tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN August 30, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT
but he had not firmed up exactly when. trump reportedly catching the white house counsel off guard. his departure leaves a deficit of senior staffers who might be willing to challenge the president. it also comes a short time after news broke of mcgahn's 30 hours of conversations with robert mueller's team. something the president didn't know much about until after the fact. and there is more, cnn is learning about a second trump organization employee who discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors but ultimately did not get immunity but others did including david pecker who publishes the national enquirer and long time trump organization cfo. as the president is vocal in his dissatisfaction in the attorney general he blames for not protecting him at a time the president is facing mounting legal issues.
the fate of jeff sessions seems less than certain. no one seems more aware than that than the amg himself. >> while you're still on the job, after -- >> i want to turn to new reporting tonight about former trump fixer and keeper of secrets michael cohen and why he decided to plead guilty to eight counts of tax evasion. making false statements to a bank. and campaign finance violations. m.j. lee is here. thank you for doing this. what factored into michael cohen's decision to plead guilty? >> don, if you think back to last week, he made false statements to a bank and campaign. the payment he made campaign and karen mcdougal to stay quiet during the election. that was stunning and public down fall for this man who had
been wrong. had been a personal attorney for the president for a long time. things could have been worse for michael cohen. prosecutors made it clear there could be more charges coming and his wife could have been implicated and also assets could have been seized. one thing they could have taken into account is seriously if he knew they had tried to go to trial, the legal bills would have been enormous in addition to the other bills stacking up. he did not want to leave his family with that financial burden. >> lots of pressure on him. sentencing in december, correct? do we know about his mind set? >> we've been talking to people in touch with michael cohen and have insights into what he has been thinking and we're told he resigned to the fact that he will go to prison for some time. he still does not expect to receive a presidential pardon from president trump and that he
feels like everything he's doing right now and all of the decisions he has made including last week all of those lead up to him being able to protect his family as much as possible. one cohen friend told cnn that michael cohen took a bullet for his family. that quote obviously is interesting because cohen famously said he would be willing to take a bullet for donald trump. we've also seen cohen out and about in manhattan and last week walking out of the four seasons in midtown manhattan and in and out of his apartment and there was a moment a photographer asked him, mr. cohen, do you feel like a hero? he responded i'll leave that up to you. that goes to show and friends say he does not want to go into hiding thanks he wants to continue his daily routine as he waits for the sentencing hearing. >> he's not the person that hides. we always see him out and about. i understand, m.j., you're getting information about an immunity deal for a second trump employee?
>> yeah, this is interesting. there is a second trump employee who had discussions about a potential immunity deal ultimately this person and this is important, did not receive immunity and they also did not testify before the grand jury and also importantly, cnn actually hasn't identified this person. all we know is it was a trump organization employee. keep in mind, what we knew as of last week was that another trump organization executive who did receive immunity from prosecutors, of course, was allen weisselberg for the trump organization who had information about the payments that michael cohen made to the women. we also know from prosecutors that there were multiple trump organization employees who were a part of this sort of reimbursement scheme so it's interesting that we do know there was at least a second employee who had discussions with prosecutors about potentially receiving immunity.
