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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 5, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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a child molester during the campaign. trump is now calling him brilliant. false story, real crime. a wild conspiracy theory about hillary clinton. is the fake news that thrived during the campaign posing a real threat to public safety? deadly fire probe. 36 people are now confirmed dead in a california warehouse fire and officials fear that number will rise. what sparked the inferno that claimed so many lives? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> we're following breaking news out of south carolina. a mistrial declared in the case of former police officer michael slager, charged with murder for
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killing walter scott after a traffic stop. scott was unarmed and shot in the back. in new york, a surprise meeting between donald trump and al gore. the former vice president was supposed to meet only with ivanka trump want climate issues, but afterwards spoke to the president-elect as well, a meeting that gore called "very productive." here in washington, prosecutors say a gunman who claimed to be investigating a conspiracy theory about hillary clinton, fired multiple shots inside a very busy pizza restaurant. he's now charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. and there are grim new developments tonight in a deadly warehouse fire in oakland, california. officials have now confirmed 36 people were killed, and they expect that number to rise as a dangerous search of the building continues. we're covering all of that much more this hour with our guests, including senator chris coons, a key member of the foreign relations committee. and our correspondents are
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standing by. let's begin declared in the case of former police officer michael slager. >> michael slager will face justice in this. we aren't worriey eworried, we d to scream or shout. we know it's coming, it's just delayed. so think what you want, because the fight is not over. >> we're joined by cnn legal analysis laura cotes and jeffrey toobin. brian, you've covered this story since walter scott was killed a year and a half ago. take us through what happened in the court. >> reporter: the judge declared a mistrial in this case. jurors were asking questions of the judge, including what is imminent danger. that is clearly a question that was operative on their minds, as they told a judge again today
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they could not reach a verdict. on the stand. michael slager told he shot scott because he posed a threat because he could have turned around and shot him. we're going to be very interested to find out what the jury's dynamic was today. on friday, they deadlocked. it was 11-1 in favor of convicting michael slager for first degree murder. today, we're not sure what the jury's dynamic was, did the one juror sway other jurors to his side? this is really a key question. the prosecutor in the case, scarlet wilson, said we will try michael slager again. he also faces federal charges. so yes, according to that attorney for the scott family, he will face justice again, at least twice, and the key question is, what is the makeup of that jury going to be in the next state trial and how are they going to fair, if they're going to fair any better than this one did? >> jeffy toobin, friday you said
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this was a slam dunk, given the video that all of us have seen. so what happened here if >> i think you have one holdout juror, and i think there's a very different perspective, especially when prosecutors think about a hung jury, where there's a 6-6 or a 7-5, where you really have to think as a prosecutor there are problems with your case. if the jury breaks 11-1 in your favor, you have a holdout, and you have someone who is maybe not behaving rationally, someone you just made a mistake by allowing them on the jury in the first place and you do it again. >> they're going to do it again in south carolina, laura, but there's a federal trial that's supposed to begin in january, as well. >> there is. that's going to be a harder uphill battle, because that trial is about figuring out whether the officer used his color of authority, his badge to commit an act against this man, walter scott. but this really shows you, there is a distinction between how
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jurors view police officers as defendants, and police officers as witnesses. you'll see here, as going forward in other trials and in this case, they gave more credit to the officer that even what the eyes saw on the videotape. >> we're going to stay on top of this and watch it every step of the way. thank you very much. there's other news we're following, including the trump transition. he's naming former rival ben carson to his cabinet and talked climate change with former vice president al gore. jeff zeleny is joining us from outside trump tower in new york. jeff, donald trump was very critical at times of ben carson wen they were competing during the republican presidential primaries, but all that has gone away. >> reporter: it has gone away, wolf. but i still remember him questioning his experience. donald trump even calling ben carson low energy, even he said lower than jeb bush. but all that has gone away, as you said, as he named him a member of his cabinet. the most intriguing meeting
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today at trump tower came from a man who had sharp words for donald trump. that man was al gore. an unlikely visitor today at trump tower. former vice president al gore dropping by for a face-to-face meeting with donald trump. he was scheduled to talk climate change with ivanka. >> the bulk of the time was with the president-elect donald trump. i found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued. and i'm just going to leave it at that. >> reporter: tonight, trump's cabinet is coming into clearer view, tapping dr. ben carson as secretary of housing and urban development. >> we're excited to have dr. ben carson as our nominee. >> reporter: before trump takes another victory lap, holding rallies in north carolina, iowa, and michigan, he spent the day inside trump tower, assembling his team. he's widening his search for
