tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 10, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
cohen to testify. mr. trump's former fixer and lawyer agrees to appear before congress and publically give answers to the american people. how damaging could michael cohen's testimony be to the president he turned against? keeping it secret. white house is lawyering up before the release of mueller's report exploring claims of executive privilege to hide chunks of the findings. would the strategy work? basis for obstruction. we're learning that mueller's team is focusing in on mr. trump's conflicting public statements, including his tweets that could be seen as part of an effort to influence witnesses and obstruct justice. stand by for the exclusive details. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. we're following a lot of
breaking news. president trump is on his way back to washington from the south eern border. he seems poised to declare a national emergency to get the wall funding he has been demanding. the white house is prepping a legal defense of the move as we have learned mr. trump rejected a compromise proposal by a small group of republicans. also breaking, the former fixer who knows many of mr. trump's secrets is now set to testify in public. michael cohen has agreed ed td appear before the house oversight committee as the white house is gearing up for a fight to block the release of some or all of mueller's final report, hiring 17 lawyers to pursue potential claims of executive privilege. this hour, i will talk with the house ethics committee chairman. our core spoerespondents and an are standing by. first, jim acosta, he is in texas. he is at the border with plex
co-whe mexico where mr. trump visited today. we heard all sorts of wild statements from the president. >> reporter: it's quiet where we are right here on the border with plex c mexico. the press weident looked at the situation. he claimed the nation is under attack. that's one of many misleading statements he made throughout the day as he is in hot pursuit of the wall. with an end to the shutdown nowhere in sight, president trump took his quest for a wall down to the texas border. he claimed the nation is under attack. >> if we had a barrier of any kind, a powerful barrier, whether steel or concrete, we would stop that cold. we're certainly under attack by criminal gangs, by criminals
themselves, by the human traffickers and by drugs of all kinds, much of it comes through the southern border. >> reporter: during a discussion with law enforcement officials, mr. trump was told some border crossers had been digging tunnels under areas where walls are already in place. >> here, this is just a couple of miles from here, from where we are standing. this is a tunnel. this is the second tunnel that recently that we have located. this is an area that we actually have wall. >> reporter: the president is trying to rewrite history, clarifying what he meant during the campaign. >> i will build a great, great wall on our southern border. and i will have mexico pay for that wall. who is going to pay for the wall? who is going to pay for the wall? when i say mexico is going to pay for the wall, that's what i mean. mexico is paying for the wall. i didn't mean please write me a check. i mean simply, they're paying for it in the trade deal.
>> reporter: that's not true. before the election, his campaign released proposals to force mexico to fund the wall stating, it's an easy decision for mexico. make a one-time payment of 5 to $10 billion. as he was leaving for the border, the president revealed white house lawyers have told him he could declare a state of emergency to have the military build his wall, that would likely be challenged in the courts. >> i have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. the lawyers have so advised me. i'm not prepared to do that yet. if i have to, i will. i have no doubt about it. i will. >> reporter: the president is trying to have it both ways, insisting the situation at the border is an emergency while also claiming it's a crisis that started before he came into office. >> it began a long time -- ask president obama. obama used to call it a crisis at the border, too. i think he said it in 2014. look, look, you can all play cute. >> reporter: part of the reason for the president's frustration is that he can't convince
democrats to agree to a wall. reflecting on his meeting with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, the president argued, he wasn't losing his cool. >> i very calmly said, if you are not going to give us strong borders, bye-bye. i left. i didn't rant. i didn't rave like you reported. some of the newspapers, schumer has a standard lie. he hey testimoad a temper tantr. >> reporter: he said he would rather deal with china than the democrats. >> i find clie hina to be far m honorable than crying chuck and nancy. i do. i think that china is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party. >> reporter: even though it's the president who once said he would be proud to own the shutdown, he is now offering his take on truman's catch phrase, the buck stops here. >> the buck stops with
everybody. they could solve this problem in literally 15 minutes. >> reporter: wolf, oddly enough the president chose one of the most secure communities to make his pitch for the wall. here we are in mcallen, texas, one of the safest cities in the country. it's one of the safest despite the fact that they have a hodgepodge of barriers between the u.s. and mexico. you can see some of the steel slats behind me. the kind that the president likes to talk about from time to time. that's right next to a chain-link fence. if you go to other portions between mcallen and mexico, there's almost no fence or levee or different types of fencing. yet, the people have been telling us all day long here they feel very secure in this community. by the way, they have told us they would like to see the federal government get back to back. >> thank you. let's get the latest on the
shutdown standoff. phil mattingly is on capitol hill. phil, republican compromise proposal appears now dead. you have new information. what are you learning? >> the lead senator behind that compromise with that now having imploded is calling on the president to invoke emergency powers. he says, lindsey graham, that it's time for president trump to use emergency powers to fund construction of a border wall. the reason that -- those deals or that negotiation fell apart was according to two individuals close to the process the president. i'm told that the skeleton deal that had been put together by a small group of republican senators, they started meeting last night, they continued meeting today, they met with mitch mcconnell, they presented to mike pence, was rejected by the president. they worked through a deal that would have provided the president money for the border wall in exchange for protections for daca precip ent recipients.
