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The Rise of Donald Trump and the Mud of Russia; Trump Signature in American Politics; Trump Deals with Russian Oligarchs; Paul Manafort and Rick Gates Slapped with Charges; Mueller Dig Deep into Trump's Business. Aired 10-11:30p ET
Aired March 2, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm only being a politician for a short period of time, how am I going, am I doing OK? I'm president. Hey, I'm president, can you believe it?
PAMELA BROWN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: A shadow hangs over the White House.
JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: Why so many lies?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not normal.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: The most explosive evidence yet in the Russian investigation.
BROWN: The urgent questions.
Mr. President, did you order Mueller fired?
TRUMP: Fake news, folks, fake news.
TAPPER: Was it appropriate for you to meet with the Russian officials?
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars.
BROWN: At the heart of the Trump Russia mystery.
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia, to the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.
BROWN: But there were secret contacts.
TAPPER: Breaking in stunning news, the release of an e-mail chain.
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Someone sent me an e-mail.
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: It came from Russians.
BROWN: Some denials that defy the facts.
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don't know what you're talking about, it's crazy.
TRUMP, JR.: It's disgusting, it's so phony.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I didn't take any money from Russia if that's what you're asking.
BROWN: A shocking dismissal.
JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The President of the United States has terminated the director of the FBI.
TRUMP: He's a show boat, he's a grandstander.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: Those were lies, plain and simple.
BROWN: Donald Trump's changing stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President.
TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.
I've done a lot of business with the Russians.
BROWN: Compliments for Vladimir Putin.
TRUMP: He is really very much of a leader. He's done an amazing job, so smart.
BROWN: Attacks on American institutions.
TRUMP: When you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.
BROWN: Where does this story end?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: You may or may not find evidence of an impeachable offense.
TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.
BROWN: Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown.
For more than a year, I've been part of the CNN team investigating this critically important story. A consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered with the treasured right of American democracy. The free and fair election of a president. The big question now, were the Russians working with any associates of
Donald Trump or his company or his campaign. We followed hundreds of different threads to find answers. We reported new information almost every day.
Tonight we will bring that reporting all together in one place to tell a more complete story. We don't know how this investigative journey will end. But we do know where it starts.
In November of 2013, Donald Trump brought the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.
TRUMP: Russia and Putin. You know, I was in Moscow. They treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present. Beautiful present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, everybody, welcome to Moscow.
TRUMP: It's an amazing location. And Moscow and all of Russia is going wild over it. We're very happy, the Miss Universe pageant is just setting records.
BROWN: Trump seemed to have the time of his life.
TRUMP: Wow! That's really...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking very Russian.
TRUMP: That's really nice, now I feel -- now I belong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big man on campus Donald Trump.
BROWN: This is the unlikely place where an unusual cast of characters first emerged.
Men who would end up in the middle of an investigation that has plagued a presidency. Donald Trump was paid between 12 and $20 million to bring Miss Universe to Russia.
TRUMP: Russia wanted it, Moscow wanted it, everybody wanted the Miss Universe pageant. We had 18 countries that wanted it. They fought really hard to get it.
BROWN: The money came from this man. Aras Agalarov.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing hospitality and support.
BROWN: Billionaire developer. Friend of Vladimir Putin, sometimes called the Trump of Russia.
[22:04:59] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then they were whisked away to the magnificent Agalarov estate.
BROWN: Miss Universe was a family affair. Son Emin sang at the pageant. And his mom got a job too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fashion and beauty expert Irina Agalarova.
BROWN: Trump seemed thrilled with his new Russian friends.
TRUMP: These are most powerful people in all of Russia. The richest man in Russia.
BROWN: Before the pageant, Trump invited the Agalarovs to Las Vegas, to seal the Miss Universe deal. It was guest who was coming to dinner Trump style. Aras Agalarov was there, of course, and so was music publicist Rob Goldstone, a fan of silly Facebook post.
He is the man who wrote the infamous e-mails to Donald Trump, Jr., e- mails that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Emin the singer would later help Goldstone set up the Trump tower meeting with Russians.
And there was one more mystery guest who would later show up at Trump tower. Ike Kaveladze who works for Agalarov. Trump wined and dined all of them. But he was after a bigger fish to make his pageant great.
TRUMP: Well, we've invited president Putin. I know he'd like to go.
BROWN: Before the Miss Universe deal, Donald Trump almost never spoke of Vladimir Putin. It was 2013 when he seem to developed an intense admiration for the Russian strong man.
TRUMP: He's put himself really as, you know, a lot of people would say he's put himself at the forefront of the world as a leader. Putin has done an amazing job of showing certain leadership that our people have not been able to match.
BROWN: He would echo those sentiments many times in the years to come.
TRUMP: Russia. I mean, Putin has an 80 percent popularity in his country. He's so outsmarting the United States. And all of a sudden, the people in Russia like him.
2Run by a very smart cookie. Much smarter, much more cunning than our president.
BROWN: This was also when Trump first began giving conflicting accounts about knowing Putin.
TAPPER: You have a relationship with Vladimir Putin, a conversational relationship?
TRUMP: I do have a relationship.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?
TRUMP: I have no relationship with Putin.
BROWN: He would change his story repeatedly.
TRUMP: I know him very well. Because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stable mates, so we did very well that night.
I don't know Putin, I have never spoken to him, I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me.
BROWN: Vladimir Putin did not show up at the pageant, but Trump made other contacts.
TRUMP: I got to meet all of the leaders, I got to meet all -- I mean, everybody was there. It was a massive event.
I was with the top level people, both oligarchs and generals.
BROWN: It's hard to say if oligarchs or generals were at the pageant or any of the wild late night parties.
TRUMP: I mean, everybody was there, it was a massive event. It was tremendous.
BROWN: But Trump did have at least one business meeting.
TRUMP: We're thinking about doing a Trump tower Moscow, so we're talking to a group of people about doing that.
BROWN: Trump sent this good-bye tweet to his new Russian friends. "Fantastic job," he said. "Trump tower Moscow is next." Four years would pass, but the players at Miss Universe would return to take center stage in the Trump-Russia drama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The most explosive evidence yet in the Russia investigation.
