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Report: Mueller Team Interviews Manhattan Madam; Trump Administration Says the ACLU Should Find Hundreds of Children of Deported Parents That Were Lost; After Intel Chiefs Hold Press Conference on Russia's Threat to Our Elections and Social Media, Trump Makes A Speech About the Russia Hoax; Bin Laden's Mom Says Cult Brainwashed Her Good Son. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 3, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. We have breaking news in this Russia investigation because we now know Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has just interviewed a woman who once ran a high prized New York call girl ring, a woman who went to jail as part of this whole scandal surrounding former New York Democratic Governor Elliott Spitzer, a woman otherwise known as the Manhattan Madam.
Investigators appear to be interested in Kristin Davis' ties to long time Trump adviser Roger Stone who she knew for years and years. So, to Sara Murray we go, our CNN political correspondent on this breaking news. So, Sara, we know that she voluntarily sat down with Mueller's team. What was the focus of the interview?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we are not sure exactly what Mueller's interest is in Kristin Davis. As you pointed out she's had a checkered past when it comes to law enforcement, this is someone who ran a high-end prostitution ring, but it's also someone who has been close to Roger Stone both personally as well as professionally over the course of the last decade. He helped her out in 2010 as a campaign strategist when she was running for New York governor on the platform of legalizing marijuana as well as prostitution, more recently at the end of 2016 she joined Stone's payroll and was helping him with clerical tasks, with e-mail blasts as well as with media bookings, but we are not clear exactly on what her interview with Robert Mueller focused on.
We do know, though, that other witnesses involved in sort of the Roger Stone orbit have been asked a pretty bizarre question which is whether her son is Roger Stone's son. Roger Stone is the child's godfather. Roger Stone did provide a statement to CNN and in that statement today he said, "Kristin Davis is a long-time friend and associate of mine. I am the godfather of her two-year-old son. She knows nothing about Russian collusion, Wikileaks collaboration or anything other impropriety related to the 2016 election which I thought was the subject of this probe. I understand she appeared voluntarily. I am highly confident she will testify truthfully if called upon to do so."
Sources say the special counsel's team wants her to testify in front of a grand jury which is the latest indication that their focus on Roger Stone continues. Brooke? BALDWIN: Sara, thank you so much. For so much more on this I have
Dylan Bank back with me today, the director of the Netflix film "Get Me, Roger Stone." So, you know a lot about these two. Starting with tell me the story of just how they first met.
DYLAN BANK, DIRECTOR, NETFLIX FILM "GET ME, ROGER STONE": Roger had been an antagonist, a hired antagonist of Elliott Spitzer when Joe Bruno and Elliott Spitzer back an old story New York politics were battling, and he got unceremoniously fired when he left drunken messages on Elliott Spitzer's father's phone threatening him and cursing, and then separately when Elliott Spitzer later went down for prostitution Kristin Davis was in prison at the time in Rikers in solitary confinement, being strip searched by guards, furious, seeing Elliott Spitzer basically getting away with what he prosecuted other people for. So, when they met at a radio show Roger said to her, we should team up against Elliott Spitzer and you should go into politics.
BALDWIN: So, they team up, they go back ten or so years. How close -- because you heard what Sara -- what they obviously want on what Roger Stone may know, right? So, the question is what would she know? What would he have shared with her? How close were they?
BANK: They were very, very close. When she got busted for pills during her comptroller campaign when Elliott Spitzer jumped into the comptroller race and it turned into another crazy media circus it bottomed out because she had been selling pills on the side unbeknownst to Roger Stone. They were furious, cursed each other out and said this person betray the other person, completely on the outs then.
A year and a half later she is living in his second bedroom and working with him as a personal assistant. Just to address the question about whether or not that is Roger Stone's child, with we never actually saw them having a direct sexual relationship, it always seemed like they just used each other to party and when my co-director of the "Get Me, Roger Stone" film saw her with her baby, without asking the first words out of her mouth were, it's not Roger's.
