Return to Transcripts main page


FBI Raid on Manafort Shakes Administration; State Department Press Briefing; Trump Answers Questions Following High-Level Meeting on North Korea. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:10] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: After FBI agents raided the washington area home of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, sources tell CNN the news rattled a few cages inside the president's inner circle. The raid happened before dawn on July 26th. And a source tells CNN the agents seized materials, including financial and tax records.

Later that morning, the president expressed frustration on Twitter. Just hours after the FBI left Manafort's property, President Trump tweeted, quote, "Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend, who was in charge of the Clinton investigation but got big dollars for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives? Drain the swamp."

My next guest conducted the only interview with Manafort. This Netflix documentary, "Get Me Roger Stone," centered around the former Trump campaign adviser who first introduced Manafort and Trump back in the '80s. If you have not seen it, here's a clip.


[14:35:10] PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Trump asked me to get involved because my reputation, among other things, in politics is understanding of the convention process, the delegate process and most of the major successful big conventions over the last 30 years, I've been intimately involved in.

UNIDENTIFIED SHOW HOST: Roger recommended you?

MANAFORT: Roger was one of the two or three people who strongly recommended me.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST: Is it a surprise Manafort wound up as the campaign chairman for Trump?

MANAFORT: Of course not. That was engineering by Roger as a way to get Corey Lewandowski bounced out of the campaign. Took a couple of months but they did it. Roger has had a guiding hand in all of this. Trump is hard to guide. He spits the bit out. But Roger's had as much influence on the campaign as anyone.

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I think the campaign's been professionalized. Manafort's doing a phenomenal job. He instills confidence in the campaign that they didn't have before.

PEHME: Did you give reporters any background on Lewandowski?


UNIDENTIFIED SHOW HOST: OK, do you sort of distance --


MANAFORT: Roger is not an official part of the campaign --


UNIDENTIFIED SHOW HOST: Did he bring you in?



MANAFORT: In fact, not at all.


BALDWIN: With me now, one of the directors of the film, Morgan Pehme.

Morgan, thank you so much for coming to CNN.


BALDWIN: Just quickly before we get into this, you told me in the commercial break, you've been trying to get Paul Manafort to sit down with you for five years.


BALDWIN: He finally says yes. Why do you think he agreed?

PEHME: I think he was displeased with the way he was ousted from the campaign. Two days before he was let go as campaign chairman, Donald Trump had expressed confidence in his leadership. And then a lot of his aides, Trump's aides subsequently kind of smeared Manafort. So I think he was much more willing to be open than he was in the past.

BALDWIN: Manafort talked a lot in the documentary about how he felt he was valuable because of his political connections. Talk to me about his role behind the scenes and his relationship with then- Candidate Trump.

PEHME: Well, Paul Manafort has worked with Trump since the 1980s. Trump was a client of Black, Manafort and Stone, which was the mega lobbying firm that Paul Manafort was a partner of in D.C. So they go a long way back. As you'll remember --


BALDWIN: Morgan, forgive me. We're going right now to the State Department here, the spokeswoman, just for a sec.

HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I'm wondering where you're going to go with this. But, yes, absolutely, without a doubt. As you know, the secretary, the president, Secretary Mattis, along with the national security counsel, General McMaster, they meet frequently and often and have conversations about national security issues.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'm curious about your reaction to some comments the aide to the president made, Sebastian Gorka, to the BBC. When he was asked about the apparent differences in tone between various officials, he said, "You should listen to the president. The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical. It is the job of Secretary Mattis, secretary of defense, to talk about the military options and he has done so unequivocally. That is his mandate. Tillerson is the chief diplomate of the United States and it's his portfolio to handle those issues."

Does the secretary, one, or does this building agree with comments like that, which would seem to suggest that the secretary is -- this is not the secretary's lane and that he should kind of -- he should butt out and keep his mouth shut on things that relate to the military matters?

