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tv   CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar  CNN  September 27, 2019 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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shift towards favoring impeachment, 44%. brianna keilar starts right now. have a great afternoon. i'm brianna keilar live from washington's cnn headquarters. we begin with the white house admitting a key claim in the whistleblower report of president trump asking a foreign president to dig up dirt on joe biden and his son. lawyers say they did direct that the phone call between trump and the ukranian president be filed in a separate server system. the whistleblower describes how white house officials had intervened to lockdown all the records of the july 25th phone call with ukraine. that lockdown allegedly included moving the word-for-word
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transcript from the area where these calls are usually stored to a separate system which houses the most classified information about covert actions. keep in mind that's not supposed to happen without a paper trail, a formal request from a top white house official. this reporting first here on cnn is from our senior white house correspondent pamela brown. pamela, tell us how the white house is explaining this move? >> basically with the statement out this morning, the white house is acknowledging that, yes, an nfc lawyer directed the conversation between president trump and the ukranian president to be moved to a classified system, but officials said it was appropriate. the way white house officials are explaining this is, look, the transcript was already classified so we didn't do anything wrong by moving it to a separate system, but it is important to know that this was in a highly classified system. we've seen from the transcript that it didn't meet the bar for that highly classified
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information. the move is unusual, but this was a statement given to us this morning. let me just read it. nfc lawyers directed that the highly classified document be handled appropriately. just to take a step back, the way this would work is you have a lawyer that normally handles national security issues that would reach out to the intelligence director and say, hey, i want you to move this to your system, because the intelligence director handles where the transcript went. this raises questions of what else was also placed in that system, what other head of state calls. what i was told was the practice actually changed last year after they were leaks of head of state transcripts between the president and others. so the practice changed to move the transcripts into a place where a lot of people couldn't access the transcript. >> all of them or just -- >> we don't know, and we're trying to get more clarity. the more transparent the white house could be, it would be helpful, obviously, to learn about the why. why was this moved?
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was there the only transcript moved? was there others? my understanding is they wanted to cut down on leaks, and reading this complaint from the whistleblower, which the state confirms this did happen, was that this was politically damaging information in the transcript and this was done to protect the president, basically because it made him look bad. what's also interesting in this is that administration officials, allies of the president, continue to go after this whistleblower, attacking the credibility of the whistleblower. we are able to now corroborate some of what was in that complaint, and there is no indication also, brianna -- and i'm told by a senior administration official that the white house, including the president, knows the identity of the whistleblower, even though the president continues to be on the attack. >> pamela brown, thank you so much for that great reporting. the president again today claiming that his phone call with president zelensky was appropriate. it was a perfect conversation with ukraine president, he tweeted. but when you read the
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whistleblower's complaint, those around the president certainly didn't see it that way. joining me now to talk about this is cnn legal analyst jack quinn, former white house counsel in the clinton administration. so, jack, what do you think about administration officials directing this move of the documents as we're hearing from the white house this what appears to be spin that this was appropriate? >> well, look, it's important for us to know whether this was a unique situation or whether it was consistent with practice, whether they had changed the rules and decided that all conversations with foreign leaders should be deemed to be sensitive and compartmented information. that's what warrants classification different and higher than top secret. or whether, you know, the only documents that were going into that category were those which might have political implications for the president,
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you know, or be personally harmful. you know, you're expressly not allowed to classify something for purposes of protecting your personal interests, your reputation and so on. on the face of it, this seems to be very unusual. it's sensitive, compartmented information. it is a higher category of classification than top secret, but again, there are other things that go in that. now, i will say that one thing -- and it's important to emphasize that the national security council has its own lawyers and they sometimes work for the white house council, and they sometimes don't. sometimes they leave the whoite house council in the dark. there is just a lot we need to know about who was involved in this process. by the way, it's a little surprising to me and i'm a
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little skeptical that the decision to put this material in the sci database was made by lawyers, even if they were lawyers for the national security council. i'd like to know -- look, there is a director in the nfc that would oversee this process. that person may have been involved in this decision. the national security adviser well may have been involved and certainly would be aware of it. >> what would point be, then, jack, of saying it was lawyers that directed this? >> i don't know. again, we need to explore all those questions. i mean, i would find that really remarkable that this was done without the knowledge or authorization or at the direction of the head of the nfc national security council director, or indeed, of the