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secretary of state. advisers say he's no closer to making a decision, and no longer has the choice narrowed down to four finalists. >> an issue he's brought in, and the secretary of state is an incredibly important position for any president to feel. >> reporter: trump is still not ruling out mitt romney, but he's also not yet leaning towards him, despite their dinner last week in new york. a new list of prospects includes former u.n. ambassador john bolton. exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson and jon huntsman, the former u.s. governor and ambassador to china. >> more than four, but who knows how many finalists there will be. it's a big decision and nobody should rush through it. >> reporter: former cia director david petraeus also still in the mix to lead the state department. the retired four-star general pleaded his case on weekend talk shows, saying he made a serious mistake mishandling classified information. >> i apologized for it and paid
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a heavy price and learned from it. >> reporter: trump's cabinet has filled nearly half of the positions. advisers tell cnn more announcements are expected this week. by nominating carson as hud secretary, trump is bringing aboard one form at rival. during the gop primary, he was critical of efforts to fight housing segregation. >> good afternoon. >> reporter: democrats criticized the choice, with nancy pelosi calling him unqualified for the post. a week after trump first suggested millions of people voted illegally but failed to produce any evidence backing up that claim, pence is offering a new defense but no proof. >> it's his right to express his opinion as president-elect of the united states. one of the things that's refreshing about our president-elect, one of the reasons why i think he made such an incredible connection with people all across this country, is because he tells you what's on his mind. >> reporter: all this as trump keeps tweeting up a storm,
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including a thumbs down to "saturday night live" calling it unwatchable, biased, not funny and the baldwin impersonation can't get any worse, sad. he was responding to this. >> kelly ann, i just retweeted the best tweet. wow, what a great, smart tweet. >> mr. trump, we're in a security briefing. >> reporter: so now one other thing here in new york, wolf, the mayor of new york city asked congress today for $35 million to help pay for security costs here in manhattan during the transition. no word yet if that will happen. but of course, it's causing so much disruption here in midtown, that's what they're asking. and on that al gore meeting, they talked specifically about the state of florida. donald trump knows and likes and loves florida very well. so i'm told that the former vice president used that as an entree to make his case on climate
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change. >> interesting. wish i could have watched that meeting. let's get more details. jeff, thank you very much. donald trump is now engaged in a war of words with china, sparked by his unprecedented phone call the other day with taiwan's president. a front page editorial in china is warning trump that he's creating trouble for both countries. donald trump is not backing down. in fact, he tweeted this today, did china ask us if it was okay to devalue their currency, making it hard for our companies to compete, heavily tax our products going into their country, the u.s. doesn't tax them, or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the south china sea? i don't think so. let's get some more from elise lavin. the white house says trump may be undermining progress in relations between washington and beijing. what are you hearing? >> reporter: the descriptions of this phone call have varied
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widely from spontaneous, to a long-planned engagement with taiwan. it seems to be in the middle. i'm told the decision to take the call was carefully considered by president-elect trump and his team, but not as a new deviation in that u.s.-china policy. and his advisers are down playing this as a courtesy call, denying any policy shift before trump has taken office. but unsurprisingly, the white house and state department are worried about the fallout. here's josh earnest. >> it's unclear what the strategic effort is, what the aim of the strategic effort is, and it's unclear what benefit could be experienced by the united states, china, or taiwan. but i'll leave that to them to explain. >> donald trump has promised to strike a hard bargain with china on all aspects of u.s. policy from trade to the economy, to security. and this is a man, wolf, who has
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written about china as an enemy, about taking away what he called china's advantages. so i think it would be fair to say that donald trump knew the message he would send to china. there's a new sheriff in town. but it doesn't seem to be completely mapped out. >> how is china reacting to all of this? >> reporter: aside from those editorials, they're playing it cool for now. they're criticizing the contact for their domestic political consumption and ignoring those tweets. but they're shell shocked. they don't know where this is headed. china does expect to negotiate a grand bargain with trump. but they don't know whether that call is trump's opening salvo, or is he really going to abandon these long-held relations that govern relations with taiwan. the white house on the weekend with chinese officials trying to assure them. there were chinese delegations here last week trying to get more information. but china has seen this movie before. you know that incoming republican administrations,
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ronald reagan, george bush, both tried to elevate china when they take office. i think things will calm down. >> elise, thank you very much. let's get more from democratic senator chris coons joining us. senator, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> listen to what trump's senior economic adviser said about donald trump's phone call with the president of taiwan. >> taiwan is our ally, john. that is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom, and we ought to back our ally. if china doesn't like it, screw them, screw them. >> so i want to get your reaction to that. you're on the foreign relations committee. what are the possible repercussions? >> this is an area where clumsiness can lead to real conflict, where a casual twitter war could lead to a real war.
