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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  April 26, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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project with van jones debuts followed by united states of america with w. kamau bell. thanks for joining us. "the lead with jake tapper" starts right now. just in case you didn't hear the president defend half the country in his response to charlottesville the first couple of times, "the lead" starts right now. president trump takes joe biden's bait, says he gave the perfect answer to the deadly violence in charlottesville. perfect to whom? and that's just one of the outlandish thing the president said that could have led the show today. late breaking today, joe biden coming out of the gate with the biggest money haul of the democratic race, but it's not all great news for this fledgling campaign. and gold star families, calling it an absolute betrayal. how president trump's tax overhaul is inadvertently, we hope, forcing some young kids who lost parents in war to fork over thousands more to uncle
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sam. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the politics lead. president trump all over the place today, promoting his alternate reality, where the special counsel investigation started by his hand-picked deputy attorney general was an attempted coup against him. this as he attacked his own former white house counsel as a liar, slammed democrats as maniacs, promised to fill sanctuary cities with undocumented immigrants, despite legal guidance from his own department of homeland security, that he cannot do that. and claimed that his assessment that there were, quote, very fine people on both sides of that charlottesville, virginia, march was the perfect response. the president today also claimed that gas prices were going down when they're actually going up. and referred to his 72-year-old self as young and vibrant. and any one of these comments during any other presidency would prompt alarm, condemnation, concern. perhaps even a congressional hearings or two. around here, we just call it
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friday. cnn's abby phillip looks into what the president himself acknowledged today that you never know what he's going to claim or do next. >> the good thing with me, you never know. >> reporter: president trump today spinning an alternative reality, starting with an attack on the special counsel's investigation, into russian election interference. >> they tried for a coup. didn't work out so well. and i didn't need a gun for that one, did i? >> that line aimed at a friendly audience of national rifle association members. >> corruption at the highest level, a disgrace. spying, surveillance, trying for an overthrow. and we caught 'em. we caught 'em. >> reporter: trump also continuing to mischaracterize the findings of the mueller probe, insisting that he did not tell former white house counsel, don mcgahn, to fire robert mueller. >> i never told don mcgahn to fire mueller. if i wanted to fire mueller, i
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would have done it myself. it's very simple. i had the right to. >> reporter: but that's not true. according to the mueller report, trump called mcgahn at home in june of 2017 and told him to tell deputy attorney general rod rosenstein that mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. mcgahn refused to follow that order and decided he would rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential saturday night massacre. trump now appears fixated on stopping mcgahn's testimony before congress. citing his interview with mueller's team. >> i think mcgahn was in there for 30 hours. whoever heard of such a thing? >> meantime, the president also taking aim at his 2020 rivals. including former vice president, joe biden, who launched his 2020 campaign, attacking trump's response to white supremacist and neo-nazi marchers, who descended on charlottesville, virginia, in 2017. >> you also had people that were
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very fine people, on both sides. >> very fine people on both sides? >> reporter: but today, trump is doubling down. insisting that these chants -- [ chanting: jews will not replace us ] >> reporter: -- were about historic statues and not hate. >> i was talking about people who felt very strongly about the monument to robert e. lee, a great general. >> reporter: and sources say that president trump has been quizzing his political aides in private meetings about joe biden. he's been asking about his strengths with working class voters, particularly in biden's home state of pennsylvania. president trump is keenly interested in pennsylvania, because he turned that state from blue to red in 2016, jake. >> he sure did. abby phillip at the white house, thanks so much. let's chew over all of this. big picture, jeff. is this the president trump we're going to see when he is running for re-election in 2020? this is it, kind of this alternate reality thing? >> i think, certainly subpoena
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it's the one we've seen up until now. i do not expect any sign of a new donald trump or anything. look, he is trying to, again, frame all of this for his supporters, constantly trying to program things, reality aside. so one, i was surprised, a little bit, that he allowed himself to be sucked in by joe biden's charlottesville thing. so again, in that conversation there, on the lawn of the white house, as he was leaving earlier today, when he's explaining all of that, that makes many republicans cringe. he is never -- that is one of the moments -- i remember when that happened in august of 2017, the most loyalist of all republicans. even they were offended by that. >> members of his cabinet, gary cohn. >> almost resigned over it. of course, didn't. i remember the look on john kelly's face. it seems like ancient history, actually. but this is president trump gearing up for 2020. he never apologizes and he is doubling down. but the question of, you know, just mathematically, how you win an election, expanding his base.
