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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  February 28, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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dizziness, or confusion. ask your health care provider if you're tresiba® ready. covered by most insurance and medicare plans. ♪ tresiba® ready ♪ breaking news tonight and throughout the hour surrounding the departure of the president's communications director hope hicks and the president's fury that she told the truth to congress about telling white lies as she described them on his behalf. and new cnn reporting that special counsel mueller's interest in a statement that she made just after the election denying ties to russia. there's also new "washington post" reporting tonight on mueller's interest in the president's public shaming of his attorney general last summer, which also continued today frankly. i want to start the hour with cnn's jeff zeleny at the white house. what's the latest? what have you learned? >> reporter: anderson, of all the times we have stood here and talked about people leaving the white house, none is as perhaps consequential to the president as this. hope hicks, the communications director, said today she is
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resigning. a big question of why came out. it took everyone by surprise, her aides, her followers. she has many admirers here inside the west wing. she, i'm told, was meeting with some staff members. she was crying. they were crying. but she said it's a time she has to leave, she said, to pursue other opportunities. of course the timing is suspect, one day after she appeared before the house intelligence committee for that closed door hearing for eight hours or so, and a couple months of course after she appeared before bob mueller's committee answering questions. hope hicks is not a political expert or savant, but she is a reader of donald trump. she's an expert in trump lingo, and she was one person who had oval office access really more than anyone else besides, you know, potentially family members. so there is a sense here of what does this all mean? i mean this is a sense of, you know, it has shaken people here, anderson. the question is what will the president do from here? he's relied on her for so many
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things. will this change how he adapts and reacts to things? but, again, a couple people are pointing to she was here at very key moments, on air force one of course last summer when that statement was written about that trump tower meeting. she was on that flight from germany back to washington. she was with the president through many of these key periods, of course many of these are now of interest to investigators. but today she said she was leaving. >> what's the white house reaction been to her departure? >> reporter: the president of course praised her. he said that he wished her well. so it's been very positive, but there's still a question of why now. i mean there is a sense that this pressure cooker environment here is really taking its toll on a lot of people. she, of course, was with him longer than virtually anyone else, from campaign rallies early on, long before anyone thought he could be president. and she was able to change his views on some things and soften his temper on some things. she would sometimes send out his tweets. so this is someone who we cannot
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express enough how close she was to him. but the reality is at some point when she leaves in the coming weeks, he will go on without her. so will that change his demeanor, and what does it mean overall? she is still, of course, has been the subject of questions from capitol hill as well as the special counsel. there's a big question mark tonight about why she's leaving today, anderson. >> jeff, thanks. perspective now from democratic member of the senate intelligence committee, senator ron wyden of oregon. thanks for being with us. first of all, hope hicks' departure obviously a surprise to many people. what do you make of it and the impact it may have on the president because very few people are closer to him than her? >> anderson, this looks to me like more evidence of a white house in disarray. if we were going to name all the people who have either left or been fired just in the last couple months, we'd spend your whole show just going through it. >> not to mention just communications directors. >> and we continue to be faced
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with the key kinds of questions, one that you and i have talked about is i still think a lot needs to be done to follow the money. and today there were new stories in the press describing potential financial entanglements by jared kushner. >> right. do you think -- yeah, "the new york times" has reported jared kushner received hundreds of millions in loans for his private businesses from two companies after hosting them at the white house for official businesses. do you have confidence? can jared kushner remain in his position? should he remain? >> obviously john kelly has had to act with respect to his security clearances, and there's been a question about john kelly's role with respect to security clearances in the first place. i had to ask chris wray, the fbi director, to finally get a straight story about when the white house was informed about rob porter and some of his potential security clearance problems. you have security clearance problems at the white house, and you're potentially compromising sources and methods in what can be very serious intelligence matters. >> this is a president who ran on, a, hiring the best people,
