doesn't become aauthoritarian, to me that is sensible to do. and i think that is something to do now and in the future. >> have you spoken to your republican colleagues. is there an appetite on both sides of the aisle to push it. >> i am hoping there is an appetite for passing it. whatever side of the aisle you are on, we all see the same behavior on the part of our president and i think people have a lot of concern. you have heard when you talk to senators on both of the aisle, how happy that mattis is there. that is not enough. we need the rule of law. we need checks and balances and make sure that our republic can withstand president with the kind of inclinations that he is
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showing. >> appreciate your time. thank you >> thank you very much. >> next, new reporting on the president's mood where his deputy rod rosenstein is concerned. and the president's wife vanishing. new information on that. ♪
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breaking news on the reaction of washington on top of the reporting how close the president came to firing robert mueller now reporting on how much more annoyed the president is on one key justice official. >> what we have heard from four different sources is the president has grown frustrated with rod rosenstein. the president at times has spoken to wanting to fire the deputy attorney general, now some of these sources said this seems like bluster, and the president airing his frustrations. we don't believe he is going to follow through on this. but gives you an indication on how pre occupied the president is by this russia probe and all of these different avenues he has taken to bring an end to it. he fired james comey, he remains
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frustrated that attorney general jeff sessions recused himself. and now rod rosenstein has caught up on that as well. thanks very much. >> now jeffrey toobin and john rosily. legally, he is fire him but what could be the political fall out from that. >> i don't think the president cares so much about the political fallout. pause and think about how many people he fired from his administration. >> and doesn't like already. >> and he has talked about firing jeff sessions, now deputy rod rosenstein. he is mad at mcgahn, the white
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house counsel. you have to look at the management, and he has gotten rid of half of the white house staff one go around. that is the news more than anything rod rosenstein did. >> you would have to prove corrupt intent. and what is corrupt intent and what is the bar that has to be met in order to prove it. >> corrupt intent means bad intent. it is not a technicality, it is improper intent. the president is allowed to fire the fbi director as he did. and he could have set in motion the firing of robert mueller. but it is obstruction of justice if you do it with corrupt intent. and what is so important about the "new york times" article was
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that mcgahn thought the president's intent was wrong. the three bogus reasons that he gave for wanting to fire mueller suggests that you could find intent here. and the evidence of obstruction of justice is getting stronger. >> do you agree with this? >> president trump can argue there is another reason for why he wanted to fire mueller. mueller did have a conflict of interest. he is a witness to his own investigation. he interviewed for comey's job. that's the one that i think is a serious problem even though i supported the special counsel investigation because you know, you are not supposed to be a witness in an investigation that you are conducting. he interviewed for that job. he met with the president soon after the termination of comey. you can throw a stick in any
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corner and hit a hundred lawyers in d.c. why they had to put this one there was a mistake. it doesn't mean he should be fired. it doesn't mean the president should be given credit for not firing him. if this is correct, the president was about to do a remarkably self-defeating act and one that would be grossly inappropriate. but i don't think it makes a case for obstruction. people look at each of these changes and say there it is. there is the piece we are looking for and he has defenses. >> well, i think jonathan sort of made my point which is you look at so many different acts that the president has done whether it is telling james comey to be loyal whether it is telling him to go easy on his national security adviser. whether it is firing james
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comey, whether it is trying to fire robert mueller. each one of those individually is not a criminal act but when you take them all together, you do see a pattern of improper motives using the power of the presidency to for improper purposes. this was why impeachment proceedings began against nixon. this is why in part bill clinton was impeached. >> well, i think where we disagree is that there is another explanation. if you look at outside this investigation, the president conducts himself much in the same way. he often goes boldly where wiser men would not trend. he often tries to manage issues. he often tries to speak directly how he is feeling. this is not that different from how he deals with other areas.
