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Charges Filed in Trump-Russia Probe; Interview With California Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 3:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are back. You are watching CNN on this busy Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN's special coverage here on this landmark day in the Russia investigation.
The first charges, the first guilty plea now are in the books, and they involve these three former Trump campaign staffers, including the man all of the way to the left here, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
What is more, the guilty plea by the man all of the way to the right there, George Papadopoulos, specifically involves Trump campaign ties to Russia. Documents show that he tried to arrange meetings with campaign members and Russian officials. The White House moments ago downplayed his role in the campaign.
And this image showing him at the table right there, we have spotlighted it, with the president of the United States, the White House press secretary stressed none of the events today show that there was any Russian collusion with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a volunteer position. And, again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.
QUESTION: What about the outreach (OFF-MIKE) with campaign officials to try to put together this meeting?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: You mean the outreach that was repeatedly denied and pushed away, that we're not going to take any action on that?
QUESTION: Can you explain what happened with his outreach?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: He reached out, and nothing happened beyond that, which I think shows, one, his level of importance in the campaign, and, two, shows what little role he had within coordinating anything officially for the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: All right. So let's start with Papadopoulos here.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, on the details of the guilty plea.
And so start from the beginning. When did George Papadopoulos reach out to the Russians?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to these documents, these court documents, Brooke, there are e-mails going back to March 2016, when he was a foreign policy adviser, where he discussed having a -- quote -- "very productive lunch," where he was introduced to Putin's niece and Russian ambassador in London.
This apparently was a lunch with a professor who he believed had ties to senior Russian government officials. And then you fast forward to May, Brooke, and there is an e-mail that he sends, that Papadopoulos sends, saying that Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for -- quote -- "some time."
He sends that e-mail to a campaign official, a senior campaign official. That campaign official affords it to another official, saying "D.T. is not doing these trips. Should be someone low-level, so as not to send any signal."
So, clearly, the campaign at this point in May was aware of this effort to connect the Trump campaign with the Russians, and basically they were saying in these e-mails that are in these court documents, Brooke, that Donald Trump shouldn't be involved because it would call too much attention, but that lower-level people like George Papadopoulos should go.
And then there's another e-mail, Brooke, where a campaign official actually encourages Papadopoulos to go to Russia for these meetings, to bring someone else with him on the policy side, the foreign policy adviser side.
That trip never happened, according to the court documents, according to federal officials. But what is interesting here is that there is another e-mail showing that the Russians were saying it had been approved from our side.
Then you go to February 2017. Papadopoulos has his second interview. The first one was in January. Then he had the second interview. Then immediately after, according to the FBI, he deletes his Facebook page, allegedly had these communications between the Russians -- that he had with the Russians that he had downplayed to the FBI and claimed that he only had before he was part of this campaign.
So, so much in these court documents here, Brooke.
BALDWIN: So, he pleads guilty to these misstatements. And he's apparently now cooperating with the FBI. That was one piece of the news that broke today.
Pamela, thank you so much for the timeline there. BROWN: Yes.
BALDWIN: Here's the other piece.
Just a short time ago, Paul Manafort, who turned himself in this morning, pleaded not guilty to the 12 federal charges against him, and his longtime business associate Rick Gates did the same.
His attorney, Gates's attorney, just released a statement.
Let me just read it for you here: "Rick Gates pled not guilty today. He welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court. He is not going to comment further until he has had a chance to review the lengthy indictment with his legal team. In the meanwhile he would appreciate you respecting his and his family's privacy as they weather this unexpected and hasty proceeding designed to accommodate perhaps political and press considerations, rather than his right to have counsel of his choice by his side during this most troubling and challenging day for him and his loved ones."
And they end with, "This fight is just beginning."
Jessica Schneider is outside the courthouse where those two former staffers just pled guilty.
And, Jessica Schneider, before you explain the charges these men are facing, talk to me about the bail amount, that big, big number that was requested.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, you know, just -- it's been quite a long initial appearance and arraignment here. It's been about 90 minutes at least.
