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First Charges File In Mueller's Russia Probe; Three Ex-Trump Campaign Officials Charged In Special Counsel Probe; Court Puts Manafort And Gates On House Arrest; Reports: Ousted Catalan President In Belgium; Inventor Admits Dismembering Journalist, Denies Murder; Spacey Accused Of Sexual Advance Toward 14-Year-Old; Fox News Downplays Charges In Russia Investigation. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 31, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, a seething president and a chill over the White House, as Robert Mueller makes his first move filing charges against three former aides to the Trump Campaign. What comes next now for the Russia investigation?

SESAY: Out of power and on the run; Catalonia's deposed president is believed to have fled Spain after his rebellion falls apart.

VAUSE: And an assault allegation, then an awkward apology; Kevin Spacey's decision to come out comes under fire from gay rights activist.

SESAY: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: Good to have you with us. I'm John Vause, and this is NEWSROOM L.A. Well, first indictments in the U.S.-Russia investigation are sending shockwaves through Washington with Donald Trump set to be seething over the news.

SESAY: Now, the president's all three of his former campaign officials charged in the special counsel investigation of Russia election meddling and alleged collusion. Pamela Brown looks at the three men involved and what it means for the Trump White House?


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's the first time Special Counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on collusion with Russia in 2016 campaign. George Papadopoulos, a former Foreign Policy Advisor to the Trump Campaign, seeing here meeting with Trump as part of his campaign national security team last year, pleaded guilty on October 5th, making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

According to records unsealed today, the FBI alleges Papadopoulos, "falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed dirt related to e-mails concerning Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton." One of the core documents describes an e-mail sent Papadopoulos to a high-ranking campaign official, who as the source said is former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. The e-mail had the subject line: "request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump." It went to allegedly say, Russia was eager to meet with the candidate and have been reaching out.

The documents allege the campaign officials forwarded the e-mail to another official, who as the source said is Rick Gates. That e-mail said, "We need someone to communicate that D.T. if not doing trips, it should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." And another e-mail, a campaign supervisor allegedly tells Papadopoulos, "I would encourage you," and another policy advisor to the campaign, "make the trip if it is feasible." That Trip to Russia never happened according to officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Manafort, did you commit a crime?

BROWN: Also today, surrendering at the FBI in Washington, former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and Campaign Official Rick Gates. The two are business associates prior to their work on the Trump Campaign. The 12-count indictment against the two men focused on their years as political consultants and lobbyist working in Ukraine. The counts include conspiracy against the United States; conspiracy to launder and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Manafort and Gates were in U.S. District Court today and pleaded not guilty. Both men have previously denied financial wrongdoing, and Manafort's lawyer spoke on his behalf to reporters gathered outside.

KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL MANAFORT: There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

BROWN: The indictment alleges Manafort and Gates received tens of millions of dollars for their Ukraine work. And to hide that income, they laundered the money through "scores of the United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts, and includes details about their lavish lifestyle that they use money from offshore accounts to pay for mortgages, luxury cars, clothing, children's tuition, and home decorating." Activities that federal officials say were ongoing while both Manafort and Gates were working on behalf of Trump campaign.

In July, in Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia home, the FBI executed a so-called "no-knock search warrant" with guns drawn, seizing financial and tax documents. On Monday, the judge said Manafort's bail at $10 million, and Rick Gates' bail at five million; both men were put on house arrest. After giving up their passports, the government argued, they pose a flight risk. And it's worth noting, this is like just beginning; we could see more litigation back-and-forth, also it is possible that Mueller's team could have a superseding indictment. Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


[01:05:12] VAUSE: Well, for more, joining us now Law Professor Jessica Levinson, and CNN Law Enforcement Contributor and Retired FBI Special Agent Steve Moore. OK. Thank you for being with us.

SESAY: Hello.

VAUSE: Steve, when you will get the charges and the indictments which have been laid by Manafort -- sorry, Mueller against Manafort and Gates, what does that tell you about the scope of this investigation, the size of it, the detail, and where it is all heading?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SPECIAL AGENT FOR THE FBI: I'm not surprised at all by the scope of the investigation. I don't think Mueller's going to be -- do things halfway in any of these things. What I'm surprised by is how much of the investigation he actually revealed in the indictment. In my experience, we tried to get the minimum amount of information into the indictment that we needed to secure a true bill and that way we didn't give away our entire prosecution to the defense months before discovery. And so, I think Mueller doing this was making a statement. This is -- Mueller doesn't do things accidentally; this was a statement, hopefully, I think he's trying to get people to realize that there is fire to go with the smoke.

SESAY: Jessica, to pick up on that point, 31 pages, 12-count indictment, incredibly detailed to Steve's point, why put out all that detail which strengthens the defensive hand before discovery? I mean, why would you down that route, and what does it say about his belief in the strength of this case?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I think he believes he has a very strong case, and I don't think that he was worried about, with respect to the charges against Manafort and Gates, which, again are basically related to bank fraud, and tax evasion, and things unrelated to, specifically this issue of the Trump campaign being involved with the Russian government. I don't think he's that worried about tipping his hat because I think he knows that he's basically got them on this, and this is about trying to get Manafort and Gates talking. And this is part of what we often see in big federal investigations where you're trying to take off some people and say to someone like Paul Manafort who is facing -- people tend not to like to give up either their freedom or their money, and that's what they're trying to get --

SESAY: Both of it.