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national security adviser, namely john bolton. i'll be shocked if this went into the sci database and john bolton was unaware of it. that's an early question i would like the answer to, and like a lot of other things, we've got a lot of questions to find out what really happened here. you know, it's going to take a while to pry that information out, i suspect, but they need to get on it and they need to get on it quickly. >> i want to bring in our reuters correspondent and carol schiffman. jack is saying they need to get on this quick. certainly democrats are trying to get on this kick. this is during recess, right? >> we don't know if that will be public hearings like we watched
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yesterday with the dni, and members will stay in town, too. usually lawmakers like to protect their vacations, but this is so big and they have such limited time if they want to do something. everybody is talking about urgency of not just what's in the whistleblower complaint, but if they're going to do this and lead down the road to impeachment, they don't have much time to waste. they're clearly going to be going through that whistleblower complaint, trying to talk to the dozen white house officials and others that they mentioned that he references in there as well as the whistleblower himself or herself, and try to get as much of that information collected that they're ready to do something when everybody is in town. we don't have a guarantee that they will be doing public hearings but it's on the table. we may see the icig coming for that, we may see others. >> and jeff, it was just reported that the information
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was moved, but the white house is calling this appropriate. that said, doesn't this lend credibility to the whistleblower who says that this was moved? or is the white house trying to maybe, i guess, lend credibility to that part of the story but not the inappropriate allegation from the whistleblower? >> we'll look a little bit into the strategy of president trump and people around him have used, both in this crisis and others. he'll start to say, no, that didn't happen, and then he'll say, yes, it d bid, but it was fine, and then he'll say the problem is someone whetted this out. now he'll say, yes, it's true, we did do that but it was fine. their reason, pam was suggesting earlier as well, this is a white house that has dealt with some leaks, and leaks in particular of transcripts. it falls into the category of we have a reason, but that doesn't dispute, obviously, what the whistleblower has said.
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>> it's also a white house that as much as they've taken a stand in interest of documents and things like that, where the president has spoken very much out of turn. he's spoken about this, so has his lawyer rudy giuliani. it's difficult for them to take a position of total lockdown because people at the center of this have been saying so much. >> let's talk about rudy giuliani, because he's been saying even by rudy giuliani standards some really kind of eyebrow-raising things. he said to alana plott who is acting, he said, i'm not acting as a lawyer. anything he did should be praised. then he said, if this guy is a whistleblower, then i'm a whistleblower, too. you should be happy for your country that i've uncovered this. what's happening, jeff? you've covered the white house a lot, you've covered rudy
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giuliani. what do you make of this? >> it's hard to explain. in this case it's giuliani trying to say that everything he's doing was right but sort of ignoring the fact that what he was doing in ukraine was absolutely on behalf of a client. and he has said that, that he was working on behalf of his client who was president donald trump. that has clearly blurred some lines for out crathe ukrainnian created problems for the state department as well. >> he showed text messages, then what we're hearing from the state department envoy is basically -- or the reporting about the objective of the state department envoy was they were sort of just trying to contain, manage rudy giuliani knowing that he's operating really in a sphere that he shouldn't be. >> right, and that is the whole push and pull. is the president using an official -- his official title and responsibilities and channels, basically, to conduct
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personal business? rudy giuliani does not have a role in the government and the administration. he's the president's lawyer and that's very nice, but he's not a whistleblower in the same sense to someone who is internal to the government seeing something, pointing at it, going up the chain supposed to be having legal protections for that. that's the problem, and that would be wrong if that's the case. >> jack, you must have some interesting thoughts as you watch what rudy giuliani is doing. >> first of all, i think it's noteworthy that almost everything we've heard the whistleblower allege has turned out to be accurate. the and nothing that rudy giuliani has said -- has any evidence ba-- giuliani hajew --
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spot on with what transpired here. that to me is crystal clear. this whistleblower who, by the way, there is nothing more serious in my mind about this whole situation than the president's thinly veiled threats against the whistleblower and against any other government employee who dares to speak truth to this power. this to me is going to be at the heart of why donald trump will be impeached if in the end he is. >> jack quinn, thank you so much. karen demirjian, jeff mason, thank you as well. speaker pelosi says bill barr has gone rogue. may he be in any legal peril? plus, now that the investigation lies in the hands
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of the intel committees, congresswoman jackie speier is joining me to talk about who may be getting subpoenas. this is cnn special live coverage. i've always been fascinated by what's next. and still going for my best, even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin... i want that too. eliquis. eliquis is proven to reduce stroke risk better than warfarin. plus has significantly less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis is fda-approved and has both. what's next?
