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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  December 20, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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merry christmas, everyone. 4 to,000 federal employees in the u.s. are possibly about to be deprived of their paycheck for the holiday. "the lead" starts right now. president trump hoping to make things right with the far right deciding not to sign a bipartisan deal to keep the u.s. government open after all, this after conservative critics accused the president of caving on his biggest campaign promise, the border wall. now congress is scrambling to come up with a way to keep the u.s. government open. speaking of scrambling, the pentagon feeling the effects of trump's abrupt decision to pull u.s. troops out of syria, a decision even the president's top national security brass disagrees with. i'll ask a general who has helped lead the fight against
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terrorists how dangerous trump's decision might really be, and what, me worry? cabinet secretary wilbur ross accused of flouting ethics rules again claiming in a sworn statement to have divested of stock when in fact he held on to those stocks, and this hasn't happened once. it's happened twice. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with breaking news in our politics lead. it looks like the u.s. is headed towards a government shutdown the day before president trump leaves washington for his 16-day holiday trip to mar-a-lago, florida. right now the markets are reacting. the dow closing down 469 points, plunging as low as 679 points earlier today, and it's not just the markets on a roller coaster, of course. seems as though it had been communicated to senators that the president planned to sign the government funding bill yesterday after meeting with vice president pence. republican senator john cornyn
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told, quote, the president will sign that legislation but today the president himself told outgoing house speaker paul ryan he will not stein it. why? though speaker ryan did not use the word wall white house press secretary sarah sanders suggested the president would not sign the government spending bill because we urgently need funding for border security which includes a wall. president trump has been on the receiving end of relentless criticism from conservative allies in the congress and media who have been assailing him for failing to deliver on his signature campaign promise of a border wall before the democrats take control of the house of representatives in the new year. cnn's kaitlan collins is at the white house for us now. it looked like this was a done deal yesterday. vice president pence seemed it was a done deal and as always the president is unpredictable and erratic. >> reporter: but he doesn't think he's unpredictable because a few minutes ago while signing the farm bill he says his position has been very clear, that any measure to fund the government must include money for border security, but then,
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jake, minutes later you don't have to call the wall a wall. can you say they are steel slats in order to give the democrats a way out to fund. it not a lot of clarity here, but there is one thing that does seem to be sure, and that's that washington could be headed for a christmas shutdown. washington on the brink of a government shutdown today after president trump told house republicans he won't sign a short-term spending bill to keep the government open that doesn't include money for his border wall. >> the president said he will not sign the bill that came over from the senate last evening because of his legitimate concerns for border security. >> reporter: a conservative revolt in recent days, getting under the president's skin after his reliable allies turned into scathing critics. >> you've got to be kidding me! really? february 8th when nancy pelosi is speaker, do we really -- i'm supposed to believe, we're supposed to believe that we're then going to build the border security wall and keep our
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promise from the 2016 campaign? no way! >> reporter: sources telling cnn the president was fuming over the criticism lashing out at aides and telling them to fix this. even unfollowing ann coulter on twitter after she said she wouldn't vote for him in 2020 without a wall. >> it will just have been a joke presidency that scammed the american people. >> reporter: the administration also appeasing far right critics by announcing that asylum seekers will be sent back to mexico to sit and wait for their immigration hearings. leading to several heated exchanges between the homeland security secretary and house democrats. >> shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay at the other side of the border fearing death, fearing hunger, fearing sickness. shame on us for wearing our badge of christianity during christmas and allow the secretary to come here and lie. >> you're calling me a lying. those are fight words. i'm not a liar. >> reporter: this as white house officials are having flashbacks to the mavis spending fight last
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march when aides fought tooth-and-nail to get trump to sign a spending billing he thought didn't include enough money for the wall. >> i say to congress i will never sign another bill like this again. >> reporter: amid questions about whether the president will keep one campaign promise, another causing bipartisan backlash. after trump abruptly announced he'll withdraw u.s. troops from syria. >> this is just a disaster in the making. >> reporter: even the host of the president's favorite morning show ripping him for the quote irresponsible decision. >> he's doing exactly if not worse than president obama did. >> reporter: as the program aired, trump defended the move in a slew of tweets asking do we want to be there forever? now, jake, earlier today lindsey graham said he hadn't spoken with president trump directly about syria, but it looks like the two of them are communicating via twitter. the president fired off this tweet not long ago, quote, so hard to believe that lindsey graham would be against saving soldier lives and billions of
