tv CNN Special Report CNN October 24, 2020 8:00pm-10:00pm PDT
issues or the constraints that may be put in place to impact their participation. >> we want peace! we want peace! >> i'm not concerned about their willingness to vote or their drive to vote. >> the people united will never be divided! >> my concern is for our republican, but i have hope in the youth and what they are capable of achieving. the following is a cnn "special report." president donald j. trump. the unconventional, unpredictable businessman was no different in his first term. >> proud of the extraordinary progress over the last four incredible years. >> reporter: shattering norms. >> it is completely disruptive
and different than anything you've ever seen before. >> reporter: breaking boundaries. >> he would turn on them in a really aggressive way. in a way that i'd never seen or heard of presidents doing before. >> reporter: and demolishing expectations and behavior for a president of the united states. >> does working for president trump ultimately mean you have to agree with him all the time? if you want to keep your job. >> reporter: a president who seems to thrive in division. >> donald trump! >> he's a racist! >> donald trump! >> he's a racist! >> reporter: whether those who hate him or celebrate him. a look now at the moments that defined president donald j. trump's first term. the issues he vowed to tackle. >> build that wall! >> repeal and replace obamacare. >> these massive tax cuts will be -- >> rocket fuel for the american economy.
>> for those miners, get ready because you will be working your -- off. all right. >> the crises he has faced. >> we will defeat the virus and emerge stronger than ever before. >> reporter: hear from the people who were there. >> i was in the early meetings in the oval office. >> reporter: in the rooms where it happened. >> why does he seem to like putin? >> reporter: this is a cnn special report. "fight for the white house: donald trump's presidency." ♪ >> together we will crush the virus. [ applause ] >> reporter: against the backdrop of a global pandemic president trump was making his case for a second term. and from the looks of it, no real concerns about an extremely
contagious and deadly virus. >> what the white house was trying to do was say look, we believe that covid is gone. >> you saw donald trump try to sort of put lipstick on a pig last night. we will defeat the virus and the pandemic. >> i have witnessed him make some of the most difficult decisions of his life. >> but there may have been an accidental clue this was not the whole story. >> thanks to advances, we have pioneered the fatality rate. >> reporter: pioneered the fatality rate? in fact, president trump and his administration have been pioneers of a mishandled response and flawed leadership. from the very beginning. >> new details on the deadly coronavirus outbreak in china and spreading across the globe. >> reporter: as early as january president trump was warned about the novel coronavirus according to author bob woodward. in a january 28 briefing,
national security adviser robert o'brien told president trump that covid-19 would be the, quote, biggest national security threat of his presidency. president trump says he does not remember that briefing. there were also briefings with other intelligence and public health officials. "washington post" white house reporter and cnn contributor. josh dawsey. >> hhs secretary alex azar called to brief the president and they talked about it briefly and the president soon moved the conversation to vaping. and azar later said to others that he was quite frustrated. >> i was in the early meetings in the oval office. >> reporter: former white house counselor kellyanne conway, however, tells a different story. >> he did take it seriously. he banned travel from china in january. >> nobody thought we should do it. zero cases. zero deaths. >> reporter: it was not a full ban on travel from china. tens of thousands of people were allowed to travel to the u.s. even after it was ordered. perhaps more importantly, president trump was publicly dismissing the threat.
with cdc efforts to come up with a test botched and no comprehensive effort to identify and isolate the virus nationwide. still the president would continue to point to partial travel bans to argue that he was on the case. cnn's white house correspondent kaitlan collins. >> if you talk to experts, by the time the president put those in place the virus was already circulating inside the united states. >> reporter: all of this was accompanied by a nearly daily barrage of presidential lies. >> we have it totally under control. it's one person. coming in from china. >> we think we have it very well under control. >> the consensus among his own health experts was that we needed to shift to a strategy of trying to limit the number of illnesses and deaths instead of just trying block it from entering the united states. >> reporter: according to "new york times" investigative reporter eric lip ton. >> trump was unwilling to accept that advice. >> thank you very much, everybody. >> throughout february trump dismissed concerns that the virus was worse than the flu,
but it turns out privately he was saying something very different. >> you just breathe the air, that's how it is passed. so that's a very tricky one. that's a very delicate one. it is also more deadly than your -- you know, even your strenuous flus. >> trump says he down played the virus so as to prevent the american people from panicking, and he continued to down play it in early march. >> it will go away. just stay calm, it will go away. >> a message at odds with health experts. cases kept increasing and increasing. >> a the coronavirus death toll that jumped again today. >> finally, on march 11th, the day tom hanks and his wife rita wilson became the first high-profile americans to announce they had tested positive and the nba set down its season, trump set out to reassure a very nervous nation. >> my fellow americans. >> the president was uncomfortable heading into it. >> "new york times" white house correspondent and cnn political analyst maggie haberman. >> the president looked
unfamiliar with the material as he was reading it. it contained at least three errors. >> that speech was probably the single-most important moment in the u.s. response to the coronavirus, but for all of the wrong reasons. >> cnn's abby phillip. >> it really highlighted that the administration was not prepared to deal with the crisis. >> it was an historic day on wall street. >> the next day the new york stock exchange halted trading for 15 minutes after the s&p 500 fell 7%. the white house scrambled to try to fix the errors about travel bans and insurance coverage. then, one day later -- >> today i am officially declaring a national emergency. >> the country had lost two months really to ramp up testing and production of key supplies such as ppe or ventilators. >> he had it at his fingertips. >> president trump says historian could have nationalized the response and
invoked the defense production act to immediately force companies to manufacture what was needed. >> he had an opportunity with covid-19 to use the enormous power of the presidency in a moment of national crisis. >> governors were left to fend for their states. >> it was just mass pandemonium. >> maryland republican governor, larry hogan. >> it was a 50-state strategy, some states doing better than others. >> hogan secretly sourced half a million tests for his state from south korea. >> i asked the president about that at a briefing we had. >> could have saved a lot of money but that's okay. >> go to south korea for testing kits? >> i don't think he needed to go to south korea. he needed to get knowledge would have been helpful. >> he had been assuring testing was available in the united states. >> the question was, well, if that's true why is the governor of maryland having to go to another country. >> testing was lagging far behind despite the president's spin. >> anybody that wants a test can get a test, and that's the
bottom line. >> that was a lie. >> i said earlier today that i hope we can do this by easter. >> trump then try to pressure governors to open up their states and their economies. >> i really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states. >> what mistakes do you think have been made by the president? >> allowing some of the governors to make decisions and mayors to make decisions about whether and when to lockdown and how to lock down. also made this more fraught. >> it was not a health strategy, it was a political strategy, allowing the white house to blame the governors no matter what and accept zero responsibility. this while the president also sought to undermine the nation's leading infectious disease expert, dr. anthony fauci, for telling the truth, including acknowledging the fact that the president's delay in action cost lives. >> obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started
mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. obviously no one is going to deny that. >> the president tried to control the message, minimizing the risk. >> young people are almost immune to this disease. >> pushing unproven, potentially dangerous drugs to treat covid-19 such as hydroxychloroquine. >> what do you have to lose? i'll say it again, what do you have to lose? take it. >> or this jaw-dropping moment. >> i see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. and is there a way that we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? >> the president's briefings ended for a while and he let the experts take the lead. he pushed guidelines on social distancing and wearing a mask, and he finally wore a mask himself. the trump administration did eventually invoke the dpa for key supplies such as testing
swabs. progress has been made when it comes to treatment and the trump administration is optimistic about developing a vaccine. >> dr. collins that spent decades along dr. fauci has said he has never seen vaccines come together as quickly as they are. >> but the facts sadly speak for themselves. the u.s., with less than 5% of the world's population, has a much higher case count and death count than the rest of the western world. we wanted to ask president trump about all of this and more but he turned down repeated requests for an interview. recently the president seems to be back to undermining efforts to save lives, whether through holding events with seemingly no social distancing or required mask wearing or frequently mocking joe biden for wearing a mask. >> i don't wear masks like him. every time you see him he has a mask. he could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask i have ever seen.