LEVINSON: And they're trying to get both from Paul.

VAUSE: Is that why there are only $10 million bails for Manafort; $5 million dollars for Gates and their all under home arrest which, I think, you know, maybe we'll point out, is extraordinary.

MOORE: It is extraordinary, but so is the "no-knock warrant". I mean, the gloves are off here. And Mueller's making a point at every stage of the investigation. And I think it's -- you could call it heavy-handed; I don't think it's abusive, but it's, it's pretty heavy.

SESAY: Yes. Jessica, in terms of -- in terms of the speed. I mean, again, the speed to charge, the speed to unseal the indictments, what does that -- what does that say to you? And what does that say -- you know, I asked someone earlier on, what does that say about the methodology, like the actual -- you know, the strategy here of this investigation.

LEVINSON: Well, I mean, I think -- and you made this point that Robert Mueller wanted to shove that there is something there, that this is a very high-profile investigation. And look these indictments show -- it brings us very clearly out of the political realm and into the legal realm. And it shows the criminal justice system and the whole paradigm of the criminal justice system are now coming down on these two individuals. And to the extent that in America, we still worry about things like new information and facts -- indictment doesn't come from nowhere; this is not a fishing expedition. But in terms of the speed, my understanding is that there were a few of the crimes charged were there's actually may have been a statute of limitations issue. So, these needed to come now in order, frankly, to try and get Manafort and Gates talking.

VAUSE: But also the focusing of the names we know. Manafort, maybe not as Gates, but there is also another name: George Papadopoulos, who was described as a pro-active cooperator. He obviously -- he was his foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign. He's pleaded guilty, and who have a deal with the FBI. And earlier on CNN, Wolf asked Trump's T.V. Lawyer, Jay Sekulow, is worried. Listen to this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: So, are you concerned that he's fully cooperating now, and over the course of these past few months, he may have implicated others?

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I'm not concerned. I'm completely convinced as it was since offset that not only is there no Russian collusion, there's no obstruction. I'm not concerned about it, we're doing our job, and have a good relationship with the special counsel's office as far as information goes. We are not -- I'm not concerned about this at all, and no one else is either.


VAUSE: So, Steve, when Jay Sekulow says I'm not concerned, does he really mean I'm really scared, or very concerned because he's proactive -- cooperative.

[01:10:10] MOORE: We just called him cooperating witnesses. And basically, they'll do anything you want --

VAUSE: Which is where or why we called conversations or e-mails if they have to. So, if you've been given somewhat June or July?

SESAY: Yes, for three months.

MOORE: But here's one thing you don't do with the cooperating witness: you don't expose them until you're done with them.

SESAY: Yes. MOORE: Because, then, he's now -- Papadopoulos is now useless to them. So, what this tells me is they have exploited him completely. And so, they gave him at this point. So, what damage he might have done to anybody who has not been indicted yet, has already been done. But it may also be Mueller's way of saying, oh, and by the way, in case you were thinking about talking, Papadopoulos was working with us, so you may want to do it quickly -- there's only one person who gets the golden ticket.

SESAY: Well, that's upon that. I wanted to bring Jessica, Steve and I were talking about this earlier and he talked about, you know, that there's a clock or there's some business before getting a deal. I mean, how do you see -- do you see more deals being handed out here? Or is it a case that, you know, there is only certain number, you know, in the box that you can give to people in these kinds of investigation.

LEVINSON: Well, I mean, so there's no absolute cap like there's a special counsel then -- no, it's not like trick or treat candy, oh, we're all out. But thank you for playing.

MOORE: So, we tell them that?


LEVINSON: Right. Well, and that's true. So, there's a strategy to where you want to cap it. And I don't think that -- I mean, the true answer is you want to give as many as is useful, but you don't want to just hand these out. And you know, with respect to deals, I think the thing that is looming in the background is a president who has pardon power. And that's what a lot of people are kind of thinking about and worrying about. For a few of the actors that we've talked about today, there are actually state investigations as well. And the president doesn't have the power to pardon for state crimes. But, you know, in terms of how many people -- like who gets the deal today?

SESAY: You got the deal. You got the deal.



LEVINSON: How many people are really useful.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) at this part of the issue because there is this theory out there that, you know, Donald Trump could pardon everybody, and then they're all guaranteed that nothing bad is going to happen anyway. But then, doesn't that remove their fifth amendment right, not to testify because that'll be self-incriminating you're not going to get jailed. If you're going to pardon, you can incriminate yourself.

MOORE: It's a part -- open up mouths. And as far as giving deals, the people in the prosecution, the FBI agents involved, they see that as just -- they hate giving the deals. They give the absolute minimum. It's like giving away your case. So, there will be a few deals giving as legally possible.

SESAY: And to the point of the deal that was given to Papadopoulos, which was basically lying to the FBI, which Steve, I think you were telling it's like the basic, you know, or you call it one-on-one --

MOORE: 1001 violation.

SESAY: 1001 violation. Is it to say that he could've been charged with more, but he decided to go with that, Jessica?

LEVINSON: Well, so, we don't know what else was there, but I think this was, this is what they agreed upon. I mean, we saw the plea agreement, and this was, I think, what they needed and all they needed. And one thing to remember with respect to the pardon and the fifth amendment is, that's your right against self-incrimination. But that includes, if there are pending state charges or potential state charges, you can say, no, I'm sorry I still assert my fifth amendment privilege.

