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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 9, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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host terrorists on u.s. toil. wilbur ross threatened to fire top weather officials after the president's false claim that alabama might be hit by hurricane dorian was contradicted. the controversy building since mr. trump chose eshowed off a b altered map. cnn learned about a mission to extract a high level russian in the government. stand by for details and how it was spurred by concerns about mr. trump's handling of classified intelligence. starting impeachment. the house judiciary committee is nearing a vote to set ground rules for impeachment investigation. will it ultimately lead to a formal effort to force mr. trump out of office? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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breaking news, president trump declares afghanistan peace talks are dead even as he defends his cancelled plans to host taliban leaders at camp david. mr. trump says it was his decision to call off the meeting after a u.s. soldier was killed by a taliban car bomb. sources tell cnn some of mr. trump's top advisers, including the vice president has warned him against meeting with allies of the 9/11 terrorists. also breaking, more fall out from his defense of his claim that hurricane dorian might hit alabama. the new york times now reporting the commerce secretary wilbur ross threatened to fire top noaa employees after the agencies birmingham office contradicted the president. i'll get reaction from jerry connelly. first, let's go to our white house correspondent. the president is rejecting harsh
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criticism of his willingness to meet with the taliban at camp david. >> reporter: he's standing by his location choice even though he's facing push back not only from democrats and republicans. he got some criticism for the choice by members of his own staff who said they thought the venue of camp david just days away from the 9/11 anniversary was inappropriate but now the meeting the president pushed for himself and said he cancelled by himself has been scrapped at the last minute. tonight president trump declared u.s. peace talks with the taliban dead after his abrupt announcement and cancellation of a secret summit with the group's leaders. >> they're dead. they're dead. as far as i'm concerned, they're dead. >> reporter: the meeting was kept under wraps until he tweeted about it announcing he was calling it off because the taliban admitted to a suicide attack that killed an american soldier and 11 others. >> the only reason i cancelled
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is because they killed one of our soldiers. >> reporter: sources say there was more to it than that. >> it was my idea and it was my idea to terminate it. >> reporter: trump pushed for the last minute summit after growing unhappy with the status of the talk and thought he, the deal maker in chief, could get last minute concessions from the taliban in a presidential setting. >> in terms of advisers, i took my own advice. >> reporter: no many agreed with his tactic or venue including mike pence and john bolton who argued holding a summit on u.s. soil with the leaders of the group that harbored the al qaeda terrorisms behind 9/11 was tnot the right idea. >> the alternative was the white house and you wouldn't be happy with that either. >> these are terrorists. >> i do not want to see these terrorists step foot on united states soil, period. >> reporter: trump says the talks are off.
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his secretary of state says they are off for now. >> it will ultimately be up to the taliban. >> reporter: sources tell cnn new dates for another meeting are already being discussed. while trump were willing to let the leaders of the taliban visit the u.s. he's now sure about the hurricane survivors from the bahamas after dozens of people seeking refuge were kicked off a ferry headed for ft. lauderdale. >> i don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the bahamas to come in the united states including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers. >> reporter: customs and border patrol says the ferry operator is to blame but trump said he agrees with the move. >> everybody needs totally proper documentation. >> reporter: speaking of hurricane dorian, the new york times is now reporting the
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commerce secretary wilbur ross threatened to fire top officials at noaa after the agency contradicted the president when he claimed hurricane dorian could hit alabama last week. a claim that's led todays of fall out and had wilbur ross threatening to fire several officials is a report that the commerce department is denying saying he did not try to fire anyone at that agency but we should note they did issue a strange statement on friday night that was not attributed to any official at the agency that rebutted its own claims that no, alabama was not in the path of hurricane dorian. >> thank you. now to the push for impeachment. a key house committee is heading toward a vote to set the ground rules for its investigation. our congressional correspondent is on capitol hill. does that mean an impeachment