We're standing outside the federal courthouse. There are not cameras allowed in. In many cases, cell phones are restricted. So, we're getting the information as we can get it from our producers. So, obviously, these two men, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, they are facing a long indictment, 31 pages, 12 different counts.
The charges do range from money laundering to false statements to failing to register as foreign agents. This all surrounds the men's work as lobbyists for the pro-Russia Ukrainian government ranging for at least a decade, going all of the way up until 2016. We know that just a little while ago, the two men were there with their lawyers. The lawyers on their behalf entered not guilty pleas.
We know that both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, they did not say anything. They're being represented, Paul Manafort, by a private attorney. What's interesting is that Rick Gates, that statement was released from his private attorney, but for this court appearance, he's being represented by a federal public defender.
Now, the government at this point has entered a request for an unsecured bond for these two men. We know that the requests from the government was $10 million in an unsecured bond, quite a big number, as well as house arrest.
We do know at this point that both of them, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, they have surrendered their passports to the FBI. The same goes with George Papadopoulos.
And it looks like something is happening behind us. There is a little bit of movement here. We are expecting that Paul Manafort may actually come out here with his attorney. If not Paul Manafort himself, then we are expecting the attorney to issue a brief statement.
As you mentioned, Brooke, Rick Gates' attorney did release quite a lengthy statement saying that this is just the beginning, vowing to fight on. And in an interesting note, he says that his client hasn't really gotten a chance to review this quite lengthy 31-page indictment.
He said that this was just done to accommodate political considerations, so, of course, now putting that into the sphere as well, but right now still happening. We have seen a little movement out here. So we anticipate that at some point very shortly Paul Manafort's lawyer will be coming down here to speak at the podium.
We may see Paul Manafort himself. But that's all what we're watching and waiting for now, Brooke, also to get a final number on what the unsecured bond has been set at. So, we will keep you posted as to what develops in the next few minutes -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Keep your eyes peeled on those doors. As you see as you see Manafort and/or his attorney, we will take it live.
Jessica Schneider, excellent reporting out there on a very busy Monday.
President Trump's personal attorney did just talk to CNN. Jay Sekulow said he is not concerned about a guilty plea coming from the president's former campaign foreign policy adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm not concerned about it because the -- if you look at what again George Papadopoulos' plea is, what the actual plea that he entered into was, again, a false statement about timing about as to when he talked to somebody about Russian activities.
It wasn't -- by the way, these weren't activities that were illegal. It wasn't -- the conversation that they had, there's nothing in there that says that conversation was illegal or inappropriate or whatever it might have been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now is, Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who is now running for Illinois attorney general, and Frank Figliuzzi, who served as the assistant director for the FBI's Counterintelligence Division and obviously that means worked with Mr. Mueller.
So, gentlemen, thank you so, so much for being with me on this breaking news Monday here.
And, Renato, if I can, just let me begin with you and let me just read part of this criminal complaint.
Actually, before I get to that footnote, before we get to that. Renato, can you just -- this Papadopoulos news, does this show to you that the closest that, you know, we have come thus far in showing any sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it certainly is fairly close -- I'm having some feedback.
Let's work on that. Time-out for you, because that's never fun hearing your voice reverberating back in your ear.
You want to try talking to me again?
Do we have it fixed, guys?
Yes, it's fixed. Go for it.
So, look, this is certainly the closest that we have seen in a public document. And I will say, just to respond to what Mr. Sekulow said a moment ago--
MARIOTTI: -- I have to believe that he knows that that is not -- what he said is not accurate.
What we have here is essentially a plea deal in which Mr. Papadopoulos agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller in exchange for pleading only to a false statement. We don't know what else is out there. I think what we see here is a bunch of very explosive e-mails and a potential--
BALDWIN: Oh, forgive me. Here we go.
Let's go outside to this federal courthouse and take a listen to this attorney. Do we have audio?
