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Investigation Yielding Indictments and a Plea. Trump Directs Attention to Democrats on Twitter. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: We weren't certain that we were going to get the whole thing today. But then, you know, I kind of want to talk about the big surprise.
And this is a big surprise today. And that's Papadopolous.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Yes.
PROKUPECZ: It's a significant development because this is a man who was in meetings with the president. I mean, it said so much in the complaint that--
BOLDUAN: But we also even -- keep going, Shimon. We actually even have a tweet from Donald Trump because there's a tweet for everything that continues to be the only rule that stays true -- a tweet from March 31 of 2016 where he's tweeting about his national security team and Papadopolous is in the picture with him.
PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right. And this is what the FBI is talking about in -- in this affidavit that they released.
And they pick and choose what they want to say in these affidavits. So it's their significance here.
It also tells us that they know a lot -- a lot about what was going on between Trump, the campaign, and then the candidate Trump and his national security team because Papadopolous, according to this, is now cooperating. So they have eyes into what exactly what was going on with the national security team and the other people.
I mean, there -- there's things here about supervisors that Papadopolous was talking on the -- talking to on the national security team, relaying information about his meetings with Russians. And one other important point that I want to make and some of what we've all been reporting about how this -- how this has been sort of the Russian playbook about trying to influence campaign, trying to influence policy in the United States, it says here that a professor, whoever this person is that Papadopolous met with, showed interest in Papadopolous only after learning of his role--
PROKUPECZ: --in the campaign. That is significant, too, because this tells you what all of the intelligence community was concerned about, people like the former DNI Director, James Clapper, and John Brennan. They all talked about seeing communications, meetings that was concerning them.
And this now backs up some of what they've been saying all along.
BOLDUAN: And we're also getting -- you know (ph), that's very important point. I'll leave you just with this. Jim Acosta has a (ph) new reporting in.
And on this question of who is George Papadopolous, Jim Acosta, is a former Trump campaign official said that this -- that Papadopolous interacted with the campaign, quote, "a significant amount during the 2016 election." He was a foreign policy adviser, this official said.
Keep that in mind as this discussion continues going forward. We're going to have much more on our breaking news -- on this breaking news ahead. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: We continue to cover our breaking news this morning and there's quite a bit of it, the Russia investigation yielding indictments and a guilty plea. Two former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, charged with conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and a slew of other things, including making false statements.
Today, those indictments were unsealed this morning. They will appear in a courtroom a couple hours from now.
Also this, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, George Papadopolous, admits to lying to FBI officials in their probe into Russian meddling, a former Trump campaign official telling CNN a short time ago, telling Jim Acosta a short time ago, that Papadopolous interacted with the campaign, in this person's words, "a significant amount" in 2016. But -- but also adding, it was a lot by e-mail, that official adding that Papadopolous seemed more like a -- Papadopolous had a significant part in the campaign and was a foreign policy adviser and communicated quite a bit with them.
Let's talk much more about this with CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger.
So Gloria, you've -- just kind of tell me what you're hearing, especially about this latest, the surprising turn of the morning of a lot of surprises of this complaint, this guilty plea by George Papadopolous. What are you hearing from the Trump world and how close of an adviser he was?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's interesting because we have conflicting reads on George Papadopolous. I mean, Jim Acosta has gotten a read that says he was very involved in the campaign.
We know he was on the list of foreign policy advisers. I was just communicating with a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, a former senior adviser, who said to me he was zero, that -- that he was a nonevent is the way it was described to me.
And yet -- and yet, you have this person communicating with people at the very top levels of the campaign. So you wonder why he would be e- mailing people like Paul Manafort, for example, if he was just a nothing. So I think that remains to be determined at this point.
And what's also interesting to me is that from what we learned from the affidavit and we do learn that he is communicating with, you know, the FBI, that he is being interviewed by the FBI and seems to be cooperating with the FBI right now, we do know that the Russians were peddling this dirt. Now remember, if you look back to the Don Jr. meeting, that was the same thing that was used in the Don Jr. meeting.
BOLDUAN: They're very similar.
