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Trump Lawyers Want to Limit Scope of Potential Mueller Interview; Interview with Representative Tom Marino; Russia Hindering Fight Against ISIS in Syria?; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:55] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned that the president's attorneys are looking into ways to limit the scope of questioning that he may face if he is questioned by Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: According to sources the president's legal team has been anticipating a request from Mueller to speak to the president.

Shimon Prokupecz in Washington with the very latest on this.

What's going on behind the scenes, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, John, so this anticipation sort of, it's coming off a recent meeting the president's lawyers had with the special counsel and CNN is told that some of the options being considered by the lawyers, these internal conversations by the president's lawyers, are perhaps where they would have the president testify under oath, maybe he would provide written answers to questions that the special counsel would provide, and then finally, whether Trump's testimony should be recorded in some fashion, whether that would be a video recording or some other thing, and fed out to a -- to the special counsel, maybe they would record it for future use.

It's unclear as to what that option really means. And what we're basically told is that this interview would be conducted by the FBI and prosecutors, attorneys for the Mueller team, and keep in mind that no date has been set, but at the very least, the lawyers for the president right now are researching and preparing for all of these options.

And John and Poppy, as any good lawyer would want to do, the president's lawyers are hoping to limit the scope of the questioning.

HARLOW: Right.

PROKUPECZ: So this doesn't become kind of a fishing expedition.

BERMAN: What does that mean?


BERMAN: Or what would that mean, Shimon? I mean, what are they nervous that they could fish into? What would they be willing to answer questions on?

PROKUPECZ: Right. So we know that the special counsel was appointed after the firing of the FBI director, so, though, questions concerning the firing of the former FBI director, James Comey, certainly within the purview of the special counsel. The big question is, you know, has the special counsel been looking at any of the president's financial dealings?

Now keep in mind, before the appointment of the special counsel, the FBI was never investigating the president. They basically told him so much. Comey told him that he wasn't under investigation. Comey also briefed members of Congress that the president wasn't under investigation.

So for any questioning that would occur now, the lawyers would hope would be limited to his actions while he has been in the White House. So the Comey firing and perhaps even the hiring of Michael Flynn.

HARLOW: All right. Shimon, appreciate the reporting as always. Let us know when you have more on that.

So we are waiting because in moments House Speaker Paul Ryan will take reporters' questions. You see GOP leadership up there at the microphone. He will certainly be asked about the meeting at the White House today, a showdown over keeping the government open and immigration. Also questions about "Fire and Fury," that book questioning the president's mental fitness. What will he say? Stay with us.


[10:37:40] BERMAN: House Speaker Paul Ryan taking questions.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I already know where you're going. Just kidding.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the floor that doesn't have the support of the majority?

RYAN: I'm not going to negotiate with the media on such things. What we want to do is have a -- we want to have a DACA compromise. We want to make sure that DACA -- the DACA problem is solved. But as you've heard me say time and again this has to be balanced so that we don't have a DACA problem five, 10 years down the road. So while we deal with this DACA issue which does need to be dealt with, well, then we agree with that. We want to make sure that we have the right kind of interior and border enforcement so that we don't have another DACA problem down the road.

The president is inviting Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate today down at the White House to advance this issue. We're hopeful and confident that these bipartisan talks will bear fruit and it has to be a good, balanced package and we do want to see a solution on that. Andy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you accept the premises that you won't be able to sort through these budget issues that have been held over until you can figure out an agreement -- a bipartisan agreement on immigration?

RYAN: Well, I don't know if I accept any particular premise. Only that we are having bipartisan conversations about all of these issues. We've got CHIP that's expiring, we're having good bipartisan conversations about that. We're having a bipartisan conversation about a cap agreement because there are things we want to address with the cap agreement like the military, and there are other things like DACA.

So we have deadlines. We understand these deadlines and I think we're having good bipartisan conversations. So I won't -- you know, I won't get into all the details of each one of these things but there's a lot of work we have to do and I think all of us, from the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, know that we have to get working on these issues. Yes?


RYAN: Her right there. Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, given the deadline next Friday if you cannot reach a deal on some of those longer term issues, what's the current support level for the shorter terms?

RYAN: I'm not going to get into the hypotheticals. I think we're having good, fruitful conversations with our members. So I'll just leave that. When I have more to report, I'll do it.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, are earmarks making a comeback and can you get help --

RYAN: Conversations are having a comeback. No. I think what you're talking about is the Rules Committee hearings. We've encouraged our members all along to talk about budget process reforms. Many of us have opinions on this issue but I want our members to have conversations. We have members who are very frustrated with the corps -- the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not been up to snuff to getting its job done and that is among the concerns that the Rules Committee is going to be having conversations about.


RYAN: Thanks, everybody.

