Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Accountants: Manafort Doctored Financial Statements; CNN: Mueller Team Interviews "Manhattan Madam"; Mueller Team Zeroes In On Manafort's Alleged Tax Bank Fraud; Mueller's Next Steps?; Report: Presidential Lies Increasing; Where Russia Probe Goes From Here; Wash. Post: Pres. Trump Averaged 16 Lies A Day In June And July; Wash. Post: Presidential Lies Increasing; Dramatic Ending To Hunt For Suspected Houston Killer; How Police Found The Alleged Doctor Killer; Manafort Judge Keeps Close Grip On Courtroom; The Judge In The Spotlight. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 3, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:29] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's breaking news tonight. New reporting on what may be yet another previously undisclosed connection between the Trump campaign and suspicious Russian. The "Washington Post" has the story. Just went up, the headline, Trump associates socialized with alleged Russian agent Mariia Butina in final weeks of 2016 campaign. Now as you know, she was charged last month with working as an unregistered Kremlin agent and according to the post, she socialized bright before the election with J.D. Gordon who served for six months as the campaign's director of national security.
The "Post" is citing documents and testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and describe for the paper. Rosalind Helderman got the scoop. She joins us now.
Roslind, thanks for being with us. What did these e-mails between Butina and Gordon reveal?
ROSALIND HELDERMAN, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, they showed that the two met at an embassy event, a party at the Swiss embassy in late September 2016. So really in the final weeks of the Trump campaign. And then Paul Erickson, the Republican operative who she was apparently dating kind of connected the two of them over e-mail, and they show that the facts that J.D. Gordon had this Trump tie appeared to be important to the e-mail relationship that they then struck up. Paul Erickson referred to the fact that he was an important person likely in a Trump transition, and then J.D. Gordon himself sent back to Ms. Butina at some point a copy of a story from "Politico" noting that he had a role in the Trump transition.
COOPER: And there was an invitation from Gordon to her to attend a concert as well as his birthday party in the fall of 2016?
HELDERMAN: Yes, that's right. They have a series of e-mails. They talk about doing a few things. She invites him to a dinner of people interested in the Russia relationship. He invites her to happy hour, and ultimately he invites her to a concert of the rock band Styxx which they attend in mid-October of 2016. So what the Trump-Russia story has been missing, a good Styxx reference.
COOPER: They have Styxx, kicking an old school. I like that.
HELDERMAN: Right, is that good.
COOPER: So tend to be clear, I didn't know they were still --
HELDERMAN: They're still touring apparently.
COOPER: Well, good for them.
COOPER: To be clear, this was after Butina was able to somehow ask questions of candidate Trump in Las Vegas when he launched his campaign.
HELDERMAN: Yes, that's right. That happened in 2015. And then in 2016, Paul Erickson tries to get her Russian government official boss, Aleksandr Torshin, a meeting with Donald Trump, the candidate, at an NRA convention in May of 2016. That doesn't happen. The campaign says no, but she and Torshin -- Mariia Butina and Torshin do end up having some kind of interaction with Donald Trump Jr. at that event.
COOPER: And what has J.D. Gordon said about the communication between the two of them?
HELDERMAN: He has said this was innocuous. She went to a lot of events. She met a lot of conservatives. She talked up her role as founding this organization in Russia, the right to bear arms, and that he thinks that any kind of focus on sort of any person who met her is sort of a smear -- an attempt to smear conservatives.
COOPER: All right, Rosalind Helderman, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
Coming up now, Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller, and the woman formerly known as the Manhattan Madam. Apart from a lot of M's, how are they connected? Perhaps in some fascinating ways as you'll see tonight. Mueller indicted Manafort, apparently wants him to flip. And today Manafort's accountant took the stand at his bank and tax fraud trial and their testimony was damaging to say the least. As for the former madam, Kristin Davis is her name, today we learned she talked with Mueller's team.
Shimon Prokupecz, joins us now with the latest on both cases. So, let's talk about first, what came to light on this day four on the Manafort trial?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN REPORTER: Yes, and certainly damaging testimony, as you say, for Paul Manafort. An accountant taking the stand who really is the first person who has direct knowledge of Manafort's alleged scheme. She was given immunity to testify. Her name is Cindy Laporta, she was a long time accountant for him, and really a big day for prosecutors here in that really what she showed was that Manafort had asked her to falsify documents. Some of this activity, you know, when he was running the Trump campaign in 2016.
In one case, she says that he asked her to say that money he had in offshore accounts was a loan when it was, in fact, income which reduced his taxes by $500,000. There's also all sorts of e-mails that the government used in the case today sort of to show the communications between Manafort and this accountant.