>> great reporting. m.j., thank you. appreciate it. >> thanks. now i want to bring in the attorney who represents stormy daniels. michael, good evening. thank you for coming on the program. listen, michael cohen once said he would take a bullet for president trump resigned to going to prison. do you think there is more to come here? >> there is no question, don, there is more to come. michael cohen has taken the same ark that many white collar criminals take. they start off defiant stating they are willing to proceed with the case until it's very end and then reality sets in and this is what happened with michael cohen. there is no question in my mind he's cooperating with prosecutors with the southern district of new york. there is no question he's going to be providing additional information in that case as well as in our case and i think we're in the middle of the second quarter of a four quarter game. >> so what does this mean for
the stormy daniels civil lawsuit? does it mean anything? >> well, it means a lot. on september 10th, we'll have a hearing here in los angeles. the judge is going to make a determination whether the pause or stay in the case should be lifted, and we're moving forth with depositions of michael cohen and donald trump, and we're going to get to the bottom of this of what the president knew and when he knew it and what he did about it and we'll ask those questions under oath. i mean, this is a man who routinely lies as a matter of course. he has no problem lying to you and members of the press. has no problem lying to the american public and we'll find out if he's prepared to lie under note. oath >> we talked about this last time and there is more. you say cohen pleading and resigning to go to prison makes depositions of both him and president trump more likely. why do you say that, michael? >> well, because now we have the facts, at least the general
facts that michael cohen stated in open court last week relating to what happened in connection with our case. we've had this pending motion for some time. it's been delayed at the request of michael cohen, the investigation is generally complete as it relates to michael cohen and there is little question in my mind, don, that we're going to get a deposition of michael cohen. we may have to wait until sentencing in december but in the meantime, we've asked to proceed with the deposition of donald trump under oath. there is supreme court president, jones v. clinton for this concept, this idea of a deposition of a sitting president and i'm very much looking forward to asking donald trump some very pointed questions about his conduct in connection with this and i think the american people have every right to know exactly what he knew and what he did. >> you're talking about paula jones and former president bill clinton, correct? yeah. if cohen confesses that hush money, that the hush money payment to stormy daniels was a
crime, couldn't you argue that voids the contract and ends the case? >> we could argue that but keep in mind that donald trump and rudy giuliani and others are calling michael cohen a liar, which is fairly ironic to us because as you and your viewers recall, donald trump stood in the doorway of the people's plane, air force one not too long ago and told each of us that we should talk to michael cohen if we wanted to know what happened in connection with the $130,000 payment. guess what? i mean, we have heard from michael cohen. we heard from him standing in a federal courthouse in manhattan last week pleading guilty to a crime. now all of a sudden, rudy giuliani and donald trump and others are saying no, no, no, we didn't mean what we said in the doorway of air force one. michael cohen is a liar. guess what? we'll test the statements under oath. >> let's talk about immunity. you know couple people have gotten immunity. we're learning that prosecutors were talking to a second trump
organization employee about a possible immunity deal after the cfo received immunity. i mean, these people could provide a lot of information, michael, about the president and trump organization. what does it say about what's going on inside that company that someone else was also hoping to strike a deal? >> none of this bodes well for donald trump, don. first of all, people need to understand that immunity is not handed out willie nilly by prosecutors. that's a serious matter. they take those decisions very seriously before they grant immunity. they have to take into account exactly what they are going to get in return and factor in how they will assist them in connection with the investigation. so all of this tells me that this is about to take on an additional level, if you will, an additional level of seriousness and the walls are closing in on donald trump.
he probably doesn't realize that because he lives in an alternative universe that he crafts around him, but there is no question that the walls are closing in on the criminal enterprise that he's been the head of for many, more years. >> i want to talk about this and we have pictures to put up. you poised with stormy daniels, for vogue magazine. stormy daniels isn't backing down and then here is what the writer writes. part of what has made daniels such an effective adversary to trump is she seemingly can't be humiliated or scandalized. she doesn't have a carefully crafted image or political base to maintain, threatened to leak her sex tape? i'll leak all of them and you can have as many as you want for $29.95 she says. does her candor make her a unique challenge for the president to deal with? he often said during the campaign, what do you have to
lose? stormy, what it comes to this, doesn't really have anything to lose. everything about her is out there. she's put it out there for the public to consume. >> well, i think her candor is incredibly refreshing, don. we live in a day in age when everybody is looking for the perfect tweet or the perfect instagram pick and stormy is an incredible woman. she's very, very brave. she's incredibly smart. and what i like most about her is she is who she is and in today's day in age, that is very refreshing and i think that's why she's resonated with people around the world like she has. >> i'm up against the clock but i got to say everywhere i go and you know i'm going to ask you, people say hey, that guy is on your show. is he really running for president? is he really running? can you answer for them who is going on. >> i am seriously considering it, don. i've been to a number of states. i've talked to a lot of people. people are very enthusiastic about the prospects. it's a big decision, as you
know, but here is what i'll tell you. the democrats cannot afford to get this wrong in 2020. they cannot under estimate donald trump and the party better nominate a fighter that can take the fight to this guy in the event that he is still in office because we have too much at stake in this country and i firmly believe that. so i haven't made a decision, but if i'm the guy, then i'm going to step up and take it to donald trump. there is no question about that. >> so much more to talk about when it comes to that but this show is only an hour long and i got other segments to get to. thank you, michael. appreciate it. when we come back, a house member weighs in on don mcgahn's departure. congressman ted lou is here. bed. it's a revolution in sleep. the new sleep number 360 smart bed is on sale now, from $899, during sleep number's 'biggest sale of the year'. it senses your movement, and automatically adjusts to keep you both comfortable.