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that is difficult. i don't know why he didn't talk about the economy today more. >> the economy is going gangbusters. why is he relitigating charlottesville. but as long as he wants to, let's play some of the sound of president trump back in 2017, saying -- he had said today that he answered the question perfectly. let's take a listen. >> they started charlottesville -- >> excuse me, you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> now, elsewhere, in those remarks, the president did condemn neo-nazis and white supremacists. so he's not saying that the neo-nazi and white supremacists are very fine people, but he is saying people protesting alongside those neo-nazi and white supremacists were very fine people. who are they? >> remember the context of how those rallies were organized? it was a unite the right rally, organized by a well-known white
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nationalist. >> that kessler guy, right? >> richard spencer, i believe. >> richard spencer, yeah. >> these are people chanting very anti-semitic statements, and yet the president equivocated on that. it's no doubt that that moment was one of the lowest points, one of the darkest points of his presidency and i think a lot of republicans were just outraged -- the country, to be fair, was outraged by that. >> and there's this big effort by trump supporters to pretend that the president didn't say what he said. to call this all a hoax. again, he didn't refer to nazi as very fine people, he referred to the people protesting with the nazis. and i don't know who are the good people there. but friday night was "the jews will not replace us," saturday, somebody was killed. at what point were there good people there? >> i mean, the phantom good people, i guess. in trump's mind, there were good people. and even that way, it's circuitous, thinking, why would you even want to be a part of a unite the right white supremacist rally.
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at what point did these good people decide maybe we shouldn't be here, because there's tiki torches and chanting, blood and soil, and jews will not replace us. it's ridiculous! and to be honest, there's a lot of people that don't want to re-live charlottesville. and yet, the president can't seem to let it go. and wherever -- because, again, it speaks to his character and how he feels about this. he continues to play footsie with this white supremacist element that's -- that has been unearthed here. and he refuses to unequivocally condemn it in ways that if he answered it so perfectly, we wouldn't be here talking about this today. he consistently does this. and republicans don't want to see that. they're horrified every time he brings it up. why would you want to bring up a low point in your presidency? >> and paul, well, joe biden brought it up. he's just taken the bait. you're a son of the south, so i want you to respond to president trump. here he is, praising confederate general, robert e. lee. >> they felt very strongly about the monument to robert e. lee, a great general. whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals.
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>> he was a general that led a treasonous rebellion and fought for the right of people to own african-americans as slaves. that's what he is. and a brutal guy. horrible guy. >> that's simply true. and you could have an interesting historical debate about lee and his life. i think you're right, when you wage war against the united states of america, that is the definition of treason. it's in the constitution. >> yeah. so there's no question about that, in my mind. but the president isn't really talking -- he doesn't know robert e. lee from bruce lee. oh, kung fu movies! he's sending, not just dog whistles, hea's sending fog hors to the ultra-right fringe, the ra racist right. his party was founded by abraham lincoln. they have such a proud history on issues of race. and he has taken them into such a dark place on this. and he's doing it on purpose. he has chosen, and i think it's a good point about broadening. any other strategist would say, you need to broaden your support. he's chosen to deepen it. it may work. i don't know, it's not what i would do. i think it's bad politics, but i
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know it's bad history and i know it's bad ethics. he seems to be drawn to these racially divisive issues. >> all right. everyone, stay with us. this just in, "the washington post" is now reporting on how deputy attorney general rod rosenstein tried to save his job in a teary-eyed plea to president trump. and joe biden's new bragging rights solidifying him as the democratic front-runner, perhaps. at least for now. stay with us. this is loma linda, a place with one of the highest life expectancies in the country. you see so many people walking around here in their hundreds. so how do you stay financially well for all those extra years? well, you have to start planning as early as possible. we all need to plan, for 18 years or more, of retirement. i don't have a whole lot saved up, but i'm working on it now. i will do whatever i need to do. plan your financial life with prudential. bring your challenges. it's nice. ♪ you got this!