COOPER: And when it comes to Roger Stone and Kristin Davis, do we know what Mueller's team asked Davis about?
PROKUPECZ: So, we don't specifically know what was asked, but we do we know that the special counsel on the Mueller's team is specifically interested in their relationship, their relationship. They've been friends for probably a decade. He has known her a long time. He's worked for her. She's worked for him. So certainly something is going on there in that relationship.
[21:05:15] She met with the special counsel earlier this week, and it is expected that she will perhaps maybe even testify before a grand jury. Roger Stone reacting to this news today, issuing a statement and saying essentially that she is a longtime friend and associate of mine. I am the godfather to her 2-year-old son. She knows nothing about Russia collusion, WikiLeaks, collaboration, and then he just goes on to really say, what is the point of this? Why would they want to question her about something that they're supposed to be investigating concerning Russia?
COOPER: Right. And he had told me that she had done some work, I think, for his website or social media stuff. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it.
I want to turn next to CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, she joins us now by phone. Also joining us as well, is Morgan Pehme, director of a really fascinating documentary, "Get Me Roger Stone" which you can, is it on Netflix now?
MORGAN PEHME, DIRECTOR, GET ME ROGER STONE: Yes.
COOPER: OK, that's where I saw it. So, first of all, you interviewed Ms. Davis extensively for the documentary. What is their relationship? What's her role in all this?
PEHME: So it's been manifold. Roger Stone ran her campaign for governor when she challenged Andrew Cuomo. He ran her campaign for New York City comptroller.
COOPER: I didn't even realize she had run in those two --
PEHME: Yes. It was a pretty loony race also involved the run (INAUDIBLE) Jerry McMillan.
COOPER: Right. Yes.
PEHME: And they are very close friends, and the race for comptroller in 2013 was derailed when Kristin Davis was brought up on charges for dealing illegally prescription drugs, for which she eventually was convicted. When she came out of prison, Roger employed her essentially as his scheduler.
PEHME: So I presume that the Mueller investigation is trying to understand where -- who Roger was meeting with, what his dealings with, and Kristin would have insight to that. And they are really close friends, and as Roger said, he is her son's godfather.
COOPER: Godfather. Asha, I mean that Mueller is reportedly interested in having Davis testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation, what does that tell you? That it's not just an interview he would like her to testify in front of grand jury?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. His wanting to testify -- wanting her to testify suggests that he thinks that she has some evidence, and I think the significance of this goes back to the most recent indictment against the GRU officials for hacking into the DNC server and other e-mails. There's a section in that indictment that is called coordination with organization one. And organization one appears to be WikiLeaks, and it's about how Guccifer 2.0, which hacked into the e-mails, was coordinating on the release with organization one.
In that section, there is a portion that says that Guccifer 2.0 was also in touch with the senior -- with a person who had contacts with senior members of the Trump campaign, and they were contacting him. How this relates back to Davis is that Davis was on Roger Stone's payroll in late 2016 when these contacts would have happened with the person, you know, with contacts to the senior Trump officials. So if that is Roger Stone and she was on the payroll doing clerical work, which is apparently what she was doing, she may have seen e-mail traffic or other communications either between Stone and WikiLeaks or other entities. So if she is the person referred to in the indictment, that could be the nexus that they are trying to look into further.
COOPER: Morgan, you've obviously spent a lot of time with Roger Stone making the documentary. Is he fazed by this kind of stuff? I mean does this freak him out? Does he -- I mean -- you know, I've interviewed him a couple times and, you know, he seems -- and clearly he has history. He's no stranger to kind of the rough and tumble of politics.
PEHME: I haven't seen him be too concerned about the Russia investigation or the WikiLeaks probe. I do think that he may be concerned and he has noted that if I am indicted, it's going to be for something unrelated to all this. I think that Kristin Davis has probably seen his e-mail account. She may have been privy to information that they're trying to pin down. If they're looking into Roger's business affairs, the way that he pays people, the way that he receives money, that may be something that Kristin Davis could provide insight into. COOPER: Asha, in terms of the Manafort trial, it does seem like it's coming down to how much prosecutors are actually going to be able to prove it was Manafort himself who was directing fraud that was taking place, because obviously the defense is putting it on his associate, Rick Gates.
RANGAPPA: Right. This is an uphill battle for Manafort because the crux of the allegations is that he lied to banks in terms of representing his income and his other liabilities in getting loans, and that he also lied to the IRS in his tax returns.