BROWN: It was in July.
TAPPER: Breaking and stunning news. The release of an e-mail chain from last June.
BROWN: That the world first learned about the Trump tower meeting.
BLITZER: E-mails revealed that Donald Trump, Jr. went into a meeting with the Russian lawyer.
TRUMP: Say hello to Don Jr.
BROWN: The president's son had a secret meeting with Russians.
BLITZER: Clearly told she was working for the Kremlin and that she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
BROWN: And it wasn't just Don Jr. Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were there too.
TAPPER: Subject line of the e-mail chain, "Russia, Clinton, private and confidential."
BORGER: I thought it might have been fake. BRIT HUME, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FOX NEWS: It looks kind of like
a farcical episode.
BORGER: Russia-Clinton, private and confidential.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC: Who follows them down that rat hole.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, ANCHOR, MSNBC: Not very smart people.
BORGER: What? Seriously, what?
BROWN: Some of the e-mails read like a script for a Bond movie, but they were written by Rob Goldstone...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And become cold.
BROWN: ... and Donald Trump, Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia, and would be very useful to your father.
[22:10:00] TAPPER: This can't be dismissed as people out to get Donald J. Trump, Jr. or fake news. This is evidence of willingness to commit collusion.
BROWN: The offer of political dirt came courtesy of Aras Agalarov, with the assist from his pop star son, Emin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen to this, this is obviously very high level and sensitive information. But is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.
TOOBIN: When Donald Trump, Jr. is told the Russian government is trying to elect your father president, he doesn't say, what do you mean? How can that be? He says, I want to hear this.
BROWN: The actual response?
TAPPER: If it's what you say, I love it.
BROWN: The Trump camp's explanations were confusing.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: Strange and conflicting accounts from the very White House on that meeting Donald Trump, Jr. had with a Russian lawyer.
BROWN: The first explanation has become a focus of the Mueller investigation. Because it was misleading.
Donald Trump, Jr. told the New York Times that the Trump tower meeting was, quote, "primarily about Russian adoption." That statement may spell legal trouble for the president, because he helped write it, while flying home from the G-20 summit.
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do. BROWN: The New York Times reported the day after the statement was
issued, there was a conference call involving the president. Then, senior communications adviser Hope Hicks and legal team spokesman Mark Corallo.
MARK CORALLO, SPOKESMAN, TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Donald Trump...
BROWN: Corallo express concern that the Trump tower e-mails contradicted Trump Jr.'s statement. But he has allegedly said that the e-mails, quote, "will never get out," her lawyer denies that accounts.
TOOBIN: If a misleading statement was put out, the core question is the classic question of intent.
Were Trump administration officials starting with the president himself, lying to the public about the nature of his campaign's dealings with Russia?
BROWN: Even as the story of the meeting was first breaking, Trump defenders were downplaying it.
PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't know much about it, other than it seems to be a big nothing burger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What those people says is a nothing burger.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a massive nothing burger.
TRUMP, JR.: Hillary Clinton?
BROWN: Finally, Don Jr. acknowledged the full story. That he had met with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
BORGER: The stories kept changing about what the meeting was about.
BROWN: We got more information when Donald Trump, Jr. appeared on Fox News.
TRUMP, JR.: Someone sent me an e-mail. I can't help what someone sends me. You know, I read it, I responded accordingly. And if there was something interesting there, I think it's pretty common.
BORGER: The difference in this case was that it came from Russians.
BROWN: Russia, America's adversary. Sean Hannity did not press Trump Jr. about Russian interference. But one year earlier, Jake tapper did. He asked Trump Jr. About what were then still just suspicions.
TAPPER: Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I asked him about the DNC leak, and he suggested that experts are saying that Russians were behind both the hacking of the DNCBROWN: e-mails and their release.
Keep in mind as you watch this, it was six weeks after the Trump tower meeting. After Trump Jr. had been told Russia wanted to help his father win.
TRUMP, JR.: It just goes to show their exact moral compass. I mean, they'll say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie. It's disgusting, it's so phony.
BROWN: Journalists began questioning everything they heard.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are 100 percent confident that no one in the campaign, not Don Jr. not Jared Kushner, not Paul Manafort, no one in the campaign told the president anything about these e-mails? Anything about this meeting before it happened? And he will testify to that under oath?
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Well, I'm not talk -- no one is testifying -- I asked him to testify under oath on this, so I don't know how that's coming into the picture. The president was not at the meeting, was not aware of the meeting, did not participate in the meeting. In fact, the president wasn't involved.
BROWN: There's the legal side, but there's the political side.
BORGER: Yes. There's a political side which is, you're out there, and you're saying constantly, there was no effort to collude with the Russians in any way shape or form, and suddenly you have your son, your campaign manager and your senior adviser all in a meeting with Russians who have promised to bring you dirt.
[22:15:02] BROWN: On the very same day his son set up that meeting, Donald Trump told a crowd that he would soon have something to share on the Clintons.
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week many and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.
BROWN: Trump never did give that speech. But finally, with all of Washington buzzing about the Trump tower meeting, Donald Trump weighed in from France.
TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent.
BROWN: Even among republicans, the response was, really?
LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Any time you're in a campaign, and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.
TREY GOWDY, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: From the moment you watch either Dr. Zvago or red brothers (Inaudible) to the point you had a shot liquor with a guy in a furry hat, you need to disclose every contact you have ever had with Russia. BROWN: Donald Trump, Jr. said he had done that.
TRUMP, JR.: So as far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned this is all of it? This is everything. This is everything.
BROWN: But it was not everything. There were more Russians there who were never mentioned.
TAPPER: Today we learned more people were in that meeting than just the lawyer and the three members of the Trump team.
COOPER: So you're learning more about who was the eighth person in the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the Russian attorney?
BROWN: This eighth person who was in the room, he was a representative of the Agalarov family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN is reporting that there was somebody else in in the meeting. We're now basically waiting to find out if there were any Russians who were in New York that day, who were not in that meeting.
