Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Manafort Trial Delayed; 12 Audio Recordings Seized From Michael Cohen. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 23, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:28]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And we're back with more breaking news in our politics lead.

A judge this afternoon delaying the trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort until July 31. The trial was previously set to begin just two days from now.

President Trump's former campaign chair has pleaded not guilty to the government's case against him for multiple charges of alleged financial crimes for work before he joined the Trump campaign.

Let's bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, why the delay?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the attorneys for Paul Manafort came in to court today asking for this delay because they said they needed more time to review documents and information that they had just recently obtained as it relates to Rick Gates.

And, as you will recall, Rick Gates is cooperating with the government. He is expected to testify at this trial. And so the judge listening to this argument from the defense attorneys this morning came back late this afternoon and decided it was appropriate to delay the trial to July 31.

We will be back here tomorrow because some of the jurors are expected to come in, where they will answer some questions on a questionnaire. And, also, we may get more rulings from the judge today, as attorneys are back in court at this hour arguing some other motions. And they're trying to get the judge to grant them permission to do certain things.

TAPPER: And, Shimon, earlier, the judge made big news, granting five of Mueller's witnesses immunity. But the judge is also making them reveal -- making the prosecutors reveal who they are.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

And that's something the special counsel's office did not want. They didn't want the judge to reveal who they are. These are these five witnesses that we have previously reported on, these mystery witnesses who were granted immunity this morning by the judge.

The judge signed off on that, allowing them to come in and testify now against Paul Manafort. And it appears, once their names were released this afternoon, we learned that they're associated with financial dealings.

And they are James Brennan, Donna Duggan, Conor O'Brien, Cindy Laporta and Dennis Raico. Those are the witnesses that are going to be testifying against Paul Manafort.

TAPPER: All right, Shimon, thanks so much.

There's even more breaking news, this time dealing with the case against the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen. We're now learning that prosecutors in that case have their hands on a dozen audio recordings found during raids on Michael Cohen's apartment, office and hotel room.

We already knew one recording is of the future president discussing payments to silence a playmate over an alleged affair.

CNN's M.J. Lee is looking into the story for us.

And, M.J., do we know how many of these dozen tapes have Donald Trump on them?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

This is a very interesting development in the Michael Cohen criminal investigation. As you said, investigators now have their hands on 12 new audio recordings. These were audio recordings that were seized by the FBI as a part of the raid earlier this year.

And the 12 were actually interesting. They were previously marked as privileged. But what happened is that the parties that are involved in those recordings decided that they did not want them to be privileged and marked as privileged anymore, and that's why now the government has access to them.

But to answer your very important question of how many of the 12 actually involve President Trump, the answer, Jake, is one. Only one of the 12, we are told, actually involved Michael Cohen speaking to Donald Trump.

And, of course, this is a recording that we reported on last year involving their discussions about the payment to the former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. The 11 other recordings, we are told, involve Michael Cohen speaking to members of the media and perhaps other people, but we don't fully know the details of those other recordings.

But, again, the headline here is that one of the 12 recordings that were previously marked as privileged, only one involved Michael Cohen and Donald Trump speaking about this payment to Karen McDougal.

TAPPER: And, also, M.J., you have some information, a scoop about Michael Cohen bumping into Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York last week.

Tell us more about that.

LEE: That's right. If it's a coincidence, it is a pretty great coincidence.

What I'm told is that Michael Cohen was dining with his son at a restaurant on the Upper East Side last week, and in walks Michael Avenatti. This is, of course, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels. And what I'm told is that Michael Avenatti walked up to Michael Cohen and essentially said, we should work together to take down Donald Trump.

This is a paraphrase, but this was sort of a gist as it was described to me. And what I'm told is that Michael Cohen was sort of stunned. He was taken aback. And he told Michael Avenatti, you should basically talk to my lawyers.

[16:35:08]

Now, Michael Avenatti today, when I reached out to him for comment, he vehemently denied the descriptions here. He said that that never happened, though, if you recall last week Michael Avenatti talked about this run-in and he said that it was a lengthy, open and frank discussion that he had with Michael Cohen -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, M.J., thanks so much.

The Justice Department taking the rare step of releasing top-secret documents about Carter Page. Was the former Trump campaign aide a Russian spy, a Russian stooge, or is he just being set up by the deep state?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:05]

TAPPER: President Trump on the rhetorical warpath again today against the people in his own law enforcement community.

Over the weekend, the Justice Department released a redacted version of its FISA applications to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The application and three renewals accused the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser of collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.

And it contradicts the president's claims that the infamous Steele dossier was the lone piece of evidence that led to the warrant and its renewal.

