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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 21, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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thank you so much. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter. that's it for "the lead." i turn you over to "the situation room." situation room." stay warm. -- captions by vitac -- happening now, breaking news. defending putin. criticized for congratulating him. putin's russia saying they can help solve problems. why does a former cia chief say russia may have dirt on the president? nondisclosure. sources say president trump demand that had white house staffers sign a nondisclosure agreement just like his trump organization employees. why did the white house go i know what the idea, even though it is seen as unenforceable and possibly illegal? poison pen. despite the president's kid glove treatment, the kremlin is trying to pin the blame on the
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united states for the poisoning of the former russian spy. and lawsuits by a porn star and a playmate, the most damage could come from a former contestant on "the apprentice." i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." breaking news, the president is defending his move to congratulate russian president vladimir putin on his re-election saying getting along with russia is a good thing. he's furious over a leak that aides warned him not to do so. by ignoring that, he brought on criticism from capitol hill, much of it coming from republicans. more warnings not to move against the special counsel, robert mueller. i'll speak with jeff flake who has warned that the president, what the president is doing
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potentially could lead to impeachment. and our correspondents and special. is are standing by full coverage. let's begin with president trump. in a fury over a white house bleak his congratulatory phone call to vladimir putin. let's go straight to white house senior correspondent pamela brown. the president is now defending that call. >> that's right. he fired off tweets today, defending that call in the wake of this criticism that he didn't bring up election meddling with vladimir putin and congratulated how many his election victory despite warnings from his own advisers. the president then went on to trash past administrations for failing to work russia who he says can he help solve some of the world's problems. tonight, president trump is defending his call with russian president vladimir putin. writing in a tweet, the fake news media is crazed because they wanted flow excoriate him. they're wrong. getting along with russia is a good thing.
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not a bad thing. the president trashing past administrations for failing on work russia. writing, bush tried to get along but didn't have the splarts. obama and clinton tried but didn't have the energy or chemistry. remember reset? peace through strength. the twitter tirade comes as the president is seething after a leak to the media that his national security adviser specifically instructed him not to congratulate vladimir putin on his recent re-election victory. the "washington post" reported the warnings were included in the president's daily briefing materials in capital letters saying, do not congratulate. a call in which the degrees just that. >> i had a call with president putin and congratulated him on the victory. his electoral victory. the call had to do also with the fact we will probably get together in the not too distant future.
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>> the leak sent trump into a frenzy over who with access to that information would be responsible. white house officials were rattled as well. that leaking presidential briefing materials is grounds for dismissal and in all likelihood, illegal. someone who wanted to embarrass trump as well as h.r. mcmaster who was with trump when the phone call was made. there's already speculation that he could be the next high level stopper to be ousted. chuck grassley wouldn't specifically comment on the decision to call putin but told reporters today persian wouldn't waste his time speaking with a criminal. >> what he's done in london, poisoning people with nerve gas. that's a criminal activity.
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>> the seemingly soft approach. on tuesday, the white house wouldn't say if russia's election was legitimate. >> we don't get on dictate how other countries operate. what we do know is that putin has been elected in their country is that that's not something we can dictate to them how they can operate. >> just last week sarah sanders refused to say whether russia meddled in the 2016 election and are actively trying on undermine the 2018 elections, is a friend or foe. >> i think that's something that russia will have to make determination. >> john brennan recently suggested the president could be compromised by putin. >> i think he's afraid of the president of russia. >> why? >> one can speculate as to why. the russians may have something on him personally. they could roll out and make his life more difficult.
