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Memo Outlines Scope of Mueller Investigation into Manafort; WSJ: Special Counsel Looking into Roger Stone's Ties to WikiLeaks. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 3, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation.
[05:59:30] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New evidence that the special counsel is investigating collusion allegations against the president's former campaign chairman.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: No, there are not.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have really let them down, and now people are taking advantage of DACA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump lashing out on Twitter, criticizing U.S. immigration policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This president is completely clueless when it comes to immigration laws, period.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: EPA chief Scott Pruitt under scrutiny amid ethics concerns.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I don't know how you survive this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to see how we have smooth management of the country when you've got all of these melodramas.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, April 3, 6 a.m. here in the east.
Chris is off this morning, and back by popular demand, Jim Sciutto and John Avlon.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: We're still here somehow. CAMEROTA: Thank you guys, great to have you. We have so much news to
get to. Here's our starting line.
A newly-released classified memo provides new details on the scope of Robert Mueller's investigative mandate. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explicitly authorized Mueller to investigate whether Paul Manafort colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election and to probe any crimes related to payments Manafort received from the Ukrainian government. So we'll have to get into that.
Also, the White House is making a new legislative push aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration as President Trump is fanning fears that U.S. policies have weakened border security. Now the Justice Department is looking to impose quotas on immigration judges.
SCIUTTO: President Trump once again slamming the Justice Department as the administration looks to speed up deportations. The president also taking aim at Democrats for blocking, he says, his nominations and ramping up his war on Amazon, whose stock continues to plummet.
Meantime, a source close to the White House says that EPA chief Scott Pruitt's job is now in jeopardy. It comes as the White House is looking into whether Scott Pruitt violated ethics laws after it was revealed that he was renting a room, well below market value, from the family of an energy lobbyist.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's live in Washington with our top story. Shimon, this new memo, what does it tell us?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jim. This new memo certainly reveals to us for the first time what the scope of the special counsel investigation is. Really in plain sight here.
We can see that the collusion investigation that is being conducted by this special counsel is still very much at play. It's still ongoing, specifically as it relates to Paul Manafort.
Now, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing this investigation, who oversees Bob Mueller, in this memo was basically written, this memo was written to basically laying out the scope by which Mueller and his team could conduct their investigation.
Now, this -- this memo authorized them to investigate, according to the memo, crimes committed -- crime or crimes by Manafort of collusion with the Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
It also then, which authorizes Bob Mueller and his team to look at some of the Ukrainian work that Paul Manafort has done, including the fact that he had been charged with some of the money laundering, the government claiming that some of the money he received from the Ukrainians that he was working for and then hid it in offshore accounts, didn't pay taxes for it. So this has been sort of a controversy here in terms of on the side of the Manafort team. They've been claiming that Mueller has overstepped his boundaries and
that his scope in the investigation of Manafort and his past and his money dealings. And clearly, this filing shows us that that investigation was authorized by the deputy attorney general.
CAMEROTA: OK. Good to show. Thank you very much for setting all that up for us.
Joining us now to talk about it, we have CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza and CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, who worked with Robert Mueller.
So Michael, let me start with you. Didn't we know already that Bob Mueller was looking into Paul Manafort and his dealings with Russia? Why is this a revelation?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's not a revelation in the sense that this is straight in the middle of Mueller's mandate. The public May 17 appointment of Mueller and the mandate by Rosenstein says he shall carry on the investigation that the FBI started back in March. and that includes collusion and interference.
The August 2 memo that Shimon was just speaking about further elaborates to Mueller privately what the scope of that could include by naming named individuals and particular activities that they undertook. Mueller has clearly the opportunity to investigate Manafort by virtue of this and -- but most significantly, he has the right to look at the predicate potentially for the collusion, which is Manafort's Ukrainian dealings several years before the Trump campaign.
So, the opportunity that Mueller has to use the Ukrainian information that was now part of the indictment as a predicate for his understanding or investigating the 2016 collusion investigation is much more plain for everyone to see and undermines significantly Manafort's claim and his civil lawsuit that Mueller was acting outside of his mandate.
[06:05:19] SCIUTTO: Listen, it seems you'll hear from the president and you'll hear from any of the president's supporters that this -- that Manafort's charges, yes, he's been charged. But it's all about business. It's all about corruption, et cetera.