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more and more uncertain with the president continuing to publicly undermine him. joining me to discuss is congressman ted louie, a democrat and the former affairs committee. thank you congressman for joining us. let's start off talking about don mcgahn because a source close to mcgahn says he planed to leave but was surprised by the donald trump's tweet announcing it today. do you think trump forcing mcgahn out is fighting back against robert mueller's investigation? >> thank you, don, for the question. absolutely. it's not a coincidence less than two weeks after donald trump finds out they were corroborating for 30 hours, he's forcing mr. mcgahn out and he understood his oath was not to donald trump, it was to u.s. constitution. he understood he was there to protect the white house and and the american people. not to serve as donald trump's personal lawyer. i don't think trump ever
understood that and i think you're seeing a parting of the ways because of that. >> here is what sources are saying. the president and mcgahn haven't been close for about a year now. we know mcgahn threatened to quit if trump tried to fire mueller back in january. i'm sure you remember that. we know mcgahn sat down with investigators for the special counsel for like some 30 hours. here is how the president responded when asked about that earlier. watch this. >> what he said to the mueller team? >> not at all. >> i knew he was going. i had to approve it. no, i don't have to be aware. we do everything straight. we do everything by the book. and don is an excellent guy. >> what did you think when you heard that? >> first, i would -- the president does not do everything straight. that's why there are these multiple investigations into his administration and we're watching people that stand up to him because of the rule of law are getting forced out.
so don mcgahn is getting forced out. he fired sally yates early in his administration because she stood up for the rule of law and if he goes and tries to fire jeff sessions, what we're watching now is a slow motion saturday night massacre where he's really getting rid of all of the department of justice and legal officials trying to get him to abide by the rule of law. >> how do you think it will affect the mueller investigation, especially don mcgahn being replaced? >> i think it is not a good sign because don mcgahn was one of the reasonable folks in the white house in terms of the mueller investigation trying to get the president to not fire special counsel mueller, to make sure that the president was giving appropriate documents and information upon requests from the special counsel's office and with mr. mcgahn leaving, i worry who the president might put in and do with the special counsel's office. >> after the president announced that mcgahn was going to be leaving, senator chuck grassly said i hope it's not true mcgahn is leaving white house counsel. you can't let that happen.
what do you think your colleague is so worried about? >> i think it is very telling that a republican u.s. senator is basically telling donald trump don't do this. and that's because again, mr. mcgahn even though i disagree on policy, in terms of the rule of law he clearly understands it and understands the president is not above the law. he was trying to get donald trump to follow the law and it seems like donald trump wants to get rid of him because of mr. mcgahn's views on the law. >> let's talk attorney general now, congressman, if you will. i'm talking about jeff sessions. ignoring questions about his fate today. take a listen. >> you are seeing a split within the gop. do you think his days are numbered or sessions is the president's favorite punching bag and that's the way it is and
will remain? >> i hope his days are not numbered, everyone though i disagree with sessions on many policy issues, he's preserved the independence of the justice department and if donald trump would fire jeff sessions, that would be obstruction of justice because trump is not firing sessions because he disagrees with him on immigration. he's firing him because sessions is not interfering with the special counsel investigation and trump wants to put in someone that will interfere or conspiracy. to obstruct justice. >> president trump lashing out at the justice department bruce orr saying how the hell is bruce orr still employed at the justice department? disgraceful. witch hunt. is this another way to discredit the investigation? is this about discrediting mueller and the investigation? >> it's another bizarre conspiracy theory that the president believes on.
this is what bruce orr did. he was not on the clinton investigation, he is not on special counsel mueller's investigation. he had nothing to do with any of this. all bruce orr did was get information from christopher steele and the steel dossier, which by the way, gets more and more corroboration every day and relaid that information to fbi officials. that's what he did and that's what you expect an fbi official to do. that's what law enforcement does. they relay information and let them determine the credibility and relevance of the information. >> congressman lou, appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you, don. when we come back, we're learning tonight that another lawyer is leaving the white house. why the man responsible for policing ethics is heading out next. i'm ray and i quit smoking with chantix. i tried to quit smoking for years on my own. i couldn't do it. i needed help.
