tv Face the Nation CBS May 21, 2017 8:30am-9:31am PDT
captioning sponsored by cbs >> today on "face the nation" president trump steps back after a week in washington. now that's more like it. a warm welcome in saudi arabia kicked off a bold attempt to unite nations and the president who once campaigned on banning muslims offered an olive branch but back home his domestic gdp has been interrupted by chaos and questions over whether his campaign worked with russians to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether he fired fbi director james comey to divert his investigation of the matter. comey agreed to testify publicly in front of the senate
intelligence committee but do senators want to hear from him? we'll hear from a key senator marco rubio and what can we expect from the council, robert mueller. he takes the reins of the investigation. we'll talk to the top senator on the committee dianne feinstein and what do americans make of this? we'll have the latest and our politics panel will weigh in on "face the nation." i'm john dickerson. it was another week of chaos and destruction for president trump and he wasn't happy about it. >> no politician in history and i say this with assurity has been treated worse or unfairly. >> dickerson: much of the trouble was self-inflicted. monday the "washington post"
reported the president gave russians information that wouldn't have been shared with let alone an add vary and there was i moment -- memo from james comey that the president was asked to let go of the investigation into michael flynn. john mccain was reminded of previous presidential tampering. i think we've seen this before. it's reaching the point of a watergate size and scale. >> dickerson: a council was named to investigate and president trump was asked about the decision. >> well, i respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. >> dickerson: friday a flood of revelations as the president left on a carefully planned eight-day foreign trip. the first headline, the fbi investigation is looking at a senior official close to the
president. the second, the investigation now includes the possibility of a white house cover-up. a third, the president told the russians something else in that meeting that firing fbi comey rerelieve rerelieved relived him of the pressure of the investigation and the president is giving a speech on islam and terrorism. we're joined by white house and senior affairs correspondent margaret brennan travelling with the president. margaret. >> reporter: good morning. reaching out to leaders of 50 muslim majority countries in saudi arabia president trump is calling for unity against extremism. he's abandoned the campaign rhetoric against islam. a religion he said hates us and called for a shut-down of all muslims from entering the u.s. he's trying to recap that as a
battle as against all decent peel and the criminals who falsely invoke the name of god. unlike past u.s. presidents president trump is make it a policy to avoid public criticism of human rights abuses saying we are not here to lecture. and he has lifted the obama era restrictions on weapon sales inking a deal with saudi arabia and the kingdom has warmly embraced president trump on honors they did not bestow on his predecessor. u.s. relations were damaged by the obama era's outreach to iran. while president trump is bringing with him all the baggage of those domestic issues, so far he is sticking to scripted remarks and avoiding twitter. john, he's got a lot more stocks on the foreign trip and tomorrow he heads to israel. >> dickerson: thank you, margaret. we turn to republican senator
marco rubio who joins us from miami, florida. welcome, senator. i want to start with former director james comey. he will testify in front of the intelligence committee which you are on. what do you want to know? >> the media report raise questions that deserve answers what do the memos say and why did you write them and what was your feeling. the american public deserves to know the answers. that's fair to the president and fair to director comey and fair to the country. >> dickerson: what did you make the new york times report where he said i just fired the head of the fbi. >> i didn't see the notes. i had a conversation with the white house. people in that meeting denied anything had been said in that meeting that could compromise
sources, methods or intelligence. they said there were no transcripts, there were notes. i encouraged them to make them available to the committee. that's not happened and apparently someone has discussed them or leaked them. we haven't seen them and i'm not sure that's an accurate description of the notes. that's why it's important the committee look at them. >> dickerson: there were two elements of the meetings with the russians. one possible classified information handed over and the other a question of what was said about james comey. is question you're interested in is whether there was an attempt to interfere with the investigation by the president? >> that's a relevant question that needs to be asked and answered. but do you do it through the press or the process now moving forward. former director mueller has now been appointed. everyone is confident he'll conduct a thorough and fair investigation and a look at these things and give answers. we'll continue to look at it
