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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 17, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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being followed by the special counsel? high stakes info world. powerful new senate reports on russian interference reveal the scope of moscow's tampering with social media before and after the election, all aimed at helping president trump. stand by for new details on the tactics and the targets. and commander interference. president trump hails a u.s. soldier charged with premeditated murder, calling him a military hero. new concerns tonight about the nation's leader intervening in a criminal case. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room". ♪ this is "cnn breaking news." we're following breaking news on james comey's blistering attack on president trump and republicans who refuse to stand up to him. the fired fbi director saying mr. trump has lied constantly
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about the bureau and has attacked the rule of law in his attempts to undermine the russia investigation. comey, clearly fuming, after a second closed-door hearing demanded by house republicans before democrats take control. once a registered republican, comey says gop lawmakers are being cowed into silence by the president, calling their failure to speak out an everlasting shame. i'll get reaction from senate democratic macy hrono. first, let's go to our senior congressional correspondent manu r raju. james comey's frustration with the president and republicans poiled over today. >> reporter: they did. blistering attacks directed towards the president and republicans after the president has launched attack after attack on the fbi, on the mueller investigations, republicans for the most part have not stood up to this president. james comey after sitting down with republicans and democrats
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as part of a republican-led investigation in the house for the second time let loose and set the republicans need to stand up because silence is not helping this country. >> the president of the united states is lying about the fbi, attacking the fbi and attacking the rule of law in this country. how does that make any sense at all? republicans used to understand that the actions of a president matter, the words of a president matter, the rule of law matters and the truth matters. where are those republicans today? at some point someone has to stand up and in the face of fear of "fox news", fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not shrink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth. i find it frustrating to be here answering questions about things that are far less important than the values this country is built upon. >> reporter: over the weekend the president attacked his former attorney, michael cohen, calling him a rat and also
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questioning about how the fbi raided the office of michael cohen. the president said that he broke -- that the fbi broke in to michael cohen's properties. james comey pushed back rather strongly at the president's attacks against michael cohen. >> this is the president of the united states calling a witness who has cooperated with his own justice department a rat. say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we have ended up. this is not about republicans and democrats. this is about what does it mean to be an american? what are the things that we care about above our policy disputes, which are important. this is a set of value that represent the glue of this country and they're under attack by things just like that. we have to stop being numb to it, whether you are republican or democrat you need to stand on your feet, overcome your shame and say something. >> now, before james comey was fired, one reason why the president was frustrated with him was because comey would not say publicly that the president himself was not under
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investigation. now, in this closed-door meeting, i'm told by a source familiar with the matter that this came up and comey defended his decision not to speak about this publicly, saying that the president appears to be under investigation right now based on public reports, and had he made that declaration then that the fbi would have to come out now and clean it up and say the president is under investigation. so he defended that decision in the closed-door hearing earlier today, wolf. >> manu, comey defended the fbi's investigation of former security adviser michael flynn after the president repeatedly attacked the bureau for the way it questioned flynn. tell us what happened. >> reporter: michael flynn in the interview by the fbi agents in 2017 has come under increased scrutiny by republicans, conservatives and flynn's own attorneys, suggesting it wasn't handled properly. comey today strongly defended it. i asked comey if he handled that properly. he said he did. he said it is nonsense to criticize, given the fact that flynn himself pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about his
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interactions with the russian he also defended his decision, - james comey did, not telling his superior, sally yates, about the flynn interview until the day it happened, saying if he had informed her about this then, then yates and obama holdover would have been criticized for green lighting an interview of the president's national security adviser. wolf, i asked comey if he had confidence in the current acting attorney general, matt whitaker, who is overcoming the mueller investigation, and he said no comment and walked away. wolf. >> manu, thank you very, very much. let's go to the white house right now as the bitter battle between james comey and president trump clearly intensified. we're joined by our senior white house correspondent, our chief white house correspondent i should say, jim acosta. jim, any reaction to comey's scolding of the president and the republicans? >> reporter: not yet, and that's surprising given the past that we know between the president
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and james comey. the president has not been bashful about going after the fbi director that he fired, and we've seen it on a number of occasions. it just has not happened yet. i'm sure it is coming. but as you know, wolf, president trump's legal team is scrambling to stay ahead of the twists and turns in the russia investigation. the president and his outside attorney, rudy guilliani are beating up on the special counsel's probe, throwing punches in every direction, but it seems to be the truth taking a pounding. the president's legal team isn't exactly spreading yuletide cheer, when asked if the president will sit down with special counsel robert mueller in the russia investigation. >> they're a joke. over my dead body, but, you know, i could be bed. >> reporter: the president as outside attorney, rudy guilliani, suggested without any evidence that mueller's investigators are digging deeper into mr. trump's past business dealings, complaining the russia probe is out of control. >> this is a witch hunt. they're going back now, they're going back to 1982, 1983.