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today in our 2020 lead. joe biden's campaign announced a 24-hour fund-raising haul, larger than every other democrat in the race. $6.3 million, all primary dollars, since launching his campaign. it puts him ahead beto o'rourke and bernie sanders. and it comes as biden dominates the air waves on this second day of his campaign. trading barbs with president trump and invoking his old boss, president obama. biden's entry has prompted some pointed attacks, as well, from his fellow democrats in what had previously been a peaceful primary, as cnn's jeff zeleny how reports, biden's walking the line, trying to set him up as the candidate taking on trump, while also addressing some of the criticisms of fellow democrats. >> joe biden flexing his fund-raising muscle, with his campaign announcing this afternoon he raised $6.3 million during his opening day in the race. the former vice president outpacing the first-day totals of all democratic rivals. trying again today to keep his fight focused squarely on president trump's conduct in office. >> the rest of the world, i
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mean, they look at us like, my god! >> reporter: biden also responding to trump's latest attack on his age, despite both men being just four years apart. >> i am a young, vibrant man. i look at joe. i don't know about him. i don't know. >> he looks young and vibrant compared to me, i should probably go home. >> reporter: but appearing on abc's "the view," biden's also confronting questions about his own long record, repeatedly declining to directly apologize to anita hill for her treatment during the 1991 supreme court confirmation hearings of clarence thomas. >> i sam sorry she was treated the way she was treated. i did everything in my power to do what i thought was within the rules, to be able to stop things. >> reporter: expressing regret, but stopping well short of accepting responsibility, considering he was chairman of the senate judiciary committee. hill told "the new york times" she was not satisfied with the recent call from biden. the first in 28 years. >> i think what she wants you to say is, i'm sorry for the way i
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treated you, not for the way you were treated. >> but, um, i'm sorry the way she got treated. >> reporter: biden also struggled to apologize to women amid allegations that he made them feel uncomfortable. >> so i invaded your space. and i'm sorry this happened. but i'm not sorry in the sense that i think i did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate. >> yet biden also showing a deeply emotional side, when asked about his late son, beau, who always hoped his father would run again for president. >> i hope he's proud of me. i hope he's proud. >> reporter: and it is that joe biden right there, emoting out loud directly before the ladies of the view, that was the message that biden campaign, of course, wanted to give. the two key constituencies, of course, women and african-americans front and center to that audience, jake. so joe biden still seems to me to be trying to work through that "i'm sorry" to anita hill.
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and a big question is, didn't anyone ever check with anita hill to see if she was okay with that phone call? because this was ringing out as an awkward moment. >> probably should have made that call a couple of decades ago. sunlen, let me ask you, there are some questions about whether biden would be able to run a grassroots campaign. his team announced 97% of the online donations, that's not the total donations, but the online donations were under $200. and the average online donation was $41. we should note, biden had less than half the number of donors bernie sanders did. but do you think this is going to put any of these questions to rest, or are we making too much out of this 4-hour haul. >> i would also be wondering how successful that fund-raiser was last night, at the home of the comcast executive. you have to look at all of those in context. it's a good first day, clearly for biden. beto o'rourke had 6.1 million, even though some of that was for the general election race. bernie sanders had the $5.9 million. the biden team is clearly putting a major show of force out there, to show that he is the best funded, most, most able
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to go up against trump. and i think the early focus on pennsylvania is really driving home that point that i am the guy that can take this state back that we lost from the president. but as we have talked time and time again, so many of his past positions, past -- how he handled, you know, different events in his public service career are really going to come under the microscope, and they already are. and that can only get -- intensify as we go forward. >> paul, in addition to holding this fund-raiser last night at the home of a comcast executive for vice president, david cohen, who i know -- >> i do, as well. >> and bernie sanders went after him -- went after biden for spending the first night of his campaign at the home of a corporate lobbyist. in addition, elizabeth warren went after biden for his past position on consumers seeking to declare bankruptcy. she said, quote, i get -- let's -- oh, we have the sound. let's run that sound. >> i got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. and joe biden's on the side of