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bill barr of, quote, going rogue to protect the president. she tells cnn there may have been two cover-ups after it emerged the justice department was first alerted to the whistleblower complaint more than a week before the intelligence community inspector general formally revealed this to the doj. >> i think we're getting involved in a cover-up to a cover-up, and that will take some time to investigate. i do think the attorney general has gone rogue. he has for a long time now. since he was mentioned in all of this, it's curious that he would be making decisions about how the complaint would be handled. >> so this comes as the whistleblower gets a big credibility boost from the white house, because for the very first time, a senior white house official acknowledges to cnn that, yes, as the whistleblower claimed, lawyers did order aides to move the transcript of president trump's call to the president of ukraine somewhere that is typically reserved for
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highly classified and sensitive information. the house intelligence committee is now leading a formal impeachment investigation into president trump because of this complaint. congresswoman jackie speier is a member of the intelligence committee and she joined us from capitol hill. koj congresswoman, what do you make of this reporting, a quote from a senior white house official who said, nfc lawyers directed that the transcript be handled appropriately. >> the question is what's appropriately? was it doiprotecting something secret? certainly that call was not top secret, so if that was a way of covering it up so it wouldn't be a subject of review or dissem nation, they obviously failed in that because the whistleblower was able to file the complaint. a lot of it will be determined
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on what the definition of appropriate was and what the attention of the nfc lawyers were. >> part of the complaint is this cover-up we talked about, moving the call from one server where things are not highly classified to another where they are. how important is this to the impeachment effort compared to the president's effort to solicit help in an election from a foreign country? >> the illegal conduct of the president soliciting a campaign service from a foreign leader to get dirt on his political opponent is egregious. it is a gross violation of the law. it is corrupting. and i see that as a prima facie case in itself.
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beyond that, he has been withholding services, withholding weapons, withholding aid to ukraine for one reason, and i think that's becoming very apparent, because he wanted them to either come up with dirt on their own, fabricated if necessary, bring the attorney general of the united states into this, which is a totally political act. he has now taken rudy giuliani, and without having him vetted, without him getting a security clearance, without him being confirmed by the senate, he is acting as a rogue secretary of state on behalf of donald trump. so there are so many elements to this whistleblower complaint that we need to address. it's not just one. but i certainly believe the premiere issue is his egregious criminal conduct that would solicit aid from a foreign leader. >> are you going to call rudy giuliani before the committee?
