tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN March 2, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
money and your donations to build a new shelter. >> the kids inspire me every day. really, they are heroes. >> what a guy. you can nominate someone you think should be a c flnn hero rt now. top of the hour. live in the "cnn newsroom." thanks for staying with me. we begin with the president seeking to rebound after a week march marred by defeat. he went off script delivering the longest speech of his presidency. his remarks were scheduled to last 50 minutes. he launched a scorched earth campaign against the mueller investigation, even mocking his own infamous calls for russia to find hillary clinton's e-mails. >> unfortunately, you put the
wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn't be there. and all of a sudden, they're trying to take you out with bullshit. okay? robert mueller never received a vote and neither did the person that appointed him. and as you know, the attorney general said, i'm going to recuse myself. and i said, why the hell didn't he tell me that before i put him in? if you are sarcastic, if you are having fun with the audience, if you are on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena and you say something like, russia, please, if you can, get us hillary clinton's e-mails, please.
[ applause ] please get us the e-mails. please. [ applause ] >> lock her up. lock her up. >> the president in his element after a week that included president trump's former attorney naming names and even handing over financial documents on capitol hill. new explosive reporting that the president forced the approve afl his son-in-law's security clearance. walking away empty-handed at that summit with north korea's leader in vietnam. i'm joined by boris sanchez. the president was talking to clearly a very friendly audience. we know the president feels reenergized when he gives speeches like this. >> reporter: president trump felt energized by the crowd there at cpac. it's a friendly audience.
the president gave the longest address of his presidency, well over two hours. president trump bashed some members of his administration, current and follower. he went after robert mueller, hinting at some deep state conspiracies he pedalled in the past about why these investigations were launched. at one point using an expletive i won't repeat to describe the circumstances surrounding the russia investigation. the president also gave a preview of what we might hear from him going into the 2020 campaign. the president attacking democrats for what he called a radical agenda, bashing the green new deal, saying that democrats wanted a government takeover of health care and a massive tax increase. listen to more from president trump. >> democrat lawmakers are now embracing socialism. they want to replace individual rights with total government domination. this is the new democrat platform for the -- i don't want to talk them out of it.
i don't. i don't. i swear, i don't. this is a killer. i gotta get off the subject. i want them to embrace this plan. i want them to go and sell this plan. i just want to be the republican that runs against them. >> reporter: president trump repeated a line we heard during his state of the union address, saying the united states would never be a socialist country. the president was all over the map. you got the sense that after such a tough week, everything that you noted from michael cone's testimocon cohen's testimony to the failure to get a denuclearization deal to security clearance for jared kushner, he had a lot to get off his chest. >> thank you, boris sanchez at the white house. while that crowd cheered, the president is coming off a rough week. we had the michael cohen explosive testimony, the summit with kim jong-un, it failed to bring any nuclear deal, the clash with otto warmbier's
family. i want to bring in ron brownstein and olivia newsome. what stood out? >> it was reassociating. there was grievance. i think actually the speech gave you a very concentrated understanding of how he thinks he is going to run for re-election. there was one point in the speech where he was talking spi specifically about the second amendment but was a window into his vision. he talked about the second amendment being under siege but i will protect you. those six words are the essence of president trump's messaging. he tells his audience they are under siege from forces that are threatening them or con testimony contemt contemptuous
of them. he will protect them. he presents himself as a human wall against all of the changes that he portrays as threatening his audience. amidst other elements today, that strand ran through very mi how he envisions himself winning a second term. >> he wants to be the protector. he was also the attacker today. i want to play something else he told the crowd today. listen. >> right now, we have people in congress that hate our country. you know that. we can name every one of them if they want. they hate our country. say it. it's satisvery sad. when i sigh soee some of the statements being made, it's very sad. how did they do in their country? just ask them. how did they do?
