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Attorneys For General Flynn Had Stopped Sharing Information About The Investigation With President Trump's Legal Counsel; Texas Woman Is Accused Of Sending Homemade Bombs To Former President Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbot And The Social Security Office; Firefighter Jumped Into Action, Going Beyond The Call Of Duty. Aired 3:30-4:00p ET
Aired November 24, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: A trench in planting trees, how -- this has to, I imagine, entice other soldiers if any of them get word that this happened. Do you think we will see others trying to defect as well?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, that certainly get worried that it happened because, you know, they are all under unit that went on there. I think the fact that he was pretty badly shut up and probably be a significant deterrent and they are making it harder.
But you know, I think the bigger question, Brooke, is we touched on briefly yesterday is does everything that we have seen happen in the past couple of weeks, the fact that the north is not sent off a missile for a-while, the fact the President put them back on the state department's terrorism was and the fact that you had this kind of incident make it harder or easier to get talks going? I don't see any way that it actually makes it any easier for the United States to engage. I suspect you are going to see Kim Jong-un sort of dig deeper into his cocoon.
BALDWIN: Interesting. So the silence and cocoon will continue potentially.
What about Russia, David? Because we know Russia is attacking, you know, the U.S. for that state sponsor of terror designation saying this only escalates things. What do you make of the fact that Russia is the one trying to tame tensions?
SANGER: Well, I'm not sure they are trying to tame tensions. It's entirely possible that the Russians have concluded that China is tired of dealing with Kim Jong-un. And while it may not destabilized a regime, it's certainly not making life any easier for it. And I think Putin has seen an opportunity here to start do an opening to North Korea partly is in written to the United States, partly they give the North Koreans another way perhaps even to buy oil or have internet connections.
It was an interesting reporting last month that the Russians were going to be opening up a second wave for North Korea It was to communicate around the world. And of course North Korea has been a significant source of cyber activity around the world including the (INAUDIBLE) attack in Britain and elsewhere. So it's possible that Putin just sees this as another way to get in the way of U.S. diplomacy.
BALDWIN: OK. David Sanger, thank you so much as always. Appreciate it.
SANGER: Great to be with you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Coming up next here back to this Michael Flynn development today. Lawyers for General Flynn say they will not be talking to, cooperating with Trump's legal team anymore. Why that significant and what that means for the former national security adviser and this whole Russia investigation.
Also ahead, the feds say a woman mailed bombs to former President Obama and the current Texas governor. And one of them was just opened. Details ahead.
[15:37:04] BALDWIN: And we are back on this Friday. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
This new development today in the Russian investigation involving former national security advisor Michael Flynn. A source tells CNN that attorneys for General Flynn had stopped sharing information about the investigation with President Trump's legal counsel. What's not clear here is that this change means that Flynn is actually about to strike a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn's time inside the White House lasted less than a month. But before he was forced out there were a series of missteps that likely lead to his downfall.
CNN's Randi Kaye has that.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The warning came January 26th from deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President was immediately informed of the situation.
KAYE: Yates told the White House counsel that national security advisor Michael Flynn was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by Russia because he has lied about his conversations to the Russian ambassador.
Despite this urgent warning it seemed to be business as usual at the White House. Keep in mind, Flynn had been labeled a security risk yet the very next day he was seen walking with other White House staff along the west wing colony. On January 28th, two days after the warning he was in the oval office
as the President signed executive orders and while the President called not only German chancellor Angela Merkel but also Russian president Vladimir Putin. Remember, at this point the White House is aware that Flynn is potentially compromised by Russia.
That same day the President tweeting out this photo of a major security gathering, Flynn standing right behind him. None of that was keeping with what should have been done in light of the warning about Flynn. One Democratic senator telling CNN if there was concern a White House staffer may have been compromised that staffer should have been quote "fire walled, separated from classified material and kept out of sensitive meetings of foreign officials."
Instead, the Trump administration appears to be focused on getting the President's travel ban through even firing Sally Yates after she made it clear she would not defend it. Flynn meanwhile remained on the job.
On February 1st, a week after the warning, General Flynn was publicly condemning Iran.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
KAYE: And hiring more staff.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The national security advisor Mike Flynn today announces additions to the NSC senior staff.
KAYE: On February 6th, Michael Flynn joined a briefing at central command and on February 7th after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
SPICER: General Flynn spoke with the Afghan national security advisor to reaffirm our continued support for Afghanistan and for our strategic partnership.
KAYE: On that same day Trump denying any connections to Russia. I don't know Putin. Have no deals in Russia and the haters are going crazy.