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and b, going after hillary clinton for not handling classified information properly, said she would be the only president who wouldn't be able to get a security clearance. >> and he seems to get so caught up in potential efforts to try to discredit bob mueller, which aren't going anywhere because bob mueller has been so professional. with respect to all these memos and the nunes memo and the schiff memo, the fact of the matter is there's plenty of evidence on the trump aides independent of the dossiers. but the fact was the president was so interested in trying to somehow discredit bob mueller, which was never going anywhere, he just gets caught up in these stories. >> you've called on the senate intelligence committee to hold public hearings on the president's finances. i mean unless republicans agree to that, that's not going to happen. do you see any willingness on their part because the president himself has said a long time ago that would be some sort of a red line. >> what this is about, this is
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essentially a policy difference between the chairman and i and others. the chairman doesn't really think these follow the money issues are the heart of the committee's business. i think, for example, follow the money is counterintelligence 101. the way you compromise people is through money, so i'm going to keep making the case. we're looking at matters relating to that palm beach purchase. >> even if this is business dealings from ten years before he decided to run for office, you think that's fair game? >> the question, for example, in several of these matters -- the palm beach property. we're looking at mr. tore shun and the potential involvement with the nra. the question is when you have these kind of financial entanglements by the president or some of his associates, are they potential blackmail targets? are they potential targets who can be compromised from the standpoint of counterintelligence? >> which is the same question about jared kushner and others who may have financial dealings. the continuance by this
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president of attacking his own attorney general publicly, shaming him. we just saw it today. we now, according to "the washington post," it's one of the questions that mueller and his team are asking people about. last summer, the public shaming. have you ever -- does it make sense to you for a president to be publicly shaming his attorney general? >> i think it is just bizarre. i don't know any other way to characterize it. the reality is, is the president again not really understanding the function of the job. i mean no president is above the law. the position that jeff sessions holds means he's got to follow the law. it's not as if he's just working for the president. he's working for the american people. >> and that's what he said in his statement today kind of pushing back on the president. i appreciate your time. joining us now, david gergen, david chalian, and gloria borger. let's talk about hope hicks. david gergen, you've worked in a lot of white houses. have you seen in any white house where you worked that there is
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somebody as close to the president as hope hicks? i mean she really kind of plays a role similar probably to ivanka trump and jared kushner just in terms of their proximity and access to the president. >> i've certainly never seen anybody as glamorous so close to the president, and i think that's partly what distinguishes her. we've seen this parade of photographs. but, no, look, i think she's very close to the president, but she was in this job, she's the fourth person in 14 months to be communications director. >> what does that tell you? >> it tells you that it's impossible to be successful in that job because that job is all about planning strategy, communications strategy, themes, working it out, and you've got a president who uses twitter to bust up all that. >> you were communications director under reagan. >> i was indeed. but, you know, that was -- of course he was -- being communications director to the great communicator. that's pretty -- >> and there was no twitter. >> there was no twitter, but he was a disciplined -- you know, he understood communications. he understood the importance of
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themes and trying to build support and eventually getting, you know, the big things done. and this president is more interested in conflict. i think it's impossible to be an effective communication director. i'm sure she's been unhappy in that aspect of the job. she loves the glamour. i think everybody would for a while. but it wears off. >> david chalian, i mean it's just weird that this happened today, again, because if you're a communications director, you want to emphasize the good, and president trump had this headline-making meeting which we'll talk about this hour about guns, a bipartisan meeting in the white house that probably surprised a lot of people, pushing against republicans, saying to their face they're afraid of the nra and they've got to push back, talking about conservati comprehensive gun reform. and then not an hour later or so, this announcement from hope hicks overshadowing the meeting they just had. >> it's like example a of bad
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communication strategy. there is no logical reason that this should have come out today because that is not in anybody's communications plan would be for that to happen. so it raises the question of, well, just how much, then? even if this was in the works, how much did yesterday's testimony before the house intelligence committee and the headlines about white lies- and we know from our reporting that the president was none too pleased about that. how much did that play into any acceleration of this announcement today, even if it was in the works? >> well, and don't forget hope hicks has just been through the whole rob porter issue. >> yep. >> and there were stories at the time that she was thinking of leaving then and tendering her resignation then after she managed the response to it, which a lot of people including myself thought was a bit of a conflict. but, you know, you can understand anybody wanting to leave this white house quite honestly. you know, that's not the surprise. what's the surprise is that she is sort of the ultimate loyalist.
