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New Documents Released on Special Counsel Mueller's Investigation Into Paul Manafort; President Trump Tweets Repeatedly About Immigration. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 8:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Shimon, the collusion question, at least as far as the special counsel's investigation is concerned, not closed.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Not at all. In fact, I think this memo that was just filed in court lays out the scope of the special counsel investigation, which was authorized by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe and at times has been criticized by the president.

This memo was written in August, just three months after Bob Mueller was appointed to run the investigation. And in a significant move, the special counsel made parts of this memo public. And here it reveals the allegations that Mueller is investigating against Manafort. One of those is an allegation that he committed a crime or crimes by colluding with the Russians. And then the second one is that it says that Mueller is authorized to investigate Manafort for money he received while working for the pro-Russian leader of the Ukraine. And as we know, Manafort has been charged with money he made from that work.

His attorneys are arguing that Mueller overstepped his jurisdiction by bringing those charges because it has nothing to do with the Russia investigation. And the three-page memo is also notable for what we don't see in that parts of it are blacked out. In fact, most of it has been blacked out. And it appears to indicate other allegations and people that the Mueller team is investigating.

Now, the memo's existence has been classified up until now and it was released as part of Mueller's response to Manafort's motion to dismiss one of the indictments against him. And Jim, certainly this memo shows that any notion that the collusion investigation is over and that Manafort isn't potentially facing Russia-related charges clearly is not true.

SCIUTTO: Sure to disappoint the president. Shimon Prokupecz in Washington, thanks very much.

President Trump tweeting about immigration policy, as we said, 10 times in just the last 48 hours. This as the White House makes a new legislative push on immigration. CNN's Abby Phillip is live at the White House with more this morning. Good morning, Abby. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Jim. The president

this morning making a hard pivot to his base and a hard pivot to hardline immigration policies with a new tweet this morning about these alleged caravans of immigrants coming into the United States from Central America. He wrote a big caravan of people from Honduras now coming across Mexico and headed to our weak laws borders, had better be stopped before it gets here. Cash cow NAFTA is in play as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress must act now.

This is one of the few times that President Trump has specifically mentioned threatening foreign aid to countries like Honduras for allowing this to happen. And that so-called caravan is actually a group of immigrants coming to the United States or seeking to come for asylum purposes, not exactly just flowing across the border as he mentioned.

This is the tenth tweet, as you just mentioned, the president has made this weekend on this issue. It started when he was at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. He was surrounded by friends and outside advisers who pushed him to get tougher on immigration, saying that his base believed he was softening on it.

He was also surrounded by very few senior aides, but one of them is Stephen Miller who also pushed him on a hardline on immigration. The president and the White House planning now to push Congress to do more on immigration laws. And there are two main things they want to talk about. One of them is removing the protections that prevent them from deporting children as soon as they get to the United States. And they also want to be able to detain families for longer periods of time. But Congress is in recess right now and it's really, really not clear whether they have any interest in taking on these new hardline immigration policies that the president wants them to and has been tweeting nonstop about for about three days now, you guys.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, therein lies the question about whether this will turn into policy. Abby, thank you very much for the reporting from the White House.

We're joined now by CNN political director David Chalian and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. So David, let me start with you. The past 48 hours we've seen the president take a quite different tact, at least rhetorically, in terms of what he wants to be done with DACA and with the Dreamers. This sounds very different than the bill of love that he had talked about in the past, so what's going on?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It sounds very different. Think about if you were just watching the news over the last let's say four weeks on immigration. You're a conservative Trump supporter. You saw him in a bipartisan meeting in the cabinet room. You saw him talking about a bill of love. You saw him saying, yes, we can do that, we can do Dreamers, we can the full comprehensive immigration reform next, very, very different tone and tenor than you saw from President Trump on the campaign trail, the fuel of his fire that delivered him the nomination and on to the presidency. And this weekend we know from our reporting, obviously, he was around

a lot of FOX News personalities. They were telling him that there's some concern perhaps out there in the country. Ann Coulter going around and expressing dismay, conservative base over his rhetoric on immigration.

[08:05:05] And so what have we had for 48 hours? We've had nothing but throwing out red meat, as much as possible, because he clearly walked away from his weekend conversations with the likes of Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro and others feeling a bit off-kilter. And Donald Trump doesn't at all like to feel off-kilter from his base that delivered him the White House. And so what we've seen for 48 hours is constantly pressing the buttons that are going to enthuse, engage, and excite that base.

SCIUTTO: David Chalian, is it possible that no deal is made on DACA, that this expires and these 800,000 or so, I know there are couple different estimates as to what the number is, but close to a million people are in limbo?