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inquiry is you shouunder way? >> reporter: democrats say yes. a vote will happen on thursday with formalize this as being an impeachment inquiry. the resolution they are voting for is a very small but important procedural detail in all this. really laying out the parameters for the committee going forward and potentially pushing towards articles of impeachment later there year. we'll give the chairman a lot more leeway, a lot more tools in his tool box being able to call sub committee hearings on impeachment and empower committee staff and lawyers and ask questions of witnesses in committee and democratic aids in the house judiciary tell cnn that the goal they have is to potentially recommends, potentially recommend articles of impeecachment by the end of this calendar year. a huge factor remains nancy pelosi who has been opposed to
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moving ahead on impeachment and today she really dodged questions whether this means the house is in formal impeachment inquiry. she said they continue to push on with investigations and that impeachment is a possibility. >> thank you. a cnn exclusive about a secret u.s. mission to extract a top spy from russia. we're told it was driven in part by concerns about president trump's handling of sensitive classified intelligence. our chief national security correspondent broke the story for us. tell our viewers what you have learned. >> multiple trump administration officials with direct knowledge tell me that in a previously undisclosed, secret mission in 2017, the u.s. successfully extracted from russia one of its highest level covert sources inside the russian government. a person directly involved in the discussions said this removal of the russian was driven in part by concerns that
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president trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and that could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy. the decision to carry out the extraction occurred skooon aftea may 2017 meeting in the oval office in which trump discussed highly classified intelligence with russian minister and ambassador. the intelligence concerning isis in syria had been provided by israel. the disclosure to the russians by the president though not about the russian spy prompted intelligence officials to renew discussions about the risk of exposure. this according ining to to sour directly involved. mike pompeo said too much information was coming out in public regarding this spy. >> jim, this wasn't the first time they were concerned about this asset being exposed. >> no. this context is important.
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at the end of the obama administration, u.s. intelligence officials expressed concerns about this and other russian spies given the length of their cooperation with the u.s. this according to a former senior intelligence official. those concerns grew in early 2017 after the u.s. intel community we released to the puc russian meddling that said russian president had ordered the operation. the intel community shared a classified version of the report. senior u.s. intelligence officials considered extracting one russian asset at that time but did not do so according to the former senior intelligence official. the meeting in may 2017 raised new concerns in the intel community which continued to grow. i should note this because none of this happened in isolation. weeks after this decision to extract this covert spy, the president met privately with russian president vladmir putin
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at the g-20 summit in hamburg. intelligence officials expressed concern the president may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with russia. this is knowledge of the intel's community response to that trump-putin meeting. >> what's been the administration's response to your reporting? >> i reached out to the white house. a u.s. official suggested there was media speculation about a covert operative but could not point to any public reporting. the cia director told cnn, cnn's narrative that life or death decisions based on anything other than object ifr aive anal and sound collection is false. the president's handling of our most sensitive intelligence drove an operation alleged exfiltration operation is
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inaccurate. mike pompeo declined to comment for the story. white house press secretary says cnn story is not only incorrect but has the potential to put lives in danger. this removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by trump and his administration. those concerns were described to me by five sources who served in the trump administratioadminist served in the intelligence agency and congress. cnn is with holding several details to reduce the risk of this person's identification. >> thank you. joining me congressman jerry connelly who serve ons foreis o foreign affairs and oversight. let me get your reaction to this reporting. what did you make of that report? >> the white house referred to misguided speculation. i don't think it's misguided. i think there was plenty of reason to believe fear that this
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president's recklessness with the intelligence he gets both on camera, through tweets and by meeting with foreign adversaries and sharing sources and methods deeply concerned our own intelligence agencies and they movered, correctly, to protect human assets. i think it's a sad commentary about this president and this administration. i'm glad they did because lives would have been lost. >> let me get your thoughts on the other new reporting we're getting from the new york tiemg ti -- times that wilbur ross threatened to fire employees from noaa for contradicting the president's claim that hurricane dorian could hit alabama. you said in the oversight committee. >> absolutely, wolf. let's remember the history of wilbur ross.