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>> i certainly am going to recommend that we do so. i think we have to do that. >> who else do you want to hear from? >> i want to hear from the attorneys that first got this information from the whistleblower and then did everything in their power to suppress it so that the committee would never even access it, let alone the american people. the nfc attorneys who suggested it be moved from one server to another, to hide it, should also be called. i want to know all the officials in the white house who swear under oath to protect the constitution why they didn't speak up like this whistleblower did. they had an obligation as well. >> last night president trump's personal attorney rudy giuliani said that the state department directed him to meet with ukranian officials. let's listen to what rudy giuliani said. >> in fact, i'm a legitimate whistleblower. i have uncovered corruption that
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this washington swamp has been covering up effectively for years. and his state department asked me to do this. so, mike, if you're unhappy with me, i'm sorry, but i accomplished my mission. i have no idea if he's unhappy with me or not. i frankly don't care. i'm the presidential lawyer. >> and he also said he wasn't acting as the lawyer, as the president's lawyer. what do you make of all this, what you're hearing from rudy giuliani. >> i actually think rudy giuliani is digging himself a deeper hole, and i do believe that he is the political henchman for the president, not an attorney, not a person that is working for the state department. he hasn't been vetted, he hasn't been hired. he is not a federal employee. what's happened here is that you have him saying one thing to foreign leaders and you have the state department saying
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something else. and once again our national security is at risk. because this president is hell bent on accessing any information he can to use against his rival in the 2020 election. even if it's fabricated. even better if it's fabricated and then he can bring his attorney general into the discussion. >> this clearly has the votes in the house if this inquiry moove to a vote, which i think is a big expectation that it will happen. the senate, of course, is controlled by republicans. in order to move this all the way through congress, you would need significant republican support on your side. right now you don't have it. but i wonder what you may be hearing from your counterparts and if you think they will get behind this effort. >> you know, brianna, when president nixon was reelected in 1972, he was reelected by 60% of
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the vote. at the time of the leaking of the tape discussion and before the tapes had even been released, there were only 39% of the american people who supported an impeachment. but in a very short order that flipped. and the senate flipped. and president nixon could count and recognize that his best path forward was to resign. so i think we should just let the facts lead us where we need to go and let the senate take the steps it needs to protect the constitution of the united states. >> congresswoman jackie speier, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, brianna. two of the biggest questions right now, who are the white house officials involved in what democrats are calling a cover-up, and is there any potential legal exposure for them? plus, one allegation in the complaint that is not getting enough attention. what ukraine thought rudy giuliani was doing.
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takes over washington, we're already seeing a lot of public information on president trump's phone call to the ukranian president where he seeks dirt on joe biden. the whistleblower complaint is also now public, but there are a lot of republicans who say they haven't even read them yet. >> brianna, let's revisit. the whistleblower complaint is nine-ish pages long, the ukraine transcript is five pages long and these are not single-spaced. you can get through both of them with a thorough reading in about 30 minutes. haven't read it are just a few names. rob portman, lamar alexander, you haven't read it? no comment, need more info. again, trying to buy time.
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tom cotton has been one of the president's most loyalists. looking at 2024 probably to run for president. all keeping their options open. then we have this last group. there is nothing there that they've tried to do to discredit it. basically what lindsey graham said, he read out crathe ukrani transcript, and basically because he doesn't say, if you give me x, i'll give you y, there was no quid pro quo. also lindsey graham, in 1999, when he said the words are not the important thing, it's the intent. what's changed between now and then, brianna? back to you. >> chris cilliza, thank you so much. here to discuss this now with
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us, we have charlie dent and luis gutierrez. clearly, congressman dent, republicans don't know how to handle this if they're claiming they haven't read these documents. what is their thought process right now as they're trying to figure out exactly what to say and where to be on this? >> clearly they're buying time because this is a very easy read, as was just stated. very easy read. i read both of these, it didn't take long. once you read these things, and they're written in plain english, this is absolutely stunning. in my view, as a former chairman of the house ethics committee, i can tell you if somebody had presented this information to our committee that a member was collaborating with a foreign government to investigate his or her opponent with official government resources, that would have triggered an investigation immediately and probably a referral at some point to the department of justice. this is eye-popping full stop. without even getting into the quid pro quo aspect of this.
