tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 16, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
you can tweet the show. our coverage continues with jim acosta in for wolf in the situation room. thanks for watching. happening now, met his match. former apprentice star omarosa releases another secret recording and says she will do what is necessary to protect herself. a top retired military commander adds voice to protest over the move. something had to be done. the president makes it clear the real reason he acted against former cia chief john brennan was because of the russia probe. did he just give special counsel robert mueller one more thing to investigate. russian satellite releasing smaller satellites and raising concerns that the russians are turning space into a future
warfront. is that why the president is calling for a space force? and rest her soul. tributes are pouring in for aretha franklin, the queen of soul who was a voice for inspiration. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm jim acosta and you are in the situation room. this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news, retired navy admiral issues a scathing public take down of president trump for revoking the security clearance of john brennan. admiral mcraven tells the president to take his security clearance saying you have embarrassed us and divided us as a nation. that comes as the president admits he moved against brennan because of the russia probe. if the president is hoping to
distract against former aid omarosa he will have to do better. she released another secret recording saying there is more where that came from. specialists are standing by with full coverage. let's go to kaitlan collins. you have breaking news tonight. you have learned the president's campaign lawyer sent a threat letter to omarosa's publisher. what can you tell us about the latest attempt to silence omarosa? >> reporter: the lawyer for president trump's reelection campaign did send a letter to the publisher of omarosa manigault newman's tell all book. they are writing a letter back to him saying that they cannot be intimidated. they are going to proceed with this book being published as they had planned and they will not be silenced by a letter from his attorney. there are several key lines in the letter first obtained by cnn. i will read some of them to you
now saying that their client will not be intimidated by what they say are hollow legal threats and they have proceeded with publication of the book as scheduled. they said that the letter sent from the attorney for president trump's reelection campaign generally claims that excerpts contain disparticipaaging state but they know it is telling that at no point do you claim that any specific statement in the book is false. they said your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president. this letter comes from their publisher, their outside counsel in response to president trump's attorney for his re-election campaign. this is not from omarosa herself but from her publisher saying they are going to move forward with this book. this comes after the president's re-election campaign brought an arbitration action against omarosa saying she violated a campaign nda from 2016 that she signed. they are saying they are going
to keep publishing this book and maintain that the claims that she makes in the book are true. >> has the president responded to the controversy surrounding omarosa's comments? >> reporter: no response from the president today. he was asked not just about omarosa and the claims she makes in her book but also about the decision to announce that they are revoking the security clearance of john brennan and considering revoking the clearances of nine other officials. so far they have nothing else to say about that. president trump going silent when it came to questions today. as two of his loudest critics launched their attacks. >> it's the art of the deal. >> reporter: former white house staffer omarosa manigault newman releasing another tape. this time with the president's daughter-in-law discussing a role with the trump 2020 campaign. laura trump offering her $15,000
a month for an undefined role as long as she kept things positive. >> you sound a little like -- clearly if you come aboard the campaign we can't have -- >> reporter: that conversation happening after a december interview where omarosa said she had seen things in the white house that made her uncomfortable. omarosa left out what she said during the call but said today she saw it as hush money. >> i saw this as an attempt to buy my silence, to censor me and to pay me off $15,000 per month by the campaign. >> reporter: in a statement laura trump denying omarosa's account claiming the job offer was made before she was aware of omarosa's gross violations of ethics and integrity in the white house.