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the credit card companies. >> she's casting this as she was on the side of credit card consumers and biden is on the side of credit card companies, which are in delaware. welcome to the nfl, right, i guess? >> she previewed that in her town hall meeting on cnn, sunday night. where she talked about her moment where she stopped being kind of apolitical and even republican and became a democrat. it was this credit card fight. she didn't mention joe then, because she wasn't in the race yet. but they're going to fight these things out. i do not have a favorite in this, but i think i'm like most democrats, though. i'm a jfk democrat. i will pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend, oppose any foe to defend the support of donald j. trump. you can be for the credit cards or against him. go to my friend cohen's house or bernie's house. it's fine. democrats want to win. and i think the faster each of these candidates says, here's how i can beat trump, the better they're going to do. >> and tara, take a listen. this is biden today talking about how his presidency would be, theoretically, different from the obama protest, for which he was vice president. >> it's not about recreating
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what we did. it's about taking the same decency and the philosophy that we have, the political philosophy, and taking it into the future. >> what do you make of that? >> i thought -- i watched that interview in its entirety. and i thought that was one of the weaker answers he had. because he didn't really answer the question. and i think what he's going to get hit on is, what would you do differently with the economy, given that there were some problems under the obama/biden administration with the economy. it wasn't until toward the end where things started to pick up and trump is going to use the economy as his one and only soul accomplishment that's keeping him afloat. so biden's got to practice on that, because he didn't really -- he didn't really answer the question directly. and for peoples in places like pennsylvania, where he only won by 44,000 votes, which is less than 1%, out of 6 million cast. people in pennsylvania who might have been on the fence before, can look at a joe biden and say, you know what, we don't have to hold our nose and vote for trump, because we are comfortable with a joe biden.
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we know where he's coming from. and the idea that biden is focusing on the empathy part of him, the experience part, i think the pendulum has swung so far the other way, that the american people are craving for someone that has experienced and understands how government works. who is well respected around the world. so joe biden brings that to the stage. and now as a republican, lifelong, obviously, i haven't always agreed with joe biden on things, but i think if he has what it takes to beat trump in those areas where people like me can find a political home backing him, just solely to get trump out of there. >> and obviously, there's a lot of questions coming from the left, especially we heard today, questions about how he handled the anita hill/clarence thomas hearings. and also, whether he gets too touchy/feely with people. do you think he handled that okay? >> i think it's a work in progress. and makes me wonder, what has he been doing? why isn't there slightly a sharper answer to that. >> we knew these questions were coming. >> for sure. joy behar on "the view" was basically leading him to water
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there. to say, why not say, "i'm sorry" for. instead of speaking in past tense, i'm sorry for what happened. >> mistakes have been made. >> exactly! but he didn't drink. he believes that he did not do anything intentional here. so i think that answer, or that question will be asked again and again. and my guess is he'll tighten it and eventually say "i'm sorry." >> and we'll move on to other questions. >> what i learned. >> that's interesting. everyone, stick around. we've got more to talk about. president trump is banking on the economy to help him in 2020. we went to a swing district in the commonwealth of pennsylvania to find out if it's enough to hold on to supporters who voted for trump before. stay with us. everyone's got to listen to mom. when it comes to reducing the sugar in your family's diet, coke, dr pepper and pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar
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in our money lead today, another good economic sign for president trump and for the nation. the economy grew faster than expected, putting gdp up 3.2% in the first three months of the year. >> our economy is doing great. number one in the world. we're number one economy right now, in the world, and it's not even close. >> one of the places the economy is really helping is pennsylvania. a commonwealth that president trump won in 2016. we sent cnn's miguel marquez to erie, pennsylvania, to see how much this good economy is helping president trump's re-election chances. >> reporter: 28-year-old business owner chris trott, twice an obama voter, flipped to trump in 2016. >> he's not a guy i would want
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to go and have a beer with or golfing with -- >> but you'll vote for him? >> i'll vote for him. >> why? >> because what he's doing seems to be working. >> reporter: saddled with college loan debt, trot took a huge gamble years ago. he might soon hire his first full-time employee. the strong economy gets his vote, as does the president. maybe. >> i'm going to have to hold out and say it's probably going to be trump, but i'm still open to seeing different things. >> a common refrain. democrats here hold a sizable registration advantage over republicans, but many voters cross over. until 2016, no republican had won erie county since 1984, when ronald reagan did on his way to winning re-election. trump campaigned in erie and returned here after his election. he carried the county by fewer than 2,000 votes. last year's midterms saw
