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Attorneys for Rick Gates Want to Withdraw from Case; Trump Orders Pentagon to Plan Military Parade; Investors Brace for Another Wild Day on Wall Street; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: -- several attorneys in the past few weeks from Tom Green's law firm going into the same building where Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is based. So that of course raises the question, with this change in legal team, could it be a change in legal strategy and could there be some sort of plea deal in the works here for Rick Gates?

Of course if that were to happen, that is all speculation at this point, but we know that Rick Gates could be a key person for Mueller's team to talk to. Rick Gates of course was a campaign aide on the Trump team, he was a former associate -- business associate of Paul Manafort. And we know that so far he has pleaded not guilty to those eight charges including money laundering.

So, John, the hearing begins in just a few minutes here. The -- probably they'll be talking about a change in legal team here and that brings up the question, could it be a change in legal strategy, perhaps a plea deal in the works? That all remains to be seen -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jessica Schneider for us in Washington. Watch that for us very closely.

In the meantime we want to bring in Samuel Buell, former federal prosecutor, to help us understand this and much more.

Sam, thanks so much for being with us. I'm going to come back to Rick Gates in a second. I do want to start with another bit of news overnight from CNN. Our Sara Murray reporting that the president is now saying he would still like to sit down with investigators from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. He thinks he can handle it. He thinks he can work this is the exact quote that Sara Murray was told.

This after CNN has been told by lawyers and people close to the president they were afraid of the president sitting down with investigators because they were fearful that he could get caught lying. So what do you make of the president, you know,. at least suggesting publicly that he'd be willing to testify?

SAMUEL BUELL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, John, I'm still skeptical that there's going to be an interview. I think, you know, there's a good cop, bad cop routine going on here. I think the president has been in his public statements acting as if this is no big deal, he's ready to do it, open book. Let's have -- you know, let's answer the questions, I've got nothing to hide. That all plays very well politically, particularly with his base.

Meanwhile, I have no doubt that behind the scenes his lawyers are driving a very hard bargain with Mueller over the terms of the interview, probably a bargain that has terms that are acceptable to Mueller. And I still think the most likely outcome here is an impasse with Mueller after which the president claims he was perfectly willing to be interviewed and the special counsel is muzzled as he always is and isn't able to explain that actually the terms were not acceptable.

BERMAN: So an impasse. What happens after an impasse? Do they just pack up their papers and go home, or do you think that the special counsel would seek a grand jury subpoena?

BUELL: Well, that is really the big question, John. I think if he were an independent counsel under the old regime, ala Ken Starr, I think he'd probably go ahead and do that. I think now under the special counsel scheme where he has to report directly to political appointees at the Justice Department in the first instance Rod Rosenstein who, you know, obviously is a White House appointee, maybe in some peril, it becomes a much trickier question whether to issue that subpoena.

There's no question that if Mueller wanted to subpoena the president to the grand jury, he would have to get Rod Rosenstein's approval for that, and he'd have to show that it was essential to the investigation and persuade Rosenstein and others that this wasn't simply an effort to see if Trump could be caught on the record telling a lie. So -- and I think we might not even know what those conversations are if they don't ultimately lead to the issuance of a subpoena.

BERMAN: So you honestly think one possibility is this ends without being told what happened, without the president meeting with the lawyers. That's very, very interesting to me.

Let me get one more point on Rick Gates because this hearing is going on very, very shortly, the former campaign aide to the president, about to walk in for a change of counsel. How do you read this? This is his third set of attorneys. That seems like a lot of attorneys to cycle through. And it does have people speculating he might be close to cutting a deal.

BUELL: Well, that's certainly a possibility, John, but I think it could be going the other way as well. I mean, these could be lawyers -- sometimes you see this happen when lawyers have been imploring a client to reach a deal because they're convinced that it would be a disaster for the client to take the case to trial, and then the client is just on abstinent about his innocence, about having his day in court and the lawyers feel like they just can't continue to represent him in those circumstances because they don't think it's in his best interest.

So that -- it could be going that way, it could be going the other way. I will say it's not automatic when there's a change of counsel that you have to have a hearing before a judge. Sometimes that's something that can just happen fairly routinely with some paperwork, especially when you have a retained counsel who's not appointed by the judge. Why do you need to involve the judge? It suggests to that there have been some problems in the representation that need to be aired with the court and again that could be cutting either way.

BERMAN: That's why we're watching it very, very closely.

Samuel Buell, thank you so much for being with us. Always a pleasure to speak with you.

BUELL: Thanks, John.

[10:35:02] BERMAN: All right. President Trump wants a parade to show off U.S. military strength. Is this in fact a show of respect to the men and women in uniform or is this politics?


BERMAN: President Trump's idea for a grand military parade down the streets of Washington, D.C. is now in the planning stages. Military officials now looking at dates and locations. One option on the table to hold the parade on Veteran's Day in November. The idea was reportedly sparked when the president saw the Bastille Day Parade in France. He went to it and he vowed to top it.