On February 8th in an interview with "the Washington Post," Flynn denied discussing U.S. sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But the next day a spokesman for Flynn hedging, telling "the Post" Flynn couldn't be certain that the topic never came up. Only after that report did vice president Pence supposedly learn that Flynn had given him bad information even though President Trump had known that for two weeks.
And on February 10th, just days before Flynn would be ousted, Trump was asked about Flynn's connections to Russia.
[15:40:32] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that? I'll look at that. KAYE: On February 12th, hours before Flynn would resign the President
was golfing in Florida. And on February 13th, Flynn's last day on the job, more denials from the west wing.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Yes, General Flynn does and joined the full competence of President.
KAYE: Then a short time later a difference take from press secretary Spicer saying the President is evaluating the situation.
Finally that afternoon 18 days after the White House had been warned about him retired army lieutenant general Michael Flynn was officially out of a job.
Randi Kaye, CNN New York.
BALDWIN: So has Flynn flipped in the Mueller investigation?
Joining me now to talk about this Seth Berenzweig. He is an attorney with this great legal perspective.
And so, Seth, you know, what does your get tell you on this, cooperating or we don't know necessarily?
SETH BERENZWEIG, BUSINESS AND COMPLIANCE ATTORNEY: We don't know for certain but I believe that very strong indicator that he has cooperating the Mueller's office. He has stepped out of a joint defense agreement which is a very unusual step.
Joint defense agreements are sometimes called (INAUDIBLE) are very common in this white collar field. Stepping out of them is an entirely different matter. This is a seismic shift. I know White House council has tried to downplay this. But this is a really big deal. And I think that one of the major keys to keep in mind here is that General Flynn sits at the heart of the top two targets of the Mueller investigation specifically Russia and obstruction. He goes long and deep in both of those areas so this is a major development.
BALDWIN: I know you heard my conversation at the top of the hours with Norm Eisen (ph) who was, you know, a special voice on all of this because he knew (INAUDIBLE) of cooperation deal with Mueller's office as U.S. attorney. And he was saying to me, the only way Bob Mueller is going to offer any kind of deal to Michael Flynn is if he rolls on someone up the poll which would be, you know, Jared Kushner, Don Junior or Trump himself. Do you agree?
BERENZWEIG: I would agree completely. And I think that that conclusion is (INAUDIBLE) by taking a look at the unique position that Flynn is in. Flynn is one of the only senior people in the entire perspective on both of those top target issues that goes long and deep with the highest echelons with contacts in both the Russian government and in the Trump administration. So you can go back to easily, for example, 2015 where Flynn had the dinner in Russia with Putin and there was a lot of contact with the government, with RT, he goes long and deep with some of the senior officials. When you go back to the perspective of the White House, he has had a long trusting relationship not only with the President but the President's children as well.
So I agree with that. And I think that no one is in a stronger position to do this in a very dramatic way than General Flynn.
BALDWIN: How much of a factor do you think is his son in all of this? You know, there had been reports that recently - he has been so loyal to Trump, but there had been reports recently that his son could be implicated in some of this. Do you think that was the tactic on behalf of prosecutors to get him to cooperate?
BERENZWEIG: That's a great point. And I would say the answer is absolutely yes. And as an indicator to that, I would point us to the DC federal docket. If you dig into that you will note that when you go into the cases for Manafort engaged in Papadopoulos, there are four consecutive sealed cases, case number, that are right there, that are currently sealed and undisclosed.
I predict that one of those cases is against General Flynn and his son. And that that will be unsealed within the next couple of weeks. And I think you have hit the nail on the head. He might not have rolled for himself, but the fact that he sees his son in the crosshairs is going to be a major reason why he wants to cooperate. And I think this brings a major new storm cloud to the White House.
BALDWIN: What would be the reason that Manafort and Flynn's have blasted Bob Mueller so publicly to placate the President?
BERENZWEIG: Well, I think that they are doing it because they think that they are carrying favor for a federal pardon. But I think that that ultimately just going to be a foolish game that leads nowhere fast. Because first of all, I don't think the President is going to pardon them. And secondly, even if he does, Bob Mueller who is very, very smart is cooperating with attorney general Schneider in New York and a lot of these are parallel cases for state prosecutions. The President only has federal pardon authority in that state. So in the long and short of it, I think that they are trying to go play the long game. But at the end of the day, they are really just shooting themselves in the foot. And they are creating more acrimony with the federal prosecutors. That's never a good strategy.
[15:45:11] BALDWIN: Yes. Schneider. How do you know that a cooperating witness is actually it is revealing everything here she knows.