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china is a very important country, and donald trump made it clear that he may well pick a fight with them on international trade and our trade balance and america's business interests. that may be well and good. and he may need to stand up to china on some things, but we need chinese cooperation to reign in north korea's very dangerous nuclear weapons program. so why on earth donald trump would pick this fight, pick a fight with the people's republic of china over this 40-year long, carefully balanced relationship, where we provide dense materiels to taiwan but do not recognize taiwan. why he would accept a known call from taiwan puzzles me. recent reports that president-elect trump didn't consult experts in the state department and that this call may have been put together pretty quickly suggests that he's been a little too casual about one oh of the most vital
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strategic challenges we face in years ahead. >> clearly this is a break with almost 40 years of diplomatic protocol, senator. but the chinese president speaks directly with the taiwanese president. they speak on the phone. why is it okay for them to speak but not okay for a president-elect of the united states to simply take a courtesy call, a congratulatory call from the president of taiwan? >> that's a fair question, wolf. let me put it this way, this is a long-standing, simmering conflict where the chinese feel very strongly about it. it's one of their core interests. and we've reached a way of living together around this conflict. re-inserting our severals into the conflict between china and taiwan strikes me as foolishly picking a fight that is unnecessary. it is something the president-elect can elect to do. he can choose to elevate our role in the china-taiwan conflict, but it's going to have
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costs and make it harder to get cooperation from china on reigning in north korea's nuclear weapons program or working together in other areas of security cooperation that deeply matter to us. i think he made it clear to the american people he was going to pick some sort of a fight with china over trade. why he's choose thing one instead, i frankly don't understand. >> this is a sensitive issue for china. but why should the united states let china dictate the u.s.-taiwan relationship? taiwan, a country with about 20 million people, increasingly democratic. they have free elections right now. there's a woman who is the president of taiwan. if the president -- or if the president-elect of the united states wants to speak with her, why not? >> well, wolf, you raise a good point, why should we let china dictate our taiwan policy? they don't dictate it. this is a matter of cost, what are the costs we're willing to bear? we've got this roughly 40-year-old policy where we provide defense equipment. we have lots of relations and
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communications with taiwan. but we don't officially recognize them. our president doesn't communicate with their elected leader. there will be costs to this. it will aggravate the chinese and elevate this particular conflict. that's a choice that president-elect trump can make. but i don't think it's a very wise choice. we have many other conflicts around the world and many other issue where is we will be in n conflict with the chinese. >> could this give the u.s. some serious leverage in dealing with china, there are economic issues as we all know, military related defense issues. could this strengthen the u.s. bargaining position by accept thing phone call? >> well, it will certainly raise the temperature in the room. and if what trump is trying to signal is he's willing to shatter long-held conventions, that will have repercussions outside this conflict, as well. in the course of his campaign, he said things about retreating from nato, about reconsidering our nuclear umbrella protection
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of south korea and japan. so there will be secondary consequences to pick thing fight with china. because he may also unsettle some long-standing allies in terms of their reliability, their sense of whether or not they can take him at his word and whether or not he's going to shake a very long standing american alliance and position on difficult and divisive issues around the world. >> here's a point i've received. i heard from some of donald trump's national security people, his advisers. they make the point, the president of the united states, president obama, he broke 40 years of diplomatic protocol, picked up the phone and called the president of iran, iran according to the state department, the leading state sponsor of terror. he broke 50 or 60 or 70 years of diplomatic protocol and established diplomatic relations with cuba, even though raul castro is in charge. a president can do that, right? >> that's right. all i'm trying to point out,