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i think it is important to improve relations with russia. the fact that he's this fawning attitude toward mr. putin, has not had anything negative to say about him. he says to me that he has something to fear. >> and white house chief of staff john kelly has vowed to launch an investigation into the leak to the "washington post." particularly someone on the national security team who may be trying to undermine the president. for many, this is reminiscent of the leaks oriole before kelly that were seen as way to emfwars president. you'll recall when the contents of the contentious call leaked out oriole. >> i remember that. thank you very much. more breaking news now. we're learning president trump badgered the white house into coming one a nondisclosure agreement for staffers like the one the trump organization employees must sign. is the resulting document even
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legal? our white house reporter kaitlyn collins is digging in. >> reporter: we've learned several staffers in the white house have signed these nondisclosure agreements much like he had people sign in the trump organization. the president was immediately told there would not be enforceable for federal employees. the president insisted. he continued to push this idea through early days of the administration when all the leaks, as you'll recall, were coming out of white house. finally by the spring, the white house counsel reelected and he drafted this watered down unenforceable version of a nondisclosure agreement and they could have senior staffers sign. however, many people i spoke to, they said they did not see it as enforceable. they definitely saw it as a watered down version and
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something to play indicate the president and have them sign them. the "washington post" reported this. the "new york times" reporting many more details and now we have more details. i need to point pout the press secretary hogan gidley deny that had any employees sign ad nondisclosure agreement that had financial penalties in it as the "washington post" reported. it is not something the white house denied. it is how he ran the trump organization by having employees sign these he nondisclosure agreements. >> these are government employees. not his own personal employees. joining us now, jeff flake from arizona. senator, thanks so much for
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joining us. >> tlots discuss. you heard the former cia director john brennan say he thinks russia may have something personally compromising on president trump. do you agree with that assessment? >> i wouldn't want to speculate at all. i am concerned about the call that was made. and support for putin's election victory or congratulations. i have a problem with that. but i wouldn't want to speculate as to why. >> how do you explain the president's strong seemingly to russian views? he never says anything neglect give putin at all? >> that's a concern. i've been troubled by for a while, as have my colleagues. he's criticized a lot of people, mostly my colleagues, particularly on the democratic side. and russia never seems the get that same criticism. i bottom want to speculate why but i don't think that it serves us very well. particularly when you have the opportunity to bring these up.
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the poisoning of the exspy in britain. the interference in our own elections here. and you don't take the opportunity to raise it. we can use russian help, certainly. in syria and elsewhere. i just haven't seen where they good relationship, supposedly that the president had, has yielded benefits yet. he tweeted about all the ways american and russian interests might align. let me read this. i called president putin to congratulate him. the fake news media is crazed because they wanted flow excoriate him. they are wrong. getting i know what russia is a good thing. not a bad thing. they can help solve problems with north korea, syria, ukraine, isis, iran and even the coming arms race. bush tried to get along but
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didn't have the smarts. obama and clinton tried but didn't have the energy or chemistry. peace through strength. are those views reflected at the pentagon? the state department? >> no. i don't believe so. i do believe that we can get russia's help, where our interests align some of the interests he mentioned. but you have to go in clear eyed. you have to go in and recognize they are not a friend. they are an adversary. and those who try to mess in our elections, that's an adversarial position. the positions they've taken in syria to prop up the regime. to help iran, basically in the end. those are not things that align with our interests. they are an adversary. as long as we recognize that, by all means, talk to them. but know what you're getting when you talk to the russians. >> white house press stekt other day refused to say whether russia was a friend or foe of the united states. the "washington post" says he of course, the president was given
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briefing materials in advance of the phone call with putin that said, in all cams, do not congratulate. in all caps. do not congratulate him. the president went ahead and congratulated him. what does this mean? dez the president read everything? >> i don't know. but if the recording on the call was correct, are apparently he didn't read the briefings. i'll tell what you concerns me. going into very sensitive negotiations that are planned right now with north korea you have to worry about that. i think it is good to talk to north korea but that's at the end of the road after multiple meetings from diplomats. the meetings between the heads of state are usually after the fact to wrap things up. when all has been decided.
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but actually, to send the president in to negotiate on the front end with the north korean leader he, given what just happened with russia, i think it has a lot of people concerned. >> yesterday you said this about robert mueller, in charge of the russian probe. you said this. we are begging the president not to fire the special counsel. don't create a constitutional crisis. congress cannot preempt such a firing. our only constitutional remedy is after the fact through impeachment. no one wants that outcome, mr. president, please don't go there. very strong words. are you saying you'll be ready to impeach the president is he fires mueller? >> i'm saying, please don't fire mueller. we don't need that. the president doesn't need. that he has mueller doing this because he fired comey. and there are some pieces of legislation that have been introduced to kind of preempt such a firing.