VAUSE: OK. There's also this other question (INAUDIBLE) the president could fire Robert Mueller.


SEKULOW: The answer to that is no. The president is not, is not interfering with the Special Counsel Mueller's position. He's not firing the special counsel; he said that before.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president said last week -- I believe it was last week -- and I've said several times before, there's no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to special counsel.


VAUSE: But Jessica, when the president tweets out like he did over the weekend, "All of this Russia talk, right when the Republicans are making their big push in this tax cuts and reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!" Exclamation point. Could that be seen, that tweet, as an attempt to influence Mueller, you know, in a sense of your continuing with tax reform, there's a political element to this, you know, and try to lean on the special counsel, at least politically.

LEVINSON: Oh, absolutely, I mean, politically, he clearly wants to (INAUDIBLE) the breaks on the special counsel, and I don't think he's -- I mean, this will shock everyone's note, I don't think he's a huge fan of Robert Mueller, I don't think he's a huge fan of the investigation. That now the political --

VAUSE: But witness that (INAUDIBLE), it's the illegal realm.

LEVINSON: So, that, I mean, just tweeting, you know, oh, this is coincident, and just tweeting like this hog-washing, they should just be focusing on the Democrats. That's not an effort of obstruction of justice, so you have to take more specific and concrete steps. And the obstruction of justice statute is actually fairly difficult to satisfy. And so, a tweet that just said, this is (INAUDIBLE) is not nearly there.

[01:15:08] SESAY: And Steve --

VAUSE: Fire the FBI director, perhaps.

LEVINSON: Perhaps.

SESAY: The word out there is that, you know, Steve Bannon feels that the basic needs to change to the strategy that they've employed the White House and basically get a lot more aggressive in terms of hand- shaking faith in this Mueller Special Counsel investigation. Maybe cut off funding for the work that they're doing, and just basically, literally, t0 Jessica's point, pump the breaks on this. How will that go over at the FBI, how will it go over with the special counsel? They hear that, you know, there might be, let's say, an increase in an effort to basically thwart what they're doing.

MOORE: There is no wisdom in trying to challenge Robert Mueller on this. I would rather kick a bear. There is just -- if I could give the administration any advice at all, don't mess with Mueller because it will get his blood up. And I think --

VAUSE: And you know the guy, you've worked with the guy, you've --

MOORE: Yes. I've worked with people who work within in the whole, but --

VAUSE: You mean, in his office?

MOORE: Yes. And I think this would be a foolish move, and frankly, cutting the budget, doing anything to impede the special prosecutor would come across as being dishonest. It would come across as something that person who is guilty might do. So, I think it would be foolish from both the Robert Mueller standpoint and from the public standpoint. Because if you push, Mueller's going to push back harder. I mean, look at the search --

VAUSE: And he has a lot of members of Congress on his side. You know, the Republicans on the Senate seat have indicated that whatever the White House does, this investigation will continue and stand for. OK. Steve and Jessica --

SESAY: Jessica, Steve, thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. We're going to take a very quick break, but we have got much more on the story throughout the hour, including the president's reaction and the developments unfolded.

VAUSE: Also ahead, Fox News in the art of deflection and diversion; how Donald Trump's news channel of choice played down one of the most significant days of his presidency.


SESAY: Well, the White House is doing its best to distance itself from the indictments in the Russia probe. Our Republican source close to the -- Republican, I should say, rather, close to the White House, says President Trump's aide are urging him not to lash out against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

VAUSE: For now, it appears that he might just be taking that advice. Mr. Trump tweeted earlier on Monday, "Sorry, but this is years ago before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump Campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary and Dems the focus?"

SESAY: Five questions question marks.

VAUSE: Five question marks. And since then, (INAUDIBLE). Joining us now, CNN Political Commentators, Democratic Strategist, Dave Jacobson; and Republican Consultant, John Thomas. OK. It seems possible that maybe Halloween came a day early to the White House, at least for the president and not in a good way. Here's part of Jeff Zeleny's reporting from earlier.


[01:20:14] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, we know they spent hours in the residence of the White House, not in the oval in the oval office but in the residence watching all of this unfold on television. I'm told he was seething at these reports -- that's in the words of someone who spoke to him.


VAUSE: Dave, to you, a seething president, a happy does not mean good news for many people. But really, does Donald Trump only have himself to blame, it didn't fire FBI Director James Comey, then this never happened.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. Like, the whole idea of Donald Trump potentially firing Mueller isn't at the realm possibility because of the Comey firing, right? But we just had Trey Gowdy, a hardliner Republican, go on Fox News yesterday and say, look, we had to let Mueller continue the investigation to get to the bottom of this. So, I think if Donald Trump does sort of knee-jerk, erratic reaction and fire Mueller, I think then you're going to have Republicans in Congress, really turn off the heat on the president, and possibly explore the idea of impeachment.

SESAY: I mean, John, the fact that this broke off, the indictments and the Papadopoulos plea. I mean, it kind of undercuts the White House's line and the president's line that is common that there's no collusion. I mean, regardless of where this goes, the optics aren't good, and it does undercut that argument.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, it's never good when you're talking about more twist and turns in an investigation, but what did we learn here today as it relates to Manafort, there was nothing, at least at this point. I mean, I think it was a good a day in a sense for Trump; he cleared one hurdle. Phew, no collusion today.