CNN's Manu Raju reports from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, newly released documents detail the FBI's suspicion that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government, undercutting House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes' claim that the intelligence used to obtain a secret warrant was biased.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: This is outrageous that this happened.

RAJU: Earlier this year, Nunes armed President Trump with ammunition to attack the Russia probe, releasing a controversial memo faulting the FBI's tactics to surveil Page.

In the memo, Nunes fails to disclose that the FBI sought to monitor Page because it believed he had been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government and for allegedly collaborating and conspiring with the Kremlin.

Page addressed the allegations with Jake Tapper on Sunday.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: I have never been an agent of the foreign power in any -- by any stretch of the imagination.

TAPPER: But you did advise the Kremlin? I mean, I'm just -- I just want to make it clear. You did advise the Kremlin back in 2013 or 2012, somewhere in there?

PAGE: Jake, that's -- it's really spin.

I mean, I -- I sat in on some meetings. But, you know, to call me an adviser, I think, is -- is way over the -- over the top.

RAJU: Instead, Nunes claimed the FBI used the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele as the justification for the warrant.

And the GOP memo faulted the FBI for not disclosing that the dossier was funded by a law firm representing the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

In February, Nunes charged that the Democrats lied when they said that the FBI did disclose a political motivation behind the Steele dossier.

NUNES: These guys tell so many lies, you can't keep track of them?

QUESTION: That's not true?

NUNES: No? The court was not made aware.

RAJU: But the FBI does make clear in the newly declassified and highly redacted document that the information Steele was gathering was likely going to used to discredit candidate one's campaign, referring to the Trump campaign.

The Nunes memos suggests the FBI used a 2016 Yahoo news article to corroborate Steele's dossier, when, in fact, the unpredicted sections of the documents show the FBI cited that article to allege that Page had falsely denied having meetings in Moscow in July 2016.

Page on Sunday insisted he did nothing wrong.

PAGE: Jake, this is so ridiculous. It's just beyond words.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: Now, Jake, Nunes did tweet, saying that the redactions should be -- the public should see what's behind those redactions.

But when I asked his office specifically about these contradictions between what the FISA application says and what he said in his memo, instead, his office sent his back a statement criticizing us for asking the question, rather than engaging on the substance.

We will have to see if he has anything more to say on this particular topic. They're meeting here in just a few moments here at the House Intelligence Committee, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Lots to talk about.

Amanda, I want to play for you something that Senator Marco Rubio said to me about the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We should be a little bit territorial about our elections and about our politics.

And the idea that another country gets to come in here and pit us against each other, especially Vladimir Putin, is something we should all be against, especially moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Isn't that really the point here? The Russians did this. There is consensus in the national security and intelligence community, and we should make sure it doesn't happen again?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

But the president and the White House are not consistent on that message. At one point, they may say, oh, well, maybe we will admit that Russian meddled, but now it's all a with-hunt, a hoax, yadda, yadda.

And I think it's important that when we have to deal with all these different news stories, Trump trashing the Russia investigation, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, that these are all the result because we never get the straight story on anything from this White House.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are in a mess because Donald Trump won't have a clear message when it comes to Russia. Carter Page is in a mess because he's still, even on Sunday, can't tell you the straight story about who -- what Russians he talked to and when.

Michael Cohen still has not been fully honest about what he did to suppress information from voters in the run-up to the election. And Paul Manafort is awaiting trial because he cannot tell the straight story about relationships he had financially with Russian oligarchs.

These people are very deceitful. And it's causing a mess. And we -- at some point, we will get out of it. We will find out the true story. But it's going to be a long and painful process.

TAPPER: And David, I think today is made in America they have to wait out. Is that right? Is that what they're talking about?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so just to the point of thread that Amanda says, right? So we know from the Mueller -- from Director Mueller himself that in the Manafort case that they are presenting zero, big goose egg evidence of collusion with the Russian --

TAPPER: That's accurate.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: So there's no Russian collusion with Paul Manafort right? So Carter Page, let's go to Carter Page next. Carter Page, to paraphrase his own words, to say that he was an advisor to the Trump campaign is way over the top. OK? Carter Page participated in one -- perhaps one roundtable discussion with a fledgling campaign at best, right? The same sees some sort of puppet master involved in steering the campaign is farcical. So if it's not Paul Manafort, if it's not Carter Page, who's in the center --

CARPENTER: But do you feel like he's not in a clear (INAUDIBLE)? I'm just asking as an observer, do know what talks Carter Page had with the Russians, like anything that they said?

URBAN: I don't.

CARPENTER: Don't you think that bears an investigation?

URBAN: Sure.