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i'm not certain that those, and i don't believe that they are constitutional. there's very little congress can do to preempt that. the only remedy is on the back end and none of us want to get there. so i think it behooves all of my colleagues to say and more loudly, please, mr. president, don't go there. the tweets where he seems to be sochbling the ground by undermining the special counsel, that he may be willing to go there. i hope he doesn't. >> is there another republican would join you in pushing for impeachment, a huge if. >> i know prior to any comments i made, lindsey graham was asked. that kind of obstruction of justice. and lindsey said yet. there are others. believe me, there are others who haven't said it who believe that
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that would constitute obstruction of justice if there is no cause for the firing. >> pretty extraordinary to hear a republican. a few democrats have used the i-word, as they say. but for you, that was very strong. a lot your republican colleagues say they have no serious fears about the president actually firing robert mueller. but i heard you suggest that privacy they have a different view? >> oh, yes can. i think there's concern. there is hope by everyone that he doesn't go there and i hope that's the case. there are statements out of white house that they don't plan on doing that but some of the tweets over the weekend seem did indicate that he was softening the ground for that. >> thank you for joining us. >> thank you. more breaking news even as the president praises president
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>> reporter: the president wants better relations with russia despite the election meddling but he is hamstrung. many saying the president's hands are already tied after this phone call. while at the same time, the russians took a major shot at the u.s. today. only hours after president trump called vladimir putin, congratulating him on his election victory -- >> i had a call with president putin. and i congratulated him on the victory. moscow throwing a bizarre accusation at america. apparently saying that a russian spy and his daughter poisoned by a nerve agent in england two weeks ago may have been targeted by the united states. >> if you fantasize a little bit, it is likely that all this
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could have been orchestrated from across the pond. it is no secret that the u.k.'s only partner is the only state keeping the largest arsenal of chemical weapons in the world bust the brits insist the nerve agent used, it is like russia was behind the attack and that it may have been ordered by putin himself. the u.s. says it stands by the u.k. vladimir putin won a land slide victory with. no serious challenger, a monitor says there were irregularities. sarah huck by sanders struggling when asked whether the president considered the election to be free and fair. >> putin has been elected in their country. and that's not something that we can dictate to them how they operate. >> with the president fuming the guidance he ignored from his national security team urging them not to congratulate it was
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leaked. defensing president trump. trump not only congratulated, that would have been a protocol move. trump offered a high level meeting. he threw up three topics. i repeated that his hands are untied. >> and the kremlin officially did not want to comment the president allegedly having been advised not to congratulate vladimir putin. they did say they look forward to working together on an array of international issues. coming up, while the president may be at risk from lawsuits by a porn star, former playmate costly the most damage come from a former contestant on "the apprentice"? . adderley. it's a calling to not only everybody in this neighborhood
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2017 in which he said, i did not have communications with the russians. that testimony got him in a bit of hot water after reports later revealed that he did in fact have two encounters with sergei kislyak. some democratic members of congress, he is not under investigation. i want to read to you a statement from chuck cooper. he says the special counsel's office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to congress. the interesting part is the situation with mccabe.
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jeff sessions cited it as a reason yes needed to be dismissed. a close source to sessions tells me that he was not aware that he was under investigation for perjury when he fired mccabe. a representative tells me he is not responding to the story. >> over at the justice department. thank you for that report. let's bring our analysts and our experts. you know andrew mccabe. you worked with him at the fbi. is it plausible in your opinion that the attorney general wouldn't know about mccabe's role in that investigation? >> i think it is plausible. i'm not sure how relevant it is. one of the questions i would have for the department of justice and the fbi, how many agents walk away when they're in the midst of disciplinary he investigations without
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interaction by the attorney general? i knew andy well. he is an honorable man. one of the brightest guys at the fbi. it really smells when you're less than two days away from retirement, the president of the united states has hammered you repeatedly and all of a sudden the attorney general takes a file and says you're fired. i also know the disciplinary process at the fbi. there's something that won't that led them to believe what andrew mccabe did was a fireable offense. i can't see that it is appropriate for the attorney general to fire himmest should have just let him go. >> you heard the report that sessions at least a source close to sessions, says that he didn't even know about this perjury investigation that mccabe is doing. i think he's right. we're literally seeing the
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outside of the onion here and there's a lot more to be peeled. with regard to mccabe, it was political. perhaps more than political. we know on its face, because the president is so transparent, that he wanted mccabe out and he blamed mccabe and he is using mccabe as exhibit a of how the fbi is really messed up to turn the waters and muddy them with regard to the fbi and mueller and the investigation. i was talking to a trump source. they said it is different. i know that and you know that but most people don't know it. >> it is iron pick jeff sessions fired someone for being less than truthful and he is smocked there was an investigation. it was a very public dragging following question by then senator al franken about whether or not he had russian contacts. he can't possibly have been shocked. there were calls for
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prosecution, this shows me that there's consistency and there is something being done behind the scenes by this investigative agen agency. er the fact he came out smelling like roses the same week that andy mccabe did not come out smelling like roses seems a bit convenient to me. >> president trump in this latest tweet, he doubled down on his congratulatory phone call to the russian president vladimir putin. is there a double standard going on? i think it is less what the president said than what he didn't say. given the magnitude of what the russians did in our elections, what they apparently continue to try to do in different elections involving our allies.