Joining me now is CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Admiral John Kirby.

Thank you so much for being with us, Admiral. You don't like this idea. Why?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, I don't John. I think I worry that it's really more about honoring Donald Trump than it is honoring the troops. And it's really about feeding his ego and his love of pomp and circumstance and being honored.

[10:40:02] The other thing that bothers me about it is that it's just antithetical to American military culture. Look, we're not against parades. Troops march in parades all over the country on Fourth of July. It's not about the parade itself, it's about going down Pennsylvania Avenue allegedly with tanks and missiles and that kind of ostentatious military hardware display. It's just not something we do. We are the world's most powerful military in the world, we don't need to show the gear to do that.

The last thing that bothers me about it, John, is the money. Now some people say, well, gee, what's a few million dollars when your budget is, you know, $700 billion? It's still a few million dollars that we could be applying to other more important problems. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day, we've got Gold Star families out there that need support.

And to the degree there is a civil military gap in this country, John, that gap can be closed better by local outreach programs around the country than marching people down Pennsylvania Avenue. So that's my beef with it.

BERMAN: Let's look at a few different aspects of that. Number one, you said it's something that we in the United States does not do, which is we don't do it as a general practice. But that's not to say it has not been done, right, after the Gulf War of 1991. President George H.W. Bush, there was that parade in Washington.


BERMAN: So what would be the difference between that, which we're looking at pictures right now, and doing one now?

KIRBY: Yes. Yes, it's a great question, John, and it's a fair one. You have to remember that parade was done for a specific purpose on -- about a specific victory, a war that had a very concrete beginning and a war that had a very concrete end. And the parade was designed to show case some of the equipment and the troops that fought in that war. So it was very specifically tailored to the Gulf War.

What he's talking about here is sort of creating some new military tradition, something akin to Bastille Day, where maybe not a one-off, but to keep doing it just for honoring military hardware. And that is antithetical to what we do.


KIRBY: The other thing, John, I would say is that while I'm thinking about this, you know, remember, we still have troops in the field. The wars that we've been fighting for 16 years, they are ongoing. In fact they've morphed into new fights as we continue to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria. So our troops are very much in the field. And again, I think that's where our focus needs to be on, making sure that they get what they need and their families back home get what they need and their support.

BERMAN: I don't know if you've had a chance to talk to your former colleagues in the military, but curious what they think about this, particularly at the leadership level and what position this puts Secretary Mattis under right now, not to mention General Dunford?

KIRBY: Yes. Anecdotally, my former colleagues that I've spoken to, they all have the same feelings I do about this. It really bothers them. I haven't -- I obviously don't know what is going through Secretary Mattis or General Dunford's mind. I wouldn't pretend to speak for them. That said, I think a couple of things. One, they will come up with options, that's their job. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to manage the scope of this in a way that is probably less ostentatious than Bastille Day.

We'll see what they come up with. But I suspect they're going to try to provide options that make this a little less grandiose. I do think and I agree, John, that it puts them in a difficult position. It politicizes them and it potentially politicizes the troops. And the Defense Department is among other agencies, one of the ones that was so important to stay out of politics and nonpartisan and to be sort of above all of that. And to do this parade simply for this purpose, not to celebrate a

victory but to celebrate a president, I think that's really troublesome. It puts them in a very, very bad spot.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see, Veterans Day, celebrate veterans and somehow a more affordable one, albeit one that's been over for quite some time, might be a way so they can navigate their selves out of this.

Admiral Kirby, thanks for being with us. I really appreciate it.

KIRBY: You bet, John.

BERMAN: Vice President Pence is issuing a new warning to North Korea, stop the nuclear program or face the toughest sanctions yet.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To that end, I'm announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever. And we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.


BERMAN: The president made the statement alongside the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. He's on his way to the Olympics. The two leaders vowed to stand together against North Korea. The vice president did not give any details on what the sanctions would be.

We also learned this morning that Vice President Pence plans to meet with North Korean defectors when he arrives in South Korea again where he will be attending the Winter Olympics Games.

The Dow Jones up for now. Up 163 points. We have seen wild swings on Wall Street. Are we in for another day? Stay with us.


[10:49:07] BERMAN: All right. After the days we've been having, we better check in on the markets right now. Look at that. The Dow Jones Industrial Average up 222 points right now. About an hour and 15 minutes after the open. It opened down then shot back up again. We have seen wild, wild swings the last few days.

And just a few moments ago we got a -- some might call it a wild statement from the president of the United States commenting about the stock market. Listen to what the president said.

"In the old days when good news was reported the stock market would go up. Today when good news is reported, the stock market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good, parenthetically, great news about the economy."

Joining me now CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. You know, I'm not quite sure what the president is saying a big

mistake. Is he criticizing investors for --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Two, always capitalize stock market, by the way. I think it's an important punctuation point I also follow.

