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Paul Manafort Is Going To Jail, Sources Telling CNN That Cohen Has Indicated To Family And Friends That He Is Willing To Cooperate With Federal Prosecutors, China Vowing Now To Retaliate After The White House Announces Tariffs On $50 Billion Worth Of Chinese Goods Aired: 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 15, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Hello, Jim Sciutto in today for Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, wherever you are watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We begin with the breaking news. Paul Manafort is going to jail. President Trump's former campaign chairman taken out the back door of the courthouse away from the cameras. A Federal judge in Washington revoking Manafort's $10 million bail. That, the result of new charges that Manafort allegedly attempted to tamper with witnesses, charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Earlier today, even before the judge's decision, President Trump said that he felt sorry for Manafort but then claimed falsely that Manafort had little to do with his campaign.
A reminder, Manafort was the chairman of Trump's campaign. CNN chief justice correspondent Evan Perez, he is at the courthouse today.
So, Evan, take us through the arguments this morning and the outcome here
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it was a very extraordinary hearing, obviously, because the government came in saying that Paul Manafort is a danger to the community. They said that he had a sustained campaign over five weeks in which he was trying to reach out to potential witnesses in this case and trying to coach them on what to say and essentially committing perjury before this trial.
He's due to go on trial here in September in the court here in DC, and he's got another set of charges that he's facing across in Virginia, in Alexandria, Virginia, another Federal case over there.
So he's got two trials coming up, and until those trials get started, he's going to be sitting in jail. The judge said that she struggled with her decision. She took a 50-minute break after the arguments by the prosecution and the defense.
She said that this is not middle school, I cannot take his cell phone, and she also said that there was really no order that she could think of that she could fashion that would cover any potential violation by Paul Manafort.
Paul Manafort's lawyers argued strongly. They said that to revoke the bail would be a very harsh condition by the judge, and they also said that Paul Manafort wasn't intending to go try to coach witnesses or to try to witness tamper. They said he simply was talking to people, not knowing that they were going to be potential witnesses in this case.
They asked the judge essentially to make the government name all 50 or so witnesses who were going to be part of this trial and then tell Paul Manafort that he couldn't reach out to those people.
That's the solution they were looking for, and they said he will not do this again. It's clear the judge was not buying that argument because she said that Paul Manafort had many, many chances, repeatedly violating orders, in her view, and she said what he was doing represented a harm to the system of justice and to the trial that he is due to have here in DC in September.
So now he's going to be sitting in jail before the court proceeding was wrapping up, he was led out of the courtroom by US marshals. They came back a few minutes later with his cell phone and his belt, his necktie that he wore when he came to court, and handed it to his wife. And now, we're waiting to see when he leaves here in the courthouse.
We expect that he is going to be held at the jail over in Alexandria, Virginia, the Federal jail over there which is attached to the courthouse, and then the next time we are going to see him is when he goes on trial in Virginia in July and then here in September. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Two trials for the President's former campaign chairman. Evan Perez at the courthouse, thanks very much.
Paul Manafort, not the only a close associate of President Trump facing severe legal trouble today. There is breaking news about the President's former personal attorney and long-time confidante, Michael Cohen.
Sources telling CNN that Cohen has indicated to family and friends that he is willing to cooperate with Federal prosecutors. He also has expressed anger at the treatment that he's been getting from the President who has been distancing himself from the man who served as his personal attorney for 12 years.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven't spoken to Mike in a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he still your lawyer?
TRUMP: No, he's not my lawyer, not anymore. But I always liked Michael and he's a good person -- excuse me, do you mind if I talk?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to know if you're --
TRUMP: You're asking me a question, and I am trying to answer. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to know if you're worried if he is
going to cooperate with Federal --
TRUMP: No, I am not worried because I did nothing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: CNN reporter, Kara Scannell, she is in New York, she has been following this. Kara, Cohen, of course is the President's fixer, a very close associate of him. The President said he hasn't spoken to him in a while. We know in fact that he called him in the last several weeks. How serious, if he does cooperate, could this be for the President?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, like you said, Michael Cohen has been Trump's fixer for over a decade. He was his lawyer, his personal attorney and also an attorney of the Trump organization.
So Cohen is privy to a lot of the deals, a lot of the meetings and a lot of the communications that Trump has had over this time. In fact, Cohen was someone who was involved in conversations about potentially having a Trump Tower in Moscow before --
SCANNELL: -- at the very start of this campaign. Cohen also was involved in setting up this meeting with a Ukrainian legislature after Trump won the presidency and probably most importantly, and most relevant to this is that Michael Cohen facilitated the payment to Stormy Daniels, the so-called hush money payment to stop her from coming out with a story about an alleged affair with Trump just before the election, and the Federal prosecutors who are investigating Cohen, that's one of the things they're looking at.
