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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  December 10, 2018 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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things against paul manafort. certainly someone who is of extreme interest to the mueller investigation, and we also have to know, we've been trying to get in touch with kilimnik ourselves, so far to no avail. we believe he's somewhere around the moscow region. but unclear where that is. >> thank you very much. erin burnett out front starts right now. trump lashing out as the words jail time and impeachment are swirling. a russian spy cooperating with prosecutors. what is she telling investigators tonight. >> job vacancy, trump humiliated and super pissed over his chief of staff opening. the job in washington seems no
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one wants. anxious, super pissed and alone. president trump afraid of his political future as democrats are preparing to fake over the house. this coming after the president's former personal lawyer implicated him in two campaign finance felonies, which some democrats say are already grounds for impeachment. president trump tonight lashing out at michael cohen. saying the hush money payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougal were find. democrats can't find a smoking gun, because there was no collusi collusion. now the dems go to a simple act, calling it campaign contribution. it's false. collusion is not related to the felony payments to mcdougal and
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daniels. these are two separate problems the president has. john brennan, now a trump critic, ridiculing the president's tweet today. whenever you send out such inane tweets, i take great solace in knowing you know how much trouble you're in. and knowing how impossible it will be for you to escape american justice. you will never have the ability to run for public office again. let me repeat that last night. never have the opportunity to run for public office again. okay that obviously could lead you right to the issue. brennan is not alone. democrats are increasingly raising the i word using it directly, impeachment. >> this president in my estimation has done everything possible to certainly be eligible for impeachment. and so i really do think that it should be started. >> are those impeachable offenses?
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>> they would be impeachable offenses. >> i think you are beyond the stage that led to the impeachment proceedings against president clinton. whether or not you think that was worthy of impeachment or not. >> the word is out there. so let's just not forget one thing, impeachment is a political process, that means the republican led senate has to conduct a trial on any impeachment claims that are approved by the house which are democrats. you can get it through the house as you got in the case of clinton. now, up until now, the republican senate has been protective of the president. even the former fbi director jim comey, and this is important. he's a fierce trump critic, this weekend he called on americans to use every breath they have to oust trump. in his opinion, the president should not be impeached. >> i hope donald trump is not removed from office by
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impeachment, because it would let the country off the hook. and it would drive into the fabric of our nation a third of the people believing there was a coup. >> a coup. is comey right or will democrats move full steam ahead? shimon properez is live with more. >> the president is the central figure in this investigation and the sdny here in new york, campaign finance investigation. he's the central figure in this. and it was michael cohen whose soul purpose in cooperating with the sdny. prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum, the reason they cooperate was to provide information on the campaign finance charges. there was nothing else they provided information with. and when you think about the way in which prosecutors explain that the president, individual
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number one, directed and coordinated with michael cohen in making these payments, also in the way that these payments were structured, in the way that they say these payments were hidden by the organization. by the trump organization, they went through shell companies, the way in which they paid michael cohen, are all ways in which the president should be concerned, and, of course, his attorneys should be concerned. and i think prosecutors lay out a very good case, if the president, if donald trump wasn't the president, he probably would have been indicted or charged in this case as well. now, of course, there's a lot of arguments being made about whether or not they could wait until he's out of office. that is a possibility. it is something that the fbi agents could still pursue, or a new prosecutor under a new administration could take up and bring charges against the president for once he's out of office. >> shimon, thank you very much. i want to go out front now to a democratic congressman, member of the house judiciary committee, i appreciate your
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time. as we said, we're at a crossroads for this country. the president says the payments to women now, that obviously would be felonies, he says this is all a witch hunt. now, we are talking about specific felonies, congressman jerry handler, your colleague, incoming chairman likely here, he said these are impeachable offenses, do you agree, congressman? >> well, i think it's important to remember, this is president trump's justice department. this is very serious, i think it's important that we await the final conclusions. based on what we've seen in the last week, we're waiting to get an explanation on the investigation. my guess is, there's much more to come. we need to let the special council finish his work, we need
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to prevent the president or anyone on his behalf from interfering or impeding or attempting to undermine that investigation. i think there's much more to come. >> we're talking about felonies on the payments of campaign finance information. and the russia issue. would be conspiracy. as another issue. felony is a felony, that is an impeachable thing. you want it to be. republicans are saying those hush payments are not a big deal. here's orrin hatch late today. >> you can make anything a crime under the current laws. if you want, to you can blow it way out of proportion, can you do a lot of things. >> the president is saying, it's okay. he was involved in crimes hatch is agreeing.