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democrats flip, 35 suburban and rural precincts back to their candidates. one of those places, the bureau of gerard in the erie suburbs. business owner karla gooden, a democrat who voted for trump, has soured on his presidency. >> i don't even admit that i voted for him. >> why? >> because he's so -- like, his personality is nasty. like, i don't feel like he's a good role model. >> reporter: so you won't for him in 2020? >> no. i don't think i will. >> reporter: down the street at the gerard diner, dick crosby credits the president for the strong economy. he sees trump as unbeatable in 2020. >> you can go to almost every business around here and you'll see a sign in the window for "help wanted." they can't find people to work. so that tells you that something's going good. >> reporter: his sister, mary la ry, a die-hard democrat voted for clinton in 2016, but says she'd have a hard time pulling
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the lever for a candidate that's too progressive. >> i don't know what the country's ready for. i don't know if they're ready for a woman president or a gay president or any of that stuff, either. >> reporter: the economy here, paramount. >> what do we want! >> reporter: all 1,700 members of erie's largest union, united electrical went on strike earlier in the year. trump won many rank and file union votes in 2016. both parties vowed to fight for those same voters in 2020. >> going into 2020, we're looking very strong. i think 2018 built a lot of momentum. >> do you think you can count on union votes in 2020? >> well, we've got to work for them. and i can count on them thinking. and believing in this region. >> reporter: the rust belt, a major route on the road to the white house. miguel marquez, cnn, erie, pennsylvania. >> our thanks to miguel marquez for that report. so we were just talking about the commonwealth of
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pennsylvania. you just saw a voter who backed obama twice, voted for trump, and he says he will vote for president trump again, even though he wouldn't want to have a beer with him. is the economy strong enough that it will actually bolster his chances of even doing better in pennsylvania, perhaps? >> and that's the major question that we'll see, because if you look at the president's current approval ratings, "the washington post" just released a poll an hour or so ago, his approval ratings at 39, disapproval at 54. with how good the economy's doing, those are remarkably low numbers. you wonder how those numbers would be if this was a conventional president who didn't have the specter of a special counsel investigation hanging over, who perhaps didn't have access to a twitter account. but, clearly, the economy is going to be so paramount in these rust belt states. i've also been talking to people in wisconsin, ahead of his rally in green bay tomorrow. and while there are republicans there who say, you know, we wish you would stop tweeting, they do like the tax cuts and the new regulation policies. >> and they like the economy
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doing well. you just talked about a new "washington post" poll. take a look at this poll from monmouth, university, which has president trump at 40% approval, 54% disapproval. jeff zeleny, one of the things that's interesting about this is president trump won with very low approval numbers. i mean, it was -- hillary clinton also had low approval numbers, but it wasn't as though he was super popular and he became elected president. there are a lot of people that held their nose and voted for him and also, of course, he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes. >> exactly. and that's not -- i mean, i think that will be an increasing trend, most likely, just by how people view politicians. the approval rating is not going to be that high. but i think at this point, any poll like that, you must take with a grain of salt. they don't know who is going to be running against him. so joe biden's challenge and task, and other democrats, are convincing those o.t. voters, if you will, obama and trump voters, to go back to the democratic party. and that is at the heart of joe biden's message. but you also heard the other voters say, she's like, i'm not
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sure what progressives are pushing, how much the country is ready for. so that is the balance there inside the democratic party. as you see it sort of veering left, joe biden's trying to, you know -- >> and tara, let me ask you. because your vote is up for grabs, theoretically, a republican who doesn't like donald trump's behavior. you want the economy to stay strong. does the democrat have to basically say, i'm not going to try anything too crazy to get your vote? >> well, i can -- i can tell you, they start talking green new deal stuff, they're not going to get my vote. and donald trump's not getting it either. but if they want people like me, the people who crossed over during the midterms and voted democrat in the midterm elections, the moderate right-of-center folks, they cannot be these pie in the sky, very -- the socialist idea that trump and the right are pushing. that's very effective. and so, if they do that, that's a no-go for people that are in a lane like mine. but i worry about trump doing something to manipulate the economy for short-term gain,