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wolf, making bold moves like that have risk and consequences. president obama's opening to cuba and engagement in iran has had consequences in terms of our relations with other countries and allies in the middle east and other partners in the western hemisphere. so choose thing particular fight, choosing to elevate the centrality of the china-taiwan fight at a time when there are so many other conflicts in the world is puzzling. but it is the prerogative of the president-elect. i just hope he's relying on the advice on those career independent professionals in the intelligence community and the state department who advise every president. >> the point they make is that president obama, he broke diplomatic protocol in speaking with tyrants, if you will. in this case, donald trump broke
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sodastream. love your water. prosecutors now say multiple shots were fired inside a washington, d.c. pizza restaurant by a gunman who says he was investigating conspiracy theory about hillary clinton and a supposed child sex ring. we're back with democratic senator chris coons of delaware. a member of the trump transition, senator, promoted a false conspiracy theory that led to this man going into this pizza shop armed, firing multiple rounds, fortunately no one was hurt. luckily, i must say no one was
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hurt. we haven't seen donald trump or any of his team denounce these fake stories. adam schiff, the ranking got on the house intelligence committee, just issued a statement saying this, it is incumbent on trump, his nominee for national security adviser, general flynn, and his entire team to disavow these falsehoods and conspiracy theories. they will soon have a country to run, and god help us if they conduct the nation's affairs without the ability or willingness to separate fact from fiction. give us your reaction. this is very disturbing. a fake story could have resulted in serious injury. >> these are very real world consequences for fake stories online. and i would agree with congressman schiff. one of the things we need to do is to call on our elected leaders, in particular president-elect trump and the transition team, to not traffic in these fake stories and news that whips up passions around
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conspiracy theorys that are groundless. this gentleman walked into a pizza shop with an ar-15 and .38 revolver and knife and could have killed many people. thankfully swift action by the police resulted in this being concluded very quickly without great harm. but stirring up people's passions with fake news, wolf, particularly in this difficult moment in our history, is particularly troublesome. so it's my hope that the trump transition team members will take this to heart and that all of us will work together to try and lower the temperature a bit in terms of stirring up passions around some of these fake news and conspiracy stories. >> are you encouraged by the meeting that the president-elect had with former vice president al gore? they spoke about climate change and what's going on in florida as far as climate change is concerned. al gore, you see him there emerging from the meet thing. he was pretty upbeat about this meeting, even though trump at
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one point called climate change a chinese hoax. are you encouraged by what happened today? >> i'm encouraged that president-elect trump is taking meetings with a wide range of people, in particular his interest from learning from former vice president al gore about his views on climate change. that makes me optimistic that he will be looking for advice and intut from a wide range of people from different back grounds. >> senator, thank you for joining us. just ahead, more on the fake news that sparked real violence. shots fired at a restaurant here in washington, d.c. prosecutors just announced the criminal investigation into that massive warehouse fire that killed at least three dozen people. we'll get a live update on the search for victims. jack be nimble, jack be quick, jack knocked over a candlestick onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll. luckily jack recently had geico help him
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former vice president al gore was over at trump tower in new york city today for a meeting with ivanka trump, but he wound ups have a discussion with president-elect donald trump. dana bash, what do you make of this? it wasn't all that long ago donald trump was saying climate change was a chinese hoax.