how did graham respond to that? take a listen. >> i have never been more depressed about moving forward than right now. i just don't see a pathway forward. somebody has got to get some energy to fix this. >> reporter: with that in mind, graham coming out later tonight with a statement saying that the president needs to act unilaterally, act on his own. i can tell you in talking to republican aides, that's the expectation. that's eventually coming. the reason why is there is nothing else on the table. there are no negotiations. there are no proposals being traded. there are no new meetings scheduled. the senate is not expected to have more votes for the week. most senators on airplanes home to their home states. the reality on capitol hill is the impasse is real. the impasse at this point seems borderline permanent. there's no way out. house democrats have continued to pass individual appropriation
bills trying to amp up president on republicans to try and reopen the government. senator republicans, mitch mcconnell has continued to make clear if president trump does not sign off, he is not willing to bring it to the senate floor. president trump is clearly rejecting where democrats stand on this, their individual proposals and their broader proposal to reopen the government and continue negotiations on border security in the days and weeks ahead. because of that, the stalemate continues. one of the president's top allies, one of the senators trying to figure out a last gasp hail mary deal to save and reopen the government, he has decided the president needs to act unilaterally. there's nothing else that will work. >> let's not forget, 800,000 federal employees won't be getting a paycheck tomorrow. 800,000 individuals and their families will suffer. phil mattingly on capitol hill. thanks very much. let's turn to breaking stories of the russia investigation right now. including what's likely to be
bombshell public testimony by the president's longtime longer and fixer michael cohen. i want to bring in pamela brown and shimon. cohen will testify before the house oversight committee. he flipped on the president. he pleaded guilty. will begin a three-year prison sentence in march. how damaging could this public testimony be for the president? >> i think given everything we know about what michael cohen has said in court, has told the department of justice about the president's involvement in the payments of the hush money, how he was directed by the president, how the president was part of the decision making and how the money was going to be paid, it's going to be a big problem for the president. they know this. they knew he would be a problem going along. this is going to be a monumental day, i think, for this white house, for this investigation in terms of what michael cohen is going to say.