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put aside the fact he was on the board of directors of the bank of cypress laundering machine. as commerce secretary he has a record of lying to congress about the census question which proved pretty critical and a source of deep embarrassment because of his imagination and untruths. now we find he is suppressing science. the american people count. we got a real problem in america and even trump supporters who rely on the national weather service are going to be concerned whether it's hurricanes or tornadoes or whether patterns or blizzards in the winter. we rely on their accuracy. to have a political figure like wilbur ross decide you will not
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talk about that, you will not contradict the president even though he makes a misstatement and your statement is based on science, that's a troubling development. i call for wilbur ross to resign over this. >> there was statement denying the new york times report but the new york times has pretty good sources on this story as well. let's move on. i want to get the reaction that the president invited taliban leaders to camp david. what's your reaction to this? >> besides the fact i think camp david is kind of semi sacred kroun ground for americans, it's a revere place and not place for the taliban. ever. i don't think we ought to be cutting deal like this with the taliban. this is a cut and run deal. after 18 years, the longest american war in our history, i think you have to negotiate for much better terms and we're not getting good terms.
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if this deal were to go through, it's going to put all afghan women at risk. it will put all intellectual and academic types in afghanistan at risk. it will return to country to medieval execution and tortures based on sharia law. it will completely kill the pre-muslim culture as we saw during taliban rule where they destroyed unesco revered artifacts throughout the country. this is not a good deal. it's virtually handing over the country to the taliban. it's time to start over. i'm glad, not nor tfor the rease gave, that the president killed the visit. he shouldn't have agreed in first place. >> what do you think it will take to get a deal so the united states can bring home, the u.s. still has about 14,000 troops in afghanistan and thousands more contractors and diplomats and
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zif civilians in afghanistan. >> that's going to be the subject of much tougher negotiations but i think you can look at this deal as proposed and almost anyone can concludes you could get a better deal. this is fig leaf deal to allow the handover back to the taliban with sort of an empty promise of we'll do better. given their track record, you're condemning millions of afghans to a terrible fate. i don't think america should do that as a matter of national honor. >> thanks so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. plst mothere's more breakin. we'll have more on the top government scientists threatened with firing for contradicting president trump's incorrect claim about hurricane dorian. f. babies too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough are the most at risk for severe illness. help prevent this! talk to your doctor or pharmacist today about getting vaccinated against whooping cough.
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we're following multiple breaking stories including new reporting on the president's dogged defense of the claim that hurricane dorian might hit alabama. commerce secretary wilbur ross threatened to fire top weather officials at noaa after the birmingham office contradicted mr. trump's claim. secretary ross commerce department is disputing the new york times report.
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let's discuss with our analysts and experts. what do you think of this development? >> this story, if true, and ross is denying it and the new york times is reporting it with multiple sources, is not the way government is supposed to work. what the noaa was doing was trying to keep people out of harm's way and people depend on the weather service in these kinds of times, hurricanes, any kind of storm, to operate in an ethical manner and in a responsibility manner. i want to quote something that senator john thune said is we want to weather service to operate with integrity and without bias. that is what we should expect. it's a remarkable abuse of power if true. >> is this further evidence that top administration officials are willing to go to any length, david, to defend the president?