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>> and this suspect just any democrat or former vice president, this isn't just any opponent of climate change, this is the person. al gore personifies the efforts to bring climate change to the forefront of people's minds. he won an academy award for his documentary about it. the fact that a republican president-elect, maybe his daughter invited him, but the fact that he spent time with al gore, especially given what you said, that he insisted it was a chinese hoax, and that is one of the things that makes liberals in this country, and even some conservatives who don't agree with that, nervous, it should be a very good sign for them. whether or not it means anything policy wise, who knows? but we'll see. the fact that he had this meeting at all is certainly remarkable. >> it's clear, david, that the former vice president came with information that may be appealing to donald trump. you heard jeff zeleny say they
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spoke about the impact of climate change on florida, the water over there. donald trump, as you know, he has a lot of property in florida. he says it's his second home. that may have resonated with the president-elect. >> yes, i'm sure he would like those properties to stay above water. [ laughter ] wolf, i think there are two things that was going on here. i think it was donald trump's very cunning, savvy on display. one, as dana is saying, this isn't just any democrat. this -- in the last ten years, in the post vice presidency, al gore has become the champion of the liberal democratic wing of the democratic party in many ways. and in large part, due to this issue. remember, this is now the second thing on this issue that donald trump has done to indicate he really wants to erase that tweet about that being a hoax of the chinese. he told "the new york times" that perhaps humans do indeed contribute to climate change, and to global warming, and to
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now meeting in a very high profile way with al gore. that's one thing on that issue which has a lot of appeal to independents. secondly, remember when he was in cincinnati last week. donald trump has been stating now several times since he won the election, including election night, about his desire to bring the country together after this very divisive election. and this is somebody who is utilizing what he knows is a very media friendly moment that al gore will come out of the elevators, have this meeting, and use that as evidence that he is trying to bring the country together. >> wolf, can i disagree with my identical twin, younger brother? you know, i think there is far less here than meets the eye. who is on his transition teams in terms of actually taking over the environmental protection agency? a climate change denier. the republican party institutionally is committed to
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disbelief in climate change. the idea that he had a polite meeting with al gore, and you notice that al gore said nothing of substance about the meeting. the idea that this meeting is somehow going to change the entire direction of the republican party -- >> nobody is saying that, jeff. nobody is suggesting that that is going to change. obviously we'll all wait for policy. what is on display here is some cunning political strategy and pr strategy. >> i'm sure the climate is really going to appreciate, as the seas raise, well, but there was a clever political strategy there. the climate doesn't care about the politics. it's changing. >> here's one thing i will say to push back, and that is donald trump is known to be very -- the people who he talked to can leave impressions. he's impressionable. that's the word i was looking for. and in his life, i'm not so sure that he's had a lot of very
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long, in depth conversations with people about the policy of climate change, about the science behind climate change. he was opposed to it, because that's what you do when you're in a republican primary. and he's impressionable. maybe al gore -- >> david, we've seen that already on other sensitive issues. dana makes a very good point, because during the campaign, how many times did we hear donald trump say waterboarding, what's so bad about waterboarding, torture, what's so bad about that? he has one meeting with general mattis who says we don't want to do that, we can get more out of a pack of cigarettes. trump then tells the "new york times," maybe he's right. maybe i was wrong. he didn't say that, but he said maybe general mattis was right. so this isn't the first time for potentially that donald trump can swing. >> sure. donald trump has his finger on the pulse or did during the campaign, of what would work with his core supporters and enough other supporters that he
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needed to win this election. he's not idealogical in any sense, he's not a conservative in any sense, so he has that flexibility on a wide range of issues. but we do need to wait and see on policy. >> i've been interviewing him for 10, 15 years and i've seen that flexibility. one year he'll say that, the next year he'll say something different. he can definitely be moved and definitely evolve. you know what? what i would like to do, play a little clip on a very different note, and david, i want you to react to this "saturday night live," they parodied donald trump's tweeting. watch this. >> seth, i thought i told you to turn off your phone. >> i'm sorry, mrs. lehman, i think someone retweeted me. >> seth, you're just some random kid in high school, who would retweet you?
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[ laughter ] >> kellyann, i just retweeted the best tweet. wow, what a great, smart tweet. >> mr. trump, we're in a security briefing. >> i know, this could not wait. it was from a young man, his name is seth, he's 16 and in high school. and i seriously did retweet him. this is real. >> he really did do this. >> well, sir, you're the president-elect. so i guess you can do whatever you want. but we would really like to fill you in on syria. >> seth seems to cool. his twitter biosays he wants to make america great again. >> that is cool, sir. >> it also says he loves the anaheim ducks. >> there is a reason he tweets so much, to distract the media from all the scary people in his cabinet. >> very clever, sir.