>> if i need to i will do what i have to do to protect myself. donald trump has met his match. >> reporter: omarosa releasing her fourth tape one day after the white house tried to extinguish her news cycle. sarah huckabee sanders offering these explanations for the unusual move. >> his erratic conduct and behavior that calls into question his objectivity and credibility, leveraged his status as a former high ranking official. >> reporter: trump upended that defense when he blurted out that the reason for revoking the clearance was the russia investigation telling the wall street journal al i call it th rigged witch hunt. adding it is something that had to be done. sanders and other officials staying quiet today. but brennan did not writing in
an op-ed for the "new york times" mr. trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash. now, back to this exclusive letter obtained by cnn, we have asked the attorney for the trump reelection campaign for his version of the letter that he sent to simon and shuster. it does sound as though we could be preparing for a legal fight particularly with this letter saying should you pursue litigation against simon and shuster we are confident that documents related to the contents of the book in the possession of president trump, family members, businesses, trump campaign and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense. >> and that's not hogwash. kaitlan collins, thank you very much. and a letter the retired navy admiral who oversaw the osama bin laden raid says president trump has divided the nation and wants the president to revoke
his security clearance, as well. this is a pretty scathing letter. it is remarkable to see what this retired admiral has to say. >> just a quick word. he is a former navy s.e.a.l., head of joint special operations command in charge of all forces in charge of that during the riskiest raid in the u.s. military history, the raid that killed osama bin laden. today the strongest of words for the american president. he said in his op-ed former cia director john brennan whose security clearance you revoked is one of the finest public servants i have known. i would consider it an honor if you revoke my security clearance as well so i can add my name. through your actions referencing the president you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and divided us
as a nation. and just a final point on the importance of folks who maintain their security clearance like this, former intelligence officials, this guy involved in literally hundreds of special operations raids killing all the bad guys or many of the bad guys in iraq and afghanistan, if there was someone you wanted to consult or a terror threat to the u.s. and someone you had to take out abroad he would be the man. that is why maintaining the clearances means something. >> no shortage of credibility there. how remarkable is it for the former cia director to say that the president's claim of no collusion with the russians a hogwash? >> there is due criticism here. the question is and the chairman of the intelligence committee raised the question, if you are referring to classified intelligence that you were made aware of during your tenure as cia chief, then you are
revealing classified intelligence here. if you are just opining that is an issue that would justify removing your clearance because you are going far beyond what a former cia director should intimate without backing it up. is he saying let the special counsel investigate it or is he saying i know something but collusion is not hogwash? >> the special counsel is investigating whether the president obstructed justice. could revoking the security clearance be seen as obstruction? >> we do know that the special counsel has looked at the president's tweets and comments. those were questions that were submitted to the president's lawyers. we don't know -- it would be different for him to attack his attorney general or special counsel as opposed to remove the security clearance of this senior intelligence official. i will note that now the president has punished three of
the senior most intelligence officials who rur involved in starting that investigation. he fired james comey, former director of the fbi. he removed the security clearance of john brennan. on the list of those whose security clearances are being reviewed is james clapper, of course, the former director of national intelligence. those are three of the four people in the room who delivered news to president trump about the existence of the dossier. do you think the president is making a connection in his head to that meeting in that room? it is possible. >> it sure sounds like it. we appreciate it. joining me now is chris van holland of maryland. in the last few moments attorneys for paul manafort, the former campaign chairman for president trump, they have assembled in the courtroom there in alexandria, virginia. we are waiting to see what developments come from that. that is happening right now.
apparently, the jury has four questions. we are going to get more information from our correspondent on the scene shortly. we have a correspondent there who is keeping tabs on what questions the jury has for the judge at this point. i want to get back to this pretty remarkable letter. what is your reaction to that? it seems that you have some fairly impressive people from our intelligence community coming forward and saying what happened to john brennan yesterday was wrong. >> i hope every american regardless of their political persuasion will take a look at the statement from the admiral, a statement from one of the leading military figures in the united states saying to the president of the united states that not only has the president embarrassed and humiliated us overseas but to stop the mccarthy era tactics that the president is engaged in trying
to silence his critics, engage in this continued obstruction of justice whether in the legal term or loosely defined in terms of trying to punish people who criticize the president or who believe as i think most americans do when they get right down to it, that we need to allow the mueller investigation to run its course and get to the bottom of things. >> i wanted to get your take on things because many republicans are defending president trump's decision on john brennan. are you surprised by that reaction that more republicans -- you have been in congress for a very long time. you know people across the aisle, i'm sure you have many friends across the aisle, why aren't more republicans saying that what the president did to john brennan is wrong? >> well, jim, i am very disappointed. unfortunately, i am increasingly not surprised by my republican
colleagues because they seem to be totally intimidated by president trump and some of president trump's supporters. so rather than standing up as patriots as the admiral has done here, they have decided to sort of slink away and not want to address this issue. i think the question of patriotism and common sense decency is an american question. it's not a question of whether you are a republican or democratic. i would hope that our republican colleagues would speak out in support of common decency and against what the admiral calls mccarthy era tactics. >> i want to go to jessica schneider live on the scene in alexandria, virginia. i understand there are some developments in the paul manafort case at this critical stage in that trial. what can you tell us? >> reporter: so the jury has presented a note to the judge.