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dollars. why are we fighting for our enemy syria by staying and killing aisis for them, russia, iran and other locals? yesterday the president said isis had been defeated in syria. now he's saying why should we stay there and fight isis in syria? >> something of a contradiction, kaitlan collins, thanks so much. appreciate it. want to turn to cnn's ryan nobles on capitol hill for us. ryan, what does the house do now? >> reporter: well, jake, they just released in the last hour this new language in the continuing resolution that would allow for that $5 billion in border security that the president asked for. it doesn't say anything specifically about a wall, but this is what the language says exactly. $5 billion, a little more than $5 billion for customs and border protection for the procurement, construction and improvements that the agency needs, so that's not a wall specifically, but you did can see how that agency might end up using that for a wall if they are giving this appropriation. the problem now is this vote is scheduled to start around 5:30 this afternoon, and even on the house side republicans aren't
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100% sure that they have the votes necessary to pass this legislation. many members of congress are gone already for the holiday vacation, many of them retiring republicans, so this by no means is a slam dunk, even though house republicans seem confident that they can pass it, at least in the house. >> that's the house, jake? >> in the senate it's a higher thoil climb and it's 60 votes and they have only 51 republicans. >> reporter: you can't find anyone on capitol hill believes that there are enough votes in the united states senate to pass this continuing resolution in this form. there is also a numbers problem for republicans. there are many senators that have gone home as well, and as you point out they need 60 votes. they are nowhere near that. i asked kevin mccarthy, the house majority leader about that problem, that is numbers problem that the house had. he said, well, i'm in the house, not the senate. if we get it to the senate, it's basically their problem. jake? >> ryan, thank you so much. let's talk about this with the experts. let me start with you.
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i mean, yesterday it sure sounded as though, at least senator -- republican senators like john cornyn thought vice president pence was saying sign, it we're going to pass it, not a done deal. >> and it's very clear what happened as you saw the president's conservative base revolt against him over this idea that he would cave to democrats over this border wall funding issue. you heard him speak yesterday with congressman mark meddo, jim jordan was on fox news last night and on the floor of the house as well making this case to him. it's clear that the president heard an earful from his supporters, and he's decided to flip on this because he did indeed flip because earlier in a day when you saw mike pence telling senators he will sign the cr, and frankly it's because it's the only way that this actually gets done. it's the only way that the government does not shut down is if the president indeed -- if the house takes up this continuing resolution that the senate passed and in a the president signs. otherwise there's really no path here for the government to stay open past tomorrow night. >> take a look at some of these headlines from typically trump
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friendly media. breitbart said trump caved and ann coulter blasted the president as gutless and then after she did that, according to trump alert -- the trump alert bot on twitter, he unfollowed ann coulter. i mean, the base is revolting, at least the greed. >> when he unfollows ann coulter you know it's serious, but issue is his base is right. this is an essential promise that he's made, and the white house has said this is an essential promise, but how does he deliver now? now maybe there was a way to deliver on this earlier on, but this election, before you had a lame duck congress, but now how do you deliver on this when you know that democrats are going to take over the house in february? what leverage does the president have? i think right now it seems like what the white house do is show that the president is doing everything that he can. he's throwing down a marker and
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then he can kind of say maybe democrats, they just wouldn't give it to me, but he's still going have to deal with the fact why don't you have a wall after two years of republicans controlling the house, the senate and you in the white house? >> so, you know, this reminds me of obama with closing gitmo. he wanted to do it. he truly wanted to do it. he made a promise, and then he couldn't do it because congress wouldn't let him. >> i don't disagree. that's a spot-on analysis. the president wants to do it. we saw him sit in the oval office with schumer and pelosi and said i'll take the mantle of closing the government down, bring it on, and i think he's spoiling for a fight to prove to everybody back home that supports the president that i'm not going to get rolled here. i'm willing to take the fight and take it on the chin and at the end of the day if he ends up lose he goes down swinging on this, and i think that's the analysis. >> the truth of the matter is the this might be his last chance because democrats will take over the house in january, and he's never going to get border wall funding after, that not according to nancy please at least. >> that's right, jake. for him it's all about his