BROWN: The eight people were Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rob Goldstone and three Russian men. Lobbyists were not mentioned, Agalarov executive Ike Kaveladze and a translator. The leader of the meeting Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER: Just a second.
BROWN: A character right out of a spy novel she seldom tells the same story twice. At first she denied any connection to the Russian government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have connections to the Russian government?
BROWN: But she does have connections to the chief prosecutor in Russia, who she shared her talking points with months before the Trump tower meeting. She also denied bringing up any dirt on Hillary Clinton.
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): I want to make sure that everybody understands that there was never a talk about damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.
BROWN: Now she says she may have had dirt about alleged illegal donations to the Clinton campaign.
SCOTT BALBER, ATTORNEY FOR EMIN AND ARAS AGALAROV: Natalia says she provided certain documents to the Russian prosecutor general.
BROWN: Agaralov's family attorney Scott Balber spoke with Veselnitskaya.
BALBER: She makes reference to the possibility that money was also provided to the Hillary Clinton campaign. TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia, to the best of my knowledge,
no person that I deal with does.
BROWN: Donald Trump said that a year ago. No people has now grown to 12 people. Trump associates who had contacts with Russians. Two of the most prominent have been charged with crimes.
Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to among other charges, money laundering. You'll hear more about them later in this story. 2
But one lesser known player is also in the hot seat. Donald Trump first mentioned him at a meeting with Washington Post editors in 2016.
TRUMP: George Papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.
BROWN: Excellent guy, George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you called George Papadopoulos an excellent guy. What is your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what's your reaction to George Papadopoulos's guilty plea.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BROWN: The Trump team has been working overtime to portray him as anybody.
SANDERS: This individual was the member of a volunteer advisory council.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: He was the coffee boy. You know, if he was going to wear a wire, all we'd know now is whether he prefers a caramel macchiato over a regular American coffee.
BROWN: But the coffee boy found himself to the big boy table with Donald Trump and other top campaign people. And it turns out Papadopoulos may be the very reason there's a Trump/Russia investigation.
[22:20:01] The New York Times report that back in May of 2016 Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that the Kremlin had thousands of e-mails that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton.
JOHN AVLON, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: This is a big deal. The fact that a Trump foreign policy official is bragging that he knows early that Russia has said they have these e-mails and they want to use them and release them to benefit the republicans in the election.
BROWN: When the e-mails began to leak, Australian told the U.S. what the young campaign aide had said. And that apparently played a role in the decision to open an FBI investigation. Papadopoulos is now cooperating with the Mueller team. When we come back.
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The president thinks this is a witch hunt. Anyway you can respond to that?
BROWN: Before there was a Mueller investigation.
TRUMP: He's become more famous than me.
BROWN: There was a Comey investigation.
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: I remember standing in the newsroom and somebody gasped, went -- I thought, God what happened?
BROWN: The Jim Comey bombshell that no one saw coming.
TOOBIN: It's a dark moment in American history today.
BROWN: Just over 100 days in office, President Trump scored a much needed win after a house vote on health care.
TRUMP: I'm only being a politician for a short period of time. How am I doing? Am I doing OK? I'm president. Hey, I'm president, can you believe it? Thank you.
BROWN: But days later he made a decision that potentially put his presidency in legal and political jeopardy.
BLITZER: We have major breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moments ago, breaking news that no one saw coming today.
BASH: I remember standing in the newsroom and someone gasped.
ZELENY: A bombshell at the White House, James Comey is out.
BROWN: President Trump had abruptly fired the man in charge of investigating his campaign's ties to Russia.
Although the president is allowed to fire the FBI director, there were suspicions about Trump's motivations.
[22:24:58] TOOBIN: This is not normal. This is not how presidents behave, it's a dark moment in American history today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One senator says it is plunged the country into, and I quote here, "a full pledged constitutional crisis."
BROWN: It fueled calls for a special prosecutor and raised questions about how the firing was handled.
BASH: Comey wasn't even in the city, he was all the way across the country. He actually found out by looking up and seeing it on the television.
COOPER: Just -- I just have to stop it, he was talking to FBI agents in Los Angeles and he looks up and he sees that he's fired from television?
BROWN: That is what we're told.
BASH: That just gives you a sense of how impulsive this firing was, and it really did backfire.
The underlying facts are not in dispute. The president fired James Comey. The issue is why.
TOOBIN: The underlying facts are not a dispute the president fired James Comey. The issue is why.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did something specific happen? Was there a moment?
NASH: The White House comms department didn't know about this.
BROWN: The media team was scrambling to answer reporter's questions.
BASH: They couldn't come up with some talking points a statement and explanation like the basic facts.
BROWN: And Sean Spicer was left standing by the bushes.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No cameras. OK. Hold on, can you turn the lights off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No cameras for the moment. You'll do one on one.
SPICER: Relax, enjoy the night, have a glass of wine.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: They deliberately didn't tell the press office, because they thought the press office would leak it. And this was that moment when he was hugely mistrustful with his own staff.
BROWN: At first, a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was given as the justification for the firing. Rosenstein has been the top official overseeing the Russia investigation since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last March. That recusal had infuriated President Trump who reported saw it as disloyal.
HABERMAN: He had expected a certain measure of personal loyalty in Sessions, which is not how the U.S. government is supposed to work.
BROWN: On the night of the Comey firing, the chaos continued.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What prompted that? What was...
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: You'll have to ask -- you'll have to ask the deputy attorney general.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just started two weeks ago, would the White House have told him to do that?
BROWN: The memo was critical of Comey's handling of Hillary Clinton's e-mails before the election.
COOPER: Why now are you concerned about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation when as a candidate, Donald Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?
CONWAY: I think you're looking at the wrong set of facts here. In other words, you're going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States, he acted decisively today, he took the recommendation of his deputy attorney general who oversees the FBI directory.
COOPER: That makes no sense.
BROWN: Finally, Trump gave what appeared to be his real reason.
TRUMP: I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia, is a made up story, it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
BROWN: The day after Comey was fired, Trump shared his feelings about it with Russian officials visiting the Oval Office. According to the New York Times, the president said, "I just fired the head of the FBI, he was crazy, a real nut job."