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>> it is, wolf. you have a situation here and as gloria was saying for a week the administration pressed ahead with this controversy, this back and forth over something that should be non-controversy and non-partisan. they could have said at a much earlier stage that alabama was in some map but at some point we realized it wasn't. our mistake. moving on. let's focus on the hurricane. you get to a point where it gets to a cabinet level official having to send the message down the line that facts are not as important as protecting the reputation of the president. >> samantha what does it tell you about cabinet's secretary role in the trump administratioadministratio administration? >> the job of a cabinet secretary is not to be the president's personal censor. wilbur ross is doing the exact opposite of his job. his job is to help promote business interest. part of noaa's job is to provide
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reliable information to communities and businesses so they can mitigate the financial and human costs associated with extreme weather. if wilbur ross is not allowing real news to get out, his putting businesses at risk. he's putting human lives at risk and over the long time why this matters so much is the credibility of the word of the united states has been so tarnished under the president. if we can't trust the weather, if we can't trust what's coming out of the white house. president trump is taking a page from putin spreading misinformation while engaging in senatorship a century sensorship and no one knows what is fact or fiction. >> i disagree. i think it's kim jong-un. it's a north korean style to government. >> let's call it non-democratic. >> the dear leader can never be seen to make a mistake. decent, honorable federal
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employees and yii used to work r the federal government. they're trying to do their job. they're trying to protect the people of alabama from wrong information that could lead to stampedes or lines at gas stations. instead you have this authoritarian government trying to threaten their jobs because their contradicting the false statements of the president. >> if wilbur ross did this, who told him to do it? did he just pick up the phone and say i think i'll call and scream at this guy and tell him his job is in danger or do you think just make he got a call from the white house or somebody very high up in the white house. >> everybody spins. >> not in a hurricane. >> you don't spin about people's lives. you don't do that.
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don't spin about things that could provide danger to american citizens. >> in the new york times report is true he thinks ross should be fired or resigned. >> other members are saying the same thing. what do you think? >> the other person that is unhappy with wilbur ross for other reasons is donald trump. apparently he falls asleep in meetings which is a problem for the president. wilbur ross is one of the few survivors of the original cabinet. the president has soured on every one he hired in january of 2017. ross' days are numbered in any case. it will be interesting to see if they can bring ross in to testify and explain what went on and see if other members of noaa and the weather service contradict what he says.
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if you have the new york times saying one thing and the trump administration saying something else, you should believe the new york times 99,000 times out of a million, i got my numbers mixed up there. >> everybody stand by. there's a lot more math we'll be working on this hour. we'll be right back. do you have concerns about mild memory loss related to aging? prevagen is the number one pharmacist-recommended memory support brand. you can find it in the vitamin aisle in stores everywhere. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. i can taste my beer! i can taste my beer. i can taste his beer.
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we're back with our analysts and reporting that united states successfully extracted a high level covert source inside the russian government back in 2017. cnn has learned the secret mission was driven in part by concerns that president trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy. amazing reporting. >> it's really troubling, wolf. when you can't trust -- when your own intelligence agency is worried about an important asset overseas because you cannot trust the administration to handle the intelligence and spill the beans, i mean i don't know how you can operate covertly. in particular, when one of the people you can't trust is the president of the united states. i mean this has never occurred before in my memory and as jim
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is reporting that the decision to carry out the extraction occurred after this may 2017 meeting with the president and foreign minister in the oval office. what was that about? >> how do you think, is a saman you used to work in the office, the officers feel about this? >> i don't think anybody whether it's a u.s. intelligence officer operating under seas or a foreign asset feels very safe working for the u.s. government right now. the cia's job is not the baby sit the president. it's to provide him with timely intelligence. they have been doing that, babying the president and his worse impulses even before he came into office. it's important to remind all our viewers why all this matters. why it matters the president can't be trusted with intelligence. it's always difficult to recruit, manage and sustain foreign assets. there's a huge amount of risk that goes into working with the
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u.s. government especially in russia because they assassinate people they deem disloyal. at this point the culation is s the adverse because of the president's cavalier attitude. we will have less assets providing intelligence to the united states. we'll have less intelligence partners providing intelligence and our policy makers won't have information on threats to our election, our homeland. that impacts american's national security more broadly. >> it follows troubling conduct by the president as far as russia is concerned. >> the pictures you just put up, maybe we can put them back. the best thing know about those pictures, look at the photo credit. there were no americans in that. there were no american journalists at that meeting. just russian journalists. service touch an extraordinary outrage. that was the meeting where the president said to the russian
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officials, i had great pressure from comey, the director of the fbi. that's whiepy i fired him. the mueller report wasn't that long ago. the russians helped donald trump get elected president. we know that. maybe he's grateful to them. maybe why over and over again whether it's in the ukraine or at the press conference at helsinki he is endlessly def deferreason defe deferrential to vladmir putin. >> you lose that and if the cia judges you have to exfiltrate their source for their own protection and the protection of russians not knowing how we're getting information. you don't just reinfiltrate
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someone else overnight. it's like a priceless resource lost that takes time to rebuild. >> what do you think of the president's decision to cancel secret talks with taliban leaders. >> we were just talking about this. obviously, camp david is not place to invite anybody from the taliban. the president was musing today about where he might have had it. these are people who should not be brought to those places. that's a question open for discussion. why did the president announce that he had cancelled a meeting that was secret is my question. you were talking about how many meetings secret -- >> they are supposed to stay secret for a reason. >> they're on and off and on and off. right. >> exactly.