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they're going through business records. my goodness, they went from collusion to obstruction, no evidence. now campaign finance. >> reporter: guilliani is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. when asked whether one of the president's associates, roger stone, gave mr. trump advance warning that wikileaks was about to dump damaging information about hillary clinton during the campaign, guilliani said no, but added it wouldn't be a crime either way. >> not at all. i don't believe so, but, again, if roger stone gave anybody heads up about wikileaks leaks, it is not a crime. it would be like giving him a heads up that "the times" is going to print something. this is why the thing is so weird, strange. the crime is conspiracy to hack. collusion is not a crime. it doesn't exist. >> reporter: guilliani also seemed to offer a new detail about the trump tower moscow project. the president's former attorney, michael cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to congress about the project, admitting discussions about the proposal lasted until
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june 2016, but guilliani suggested that mr. trump may have had discussions which went on longer than that. >> according to the answer that he gave, it would have covered all the way up to november of -- november 2016. he said he had conversations with him about -- >> reporter: while guilliani hit the sunday talk shows, the president tweeted his one-time fixer did something after the fbi did something which was absolutely unthinkable and unheard of until the witch hunt was illegally started. they broke into an attorney's office. but that's not true. cohen said they were courteous and professional. house democrats are eager to hear more of the story when they take control of congress next year. >> i'm hoping mr. cohen will come before the congress where he can tell the american public exactly what he has been saying to mueller and others without interfering with the mueller investigation. >> reporter: the president spent much of the weekend airing his grievances about the russia
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probe, blaming it all on former attorney jeff sessions, tweeting, jeff sessions should be ashamed of his for allowing this total hoax to get started in the first place. with the president staying behind closed doors, acting attorney general matt whitaker was one of several administration officials stopping by the white house, from outgoing interior secretary ryan zinke who is leaving the trump team to incoming chief of staff mick mulvaney, who had some explaining after this video appeared before the election. >> i'm supporting donald trump, i'm doing so as enthusiastically as i can with the fact he is a terrible human being. >> reporter: the president has not lashed out at mulvaney but vented his frustrations on "saturday night live", tweeting the show is nothing but dem commercials. should be tested in courts. can't be legal? it may have something to do with showing what it would be like if mr. trump was never elected. >> i would never flip on you, you're my best friend.