this is the first we have heard from the jury since they began deliberating minutes before 10:00 this morning. what is happening is that we know the jury has given this note to the judge. they are asking four questions. we do not know exactly what the questions are. as part of the note they have indicated that they will be deliberating tomorrow. no verdict will come tonight. paul manafort is back in the courtroom along with his defense lawyers as well as the prosecution. these are 18 counts this jury is considering. there are a lot of elements to all of the counts of bank fraud, conspiracy. they are dealing with 388 documents. it is not surprising that the questions have come up. four questions from the jury. we should know more about what the questions are as the proceedings continue. we know there will be no verdict tonight, possibly tomorrow but deliberations will continue tomorrow morning, for sure. >> let's get senator van holland
to react to that. it sounds as though that the jury is going to take some more time, no verdict this evening as our correspondent just reported. they had some questions about all of this. what do you make of this development? i suppose there are some complicated issues of tax and business issues that they have to sort through before they render a verdict in this case. >> that's right, jim. i believe there were 18 separate counts. so the jury is doing its job. they are going to go through each of those counts, but for those of us who follow the trial it was very clear that the prosecution put on a very, very powerful and strong case. you know, the rest of the question beyond the manafort trial, the mueller investigation more broadly, i think we should continue to ask why is it that president trump who says this process is rigged and keeps saying that he wants to tell his story, why is it that he continues to refuse to speak
under oath to bob mueller and his team? he continues to hide from the opportunity that he says he wants. i think that that raises questions. if you have nothing to hide why not show up and tell your story? >> senator, one thing i wanted to ask with respect to the manafort trial, if we were to have a scenario where paul manafort is found guilty, what would be your message to the president if he is pondering whether or not to give paul manafort a pardon? would that be appropriate in this case? if you don't believe it is appropriate what would congress have to do next in your view? >> that would be a total abuse of power. clearly another step that would be taken to try to obstruct justice because paul manafort clearly even if he is convicted could come forward with additional information about the president and other aspects of
what the president's campaign was engaged in that may not have been part of the counts in this trial. so that would be a gross abuse of process. now, it is true that the president has the power of the pardon. on the other hand, if you look at the guidelines for which justice departments have used in the past for exercising that pardon power, there have been clearer steps that have been gone through. this president has blown through all of that. he has undermined the integrity of the pardon process. he has politicized it. you asked me about the response from my republican colleagues in response to what the president has done in revoking security clearances, that would be a moment if he used the pardon power in such an abusive way that people as americans, as patriots need to stand up. they need to stand up for the rule of law. let's see how things proceed. again, the main thing is this
investigation, the mueller investigation must be allowed to run its course if the public will have confidence in our system. >> on this issue of obstruction of justice that pertains to the russia investigation, on john brennan's security clearance the president told the wall street journal i call it the rigged witch hunt. it is a sham and these people led it referring to those members of the intelligence community that he is going after their security clearances on. i think it is something that had to be done, something that had to be done. do you believe that is an admission that this was political retribution? what if anything can the special counsel's office do about that? >> there is no doubt about it. this is one more example where the president's press team put out one story as to why brennan lost his security clearance. that was also a lousy argument. now the president has been very clear that the reason he wants to punish john brennan is because he thinks brennan is
somehow responsible for the russia investigation. when you go about selectively punishing people who have been involved in the investigation one way or another or commented on it to try to silence them, clearly that is an effort to obstruct the ongoing effort. i will leave the legal standards of obstruction of justice to bob mueller and his team. this is a pattern where the president is trying to punish not just those who are his critics, but here it is clearly related once again to the rush ainvestigati ainvestigation -- russia investigation. >> thank you for your time and your perspectives on all of this. we appreciate it. coming up next, breaking news that the president is hoping his move will distract. omarosa has released a new
secret tape declaring donald trump has met his match. and a jury is weighing the fate of paul manafort. how will the president react if he is found guilty? awful. why are you so good at this? had a coach in high school. really helped me up my game. i had a coach. math. ooh. so, why don't traders have coaches? who says they don't? coach mcadoo! you know, at td ameritrade, we offer free access to coaches and a full education curriculum- just to help you improve your skills. boom! mad skills. education to take your trading to the next level. only with td ameritrade.