it's not going to be limited, as we know, by just what his involvement in the hush payment, michael cohen's involvement. we just learned that robert mueller, the special counsel, has cleared him to testify. that means, that opens the door to all sorts of questions about russia, the moscow project, whether or not anyone in the white house directed michael cohen to lie to members of congress. there's been some indication that people at the white house knew what michael cohen was going to tell members of congress. did anyone at the white house approve of this? did they say, go ahead, it's okay. that's going to be a big part of this hearing now as well. it seems like nothing is off the table and that the department of justice and robert mueller have cleared michael cohen to go ahead and say whatever it is that he is going to say. the other thing to keep in mind is that michael cohen can use this testimony to try and get more leniency for his jail sentence. he could go to a judge and say, i have cooperated with members of congress. i have given them credible
information. i'm hoping that you can give me less than three years. there is a chance that that can happen. this hearing is -- takes place about a month before he is set to report to prison. he will have a month to work with the judge in new york to try and get his sentence further reduced. >> february 7th he testifies. march he begins his prison sentence. a lot of people have said, this could be like when john dean testified before congress. we know how that -- the fallout from that, what happened to the then president of the united states richard nixon. >> the first thing that came to my mind. we have not had a time like this really since then probably. the last time someone so significant in this investigation testified was james comey. you remember the attention that he received. this is so much bigger, because this -- what michael cohen represents goes back years. his relationship with the president, the president's business dealings, the family's business dealings, he knows a
lot about russia, he knows a lot about payments, other payments perhaps. the key thing here is the coverup in terms of the coverup of the payments, the coverup of the contacts with russia, the coverup of the moscow project. that is central to this entire investigation and what members of congress are going to want to know about it. that goes to the obstruction issue. that is where members of congress can be key in perhaps impeachment. >> you have new reporting on the white house legal team gearing up for this and the ramifications that could bring. >> that's right. all indications are pointing to the special counsel nearing the end, in the next few months. this is setting the stage for a new political and legal fight over the findings and who gets to see them. tonight, president trump won't say whether he wants robert mueller's report on the russia probe to be made public. >> do you want that to be made public? >> we will have to see.
there's been no collusion whatsoever. >> reporter: the president's remarks come after cnn learned the white house counsel office under tunder direction is gearig up for a fight to keep the report private. by adding 17 more lawyers to its team. trump's legal team is preparing to argue that a large portion of the information of mueller's investigation should be protected by executive privilege. leaving only a heavily redacted version of the report to be released to the public. democrats are vowing to use their new power in the house to release it. >> i'm prepared to make sure we do everything possible so that the public has the advantage of as much of the information as it can. >> reporter: as we await the release of the mueller report, today cnn learned that mueller interviewed trump's campaign pollster. the revelation comes after it was revealed that trump campaign chairman paul manafort shared polling data with rua russian national who prosecutors say has tied to the same russian
military intelligence unit that hacked the democratic party during the 2016 campaign. its coordination between the campaign and the russians that the mueller team has been looking for. today the president said he had no knowledge of the information sharing. >> did you know paul manafort was sharing polling data? >> i knew nothing about it. >> reporter: manafort's spokesman claims the data was intended for two powerful pro-russian ukrainian oligarchs who owed manafort millions. tonight, treasury secretary steve mnuchin on capitol hill facing tough questions from lawmakers on the department's decision to ease sanctions. >> one of the worst classified briefings we received from the trump aminudministration. >> reporter: in a statement, mnuchin defended his decision stating the companies were undergoing significant
restructuring and governance changes that severed his control. democrats are mulling over whether to push back against the sanctions relief for the russian companies that was announced last month. one of the oligarchs denies receiving polling data from manafort. the revelations raise questions about why manafort shared that sensitive internal data from the campaign with pro-russian ukrainians. >> you are getting significant information, pamela, that the president's lawyers are concerned that his public statements over the past year or two, his tweets, his various lies, could be used by the special counsel robert mueller and his team potentially as evidence of obstruction of justice or witness tampering. >> that's right, wochlf. it could be seen as an effort to influence witnesses and obstruct justice. according to multiple people familiar with this
investigation, the line of questioning adds to indications that mueller views false or misleading statements to the press or to the public as obstruction of justice and that could set up a potential flash point with the white house and the legal team should that become part of a final report from the mueller investigation. mueller's team provided hints it is interested in public statements as part of the obstruction probe. you may recall court filings from the plea of michael cohen, included allegations related to false public statements. that's not usually considered illegal, since they aren't made directly to investigators. what's clear is that robert mueller is interested in it as part of the obstruction pose. >> potentially evidence if they go forward in that area. pamela and shimon, thanks very much. joining us now, ted deutsche, the chairman of the house ethics committee. serves on the judiciary and foreign affairs committee. thanks for joining us.
