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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 4, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PST

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conservative voices are being silenced. i said this before. i said it on my youtube channel. conservative voices are being silenced. i said it on joe logan, conservative voices are being silenced. >> conservative voices are being silenced. i said it on tucker carlsson. tucker, we know conservative voices are being silenced. twice actually like i said last time, tucker, conservative voices are being silenced. >> that's exactly right. >> there you go. up next, why the house canceled tomorrow's session. new intelligence that's keeping them away from capitol hill.
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the capitol is on high alert over potential new threats. the fbi and homeland security warning of increased
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chatter among extremists about breaching the capitol over a third qanon conspiracy theory donald trump will be inaugurated tomorrow. house leadership taking the potential threats very seriously, cancelling tomorrow's session, and at a senate hearing at the capitol on january 6, the commanding general of the d.c. national guard testifying he was frustrated and stunned that it took more than three hours to get permission to deploy the guard. joining me now is former fbi director andrew mccabe. he is the author of "the threat: how the fbi protects america in the age of terror and trump." and former washington, d.c. police chief charles ramsey. so good to have both of you on. i'm going to start with you, andrew. the house is cancelling the session because of the potential plot to breach the capitol. we are told there is concerning intelligence, and that's a quote, about the new -- the next few days, i should say. how do you assess the threat
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level? >> well, don, i think what you're seeing here is a very understandable kind of re-calibration of the law enforcement community to what they are hearing in publicly available chatter in social media groups, things like that. a lot of criticism about how they handled some of that same sort of chatter leading up to the january 6th riot, and i think what you're seeing now is an over abundance of caution. folks are taking that sort of information very seriously. they're passing it along to congressional leadership, and everybody is taking the sort of precautions that had we done that on january 6 or on january 5th, we may have been in a much better situation. so i think it's a responsible way to handle this information. >> andrew, you still have republicans still continuing to push the big lie of election fraud, a stolen election conspiracy, about fake trump supporters. have they learned nothing from what happened? >> well, there is no doubt that that sort of -- they are continuing to perpetuate this
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lie. it's having the effect of fanning the flames and encouraging this sort of conspiratorial belief, this wild kind of obsession with a false grievance of having had the election stolen from them. it's really making the situation worse in a way that i think is dangerous and irresponsible. >> chief ramsey, i want to bring you in here because capitol police said they have made significant security upgrades including adding a structure and more manpower. do you feel confident they'll be prepared for whatever could happen? >> i think they'll be prepared for tomorrow. not only will the capitol police be on full alert, but certainly the metropolitan police. and you have about 5,000 national guards men that are still there. so i think tomorrow will be fine. but you can't continue in that posture forever. and so there's going to have to be some real changes in terms of security around the capitol. some physical, i know they're
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talking about perhaps increasing the number of personnel they have. but something has to be done on a more permanent basis because this threat isn't going to go away. and while i'm at it, i would also suggest and believe they probably have, but enhances to security around the white house. the more you harden the one target, the softer another target looks. and i think we learned on january 6 that we can no longer afford to think that something could never happen. we never thought that someone would be able to breach the capitol the way they did. i think the white house is vulnerable as well. i would pay attention to any high-profile federal building, but in particular those two. >> interesting, interesting. andrew, the acting house sergeant at arms told lawmakers in a memo obtained by cnn that the significance of tomorrow has reportedly declined recently. if that is the case, then why do you think that would happen?