VAUSE: Today.

SESAY: Today. I think that's the key phrase here, right? Today.

THOMAS: Right. I mean, there are a lot of unanswered questions but today, there was a big shot, now we argue if it was his big -- Mueller's biggest shot, his only shot, but Trump was in the clear as of today.

SESAY: But it does show a passing though. I mean, the Papadopoulos stuff. The fact that Papadopoulos was trying to get across to have these meetings or said it was all into having a conversation about dirt Hillary Clinton. Donald Jr. also similarly -- at that meeting at Trump Tower. I mean, it is (INAUDIBLE); it does show something.

THOMAS: In both camps, you know, Hillary Clinton paid for a Russia dossier. You know, I know I'm just saying but it goes both ways that a low-level -- basically intern, but I know it wasn't intern, but a low-level volunteer -- thought he'd make a big score by finding stuff on Hillary Clinton. We off have caught, never found anything. I just don't think that that's a big --

SESAY: But no one on the Clinton has had to take a plea with the special counsel.


SESAY: Yes, but so we're going to talk about what we have in front of us right now, which is the Trump Campaign.

THOMAS: Well, the Podesta -- Tony Podesta resigned today. So, there are some connections, but regardless, it's not a great day for the Trump Campaign, anytime you're defending, you're losing. And I think Trump understands that.

JACOBSON: But the biggest issue that we're not talking about is that fact that Papadopoulos could've theoretically -- he was arrested back in July, right? He could've been wiretapped, he could've have had secret meetings with folks, and we don't know --

THOMAS: Are you sure he would?

JACOBSON: There's a whole lot -- a whole of unknowns that we don't know, potentially. It could come out from this. And so, I think that underscores a fact that there is the potential for collusion, and this is the tip of the iceberg. I think there's going to be a lot more that comes out of this in the months ahead.

VAUSE: You know, this is a very, very bad day for President Hillary Clinton bias.


SANDERS: Today's announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president's campaign or campaign activity. There's clear evidence of the Clinton Campaign colluding with Russia intelligence to spread disinformation and smear the president to influence the election.


VAUSE: Yes. I mean, it does seem as if Hillary's in office if you listen to what how some of the Republicans' been talking. But John, or Dave, is there a use by with this strategy, use by --

JACOBSON: Sure. Donald Trump needs an enemy. And Hillary Clinton is the best sort of red meat entity enemy that he can throw at his base.

THOMAS: I think what you're going to see now as if it's fair game to go after Paul Manafort's personal business dealings separate from campaigns. I think we're going to start to see the Podestas, and the Terry McAuliffe, and the Clinton Foundation's I think to start to getting unraveled. Because if it's fair game, they're looking for all of those things, about the Uranium One sale, all these other things. You're going to start seeing them going down that rathole.

VAUSE: If I say Russia, you say Hillary. I say -- I mean, that's the strategy, right?

THOMAS: Well, but there is smoke there. I mean, if there wasn't smoke, I would say it's silly, but --

SESAY: No, you wouldn't.

THOMAS: No, I would. I actually would. But in this case, it appears that there is smoke.

JACOBSON: Well, here's the thing, there may be -- at least Republicans think that there's smoke with regard to the Clinton universe. But the fact is, today we saw sparks of a potential fire with the Papadopoulos information. And so, I think that is sort of -- what's remarkable here is that -- and that's one of the game changers when it comes this conversation with potential collusion.

THOMAS: To me, I saw a bunch of nothing, but we'll see.

VAUSE: OK. As the investigation moves closer to the oval office, there are growing concerns about presidential interference.


[01:25:08] SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It obviously is. That's the third rail, he can't touch, neither firing nor pardoning of those was indicted. Short-circuiting the process that wouldn't be of help.


THOMAS: A queue to Jeff Flake. He's looking for (INAUDIBLE) VAUSE: He is still a Republican whether you like him or not.

SESAY: And it's a view not just held by Jeff Flake.

VAUSE: It's heard by a lot of, a lot of Republican, so what are the political consequences, Dave.

JACOBSON: I think they're going to be extraordinary. If you look at the generic ballot with Democrats going into the 2018 election, which we're just about a year away from right now. Democrats were (INAUDIBLE) by double digits, and so I think and if you look at the Gallup Poll that just came out the other day, Donald Trump has a historic low -- he's a 33 percent right now, in terms of a favorable number. You didn't see that with a number of prior presidents, whether it's Obama, Clinton, Reagan, a number of others. And so, I think the fact is as we ship towards a midterm vote, I think Americans are going to take a lot of these into consideration, and potentially flip the House Democrats.

THOMAS: Well, or the risk he ran is that you go down this road, the Democrats scream collusion, collusion. Turns out, there is no collusion from Donald Trump or the Trump Campaign. Meanwhile, you still have yet to articulate anything that matters to everyday voters as we go to the midterms.

SESAY: John, to your point about, and I think it's a very valid point that the Democrats are going to have to articulate as a message, a message that resonates and brings people along. But looking at the numbers for Trump right now, I mean, we are beginning to see some of those like key elements of his base, White with a college degree. I mean, those numbers are beginning to be impacted by what this administration is or should we say not achieving.