CHALIAN: It is possible that we live in this limbo, exactly as you say, Jim. Right now because of court orders, renewal applications are happening. The process is going forward despite the fact that the president said it was rescinded and would be gone by now. It's not because of the courts. Obviously if you talk to Republicans or Democrats on Capitol Hill, nobody thinks this limbo is a good and proper way to deal with this issue. But I don't see a path to a deal here.

CAMEROTA: What do you think John?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it raises the stakes. Not only the president doubling down on the rhetoric, as David said, but there's actually policies being put forward. And I think one of the real questions is, as Abby said, are they going to frontload getting tougher on children, on families. And that's all part of a piece with something we heard late yesterday, Paul Callan, which is that an increase by the DOJ on requiring judges to meet quotas on deportations and how that could impact things if indeed the Dreamers remain in limbo.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's part of a major assault on immigration policy by the Trump administration. What people don't realize is the immigration judges who hear these cases, they're not completely independent judges like the federal judiciary which is a separate branch of government. They answer really to the president and to the Justice Department. And the Justice Department is saying we want those judges to have quotas. We want them to have to hear a certain number of cases in a certain amount of time or they lose their jobs.

Now this is happening at the same time the administration is saying we want you to hear a lot more cases because we want to deport a lot more people. So instead of giving more judges into the system, staffing it up to deal with it, they're saying we want you to hear more cases faster. So it's a very, very strange proposal, and a lot of people say one that has no justice attached to it.

CAMEROTA: And Paul Callan, about the caravan of asylum seekers that are headed to, we think, the U.S. border, they're going through Mexico from Central America, Honduras primarily, what happens when they get to the border? The president has made it sound in tweets as though there's sort of a marauding band heading our way, but when people come seeking asylum, then what does happen.

CALLAN: It sounds like a scene out of Mad Max that, they're going to attack the border and cross it. I think if we know a caravan is approaching the border, the Trump administration can marshal the forces to stop the caravan. They're not going to go in suddenly to the desert and infiltrate into the United States. All of this is a political effort to change the topic I think from Stormy Daniels, actually, which has been done effectively by talking about this caravan.

SCIUTTO: It's interesting. Even the language of quotas, that harkens back to a different time with U.S. immigration policy. You have to go back decades to when there were actual quotas, particularly for particular groups and so on. And I know this is not exactly the same thing, but by setting a quota like that, that's the effect of a policy like that, you limit the number of folks who can come in.

CAMEROTA: So Chalian, let's talk about the -- what we now know from this newly released classified info, sorry, memo about what Robert Mueller was tasked with from Rod Rosenstein, the deputy A.G. in terms of the scope. What's the significance of what we learned last night?

CHALIAN: I'll be curious to hear what others think about this. But to me I feel like this is now part of a drip, drip, drip out of Mueller that seems to be direct messaging to Paul Manafort and trying to apply greater pressure to Manafort to consider perhaps flipping in this investigation, because everything that is coming out of the Mueller operation right now, every filing, you can read in there as if it's like not-so-hidden message from Bob Mueller to Paul Manafort, I'm coming for you. I've got all this going your way. That's how I read this information.

SCIUTTO: It's interesting, Paul Callan, because take this with what we learned a couple weeks ago, that Rick Gates, that it's not just about getting to Paul Manafort, it was about his contacts with Russian intelligence. And now with Paul Manafort, it's not just about his business dealings prior to his time on the campaign, it's also about this open question of collusion. It shows that the scope of this investigation still remains very broad.

[08:10:00] CALLAN: It started with the Russian connection and it looks like it's going to end with the Russian connection. And what's interesting about this is Manafort's lawyers are taking this very aggressive stance and they're saying, you know something, Mueller didn't have the right to investigate the money laundering aspects of the indictment of Manafort. It's because if they did, it's a blank check. It's like saying the special prosecutor could investigate anything. And so everything should be dismissed. The response to this by the Justice Department has been no, that's not

at all true. He had an authorization that said if you come across crimes relevant to the Russia investigation, they, in fact, can be investigated, and certainly the money laundering, the connection to the Ukraine highly relevant because the road to Russia leads through Ukraine. That's where Manafort had connections. Those were the early Trump administration connections, and that's what --

SCIUTTO: People act like Ukraine is this orbiting planet. He was working for the pro-Russian government in Ukraine. It is connected.