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♪ you know, some of these people have like a 10% loyalty, meaning if they sneeze in the wrong direction they're gone. loyalty. ♪ good morning. welcome to your new day. it is monday, december 19th. >> texas electors sealing the deal for donald trump. >> to make donald trump's victory official today. >> it was the day trump's win was officially certified by the electoral college. the president-elect was reportedly celebrating with top aides at his private club in palm beach, florida. the conversation turned to whom he should hire. >> they focussed on campaign advisers and supporters who had been loyal to him during the 2016 campaign at a time when most republicans were trying to distance themselves from him.
>> that dinner's certainly been consistent with everything that we've seen from this president. 's behe's been obsessed. >> obsessed with loyalty. he always has been. here he is in 1980. >> i've learned that there were some great, loyal people, and i have learned that there were some people that could have been more loyal, and those people i have discarded totally. >> and once donald trump became president, he didn't just look for it, he demanded it. >> it is a tradition that presidents bring a little clique
with them, whether it is the boston mafia of john f. kennedy, the georgia mafia of jimmy carter. loyalty is not new in the white house. >> but trump's brand of loyalty was new. >> the trump people said essentially, if we can ever find that you publicly posted something negative about the president, you are very unlikely to get a position. >> i have never heard of that kind of vetting of people for
negative comments about the president in their past lives. >> his early hires were loyalists throughout the campaign and in the early months of the presidency. he did hire a few one-time opponents who have been loyal since. >> thank you, mr. president. >> including secretary of housing and urban development, ben carson. >> our president, donald j. trump, he makes promises and he keeps them. >> and secretary of energy, former governor rick perry. >> mr. president, i know there are people
that say you said you were the chosen one, and you were. >> but it would not take long for president trump to learn others' loyalty was fleeting. >> i have a very, very good idea who the leakers are, who the senior leakers are in the white house. >> former white house communications director anthony scaramucci was hired six months into trump's presidency to weed out disloyal leakers.
>> there were three or four people that were probably the biggest leakers and he wanted them gone, so the loyalty goes one way towards him. >> this demand for loyalty could be a problem when it seemed to sup sup supersede ethics. >> loyalty means you do what i need you to do, even if it is unethical. you work for me. that may be a good strategy if you run a small, private business, but it is absolutely unacceptable for a constitutional officer in a republic. >> he immediately tests you to see if you are going to be on his side or if you are going to be his enemy. >> mr. mccain, what do you say about -- >> it was an unfamiliar situation for someone such as andrew mccabe, then acting-director of the fbi. he had served four administrations at the fbi for both republican and democratic presidents. >> as career government servants
dedicated first and foremost to the constitution and to the rule of law, those folks are not going to simply accede to the president's will. >> does working for president trump ultimately mean you have to agree with him all the time if you want to keep your job? >> yeah, i think that's the case. they're going to do what they think is their job. >> director comey. >> and that is a very tough decision for people to make, and it is one that will likely bring you great personal pain and sacrifice. and so if you are committed to doing that work, you're likely going to run headlong into a conflict with president trump. >> i have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaign for president of the united states. >> for instance, jeff sessions,
an incredibly loyal guy, but made one decision, you know, complying with ethics suggestions from doj and that's it. he's dead to president trump. >> he could run you over with a steamroller at any time. i need you to do things and i need you to be willing to take the blame for me when things go poorly. >> perhaps contributing to unprecedented turnover. 89% of his senior staff, trump's a-team, have left. that's more than turnover than all of the past five presidents had in their entire first terms. and one more number. trump has had 40% of his top positions replaced more than once. former white house press secretary sean spicer. >> there were a lot -- you know, some people that weren't qualified but they had been loyal to the president. >> and when people have left, several formers found themselves eventually speaking out against
president trump. >> it was challenging for me to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn't read briefing reports. >> the only person in the military that mr. trump doesn't think is overrated is colonel sanders. >> the ultimate betrayal for trump, who resorted to name calling. former national security adviser john bolton, a wacko. former secretary of defense, jim mattis, the world's most overrated general. former secretary of state rex tillerson, dumb as a rock. >> he would turn on them in a really aggressive way, in a way that i've never seen or heard of presidents doing before. >> i think, you know, turnover is natural in any white house. >> former trump adviser david urban. >> i think this administration may be more high pressure, more
issues that are pressing. >> a demand for loyalty that trump relied on for what he hoped to be his first big policy win, repealing and replacing obamacare. >> we have so many unbelievable alternatives, much less expensive. >> i think donald trump believed that his iron grip on republican voters would get him all republican votes. >> two months after the trump inauguration, the republicans had a bill that would begin the dismantling of obamacare. >> the bill is passed and without objection -- >> and while the bill did make it through the house, the senate posed some issues. >> i think that there would have to be fundamental change. >> the senate bill was known as skinny repeal going into that vote in july 2017. trump's hopes for success rested with arizona republican senator john mccain, whom trump had attacked for years. >> he's not a war hero.
>> he's a war hero. >> he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured. >> senator mccain was sick and he was heading out to arizona. i made the suggestion maybe we should go out there and see him on one of these trips that we were making, and the president did not want to do that. >> in the early hours of july 28th, 2017, mccain arrived to vote, a singular motion that left the senate chamber aghast and the white house reeling. >> no. >> it was incredibly personal. president trump holds on to grudges and, like, he wants loyalty. he probably will never let that moment go. >> for the rest of mccain's life and long after his death, trump would attack him. >> i was never a fan of john mccain and i never will be.
>> something that trump would do to any republican who turned against him. >> no, i'm not a fan of mitt romney. >> well, jeb bush is a puppet to his donors. >> he has effectively chased many of his critics out of the republican party. >> the president has defied political wisdom in bringing the party along with virtually everything that he has done over four years now since he was a candidate, and he requires that loyalty. >> loyalty that would carry trump through many issues and crises in his first term. >> we want lower taxes, bigger paychecks. >> from tax reform to judicial appointments to impeachment. >> the only good headline i've ever had in "the washington post." >> more on those later. but first, when we come back, trump's economy.