from a counterintelligence perspective. that's our job. sfie want to get your >> dickerson: i want to get your response on something the white house said. sean spicer said james comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with russia. do you think that's right? >> that may be the white house's opinion. i don't necessarily share that 100% assuming that's what director comey was doing. i don't think that was because -- at the end of the united states the united states of america remains a major factor on the global stage. there's plenty of votes in congress for additional sanctions. i don't necessarily believe that it undermined our ability to deal with the russians. that's my view of it. obviously the white house has a different take. >> dickerson: and the russians by trying to meddle in the election undermined the
u.s. ability to negotiate with the russians? >> it's a factor in our relationship there's no doubt. that should be the core focus of the intel committee's work is to lay out to the american people, not just what russia did, but how they did it and what we should do about it. >> dickerson: let me ask about the report on the classified information. the president said he was giving information to the russians in order to help them greatly step up their fight against isis and terrorism. do you think that's a possibility that by giving them information the russians will step up and help with isis. >> i don't know what the russians knew already. number two, i'm not sure that's what the president did that he gave that sort of information. everyone in the room that i spoke to denies that's what happened. that will be a focus of the inquiries moving forward. three, i think if the russians cooperate against terrorism it
the interest will be for russians and define terrorists anybody who is trying to get rid assad. >> dickerson: the republican leader said he'd like less drama from the white house. do you share that view? >> i don't know why people are shocked. this president ran an unconventional campaign and that's what the american people voted for. in essence this white house is not much different from the campaign. people got what they voted for. it's in the best interest of the country to try to help him succeed. as far as the drama's concerned, it's unique and different from anything we've confront. our job remains to do our work. we'll have to deal with these issues and the questions come up every day. i think the white house would
benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some unnecessary friction points but this is also a political environment. politics are covered this way and politicians behave in this way to get attention. it's the way politics has moved. it's not good for the country but that's where we're headed. >> dickerson: on the trump administration and the message on human rights. they sanctioned eight venezuelan judges. you said it's an issue you've been working on. the u.s. will not allow those who impede democracy to violate human rights and on the other hand the administration on countries like russia and saudi arabia has a more muted voice on human rights. >> it's not an approach i agree with. i feel we need to confront cuba
and venezuela and the human rights offenders of the world and the white house believes on the countries that are cooperative with us like saudi arabia and egypt we should privately confront them on the issues of human rights and you'll get a better result that way. i have a different take on it. i believe human rights are important to speak about publicly and in fairness the white house has gotten results. i remember raising an issue in egypt and they held it and she was released. and another issues was privately addressed with china and she was release. they have gotten results but from a broader perspective i disagree with that because i believe these countries, egypt, saudi arabia and the like are not sustainable in the long term if they continue to systemically
violate the rights of their people. >> dickerson: senator marco rubo. thank you. joining us now is the top democrat on the committee dianne feinstein. let's start with former director comey. what do you want to know from him? >> how many times did he meet with the president or talk with the president on the phone. what was he asked by the president. what was he asked to in any way alter the investigation. what was he asked about general flynn. questions like that. i think it's important for the american people to know what may be behind some of the actions that have recently been taken. >> dickerson: director comey testified in front of the judiciary committee back in may and he was asked these questions whether anybody had tried to
impede the investigation and director comey at the time said not in my experience. talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason would be a big deal. it's not happened in my experience. before he said it hadn't happened. now he may be saying something different doesn't that make him -- >> that's why doing this in public so the people can hear is so important. and though i it to be in judiciary because that's the committee of jurisdiction, mr. comey has chosen the intelligence committee. i also sit on the intelligence committee. if nobody asks the questions before they get to me you just heard the questions i will ask. when sally yates game before the panel of the judiciary committee were primary questions and the american people gained by hearing those questions. i think rather than have all
these memorandums and issues circulating around that we need to put the facts before the american people. and the big fact is did the president fire comey because of his investigation and he was worried about what the investigation might conclude. that if so, that borders on a very serious charge. so we need to flush that out and see what the response is and it's got to come from director comey himself. >> dickerson: what do you make about the comment in the new york times that the president said i just -- in his meeting with the russians, i just fired the head of the fbi. he was crazy, a real nut job. i faced pressure with russia and that's taken off. >> we'll see what records there are and hopefully be able to have access to them. i mean, this is a horrible thing