AVLON: And Russia had influenced their election, so there's a pattern there. But what I think is also significant is Manafort's arguments that collusion hasn't been authorized, that investigation, that's off the table. And Trump and Manafort need to confront the fact that Trump's own Justice Department has sanctioned this area of investigation, direct collusion. So that I think is really significant. In addition to the "Wall Street Journal" reporting which is that they're looking at Roger Stone and potential connections with Assange around --

CALLAN: But they're still hoping, John, in the end to turn Manafort. It's clear as day that Mueller always thought that Manafort was the key to everything, to the Russian connection. And now Manafort is facing the rest of his life in prison. He could still turn possibly and give information to Mueller that might be helpful in the investigation. And that's what this press is about by the Justice Department.

CAMEROTA: Powerful incentive. Paul Callan, David Chalian, thank you both very much.

So will President Trump's renewed hardline approach to immigration help or hurt his party in the midterms? We talk to the nation's first former undocumented immigrant turned congressman, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is on a Twitter tear about immigration with ten tweets in the last 48 hours. He's venting about weak border laws, Dreamers and insinuating caravans of immigrants are traveling to Mexico about to cross the U.S. border.

He tweeted just hours ago this morning, big caravan of people from Honduras now coming across Mexico and heading to our weak laws border. Had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and countries that allow this to happen. Congress must act now, exclamation point.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York. He is the first former undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress.

Welcome, Congressman.

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Great to have you here in studio.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: How do you hear the tweets that have come out in the past 48 hours where the tone seems to have shifted in terms of immigration and where the president is?

ESPAILLAT: Well, it's more of the same. Every time Mueller puts up the heat on him, he pivots to immigration. When he has another stormy day with Stormy Daniels, he pivots to immigration. So, this is a way of scapegoating a good part of the country, 800,000 Dreamers. I think he goes back there every time he has a new set of problems.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, you see this as a distraction rather than what has been suggested which is that over the weekend, we know that he dined and hung out with lots of Fox News hosts. As we know, Ann Coulter has been on a bit of a tear about him disappointing the base, about not building the wall.

So, do you think it's a distraction or do you think he truly feels under siege from the base about this?

ESPAILLAT: I think both. I think he wants to throw red meat as his base. It's like Caligula at the coliseum throwing red meat to his base.

And, you know, he continues to do that. At the same time, he wants to underestimate the importance or the seriousness of the Mueller investigation or the current crisis of the day. So, he goes after these 800,000 young people that most Americans, 80 percent of Americans feel should stay in our nation, including 70 percent of Trump supporters in red states and blue states in Democratic districts and Republican districts.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: What struck in that tweet, he mentions cash cow NAFTA, seemed a threat there to hold NAFTA hostage to a deal on the border wall.

ESPAILLAT: Well, I'm surprised he hasn't blamed the Chinese on the Dreamers. You know, he's entering a trade war with China. He's now entering -- holding a new debate about NAFTA and beating up on Mexico and Canada, our two neighbors. We really don't know where he lands every morning when he tweets in the middle of the night.

I think what we do know is he pivots back and tries to blame Dreamers on everything.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Congressman, a few months ago, it looked like there maybe the outlines of a grand deal. Chuck and Nancy came over with Chinese food. They walked out with an offer that seemed to indicate around $25 billion to build the wall, border security. It would have ended chain migration, but it would have allowed the Dreamers to stay here.

Did you support that bill, and if not, what would you support now to help the Dreamers get on board with the rest of the country, the same success story that you've had.

ESPAILLAT: Well, first of all, I have to respectfully challenge the language. I don't believe in chain migration. I think it's family reunification.

And so, I think we should take up the DREAM Act on its own because the American people want that, because 80 percent of the American people feel these young people on their own merits should stay here. Now, we should resolve that matter on their own. We have five spending -- well, five C.R.s, continuing resolutions, in the last omnibus bill. At each point, the president went back and went back again to the Dreamers and sort of like held them hostage on these budget deals.

Every single time -- we have three bipartisan bills right now -- the USAID Act, the DREAM Act, as well as the framework given to us by the Senate, three Republican senators, three Democratic senators.

[08:20:01] He hasn't even taken that up. If the DREAM Act went to the floor right now, as is, it would pass. We have the support for it. But he doesn't want to do that.

AVLON: But, Congressman, just to be clear, I mean, a clean -- Republicans control Congress. You believe that a clean DREAM Act is all that you'd support and it could pass a Republican Congress?

ESPAILLAT: If it hits the floor, I think it passes right now. It is extremely popular among all -- 80 percent of America is supporting it. If it went to the House of Representatives, it would pass. Certainly if it went to the Senate, it would as well.

By the way, several of these proposals have border protection provisions in them, but he has not taken it up. He wants to go back to the Dreamers every opportunity he has to use them as bait for another issue, whether it's a budget issue, whether it's the Mueller investigation or whether he has another stormy day with Stormy Daniels.