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isan, author of the book "the last palace." i hear it's a good read. thank you gentlemen for joining us. steven, the deputy white house counsel responsible for policing ethics leaving by the end of the summer, you worked in the white house ethic office. what's your reaction to the news? >> i didn't actually work in the white house. we worked with the white house. the government ethics is separate and really, you know, the guy is a very nice guy. somebody you'd want as your neighbor but like all of them, this is not somebody that should be doing government ethics. this white house as a whole is openly hostile to the ethics program and then this official in particular was the one running around making people sign non-disclosure agreements which is unfathomable for government.
he's also the guy responsible for the unsigned, undated retroactive ethics waivers, as though that's a thing. so this is not something i think anybody would want on their resume, they were in the white house in the ethics office in the trump administration. >> norm, you say you're amazed that he lasted as long as he did because none could thrive in this white house. why do you say that? >> well, because he has a nightmare client, possibly the worst in ethics, president trump. look at the damage that the president has done to the reputations and the careers and freedom of the people around him starting with the criminal investigations. almost 190 charges and the
by special counsel mueller. adviser pleading guilty and his fixer michael cohen pleading guilty and that's just breaking the law. the violations of ethics and norms have been worse. thousands of them, too many to count. so, you know, that's an ethics hazard zone. nobody could thrive in that environment. >> walter, there is a new report. on the inspector general. it's reveal that trump was involved in the decision to rebuilt fbi headquarters in downtown washington and that plan to move the agency to the suburb. check this out. this is the fbi campus from the trump international hotel. does this report prove trump was involved in the decision that can potentially impact the financial interest in the trump hotel? >> yes, there is absolutely no doubt he was involved in it and they don't deny it. what they did, which is just
absolutely bizarre is direct staff not to talk to the inspector general which is stunning to me. this is about a decision or involvement in a decision that would have landed any other federal employee other than the president or the vice president in jail. you don't get to own a hotel across the street from a gigantic government building like the hoover fbi building and get yourself involved in the decision to scrap over a decade of planning to move the fbi out of the city with the appearance that you're doing it to prevent your hotel from being across the street from a noisy, messy construction zone and running the risk of a hotel being built in that space that would compete with your hotel. that just is illegal for a federal employee. unfortunately, the law doesn't apply to the president.
>> weren't you talking about the monuments clause and all of that stuff? okay. norm, so listen, the insect tore -- inspector general sites two meetings. in january and june. involvement. it's unclear but the report says employees receive instructions not to share any statement trump made at those meetings and some of those said they were told or believe the information was subject to executive privilege. so not only did trump intervene, he then invoked executive privilege to block the inspector general from learning what he said at the meetings. what does that tell you? >> well, first, it tells me that they don't understand the elements of executive privilege. how can you invoke it against your own administration within the executive. it's a sham, don. number two, it tells me the president is personally involved and you're right to talk about
the constitution. of course, i'm co-counsel with the maryland and d.c. a.g. in the case. it's a case that says the president can't get benefits. the constitutional forbids it. the hotel is a giant benefit that he's getting from the government. why is he personally involved in the meetings at this level of detail about a potential mess across the street and competing hotel seems to me he's there. the inference is what does he have to hide? he wants to line his pockets like everything. he's turned the white house into a giant trump piggy bank. and the people aren't going to stand for it, don. we're going to get to the bottom of this including in our litigation. >> yeah. well, it's got to be the last word. we're out of time. thank you, norm, thank you, walter. see you next time. when we come back. the president's close allies are worried about the midterms.
close allies of president trump are worried he's ready for a takeover of the house of representatives and comes as the president is personally lobbying gop senators to flip on jeff sessions. let's discuss with jennifer and a former federal prosecutor. michael moore a former united states attorney and eric columbus a former senior counsel to the deputy attorney general. really smart accomplished people. i should say that. we have a bunch of smart accomplished people. thank you, everyone, for coming on. good evening. eric, welcome to the program. it's your first time on. we're glad to have you. i want to read an excerpt.