BERENZWEIG: Well, I think that the reason why the federal prosecutor's office knows that is because before they have go and they talk to a witness they have a ground swell of documents that they have gotten through their investigation through subpoenas and they are fully prepared to take a look at those documents and understand exactly how the witness is cooperating or not cooperating.
So for example, one of the reasons that they got Papadopoulos is because they had information that they knew that he was committing a violation of the false statements act. So they have all of the information at their hand. They are fully prepared. And it is just a gradual progression of how federal prosecutors tee up these kinds of cases.
BALDWIN: Seth Berenzweig, we will all be watching very carefully to see how this goes and see if you were right about a couple of those things. Thank you so much, Seth. We will see you again.
BERENZWEIG: My pleasure.
BALDWIN: Coming up next here, a woman accused of mailing bombs to President Obama and the governor of Texas has been indicted. How cat hair helped lead to her arrest.
[15:50:39] BALDWIN: A Texas woman is accused of sending homemade bombs to former President Obama, Texas governor Greg Abbot and the Social Security office. Court documents show the woman has been indicted for mailing those bombs last year. The package sent to President Obama was stopped before it ever made it to the White House, but governor Abbot actually opened the mail -- the bomb himself. It did not detonate.
Well listen to this, police linked the woman to each case by a few bungled details including hair from one of her cats found under a shipping label with her name on it. The suspect's attorney says her client has no comment at this time.
And imagine this, you are on a busy highway when it looks like a plane is about to crash and hit you. That is exactly what happened to one off-duty firefighter in California.
CNN's Stephanie Elam tells us how the firefighter jumped into action, going beyond the call of duty.
CAPT. JOHN MEFFERT, AVALON CALIFORNIA FIRE DEPARTMENT: It happened so fast.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 9:30 a.m., the Friday before the 4th of July in Orange County, California. John Meffert is driving southbound near John Wayne airport on the 405, one of America's busiest highways at the start of a big getaway weekend.
MEFFERT: My first glimpse is, wow, that plain is like really low.
ELAM: A twin engine Sesna (ph) is trying to return to the airport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday! Mayday! I lost my right engine.
MEFFERT: And then my second glimpse is, I think this plane is going to hit me. All I see is a white flash haze. The wing came across the front of my car. I have like one big scrape all across the front with, like, one dent. ELAM: But Meffert, who happens to be a captain with the Avalon fire
department isn't thinking about that. He immediately starts running towards the plane which crashed on the highway and in flames just feet from the runway.
MEFFERT: I don't think there was going to be a survivor in that plane. That was until I saw the passenger, her head pops up just enough that I'm like there is somebody alive.
ELAM: Meffert ushers the female passenger to safety before pulling the pilot off the plane.
MEFFERT: Just the two of you?
ELAM: Meffert and other drivers tend to the couple. Both are injured but lucid enough to answer questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just breathe, OK? Any back pain?
MEFFERT: Both of them were pretty bloody. I was really amazed that there weren't like more injury to them.
ELAM: Frank and Jane (INAUDIBLE) both broke several bones in their back. To CNN, Frank said John was a hero. He went into a burning plane to save us. He saved my life and my wife's because I know she would have stayed trying to help me.
Do you play that moment over and over again in your head?
MEFFERT: I play all the what Ifs, the going slower or going faster. It could have been a different turnout. We just had lots of angels. So I feel very blessed that I was safe and I was able to render care to them.
ELAM: An instance of the right place, right time measured in millimeters and seconds.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, Avalon, California.
BALDWIN: Look at that. Angels. Thank goodness for that firefighter.
Still ahead here on CNN, secretary of state Rex Tillerson reportedly snubbing Ivanka Trump as she is about to head to India. Hear why coming up.
[15:58:42] BALDWIN: Voting is now underway for the CNN hero of the year. Here is one of this year's top ten.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many orphans who are left behind. We can build their lives again. In the year 2000, I found a boy on my doorstep and I took him in. That was the best day --
I've never turned any child away. Most of them are abandoned by their parents because of HIV and aids. We feed them, we clothe them, we send them to school. The basic things are to give them the love. Our center now has become a center of hope for the children. Everybody has got a dream. And my wish is for their dream to be fulfilled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We love hearing these stories. Please vote for any of your favorite top ten heroes right now. Go to CNNheros.com.
And I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Atlanta today. Thank you so, so much for being with me. Have wonderful holiday weekends. We don't know the (INAUDIBLE). Jim Sciutto sitting in for Jake Tapper. "The LEAD" starts now.