NAUERT: Well, the secretary, as you know, he has a close relationship with Secretary Mattis. Our secretary, Secretary Tillerson, talks a lot about our diplomatic strategy and our diplomatic policy. That has not changed. The secretary has been very robust in that. Just having returned, as we talked about yesterday, from the ASEAN conference where he met for three days with a lot of foreign officials. As I was coming out here, I heard about Sebastian Gorka's comments. I didn't hear them myself. So I don't want to comment on exactly what he had to say. But I can say that I speak for Secretary Tillerson and this building. Our secretary has been very clear, as has Secretary Mattis, that our diplomatic and military means are both strong and capable and in the face of threats we face against the DPRK or other nations.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right. But does the secretary believe that diplomacy -- that diplomacy should be combined with the -- with military options and that -- to produce successful result? And does he -- I take it then, he would reject the suggestion that he doesn't have any business talking about this?

NAUERT: I would say Secretary Mattis overseas the U.S. military, and he and Secretary Tillerson have a good close cooperative relationship. And one part of our U.S. government is, of course, the State Department. And we do diplomacy here out of this building. Secretary Tillerson has not spoken about U.S. military capabilities. You all hear me very often from this room when you ask me about U.S. military assets or plans, I refer you to DOD.

[14:40:09] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right, but the suggestion that was made is basically the secretary -- Secretary Tillerson shouldn't be involved or shouldn't be listened to as it relates to policy towards North Korea. Is that something that you agree with?

NAUERT: I think that everyone has clearly heard what Tillerson's forceful comments have been and continue to be on the issue of DPRK and on other countries as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And they should be paid attention to, correct?

NAUERT: I would think so, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK, so the idea that --

NAUERT: He's a cabinet secretary, he's the fourth in line to the presidency. He carries a big stick.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Dr. Gorka is where in that line --

NAUERT: I don't work with Dr. -- with Sebastian Gorka. I have known him from a previous life and a previous career but I have not spoken with him about the comments he made. Let me just leave it at that.

While we're on DPRK, let's stick to that. I'd like to stick to regions if we can today. Any questions on DPRK?

OK. Hi, Rich.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And this is in the diplomatic lane. Talking about China, South China Sea, freedom of navigation, China says the recent U.S. navigation operation harms Chinese sovereignty. This is an issue in response to what we've seen before. Do issues like freedom of navigation, some economic issues, do they make for a more difficult campaign on North Korea with China?

NAUERT: Freedom of navigation operations happen all around the world. They tend to get the most attention when they happen in the South China Sea. They happen off the coast of Canada. They happen in the waters offshore of our major allies, friends, all around the world. That's why we're focusing on it right now. That's why you're asking me that question because of the issue of DPRK. As you know, Secretary Tillerson coming back from the ASEAN conference where there was a joint statement that was issued about the South China Sea. We talked about that pretty extensively yesterday. As you all know, U.S. forces will operate in the Asia-Pacific region. They do that on a daily basis, including the South China Sea. The operations are conducted in accordance with international law. And the point of that is to demonstrate that the United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. It's true in the South China Sea. It's true in other places around the world as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When the U.S. deals with China, negotiates, speaks with China, does it view these issues as compartmentalized or as one big issue?

NAUERT: We have lots of ongoing conversations. We had the four-way dialogue with China. We've had two of the four meetings that are set to take place. I believe the next two are set to take place later this year. We discuss all kinds of issues. Secretary Mattis was over here not too long ago. Having spoken with Secretary Tillerson and our Chinese counterparts about many of these issues, among the issues we talk about, the Chinese, South China Sea, of course, but also DPRK and other matters.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does it hamper the pressure campaign?

NAUERT: You know what happened at the United Nations. United Nations Security Council unanimously passed the new U.N. Security Council resolution on the DPRK. China was one of those countries that voted along with that. So that means that China has to enforce its sanctions. They have said that they would. We look forward to and expect them to enforce the sanctions as well. OK?