>> was this just crowd pandering? is the president ratcheting things up in response to all the congressional investigations? >> i think it's probably a bit of both. as you noted, he had a terrible week. it might as well have been an infrastructure week on white house schedule. a number of things went wrong for him at home and abroad, obviously, in vietnam. i think that when he does these long free speeches, it's a way to regain lihis footing. he is setting the terms of what the conversation at least for the moment, at least for that day. i think that's what this speech was really about. i think he wanted to feel like he had that crowd on his side. he wanted to kind of stoke the outrage against certain members in the new congress. i think it was very effective. people there at cpac, after the speech, were talking about how
great it was, how interesting it was. how great it was to be in the room. it wasn't that different from how he ran in 2016. if this is a preview how he will run in 2020, it's pretty much the same pitch he had in 2016, except now, of course, he will try to claim that they need him to stick around. they don't need him to come office to protect them from various forces in the country that are allegedly attacking the second amendment and other things. but they need him to stay there to continue to as ron said be a human wall. >> clearly, he was all about his base today. he certainly knew his audience there. we saw him hug the american flag as soon as he got out there. is this president really worried about losing his conservative base? should that be the least of his concerns? >> it's a really good question. not only the substance, the message, i will protect you, but
the style of the speech i think betrayed a lot about the kind of political calculus he has going into 2020. basically, all of the belligerence vuglgarity is to s break any rule in order to protect them. that's the hope of turning out more and more blue collar evangelicals. the problem is that that same style is what drives away so many of the white collar voters who are thriving economically, who broke an enormous numbers towards the democrats, gave them this house majority by flipping all over the country. he is betting on turning out core supporters at the price of alienating voters who consider him unfit in morals and personal
behavior to be president. he gave them plenty to recoil from over those -- was it only two hours? >> two hours a s and two minute. we know the president loves fox news. we know about his cozy relationship with sean hannity. there's a comment related to the hush money. here is hannity talking about a conversation he had with michael cohen regarding the hush money deal. listen. >> i can tell you personally he said to me a dozen times that he made the decision on the payments and he didn't tell you. told me personally. >> he did. he made the decision. remember this. he is an attorney. whatever decision he makes, you are supposed to rely on an attorney to make a decision. >> he wants that fox news host to testify. do you think that will happen? >> i can't see that happening. who knows? anything could happen.
over the next year in congress and with this presidency. one of the interesting things that michael cohen said during his testimony was that he had other tapes, other recordings of his other clients. as we know, he had few clients other than donald trump. one of them was sean hannity. does he have tapes of sean? what were they discussing? we don't know anything really about their relationship other than he allegedly advised sean on matters regarding real estate. i would be interested to know what the actual content of their conversations was and whether or not it coincides with what he just said. did they talk about those things? did they talk about the hush money payments? i don't know. i would really like to know. sean is really close with the president. they talk all the time. they talk on the phone. he is one of the key outside advisers for the president. it's very strange to see him doing an interview like that,
which he has done before as though it's journalism. it's something else. i don't know what you would call it. he is kind of an outside almost communications person working for this white house. >> i gotta say, i gotta leave it there. i wonder if he were called before the committee if -- he couldn't rely on executive privilege, i don't think, in terms of if he were asked about some of the conversations with the president given he is not a formal member of the white house or of this administration. it would be interesting to pick his brain. thank you very much. >> thank you. big day for bernie sanders today. he officially kicked off his bid in brooklyn. why this event featured some of his most personal public remarks ever. mmmm air wick do you want freshness that lasts? with air wick scented oils you get fragrance for twice as long as febreze plug, so it's twice the value. so your home smells fresh, day after day, after day. switch to air wick
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was born and raised. he talked about something he doesn't normally talk about. sanders shared more of his personal story. his modest upbringing, the struggles of his parents. then he called out large companies by name, promising to end their free ride. >> we say to the 1% in large corporations that under a bernie sander s administration, you ar not going to be getting more tax breaks. quite the contrary. we're going to end your tax breaks and your loopholes. you are going to start paying your fair share of taxes. >> ryan nobles is in brooklyn for us. the senator got pretty personal in this speech. >> reporter: he really did. that's perhaps the best example of how things are going to be different in 2020.
the sanders campaign realizes, he did well four years ago. he did not do well enough to win. not even enough to win the democratic nomination. things have got to be a little bit different for him this time around. they hope that by him showing that personal side and juc, tha will resonate with voters. voters will have a better idea how he connects with them and does so better than donald trump does. in fact, it turned out to be most powerful moment in the speech when he was talking about his upbringing here in brooklyn. take a listen. >> my experience as a child, living in a family that struggled economically, powerfully influenced my life and my values. i know where i came from. and that is something i will never forget.