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she's been with him since day one. you know, i've been told that he needs her for emotional support. and a friend of his said to me that he thinks he's going to go into a tailspin without her around because she was sort of like a comfort blanket in many ways. and he needs that because his family is growing more and more distant. >> and keith schiller, who has been with him for years and years, left earlier. >> and i do think it's important to note a president does need emotional support in the white house. often it comes from his family, but his wife is not exactly giving off signals of a warm and fuzzy relationship right now. >> and also if your family is part of this investigation, that adds to the stress. >> exactly. he's engaged in this folly of running a white house like a family business. so it's very, very hard to distinguish emotions from conflicts of interest. it's just all roiled together. two things are happening and hope hicks underscores it. a lot of people are thinking
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about their reputations and how soon do they have to get out to protect their reputations. it will be a badge of honor to work for donald trump in some circles. for a lot of other places, this is a really hard thing to have on your résume, and you have to explain. the other thing is how do you then find the people you need to fill those jobs who are really good? >> we're going to take a quick break. more of this conversation when we come back. we'll bring in the rest of the panel. we'll also have new reporting from "the washington post" that robert mueller is examining that time period last summer when president trump seemed to fire attorney general jeff sessions. with exciting new dishes like dueling lobster tails and lobster truffle mac & cheese. classics like lobster lover's dream are here too. so enjoy these 10 lobsterlicious dishes while you can because lobsterfest won't last. and back pain made it hard to sleep and get up on time. then i found aleve pm. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid... the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. i'm back. aleve pm for a better am.
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i guess you could say it was a hectic day at the white house. new reporting from "the washington post" about the mueller investigation taking a look at the time last summer when president trump seemed close to firing jeff sessions and a day that ended with one of president trump's closest advisers, hope hicks, turning in her resignation a day after she testified in a marathon session before the house intelligence committee. here's what watergate reporters bob woodward and carl bernstein had to say in our last hour. >> there is now a subtext that people in the white house will say to you, it is unclear to them whether donald trump can effectively govern, whether he's capable of it in terms of his own abilities, conduct, and whether or not things have gotten to the point where the wheels are coming off of this presidency. we don't know that, but certainly people in the white house are openly, with each other and with journalists, raising those kinds of questions. >> it's not clear who has
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authority or what authority. >> back now with our panel, joining us at the table, carrie cordero, jen sauk ki, and mike shields. mike, for this white house, i mean hope hicks as we've been saying was about as close to the president as anybody. >> yeah, she goes back -- pre-dates everyone on the campaign and worked for the trump family before she got involved in this. sort of a unique person in that regard because she wasn't political. my guess is she will continue to be close to the president. i think this is like a family member and so whatever she's going to do after this, she'll still be a close confidant. she'll probably still be running press traps that she does very well quietly. she doesn't have her name in the paper, but she is very, very effective at running traps for the president. i'm guessing she'll continue to do that from the outside. so this decision, i don't believe, was related to anything that happened this week. >> you don't think so? >> maggie haber man reported in "the new york times," people don't leave the white house when they're that close to the president -- >> just from a communications
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standpoint, why announce this on the same day where the president has had this important meeting? i mean maybe the white house didn't like the way it turned out, and they wanted to switch attention. but you could argue it was an important thing that they would have wanted attention on. >> yeah. i mean i can't explain that. there's all kinds of reasons why someone might want to leave or what the timing is for that. but, you know, the thing is there was going to be something else that came out later on after this anyway. there's like four other stories since this afternoon, so in some ways it doesn't matter. >> jen, as a former communications director in the obama administration, she's, what, the fifth communications director since this president took office. is that an unusually high turnover. >> yes. we had about five communications directors over the course of eight years and i was in the role for almost two years. and i left because it was the end of the presidency. so typically people serve for two years, maybe three years. longer than that is a pretty lengthy amount of time because it is a high-stress, high burnout job, but this number of communications directors speaks to a level of chaos and uncertainty in the white house
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that maybe it is basically an impossible job to do understand this president. >> carrie, also from a legal standpoint, hope hicks is now deeply involved -- i mean she's gone before mueller already. she was testifying yesterday. she's also testified in the senate. she has been at the sort of epicenter of a number of very potentially important meetings where, you know, allegations of obstruction or other things are being looked at. >> right. i mean i think she definitely has some legal exposure, particularly on the obstruction piece if we want to look at a particular instance that we know about publicly, it's her involvement in crafting a message related to covering up what happened at the june 2016 meeting in trump tower. >> the donald trump junior meeting with the russians. >> exactly, so she has some legal exposure. i understand there's reporting she was going to do this anyway, but she just came off of nine hours of testifying in front of congress. in my prior life, i prepared senior government executives for testifying before the hill.