CARPENTER: OK, so seeing that proof, Paul Manafort work for free during the campaign saying he takes no money --

TAPPER: I mean there are other individuals, Donald Trump Jr., George Papadopoulos and the truth is we don't know what else there is.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but there's also been this real attempt on the part of the White House and Republicans to muddy the waters around Carter Page. And so if there's nothing there I don't really understand what this whole effort has been about. I mean, remember way back like in the Pleistocene era with the Nunes memo a long time ago. The whole argument was basically what we're still hearing today which is that you know the judge was never told who did the research, that it was paid for by the Democrats, when in fact at the time when the Nunes memo are -- memo came out and the Democrats responded, they said no that's not true. Actually, the judge was given this information. And now we have even more information of how explicitly they were told this. And so if Carter Page is irrelevant, why are you guys

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: The FISA application -- the FISA applications made it clear, Nia, that the person -- the source who's Christopher Steele was looking to discredit and undermining the Trump campaign but it didn't say paid for by the DNC, paid for by Hillary Clinton.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Right in the judges there who were appointed by this president --

TAPPER: All four of them, yes.

HENDERSON: -- essentially said that didn't matter. And if you look at that, the FISA applications, it was renewed three times, each time there was more information right? It wasn't just the dossier each time. The -- you know, it essentially grew in terms of the information. You know, the story is that the dossier is poisoned because of -- because of Steele. And if the dossier is poisoned then the whole investigation is poisoned as well. But in point of fact, this investigation began before the dossier. It basically began with Papadopoulos and some comments that he'd made to --

URBAN: So I guess my question is again, if there's collusion, who the Russians are colluding with on the campaign?

CARPENTER: Well, why are there so many unexplained contacts between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians?

HENDERSON: And I think there's --

URBAN: One meeting -- the one meeting -- the one meeting with lawyers --

TAPPER: Here's the -- here's the question. Senator Lindsey Graham did something that I thought was very interesting and I want to get your to David about President Trump continuing to call the Russia investigation, not just the collusion accusation, but the Russia investigation a hoax. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the President gets this confused. If you suggest that Russians meddled in 2016, he goes to conclude -- to the idea that well, I did include with him. You didn't collude with the Russians or at least I haven't seen any evidence but Mr. President, they meddled in the elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Why is that -- why is that so difficult for a President Trump to say? URBAN: I'm not quite certain, but I agree with Senator Graham. I think the President -- as soon as this -- I can't wait for the Mueller investigation to wrap up right, because it's going to be a big nothing burger at the end of the day and we're going to be happy to talk about a variety other things like made in America week, right, made in America thing.

HENDERSON: But we'll actually be talking about the Russians meddling in this election. And I think that's likely happening already.

URBAN: So listen, and I think -- and I think we should forcefully (INAUDIBLE) right? This administration should forcefully and strongly possible condemn that and work you know, overtly to ensure it doesn't happen again right?

TAPPER: Kirsten, take a listen to something Sarah Sanders the White House Press Secretary said earlier that raised a lot of eyebrows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's going to continue at this point to remain uninvolved. However, he sees more and more every single day that this is proving further and further to be a total witch hunt particularly because it was based on a false and unverified and discredited dossier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: All right, just to be just to be clear, the dossier has not been discredited. Some information and it has been verified, some other information is questionable, but the larger point here it sounds like President Trump is going to get involved even more in the Russia investigation based on what Sarah Sanders just said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POWERS: Yes, I mean, I don't know exactly what she meant by that but I do think that there's just something very problematic with them continuing to lie about the root of this FISA warrant. You know, it's not -- it's just not factual what she said. It's not factual what the President has said.

TAPPER: The FISA warrant started with the George Papadopoulos investigation, not with Carter Page.

[16:50:08] POWERS: Yes, but -- yes, but also even if -- even with the complaints about the dossier being involved, there's nothing problematic about that. There's nothing wrong with Christopher Steele like we have to stop repeating this. It's not --

CARPENTER: Well, and this is why --

POWERS: Christopher Steele is a very reputable person and there's nothing wrong with him being hired by Fusion to go and look into the -- you know into this situation. And they say Fusion says they didn't tell him what to find. They said just go out and investigate this and bring us back what you have.

CARPENTER: And to say -- but this is the same play we're seeing today with the possible replication of security clearances. We can't trust these people because they speak out against the President and they may be Democrats. The same play they do with the Steele Dossier, because the Democrat may have funded at some point -- although I must point out that it was originally funded by the Free Beacon which is a conservative leading outlet and then tossed off to the --

TAPPER: The investigation, not the dossier itself but the investigation, yes.