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reputation among his base, and i get that from a political perspective, but there are lots of other variables here. you talked about the furloughs, the people who will not get paid if the government shuts down, so while the president can have a very cavalier attitude because ann coulter called him out and his folks are calling him out, as the commander in chief, it's not just about him being called out but it's also about the impact that this decision that he has just made at the last minute because he was called out by his base will have on other people, namely people who serve the american public as public servants for the u.s. government. >> and talk about saying the president's influenced by these voices on the far, far right, depending on your point of view. rush limbaugh said in his radio show this afternoon the president has gotten word to me he's either getting funding for the border or he's shutting the whole thing down. limbaugh, of course, had been one of the biggest media critics of the president for backing down on this, but that's
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interesting, the formulation that the president has gotten word to me, meaning the president or somebody called limbaugh and said, hey, rush, we're going to do this. >> the president said that in the hoeffel office before all these folks said that. people going to the hill, we've got to get this done and talk him off the ledge on this. i know throughout this entire thing, lease not backtracked. hits's always been 50/50 whether it who go through 100% or not. >> but at the same time the president has been all over the map. he's been consistent on the one point, yes, he wants the border wall funding, wants the $5 billion but then he's says i can get the money through the military, we can do it this way. he gave up his leverage in that meeting with chuck and nancy where he said i'll take the burden for this. how can you possibly go into a negotiation giving up already your central point which is i will blame you for this if this doesn't happen. >> how can you possibly -- >> he's going to get blamed no matter what. the president would get blamed so put it on the table. >> this is a game that politicians play every time
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there's this border wall or this government shutdown deadline. they try and blame each other, and will you have -- >> schumer got blamed very briefly. >> because it was a very basketweave threat of a shutdown. >> for him being called how the in the this very moment i don't think he would have done this. he's ready for the 16 days, but because his people called him out very harshly he had to backtrack yet again. does he serve the american people or rush limbaugh? >> they were giving mixed signals, they were saying, well, we'll get it done one way or the other. sending the signals, we can get bothered security but not really being very clear on this is what we want in the bill. we must have the $5 billion. they kept throwing it back on congress saying we'll see what they can pass and then we'll see decide what we can do so even when they make the statements when they have been very clear it hasn't really >> there was talk of in the first step act, right, this was moving, this was a vehicle -- >> criminal justice reform, very popular, both sides of the aisle, there was talk to add the
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border wall in there, right, and the administration decided to take it out because if probably would have blown up the deal at the end of the day. they didn't want to the scuttle this important peeves legislation. my point is there are other vehicles the president could try to attach this to. they will be moving down and moving in the future as well. >> you talked about president trump being all over the map and giving mixed signals. not clear from speaker ryan's statement whether the president sin sifting the money be spent on a big concrete wall or for broader, quote, border security. neither ryan nor the incoming house minority leader kevin mccarthy used the word wall when he delivered the news. the president, he first tweeted today that the democrats who know steel slats/wall are putting politics over country and 11 minutes later he tweeted with so much talk about the wall people are losing sight of the great job that's being done on the border. the border is tight. you might understand why people are confused including vice president pence. >> he goes out and does these things. i don't know if he's confused,
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but he's definitely confusing everybody else, even the people closest to him. tomato, tomato, and he leaves everybody disney his wake. >> you're shaking your head. obviously cornyn thought that pence had told him that hand over the bill, we'll sign it. >> the fact that the members of congress went home is insane. come back, right? i've been here -- i've worked on the hill for many years, and stuff goes back and forth and back and forth, down pennsylvania avenue, back up to the hill repeatedly before you get out of this town, so the notion that somehow it was a done deal. it's never a done deal until it's a done deal >> i hear what you're saying, but we shouldn't act as though the way this is proceeding is routine. >> that's right. >> you know what it is routine, that congress passes spending bills. there's a way that our government is supposed to work.