HABERMAN: It was a staggering moment, disparaging the director of the FBI albeit fired, to an adversarial power?
BROWN: Perhaps of greater importance is when the president said this. "I face great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
HABERMAN: The words alleviating pressure are going to raise questions for investigators.
BROWN: The president has consistently said that he did not obstruct justice when he fired James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Comey, will this be...
BROWN: The two men come from completely different worlds.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: James Comey is a professional lawman. He has a respect for the traditions of the Justice Department.
COMEY: It should be about the facts and the law. That's why I became FBI director.
BROWN: Donald Trump on the other hand is a businessman. ISIKOFF: He expects absolute loyalty from everybody working for him.
That's the culture in which he has operated for many, many years.
BROWN: Their relationship got off to a bad start. Before the inauguration, James Comey was in charge of telling Donald Trump about the dossier. The controversial document contained allegations about the president gathered as part of an opposition research project during the campaign.
COMEY: I didn't want him thinking that I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way.
BROWN: It turns out that's exactly what the president thought. According to an interview he gave the New York Times.
EVAN PEREZ, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Trump's reaction was anger. He said it was completely false.
BROWN: The encounter apparently didn't sit well with Comey either.
PEREZ: We know he went back to the FBI suburban and pulled out a classified computer and wrote his first memo about his interactions with Donald Trump.
[22:29:58] COMEY: I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it's really important to document it.
BROWN: Comey's next public encounter with the president was awkward. The director of the FBI thought it was crucial to keep his distance. BENJAMIN WITTES, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LAWFARE: He stands in the part of the room that is physically as far from the president as is possible to be.
BROWN: But then.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And there's James -- he's become more famous than me.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: It encapsulated the difficult position Comey was in, because he was at once the FBI director, answerable to the President of the United States. But also, conducting an investigation of the Trump campaign, which the president obviously hated.
COMEY: You've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room. What the president whispered in my ear was, I really look forward to working with you.
BROWN: The president kept reaching out. Next came an invitation to dinner at the White House.
TOOBIN: The very fact that the president whose campaign is under investigation is asking to have dinner with the FBI director alone raises all sorts of red flags. As it did for Comey.
COMEY: The dinner was an effort to build a relationship. In fact, he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.
BROWN: The president's words according to Comey, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty."
COMEY: He was asking for something, and I was refusing to give it.
BROWN: The White House denied he was asking for personal loyalty.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law.
BROWN: It is their last meeting, which may prove to be critical in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice.
TOOBIN: Just picture the scene. In the Oval Office, the FBI director is there, with his boss Jeff Sessions. With other very senior officials, they are told to leave the room by the president and then it's just a one on one.
COMEY: Why would you kick the attorney general, the chief of staff out to talk to me, my impression was, something big is about to happen.
BROWN: This was one day after national security adviser Michael Flynn had been forced out. The White House said Flynn was fired because he lied to the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Questions have been raised about whether the president knew Flynn also lied to the FBI, which is a federal crime. So another critical question is whether Trump knew it, when he said this, according to Comey. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this goo. To letting Flynn go, he is a good guy."
COMEY: This is the President of the United States with me alone saying I hope this, I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it.
TOOBIN: It is so wildly inappropriate. It is so contrary to how the government is supposed to work. And it may well be evidence of a crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI director James Comey to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also, as you look back...
TRUMP: No. No. Next question.
BROWN: It may have been Comey's appearance on Capitol Hill. Just days before he was fired in early May that finally sealed his fate. Comey was asked about his decision to publicly announce the reopening of the Clinton e-mail investigation before the election. COMEY: Look, this was terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think
that we may have had some impact on the election, but honestly it wouldn't change the decision.
BROWN: Comey's concern that he influenced the outcome of the election infuriated the president.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Trump heard it as a personal attack.
TRUMP: Look, he's a show boat, he's a grandstander.
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: When Donald Trump hears that, he hears my presidency is illegitimate. You're trying to question whether or not I should be in the Oval Office right now.
TRUMP: The Russians did not affect the vote. And everybody seems to think that.
BROWN: The president spent a rainy weekend at his New Jersey golf resort stewing about Jim Comey's testimony.
BASH: He came back and decided I'm going to do, I'm going to fire James Comey.
BROWN: Among those supporting the president's decision, son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
BASH: It really did show that some of the people around the president who were pushing this are beyond politically naive.
BROWN: After his firing, James Comey returned to Capitol Hill and revealed something extraordinary.
COMEY: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.
BROWN: The memo described his last meeting with the president in the Oval Office.
COMEY: I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special council.
BROWN: He was right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is huge, Pamela.
BROWN: This is a significant step, we are learning that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI director Bob Mueller to now oversee the Russia probe.
[22:35:07] HABERMAN: That was a dangerous day for the president. Potentially.
BROWN: Just about a month after terminating Comey, Trump may have pursued yet another firing. He pressed White House counsel Don McGahn to look into potential conflicts involving Robert Mueller.
The New York Times reported that Trump wanted Mueller fired until McGahn threatened to quit, warning it would be catastrophic for the Trump presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Mueller.
Did you seek to fire Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Fake news, folks, fake news.
BROWN: The president now says he wants to talk to Mueller under oath even though his lawyers have advised him against it.
BASH: The special counsel has a very wide net that he can cast, to look into all things Russia, and who knows what else he is going to find. That would not have happened had President Trump not fired James Comey.
BROWN: Still ahead, chasing an oligarch.
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign?
BROWN: To chase down the real story.
CHANCE: Did he offer those private briefings to you as a way to try and repay that debt?
BROWN: On all the president's men.
OLEG DERIPASKA, FOUNDER, BASIC ELEMENT: Get lost, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kushner, will you sign my Russian flag? Sign my Russian flag, please. Sign my Russian flag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.
[22:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Manafort will surrender...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indictment, conspiracy against the United States.
BROWN: A former campaign chairman indicted on 23 counts.
TRUMP: I have the smartest people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trusted adviser Jared Kushner.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: A secret means of communicating with the Kremlin.
BROWN: A top adviser who discussed a back channel with the Russians. TRUMP: I have the most dedicated people.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Michael Flynn has resigned tonight.