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>> reporter: rudy guilliani seems to be conceding mr. trump did not initially tell the truth when he said he didn't know about the payments made to his alleged mistresses before the 2016 election. the president, guilliani pointed out, was not under oath when he denied knowledge of those payments to reporters. so as far as the president's legal team is concerned, it is just fine for the president to change his story, mislead the public as long as it is done to the media. wolf. >> all right. jim acosta at the white house. thank you. let's talk a little bit more about the president and the russia investigation. right now our crime and justice reporting, shimon prokupecz is joining us. shimon, rudy guilliani says there's no way he will allow the president of the united states to sit down for a face-to-face interview with mueller and his team, saying that would only happen, quote, over my dead body. why are they so opposed to the president answering some questions if the president did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide? >> look, you have rudy guilliani who claims to be out there talking for the president. he himself can't get the story straight. every time we hear from him, there's always something new,
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something doesn't make sense. he adds things to the narrative, he takes things away. so it is totally conceivable that they're worried, as we've been saying all along, they do not want to put the president before the special counsel, before the fbi agents, before prosecutors where he could essentially be accused of lying and could perjury himself. so that is their whole goal. this has been their goal throughout this investigation. it really has been to protect donald trump from the investigation because there's always been this concern that he could lie. >> you know, there was a significant statement potentially that rudy guilliani made yesterday. originally michael cohen said his talks with the russians about building a trump tower in moscow ended in january of 2016. he later said under oath that he had lied about that. they really continued until june, around the time of the convention, the republican convention when he was getting the nomination, donald trump, continued till june. yesterday guilliani says those talks actually -- michael
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cohen's talks continued as late as november 2016. what is guilliani talking about? >> right. the problem here though is now they're corroborating michael cohen's statement. you know, the president, his lawyers, rudy guilliani have tried to go out there and paint michael cohen as this liar. he's just trying to get himself from under this investigation. he wants to -- he wanted less jail time so he was making all of this up. but the problem now with rudy guilliani saying this is that he is corroborating in part of what michael cohen has told the special counsel. the other thing here, and let's remember, is that the special counsel has said that there were discussions about michael cohen's testimony with people close to the president, with people perhaps at the white house that were aware of what his lies essentially that he was telling to members of congress about how this -- these conversations about the moscow project stopped in january of 2016. well, now it seems that people in the white house have all
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along knew that these conversations were ongoing, so, therefore, did someone at the white house know that michael cohen was lying? did the president's lawyers know that michael cohen was lying and no one ever said anything? that could protein she'll be a problem in the obstruction world that we know the special counsel is looking at for the president and certainly people that work for the president. >> the president's former national security adviser, michael flynn, will be addressing the court tomorrow when he is finally sentenced. what do we expect to hear? >> that coming tomorrow, the day after this two business associates of michael flynn, were charged for secretive lobbying work on behalf of the turkey government. so tomorrow will probably be one of the first times we will hear from michael flynn since all of this happened. we'll hear him essentially try to apologize for what he did. the other thing that's going to be interesting is going to be how much does the special counsel get into in terms of how much help michael flynn has been
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providing them. they tend to not talk a lot. they try to not tell us a lot into their investigation. but with today's announcement of these two people, these two business associates, other information that has been out there, one of the things that perhaps will happen is we may hear more about the special counsel's investigation, and certainly as it relates to michael flynn. but in the end, most important probably for michael flynn is whether or not he will face any jail time. that's unlikely because it seems everyone in this case really feels that his help has been substantial and, therefore, he shouldn't go to jail for what he did here. >> the mueller team has said he gave substantial help, they used that word. >> that's right. >> which is a significant word in a situation like this. thanks very much, shimon, for that report. let's talk a little bit about the breaking news from james comey. first joining us right now, senator mazie hrono, a democrat serving on the judiciary and armed services committee. thank you for joining us. >> aloha. >> aloha right back at you. thank you very much. let's get to what comey is