Who is this, Manafort's attorney? Who is this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BALDWIN: Is anyone hearing him? Hello?
KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL MANAFORT: Regarding a FARA filing, the United States government has only used that offense six times since 1966. It only resulted in one conviction.
The second thing about this indictment that I myself find is ridiculous is a claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States as a scheme to conceal from the United States government is ridiculous. Thank you.
BALDWIN: OK. Let me do my best to put this together.
And forgive me. We were all trying to figure out -- that was Kevin Downing. I wanted to get his name. That's Paul Manafort's attorney, and technicalities, et cetera, et cetera. I only caught the very end. Let me just be entirely candid with all of you.
I just heard, dot, dot, dot, is ridiculous. So, talking to the control room. Guys, let me know if we actually have -- that's all you guys heard, too. Thank you.
So, Renato and Frank, can't really go on much there. Care to comment on, it's ridiculous?
MARIOTTI: I will say that there is nothing about that indictment that was ridiculous. And, frankly, I don't think it's very helpful for a defense attorney. I think he's doing a disservice to his client by going out there and calling very serious federal charges ridiculous.
His client is charged with multiple felony counts. And some of those counts are going to be straightforward for Mueller to prove. Either you disclosed something or you didn't. Either you have an offshore account or you don't.
And those are not challenging counts for a federal prosecutor to prove. And so if I was representing Paul Manafort, unless I was sure my client was getting a pardon, I would be talking to him about potentially cooperating with Mr. Mueller. I don't know what his attitude is there, but I think it's unprofessional and a disservice to his client.
Speaking of Mr. Mueller, Frank, this is where you come in. You worked with him. I am curious, what do you think Bob Mueller's strategy was with this really one-two news punch today, right, this indictment with regard to Manafort and Gates and the Papadopoulos news breaking soon after?
What message is Bob Mueller trying to send with that, do you think?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Yes, this is an impressive strategy that's played out today, this secret guilty plea, a cooperative witness, and now sending a message to every subject, not just Manafort and Gates, that I have got people cooperating, and if you want to play hardball with me, we have got people working against you.
So, for example, it's very typical in public corruption cases, when you have a cooperator, to have that person wired up and making phone calls and sending e-mails to your main subjects. So you have got to be worried today. If you're in D.C. or New York, and you're being looked at by Mueller, you have got to start thinking, when did Papadopoulos start cooperating?
How many phone calls and e-mails did I get after that from him? And how many of them are now in the hands of the FBI? This is a wonderful strategy that we have seen today.
BALDWIN: It's interesting to think about that.
With regard to Papadopoulos, and, Renato, we were all following your tweets so carefully, all of the many tweets that you put out today.
BALDWIN: So, let me hone in on the one that's gotten something like 4,000 retweets on the, within this criminal complaint, that it's the footnote that I want our viewers to really pay close attention to,.
And now, guys, let's throw the graphic up on the screen.
And so this is the footnote, which reads, the highlighted portion is, this is this government that the official forwarded the defendant Papadopoulos' e-mail to another campaign official and stated -- quote -- "Let's discuss. We need someone to communicate that D.T.," presumably Donald Trump, "is not doing these trips to Russia. It should be someone low-level in the campaign, so as not to send any signal."
Why someone low-level, Renato, and what signals would one be afraid to send?
MARIOTTI: Well, I will tell you, what it says to me, as a former federal prosecutor, is that there was consciousness on the part of the individual who sent that e-mail that there was something very problematic about having Donald Trump, you know, involved in this mess with the Russians.
And now I know that we're hearing a lot of stuff about, oh, well, getting opposition research from the Russians is no big deal, et cetera, and that could be a potential defense that somebody could offer in a trial. Well, I didn't realize that this was a problem.
But that e-mail suggests otherwise. It suggests that in the campaign, they knew that they had to try to insulate Donald Trump himself from that activity and they wanted to send somebody low-level. And I think that's the sort of thing that Mueller could use.
