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Manafort and Gates Surrender to FBI; Manafort Indicted; Gates Indicted; Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: My concern is, do we take that next leap and say, this is going to taint Donald Trump? And I cannot take that leap this morning. I've got to wait and see what those charges are. I suspect there was probably --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I understand. But can you say definitively that the investigation has not been a witch hunt?
DUFFY: Listen, I don't -- I have -- I have very limited information on the investigation. So it's hard for me to say there --
CAMEROTA: But it's led to -- it's led to Paul Manafort surrendering and an indictment.
DUFFY: Well, but it's -- yes, so, if this was focused on campaign collusion with Russia, no, I don't -- I think this would be appropriate. But if we've gone back 15 years and looking at -- looking at records of Manafort, yes, I think we're outside that scope.
I mean one of the -- first of all, I support the investigation. I'm not asking for it to end. But I do have concerns that Mueller is bringing in Democrat campaign donors at a very high level. And I'm sure there's a lot of attorneys in America that haven't given to the Republicans or Democrats that are very talented, that he could bring into this investigation.
DUFFY: That we've chosen to bring in Democrat campaign donors. And I think that's a mistake on his part. Let's bring in non-partisan folks that -- or at least don't have a partisan record because I think he opens himself up to criticism and making it partisan.
CAMEROTA: But you don't mean -- but you don't mean Bob Mueller? Are you saying that --
DUFFY: No, but I'm saying the team that he's hiring. I'm saying the team that he's hiring. The different lawyers who have given to the DNC or to Hillary Clinton --
CAMEROTA: And --
DUFFY: I think he opens himself up for criticism and attack when he brings in those kind of guys. CAMEROTA: OK.
DUFFY: I mean we have a wide array of talented lawyers in America.
DUFF: Bring in people who haven't given to Republicans or Democrats.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Very quickly, here's a tweet that is relevant. Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Government of Ethics, just tweeted, every member of Congress who cares about the Republic should pledge now to take decisive action against the White House if Robert Mueller is fired. Your reaction?
DUFFY: Well, listen, I just told you that I think that Mueller should stay in place and we should -- we should see this instigation to fruition.
CAMEROTA: And you would take action to try -- you would take action against the White House if -- if the president made some sort of move to get rid of Robert Mueller?
DUFFY: Listen, and it's -- listen, as facts change, so, too, can my opinion. But, at this point, what we see this morning, I think we should continue on.
But, Alisyn, what I think is important is, let's look at Manafort. Let's look at -- let' look at President Trump. But you -- I mean I -- and I get frustrated sometimes when I hear some of you reporting this morning. We also have to look at, what -- what impact did Russia have with Hillary Clinton and her campaign and the dossier and uranium one?
CAMEROTA: Yes. It's just --
DUFFY: These were all big and bold questions that I think should be answered because it's not about Trump, it's -- it's --
CAMEROTA: I hear you. I understand. It just feels like a diversion and a deflection this morning as we watch Paul Manafort surrender.
DUFFY: No. No, no, no. No, no, but I've been talking about this for weeks.
DUFFY: But, I mean, the only collusion point we do have is the sense of the DNC and Hillary paying money to a law firm that went to Fusion that then paid Russia agents to provide information and dirt on Trump. I mean we see that connection there or money that goes --
CAMEROTA: Well, a British -- I don't want to go too far down this rabbit hole with you, but as you know --
DUFFY: Right. No, I know. I don't either. But I think -- my point to you, Alisyn, is, I want to look at all of it.
DUFFY: And I think fair-minded Americans say, look at Trump, look at Clinton, look at the DNC, look at the RNC. We should look at all of Russia's involvement here. But, as you pointed out, as we've seen this video of Manafort this morning --
DUFFY: It's serious for him.
DUFFY: And, me, as a Republican congressman, I look forward to see what the charges are and how serious this is and does it bleed into the campaign of Donald Trump and where does this go?
CAMEROTA: Understood. Congressman Sean Duffy, thank you very much for joining us this morning.