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why might that be? >> well, i think it's likely that as they get closer to this big day that they've all been planning for, the qanon folks and others still inexplicably believe the conspiracy theories, as we get closer to the day, they're opening up to the realization it might not happen for them. it's not surprising some people start falling off the conspiracy train as the date gets closer. another important point is to point out there is no major planned rally or demonstration in the capitol tomorrow that would bring a large group of people into d.c. that could maybe take our security forces by surprise. so, you know, if anything starts to assemble, they're going to have a much better chance to kind of see it coming. i think we're set up for a pretty mundane and safe day tomorrow. >> i want to get what you thought about the national guard taking, what, three hours -- it took three hours to get approval
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for the national guard to deploy. who is to blame for that, andrew? >> well, i mean, there's no question, don, that the folks in charge, d.o.d., it sounds like the secretary of the army was right in the middle of making that decision to withhold the authority to deploy the quick response force. essentially, he took that authority away from the d.c. guard commander, and that's a decision he is going to have to explain. maybe it was a fear of optics of having national guard troops, you know, fighting on the ground at the capitol. maybe it was politics. maybe it was something we don't know. but there are really hard questions that need to be asked of him and his staff to get to the bottom of it. >> chief ramsey, what's that look on your face, what are you thinking? >> well, they talk about the optics. the optics of hundreds of people storming the capitol and breaking in, that wasn't too
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good either. so i'd rather have the optic of the police and the guards fighting them off than having them overwhelm the entire building and walk through with the confederate flag and the various other types of things that we saw take place on the 6th of january. i think that argument is ridiculous. >> chief ramsey, the head of the national guard saying there were unusual restrictions by the pentagon from preventing him from sending in troops earlier. those restrictions were not in place during the black lives matter protest. they didn't see the white trump supporting domestic terrorists as a threat. why is that? >> well, i don't know why that is. i mean, i think everybody will draw their own conclusions. i don't know for certain. but i think the perception of who poses a threat is a reality we have to come to grips with. i think the fact that you had the president of the united states whipping up this crowd on
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the 6th of january made people hesitant to take strong action perhaps because he was behind it. i don't know what actually drove that, but clearly there was a different response in the summer versus january 6th. i think a commission has to be established to get to the bottom of this to get to the truth. it's not going to happen with senate hearings. i mean, all these senators, they put their own political spin on stuff. if you want the truth, then you've got to put a credible group of people together to take a deep dive. have subpoena power, call witnesses, take depositions, just like the 9/11 commission. that's the only way we're going to know what happened and why. >> andrew charles, thank you so much. i appreciate your time. i want to bring in now the former assistant second of homeland security elizabeth newman. thank you, secretary. i appreciate that. you study these extremists very closely. what do you think they could do
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tomorrow if they do show up? >> oh, i tend to agree with director mccabe. i'm not anticipating we're actually going to see some sort of coordinated attack. that said, i am very concerned that because there are people trying to instigate or encourage attacks tomorrow that you may end up with an individual or a small group attempt to do something. but i don't think we're looking at anything of the scale and the size of what we saw on january 6th. we do know that there are disagreements among qanon adherents whether or not people believe this is an attempt to date them. they believe it's a false flag operation. and then you also are seeing neo-nazi groups trying to in cite, not directly, they're not telling them that's what they're doing, but they're laying a trail trying to encourage a qanon adherent or maga type to take up arms tomorrow. there are a variety of things going on. it's very different from january 6. it's what director mccabe said.
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there is no consolidated event. there is not a particular time and place and target and they don't have donald trump as their ring leader telling them where to go and when to go. so for all of those reasons, i am not as concerned about tomorrow. i still think we need to be vigilant as the police chief said. the soft targets need to be vigilant. this is a time when you might see somebody try to target infrastructure or try to target members of the tech community that had been particularly certainly receiving their fair share of attacks verbally on some of these conservative sites of sometime actions the last few weeks. it's a heightened period. i don't think it's what we'll see like on january 6. >> we see the video of these racist idiot terrorists, domestic terrorists shall -- it's like i've seen it the first time. clearly trump is not going to be inaugurated tomorrow. wouldn't that make qanon supporters question the