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so the assumption that each of these acts has a criminal intent ignores the fact that the consistent outside the investigation. >> there is no provision in the law that you get an excuse because you have a big personality. if you fire the fbi director for an improper purpose, i don't care that you sometimes fly off the handle. this is an act that is potentially at least a violation of the law. >> jeffrey, you and i agree i think it was a terrible mistake to fire james comey, but there is a perfect alternative reason. many people had called for him to be fired. and rod rosenstein listed all people on both sides who said he should go. now, you are assuming that look, that might be a good reason but it is not the reason i think he
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had in his head. i don't think that is a strong criminal case. >> we are going to leave it there. thank you very much. brought back memories of what was called the saturday night massacre. there take on how it matters today. we plan for everything from retirement to college savings. giving us the ability to add on for an important member of our family. welcome home mom. with the right financial advisor, life can be brilliant.
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it was a different time and a different president, but the news that this president donald trump wanted to fire special counsel robert mueller last june, it brings back echoes of
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what has been known as the saturday night massacre. randi kaye looks back. >> i would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next two years. >> reporter: nixon and white house counsel john dean. the prosecutor prosecutor wants the tapes and subpoenas the white house for them. but nixon invokes executive privilege and refuses to give up the tapes but the u.s. court of appeals steps in ruling that nixon must comply. nixon tries to hand over summaries of the recordings. but cox balks at the idea. >> it is my duty for what seems to be noncompliance of the court
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order. >> reporter: nixon takes a gamble and orders his attorney general to fire cox. >> reports that attorney -- to fire the special watergate prosecutor arch bald cox. >> reporter: refuses and resigns in protest. >> for me to have acquiesced in his being firing. >> reporter: he too refuses and resigns. before the night is done though, the u.s. solicitor general filling in as attorney general agrees to fire archibald cox. still nixon is hardly immune to it all. nine months later, nixon on the verge of impeachment, but instead of being removed from
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office, he resigns. >> i shall resign presidency. >> we decided to assemble a group of people involved. john dean was the president's white house counsel. richard benvennista. carl along with bob woodward would become journalistic legends. david, you were working fornixon the night. what went through your mind. >> saturday night massacre was a shock. i almost drove off the road coming home from dinner. literally some of the best people in government. and a clear sense we were in
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crisis. no one knew where we were going to end. it was ab big deal. it is so ironic and in some days one of the best days of his presidencies in davos. and thinking about being positive about the american competent and along comes this story. overshadows davos but it is his fate until it resolves. >> you were cooperating with investigators, but previously you were president nixon's don mcgahn, white house counsel. >> well the rules of ethics have changed considerably since watergate because of watergate. one of the things a lawyer has to do today is if he sees
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criminal inactivity he has to resign. so he did what the rules call for. as it happened, anderson, i had pled guilty just days before the saturday night massacred. i had gambled. i had been told that he might be fired. and i thought there is no way to do it without somebody else to appoint a new one. so i was willing to take the risk and indeed that happened. >> richard, you were working for archibald cox, how unnerved do you think the mueller team is if at all. >> it was a total emotional talk. intellectually we had the idea this might happen. john had just pled guilty the day before before judge sarika and he called me immediately
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after he heard the news and said what do we do now. and the judge said settle down. and the grand jury said you are still in business. the firing of archibald cox has not affected you. and to our amazement we dusted ourselves off because we were not fired. but clearly an effort to obstruct justice. as the firing of robert mueller would be because there is no legitimate basis to fire him. it is something we discussed here on your show since june for sure and perhaps that's had some effect on don mcgahn and others in the white house who tried to prevent and did success in preventing trump from following his instinct to fire robert
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mueller. >> carl, the irony, the backlash against nixon was so strong, he had to appoint a new special prosecutor who was just as tenacious to get the tapes. >> the big difference up until now has been the republicans who have come time and time again to donald trump's support as he tries to shutdown this investigation. we have yet to hear mitch mcconnell or paul ryan get up and say mr. president, this mueller investigation which is legitimate and important to our country must go on. what happened in watergate is that republicans became the heroes by saying nobody including the president of the united states is above the law mr. nixon. you must turn over your tapes
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and cooperate with the special prosecutor. and we have yet to hear from republican leaders and say mr. trump, we are not going to tether our party to your lying and that is the most consistent element. the most consistent thing trump has done is to fight for the russian investigation to go away. loud and consistent and tried to undermine it at every single turn. >> i want to continue with our panel in just a moment. a lot to discuss. take a quick break. we'll be right back. new year, new phones for the family. join t-mobile, and when you buy one of the latest
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back now with our echoes of watergate panel. carl bernstein. so carl, this is a serious troubling decisions that are looming under the investigation >> the most important decision is what mueller is going to do and we don't know what he is going to do.