DUFFY: Thanks, Alisyn.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Duffy would be a lot more upset if he were as curious about these charges as he is about Hillary Clinton and the dossier, I'll tell you that right now.
So let's bring in some people who aren't going to be motivated by politics on this, but what we now know as fact. CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. And let's bring back CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, former federal prosecutor and candidate for Illinois attorney general, Renato Marrioti. And CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Let's bring up a name here that we haven't said enough this morning, Ron, Gates, OK. Gates matters a lot here because he is not just a business associate of Manafort, OK? He follows him everywhere, including into the campaign. Fact, he was at the campaign after Manafort left.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
CUOMO: People don't talk about that. He has been staying in contact with the White House. He was part of the inaugural committee. He moved outside into a lobbying firm that was helping with the president's efforts. So he matters here. He's going to be a new name for people. It's an interesting political question. If he has been at the White House, if he has been in contact, those visitor logs come up again.
CUOMO: So what is your take?
BROWNSTEIN: (INAUDIBLE) we don't know.
CUOMO: What is your take on the politics of this recent development? BROWNSTEIN: You know, look, I think, you know, the argument from the
president's support -- first of all, we don't know exactly what the -- right, we don't know exactly what the charges are. Now --
CUOMO: But knowing who is charged, matters.
BROWNSTEIN: No, it is critical. It is critical.
I thought -- I think the critical -- as I said earlier this morning, I think the critical question here is not how the president reacts, it's how the Republicans react to whatever the president does. Because your -- Alisyn, your question at the end to -- for all of the talking points, whether you want to talk about Uranium One, you want to talk about the dossier, the place where there is a blade, where there is actual action from the Congress, is whether they will signal to the president that if he moves to end this special counsel investigation, they will, in some way, vote to reinstate it. And I think that everything else from The Hill, at this point, is kind of talking points. It's something you have to talk about when you go -- when you --
[08:35:28] CAMEROTA: Well, you heard them, I mean sticking to it like glue.
BROWNSTEIN: When you go on television.
The key question is, you know, from everything we have seen from this president, and, again, this brings it, as you say, Chris, into, you know, a closer relationships. Everything we've seen from him is that he is not bound by the usual conventions of what we consider the kind of boundaries that limit a president in the way he exercises his power. And if Republicans on The Hill do not want to spend the 2018 election defending the firing of the special counsel, I think they have to make very clear, in advance, that that is something that they would act against very strongly.
CAMEROTA: Michael Zeldin, what do you see, in just the past 35 minutes, of all of the news that has unfolded here with Paul Manafort showing up at the FBI field office?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we have a serious charge against an important player. The scope of which is unknown. The tentacles of which could be very far-reaching, and that will be played out. But that Mueller has put a marker down that he believes financial crimes are relevant within his mandate to investigate matters that may arise out of the Russia collusion counterintelligence inquiry. And so Mueller's view that he has the authority to bring these charges, irrespective of whether they're tied to the main collusion conspiracy thing, I think is an important thing for all the players who are in the orbit of this investigation.
CUOMO: Right. Well, that's also something that the talking point neglects. The idea of seeing, well, this went back a long way, Renato, so obviously it has nothing to do with the campaign. That is a naive assumption because the theory of the case is, well, they made relationships during that time. How did those relationships come to bear?
And that's why I go back to Rick Gates because the Trump team kept him around after Manafort left, which, you know, politically, is now going to look like an even more suspect decision. He stayed in the campaign. He stayed with a central role. He was in the inaugural committee.
You know, and then when he did leave, he went into a lobbying firm that was still very connected to the White House. Is it relevant if he stayed in contact with the White House, if he's visited the White House?
ZELDIN: Well, certainly --
RENATO MARRIOTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, if they are transmitting information, sure.
CUOMO: What does that mean, Renato, transmitting information?
MARRIOTI: Yes, well, certainly, certainly that's something that Mueller is going to be looking at. And I have to say that, you know, I heard the congressman's comments obviously to us a minute ago. You know, maybe I don't know the politics of it all, but I would say from a legal perspective, if I was a lawyer advising the president and his team or his associates, what I would tell them is, don't make any assumptions at all about what Mueller has or what he's investigating based on this single indictment because if you think that this is the end for this investigation, you're mistaken.