more breaking news. a jury is deciding the fate of paul manafort. the fraud case is a big test for special counsel robert mueller. cnn is outside the federal courthouse. you were just in the courtroom. this jury has questions. what questions did the jury have for the judge? very interesting development. >> reporter: after almost seven hours of deliberation the jury knocked on the door.
the security officer came in and went out with a piece of paper. one of the questions relates to the requirements to file notice that manafort had foreign bank accounts. they had specific questions related to the elements of that charge. they asked what is required for manafort. they asked the judge for a definition of reasonable doubt. and then another question they wanted help indexing the exhibits to the indictments. the judge told the jury that they had to rely on their recollection for all of these questions that they had. he did tell them for reasonable doubt he told them that it did not mean beyond possible doubt. that was the only affirmative instruction that the judge gave to the jury and the jury notified the judge that they would break at 5:30 and return tomorrow morning and pick up deliberations where they left off. the judge is telling them to rely on their memory and on the
testimony of the witnesses and the documents that they have as exhibits. >> very interesting development. let's get more from our experts. joey jackson, you have been in your share of courtrooms, when the jury sends a question to the judge and says what does reasonable doubt mean, to me that says the jury has its own doubts as to whether or not paul manafort is guilty. >> not necessarily. what ends up happening is when a jury deliberates they may have questions and concerns regarding the evidence, testimony and legal standards that apply. also when jurors go back sometimes it may be a single juror who needs clarification. i think the asking of the question which has been asked plenty in having a federal trial or state trials, what is the standard to govern this? a judge would be more helpful than this one apparently was and
tell the jury, reasonable is not a mathematical certainty or scientific certainty. is the evidence legally sufficient. before we jump to the conclusion that the prosecution didn't prove its case, i think we are looking for a jury that is grappling with knowing what is the sufficiency of the evidence that we need to determine. that goes to that issue. i wouldn't read anything more. as to the other charges, they listened to ten days of testimony not including the closing arguments and jury instruction. so they want clarification. they have 18 charges and they want to know. there are certain elements. they want to match the facts to the elements. this is a jury that is doing their job and it doesn't seem that they are predisposed to a particular outcome but to get to the heart of the matter. >> joey is right, we can't jump to conclusions beiged -- based
on all of this. you must find it is as a positive development. >> i don't know what joey would say to that because he is the real lawyer. it would seem to me that paul manafort's team would be hea heartened by a jury asking this question which is so basic to the case, but they are also taking their time. there are 18 counts. they are not getting it done today. this is a judge as we know who wants to move things along. but the jury seems to be saying we are going to take our time and we are going to kind of look at everything as we have to. it is a question that if i were on the special counsel's side of this, i would be scratching my head saying i thought we kind of talked about that during the case. wouldn't you be just a little concerned? >> that is true. >> but people are convicted after this question. i covered lots of trials.
the jury will ask the question and still convict the person. sometimes it is just one of those things that are sorted out at the beginning of the jury's deliberations. >> absolutely. >> let's turn to the decision by the president to revoke the security clearance for the former cia director john brennan. this mcraven op-ed saying take my security clearance, too. that's a pretty scathing thing to say. >> the problem is that you have a lot of differing explanations of why the security clearance was taken. we have sarah huckabee sanders saying it was for security reasons. he didn't make clear that it was about russia. he certainly kind of mentioned that brennan's comments vis-a-vis the russia investigation annoyed him. this is not inconsistent with what we have seen from the president. there is a consistency of inconsistency in messaging. remember that the reason jim
comey was fired was because of the memo rod rosen stein wrote. this is the difficulty of trying to manage message as it relates to donald trump. no one says the president can't do this legally speaking, but i do think it is either meant to or will -- i think both is probably true -- trying to send a message of descent which is what brennan was doing. di dissent is grounds -- it's not as though john brennan will somehow like cease to exist as a human. what you are doing damage to is collected institutional wisdom being able to be shared. i don't think john brennan is
like "no!" . >> you are hurting the functioning of the intelligence community absent john brennan. if you are working at the cia you might come across intelligence that is not flattering towards the president. i would be very worried about putting that into a summary and suggesting that goes to the white house because the president could get upset and try to silence me. let's be clear that this is signaling to our enemies that he considers the president's actions more of a threat perhaps than al qaeda or isis or any of these issues that he worked on because he is willing to step back and say i won't contribute. >> let me read you a bit of what admiral mcraven wrote. i would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance, as well.