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that's my point. why aren't we calling that out as abnormal? >> this has been going on for a decade. >> there's something broken. >> absolutely. long before president trump, but this process, usually when a vice president goes on capitol hill and says if you send this up the president will sign, it usual lit vice president knows what he's talking about. >> and you had senate majority leader mitch mcconnell saying, guaranteeing that there was not going to be a shutdown, and it doesn't seem likely that mcconnell would have brought that bill up and had his members vote on it if he thought that president trump wouldn't sign it. >> one other thing i want to bring up before we go. democrats haven't even taken control of the house and yet already there was some really ugly words between democratic congressman jerry nadler, the incoming house of the judiciary committee and the homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen. >> many members of the committee have written letters to you, many of which have received no substantive response. as we move into the next congress you and the department are on notice.
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the time for accountability has arrived. >> i mean, that's a warning shot across the bow. >> it, and this is going to be the reality that this president is going have to confront. i think that's part of the reason also why they -- the president decided let's have this border wall fight now because he can make it about the politics and democrats are going to make it about the politics now for the next two years as well as they try to hold this administration accountable. how the president deals with that we haven't quite seen yet. we've seen both this week the bipartisan criminal justice reform that the president is expected to sign tomorrow. >> yeah. >> huge bipartisan achieve president and then we've also seen this bickering. >> let's point out that this threat of a government shutdown is coming with republican control of the house and rope can control of the senate and white house. one can only imagine what it will be like in the future when democrats control the house. thanks one and all for being here. up next, several top lawmakers calling for president trump's pick for attorney general to step aside, even before his confirmation hearings have begun. and north korea's new message to president trump. we will not denuclearize until
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you lose the nukes on the korean peninsula. doesn't sound like the deal that president trump made with kim jong-un. stay with us. (music throughout) (door bell rings) it's ohey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart.
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general pick making clear about the special counsel's obstruction justice investigation way before his confirmation hearings even start. in a memo from this past summer bill barr called the obstruction inquiry quote fatally misconceived with disastrous implications for the presidency saying the firing of exfbi director james comey was within the powers of the president. para's memo to ross rosenstein and another senior official was unsolicited but rosenstein said he didn't have lots of the facts. >> lots of people offer opinions to the department of justice but they don't influence our own decision-making. i didn't share any confidential information with mr. barr. he never asked we provide non-public information and that memo had no impact on our investigation. >> reporter: bohr wrote the memo speaking as a former attorney general under george h.w. bush. sources tell cnn barr discussed the memo with the president pointing out it could be a sticking point for his confirmation.
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now top senate democrat chuck schumer is calling on the president to change his pick and other democrats say they are concerned that barr believes the president is above the law. >> it appears that the number one qualification donald trump is looking for in an attorney general is someone that will try to undermine the mueller investigation. to me this is -- this makes this individual disqualified for the position. >> reporter: meanwhile, the acting attorney general matthew whitaker has decided to continue overseeing the special counseline though a senior doj official fells cnn while it was, quote, a close call, a department's ethics officers believed whitaker should step aside, but because whitaker never sought a formal recommendation from them and his own advisers recommended against recusal whitaker chose to remain in charge despite repeatedly disparaging the mueller probe before joining the justice department in october 2017, echoing the president's words of witch hunt and speculating how any replacemench former ag jeff
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sessions might try to shut it down. >> i can see where jeff sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and the attorney general doesn't fire mueller but reduces his budget so low that the investigation grinds to a halt. >> reporter: rosenstein who rarely talks about the mueller probe offers words of assurance that the president sun tainted. >> bob mueller or rod rosenstein or matt whitaker or bill barr, that investigation is going to be handled appropriately by the department of justice. >> reporter: now that matthew whitaker has officially decided not to recuse, it's expected he'll be briefed on the mueller probe since he was never updated during the ethics review process. jake, we do know that whitaker was given a heads up just before the president's former personal attorney michael cohen pleaded guilty up in new york a few weeks ago. >> jessica schneider, thanks so much. trump says we've defeated isis one minute and next he says other countries will need to fight isis instead of the united
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states. so which is it? the general who helped lead fight against isis joins me next. stay with us. ♪ ignition sequence starts.