This does not mean that Mueller doesn't have other evidence. It doesn't mean that there isn't a lot more there. What it means is, this is what he is very confident and ready to charge today. He may have charged it because there's a statute of limitations issue. And just for viewers, what that means is that you cannot go back too far in terms of charging a crime. There's a deadline, essentially, for prosecutors.
So he met his deadline today on certain charges. That does not mean that we will not see Paul Manafort have -- face additional charges in the future.
And today, we've -- you know, a number of us have discussed, well, does this go beyond Mueller's mandate and will they make arguments? I will tell you, I would if I was -- you know, and I represented people on the other side, too, as a criminal defense attorney after leaving as a federal prosecutor. I think that is a very, very limited and potentially very weak legal strategy to say, look, my client is facing an indictment. My defense that is that the special counsel shouldn't be the one bringing this indictment, it should be brought by the United States attorney's office or someone else.
You know, frankly, it's the sort of thing where, fine, you know, then this indictment gets dismissed and it gets re-brought, you know, by somebody else a day later. Ultimately, it's something that's of very little consequence.
What matters for Paul Manafort is, you have been charged with a federal crime and I suspect that that federal crime is going to be a felony. It's a very serious matter. And if anyone thinks that's a nothing burger, I would, in the Manafort camp, they have serious -- they have serious problems in terms of their legal analysis.
CAMEROTA: So, Shimon, all of this breaking news that we've been following this morning follows your reporting, your team -- you and the team from CNN reporting. I mean CNN broke the news on Friday to watch and that this would be happening. And, in fact, lo and behold, this morning, it is happening.
[08:40:12] So, today, we just saw Paul Manafort surrender at the Washington field office of the FBI. Will the public hear the charges laid out today against him?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, absolutely. They will hear it through us once these documents are released.
Now, we don't -- you don't necessarily have to wait until this afternoon when they appear in court for the documents to release. There are instances where once someone is in custody, once they've been arrested, the U.S. attorney will then ask the judge to unseal the indictments. So that could happen within the next hour. You know, court opens at around 9:00 a.m. So we could, at any point, starting around 9:00, 9:30, maybe 10:00 a.m., once Rick Gates is in custody and once they are close to finishing the process of the bookings, we may get copies of those indictments and really start to learn what this is all about because up until now everything has been sealed. And, you know, we've heard this goes back to 2005 and 2006 and its finances and it has to do with maybe trips in Russia and financial dealings overseas. But that's all really -- all we really know is what Bob Mueller has been looking at. But we just don't know exactly what charges are here.
CUOMO: All right, we've got --
PROKUPECZ: And, hopefully, within the next hour, you know, we'll get some indications of what these guys are charged with.
CUOMO: All right, we have Jeffrey Toobin coming back in right now and we're filling out the reporting. Obviously, the big headline, Paul Manafort surrenders this morning to the Washington field office of the FBI.
But probably just as important, but I want your take on this, is his business associate, Rick Gates. Because that's not all he is, OK? He followed Manafort into the campaign. He stayed at the campaign after Manafort was gone. When he did eventually leave, he went to a lobbying firm that was very connected to the president. Our understanding is that he stayed in contact with the White House.
How big a deal is Rick Gates, who's only on record as having said, everything was done legally and with the approval of our lawyers. Nothing to my knowledge was ever done inappropriately. Well, he's just been indicted.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, when you're indicted for felonies, everything is a big deal. And, you know, this is enormously significant for Mueller's investigation, and for the White House. I mean these people were intimately involved with the Trump campaign. And they are going to want to know what their contracts were, both before and after the president was elected.
Another thing to keep in mind about a white collar crime indictment is, these cases do not move very quickly. This case, if it goes to trial, if there are no guilty pleas, it will almost certainly take place mid or late 2018. So, you know, this is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning of the Mueller investigation.
BROWNSTEIN: Second person to quote that this morning.
TOOBIN: I'm sorry, did I?