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the poisoning of this spy with the nerve agent. just a few days ago. the fact that none of this came up in the conversation even obliquely. it is remarkable. he is that's right there are issues that we can work the russians on where our interests coincide. that's always been through the obama administration. worked with them to iran and afghanistan and arms control. but to give them a complete pass is out of boundsest uses the word peace through strength. when he's talking about russia, he uses words like appeasement. that doesn't lead to peace. before the phone call, the president was briefed by his national security team and given a material in which one of the
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lines said do not congratulate, all in capital letters. he did it. he doubled down. >> he's decided to chart his own path on everything except russia. time and time again the presses has opportunities to condemn russia has other presidents have organization human rights, free and fair elections, at a minimum, and he hasn't done it. there are things he's done. he's taken more military action in the ukraine. finally we think the treasury will implement sanctions. but at the end of the day, the president won't budge with regard to giving the people what they want by adding that bit of caution, that bit of criticism.
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by giving diplo-speak. he leads everybody to question what his motives are and suggests it is nefarious. >> as someone who works in a white house, i thought it was pretty outrageous that the notes given to the president were leaked. i think we should point out when you have a president who leaks himself, how dissatisfied west his national security team, his national security adviser, that changes may be on the horizon. disloyalty breeds disloyalty. he ought to ask himself. why is it my white house leaks in ways other white houses haven't? >> this is john brennan speaking earlier about the president's relationship with putin.
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>> i think he is afraid of the president. perhaps that the russians have something on him personally. the fact he has had this fawning attitude toward mr. putin, has not said anything negative about him. >> do you believe russia has something on him? >> they've had long experience with mr. trump. they may have something that they can expose. >> something personal? >> perhaps. >> what jumped out at me was when he said the russians may have something on him personally. he didn't suggest what he's thinking. i see a smile on your face. >> i'll waiting for the other shoe to drop. he's not saying he knows the facts. but let's look at the other side
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of the story that he wasn't asked about that i would like the grill him on. during the election campaign and immediately after, he was seeing the kinds of intelligence, for example, potentially intercepts the russian ambassador, where the russians were were talking on campaign officials. if he's speculating, did he see anything in the campaign? about susan rice unmasking intelligence, understanding which american officials were talking on, or trump campaign officials were talking on russians? i presume john brennan saw that same intel. what's behind the speculation? is there intelligence behind this? i want to know. >> how do you think this very strong statement from john brennan might play in the overall russia investigation? >> i suspect mueller has more answers than even john brennan does. he has the power of the the
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grand jury to get documents. he has people cooperating along those lines. we'll have to wait and continue to salivate a little more, as we all do. the overarching theme is about why. that's the big question. why the investigation won't start simply at the inauguration. it will go back this time to figure out, was there any avenue for anybody in a foreign country to exert influence and manipulate presidential candidate? that requires you to be backward looking and diving into those he rabbit holes. that you know mueller waits until friday nights mostly to disclose the information he may know and only through talking indictments. so we have to wait for that. >> he said trump will take your
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rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in history. stand by. stormy daniels takes to twitter again. legal experts say another woman's lawsuit may pose an even bigger danger to president trump. ( ♪ ) your heart doesn't only belong to you. child: bye, grandpa! and if you have heart failure, entrusting your heart to entresto may help. entresto is a heart failure medicine that helps improve your heart's ability to pump blood to the body. in the largest heart failure study ever, entresto was proven superior at helping people stay alive and out of the hospital compared to a leading heart failure medicine. don't take entresto if pregnant. it can cause harm or death to an unborn baby. don't take entresto with an ace inhibitor or aliskiren, or if you've had angioedema with an ace or arb. the most serious side effects are angioedema, low blood pressure,
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prevent another government shutdown. let's go to our senior congressional correspondent. where do things stand now? >> well, behind the scenes, congressional leaders are furiously working the write this bill that needs to be passed by the end of the day. in order to avoid a government shutdown. this 1.3 trillion spending bill has not been seen by virtually all members of congress. really only a handful in the leadership are aware of the precise contents of this bill. people are concerned about it and towed get an intervention from house speaker paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, trying to reassure about what's in the proposal. not everyone is happy about
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this. including rand paul who has the power to delay final passage past the deadline. he was unhappy with the process. he said it is a good thing we have republican control of congress, or the democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and obamacare and sneak gun control. of course, the current process, republicans control congress. he would not say whether he would hold up the final passage of the bill. but other members are expressing some frustration, including john kennedy of louisiana who said that. he said i don't know what's in it. i don't even know if i'll have time to read it. i just got a ten or 15-minute explanation over lunch. i'll probably get a memo this afternoon in swahili.