But Chris Cillizza, I suppose if it's not news here, that the reaffirmation here is that, no, it's an open line of inquiry as to whether there was collusion, including Paul Manafort, the president's campaign chairman at the time.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, Jim. I think it's important, too, to mention Donald Trump here in only that Donald Trump has asserted over and over again the idea of that Mueller's broad -- too broad, sweeping witch hunt hoax. And this makes quite clear that Donald Trump's Justice Department, at least, said that, yes, as it relates to Paul Manafort looking into Russian collusion is part of the mandate, expressly said that. So I think that's important, No. 1. No. 2, I think the downplaying of the Manafort role in all of this by
the Trump world is slightly disingenuous only in that, No. 1, he wasn't a minor player for a short period of time. His title was campaign chairman. He was the campaign manager at a critical time during the campaign.
And No. 2, yes, what we know publicly, as it relates to Paul Manafort is about his dealings, financial dealings, primarily with the Ukraine, but that's not necessarily everything. I always remind people, ongoing investigation, ongoing investigation. It's important to keep that frame in mind.
CAMEROTA: How do you see it?
AVLON: And Chris, I think one of the interesting questions will be is whether this knowledge that the Trump Justice Department specifically sanctified investigation into collusion by Manafort with the Russians, whether that increases the president's paranoia and pique at his own Justice Department.
CILLIZZA: Yes, look. I think you're right, John. I think all these questions fundamentally get to what -- how does the president react in some ways?
Because the big kahuna, the big thing we're waiting for is does Donald Trump sit down with Bob Mueller or not? Right? That's sort of our big outstanding question. He, Trump, at least publicly, has indicated he wants to. I actually buy that only in that I think Trump has total and complete self-confidence and likes the idea of a mano-a-mano against Bob Mueller who he thinks he can outwit and outsmart. But that's the key.
So anything -- Manafort, anything else that plays into his psyche as it relates to that sit-down, I think, is important to us.
CAMEROTA: Michael, there's also some new "Wall Street Journal" reporting about this possible meeting between Roger Stone, OK, long- time Trump associate and friend, and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. We -- I think we've already gone over this, because I interviewed Sam Nunberg about this.
He -- Roger Stone says he was joking with Sam Nunberg, his friend and sort of mentee, that he had dinner one night with Julian Assange. He says he was trying to get out of a dinner with Sam Nunberg, and Sam Nunberg took it seriously. And he says, I think, reported that to Bob Mueller.
Bob Mueller is looking into whether this is possible. Is it possible that Roger Stone actually had dinner with Julian Assange, who was holed up in an embassy?
ZELDIN: Most likely not, but I think it misses the broader point here, which is that Mueller is looking at the counterintelligence investigation with two aspects. One is the social media one. And we saw the indictment. The second is the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and
Podesta. And then as to each, whether there was collusion or coordination with respect to the first social media. It's going to be Cambridge Analytica and the Kushner data analytics operation. With respect to the hacking, it's going to be Roger Stone and Don Jr. and their conversations with WikiLeaks around the DNC/Podesta hacking.
So whether or not Roger Stone had dinner, whether he was kidding with Sam Nunberg, whether Nunberg misunderstood, is beside the point of I think that Mueller has, in his sights, the hacking from the counterintelligence standpoint and the coordination through WikiLeaks. And Roger Stone and Don Jr., I think, are in his crosshairs for that.
AVLON: And Michael, I think it's important to clarify, first of all, this report from the "Wall Street Journal" that Roger Stone pushed back and said that he was in L.A. the night that he allegedly said that he did say in an e-mail that he had dinner with Assange but that Assange has had guests over his time holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy.
[06:10:11] But the larger pattern is -- is Roger Stone saying in public, in tweets, in other ways that he'd been in communication with WikiLeaks. Saying, "Oh, Podesta's time in a barrel is coming" before the Podesta e-mails were released, and that intersection of interests.
SCIUTTO: It's not isolated. I mean, the famous tweet, "Hillary Clinton is done on X date." I mean, there's more than one back and forth between him and Ronald [SIC] Stone -- Roger Stone.
Thanks very much.
ZELDIN: That's right. Which is --
SCIUTTO: Go ahead.
ZELDIN: Which is really why the dinner is not really -- I was going to say, which is really why the dinner is beside the point. It's really the broader communications between Stone and WikiLeaks.
SCIUTTO: And the timing of those communications. Thanks very much to all of you.
President Trump returning to a hardline immigration stance with a series of tweets sending a clear message to his base that he intends to crack down.
CNN's Abby Phillip, she is live at the White House this morning with more. There was a lot of tweets yesterday on immigration. What are we expecting today?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Jim.
President Trump is pivoting hard to his base and to an immigration message that we saw a lot during the campaign. Over the last several days he's tweeted nine times about U.S. immigration laws, and we are now learning that the White House is planning to renew an effort to pressure Congress to crack down on immigration laws.
PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump continuing to vent about U.S. immigration policies, calling current laws weak and an Obama joke and urging Congress to act. The White House beginning another push to pass a series of hardline measures that failed to gain steam last fall, including removing protections that prevent the immediate deportation of undocumented children and allowing authorities to keep families in detention for longer periods awaiting deportation decisions, according to "The New York Times."
This effort coming after the president declared that any deal to protect DREAMers is dead.
TRUMP: The Democrats have really let them down. It's a shame. And now people are taking advantage of DACA. That's a shame. It should have never happened.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Didn't you kill, DACA, sir? Didn't you kill DACA?
PHILLIP: President Trump announced he intended to end the DREAMer program last fall. And immigration negotiations collapsed earlier this year after the president signaled he was open to a bipartisan solution.
TRUMP: This group and others from the Senate, from the House comes back with an agreement, I'm signing it. I mean, I will be signing it. I'm not going to say, "Oh, gee, I want this" or "I want that."
PHILLIP: Democrats offered $25 billion for the president's border wall in exchange for citizenship for DREAMers. The White House was not satisfied, saying there were too few measures to curb immigration overall. Sources tell CNN that a number of the president's allies warned him this weekend that his base thinks he's softening on immigration.
The president is also ramping up his attacks on Amazon, accusing the company of hurting the U.S. postal service and brick-and-mortar stores, arguments he made on the campaign trail.
TRUMP: And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems.
PHILLIP: The latest criticism causing Amazon stock to drop 5 percent. President Trump also renewing his rebuke on his own Justice Department, accusing the DOJ and the FBI of slow walking documents requested by Congress for ongoing investigations, calling the institutions an embarrassment.
This as sources tell CNN that embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt's job may be in jeopardy. The president is reportedly angry with recent reports that Pruitt rented a room for well under market value from the family of an energy lobbyist. "The New York Times" reports that the EPA signed off on a proposal
from a Canadian company linked to the lobbying firm last month the same time Pruitt was renting the condo. The EPA and the firm deny that there is any connection.
PHILLIP: And a spokeswoman for the EPA says that Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump's agenda amid all of this controversy. We will have an opportunity to question President Trump today. He hosts the leaders of the Baltic states for a press conference this afternoon.
CAMEROTA: OK. Abby, thank you very much. So what has changed about President Trump's new immigration push and why? We discuss that next.
[06:18:03] SCIUTTO: President Trump's immigration tweet storm signaling a shift back to a hardline strategy as senior White House official says to expect an aggressive push for a laundry list of rehashed immigration policies that were not successful on Capitol Hill last fall.
Let's bring back Chris Cillizza and the associate editor of RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard, with us, as well.
A.B., what's the driving force behind -- that was quite a tweet storm yesterday, clearly a new focus of the president. Is this about the base or is it about the president's disappointment he doesn't have his border wall yet?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, it's both, Jim. I mean, he is very upset by the reaction that he sees in conservative media and from his base to signing that spending bill a couple weeks ago, the omnibus, and he's also upset that it didn't include wall funding. What he can really say is new wall funding, because there's 1.6 billion, but it's sort of for some fixes and existing fencing and stuff. And it's not really what he wants to deliver on in terms of his campaign promise.
And so he's very frustrated that he's taking this heat, and he actually did make a push for a DACA deal in the closing days, very last minute, very disorganized. And it was rebuffed by the congressional Republicans. And then you see sort of this blip where the White House said, "Oh, no, no, no, he's not for a DACA deal, a one for one protection for DREAMers in exchange for wall funding."
But he's still -- he's still fuming that he doesn't have one on the table. And that's why else also, obviously, this caravan news is fueling it. But that's -- that's really something that until and unless he has something he can call a wall, he's going to keep grumbling this way, because he wants to fulfill this promise.
SCIUTTO: Chris, you just heard A.B. say the people who killed the nascent grand bargain were congressional Republicans. Democrats had offered 25 billion for the wall. By A.B.'s accounting,
that's around 24 billion more than he got in the omnibus spending bill. Why the anger at Democrats and why the apparent lack of interest anymore in putting together another grand bargain?
[06:20:09] CILLIZZA: Because I think he realizes, No. 1, it is very unlikely to happen on the terms he wants, John.
And No. 2, because I think A.B. touched on it, never underestimate his sensitivity to how he is covered, particularly by the conservative media. He's been beat -- bashed by people like Ann Coulter, people who have long been -- Laura Ingraham, people who have long been his supporters, believe you can't not do this. You must build the wall. It was the central premise of your campaign.