[10:50:01] However, I think what the president is saying here something that has been true for a long time, that when the economy, when the news is very, very good, it suggests the economy could be overheating and the Fed might have to raise interest rates.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: That's when good news becomes bad news. And you tend to see that later in an economic cycle and we are nine years into this bull market. We are nine years into an expansion, a slow at sometimes expansion in the economy. So now you're starting to see those period of low interest rates going away, right? And the world is coming to grips with this, that we are in a new phase of the cycle. And that's why you're seeing all of this volatility.

BERMAN: And today we're seeing big gains. Yesterday we saw big gains and that follows, you know, two days of big losses. This doesn't mean, Christine Romans, today and yesterday these gains that we're seeing that the issue is settled.

ROMANS: No. It's not.

BERMAN: The concerns among investors.

ROMANS: It's not. And look, today is a 400-point range for the Dow. Very volatile. The S&P 500 which is the better gauge of stock market health, right, is down 6 percent from its record highs. So it hasn't officially done a correction closed in correction territory which means you could see some more toing and froing as you try to get to that.

I will point out as well there's a lot of computer activity here. You know, one of the veteran traders that we talked to, veteran market analysts we talked to said on a typical day, 50 percent to 60 percent is computerized trade program trade, algorithms or computers are saying, the bond market did this, so the stock program is going to sell this.

Yesterday and the day before it's like 90 percent. So real people in fact yesterday were very frustrated because mom and pop investors, regular Joes and Janes, were in there trying to sell stocks on some of these online trading platforms and they couldn't. And by the end of the day the market had completely turned around. So it's been a little frustrating for the average investor I think and a little frightening to see all of these volatility but I would really encourage everyone to look at the percentage moves. A one percent move is not a lot.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you very much for being with us. ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: It's great to see you, it is snowing outside. Christine brought that news to me as well.

All right. Standing Pat. Get it? The Colts left in the cold after the pick to be their next head coach decides to stay in New England. This is intriguing. The "Bleacher Report" is next.


[10:56:49] BERMAN: In a genuinely shocking turn of events Josh McDaniels spurning the Colts to stay with the Patriots just hours before he was to be introduced as the team's next head coach.

Andy Scholes with the story in the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: John, you just got to feel bad for the Colts. You know, they had actually tweeted out welcoming Josh McDaniels as their next head coach yesterday and they had announced a big press conference to introduce him for later today.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

But after Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a late push to keep him, McDaniels, well, he had a change of heart and decided he's going to remain as the Patriots' offensive coordinator. In a press release the Colts announced McDaniels had agreed to a contract but then told them he changed his mind. The Colts added they were surprised and disappointed by his decision.

All right. Just devastating news for the New York Knicks last night. Second quarter against the Bucks. Their star Kristaps Porzingis that's going to drive to the basket here, and get the ball and throw it down. And he comes down awkwardly. Kristaps immediately grabbling his knee. The team announcing he tore his ACL, going to need season- ending surgery. Kristaps is going to be playing in his first All-Star game next week. But now he's going to be out for at least 10 months.

Super Bowl champion wide receiver Torrey Smith joining "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon last night. Like some of his team mates, Smith confirming that he would not accept an invite to celebrate the Eagles championship at the White House.


TORREY SMITH, EAGLES WIDE RECEIVER: For me it's not just about politics. You know, if I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual that I believe is sexist or has no respect for women or I told you that this individual has said offensive things towards many minority groups, and I don't feel comfortable by it, this individual also called my peers and my friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn't want to go to that party. So why is it any different when this person has a title, president of the United States? (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right, the legend of Nick Foles just continues to grow. On Showtime's program "Inside the NFL," it was revealed that the most famous play in Eagles history was actually Foles' idea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go for it right here. We're going for it right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it. Let's do it. Hold on. Hold on. Here we go. Hold on. Hold on. Philly special. Ready?


SCHOLES: Just amazing. You know, Doug Pederson, he made the call to go for it on fourth down right there before half time, but the fact that Foles called for the play where he was going to catch a touchdown, to me, John, that's just incredible, especially because Foles had just watched Tom Brady missed a catch right there but, man, talk about a gutsy call.


SCHOLES: By a guy who was a backup quarterback.

BERMAN: No. I had heard that gutsy call and the coaches say, yes, let's do it. That's amazing.

SCHOLES: I know. I love his pause. Like yes.

BERMAN: Josh McDaniels, just quickly, Andy. we have to figure that he was promised a head coaching job, ultimately. Yes?

SCHOLES: Yes. You know, absolutely. I could -- you know, I would only imagine Kraft came back to him like, whoa, you know, Bill Belichick getting up there, when he leaves it's your job. I can only imagine that that was said or else why would he --


SCHOLES: Why at the last second turn down the coaching job.

BERMAN: I'm on a moratorium from reading sports news but that part did manage to leak in just this week.

Andy Scholes, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: All right. Thank you all for joining us today. I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan in -- (END)