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♪ there's no place likargh!e ♪ i'm trying... ♪ yippiekiyay. ♪ mom. ♪ in our world lead today, president trump is calling upon other countries to step up and fight isis in syria, and the president is warning isis not to attack the united states. in might confuse some of the president's supporters because just yesterday the president declared that the u.s. had
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defeated isis and abruptly announced the u.s. withdraw american troops stationed there. it all comes as new video shows american-backed troops fighting isis just a few days ago, a clear sign that the combat there against the estimated tens of thousands of isis terrorists continues. cnn's barbara starr joins us now live from the pentagon. barbara, probably not a good sign when the most enthusiastic support for a foreign policy comes from vladimir putin. >> well, think of it this way. no enthusiastic support even 24 hours later from the pentagon. no officials have come out in public and endorsed the president's decision even as the war goes on. new proof emerging today that u.s.-backed syrian fighters are still locked in heated battle with isis, even as president trump has ordered more than 2,000 u.s. ground troops to come home. some gop lawmakers remain furious, including a close trump ally. >> the only reason they are not
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dancing in the aisles in tehran and isis camps is they just don't believe in dancing. this is a big gift to them, and this is a devastating decision for our allies. >> reporter: one u.s. defense official telling cnn operational commanders are concerned about the future for syrian fighters backed by the u.s. of whom 1,600 have already been killed. if the u.s. pulls out the kurdish fighters face a potential bloodbath from both isis and a turkish invasion, and the isis threat is likely to skyrocket with thousands of suspected isis operatives now in custody, possibly getting released to fight again. >> we have to be clear the highest concentration of jihadists anywhere in the world in syria. >> reporter: general joseph dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs and general otell, head of middle east operations, are now talking to allies in the
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region about what will happen next, but in are no reassurances to be had. defense secretary james mattis still has not issued the formal withdrawal order to the field, officials tell cnn. it should spell out a withdrawal plan, but commanders say it could take weeks, if not months, to get all u.s. weapons packed up and air shipped out of syria. if trump demands a speedy exit, the typical procedure would be to bomb the equipment and destroy it. mattis may be chocking up as a major loser in all of this. senator lindsey graham spoke to him. >> he thought that the time was not right to leave. >> reporter: he's very worried about the kurds. >> mattis' influence with trump had diminishes over using troops on the border and keeping korean war games going, but this time trump overruled mattis, secretary of state mike pompeo and national security adviser john bolton.
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possibly the only person aside from trump who thinks getting out of syria is a good idea, russian president vladimir putin. >> translator: as far as isis is concerned, i agree more or less with the president of the u.s. >> reporter: and for mattis and pompeo, it is far from over. both are likely to face a series of furious congressional hearings about all of this. jake? >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thank you so much. we have some breaking news now for you in the world lead. in the wake of the president's announcement to withdraw u.s. troops from syria, multiple sources tell me the trump administration, trump administration officials, are now bracing for president trump to soon announce the withdrawal of u.s. troops from afghanistan. the sources warn that the president has not yet made any final decision on the matter. right now there are roughly 14,000 american troops in afghanistan. joining me now to talk about this breaking news as well as the news about syria is retired four star general john r. allen who helped lead the fight
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against isis. general, thanks so much for being here. what do you make of the people throughout the trump administration, especially in the military, prepared and frankly concerned that president trump is going to make the same announcement about afghanistan that he made about syria. >> well, it's going to be a real crisis for us, jake. >> we've got coalition obligations there. the afghan people have depended on us for some period of time, to be ultimately prepared to deal with the taliban over a long period, to make peace and create a credible system of government there, to get the government on its feet again. pulling out right now, just the announcement would create chaos within the strategy so we have to be careful about how we announce this. >> this has not yet been announced, and the president hasn't made a final decision. people are bracing for it. the syrian announcement has come. >> that's right. >> how would you characterize and what do you think of the president's decision to announce he wants all u.s. troops in