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just because he knows that the only lifeline that he has, you know, the shutdown didn't affect anything. who knows, will he do that again? is he trying to stack the fed because he wants to manipulate monetary policy. >> it will be interesting. >> those kind of things worry me about what he's going to do, because people respond to pocketbook issues. >> but this is also a big debate for your party, paul. you have democrats, progressives who want boldness and think that the idea is, don't run a corporate democrat like joe biden. their words, not mine. run somebody who's going to get out young people, democratic socialists, far-left progressives, minority voters. get their vote out and stop worrying about the -- no offense, but the terrorism of the world. >> well, there's a lot of us. >> they should worry -- the idea here is to win. >> but can you do that by straddling big, progressive ambitious plan, versus, i don't want to rock the boat on the economy. i like the economy. >> first, i just want them to focus on the economy rather than say, should the boston marathon
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bomber be able to vote from prison. are you kidding me?! democrats -- the president's approval rating -- >> not a fan of that one. >> not a fan of that one. the president's approval rating took a hit last weak. and we all thought it was because of mueller. maybe it is. april 15th tax rep funds came out and most middle class people did not get what they thought they deserved. so his idea -- and i think it's the right one, democrats ought to be holding hearings on the tax cut and how it's not helped the middle class. on the president's proposal to cut $2 trillion from medicare, medicaid, social security, in other words, get back to the meat and potatoes economic issues, democrats. >> everyone, stick around. up next, saving his job, new reports goiabout the lengths th rod rosenstein went to to try to convince president trump to not fire him. stay with us. are you going 45? -uh, yes. 55 is a suggestion. -...it's kind of like driving with his dad. -what a sign, huh? terry, can you take a selfie of me?
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quote
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we have some breaking news for you now. "the washington post" is reporting that deputy attorney general rod rosenstein sought to reassure president trump that he was on his team last fall, reportedly telling mr. trump that he would make sure that he was treated fairly in the mueller probe. quote, i give the investigation credibility, rosenstein said, in the words of one administration official offering their own characterization of the call. i can land the plane. this call happened, according to the "washington post," shortly after "the new york times" reported rosenstein discussed secretly recording the president. in response to the story, rosenstein tells cnn, quote, the only commitment i made to president trump about the russia investigation is the same commitment i made to the congress, as long as i was in charge, it would be conducted appropriately and as expeditiously as possible, unquote. so paul, rosenstein oversaw the russia investigation. he helped the current attorney
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general, bill barr, spin, i think it's fair to say, mueller's findings to make them sound more favorable to trump than the 400-plus pages actually did. he also helped make the determination that trump did not obstruct justice. so what do you make of this? >> i think he's trying to clean up his reputation going out the door. i think all of those things are true. i think he did a heroic job of protecting the investigation. we're only learning how much the president wanted to end that investigation. >> and the release also was pretty impressive, by barr and rosenstein. we got most of the mueller report released. >> i still think there are too many redactions, but short of national security stuff, i don't think that the grand jury material should have been excluded. we have a right to that. you can go to the judge. >> there was a fear we weren't going to see any of it. >> i agree. >> sorry. >> he was complicit in the attorney general misleading the country and that is a really big deal. and he'll have to live with that in his legacy. and then this bizarre conclusion that somehow mr. mueller didn't
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see obstruction of justice, when you see ten different times, mueller basically said, he obstructed justice here, here, and here, but i can't charge him because your rules don't allow me to charge a sitting president. >> your newspaper also reports that rosenstein had gotten teary-eyed in a meeting with chief of staff john kelly. a source said that rosenstein was actually not teary-eyed. rosenstein unloaded in a speech last night, we should point out, on the obama administration, on james comey, and on the media. here's a little bit of that. >> one silly question that i get from reporters is, is it true that you got angry and emotional a few times over the past two years? >> heck, yes, didn't you?! >> it is, i think, a mark of this administration that people come in and a lot of them wrestle with how to do their job. and some of them end up leaving with reputations worse off than they were before. >> yeah, and as my wonderful colleagues point out in their
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story, this does really illustrate that tightrope that mr. rosenstein has had to walk in the last two years. he has to be the defender of the russia probe, but he's also, at the same time, a trump administration official. he is a trump appointee. i do find it interesting, when and if democrats will really turn their focus on rosenstein at this point, we haven't had that too much yet. but, as you both pointed out earlier, he did have a role with the attorney general, whom democrats are furious at, over how he's handled the rollout of the report. and other issues related to the investigation. he was part of that decision making to not pursue obstruction of justice charges. right now, democrats obviously are going after barr, they do want to speak to mueller soon. and when they -- do they turn their attention to rosenstein at some point, we'll wait to see. >> i want you to take a listen, jeff, to president trump denying that he told white house counsel don mcgahn to fire special counsel robert mueller, which mcgan testified under oath about to robert mueller and provided contemporaneous notes and a contemporaneous account to his
