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The Trial of Paul Manafort Continues; Reports Indicate President Trump Wants to Sit Down with Mueller for Interview; Senators Propose Increased Funding to Protect Midterm Elections from Interference; Interview with Mike Quigey (D-IL). Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired August 2, 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] ASHLEY GARCIA, TOOK VIDEO OF AEROMEXICO PLANE CRASH: Yes, my flight is on Friday which is the same flight, same time, but I don't know. I've already been -- I already experienced that, so it's kind of just like whatever happens is meant to happen. It's out of my control. I have to go home one way or another.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We could hear Ashley saying she's going to have to get home one way or another, and that is true. Alberto Herrera, Ashley Garcia, thank you both very much for sharing your traumatic experience with us. Best of luck to you, Alberto.
We're following a lot of news, so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He's always been interested in testifying. We haven't stopped negotiating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The special prosecutor has every right to subpoena him and get his testimony whether he likes it or not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's obstruction of justice. It's an instruction to Jeff Sessions that he should get rid of Bob Mueller.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not an order. It's the president's opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the Russians, and we cannot and will not allow that to happen again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The warning lights are flashing red. We need an all-of-government response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a pretty regular thing. There's outside actors trying to be able to find ways to hack into the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the U.S. government is doing enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman. CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to you NEW DAY. It is
Thursday, August 2nd, 8:00 in the east. John Berman is off this morning. David Gregory joins me. Great to have you.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's been a lot of fun being here.
CAMEROTA: Special counsel Robert Mueller has a new offer for President Trump. Sources tell CNN that Mueller is willing to reduce the number of questions about obstruction of justice, but in return he wants the president to sit down for those questions in person, not just in written answers.
The "New York Times" reports the president is still pushing for a sit down interview against the advice of his lawyers because the "Times" says the president believes he can convince Robert Mueller's investigators that their own investigation is, as he calls it, a witch-hunt.
GREGORY: Meantime, day three of the Paul Manafort trial, and things are moving very quickly. Prosecutors have called nine witnesses so far, many saying Manafort spent millions of dollars on luxury items and services paid for through international wire transfers from a shell corporation. The White House and President Trump's lawyers want the president to keep his distance. Mr. Trump has tweeted that the feds are treating Manafort worse than notorious mob boss Al Capone.
Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti. So Renato, lets' start with this issue of obstruction and interviewing the president. There are two points that leap out to me. One is this is not a classic trial preparation, this is not amassing evidence to go to trial. This is a political process. That will be the endgame here of a Mueller report. And yet the insistence by Mueller to meet in person, to question him in person because something that could happen in that interview, that will be very, very important. What will that be in his judgment?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's always important when you're a prosecutor trying to prove intent of someone to get their own words, to get it directly from the horse's mouth, so to speak. It is very difficult to prove someone's intent. We don't have magic telescopes that see inside people's minds, so usually you're trying to piece it together based upon their words and their actions over a period of time.
But when I was a prosecutor, whenever I could convince somebody to sit down and talk to me, I always wanted that to happen, and it was usually very difficult to do because people who are under criminal investigation can take the fifth. They often have a very big incentive not to sit down and talk.
GREGORY: And in Trump you have Colonel Jessup, right, who wants to admit that he ordered the code red. He really will do something perhaps to taunt his questioner and maybe offer a lot more than his lawyers would like him to. MARIOTTI: Absolutely. And frankly, as you mentioned, this is a
political process, David. So if he makes some off-the-cuff statement that is very problematic for him, that could be the sort of thing that could sway votes in the Senate and sway those potential jurors.
CAMEROTA: Josh, you've been on the side of the table that asks the questions. You've been on the side of the table in investigations as an FBI agent where you have to know how to frame the questions in order to get the truth out of people. Do written answers help you at all?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They don't if there's not a follow up. And that's the issue here. If you step back and look at what we're dealing with, we have essentially a witness who was trying to limit what investigators can ask him. That's always a red flag as an investigator when you go into an interview, because you're wondering, why is someone asking me not to ask them something?
The only plausible explanation for that is because they are afraid of what the answer might be or where it might lead them. So this whole thing just runs counter to what we expect this full, open transparency when it comes for our leaders.
[08:05:03] But when you're in the room, whether or not they submit questions in advance and they actually get to sit down and talk to him, they may limit questions at the outset, but there are always going to be follow-up questions. And I can tell you as an investigator, and Renato knows this is as well, that that's a lot of the times when you're really going to get at the root of what you're looking for.
CAMEROTA: That's why his lawyers don't want him to do it, exactly the scenario that you just spelled out. Let's be honest, the president does use imprecise language often, so you can see, Josh, why his lawyers would say no, we don't think it would actually help us to have him sit down, even if they say they're not guilty of anything, which of course is their position, that the president's language is so imprecise and he often takes two different sides on the same issue. And for a lawyer you can imagine that's a nightmare scenario.
