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Trump Era Divides Administration Officials, Their Families; Paul Manafort's Attorneys Fail to Put up Defense; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 14, 2017 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[14:30:27] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: If politics is a family sport, then the Thanksgiving table will be wild this year. The Trump era putting family feuds on full display.

Chris Cillizza is our CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large.

Chris, "Family Feud."

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: First of all, "Family Feud" is an amazing game show I would love to host.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: I want to get that promo in.

Let's start. There's a bunch of them. I know we are waiting for Sarah Sanders. Bob Goodlatte, outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Over here, Bobby Goodlatte, his son. This comes from August 13th. This is Bobby Goodlatte, "I'm deeply upset that Peter Strzok's career was ruined by my father's political rants." A reminder Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was involved in that very contentious hearing with Strzok about his anti- Trump texts and all that sort of stuff. "Thank you for your service, talking to Peter Strzok. You are a patriot." But wait, it's like "Cramer Versus Cramer II," Goodlatte versus Goodlatte II. Bobby Goodlatte the next day announces he is giving if the maximum campaign donation to the Democrat running for his dad's seat. It's not as bad as it might seem in that Bob Goodlatte is retiring. He's not giving it to the person running against his dad. He is giving it to a Democrat who is running for his dad's old seat. His dad, I probably should have mentioned, is a Republican.

Far from the only family feud, though. Let's go to the next one. You recognize that woman, Kellyanne Conway. You may not recognize this guy, her husband, George Conway, who, if you do not follow on Twitter, you should, and here's why. He is one of the most-active critics of Donald Trump out there in a prominent way on Twitter. This is in relation to all Donald Trump's texts. "Interesting analogy, likewise, if the CEO made false and misleading statements about himself and the company and results in President Obama publicly attacking employees, analysts to a dangerous competitor," obviously, talking about Russia there. Obviously, this is not George Conway's only attacks with Trump. Yesterday, he also tweeted polls showing John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, more popular than Donald Trump in Ohio after Trump attacked Kasich. George Conway, worth a Twitter following.

Let's go to the last one. OK. Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president, and the lead person in the Donald Trump immigration policy. This is his uncle, David. You don't know much about. He wrote an op- ed saying Stephen Miller is such a hypocrite on immigration. He talks about that op-ed on "NEW DAY" today. Here's that interview.

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DAVID GLOSSER, UNCLE TO STEPHEN MILLER: I thought it was incumbent upon me to raise my voice to let people know that this is a country of immigrants and our family were immigrants. In fact, we were refugees. If my ancestors had not immigrated to the United States when they did, if they had waited a few more years until 1924, the door would have been shut. My parents would have gone up the crematory chimney. I wouldn't be born. My sister wouldn't have been born and Stephen wouldn't exist.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST, "NEW DAY": You don't expect to change Stephen's minds, do you?

GLOSSER: It appears he's made his single career for this single issue. For reasons I don't even know.

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CILLIZZA: Although there's one more family feud we don't talk about. Donald Trump versus Ivanka Trump. His daughter often says things, the media is not the enemy of the people, other comments of immigration that directly critic things her father said. So there are from top to bottom in this administration. Over and over again you see these disagreements. Another example of how abnormal what we see on a day- in, day- out basis the Trump administration is.

Back to you -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: We should point out we've asked Stephen Miller to appear multiple times on CNN, and so far, no dice.

Chris Cillizza, thank you so much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

[14:35:39] BALDWIN: Any moment now, that White House press briefing will begin. Expect Sarah Sanders to respond to this escalating feud between Omarosa and President Trump. Omarosa claiming, moments ago, she has, indeed, been interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller.

We'll be right back.

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BALDWIN: The defense team for Paul Manafort has rested its case without calling any witness and presenting no evidence for the jury to consider. The former Trump campaign chairman did speak for the very first time telling the judge he did not want to take the stand.

Joe Johns is our senior Washington correspondent. He has been following this thing outside that courthouse in Alexandria.