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conspiracy theories or will they find another date to latch onto? >> we are starting to see some people break off. you are starting to see people get that they've been conned. there are so many others that just believe in the overall mission of what q stands for, saving the children and overthrowing the deep state and taking down the evil kabal of pedophiles and democrats. some of that, they'll just spin into the next conspiracy. you've actually heard people in some of the chat rooms say, no, no, let's not focus on march 4 because they recognize if it's another failure of their conspiracy coming to fruition, they're likely to lose followers. so whoever is orchestrating kind of the psychological operation behind the qanon phenomenon seems to recognize that the series of false advertisements is hurting their movement and they seem to be trying to back away from dates. but that hasn't stopped some to
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still very much focus on march 4 being perhaps this great moment where donald trump finally returns. >> elizabeth newman, always appreciate it. thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. >> so, it's all about power and the big lie. the gop trying to make it harder for black and brown people to vote in a desperate effort to get back into power. >> every single night somebody is out there pushing some aspect of the big lie, and really even when you hear phrases like election irregularities, that's just a dog whistle. want to brain better? unlike ordinary memory supplements— neuriva has clinically proven ingredients that fuel 5 indicators
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the battles that will define the next election is already in full swing. house democrats moments ago passing the for the people act known as hr-1, a sweeping bill that expands voting rights. republicans in statehouses
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across the country are trying to do the opposite, pushing legislation that will make it harder to vote. more than 53 bills to limits voting rights. a lot of those restrictions put an impact on black americans who have been fighting for voting rights for generations. they will expand hr-1. writing in the atlantic, if the party doesn't pass new protections it could lose the house, senate and white house in the next four years. ron joins me now along with cornell west, professor of public philosophy at harvard. gentlemen, so good to have you on. your atlantic article is amazing and you are always amazing as well, professor. so, i'm going to start with you, ron. your article really raises the alarm. you say that what happens over voting rights could be a turning point in u.s. democracy. house democrats just passed hr-1 as i mentioned. there is a looming fight. are they willing to pull out all the stops to spapd voting rights
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instead of have it restricted in statehouses across the country? >> the answer is most democrats are, but maybe not enough. we don't know if joe manchin and kristen will curtail or end the filibuster to allow the senate to pass legislation establishing a nationwide floor of voting rights, even in the teeth of this effort by republicans across the country, which is probably, don, the most widespread and sustained effort to roll back the right to vote since the jim crow era in the south, the voting rights acts. what's striking is as this is proceeding, many of the states in which it is proceeding most aggressively, whether georgia or arizona or texas or florida are states where a majority of everybody in the electorate in 2016, the majority who turned 2018 since 2015 are kids of color. i think what you're seeing is republicans trying to stack sand
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bags against that demographic rising tide in the state. their last chance in 2022 to stack a wave of voting rights to stop this power. >> professor, we discussed these issues before. this is happening now, right? and this is frightening. these bills are just beyond outrageous. the one that passed in georgia in the georgia house this week limits early voting on weekends or cause more identification, restrict drop boxes. this is going to disproportionately affect black americans. are we entering a new jim crow era? >> thank brother ron for his contributions on this. and happy birthday to you, brother. i know you had a birthday on monday and shared a birthday with harry belafonte. the backlash is real. there's no doubt about that.
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you're talking about the big lie in terms of the election. the bigger lie is white supremacy. there are ways in which white supremacy redevelops, reshapes and refashions itself, not just engaging in voter suppression of black voters, but not allow us to have a vision so we can have a multi-racial solidarity to change this nation in the name of people disproportionately black, brown and indigenous, but it cuts across the board, my brother. >> republicans admitted, professor, just this week in the hearing that making it harder to vote is what they need, that they have to do that in order to win. they said because this puts us at a disadvantage and that's why we want to change these things. i'm paraphrasing, but that was almost a direct quote. what does it say that they are willing to embrace, racist policies in order to achieve
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that? >> well, my brother, you and i know we're not surprised by evil or paralyzed by despair. they supported a neo fascist gangster. this is cruel power machiavellian roll in his grave. we shouldn't be surprised. we have it all by ourselves. brother ron's insights, other insights. >> ron, you point out that -- go ahead, what did you want to say? >> i was going to say that's why this moment is so critical. if you look at the supreme court, the republican supreme court, they are not going to put -- erect an obstacle to what republicans are doing in the states. if you look at the states moving to suppress the votes, they are mostly placed where republicans hold the upper hand now with a coalition based on older white voters. as i said, they are trying to to suppress the votes, they are mostly placed where republicans hold the upper hand now with a coalition based on older white voters.