That was included in the affidavits to back up this FBI raid of Cohen's home, office and hotel room. So if Cohen agrees to cooperate with investigators, he could fill in some blanks on the payments that were made about Stormy Daniels and potentially other women. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Kara, as we understood, Michael Cohen kept a lot of recordings of his conversations. I want to bring in our panel. Right now, we're joined by Nia-Malika Henderson, she is CNN's senior political reporter; Laura Coates, CNN legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor; and Samantha Vinograd, she is the CNN national security analyst, former senior adviser to the national security adviser under President Obama.
Laura, if I could begin with you, I was jotting down here a little rough list of the things that Cohen would know about President Trump -- business dealings including with Russians, personal affairs as Kara was mentioning there, payments with women he had relationships with or allegedly had relationships with, but also conversations possibly with the President because Michael Cohen kept recordings.
From a lawyer's perspective, what danger does this put the President in if he decides to cooperate? LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, enormous legal jeopardy if the
content of those conversations is criminal in nature. I mean, the discussion about rigmarole or his everyday occurrences that is non- legal, that would not be really interesting to a prosecutor or anyone else, but if it is criminal in nature, he has lost the protection and the barrier of attorney-client privilege. Remember, systematically over the course of his comments about this case, President Trump has been talking about how he's not really his lawyer, not anymore, and when he was his lawyer, it was a small sliver of the work he was doing.
You know, the special master overseeing the disclosure of all the documents, he has already said that not even like a tenth of the documents that she's been able to review has been attorney-client privilege in any nature, but there has been some that are highly personal.
So, the President is going to be exposed to, if this content is about criminality, legal jeopardy; but if it's about highly personal conduct that's going to be, you know, debatable in the public square, if it is going to be humiliating in some way, well, then he's got a different issue ahead of him. Either way, Michael Cohen, if he's a cooperater and if Donald Trump is the person he's giving information about, and that's a big if given his alliances with people, then there is enormous pressure for him on Donald Trump's side to say, "Listen, I could help you perhaps in the future with a pardon."
SCIUTTO: Just your experience as a Federal prosecutor, it seems like family pressure is an issue here. He's concerned. He's got a wife, he's got kids, he's concerned about time in jail. When you're in that -- when potential defendants are in that position, how powerful a motivator is that?
COATES: Extraordinarily powerful. Remember, Michael Flynn had the family pressure component. His own son was facing legal jeopardy and it was a big motivator for him to be a cooperater.
The other big F here is finances, because thinking about finances and the longevity of your family, their ability to be able to sustain without you if you're the primary breadwinner, and also, if you have been accustomed to a life of luxury, well, adds a pressure of being removed from you and having an orange jumpsuit and a bologna sandwich as opposed to lobster bisque is going to be a really big deterrent for you to say -- or an incentive for you to say, "I want to cooperate."
Having said all that, however, he may have quite a bit of finances and money to do this and to carry it on for a long period of time, but it is a lot of pressure and the other cost finally is the government. The government does not want to expend a great deal of resources if they can get a plea offer that will avoid trial. They'll think about that as well.
SCIUTTO: Nia-Malika, so we have the President's former campaign chairman also facing severe legal -I mean, he is already in legal trouble. Now, he is in jail pending trial. Let's play what the President said about Paul Manafort earlier today. (START VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign, but I feel -- I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: First of all, does anybody buy that the President's campaign chairman, including during the crucial time of the Republican convention in 2016, that the President's claim he had nothing to do with him, does anybody buy it?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: He's certainly trying to sell it. Right, I mean, if you look back, as you said, Paul Manafort was the campaign chairman, was there in crucial period essentially from March to August during the convention, a very important and crucial period in the campaign.
We've seen this from Donald Trump before and his allies, essentially try to give distance, right? Between these folks who are in a lot of legal jeopardy in his campaign. We saw it with George Papadopoulos for instance, they referred to him as a coffee boy, as a volunteer at one point.
So this is what they're trying to say, essentially that you know, my name is "been it," and I am not in it, right? In terms of making --
HENDERSON: -- a connection between Trump and Paul Manafort, if there was just a lot of daylight between them. You know, I mean, this doesn't matter to the actual Mueller investigation, it doesn't matter to what is happening with Paul Manafort there. It might matter in terms of the court of public opinion and that is what Donald Trump is up to with everything he's saying.