>> donald trump came to washington based on a promise. ♪ >> i'm a great deal maker, that's what i do. i made a lot of money. i'm going to give it my best. ♪ we want lower taxes, bigger paychecks. >> and the president was determined to strike a deal on tax cuts by the end of his first year in office. >> there's never been tax cuts like what we're talking about. >> this is a tax bill. >> democrats railed against republicans for rushing a complicated overhaul of the tax system through congress. >> it is about 500 pages and they want us to vote on this thing in about an hour. an hour. >> some republicans such as senator jeff flake of azerbaijan worried that a radical tax cut might inflate the national debt. at first you were a hold out, one of the two key holdouts. what were your concerns? >> i would have felt it was a
better option to lower the corporate tax and leave individual rates as they were but mine was not a popular opinion. >> at the 11th hour he reversed cuts. the first major tax overhaul in three decades passed the house and then the senate in late december 2017. the bill promised to slash individual and corporate tax rates, increase wages and boost business spending. >> these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel for the american economy. >> some of that did happen. >> most americans saw a small increase in their take-home pay, some of them ended up with big tax bills at the end of the year, and many americans felt that they just didn't get a tax cut. >> i can think of no better christmas present for the american people. >> experts say the tax bill was a much bigger present for
companies. the corporate tax rate was slashed from 35% to 21%. >> really what we got in 2017 was a corporate tax boondoggle. >> cnn's global economic analyst. >> he sold the idea that companies will save so much money they will bring back investment from overseas. we will see hiring and new factories. some did come back, about $700 billion or so, but the majority went into share buy backs, when companies go into the market and buy back their own shares. it is great for the top 10%, but it doesn't change the story on main street. >> i would respond with a lot of disagreement. >> white house economic adviser larry kudlow. >> the biggest beneficiaries of that 2017 bill whose center piece was the business tax cuts were actually middle-income, blue-collar workers, main street folks. they had the largest gains in wages. >> economists say the bill probably did help lift wage
growth for many americans, overall momentum that began under president obama. but the bulk of the tax bill benefit went to the rich, adding to that success, trump supporters say, near-record low unemployment. >> we're in the midst of the longest positive job growth streak in history. >> reporter: and a booming stock market. >> the nasdaq has hit 9,000 for the first time ever. with the dow peeking with a record high on february 12th, 2020, right before the coronavirus outbreak froze the u.s. >> the president lives and dies by the market, and so any time there's bad economic news he does whatever he can to try to goose things, and he has done that by tax cuts. he has done it by trying to encourage interest rates to be kept low, pushing the fed around that. >> we have accomplished an economic turn around of historic proportions. >> in september 2018, president
trump emboldened by america's economic growth and china's economic slowdown ramped up his trade war with beijing, imposing tariffs on goods entering the u.s. >> there was a need certainly to right-size the relationship with the united states. but what the president did was he disavowed the strategies that were put forth by trade experts. >> the tariffs are not being paid for by our people. it's being paid for by china. >> no, tariffs are being paid by american consumers who have higher prices on consumer goods that are being essentially taxed as they enter the united states. >> reporter: in retaliation -- >> the chinese put pressure on iowa and nebraska. >> reporter: by placing tariffs on hundreds of american products such as soybeans, hurting american farmers. >> this great dealmaker undermines american farmers by going after the chinese and in the end has to get congress to send financial assistance to farmers. >> i think that the chinese were at certain points ready to come
to the table and actually make some changes but oftentimes right when a true deal might have been about to be cut you'd see the president really ramping up that really inflammatory rhetoric. >> it's got all different names. wuhan. kung flu. >> reporter: the president escalated his tariff roulette with china. >> the presidents vacillates day-to-day between wanting to make a deal with president xi and saying i like him personally and saying we need another phase. >> well, it's a tricky business. we're very cross at them about denying the freedoms in hong kong and breaking that long-standing treaty. the president's cross with them with respect to their lack of human rights and the uighur problem. we're holding them accountable. >> reporter: but former national security adviser john bolton says president trump's recent sanctions on chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of uighur muslims in xeen jiang contradicts his previous stance. bolton in his new book alleges
that during a meeting with president xi in japan last year president trump said, quote, xi should go ahead with building the camps, which bolton writes trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. president trump denied that accusations. >> i can't make sense of our policy. we're rhetorically tough on china. we're intermittently tough. but in many areas we have been missing in action and sent weak signals. more [ speaking non-english ]ally we didn't join the transpacific partnership. if we wanted to put pressure on china, what better way than to join with our asia-pacific trading partners. the president wouldn't do it. >> the president saying that it is working. >> there is a widespread belief in china in terms of technology transfer, in terms of theft of intellectual property, that this president's concessions were able to get with president xi and the chinese by imposing tariffs. the long-term legacy of this president, similar to nixon,
will be china. >> that's a harder case to make during a global health crisis. >> we're already in a recession. in fact, we're already in a depression, you know, technically and the numbers are that bad. >> when you layer the problems of the pandemic on an economy that already had all of these structural weaknesses, that doesn't add up to any kind of a good picture. ♪ i'll gladly stand up >> reporter: but during his acceptance speech at the republican national convention president trump was painting a rosie picture. >> over the past three months we have gained over 9 million jobs, and that's a record in the history of our country. >> reporter: what the president failed to mention, those gains followed a record 22 million job loss over the previous two months. something else the president didn't cover? the enormous economic toll caused by his bungled pandemic response. >> we have seen the smallest economic contraction of any western nation. >> the economy has been president trump's calling card
his entire first term. >> goodness. look at those numbers there. down 7%. >> even as the shock waves of the covid crisis hit wall street in march 2020 -- >> i do think once we get rid of the virus i think we will have a boom economy. >> in september a bombshell "new york times" report on the president's own finances surfaced. the deal maker in chief is actually crushed by massive debt, and the self-proclaimed billionaire president who reformed the tax code actually paid $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 according to "the times." >> is it true you paid $750 in federal income taxes each of those two years? >> i paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax. i paid $27 million -- >> show us your tax returns. >> reporter: something president trump still refuses to do. up next, the reshaping of the
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who's supkamala harris.5? harris says, "a corporate tax loophole has allowed billions to be drained from our public schools and local communities. no more. i'm proud to support prop 15." vote yes. schools and communities first is responsible for the content of this ad. ♪ i've always heard actually that when you become president the single most important thing you can do is federal judges. >> well, ruth bader ginsburg, who is far more than really a supreme court justice, has died. >> you're telling me now for the first time. she led an amazing life. she was an amazing woman. >> that was president trump's public reaction to justice ruth bader ginsburg's death, but
privately an insider says trump had been salivating to replace ginsburg and now he had an opening, an opening to rally his base and remind some republicans who were turning away from him because of various failures, including covid, that the future of the courts might be more important. >> article two of our constitution says the president shall nominate justices of the supreme court. >> all reminiscent of 2016, and another justice's passing. >> all right. i have some very sad news. united states supreme court justice an toe anyo justice antonin scalia has died. >> antonin scalia served on the court since 1986 and it looks like president barack obama is going to appoint a new member of the court, which would tip the liberal balance for the first time in years, to the liberal side. >> cnn legal analyst.