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and you know, it is clear that he has got the president's campaign his closest associates, members of his family in his sights. it doesn't mean he wants to bring them down in his sights. he wants to find out what they have done and they have been resisting letting him know what they have done >> there is a passage in the book the final days. you were talking with ben stein and you said quote, the moral authority of the president is collapsing, how can you think about housing. to me, it is an interesting question. i am wondering is that what it is like in a white house when all of this stuff is going on. the challenge of getting stuff done amidst a crisis or at the very least, a huge investigation. >> absolutely, anderson, the white house staff, you know, a
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lot of people around the president are honest citizens. and you worry greatly about are the pillars going to come down and i have had that conversation with bob woodward on several occasions. carl was concerned about that. and you do, we have a lot of conversations inside the white house should you leave. is the patriotic thing to do to leave the white house. and a number of people did leave as quietly as they could. a lot of supporters ever the president can say why are we talking about this mueller story, a saturday night massacre story that never happened. why is it important? on almost a dozen of occasions --
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>> kellyanne conway, they have all been saying it. >> why are we to believe them on the collusion issue, on laundry, on all of these other things. that is so corrosive. >> i know this may be rearweirdt if you could channel yourself back, what would that john dean advise the president to do. what would you say? >> well, initially when i started dealing with them in those recorded tape show, i was trying to figure out what he is who he is, what he knew. for the first eight months of watergate, i had no dealings with him at all. today i know he knew much more than i did. and i better convince him that
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watergate was a threat to him and he had a cancer on his presidency and if he didn't stop it, it might end his presidency. and he had answers for every problem i raised and that is when i thought i knew who richard nixon was. >> and your recommendation for the president this time? >> the sooner he gets this up and out and dealt with, the better for himself, the better for his presidency and if indeed he has not colluded as he said, not obstructed they be why is he acting as he has. nixon himself did not order the break in. yet he was covering up, initially we know from the tapes because he was worried about his friend john mitchell. in this instance, trump was worried about his friend general flynn. similar motives might come to play. trump should understand this history and see the consequences
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of it and try not to repeat it. >> richard, one of the great unresolved question. so are those who say indicting a sitting president would be too unstabilizing. >> a question that has never been resolved. the supreme court has never opined so opined on it. in our case, we had a sitting judiciary committee which was considering impeachment. here, to carl's point, the republicans who control both houses of congress have not demonstrated an interest to the extent that is necessary in my view and protecting the nation by considering the import of what this investigation is all
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about. >> i want to thank everybody on the panel. coming up, where is melania trump. the first lady skipped going to davos. and made a surprise trip to florida. is she charting a new course for first lady or trying to stay out of the spotlight. that is next. rodney -- mastermind of discounts like safe driver, paperless. the list goes on. how about a discount for long lists? gold. mara, you save our customers hundreds for switching almost effortlessly. it's a gift. and jamie. -present. -together we are unstoppable. so, what are we gonna do? ♪ insurance. that's kind of what we do here.
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renein the caribbean.onder for a limited time enjoy two free perks like complimentary wifi and drinks, plus savings up to $300 when you book now during the celebrity cruises sail beyond event. the first lady melania trump isn't as public as her predecessors. she was scheduled to travel to davos with the president but canceled that trip at the last minute. yesterday she left west palm beach florida and was back on the plane today. we don't know the reason for the trip. of course the elephant in the room is the news that recently broke about the president's reported payoff for an alleged affair with a porn star a few months after melania trump gave birth to their son. kate anderson brower is the author of a book called first women recently wrote an op-ed in
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"the new york times" with the headline the quiet radicalism of melania trump. she joins me now. you write in your piece, it may end up being melania who winds up doing more thafrn any of her pred ses soerz to upend. can you explain what you mean by that? is that the radicalism that you're talking about? >> i think we have this archaic notion of what a first lady should do. first there's no job description. there's no payment for the job. and there's endless criticism, right, no matter what you do. you saw that were michelle obama, laura bush, hillary clinton. i think it's really unique that she isn't just sort of standing by her man in the way that we've seen. even progressive women like hillary clinton do. i think they're really the only other marriage you could possibly even put in the ballpark of the trump relationship. it's just very complicated, and i personally like the fact that she is not coming out vocally and supporting him and making it clear that she is upset about some of this.