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i think they're just simply buying time. there is no defense for this. the president, he weaponized himself to damage joe biden, which i think he did, while simultaneously blowing up his own presidency. absolutely stunning. >> congressman gutierrez, i want to ask you about something that democrats have been saying. they have been saying republicans are going to come around. they look back to the nixon watergate hearings and they say, republicans came around. do you think they will? >> i don't think so. i don't think many. not enough so that you and i can call this a bipartisan process in the end. i think impeachment in and of itself is one where two parties really clash with one another, and who is going to fight for the soul of america versus so their party will be triumphant
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in the next election? who is going to put that first? but, look, i just want to say charlie is really on this. i read them both and here's what we need to understand. first we got the readout, partial redacted readout of the conversation between the president of ukraine and president trump. now you take this complaint by the whistleblower and it's amazing how much of it is the same, right? so this whistleblower who i want to say is a patriot because what he did is he said, listen, i saw something during my time, right? i have a responsibility to inform and i'm going to follow the proper channels. and lastly, i would say this. and charlie and i both know this. as foreign members of congress, we could never from our office even pick up a phone from our congressional office to ask somebody for a campaign contribution. what's more, we could not use
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our personal cell phone within the halls of congress to even do that, and this is much worse than that. so imagine the corrosiveness of the office of the presidency of the united states. >> congressman dent, the president has threatened this whistleblower. we know this. he said this to a crowd that he was speaking to yesterday. what do you make of that and how congress should react? >> again, another stunning statement. this whistleblower, from what i can tell, i read in i think the "new york times," said that he or she was a cia agent or employee. and i just can't believe the president of the united states -- >> cnn has not confirmed that. i just want to make that clear. >> i read that in the "new york times," i think. but the point is this person put his or her neck out to make this statement in good faith, and everything this whistleblower has said, as luis just stated,
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pretty much is compatible with what i read in the summary of the phone transcript. i think it's horrendous the president of the united states would make these type of threatening, moblike statements about an employee of the government who was alarmed by what he or she read, and apparently he wasn't the only one who saw this, but there was at least a dozen people on that call, and i think congress is the first to actually identify those people and bring them in to hear what they thought of the call. >> congressman dent, congressman gutierrez, thank you -- final word quickly, sorry. >> thank you. he's not a benedict arnold. he's a paul revere. he's a patriot. and he's bringing the forces of justice to bear and i think it's shocking that the president would use this kind of language. thank you. >> congressman gutierrez, thank you. congressman dent, thank you so much. great conversation with both of you. now, some call him the
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donald trump of ukraine. we have new details on how the man at the center of this phone call at the white house is reacting to this controversy. plus, geraldo rivera would like to beat up the rotten snitch whistleblower. see how this plays out. wow! that's ensure max protein, with high protein and 1 gram sugar. it's a sit-up, banana! bend at the waist! i'm tryin'! keep it up. you'll get there. whoa-hoa-hoa! 30 grams of protein, and one gram of sugar. ensure max protein.