BORGER: Don Jr., dirt, e-mails about Hillary Clinton, et cetera, et cetera. And if -- if you -- if you look at that, you think these are people who were trying to get their kind of tentacles in to the Trump campaign. Maybe it was through lower-level people. Maybe it was through people like Papadopolous and -- and others.
But you do begin to see here some kind of effort from what we have publicly reported and what we see in this affidavit, to kind of figure out a way in to get to the highest levels of the campaign.
BOLDUAN: And also this, when the White House's response and kind of Trump world response after this--
BOLDUAN: --the Trump and Gates indictments this morning was when you look at this, Trump campaign -- Trump is not mentioned. Campaign is not mentioned in this--
BOLDUAN: --indictment. This has nothing to do with us. But now with the -- the addition of the Papadopolous guilty plea, does that make that reaction, that narrative a lot more complicated?
BORGER: Well, I think it does. I think the guilty plea and the cooperation is going to make a lot of people sort of wondering what he has and what he can cooperate (ph) on. I mean, I was talking to somebody close to the president today who said that the president, you know, they briefed the president on the Manafort stuff.
This was before the Papadopolous--
BORGER: --was unsealed. So this adviser to the president said to me, look, we briefed the president on this. He's going to say he feels badly for Paul Manafort.
But this has nothing to do with Donald Trump. And -- and in the end, it may not. I mean, we just -- we just don't know.
BORGER: But -- but we see a case being built here, I believe. And I think Papadopolous may be able to open a window for the special counsel.
BOLDUAN: Gloria, great to see you. A lot more to come on this.
BORGER: Thanks to you. Yes.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. And we did just receive a statement in from the attorneys representing George Papadopolous. It's brief so I'll read it to you.
"It is in the best interest of our client, George Papadopolous, that we refrain from commenting on George's case. We will have the opportunity to comment on George's involvement when called upon by the court at a later date.
We look forward to presenting all the facts that led to the events that resulted in this charge." And that is what we have right now.
Much more to come. Stay with us. Put on your seatbelts. Here we go.
BOLDUAN: And here, you follow (ph) the breaking news in the Russian investigation. A former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, this man, George Papadopolous, he has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his communications with folks linked to the Russian government during the campaign.
This is all coming out in newly unsealed court documents just this morning. Joining me now to discuss this fallout, A. Scott Bolden is here, former chairman of -- of D.C.'s Democratic Party, Doug Hyde, CNN political commentator and former communications director for the Republican National Committee, and Steve Rogers is here.
He's a member of President Trump's re-election advisory board.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. A lot has happened this morning.
Doug, one indictment when I'm talking about the kind of Manafort/Gates indictment, says nothing about Trump or the campaign. And the White House made clear that they said that this morning.
The other complaint, though, we're talking about Papadopolous, the surprising news this morning, definitely does -- it talks a lot, it's all about the -- the campaign and what -- and this man -- and Papadopolous' role during the campaign.
Should that bring the White House any comfort right now?
DOUG HYDE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it -- no, it shouldn't because of the Papadopolous news. Otherwise, the White House had something at least that they could talk about how they were somewhat sealed off of this. But the reaction on Capitol Hill from Republicans that I've talked to has obviously been negative.
They wanted this week to be about tax reform, about the president's trip to Asia and about a new Federal Reserve chair. That's really not going to lead the news this week because of what we've seen just this morning.
Monday will define this week. And I'll tell you, Kate, I remember the day before inauguration day talking to a Republican member of Congress in a district that Trump won pretty easily, who said to me that this will not end well. I got a text message this morning from that same member who said this is beginning to not end well.
This is a problem for Trump and the White House, and also Republicans as we start to move forward to the midterm elections next November.
BOLDUAN: And Steve, can I just get your take, I mean, the -- your take on all this, just what's your read today?
STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER, TRUMP RE-ELECTION ADVISORY BOARD: All right, number one, with regard to Paul Manafort, it was all business-related, Kate.
ROGERS: There's no -- and we agree, there's absolutely no evidence of any collusion with regard to Russia and the Trump campaign in the Manafort indictment, number one. Regarding Papadopolous, there is no evidence -- no solid evidence that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
I would say this, that Papadopolous -- yes, he lied. He's going to have to be accountable for his actions. But Kate, the bottom line is let's deal with the facts and just put speculation away -- no evidence whatsoever leading to the Trump campaign colluding with Russia.