[21:10:05] Now, he signed his own tax returns, which you do under penalty of perjury. But what the prosecution also has are communications between Manafort and his CPA in which the CPA is directly asking him questions like, do you have any foreign bank accounts to report? And Manafort responds, no. So the -- what his lawyers are going to try to say is that he knew nothing about his foreign bank accounts, and that's just not going to fly in my opinion given that he was using those bank accounts for all the lavish spending that we've seen. He's also communicating directly with the CPA, and I expect that Gates is going to also have testimony and probably written communications showing that they were both coordinating on this scheme of trying to lie and conceal some of their financial dealings.
COOPER: Right, and he's even buying clothes and cars and stuff with wire transfers directly --
RANGAPPA: That's right.
COOPER: -- from foreign bank accounts, which is obviously, I assume, a way to avoid, you know, the tax burden of it.
Morgan, in describing Paul Manafort, I want to get the quote right. You said that he was a diabolical specter who materialized in far off lands to meddle in their affairs and then dissolved back into the shadows when his work was done and his sizable fee connected. That's -- I'm sorry. Collected. You interviewed him for the documentary. Is that how you found him?
PEHME: You know, Paul Manafort is a brilliant political operative, and one of his great innovations was that, you know, when Roger Stone and Paul Manafort started off as political consultants, there weren't a lot. So you could make a lot of money in America. But then there was an explosion in the industry, so they had to go find new, you know, troughs of money.
And so they went and looked abroad. And the people abroad, people like Viktor Yanukovych, were willing to pay much higher rates for those services, and it was much harder to track the moneys that they were taking in. This seems like it may ultimately have been Paul Manafort's undoing. It ended up being a very lucrative proposition for him for several decades. I was a little bit surprised by Manafort being so savvy that all this kind of ham-fistedness that we seem to be seeing in the trial could have taken place, but certainly that is how Manafort became a very wealthy person. COOPER: It's so fascinating. And finally, Asha, you know, those who -- who describe Mueller as being methodical in his approach and not one for fishing expeditions, is that description consistent with what you've seen in the first week of this trial?
RANGAPPA: Yes. I think so. I mean they are trying to prove all of the elements of this crime. Do you mean with the charges generally, just that he's gone after this?
COOPER: No, I just mean in the way that -- you know, the way the trial is unfolding, you know, kind of setting it up methodically.
RANGAPPA: Yes, I think that, you know, they are going to follow -- these prosecutors do bank fraud and tax fraud cases quite frequently. There is a way of presenting the evidence. I think as you mentioned earlier, the judge is being pretty aggressive in both making sure that evidence that could be prejudicial to the jury, for example, overemphasizing Manafort's spending and, you know, which is not in and of itself evidence of a crime -- to limit that, but to -- and also make sure that they're going through all the witnesses very quickly and the evidence quickly to keep the prosecution streamlined, means that, you know, Mueller's team is going to do this the right way by the book. I don't think that there's anything unusual about the way they're presenting this evidence.
COOPER: All right. Asha Rangappa, appreciate it. And Morgan Pehme, again, the documentary is "Get Me Roger Stone". It's on Netflix. It's really good. Thank you.
PEHME: Thank you Anderson.
COOPER: Appreciate it.
Just ahead, beyond just Manafort and perhaps Stone, more on what Robert Mueller may have in store in the weeks and months ahead. A look at clues to what might be on his to do list. Also the President's uneasy relationship with facts, the truth. New reporting shows it's getting worst by the "Washington Post." The untruths according to them are accelerating. I'll talk to someone who's been documenting it as well as one of the President's former top campaign advisers.
[21:17:50] COOPER: We saw plenty of new developments today that could factor into Robert Mueller's larger Russia probe. There's also plenty we have not seen. Team Mueller doesn't leak. That said we do have some inkling of where things could be heading. Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto reports.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Openly denounced by the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I call it the rigged witch hunt.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Yet pressing forward without interruption, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has produced a steady stream of indictments and arrests over the last 14 months. It enters a new phase with the start of the first of two trials for Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman.
In Virginia he faces charges of bank and tax fraud. In Washington, he's accused of failing to register as a lobbyist for a foreign government and obstruction of justice. And Mueller may not be done with Manafort. This memo indicates that the special counsel is still investigating whether Manafort was, "Colluding with Russian government officials, end quote," to interfere in the 2016 election.
KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT'S ATTORNEY: There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Manafort's former business partner and former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, Rick Gates, has already pleaded guilty and will testify against Manafort. Among the others the special counsel has indicted, Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide.