BROWNSTEIN: Winston Churchill's having a very good morning.
TOOBIN: I apologize for -- for recycling that cliche.
BROWNSTEIN: But it's true.
TOOBIN: But, I mean, it is -- you know, this is months and months of trial preparation, motions to dismiss the case, motions about discovery. So, you know, if anyone was hoping that this case will wrap up by the end of the year, today's announcement is a guarantee that it won't.
BROWNSTEIN: And it also feels like we are at the point in the story where it becomes very important to differentiate between arguments and actions. It's pretty clear, from what you heard from Congressman Duffy and over the weekend, that Republicans on The Hill are going to raise up the visibility of the dossier, raise up the visibility of Uranium One, convene hearings, do all of that kind of thing.
CAMEROTA: Well, it's already happening.
BROWNSTEIN: The president is going to argue that this is a witch hunt, that it is motivated by partisan malice to undermine their agenda. Fine, they can make all of those arguments they want.
The question is, what are the actions? Does the president move in any way to terminate the investigation? And if he does, whatever else -- whatever other hearings they're convening, do the Republicans on The Hill move -- accept that and take the risk of accepting that into the 2018 election or do thy move to block it? I think the argument and the actions now have to be seen through very different lenses.
TOOBIN: And the real possibility is that the House of Representatives, under Paul Ryan, may impeach Hillary Clinton for being a citizen of Chappaqua.
TOOBIN: Because that's all she is at this point.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Right. TOOBIN: And, you know, the idea that, you know, Hillary Clinton's -- an investigation of her is a good use of your time now.
CUOMO: Well, it work -- it worked -- it works fine politically. It works well with his base.
BROWNSTEIN: It will give you something to talk about on -- on talk radio.
CUOMO: Every time he says Hillary Clinton, it's like in the -- the Mel Brooks movie, every time they say "nurse" (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: You hear the horn go, whoo! So it works on that level.
But, Renato, we're in much deeper water now.
CUOMO: Do you agree with Jeffrey Toobin, that this is just the end of the beginning?
MARRIOTI: There's no question about that. Jeffrey is completely right on that point. You know, wherever somebody is indicted, people don't realize, you know, we have -- you know, people, we have a long, legal process in this country. People have rights, including Paul Manafort. He has the right to challenge the indictment, as Mr. Toobin said. He has a right to get discovery. In other words, get the documents and evidence from the government.
[08:45:10] And then, you know, by the way, at some point, if there were additional charges, we don't know if that's the case, but I -- just for your viewers to understand, if additional charges are brought, that could start the clock going again. You know, in other words, it could restart the clock.
I mean really what -- the reason that federal prosecutors often wait until late or the end of the investigation to make charges is because it puts them on a clock and starts the legal process going. But that legal process will last for quite some time.
And I will say this as well, because we're talking about the possibility of an investigation being ended. You know, if Bob Mueller was removed by the president of the United States, which I have to say is unprecedented and as somebody who was in law enforcement for a long time, and is committed to the criminal justice process, I think it's a horrifying possibility, but if that was the case, that does not mean that the indictment is dismissed. That does not mean that the FBI just disappears. It doesn't mean that their -- that the evidence in their files, in their computer system, is terminated. It doesn't mean that the case is closed. And so even if that action was taken, you know, to the extent people
who are involved in politics are watching, that does not necessarily mean that the wheels of the criminal justice system stop for Paul Manafort. CAMEROTA: Michael, I want to ask you about what Congressman Sean Duffy
just told us, and that is basically his attitude was, this could be ancient history if this is some sort of financial thing that happened, you know, a decade ago when he was working in Ukraine. It has no connection to the Trump campaign. Why embroil the Trump campaign in this if it's old history with Paul Manafort. What are your thoughts on that?
ZELDIN: So, the first thing that comes to mind is wishing doesn't make it so. He may wish this to be the case, but until we see what the indictment charges, it doesn't make it so. And the fact that it is disconnected, if it is, from the core collusion conspiracy charge does not mean that it doesn't open the door further to either charges directly in that case, with respect to Manafort and the activities that he is alleged to have undertaken with respect to the June 9th meeting and the promise of access to the president, if he's paid moneys owed from uranium, if he's not done other things that are communicative in the collusion context. But it also opens the door potentially for an agreement with Manafort to offer testimony with respect to others.