THOMAS: They're stopping. I mean, there's none of that Fox News poll did show that Trump softening in large of his own base. But I think he gets them right back and then gets some when the tax reform passed.

SESAY: That's what they get, isn't it?

THOMAS: Yes, but he better begets it done. They're with him; he needs a win.

VAUSE: Well, maybe White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, did his best to boost some of the numbers with the base. With an interview with Fox News, I think just a couple of hours ago when he basically talked about the civil war, how it was started because of an inability to compromise, and then he praised considerably. Let's listen to this.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up, gave up his country to fight for his state which is 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyal to state first back in those days. Now, where it's different today. But the lack of inability to compromise led to the civil war. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand with their conscience had them make their stand.


VAUSE: John, we're back to the whole very fine people on both sides, it sounds. You know, why is he going there? And I always thought that the civil war essentially over slavery, not an inability to compromise state rights.

THOMAS: Well, and it was; one position was taken against slavery and one was for slavery.


THOMAS: I didn't see the whole clip but I would imagine that he's talking about the partisan divide in Congress and in government today that people are simply unwilling to compromise and you can't get things done like tax reform or fixing --

VAUSE: No. He mentioned about Robert E. Lee be a really good man. And that, you know, the civil war was not over slavery but there's a compromise.

SESAY: Dave, what's the message here? What's the dog whistle, some might say?

JACOBSON: The question is like: is that a -- is that a threat?


JACOBSON: By a former general? Like, is he threatening something that'll move on to a civil war if, like, the Trump agenda doesn't get steamrolled through Congress? Like what is -- what is he raising here in terms of like -- issue like, but why go back to the civil war narrative? Like, we know that's a losing argument by the president.

VAUSE: Yes, I think the context of all of this is -- they are talking about the removal of Confederate statues and monuments, you know, around the country. Obviously, this continues to be, you know, a very sensitive issue for so many people here. So, why is John Kelly, this guy who seemed as he's moderating and opened the wound, essentially repeat Trump's lie in all of this if he doesn't believe it?

THOMAS: In that instance, it appears that he was tone deaf, it's a larger narrative, he's just speaking about being a dedicated military leader. I mean, and it seems like he completely didn't understand potential ramification --

JACOBSON: Well done, John


VAUSE: Or have we misjudged John Kelly.

SESAY: Exactly, that was a question. VAUSE: And that he really is more in tune with Donald Trump and Steve Bannon than we thought originally.

JACOBSON: I think it's plausible that there was this like facade out there that he was someone that he's not perhaps. I mean, perhaps, you know, he agrees on what the president's, you know, message when it comes to --

VAUSE: Divisive politics.

JACOBSON: Yes, precisely. And I think it's even scarier than what we thought.

THOMAS: I didn't see the whole clip, but I just don't buy that. I think he is a moderating force from everything I've heard.

SESAY: Well, he didn't sing that word, the whole Frederica Wilson case that's in rest.

VAUSE: Maybe.

SESAY: He certainly didn't come out and apologize for what clearly an untrue, you know. We'll see.

VAUSE: John and Dave, thank you.

[01:30:04] SESAY: Okay. Thank you, guys.

Well, Jay Tapper hosts the "CNN SPECIAL REPORT", the Russia investigation, that's about three and a half hours from now at 9:00 AM in London and it's 5:00 PM if you are in Hong Kong.

VAUSE: So, where in the world is the ousted Catalan President?

SESAY: Or if (INAUDIBLE) way, isn't?

VAUSE: Right. He's nowhere in Catalan. He may face charges for rebellion in Spain but there are bolts (INAUDIBLE) he's in Belgium where he might just request political asylum.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headline this hour. Dramatic development in the US Russia probe with the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos. The former Trump campaign adviser admitted to lying to the FBI about contacts with foreign nationals which ties to the Russian Government. Four documents in his plea agreement suggests Papadopoulos will contribute to a large scale investigation.

VAUSE: And Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his deputed had pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Russia investigation. The government accuses Paul Manafort and Rick Gates of hiding millions of dollars in income which was earned while they're helping Ukraine's probe Russian president.

SESAY: The ousted Catalan president is believed to be in Belgium where he could request political asylum. Spain's state prosecutor is accusing Carles Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders of rebellion and sedition. If convicted they could face up to 30 years in prison.

VAUSE: "EUROPEAN AFFAIRS" Commentator, Dominic Thomas, joins us down here. He's chair of the Department of French and Francophone studies at the University of California, LA. Okay.

Dominic, with Puigdemont most likely in Brussels, possibly never coming back. It's been a reality check, isn't it, for the independence movement, for everyone to slip back in Barcelona?

DOMINIC THOMAS, EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, exactly. He's kept sheets, well, so if he has actually left town he's probably got a really good reason which is that the Spanish government is determined to see the legalities of this true to the very end which means now it looks like searching and capturing the former president and putting him on trial and then locking him up, so --

VAUSE: Which they just did -- really is in Brussel. Brussel's -- that makes sense, right?

THOMAS: Well, it does, and that's the thing is that if indeed he is there and if not, the story that he is there make sense in so many ways because from the very beginning the several Belgium officials spoke with the slightly different tone than other EU officials about this and were urging for greater caution in dialogue. And of course, in government right now is the New Flemish Alliance which is itself a party that has devoted itself to the process of independence and is sympathetic to Puigdemont's cause.