GREGORY: And Renato, the key point is that I think the president and his team want all of this to be a matter of interpretation. Is it obstruction of justice or does he have the right to fire Jim Comey, the FBI director, for example. If he's in an interview and he says, you're darn right I fired him because of the investigation, because of the way he was doing it, it gets harder than in a report for members of Congress to look at that and say, and interpret it any other way. Renato?
MARIOTTI: Yes. So I agree, and I have to say that Trump would be foolish to sit down for an interview. If I was his attorney I would be counseling him not to do it. And even if he was the most precise- speaking person on earth, it is always a dangerous thing to be talking to investigators when you're under federal investigation. He has very serious liability, particularly for obstruction, and he really should just be playing it safe and staying as far away from Bob Mueller as he can.
CAMEROTA: Josh, your thoughts?
CAMPBELL: This whole thing, obviously we come and we look at things through legal investigative lenses, through investigative lenses, but I think we cannot lose sight of what the issue is here. We have two things that are in collision. We have an investigative team that is attempting to mitigate a national security threat, a counterintelligence threat to this nation on one hand, and on the other hand you have a team that has legal exposure, a president who is trying to limit where that investigation can go, which I think we cannot lose sight of that as American citizens.
I understand as a practical matter the president has legal exposure. If I were his attorney I would not recommend that he sit down with FBI agents. There's too much possibility there that things are going to go off the rails for him and investigators are going to go places they don't need. As a citizen, I want him to sit down and talk to investigators, because we have to determine is there a threat? What happened here? And the longer we go without seeing that, that's obviously to the detriment of the nation.
And I want to say one more thing. There's this whole notion that we've seen in reporting overnight the president really wants to talk to the special counsel team, he's bucking his lawyers. I don't buy that for one second. I think we're being taken for a ride by a P.R. campaign and we can't -- it can't be done. This notion that the president is willing but for those pesky lawyers he would want to sit down. We have to remain highly skeptical.
GREGORY: I actually disagree with that. I think the president does want to do it because I think he is kind of a nightmare client in that way, which is that he thinks I alone can convince them that this is all for naught.
But let's switch gears. Let's talk about Paul Manafort, Renato. Let's talk about your takeaways from what we've seen in a fast-moving trial, emphasis on lavish life-style as contrasted to the fact he was not paying taxes on this money he was bringing in from his work in Ukraine.
MARIOTTI: That is a prosecution 101 is when you're a white collar prosecutor like I was, focusing on a lavish life-style, jurors do not like a defendant who is living very high life, living in a very fancy way off of fraud. And it's something that's very easy to get your head around. A lot of times these trials are full of documents and records talking about taxes and so on. Looking at the multi-thousand- dollar ostrich coat is everyone can see and gawk at and it's why it's gotten so much coverage from the media.
But what prosecute are being pushed to do by the judge is streamline their case, do it as quickly as possible, and, frankly, I think the judge is doing prosecutors a favor there. A lot of times prosecutors fall in love with their evidence and they don't realize that less is more. And I think that what we're going see in the days to come is overwhelming evidence against Manafort and a defense that is going to have a lot of trouble pinning this on Robert Gates, his subordinate. Remember in the trial just yesterday, prosecutors say they may not even need to call Gates. That gives you a sense of the strength of the government's case and the difficulty that the defense is going to have.
CAMEROTA: First of all, Josh, the jacket we just showed, that looked like a leather jacket. I don't know if that was the ostrich jacket. The way I imagine it -- and Josh, correct me if I'm wrong, you know a lot about ostrich jackets that are $15,000, but I would imagine there's feathers on it, somewhere. That looks like a standard-issue expensive leather jacket, so I'm not sure we're displaying the right one. But --
[08:10:04] CAMPBELL: So as an analyst I'll just say you have to remain in your circle of confidence. That is outside my circle of confidence, but I'll take your word for it on that.
CAMEROTA: Well, I know a lot about ostrich, and I'm actually not even kidding right now.
But Josh, you were in the courtroom, so you were sitting behind Manafort. So give us the color. What was his demeanor? What was happening? How did the jury look? Tell us everything that happened.
CAMPBELL: Yes, so Paul Manafort was very stoic. He sat there, there wasn't much movement, he was taking some notes. Obviously this was an opportunity for the government to start entering these exhibits. And the two main takeaways for me is, first of all, what we've been saying for a long time leading up to this -- this is going to be a document- heavy case. This is going to be a white-collar crime case as evidenced by the fact that much of the morning yesterday there in D.C. was boring. It was just entering exhibits. Here's an invoice, here's some type of proposal, here's some type of financial document, and really going through and setting the stage to let the jurors know that this is going to be a case that hinges largely on evidence that was found. So when it comes to witness testimony, obviously they'll have to corroborate that and that will be interesting, but I think the larger issue here for Paul Manafort is going to be that written evidence.
