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Sources: First Arrest in Mueller Probe May Come Today; Trump Once Again Criticizes Russia Probe as 'Witch Hunt'; Trump Pressing Examination of Russian Dossier, Uranium Deal. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: It is important to emphasize whatever it is is really just the beginning.
[07:00:05] SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I have not yet seen any definitive evidence of collusion.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: That's then a side show. If something develops that's more serious it will take up some space.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It is not a side show. And, you know, we continue the hard work of getting to the bottom of what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've heard President Trump shift attention to Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are other things that seem to be much more evidence of cooperation with Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen this before. The deflection, distraction, turn it around into something else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand why he continues to bring up Hillary Clinton, because it's political crack for his base.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Crack is whack.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be talking about all of that. Good morning, everyone. And welcome to your NEW DAY.
Up first, sources tell CNN that the first arrest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation could happen as early as today. CNN was first to report that a federal grand jury returned the first indictment on Friday. We do not know the nature or the target of that indictment.
President Trump once again slamming the Russia investigation as a witch-hunt, insisting it's Hillary Clinton and the Democrats that should bear the scrutiny. CUOMO: All of this is threatening to go derail what should be a big
week for President Trump. You have the Republicans set to unveil their tax plan on Wednesday. Is it the middle-class-targeted cut that we were told it would be by the president?
He's also expected to announce his pick for Federal Reserve chief. That's before he embarks on a five-nation trip to Asia.
We have it all covered. Let's begin with Jessica Schneider live in Washington. What's the word?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, it could be a big day here in Washington. We could learn what charges have been approved by the grand jury as soon as today and who will be arrested and taken into custody.
Right now, though, the charges are still under seal, under orders from a federal judge. But we know, as we first reported Friday, that this is the first indictment in this months-long Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The first arrest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation could happen as early as today.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think anybody who's been advised by the special counsel's office that they're a target of the investigation, which I'm sure he has done to those people who are, should be concerned.
SCHNEIDER: As part of Mueller's Russia's five-month-long investigation on Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, including potential collusion with Trump campaign associates, multiple members of Trump's inner circle have come under scrutiny. Among them, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. FBI agents raided Manafort's Virginia home back in July. The investigation includes possible money laundering and Manafort's work lobbying for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We know that the Russian government, through intermediaries, was reaching out to the Trump campaign, reaching out to Paul Manafort and others, and offering information on Hillary Clinton they thought would help the Trump campaign.
SCHNEIDER: Manafort has denied being in contact with Russians known to U.S. intelligence. Also coming under scrutiny, fired national security advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump ousted for failing to disclose his contacts with Russia.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don't know who's being charged. We don't know what they're being charged for.
SCHNEIDER: House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defending Mueller's probe as his Republican colleagues call for a stop to the investigation.
GOWDY: I would encourage my Republican friends: give the guy a chance to do his job.
SCHNEIDER: Mueller's investigation ramping up in recent weeks, his team grilling former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer earlier this month, all over the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey and a closed-door Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Over the summer, investigators also meeting with Christopher Steele overseas. Steele is a former British spy whose now infamous dossier alleges Russian efforts to help the Trump campaign.
Mueller expanded his inquiry to include possible obstruction of justice by the president for trying to impede the investigation by removing James Comey. Mueller's team also scrutinized Mr. Trump and his associates' financial ties to the Kremlin.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no collusion on my side. I can tell you that. Everybody knew it.
SCHNEIDER: Independent Senator Angus King questioning that claim.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, it's certainly not commonly agreed on our committee, and we're the ones that are doing the investigation. It's way premature to say that some kind of conclusion has been reached.
SCHNEIDER: Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff could say for certain if President Trump himself is under investigation.
SCHIFF: I can't answer that one way or the other.
SCHNEIDER: So while the "who" and "what" surrounding these charges are still publicly unknown, we do know that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would have been informed of these charges before they were taken to the grand jury for approval. Rosenstein does have oversight over the Russia investigation, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
So this morning, the mystery surrounds this indictment. And it is watch and wait to see when this indictment is unsealed and who exactly will face charges -- Chris.
[07:05:04] CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.