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the congressman says it's hard to read too much into it. what is your response to senator hatch and thune who are acting like these payments are not a big deal. >> of course it is a big deal. any time -- this is the first time in our history that the department of justice has concluded the president of the united states has committed an offense like this. what may warrant proceeding with impeachment. this is part of the investigation. it takes special case, special counsels are a different one. no one should minimize. the president of the united states is directing another individual to commit two felonies as part of an effort to defraud the american people and win an election.
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it's not -- >> let me ask you, while you're saying it's important it also sounds like you're saying, let's get everything else first. do you think we need more than a campaign finance investigation? >> it's very important. but we have one opportunity. one opportunity to make a judgment as a congress as to whether or not impeachment is appropriate. we owe it to the american people to make an informed judgment. you can only do this once i think it's important to wait until we get all the information. no one should think that is not by itself to remove the president from office. >> it may be sufficient, but you're not going to move on until you get information. when senator chris murphy says, we're beyond where we were when the clinton impeachment proceedings began, is he right? do you think you're placing the bar to start a trump impeachment
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higher because there are so many more offenses? >> i think we owe it to the american people to allow the special council to finish this investigation. it may provide a more significant basis for impeachment proceedings, we ought to let that process be finished until we proceed. we worked hard to make sure a special council was appointed. now we need to allow mr. mueller to finish this, while we're doing that, we need to did the things we ran on. drive down health care costs, rebuild the infrastructure of our country. take on the pervasive corruption in washington. and get the government working for the people again. at the same time, hold this administration accountable. await mr. mueller's report and take whatever action that requires. >> thank you. i appreciate it. breaking news this hour, another russian domino, alleged spies cooperating with the feds.
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that's the news tonight. what does she know? and heat may be turning up on the trump organization. out front tonight a former executive and insider speaks out about what the feds can be looking at. and the scramble on for a new chief of staff? is it a challenge that no one wants to accept? you've had quite the career.
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humira... and go. breaking news, alleged russian spy is now cooperating with federal prosecute irs as part of the plea deal. she's admitting she and long time republican paul ericson, with whom she had a romantic relationship conspire d for her to operate in the u.s. butina has been in jail since july. she met donald trump jr. more on that in just a moment. i want to go first to sara murray. obviously a significant development that she's admitting to this, cooperating, what more can you tell us about that? >> that's right, aaron. this plea deal is not final until it all goes down in court
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on wednesday. i'm going to read you a portion of the agreement. butina agreed with and conspired with a russian official to act in the united states without prior notification to the attorney general. the russian official here is alexander torshin, a former kremlin linked banker. who was her handler while she was here in the united states. she's admitting she was working here in the united states. providing information to him, that will be part of her cooperation. as explained her contacts with russian officials. the other part of her cooperation is that she's likely to provide information about what is going on with her boyfriend. his role in this. we know there's a fraud investigation into ericson. we're just getting the beginning details of this, we're expecting
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to hear more when she's in court on wednesday. >> thank you very much, sarah about you know, look. >> we've had her lawyer on the program many times. i want to go to the former district attorney for the southern district. harry, on the legal side here, let's start with this, how significant is this? >> they said no, no, no, no, no. nothing, she's in jail for months, and now all of a sudden, conspired with a russian government official against being a spy essentially? >> it's significant in the context of the national security investigation that led to her arrest in the first place. it's unusual for someone associated with russian intelligence to become a corroborating witness. they can't go home again. if she's really cooperating, that would seem to be something that would be very significant to the intelligence side. >> when we say david gergen,
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this is the nra republican circles, she met donald trump junior at an event. and she gets into an event with donald trump himself. she's the first person he calls on. >> i'm visiting from russia. >> putin, good friend of obama. >> what will be politics especially in relationship with my country. do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging both economies or you have any other ideas? >> okay. obama gets along with nobody. the whole world hates us. i know putin and we get along with putin. i believe i would get along very nicely with putin, okay? >> okay. that was the first question, he calls on her. she meets donald trump jr. she then socialized with j.b. gordon
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multiple times, a concert, dinner, drinks. that's quite close to the trump campaign. >> it is. >> i would caution on one point. as i understand it, the prosecutor's are going after her are not related to the mueller investigation per say. >> this is a separate -- it's always been a separate case? >> so that this doesn't add weight on the mueller issue, it does say there are a lot of efforts by the russians to evade, change, understand, penetrate and reshape u.s./russian relationships. that's pretty obvious, i do think we ought to -- it's significant that she's changed her story. she will probably be deported before this is over. >> which raises harry's question of going home when you have agreed to cooperate, there are risks on that front. dana, let me ask you. she gets into an event with the future president of the united states. she meets donald trump jr.