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i've testified. it's an intense process, and she is doing it under hostile circumstances because they want to know information that she has based on her close access to this president over the course of the last year. we have these major investigations, and so that, i'm sure, no matter what messaging people say, that had to have been a stressful experience to go through. >> it doesn't mean that that played a role in someone that close to the president leaving. i just want to point one thing out about the number of communications directors. i think this white house is different in many, many ways. it's almost like it doesn't really -- the president's the communications director. hope had that title. she's really a very close senior adviser to the president that was given the title communications director because she works on things -- this white house probably won't replace her. they probably won't have another one. you have sarah huckabee sanders handling the press, and you don't really have a comes director role in this white house. >> the fact that the president is essentially the communications director and
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tweets out isn't that maybe why there's been five -- >> they're feeling their way through. my guess is they're going to say we don't really have that role. things are different here. hope is not like a normal communications director leaving the white house. >> the problem is here is also the president and other people there don't see communications as a strategic tool. they're not effectively using it. they're terrible at communications. they're not using it to get legislation done. they're not using it to build support in the public. so their approach has not been effective. yes, it may not be the fault of the individuals. in fact, it probably isn't. but they need a new strategy in that regard at this point. >> in past white houses, if there's been an infrastructure leak, the white house tends to focus on infrastructure. now there will be an infrastructure week or jobs week, but the president hasn't gotten the memo and changes the conversation. >> when you've got an economy that is growing the way this one is, a pretty robust pace, he's passed a major tax bill and he's
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sitting at 35% approval rating, you've got a real communications problem. you should be able to go to the country and build bigger support than that. i would argue it's not that they don't need one. they desperately need a new communications director who is empowered to do the job that's there, to let this president, enable the president and get other people out of the way and get him off twitter so they can build up support. this is malpractice. >> i'm not arguing that they don't need one, but what i would say is, as i'm sure you know better than anybody, every white house sets itself up a little bit differently to tailor to the strengths and weaknesses of the commander in chief. and this particular white house, he acts as the communications director. my only point is i don't believe they will shave one. whoever gets put in that job is always going to be in line with having to talk to the president where he's the one who's leading the messaging. >> the reason they've had so many is donald trump thinks the one who's have left are not as
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good as he is. so, you know, you can tick them off, and with hope hicks, it's a little different, i think. >> i think he's a pretty good communications director as a campaigner. that i think he does very, very well. what he's not good at is as a communicator as trying to govern and trying to build coalitions that get things done. >> this is broader, though, than just the issue of their communications directors. working in this white house, whether it's as communications director, or whether it's in any other capacity as a senior adviser to this president is basically a one-way ticket to testifying in front of the grand jury or testifying in front of congress or being involved in some way in an investigation and having to hire a lawyer and having legal exposure. so i don't think her decision can only be viewed through the lens of they're making a decision about communications director. she is one of many people who now has had to testify, be interviewed by fbi agents, which if they haven't gone through that before, you know, also is a
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significant issue. >> but it's not going to end just because she leaves by the way. >> it will enable her to focus on dealing with that issue. >> right, but she's going to have to continue with all of that. >> we talked about her outside significance, but the reason why i think the departure is so surprising as well, even if it was in the mix, is because hope was so committed, and any of us who have had conversations with her throughout the course of this presidency, the passion she feels that donald trump is being wronged by everyone in the press, being wronged in the way he's been treated, and nobody is giving him -- i mean this is not like any other political operative where you have a conversation and they explain the president's thinking. this is somebody who felt it in her bones. i think that's why this is so surprising and why it's noteworthy it's coming after a pretty stressful week for her. >> she would never go on background or off the record and bad mouth the president of the united states. and there are lots of people in the white house who will do
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that. >> true believer. >> not hope hicks. coming up, new reporting on jared kushner. white house meetings and loans to his family business. also late news on robert mueller's interest in the president's campaign seemingly to drive his attorney general to quit. our advice and had geico help with renters insurance- it was really easy. easy. that'd be nice. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." phone: for help with bookcases, say "bookcase." bookcase. i thought this was the dresser? isn't that the bed? phone: i'm sorry, i didn't understand. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." does this mean we're not going out? book-case. see how easy renters insurance can be at