BALDWIN: It's not Roger's, that was her belief based upon what you guys saw. As this personal assistant, last question, as a personal assistant a lot of information comes and goes. So, it would be possible, no one knows -- well, Mueller's team may know -- what she knew and how, you know, pertinent it is to this whole Russia investigation.
[14:05:00] BANKS: Not only is it possible. Roger in the past has used his subordinates to filter money or to launder money depending on how you describe it so various candidates and various other people. I'm not saying he did that here with Kristin Davis but he did that in the past. One of his assistants came up with $100,000 for a campaign out of nowhere and he said he was just a trust fund baby when we knew he was not a trust fund baby.
BALDWIN: Good to see you. For more on this I have Bob Bauer with me, a former White House
counsel to president Obama. Bob Bauer, thank you for coming back as well. Just staying on this Manhattan Madam story. So, we know that Mueller's team met with her this week. What does your gut tell you as a lawyer is going on?
BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: We know from other news accounts that they've been talking to a whole host of associates, people close to Roger Stone, so in light of that long-time association, in particular her service to him as a clerical assistant in the 2016 period, it's not at all surprising that the prosecutors would interview had err.
BALDWIN: The fact that she sat for this interview voluntarily, she wasn't forced to do this, how do you interpret that?
BAUER: That's always hard to judge. I don't know what advice of counsel she had or whether she took it. I don't know what exposure a lawyer might have told her she did or didn't have. So, it's always very difficult to judge with what wisdom or lack of wisdom a client engages with prosecutors voluntarily. It may have been the best choice for her in the circumstances. That's very hard to tell.
BALDWIN: Prosecutors also, Bob, appear to be delving into Roger Stone's personal life. We were just discussing this about how at least two witnesses were asked whether Stone was the father of Davis' son. We know that stone is this child's godfather. Why would they even be asking those kinds of questions?
BAUER: This is the first I've heard of it and I honestly have no idea. I really do not know.
BALDWIN: OK. So, you have Kristin Davis, this Manhattan Madam and you also have this close aide of his, Andrew Miller, who has now been ordered to testify in front of this Mueller grand jury, been fighting it. So, if you are Roger Stone right now, what are you thinking and especially if you are his legal team?
BAUER: I would start by saying I don't know why his legal team would think it was a good idea, and I doubt they do, that he's putting out press releases commenting on developments in the case, but when you compare this behavior to the president's incessant behavior it's not unusual in that corner. However, it seems for some period of time he has been central to what image ins is the collusion aspect of the Mueller investigation and I think that we probably will see significant developments in this case in the not too distant future.
It appears to be building to that point. I don't know what the outcome is going to be, but I think that he represents a very significant connection here between the Trump campaign and what the Russians were up to through Wikileaks, through Guccifer in 2016 and interfering in the election. I think he is a central figure in that inquiry as far as anybody can tell from the best reporting that we have. So, he would probably be hearing some loud footsteps.
BALDWIN: Bob Bauer, while I have you I wanted to ask about just as a former White House counsel, the border separations. So, we've been covering this story for weeks and weeks. We now know that the Trump administration is arguing that the ACLU, not the government, the ACLU needs to find the hundreds of separated parents who have been deported. And it's crazy because, you know, these are the people who separated the families, lost track of who belongs to whom and wants someone else to fix this. What do you make of this move?
BAUER: The government's performance on this has been appalling from day one, simply unforgivable. So, at every turn we see both bad policy, bad faith and utter lack of compassion. So, there's really nothing to be said other than that. I think it stands out as a really dismal aspect of an administration that certainly offers up any number of things to disapprove of, but this really ranks at the top.
BALDWIN: Bob Bauer, good to see you. Thank you so much.
BAUER: Thank you.
Just ahead here, President Trump contradicting his intelligences yet again calling it a hoax just hours after the White House put up a united front to address election interference.