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lawyer and he was testifying under threat of perjury. take a listen. >> i never told don mcgahn to fire mueller. if i wanted to fire mueller, i would have done it myself. it's very simple. i had the right to, but i'm a student of history. i see what you get when you fire people. and it's -- it's not good. >> so, obviously, they see this as a vulnerability. >> they see it as a vulnerability, but also, it just is trying to create a new reality. like, once again, like, the mueller report says what it says, and don mcgahn, you know, he'll have to testify likely, at some point on this, so he has obviously shown that he is his own man on this and he's not beholden to the president and host telling an honest account here. so the president there, he has fired a lot of people. a lot of people have quit, but he doesn't actually fire as many as you think. and he was always afraid of firing mueller. so i think that he's just trying to re-write history here.
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and maybe his hard-core base believes him, but the rest of us, i don't think will. >> and he also did not have the right to fire mueller. only the attorney general could actually fire bob mueller. and you know, look, don mcgahn, the special counsel lays out pretty clear, trump tried multiple times to get him to fire mueller in this investigation. that is the strongest part of the obstruction of justice part of this. >> stick around, everyone. president trump touts it as a signature accomplishment, but up next, why some military families, some gold star families are calling the new tax law an absolute betrayal. stay with us. 's. hello to the best part of the day.... with italian quality pizza. get two medium, one-topping pizzas for just $6.99 each. every store. every day. the italian way. hello primo. if ywhen you brush or floss, you don't have to choose between healthy gums and strong teeth. complete protection from parodontax has 8 designed benefits for healthy gums and strong teeth. complete protection from parodontax.
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a travesty in our national
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lead. advocates for gold star families who have lost loved ones in the military during a time of conflict, they plan to go to capitol hill next month over a disturbing consequence of president trump's tax bill. the families of fallen service members saw the death benefits to which they're entitled suddenly and unexpectedly taxed at a much higher rate. as cnn's alex mar quartquardt r, some families are calling this an absolute betrayal by the u.s. government. >> reporter: it's been almost five years since elizabeth davis lost her husband, matt. he was a marine, a first lieutenant, father to aubrey, who was just 6 when her father died. as if that pain weren't enough, aubrey, who's now 11, has just had to pay $10,000 in taxes on the benefits from her dad's death. >> it is an absolute betrayal of the families who have already given so much, and this is, you know, money that is intended for children who are essentially orphaned. >> davis is one of thousands of gold star widows grappling with
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president trump's changes to the tax code, which have resulted in a surge in taxes on benefits to military families. >> i had a hard time understanding it at first. i thought, for sure, like, this figure is wrong. there's no way she owes that much in taxes. but it wasn't. >> reporter: both the departments of defense and veterans affairs offer benefits to spouses of fallen troops. but the full amounts can't be received simultaneously. they're offset against each other. so, parents often put the taxable dod benefits in their children's names, in order to receive both benefits at the same time and the new tax code then puts those kids into a bracket known as the kiddie tax, smacking them with taxes as high as 37%, which can be triple what it used to be. >> it changes everything, financially. week to week and month to month. >> reporter: davis is giving politicians the benefit of the doubt, that they didn't set out to target military families. but she and others affected say that congress has to fix the
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problem to allow spouses to receive both benefits in full, so they don't to put them in their children's names and get taxed so high. >> when you are at a military funeral and they are folding up, you know, in my instance, as they're folding up my husband's flag off of his casket and the marine that handed it over to me said, this is on behalf of a grateful nation, i'm looking for someone to stand up for me in the way that my husband stood up for this country. i'm looking for someone to take care of my daughter and my family in the way that i know my husband would do for this country. >> jake, congress is taking action to try to rectify this. there are two bills, one in the house, the other in the senate. these efforts supported by a wide range of lawmakers from both parties. now, a spokesman for the house ways and means committee tells cnn that the higher taxes for these survivor benefits were an unintended consequence of the tax bill. that they didn't realize it would affect these children of fallen service members.