Because Flynn, I think, sits in a very similar legal situation to Manafort. That is that he, in the Flynn intel group, with his son, did similar types of activity to what Manafort is alleged to have done with respect to Ukraine. They both received money. They both didn't declare the money. There may be foreign tax violations with respect to that non-reporting. There may be conspiracies with others with respect to that -- the hiding of that money and bribe payment with respect to the covering up of the source of that funds.
So there's a lot of stuff here that still has to be fleshed out, but which may portend deep trouble for other people who are similarly situated to Manafort. And that could be Trump. You can't rule that out. As I said, wishing doesn't make it so for Representative Duffy. And it's too early to say that, which is why I think they are, in political terms, sticking to the talking points.
CAMEROTA: OK. On that note, gentlemen, thank you all very much for the perspective. We will have you standing by, but we do need to take a quick break.
CUOMO: All right. Interesting to note, still no word from the president since this news of Paul Manafort, one of his main advisers, turning himself in. We'll be right back with new details. Where could we be going from here?
[08:52:33] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CUOMO: All right, big news here. We've seen the special prosecutor take his first real legal action and it's right on your screen. Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, surrendering at an FBI field office in Washington, there with his attorney, going in. Of course, this follows the news that he has been indicted. So has his business associate, Rick Gates. We are waiting to see
whether or not Mr. Gates will surrender today, as well. We'll follow on that.
Gates, a very important part of this story. A new name for many of you.
Joining us now, Matthew Axelrod. He's the former senior Justice Department official under Sally Yates.
Great to get your perspective on this.
What does today mean to you and what do we see today with Mr. Manafort and maybe Mr. Gates?
MATTHEW AXELROD, FORMER PRINCIPAL ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, thanks, Chris.
I think what's significant about today is, I think it makes it hard going forward for people to credibly allege that this is some sort of witch hunt or some sort of waste of taxpayer resources. Special Counsel Mueller and the team of prosecutors and investigators he's assembled are real, they're serious, and they are doing their work methodically. And it's resulted today in charges against Paul Manafort if the -- all the reporting is accurate.
And that's a significant step. I think it means that, as I said, going forward, it's harder for people to credibly argue that this is some sort of diversion because it's a -- if it's an indictment, it's a felony charge, and that's very serious.
CUOMO: Well, if it's not on Manafort, I'd love to know why he walked in the front door of that field office this morning, because I'm sure it's the last place he wants to be.
We're also learning that Rick Gates has also reportedly surrendered, entered into the FBI field office. So we'll see what happens next.
Now, to your initial point about people should see this as being the real deal, the pushback will be, well, we don't know what it's about. It could just be about how he accounted for money he got during activities many years ago. Gates was his business partner then, of course. And has nothing to do with anything that happened during the campaign. Your assessment?
AXELROD: Yes, sure. And, look, that's fair. But I think that what's important is that there was probable cause that was determined by an ordinary group of citizens sitting as a grand jury that Paul Manafort committed a federal crime. And the time frame and the specifics of that federal crime we'll learn, presumably, later today.
[08:55:06] But what's important is that the efforts of the special prosecutor -- the special counsel and his team have not been for nothing. They've resulted in uncovering a federal crime that they believe was committed. Of course, he's presumed innocent. But at least there's been a probable cause determination, not only by the prosecutors, but also by this grand jury comprised of ordinary citizens, which means that this is a serious business. Whether it ultimately has to do with the Trump campaign or not I think is sort of irrelevant at this point. What matters is that the special counsel and the endeavor he's embarked upon is important and is bearing, you know, is bearing some fruit at the end of -- you know, at this point in the investigation.
CUOMO: Well, we'll see where it goes.
Matthew Axelrod, appreciate your perspective on this. This is certainly a place where we needed your help. Thanks for being here. We'll come back to you as we learn more.