OK. And welcome back.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. Congratulations on the U.N. Security Council sanctions. It's been suggested you could have given them longer to bear fruit before threatening fire and fury. Was it -- how long do you think it will take before we see some -- we see North Korea backing down thanks to these sanctions?

NAUERT: I can't speculate as to what North Korea is going to do. We talked yesterday about our pressure campaign and how the pressure campaign is, in our opinion, working. We've had many countries, countries that we are close friends with, and countries that we aren't as close with, help participate in that pressure campaign. That is because the world recognizes the severe threat that the DPRK faces. Not just to the United States but to the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Element of the pressure campaign, is it to seek the diplomatic isolation of North Korea. North Korea obviously attended the ASEAN regional forum and has been invited to attend next year's ASEAN forum by the hosts. Is this a failure to isolate them diplomatically?

NAUERT: In terms of invitations like that, the conversations are ongoing. We're not a part of ASEAN, so we don't have the ability to extend or rescind an invitation, so we leave that up to ASEAN. Those nations all joined us in a pretty condemning statement of the activities on the part of DPRK.

[14:45:06] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it your understanding that the warning that the president issued about "fire and fury," being this is on North Korea, was -- if they were to test another missile, form some kind of provocative action or simply if they resume their normal political rhetoric?

NAUERT: I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- when, you know, yesterday the -- Kim Jong-Un, you know, ridiculed the president of the United States --


NAUERT: Well, Kim Jong-Un is welcome -- he can certainly say, you know, what he chooses. I can't affect that in any kind of way. But in terms of the pressure campaign, when we talk about it working, part of that from the U.N. Security Council resolution that we believe will help remove about $1 billion worth of exports, money that would go into the pockets of the North Korean regime. That money, by the way, does not get used to feed its own people. We know people in that nation, North Koreans, are starving. The money there that goes into North Korea does not go to the people. It goes to the government and its very expensive illegal nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On that point, you know, one of the points of the sanctions is to curtail imported labor from North Korea, so on. Kuwait, a country that is an ally of the United States, Kuwait, said that it will continue to hold North Koreans workers -- do you have any comment to that?

NAUERT: We do. What you're talking about is Associated Press report that came out, I believe it was overnight, that indicated that Kuwait was going to continue hosting North Korean guest workers. That would obviously be a concern to us. Their North Korean guest workers in place around the world. A big part of our pressure campaign, as many of you know, has been saying to those countries through a series of bilateral meetings that Secretary Tillerson here at the State Department has had with many of his counterparts, asking other nations to reduce the number of North Korean guest workers. Those guest workers who are working in construction and other industries and countries around the world are getting that money, that money's going straight back to North Korea, into its weapons program. That money does not go to the North Korean individuals themselves. It does not go to the North Korean civilians and citizens and family members.

What you're referring to in terms of Kuwait, we are certainly aware of that report. It was brought to our attention. I would have to refer you to the government of Kuwait for more information on that. However, we understand that the government of Kuwait will be issuing a statement on those reports and their overall DPRK's policy imminently. We're in close contact with the government of Kuwait. They recognize the serious nature of this issue and the serious nature of that report that did come out. The government of Kuwait will be taking further measures in response to the dangerous and provocative behavior of the DPRK regime. Within the coming days, we're told, we're told to expect a statement on that matter. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When? Because this -- I mean, I'm looking at the statement that they sent to us right here. It's very straight forward. Two questions. Question one, did Kuwait stop issuing new working visas to North Koreans last year? Answer, no, the state of Kuwait --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everybody. Been having some meetings. I know you're going to be watching a couple of them. We have a lot of people here today. A lot of subjects under discussion, including Venezuela, including, of course, North Korea and other things. And I think we're making tremendous headway. We'll be spending quite a bit of time here. And then we -- during the weekend, as you know, towards the end, we'll go into Manhattan. We'll have a lot of meetings scheduled in Manhattan.