JOE JOHNS, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Back door communications with Russia.
BROWN: And a national security adviser, guilty of lying to the FBI.
TRUMP: I have the best people.
BROWN: Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn. This is the story of all the president's men.
TRUMP: I got the best in the world.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Settle down, guys. You all right? Ready? OK.
BROWN: November 10th, 2016.
OBAMA: We talked about some of the organizational issues.
BROWN: Two days after the election, President Obama gives his successor a piece of advice.
OBAMA: That ensures our president-elect is successful.
BROWN: Do not hire Michael Flynn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now the oath of office.
BROWN: As your national security adviser.
BROWN: CNN was told something by U.S. officials that was deeply concerning.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The next President of the United States right here.
BROWN: During the campaign, American intelligence picked up the Russians bragging that they had a strong relationship with Flynn.
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: You have to take some of the conversations we were told with a little bit of a grain of salt. But this set off an alarm for Obama administration officials who were quite worried about it.
FLYNN: You know, people talk about temperament.
BROWN: Flynn had worried intelligence officials for months. In 2015, the retired three-star general appeared on the Kremlin funded news channel R.T.
FLYNN: Russia and the United States have to work together on this. And I think that there...
BROWN: He even spoke at an event celebrating R.T.'s tenth anniversary, and he sat next to Vladimir Putin at dinner.
MARK MAZZETTI, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIONS EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: Here you have a former top intelligence official in the United States government, celebrates this gala for the propaganda arm of the Kremlin.
BROWN: Flynn made almost $34,000 for his appearance. But investigators looking into his security clearance said Flynn told them he did not take any money for the trip from a foreign source.
FLYNN: I didn't take any money from Russia, if that's what you're asking me.
BROWN: Congressional members from both parties have said, he may have broken the law in the process.
JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: It appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law.
MAZZETTI: It leads investigators to wonder, why aren't you disclosing certain things? What do you have to hide?
BROWN: Flynn has denied what he has called, quote, "false accusations of treason."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you betrayed your country.
BROWN: The bombshell of Robert Mueller's investigation came on December 1st, when Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While he was national security adviser, he told FBI agents that he had not discussed sanctions with Russia ambassador during the transition. But he had talked sanctions and the FBI knew it, because the ambassador had been monitored by U.S. intelligence.
BASH: He said he didn't do, and there were transcripts clearly showing that he did.
BROWN: What's more, Flynn admitted in his plea deal that the sanctions talks had been coordinated with Trump's transition team.
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The White House cannot argue this was Michael Flynn going off as a loose cannon here.
BROWN: A White House lawyer claimed that Flynn's guilty plea didn't implicate anyone else. Before he pleaded guilty, Flynn was facing a lot of tough legal issues. But Mueller only charged him with one count. So it's possible that Flynn has an even bigger story to tell.
CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: We're seeing Manafort come in now with counsel.
BROWN: Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman is also facing possible jail time, potentially for the rest of his life. He's charged with concealing his work for a foreign government, conspiring to launder millions of dollars, and conspiring against the United States among other crimes. Twenty three counts in all. He has pleaded not guilty.
SCIUTTO: The special counsel makes a very aggressive argument that this is someone who can't be trusted.
BROWN: Manafort made a lot of his money working for this man. Putin's ally, Viktor Yanukovych, the former President of Ukraine.
[22:44:59] Yanukovych was a strong man who presided over a deadly crackdown against protesters in the streets of Kiev. He left his country in disgrace. Manafort had helped bring him to power.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP: Paul Manafort has for decades been the Washington lobbyist and influence peddler around the world for a lot of the most vicious dictators we've seen.
BROWN: The question is, was Manafort also linked to Russia's strong man, Vladimir Putin?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, there are not. It's absurd, and you now, there's no basis to it.
BROWN: U.S. intelligence saw a different story. Agents intercepted communications from suspected Russian operatives, indicating that Manafort appeared to be asking them for help.
EVAN PEREZ, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: They describe him essentially encouraging help, encouraging the Russians to provide assistance to Donald Trump's campaign.
BROWN: Manafort's ties to Russia go way back. He worked for a close associate of Putin.
CHANCE: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was...
BROWN: Oleg Deripaska, one of a few wealthy oligarch's Putin consults with regularly. According to a U.S. State Department cable.
STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: He can pick up the phone to the oligarchs and say, I need to get a message out to this American and it gets done, because he's Vladimir Putin and that's how the system works.
BROWN: Less than two weeks before Trump got nominated. Manafort offered to brief Deripaska privately on how the campaign was going according to the Washington Post. CHANCE: Did he owe you millions of dollars?
BROWN: In fact, court documents indicate that Manafort may have been in debt to Deripaska.
CHANCE: Did you use those private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that why he offered them?
DERIPASKA: Get lost, please. Thank you.
BROWN: Deripaska spokesman told CNN the oligarch was never offered briefings by Manafort. Manafort spokesman has denied that Manafort was in debt to Deripaska during the Trump campaign and afterwards. But he has admitted that Manafort offered the briefings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell the truth.
BROWN: Recently things got a lot worse for Manafort. His business partner for years Rick Gates struck a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, which means odds are Gates will testify against Manafort.
TOOBIN: It really makes Manafort's situation pretty desperate.
BROWN: Manafort was also at the Trump tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kushner will you sign my Russian flag? Sign my Russian flag, please.
BROWN: And so was the president's son in law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner hasn't been charged with any crimes, the troubling questions have been raised about his connections to Russia.
TOOBIN: Jared Kushner is incredibly important for several reasons. He's a witness to virtually all the central issues in this investigation. He is also important because he's an independent actor. He's someone who had contacts with Russian representatives.
BROWN: Kushner has not been forthcoming about those contacts. He was required by law to disclose them to the FBI to get a security clearance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kushner, was it appropriate for you to meet with a Russian official?
BROWN: But he has repeatedly omitted foreign contacts and had to submit his forms four times, sparking tough questions from both parties. His reasons for the revisions range from forgetfulness to a clerical error.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you guys, bye.
BROWN: Now, Kushner's temporary security clearance has been downgraded by White House chief of staff John Kelly, the review process continues.
MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: There have been stories that have been appearing for months about Jared Kushner's meetings.
BROWN: December 1st, 2016, Kushner meets with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in Trump tower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That Russian ambassador came to New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jared Kushner met with the ambassador.
BROWN: They discussed setting up a back channel with Moscow at Russia's own embassy.
BORGER: You have to say that raises a red flag, and say, well why wasn't this reported?
BROWN: Kushner claimed he wanted to discuss Syria, and said the arrangement was never set up. Some in U.S. intelligence believe that Kislyak was one of Russia's top spies in Washington.
CHANCE: Did you recruit any members of the Trump administration?
SERGEY KISYLYAK, FORMER RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: No.
BROWN: December 13th, 2016, Kushner meets with Sergei Gorkov, the head of a sanctioned Russian bank that's often funded Putin's pep projects. Like the Sochi Olympics.
[22:50:01] The bank was also used as a cover by a Russian spy in New York City who went to prison for espionage.
BLITZER: The FBI now says it has busted around...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Sergey Gorkov is actually one of three Russian spies.
BROWN: And Gorkov himself attended the training academy for Russian intelligence operatives.
CHANCE: What did you really speak to Jared Kushner in fact in New York when you met him in December?
SERGEY GORKOV, FORMER RUSSIAN BANKER: No comment.
BROWN: There has been questions whether Kushner might have discussed hi family's business with banker Gorkov.
Kushner owned a storied Fifth Avenue with a reported of $1.2 billion mortgage coming due in 2019. Kushner says that his business dealings never came up with Gorkov and all his meetings were nothing to worry about.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I did not collude with Russia nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. CHANCE: You bank says it was a business meeting.
BROWN: But Gorko's bank implied that the meeting with Kushner was about business referring to Kushner as the head of Kushner Industries.
Robert Mueller's team has expressed interests in Kushner including his role of the firing of James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advises your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
BROWN: Investigators still have many questions for the president's men.
TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The collusion question?
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia.
SCIUTTO: Is not close.
TRUMP: To best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with this.
BROWN: When we return.
TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia, I have no deals in Russia.
BROWN: But Donald Trump has made money with the Russians.
TRUMP: I paid $40 million and I sold for a $100 million, and I sold it to a Russian.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: At the situation room, we have major breaking news right now. The U.S. Justice Department has named the special counsel of the Russian investigation.
BROWN: This is a significant step.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST CNN: A development that could change everything.
TOOBIN: I think we are going to see justice.
BASH: Bob Mueller is very thorough, good for the investigation maybe not so much for President Trump.
2TRUMP: Does anybody have any questions?
BROWN: The day after that bomb shell announcement, President Trump, had his first chance to strike back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this the right move or is this part of a witch hunt?
TRUMP: Well, I respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a witch hunt and a hoax.
TRUMP: Russia is ruse.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: A fiction, a total fabrication.
TRUMP: It's all fake news. It's all fakeness.
BROWN: But no matter what the Trump's team would call it, the Russia investigation was very real.
RAJU: The president think it's a witch hunt. Is there any way you can respond to that?
BROWN: And under Mueller going in the direction the president did not wanted to go.
TRUMP: I have a great company, I built an unbelievable company. But if you look there you'll see there is nothing in Russia.
TOOBIN: If you listen to the statements of the president and his team about the Mueller investigation, they feel like financial issues, Trump's business dealings should be walled off, should be off limits.
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: To look at a real estate deal from 10 years it would be way outside the scope of the mandate. We would certainly object to that.
TOOBIN: But it is quite clear that Mueller's team is looking directly at his business dealings for the perfectly understandable reason that money can be a motive.
BROWN: We followed the money to the very beginning of Trump's connection to Russia decades earlier. In 1987 when 41-year-old Donald Trump took off for his very first business trip to Moscow.
JOHNSTON: In 1987, Donald Trump was flushed with money. And Donald was invited to Russia. So he and Ivana went to Russia and they tried to make a deal to build a Trump tower there.
BROWN: That deal never happened. But again and again, Trump would keep on trying.
JOHNSTON: Donald tried at least five times to build a Trump tower in Moscow.
TOOBIN: Donald Trump has an enormous ability to deny reality. Reality is that during the campaign, not just in ancient history, during the campaign he was negotiating for a hotel to be built in Moscow. BROWN: Well, Erin, we've learned that Michael Cohen, President
Trump's personal lawyer was in talks with Moscow through an intermediary about a proposal to build Trump tower there.
TOOBIN: That was the definition of business dealings in Russia.
BROWN: The deal outlined in a non-binding letter of intent signed by Trump in the fall of 2015 fell through. But not before Trump's attorney reached out to the Kremlin for help.
Cohen said in a statement today that he e-mailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov for help on this project on behalf of the Trump's organization.
TRUMP: We could make deals in Russia easily, if we wanted to -- I just don't want to because I think...
BROWN: But according to economist and investigative journalist James Henry, all of the focus on Trump's deals in Russia might be missing the point.
JAMES HENRY, ECONOMIST: It is not so much that Trump has been investing in Russia, it's that he's receiving a lot of finance from the former Soviet Union state from oligarchs.
TRUMP: I got more oligarchs living in my building.
BROWN: And before he became a politician, businessman Donald Trump boasted about it.
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: Have you had any dealings with the Russians?
TRUMP: Well, I have done a lot of business with the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most expensive home ever sold in America.
BROWN: Back in 2008, at the height of the U.S. housing collapse, Trump made a record breaking deal with the Russian oligarchs known as the fertilizer king Dmitry Rybolovlev.
JOHNSTON: He bought from Donald Trump a mansion about two miles from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach Florida.
TRUMP: I paid $40 million, I sold it for a $100 million, and I sold it to a Russian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Donald Trump J. Trump.
BROWN: Rybolovlev would reappear during the 2016 election. When according to McClatchy News, his private plane was spotted in two U.S. cities where Trump was campaigning, Concorde, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada.
[22:59:59] HENRY: It certainly looks suspicious that we have this leading Russian oligarch bird dogging our president on the campaign trail.