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it's humiliating. >> you think that's what her silence is? you think her silence is saying that? >> i think so, andcass canceling the davos trip on their 13th wedding anniversary, the inauguration tweet where she's with a marine and not her husband, i think all these things add up. not moving to the white house immediately was unpress departmented. five mows after he moved in, she monthed in. then of course the fact that they have separate bedrooms. they're the first presidential couple since the kennedys to sleep in separate bedrooms in the white house. i think it says a lot. >> it often takes first ladies a while to figure out what kind of initiatives they want to have. i think michelle obama, it took her quite a while to figure out exactly what she wanted to do. is it possible that melania trump is simply in that phase right now? >> i don't think so. i mean they have far fewer staff than michelle obama had. it did take her about a year, you know, to come up with the let's move campaign, which was michelle obama's signature issue in the white house. but i don't think that melania
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trump, you know, wanted her husband to run. she's not political, and i think we just see that no matter what she does, like cyber bullying kind of backfired for her because of her husband's tweets. and there's almost nothing she can do that will be apolitical. so i think people feel badly for her a little bit. >> you think she's interested in the role? you've written about other first ladies in the past. >> i don't think that she is. i mean she didn't grow up in this country. it's a hard role to understand even growing up here, and the first ladies i've talked to often have said how difficult it is. and they've reached out to each other, which i think is another key thing that melania doesn't have. you know, she hasn't spoken with michelle obama since they met a year ago, you know. and she had lunch with laura bush shortly after the inauguration. but it's not as though she has warm relationships with any of these other women. so i think she's in a particularly hard position. >> kate andersen brower, thanks
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very much. more news ahead. we'll be right back. you wouldn't believe what's in this kiester. a farmer's market. a fire truck. even a marching band.
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and if i can get comfortable talking about this kiester, then you can get comfortable using preparation h. for any sort of discomfort in yours. preparation h. get comfortable with it. we danced in a german dance group. i wore when i first got on ancestry i was really surprised that i wasn't finding all of these germans in my tree. i decided to have my dna tested through ancestry dna. the big surprise was we're not german at all. 52% of my dna comes from scotland and ireland. so, i traded in my lederhosen for a kilt. ancestry has many paths to discovering your story. get started for free at we packed new banquet mega bowls full of majestic piles of cheddar mac n cheese, smothered in mozzarella. but it wasn't mega. so we topped it with protein packed chunks of buffalo-style chicken. now that's mega.
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quick programming note.
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you don't want to miss this. the van jones show premieres tomorrow here on cnn. in the first episode van drives around in a van with trump voters and clinton voters in charlottesville, virginia. ♪ >> i don't see any horns. i don't see any pitch fork. >> they're in the trunk. >> listen, they don't have good sense at cnn. they let anybody drive. >> here we are at lee park. when you see that statue shrouded there, how do you feel about that? >> that statue was put up as a way of telling black and brown people, you go this far and no further. >> pastor, what do you base that statement on that they were put there for that purpose, because -- >> the history. >> well, that's contrary to anything that i know. >> how would you feel if you
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were a black man or a black woman having your -- you talk about generations of enslavement, of brutal zalgs. how would you feel seeing the statue? >> i don't think that as a white person, i will ever completely understand how a black person feels. >> and he also has an exclusive interview with jay-z. quite a first show. tune in for the van jones show tomorrow 7:00378 eastern right here on cnn. thanks for watching 360. time to hand it over to chris cuomo for "cuomo prime time." >> thank you, anderson. have a good weekend. everybody, keep an eye on your twitter feed. potus just landed from his davos trip, and you know he's going to want to slow some shade on the new reporting about his efforts to oust the special counsel. more than ever, he may want to listen to advisers who are going to beg him to put down the phone. what are we going to do tonight? we're going to give you what you need to know about the case against the president.