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syria back in the united states? >> look, we all thought at one point that they would come home, but a pretip to us departure of our troops could create a military disaster in afghanistan -- sorry, in syria. look, it has the net effect of turning the war over and turning our leverage over to bashar al assad and to vladimir putin. it will empower i believe the iranians, and the administration has talked about ensuring that they check iranian movements throughout the region. when it empowers the iranians, and if that strengthens the bashar al assad regime which creates a pass-through for weapons to hezbollah which threatens our israeli allies, it undercuts our allies on the ground. it undercuts the kurds who we realize, and you and i talked about this on the show once before, we found the kurds to be reliable partners, and an american strategy at that time was to empower indigenous forces and we did that, and we defeated the islamic state in many respects in that part of syria, but there's still a very
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volatile force at this particular moment in. >> so what happens if the u.s. does -- i mean, they are. the u.s. military is going to withdraw the troops. he's the commander in chief. >> sure. >> what then will snap will we see villages that normally -- i mean -- >> well, sure, look. it was we know from the regime. when the regime ultimately takes charge of a village or a population center that stood against the regime, the retaliation is almost immediate, and the deaths and the retaliation and the retribution are -- are enormous as the regime metes out punishment against those people who owe poets regime. russian firepower is used indiscriminately and russian fightlers immediately attack the centers of resistance that we've created and no telling what the turks will do. we hope that some part of the conversation of the president with erdogan was that the united states would hold the turks responsible for treating the liberated populations of
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northeast syria with some level of humanity. there's no telling what the turks will do. we hope that they won't retaliate against those groups, but by pulling the rug out from under and abandoning our kurdish and syrian allies, it also strikes a blow on american credibility in the region. part of our strategy in the future in dealing with these kinds of threats is to empower the indigenous populations, to train them. here we have -- we have empowered this population. we have given them the capabilities to deal with isis. now we're in the process of stabilizing that population so isis doesn't backflash in our faces and their faces, but at the very moment they need us the most they are pulling out. >> i want to ask you about something extraordinary, a video released by the white house. yesterday president trump defended his decision, and he did so by invoking american soldiers and troops, service members, who had been killed fighting isis. take a listen. >> they are all coming back, and
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they are coming back now. we won, and that's the way we want it, and that's the way they want it. >> so i -- first of course, i'm struck by the we won language, but then i've also never seen a president or even a general or any public official talk about what kia service members would want. >> as somebody who served, it's stunning, jake. look, our magnificent troops have served overseas year after year after year dealing with these real threats to american national security, and many of them have given the last full measure of their devotion. they have paid with their lives. their families have paid in a very substantial way. to politicize that sacrifice to support that decision i think is very wrong-headed. >> president trump tweeted it's time for others to fight. i want to play your reaction
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from republican senator lindsey graham who is with you and disagrees with this decision. >> sure. >> if you do not want to fight this war alone, how do you justify leaving syria at a time when those who helped us, the kurds, are certain to be overwhelmed and slaughtered, and if we do this to the kurds, who is going to help us fight in the future? >> president trump's response to that, and to graham's opposition in general, is i can't believe lindsey graham wants more troops to die and more money to be wasted. i'm paraphrasing, but that's essentially what he said. what's your response to the president? >> lindsey graham is actually correct on this. the president tuite listen to lindsey graham and what's not had a lot of play besides every day we should be thanking our magnificent troops for their sacrifices all around the bay to keep enemy at bay is the coalition itself. the previous administration, the u.s. leadership, the obama leadership called for a global solution. over 70 nations answered that
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call. did we consult with any of them before we made this decision? probably no. i know a lot of coalition partners are deeply concerned about this decision and if the united states wants to empower indigenous forces for the next war, they will think twice about putting their future in our hands only to have us abandon them at the moment of their greatest need and a global coalition will think twice about coming to help the united states if we need to in a great emergency because they know we won't consult with them when the time comes. the president ought to listen to lindsey graham rather than criticize him. >> general john allen, thank you so much. >> president trump touted the handshake with north korea. it does seem now that president kim jong-un doesn't see it that way. above the floor, it comes wh a built in shark handheld. one dock, two sharks. the shark ion robot cleaning system.