from this "washington post" report. winter is coming. said one trump ally in close communication with the white house assuming democrats win the house which we believe is a strong likelihood, the white house will be under siege but it's like tumble weeds rolling down the halls over there. nobody is prepared for war. so that is from an ally. what kind of preparations should be happening. >> well, at this point, what they should be doing is setting forth every possible issue that the democrats could be coming after them on and that's everything that administration has been mishandling that they have been getting a pass on from the republican congress and i think rudy giuliani said it's really oversight that the administration needs to fear, more than the spector of impeachment. >> they are reporting the president may want to bring on
abby lull, his son-in-law's attorney, correct? >> that's right. i mean, look, abby lull is a good lawyer. any lawyer is a smart close to join the president's team,est not doing particularly well with rudy giuliani so bringing in lull would be an improvement. it's probably a good move. >> abbe lowell, do you think abbe lowell is as good as -- i don't know if it's good. as colorful? a character. when it comes to fighting this in the media. as rudy giuliani has been doing? >> rudy could keep the pr roll. >> the president needs a person lawyer who is focused on the law part of this. i mean, that's really why you hire a lawyer, right? is for the law. rudy giuliani doesn't appear to know how to defend the law.
he should bring on somebody who can do that at least. maybe he keeps both of them, you know, one for the public city stuff and one for the legal stuff but it's got to be an improvement over what he has now. >> michael, here is what politico is reporting. they are engaging to get senators to turn on their former colleague, attorney general jeff sessions. the quote is trump raised the prospect in a phone conversation with graham according to two capitol hill aids who said gram pressed them to hold off. until after the midterm election. later in the piece it says trump hasn't been pushing his case just with republican senators. he's worn down his lawyers, too. that's according to two republicans close at the white house. i mean, this is personal for trump now, isn't it? >> yeah, i think that's true. i mean, he's in a unique position because politically, i don't know if he could stand to fire sessions at this point or ask him to leave. the same time, typically, we think a president has a right to
have a cabinet that suits his or her needs and kind of moves forward with administrative priorities. it's an odd position. if he hires sessions or tries to do that it's probably what could happen in the congress. i think we'll see a move and hurried move to do legislation that might protect mueller in the investigation because they don't want to deal with trump's tirade later on in their personal elections. >> jennifer, trump wanting to fire sessions is about wanting to end the mueller investigation. now these senators are turning on sessions for political reasons. do you think that's appropriate? should some things be more important than politics? >> well, i mean, listen, if we're going to say some things should be more important than politics, they should have stood up a long time ago. if the president fires jeff sessions, it looks to be about the russia investigation.
that should prompt yet another investigation by mueller into obstruction. so i don't think that's what the president wants, which hopefully will make him think twice about it but the fact that members of the senate who previously said they would not approve another attorney general are turning around on that just shows where these folks are right now. they are just not willing to stand up to trump after they said they would. >> eric, i want to read a portion from a piece you wrote because you say that the legal drama of last week doesn't change all that much. you know, after here is what you say, after a terrible, horrible, no good very bad week, are the walls starting to close in on donald trump? don't be so sure. the key questions remain political, not legal. last week began as it ended with an unpopular president who is credibly accused of many shady activities and great uncertainty about whether and how all the
facts will emerge as long as congress remains in republican hands. it's a similar question to what i -- what i asked jennifer because rudy giuliani was fighting this in court of public opinion. you said this was political rather than legal. trying to say what you were seeing and hearing didn't matter. after everything happened that happened last week, do you think trump being indicted is unlikely? >> i think it's very unlikely. for the simple reason that the department of justice has said on multiple occasions studying this issue in the nixon and clinton presidencies that it can't be done under the contusion. -- constitution. there are very good reasons why it would be very -- make it harder for the president to do his job if he had to endure criminal trial while president. the doj has said it's improper to charge him and hold the trial later and some may disagree with that but that's the way doj that would be responsible for