BROWN: A White House source told McClatchy News the pair never met. And rival (inaudible) called the overlaps a pure coincidence that occurred while he was traveling on unrelated business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we still don't understand that to this day.
BROWN: What remains clear however is that this oligarch is hardly the only Russian to have bolstered Trump's bottom line.
ADAM DAVIDSON, THE NEW YORKER: There is a surprising number of Russians in every deals everywhere.
BROWN: After a catastrophic financial collapse in 1991 that threaten to end his empire for good, Trump spent most of the decade digging out from under enormous debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was un-financeable by major banks.
BROWN: Luckily for Trump, a new source of money was just around the corner.
DAVIDSON: There is this unbelievable avalanche of money pouring in from the former Soviet Union just when Trump is in serious trouble, financially.
BROWN: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia's state owned businesses moved in to private hands. Creating a class of wealthy oligarchs, some of whom began investing in American real estate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Words spread that if you want to part money in the U.S. and have the lowest possible risk of being noticed you want to buy real estate.
BROWN: In the years that followed, properties like trump World tower in New York according to Bloomberg news and the developments in Florida according to Reuters, started filling up with Russian buyers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Donald Trump and I'm the largest real estate developer in New York.
BROWN: Meanwhile Donald Trump was finding his way into American living rooms across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has this incredible source of luck. He turns into an actor playing a successful businessman.
TRUMP: Who will be, the "apprentice"?
BROWN: And the apprentice opened the door for Trump to a new way of making money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump shifted his business model. He come a brand name at that point. He started licensing his name and putting it on everything. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doing this in haphazard chaotic way.
TRUMP: When it comes to great stakes, I just raised the stakes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump stakes and Trump lottery, Trump wine, Trump this, and Trump that. He licensed neckties, buildings, beautiful, beautiful solution that hey, if I don't ask a lot of questions and I allow my name to go on projects, then I'll get paid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are buildings in which he didn't put up a penny, but he got a multimillion dollar fee up front to get the Trump name on it.
TRUMP: The Trump SOHO is a very, very special building.
BROWN: In the case of Trump tower SOHO, the Trump organization got 18 percent ownership of the tower without investing a single dime according to Bloomberg news.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BROWN: The financing for the project was left up to his partner. Bayrock Group.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a problematic project from top to bottom.
BROWN: A lawsuit file by a former Bayrock insider in 2010 accuse Bayrock of money laundering and having questionable ties to Russia and Russia organized crime. Bayrock has denied the allegation, but after an eight year legal battle, recently agreed to settle the law suits.
DAVIDSON: There is a -- why would Trump ever do business with those guys?
BROWN: Guys like Russia born Felix Sater, Bayrock key executive. Sater's was a twice convicted felon. After his second conviction he cooperated on cases with the Justice Department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Felix had been convicted of stabbing someone in the neck with a margarita class in 1991. He go a year in prison for that. 1998 he is convicted of a $40 million financial fraud involving penny stocks and in trading.
BROWN: Despite his checkered past, Sater's business ties with the Trump organizations extended well beyond the SOHO deal. Together with Bayrock they explored additional Trump deals in the U.S. and abroad. But in a sworn testimony in a 2013 deposition, Trump insisted he barely even knew Sater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About how many times have you converses with Mr. Sater.
TRUMP: Over the years? Not many. If he was sitting in the room right now I wouldn't really know what he looked like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is absolutely untrue that Donald Trump doesn't know Felix Sater.
BROWN: At one time Sater work at an office at Trump tower and held a business card for the Trump organization. He was also the go between for Trump's most recent and perhaps most controversial attempt of building Trump tower Moscow.
[23:05:12] According to the New York Times Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow and tour the proposal and even suggested to him that he could help him win the presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no question during the campaign that Trump was to get closer to Russia, and repair relations with Russia.
TRUMP: There is nothing I can think of that I would rather do than have Russia friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one question for the Mueller investigation is whether the reason Trump was reaching out to Russia was because he was making money or expecting to make money from relationships with Putin's people.
BROWN: Houston Texas, the heart of Texas Facebook page by this 250,000 followers to the stop of Islamization of Texas rally.
[23:10:05] And precisely the same time and place people gather for the united Muslims of America Facebook event. Shockingly, Americans had nothing to do with starting those Facebook groups. For about $200, Russians trolls got 15,000 people to see their fake ad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won't stop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across the country, you may very well driven by a protest for any hot bed issue. These protests in some cases were organized out of Russia.
BROWN: Russian imposters pushing messages, sometimes violence, false, and often controversial. $100,000 in Facebook ads, thousands of twitter accounts, and google ad dollars. Russians were behind it all creating to content design to pit Americans against one another.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
BROWN: Now Capitol Hill wants answers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A political ad was paid for by rebels. Isn't that a red flag? How could that happen?
BROWN: Almost all of the propaganda found so far traces back to the internet research agency. Investigators say it was finance by a company owned by this man, Russian Oligarch (inaudible) a wealthy Russian businessman in part of Putin's inner circle. He and 12 other Russians were recently indicted for allegedly interfering with the 2016 election. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hired people that had a quota, they were
working 12 hour shifts leading up through the elections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was an entire English language department specifically assign to insert messages, insert social media post in the United States. They were required to watch house of Cards to better understand American politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In two weeks' time, you will be heading to the ballot box to decide what kind of country you want to live in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea was to masquerade themselves as Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They understood that Black Lives Matter ads should be targeted to cities like Baltimore and Ferguson which are violent protests over African-American men. They understood that gay rights was a big issue, and gun rights were big issues.
BROWN: Some people may have seen these videos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton is not our candidate.
BROWN: Posted to pages now identified as part of Moscow's influence campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is merely a thoughtful and details process of how do I make this look legitimate.
BROWN: Legitimacy boosted when influential people amplified the message. This Russian run account was retweeted by Trump Jr., Kellyanne Conway, and Michael Flynn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In sharing this content from Trump's campaign in effect whether knowingly or unknowingly helped legitimized the spread of Russian disinformation.
TRUMP: I doubt I will be here if weren't for social media, to be honest with you.