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she has who knows what it was, it looked like a dating thing with j.b. gordon. is this all just coincidence? >> no, absolutely not. and it looks as though from sara's reporting it's going to be spelled out as anything but coincidence. when we see. assuming this plea deal does go through, yes, it's separate from the mueller investigation. the picture is still incredibly important. if she does plea, which will say she is effectively guilty, for the first time a russian national has said that about the 2016 campaign. that's a really big deal. never mind as you played that clip. she was hiding in plain site. she was not hiding the fact that i'm a russian spy.
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she said she was a graduate student. it doesn't take anyone who has watched a good spy movie, you have to be careful in situations like this you're dealing with a political campaign or even the u.s. government that is really stunning. the last thing i will say by way of the time line. she asked then candidate that question, we know based on the filings last week and before that, the trump organization was actively trying to get trump moscow up and running. remember that as well. >> actively trying to do that. who knows what the marketing things were with the penthouse, everybody being considered with putin himself. the point damage is made. how rare is it for a russian spy to cooperate? >> the first that we have known in this case. this is after months and months and months of denials.
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now all of a sudden okay. the next press release is, my client is fully cooperating and has accepted responsibility. that happens a lot. most defendants do not go to trial. as david was saying, if she is to be deported that's dangerous, the government could give letter a certain type of visa, that would allow her to stay in the united states as part of her overall package. one would assume or hope for her sake, she is going to be giving this information about intelligence issues, the united states would allow her to stay here afterwards. >> maybe she doesn't ran the to go home. >> this lip from i'm innocent to i will help you with the investigation is often the way it goes. >> the context here, though, david, as dana's talking about, 16 associates of donald trump that we now know of had contacts with russians during the campaign, right? j.d. and maria would be one of
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many. these contacts for people with strong connections to the kremlin in so many of these cases, all the way up to the gru and russian intelligence arm. it's getting harder and harder for donald trump to defend what he's said many times before, which is this. >> it has nothing to do what they started out looking for russians involved in our campaign. there were none. >> i have nothing to do with russia, to the best of my knowledge no person that i deal with does. >> this to me is really the extraordinary part of what we're looking at tonight. it's 16 associates are trying to penetrate and form relationships, offering dirt on hillary clinton of one kind or another. getting into the inner circle. >> there were no. >> i worked in campaigns, i covered campaigns, i can't remember any campaign in which any russian talked to one of the
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leaders of the campaign. they may have met at a cocktail party, but to have this kind of extensive campaign on the part of the russians and to have an open door on the part of the americans, is absolutely without precedence. it's extremely -- it's extremely suspicious. and the real question in the mueller case is, what happened after they met? >> what happened after -- to david's point in 2017, wall street journal, president trump says, i was never involved with russia, there's nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from russia. we have nothing to do with russia. that's blatantly false. at that point he knew full well about the meeting and it had been fully reported on. >> look, this was in the court of public opinion talking to the press and that is not a felony, whether you're president or not, to not tell the truth to the press. the question is as david said,
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is with all of knees contexts, these 16 people that were in and around the trump campaign who had direct contact with russia during the campaign, what -- how did it come to fruition, and also a reminder that i'm sure david had this told to him, when he started out in campaigns. when a foreign national approaches you, you don't engage. you pick up the phone and call the fbi and say, guess what, a foreign national just approached me, especially if it's a russian. that didn't happen in this case, the question is, was it just ignorance of those protocols? or was it because there was something more nefarious, and that is what we have to wait for robert mueller to tell us. >>. >> there are people who knew that.