Both pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors, and both are cooperating with the investigation. Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Manafort's, who is described in court documents as a suspected Russian intelligence operative. Also indicted, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities charged with interfering in the 2016 election. And most recently, another group of 12 Russian nationals charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
Could more charges be coming? His team has interviewed at least two dozen members of the Trump administration and other Trump associates.
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Bob Mueller is not making deals left and right. Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn all traded some pieces of information for their respective plea deals. That's presumably incredibly important information.
[21:20:05] SCIUTTO (voice-over): One crucial remaining question, what has Mueller found out about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Russians who promised to share dirt on Hillary Clinton? Trump Jr. has said that he never told his father about the meeting.
DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: There was nothing to tell. It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): But sources tell CNN that Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen is now claiming that Trump knew of the meeting in advance and that Cohen is prepared to tell Mueller. Cohen himself may not be on Mueller's to-do list, though, having referred his case to federal investigators in New York.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: So it effectively brings the issue of collusion or conspiracy right to the President's feet.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Mueller's latest indictment of the Russian hackers hinted that he may still be looks at the role of other U.S. persons.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Some speculate that may include Roger Stone who claimed several times during the campaign to be communicating with WikiLeaks, which U.S. intelligence believes acted as a middleman for stolen Democratic Party e-mails and documents.
ROGER STONE, FMR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: It's innocence. There's no evidence of collusion or conspiracy or coordination.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Department of Justice also recently released the FISA warrant obtained by the FBI during the campaign to surveil another former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. At the time, the FBI told the court it believed page was the subject of recruitment by the Russian government.
CARTER PAGE, FMR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I've never been an agent of a foreign power in any -- by any stretch of the imagination.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Questions also remain about Blackwater founder Erik Prince's mysterious meetings in the Seychelles with a Russian banker and George Nader, an unofficial representative of the United Arab Emirates.
ERIK PRINCE, FOUNDER, BLACKWATER: No one was aware from the Trump team that I was even there.
ERIN BURNETT, CNNA ANCHOR: No one as aware of --
PRINCE: It was private business that had nothing to do with the U.S. government. That had nothing to do with the Trump team or the transition team or anything else.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): CNN has reported the purpose of that meeting was to arrange a possible back channel communication between the U.S. and Russia, but the UAE connection could expand Mueller's investigation to concerns of additional foreign influence in the 2016 election. Nader has been cooperating with investigators. Perhaps, the big question is what if anything Mueller has in store to President Trump, including whether he obstructed justice.
GRAFF: I think we're -- that really that obstruction piece will be the final element of this and that what we're going to more likely see is, you know, sort of these dots in the center being connected.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Looming large is whether the special counsel will demand a sit-down interview with President Trump himself.
TRUMP: I've always wanted to do an interview because, look, there's been no collusion.
SCUITTO (voice-over): For now, Mr. Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, says any interview is still under negotiation.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I think he shouldn't. I know how convinced he is that he didn't do anything wrong and wants to explain it, and I've seen other people get into trouble thinking that, innocent people.
SCIUTTO (on-camera): Now, to be clear, none of the charges that Manafort faces so far relate directly to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. However, he was working for, getting paid millions of dollars for working for the then pro-Russian President of Ukraine, who's been accused of corruption and murder, and who jailed his political opponents.
Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, Jim set the stage. I want to dig deeper. Back with me Harvard Law School's Alan Dershowitz, author of the "Case Against Impeaching Trump". Also with us CNN legal analyst and former Nixon White House Council, John Dean.
Professor Dershowitz, the President continues to call the entire Russia situation a hoax, a witch hunt. He sometimes just focuses on the notion of collusion as being the hoax and the witch hunt but oftentimes he just paints a very broad picture of it like that. It does seem to ignore the fact that Mueller has already brought dozens of criminal charges against more than 20 defendants, including four Trump associates.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD: Well, I think more important, his own intelligence agencies have warned us about continuing Russian attempts to intervene in the election. I give much more weight to that than I do to indictments. Indictments are, after all, just charges. They haven't been proved. But the intelligence agencies who are appointed by President Trump are saying categorically that there is a continuing and ongoing effort to intrude into the election. And so I think that has to be taken pretty much as a given at this point.
COOPER: But John, though, I mean the President, though, even when he was reading a statement, you know, after Helsinki to kind of clean up, and he said, you know, Russia is responsible, he also then ad-libbed, could be other people. There's a lot of -- you know, there's a lot of groups out there.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he did. And he continues to ad-lib on his -- at his rallies, discounting what his intelligence chiefs are telling him. You know, a normal president would have taken that occasion to be present, to probably would have done it in the east room, probably would have introduced them all and tried to emphasize the importance of what they were about to say. [21:25:13] He's done just the opposite. He put them out in the briefing room, which steps it down a couple notches right away, and then he's undercut it today in statements he's made about it just being a hoax again.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, I mean when we look -- go ahead.