for a president to say. former director comey is in no way shape or form a nut job. he's a very strong man and very principled man. i suspect he's made a couple mistakes and i believe he feels he made a couple mistakes. the fact is he's been terminated but the reason for the termination has not been ferreted out and that's what has to be before the american people. clear and distinct. >> dickerson: you said you want to see the memos the former director wrote about his meetings with the president. the president has also talked about tapes in the white house. is that also something the judiciary committee would be asking for. >> the president has referred to tapes and we need to see and yes, i think it is. senator grassley, the chairman
and myself have written a letter to mr. comey that he would face our questions because they would be separate and more distinct along the lines of what you just asked. >> dickerson: do you believe the federal investigation includes beyond russia and now a cover-up question? >> i think that's right. it does. i know what the president told me when he called to say that he was firing him. and that turned out not to be the reason. i think there's one thing about this president and i'd really like to say it meaning well and that is, stop the tweeting. think about what you say because you're reflecting in a big pool. the senate and the house have to feel a sense of stability from
day to day. we can't feel the anxiety that goes with not knowing what may happen next, what may be said next. we need to depend on our president for truth. that is really important. >> dickerson: and in the final 30 seconds what do you want to see in the next fbi director? >> what i want to see in the next fbi director is a law enforcement program. i've recommended to the president, mr. mckade. i find him strong. i find him a good leader. i find him with the experience that's necessary and this is a law enforcement agency separate perfect the political branch and so we'll see what happens. >> dickerson: senator feinstein thank you for being with us. and we'll be back in one minute. stay with me, mr. parker. when a critical patient is far from the hospital, the hospital must come to the patient. stay with me, mr. parker. the at&t network is helping first responders
correspond jeff pegues. why did attorney general rosenstein have to name a special council. >> why comey was fired was it the russia investigation or the recommendation and you had it bubbling up to the surface. it came to the point where he had no choice but to appoint bob mueller. >> dickerson: what's the scope of what he can do? >> it's broad and independent. in his appointment of former fbi director mueller he said he'll be able to investigate any possible contacts or leaks with the russian government and the trump campaign in any matters that arose during the investigation or may arise from the investigation. that's a broad charge to mr.mr. mr. mueller and he has complete
independence. >> dickerson: that's the basket people put the question that anything arise from the investigation is that the way you read it? >> absolutely. it's confined to these allegations. he can't go off on a tangent and investigate all other matters. but it's broad and it's wide ranging and i want to make this point too, it's going to be absolutely confidential. i think we'll see such a difference in the investigations in capitol hill. >> dickerson: not as leaky as we've had in the discussions before because of mueller's reputation. >> sure. he's a former prosecutor. >> dickerson: give me a sense of comey's allies and what this talk about him, the president calling him a nut job and so forth. how that's effected the kind of response in the building and a lot of the leaks are probably coming from those people. >> he had a lot of allies and
why they were stunned by the move and the way it happened to publicly. he wasn't informed privately. this happened on live tv essentially. there were former and current fbi employees offended by that. one thing about james comey they know you may quibble with his decisions but you don't attack his character but that's what the white house did consistently and still doing. there are a lot of people offended by that and you see the leaks coming out. though there's a special council now i think the leaks will continue because they're coming from people who feel that it is their patriotic duty to counter the white house denials. i suspect even though bob mueller will seal up the investigation there are those breached
briefed and will push back against the denials. >> dickerson: help me understand the threshold for obstruction of justice which is what people are talking about with respect to the president. >> first it's important to keep in mind president trump will not be charge in court. there will not be charges because the constitution -- it's an open question whether a sitting president can be charged in court. richard nixon was a co-indicted co-conspirator and congress can start impeachment proceedings against president trump for obstruction of justice. and that's what president clinton was brought in for but you have to show intent. it's very difficult to show. it may have been a stupid thing to say or offensive but there