So President Trump is trying to shift the focus of the Russia investigation onto Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, insisting that this dossier is proof that she was colluding with Russia.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. It doesn't really follow the chain of logic, but seems fairly compelling in terms of passion. JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Chris.
Now, the White House certainly is watching and waiting right now, on edge, for sure.
This is a president who has loved to tease out details of coming events. Now he finds himself sitting on the sidelines, waiting for Robert Mueller to make the big reveal. The president has been active, nonetheless, over the weekend on Twitter and he has not talked directly about the special counsel. But still has sort of resorted to the playbook for politics in this situation, focusing on Democrats, raising questions about Hillary Clinton and people of her party.
Here is some of the tweets. Talking about collusion which doesn't exist, he says. "The Democrats are using this terrible and bad for our country witch-hunt for evil politics. But the R's are now fighting back like never before. There's so much guilt," he writes, "by Democrats/Clinton. And now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING," he writes in all caps. "All this Russia talk when the Republicans are making their big push for historic tax cuts and reform. Is this coincidental? Not!"
Then Ty Cobb, the president's lawyer, moving quickly to say this is not about Robert Mueller at all. "Contrary to what many have suggested, the president's comments today are unrelated to the activities of the special counsel, with whom he continues to cooperate," Ty Cobb writes.
Now, the only thing on the president's public schedule today is something that points to the bitter timing. The president is expected to have a Halloween event this evening here at the White House.
Back to you.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, Joe.
All right. So let's bring in our panel to discuss all of this. We have CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano; and CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz, who broke the Mueller charges story on Friday.
OK, Jeffrey, let me start with you. So we don't know what's going, obviously, to happen today. I want to set everybody's expectations. We don't know who will be charged. We don't even know if it will happen today.
We also don't know, if somebody is charged today, necessarily, if it has to do with the Trump campaign or if they've found something else shady that they're being charged for now.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. It's important to remember that Mueller's jurisdiction is broad. He basically can define it himself. And he started with matters relating to the 2016 campaign.
But we know he's been investigating matters relating to the personal financial affairs of Paul Manafort regarding his payments from Ukraine. He's been investigating the activities of Michael Flynn on behalf of the government of Turkey, which also could be the focus of charges.
Those will -- just because the charges today do or do not relate to the 2016 campaign doesn't mean that he later won't investigate them. I think so we need to recognize that whatever happens today, if we learn what the charges are today, that does not necessarily circumscribe what he's investigating.
CUOMO: Shimon, when you got the reporting about the indictments, was there any suggestion as to why they were under seal? If it was about being worried about the target of them fleeing, or was this just about the secrecy of the overall procedure?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think more it was because of the secrecy of the proceedings. We were not told why they were sealed. We kind of just assumed that it's usually in these cases, standard operating procedure is to seal these indictments, while arrests and surrenders are planned. But other than our own sort of -- kind of intuition, we were not given any kind of indication of why it was sealed.
TOOBIN: Can I ask you, do we really think there will be news today? I mean, what makes us think that this will be the day that people surrender?
PROKUPECZ: It's just based off of what our sources have told us. Every indication has been that things were planned for today.
You know, as you know, Jeffrey, when they use words like "We expect law enforcement activity on Monday," look, things change. Right? You know that over the weekend deals could have been worked out, or someone may have said, "You know what? I want to cooperate now." So prosecutors and investigators could change their minds to work out a deal and say, "You know what? We won't do it this Monday." But everything that we've been told was to expect stuff to happen today.
CUOMO: And if you're counsel, now you're less likely. You're certainly going to try and massage it away from today if you can, if you're representing one of these people.
CAMEROTA: Do you keep it longer? I mean, do you keep the suspense...
[07:10:05] CUOMO: Look, the whole point of this deal is, if you are representing one of the targets, OK, or one of the subjects of this indictment, is integrity. Is to have a no perp walk. Is to have it not look like this is anything more than this process, because an indictment to anybody with any savvy is nothing in terms of expectation of a conviction. But we'll see what happens.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Chris, to your point, there are two things hiding in plain sight right here. One is the fact that back in July, the FBI raided Paul Manafort's home. Right? They did it without a subpoena. They did it with a search warrant; you know means there had to be probable cause. They did this a day or two after two Manafort and his attorneys had already turned over thousands of documents. To make that overt an action, gesture right afterwards, that's compelling. The second piece is...