DERSHOWITZ: No, I was going to say he's in strange company. Just the other day Noam Chomsky, the radical, also said it was something of a joke that Russia tried to intrude in our election. The real villains, he said, are Israel because they're the ones who intruded in the election. But that's Noam Chomsky, that's not to be taken seriously. But I think the intelligence agencies have to be taken seriously.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, that when we look at the people who have made deals with Mueller, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, we still don't know what they've given Mueller because prosecutors don't -- I mean they don't just offer leniency out of the goodness of their hearts. They have to be getting something in return, don't they?
DERSHOWITZ: There's no question. You have to make the proffer. The proffer -- you're give a queen for a day. That is what you give in the proffer can't be used against you. But then if the proffer isn't substantial enough, you're not going to get the immunity. So, I think we can assume that if these folks have been given immunity from prosecution, they've given to Mueller what he regards as valuable information. It may not be ultimately information. It maybe leads to other information. It may be a willingness to testify, but it's much better if they get self-proving information that doesn't rely on the credibility of witnesses who have been give a deal.
COOPER: John, Rudy Giuliani told politico yesterday a decision about a sit-down interview with Mueller is going to be made in the next week to 10 days. It feels like we've been hearing the same thing for months. You know, we'll decide soon. We'll decide after the North Korea summit. Is there any reason to believe they're any closer to a decision now?
DEAN: I don't think there is necessarily. We also were told with the prior lawyers that they were imminent in making a decision. This is the new crew of lawyers, and they have apparently a new deadline for themselves. But, you know, I'll be frankly surprised if he does agree to sit down. I'd be shocked in fact if he did.
COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, you and I have talked about this a lot.
DERSHOWITZ: I wouldn't be surprised.
COOPER: You wouldn't be surprise, why?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I wouldn't advise him to sit down if I were his lawyer. I'm not his lawyer. But I wouldn't be surprised if in the end, a compromise is reached. And there are a limited number of questions vetted in advance, and he's prepared. And in order to show that he's willing to testify, he will prevail over his lawyer's advice and ultimately be able to say to the American public, look, I sat down. I looked him in the eye, and nothing came of it. So my prediction is that he might very well agree to a deal if the deal is one that his lawyers can live with even if his lawyers don't think it's a good idea.
COOPER: Well, Professor, Giuliani said they don't want any questioning on obstruction, that Mueller's team would have to concede to that. Is there any chance that's going to actually happen, that they would take that off the table in terms of questions?
DERSHOWITZ: I can't imagine that they would take that off the table. I can't imagine they would ask him just one or two questions. But it's not about quantity. It's about quality. If they ask him why he fired Mueller, that is dynamite. That simply opens up the possibility that he will say something that others will contradict. And so I think they're going to be very worried about that kind of a question even if it's only one or two questions.
COOPER: John, can the investigation conclude without a sit-down interview with the President?
DEAN: Oh, I'm sure it can. I think Mueller probably knows the answers. He's trying to just establish whether there's a corrupt intent on the obstruction issue and get -- and hear what the President's point of view is on some of the other issues he's exploring. You know, I think he could do it without it. I think there is a certain fairness the public would perceive if Trump did agree to testify. He's not going to be prosecuted for perjury because he's a sitting President. So he's got a lot of latitude.
COOPER: John Dean, Professor Dershowitz, thank you.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, the "Washington Post" has been updating its list of presidential lies. In June and July, the newspaper says President Trump averaged 16 false claims a day, which is unprecedented. Coming up, a discussion about embellishments, exaggerations, and lies.
[21:32:58] COOPER: Whether you agree or disagree with the policies, there is much that's unprecedented about the Trump administration. One, sadly, is the President's own record when it comes to telling the truth. He's been documented on this program and elsewhere saying things that simply are not so, repeatedly.
"The Washington Post," which has been documenting it regularly, says the number of falsehoods is actually increasing. The "New Yorker", Susan Glasser has also just written about it as well as the broader direction the President may now be taking. She joins us along with Jason Miller former top campaign aide to the President.
Susan, you write that history books will likely declare the last few months a turning point in the Trump presidency. How do you mean? SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I mean, you know, it feels like this is the Trump unbound phase of the presidency, doesn't it, in many ways? That really -- this is -- we've seen the President assert himself, take control over the running of his White House, make significant personnel changes that puts him much more firmly in charge of his foreign policy, his national security, and really he's out there on the road doing campaign-style rallies. He said the other day he might be doing that six or seven times a week leading up to the midterm elections.