He is a -- politicians are reactive, many of them by nature, he more so than most. I think what you're seeing is simply a reaction to that and an understanding that the election is coming. Need the Republican base to be more energized than it has been, and this is a way to do it.
CAMEROTA: Hey, A.B., I want to fact check what we've been talking about for a couple of days after the president seized on it, on we think, a "FOX and Friends" weekend segment about the caravans of, you know, illegal immigrants heading our way from Central America.
So let's -- I mean, there are, I believe, some train cars of something like, at last count, 1,200 people who are seeking asylum. They are heading from mostly Honduras, we think. And this is not the first time.
So, they are fleeing violence, poverty. And in the past, when they've made their way through Mexico they've either been turned back or, if they made it to the U.S. border, I think by our latest stats, three had been granted asylum in the past couple of years. This is -- this is the process. I mean, if you're seeking asylum, you try to make it at the U.S. border. And then at the U.S. border, they decide if somebody is eligible for this.
But the president has seized on it as look at what's happening. We have open borders. This is very scary. We need to crack down immediately.
STODDARD: Right. He is raising the alarms as if we're back in the summer of '14. President Obama is in office and is mishandling the child migrant crisis and not being truthful about it.
He is in charge of the government. We're in month 15 of the Trump administration with a Republican Congress. If they want to change the criteria for asylum, it is on them. This is not DACA. This is not Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. And what the president is doing in his tweets and all his ranting with reporters is conflating these two things, saying, "Oh, see, we can't have DACA, and the Democrats killed it, because then all these people are going to flow into the borders." DACA, you had to turn 16 and be here by 2007. These are two totally separate issues. But again, this is his administration, and he's accountable for what
happens at the borders. If he wants to change those laws, it has nothing to do with being a DREAMer.
AVLON: I think that's an important reality check, because the president has been hitting this note that people are coming to take advantage of DACA. That's impossible, given the structure of DACA. You either were born here before or not.
CAMEROTA: If you came here before -- you had to be here by 2007.
AVLON: Yes. Right.
SCIUTTO: I just wonder, Chris Cillizza, does it work? Are the politics of this in his favor, at least with the base, as we approach the midterm elections?
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, you know, thank you. I always like to -- I'm trying to be more concise.
The -- I think the reality is it will work for a segment of the Republican base, John. There's no question. This is the issue, if you remember back, this is the issue that animated, sort of brought Donald Trump from "That's kind of a punch line" to, "Wait a minute. This guy is serious" in a Republican primary. You know, he channeled that frustration, that anger, that anxiety about this idea that people are coming to this country, and they're going to make it something different than it is. That's what he's up to here again.
I think he's presenting this group of people in sort of a "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" way. You know, they're riding these Jeeps, and they're coming to pillage. You know, they've got maces, and they're coming to get us. Obviously, that's not really, I think, the reality here.
And again, as Alisyn touched on, this is the fifth time a group like this has done this. It's not been this sort of broad asylum granted in the past. It's unlikely to be so again. But that mental image works.
AVLON: The barbarian hoard image.
AVLON: I appreciate the mace image early in the morning. I think that's --
CILLIZZA: I do what I can.
AVLON: -- very vivid.
CILLIZZA: I was trying to swing a mace, but the screen isn't big enough.
CAMEROTA: I saw that. We saw that.
AVLON: We can provide one.
CILLIZZA: Just so you know, I've not actually swung a mace, which I'm sure will surprise everyone.
SCIUTTO: A.B. is disappointed.
CAMEROTA: Your persona is different. But back to policy, A.B., is this connected to what the president and the administration is now staying about immigration judges and wanting quotas and wanting them to speed everything up?
[06:25:11] STODDARD: Is it connected? They think that's the solution to preventing greater flows across the border. They -- he talked about catch and release all the time. That if you come here, it's an incentive to come here, because while you wait a long time on the calendar before your hearing date, you're allowed to be here. And that will be a magnet for more people to come here.
And so he's trying to tighten the process of how long it takes you to have your hearing, which is perfectly fine. Addressing the backlog on timing is one thing, but to give quotas to judges to try to determine the outcome of the rulings is a separate issue entirely, and it doesn't sound like it's lawful. I don't think that's going to work. But certainly, if they can take more cases per day, maybe that can speed things up.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you, guys. And now this is really my favorite story of the day. I might have been up a little late last night, watching this. A Nova Nation celebration. Villanova winning their second national championship in three years. Details in "The Bleacher Report" next. It's going to be fun.