Joe, last week, we saw a harsh cross examination of Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, who struck that deal. We thought that was the big strategy today. But, nope. So what did happen?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, the important thing, I think, is Gates (sic), outside of the presence of the jury, was asked by the judge if he was going to testify. He said he'd made a decision. The judge asked him, what was the decision? He said he decided not to testify. Of course, it does appear, Brooke, this defense is basically putting all its eggs in one basket. That one basket is the cross examination of Rick Gates, the deputy, the long-time deputy of Paul Manafort.

I don't think anybody is super surprised that Paul Manafort will decide not to testify, because if he got on the stand, he would have been subjected to a withering cross examination from the prosecution. So pretty clear they're hoping that they've established reasonable doubt with one person on this jury. And in the event Mr. Manafort is convicted, there may be the hope in the back of someone's mind the president might consider using his pardon power, his clemency power to free his former campaign manager -- Brooke?

[14:40:50] BALDWIN: Joe Johns, thank you for the update.

Areva Martin, our legal analyst, here.

Why do you think the defense is acting like that?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I think for the reasons we heard from the correspondent. There was no way that way Paul Manafort could take the stand. The cross examination would have been too brutal. He would have done more harm to this case, which is hard to imagine when you say that given the mound of evidence presented by the prosecution. This was a paper case and the prosecution put on lots of evidence from e-mails to bank records, to other documents to prove their case of fraud and tax evasion. And the best that they can hope for is that the jurors believe their argument that I expect they will make, which is that Rick Gates lied to the FBI, he lied to the special counsel, and he came into that courtroom and he lied to the judge and he lied to the jurors. And it's if one juror believes that Rick Gates' testimony is non-believable, that he was the architect of all of these crimes, that one juror could cause there to be a hung jury or perhaps even an acquittal in this case. That's hard to believe, or to expect, given the kind of case that the prosecution put on. We've seen stranger things to happen, particularly in a high-profile case such as this.

BALDWIN: Closing arguments, tomorrow.

Areva, thank you.

And again, a reminder to all of you watching, the White House briefing is a mere moment away. Live pictures, Washington, D.C.

We'll be right back.

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[14:41:47] BALDWIN: Breaking news out of Italy where rescuers are scrambling through the rubble of this massive bridge collapse. At least 22 people have been killed dozens are injured. That number revised from earlier reports. It's 35 dead. You can make out the moment the collapse happened, right here.

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BALDWIN: This terrified witness captured the blurry video as the bridge crumbled during a sudden violent storm. At least 30 vehicles, including several heavy trucks, plunged from the major stretch of highway connecting Italy to France. Look at that. We are also hearing about a stunning statement from the city's mayor, who told CNN's Nic Robertson the collapse was, quote, "not absolutely unexpected." The bridge dates back to the 1960s and was undergoing maintenance.

Condemnation for a brazen attack in London right on the doorstep of the House of Parliament. A car barreled through security barriers at the height of rush hour. At least three people were injured. Police arrested the driver on suspicion of terrorist offenses. They say the man is, quote/unquote, "not cooperating." We are also hearing counter terrorism officers are searching three homes as part of their investigation there. Prime Minister Theresa May calling the attack shocking, adding terrorists will never succeed.

And here she is, Sarah Sanders.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Images from the honorable Kerry Ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor this month made us all proud to be Americans.

President Trump is committed to getting the almost 8,000 left behind from the Korean War home, and bringing closure to the families who have been waiting for more than 60 years. The process of identifying and verifying the remains is challenging, but one that this administration is committed to.

Overseeing this process is Kelly McKeague, the director of defense for POW and MIA Accounting Agency. Leading DOD's worldwide operation of research, investigation, recovery and identification and supporting functions. Director McKeague strives to provide the fullest possible accounting of our missing personnel. The director, along with his colleagues, Dr. John Byrd, the Defense POW and MIA Accounting Agency Laboratory director, and Dr. Timothy McMahon, director of DOD DNA operations have joined us today to offer remarks and take your questions on this topic. After this, I'll be back up to address other questions and news of the day. Thanks.

Director?