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there are others who knew full well -- >> the book of the context were in the relevant months -- >> one of the most important jobs in the country about to be vacant. the president stewing, said to be humiliated. tonight a new name for chief of staff. one person who didn't like trump's top pick for the job, his wife. ahhhhh! shhhhh! new nyquil severe with vicks vapocool. the vaporizing, nightime coughing, aching, stuffy head, best sleep with a cold, medicine. for a limited time, $50 for them $10 for you. applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood.
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sources describe president trump's mood tonight. trump had already given ayers an assignment assuming he'd be taking on the new role. it's like, it's done, here's your first job. so now we're learning trump's list is vast for possible chief of staff. he's starting for staff, as he's anxious about his political future. out front now, kaitlan collins, you're reporting, trump is already asking ayers to look into political issues, and here we are. >> yeah, that shows you two things. just how much president trump thought he was counting on nick ayers taking this job. nick was insistent that he wasn't going to stay on for those two years that president trump wanted. two, it also shows you how concerned trump is getting for what washington is going to look like in january. when you have those newly empowered house democrats with what they vowed to say is going
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to be strict oversight of his administration, that is a growing concern for him, he realizes that, he wants his chief of staff to be politically focused, and be by his side to help guide him through the tumultuous next few years that are going to happen. he didn't think john kelly was politically shrewd enough to do that job. >> who is in the running at this point? you go from one to who knows what? >> people are all over the place, some of them are names that have been brought up in the past, have you to look at the fact that this list is 24 hours old. now he's essentially starting from square one with this list there are a few names that have risen to the top one of them is robert likehighser, he has a pretty tough job now negotiating the talks with china. he's happy with where he is.
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mark meadows, who just said that he had not set up any interview with president trump, he would be honored to take the job if he's on the list. also, steven mnuchin is a name that's been floated among several others. white house officials are saying this list is fluid, it could change over the next three weeks, but they realize they only have three weeks left with john kelly who was in his office today on this job this they know the clock is ticking. >> thank you very much. former special assistant to the george w. bush. scott, we now have gone from a list of one, and it was all done. president is humiliated and super pissed. he doesn't look good, he doesn't like that. why aren't people lined up here. >> i think people weren't lined up because it was widely assumed that nick was going to take the
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job. i don't think folks were out there knocking on the door saying, hey, consider me your backup plan, no one thought he was going to turn it down. now the president has an opportunity to find someone who can do a couple things, number one, deal with these investigations, i think it would be good if they had a chief of staff who lived through some investigations before. i think the person has to be a realist, it's not all mai tais out here. they need to not be cynical. they need to understand it's a high honor to serve in the white house. >> you think there's going to be a line now scott? >> i think they're all going to be qualify ied. >> paul? >>. >> it's kind of like i'm -- i'm sure there's a line. it's a fool's errand.
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general kelly, a four star marine who served with great honor and distinction in our country. he was in charge with southern command. donald trump wouldn't let him run 16 acres there on pennsylvania avenue. the problem here is trump, not the staff or the chief of staff. many good people are not going to want to take that job, because the president's impossible. he doesn't want a chief of staff, maybe he should do away with the job, that's the problem. fish rot from the head down. nick ayers would have been the wrong pick anyway, sir. he's a campaign guy like me. the campaign doesn't start until 2020. the best real way for trump to be re-elected in 2020 is to get a lot of stuff done in 2019. i would urge him to get a current member of congress. pete king from new york, kay
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bailey how much isen, these are people respected in my party. >> the big question is, if you get stuff done, and i think you alluded to this. he's got to deal with possible impeachment proceedings. somebody's going to have to deal with impeachment. someone has to deal with the trade deal going on in china. he's got a lot of problems. >> if you take this job, you have to be clear with the president up front. i'm not a magic wand. i can give you good advice, as paul said, maybe someone who can deal with the hill a little bit, i can talk to those guys and give you the best view of what you can and cannot do. ty don't have as rosie an outlook on what is possible this year.