CAMEROTA: OK, because, you know, the president says it's the Democrats' fault that DACA is dead. I mean, that's what he's tweeted, you didn't care or act and it's your fault.

ESPAILLAT: No, we have acted. As I said earlier, we had the Hurd- Aguilar bill, which is bipartisan. We had the DREAM Act, which is a bipartisan piece of legislation.

CAMEROTA: And then what happened, they just wouldn't be voted on?

ESPAILLAT: Leadership would not take it to the floor because they know that we have Republicans and Democrats that would vote for it both in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you a concerning aspect about this, because I know you've been critical of what you call the president's anti- immigration agenda. When you read these tweets and the language that the president uses about immigrants -- I mean, demonizing immigrants. I mean, I would say dog whistle, but there's really no dog whistle here because it's like a bull horn, right?

ESPAILLAT: That's correct.

SCIUTTO: How concerned are you about this rhetoric in this environment?

ESPAILLAT: Well, this rhetoric would not only -- it's not only inflammatory, but I think thank god for the courts. Had it not been for the courts, we probably had 800,000 young people and their parents go underground.

Is this what this nation has gotten to, where eight -- close to a million young people that are part of our -- members of our armed forces, they're teachers, they work, they go to school, and their parents have to go underground because they feel there's a massive deportation machine that is going to snatch them out of their beds. I think it's very fearful and I don't think that speaks well for America.

CAMEROTA: I mean, as a former undocumented immigrant yourself, you know, what do you say to the people who say illegal, you got here illegally, this is a country of borders, we need to enforce our borders?

ESPAILLAT: We didn't land here from Mars or Pluto or Neptune. There are people without documents. The only difference between you and I, Alisyn and those Dreamers is a piece of paper. You know, they dream in English. They wake up every morning trying to make America a better place.

As I said earlier, they're, you know, doctors, they are nurses, they are members of our armed forces. They're fighting for democracy in our nation. What more American that that?

So, to categorize them as illegal I think is a bad term to use. I think they're just folks that don't have their documentation and they should be given a shot.

SCIUTTO: Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here. Thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Well, coming up, a new book claims a Trump confidant you've seen on NEW DAY is the number one leaker at the White House. What's the author's proof? We're going to ask him and that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:21] SCIUTTO: So, who is the number one leaker inside President Donald Trump's White House?

A new book out just today claims it is Kellyanne Conway. That book is "The Trump White House: Changing the rules of the game." Joining us now is the book's author, Ronald Kessler. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.

RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE: CHANGING THE RULES OF THE GAME": Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Kellyanne Conway, this revelation I think caught a lot of our attention in part because she's been one of the biggest attackers of the media, right, fake news, et cetera. And yet you're saying she's one of the media's biggest sources.

KESSLER: Yes, I think she does a very good job on TV. When interviewed her at the White House and it was recorded, she apparently forgot she was on the record and started attacking Reince Priebus, saying the nastiest and most obviously untrue things about him that are so damaging that I don't want to repeat it. I didn't put it in the book because I thought it would be unfair.

She also went after Jared and Ivanka, saying that they leak against Steve Bannon.

And aides have told me that they have seen text messages she has sent to journalists leaking, attacking her colleagues. So, you know, it's just the truth and that's what I try to do in this book.

SCIUTTO: And you're saying in addition to being a leaker, she is leaking false information -- lies to the media.

KESSLER: Lies and distortions, and just, you know, major source -- the major source probably of leaks from the White House.

CAMEROTA: She refutes that. She was on Fox yesterday and here is her response to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR THE PRESIDENT: The president and I talked at length about a number of issues, talked about that very briefly. He knows and he has said privately and publicly who the leakers and the liars are and have been very happy there's a lot less leaking.

Those of us who have the privilege of having access to him and working here every single day, which I know inspires a lot of jealousy and back fighting itself.

Leakers get great press, and one day, Abby, I will have my say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: I wonder when that day will be, and I hope she comes on NEW DAY.

But, Mr. Kessler, I mean, the point is, just because she criticizes her colleagues doesn't make her a leaker.

KESSLER: No, the text messages do show she is leaking. And if you wonder, how come there's all this turmoil in the White House, part of these attacks that are emanating from her against her colleagues. You know, you see stories about Reince trying to swat a fly that Donald ordered him to kill, you know, that was distorted, that sort of thing.

I have to laugh at a previous segment about the question of whether Manafort would turn against Trump in this collusion investigation.

CAMEROTA: What's the answer?

KESSLER: In my book, I cite a "Washington Post" story, "Washington Post" not being the worst place in the world. I used to work there.