BOLDUAN: Does it make it more complicated to say that very clearly, though, now with the Papadopolous complaint, though? I mean, what he lays out is while he was an adviser to the campaign, he was working with -- he was speaking with someone who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of e-mails with -- that would come from Russian officials?
ROGERS: Well, you know, when people are in trouble, they'll say anything to get out of it. I've had 38 years in law enforcement. And I've learned that.
BOLDUAN: So you don't -- you don't believe this?
ROGERS: He's got -- no, what I -- what I believe, all right, is that what he did was lie, that he could have possibly been talking but on his behalf. There is no evidence at this point that Donald Trump -- that President Donald Trump knew about this, that the campaign was involved.
And this is why I say, let Robert Mueller do his job. And at this point, there is still no evidence, Kate.
And that's what we have to go on. Remember, Joe Friday (ph) in Dragnet, you know (ph), "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."
So if we put all the speculation away and look at the facts--
BOLDUAN: This isn't speculation, though, anymore. This is a guilty plea.
ROGERS: Well, no, he's -- he's guilty of what he did.
BOLDUAN: Right, that's a fact.
ROGERS: But there's -- there's also a fact that there's no evidence of any collusion. And that's what's astonishing here, absolutely no evidence.
SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, D.C.'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I think -- I think just the opposite and to suggest otherwise is just really ridiculous. You have a conviction. You have Papadopolous who is cooperating.
And if you read that complaint and the facts that support it, it isn't just the fact that he lied to the FBI about timing. He admitted what he could not deny and denied what he could not admit.
But he took affirmative steps, the substance of his actions, as a member of the Trump foreign advisory team, he connected -- that's the connection to the Trump campaign. And then he met with this professor, met with Russian officials, met with a young woman apparently who had Russian connections and had obtained an invite for Trump to go visit Putin at any time.
That's not collusion. That's a tip of collusion. It's a conviction not for collusion but lying. But why do people lie?
People lie because they either know they're breaking the law, they're done something wrong or they're afraid. In this case, we've got more than collusion. We've got a conviction and a corroborating member--
ROGERS: You just admitted -- you, you, you-- BOLDEN: --a corroborating -- if I may, a -- a corroborating individual who's been convicted and who was going to continue to provide evidence to the special prosecutor. This is only the beginning of a pyramid prosecution.
ROGERS: You just admitted that there was an attempt in your view, which means there was no collusion. And the fact of the matter is maybe there was an attempt to have a meeting, but there was never a meeting. Do you know--
BOLDEN: No, of course, there were several meetings, if you will.
BOLDUAN: Right. But no, can I ask, let me -- let me just ask -- let me ask you (ph) this, is that a good day for the president, well (ph), not (ph) to win? There was an attempt to trying to collude and we just didn't -- I mean, and you argue that today is a good day--
BOLDEN: No, it's not a good day.
ROGERS: I'm convinced the president did not know that. He says he didn't know. Look, there are people who--
BOLDUAN: He hasn't -- the White House hasn't said anything about Papadopolous.
ROGERS: Well, well, but my point is, there are people do things on my behalf that I don't know. This guy could have attempted to do that.
But let's get to the facts.
BOLDUAN: Where does the buck stop? When it comes to a campaign, where does the buck stop?
ROGERS: The buck stops at the people responsible for their own actions. If the president knew, which I don't believe he knew any of this, if there was collusion, it would stop at the White House. But there's not one shred of evidence, Kate, that -- that -- that the president was involved--
BOLDEN: But Kate--
ROGERS: --in any collusion. That's my point.
BOLDEN: But Kate, are you talking about the president or are you talking about the campaign? Because this is a member of the campaign committee and he certainly has connected the campaign if not Donald Trump directly. We're just at the beginning to these bad acts on his (ph) part.
The real issue here isn't the fact of whether you obtained this information or not. The real issue is the aptitude on the part of Donald Trump's son and Papadopoulos to engage in this behavior directly with Russian officials because if you have the aptitude and the intentionality to do that, then you certainly have the same efforts if you are able to complete it and -- and obtain this information.