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>> actually, that's not why i do it. i do it because my brain is bad. >> david, he did not like that skit. he tweeted later that it was sad, if you will. >> yes, he didn't like it at all. i think my favorite moment in that entire sketch is when the actress playing kellyanne conway has to look in the camera to tell the audience, he really did do this just in case you thought it was a comedy sketch. that will eventually change. we're all going to get used to the fact that donald trump is a different kind of president. this tweeting and retweeting of people is certainly part of that. it is very novel right now still for us. at a certain point down the road in his administration, i will imagine it won't be as novel anymore. but he is going to communicate this way. he was tweeting today saying he doesn't get a fair shake from us in the press so he needs to do this. >> he has about 14 million on
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twitter, millions more on facebook. a way to convey his message. everybody stand by. up next, very serious story we're following. a shooting here in washington, d.c. at a pizza restaurant that's -- that was sparked by a wild conspiracy theory. we're learning new information. we'll update you right after this. t may not always be clear. but at t. rowe price, we can help guide your retirement savings. so wherever your retirement journey takes you, we can help you reach your goals. call us or your advisor t. rowe price. invest with confidence. what makesheart healthysalad the becalifornia walnuts.r? the best simple veggie dish ever? heart healthy california walnuts.
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we're following a disturbing twist in one of the wilder
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conspiracy theorys that cropped up during the presidential campaign, a fake story about hillary clinton, a child sex ring, and a washington, d.c. pizza restaurant. our justice correspondent pamela brown is working this story. a gunman fired multiple shots inside that restaurant, crowded with a lot of people. >> reporter: that's right. police say he fired multiple rounds after pointing his rifle at an employee. no one was injured, but the armed confrontation shows the real-life consequences of online lies. the dramatic standoff captured in these photos began moments after this man, edgar madison welch, armed with an ar-15 and a hand gun, walked into this popular d.c. pizza place. police say firing multiple rounds. >> he was walking straight directly to the back room. a staff member indicated that this was a gunman, and we just swiftly made our way out to the
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exit and got out of there. >> reporter: police quickly surrounded the building, coaxing welch outside with his hands up. what may be more bizarre than his alleged actions are what led him there. police say the 28-year-old was on a mission to stop a crime that had never been committed. an allegation made that hillary clinton and her campaign chairman were running a child sex ring in the basement of the restaurant. the story has been proven to be false by police and others. the restaurant doesn't even have a basement, and the story has been traced to a series of lies and fabrications, which first circulated on underground internet messaging during the campaign. in part, because the owner has donated to democratic causes. police say welch told them he read online that the restaurant was harboring child sex slaves
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and he wanted to see for himself if they were there. that, police say, is what motivated welch to drive more than four hours to investigate the claims. >> i hope that all of these people fanning the flames of this conspiracy would take a moment to contemplate what has gone on here today and to maybe stop. >> reporter: but that hasn't happened. the wild conspiracy theories continue, with some online oddly suggesting welch was an actor, and that the police standoff was a hoax. even people connected to donald trump's transition team spread the baseless claim. michael flynn, jr., the son and chief of staff to donald trump's incoming national security adviser, tweeted, until pizza gate is proven to be false, it will remain a story. the left seems to forget podesta e-mails. even the white house weighed in, saying fake news storyks potentially cause real harm.