[01:35:06] VAUSE: So Puigdemont along with, I think, the other members of cabinet, almost 20 of them, they're facing charges of sedition, rebellion, misappropriation of funds.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: At this point, is Puigdemont considered a fugitive?

THOMAS: Well, if indeed he has fled the country and the constitutional courts request that he appears which looks like they're in the process of preparing this paperwork then I suppose he would be if he fails to sort of -- to show up. And of course, there is a process through which he can seek asylum, I mean, this really is a very unusual circumstance, of course, that he -- that he finds himself in and it's some historical background here to the extent of -- wit -- of Franco's coming to leadership, people did go into exile. It's possible that Puigdemont is appealing into that particular memory. But I think of this stage, he realizes he's in a very awkward legal position.

VAUSE: And legal position as well if he -- if he went home, if he went back to Barcelona, to Catalonia.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: His political career is over, it's done.

THOMAS: Well, it depends what the Spanish government does with him.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: I can't help but thinking that sentencing him and locking him up could do anything but turn him into some kind of martyr figure for the calls of independence and certainly this taking place in a west European country, you would think would begin to trouble people.

VAUSE: Is there that much support for him in Catalonia? It seems that, you know, as a region it split between the pro-dependence movement.

THOMAS: I don't think so. I think that all the reporting and research shows that a straight-up referendum tomorrow, there is absolutely no power for them to win. All along people have wanted the extent to which with the reactions from the Madrid's government could potentially galvanize sympathizes that I don't see any part for the independence movement at this juncture to make it.

VAUSE: And you talked about the reaction from Madrid. They used article 155 of the constitution. First time ever the, you know, the central government has done that. They have issued direct control of Catalonia. And it all happened without a (INAUDIBLE)

THOMAS: Right, and I think that it came as a -- not so much as a shock, but after two or three weeks of this going on that the local population was completely exhausted. I think that the independence had to -- movement folks had to retool, think a little bit, weigh off their options and possibly even plan to, sort of, leave the country as they saw further on legislative actions being taken. And that there were however peaceful demonstrations over the weekend, that the larger crowds were of course the anti-independence folks that came out into the street. I think that as some of these measures are implemented, there is a possibility of a greater friction and tension in the area.

And of course, the Puigdemont has distracting people from this right now because no one really knows where he is, what he's up to, and what his next move will be.

VAUSE: If things will continue across Catalonia with very smooth transition of jury coming in and taking control, at what point do you declare this independence movement as dead?

THOMAS: I don't think you can declare it as dead because first of all, they've called this regional elections. Now of course, the government is anticipating an outcome in those elections and at that point will declare this sort of over. But this movement have taken a very long time to build up and it's not gonna go away overnight.

And as the potentially build further coalitions or other movements in Europe, feel galvanized by this process, not so much by the outcome which is questionable, but begin to work together towards this sort of path to independence, succession in separation, and so on, which is an issue that European union did not wanna deal with and is going to have to address.

VAUSE: Right. And how they address it and what they do and a whole other factors still playing but it's getting big blows to independence movement in a very short period of time as well.

THOMAS: Right. That I mean...

VAUSE: Dominic, thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

SESAY: To Kenya now and the independent voting commission for Thursday's presidential election was free, fair, and credible. They've announced Monday that incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta won more than 98 percent of vote and will serve second term. But the victory isn't as overwhelming as it seems because only 38 percent of registered voters actually casts ballots (INAUDIBLE) run virtually on oppose to (INAUDIBLE) initially that Raila Odinga withdrew from the race in protest and urged Kenyans to boycott the vote because of inadequate election reforms.

It was Kenya's second presidential vote in three months. The first, you may remember, with has been turned by the supreme court because of irregularities. Next on NEWSROOM LA, actor Kevin Spacey is the latest big name in Hollywood accused sexual misconduct. Why? Some say his apology was way off the mark?


VAUSE: Well, a Danish inventor has admitted he dismembered the body of a Swedish journalist but insist he did not kill her. Kim Wall was researching a story on Peter Madsen and after boarding his privately- built submarine, she went missing.

SESAY: Madsen now says Wall died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside the sub while he was on deck, but earlier Madsen claimed she died after hitting her head on a hatch cover. Madsen's trial is scheduled for March.

VAUSE: Okay. Lesson of the day after BuzzFeed published a bombshell sexual assault allegation against actor Kevin Spacey, Netflix has announced it's pulling the plug on his show House of Cards which is filming its sixth season.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) the show tell CNN the move has nothing to do with the controversy but Netflix and (INAUDIBLE) production company say they're deeply troubled by the report. Actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed that Spacey did an sexual advance toward him at a party back in 1986 when he was 14 years old and Spacey was 26. Spacey tweeted that he had no memory of the encounter but said he owe Rapp with some serious apology for what was likely drunken behavior. Well, let's get reaction to all of this from Alonso Duralde some critic at Thank you so much for being with us once again.


SESAY: So here's the thing, after years of telling journalist and basically the world that his sexuality is nobody's business, that nobody should care, it's just gossip, Kevin Spacey decides that faced with allegation of sexual misconduct, now is the time to come out and say that he is gay. Let me just put up on screen the reaction from one Billy Eichner, an actor and comedian. I know that you've seen this. He said this, "Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before, a bad time to come out." Here's my question here, Alonso, is this a definition of opportunism?