indicting the president refused the question. >> interesting. michael, but you say that someone is likely to get indicted. do you think that could be trump? >> i think it's an open question on whether or not mueller tries to move forward with the indictment. i was talking to a very smart lawyer friend of mine the other day that pointed out michael is on mueller's team and argued more supreme cases than any number of lawyers and he's not there to be investigating tax cases and whether or not there is taxi cab money violations. he's there for a reason, to take the case forward if they end up in the supreme court. i think it's more likely they see people closer to the trump presidency or to president trump indicted. we may see children indicted. we're likely to see a son-in-law indicted and jared kushner and i think it's likely if that happens that you will instead of seeing the president indicted,
you may see him identified as an unindicted co-conspirator. somewhere in the charge. that's a likely scenario. i don't think he'll do anything to dynamite things into a rapid action right here before the election, but i do think they have geared up and i think they planned all along that they will ultimately end up in the supreme court and i think you see that by the composition of his team. >> i saw both eric and jennifer nodding. jennifer, want to respond? >> i tend to agree but i think and we don't know because we haven't seen enough publicly, i think if they come up with evidence that the president himself conspired with russians to do any of the illegal things we know the russians had done to interfere with the state electoral processes or commuter hacking or legal distribution of the material, we may see the mueller team try to indict the president and see how that goes and of course, it would be litigated up to the supreme
court. if they uncover that serious criminal offense that the president himself was involved in, we may see mueller's team give it a go. >> thank you-all. appreciate your time. the piece in politico, think trump is doomed? not so fast. i encounselor -- encourage everyone to read it. thank you eric, jennifer, michael. when we come back, a texas police officer found guilty of murder in the killing of an unarmed african american teenager. some in the courtroom stunned by the verdict. we'll take you inside the courtroom next.
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roy oliver to 15 years in prison for killing an unarmed black teenager. he was found guilty of murder. in the shooting death of 15 year-old jordan edwards last year. i want to bring in ed lavandera, who has been following the case for us. ed, how stunning -- good evening to you, by the way. how stunning was this verdict and what was the reaction in the courtroom today? >> it was the verdict that sent the shock waves through that courtroom. that was yesterday. throughout the day today they have been deliberating the punishment phase. they have 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. the family of jordan edwards said they would like to have seen more time. but considering how many cases have not made it this far, much less seen a guilty verdict, they will accept and respect the jury's decision. attorneys for the police officer, roy oliver, say they're worried this verdict and
sentence will have a chilling effect for police officers around the country. >> are they going to appeal? >> reporter: they are going to appeal. that process, they said, initiated that process here tonight, before leaving the courtroom. >> did body cam footage play a crucial role in this conviction? body cams have been talked about in these cases so many times. what role did it play? >> reporter: it did. you know, the jury saw all of the body cam footage from a number of officers who were there at that scene. police officers say it took about 54 seconds -- remember, these kids were at this party in the suburb of dallas, when shots were fired. not at that party location but in a different location, it turned out. there was some confusion in the initial moments. the whole episode, from the moment the first shots were fired to the moment that jordan edwards was shot, took about 54 seconds. we can play some of that for you here now. >> okay.
[ screaming ] >> what did they do? [ gunfire ] >> you all right? >> [ bleep ]. >> he was trying to hit you. >> reporter: don, remember, roy oliver was worried that the car that was driving away was going to hit one of his partner there's at the scene. you can see in the video, the car was driving away from the officers when the shots were fired. >> yeah. wow. wow. can you talk -- there was another officer who was with roy oliver the night of the shooting. his testimony a big part of the prosecution, right? >> reporter: right.
and it's stunning in a lot of ways. there's been criticism of police officers, that they look out for each other, protect themselves and these sort of things. but the partner essentially told this jury, as well, throughout the course of testimony, that he did not feel -- he did not feel his life was threatened in that situation. he did not fire his weapon. and obviously, the whole argument here and the police showed they feared for their life in that moment. and the other officer, in that moment, he wasn't fearful for his life. we haven't heard from jurors but we assume that played a big part for them as they made their guilty verdict. >> wow. a guilty verdict in a texas teen's death, jordan edwards. the officer gets 15 years in prison. thank you, ed lavandera. appreciate your time and the reporting. thanks for watching. our coverage continues.
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the president's legal team reportedly looking for help to handle possible impeachment proceedings. the chief white house counsel out the door next month. since 1965. >> can you stop interrupting? >> insults flying as democrats square off for the first time in the new york governor's race. a case of road rage.
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