unlike donald trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay their bills, i know what it's like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck. >> reporter: honestly, sanders' advisers were concerned he wasn't going to feel comfortable with talking about list personal life. they were hoping that he would stick to his prepared remarks. in that one section where he said to the crowd almost screamed at the crowd, i know where i came from, that was not a part of his prepared remarks. that was him going off the cuff. it turned out to be one of the most powerful moments of the speech. >> interesting. thanks so much. a trio of trum ing p organin executives are under scrutiny. what might they know about potential crimes involving the president? we're following the money next. s
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>> yes. >> who else knows that the president did this? >> allen weisselberg, ron lieberman. >> weisselberg has been southwest up in the investigation. he was granted immunity for providing information on cohen's role in hush money payments to women alleging affairs with president trump. trump denies those affairs. weisselberg's immunity deal doesn't guarantee he will be spared from inquiries from congress or prosecutors looking into other matters. he could be a treasurer trove of information. weisselberg knows where all the financial bodies are buried, a source prieviously told cnn. >> another man who has done a great job is matthew, my chief operating officer. >> you know i don't care for jen
very much. gotta be honest with you. wow. because -- i'm not doing too good. >> aside from that awkward moment, matthew has kept a relatively low profile. trump liked how he dealt with hecklers at the u.s. open tournament and hired him as a security guard. he climbed the ranks to become trump's personal bodyguard and eventually chief operating officer. >> i have some of the best people in the world. i have guys lined up, believe me. >> reporter: in his role overseeing trump's security team, he has come under scrutiny for allowing lax policies and using questionable force, particularly when trump was using his private security team to deal with journalists and protesters during his 2016 presidential campaign. the third official joined the trump organization after leaving
his gig in 2007 at the new york city department of parks and recreation. now he works with weisselberg on financial matters. since joining the company, he has helped trump land high profile contracts with the city, like the ferry point golf course in the bronx, a sweet deal for trump that caught the eye of at least one lawmaker this week. >> taxpayers spent $127 million to build trump links in a generous deal allowing president trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds. this doesn't seem to be the only time the president has benefitted at the expense of the public. >> reporter: sara murray, cnn, washington. joining us now, caroline polici, who specializes in federal and white collar crimes and larry noble, former general counsel for the federal election commission. caroline, one of the three executives, allen weisselberg,
man who knows every deal, has been granted limited immunity by federal prosecutors in dealing with the hush money payments and the probe they had in the case against michael cohen as well as the involvement of ami in all of this. i'm curious, if he comes before a house investigative committee, are all bets off? could they ask him any questions? >> potentially. the question is what is the extent of the immunity. it's going to have an implication on his right to invoke his fifth amendment right. the underpinning logic behind that ability to invoke it is if you have the fear of a criminal prosecution. the question and reporting hasn't been clear whether he was granted transactional immunity or use immunity. the difference is whether they can prosecute him for the underlying crime. often prosecutors will give a limited immunity, which means they can't use the actual statements that he gave them at the time. it's really a question and it's up in the air. i think we're going to hear a lot of very interesting answers from mr. weisselberg.