AXELROD: Sure. Thanks, Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK, let's bring back the rest of our panel. We have Ron Brownstein, Jeffrey Toobin, Michael Zeldin, and Renato Marrioti, watching all this breaking news unfold.
Jeffrey, so he's walked into the front doors of the FBI to surrender. The courthouse, we understand, is five blocks away. What happens next?
TOOBIN: Well, he will be brought over to the courthouse and he will have his initial appearance before the judge. We'll learn which judge is assigned to the case. That's always a very important stage because there are many different judges and they have different personalities and different approaches to things.
The first question to be dealt with will be bail. Now, I assume he will be let out on his own recognizance. He may have to post something, but he may have to post nothing at all. He may simply be -- and this is true for Rick Gates as well.
And then there will be a schedule start to be set. They will set a schedule probably for what's called the status conference where they will discuss what the schedule will be for motions.
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, for our purposes, we will hear the charges. We will know what he is charged with by the end of business today?
TOOBIN: Probably before that, because when a -- when a person appears in federal court, we have no cameras in federal court in the United States, but that is a public proceeding and the indictment will be made public at that point, which is the warrant (ph).
CUOMO: Right. And that's what the point of the arraignment is, you know, to call to account. It doesn't mean he puts in a plea. And it doesn't mean that you won't see more charges.
CUOMO: But (INAUDIBLE) --
TOOBIN: He probably will plead not guilty. I mean or his lawyer will plead not guilty for him. Certainly he's not going to plead guilty today. It's just really the first step in the process. CUOMO: Right.
TOOBIN: And, you're right, an arraignment is to inform the defendant of the charges against him.
CUOMO: Sixth Amendment right.
TOOBIN: Exactly. And that is also when the charges become public.
CAMEROTA: So back to the Rick Gates development, though. He's not a household name, Renato. He is significant because when Paul Manafort exited the campaign, he exited, but Rick Gates had been at the White House in and out all year. And so it's important to know what he's been doing there.
MARRIOTI: Absolutely. And I will say, you know, from a legal perspective, what I'm interested in, is I know there's been some talk this morning about how there's a statute of limitations as to Manafort on a particular tax charge. It will be interesting to see if Gates is charged with the same crime or something elsewhere where there's a statute of limitations issue. If not, what that would suggest to me is that Mueller, you know, is trying to flip Gates.
And what I mean by "flip" is that, you know, he's trying to get his cooperation against Manafort. Or, potentially, he already has that cooperation and these charges are a part of that. It will be interesting to see.
But we are going to learn a lot about -- a lot more about Mr. Gates. And, you know, it will be interesting to see exactly what he's charged with because, you know, he is now facing a lot of legal jeopardy. I mean folks at home are sitting here talking about indictments and it sounds like, oh, you know, we're talking about it in a technical way. You know, these are not numbers and facts to these individuals. I mean Mr. Gates is now facing the very real possibility, or I shouldn't say possibility, I should say probability, that he is going to face some time in federal prison. And that is a very serious matter for anybody.
And so, you know, there is going to be a calculus that is going to be going on in his head and in Mr. Manafort's head. And as they receive the evidence, that's going to be part of the schedule that Jeffrey talked about a moment ago. Part of the schedule will be, you know, when does discovery need to be produced to the defense? And that means the evidence that will be used by the government against them. As they look at that discovery and see the evidence against them, you know, they'll be weighing a calculation in terms of whether or not they cooperate with Mr. Mueller and his FBI investigation.
CUOMO: On the one side you have the idea of, you can indict a ham sandwich. We all know that line. On the other side, Rick Gates is now uniquely motivated to tell these guys what he knows. And, remember, he stayed around a lot longer than Manafort.
BROWNSTEIN: It's also a new trip wire. If the president ends the special counsel investigation, he is now, in effect, trying to disrupt an actual ongoing criminal case. CUOMO: No word from the president yet this morning, though. We'll see
what he says.
[09:00:01] CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much for helping us with all of this breaking news and all of your expertise.
CNN's breaking news coverage continues with "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.