[10:40:05] BERMAN: You've been listening to House Speaker Paul Ryan taking questions, though not too many questions from the press, on what Republicans in Congress are looking for in this deal over Dreamers. What will he do? What will he allow to keep some 800,000 of these Dreamers safe and in this country? Will he insist on the border wall as the president has? Paul Ryan didn't tell us much right there, but there are discussions

that will be going on at the White House very shortly.

HARLOW: Very, very shortly. Republican Congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania joins us now.

Good morning.


HARLOW: Thanks for being with us.

MARINO: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Look, highly-placed source in the middle of these negotiations said they are, quote, "a mess" right now. The way that Speaker Ryan characterized them is good and fruitful conversations. How do you see it?

MARINO: Well, I put very little stock in highly placed source as a prosecutor for 18 years. I deal in facts and the facts that I'm seeing that negotiations are coming along, most issues are agreeable, but there are a few issues that need detail, particularly on the DACA issue concerning whether we pass a budget.

So I'm more a person that sees a glass half full here and speaking with my colleagues in the gym in the morning and the other side of the aisle as well. We're all ready to get into this and make be sure that we make America great again.

BERMAN: What do you want to see happen to the Dreamers? Do you want to see protections for these 800,000 people or do you see it as amnesty if they stay?

MARINO: No. I worked with kids all my life, protected them as a prosecutor. I'm a foster parent, I was as a big brother. These kids grew up here in this country so we have to find a method by which that we keep these children here and these young people here, but in order to do that, as I heard Paul say, we need to make sure that we fix the problem and don't have this issue down the road.

And a lot of fixing that problem is border control. But we will get to the point where -- I've had young people come and see me, ready to go to college or doing well in school, and I know just by talking to these young kids that they're going to be an asset to this country.

HARLOW: So you say reach a deal. We have to reach a deal and that reflects what most Americans are saying right now.

MARINO: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: On opioids, so you withdrew your name from nomination for drug czar last year. This followed a pretty explosive report from "60 Minutes" and the "Washington Post" that argued that you were the chief supporter of a law that really crippled the DEA's ability to stem the flow of these opioids across the country. You've been public saying how much you disagree with that reporting.

You say it mischaracterized your role. But now, despite, you know, winning 70 percent of the vote the last time around, you're up for re- election and here's what your challenger writes about you, Congressman.

"Rather than standing up for his constituents who have been hit hard by this epidemic, Tom Marino made the opioid crisis worse. He solicited campaign contributions from big drug companies then sponsored a bill that allowed them to flood our communities with opioids."

Is there anything that you --


HARLOW: Is there anything that you regret about your role in getting that law passed?

MARINO: No. First of all it was a good piece of legislation and it was because my constituents could not get their medication, particularly those that were terminally ill, and it was because of a rogue cop who didn't even read the legislation.

That wasn't my legislation. The Senate changed the wording in it. The wording that I had in there was foreseeability and the DEA and the Justice Department agreed to it. By the time it got to the Senate, it was significantly changed to substantial and I'm told by the senators over there that it was changed by the Justice Department. They wanted a higher standard. And let's face it, everybody voted for that legislation.

BERMAN: So, Congressman --

MARINO: Even the president signed on it.


MARINO: So -- and I heard some testimony from an assistant at the DEA, and I don't know if she wasn't aware of it, but she stated that that legislation, even with the word substantial in there, did not hinder the DEA. There was a retired DEA agent that "60 Minutes" interviewed that simply said, hey, it wasn't the legislation.

BERMAN: Congressman --

MARINO: It simply was -- that's what DOJ wanted.

BERMAN: Let's look forward, if we can, on this subject because you say that you didn't support the legislation that ultimately passed.

HARLOW: That passed.

BERMAN: Claire McCaskill now in the Senate has proposed some legislation to give the DEA more enforcement powers, to restore in some ways those enforcement powers that were changed with the language there. Would you support that?

[10:45:03] MARINO: Well, it all depends what the language is. The person from DEA said that they didn't like the substantial, but they liked my language of foreseeability. And I worked at the DEA for 18 years and that's the premise they worked on.

And you want to talk about Claire McCaskill. This is the one that said she wasn't there when the vote took place and then she was called out on that when she was there and then she blamed it on her staff. She's in trouble in her district. So just like a lot of people did, they run with their tail between their legs when they all voted for this.


MARINO: We should go back to the language that says "foreseeability" and the DEA has told me that that's the language that they want.

HARLOW: Just to be clear and put a button on this before we move on, it sounds to me like you are saying, Congressman, that you think the legislation that ultimately did pass with that language, is bad for America? Has been harmful for America and you don't want to see it sustained. Is that correct?

MARINO: I don't want to see the word "substantial" in there. I want to see "foreseeability."