has to be that president trump intended to and that's what the investigations are going to see from the special council. they'll look at all that. >> dickerson: they'll have to get in his head essentially. >> which may be difficult but it's not easy to prove and they'll look at the intent. >> dickerson: jeff, give me the sense of the meaning in the oval office with the russian leaders. there's the comey conversation and also classified intelligence supposedly a part of the conversation. >> that's an image that will haunt the white house for quite some time. there are those in the current and former community and saw the i image and offended and that's what vladamir putin called for and wanted. in the images you see the president laughing and joking
with kislyak and that was a slap in the face and you hear allegations from the meeting and you hear the leaks as well because people want to expose what they believe is the truth. >> dickerson: all right. thank you so much jeff and jan. and we'll be back in a moment. . with the menu app ready to roll. in 12 weeks. yeah. ♪ ♪ the world of fast food is being changed by faster networks. ♪ ♪ data, applications, customer experience. ♪ ♪ which is why comcast business delivers consistent network performance and speed
>> dickerson: welcome back to "face the nation." over the last couple months we've been tracking americans and monitoring their views on the trump administration, congress and country including the investigations into russia and the trump campaign. cbs news elections director anthony salvanto joins us. before, let's start first with the broad picture. >> the majority disapproval of the way the president is handling all things related to fbi and the russia investigation. the majority feel there should be a special prosecutor and concern about the possibility of sharing intelligence with russia. also that if there are tapes of
conversations between the president and former director comey those tapes should be released. once you dig in you say how's it affect the support groups the president has or doesn't have. look, we've always known there's hardcore supporters and detractors. the real play is the folks in the middle who have been wondering which president was going to show up over the months. the savvy businessman that would make washington work or the impulsive candidate and as the russia investigation plays in it starts to move the needle. >> dickerson: you hear marco rubio saying this is like the campaign i don't know why people are surprised. first the believers. the trump fans. >> their numbers have dwindled a bit to a fifth of the country and what's gotten smaller is
concentrated. they see a witch hunt. they feel the president is under unfair pressure from what they call the establishment and pushing back on him it did not against previous president and he needs support to fight against that. also you see they're taking this very personally which is striking to me. they said when they see people criticize the president they feel like they're also being criticized along with him. he speaks for them and speaks for the working class in ways others don't. beyond that you see their prescriptions for what the president ought to do now and say the president should have more power. he should be able to stop this investigation if he wants to. he should be able to do what he wants not what the congressional republicans want and in an interesting view they should swear oath to the president and not just the constitution alone and those are different from other groups including other
supporters. >> dickerson: let's go to the second group the conditional supporters. >> they don't have the same emotional connection with the president. they're more transactional. they support him but want a policy enacted. they're increasingly worried that won't happen. the controversy will bog him down. they're more supportive of the idea not just of the special prosecutor but the gop should pushback against president trump as a check when needed. their view is things need to get done and they're increasingly worried the policy things they want won't get done. they're looking more to the republican congress to sort of keep pushing that through. >> dickerson: right. the people want to see the trade and the economy and the policy specifics. they don't have that in their connection. what about the third group, the curious voters? >> these are folks we've watched all along who wanted to support the president. they don't agree on all the
policies but if he can change washington we'll come along but they're dropping away and becoming more hard in their support and what's associated with that is an increasing feeling of nervousness. they feel it goes back to relating to the president's temperament and they give worse ratings to his judgment now coming hard in their support. not interesting seeing the president tied up in controversy but would have hoped he would have reached out across the aisle and with that said everyone we interviewed are nervous. that's the word they use they're getting more nervous about what the administration is doing. it's pushing them away and it didn't look like they're coming back. >> dickerson: the final group are the resisters, the never-trumpers and those not listening to anything. >> this is confirming all their
cuss -- suspicions. they think there was wrongdoing and the president tried to stop the having not just talk about and their numbers are growing a little bit. they've gone up to 40% of the country. that's because those folks on the fence are coming over to that firmer opposition in part because of all this and the nervousness. but what you don't see yet is people think well, this means the democrats can run as a check on president trump in the next election, not yet. the country is split on the idea whether a democratic control in congressqç]=u1 be a check on the president or bring more gridlock which is not what they wanted. >> dickerson: thank you so much. we'll be right back with our political panel.