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saying today. how effective is the former fbi director, his defense of the justice department in the face of these attacks from the president of the united states? senator, can you hear me? >> oh, i'm sorry. i thought you were going to play -- oh. well -- >> let me repeat -- hold on a second. i will repeat the question. >> i'm sorry. >> how effective is comey's defense of the justice department and the fbi in the face of these attacks from the president? >> the president is always on the attack, especially when the wall it are closing in, and he said the fbi just broke into cohen's office and nothing like that happened. so that's -- the fbi director said that's not what happened. everyone hopes that the truth will prevail. with the president, that's really of little concern to him apparently. >> your colleagues on the senate intelligence committee released two reports today that provide a clearer picture of the extent of
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russia's attacks back during the 2016 presidential election with new information on voter suppression and the ways the russians interest acted with and manipulated americans in real-time. what are your biggest concerns about the new revelations and new findings? >> the fact that russia is still interfering with our elections, and they can do it with relative impunity because they have a president that keeps saying it is all a witch hunt, et cetera. but the length and breadth and the reach of the russia interference as disclosed by the senate intelligence committee's work is really striking. it just goes to show they've been at it a long time, and who benefitted from this? it was the trump campaign, and they had every intention of making sure that trump would become the president. that's what the mueller investigation is all about, too. not only the interference, but trump's -- the trump team's efforts to coordinate,
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collaborate, collude, conspire to get him elected. >> yeah. i've gone through these reports. one is 100 pages, one is almost 50 pages. it is breathtaking how sophisticated the russians are and totally understanding the american political process. let me read a line to you from the january 2017 u.s. intelligence community report on russia's cyber warfare campaign. it says, and i'm quoting now, we did not make an assessment of the impact that russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election, the u.s. intelligence committee is charged with monitoring and assess the intentions, capabilities and actions of foreign actors. it does not analyze u.s. political processes or u.s. public opinion. when you look at the details in the new reports, senator, do you believe the russians actually influenced the outcome of the 2016 election? >> i don't think anybody can say that all of their extensive efforts did not have some kind
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of influence, because they were practicing tribal politics just the way trump was. so they were going after the blacks, they were going after minorities. they were doing all of the kinds of divisive campaigning that trump himself was doing. so i don't know how you can say that the russian interference which reached over 100 million americans had no impact. >> when it comes to the russia investigation, the president's lawyer -- and you heard him -- rudy guilliani is defending the president, arguing that collusion is not a crime. what does that tell you? >> that they're living in an alternative universe. at this point it is hard to take rudy guilliani seriously as an attorney for trump because he contradicts trump, he contradicts himself. he is all over the place. >> let me get to another sensitive issue while i have you, senator. we are waiting to see if a deal can be reached before friday at midnight to avert a partial
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government shutdown over the president's requested fund for a border wall to mexico. you visited the border. tell us what you saw and whether you would be willing to compromise on a physical wall. >> we already approved over 1.5 billion for border security, and we know that the trump administration has not figured out how to spend all of that. so when you really sit down and think about 1,100 miles of a physical barrier and a wall, of which of this 1,100 miles the united states government only controls a certain percentage of land and the rest will have to be obtained through eminent domain, one wonders how serious is this border wall. so having visited the border and seeing children basically locked up, 2,700 of them, in a facility that was supposed to last for only 30 days and here we are going on five months, there is no reason that these children
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should not be as quickly moved to be with their sponsors as possible. one of the things that the trump administration has done in their efforts to stymie legal immigration, people coming to our country asking for asylum, which also is their right to do, is to create a process whereby these unaccompanied children are having to wait a much longer time to be united with their sponsors. why? because they want to have fingerprint checks on not only the sponsors but everybody in the sponsor's household or family, and this has a chilling effect because the number of the sponsors are undocumented. this information is shared with i.c.e., who then proceeds to deport these people. so the trump administration is doing everything they can to make it really hard for people to come across the border seeking asylum, which under international and our own laws is their right to do. and then when they finally get
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here, we keep them separated from their sponsors for extended periods of time in a facility that's not licensed. and then as for where the families are, again, their alternatives to basically incarcerating families in these facility. >> senator, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, james comey is shaming republicans right now, demanding they stand up to president trump, but are republican lawmakers listening? (chime) - [narrator] meet shark's newest robot vacuum. it powerfully cleans from floors to carpets, even pet hair, with ease, and now for cleaning surfaces above the floor, it comes with a built in shark handheld. one dock, two sharks. the shark ion robot cleaning system.