SCIUTTO: The principal battlefield for the President on this is sort of in that court of public opinion. So, Sam, it is hard to keep up with all the news, particularly that the President did that press availability earlier today. But once again, and I just got back from Singapore, so I was attuned to the President's comments about the brutal dictator he was sitting across from, and not just polite comments about him, but open praise on a number -- and it seemed like almost envy at the control that Kim has in his country.
But, today the President expressing a little jealousy as well about Kim Jong-un. Have a listen.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's the head of a country, and I mean, he's the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: You spend a lot of time in the national security sphere.
What is the damage done by a US President praising a brutal dictator in those terms? He's strong, what a great achievement to take over this brutal hereditary dictatorship at the age of 27. What damage does that do internationally?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, if the President is joking, and he said later this morning that he was joking, it's not funny, Kim Jong-un --
SCIUTTOL: He only said he was joking about the salute, but he did say -- this thing about Kim being strong is something he said consistently this week, and he has never said that is joking because that's been a consistent message from him.
VINOGRAD: He has consistently praised Kim Jong-un the same way that he has consistently praised Vladimir Putin and other strong men around the world. And the irony here, sometimes, Donald Trump, he said earlier this week that he's doing it as part of a strategy.
He didn't really raise human rights because he didn't want to offset the negotiations or he's being nice to Kim now because he doesn't want nuclear weapons flying at the United States. The irony here is that so many foreign leaders use flattery and praise to manipulate Donald Trump.
So, in national security and intelligence, we talk about psy-ops, or psychological operations. The quickest way to get Donald Trump on side is to praise him, is to stroke his ego; and now Donald Trump is doing that to Kim Jong-un, maybe not realizing that he's the one being manipulated.
SCIUTTO: Well, Nia, though, I just find this whole -- this is part of a strategy three-dimensional chest that he -- it just doesn't stand up to the facts because in fact, going back years, President Trump has famously praised China for its crackdown in Tiananmen Square. This was back in the early '90s. He was not involved in any negotiation with the Chinese at the time. He wasn't involved with any specific negotiation with Vladimir Putin in recent months when he has expressed -- or even during the campaign when he described him as a strong leader in comparison to Obama.
HENDERSON: Yes, and he did this with the leader of the Philippines, right, who has massacred thousands of drug dealers, essentially said this was a great way to prosecute the war on drugs here and expressed admiration.
So yes, this is part of sort of Donald Trump's personality, this idea that dictators should be praised and emulated because of their strength. It's very un-American. I mean, we have never heard this kind of praise for a dictator from an American President.
And remember, I mean, what Kim Jong-un does to people there, imprison them particularly Christians, right? And this is someone who particularly, white Evangelicals and Donald Trump, very much see him as somebody who is advancing their cause, but there he is, praising Kim Jong-un, somebody who goes after Christians in his country.
SCIUTTO: He knocked off a few of his relatives as well, but that's just a small thing. Sam, Nia-Malika, Laura Coates, thanks very much. Coming up, the President says he is feeling vindicated in deciding whether he should get involved now in the Justice Department's activities as a result of the Inspector General's report. I am going to ask a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee if he agrees.
And China vowing now to retaliate after the White House announces tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The White House says this is not a trade war. The markets seem to disagree. Right now, the Dow is down more than 200 points there. We're going to discuss this right after this.
SCIUTTO: Let's get back now to our top story, the judge in Paul Manafort's trial has revoked his $10 million bail and now sent him to jail. President Trump's former campaign chairman, taken out the back door of the courthouse away from the cameras. All of this stemming from new charges related to witness tampering brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
I want to bring in Congressman Steve Cohen. He's a Democrat from Tennessee also on the House Judiciary Committee. Let me ask you first, Congressman Cohen, when you look at this news about Paul Manafort, he is the President's former campaign chairman.
At any other time, I suppose this one story would be all we would be talking about, but there's so much happening here. What is the significance of this, in your view?
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: It's very significant. Judge Jackson who ordered him in jail back in April had a hearing on Manafort and she made some remarks from the bench that were very questioning of the scope of the authority of Mr. Mueller. Very balanced and fair, and I think for her to take the extraordinary position and order to put him in jail prior to his trial says there was a lot of evidence, a lot of evidence to make her make that decision.
I think Mueller has everything and if I were Cohen, and I am Cohen, but I am not the wicked Cohen, I would be worried.
SCIUTTO: Do you think folks at home separate Paul Manafort from the President? He was his campaign chairman, but the crimes involved here, the alleged crimes, go back many years before the campaign relating to money laundering work that Paul Manafort --
SCIUTTO: -- did for foreign governments, including the pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Do folks at home separate that from his work for a number of months during the campaign for President Trump?