So I feel like we're seeing the President running the Trump presidency that he wanted and feeling very unconstrained in any way.
COOPER: You also talk about an up-tick in the number of false statements by the President.
GLASSER: Well, you know --
COOPER: Is it a turning point in that way?
GLASSER: Well, I think perhaps it is. The numbers are just mind- blowing to me. If you look at "The Washington Post" fact checker column, Glenn Kessler does a great job with this. And he has actually been tracking all of President Trump's factual assertions with a small team of people deposed ever since Trump's inauguration.
And what he's found is that the number of false statements has almost doubled just in the last six months compared with even the very, very fast pace of untruths and misstatements in the first year of the Trump presidency. Glenn told me the other day he thinks Trump is on track to have 5,000 misstatements and untruths by the midterm election day this November.
[21:35:00] COOPER: Jason, I mean, a, do you see an up-tick in the number of false statements by the President or misleading statements, and do you see some sort of difference to the larger point of how the President is approaching the job or his comfort level with the job?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the President is definitely reaching a different comfort level. I think he's relying less on certain staff folks, and I think he has a better handle on what he needs to do from his perspective. But I'd say to this whole notion of the falsehoods and the misstatements, I mean, look, every president, every politician, probably ever since the beginning of time has gotten certain statistics or certain facts wrong. I mean that's just a part of being in office.
COOPER: But Jason according to "The Washington Post," the level of untrue statements, I mean, is far beyond what any previous administration that they have tracked. I mean it's certainly -- it's a huge number, no?
MILLER: Well, but even some of those -- and I read through the Glenn Kessler article and some of those I would take real issue with. I mean they have started construction on some of the border wall around San Diego and around El Centro. Even the fact that Kessler says in his article that some of the President's comments about the trade deficit would get an "F" from many economists, I mean that statement right there, that is an opinion.
I think it's important to keep in mind that some of the work that Kessler does, I would give an "A" too. Again, this is my opinion. And some, I think it's important to keep in mind that this is very much opinion.
And so the fact checkers themselves have their own viewpoint and have their own opinions, and that definitely does come across in a lot of their reviews that they look at things. I think it's also important to keep in mind that Presidents use the bully pulpit to try to drive their viewpoints, and try to drive the messages that they're trying to get across to people. And sometimes folks just don't disagree.
I mean for example, I think right now as a country, I think that we're winning. I would say that some of my Democratic colleagues, there are some people who differ with me ideologically might say that we're not. I mean that is just a difference of opinion. It doesn't mean that it's four Pinocchios. It just means that we view certain issues differently.
COOPER: Right. But I mean, you know, there are things that set the President -- I mean the ones that just jump in my head, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, a million of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. That's why he didn't win the popular vote, biggest inauguration crowd size. You know, he said North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. All of that is not true, correct?
MILLER: Well, and there are certain points that you go through. I mean I'm sure there are a whole host of different statements that have come out from whether be this White House or previous White Houses that you could take issues with and say that they're factually incorrect or they may have gotten a statistic wrong or may have been slightly off. But I think what's a little bit difference with this White House --
COOPER: It's -- that the number 4,229 in the last like five months.
MILLER: But again, Anderson, I don't think you can look at that number and say this is the set in stone, the two tablets that came down from the mountain, undisputable fact of who says that they're right and who says that they're wrong. I mean a lot of these are opinion, and I don't think that unfortunately to my friends who are big fans of the "Washington Post," I don't think they're the one who's can say that this is -- they're the strict arbiters of what is right and what is wrong when they have their own opinion that is going into this as well.
COOPER: Susan, is that what this is, just opinion?
GLASSER: Well, I have to say, you know, this is a very convenient thing to say, but let's be real. A year and a half into this administration, whatever you think of the policies, there is a war on the truth that is going on here. And, you know, I don't think it is useful for any of us to get into an argument over whether it's 2,329 or 2,212.
It is very clear that the President of the United States is the most untruthful president of our adult lifetime certainly or anything that any of us can remember. And, you know, he strikingly repeats his factual misstatements and untruths over and over and over again, even after being told that they're inaccurate. For example, the NATO alliance, which has been a pillar of American national security for seven decades, created by the United States, the President of the United States not only has gone to war essentially with these key members of the alliance, has called them foes because of their membership in the European Union.
He has said over and over and over again, incorrectly characterized NATO as if it were a piggy bank where dues were require (ph). He's been told many time it's not true. It's not an opinion, sir. It's just not true.