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tonight james comey is hammering president trump and republicans for lies being told about the russia investigation. we're also learning more about the scope of moscow's interference through social media and how it's continuing let's bring in our senior national correspondent alex marquardt. tell us more about the extensive and detailed reports released by the senate intelligence committee. >> the scope there is the keyword. these are two separate reports commissioned by the senate intelligence committee that are stunning in their breadth and detail. they show the russian efforts to try to blackmail, coopt and recruit americans as so-called assets. they showed how the russians actively supported donald trump in the 2016 campaign while also working to undermine hillary clinton's campaign. even after the 2016 race was over, they kept on going. efforts by russia to meddle in american politics in social
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media are active and ongoing and far bigger than once thought. that's according to a pair of detailed and stunning new reports commissioned by the senate intelligence committee, released today. the reports tracked russian activity during the 2016 presidential race and after. >> we're going to win back the white house. >> reporter: activity that during the campaign worked to support donald trump's candidacy and undermine hillary clinton's, including trying to suppress african-american votes and raise fears of a stolen election on the right. >> they didn't stop. after the 2016 election, and on instagram they ramped up. >> reporter: it was based on trophies of information handed over. more than 10 million tweets were posted, 116,000 instagram post, 61,000 facebook posts and 1,000 videos. earlier this year, the same group was indicted by special
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counsel mueller. it went beyond misinformation on social media. the group regularly tried to coopt unsuspected americans to do certain tasks or hand over their personal information, developing them as so-called assets. in one example they created a troll called army of jesus. the hotlines posted, the report says, created an opportunity to blackmail or manipulate these individuals. cnn also tracked down this trump supporter in florida who was paid by the internet research agency to build a cage to bring to an event to call for the imprisonment of hilary clinton. >> there was nothing, nothing at all to lend you to think that it is anything other than people trying to support a candidate. >> reporter: the group's most prolific efforts specifically targeted black american communities, not just to depress their vote but to develop them, too, as assets.
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one such operation convinced and paid martial arts instructor to run self-defense classes for african-americans to, quote, protect your rights, let them know black power matters. cnn's drew griffin spoke to him. >> they convinced you? >> very easily. very ceaseleasily. some of the things were sketchy, but at the end of the day still fitness. >> reporter: the trophy of data analyzed in these two reports was given to the senate intel committee by those social media giants, but one of the reports from the committee says that the companies only handed over what they called did bare minimum amount of data required by the committee. that means there are likely more russian accounts out there still yet to be identified just as our focus starts to turn to the next presidential race. >> these reports are detailed. the russians had a very, very intricate, detailed, sophisticated knowledge of american politics, and it continues to this today.
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>> and will. >> thanks very much. the impact of james comey's words as he accuses republicans of being complicit on president trump's attacks on the rule of law. and mr. trump's defense by rudy guilliani seems to change as the president continues to speak. what does robert mueller make of all of this. who doesn't love a deal?
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the fired fbi director james comey shaming and blaming republicans for failing to stand up to president trump. he's accusing fearful gop lawmaker s of, quote, shrinking into retirement rather than calling out mr. trump for what comey describes as constant lies and attacks on the rule of law here in the united states. let's bring in our analysts. phil mudd, over the weekend president trump called his former lawyer and fixer michael cohen a rat for cooperating where the special counsel. watch how the former fbi director james comey responded today. >> this is the president of the united states calling a witness who has cooperated with his own justice department a rat. say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we have ended up. this is not about republicans and democrats. this is about what does it mean to be an american. >> what do you make of that? >> the question is bigger. it is not just about michael cohen. it is about, look, you go back to the campaign, orange is the new black, the president of the
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united states says it is okay for a foreign security service from an adversary -- that is russia -- to steal information from a american political candidate. that is stealing e-mails, as he said on the hillary clinton campaign it is okay for that. it is not okay for a domestic security service to go to the judge and ask for a lawful warrant to search michael cohen's offices over the weekend and to ask michael cohen to cooperate what is clearly illegal activity. it is okay for the former kgb to steal stuff. it is not okay for the fbi to see a court warrant in the united states to go against michael cohen. orange is the new black. the former kgb is the new fbi. i guess that's what we've got. >> you know, sabrina, i want to play this clip by rudy guilliani and i want sabrina to respond. he is insisting that the president didn't do anything wrong, but listen to the