>> we're joined now by elizabeth palmer from tehran, iran where the former president was just re-elected and they're watching president trump's visit carefully. >> good morning. the last four years has resulted in unprecedented negotiations with the west and the nuclear deal. now the question isewhether
they'll look to go beyond that and seek further agreement of some kind. for his part he has pushed forward but he faces constant resistance inside iran from powerful hardliners. they point out president trump's first trip abroad is to iran's archenemy israel and proof 3he u.s. can't be trusted. in washington the white house has spoken about the nuclear program and the latest missile test. on the campaign trail president trump called the nuclear deal disastrous and for now has decide to stick with it. the bottom line is the u.s. and iran share common interests. fighting isis and stabilizing the middle east. the thing to watch for in the coming months behind the aggressive rhetoric is the
emergence of some kind of diplomatic negotiations either covert or overt between washington and iran. >> dickerson: thanks, elizabeth. president trump just concluded his speech in terrorism in riyadh, saudi arabia where he said the united states is ready to stand with the rest of the world in pursuit of common interests including fighting terrorism. >> this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. this is a battle between barbaric criminal who's seek to obliterate human life and decent people all in the name of religion. >> dickerson: to discuss his speech and all the week's news we turn to our political panel, ed o'keefe is the cbs news contributor and covers politics for the "washington post" and david ignatius is a columnist
and ramesh ponnuru is a columnist. what do you make of the trip? >> the speech was the capstone. the president didn't say anything surprising but the language was very different perfect the trump we know that campaigned. he was inviting partnership, not drawing sharp lines. the white house has worked very hard to prepare this trip. for all the questions about the flip-flops and the difference of trump then and stand now. have to stand back and look at the symbolic importance of this. the president represented many americans who were suspicious and angry at saudi arabia and the problems in the middle east that are represented. they're seeing their hero go to saudi arabia and embrace the saudi leadership. similarly the saudis and others
were suspicious of the united states to riyadh to meet the president. and i think the trump administration is also make bet the younger saudi leadership that this is a change agent ready to try to move in a different era for saudi arabia and the region taking advantage of that and i actually think that's smart. >> dickerson: molly, as david points out it's quite a distance from a president who campaigned on a muslim ban and had critical things to say about relationship between hillary clinton and saudi arabia and called it radical terrorism and if you didn't use the phrase it was possible you misunderstood the threat. >> and he's not using those words in the speech. today a very important decision has been made by the
administration about what kind of president trump it will be to the muslim world and it's not candidate trump and it goes to the security and decisions and appointments we have seen the white house make on the traditional hawkish side of the republican party rather than the more isolationist or transactional or america-first ideology he espoused on the campaign. it's a traditional play to say we're look for areas of cooperation. we're not judging on the basis of religion. that was not candidate trump at all. >> dickerson: ramesh, give me your take and also this is happening in a larger context which there's confusion on which is president trump is this on dealing with nato to has shaved off the rough edges
and domestically is having challenge. where do you see this in the evolution of understanding the president? >> i think the speech that's pretty easily in the mainstream foreign policy vision. we've now had three presidents post 9/11 made a distinction between the people we're fighting against and the mainstream of islam. i think what was new here was trump himself speaking respectfully and admiringly about muslims and islam. that we haven't seen. the focus on the terminology, radical islamic terrorist versus the rprevious remarks. i think the focus has been overblown on the part of both parties with one side saying oh, he used those words you'll offend all muslim and others saying you have to name the enemy in order to win. the terms seem pretty much identical as far as i can tell.
>> dickerson: the candidate said unless president obama used that he should resign. he put weight on it. he also put weight on the trip that the deal with the saudis woul lead to hundreds of billions of investments in the unit and jobs, jobs, jobs. he may be overseas but he's keeping his eyes own the balls. >> lockheed martin is selling them $20 million worth sales and there's a deal with technology and that create high-tech jobs in saudi arabia. we may see the deal put together by the blackstone investment firm. the ink isn't dry on it yet. they haven't finished the deal and the negotiating started in
the obama year and they're looking for infrastructure projects a lot to be spent in the states. saudi money may end up helping build new projects in the states. if you can't get an infrastructure deal here in washington he may get one thanks to riyadh. that's the irony. look, he brought about 50 corporate executives with him with the hope they'd finalize deals or put new ones together. it's a demonstration of the diplomacy of what the administration can do and it helps the countries visiting and would have a benefit back here. >> dickerson: molly, let's switch back here. did something turn this week in terms of the investigations and the challenge the president has on the russia front? >> it's almost hard to remember where this week began because every day has felt like a year given the incredible pace of new developments, the explosion of all the scandals. it's hard to believe it was less than two weeks ago director comey was fired.