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as i said, they are trying to create these barriers, sand bags against the riding tide of demographic change. it's hard to win in those states. the one lever the democrats have to try to protect the basic rules of democracy is if they control both chambers of congress and the white house today. if they let this opportunity go and they don't find a way to get around the republican filibuster in the senate, in 2022, the very axe in the states, suppression and gerrymandering is coming could cost one or both chambers of congress. they will lose the opportunity to set national voting rules. at that point there will be nothing in the way. the road will be clear for a succession of suppression and gerrymanders that inhibits the rise of the diverse younger generation. in particular i point out in another story this week all of this is occurring, don, as the baby boom -- it's been the longest generation in the
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electoral, predominantly white. in 2024 the first time, z millennials will be larger and this is when it's happening. >> professor west, what i love about you is that you don't give a -- what people think about you. you have been critical of a lot of democrats in the past. you say that they haven't been willing to go to the mat on important issues. will they step up on voter suppression? because the stakes are really, really, really high. >> i agree with you. we're going to have to put strong pressure on them because they won't do it by themselves. too much coward and spineless. right kind of pressure based on principle as well as tremendous effort, collective effort. you see what's going on right now in texas with the workers coming together. those are the kind of collective actions that we need in order to deal with this crucial moment that brother ron is highlighting here today. >> ron, the former vice
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president pence is now continuing the big lie, saying that there was election fraud in 2020, accusing democrats, he wanted to expand voting, an unconstitutional power grab. this is the same pence who was hunted by rioters because of these bogus fraud claims. by the way, the people who want these restrictions, they're doing these restrictions all on the pretense that there was some sort of voter fraud. it's a big lie as well. and maybe as i said in the opening of the show at 10:00, maybe that's just the whole point of it, is that they can use this whole big lie to -- in order to -- you know, in a fraudulent way because they can't win it legitimately. >> so much at war. we're seeing up and down the republican in the states. what you see up and down the party is the fear of demographic eclipse has eroded the -- of democracy. i think what is especially important for democrats to understand is if they don't establish a nationwide floor of
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voting rights and protections and republicans win control of congress and perhaps win control of the white house, with the help of the suppression they are undertaking in the states, donald trump signalled last sunday at cpac and rick scott has already introduced legislation that would try to impose these red state restrictions nationally, to impose them on the blue states. saying we can't survive half free, half slave and half free. if there is not a nationwide, basically, framework of voting rights, there may well be a nationwide voting restrictions precisely as the u.s. is undergoing this demographic transition. none of that is coincidence. >> ron, keep informing people. professor, keep up the fight. thank you very much. i'll see you both soon. >> thank you, don. >> so, listen, i have something that can help out in these conversations like this.
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it is my new book. available for preorder now. it is called "this is the fire." what i say to my friends about racism. it is coming out in just a few weeks. i hope you will check it out anywhere you can buy books. next, president biden making another compromise on his covid relief bill as senate democrats scramble to push it across the finish line. plus congressman ronny jackson dodging questions all day about the pentagon report, the top white house doctor detailing pill popping, harassment. tonight he's speaking out.
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so it has been a year since super tuesday. joe biden's victory was far from certain. in addressing the house democrats today, president biden thanking congressman jim clyburn for the critical endorsement that helped him win the nomination. >> i also want to note it was almost exactly a year ago today
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that you delivered the endorsement to me in south carolina. it meant so much to me and my campaign. you're a great friend. >> so, joining me now to discuss is amy parnes. she is the senior political correspondent for the hill and john allen senior correspondent for nbc news. they are the coauthors of the new book, lucky how joe biden barely won the presidency. thank you so much. i think the last time i talked to you guys was shattered, i'm not sure. but it's been a while. good to see both of you. >> thank you. >> good to see you. >> amy, i remember a little over a year a go in the campaign, it seemed like joe biden was toast after iowa and new hampshire. but we believed that he could win and that he could governor. when you look at his presidency, having covered the campaign, what do you see now? >> i mean, i think i see consistency.