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defense. >> it is not a crime. it is not a crime, george. paying $130,000 to stormy whatever and paying $100,000 to the other one is not a crime. >> did the president -- did donald trump know that michael cohen was pursuing the trump tower in moscow into the summer of 2016? >> according to the answer that he gave it would have covered all the way up to november -- november 2016. he said he had conversations with them about, the president didn't hide this. >> earlier they said the conversations stopped in january of 2016. >> roger stone gave anybody heads up about wikileaks leaks, it is not a crime. it would be like giving him a heads up "the times" is going to print something. this is why this thing is so weird, strange. the crime is conspiracy to hack. collusion is not a crime. it doesn't exist. i know collusion is not a crime. >> remember, he used to be a federal prosecutor, u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, rudy
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guilliani. what do you make of that defense? >> well, the special counsel made very clear what his definition of a crime would be with respect to collusion, and that was in some of the indictments we have seen, particularly against members of russian intelligence, which includes conspiracy to hack into the servers of u.s. persons and entities, to steal documents, which in this case were e-mails of the dnc and jo podesta, clinton campaign chairman, and to release those with the influence of purposing the direction of the election. if the president, then candidate trump, or anyone in the president's campaign was part of that conspiracy, then it would most certainly amount to a crime. but the fact that rudy guilliani has gone from saying repeatedly there was no collusion to now saying collusion is not a crime shows that they recognize, the president's legal team, that perhaps his story will not hold. he has changed his story multiple times, which suggests that his denials may not stand the test of time. >> jeffrey, go ahead. >> and how about the fact that
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suddenly both president trump and rudy guilliani are saying, well, everybody knew he was negotiating with russia during 2016. nobody knew he was negotiating with russia during 2016. that is a complete lie. the whole point was that this mysterious affection for vladimir putin that he was displaying throughout the campaign, everybody was going, like, where did this come from, why is he suddenly so slome l ss with vladimir putin, now everybody is saying he was negotiating about trump tower moscow in 2016. that is a fraud on the american people. the fact that he was not disclosing that he was negotiating with russia during this period and now he is suddenly admitting it, i don't know -- that in and of itself is not a crime, but the magnitude of the deception on the american people just on that corner of
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the story is enormous. >> you know, jamie, listen to this famous defense. this is richard nixon back in 19 -- i think '77. listen to this. >> in a sense you are saying is that there are certain situations, the houston part or that part was one of them, where the president can decide that it is in the best interests of the nation or something and do something illegal? >> well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. >> well, that was the bombshell moment 40-some-odd years ago. no one is above the law. but it feels as if we're back in that territory again when you hear donald trump say something is just peanuts or you see rudy guilliani, at best -- i don't know. he is evolving on what his client did or didn't do.
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my question is why is rudy guilliani doing this. is there some great strategy to get ahead of it or is he freelancing? does he think that this is going to help politically? it certainly doesn't feel as if it is going to help legally. >> let me ask jeffrey. why is he doing it? >> why is he doing it? because i think he feels it will help his client. they believe it on "fox news". i mean, you know, a lot of people are supporting what the president is doing. you know, his base needs reasons, so he gives them reasons. but the whole -- the argument -- you know, he says, well, paying money to stormy daniels was not a crime. yes, it was. yes, it was. it was an illegal campaign contribution. that's what michael cohen just pleaded guilty to. so just because rudy guilliani says it is not a crime doesn't make it not a crime. but i think what he is doing -- why he is doing it is that he is giving reasons to his amen choir
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at "fox news", and sean hannity repeats it and 30% of the country believes it. so i think there is a reason why he is saying it. it doesn't mean it is true or believable, but i think there's a reason. >> one of the most revealing aspects of rudy guilliani's interview was in trying to cast michael cohen as a liar. he pointed to the fact that cohen change ltd his stod his s multiple occasions. when george stephanopoulos came back and said the president changed his story multiple times, he said he wasn't under oath, effectively saying it doesn't matter that the president lied to the american public because he wasn't in a conversation with investigators. that's not how it works. either the president is telling the truth or he is not, and that speaks, once again, to the lack of confidence the president's legal team has in their client. >> we have a new bar here for when you have to tell the truth, and that seems to be only when you're under oath. let's go back to the reporting in bob woodward's book. his own lawyers were saying
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under no circumstances could he possibly sit down with robert mueller because he would perjury himself. >> guilliani yesterday said over my dead body would he sit down and do an interview with the special counsel. everybody stick around. much more on the breaking news right after this. ♪ the greatest wish of all... is one that brings us together. the lincoln wish list event is here. sign and drive off in a new lincoln with $0 down, $0 due at signing, and a complimentary first month's payment. only at your lincoln dealer.