>> but what happens that actual night sets in motion a series of dominos that produced the court we have today. >> though leading in the polls, trump was still considered a long shot, but he knew the world would be watching later that night. >> donald trump of new york. >> as the gop presidential debate took centerstage. >> a moment of silence for justice antonin scalia. >> he capitalized on the moment, suggesting a couple of respectable conservative judges to fill scalia's vacancy, sealing the deal with many conservatives. >> you could have a diane sykes or a bill prior. >> just to be clear on this, you are okay with the president nominating somebody? >> i think he's going to do it whether i'm okay with it or not. i think it is up to mitch mcconnell and everybody else to stop it. it is called delay, delay, delay. >> this nomination should not be filled by this lame duck president. >> president obama's nominee, u.s. court of appeals chief
judge merrick garland, never got even a single hearing. >> outside adviser to the president for judicial selection leonard leo, the "l.a. times" says you're the man to see if you aspire to the supreme court. >> leonard leo, co-chair of the federalist society, joined trump's team. >> he wanted to put out a list of individuals for the u.s. supreme court. >> one of the most important things we'll be doing, whoever the next president is, is naming judges. >> he wanted first someone who was in his words not weak. what that did was it basically said to the american people, this is what i, donald trump, stand for in terms of judicial selection. >> many felt that judicial selection campaign helped pave trump's path to the white house. with trump now in office and a republican-held congress, legal adviser don mcgahn, leo and mcconnell wasted little time. >> today i am nominating judge
neil gorsuch. >> the momentum did not stop there. when moderate republican and long-time jurist anthony kennedy retired in 2018, trump nominated young, conservative u.s. appellate court judge brett kavanaugh to try to swing the court further to the right, but he was not expecting this. >> federal investigators will now be looking into a matter connected with federal judge brett kavanaugh's u.s. supreme court nomination. >> started off rather predictably, but then a woman by the name of christine blasey ford came forward. >> i told leader mcconnell and others that i wouldn't vote to advance his nomination unless we heard from dr. ford. >> i believed he was going to rape me. i tried to yell for help. >> former arizona senator jeff flake. >> brett kavanaugh, he acted as if i think i would have acted had i felt that i had been
unjustly accused. >> i'm here to tell the truth. i have never sexually assaulted anyone. >> down the street at the white house, trump fired off a shot of his own. >> this is a big con job and schumer and his buddies are all in there laughing, how they fooled you all. >> following a week-long investigation that critics of kavanaugh thought was too brief -- >> charade. >> sham. >> bullies. >> we'll call the roll. >> -- kavanaugh was confirmed to the u.s. supreme court by a two-vote margin. >> the nomination of bret m. kavanaugh is confirmed. >> another victory for trump, another justice on the bench. while the supreme court confirmations grabbed the headlines, something else was happening that largely went unnoticed by the public. >> district courts and the circuit courts, you know, it is one of those quiet things that folks across america don't perhaps grasp the gravity of. these courts all interpret the
laws of our country every day in so many different ways. >> they identified 40-something, you know, conservative judges and they jammed them through the senate with incredible speed. >> speed and strategy because mcconnell blocked so many obama nominees trump inherited 103 vacancies. atowardingl astoundingly the president has appointed almost one-third of all current appellate court judges. >> much of the law in america is set by the federal courts of appeals. >> that is probably one of the very few things that helps republicans justify why they support him, is that he got the judges they wanted confirmed and put in place. >> that means controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, health care, immigration and racial and same sex discrimination, cases that could very likely be ruled on by trump appointees, largely young, white, male, conservative judges, serving lifetime
appointments. but perhaps none of those issues will have the global impact such as the rulings we will see dealing with the environment. >> miners get ready because you're going to be working your -- off. all right. >> a long-held republican belief, the message was clear, trump was going to roll back environmental regulations lift the restrictions on american energy. and to cancel job-killing regulations. >> it was considered a slap in the face. >> reporter: former epa director, betsy sutherland, remembers trump signing an executive order to dismantle obama's signature, clean-power plan, signed at the epa. >> it was, absolutely, a display for sheer contempt for all the scientists, engineers, and economists, that have worked on that rule, for years and years.
>> reporter: and this would be just the beginning. >> the united states will withdrawal. >> i was surprised we stepped away from the paris climate accord because the president gave every indication. it was in sync with his total denial of climate change. i mean, it's a hoax, in his mind. >> reporter: deregulation had arrived. >> i think you can have clean water, clean air, safe skies, but do so, in a manner that doesn't strangle business. and rollbacks have not produced the bloom and doom that the gloom and doom. >> every single man, woman, and child in this country has threatened drinking water, threatened fisheries, threatened air quality, and more c contaminated land because of this administration. >> so, their philosophy is to diminish regulations.
>> reporter: a philosophy and legacy that could very well be defined by the judges he has appointed and, still, hopes to appoint. >> today, it is my honor to nominate one of our nation's most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the supreme court, amy coney barrett. >> i don't think there's any question, is going to be what he's done on the judiciary, that has a lasting legacy that, probably, can extend well beyond a generation. >> they're likely to affect the law in america for our children and our grandchildren, long after donald trump is gone from this earth. >> reporter: coming up. trump's divisive stand on immigration. >> when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they're bringing drugs. they're bringing crime. they're rapists.
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we are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration. >> reporter: long before the rally chants during the 2016 campaign. >> build that wall. build that wall. build that wall. >> reporter: donald trump believed immigration was the issue that would help land a republican back in the white house. >> they've lost on immigration. they're going to have to do something on immigration because you know our country is a
different place than it was 50 years ago. so, we'll see what happens. >> reporter: and what happened three years later? donald trump entered the election with a harsh, if not blatantly racist stand, on immigration. >> when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they are bringing drugs. they're bringing crime. they're rapists. and some, i assume, are good people. >> reporter: it was an unscripted moment, says co-author of the book "border wars." it was so offensive that businesses started dumping trump. >> you're fired. >> reporter: nbc dropped him from "the apprentice." macy's discontinued selling his men's wear collections. >> it was a real shock to a lot of other americans and, frankly, a lot of republicans. >> but solidifying a base, especially, energized by these calls to build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants out. candidate trump, also, proposed one of the most shockingly bigoted policies modern politics
has heard from a candidate. based upon religious observance. unconstitutional and hate felt. >> and trump was clear, once he got into the white house, he would not back down. >> we have defended over nation's borders, while refusing to defend our own. >> he signed this executive order, which was a travel ban on these roughly half a dozen muslim-majority countries and the idea was basically to catch people by surprise. to, basically, create confusion, to create mayhem. >> rippled from washington, d.c. to foreign capitals around the world. today, sean spicer was complaining the members of the media are unfairly using the term ban to describe the president's action. >> not everyone was on board, in different aspects of the rollout. and that makes it challenging
to, then, communicate why you are doing it. >> after many months of revising, they did put in effect stricter vetting procedures for a large number of countries. so i think they saw it as sort of a qualified success. >> reporter: what was seen as a unqualified failure? the trump administration's family-separation policy. >> if you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we're going to prosecute you. if you are smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you. and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. >> reporter: a zero-tolerance policy, enforcing a law that had long been on the books but had never been enforced, in a widespread manner. >> children being held behind chain-link fencing apart from their parents on the border with mexico. >> reporter: the policy led to th thousands of children being separated from their families. nonstop horror stories of children crying for their parents, alone, and scared.