>> good to be with you. >> let's begin with the latest in the russia probe. you have been hearing reporters tell us about that. the president and his attorneys might be preparing to assert executive privilege in an attempt to block mueller's report. if the white house were to do so, were to pursue that, how should your party in the house respond? >> first of all, there's safeguards in place to make sure that the president can't cover up this entire report. think about what he is suggesting. there's no executive privilege with respect to possible obstruction of justice, to hide potential witness tampering or the potential coverup of the commission of a federal crime in order to get elected president of the united states. what we're going to do is to make sure that the president and his lawyers, however many lawyers there are, can't be allowed to proceed with arguments that aren't permitted
by law and will continue to stand by that. >> the president's former personal attorney, michael cohen, will be testifying in public up on capitol hill next month. cohen is scheduled to report to federal prison on march 7 after pleading guilty to multiple federal crimes, including lying to congress. do you think his testimony will be credible given his criminal history? >> i think it's a really important moment to have michael cohen come to testify after we have seen the past -- over the past two years the republican leadership, when they were in charge of the house committees, refusing to hold oversight hearings. we now have the opportunity, we will have the opportunity to question michael cohen, who is the president's coverup lawyer. that's the role that he has played for donald trump. michael cohen is the person that worked with the president who potentially is an unindicted co-conspirator in a case to commit a felony violation of
campaign law to be elected president of the united states. there's an awful lot that michael cohen will have to tell us. obviously, you judge the credibility of witnesses. i'm glad we're going to have the opportunity to ask him some very pointed questions about what the president did right before the election, potentially covering up a fell mee ony to be elected all of the ways michael cohen might have been involved in the connections between the president and russia. there's a lot for us to learn. >> 100 connections. what do you mean? >> if you look -- you go back to the discussion that the president -- the statements the president made in the beginning that there were no contacts between anyone having to do with him and russia. you now go through what we learned. look at the little we know from mueller. you look at manafort and you look at the meeting that took place in trump tower and on and on and what's clear is that
there have been meetings. what's unclear to us is how much the president may have known about, for example, paul manafort trying to get sensitive campaign data to someone who can transmit it to russian officials. we don't know that. those are the questions that we are going to ask michael cohen. those are the questions that the oversight committee and the house judiciary committee, the intel committee, all of us working side by side will try to get to ask questions to get to the truth, even as we wait for mueller to complete his investigation as well. >> let's turn to the government shutdown, congressman. the trump administration is exploring declaring a national emergency, using billions of dollar fs in what they describes unspent defense funding to construct a border wall. how should democrats respond? >> let's start with this. unspent -- they use these bureaucratic terms. the president wants to take billions of dollars earmarked
for recovery from storm-ravaged puerto rico. he wants to take that money and use it to fulfill a campaign promise that has nothing to do with national security. there is something serious that's happening in our country right now. as you pointed out earlier, 800,000 federal workers will not be paid. many of them in the national security area. they work for dea, cvp, for secret service, they work for tsa. these are people who keep us safe. because the president shut down the government in order to fulfill a campaign promise, which he is not going to do, he has failed on the first part when he told us mexico is going to pay for a wall, when he shut that down, he is reeking havoc on the lives but the contractors whose pay will never be made up and the loved ones of the 800,000 and so many others, whether it's people who will suffer because the fda can't
conduct food inspection or the tens of millions of americans who are at risk of losing their snap benefits if this goes on longer. the president likes to talk about how he has done more in all these areas, he has been the best president, he accomplished things no other president accomplished. he lies about that all the time. in this instance, he will take credit, he has taken credit and will have to own the longest shutdown in federal government -- in the history of the federal government that he proudly announced he wanted to achieve. >> thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. just ahead, we will break down all the risks to the president as michael cohen is said to testify and robert mueller prepares to release his final report. former u.s. attorney, pete ferrara is standing by live. i couldn't catch my breath. it was the last song of the night. it felt like my heart was skipping beats.