CAMEROTA: But what does that tell you?
GAGLIANO: Well, it tells me that they either felt that not everything was turned over that was supposed to be or that talks broke down. To Chris's point, to avoid that perp walk, they were complying.
The second thing is wasn't it last Friday that Carter Page testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That could be another interesting piece, so that's when the news broke that the indictments were forthcoming.
CUOMO: We also don't know for a fact, by the way, that it has to be that side of the equation. If you're going to start with the theory that the little fish lead to the big fish, there are other names that are out there, Jeffrey, that aren't necessarily Republican names where they could bring somebody in and say, "We're indicting you because of how you reported money."
Now what can you tell us about how you came into contact with these other people?
TOOBIN: That's right. What we don't know is significant here. And yes, it is true. I mean, I think this is an important point, that you know, in a white-collar crime investigation, to execute a search warrant of someone whom you've already subpoenaed means you don't trust that person. And so that was an extremely hostile act towards Paul Manafort. Whether that means he will be indicted, I don't know. But it certainly was, unlike a lot of what's gone on in this investigation, it's not speculation. It's an actual fact that they did execute a search warrant at his house.
CUOMO: And they did so in a very overt and hostile way.
CAMEROTA: Here's what we do know. Here are all the people that have been interviewed in the special counsel's investigation in just the past few weeks. Obviously, it's a large list there.
CUOMO: And being interviewed doesn't mean in any way that you're a target. Rod Rosenstein is on this list.
CAMEROTA: Not a target, we assume.
CUOMO: Not a bad sign.
TOOBIN: But most of the people who are interviewed are witnesses. They are not subjects of the investigation. They are people who can help assemble evidence against other people.
GAGLIANO: Let's not forget, you could also have an indictment down on a Russian. It doesn't have to be a citizen. There could be some type of nexus and there could be an indictment. It could come down on someone that it not related to the campaign but had contact with the campaign.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, is it unusual that there was a leak of a grand jury charge pending?
TOOBIN: It is unusual to have the leak of the fact that there was a sealed indictment. I mean, the whole point of a sealed indictment is that the person who's indicted doesn't know he's been indicted, or she. And -- and that's why you do a sealed indictment, so that you can grab someone so they can't flee.
Most indictments are not sealed, which means they are public documents. The person who's indicted knows they've been charged. And they are expected to turn themself in.
CUOMO: But they did file this, though, right?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't -- I don't know what the procedure was exactly. I mean, maybe Shimon can help us with that.
CUOMO: What they do with the seal -- we know you got it through your own sources. But what did they do with the indictments? Were these filed in court?
PROKUPECZ: We were told, both Evan Perez and Pamela Brown and I were told that the indictments, the charges were filed on Friday. So yes, whether -- that's what we were told.
TOOBIN: But that's not a public...
CUOMO: That just means they were returned.
TOOBIN: That the judge -- the chief judge of the District of Columbia got it. But the whole point of a sealed indictment is that the person who's charged doesn't know he's been charged so he can't flee. And again, that's a very aggressive law enforcement step. A sealed indictment suggests that -- that the person who has been indicted can't be trusted to show up.
CUOMO: Right. But it's just as likely in this case that, as Shimon was indicating through his reporting, that it's sealed from us. but the person who may be the target of it may well know about it; and they're negotiating the terms of surrender.
TOOBIN: Perhaps. But usually, sealed indictments are not -- they're for...
CUOMO: I got you. This is different. I mean, look, again, Jeffrey was at the U.S. attorney's office for many years. He knows how to do these cases much better than I.
Shimon, final word.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. Look, no, we were also told they were expecting some surrenders; they were working some stuff out. So that's the other part of this, of why we think something was happening today. But again, you know, it's worth always cautioning everyone that we
just don't know. Because everything is being so tightly kept. It's all a secret right now. And no one is revealing anything to us.
[07:15:08] So we have expectations. We've been told to expect things. But whether or not that actually happened, we still -- we still don't know. We're all waiting to see.
TOOBIN: Stay tuned.
CUOMO: So Gagliano, don't cancel that Zumba class just yet.
GAGLIANO: How'd you find out about that?
CUOMO: This does not come easy.
CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
So President Trump slamming Hillary Clinton and her connection to the Russian dossier and the uranium deal. Is there any "there" there? We bring you the facts first, next.
[07:19:32] CUOMO: All right. How about some facts this morning?
President Trump claims that the real Russia collusion is between Russia and Hillary Clinton, insisting over Twitter this weekend that somebody needs to, in all caps, "DO SOMETHING." Is he right about collusion? Well, here's some fact finding.
Hillary Clinton's campaign paid for the research by former British spy Christopher Steele. And he put together the so-called dossier. So it's true, OK?
No, yes, Clinton and the DNC both say that they didn't know about the dossier, and it was funded technically by a lawyer and a firm. But still, the sourcing is right. This was something that the Democrats were behind.
[07:20:15] Now, their money came into Fusion, who is the agency that did this research, before Steele was retained. Why? Because this was about oppo research, finding dirt on Donald Trump. Not about working with Russia.
And by the way, Steele is not a Russian agent. OK? He was a British agent.
So was the dossier the basis of the Russia investigation, as it is alleged by the president? No. Officials on both sides say the raw intelligence in the dossier is only one marginal aspect of the investigation and certainly didn't launch it. Yes, the FBI did use some of that information in their application for a warrant on one of the Trump staffers. But they had to go before a judge and make the case. So what about the accusation that Trump advisor Carter Page was
wiretapped? That's what I'm talking to you about right now. Again, they had to go before a judge. So it wasn't just about the dossier, and the dossier is not the basis for the Mueller investigation. They could have used some of the information. They said that they presented it to the president, James Comey did, because it was out there, and he needed to know about it. All right?
So now let's keep going and talk about what else is out there. All right? When we say that this judge put out the warrant, that should matter to you. They had to find a legal standard. All right?
So did Hillary Clinton collude with Russia? It just doesn't -- we don't have any facts to bring this to that point. And also, logically, it doesn't make sense. Why? Because she was a victim of what the intelligence community concluded was Russian interference. And the intelligence community says their efforts were to hurt Clinton and help Trump, right?
So hiring an ex-British intelligence officer, who is not a Russian, nor a hostile foreign agent, is not the same as helping Russians.
All right. The other right-wing move here is the seven-year-old Uranium One deal. President Trump claims Hillary Clinton gave 20 percent of America's uranium to Russia as a give-back for donations to the Clinton Foundation. It's just not true.
The Obama administration did oversee the sale of the right of extraction of 20 percent of U.S. uranium to a Russian-controlled company out of Canada. Uranium, which can never been exported, by the way. It doesn't go to making weapons. It goes to making nuclear energy.
The deal was approved by nine agencies, led by the Treasury. The State Department was one of those nine. Hillary Clinton, right, she was the secretary of state. So what does that tell us, though? She weighed in. But she didn't control it.
Now, what about the donations? They did occur but before Hillary Clinton was even secretary of state. So that would have been some clever timing there. How that money got into that investigation, the timing of that investigation, all real. But it proving collusion with Russia and Hillary Clinton, I just don't see it on the facts.
Now, let's put this to a better mind than mine. Former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli. Ken, thank you for taking this on this morning. We appreciate it.
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good morning, Chris. Good to be with you.
CUOMO: You must represent the president...
CUCCINELLI: It is certainly not boring, is it?
CUOMO: It's never boring, but it's important this morning. It's important, because you know, people -- people...
CUCCINELLI: It is.
CUOMO: People pick up some crumbs. They start moving down a road. It gains momentum. We need to check it. So let's test it right now. Do you see a case in advance of the president's proposition that Hillary Clinton was colluding with the Russians by funding the research that went into the dossier?
CUCCINELLI: Yes. I think, Chris, your -- your defense of Hillary Clinton there starts from her side.
But from the Russian perspective, look, they were trying to interfere with our election. And once they had that contact through to GPS and Steele, and so forth, they could wake it from the other end.
And as we saw with their Facebook ads and Google ads, they didn't just support Trump. They got in, for instance, around Ferguson, they were stirring things up and other -- other activities like that.
So once they had that connection, whether the -- whether the DNC and the Clinton campaign started out looking to connect up with the Russians, ultimately they did. So the question from a counterintelligence standpoint, is what do the Russians feed back. How did they use that contact for their advantage or attempted to be used for their advantage? And that's not yet clear. And I think that takes an awful lot of closer look -- warrants a closer look.