And, by the way, now he's got a flipper in Papadopoulos, a cooperator. And I thought Frank did a great job of walking through the implications there. You have got somebody who can explain those e- mails and explain what was meant and the context around them.
That's very powerful evidence for a jury.
BALDWIN: But the important piece there -- and, Frank, back over to you -- on the flipping of Papadopoulos and the explaining of the e- mails and the back and forth, that doesn't necessarily mean that Papadopoulos is going to start naming names, correct, just because they flipped him?
FIGLIUZZI: I'm looking at this through a counterintelligence lens, right, because that's what I did at the FBI.
FIGLIUZZI: And what I'm seeing through that lens are the fingerprints of the Russian government.
What we know about Papadopoulos is he met with a so-called professor who was linked to Moscow, who introduced him to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who we know is usually a cover position for Russian intelligence. He was introduced to a woman who claimed to be a relative of Vladimir Putin who Mueller tells us was not.
We see Manafort and Gates making $17 million representing a pro- Russian candidate and Russian party in Ukraine and putting that money where? In Cyprus. Who uses Cyprus as a place to launder money? The Russian intelligence service.
So, people should be very worried right now. We are seeing clear Russian connections. And the Ukraine campaign advice given by Manafort and Gates was a primer for them to see how Russia manipulates a presidential election in Ukraine. And it's not outside the realm of possibility that they saw that and said, can you do that for us?
BALDWIN: Bob Mueller has a big job on his hands, doesn't he?
Frank Figliuzzi and Renato Mariotti, gentlemen, thank you so much for your expertise there.
Coming up next here, a member of the House Intelligence Committee,, congresswoman Jackie Speier, will join me live with her reaction to these charges revealed today and how the new details may impact her congressional investigation.
Stay with us.
BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news here, as the first criminal charges are revealed in this Russia investigation.
One thing to keep in mind, several House committees are also doing, conducting their own investigations, and of course they're taking note of today's events, including the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Papadopoulos is direct evidence that someone with the campaign was being contacted by Russians with information that they had lots of so-called dirt that included e-mails on Hillary Clinton.
QUESTION: Does it feed the collusion narrative, or is this -- the jury still out on that?
WARNER: I think there's more questions to be answered, but we continue to see evidence that Russians were reaching out to Trump officials in a variety of ways, offering discrediting information on Hillary Clinton that included their e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was Senator Mark Warner.
And now we let's hear from a member of the House.
Joining me now, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents California, is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congresswoman, a pleasure. Welcome.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right.
So, on George Papadopoulos here, here you have this campaign adviser or how the White House put it earlier today, this volunteer, pleading guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied with his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government. Your reaction, Congresswoman?
SPEIER: Let's remember that when then-candidate Trump was being interviewed by an editorial board of a major newspaper and was asked, who are your experts who are advising you on foreign affairs -- it was one of the areas where he was seen to be vulnerable -- the first name that pops into his head was George Papadopoulos.
So, you can label him a volunteer. The fact that he didn't get paid and a lot of people didn't get paid in the Trump campaign did not mean that they weren't integral to their work in terms of working with the Russians.
BALDWIN: Sarah Sanders was made aware of that by our own Jim Acosta in the briefing, and she said, basically, well, his name was just multiple names that was rattled off by the president and again trying to diminish his role, a volunteer, extremely limited, had no official capacity. Who is telling the truth?
SPEIER: I think the truth will be made patently obvious as the Mueller investigation continues to indict and make people turn state's evidence.
BALDWIN: The criminal complaint shows this e-mail that Papadopoulos sent a foreign contact about setting up a meeting with the campaign's national chairman, presumably Manafort.
And Papadopoulos wrote that meeting had been approved -- quote -- "approved from our side." Still, you have all this new evidence that doesn't show, Congresswoman, that the man at the very top, then- candidate Trump, had any idea that any of this was going on.