>> when trump, first, started to hear the stories, he didn't want to be seen as the monster who would take children away from their parents. >> reporter: almost two months after it began, trump ended his own policy, one that his own white house pushed, with an executive order. >> ivanka feels very strongly. my wife feels very strongly about it. i feel very strongly about it. >> a lot of trump supporters thought that was one of the lower moments of his presidency. >> i think as a nation, we can do far better and we owe people, as human beings, a better shake than they got. >> reporter: in the wake of this crisis, trump was looking for a way to turn the page. and rally his base, as he headed into the midterm elections. >> they marched for miles. thousands of migrants in a massive caravan. >> reporter: it was the summer of 2018 and the president's hardline policies, alone, had failed to prevent undocumented
immigrants from coming to the southern border. >> we're getting prepared for the caravan folks. you don't have to worry about that and they got a lot of rough people in those caravans. >> he lashed out at dmi administration officials for not st stemming the tide. >> he saw this as, potentially fatal, politically, for him. >> they want to throw rocks at our military. our military fights back. >> the president went out on caravans and immigration and the results would show that, maybe, backfired. and republicans loss the house overwhelmingly. >> reporter: the hype and lies about the caravan also fed into a deranged anti-immigrant and anti-semitic conspiracy theory about jews bringing migrants into the u.s. a man who posted online about that theory has been charged with the massacre at the tree of life synagogue. a also brought violence to a walmart in el paso where more
than 20 people we -- 20 people were killed. ending daca would threaten the livelihoods of immigrants called the dreamers. >> i will immediately terminate president obama's illegal executive order on immigration. >> reporter: but after the inauguration, he seemed to soften. >> he was getting a lot of private counsel that ending daca would be a total disaster. >> daca is a very, very difficult subject, for me, i will tell you. >> reporter: as early as january 9th, 2018, president trump had an opening during a bipartisan, white house meeting on immigration. >> we are here today to advance bipartisan immigration reform. >> democratic senator, dick durban, was seated right next to the president. >> he was say things that did not fit into the republican platform when it came to immigration. >> republicans were not going to vote for a bill that simply gave legal status to the dreamers, without something in exchange
for it. >> i'll take the heat, he says. i'll sign it. send me a bipartisan bill. >> and that's exactly what senator durban and senator lindsey graham did. but when they presented it to trump two days later at the white house, everything changed. >> they get to a point where it comes to talking about haiti and, you know, parts of africa. and trump stops the conversation and says, well, why do we want all these people here from shit-hole countries? >> reporter: ultimately, when it came to the president and immigration, the hrdli hardline views would win out. and while the dreamers' future is uncertain, so is the zero-tolerance policy that many thought was done. according to lifelong republican turned biden supporter, former chief of staff at homeland security under trump. >> he said he wanted to go further and have a deliberate policy of ripping children away
from their parents. to show those parents that they shouldn't come to the border, in the first place. >> reporter: something the acting secretary of homeland security, chad wolf, denies. >> most reasonable americans understand what that is. it's politics and nothing more. >> reporter: president trump still prioritizes hardline policies, on both illegal and legal immigration. he is, still, selling the wall that he once said the mexicans would pay for. >> we're up to 122 miles. >> reporter: only five miles of new wall has been built, where no wall existed before. the rest is mostly replacement wall. and, no, mexico is not paying for it. it has been paid for, in part by congress, and in part by reallocating military f reallocati reallocating military funds. ken cucinelli. >> looking back on it, how has president trump delivered on this important pledge of his, to his voters? >> he has delivered on that promise. whether it's building hundreds of miles of the wall system that
has proven effective where it's been built. that continues at an ever-accelerating pace. or whether it is applying our laws across the border to degree of consistency and with a strength that just really hasn't happened in the past. >> reporter: if any president could achieve a real, comprehensive immigration solution, combining border security and a way to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants in the u.s., it would be president trump. but he has chosen to focus on the divisions, and not a solution. >> found a way to divide america. to appeal to fear and hate and to create images of people coming to this country, which were totally untrue, unfair. >> reporter: trump, the divider, goes international when we come back. with new rewards from chase freedom unlimited, i now earn even more cash back? oh i got to tell everyone. hey, rita! you now earn 3% on dining, including takeout! bon appetit. hey kim, you now earn 5% on travel purchased through chase!
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2016. days after the election. president donald trump traveled south, to the white house. >> momentarily, president-elect donald trump will be arrive heearrivehere at the white house. >> it's assumed that the president and his team will help give their successors a good start. >> try to facilitate a transition, that ensures our president-elect is successful. >> from the get-go, president-elect trump was warned by the outgoing president that north korea was going to be a major headache for him. >> and he was agitated about how to handle it. and so, you would see him lashing out because of that anxiet anxiety. >> breaking news, this hour. just hours ago, north korea launched another missile. >> north korea's nuclear ambitions are becoming more dangerous, by the day.
>> the president is at his new jersey club. typically, when we go with the president to his golf club on the weekends, we don't ever see him. they don't hold events, unless something big has happened. so, they invite reporters in to see the president. he is asked about north korea. >> north korea best not make any more threats to the united states. they will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. >> these were not preplanned remarks. and you can kind of sees the looks on the faces of people next to him. not just melania trump but kellyanne conway and the other officials are kind of like -- and i'm not sure his own staff even knew what to say. >> i thought, initially, it was pursuant to a strategy. and that, unlike the obama administration which, after eight years of strategic patience, had left north korea much closer to achieving its
objective of delivering nuclear weapons. what i found, when i livarrived the white house, was it wasn't part of any strategy, at all. it was just the way he felt on the day he made those remarks. >> if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. >> well, there -- there -- there is something to what was referred to during the nixon era as the mad man theory. you can gain strategic advantage by being seen as kind of a mad man and for them not to know what you are going to do next. >> folks at foggy bottom, who are there for eons i think prefer to go very, very slowly and steadily. >> the idea that president trump
has been unpredictable. a lot of longtime diplomats, obviously, are not a fan of it. >> they take him much more seriously because he does things that -- you know, that others talked about but never do. >> there is no comparing how trump operates to any other president. it is completely disruptive and different than anything you've ever seen, before. >> reporter: such as, in israel. first, moving the embassy to jerusalem. and thus, recognizing it as the capital of israel. >> administration after administration after administration had pledged to do that. we had a president that was able to do that because he was not constrained and bound by the more traditional norms of, oh, if you do that, our adversaries are going to be upset. the president said, so what? we're going to do it because it's the right thing to do. >> we finalized an historic peace agreement between israel and the united arab emirates. nobody thought this was something that could happen for a long time.