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♪ shimon prokupecz is getting breaking news for us. what are you learning?
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>> wolf, so we've been waiting for this pretty much for the last hour. so it is the 302, what is called the 302. this is in relation to michael cohen. a judge within the last hour ordered the special counsel to release the interview, the documents, the notes from the fbi, the agents that interviewed michael flynn. remember, it was last week on friday when some of the information was put out. but today the judge ordered the actual notes from michael flynn's interview with the fbi agents that took place at the white house be released, and within the last few minutes they went ahead and released it. what we're seeing here from basically the few pages that i've read so far, is that the fbi was asking him about his trip to russia. remember, he was at that rt dinner that michael flynn attended. they go into detail about his relationship with the russians. it is a pretty lengthy interview. some of it is redacted, but, wolf, we are still going through it. but it seems like when the fbi
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went in, they wanted a whole picture, for michael flynn to paint for them of his interactions with the russians, of his relationship with russians, and it seems based on what i have read so far it is exactly what the former national security adviser that is set to be in court tomorrow gave them. it is pretty lengthy here, wolf. there's a lot of detail here about his conversations. so we're going to go ahead and finish reading that and hopefully have more information for you. >> yes, i just got a copy myself, shimon, and i'm looking through it. let me bring phil mudd into this. he used to read these 302s. >> can i have it thousand now, please? >> you can have it. a big chunk of it, take a look at this, you can see there's some serious redactions in this fbi report. but potentially what will you be looking for when i give you a copy of this, phil, and i lett you read it.
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>> you're going to give me that copy as soon as we go off air. there's two things i'm looking for here. one is tone. flynn suggested that he felt on edge, pressured by fbi agents. the fbi agent 302s, that is the document that reflects the conversation they had with are there jokes in there that shouldn't be redacted? is there a sense there's a cooperative interview in there? the second t i'm looking for is truth. typically, when you're going into this interview, you're going to give flynn a chance to speak what about as shimon was saying, your trips, the fbi's going to know the answer. if they ask that question and flynn doesn't give them full truth up front this they already know the answer to the biggest question they have, is he coming clean or not? >> they don't record this kind of conversation, it's all just notes, right? >> that changed since i left there. i don't know if this would have been recorded. >> let me go back to shimon. you're going through this report, actually, jim shud doe's
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going through this report as well. what are you learning? >> as you're seeing there, wolf. this is news as it happens, it's a fascinating report, because here is michael flynn giving details on issues and questions that he had not before, but here's one that struck me, because remember, what he lied about were his conversations with the russian ambassador at the time, specifically conversations about sanctions imposed by the obama administration, were there discussions by the incoming trump -- removing those sanctions. they asked flynn if he had any other text, e-mail or personal meetings with kislyak or other russians. flynn volunteered that after the election, he had a closed door meeting with kislyak. i don't believe we knew this before, the whole next section after that is blacked out. you redact these documents, because there's information in there that is sensitive, that
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blacked out section follows immediately a reference to a closed door meeting with the russian ambassador there. the point being that there was more than one conversation. during that transition period. that is something that is not only 6 interest to the investigators because flynn lied about those conversations, that's a reason he's been charged with -- he pleaded guilty to a federal crime. but it is also one of the lines of inquiry we know of the special counsel. what were the subjects of those conversations, why did he lie? and these redactions may reference information gleaned from flynn. we're reading through, but that one stuck out to me right away, it gets right to the core of the conversations that have been at the center of the investigation regarding flynn. for mueller's perspective. >> details, i'm just going through it together with all of you. details, phone conversations that michael flynn, the former national security adviser had with kiss lee ago, the russian
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ambassador to the united states. he was on vacation around christmas 2016, and he got a call from kislyak, he hadn't been checking his texts, so it took him about 24 hours to respond, then they immediately started to respond. very detailed conversations, jeffrey. what are you going to be looking for? >> i'm going to be looking for the fact that he lied, he plead guilty to lying to the fbi in this conversation. that's what makes this significant. and the idea that the national security adviser to the president of the united states, one of the handful of most important people in the whole country was somehow intimidated or scared or misled by fbi agents, i mean, i think that's a pretty tough argument to make. and flynn has sort of raised that argument in advance of sentencing, of all people, he should be in a position to tell the truth. i mean, he's not some kid who was just arrested by the fbi and