SPEIER: So, my response to that, Brooke, is that he ran a small family company. He knew everything. He was involved in the specifics.
And I think, as we see more and more pieces, whether it's the e-mails from George Papadopoulos or the e-mail from Cambridge Analytica that talks about meeting with or working with Assange at WikiLeaks to dump the Clinton e-mails, all of that suggests to me that Assange was a cut-out for Russia and that the campaign was working with Julian Assange.
And you had the president, then the candidate, saying: I love Julian Assange.
It's all coming together. It's a jigsaw puzzle that one piece after another is being put in place. We don't have the whole picture yet, but it's coming together.
BALDWIN: Are you saying, to your point about the president once running a small family business and had his fingers in everything, he knew what was going on, are you saying that you think the president was aware of this?
SPEIER: I believe he was aware, and I think we will only find that out as days go by and as people want to reduce the potential risk of spending the rest of their life in jail, that we will find out whether or not.
Now, in fairness--
BALDWIN: Because, Congresswoman, forgive me, but he has said in all capital letters today on Twitter, no collusion. He's totally denying it.
SPEIER: Well, he is a premier person to talk about denial, because he does that all of the time. He doesn't care about the truth.
And, right now, all he's interested in is protecting himself and, in doing so, a good defense is a very strong offense.
BALDWIN: I had a guest on last hour, Walter Shaub, who resigned as government ethics director under -- under President Trump.
And he made this point. He wants every member of Congress to stand up now and send a strong message against any interference with this Mueller investigation before it's too late, because his fear obviously is, depending on the direction of this thing, the White House could fire him.
Are you willing to stand up now? And what do you think it will take to get your colleagues across the aisle to do so as well?
SPEIER: I don't know that my colleagues across the aisle have the ability to do that. You know, their first--
BALDWIN: Why not?
SPEIER: -- and foremost interest is -- because they want to get reelected.
And right now, if you look at the polling in their districts, for the most part, Trump is still very popular. The members that speak out against President Trump have seen their poll numbers drop. So, it hasn't quite filtered to the electorate in some of these districts. And, regrettably, many of these members are more interested in getting reelected than doing what's right to protect our democracy.
BALDWIN: It's unfortunate.
Your committee, the House Intelligence Committee, has been publicly at odds with each other. There's been a bit of drama from the top. What do you think? Have you spoken to Devin Nunes? What do you think your committee chair is thinking with all these different developments coming in today?
SPEIER: Well, let's remember that it was Devin Nunes who was taking his calls from the president to make it seem like there was some unmasking scandal that has fizzled on them, and then he sort of recused himself, but now has interjected himself again in now yet another investigation into GPS Fusion.
BALDWIN: Uranium One.
SPEIER: Which -- Uranium One -- and in both circumstances, I think the evidence will show that this is a deflection once again.
Meanwhile, we have a president who said he wasn't going to do any more deals abroad, and what is he doing? We now find out that he's doing deals in India. And we have lost sight that he is making money off the presidency, at the taxpayers' expense. That's lost as well.
So, on many fronts, there's deflection going on. And, meanwhile, I think the American people are being robbed.
BALDWIN: Well, hang on a second, Congresswoman. Have you lost confidence in Chairman Nunes, and, therefore, have you lost confidence in your committee's ability to investigate this?
SPEIER: I think that the committee is on two tracks now.
I think the majority is focused on a real ancillary issue about GPS -- Fusion GPS, which was funded by a Republican to begin with. The fact that the Clinton campaign hired them to do opp research and benefited from the Republican work that had already been done is very typical.
Opposition research is done. It's done on the individual who they're running against. It's done on the individual who is running. They have little interest, I believe, at this point to pursue whether or not there was engagement by the Trump campaign with Russia.
BALDWIN: So, is that a no, Congresswoman?
SPEIER: I would say that, in terms of Devin Nunes, he has no interest in pursuing the investigation about Russian intervention.
Some of the Republican members, I think, have shown good will in being at the various interviews and asking questions.