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that grow with your business. at&t, not so much. get internet on our gig-speed network and add voice and tv for $34.90 more per month. call 1-800-501-6000. more breaking news. we talked a bit about this at the top of the hour. the president asked his attorney general jeff session, tweeting why is ag jeff sessions asking the inspector general to investigate fisa abuse. will take forever. has no prosecutorial power. isn't the i.g. an obama guy? why not use justice department lawyers? disgraceful all in caps. that was this morning. as you know, it's not the first time. now, the washington woft is reporting that russia's special counsel robert mueller has been asking questions about last summer and the president's public shaming of jeff sessions back then. according to the post, a key
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area of interest for the inquiry was whether those efforts were part of a months long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. now new reporting in "the new york times" on jared kushner. the headline, kushner's business got loans from companies after white house meetings. the times jesse drucker is one of three on the byline. he joins us by phone. first of all, what can you tell us about these loans last year to the kushner family real estate business because i understand the person behind the private equity firm actually met with kushner multiple times at the white house. >> right. so there's two different loans that we wrote about. one of them is from apollo, which is a big private equity firm, and one of the founder of apollo is a guy named josh harris who over the course of the year last year had a number of meetings with the white house, including meetings with jared kushner, including meetings about a possible job with the administration. now, he didn't get a job with the administration, but in november of last year, kushner companies got a $184 million
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loan from apollo. and, you know, by the standards of both apollo and kushner companies, that is a very sizeable loan. it's basically triple the size of the average loan that apollo's real estate group gives out, and it's one of the biggest loans that kushner companies received all of last year. and it was for an office building in chicago in which jared kushner remains invested. >> so i mean all that talk of jared kushner divesting himself or separating himself from his family's company, he is still personally invested in that building? >> yeah. so i think this is kind of a common misconception, right? so when jared kushner took the job with the trump administration last year, he stepped down from his position as chief executive officer of the company. but he only divested a very small portion of his ownership stake in the company. he sold some portions of his stake in the company to a trust controlled by his mother and benefiting his siblings. but for the most part, he is
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still very heavily invested in kushner companies, including invested in the building in chicago that was refinanced with the loan from apollo and also invested in a series of buildings in brooklyn that we haven't talked about yet, which received a $325 million loan from citigroup last year. and that's significant because that loan took place shortly after a white house meeting between jared kushner and the ceo of citigroup. so, you know, in both instances you're seeing jared kushner meeting with executives in the white house and then sometime after those meetings, the companies that those executives work for or run or help to run are giving very sizeable mortgages to his company. >> did you get any comment from the white house or kushner's attorney about any of this? any explanation for what that meeting with citigroup was about according to them? >> yeah. i mean not -- not really of substance unfortunately.
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i mean, you know, the white house referred our questions to abbe lowell, who is mr. kushner's attorney, representing him in robert mueller's investigation. and, you know, they didn't deny the substance of what we reported, but, you know, basically said that there was no "there" there. >> apollo and citigroup, who made these loans, have they made any comments? >> say it again, anderson. >> apollo and citigroup, have they made any comments about your reporting? >> i mean, you know, again, neither of these companies denied the sequence of events, and neither of them deny that the loans took place or that the meetings took place. >> jesse drucker, appreciate it. thanks very much. back now with the panel. for all the concerns about, you know, business dealings, i mean this is exactly why those concerns were in place. >> well, this is why you have an office of government ethics. this is why people are supposed
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to divest themselves completely and separate themselves from their previous businesses. this is a little different in this administration. we're not used to having so many really rich people serve in government who have run private -- who have run private companies. and this is why you don't hire your son-in-law or your daughter, you know. this is why there are nepotism laws, and so even if there is no conflict -- let's just say there isn't any conflict. there is an appearance of conflict when you're jared kushner and you are meeting with these bankers or you are meeting with the chinese, or you are meeting with the russians, which is all under investigation. so, you know, no matter which way he turns, he has issues even if it's only of appearance. they've gone out of their way not to do anything about it. >> but it is beyond appearance. >> this actually seems like he's doing his company's business while sitting in his white house office. >> even if you give him the