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investigation. michael cohen set to testify publically before congress next month. we are learning about efforts underway within the president's legal team to potentially try to block the release of robert mueller's report. let's bring in our senior legal analyst, preet bharara. do you think a potential white house effort to assert executive privilege and block the release of mueller's report could be successful? >> i think ultimately no. the question is, what arguments are they going to make with respect to particular things they think are incriminating or damaging to them that they don't want released to the public? there's all kinds of information we expect in this report. i don't know of any credible basis to say that statements made by a president to under und underling to do unlawful or bad would be privilege. it would be against the philosophy underlying the executive privilege, which is supposed to allow white houses to have deliberations and
discussions with complete candor and without fear of those things being revealed later. separate and apart from that, one thing muler er mueller is is whether there was aiding and a b abetting between the campaign and russia. all that activity would have been before the president became the president. no executive privilege would apply there. it would be hard to understand why that would be so with respect to obstruction. that said, in the absence of knowing the particular things going to be in the report, and the particular argument you could make about discussions within the white house, i think the argument will fail. the problem i think for people who want transparency is that it may take a while for that to be resolved through the courts. >> the white house believes that the mueller team is preparing to use the president's public statements, including his tweets and lies to try to build an obstruction of justice case against the president. what do you make of that theory?
>> that's what prosecutors do. there's this view in the public that everything that people bring forward in court to prove a charge or an allegation is something that they found out through a wiretap or through a search or going through someone's garbage. people's public statements matter also. people's public statements often tell exactly what's going on in the person's mind. i don't think you could make a case in this circumstance and in many circumstances purely from the public comments of someone unless they are in the essence of a complete confession. public comments and indications of the president's state of mind through tweets and other interviews he has given combined with testimony from other people about what the thinking was and what the reasons were for engaging in various bits of conduct, like firing jim comey and other things, those in combination paint a powerful picture, i think, that prosecutors don't want to give up. >> the president's former attorney, michael cohen, is scheduled to testify before congress in a public session early next month. he is a convicted liar. he is headed to prison in march,
in part because of the lies he told. do you think he is a credible witness? >> you know, michael cohen has a lot of problems with credibility. he is a convicted liar. the forum in which he is going to be testifying on february 7, which will be a spectacle the likes we have never seen, or not in a very long time, since 19 -- the 1970s when john dean did it, it's a different forum from a court of law. in a court of law when you try to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there are reasons why you have to be more skeptical of the things coming out of the mouth of somebody who is known to have lied. i'm not saying that's not important in the congress also. but this is going to be not only sort of investigative session, but it's a political session, too. the people who are doing the questioning are not necessarily trained lawyers who are going to be governed by a court of rules and rules of evidence and everything that applies in a court of law. much more easy, free wheeling, sometimes circus-like atmosphere that you see in congress.
the american people are all going to be able to judge whether or not when michael cohen adds details to the allegations he has made in court against donald trump, they will be the judge of whether he is telling the truth. sometimes public opinion will be swayed by whether or not they feel in the moment the temperament and demeanor of the witness is truthful or not. remember, he has said in court that has a targeted mission to just make sure that there's a factual basis for the plea of guilty. now he will be untethered by that to say things even more than what he said before, which included saying he made the payment to somebody with whom donald trump had an affair in coordination with and at the direction of the president, implicating him in a crime. he can do more damage in the open forum in congress. >> what does it say that robert mueller and his team haven't objected to cohen testifying before congress in public? does that subject his investigation, the mueller investigation is wrapping up? >> i have been loath to say the
mueller investigation is wrapping up for a long time now. largely have been proven right because it keeps going. i think for the first time, i think there are a couple of indications maybe that is true with respect to some part of the investigation. the fact that they don't seem to be worried about cohen speaking while they are investigating things that may relate to cohen and he is cooperating combined with the reporting that rod rosenstein, who has every reason to be interested in the continued activity and conduct and closure of the mueller investigation, that he is considering stepping down in the near future, those two things in combination with each other suggest to me that we may be actually at the point that people have been speculating about for many months. >> rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. breaking news next. the government shutdown poised to be the longest in u.s. history as the stalemate over a border wall drags on.