this is the man who oversaw the osama bin laden raid. so i can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency. we are running into a lot of esteemed people rising up against this president in this city. >> it is stunning. >> it is something. >> what is also interesting to me is that republicans in congress, senators, they are saying fine. they believe that brennan went overboard when he said that the president was treason s. they believe that these former intelligence officials should not be speaking out against the president, that as former intelligence officials they ought to keep their mouths shut and lose their first amendment rights. republicans do not seem to think that this is any kind of an issue whatsoever. i would also say that i would
wager that this administration probably hasn't consulted brennan or clapper or mcraven or susan rice or any of these people on the enemy's list at all about foreign policy. have they? >> not to my knowledge. >> if john brennan is judged to have used his access to classified information in the past to make these statements, something he knew and that informed his comments about collusion that is one thing. there is an executive order that lays out the criteria. is he saying something based upon information he saw or just expressing an opinion? >> some of it was sparked we believe because of what omarosa was doing earlier. >> it's hard. we know donald trump.
donald trump sapsap -- he understands if something here isn't going well the best you can do is change the subject. i think this is really important. i'm surprised it took trump so long. brennan has not been a friend of the administration at all. what difference does that make? friend of the administration is not -- i'm pretty sure that is not one of the 13 things. that kind of logic -- the idea that it's justified and he should have done it sooner because john brennan is spoken out against the president. dissent can be patriotic. if you dissent therefore you are deserving of this should be concerning. >> one person who is dissenting
right now is omarosa. >> what a segue. >> to the point about the president being a master manipulator of the media perhaps not always. >> in order to sell a book, she has come out with a series of tapes and seems to have outsmarted the president who has taken the bait and gone out and tweeted directly after her. >> joey jackson, the president is having executive time with his remote control and watching "fox & friends" and he is saying he has been outsmarted by omarosa, what do you imagine the president's reaction was at that moment? >> we know he doesn't like criticism or the insenuation that he is outsmarted by anyone. i would imagine that the reaction wouldn't be too good. the fact of the matter is that she potentially did do that. we talk about how she was able to tape these things. the larger question for me is
how is she permitted to get this information and nobody has any idea about it? i don't think the president will do anything or be able to do anything in terms of the book slow down. i don't care what nondisclosure agreement is in place. we have to understand that nondisclosure agreements are about protecting critical confidential information, not preventing someone from having an opinion and being able to criticize and opine about their thoughts and views. on that basis that i think she is taking the president to task and he won't be able to do a thing about it legally. >> and nondisclosure agreements should not prevent you from speaking out for your country. thank you for that. the president makes it clear the reason he acted against former cia chief john brennan was because of the russia probe. did he give robert mueller one more thing to investigate. and tributes pour in for aretha
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♪ freedom, freedom ♪ ♪ think about it >> she was the queen of soul. sad news out of detroit, the legendary singer and song writer aretha franklin has died at the age of 76. joining us now is record executi executi executive kerry gree. growing up, what were your first memories of aretha franklin? >> well, my first memory was i guess, you know, she was the queen of soul. and i thought that she was married to james brown because he was the king of soul. so i remember going to school and all of the kids singing
"respect." it was just an amazing time with regard to the civil rights movement and so forth. so my memories were just her being just the greatest singer that i can remember. >> and your father helped found motown. so you are intimately familiar with all of this. the thing that jumps out at me when i listen to aretha franklin is how the sound of her voice just overpowers you every time you hear it. let's listen to one of her most well known renditions. ♪ r-e-s-p-e-c-t ♪ find out what it means to me ♪ a little respect ♪ just a little bit ♪ ♪ respect is what i want
♪ respect is what i need >> everybody knows the words to that song. why is that song so iconic? we were singing it around the news room today. >> first of all, it wasn't just that the song was iconic. it was when she sung whatever she sung you believed it. it was the first song that i can ever remember as a child being aware and cognizant of the lyrics. when she said your kiss is sweeter than honey, but guess what so is my money. that was a line that every girl loved to say. it was just amazing. so that was i guess the issue. >> such an empowering song to women, too. how important was aretha franklin to the civil rights movement, do you think, to femini
feminists? she was sort of the sound track to an era. >> she was very important because she donated her proceeds to the civil rights movement. she used her platform to promote voting rights. she and her father helped organi organize the freedom march to washington with dr. king. i have a little funny story as respect embodies who she is. my current c.o.o. of my company was an agent at william morris. she was an agent. one day she was sitting at a desk and aretha franklin called. aretha franklin says hello. she says hi, aretha. she is like do you know me? do i know you? you refer to me as ms. franklin, not aretha. i want my respect.