Any questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, the North Koreans said yesterday that your statement on Tuesday was nonsense. That's the word they used. Do you have any response to that?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think they mean that. And I think it's the first time they've heard it like they heard it. And frankly, the people that were questioning that statement, was it too tough, maybe it wasn't tough enough. They've been doing this to our country for a long time, many years. It's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn't tough enough. And we're backed by 100 percent by our military. And we're backed by many other leaders. And I notice many Senators and others today came out very much in favor of what I said. But, if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What would be tougher than "fire and fury?"

TRUMP: Well, you'll see. You'll see.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, is one of the options being considered a preemptive strike?

TRUMP: We don't talk about that. I never do. I'm not like the other administration that would say we're going into Mosul in four months. I don't talk about it. We'll see what happens. But I can tell you that what they've been doing and what they've been getting away with is a tragedy. And it can't be allowed.

[14:50:11] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, negotiations -- (INAUDIBLE)?


TRUMP: Sure, we'll always consider negotiations. They've been negotiating now for 25 years. Look at Clinton. He folded on the negotiations. He was weak and ineffective. You look what happened with Bush, you look what happened with Obama. Obama, he didn't even want to talk about it. But I talk. It's about time.


TRUMP: Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You talk about your relationship with Senator McConnell?

TRUMP: I just want him to get repeal and replace done. I've been hearing repeal and replace now for seven years but I've only been doing this for two years. And I've really only been doing this for six months but I've been running, so now it's almost two years. And all I hear is repeal and replace. And then I get there and I said, where's the bill, I want to sign it, first day. And they don't have it. And they passed repeal and replace but they never had a president, frankly, or a Senate that was going to do it. But they never had a president, so it didn't matter. So I say very simply, where is repeal and replace?

Now I want tax reform and tax cuts. We're going to reduce taxes for the people. We pay more tax than anybody in the world. And we're going to reduce taxes. So I say tax cuts, tax reform. And I want a very big infrastructure bill where we're working on that very hard already. And we can do that. And we may even get bipartisan on infrastructure. But we want to have it.

But I said, Mitch, get to work and let's get it done. They should have had this last one done. They lost by one vote. For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace. And, frankly, it shouldn't have happened, that I can tell you, it shouldn't have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is McConnell consider stepping down as majority leader? Some conservative analysts including Sean Hannity say it's time for him to retire.

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is that, a yes or a no?

TRUMP: You can ask me the question. That means ask me that question. Let's hope he gets it done.


TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I'm saying officially right now it's an emergency. It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.


TRUMP: We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had. You know, when I was growing up, they had the LSD, and they had certain generations of drugs. There's never been anything like what's happened to this country over the last four or five years. I have to say this, in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem. This is happening worldwide. But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there mixed messaging coming out of your administration on North Korea? With Secretary Mattison - (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: There are no mixed messages. There are no mixed messagings. I heard -- I mean, to be honest, General Mattis may have taken it a step beyond what I said. There are no mixed messages. And Rex was just, you know, stating the view. Look, here's the view. I said it yesterday. I don't have to say it again. I'll tell you this. It may be tougher than I said it, not less. It may very well be tougher than I said it. OK?

How about one more?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you offer any assurance to the American people who are understandably anxious about the situation with North Korea, is the images coming up, your statement about "fire and fury," should they be comfortable you have this under control?

TRUMP: The people of this country should be very comfortable. And I will tell you this, if North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very nervous. And they should be very nervous. Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK. He's been pushing the world around for a long time. I have great respect for what China and what Russia did and those 15 -- we got a 15 to nothing vote. I have great respect for China and Russia, what they did on sanctions. I believe that will have an effect. I don't think it will have the kind of effect, even though I was -- we were the ones that got it. And Nikki Haley did a great job. We all did a great job. But I have great respect for what they did. I have great respect for the 15 to nothing. But probably it will not be as effective as a lot of people think it can be, unfortunately.