The second issue, and this goes to what Renato was saying, this is a judge who is going to ensure that this defendant gets a very, extremely fair trial, as evidenced by how hard he was really riding the prosecutors yesterday to speed things up, to keep this thing going. They would actually sit there and try to put evidence on the screen to show an invoice or a picture of a residence, and he would say, look, why are you reading them this document? They can read it for themselves. Let's move on. They know what an apartment looks like. Let's move on.
And one thing that was interesting when it comes to some of the lavish lifestyle, the merchandise, is what he was actually saying is, look, I'm not going to let you gild the lily here by continuing to show that this is someone who lived so far outside the means of most of us that he's somehow different. I think Paul Manafort is going to get a very fair trial as evidenced by what we saw yesterday. CAMEROTA: You know a lot about these suits. Do you think the jury
should have seen that?
MARIOTTI: Well, but I think it's interesting that Judge Ellis is also trying to ride that line where it's prejudicial. This is why I think Rick Gates maybe doesn't testify is you want to just let all of this stuff hang there instead of turning against Rick Gates.
CAMEROTA: Renato, Josh, thank you both very much.
So two U.S. senators are calling on Congress to strengthen America's cybersecurity efforts to protect future elections from foreign interference, particularly the midterms. Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar insist the Trump administration is not doing enough to prevent another Russian attack. Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill with more. What have you learned, Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, these two senators have been on the leading edge in Congress pushing legislation to bolster the election security heading into the midterms. But after pushing this bill for a year, their bill is just getting a vote in committee this month. And yesterday I had a chance to talk to them about their views about what has an hasn't been done. There are concerns the president has not been focused enough about this issue as well as the fact that senators themselves have been targeting by the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Are you concerned at all, senator, that the White House, specifically the president, has not been focused enough on this threat come 2018?
SAN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R) OKLAHOMA: There has been some concern on that. The White House just this week had an election, a whole taskforce meeting that occurred, getting all the major cabinet officials together to be able to get an update of what has happened, what has been done and what has not been done. But the intelligence committee has been very active on this. The Department of Homeland Security has been very active on this, while the president has been inconsistent on his tweets and some of the messaging that he's put out on it. He's been the only one in the government who hasn't been paying attention to this.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: There were clearly delays based on things the president was saying. They weren't directing their people to coordinate.
RAJU: Do you think the Russians could tilt the midterm elections this year?
KLOBUCHAR: Certainly, if they somehow got into the equipment and made changes to the vote counts. That would be called tilting the election. What we know is last time they didn't get that far from the intelligence we have, but they were, according to the latest indictment got to 500,000 people in terms of their voter data.
RAJU: You're a member of the Intelligence Committee. Without getting into intelligence, do you have evidence to support there are more senators, Democrat or Republican, who are being targeted now?
LANKFORD: That's a pretty regular thing here, that there are outside actors trying to be able to find ways to be able to hack into the Senate and see if they can find information.
RAJU: How many senators, would you say, have been targeted?
LANKFORD: I would be shocked if there's a senator that hasn't been targeted, quite frankly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And that last comment coming after that report that Claire McCaskill of Missouri has been targeted. James Lankford there saying that many senators have been targeted as well. Despite the bipartisan support for their bill, however, there's been some partisan sniping about more money for election security yesterday. On the floor of the Senate, there was an effort by Democrats to increase funding by $250 million for election security. That was voted down along party lines because Republicans said that there has already been $380 million set aside and that money should be spent first. Guys.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Manu, thank you so much.
So what will Congress do if the Trump administration isn't doing enough to stop the Russians from attacking the election process again? We'll ask another member of Congress coming up next.
GREGORY: So more now on election security and potential Russian interference. You just heard from two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, saying the Trump administration is not doing enough to protect against another Russian attack on our elections despite warnings from America's intelligence community.
So what will lawmakers do about it? Let's ask Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and Appropriations Committee.
What I heard, Congressman, the senators saying is yes, they're concerned about whether the president's mind is there, whether his attention is there, but the administration is doing a lot, $380 million has been appropriated to specifically safeguard our election system and our infrastructure. What more specifically needs to be done?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: Yes, let's look back. After the Bush-Gore debacle when our election integrity was challenged, what, 12 years ago or more now we spent $3.5 billion because we treasure that integrity. The decimal point is clearly in the wrong spot. [08:20:03] I think in addition the fact that the president keeps
calling this a hoax and a witch hunt, to a lot of folks that means we don't need to do anything on it.
GREGORY: No, fair enough but, as they were suggesting, it doesn't mean that -- look, the president says and tweets a lot of things, it doesn't mean that the government is not acting. So aside from saying you just want more money, tell me specifically what you're afraid foreign interference would result in at the ballot box.