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you don't want to hedge in your negotiators. >> so why announce it? >> you don't want to take away the ability to get back to the negotiating table. the president did that. >> he's all about the photo op. if you know you're not going to get the photo op. what's the next best thing? i'll let people know there was going to be a photo op. >> the taliban is a terrible organization and they have done terrible things but if we're ever going to get out of afghanistan and we've been there for 18 years, maybe we actually do have to talk to them. >> you can talk to them but you don't have to bring them into -- >> the location is not right. >> everybody stick around. there's a lot more we need to cover right now as congress faces tough decisions about possible gun legislation. cnn investigates unlicensed gun dealers who are selling weapons without any background checks.
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tonight a cnn investigation into unlicensed gun dealers who sell weapons without any background checks. the shooting rampage in west texas over labor day weekend is raising new questions about
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loopholes in federal oversight of private gun sales. here is cnn senior investigative correspondent. >> reporter: in many states, including texas, guns are being sold with no background check required. sold in private sales or by repeat sellers called unlicensed gun dealers. a cnn investigation earlier this year found dozens of criminal cases against alleged unlicensed dealers, some who sold hundreds of weapons without any background checks. providing criminals, the mentally ill and prohibited processers with weapons. many of these guns can be linked to violence across the country, to murders, assault, armed robberies, suicide. >> while the firearms i've seen recovered in violent crimes have come through the hands of unlicensed dealers. some get prosecuted. i would say most do not. >> reporter: in 2017, a gun allegedly sold by a suspected illegal dealer in nevada was used in the fatal shooting of a
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california sheriff's deputy. last year a gun sold by an unlicensed dealer was used in the slaying of an off duty police commander in chicago. now in odessa, texas, seven people dead, 25 injured by a shooter with a gun he bought without a background check from a private party sell. unlicensed sa ed sellers sellin private party with a vague law that does not set a limit for the number that can be sold. they peddle weapons on the internet, gun shows, parking lots, from the trunk of their cars. some boast of hassle tree, no paper work deals. they are the most unlikely of suspects. a police officer, a defense department employee, a dea supervisor. members of a prominent farming family in washington sold guns for years without background checks. dozens of the guns traced to crimes on the west coast including the 2014 shooting of a
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budding engineer whose career was cut short. >> by time i ducked and tried to run away, the second shot caught me from the back. >> reporter: there are plenty of critics that say background checks would not have prevented most of the mass killings and will not stop criminals from buying guns. even legal purchases from private sellers do not require background checks which makes it easy for anyone to get their hand onss on a powerful weapon. in 2005, we produced this story to show how easy it is to buy a gun without a background check. >> it's a.50 caliber rifle, a weapon of war. with.50 caliber bullets so powerful they can pierce a one inch steel plate. we found it for sale by a private seller on the internet,
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set up a meeting and bought it at a suburban home in houston. the transaction took 20 minutes. since the time we purchased this weapon with no background check required, there's been three u.s. presidents, eight congresss, two texas governors and though some states have paz passed laws to ban sales of the.50 caliber rifle, in texas nothing has changed. criminals, drug dealers, the mentally ill can buy guns through private party sales, no questions asked. why? u.s. representative peter king, a new york republican, says his colleagues fear the nra who have spread fear, he says, that even a common sense universal background check threatens the second amendment. >> not trying to take anybody's gun away unless you're a person with mental illness or a convicted felon. there's a fear among -- certainly within the republican party that any attempt to regulate the sale of guns, the possession of guns, violates the