[14:10:00] Also ahead the hunt to find a man accused of killing a Houston doctor comes to a close as the suspect has now taken his own life. What police are revealing about what they found at his home.
And a chilling scene at a Washington, DC airport. This 12-year-old girl, she was part of this tour group from China, she was seen leaving the airport with an unknown woman, and police now are desperate to find her. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We're back you're watching CNN thanks for being with me. As the nations top national security officials issue a dire warning about Russia's interference in U.S. elections, President Trump is down playing the role of the Kremlin, dismissing this threat. From his own intel chiefs once again, calling the Russia investigation a hoax.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Helsinki I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had a great meeting. I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That's a really good thing. Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK?
Those comments coming mere hours after the heads of the FBI, homeland security, national intelligence all stood there in that White House briefing room and warned the Russia threat is real. All of them saying the interference is still happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming U.S. elections, both the midterms and the presidential elections of 2020.
KIRSTEN NIELSEN, SEC. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Our democracy itself is in the cross-hairs.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: Make no mistake, the scope of this foreign influence threat is both broad and deep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And while we know the president ordered his intelligence chiefs to present that show of force, they used one word that may have defied the president on Russia. CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza is with me. Does that word begin with an "a?"
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: It does, but it might not be the one you think it is. OK, Brooke, let's start first. I want to play two bits of sound back to back, the first Donald Trump talking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News the day after his summit in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't want to even use the word "adversary." We can all work together, we can do great, everybody can do well and we can live in peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: There is that word "adversary." OK. Pay attention here, Brooke, for that word. This is on Thursday, as you mentioned, the sort of top intelligence officials of the Trump administration doing a show of force. Here is how they talked about Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We do not wish to make the efforts of our adversaries any easier.
NIELSEN: Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear that they are the target of our adversaries and new insights into potential adversaries and campaigns --
WRAY: Our adversaries influence operations have encompassed a wide range of activities.
GEN. PAUL NAKASONE, NSA DIRECTOR: Foreign adversaries who are attempting to sew discord and division. U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are tracking a wide range of foreign cyber adversaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: That's because I was counting, six mentions of adversary just in that little clip that we played, Brooke. Look, words matter. Donald Trump has repeatedly said wouldn't it be a good thing if we were friends with Russia rather than enemies or adversaries because he simply does not see it in that light. I would say another break from his intelligence and national security community who quite clearly based on that clip see Russia as an adversary. Back to you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Dan Coats, right, the Director of National Intelligence, he stood there yesterday, Russia is indeed a threat, he was incredibly tough. Watching Trump last night you have to wonder is that getting through to the president?
CILLIZZA: So, I will add to it, getting through and is Dan Coats even in the loop. Let me play you just one more little bit of sound here from Dan Coats on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: I'm not in a position to either understand or really talk about what happened in Helsinki. That is the top intelligence official in the Trump administration. That speaks, I think, to the disconnect here. Remember, Donald Trump wanted a one-on-one meeting just translators and the two heads of state between he and Vladimir Putin. He got that, Brooke, but unfortunately, we don't really know what happened in that meeting and apparently, we have that in common with the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Back to you.
BALDWIN: Right. Chris, thank you so much.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, Osama Bin Laden's mother speaking out for the first time since the 9/11 attacks orchestrated by her son. She is remembering what she refers to him as a good child. Peter Bergen, the journalist who actually interviewed Bin Laden himself back in 1997 joins me next on what he thinks of this mother's words.
[14:20:00] And day four turns to the possible paper trail as Paul Manafort's accountant and tax preparer take the stand. What they're revealing today in court next.
[14:25:00] BALDWIN: Bin Laden's mother has just broken her silence, saying her son who was responsible for the 9/11 attack was a, quote, good child until he was brainwashed while attending college. This mother who is now in her mid 70s sat down with the "Guardian" newspaper and claimed her son wasn't to blame for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. Quote, "everyone who met him in the early days respected him. He was a very good child until he met some people who pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s. You can call it a cult. They got money for their cause."
Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, you produced the first televised interview with Osama Bin Laden back in 1997. It has been nearly 17 years since the terror attacks in September of 2001. Why is this mother speaking out now? I have to imagine you think this is quite unusual.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's super unusual because she's never spoken publicly before about anything, even before 9/11. I've written a number of books about Bin Laden, talking to the immediate family members is very hard. They live in Saudi Arabia, the government kind of controls their ability to talk to the press so this is, you know, unprecedented interview.
The reason she is talking right now, Brooke, I think is the Saudi government knows they face a lawsuit in American courts by some of the families of the victims of 9/11. This lawsuit has been grinding through the courts for the past 17 years. Remains unresolved, but the suit claims that elements of the Saudi government were somehow responsible for 9/11.
Bin Laden's mother is saying, no, no, in fact, my son was influenced by people who are not Saudis, they were Palestinians and others who kind of made him more essentially jihadi minded, more terrorist minded. I think that's why the Saudi government has allowed this interview to happen. She herself I think is quite credible and what she says in this interview is largely credible.
BALDWIN: Can we pick that apart. Let me ask you what part is largely credible. Obviously, it's a punch in the gut to any American to hear this mother say her murderous son was this good child, but you push past that and when she talks about outsiders like, you know, brain washing her son, right? Converting him to violent jihadism in his 20s. How much truth is there to that?
BERGEN: You know, Bin Laden was an adult so, you know, I don't really buy that. Certainly, he kind of fell in with a group of pretty radical people in Afghanistan, but he became more radical than some of the radical people he fell in with. A lot of the people who were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, you know, were doing it because they believed in the cause. They didn't necessarily, you know, set up a terrorist group to attack the United States at all. I think at a certain point Bin Laden when he founded al Qaeda he was already 31, he wasn't a kid. So, you know, I don't really buy the idea that somehow he was brainwashed.
BALDWIN: So what was the most credible thing that this mother even said?
BERGEN: Well, the credible stuff is really the account of Bin Laden as a kid. You know, unsurprisingly she says he was a loving son. He really was a loving son. He remained so. She paints a picture of him being a studious kid, somebody who was -- so, you know, when he was a teenager Bin Laden was very serious child, very religious and so the stuff that she knows about really when she was a mother to this kid, what mother doesn't love their child? So, you know, plenty of mass murders who have mothers who say that their son was fabulous and she's not an exception.
BALDWIN: Sure. You started off by talking about what's happening with regard to Saudi and this case. I mean, we know that his mother is in regular touch with apparently his various wives who survived that -- you know, that raid in Pakistan in 2011. You note they are all living in Saudi Arabia. But they can't leave. Remind us why.
BERGEN: Well, you know, there is a whole -- I think the key thing is the Saudi government doesn't want them going out there and talking about bin laden. They themselves, you know, probably don't have much of an inclination to do that. The Saudi government it's an authoritarian state and they can control who leaves, who -- you know, the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia, you know, he is running a semi- totalitarian regime. Whatever he wants he really gets. One thing he doesn't want is a lot of Bin Laden's wives, I think, getting on tv or talking about Osama Bin Laden, reminding people about bin laden.
And also, by the way, Brooke, Bin Laden's three wives are true believers. They were with him throughout his sort of terroristic career as it were and some of them are even more militant than Bin Laden, so you certainly wouldn't want them giving the kind of interview that his mother gave which is pretty anodyne and isn't sort of saying we're committed to jihad.
BALDWIN: Right. Compared to what his wives would be saying.
BALDWIN: Keep them quiet. Yes. Peter Bergen, thank you.
BERGEN: Thank you.
Coming up next, this manhunt in Texas comes to an end today after the man accused of killing a prominent Houston cardiologist takes his own life. What police are revealing about this list they found at his home.