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caught in an embarrassing situation, this is the national security adviser to the president, so if he lied, it's no wonder mueller's office forced him to plead guilty, because people in that position of all people, should not be lying to the fbi in the white house, no less. >> the former head of the defense intelligence agency. you're going through the document, what else are you picking up? >> here's one of the key issues here, how they describe some of the answers that michael flynn gave to his conversation with the former russian amt bass door, they say that the agent's asked flynn if he recalled any conversation with kislyak in which the expulsions were discussed where flynn may have encouraged kislyak not to escalate the situation, to keep the russian response recipro
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kohl. don't do anything, the u.s. government's response was a total surprise flynn told the fbi agents, he's referring to the obama administration's response. this goes to the heart of the issue with michael flynn saying, he didn't recall having this conversation. it painted a different picture of the conversations with michael flynn for issues he's now been charged with, and is going to be sentenced tomorrow. the other thing i want to point out is that this is so rare to get these kinds of documents, certainly so early in an investigation and why the flynn investigation is over it's very rare that the fbi releases these kinds of documents so quickly after this investigation. what's going on at the time of this interview, we have some
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other documents this tells you directly what came from michael flynn's mouth. >> it was january 24th, 2017, four days after president trump was sworn in, inaugurated to the president of the united states. flynn was his national security adviser, you're going through the document as well, let's remember once again, flynn is a former head of the defense intelligence agency. wouldn't he have expected or known his government was recording conversations with kislyak? >> it's almost funny, there are a couple references in here where flynn said he appreciated the interviewing agents, reminding him that he had another conversation with kislyak. so you had the agents coming in, and effectively saying, you talked to kislyak on this day about this issue. shimon mentioned one there.
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and then they said, did you talk to them again? flynn might say no. they seem to have indicated another conversation. michael flynn is saying, thank you for reminding me of that conversation. there's some interesting back and forth there. they drilled down a bit on whether flynn had a conversation about the expulsion of agents. did they offer to the russians to say, there's a new sheriff in town? they asked him because there was a key vote at the u.n. at the time. renouncing israel for settlement 3wi8ding pursued by the obama administration, opposed by the incoming trump administration, the fbi agents asked him, was he asking russia to vote against him? was he seeking the possibility of a quid proquo or asking a favor? no, he was doing a count to see how these nations would vote
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there. you get a sense of what those fbi agents were drilling down on. you were talking to the russian ambassador, what was the subject of those conversations. was there any exchange offered between the trump administration and the kremlin during that transition period? it's a fascinating read as we go through. >> and phil mudd if you go through it, five single space pages, the detail is pretty extraordinary. >> there's only one detail to look at, if it's friday night and you want to have a movie party or a national security party, i suggest a national security party. flynn was fired because he lied to the vice president, presumably because he said he didn't have national security conversations with the russians during the interim period before the president took office. how many times does the fbi give him a chance to say i had sensitive conversations?
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i lost track every single time. he says no. that's why he got charged. >> he got charged also, jeffrey toobin he admits -- he plead guilty to lying to the fbi. >> he plead guilty to one count but it was repeated lies. it's not some accident slip of the tongue. he consistently lied about his dealings with the russian ambassador, and it raises the question as we have heard so many times. why? what is it about the trump campaign and the trump administration that can never tell the truth about its dealings with russia. that's why there's a criminal investigation going on here, that question what is the true nature of the trump campaign. >> i recommend to our viewers,
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read this document go online. they release a document like this, remember. we'll get more information clearly as the day goes on. thanks for watching, erin burnett out front starts right now. out front next, james comey lashing out, accusing the president of the united states of being a liar and attacking the rule of law. the former fbi director shaping republican republicans for not standing up to trump. breaking news, the dow plunging more than 500 points again. the market is right now on track for the worst december since the great depression. all the way back to 1931. is it fair to blame trump or not? let's go out front. good evening, i'm erin burnett. comey


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