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second amendment as the first step towards taking every one's gun away. >> a universal background check won't stop the mass killings, but it will close this loophole that we're talking about allowing unlicensed dealers to operate under this vague federal statute and despite the nra push back, guns are sold to drug dealers and mentally ill because there's no background check. >> thanks for that excellent report. just ahead, a dramatic rescue. after four crew members trapped aboard a capsized cargo ship are found alive. eally pride ourselvn making it easy for you to get your windshield fixed. with safelite, you can see exactly when we'll be there. saving you time for what you love most. >> kids: whoa! >> kids vo: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪
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tonight, a week before crucial elections in israel, prime minister benjamin netanyahu is again warning about the threat from iran. cnn's oren liebermann reports. >> reporter: tonight, prime minister benjamin netanyahu revealing what he says are new secrets from iran's nuclear archi archive. >> on this site, iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons. >> reporter: and calling once again on the international community to follow the lead of president donald trump and sanction iran. >> the only way to stop iran's march to the bomb and its aggression in the region is pressure, pressure, and more
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pressure. >> reporter: today's revelation produced with visual aids, was something the embattled israeli leader had promised for weeks. though not nearly as dramatic as back in may 2018 -- >> iran lied. >> reporter: when netanyahu reveal eed they had stolen iran nuclear archive in a prime-time presentation. the only catch, analysts say none of this information is a game changer. the signatories to the nuclear deal knew about it for years, before the deal was signed. the iaea says there was no work on any deals after 2009. and analysts say none of what netanyahu showed off today shows iran violating the deal. >> i think it's pretty underwhelming. what you would really need is a site that was active in the recent period, in order to suggest that iran wasn't complying with its commitments. and, you know, we've seen a new pictures, but we are really far from that at this moment. >> reporter: still, trump said last year's presentation by netanyahu was part of the reason he decided to leave the iran
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nuclear deal. >> this disastrous deal -- >> reporter: and that was a win for netanyahu. >> what we see as a consistent pattern of iran lies, deception, and violations. >> reporter: critics say israel's mr. security is looking for another win in a tough election eight days away. his rivals slammed the statement as electioneering. on twitter, benny gonks said netanyahu's use of sensitive security information for propaganda indicates poor judgment, saying even in his last days as prime minister, netanyahu cares only about netanyahu. if netanyahu's goal here was to try to prevent a meeting between trump and the iranian president, that also appears to have failed at this point. trump saying today he'd be willing to meet iranian president hassan rouhani. and it was iran's foreign minister who was quick to respond to netanyahu saying on twitter, the possessor of real nukes cries wolf on an alleged demolished site in horan. he then went on to mock
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netanyahu's speech from congress in 2002. so he had no problem attacking netanyahu's presentation here. >> oren liebermann in jerusalem for us. thanks for that report. just ahead, there's breaking news on a capsized cargo ship off georgia and the fate of four crew members trapped onboard. for your worst cold and flu symptoms, on sunday night and every night. nyquil severe. the nightime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, best sleep with a cold, medicine.
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we just learned four crew members on a cargo ship capsized off georgia have been rescued. the salvage team made contact with them this morning,
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discovering them after hearing tapping sounds from inside the ship. 20 other crew members were rescued early sunday. officials are trying to determine why the ship capsized. good news for a rescue. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, trump says he knows nothing about sharing classified information. cnn learning, though, that he is part of the reason that his own intelligence agency pulled a top spy from putin's inner circle. plus, profiting off the presidency. trump insisting he never ordered his vice president or the air force to stay at his resorts, but his explanation doesn't seem to add up. and trump making a last-minute push for a republican in a must-win special election tonight. will the president's presence there live this hour hurt his candidate or not? let's go "outfront"? and good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, trump stumped. the president who claims to know better than anyone else suddenly knows nothing

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