as it was noted, if you thought michael cohen knew where the bodies are buried, this guy really knows. >> that's what we keep hearing from people. he has been with trump many, many years, longer than michael cohen had been with trump. we saw physical evidence this week, copies of a check personally signed by trump after he took office that cohen says was part of his reimbursement for the hush money he paid to stormy daniels during the campaign. cohen also produced this other check signed by weisselberg and donald trump junior. does this amount to a smoking gun for campaign finance violation? are prosecutors going to have a hard time proving trump wasn't just out to protect his relationship with his wife or maybe his brand? >> it takes us far towards a smoking gun. before what we had was the theory that trump had paid cohen back for money paid to keep stormy daniels quiet. trump a year ago denied these payments happened. here what we have is real hard evidence that there were checks written, that they were payments
to cohen. cohen says they were to pay him back for the money he paid to stormy daniels. if he paid money to stormy daniels to keep her quiet during the election, then that is a campaign contribution from michael cohen. if trump paid it back, you then have trump making a contribution in the name of another. you have reporting violations. you have excessive contributions by cohen. this is a serious matter. the fact they tried to hide it as shown by the chucks suggests it was a knowing and willness v willful violation. it doesn't say, to pay stormy daniels. there's debate about that. it does fit into the narrative about those payments. it does tend to support the argument that trump knew about the payments and that trump wanted to pay stormy daniels to keep her from talking during the election. >> cohen says all three of the executives mentioned in the piece would have knowledge of trump allegedly overvaluing his assets for insurance purposes. here is an example from the
hearing. >> the president claimed in financial disclosure forms that trump national golf club in florida was worth more than $50 million. he had reported otherwise to local tax authorities that the course was worth, quote, no more than $5 million. mr. cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate? >> it's identical to what he did at trump national golf club at breyercliff manor. >> is the key to get their hands on trump's tax returns? could they subpoena them in. >> absolutely. i think the real issue that we're seeing come out here is that this is the red line that donald trump so vehemently opposed. it turns out that potentially the biggest crimes he could be accused of committing have nothing to do with collusion and have everything to do with just
garden variety regular financial fraud. >> may have nothing to do with mueller's investigation as it stands now. maybe it's other jurisdictions. >> there have been rumbling the southern district is poised to indict the president the day after he leaves office. we know that many federal prosecutors believe that you can't indict a sitting president. that's a theory floating around in the ethos that they are building a case essentially for these financial crimes. as we know, every single aspect of trump's financial life is under the microscope at this point. it sounds like there are questionable business practices. >> initially, the president said, i will release my taxes eventually. we still haven't seen them. his answer reason is because they are under audit. let me remind you, what he has said over and over and over again.
>> i'm releasing when we're finished with the audit. the irs has been very professional. as far as the tax returns, as soon as the audit is complete. when the audit is complete, i will release my returns. i'm not releasing tax returns. they're under audit. >> every president since the '70s -- >> i never heard that. >> and yet, here is cohen's explanation this week for what was really going on. >> what he didn't want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces and then he will end up in an audit. >> could you presume from that statement that he wasn't under audit? >> i presume he's not under audit. >> larry, who do you believe? >> i tend to believe cohen on this. he may not know. the fact that you are under audit, doesn't stop you from releasing your tax returns.
your lawyer may recommend you not release your tax returns. he could have done it. he had been lying about this all along. >> red flag? are those red flags? >> i think they are red flags. we know he doesn't want to release his tax returns. i think it's because he doesn't want financial experts, he doesn't want tax lawyers, he doesn't want reporters looking through his tax returns and finding out what is going on with him. how much he is worth, which is a big issue, the value of his various assets. one of the things cone accused him of is raising the value of his assets when he was making insurance claims and then lowering the value of them when he was paying taxes. it raises the question of what value he has been putting on them when he filed federal forms when he ran for president about his assets. i think there's a real problem for him if he does release his taxes. it looks like now that at least the house is going to be able to get a copy of his taxes. >> larry, caroline, good to have both of you with us. thank you.
a tale of greed, loyalty and intimidation. michael cohen describes why working for trump was like working for a mob boss. how did that dynamic come about? a trump biographer weighs in next. this place. it can't be found on just any map. a place miles from the beaten path. overcoming twists and turns. ups and downs. whatever life throws. a place to always strive for. for all the journeys that make us stronger. ♪ you see clear skin. cosentyx can help people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis find clear skin that can last. don't use if you're allergic to cosentyx. before starting, get checked for tuberculosis. an increased risk of infections and lowered ability to fight them may occur. tell your doctor about an infection or symptoms,
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so you can scrub 50% less, and get done faster. next month, their place! a drop of dawn and grease is gone. a boss who demands loyalty, silence, obedience and protection. crime experts say that's how the mafia works. according to the president's former lawyer, michael cohen, that's also how it was working for donald trump. brian todd reports. >> reporter: through the eyes of michael cohen, working for donald trump is a lot like working for tone jy soprano. >> everybody's job is to project mr. trump. every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something. >> reporter: members of congress are calling it a mob mentality, comparing the accusations cohen made to the same tactics used by organized crime.