DURALDE: Yes, this is a grossly cynical move. This is -- this is classic, "Hey, look over there." Because yes, Spacey, you're right, he's been very off non-forthcoming for decades now, coy about that --

SESA: And aggressively toward some journalists.

DURALDER: Oh, definitely angry with some journalists, you know, making little slight sides about it when hosting the Tony Awards.

SESAY: That's right.

DURALDE: And now suddenly when someone comes forward with this allegation of sexual misconduct, of, you know, sexual misconduct against a minor.


DURALDE: Now suddenly he's gay and that becomes the story and shockingly for some news outlets, not CNN, I give you guys point for that.

SESAY: Thank you.

DURALDE: The original headline was, "Oh, Kevin Spacey comes out." I was like, "No, that's not the story here. The story here is that Kevin Spacey tried to have sex with a 14-year-old."

SESAY: Yes, and let's be part of the Spacey statement because we -- obviously we just read the first tweet but then he get along to say that -- and we'll put it up on screen, "This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I have loved and had romantic encounter with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man." Now, there's several things that are troubling about your statement.

[01:45:03] I'm going to take your side, but you tell me what you think. From some of the reaction that I'm reading it is conflating it would seem and he's deeply inappropriate behavior as told by Anthony Rapp with homosexuality so a minor --

DURALDE: Correct. A long time bugaboo that they -- that people try to conflate that all gay men our predatory and that all gay men are pedophiles, neither which is true. And on top of that he tries to use the "I was drunk" excuse which as one of my favorite tweets that I -- it says, "I've been very, very gay and very, very drunk and I have never hit on a teenager."

SESAY: Yes. And then there's a whole, "I choose now to live as a gay man." Do you want to take that?

DURALDE: Well, you know, using the word "choose" I think is a really bad red flag because that digs up the whole idea that somehow, you know, being gay is a choice, I mean, it's not. And, you know, yes, he can certainly choose to be out now for having chosen to not be for a long time. But Kevin Spacey has lived as a gay man for a long time.

SESAY: And a lot of people have known that.

DURALDE: A lot of people have known about it. He -- his friends have known, his co-workers have known. This isn't a sudden thing. He is choosing to make this public now which is a very different thing and he's choosing now to do that because he want to talk about anything but the Anthony Rapp story.

SESAY: GLAAD, you know, the media organization -- media monitoring organization founded by LGBT, individuals that monitor the media basically said that -- they put out a tweet as posted by "The New York Times" coming story should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault, but you touched on this earlier that a lot of people in the media fell for it. What does that say about the media?

DURALDE: You know, it says that this publicists obviously knew what they were doing when they timed to this thing but it's a -- it's a terrible choice to make and, you know, I -- but what really becomes dispiriting about all this is that because he has been holding back this information for so long and because BuzzFeed, Adam Vary has been working on this story for quite a while, they approached Spacey many times for some kind of comment, as soon as the BuzzFeed story goes live they released this.

SESAY: So they had the statement ready?

DURALDE: So they had it -- they had the statement ready and then all -- and the -- and if you look at the long game, Spacey was, I think, holding back on this information, waiting for this kind of accusation to come forward.

SESAY: He does say, as you point out, holding back, waiting for this accusation, this kind of accusations come forth. "This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life." There are other stories out there. He touches on that.

DURALDE: You know, there's never one. As we've learned anything from what's been happening with Bill Cosby, with Harvey Weinstein, with Donald Trump, there's never just one. So I think that he's trying to get ahead with whoever's going to come following Anthony Rapp's would set with their own stories, with his -- with this ludicrous statement which is just -- it's offensive, it's cynical, and it's a distraction.

SESAY: House of Cards, it's a -- that's a -- it's done, they say, this had --- it had nothing to do with it. DURALDE: And yes, for the -- what you hear from people who said that that was something that was long in the works, but frankly, I would've loved to have seen President Robin Wright.

SESAY: Your thoughts on what this means -- this means going forward.

DURALDE: You know, I don't know. Somebody asked me today, "Is Kevin Spacey over?" And a part of me likes to think yes but part of me thinks, well, you know, Hollywood forgave Mel Gibson. So everything is on the table.

SESAY: Interesting, which we'll see but I guess, that we'll only going to answer that question truthfully, if more -- if and when --

DURALDE: Absolutely, who else is going to have something to say about this?

SESAY: Still what they have to say.


SESAY: Yes. Well, thank you so much. Thank you for the great conversation.

VAUSE: Well, next on CNN NEWSROOM. Now the toughest day on the Trump presidency played out on Fox news. First came denial, then anger, bargaining, in the hands of depression, finally acceptance. The five stages of grief.


[01:50:46] VAUSE: When CNN brought the news on Friday that the grand jury had approved the first charges in Robert Mueller Russia investigation exude off a journalistic chain reaction in Washington with almost every major news outlets scrambling to max the reporting on trying to move the story forward. But at the Fox News Channel, at first it seems there was just a formal denial, as in just denied the story even exists.


JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Welcome to the special edition of Hannity. I'm Judge Jeanine Pirro. And tonight for Sean, this week, major developments in several Democrat scandals including the controversial Uranium One deal.