CARPENTER: It got that whole ball rolling. But this idea that is effective and a lot of Conservative Republicans are latching on to that you cannot trust any information that comes from anybody who may be a Democrat or may have liberal leanings, I mean it's a dangerous time.

URBAN: Listen, the much more persuasive case is that both these gentlemen were completely irrelevant in the campaign.

TAPPER: Who, Page and Papadopoulos?

URBAN: Page and Papadopoulos, I think they -- that is a much more persuasive case but --

HENDERSON: Which is -- which is the argument that Trump has been making when he calls Papadopoulos the coffee boy.

URBAN: And I think exactly -- I think the notion I keep chasing just down a rabbit hole about the FISA warrant and the FISA Court, I think --

POWERS: That's being completely driven by the Republicans.

URBAN: I'm not disagreeing Kirsten, I'm agreeing -- I'm agreeing with it.

CARPENTER: I will say these are low-level people but the piece of information I'm waiting to hear is that then-Attorney General Sally Yates went to the Trump White House and said she had evidence and Michael Flynn then-National Security Adviser was compromised. There is a story there. She's not in that White House anymore so we could talk about these low-level people and tried to dismiss them but this is going up the chain and there's been very serious allegations like that it comes to Mike Flynn --

URBAN: That's not about Russia.

CARPENTER: Of course it is.

TAPPER: Well, it's about talking to the Russian Ambassador.

CARPENTER: About sanctions. All those conversations always get back to sanctions. TAPPER: Thanks to one and all. Shouting racial slurs and pulling

down your pants, all of it on camera. It's hard to imagine anyone doing that especially an elected official and he knew it was being recorded. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:00] TAPPER: In our "POP CULTURE LEAD" today. A satirical T.V. show pranking lawmakers and others now has multiple Georgia lawmakers calling for the resignation of one of their colleagues. The Committee and Sacha Baron Cohen, the Republican State Representative to strip down to his underwear that's after he screamed racist slurs. The lawmaker claims he thought he was making an anti-terrorism training video though that doesn't really explain it does it? CNN's Tom Foreman has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have three seconds to attack the tension go.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Screaming a racial slur, mocking Chinese tourists, dropping his pants --

REP. JASON SPENCER (R), GEORGIA: You homosexual, drop that gun right now, USA.

FOREMAN: Georgia State Lawmaker Jason Spencer did all that and more as he talked with the supposed Israeli anti-terrorism expert. The governor called it appalling and offensive, the State House Speaker reprehensible and called for Spencer's resignation. But he says he was tricked by deceptive and fraudulent behavior by a company that exploited my state of mind, his fear of terrorism because that expert was really comedian Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat Fame who's shooting an episode for his new T.V. show Who Is America and Spencer is not the only one who's been taken in.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Are his stunts exposing truth or just pushing an already polarized country farther apart. Many of the victims have been speaking out. So far they include Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Koppel.

FOREMAN: With some saying they never knew the true purpose or person behind their interviews.

JOE WALSH, FORMER CONGRESSMAN OF ILLINOIS: He gets people to say stupid things because he lies to them.

FOREMAN: Sarah Palin whose episode has not aired yet says she was lured by the promise of an interview about veterans "I joined the long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to Cohen's evil exploitive sick humor. Defending her, James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who has used hidden cameras and deceptively edited videos to embarrass liberals. He tweeted at his past critics to those who praised Cohen's posing as a disabled vet to sting Palin, you can go straight to hell. But there is a difference. BRIAN LOWRY, SENIOR WRITER, CNN MONEY, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT: This

is a situation where people are saying and doing really outlandish things while they know there's a camera on them and I think that ratchets up the heat on them significantly.

PHILIP VAN CLEAVE, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE: Just remember to point puppy pistols mouth right at the middle of the bad man.

FOREMAN: Nonetheless, conservatives clearly feel targeted even when they resist.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: You want me to say on television that I support three and four-year-olds with firearms?

FOREMAN: And even as Cohen skewers progressives too.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, if you put everybody into the one percent, that wouldn't be the one percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no it still would be.

B. SANDERS: No it wouldn't.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Several of these folks seem to realize pretty quickly that something is amiss and they stop their interviews with Cohen, but even then sometimes the damage has already been done, Jake. And even then, people say how did you not know immediately and stop.

TAPPER: Well, it's easier to say that in retrospect I suppose. It's pretty good makeup I have to say, I didn't recognize him.

FOREMAN: Well, he's pretty good at ad-libbing his way through it too and the a mixture of kind of politeness and kind of pushing and before they know it the trap has been set.

TAPPER: All right Tom Foreman, thanks. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, revoking clearance.