MARINO: That's a lesser standard for them to get over.

BERMAN: So you want to change the wording in it at a minimum.

Congressman, if we can go back to the immigration discussion for one moment if I can, the president has insisted on funding for a border wall. We had Rich Galen, a former Republican operative on just a few minutes ago.


BERMAN: Who said for what? Right. Illegal border crossings are at their lowest levels --

HARLOW: Down 46 percent.

BERMAN: Down big. So the wall is keeping who out, exactly?

MARINO: The wall is keeping those out, the drug dealers out, the criminals out, and it will keep people out that shouldn't be here that want to come and are trying to come in the future. They're trying to come in today as we speak. We just want to make sure who's coming into this country.

Look, I'm second generation Italian-American. My family came here. And people shouldn't be able to come here, but we want to make sure those people are vetted. And you know something, I do want to get back to one issue on the drug thing that you brought up, and that issue is, there was no due process taking place.

We had a rogue cop and then we had a hit piece done by "60 Minutes" and "The Post" and we know how they are. Since I'm a Republican and they want to get even with Trump this is exactly what they try to do but we're dealing with that.

BERMAN: They made clear, the Democrats voted for it also. They made clear as you said this was, you know, by and large a unanimous vote and we have asked Democrats about their votes on it.

HARLOW: A lot of them.

BERMAN: Many of them as well.

MARINO: You know something, this is another thing, no one said a word about this. We sent this legislation around, we sent it to the DEA, we sent it to anybody that had a dog in the hunt.


MARINO: And they liked it. And then once --

HARLOW: Congressman, we're not contesting that.

MARINO: Yes -- no. OK, I know you're not contesting --

BERMAN: Actually since you are still --

MARINO: Listen, you brought it up.

BERMAN: I'm not arguing.

MARINO: And we're going to address this issue and here's the fact. Everybody said that they voted for the legislation, but when the "Post" and when "60 Minutes" lied about it, then they ran for the hills. I'm the kind of guy --

BERMAN: Do you regret --

MARINO: -- that stands up.

BERMAN: Do you regret that you're not up for the drug czar still?


BERMAN: Do you regret that you're not the drug czar?

MARINO: Very much so. I don't mean to sound conceited but I would have been a very good drug czar because I've seen what happens -- happened over my 18-year career and my policy was going to start with prevention, rehabilitation, and certainly putting the dealers in prison. HARLOW: Then on that point, just why did you then withdraw your name

from the nomination if you felt so strongly as you've made clear to us this morning that you didn't believe the reporting? Why did you withdraw your name then?

MARINO: Because it was making a problem for the president. He had other issues to deal with. And in order to get over that, the media was going to take and drag through the mud. I didn't want the president to be burdened with that.

BERMAN: Congressman Tom Marino, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.

HARLOW: Thank you, sir.

MARINO: You're welcome. Yes.

BERMAN: A lot of news to get to. We'll be right back.


[10:53:26] BERMAN: All right. This morning Russia is facing accusations that it is hindering the fight against ISIS in Syria. Coalition official says that Russian military officials turned down their request to strike ISIS targets near a key base used by U.S. troops.

HARLOW: Our Barbara Starr has the latest from the Pentagon. I mean, this is an interesting, potentially disturbing turn. Why did this happen? Do we know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We don't know. U.S. officials are telling our own Ryan Browne that they're confused and they don't know why the Russians turned down the request to bomb what the U.S. strongly believed were ISIS militants that were threatening this -- this base that the U.S. uses in southern Syria.

The U.S. went to the Russians on the deconfliction line, that telephone line essentially that keeps the two sides from having accidents in the sky. And the Russians said no, you can't bomb it. It's really interesting because it comes at a time, of course, when the world is so focused on the big Russia meddling scandal in the election and it really underscores there still are these day-to-day strains in the U.S./Russian military relationship, especially in Syria and that Russians, having their own problems there.

They are now publicly acknowledging that their bases have been attacked by anti-regime forces, by insurgents. They have suffered airplane damage from attacks that they have had from drones flying over their bases. They've even had two service members killed in an attack, so the Russians feeling the strain of their own presence in Syria and making things a bit difficult for the U.S. presence there. Right now the U.S. has not conducted the air strikes we are told.

[10:55:03] That it wants to conduct in this area of southern Syria to push ISIS back. So this is a big stay tuned to see if the U.S. and Moscow can work it all out -- John, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, we appreciate the reporting. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right. We are just minutes away now from a high-stakes, bipartisan meeting at the White House. This is crucial. At stake right now is a possible, although not right now attainable, apparently, deal on what to do with hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in this country and whether or not to build the president's proposed border wall.

New developments ahead. Stay with CNN.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. And just minutes from now, a big meeting at the White House.