That should bother all of us as Americans that Trump's campaign engaged in this conduct.
BOLDUAN: Doug, let me bring you in on this because this also is making me wonder a question that it's been kind of out there since last week, now over the weekend. And I want to know your take on it today.
Does this now make it impossible for President Trump to fire Bob Mueller?
HYDE: They've said that they -- they will not do that. It's obviously not impossible for Trump to do so.
I think it would be absolutely apocalyptic for Donald Trump if he did so. Not only would you see more and more Democrats calling for Trump's impeachment, which is something I certainly don't support, but you'd really start to see some of the cracks from Republicans that we've been asking when are they going to come from?
If you go back to this weekend, you know, we had such a bombshell this morning. We forget that just this weekend, we saw that Donald Trump's numbers are the lowest that they've been in his presidency.
We're seeing somewhat of an erosion with his Republican base voters. That's why this is a disaster for Trump in the short term because this week will not be defined as he wants it to, and in the long term because this is what we will be talking about this for the next year and a half going up to the Congressional midterms and even beyond.
And we know that Robert Mueller has an unlimited trove of financial records, wire transfers -- all this data that we don't know what is there he is sitting on. And he will slowly build his case.
We'll see how far it goes up to.
BOLDUAN: Well, the only reason I'm looking at it is one thing we can definitely agree on is we don't know what Bob Mueller has. That's for sure. And it seems that, you know, and that's one thing that probably bothers the president most.
Steve, the tweet, I was floored that the president in the face of just his campaign chairman actually facing a federal indictment decided to take to Twitter when his White House was saying that he was being briefed and counsel is going to be discussing it. He took to Twitter with the, "Sorry, but this is years ago, before Manafort was part of the Trump campaign and why -- and why crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus," and then saying also there is no collusion. I know you -- you agree with both of those points.
You've just made that clear. But do you -- do you want the president -- do you honestly want the president out there tweeting out his defense right now?
ROGERS: Well, look, what he's doing is he's expressing the views of a lot of the American people. I mean, that's what he's known for. This is the president.
And -- and frankly, Kate, I admire him for that. And a lot of people do. And what he is saying, what's on the minds of a lot of people, there's a lot of focus on this.
But what about Hillary Clinton? What about Obama? What about Loretta Lynch? So he's expressing--
BOLDUAN: No, no, no, but today, a federal indictment--
BOLDUAN: --was handed down and someone pleaded guilty to charge of the (ph) false statements--
ROGERS: But (ph)--
BOLDUAN: I understand. There are two (ph) -- I hold multiple thoughts in my head at once.
BOLDUAN: But today, think it's valid in this moment to be having this conversation, right?
ROGERS: All right, so -- so let's -- yes, it's valid so let's talk about facts. Let's not talk about fantasy. Let's not talk about speculation.
Fact number one, no collusion regarding the Manafort indictment. Fact number two, no collusion involving the guilty plea of Papadopoulos. Fact number three, no collusion at all yet.
And if you read the opening statement of that indictment or -- or -- or that Paul had (ph) put together.
BOLDUAN: Which one? OK.
ROGERS: You know what it was (ph)? This is -- he's attempting -- still trying to find in his fishing expedition collusion. That's a--
BOLDUAN: Well, I--
BOLDEN: Well, so what? So what?
BOLDUAN: --if we want to -- if we want to -- if we want to expand (ph) speculation, let's not call it a fishing expedition and was (ph) not trying to get defined (ph) by Bob Mueller.
ROGERS: Well, that's what it is.
BOLDUAN: So now, that's actually a fact, OK.
ROGERS: I've got 38 years doing this.
BOLDUAN: OK, got it. OK, got it, got it. You know, guys, we've got to go. We've got to go.
Let's continue to fight (ph) this out during the break because I'm actually really enjoying this. Thank you so much.
HYDE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Plenty of reaction pouring in, a lot from Capitol Hill. Doug Hyde was just talking about some of the conversations he's having with folks over there, one ex-Trump campaign adviser pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. We are now standing by for the first court appearance by former top campaign aides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates at a D.C. federal courthouse.
Plus, the White House press briefing also coming up. We will see what they have to say about all of this today. Stay with us.