MILLER: Well, yes. I mean I disagree on that from the aspect of the whole issue --
GLASSER: Its not --
MILLER: -- of NATO funding.
GLASSER: It's not something to disagree over, sir. I'm sorry. But it's a fact. Do you agree that it's a fact?
MILLER: But I mean -- look the whole issue of NATO --
GLASSER: Hundreds of times the President had lied about this.
MILLER: -- funding and the NATO spending. I mean this was something the President ran on. He said --
GLASSER: Sir, it's not.
MILLER: -- that folks should be saying --
GLASSER: Can you just concede the fact?
MILLER: -- that the right -- is the right percentage of their GDP towards their defense. And he thinks that America is spending too much of its money to go and defend NATO countries. I mean that's --
[21:40:07] GLASSER: Sure. I mean it was -- so did Barack Obama, sir. Can you just concede the fact that the President over and over again has mischaracterized willfully. He said over and over again that NATO requires these people to pay dues. Do you acknowledge that that is not true? Do you acknowledge that?
MILLER: That other NATO countries other than the four that are --
GLASSER: There are no dues to NATO, there are no dues to NATO, and yet the President says over and over again that there are. Why? MILLER: So --
GLASSER: That's just not true. It's not true. It's not opinion. It's not about policy.
MILLER: So if the President slightly characterizes it differently the broader point --
GLASSER: No, no, no. That's untrue, sir.
MILLER: -- that he's making there, then the broader point to me or he even said that President Obama criticized NATO allies as well. And by think --
MILLER: -- part of the thing here --
GLASSER: But the President repeats factual misstatements.
MILLER: -- is that members of the season. But here's the thing. I think members of the media have such hatred toward President Trump --
MILLER: -- that they want to go after him. And even if he's making a very similar point to say what President Obama had made just a couple of years earlier, they want to go and nitpick over every little word to go and try to beat up on him.
COOPER: The question we're talking about is truth and facts and whether facts exist and whether this President misrepresents facts, and I mean obviously you can take issue with somebody -- something Susan wrote or somebody else wrote. But it doesn't -- it's basically just distracting from the core issue just as talking about the larger strategy on NATO, that's not what this discussion is about. It's about whether facts exist and whether this President is misusing facts.
We -- I got to wrap it up because we're so over time. Jason Miller, Susan Glasser, thank you.
GLASSER: Thank you very much.
COOPER: We have a lot more ahead including the latest from Houston where there has been a dramatic ending to that hunt for the suspected killer of a surgeon who was gunned down while riding his bicycle. Details ahead.
[21:45:29] COOPER: It was a dramatic end to the hunt for the suspected killer of a Houston surgeon today as you may recall police said, identified the man they believed responsible for the killing of the doctor that once treated former President George H.W. Bush.
Our Ed Lavandera, now has the details.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's walking. This is the suspect. He's walking Eastbound on the bayou towards the bridge."
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how it sounded over the police radio systems as officers cornered 62-year old Joseph Pappas. One officer confronted the murder suspect as he walked to this Houston neighborhood, Friday morning. Police say, Pappas was wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a hand gun.
ART ACEVEDO, CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE: Suspect Pappas had his left hand up and as his right hand secreted where the officer could not see his hand. The suspect said something about suicide, and the officer said, "Let me see some hands," or something of that nature.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): A second police officer arrived seconds later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just laid back as the second unit go there. I think he shot himself.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): This resident saw the scene unfold in front of his home.
STEPHEN, WITNESS: I saw a police officer pull his weapon and it was pointed at the man behind that tree that had his hands up. And then I heard a gunshot. Gunshot, and didn't see the hand anymore.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Pappas killed himself. It ended the manhunt for the killer of prominent Houston cardiologist Mark Hausknecht. The doctor was shot and killed while biking to work on July 20th.
Newly released court documents revealed that video cameras from city buses captured extensive footage of Pappas following Dr. Hausknecht before he appears to shoot him. Then the unknown male did not stop and rode his bike away from the scene.
It was video footage from a home surveillance camera in a nearby neighborhood that helped police identify Pappas.
ACEVEDO: At the suspect's residence, they found a very extensive intelligence file that this suspect had put together on Dr. Hausknecht. He had -- he knew everything that you could possibly find on this man. I'm not going to go any further in the details, just to say it was very extensive.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The file also contained the names of several dozen doctors and employees who worked in the same medical center, which raised alarms for investigators.
ACEVEDO: We actually passed that information on to the medical center, and they dealt with it to make sure that notifications were being made and as they identified those employees. LAVANDERA (voice-over): The newly released court documents also revealed that inside Pappas' home, the front door was barricaded with a large piece of metal and that the living room had been cleared out except for a lone chair facing the front door. And in the kitchen, Pappas left his last will and testament.