>> how many times did mr. trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf? >> quite a few times. >> 50 times ? >> more. >> 500 times. >> probably. >> he's a weak person. not a smart person. choosing to tell the truth, much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government. >> reporter: in his testimony wednesday, cohen described an environment inside trump tower focused on the boss, someone everyone calls mr. trump, a place where cohen didn't have to be told what to do, because everyone speaks the same language. >> he doesn't give you questions. he doesn't give you orders. he speaks in a code. i understand the code because i've been around him for a decade. >> it's your impressions that others understand the code as well? >> most people, yes.
>> mob bosses will not utter wortd words that will get them in trouble. they do thing bs by inference, suggestion. people who have been around t m them, they know exactly what is meant. >> reporter: ed mcdonald would know. he is a prosecutor in the federal organized crime task force in new york. he played himself in a movie striking a witness protection deal. >> i think you understand. >> i don't know anything. >> don't give me the babe in the woods routine. i heard you on the telephone. >> reporter: it's that distinction between the president giving a direct order such as encouraging him to lie or cohen assuming he was doing what the boss wanted that could define if trump commit ated a crime. >> michael cohen was getting at, i understood what i was supposed to do. you were a better servant, if he
didn't have to tell you, cheat, lie and betray this one. it was all automatic. that made him a good person in the trump mob family. >> reporter: mcdonald says after watching how mob bosses operate, he thinks the president seems to relish the comparisons. >> we have a president who seeps to go through life trying to imitate john gotti, the former boss of the gambino crime family. he starts off with the strut. every time i see him, he seems to be wearing the overcoat. he has the strut, the skocowl o his face. >> reporter: the larger comparison is cultural. a culture they describe inside the trump organization of threats, betrayal and one way loyalty. >> donald trump, like most mob bosses, doesn't feel beholden to the people beneath him.
if he were loyal, he would have given michael cohen a job in the administration. he would have given him a pretty good job. i believe that michael cohen did not get a job because his children, donald trump's children, saw michael as part of a servant class. they saw him as a guy who was good at being a thug. >> reporter: the white house has not weighed in on the comparisons to the mob. white house press secretary sarah sanders has called michael cohen a disgraced felon and said, it's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like cohen at his word. brian todd, cnn, washington. joining us now, a trump biographer and author of the book, "the trumps, three generations of builders and a president." we heard all about this culture around president trump being compared to the mob. based on your own experience and observations, is that a fair comparison? >> no paper trail. that's what the people who work for him told me.
no paper trail. no memos. everything oral. >> really? why was that? were they paranoid? was there something sketchy going on? >> well, i think maybe some of both. it was indeed this sort of utmost loyalty regime. people were expected to be completely loyal, completely available 24/7. this was before -- this was back when he was starting out in new york and in the casinos. this was before cellphones made everybody in the world available 24/7. they were expected to be available 24/7. i think one of the things that michael cohen said during his testimony that was interesting and didn't get picked up much was he said, in a way, it was exciting. you were working for this guy who was going outside the rules. doing something different. you felt like you were on this express train. that's what a lot of people told me.