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it's something that we talk a lot about in the book. he's able -- in the 2016 campaign, don, you can draw some comparisons and you can contrast the way they both handled it. john and i report in the book, he has the same message, unity, unity, the entire time. it was different than hillary's message which never quit after the electorate. that's playing out. you're trying to see him strike deals, work across the aisle. and i think he always said that he wanted to do that and that's part of his aim. and we'll see if he can follow through with that. >> speaking of working across the aisle as amy said, joe biden said he would work across the aisle and he's trying. republicans don't seem too interested in that. how long do you think that he's going to keep that up? >> well, i think the rhetoric will continue to be the same whether he's trying to unify in congress or trying to unify the country, the popular electorate,
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constituents outside. whether they be democrats or republicans. you're going to hear a lot about that from him. don, one of the things we talk about in this book and part of the story of "lucky" and the in the general election, 42,318 votes over three states is the difference between joe biden being president and donald trump being president. it ties into your last segment with ron brownstein and dr. west talking about voter restrictions. if we ran this election with new voter restrictions in wisconsin, arizona and georgia, we may well have had a different result. >> interesting. do you think, do you think that joe biden had any idea how enthralled the republican party is with trump? there was a chance for a clean break. maybe some republicans could have broke with him. then came the big lie, impeachment, and this will persist through the presidency,
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right? poor jonathan, that's okay. i know you're not paying attention to me. i'm sorry, go ahead. >> don, i mean, what we have seen in the aftermath of the election as you point out, you know, you called the big lie, a lot of folks call it the big lie. the president did lie. he lied about the former president, president trump lied about what happened in the election. he incited terrorists. it's not just about the biden presidential run. it's about the republic holding firm. joe biden had the vision for his campaign. he stuck to it through the tough times. the founding fathers built a beautiful architecture of a government that could withstand and bend without breaking. i think for those bends, joe biden is lucky and so are all of us in terms of the republic standing. >> do you want to say something, amy? i want to ask you about covid. >> no, absolutely. yes, go ahead. >> okay, so talk to me about covid and how it affected the campaign and how it defines his
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presidency even now. >> well, it's interesting. we have a lot of reporting on both sides on the trump campaign. you had, as we report in the book, brad parscale, trump's former campaign manager warning him in february that this could bring down his campaign. and then president trump said, well, i don't understand, brad. what does this have to do with politics? what does this have anything to do with politics? you have that side. and then you had the other side where joe biden is, you know, home in his basement, he's getting lost for it. his aides were a little bit happy he was in the basement because he had a penchant for making gaffs and for kind of delivering, you know, some jokes here and there and going off script. he hasn't done that lately.
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we have in the book as we report, he told the associate, covid is the best thing that happened to the vice president. that was a very telling moment, we thought. it kind of explained what the biden campaign was thinking, even though they were saying, this is the best strategy. we're going to let the president kind of implode and get out of the way. you can see what they were thinking in terms of keeping their candidate on the side lines. >> it is hard to do with joe biden. is this joe biden's big strength now as president? >> it's absolutely one of his big strengths and i think it's why he's the president of the united states, is because he was able to distance himself from, you know, from the extreme of
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his party. and one of the stories we tell for the first time in this book is the push and pull within the biden campaign over the protests for racial in justice. so what happened inside that campaign was there were advisers who were pushing joe biden to apologize for the crime bill, to embrace defund the police, to really get more in line with where the base of the party is, and not just democrats. i think, you know, the whole country in a lot of ways was crying out for racial justice. what biden saw was that some of those calls were politically too much. the phrase, defund the police, was something donald trump was trying to hang around him and the rest of the democratic party. and biden and the advisers around him basically pushed back on the advisers who were appealing to him to embrace defund the police. i think that was a big part of his victory, was the ability to show some distance.