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benefit of the doubt, even if you do, there's still a problem. >> citigroup obviously would like a good relationship with this administration and would like a good relationship with anybody in the white house for a whole host of reasons about any future dealings they may have. so it certainly raises a lot of issues of conflict. >> full disclosure, i don't know this gentleman from apollo, but i've had friendships with the leadership of apollo for a number of years and have always found them honorable. but i think gloria is absolutely right about this. when you create conflicts of -- what appear to be conflicts of interest, then naturally suspicions arise about these kinds of transactions. i think the time has come for mr. kushner, having been stripped of his secret service access and no longer, i think, able to be the master of middle eastern diplomacy or relationship with mexico, and his company that he left having
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this huge loan to pay off in january, it's really time for him to think about does he want to depart and attend to his business? isn't it much better to separate for his father-in-law's sake, to separate out the business now from the governance issues? it just seems to me the time has well come. >> i do think it's important to make a distinction when you say this doesn't look great, but there's no evidence that there was any kind of conversation in the white house about securing a loan. i mean -- >> we have no idea. >> we don't know. >> you don't know because it looks bad, but for clarity's sake, let's say there is nothing in this article that says that happened. >> there's no recording or transcript of what this -- >> and p would emapply caimplic companies themselves which don't need to do that and wouldn't spend that much money trying to curry favor. one of them, i publicly held company makes in real estate because their shareholders expect them to make a return for them. so let's make sure we clarify that a little bit. as you point out, the apollo
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guys, those are guys that play in politics. they've been around fr a while. it's not unusual they would be seeking a job in the white house or might be coming in and out of the white house because that's part of what they do. i'm just clarifying those things. as a report comes out, we start to have a presumption of guilt the minute that something like this happens when we haven't seen the second or third report. >> let me just flip that on its head because if you are a ceo of a company or you work for citigroup and they're obviously very smart people, you would be aware of what potential -- how it might look if you go into a meeting with jared kushner and then a month later, you give jared kushner's family company -- >> well, right. so maybe they made a mistake as well because i don't think they would want this scrutiny or this bad appearance on their part either. so that's why -- >> people do stupid things all the time. yes, we just don't know. >> it's more likely to be that than it is actually something nefarious. >> i have to say i worked in the white house, in and out for eight years, and the ethics rules are so stringent in the white house. when i got married, i had to prove that i had a prior
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relationship with people who gave me wedding presents. you have to get approval to go to the white house correspondents dinner. there are all sorts of rules about not getting special loans. i'm not sure it matters if the conversation took place in the white house or out of the white house. this is more than an appearance of a conflict. if these are all factually true, this is him taking advantage of being in a position in the white house. what that means legally for him, i'll let lawyers say that. but people need to understand the ethics rules are some of the most stringent that happen in any government office, in any private sector company m you work in the white house. >> i think it represents a bigger pattern of a problem with this white house, which is that they've come in, and from everything that we've seen, they don't think the rules apply to them. so we see it in this context of applying the ethics laws and the ethics rules that all other administrations of both parties have adhered to. we see it in the security clearance context where they set aside the rules that have
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applied to administrations of both parties historically. >> also jared kushner meeting privately with the chinese ambassador and jared kushner meeting with russian businessmen during the transition, all things which would not be done -- i mien you would normally have a note taker in the meeting with you just so that if the chinese ambassador lies to his government about what was said, somebody is there to -- >> that's where it becomes a national security problem as well because the overarching question whether it's fitzgerna dealings, is whose business is he doing when he's in the white house? that's a question for jared kushner, whether he's meeting with foreign leaders where he has investment interests. it's an issue for ivanka trump when she is going around the world meeting with foreign heads of state where she has business interests. it's an issue for donald trump when he -- when foreign dignitaries go to his private properties and spend money there, whether or not they are actually obtaining access or whether they are just seeking it, it really doesn't matter.
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just ahead, the president, jeff sessions, cyber bullying and robert mueller. a lot to talk about. directv gives you more for your thing. your top-rated thing. that five stars, two thumbs up, 12-out-of-10, would recommend thing. because if you only want the best thing, you get the #1 thing. directv is rated #1 in customer satisfaction over cable. switch now and get a $200 reward card. more for your thing.
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we're talking tonight about many things including robert mueller's interest in what has all appearances of the president trying to drive his own attorney general general to quit. is it part of a campaign to obstruct justice? it's one of the things according to "the washington post" that rock robert mueller is looking into. if the mueller team is looking into this -- it doesn't necessarily mean there's any there there or that's a particular focus of theirs.