they were doing things that were unconventional, untraditional. some of it didn't have the background that you would have expected for the jobs that they had. that was very intoxicating. in the course of all of that, did they go over the line? i think we're seeing the evidence of that. sure. >> i wonder, how much of trump's world and sort of way he went about things comes from roy cohen, the infamous attorney who is best known for being joseph mccarthy's right-hand man. >> quite a bit. school of roy, school of dad, fred, be tough as nails, don't give an inch. everything for you. nothing for the other guy. tough, tough, tough negotiator. that's dad. school of roy was whatever you can get away with. that's the only bright line. that's it. all the things we have become familiar with, punch back, never apologize, never back down, come
back harder, they accuse you, throw it back in their face, that's all roy. i think to me that boils down to what you can get away with. that was very much what was going on. school of dad, school of roy, school of norman vincent peel. he had that emphasis as seeing yourself as successful. he didn't suggest that you obliterate opposition. he didn't suggest breaking the law. that focus on the power of being completely, totally sure of yourself as successful. if he does it, it's successful. if somebody flops, it's somebody else's fault. >> it's this idea of show no weakness. i'm always right. even going so far as to say i never said that when somebothin is caught on tape. do not back down is the strategy that he comes at so much with using. i want to ask you about something else we heard from
cohen this week. he spoke of the way trump allegedly inflated his wealth whether it came to insurance claims. or he deflated it when it came to tax purposes. is that something you witnessed or have any observation on? >> well, the real estate business is a famously -- to be generous -- flexible situation. much depends on the owner, the developer's estimate of what something is worth. his father was very, very good at estimates, getting federal subsi subsidies, where he would get a federal subsidy based on an estimate. when the cost came in, they were less. amazing. he would keep that original federal subsidy. donald was the original apprentice with his dad. saw that flexibility of real estate. to be fair, it's not just the trumps. that's that world. it's very much involved with
something is worth what you say it's worth. that was something that he earned -- learned early on and the taxes that you pay depend on a lot -- a significant extent on those estimates. >> that's right. appreciate your insight. thanks. >> nice to be here. >> following in his father's footsteps. the report from the state department about osama bin la n laden's son and his plans for the future. y has a membership to this gym, but he's not using it. and he has subscriptions to a music service he doesn't listen to and five streaming video services he doesn't watch. this is jerry learning that he's still paying for this stuff he's not using. he's seeing his recurring payments in control tower in the wells fargo mobile app. this is jerry canceling a few things. booyah. this is jerry appreciating the people who made this possible. oh look, there they are. (team member) this is wells fargo.
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name. ed by bin laden. the state department just announced it's offering $1 million for information of his whereabouts. he is broadcasting messages vowing revenge on america for killing his father. jake tapper reports. >> reporter: like father, like son. osama bin laden's son is one of the state department's most wanted. the u.s. offering $1 million for information on the whereabouts of the man said to be emerging as a new leader in al qaeda. >> it's a heads up we are looking for you. we will get you. >> his terrorist pedigree not just from his famous last name, showing his wedding in 2009 to a senior al qaeda leader's daughter in iran. he has appeared in al qaeda
propaganda videos since he was a child. u.s. officials say documents recovered from the navy seal raid that killed osama, indicated he was grooming him for a leadership role. >> he was writing him letters when he was on the run. he was supposed to be in the compound in pakistan where bin laden was killed the night of the raid. >> reporter: it's that raid that may be driving the son. >> he threatened to attack the united states in revenge for the may 2011 killing of his father. >> reporter: the u.s. officially designated him as a terrorist in 2017. now all u.n. members are required to freeze all of his assets. the intelligence community warns that al qaeda, which perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, is rebuilding. attacks that led to the war in afghanistan, the longest war, continuing today, with 14,000 u.s. troops in the country. al qaeda has been weakened in recent years.
the u.s. has been focused on the threat from isis in syria and iraq. al qaeda's rebuilding and wants to re-establish itself as the leader of a global extremist movement. >> al qaeda is show iing growth. >> al qaeda retains the capability and intent to hit us. >> reporter: one of the last attacks was the 2005 london bus and subway bombings. al qaeda affiliates have been carrying out attacks more recently. in january of this year, al shabab killed 21 in an attack on a nairobi hotel. in response to the actions again him the son, the u.s. state department believe he is on the afghanistan/pakistan border and could cross into iran. >> a younger guy who has been in the group since basically he was a child is i think a significant
threat. >> reporter: jake tapper, cnn, washington. just a quick programming note. fareed zakaria shares the story of saudi arabia, a kingdom of secrets, tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on cnn. we'll be right back. o chase odo. get automatic odor neutralization with air wick pure freshmatic. just load, click and set to forget odors up to 60 days. air wick pure freshmatic
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you are live in the "cnn newsroom." great to have you with us. breaking his own record after a week marred by defeat and controversy, president trump delivered the longest speech of his presidency. ditching his prepared remarks, he went on the attack. attacking the robert mueller investigation, attacking james comey, rod rosenstein, jeff sessions. even mocking his own infamous calls for russia to find hillary clinton's e-mails.
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