MCKEAGUE: Thank you, Sarah.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. The August 1st repatriation and homecoming in Hawaii of the remains of the Korean War unaccounted for was a poignant manifestation of the commitment secured by President Trump and pledge by Chairman Kim at the Singapore Summit. For the families of the 7,700 still unaccounted for from the Korean War, this first step in fulfilling this commitment has undoubtedly provided a seed of hope.

Last week, over 700 of these family members gathered in Arlington, Virginia to receive government updates, and they were resoundingly appreciative of the successful advocacy of the president and his administration. Two of those family members who attended, Charles and Larry McDaniel, were the recipients of the dog tag their father, Master Sergeant Charles McDaniel of Indiana. It was a sole personal effect returned by the North Koreans.

The remains of those 55 cases are well into the painstaking, multifaceted analyses by Dr. John Byrd and his forensic science team in Hawaii, and in the coming weeks, Dr. Tim McMahon and his dedicated DNA specialists in Delaware will begin their meticulous testing. The mettle of our scientists and the capabilities of our labs will be challenged, but in the months and years ahead, they will make identifications from these remains, and give families long-sought answers.

We are guardedly optimistic the 1 August repatriation is the first tangible action of others, which with -- with which we will be able to account for more of our missing from the Korean War.

[14:50:00]

MCKEAGUE: The second aspect of the Korean -- of the Singapore commitment was the recovery of remains in North Korea, which DPRK officials reaffirmed last month. We are in the midst of exploring next steps, as well as discussions with the Korean People's Army for the express purpose of resuming joint field operations and having additional repatriations.

But our mission to search for, find and account for missing Department of Defense personnel from World War II through Operation Iraqi Freedom is one not limited to the Korean Peninsula.

Today, 186 personnel from DPA and private partners are deployed in seven nations. And yesterday, 50 of those members returned from Laos and the Philippines.

Our global mission is humanitarian in every respect because the impact of a missing American to their family is not constrained by time or generations, and it leaves an enduring pain and void. This is why former enemies like Vietnam used cooperation on the POW

MIA mission as a bridge to normalization and today's thriving bilateral relationship with the United States.

The fact that the United States of America vigorously pursues the fullest possible accounting of our missing reflects our values as a nation. The sacred obligation, if not moral imperative, remains a high priority for the Department of Defense.

Inherent to the exceptional teamwork, resources and resoluteness provided by multiple agencies is a solemn vow that those who were sent off in harm's way and are missing will not be forgotten. And their families will receive answers to their decades of uncertainty.

My colleagues and I welcome your questions.

QUESTION: Gentlemen, I was with President Clinton in 2000 when he went to a place in Vietnam north of Hanoi, where one of these recovery efforts were under -- under way. So I have some familiarity with this.

Even there, when things are discovered it takes a long time to establish the trail forensically. I'd like to ask you both, what condition are the remains or the parts of remains you've received so far, and how challenging will the forensic work be ahead?

Are you a long, long way or was what you received something that gets you close to identifying and confirming?

BYRD: Now, we -- we would characterize the preservation of the remains as moderate to poor, as a general consideration. However, what our lab specializes in is making identifications in circumstances where you have very little to work with.

And so I -- I'm confident that we're going to do well with the remains in these 55 boxes over the coming months and -- and maybe the next several years.

When you look at what's at stake, we're going to be doing a lot of DNA sampling. That's what Dr. McMahon's lab does, is they process the samples and then they go into a mass database where they can be compared to all of the other samples that we've generated from remains from North Korea, and also compared to the family members.

And so it takes some time to get the samples processed through the lab at AFMES. Takes some time to get them into the mass comparison. But once they're in there, we'll start looking for the -- the quick identifications that can be made, where you have compelling matches that show themselves early on.

We also look for comparisons to dental records, that can be distinctive. We look for individuals that are unusual in the sense of being very tall, very short, very old. Anything that distinguishes somebody, we can usually get a good clue and identify them faster.

But because of the preservation of the remains, that will just sort of guide the kinds of methods that we can bring to bear on the case, and -- and the case will be very DNA -- very DNA-intensive in terms of the way that we're going to go about this.