>> how important do you think this is? >> the israeli-uae agreement is the first agreement of its kind in 26 years. due to the president's lead leadership and his patience and vigilance in changing the dynamic, instead of talking about age-old conflicts. what he is trying to do is do things that other presidents haven't done. >> so, the theory goes, might disrupting the status quo work with the unstable, north korean dictator? >> what he wanted to do repeatedly was get in a room with kim jong un and negotiate with him. >> i thought it was a bad idea. the meeting was a gift to kim jong un. it provided him visibility, leg legitimacy. >> trump and kim not only met three times but also exchanged letters. >> he wrote me beautiful letters. and they're great letters. we fell in love. >> they got straight into donald trump's brain, and he's convinced kim jong un is his friend. >> there were people in the
national security apparatus, commentators, and foreign officials, who thought everything else has been tried. let's give this a shot. >> there he is on north korean soil. >> we gave north korea two and a half more years to achieve progress in its nuclear ballistic-missile program. >> the president yanked the rug out, in part, under our south korean ally. by, among other things, unilaterally agreeing to the suspension of large u.s.-south korean military exercises. >> by some estimates, north korea may have doubled its arsenal during the trump presidency. >> all in all, north korea looks at these four years and they go, not bad at all. >> reporter: particularly, with the damaged relationship with u.s. allies. >> it upset our allies in the region. >> i don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say that the president gets it upside down or backwards in how he treats allies and how he treats adversaries. >> justin trudeau, nice guy. but they've taken advantage of
us for so many years. >> the european union sounds so nice, right? they are brutal! >> reporter: whether it's bullying or badgering allies or pulling out of strategic partnerships and longstanding trade agreements. >> we just officially terminated. >> horrible, one-sided, iran, nuclear deal. >> we will be terminating, today, our relationship with the world health organization. >> even hinting, one day, he might pull the u.s. out of nato if allies do not pay their fair share. >> what this misses more than anything else, jake, is the great strategic advantage of american foreign policy is we get up every day. and what we have are dozens and dozens of allies and partners in europe and asia and around the world. >> allies president trump has neglected and, in some cases,
abandoned. >> we are going to be leaving and we're going to be bringing our soldiers back home. >> such as u.s. troops in northern syria. >> we're policing. we're not fighting. we're policing. we're not a police force. >> in the face of widespread criticism that he abandoned the reliable u.s. ally, the kurds. >> the president looks out for what is in the best interest of our country. it means that the president is thinking in terms of what's in the best interest of our country. >> president took office and the situation he inherited was daunting. american foreign policy had made mistakes. all of that is true. but before you tear things up, before you disrupt them, you have got to be sure that you have something better. >> reporter: and in some cases, trump did get something better, such as replacing nafta with a new trade deal between the u.s., canada, and mexico. >> the usmca is the largest, fairest, and most balanced
agreement. >> there's no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than nafta. >> and when it comes to nato? >> also, getting our allies, finally, to help pay their fair share. >> why did all these presidents, you will ask, promise to make the nato countries pay more and he's the one, president trump is the one that has $130 billion more. >> it might not have made any friends but it benefitted our country and workers. so i think it's a balance. >> but it's a balance some worry might swing in the wrong direction. >> president trump, if re-elected, will be one of the most consequential presidents in american history. and he will have done more than most of his predecessors to have changed the world. and as a result, to have changed the united states. and my fear is that it will be,
largely, for the worse. >> time will tell trump's legacy and the u.s.'s new standing in the world. one issue which continues to lead that in question, russia. trump and putin, when we come back. (vo) i'm a verizon engineer and today, we're turning on 5g across the country. with the coverage of 5g nationwide. and, in more and more cities, the unprecedented performance of ultra wideband. the fastest 5g in the world. it will change your phone
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after three years of lies and smears and slander, the russia hoax is finally dead. >> reporter: but the russia story has never really died. >> the collusion delusion is over. >> reporter: we know, now, that is not what the mueller report had concluded. the special counsel was not able to find any prosecutable evidence proving conspiracy. but the white house has continued to misrepresent the finding to the public. >> it was an illegal witch hunt. i call it the russian hoax. >> reporter: it was not a hoax. before election day, 2016. this just in to cnn. russia infiltrated the democratic national committee's computer system and the e-mail
account of hillary clinton campaign chairman, john podesta. back then, on the campaign trail, trump cheered on the hackers. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> reporter: his former campaign kwiezer a adviser and longtime friend, roger stone, hinted he had advanced knowledge of the e-mail releases. raising, for the first time, the possibility of cooperation between trump associates and russia. >> indeed, on october 7th, 2016, the same day another story broke. >> hello. how are you? hi. >> the infamous "access hollywood" tape caught on a hot mic making crude, vile comments about women had surfaced. minutes after that news. >> steady drip of stolen e-mails being released. >> reporter: reports of another bombshell. wikileaks published the e-mails
stolen by russian agents. >> the first time we had ever seen anything quite like that. >> reporter: there was plenty of evidence linking trump allies and moscow. >> the release of an e-mail chain from last june, between donald trump jr. and this man. >> reporter: during the 2016 campaign, donald trump jr., jared kushner, and others on the trump team, met with a russian lawyer at trump tower. >> the russian lawyer was offering dirt on hillary clinton and don jr. famously responded if it's what you say it is, i love it. it wasn't i don't want to know this. >> reporter: trump campaign chairman, paul manafort, was a, quote, grave counterintelligence threat to the united states and had shared inside information with a russian agent. >> during the transition, the president began discussing his first meeting with vladimir putin. and some of the officials around him were concerned. you don't just go and meet with the russians early in the presidency. >> reporter: we wanted to ask
president trump about his relationship with president putin. but he turned down repeated requests for an interview. and then, what happened with general flynn was troubling as well. >> just three weeks after entering office, talk of russia intensified when the president fired national security adviser, michael flynn. flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about the nature of his contacts with russia. but later, claimed he had been pressured into a plea deal by prosecutors. in may, 2017, fbi director, james comey, who was leading the investigation into moscow meddling was fired by president trump. >> he's become more famous than me. >> reporter: comey had not seen it coming. >> welcome to donald trump. you know, he changes his mind. >> reporter: the president had blindsided his own press secretary, at the time, sean spicer. >> we rushed it out. we had no one to back it up. we didn't have a strategy to do
it in a way that was effective and it showed. >> all of a sudden, bang. you know, now we're -- now, we're wide awake. that made inevitable some kind of an independent inquiry. >> an inquiry to consider whether president trump's behavior constituted a possible threat to national security, and whether the president might be secretly working on behalf of moscow and president putin. that sparked the appointment of special counsel robert mueller. >> he said i've heard you were part of the resistance. >> andrew mccabe replaced james comey. mccabe says he met with the president the very day comey was fired. >> i said i'm not sure what you are referring to, sir. i heard you were one of the people who didn't agree with jim comey. and i said, no, sir, that's not true. he was looking for me to adopt his false narrative. >> reporter: the president's false narrative that comey was fired for mishandling the hillary clinton e-mail probe. >> we had to consider was he truly fired because the president didn't want us to continue investigating this idea
of russian collusion? >> reporter: investigators felt confident of that, after president trump said this on prime-time tv. >> and, in fact, when i decided to just do it. i said to myself. i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. it's an excuse, by the democrats, for having lost an election. it's ridiculous. it's ridiculous with the probe. >> reporter: a ridiculous probe the president attempted to discredit in an extraordinary moment. >> mr. president, i'll give this ball to you and now the ball is in your court. >> being in helsinki for president trump's press conference with vladimir putin is one thing i will never forget, for the rest of my life. when he says that he talked to vladimir putin. that he believed him. >> he just said it's not russia. i don't see any reason why it would be. >> vad neladimir putin. this former kgb agent. for the president to take his
word like that was so stunning. >> why does he seem to like putin, despite the fact that putin is, perhaps, the primary enemy of the united states? >> i think the president repeatedly confuses having good, personal relationships with foreign leaders, with having good, overall, bilateral relationships between the two countries. >> reporter: trump's public allegiance to president putin, according to former national security adviser john bolton, has led the president to resist intelligence warnings about russia. >> what was it like briefing him? >> it was clear he wasn't reading much of the material he was being sent. so, i tried to be opportunistic in finding circumstances where i could convey information i felt that he needed. but i don't -- i don't think that proved very successful. >> i've been in briefings, many times, when the president is being briefed on everything from domestic issues to national security issues to foreign policy issues. he's a listener. people miss how patient he is. i think that comes from being a
dealmaker. >> reporter: bolton left the white house last september. but trump's aversion to negative news about russia. after reports surface the president ignored intelligence that russia may have paid bounties to taliban terrorist ts to kill american and british service members in afghanistan. president trump has denied that, over and over. and when pressed about it, again in july, he said he did not raise the topic during a recent call with president putin. >> did you bring up this issue? >> no, that was a phone call to discuss other things. and frankly, that's an issue that many people said was fake news. >> reporter: although there continues to be disagreement within the intelligence community on this matter, some experts saying it is likely very real. >> what's not plausible is that the president was not briefed on this. or that senior lieutenants, national security adviser, and others, they were clearly briefed on this and that they wouldn't have talked about this
with the president. so i think what this does is once again highlight a pattern of unwillingness to confront russia. >> reporter: trump's supporters say critics are ignoring the president's military effort to deter russian aggression. >> 750 marines that -- that are now on permanent rotation in norway, for the first time since world war ii. the expanded military operations in the arctic. challenging the russians there. the projection of force into poland. >> the fact that, in certain areas, administration policy is more robust, i applaud. but let's -- let's not overlook the bottom line that many areas, this administration has essentially given mr. putin way too much of a free hand. here, you have a russia that is violating american sovereignty. not with bombs. not with missiles. but through -- through the digital space. >> reporter: in january, 2019, roger stone was indicted for his dealings with the hacked e-mails. charged with lying to congress
and witness tampering. stone was, months later, convicted by a federal jury on seven counts. after a nearly two-year investigation, the mueller report was released in april 2019. netting dozens more criminal charges and indictments. >> one of the biggest takeaways was just how many of the president's allies got sweeped up in these probes. >> including manafort, who was convicted on eight counts of financial fraud. and campaign adviser, george papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi. and the mueller team found evidence of at least ten potential instances of president trump, himself, obstructing justice. yet, the special counsel could not find prosecutable evidence of conspiracy with russia. >> there's no obstruction. there's no collusion. there's no nothing. >> reporter: a false, trump mantra. coming up. another white house crisis. >> i'm the first person to ever
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i'm the first person to ever get impeached and there's no crime. i feel guilty. you know what they call it? impeachment light. >> reporter: but it was anything but light. >> oh, was it ever a big deal. >> reporter: yet, this was no watergate. >> i was appalled. >> richard nixon tried to make his defense, i didn't participate in a coverup.