we're following multiple breaking stories, including president trump's personal attorney, michael cohen, scheduled to testify publically before the house oversight committee next month. let's dig deeper. pamela, what information are members of congress hoping to get from michael cohen? what do they hope he will reveal? >> there's a lot of ground to cover with michael cohen. he worked for donald trump and the trump organization for more than a decade. he is his longtime philadelphfi lawyer and has connections to many maof the questions surrounding donald trump, not to mention the hush money payments
he pleaded guilty to making to as a campaign finance violation. also, russia. that's the big question. were there any more interactions with russians during the campaign we don't know about? that will be behind closed doors with lawmakers, according to adam schiff, head of the intelligence committee. robert mueller has signed off on cohen talking to lawmakers about exactly what he knows regarding russia. that's crucial. michael cohen has already said in court that he lied, that he committed crimes at the direction of donald trump. you can expect to hear much of the same thing in this public forum, talking to congress. it's significant. it's certainly not good news for donald trump. >> certainly isn't. the president likes to control the narrative. he is not going to control the narrative on this. how concerned should the president be about cohen's testimony testimony? >> the president has to be very concerned. this was michael cohen's mike drop moment. he blew up his day, his week,
his month. and let's not forget, tape recordings. remember? he has -- we know he has tape recordings. i think the other thing to remember is as pamela said, robert mueller okayed this. he is giving it his stamp of approval. why? because he believes michael cohen. he doesn't believe him just because he takes his word. there's other evidence likely to be there, witnesses, tape recordings, other things. finally, i think what's very important for donald trump is, this is taking it public. it's not just robert mueller in paperwork. the case is going to the public. not since watergate -- >> can i add one point about this? i agree with everything that's been said about the importance of this testimony. but how the testimony is prepared will be enormously
important. prosecutors believe it takes ten hours of work to create one hour in the courtroom. if this testimony is to be effective and clear and well organized, cohen is going to have to sit with the staff of the committee in advance and go over all this material and allow the committee to distill what they think is the property par s s of his story. if that isn't done, this testimony could be disorganized, unclear and not very persuasive. >> cohen retweeted a tweet from david corn who has written about the russia investigation. we put it up there. you can see the tweet that
michael cohen retweeted. >> to jeffrey's point, will he sit down with the staff and prepare? certainly, michael cohen retweeting this from david corn, which has very specific details of what he can talk about, if nothing else, he is taunting donald trump. >> he wants to clear his name. >> absolutely. >> he wants to use this as an opportunity to defend himself after the attacks from the president and from the president's attorney, rudy giuliani calling him weak, calling him a liar. michael cohen wants to say, this is all donald trump's fault, to an extent. i was doing this at the direction of him. look for the president to continue those attacks against cohen in the days leading up to this. >> david, what does it say about the investigation? >> i heard preet say he thinks it's the first time we might say we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. that makes sense. i don't think the special
counsel would okay that michael cohen going forward to congress if there was a lot of information he wanted to hold back. second of all, he is knitting together all of the strands. they seem to be coming together around these various witnesses, manafort and also all this testimony that we're expecting from cohen. i don't think we should expect some magic fairy dust moment when this is going to wrap up neatly in a bow. we are starting to see this case take shape. >> it's interesting, jeffrey, the white house is hiring new lawyers, they are gearing up perhaps even to try to block the release, the public release of the mueller report, citing executive privilege. seems to be in contrast with what the president often says on so many occasions about collusion. listen to this. >> again, john, there has been no collusion between the trump campaign and rusrussians. no collusion. bottom line, they say there's no collusion. there is no collusion.