QUESTION: The number 55, is that -- what does that number represent? And..

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BYRD: It's the number of boxes.

QUESTION: ... is that 55 individuals?

BRYD: No, it's the number of boxes that the remains came in. And at no time did -- did we expect there to be one body, one box. Nor did the North Koreans try to pitch it that way to us when we were in Osan (ph).

SANDERS: Jonathan (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. Director, thank you. What type of certainty do you have that the remains that the North Koreans have handed over to the Americans are that of missing Americans as opposed to other nationalities that fought alongside the Americans during the Korean War?

MCKEAGUE: We have a high confidence. So in the early '90s, for five years, the North Koreans would repatriate unilaterally remains that they had recovered.

Out of those 208 boxes over those five years, we estimated, after DNA sampling, 400 individuals. Now from that, 200 were Americans. So the likelihood is -- you're correct -- there may be some of U.N. sending forces, there may be some South Korean soldiers' remains as well as Chinese and North Korean.

But our laboratories, both DNA and the forensic laboratory, have the technology and the capabilities by which to differentiate those remains over the course of the next several years.

QUESTION: Director, I think you mentioned you're (ph) -- in some discussions with the North Koreans about potential future actions, maybe to search for more remains, and joint efforts and such.

I think the Pentagon and -- and Secretary Mattis has mentioned that.

What -- if I'm to understand right, the Bush administration ended the program in which U.S. officials would be helping search for the remains, in part because of security concerns for our own forces there.

Can you describe kind of what you're looking for from the North that could resume those kind of operation -- joint operations, and what steps you need and how close you are to maybe doing that?

MCKEAGUE: So for 10 years -- we operated between 1996 and 2005. Over time, collect -- conducting 33 joint activities with the North Koreans.

[14:55:00] Security is primarily our responsibility for our personnel. We also pay attention to communications, having communications abilities as well as having an ability to medevac our personnel, should they get hurt.

What we would be looking for from the North Koreans is, again, a commitment from them that communications, medical evacuation requirements can be met. And more importantly, that we can conduct these joint operations in a collaborative way, as we had done for 10 years.

It all comes down, back into 2005, to their behavior on the international stage. The president, rightfully so, was concerned that their nuclear activities, their missile activities were countermanding and counterproductive to our joint operations, which is why we suspended...

QUESTION: (Inaudible) more (ph) the tone (ph) and the bigger geopolitical talks that are going on, or is it specifics about being in the field that you're really looking at right now?

MCKEAGUE: Both. So Secretary Pompeo, in getting a reaffirmation from the North Koreans last month, affirmed that they do want to establish communications with us and to conduct joint operations.

We have not started those negotiations. We will do so. It is on a separate track, however, as you well pointed out, it could be drawn into the greater geopolitical stream.

But for now, we're treating it as a military-to-military contact. But, more importantly, as a humanitarian endeavor that's separate and distinct from anything else.

And by the way, the 45 countries that we work with all rightfully recognize this as a humanitarian endeavor, including countries like Russia and China, where we have tremendous cooperation with them.

SANDERS: Jonathan (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

QUESTION: Gentlemen, the recent death of former Congressman Bill Hendon of North Carolina brought back a lot of the rehashing of serious charges he made, that those who were in Vietnam, either as prisoners or dead, were not fully accounted for.

Has the book finally been closed on those Americans who served in Vietnam and were prisoners of war?

MCKEAGUE: It has. So right now there are close to 1,700 -- 1,600 that are -- remain missing and unaccounted for. Within that set of unaccounted for is what we call last known alive. It's a small subset of individuals who for whatever reason were seen alive at a certain point during the war and remain unaccounted for. Our priority with the Vietnamese is to get at that subset -- small subset. I think it's down to 25. Not necessarily prisoners of war, but again, last known alive at the time that they were seen.

SANDERS: Take one last question. John (ph)?

[15:00:05] QUESTION: Real quick, of the remains in the 55 boxes, can we confirm for a fact that all of them are human remains or are we still -