COOPER: Ed joins me now. Do we know anything about what was in that last will and testament?
LAVANDERA: No. We just do know that over the course of the last few days, it was clear that it seemed, like if you -- to borrow the expression, he was essentially kind of putting his affairs or remember there was that of the deed of his home that was transferred to a woman in Ohio.
There was also some weaponry and firearm paraphernalia that was put up on a firearm auction site as well. So it seemed clear that -- and that -- and that seems one of the things that gave investigators this idea that he was willing to commit suicide, is that he was trying to get rid of things.
COOPER: Has the doctor's family responded to today's news at all?
LAVANDERA: Yes. A great sense of relief, you know, celebrating the work of the investigators and thanking them for that work over the course of the last almost two weeks that this manhunt lasted, Anderson.
It really kind of speaks to the sense of relief that the City of Houston feels tonight now that this is all over.
COOPER: Ed, thanks very much for the reporting. Appreciate it.
Up next. He's presiding with the first criminal trial of the Russian investigation. The no non-sense judge making interesting headlines in the Manafort case.
A closer look ahead.
[21:52:40] COOPER: We're not going to see it, since cameras aren't allowed. But our reporters are there and we're certainly hearing lots on the trial of Trump's former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. And the judge who has a grip in his courtroom. More from our Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His full name is Thomas Selby Ellis III, but in court he goes by Judge T.S. Ellis. The no non-sense federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, is well- known for scolding both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"Politico" reports that earlier this week Judge Ellis chastised attorneys in the Paul Manafort case for rolling their eyes and communicating to those who were watching. Why do we have to put up with this idiot judge? Apparently that's vintage Ellis.
WILLIAM CUMMINGS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The important thing for Judge -- about Judge Ellis is that he wants the record to be clear and the record is something that goes up to the, you know, to the court of appeals.
KAYE (voice-over): Cameras aren't allowed in Ellis's Courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, but reporters have been documenting what some have called his "shock and awe." Ellis reportedly warned the prosecutors against using the word oligarch when describing those who paid Manafort.
"We're not going to have a case tried that he associated with despicable people and therefore he's despicable," Ellis told the court, "That's not the American way."
He also interrupted a landscaper testifying about the construction of Manafort's outdoor kitchen and garden, telling him bluntly, "You're done. Let's move on."
(on-camera): In court, Ellis is known for keeping things moving. Jury selection wrapped up the very first day, and he insisted prosecutors trim a week from their presentation. The judge has reportedly said he wants the trial wrapped up within
three weeks. "I'm not in the theater business," he joked. "You have to be better looking than that."
(voice-over): In his 31 years on the bench, Ellis has seen his share of high profile cases. After 911, Ellis presided over the trial of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. He sentenced him to 20 years, telling Lindh, "You made a bad choice to join the Taliban."
Long before the Manafort trial even started, Ellis questioned the special counsel's motives in prosecuting Manafort saying, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," suggesting it was an effort to pressure Manafort into providing information he may have on Donald Trump.
[21:55:00] KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISER: I think Judge T.S. Ellis in Virginia really said it best. He's not a political figure. He has no skin in this game except the law. KAYE (voice-over): Still, Ellis surprised the White House and let the case go forward.
Ellis was born in 1940 in Columbia. He graduated from Princeton then went on to study law at Harvard in Oxford. For all his toughness, Judge Ellis apparently tones it down for jurors. When one answered his question before he'd finished, Ellis said, "I know I'm predictable, my wife says, "That's one of my only virtues."
COOPER: It really seems like an interesting fellow. Randi Kaye joins us now. It seems like the judge really gets involved in his cases which not all judges do.
KAYE: Absolutely. He's waiting you might call him interactive judge. He was actually questioning the potential jurors. He want to test their impartiality. He's been known to question witnesses and cut off witnesses.
He certainly cuts off the defense attorneys and the prosecutors, and Anderson, in fact there was one point during the pre-trial phase of this case that there was an FBI agent testifying and the judge got up and was walking around on the bench and circling his big leather chair.
So, you can imagine how off-putting that might be for a witness but he's just fun to watch. But he does take it seriously even though he cracks jokes in there. Because if the jury does find Manafort guilty it is up to this judge and this judge alone who will make the decision on his sentence. So, he wants the record to be perfect.
COOPER: All right. Randi Kaye. Randi, thanks very much.
We'll be right back.
[22:00:11] COOPER: News, continued right now. I'll turn it over Don Lemon in CNN Tonight.