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in our world lead president trump tweeted in juan that north korea is no longer a nuclear threat. that was not true then. it's apparently even less true today. today north korea's state-run media announced they are not giving up their nuclear weapons until the united states gets rid of its own, vote, nuclear threat first. cnn's will ripley joins me now. the simple go question is did president trump get played by kim jong-un? >> reporter: you can make. case that he got played by himself because president trump overhyped the results of the diplomacy with kim jong-un. no written agreement for north korea to give up a nuclear weapon and yet they have launched had a mitchell or conducted a test in a year and in the year they have likely produced six to eight nuclear warheads and extended key bases and have better relations and more trade with key al us like china and russia and kim jong-un
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got something more valuable, legitimacy on a global stage. he could probably drag out diplomacy for years, long after trump is out of of course, keep his arsenal fully intact and never return to the maximum pressure campaign. >> reporter: this all comes as the u.s. has come to a stalemate with negotiations over north korea. >> yeah, i mean, the problem is what they sign in singapore was just so vague that both sides walked away thinking something else was going to happen, so the main sticking points for the north koreans, u.s. sanctions are still in place. that's hurting the north korean economy, and they also say that the u.s. nuclear threat, which is military assets in south korea, the u.s. nuclear umbrella that protects south korea, knows are still in place. also, kim jong-un thought he owed get sanctions relief right away. trump probably thought north korea would happily dismantle its nuclear arsenal that it has been developing right away and neither side is getting what they want but at the moment kim jong-un is getting more than what president trump is. >> will ripley who has been to north korea 19 times, thanks so
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much, appreciate it. want to bring in the cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mud. when the president and kim jong-un met back in june they agreed to work towards complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula. does this demand from north korea surprise you? it seems like this is what they have been saying all along for a decade. >> this is not that complicated. look, you walk in and the north koreans are saying you've got to give to get. the president has given something. you'll recollect he stopped exercises and the without getting a lot from the north koreans and kim jong-un said he just announced the withdrawal from syria without getting too much obviously from the russians or syrians. what's the cost for kim jong-un to walk in and say i want more. i want you to get your nukes off the peninsula. what's the downside? i don't see it. >> the administration, the trump white house will say there haven't been any missile tests in the last year no, nuclear tests in the last year. is that something that the north koreans have given up, or is that nothing really comparatively to what the u.s.
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could or should have gotten? >> let me tell you what we've seen over the past 20 years. president have tried to control the north koreans. they have developed missiles and nukes. they have evidently a usable nuclear arsenal and usable weapons, ballistic missiles. it's not like we're in the same place as ten years ago. they can threaten up. one thing to look for as they develop the capabilities will they ever give us a verifiable list of what they have, until you see that list, it's all nonsense. >> secretary of state mike pompeo part of the negotiations, he was asked today if the u.s. is in a better position now with respect to north korea than the u.s. was a year ago. take a listen to some of his response. >> undoubtedly. no more missiles being tested. no more nuclear testing. we're in a better place today. >> when you hear will ripley talk about it, he talks about how kim jong-un, there's more money coming in and out of north korea, how there's more acceptability for north korea
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and kim jong-un on a global stage, is the u.s. in a better place when it comes to north korea than it was a year ago? >> let me give you a couple of reasons why. when you look at the nukes and the capability to deliver them to u.s. shore, do you want to tell me that the measures they took are not deliverable. how much more do they need to test? let me give you one other issue that we've looked at. the president hosting xi, the chinese leader at mar-a-lago. how would you like to talk to the chinese about the tariff difference saying, hey, president xi, what kind of pressure can you bring to bear? if i were them i'd say, no, you're asking me this now? no. >> should the u.s. act in good faith and pull nuclear bomb and bombers from the region? is there a step that the u.s. should take, or is it basically just a loss and the u.s. should walk away? what are you saying?