VAUSE: And that was the 10:00 PM hour, almost two hours after the story broke on CNN and with regular host Sean Hannity was not on the air, he was on Twitter and expressed outrage and anger in a series of tweets like this one, "This has been a horrible week Mueller, special counsel's office. This is all a distraction. Monday I'll have the details.

Tick tock." By Monday as more details emerged including a guilty plea by George Papadopoulos a former Trump foreign policy adviser who lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Some at the network over at Fox had moved on to bargaining.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Papadopoulos, what he did, Hillary did 10 times worst.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, independent --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary was the one that paid millions of dollars to dog up Russian dirt--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to include and to influence in election and possibly an investigation.


VAUSE: And while it wasn't quite depression the normally bright and chirpy morning crew that "FOX & FRIENDS", well, at times they weren't quite themselves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, just keep in mind this or I'll have to keep this in mind, just because they indict you, it doesn't mean you're guilty. So if it is Paul Manafort, then they get the fight back, then they get to mount a defense, find out what they have and they go to trial and then we'll see where it goes from there.


VAUSE: So just to recap, the reaction on Fox and both anchors has moved from denial to anger, bargaining, and maybe a glimpse of depression which only leaves acceptance as the final stage of grieving. CNN Senior Correspondent for Media and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter joins us now from New York for more on the alternative universe that is Fox News. Brian, as always, good to see you.


VAUSE: It does seem that Fox eventually accepted this was a big story but there was still almost a reluctance or a hesitation to cover the story for what it was.

STELTER: Yes, there was a desire to cover A, B, and anything but Mueller. We saw that throughout the day on Monday and as a reflective of this broader sense in conservative media circles this is a terrible story for President Trump and thus -- it's just to change the subject. Acknowledge the news when you have to, cover as much as you have to but then move on to more exciting stories like perceived Clinton scandals.

Now truly what's happened here, there's been an attempted deny and then deflect and distract by talking a lot about Hilary Clinton and a lot less about President Trump.

VAUSE: They always did manage to pivot back to Hillary Clinton, Hilary malice, who paid for the Russian dossier. And yes, that is news, we could argue how much coverage it deserves on a day like this. But what about this clip I'm about to show you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. This cheeseburger emoji causing a frenzy online. We've been talking about it all morning. Can you see what's wrong with this picture? The cheese is underneath the hamburger. Who does that?


VAUSE: Yes, who does that?

STELTER: Making me hungry, John.

VAUSE: Where did the -- where's -- where did the cheese go? They does -- well, it did seem there were a lot of topics which were kind of out of place on a big news day like this.

STELTER: Yes, this is "FOX & FRIENDS" you know, the network's conservative morning show, President Trump's favorite show. And then while all the other network in cable morning shows were going all in with rolling coverage of the Mueller, of the first indictments, "FOX & FRIENDS" was still covering topics like emojis. They would acknowledge the Mueller news and then go back to the story they really wanted to cover because it wasn't -- for whatever you say about Fox, they know their audience.

They know what they're conservative, what the audience wants to hear. I would say here, I think you would say you would argue that they should report the news to that audience but Fox knows that its audience doesn't necessarily want to hear the ugly news for the Trump administration. So it does do a good job of coming up of alternatives.

[01:55:07] VAUSE: Okay. Well, a former Trump (INAUDIBLE) Michael Caputo, he was interviewed, I think during "FOX & FRIENDS" as well about that fusion dossier, he argued to prove a connection between the Clintons, the Democrats, and Russia. Shortly after he appeared, the president tweeted this, "Great job by Michael Caputo on @foxandfriends".

So this does raise the question, though, is this a news channel with an audience of one, as in the president, and what does that mean to the rest of the viewers who are mostly conservative, who simply get their news most of the time from Fox? STELTER: When Fox downplays or distracts from what's really going on it actually does a disservice to the viewers including, viewer number one, President Trump, but also to the millions of other viewers, because ultimately they're not being told how serious this Mueller investigation is and how much it could end up affecting the Trump presidency. I think the Murdoch effect is really interesting to keep an eye on here because he's close to President Trump, the two men speak from time to time.

And we are seeing Murdoch promote this idea that may Mueller should go, maybe Mueller shouldn't remain in charge of this investigation. If we ever do see President Trump try to fire Robert Mueller, it may well be because of what he's hearing from Murdoch's outlets.

VAUSE: Yes, it was interesting because yes, there were a lot of segments on Mueller's credibility and as of weekend the cause of this investigation, how this -- how can it be justified and yes, we focused on Fox but as you say it is a bigger picture dealing with a lot of the conservative media out there. As always, Brian, good to see you. Thanks so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

VAUSE: It was really interesting to flip between the channels all week long and to see --

SESAY: And see completely different news agendas.

VAUSE: I mean, really, I mean, it was very strange and, you know, there were some, you know, obviously there were some, you know, significant stories that Fox been covering, it's just that -- it just didn't seem sort of like it was more important than what everybody else is coming to, that I can --

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) the emojis.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please follow us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA for highlights and clips of the day.

SESAY: John loves to hear from you.

VAUSE: Oh, yes. We will be back with more news after this.


[01:59:57] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, the head this hour.

SESAY: The bombshell indictment three former Trump campaign officials, and the President said to be seething.

VAUSE: Plus, facing charges of rebellion and sedition from Madrid, the Catalan leader bolts to Belgium.

SESAY: And babies murdered in front of their mother's children --