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if the white house gives a good faith effort to try to get things done, maybe they look like the bigger people here. chief of staff can help you manage these issues. >> paul, i bring you back to a tweet from donald trump, 2012, three chiefs of staff and less than three years being president. part of the reason why barack obama can't manage to pass his agenda. here's the thing, obama did have three chiefs of staff in his first term. in which you can say obama's white house was full of chaos. maybe people who are picking on trump for the situation are being too harsh. >> maybe. i'm always too harsh on our president. he's also on -- about to have his third attorney general. he's had two secretaries of
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state. >> that is a little bit much. i think the cast here is unique. honestly, he's my president, i want him to succeed, he's his own worst enemy. >> scott, final word? >> i think they're going to find somebody good, i think that there's going to be a good list to choose from, they don't have to make a hasty decision here. the president may operate for some time without a chief of staff. the biggest issues facing him, the investigation and getting the economy on track for his re-election campaign. the chief has to be fully focused on those two issues. >> president trump scrambling to find his new chief of staff. one of the reasons nick ayers is sayonara and we're back to zero, feeling humiliated with a vast list is melania. trump throwing his former fixer under the bus. here's the question tonight. is there anyway that donald j. trump did not know what michael
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tonight vice president pennsylvania's chief of staff taking himself out of the running to be president trump's next chief of staff. not even out of the running, it was done, he was out.
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he didn't want it. ayers also had some resistance from the first lady melania trump herself. kate bennett is out front. >> reporter: with the west ring wife with shake-ups. one person is asserting her influence. someone who may avoid the spotlight, but isn't above using her voice. more and more appears to be weighing in some mentioned the resistance by melania. what sources say her dislike for nick ayers may have done to that relationship as well, had ayers accepted the job. after all, this is a first lady who says she isn't shy about telling the president who has his back and who does not. >> i give him my honest advice and honest opinions, and then he does what he wants to do. >> does he have people you
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wouldn't trust working for him? >> yes. >> what would you do? >> some people they don't work there any more. >> melania had a dustup with a member of trump's national security team, and after trying to influence her husband behind closed doors, that ricardel could be a bad apple, melania took matters into her own hands. it is the position of the office of the first lady that ricardel no longer deserves the honor of serving in this white house. a message even the president couldn't ignore. shortly thereafter, firing her from her white house job. melania's bruising statement unprecedented for a first lady. >> no one. and i've known for a long time no one influences donald trump more than melania trump. her predecessors wielded significant influence with their husbands, neither chose to be as
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transparent as melania trump, who may have been using pointed words in the same way the president does to get her point across. her trips to the border to focus on the crisis facing separated immigrant families or her work with the opiod crisis. >> my husband and his entire administration are committed to fighting the opiod epidemic. trump has been listening. >> it's still a first couple with a lot of mystery, however. >> do you think it's easy to be first lady when you're married to me? you think it's easy. cancelled trips and separate motorcades followed. trump and his wife seem to be back in the swing of things. joining him for events, demonstrating more hand holding than hand swatting. an indicator that melania trump
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has her husband's ear and isn't afraid to use it. >> melania trump has always been an adviser to her husband. two years into her tenure now, she's feeling more comfortable using her voice. back to you. next, federal prosecutors looking closer at the trump organization. just how afraid should the president be. plus, the one finger salute that's caught everyone's attention.