that's what got him. there's no question about the illegal activity. donald trump tried to make this an issue of collusion. >> reporter: the president and attorney general bill barr hammered that, in an attempt to unravel the mueller report even though that is not what the special counsel concluded. but then, came ukraine, and a now-infamous phone call president trump made on july 25th, 2019. >> my phone call was perfecto. it was totally appropriate. >> that call ultimately led to his impeachment. >> tonight, a white house whistle-blower. >> reporter: a whistle-blower's report alleged that, in a phone call with ukrainian president, volodymyr zelensky, president trump pressured the foreign leader to announce an investigation into his likely-democratic opponent, joe biden. >> it really seems to lay out a quid pro quo. >> the whistle-blower got it all wrong. >> reporter: also, in that report? president trump pressuring
zelensky to look into a bogus conspiracy theory that ukraine, not russia, interfered in the 2016 election. the president's request was seen as so plainly an abuse of presidential power by democrats that, a month later, speaker of the house nancy pelosi launched impeachment inquiry. in 2019, house leaders began impeachment hearings focused on ukraine. unveiling two charges against president trump. abuse of power and the obstruction of congress. >> speaker pelosi knew that there was no way that donald trump was going to be convicted. no president has ever been convicted because the bar in the senate is so high. >> reporter: a string of witnesses testified. many of them, foreign-service officials and diplomats, who corroborated the whistle-blower complaint. >> was there a quid pro quo? >> reporter: they included gordon sondland, the u.s. ambassador to the european union. >> the answer is yes.
>> reporter: fiona hill was a top, white house russia expert wi before she stepped down. >> she really laid out how the president was being driven by conspiracy theories. >> these fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic, political purposes. >> reporter: john bolton. >> and that was a big thing because the question was, are there enough firsthand witnesses to the president's behavior? >> the yeas are 230. >> reporter: a week before christmas, the house impeached president trump on both articles. >> article 1 is adopted. >> reporter: it was a historic step. donald trump became the third u.s. president to suffer the same fate, after andrew johnson and bill clinton. >> will draw a sharp contrast with the unfair inquiry that was
carried on. >> the senate majority went into this ready to end it, almost as soon as it began. >> reporter: the senate impeachment trial began on january 16th, 2020. lasting two weeks. >> donald trump's legal team was very effective. >> you are being asked to remove a dually elected president of the united states and you are being asked to do it in an election year. in an election year. >> the yeas are 49. the nays are 51. >> all but two senate republicans blocked a dramatic vote at the beginning of the trial to call witnesses. it helped pave the way for an acquittal. former national security adviser, john bolton, who had been criticized by democrats for not testifying willingly in the house impeachment hearings, spoke out months later in a scathing tell-all. >> month of us understood, for quite some time, there was a quid pro quo at work when gordon sondland testified. >> everyone was in the loop. >> i think that's right.
some of us were in the loop trying to stop it, however. and -- and mark esper, the defense secretary, mike pompeo, secretary of state, and i were all trying to get trump to release the security assistance to ukraine. we probably tried eight or ten different meetings with the president to do that. and one such conversation i had with him and that was the point where he made the clearest statement that i heard. that describes a quid pro quo. >> and you have said if you were a republican senator, you would have voted to convict? >> on that basis, yes. >> mr. scott of florida. not guilty. >> reporter: on february 5th, senators voted, 48-52, on the abuse of power charge. and 47-53 on obstruction of congress. far below the necessary threshold for removing the president. >> my faith is at the heart of who i am. >> reporter: senator mitt romney was the only republican to break ranks, and vet to convict on abuse of power.
still, the president was acquitted. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. >> reporter: the day after the president's acquittal. >> this is what the end result is. >> he acted like someone who was further emboldened. everything we have seen of him since. >> take that home. maybe we'll frame it. >> reporter: the president began escalating his attacks against investigators. >> it was dirty cops. it was leakers and liars and this should never, ever happen to another president, ever. >> reporter: no, it was not. it was his own behavior that got him in trouble. he ramped up dismissals. firing lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, a national security staffer. and gordon sondland, the ambassador to the eu. both of whom, testified against the president in the house impeachment hearing. then, president trump began challenging the rule of law to help his convicted friends. >> i'm actually, i guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. >> reporter: five days after his
acquittal, the president publicly criticized, in a barrage of tweets, the federal judge who presided over the sentencing of his former adviser, roger stone. >> this is unheard of to have a sitting president talking about such matters, in such a disparaging light. >> reporter: stone had been convicted of seven felony crimes during the russia probe. his sfeentencing played out amia massive blowup at the justice department. attorney general william barr accused of doing trump's bidding, pushing a lighter sentence for roger stone. >> and that's what you did. >> no. >> roger stone was treated horribly. >> reporter: then, president trump, using the power of his office, commuted roger stone's sentence, altogether. >> the attorney general, just weeks before, said he believed the prosecution was righteous and the sentencing was fair. >> reporter: stone had been just days away from beginning a 40-month prison term. >> thank you, mr. president. thank you for saving my life. >> reporter: and it wasn't the first time president trump had intervened in the justice system
to help a convicted ally. early in his term, president trump fired national security adviser, michael flynn, for lying about his contacts with russia. >> he had not only lied to the fbi agents. but he, also, lied to the vice president, mike pence. and then, of course, he pleads guilty to precisely that. >> yet, months after the president was acquitted by the senate, he reversed course. accusing the fbi of framing flynn. >> they treated him very unfairly, as they have many people on this side. >> the fact that flynn could be welcomed back into the president's good graces is so striking, given that mike flynn lied to mike pence's face. >> reporter: even more striking? the justice department, under the direction of attorney general barr, filed a motion to drop the criminal charges against flynn. >> you had this sort of outside-pressure campaign. >> reporter: flynn's appeals case is now in the hands of the washington, d.c. circuit court of appeals. john bolton says president trump made a habit of shoving the law aside, for political gain.