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i have to go to k street to find out. i'm disgusted. every senator has one vote. every senator has to be involved. that includes the number two republican, john cornyn told me earlier today that it is not a good process. four people here in congress are aware of what's in this bill that will affect everybody, the whole country. $1.3 trillion. we'll see if we see it later tonight. >> all right. thank you. the real legal threat may be coming from a former contestant on the reality show. (barry murrey) when you have a really traumatic injury, we have a short amount of time to get our patient to the hospital with good results. we call that the golden hour. evaluating patients remotely is where i think we have a potential to make a difference. (barry murrey) we would save a lot of lives if we could bring the doctor to the patient.
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we have more breaking news coming in. one of president trump's attorneys just told cnn the president's legal team will appeal a judge's ruling on a lawsuit by a former contestant on donald trump's reality show. cnn's brian todd is here with us. tell us more about the case, brian. >> right, wolf. this woman's name is summer zervos. she accused donald trump of sexual misconduct against her and she has just won a key victory in a defamation suit she filed against trump for calling her a liar. we have new information tonight on the zervos case and how it might make the stormy daniels case seem like just a minor ann annoyance. >> reporter: donald trump once fired summer zervos on "the apprentice". >> you know what summer, you're fired.
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>> tonight, der vozervos presenn more of a legal challenge to the president than stormy daniels. >> i think the zervos case is the most problematic for the president. >> zervos has just defeated president trump in new york supreme court, a major ruling saying of the president, no one is above the law. the judge denied trump's attempt to block zervos tee defamation lawsuit against trump. zervos, a businesswoman, accused trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007, during meetings in new york and beverly hills. >> he came to he and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. he then asked me to sit next to him. i complied. he then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast. >> reporter: zervos was one of the first women to accuse trump of misconduct in the aftermath of the "access hollywood" tape. trump immediately went on the offensive. >> every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign.
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total fabrication. the events never happened. never. all of thaese liars will be sue after the election is over. >> reporter: that's crux of zervos' current lawsuit against trump, that he defamed her by calling her a liar. >> since mr. trump has not issued a retraction, as i requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative other than to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation. >> reporter: zervos cannot sue trump for the actual alleged misconduct, because the statute of limitations has passed for that. but legal analysts say this defamation suit could be a backdoor way to bring out the details of the alleged groping and could be very damaging to the president in a potential trial and a deposition that could be on camera. >> it's going to be a long, painful deposition for the president where they're going to ask him about every single unwanted contact he had with her and if they can prove the truth
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of that, that he did, in fact, touch her unwantedly, then his accusations that she was a liar fail and he suffers monetary damages for it. >> and experts say zervos' case could open the door for any of the morn a dozen women who have accused trump of sexual misconduct to bring their own defamation cases against him, to bring him to court where all the details of their allegations could be made public. and as we just reported moments ago, president trump's personal attorney, marc kasowitz, respondented to the judge's ruling in the zervos case, telling cnn they disagree with that decision and they will appeal it. wolf? >> brian todd reporting. thanks. coming up, we have breaking news on the special counsel's russia investigation. just coming in to "the situation room." stay with us. mitzi: psoriatic arthritis tries to get in my way? watch me. ( ♪ ) mike: i've tried lots of things for my joint pain. now? watch me. ( ♪ )
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joni: think i'd give up showing these guys how it's done? please. real people with active psoriatic arthritis are changing the way they fight it. they're moving forward with cosentyx. it's a different kind of targeted biologic. it's proven to help people find less joint pain and clearer skin. don't use if you are allergic to cosentyx. before starting cosentyx you should be checked for tuberculosis. an increased risk of infections and lowered ability to fight them may occur. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms of an infection. or if you have received a vaccine, or plan to. if you have inflammatory bowel disease tell your doctor if symptoms develop or worsen. serious allergic reactions may occur. mitzi: with less joint pain, watch me. for less joint pain and clearer skin, ask your rheumatologist about cosentyx. ask your rheumatologist we're all under one roof now. congratulations. thank you. how many kids? my two. his three. along with two dogs and jake, our new parrot. that is quite the family. quite a lot of colleges to pay for though. a lot of colleges. you get any financial advice? yeah, but i'm pretty sure it's the same plan
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happening now, breaking news. what mueller wants. cnn has learned which areas special counsel robert mueller wants to focus in on in an interview with president trump. they include the trump tower meeting between the russians and donald trump jr. and the firing of the fbi director, james comey. how close is the president to actually sitting down with mueller? my pal putin. president trump takes to twitter, defending his congratulatory phone call to vladimir putin and praising russia as a potential partner in peace. why is mr. trump also taking a dig at previous presidents? infuriating. cnn has learned that president trump is fuming over the leak about his call to putin and he's said to be seeking the source of the information. but why did he ignore his national security team and congratulate putin in the firs


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