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>> we all hold to responsibility whether or not we're going to serve in a government position, that we shouldn't be propagating false things that could inspire violence. >> reporter: the suspect appeared in court this afternoon and will stay behind bars for now. we have reached out to the trump transition team about michael flynn, jr.'s tweet, but so far no comment. >> pamela brown reporting to us. david, does the trump campaign need to respond to this? >> well, whether they need to or not, there's an opportunity for the trump transition team to make a forceful statement, not having anybody associated with them, retweeting or promoting fake news stories that could result in harm. in a very easy thing. this may not be on donald trump's highest list of priorities to knock down fake news stories, but it is easy to send a message from the top down that promoting these kinds of fake news stories and not choking them off and destroying
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them and faking them totally worthless, which is what they are, is a relatively easy thing to do because they have a very large podium. >> what if they don't want to turn them down? donald trump has been the beneficiary of this alt-right lies factory for months and got elected president of the united states. he wants to treat about "saturday night live" every sunday, but he doesn't want to talk about all these people because he doesn't want to talk about these people, isn't that the reason? >> dana, you believe the trump transition needs to address this directly? >> i agree with david that they don't need to, but they definitely should. i think, you know, jeffrey poses a question that is troubling, and i think it's an answer that the trump transition, donald trump, himself, could give if he just deals with this. you know, again, to me, it -- look, this is terrible that this happened. it is terrible when anybody
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propagates something that is fake to the point where they take it so seriously that they show up at a place with a gun. it is especially terrible when a guy who is not just the son of the next national security adviser but the chief of staff to the next national security adviser. national security we're talking about, says that this may not be fake. i mean, come on. i think it's because of that that was there was a responsibility inside the trump transition to say it's wrong. >> michael flynn jr., he does have a transition e-mail, if you will, do you think they need to respond? >> i think they should respond. i agree with what everybody said. the only thing i would add, you would think you wouldn't need to say this, i think it's worth saying, if this story were true, if pizza-gate were true, it's not true, but if it were true, it still would be no excuse for someone to show up at a pizza place with a gun. it's -- >> jeffrey, is there a legal issue here spreading these fake stories that, a legal issue, a legal requirement, if you will, that has been crossed? >> you know, i think there
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actually may be. you know, the time may well have come that the operators of this pizza place who have been maligned so unfairly could start suing people. i mean, there are organized groups that are sustaining these lies and the libel laws apply to the internet the way they apply to newspapers so yes, i think it is a civil matter potentially, not a criminal matter, when you damage someone's reputation intentionally with false stories, that can be libelous and could well be grounds for lawsuits and could be appropriate at this point. >> i suspect, david chalian, we could see lawsuits like that. the question is will that have a chilling effect on these fake stories? >> right. that's something we should watch as this proceeds. clearly the owner of that establishment made clear he doesn't want to back down from this fight in any way so perhaps those lawsuits are forthcoming. >> all right, everybody, stay with us. don't go too far away. just ahead, there's another
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important story we're following. the probe into a deadly california warehouse fire. it is now a criminal investigation. we have new information right after this. [vo] quickbooks introduces jeanette. and her new business: i do, to go. jeanette was excellent at marrying people.
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the district attorney in oakland, california, has just announced that the probe into the deadly warehouse fire that killed dozens of people is now a criminal investigation. c cnn's dan simon is on scene for
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us. dan, 36 people are now confirmed dead, but that number may rise. what's the latest? >> reporter: well hi, wolf. it is such a mind-boggling number, and with about 25% of the structure still left to be searched, that number could get even higher, but right now the number stands at 36 victims, recovered. about half of the families have been notified. i want to show you what things like like a block away. see this makeshift memorial. there is so much sadness, so much grief, but there are also so many questions including why people were living in the warehouse. this is what the mayor had to say a short i'm ago. >> our priorities as a city remain, number one, to recover these victims into run a 24/7 recovery effort until every victim has been found, to ensure the rapid and compassionate identification of those victims and to support the families who are learning of this devastating
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news. and finally, to do everything we can to ensure that you will get, that the families will get, that this city will get the answers to every question about this incident. >> reporter: well, still no theories about the cause, but investigators think they know where the fire started. so hopefully that will yield some clues, wolf, as for the reside residents, one person told me she said she was drawn to that warehouse because she said it fell like a church, people could go and draw inspiration from one another for those art projects. what the residents have to say and what the partygoers have to say, obviously it's going to ba crucial part of the investigation. as we just said, there's now a criminal probe that has been launched. wolf? >> very quickly, the identification of the bodies is very painful, very difficult, isn't it? >> reporter: it's very part to do. we know that in some cases, the victims have been identified through fingerprints.
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that's especially true for california residents, but there are also some international victims involved. how those people are going to be identified still isn't clear, wolf. >> dan simon reporting for us. dan, thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, ivanka trump and jared kushner moving to washington. will ivanka be more than first daughter and ceo? plus a michigan judge demands an immediate recount. the woman leading the charge, green party candidate jill stein. trump's adviser has a message for china, screw them. let's go "outfront." good evening, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, surprise appearance. donald trump and former vice president al gore face to face in what may be the most surprising meeting of the transition so far. gore spent decades warning about the grim


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