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it's ukraine, not the ukraine, as the president has called it. corruption is actually lessening in ukraine despite president trump's claims and ukranian president volodymyr zelensky, a comedian short on political experience, who is sometimes called ukraine's donald trump, might actually have some decent political chops. joining me now is nina jankowicz. she's a fellow at university of washington. her book will be published next year. nina, you were in ukraine this spring for the presidential election there. you've had some really interesting pieces recently in politico and on the east coast where you kind of hold back the curtain on this. tell us about zelensky. he's this sex joke comedian,
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some people might not know that, and tell us what this conversation with trump means to him. >> certainly zelensky never meant for it to be public. the thing to understand about ukraine is it's not in a situation of picking its allies. the united states for ukraine is the most important ally. we give hundreds of millions of dollars of aid every year to help them, and zelensky is trying to make a friend, maybe trying to shore up rhetorical support for the hot war ukraine is fighting with russia. he understands the art of flattery. that was clear from that call. >> we've seen other leaders do that, so that certainly didn't seem surprising because it works, right? we've seen them use it because it works. you debunk a handful of myths, and one is a myth that president trump parroted in this call, that joe biden lobbied for his
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son hunter biden. >> joe biden was the enforcer for the obama administration. he was our envoy. we came in and tried to support ukraine as much as we could with all sorts of aid. that all came with stipulations, including anti-corruption reform. the next president who came put in a pretty corrupt prosecutor. it was clear he was doing more to stall anti-corruption reform than actually doing his job and prosecuting those cases, including one against this company burisma in which hunter biden sat on the board. so the president came in and said, if we're giving you a $1 million guarantee, it's important you release this prosecutor. it wasn't something that came out of the blue that biden was doing for his own personal reasons, and paraschenko removed the prosecutor, and by doing
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that, biden was inviting more investigation into that company that his son was sitting on the board of. >> it's such an important fact check that we have to revisit as we go through this. nina, thank you so much. we really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us. president trump calling the whistleblower a spy and threatening retaliation, sending chills through the intel community, and now those comments are on video. is skincare from around the world better than olay?
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better. don't wait. get your info kit now! in a new cnn documentary dr. sanjay gupta takes us inside the booming and, you know, regulated cbd industry and how a growing number of people are vaping it. >> reporter: vaping cbd. it's one of the most popular ways to take it. 30% of cbd users do it. and it turns out vaping is likely what made their tainted cbd so much more dangerous. >> when we're talking about positive fix for something like cbd, and you're inhaling it by vaping it, that's probably going to be an effective delivery system.
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>> reporter: i traveled to virginia commonwealth university in richmond to meet this rese e researcher who's investigating vaping during this cbd craze. >> if it happens to be tainted you're increasing a rapid response of whatever it's adulterated with, which is some of the concern here. >> sanjay gupta is with us now. a lot of consumers will be surprised to find out cbd is not always safe. >> the issue, cbd itself, pure cbd is safe. it can be a medicine, it's nonpsycho active. the problem, it's a totally or wholly unregulated industry, which means when you buy a product you don't have any guarantee that, in fact it is what it says it is and some of these cases we're hearing, the people you see in the documentary film, they weren't getting cbd at all. even though it was labeled cbd,
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had had no cbd in it, a complete synthetic. that is the problem right now, brianna. it's the wild west of krbd they s cbd, this is what it looks like. they're getting lumped in with the dodgy producers as well. >> you've been trying to inform people. you wrote an op-ed on about this. what can people do to say state of? >> i think there will be regulation necessary and the responsible players in this area are welcoming that regulation. in the interim, someone thinking about buying cbd, one thing to ask for and should get, absolutely get, a certificate of analysis. sounds like it's complicated but it's a simple thing. ask for it. it's an independent labs verification the product you're buying is in fact it what it says it is and doesn't have potentially harmful ingredients.
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important step. it thinking about buying this. >> dr. sanjay gupta, thank you. cnn's "special report: weed 5, the cbd craze" premieres sunday at 8:00 p.m. more on the whistle-blower account that alleges the president solicited interference in the 2020 election and the white house tried covering it up. plus, geraldo rivera reveals what he'd do to the "rotten snitch whistle-blower." 's a netwu ♪freedom from big cities, to small towns, we're with you. because life can take you almost anywhere, t-mobile is with you. no signal goes farther or is more reliable in keeping you connected.
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this sunday night the return of two cnn original series. find out the true stories of the agencies protecting the u.s. on declassified at 9:00 followed by another powerful and provocative season of "this is life" with lisa ling at 10:00 p.m. right here only on cnn. >> i'm brianna keilar live from washington with a special edition of cnn "right now." president trump is on a scorched earth mission to discredit the person behind that whistle-blower complaint, but perhaps in an attempt to mitigate legal fallout his own administration is corroborating most of the critical report. a senior white house official confirmed for cnn for the first time officials did indeedt


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