in your book, you talk about it as obstruction of justice is a way of life. >> right. and that's why i -- i discussed what i knew. >> reporter: such as, bolton alleges, another shocking instance of a quid pro quo. this time, with china. >> you say that he, also, asked president xi for help in getting re-elected. >> right. to purchase agricultural products from the farm states, whose electoral votes that we needed. and that happened on a couple of occasions. all of which, troubled me greatly. >> reporter: trump denied it all. firing off a tweet. bolton is, quote, just trying to get even. for me, firing him like the sick puppy he is. bolton insists he left on his own accord, after trying to work for a president he ultimately deemed unfit for office. >> every president takes politics into account in their decision-making. the differences with trump is it crosses a line that i thought was -- was never going to happen in american history. >> reporter: coming up. how will history judge this president?
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no, i'm not a racist. i am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. >> good evening, i'm alice marie johnson. i was once told that the only way i would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse. >> it was an emotional and memorable moment at the republican national convention. >> i will sign it right now. >> johnson was pardoned by president trump after serving 21
years of a life sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug trafficking charge. >> six months after president trump granted me a second chance, he signed the first step act into law. it was real justice reform. [ applause ] >> that moment was an opportunity to showcase an important accomplishment, but also an effort to get people to forget the many things that president trump has said and done that have stoked division, including racial divisions in the u.s., such as on the first monday in june 2020. >> in some ways that afternoon shaped up to be one of the more iconic images of the president. >> mr. president! >> president trump had spent the weekend watching non-stop news coverage of the protests following the killing of george floyd by a minneapolis police officer.
>> when the protests really got under way here in d.c. two nights ago, the president was taken down to an underground bunker in the white house. >> the president was so irritated by that reporting because he feared it made him look weak. >> the streets of washington were becoming in his mind increasingly embarrassing for him. >> so monday morning, president trump crashed vice president's pence's weekly coronavirus call with the governors. >> you have to dominate. if you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. they will make you look like a bunch of jerks. >> it was a stunning moment. he used this as some kind of call to action. >> if they were not going to dominate, trump would. >> his advisers hatch an idea. there was a fire that started in the basement of st. john's church right above the streets from the white house. >> st. john's church is on fire.
>> they decide they will have the president go to this church. >> he came up to the rose garden and gave this fiery speech. >> in repeat days, our nation has been ripped by arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, antifa and others. >> black lives matter! black lives matter! >> in the background, mostly peaceful protestors. they were being forcibly sometimes violently removed from nearby lafayette park there our >> our initial thinking was they had moved the protesters from out in front so you could not hear them in the rose garden. and you see him leave the white house surrounded by his aides and military leaders. >> you see president trump now walk across the street.
>> he gets in front of the church and he holds up his bible. he doesn't pray. he doesn't tour the church. >> it was such a mesmerizing political moment. >> saying i am on god's side, and god is on my side. i am in the right here. >> i am outraged. >> few agreed. >> this was a charade. >> this is james mattis just a little while ago. donald trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the american people. >> i should not have been there. thank you very much, everybody. i'm going to keep you nice and safe. >> was it worth the blowback, do you think ultimately? >> i want to go back the original intent was. he wanted to go there and take a stand. >> a stand that would become more and more disconnected from the pain and furor that had grown since floyd's murder. >> thank you very much. this is a big day for our country. >> june 5th in the rose garden, announcing economic comeback and the need for equal treatment for law enforcement.
>> hopefully george is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that is happening for our country. >> then hours later retweeting a post quoting a conservative commentator saying the fact that floyd has been held up as a martyr sickens me. >> instead of trying to lean into wanting to unify the country or bring in a more diverse constituency to his base, he leaned in, in the other direction. >> and despite polls that showed more and more people believe racial discrimination remains a big problem in the u.s., donald trump went on offense in a way many found offensive. reminiscent of five years prior when he said many mexicans were rapists and criminals. >> they're rapists. it's 1:00 in the morning, and a very tough hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman. >> not unlike when he refused to
condemn all of those marching at the unite the right real in charlottesville in 2017. >> jews will not replace us! >> very fine people on both sides. >> prompting his top economic adviser at the white house gary cohn to say, quote, this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups, and now also attacking a movement to remove confederate statues. >> they want to demolish our heritage. >> also this at a time when asian americans are being unfairly attacked because of the coronavirus poke. pandemic. >> kung flu. >> it's hard to believe there is an american president who pushes the envelope at every opportunity in his use of racist incendiary divisive language. he is scaring americans about other americans. >> even retweeting a white
nationalist's video of a black man violently shoving a white woman. former trump homeland security official elizabeth newman. >> white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-government extremist ideas have been growing for quite some time in this country, and his divisive rhetoric is fuel on that fire, and it makes us less safe. >> trump would declare himself the chief law enforcement officer of the country. >> i am your president of law and order. >> he deployed federal officers around the nation, often in conflict with local law enforcement, especially in states run by democratic governors. >> this is obviously a move that has prompted criticism, not just from the nancy pelosis and chuck schumers of the world, but from former dhs secretaries. why do this? >> the president has never objected to protestors or demonstrators. the objection is to those who
riot, loot and commit violence. >> in reality, the president thinks that there is an advantage to him highlighting conflicts, showing a force of strength by law enforcement against protestors. he believes this is going to help him. >> help him win. president trump has survived and even thrived by spreading distrust and inciting division, even racism. he has gone largely unchecked by his party. >> i love you all, god bless you -- >> republicans happy with so many of his policies and afraid of the wrath seem to almost expect this from president trump. >> the president is not responsible for systemic racism. but he has turned accelerant on all the society that had the potential to explode for a long time. >> this is something he and his close advisers dispute on the record.
>> i have never, ever heard that man say anything untoward based on race in my experience. >> yet, it seems in stark contra contrast to a well established pattern we have all witnessed throughout his presidency. >> i have known you a long time. he says things and tweets things you would never even think about four congress women of color, three of whom born in the united states telling them to go back where they came from and fix those countries. even though they're all american citizens and three were born here. i could go on and on, but i won't. he hurts himself when he does those things, doesn't he? >> i understand why people feel that way completely. i always tease the president. you need to eat. it's about better choices. sometimes i have a kale salad sometimes finish the brownies the kids made. it all balances out. >> does it? racism is not brownies. white supremacy is not dessert. donald trump is not a private businessman or a reality television star anymore. he's president of the united
states of america every move he makes is watched and analyzed. every tweet, every speech, every comment matters. because words do matter. his words matter. and it will be those words and those deeds that will ultimately be the true legacy of president donald j. trump. the following is a cnn special report. he's gone from a young politician with swagger. >> and he says we think row should run for the senate. i'm not old enough. turkey, a young father suffering great loss.