QUIGLEY: First we've heard that the Russians did this and there was unanimous approval by the intelligence community and we heard Director Comey I think was the first to say they will be back.
I'm going to suggest they never left. So we need to protect our election infrastructure, which probably needs at least $1.5 billion. We need training, we need new software. There are over 40 states that election equipment is so old anti-hacking software won't even work. We have 13 states that currently don't even have a paper trail so if we wanted to audit to find out what happened we wouldn't be able to do that.
GREGORY: Right. And that is kind of a crude and basic safeguard, right, is to be able to count votes by hand to back up if a computer system was compromised.
QUIGLEY: That's right. Homeland Security Secretary Johnson told me under my questioning before the entire committee that most entities don't even know they've been hacked. It probably takes a year and a half, two years before they find out and it usually involves someone else telling them it did. Like target, which is a pretty sophisticated operation so we're extraordinarily vulnerable. As they said the lights are blinking red and we're not ready.
GREGORY: So if you're -- I suppose you would argue that the president has sent the message down the line that this is not a big enough priority by things he said or even behind the scenes. Do you feel that Homeland Security officials, do you feel like leadership in Congress has been more proactive, has been more aggressive to protect the integrity of the elections?
QUIGLEY: Unfortunately these votes have come on party line reasons and it just doesn't make any sense. You know, my Boards of Election in Illinois are Democrat and Republican, and they're telling us that they need more like $100 million themselves to safeguard against the attacks. Why does that matter? Illinois was the first state that we know was hacked by the Russians. Our Board of Elections. In August of 2016.
GREGORY: Let me ask you more generally about this Mueller investigation and this question of obstruction of justice. It's been a big topic for us this morning as the president has tweeted that he'd like Jeff Sessions to shut this all down.
Now, of course, the attorney general does not have the ability to do that because he's recused himself so it's the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has that ability so this takes on kind of the specter of the president, you know, yelling from the cheap seats and ranting against the investigation much to his lawyers' displeasure.
This is ultimately going to be a political process and the president has done a lot to try to undermine the investigation, its value, how it got started. If it's a question of interpretation about what the president has done in the political realm, do you think it would be a good idea to move forward to try to impeach him?
QUIGLEY: I think it's probably too soon to even contemplate that. I think the far left and the far right look at this differently. I say to both of them, let the Mueller investigation takes its course. I trust him. He came into this investigation with impeccable credentials on a bipartisan basis. For us to get ahead of this makes absolutely no sense.
GREGORY: You may say that, Congressman, but let's be honest. I mean, going back to the Lewinsky investigation this was always an issue of potential impeachment. You've got the president's lawyers, his former advisers saying that November will be a referendum on impeachment so of course Democrats are thinking about this and thinking about whether they should do it if they get control of the House.
QUIGLEY: I think some Democrats have been thinking about it from day one.
QUIGLEY: To me that doesn't make sense. I think we need to be as credible as we possibly can. Let -- I've tried to protect Mueller's investigation if only through the work of the Intel Committee and in talking in matters like this. I'm trying to get to the person out there, to your point, as a referendum who hasn't made up their mind. I'm telling them this gentleman has credibility, I've seen evidence of conspiracy, I don't like the word collusion. Let him follow this up. We're only going to get one crack at this if you're of a mind of impeachment. Let's do it right.
GREGORY: Do you think the president has gone too far? Has he really tried to impede the investigation?
QUIGLEY: I think he has co-conspirators in the White House, people I served with, who tanked the investigation, who shut it down. On the president's side let's remember it's not just those tweets, right? His pressure of Comey not to go after Flynn. His firing of Comey, the talk of pardon which is appear to be messaging Manafort and Gates and others, you know, if you don't cooperate, I'll take care of you.
[08:25:06] I think the pardon of the sheriff in Arizona sends that same message.
GREGORY: Do you think Republican colleagues, your colleagues, in the House, do they have an open mind about what the president has done in the same way that you hope voters out there will?
QUIGLEY: I think they desperately wish that this would go away but so far all they've done is protect the president politically and legally. Who's spoken out the strongest among the Republicans? Most of them are members who are leaving office soon. Where are the profiles in courage for everybody else?
GREGORY: Yes. Congressman, thanks so much.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
GREGORY: Appreciate your views. Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, David, hundreds of children are still separated from their parents. The Trump administration missed the deadline. So about 500 parents have been deported. How will they ever be reunited? We talk to the ACLU about their legal fight to reunite these kids with their parents, next.
CAMEROTA: Well, today is the deadline for the Trump administration and the ACLU to present a judge with their plans to reunite these hundreds of children who were separated from their parents at the border and are still not back together. The problem is, many of those parents have been deported or cannot be located.