i can only say this. there was absolutely no collusion. it has been determined there is no collusion. when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level. >> this was exactly one year ago today when he said on multiple occasions, no collusion. >> he said it many times since then, too. repeating it doesn't make it true. i think in fairness to the white house, the fact that they are hiring lawyers doesn't make donald trump look guilty. there are going to be democratic investigations from the house of representatives. they are going to have to answer subpoenas, document requests. you need lawyers. that doesn't mean that the president did anything wrong. however, the big issue i think is whether the -- and how much the president's lawyers will object to the disclosure to the public of the mueller report. how much will they claim executive privilege protects? how much will they say
classified information protects? that, i think, really does tell you how much they are trying to keep from the public. there, i think, that's -- there you can honestly say, the fact that they are gearing up does suggest some consciousness of guilty. >> your reporting suggests in part all these lawyers are there because they may try this effort to assert executive privilege. >> that's right. sources i have been speaking with close to the president to the white house say the strategy or best case scenario for the legal team -- first of all, will be for none of the report to become public. if any of it does, it will be redact redacted. white house counsel is girding for a fight to evoke executive privilege. we reported today that mueller has been looking at the president's false statements, public statements that are conflicting as part of the obstruction of justice probe. that very will could be in his report to make the case that the president was trying to limit
the probe by making these false statements. these are things that white house counsel will try to fight to make sure this doesn't get out in the public. >> to pamela's point, they are worried. we have rudy giuliani telling someone that it's going to be horrific. a few weeks ago, i'alan dershowz said it will be devastating. if there's nothing to worry about, open up the report. they are doing the opposite. >> let's switch and talk about the border wall with mexico. the president traveled to the border today to assert what he says national security requires a border wall. he thought maybe going there wouldn't change anything. one thing that clearly did change is what the president is now saying about mexico's paying for the wall. listen to what he said today versus what he used to say. >> whenni induring the campaign would say mexico is going to pay
for it, obviously, i never said this and i never meant they're going to write out a check. i said they are going to pay for it. they are. when i say mexico is going to pay for the wall, that's what i said. mexico is going to pay. i didn't say they're going to write me a check for $20 billion or $10 billion. i mean they are paying for it in the trade deal. we will build a wall. you know who is going to pay for the wall? mexico. they will pay for it. who is going to pay for the wall? who? >> mexico. >> by the way, 100%. mexico in some form will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. the american people will not pay for the wall. the politicians say, they will never pay. 100%. they're not going to write us a check. they will pay. in one form or another.
they may write us a check. >> they may even write us a check. he said he never thought they would write a check. there as well as in campaign policy statements, the possibility of mexico writing a check for 5 or $10 billion was very much on their mind. >> that's right. the president is on the hook for this. he said it multiple times d s dg the campaign and beyond. it's something democrats and his opponents continually bring up the fact that he is asking for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money to pay for the wall. of course, he comes back and says, look, actually mexico is going to pay for it with this reworked trade deal that our administration did with them. it's unclear how exactly that would work. that hasn't even been ratified by congress. the president is once again bending the facts and the reality in order to sort of work in his favor. >> no, no, no. >> go head. >> not bending the facts. lying. just lying outright.
>> there you go. >> just totally, totally lying. >> look at this memo the trump campaign put out in march of 2016. it says this. it's an easy decision for mexico. make a one-time payment of 5 to $10 billion. that was the policy. that was the position of the trump campaign. you heard what the president said today. he never thought they would write a check. >> do you think -- the people who were yelling at the rally when he goes, who is going to pay for the wall, mexico. do you think those people in the rally were thinking, well, i think the trade balance will be different so we will be reimbursed -- no. this is an incredible, total lie. and that's the only way to describe this, i'm afraid. >> so what he's saying, david, is that during the campaign when he would ask the crowds, and there were thousands and thousands of people, who's going pay for the wall? and he would put his hands up,
and they said "mexico." they didn't say, "mexico in some indirect form if there's a new trade deal"? >> no, the president's got several problems. one, this was so central to his campaign in 2016. two, as you and jeffrey just said, it was not some indirect thing. it was just a bumper stick, mexico will pay. and evelastly, even if you were doing this indirect dividend, the white house hasn't even laid that out. this trade deal hasn't even been ratified and we don't even know how it's going to benefit the u.s. treasury, will then be siphoned off for the 5.7 billion. no explanation, whatsoever. >> nancy pelosi is proving to be a rather formidable negotiating foe for the president. >> in donald trump's life, there's pre-january 3rd and post january 3rd. this is completely different. and we saw it -- i don't think you can play enough, that tape of nancy pelosi and chuck schumer sitting there where donald trump thought he was in control, called the cameras in, and then he backed himself into this corner, that he doesn't
know how to get out of. and to the point of the $5 billion, i think the next thing we're going to be hearing is, that famous line, the check is in the mail. this is, this is just ridiculous. >> remember that "saturday night live" episode where the mexican ambassador came in with the check. all right, guys. stick around. there's a lot more news we're following right after this. 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, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward.