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>> no, it's not had a loss. you shouldn't walk. you've got to the sit down at national security council and say what are the vulnerabilities of kim jong-un and how do we squeeze those vulnerabilities, and the second, as we're doing with syria, what do we want to pay and how painful will that be when we go to the north koreans saying that's what we're going to pay, pulling out troops, pulling out nukes, and i mentioned earlier. let me be clear. until the north koreans tell us what weapons they have including nukes and missiles and until they tell us this is how we'll verify a process with inspectors, including the u.s. to destroy those, this is a game. >> considering that the president abruptly announced this withdrawal of u.s. troops from syria, considering that the president is talking about and the administration is bracing for him to make a similar announcement, a significant troop withdrawal from afghanistan, should the south koreans be worried that the president actually might start removing troops from japan and south korea? >> sure. i mean, how do you not think about it, how do you not prepare for that. when the president was talking
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about south korea in the past, he said we'll halt operations and the exercises with the south koreans, that appears to have been a surprise, like the syrian withdrawal for the pentagon, so regardless whether you think it's a 90% probability or 10% probability, if you're in south korea right now, you've got to say what is he going to do? >> phil mudd, thank you so much. a member of frump's cabinet accused of lying not once but twice. does it take three strikes and you're out in the trump administration? stay with us. and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction. but at fidelity, we help you prepare for the unexpected with retirement planning and advice for what you need today and tomorrow. because when you're with fidelity, a partner who makes sure every step is clear, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward.
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in our money lead, time for another conflict of interest watch. commerce secretary wilbur ross has twice asserted he sold steps of millions worth of specific stocks related to his current
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day job, but a watchdog group says that ain't true, and the center for public integrity says it obtained the financial forms to prove it. in the past ross brushed off not selling as a mere mistake but cnn's tom foreman wonders if that excuse will continue to be enough for president trump. >> for all of my activities have been governed by theetsics rules. >> reporter: when questioned about ethics questions commerce secretary wilbur ross has the same answer, he gave up a fortune in public business to fulfill his public duty. >> i agreed with the oge in a this is the right thing for me to do. >> reporter: but it appears that ross told the office of government ethics that he's dumped stocks only to be secretly holding them months later. the latest alleged incident discovered by the center for public integrity two years into his term, ross was supposed to divest himself of up to $15,000 in bank united stock by may of
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2017 and swore he had. but the center says in truth he held it until october. in a statement he mistakenly believed his agent had sold them, and an earlier case involved invesco stock involving between $10 million and $50 million. that was held until december possibly pocketing 1 million to 6 million as the stock rose that year. there's other allegations about other stocks and since ross negotiates massive deals on behalf of taxpayers it's all making lawmakers twitching >> you don't need a thick government rule book to recognize the flagrant conflicts of interest when they are brought into public view. >> reporter: other members of the trump cabinet have also been dinged over possible conflicts, their handling of money, transparency, but the commerce secretary who famously calculated the pennies it cost to make a soup can during the
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tariff debate. >> there's about 2.6 cents, 2.6 pennies worth of steel. >> reporter: says all of these incidents around him involving hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are simply oversight. he's called them inadvertent errors in complex investments. he says he's not deceived and has no conflicts of interest. >> there's no there there. >> reporter: if the democrats investigate, bring it on, is that what you're saying? >> they will have subpoena power as heads of the committees, and if they subpoena, we'll be responsive. >> reporter: again, the secretary says there are no secrets here, and on this latest matter he says i previously reported selling the shares on may 31st, 2017, based on a mistaken belief, that the agent executed my sell order on that date, but the fact that this has happened several times, versions of this, jake, that's the reason congress is paying so much attention. >> you had a graphic in there with price, zinke and prewitt as
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well as ross. those other three guys are out door. >> good to wonder. >> follow me on facebook and twitter @jaketapper and tweet the show @theleadcnn. our coverage on cnn continues right now. thanks so much for watching. happening now, breaking news. budget tantrum. after sending signals he'd sign a bill temporarily funding the government, president trump reverses course and says he won't unless he gets the money he wants for his border wall moving the country closer to a government shutdown. vulgar narcissim. the president's changing position follows intense criticism from conservatives who accused him to caving to democrats and abandoning a key campaign promise. is he in danger of losing his base? >> the senate house intelligence committee has a