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incredibly well and you know him and how he negotiates. this is when he was donald j. trump, not president trump. michael cohen pays $130,000 to stormy daniels. is there any way that donald trump didn't know about it? >> i can't imagine that, no. absolutely he knew about everything. absolutely. even things that weren't so major he knew about. people just told him what they were doing and he said, fine, do it, and he gave them authority within the confines of what they were doing. >> it's interesting you're saying small things and big things, but $130,000 is not small. so there's no question he wouldn't know. he's trying to distance himself from cohen. he's called him a two-bit and
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all kinds of things, not very smart last week. he makes up stories to get an already reduced deal for himself and gets his family off scot-free. now, cohen was guy who said he would take a bullet for trump >> i know, i heard that. >> i'm sure my colleagues would say the same thing. whether he wanted to be at the white house or not, he stayed loyal for a long time even after he felt abandoned by the president. when people close to trump see him talk about michael cohen like this, people who may know who knows what about this payment or other things, does this make them more likely to talk, do you think? >> you know, i think people know that trump would do that. even if they didn't do what michael did, which was, you know, go south or whatever they
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call it, flip, trump gets what he wants out of people when they have -- he can treat them fine, but he has reason to flip on them, he does this. so nobody should ever expect him to be completely loyal to them, even if they're completely loyal to him. >> so he's showing that now. when it comes to whether it's mall or big, let's take the trump tower meeting. rudy giuliani is saying that he thinks mueller thinks that manafort is lying, that trump knew about it, that president trump then-candidate trump knew about this meeting. don junior is the one who was involved in setting the meeting up, he makes the call to a blocked number. barbara, is there any way donald trump jr. would have not told his father about this meeting in your view? >> i can't imagine it because i certainly know people that were more experienced, that have more standing, that were more respected by trump that still
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wouldn't pull a stunt like that. he would be too afraid. what if something went wrong? his father would bury him. >> the kids weren't empowered to do whatever you want, absolutely not. very few people are empowered to do anything they wanted to begin with. but, you know, his inner circle was comprised of people that were loyal to him, not that they were good at what they were doing. trump thinks he knows everything, so he's going to dictate to someone like tillerson. >> good to see you as always. >> thank you. nice to be here. next, reporters forced to blur the line between a good story and, well, can you tell what that is?
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what do you do when you want everyone to know how angry you are and money is no object? here's genie >> reporter: they have taken finger pointing to a whole new level with his seven-foot carving of a middle finger mounted on a 16-foot pole. >> are you the sort of give the finger sort of guy like when you drive? >> it's probably happened before. >> reporter: but this isn't road rage. this is rage against west ford, vermont officials. the town has refused to give him a building permit to relocate his recycling business onto his on commercially zoned property. >> the statue is not saying a word and it's working. >> lights are trained on it
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24/7. motorists can't miss it. >> i wish i had one. >> you would think a seine-foot carving of a finger would cost an arm and a leg. 4,000 bucks, actually. he hit on the idea while at a bar having drinks with his wife. >> about two long islands into it. >> reporter: sadly, tv stations have felt obliged to blur the image. >> no. cnn don't have to blur it. >> reporter: oh, yes, we do, ted. local reporters have gotten creative. >> his hand gesture that's handed by my hands is a response to this. >> reporter: the chair of the west ford select board wouldn't say much because they're anticipating a court hearing. the process would be the same with or without the sculpture. turns out the law can't lay a finger on ted because his finger is considered public art. >> really made me feel warm and
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fuzzy. >> reporter: but when i made a warm and fuzzy gesture -- >> here's the finger i'll give you. >> reporter: at least you can't say he never lifts a finger. jeanne moos, cnn, work. >> thank you so much for joining us. anderson starts now. good evening, thanks for joining us. we begin tonight with breaking news. another plea deal and this time it's a russian, maria butina is now cooperating with federal prosecutors after agreeing to a plea deal according to a source familiar with the matter. this is separate from the robert mueller investigation, but the news comes on a day when there are new and looming questions hanging over the presidency after friday night's court filings from mueller and the southern district of new york. from court filings, public statements, and reporting from cnn and other news outlets, we now know that at least 16 associates of candidate trump had