and i think that she embodied that song. everything that was about her embodied respect. >> absolutely. we all have so much respect for aretha franklin tonight. we appreciate you so much talking about this. we are bursting with enthusiasm for aretha franklin. thank you so much for your perspective on aretha franklin, an amazing, iconic woman and performer. >> thank you. coming up, strange behavior from a russian military satellite is raising alarms among arms control experts. does it pose a threat?
tonight new concerns inside the u.s. defense community over a russian military satellite exhibiting some very strange behavior. brian todd is on the story. why are officials keeping an eye on this particular piece of equipment? >> reporter: they're doing that because this satellite seems to have done something that u.s. officials admit they have never seen before. it has birthed two other satellites and they're worried the russians could use it as a weapon in space. blasting off, a rocket blasts into space. that was in june of last year. tonight, space and military analysts are investigating whether that satellite is the same one which an arms official said this week was exhibiting,
quote, abnormal behavior. >> when you look at the entire russian catalog, this satellite and its children are the ones that jump out as the ones that are acting in an unusual way. >> reporter: the satellite's children? experts at the firm analytical graphics believe the larger russian satellite, quote, birthed a smaller satellite a couple of months later. then a couple of months after that, the smaller russian satellite birthed an even smaller satellite. >> almost like a russian nesting doll. >> reporter: the russian ministry of defense announced the birthing, saying the smaller one would inspect the condition of the larger one. but experts worry that the russians could be testing it out for weapons purposes. >> the fact that it's a secret mission, clearly even if it's a test satellite, it's got some kind of military purpose. >> reporter: what kind of military purpose? the pentagon won't say
specifically what they believe the russian satellites could do. tonight a u.s. military official tells cnn the russians have turned space into a, quote, war fighting domain. >> you can see the evolution when a single satellite could give birth to smaller satellites which could be potential kinetic use. >> reporter: u.s. military officials have told cnn the russians have already developed a satellite called cosmos 2499. they nicknamed it kamikaze. experts say the russians could use satellites to jam american satellites, intercept or disrupt crucial communications. >> a lot of our image surveillance reconnaissance are space based.
it's really the united states ability to see potential threats. >> reporter: the russians are flatly denying the u.s. assertion that they're trying to weaponize satellites. >> the same unfounded slanderous accusations based on suspicions, suppositions and so on and so forth. >> reporter: in denying that they have weaponized satellites, the russians are again pressuring americans to join a treaty that would ban weapons in space. the u.s. has resisted that treaty saying there's no way to verify that china and russia are curtailing their weapons. looks like we have a genuine arms race in space going on right now. coming up, breaking news. cnn has learned president trump's campaign lawyer threatened omarosa's publisher trying to stop her new tell-all book. a top former military commander lashes out at the president in defense of john brennan.
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mr. trump under fire after admitting that he stripped former cia director john brennan of his security clearance because of the russia investigation. tonight the retired admiral said he'd be honored if mr. trump punishes him too. a juror in the paul manafort trial just sent a note to the judge asking multiple questions. and heart and soul, aretha franklin is being honored for her legendary voice, her role in the civil rights movement and the joy she's given audiences for decades. tonight, we remember the queen of soul. wolf blitzer is off. i'm jim acosta. you're in the situation room. this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news on president trump at war with prominent critics who are defying his efforts t