So much of this discussion about the 2016 election, almost all of it, really, so far should be counterintelligence investigation. And that, of course, has gone on in part. But so far, we'll see later today. Today is going to be a very interesting day.
Needless to say, when we learn more about these charges that are in place against whomever the person indicted is. Whether they are actually related to the election or whether it's because the investigation turned up something outside the election, like what we've talked about with Paul Manafort, that would -- that would certainly change my perspective. Very dramatic.
[07:25:21] And Manafort has been very steadfast in his rejection of any suggestion that he did anything that was illegal. But let's unpack what you said there. He said once the Russians had that contact. Now I get that as a constructive argument to why you have to take to Paige, why you've got to talk to Trump's kids, you know, Kushner and Trump Jr., because maybe unwittingly, they were -- they were creating avenues of opportunity.
I don't see it, because this was a neophyte. This wasn't Don Jr., who's big on Twitter but doesn't know much about counterintelligence. This was an intelligence agent. And he was paid to work his own sources and see what he could find. And what he found, in sum, was unverified proof, you know, high-level word, a fancy word for gossip.
CUCCINELLI: Rumors. Rumors.
CUOMO: Yes. Yes. The Russians were trying to interfere, and they were trying to help Trump and hurt Clinton.
I don't know how that advances the ball for Russia. So that's why I don't get how you're making the same constructive argument that I see with a Carter Paige, I see with a Trump Jr. But how do you make that with a Russian agent who's working the sources?
CUCCINELLI: Well, but even -- let's just compare it to the Donald Jr. meeting. They went to get to Hillary out, though. They didn't care who they were getting it from. And that was a naive element of that, but that's what they were after. They weren't after like assistance.
CUOMO: They knew.
CUOMO: Steele wasn't out for assistance.
CUCCINELLI: Steele made contact with the Russians.
CUOMO: Right. The Russians. His sources. His sources.
CUCCINELLI: No, he was.
CUOMO: His sources.
CUCCINELLI: He was looking for -- he was looking for help. That's right. But as we've seen with a lot of these Russian sources, some of them through connections are related back to the Russian government. This was a very comprehensive effort on the part of the Russians.
And it would be naive of us to think that, when they were working so many angles in so many other channels, they weren't working this one once they realized it existed.
CUOMO: But the fruit of his efforts was the Russians are trying to do this dirty. They're trying to help Trump and hurt Clinton. How is that advancing the ball?
CUCCINELLI: That is not the only effort.
CUOMO: I mean, he had a lot of -- there was a lot of salacious stuff in there which we wouldn't report.
CUCCINELLI: All of the rumors -- well, right. Right. Well, that's right. And you know, but the point on the other side was to make some of that stick. Did it? You know, people still talk about it. But I don't know that it had any effect, in part because it wasn't reported until after the election was over.
Those known to the press before the election was over to a certain degree. So you know, I think this is one more piece of a broader counterintelligence cover that we're going to see unfold over time. And some of it, some of it you and I are never going to see.
CUOMO: Right. CUCCINELLI: Because it is counterintelligence. It's not a criminal investigation, per se. It doesn't mean it has to go before a judge and be -- put in a public forum at any point in time. What we're going to see today on the indictment is the fruits of the investigation that do have to eventually be made public and eventually appears likely to be today.
CUOMO: Well, we'll see. I'm not putting a lot of stock into the today thing. As you know, these negotiations, they could change in terms of timing. And that's what we believe about why they were sealed, because they someone going to flee. Which, you know, has happened in the past. That's why you'd seal them. But we think this is more a function of the negotiation with sensitive names and timing. So we'll see.
CUCCINELLI: I agree with you. A case like this. A case like this, very unlikely to see someone flee.
CUOMO: Right. Ken Cuccinelli, thank you for arguing the other side. Very important to have on the show.
CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you, Chris.
CUOMO: Be well. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So Chris, the Niger ambush is fueling the debate over a new military authorization. The Senate will grill the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and secretary of defense James Mattis today on Capitol Hill. The ranking Democrat on that Senate panel joins us with what he wants to know, next.