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Trump: Government Shutdown over Wall a "Great Campaign Issue"; Trump: Lot of "Bad People" in Washington; Trump Calls on Attorney General to End Russia Probe; White House Briefing; Trump Weighs in on Manafort Trial. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 1, 2018 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: -- in suburban Republican districts that are in danger of losing their seat and we want to try and keep those seats. And not only are women going to come out and vote, but this would a real problem. Government shutdowns are generally not popular when people understand what it means to them. And so they are saying, no, no, no. don't pull that card yet because it will complicate things.

Plus, don't forget, they want to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed for the Supreme Court. How are they going to do that if the Congress is shut down? In a funny way, maybe Chuck Schumer will say, yes, let's shut the government down because that way Kavanaugh wouldn't make it to the start of the Supreme Court session. Who knows?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jim, the president also said there are evil people here in Washington in this interview with Rush Limbaugh. Let me read to you another quote from the president. "You have a lot of bad people in Washington. You knew that a long time ago. Frankly, before I knew it, I had no idea how evil some of them are. But you have some great people, too."

So he's doubling down on his evil people here in Washington.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What a revelation. I mean, it's Washington. You have it in every city. Listen, it fits his narrative. He blames -- in there's blame he assigns to various folks who criticize him or stand up to him. Some of them, sadly, the media is often one of his favorite targets. But not just the media. Even some in his own party and certainly Democrats. It's a consistent Trump theme, and it's perhaps some consistent Trump hyperbole there.

BLITZER: Let's get back to his tweet. A real bombshell this morning, Carrie, when he said, "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further." He said, "Bob Mueller is totally conflicted and has 17 angry Democrats doing his dirty work. Are a disgrace to the USA."

Adam Schiff, the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement following that. Quote, "The president of the United States just called for his attorney general to put an end to an investigation in which the president, his family, and campaign may be implicated. This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it."

What's your reaction to that statement from Adam Schiff?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Adam Schiff is not only on the House Intelligence Committee but he's also a former prosecutor. And as a former prosecutor, as anybody who used to be in the Justice Department, to see a president trying to pressure, for political purposes, the Department of Justice, it's just offensive.

BLITZER: All right.

With that thought, here's Sarah Sanders.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's like the Q. You knew I was coming.

Good afternoon.

(WHITE HOUSE BRIEFIING FROM 13:32:38 TO 13:56:40)

[13:56:40] SANDERS: It's not weak for the president of the United States to state his opinion.

Thanks so much, guys.

BLITZER: All right. So there you have it. Sarah Sanders on the most sensitive issue, this tweet from the president this morning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further.

Gloria Borger, she says this is not an order to Sessions. It's simply an opinion. He wants to see it come to an end. Clearly, he's angry about the entire investigation.

BORGER: Right. She made a point of saying this is not obstructing. What he's doing is fighting back. And when she was asked, is he blowing off steam, she said this is his opinion, it is not an order. But he's been crystal clear about how he feels. I don't know. Dana mentioned this before. When a president says you should do something, what's the difference between that and you must do something?

BLITZER: It's an important issue.

She also said, Jim Sciutto, that this entire investigation, the Mueller investigation, is based on a "dirty, discredited dossier."

SCIUTTO: The White House podium has become a platform for repeating false information. We've seen it for a year and a half now. That is an abjectly false statement. It's in the documents. The counterintelligence investigation by the FBI began before the documents existed. It began when Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, bragged to an Australian diplomat about Russians offering the Trump campaign help and having dirt on Hillary Clinton. And that diplomat, who is a close U.S. intelligence ally of the U.S., member of the Five Eyes group of intelligence-sharing nations, felt it was significant enough to volunteer to come to the FBI with this information. That's what kicked off this counter-intelligence investigation. Sarah Sanders knows that. The president knows that. It's in the public record. Yet, she's willing to repeat what is a false statement.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: And this is something the president repeats all the time as part of a broader and strategic attack on his feud to undermine the investigation.

In addition to that, listen to her language. "Witch hunt" has now become not just something that shows up in the president's tweets but is repeated from the White House podium, and a description of a legal investigation endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It's become a shorthand. Doesn't bother saying the Mueller probe, it is the "witch hunt," which is taken from the president's tweets. They could dismiss the president's tweet as letting off steam, et cetera, but it's become the official moniker for this investigation endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats. So the president's words do matter. They are repeated from the White House podium.

BLITZER: Another sensitive issue, this is day two of the Paul Manafort trial, federal trial in Alexandria, Virginia, the former Trump campaign chairman. And the president weighing in on Twitter making all sorts of references to the way Al Capone was treated, Paul Manafort is being treated. She said, Sarah Sanders, "I think Paul Manafort is treated unfairly."

It's unusual in the midst of a federal trial for the sitting president of the United States to weigh in.

CORDERO: It is. It's unusual for the president to compare a mobster to their former campaign chair. In every respect, the president's weighing in on the Manafort trial is odd.

The other thing I thought was so interesting about -- at that press conference is what Sarah Sanders did not bring up, which is that there is an ongoing Russian activity against the election, according to information that Facebook released yesterday, which is an ongoing national security threat to the election system.