so something turned and things happened and important things were learned. the appointment of the special prosecutor, an important turn in the saga. but if you're talking about the sentiment of the congress in particular i spent most of my week talking to republicans on capitol hill and their staff and people around the congress. there was a feeling that a dam broke and they're ready to go after the president. that's overblown. they're very nervous and they were talking about the nervous trump voters. that's the vibe i got. they still want him to be something he hasn't been so far. they're incredibly nervous and there was a sense of relief of a special prosecutor because it
took a load off their shoulders and put it in somebody else's hans and say we trust him and respect him and it's up to him and whew we don't have to do that. >> dickerson: what did you make of the week? >> molly said the last week felt like a year and i think it felt like the seventh year of an administration where washington is enveloped by scandal and consumed by controversy. what's different is this is not even the seventh month of the administration. it hasn't even fully staffed itself. you have this atmosphere. i don't think it is yet true the country at large feels that way. one thing happening with congressional republicans they have this feeling in the pit of their stomach and wish the president wouldn't ask this way but are aware most voters support this president. and you'll see a pattern where
the house republicans in swing seats are more nervous. the senators in blue states are more nervous but the bulk don't fit in those categories and are nervous but still supporting the president. >> dickerson: and nervous and what about the agenda? what about the future and getting stuff done? >> it's important to reiterate what the speaker said twice this week is you may think washington's consumed by scandal but we're still doing the nation's business. there were meetings to get ready for health care with the cbo's estimate expected this week and allows the senate to get to work for real now. they're starting it put together plans for tax reform which is the big item on the wish list for republicans. but they do worry the more there is the worse off they become. there were a few moments this week i think where republicans -- as much as they -- and i agree with ramesh,
don't take it as a danger sign yet but they realize they have to take it seriously at least. john mccain and richard burr among others when asked in the aftermath of the stories confronted by reporters and were flippant about it and once they went back to their offices and realized how serious it was and they went to great lengths to make sure others understood. >> dickerson: and your thoughts on the meeting between the president and ambassador. there were comments about james comey and then the question whether classified intelligence was given to the russians in the meeting. what do you make of that? >> the president has the authority to declassify intelligence. that's one of the powers the president has and we need to know more about that. the meeting just felt unseemly
and i felt more generally, john, this crazy week with the appointment of robert mueller as a special counsel you can almost hear an exhale. here comes somebody who i -- i haven't found anybody who says anything negative about mr. mueller. he's outstanding and respective and he doesn't leak. he's going to conduct this investigation quietly. if there's something done wrong he's going to find out out. if you're sitting in the white house you have to recognize this is a serious prosecutor. i think we're now in regular order. it's a more calm, stable period the former national security
adviser knows what it's like for things to be bumping around. >> dickerson: ramesh, i was struck by sean spicer's argument about james comey. in explaining what the president meant in talking to the russians he said because of comey's grand standing and politicizing the investigation into russia it made negotiations tougher. >> it seems it tends to confirm the suspicions of critics that he went after comey because comey was getting in the way of his attempts to work with the russians and was getting closer to finding things out that the president doesn't want to get out. it doesn't necessarily mean that. it's hard to say particularly with this president what things mean. the other thing that's interesting about this is this administration's ping ponged back and forth on explanations why it fired james comey.
>> dickerson: this week president trump reflected on his place in history. >> look at how i've been treated recently especially by the media. no politician in history and i say this with great assurity has been treated worse or more unfairly. >> dickerson: actually, there's plenty of competition for that title. president john adams was labelled by a journalist so rough on adams he threw him in jail. a newspaper published that jefferson was dead and when caught in the lie said they were just trying to make readers feel better. abraham lincoln was called a gorilla and idiot and a newspaper called for his assassination. the press was more partisan then but even in modern times
president trump is in good company with feeling this way. here's a comment. >> dickerson: was that richard nixon? he did douse the press in expletives but that was president clinton. and another said he felt like a donkey in a hail storm you have to stand there and take it. president trump has challenged so many traditions but by complaining about his treatment in the press president trump is a very traditional president. back in a moment.
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thanks for watching. tune in next week for a special memorial day panel and joined by the author of the jersey brothers and the author of last hope island. until then, for "face the nation" i'm john dickerson. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org the following is a paid program.
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