[14:55:05] TRUMP: I think China can do a lot more, yes. China can. I think China will do a lot more. Look, we have trade with China. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It's not going to continue like that. If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade. So we will do I think the people of our country are safe. Our allies are safe.

I will tell you this, North Korea better get their act together or they're going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble in this world, OK?

Thank you very much.

We're going down to the other side and we will -- we're going to take a few more questions, OK?

Thank you. Thank you.

BALDWIN: All right. Wow. The president there, with the vice president sort of standing by his side, answering press questions there in New Jersey. But what shall we call this, doubling down now, doubling down. With the original volley was the president a couple of days ago, the "fire and fury" line. Now the response from Pyongyang. Now the response back from the president of the United States, saying maybe it wasn't tough enough, what his initial comments were, and saying that, you know, sanctions haven't worked. 25, 30 years, nothing. Somebody has to do it.

Jeff Zeleny, let me just begin with you.

When we think about the "fire and fury" line from a couple of days ago, that apparently was an off-the-cuff remark. The difference to me, hearing this today, this was planned.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was planned. Brooke. The off-the-cuff remark, improvised remarks, "fire and fury," were improvised in the moment. But we were told by administration officials yesterday, it is something the president has said before in private. Of course, saying it publicly certainly caused alarm. But the president, as you said, doubled down without question. But also spoke unequivocally. I think with the most clarity we've heard him speak as of so far on this impending crisis and threat from North Korea.

Now, he would not really reveal his hand if a preemptive strike was in the works. Of course, that is not the preferred option of military advisers. He did say that there was still a road for diplomacy. He said he would leave open a path to negotiations here.

But, Brooke, if anyone was expecting him to dial back his language earlier this week, that certainly didn't happen. And of course, we did not see this president doing that very often at all, if ever. Indeed, he did have very strong words for North Korea.

I was struck by -- he had at least some -- you know, tepid words of praise for China. He has long hoped that China would be his partner here to help the U.S. with this, you know, long-running crisis, with North Korea, the regime. So I thought that was interesting as well. The U.S. government wants to leave open the possibility, you know, the avenue for China to help in this crisis here. So these comments, Brooke, very interesting as we digest them.

Of course, on the domestic front, also very interesting remarks on Senate majority leader, mitch McConnell.

BALDWIN: Yes, we'll get to that in just a second because that is significant in and of itself.

Staying in North Korea, Sara Murray, one of my other takeaways is, you know, the criticism that has come at the administration on the mixed messages. You know, the president said one thing off-the-cuff. The secretary of state is saying let's come to the table, you know, try diplomacy, let's negotiate. General Mattis, the secretary of defense, saying another. You heard the president say, well, actually, General Mattis was tougher than me and we're all on the same page. Did you get that?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPODNENT: Yes, he did, he said there are no mixed messages here. I think that sort of tells you that this administration is really looking at this with all options on the table. The president was clear he's not going to forecast his next move. He did say negotiating is still an option. That's Rex Tillerson's lane. He is at the State Department. His hope is they can come up with some sort of diplomatic solution, that you don't then move over into the territory of General Mattis and move toward a military option. I think that that's why people are watching what someone like Rex Tillerson is saying, and what General Mattis is saying, and then what the president is saying, and they're a little bit confused. They're scratching their heads a little bit. We heard there from President Trump. He did say negotiations were still possible. But he offered a pretty dim view of the likelihood those would be successful. You heard him say we've been trying to negotiate with North Korea for decades and it really hasn't yielded any results. I think that gives you an indication maybe of if he expects his secretary of state to be successful when it comes to negotiating a way out of this crisis that continues to escalate -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Sara, thank you. Stand by.

Gloria Borger's also joining us here out of washington.

Gloria, what did you make of all of that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think the president's not backing down. He tried to make the case, as my colleagues were saying, that everyone is on the same page.