COHEN: I think he wants to have people do that, I think his base might believe him on that, but the fact is, he got the change in the Republican platform to say that we wouldn't have offensive weapons given to the Ukraine government to go and battle against the Russian separatist and the Russian military and that was done under the cover of darkness, and he was then paid by Ukraine.
Any time a person takes a job like that for nothing, they are getting something from somebody else and Manafort was getting lots of money from other people. He used that position just like some other people that we know who work for nothing for the government, but they make a lot of money somewhere else.
The government is just a place to generate business.
SCIUTTO: Yes, there is a lot of that going around, sadly. I want to ask you about another headline, the IG report looking at the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails during the campaign, the President, of course, is claiming vindication here even though this report had nothing to do with the investigation, the Russian investigation of Robert Mueller, but he's kind of tying them together.
We had Lindsey Graham on the air just a couple hours ago, and he made the point about how this damages the broader credibility of the FBI. Have a listen if you can.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here's what I think most people will take from this, particularly the Republicans, to be honest with you. That the institutions investigating President Trump took a real blow here.
The people that were showing bias against the President also were part of the initial Russian investigation, but you'll be kidding yourself if you think this doesn't do a lot of damage to the institutions that are now looking at the President. This gives a face to many of what the deep state looks like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Remarkable words from Senator Graham who previously has pooh-poohed this idea of there being a deep state. Do you think that's a fair argument?
COHEN: No, I don't. I do think that it might hurt the FBI some, even though the FBI has not been seen through this report as most -- have done wrong. Certainly Comey was insubordinate. He was extremely careless, to use his words, about Hillary Clinton.
Ironically, he was the one that was extremely careless, but the FBI is an honorable institution, it has a lot of really fine men and women working for it. And if people get that, it's because the President is trying to put it out because he wants to say that everybody in the institution is working on this Mueller investigation that has got -- it is an iceberg.
There is so much that we don't know. There is enough we know to makes us see that there is suspicion, there's smoke, there's fire. There is a raging fire going on and Mueller knows it all, and Trump knows it all, and Trump is trying to poison the jury pool.
SCIUTTO: Oddly enough, in spite of the President's comments, the report focused on the handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. In fact, the strongest criticism is really of how Director Comey handled that investigation in the midst of the campaign. Do you think the criticism that it laid on Comey for his handling of the Clinton investigation, do you think that that is fair?
COHEN: Yes, I do. I called for Comey to resign in October, and I felt it would tip the election to Donald Trump. When you mentioned Anthony Weiner and laptop, that's a pretty horrific picture, and Hillary Clinton, it made a lot of people who were Hillary supporters go, "Oh, maybe there's something there, they're investigating."
I felt that was the clincher.
SCIUTTO: How can you say that credibly to see that it is fair for the IG to criticize the FBI for handling the Hillary Clinton investigation, but not fair to lay blame or at least some responsibility on the way that they've handled the early stages of the Russia investigation?
COHEN: Well, this was not the FBI so much, it was Comey. Comey took it upon himself outside of FBI regulations and rules to open that investigation within two weeks of a Presidential election.
He violated the rules and he felt he needed to do it. He was our savior and he went beyond. That wasn't the FBI.
The fact is, you know, the President, where he says this report vindicates him, this report had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation. It didn't vindicate him. The Warriors' win over the Cavaliers vindicated him as much as this did, and I'm surprised the President didn't claim that Stephan didn't do it to vindicate him.
SCIUTTO: I didn't know there were Warriors fans in Tennessee, but listen, they are a great team. Congressman Cohen, thanks very much.
COHEN: You're welcome.
SCIUTTO: I hope you enjoy the weekend. Coming up, the President falsely claimed that the Inspector General's report clears him and his campaign of any wrongdoing. We'll hear from a Republican next on the House Intelligence Committee and see if he agrees with the President's pronouncement.
SCIUTTO: President Trump came out swinging today on the Department of Justice Inspector General's report. It was part of really an extraordinary appearance just outside the White House.
(START VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: The report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it
totally exonerates me. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction, and if you read the report, you'll see that.
TRUMP: Excuse me, wait, wait, wait. What you'll really see is you'll see bias against me and millions and tens of millions of my followers that is really a disgrace.
You have a tremendous animosity. Now, here's the good news. I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. The IG report yesterday went a long way to show that, and I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: In fact, the IG report had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation, did not look at the investigation into collusion or obstruction of justice, but the President continued to make that claim.
In fact, the report was on the agency's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. It found that former FBI Director James Comey --