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they just need to, in an eight-hour or ten-hour interview, there's a lot of boxes to check off. >> they're conducting an investigation, and so they're going to ask a lot of questions. now, i do think that they're asking questions about sessions and his efforts to -- all the pressure that he has placed on the attorney general, it could be part of an obstruction case. the obstruction case is not just limited to one event. so, for example, it's not just limited to the fact that he fired director comey. it is a pattern of activity that he engaged in from the start of when he came into office of putting pressure particularly on the justice department, particularly on individuals who were involved in the investigation prior to director comey and the special counsel being appointed and after. but he's gone after rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the attorney general. he has consistently gone after individuals who he believes are in charge of this investigation, and it is consistent. it is deliberate. and it is his effort because he
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doesn't understand and doesn't respect the independence of the justice department. >> if he wanted to fire the toe attorney general, he could fire the attorney general. >> he could fire the attorney general although then he would have to appoint somebody new, nominate somebody new, who would then have to go to a senate confirmation. the attorney general so far has, i think, tried to walk a certain line on certain decisions. he has done the absolute right thing, for example, recusing himself from the russia investigation. but the president consistently goes after the attorney general, goes after anybody that he thinks is administering justice in a way that is different than what is in his own political interest. >> but if it was obstruction of justice, then what it would be is not a tweet out to the public, which we've just discussed is his communications device, right? what he's saying is i'm frustrated because i actually can't control the justice department. obstruction of justice would be controlling the justice department. it would be calling jeff sessions on the phone and saying, stop this investigation. that would be -- or don't testify. tell people not to testify to
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mueller about what's going on. >> he made phone calls to members of congress. he had the director of the fbi in front of him and said, can't you make this investigation go away. so he did that too. >> not true. members of congress are in the legislative branch. they have oversight over the executive branch. he can't have obstruction when -- >> but he did call up don mcgahn and ask him to fire -- >> this story is is mueller looking at obstruction because he bitches and complains about what jeff sessions is doing publicly, that's absurd. maybe he's looking into it. i'm obviously not a lawyer. it is crazy for me to think that the president of the united states, who could fire the attorney general or anyone he wants to fire in the justice department, isn't firing them, is admitting, you know what, i have no control over them, and it makes me angry so i'm going to communicate to the american people how angry -- >> doesn't your argument depend on a rational actor model, that his tweets are well thought out with a plan? i mean they could be he's
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annoyed and venting. >> maybe that's why mueller is looking at it, which is, is he trying to influence through the tweets? when you have the ability to influence in other ways, which is call them and fire them, then tweets are a weak version of that. >> he has done all of these things. he called the fbi director into the white house, had a meeting with him, and asked him if he could make an investigation go away. that's an in-person meeting. he has called other individuals and tried to put pressure on this investigation. his tweets are a piece of it. he tweeted at director comey after he was fired that there might be tapes. that was potentially intimidating a witness. he has gone after andy mccabe, the former deputy director of the fbi both publicly and privately. so his tweets -- >> when you put it all together, it sounds so negative. >> and i realize that if you're going to go to, say, a jury, which won't happen. but if you were going to go to a jury, you may want evidence to say look at this pattern. but the idea that a tweet
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complaining that i can't control the justice department -- and i'm complaining about it publicly to the american people, is somehow obstruction of justice -- >> i can't imagine a clearer case of someone in a position of authority trying to change the outcome of a legal proceeding than what we're watching. you know, to call people in and say, go easy on flynn. what are we talking about? if that's not trying to change the outcome -- that's the reason he's trying to do all this, and he has smeared, you know, his attorney general. he smeared comey. he smeared mueller. there's a long list. and that is a way to diminish public approval, public acceptance, public respect for the investigation. >> just like the democrats did to ken starr. >> but, you know, most of the time when you see obstruction, you have to dig for it. here it's just right out in front of us. you can't ignore it. it's just like there's, like,
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obvious -- i don't understand -- >> -- doesn't mean that it's not happening. you know, most people might try and do it privately, which i think -- >> i think there are stories about mueller publicly investigating or asking questions about public shaming. what i'm saying is that particular part of it, publicly shaming somebody and trying to denigrate an investigation publicly, is not obstruction of justice. >> you're taking issue with simply the headlines when the reality is we have a lot more content that goes behind it. >> also he wouldn't be asking the people about public tweets which he can read. he would be asking the people who were there at the time what else was the president doing around that time, i assume. >> there's another piece of this, which is part of what he's doing through the tweets is trying to put pressure on the attorney general to resign. and what is the effect of that? the effect of jeff sessions resigning is that rod rosenstein no longer has to be the individual in charge of the
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russia investigation overseeing the special counsel. and that goes to the president's efforts to try to derail this investigation. >> he's going to put pressure on them to resign through twitter instead of calling them and firing them. >> this is why mueller wants to talk to the president because if he's going to think about obstruction. >> inside the televised session where the president seemed to take not just one but several democratic positions on gun control, telling some of the republicans in the room that they were afraid of the nra. a remarkable moment. if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio, the only biologic developed