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>> i know this is going to tick a lot of people off, a lot of authors out there. i have to thank you, finally there is an interesting political book to read. enthuse both for writing it and for appearing. the book is called "lucky, how joe biden barely won the you presidency" by jonathan allen and amy parnes. inappropriate behavior, including popping pills, drinking on the job and harassing female coworkers. while ronny jackson was the top white house doctor. now congressman jackson is responding tonight. plus. ♪ ♪ >> it is a maga music video starring roger stone. ♪
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ronny jackson calling accusations against him a political hit job after a pentagon report went into shocking detail about inappropriate behavior during his time as white house doctor. cnn's jessica dean walks us through exactly what the report found. >> reporter: a scathing review from the department of defense inspector general that the former white house physician and current texas congressman ronny jackson. the report obtained by cnn prior to its release on wednesday and based on interviews with 78 witnesses concludes jackson made, quote, sexual and denigrating comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol on a
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presidential trip, and took prescription sleeping pills that caused concern from colleagues about his ability to provide proper care. on wednesday, jackson's aide scrambled to contain the fallout and jackson declined to answer further quiz. questions. in his statement to cnn, jackson alleged the investigation was politically motivated, saying, quote, democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity. he added, this is because he refused to, quote, turn my back on president trump. jackson also said he rejected any allegation he consumed alcohol while on duty. the years long investigation details one incident in which one witness recalled jackson pounding on the door of a female subordinate's room, saying, quote, i need you to come to my room. another witness alleged jackson made a comment about a female medical subordinate's breasts and buttocks during a presidential trip to asia in
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2014. jackson rose through the ranks to become physician to the president for both president barack obama and president donald trump. in a handwritten performance review, obama described jackson as a, quote, tremendous access to the entire white house team. >> you have president obama giving him an a-plus report. you have president trump giving him an a-plus report. >> reporter: but jackson's profile rose dramatically when president trump took a liking to him. jackson declared trump in excellent health despite evidence of heart disease. >> the president's overall health is excellent. his cardiac performance during physical exam was good. >> reporter: trump later nominated jackson as the veterans affairs secretary but that fell apart over allegations he was abusive to colleagues, he abused pain medications and was periodically intoxicated, allegations jackson called completely false and fabricated. >> he started getting hit are
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vicious rumors, vicious, they're not true. they're not true. so they try and destroy a man. >> reporter: ultimately, jackson ran for and won his congressional seat in texas in 2020, but gone was any appearance of that formerly cordial relationship he appeared to have with former president obama. instead, jackson embracing conspiracy theories about obama spying on former president trump's campaign. now, we also know that jackson will possibly face a review of his retirement pay. the inspector general suggesting to the secretary of navy that they take the appropriate action. don? >> jessica dean, thank you so much. next. ♪ roger stone taking center stage in a pro trump music video. ♪ very important. there is a road map. is ♪ roger stone taking center stage in a pro-trump music video. ♪
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roger stone's got a new gig. donald trump's long-time crony who was sentenced for lying to congress was commuted by the former president is now dancing in a new pro-trump music video along with the leader of the proud boys. here is cnn's donie o'sullivan. ♪ ♪ they was knocking at the front
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door, patriots pulling up, knocking on the capitol ♪ ♪ you players, you know the ♪ >> a music video by a pro-trump rapper all about the january 6 insurrection and starting a dancing roger stone. ♪ >> reporter: pushing the lie that trump won the election, it was shot over the weekend outside cpac in orlando. also featured, the leader of the proud boys. cnn bumped into stone, a free man after former president trump commuted his sentence while he was shooting the music video. but the long-term political operative wasn't too happy when we asked about his ties to the proud boys and the far right militant group the oath keepers. >> roger, are you being investigated by the fbi? are you being investigated roger for january 6? >> any honest investigation would prove that there is no evidence whatsoever that i
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either was involved in or knew about the stupid senseless counterproductive illegal assault at the capitol. the folks who did invade the capitol should be prosecuted. >> roger, any concerns about your ties to the proud boy, oath keepers? >> thank you. >> guilt by association in and innuendo. disgusting. no real journalist would ever ask that question. ♪ we went to d.c. to spread peace ♪ >> the rapper in the florida video, forgiato blow, otherwise known as kurt jantz, claimed in a statement to cnn the song does not glorify the insurrection and instead promotes peaceful protest, despite, of course, the fact that the insurrection on january 6 was anything but that. blow also shot "we outside," a music video outside the u.s. capitol on the day of the insurrection. his spokesperson told cnn he did not enter the capitol building. ♪ and again the magnitude of what happened here on january 6, it is pretty incredible to see
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videos like that being made, essentially celebrating the people who showed up on that day as patriots. a lot of those people were conspiracy theorist, and conspiracy theorists believe that tomorrow, march 4th, is going to be the day that former president trump gets inaugurated again. of course, that is a conspiracy theory. there is no truth to it, but the u.s. capitol police and other security services here in the u.s. capitol are taking any form of talk about action tomorrow extremely seriously. whether it will materialize or not, we'll find out tomorrow. don? >> thank you, donie. roger stone dancing and bad rapping. just what i needed to complete my wednesday. thank you for watching, everyone. thank you, donie. thank you for watching, everyone. our coverage continues.
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