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jake? >> well, then, they should fix it. they've paid enough. alex mar quarter, thanks so much. coming up next, what's motivating a woman who spent five years in prison to head to the hill to lobby members of congress? stay with us. my experience with usaa has been excellent. they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. it was funny because when we would call another insurance company, hey would say "oh we can't beat usaa" we're the webber family. we're the tenney's we're the hayles, and we're usaa members for life. ♪ get your usaa auto insurance quote today. hi, i'm joan lunden. when my mother began forgetting things, we didn't know where to turn for more information. that's why i recommend a free service called a place for mom. we have local senior living advisors who can answer your questions about dementia or memory care and, if necessary, help you find the right place for your mom or dad.
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the national lead now. the u.s. imprisons more of its citizens than any other country on earth. a fact that is finally meeting with bipartisan alarm. and now news of progress trying to curb years of prison overcrowding. the bureau of justice statistics shows 1.4 million inmates locked up in 2017. now, that's a drop from the year prior. though it is still the highest number in the world. cnn's jessica schneider met two women working to change the syste system. >> it's a dream come true. >> pam nguyen spent five years in prison for bank and health care fraud. >> oh, and i'm a democrat, but i'm voting for you. all the time. >> reporter: never imaging that she would be lobbying members of
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congress in the years after her release in 2013. >> so i felt like the least that i could do is to fight and try and do something to stop this so nobody would have to experience it again. >> reporter: while wynn was pregnant and awaiting sentencing, she stumbled while her ankles and hands were shackled. >> i was sent a medical request for several weeks and nobody responded to me. i never got scene. i ended up miscarrying before i could get any care. >> reporter: the prison says it has no records of complaints substantiating wynn's claim. she fought for a provision in the first step act that prohibits the shackling of pregnant women. the bill was signed into law in december and is the biggest initiative the federal government has ever taken to reduce the number of people in federal custody. among other provisions, it shortens mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses and eases the three strikes rule, to impose a mandatory 25-year sentence instead of life. wynn shared her story with
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republican congressman doug collins who co-sponsored the bill. >> as we started this, we started getting calls from all over the country to say, this is what my story is. >> reporter: the first step act has already led to the release of nearly 650 federal inmates. including april johnson. >> thank you for signing the bill. i got on compassionate release for my daughter. >> reporter: who is now at home in georgia taking care of her 24-month-old daught2 24-year-old daughter who has terminal cancer. >> it's time for us to really take a fundamental look at why we're so focused on punishment and retribution and how we can start promoting healing and opportunities for people to succeed that make our communities safer. >> lawmakers say plans are already in the works for a second step act. jessica schneider, cnn, atlanta. >> more stories like this on the redemption project with van jones that's this sunday night at 9:00 on cnn. and you can join me for state of the union this sunday.
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my guest will be white house counselor kellyanne conway and 2020 presidential candidate, congressmans seth moulton. that is sunday morning from 9:00 to noon only here on cnn. have a great weekend. i'll see you sunday morning. happening now. breaking news. lie to the public? new poll numbers just out show 58% think president trump lied to the american people about matters at the heart of the mueller report, which he continues to try to discredit. tonight, he has a new line of attack. running scared? president trump defends his response to the white supremacist rally in charlottesville, trying to re-write what he said after joe biden makes it a centerpiece of his campaign announcement. is the president running scared of his newest democratic challengers? cashing in. the biden campaign says it hauled in $6.3 million in just 24ho