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and republican members of congress. the president seemed to adopt policy positions on gun control that have been largely opposed by his own party. amy klobuchar was in the room. >> the states that have these background checks. >> it was pretty extraordinary, what were your key takeaways from it? >> first of all, it felt like something of a real discussion. and that was important. secondly, the president clearly committed to a strong background check bill many a strong universal background check bill. he said he didn't want a weak bill. it's clear he wanted to close the gun show loophole, he wanted to do something about background checks. many of my colleagues that have been through the immigration debate in the last few weeks have seen him say one thing and the next day say another. so we have to hold him to this, because the american people are very focused on this now, young people going to march in the
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streets, and if we do nothing after he has said this, i don't think that's going to work very well for him. and so we have that discussion. 'greed to include my bill on domestic violence, which is a simple bill which has passed in 12 states, that makes sure that if people are dating each other and there's been an act of domestic violence and a conviction, that you can't get a gun there. so i thought it was really interesting, and probably i'm sure you agree the most interesting part was when he was taking on members of his own party and basically telling them, that hen watted to get something done. >> the president pushes for a larger comprehensive bill, that was his word, is that awise approach? your colleague senator rubio said, it's ideal if you can do it all at once, but i don't think it's likely to pass knowing this? >> he can say that all he wants. he's going to have to face all those kids in florida. and really people all over the
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country because i've seen this before. for a long time, the moms have been taking the torch and valiantly tried to change this. after sandy hook, you saw the parents and the mothers. it's different when kids take it over, is my impression, so if our republican colleagues are going to be saying, well, we want to do something really small, just to respond i don't think that's going to work. and they are talking to me about things like assault weapons, and the background check that the president said he would support today. things like closing the terrorist loophole, domestic violence. so i think that's why the president was referring to a more comprehensive bill. as i said, i'm from a proud hunting state, and i look at every proposal and say, would this hurt my uncle dick in his deer stand. i don't think any of these rational proposals we've been discussing would do that. >> you mentioned the immigration the president held in january, it was a similar format, there was a feeling that things might
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really change after that, because -- i mean, at some point he seemed to side with am dids, and then republicans would speak and he'd go back to their position and go back to the democratic position. i mean, really things haven't changed since that immigration meeting. both sides were treated to their partisan corners. >> that is my worst fear, everyone's worst fear, we are where we are. and i think one difference is, that he has made this really clear, ten times, he wanted a strong universal background check bill. and the american people saw him do that, he unlike other cases where he said i want to add this to immigration, i want to add that, he actually specifically said to steve scalise, who he said he loved, that he didn't think we should be adding a bill that would have actually expanded access to guns. and he specifically said that to him. and he said, well, that's because amy and diane wouldn't support it. i mean, that happened. it does feel different to me
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than how he has handled the immigration debate. but again, i'm not naive here, it could easily have happened. it won't happen if the american people hold him to what he said today. >> senator klobuchar, thank you very much. coming up next, even more breaking news on guns from the biggest retailer in the country. ? the rap singer took a loss and now he's ok again. right. yeah you can get a mortgage that avoids pmi, but there's no way to avoid mip on... . hey! this'll help. rocket mortgage by quicken loans makes the complex simple. so, origination fees... this takes care of it, thank you. understand the details and get approved in as few as 8 minutes. by america's largest mortgage lender. bounce back, right right right, i get it now. ♪ i woke up in beast mode, with my girl that's... ♪ ( ♪ ) stop dancing around the pain that's keeping you awake. advil pm gives tossing and turning a rest and silences aches and pains. fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer
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dr. scholl's. born to move. it's been a night of major developments here in washington to say the least. we want to leave you with another item from elsewhere, that may matter more. especially to students and parents in parkland, florida. today students went back to stoneman douglas high school for the first time since the gunman took 17 lives there, walmart will no longer sell guns and ammunition to anyone under the age of 21. it also said it was removing all toys and air rifles that resemble assault weapons. in a statement, walmart says, our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way. this follows a decision by another big retailer, dick's sporting goods. the company doing what walmart did in 2015, immediately ending sales of all assault style weapons like the ones used in
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parkland and other mass shootings. whatever happens in the marketplace, today this says a lot. it's time to hand things over to don lemon, cnn tonight starts right now. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon, breaking news tonight out of washington, we're following multiple huge stories tonight, and we're going to catch you up on everything. and it's a lot. so buckle up. first this hope hicks. the fifth white house communications director in a little over a year. announcing she's resigning, joining the parade of people from the trump administration fleeing for the exits. hicks announcing her departure just one day after admitting she told lies, what she characterized as white lies, but lies nonetheless, in the service of president trump a source telling