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this sunday night, the cnn original series, "american style" looks at how the social, political, and chick changes of the past 100 years have defined america's unique style and identity. here's a preview. >> '40s and '50s were definitely america finding itself. >> americans felt very second rate when comparing ourselves to europe. >> sportswear became the defining style of the united states. >> the bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. >> the '60s, '70s, our style and fashion represents freedom. >> when you look at hippie culture, it's really oppositional to the vietnam war. >> disco was very important in terms of people being free to express themselves. >> in the '80s, it was a lot of excess, in every way. >> we had our calvin kleins and our ralph laurens and our donna karan's. >> calvin klein's advertising was rather scandalous. >> this underwear ad stopped traffic in times square.
>> by the '90s and 2000s, things have become less formal. >> supermodels really brought fashion into every household. >> now what's embraced as being yourself. >> style gives you a voice. it's freedom. >> joining us now, cnn presidential historian, douglas brinkley. he's featured in "american style." doug, this politically charged time when washington's dysfunction is on full display, how do politicians use fashion to try to relate to americans at home? >> well, you'll see, i just saw ted cruz today and beto o'rourke, both in texas, having beards now after losing. they're trying to show that they, after a political run, they don't have to shave. you have politicians having to wear, you know, dueling ties. right now, i've noticed a lot of us, i've been wearing blue ties, hermes ties, going to fashion, showing you're a power play. the democrats like red, the
republicans like blue. and we have the me too era going on, saying that i can dress however i want and not be harassed and things like black life matters, where this idea that if you're wearing a hip hop style clothing, that somehow you should be pulled over by police is being combatted, thank god, by all sorts of progressive americans. >> who in washington, doug, stands out to you as a master of this craft? which politicians, past or present, for that matter, have been most successful in using fashion to create an image that helped his or her career? >> john f. kennedy, because he was so young when he ran for president in 1960, would always wear a navy blue suit and a blue tie. he actually didn't want to have a diversified wardrobe. he wanted to show people that consistency. now, that belies the fact that the camelot photographs of that era would show the yachting culture of newport and cape cod and the like. fashion was big with the
kennedys. jackie kennedy still ranks in my mind, number one for fashion. when she went to paris, they swooned over her and everybody would talk about her pill box hat or the chanel suit she was wearing. nancy reagan did very well with red and became in her own way a bit of a fashion maven and barack obama had a very great clipd profession clipped professional handsome look about him. but when he wore mom jeans one time, the right went after him like nobody's business. >> it wasn't just the right. a lot of people were concerned about those so-called mom jeans he was wearing. very importanquickly, how impor fashion for diplomacy? >> i think it represents the president of the united states. you're always wearing a power suit. bill clinton got criticized when he was in the white house for not always taking his jacket off. ronald reagan would always keep it on. you want to exude a sense of power. brooks brother has been the suit
of choice for most american presidents and politicians. >> our presidential historian, doug brinkley, thanks very much. and the all-new original series "american style" premieres this sunday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern, only here on cnn. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news. mueller closing in. the special counsel focusing on conflicting trump statements that could amount to obstruction of justice. this as michael cohen is about to testify publicly with everything he knows. plus, more breaking news. trump administration looking at using money that's supposed to go to puerto rico for hurricane disaster relief to have build the wall. and the president says the wall will stop illegal drugs from coming into the united states. is it true? zbooupt goes to the border for an "outfront" investigation. let's go outfront. and good evening. i'm erin burnett. outfront this evening, the breaking news. spilling his guts. telling everything he knows about president trump. michael cohen is