BROWN: From tweets to posts to pictures. The Trump team used every digital tool to their advantage. Looking back, that approach was born out of sheer necessity.
TRUMP: Hi, everybody.
BROWN: From day one, candidate Trump faced an uphill battle. He lacked the foot soldiers and local offices that his opponent had spent months even years cultivating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are wondering why he is not buying ads, why is he not running a traditional campaign?
BROWN: Trump's campaign threw out the old playbook and turned to a newer more powerful way to turn out the vote, big data. Jared Kushner oversaw that part of the operation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He treated Trump like an e-commerce company. Like
a consumer tech company.
BROWN: Trump's digital team bet big on one simple idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can now target your message to a smaller group of people and have that message be more impactful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understood early that Facebook will help Trump to win. Twitters how he talk to people, Facebook is how you want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump campaign Digital Director Brad Parcel led the effort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I can find 15 people they would never buy a TV commercial for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took opportunities that the other side didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had staff imbedded inside our offices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
[23:15:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facebook employees would show up for work every day in our offices.
ISIKOFF: Facebook offered a service to both political campaigns. The Trump campaign took Facebook up on it. The Clinton campaign surprisingly did not.
BROWN: While Parcels strategy was so successful that he is already chosen to run Trump's entire 2020 campaign. Even though the digital operation he ran was part of Robert Mueller's investigation. Both Brad Parcel and Jared Kushner deny any collusion with the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By all accounts, the Russians feel like they were successful in what they were trying to accomplish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would imagine every day that Vladimir Putin and the people around him are watching American news saying in our wildest streams, we never thought they could be this disruptive. The Russians probably, rightly think that they won.
BROWN: We close tonight with a dossier that controversial document which contains many troubling allegations about Donald Trump and his associates and his campaign. Some had said it is evidence of collusion. Others have said it has been completely disproven and even fake. Neither of the statements are correct. For our story we will stick to the facts.
Ten days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're live in Chicago tonight.
BROWN: On the same might that President Barack Obama was giving his farewell address to the nation.
[23:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news in the nation's capital tonight, that we need to tell you about. I want to go straight to Jake Tapper.
BROWN: A team of CNN reporters broke a stunning story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Sciutto, I am impressed and Carl Bernstein and I, we have all been working on this story --
BROWN: About America's new President.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Claims of Russian efforts to compromise the President-Elect Trump.
BROWN: The President-Elect and the outgoing President had both been briefed on the most sensational charges in the dossier.
SCIUTTO: Allegations that Russian operatives claim to have been compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.
BROWN: U.S. Officials with direct knowledge told CNN that Trump had been warned. Russia could had compo mark on him. That is the damaging information often gathered through surveillance that Vladimir Putin is believed to collect on powerful people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you be concern that the Russian could have leverage on the president of the United States?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BROWN: Former intelligence chief James Clapper.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Gaining leverage, that is their objective. If they can compromise somebody, they have a term for it, compromised.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was our strong sense that the nation's senior most intelligence officials would not waste the time of the President and President-Elect if it was easy to dismiss information.
BROWN: CNN did not reveal the contents of the dossier. It had not been verified. But shortly after CNN broke the story, BuzzFeed published the entire dossier on the internet.
TRUMP: It is all fake news.
BROWN: Donald Trump was furious.
TRUMP: It is phony stuff, it didn't happen and I think it is a disgrace.
BROWN: Though journalist had not verified it. Portions of the dossier had been in FBI hands for months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through August to September of 2016, Chris Steele the former MI6 officer who had compiled the dossier puts it in the hands of someone he knows in Rome that is an FBI agency that puts it in the blood stream of the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Steele was a veteran British spy that worked for the MI6 intelligence service was a Russian expert.
BROWN: Steel had compiled the dossier as opposition research for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
SCIUTTO: He was from America's closest intelligent partner, British intelligence, who is based in the country involved in this dossier, Russia and since the time, working for U.S. Law enforcement.
BROWN: Now through the FBI's investigation and extensive reporting, we know the parts of the dossier are true, because U.S. Government intercepted picked up conversations between Russians that corresponded to conversations detailed in the dossier.
SCIUTTO: Meetings and conversations that were contain in the dossier did in fact take place in the times and the places between the people involved as described in the dossier.
BROWN: The reports that make up the document allege extensive Russian interference in the election, information that U.S. officials later confirm to be true.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. The intelligence that I have seen gives me great confidence in their assessment that it happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.
ISIKOFF: It was designed to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Those claims in the dossier have all pretty much been verified by the U.S. Intelligence committee.
BROWN: But even as aspect by the dossier had been established as facts, the document and its creator Christopher Steele have come under wither criticism of supporters of President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Risk so you would understand it is so much bigger than Watergates.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They used the dossier of lies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know, what are the nation's premier law enforcement agency relied on the document that looks like a national inquirer preparative.
BROWN: At the center of the dossier firestorm is Republican congress Devin Nunes who wrote a controversial memo of alleging FBI and Justice Department abuses. He claim that the agency used the dossier to spy on an American citizen to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The FBI injustice did cite the dossier but say they had other ample
evidence that raises Russian Connections getting back to 2013.
Still, the dossier remains a controversial especially for the sensational allegations that the Kremlin had compromising materials on Donald Trump. There is not yet been any proofs on that charge. But a former CIA station chief in Moscow says Russia almost certainly has a file on the President.
[23:25:03] So you believe that the Russians had kompromat on Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would surprise me gravely if they did not. That is what they do. That is what the internal intelligence service the FSP does, they had done it for decades.
BROWN: Most important investigators say is this, the dossier is just one piece of information in their wide ranging inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have spoken to a number of people that is been briefed on the classified intelligence. There is a lot more out there than just this. The dossier is one small piece of a much larger picture.
BROWN: As we try to bring that picture into focus, we have made several attempts to speak to one of the President's lawyers on camera. We were unable to obtain an interview. Donald Trump maintained in statements and on twitter that there was no collusion. But multiple investigation by the special counsel and in congress continue. As a result, we will also continue to report the story, focusing on the facts. I am Pamela Brown, thanks for joining us.