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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Rick Gates Testifies He Helped Manafort Commit Crimes; Source: Trump Urged To Stop Tweeting About Trump Tower Meeting After Tweet Admitting It Was To Get Dirt On Clinton; Trump Calls Media "Dangerous," Says Press Can "Cause War;" Anti-Media Theme Growing Among Administration Officials; Dead Heat in Ohio Special Election GOP Has Held Seat for 35 Years; Ex-Trump Aide: I Had Limited Contact with Alleged Russian Agent. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 6, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the star witness in Paul Manafort's trial taking the stand. Manafort's right- hand man Rick Gates. Will he take his old boss, his mentor down?
Plus the alleged Russian spy reports of multiple contacts with a Trump associate. Was she really just a graduate student?
And Trump saying the media can, quote, cause war. What's he talking about and why is he not the only member of his administration who believes that? Who else does? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening to all, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. Bob Mueller's star witness Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chairman, taking the stand in the government's case against Paul Manafort. Now let's be clear. This is Manafort's protege, it was his right-hand man, his consigliere and today he was the Special Counsel's star witness spilling the beans.
The most important question came from Prosecutor Greg Andres, who asked very simply, "Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" Gates replied, "Yes". And from there, Gates went into remarkable detail about the alleged crimes and the people involved and a key road leads back to Moscow.
According to Gates, Manafort knowingly failed to report 15 foreign bank accounts and one of those was tied to a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, a man the prosecutors have said has direct ties to Russian intelligence. During the campaign, he was also the middle man between Manafort himself and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is the Putin insider who reported Manafort offered private briefings about Trump too during the campaign. A Putin insider so in the center of this he's now sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
And then Gates told the jury that Manafort directed him to lie, directly. And report the money wired from his foreign bank account as loans rather than income. So what that does bottom line, speaking the bottom line is, cut Manafort's taxable income which left him with a whole lot of unreported money that he could allegedly use two fund things like. Well, that $15,000 ostrich jacket, that close to $10,000 ostrich best, $123,000 Mercedes, and millions on landscaping, suits and even a karaoke setup. Then the stunning twist, Gates admitted that he con -- the alleged con man, his former boss's men toward cheating him out of, quote, several hundred thousand dollar by submitting false expense reports.
This is the pair that was so central to President Trump's election, a pair Trump extolled publicly not so long ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Manafort has done an amazing job. He's here someplace. Where is Paul? Paul Manafort. Oh, good. You made it. Paul Manafort has done a fantastic -- and all of Paul's people. Paul brought on his staff. And we really do, we have a great staff of talented people.
Come on up, Rick. So we have a great group of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A great group of people?
Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT live in Alexandria, Virginia, where all of this went down today. You were in the room, Kara. So when you have Manafort and Gates once so close, right? Mentor, protege, father figure, Manafort and Gates, how did they interact in court?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erin, it was a showdown we've been waiting for. Just after 4:15 this afternoon, Gates strode into the courtroom walking into the well. And Manafort immediately starting staring, you know, at him, really locking his eyes down.
Gates was sitting just a few feet away from Manafort, just like around this corner, and the entire time he was testifying for the 45 minutes, he really evaded any eye contact with Manafort, looking intently at the prosecutor, answering his questions. And they went through pretty immediately off the bat, very quickly, did you commit crimes with Paul Manafort? Gates said that he had. And then he explained that he set up those 15 Cyprus-based bank accounts and other offshore accounts that he helped lie to his accountant in order for Manafort to reduce the income and filed false tax returns.
He described each time than he did it, quote, at the direction of Mr. Manafort. Then the surprise where Gates revealed that he actually defrauded Manafort. He said that he had stolen several hundreds of thousands dollars from Manafort by filing false expense accounts. And this showdown comes as these two men have known each other for over 20 years. Gates first met Manafort when he was an intern working for his company at an office Christmas Party. And then he worked closely with Manafort for 10 years saying that he was one of the most brilliant political strategist he had worked with. So now they're on opposite side of the table here and this showdown is expected to continue tomorrow. Prosecutors say that they have about three hours worth of questioning to Gates and then it will be the defense's turn where Manafort's lawyers will be able to question him. And we're expecting that to be pretty aggressive, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Certainly so. And we'll obviously hear from Kara on that tomorrow who is going to be in the room.
I want to go now to Shan Wu, Rick Gates' former Lawyer and a former Federal Prosecutor, Carrie Cordero, former Counsel of the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security and John Avlon, our Senior Political Analyst. What a day, Shan.
[19:05:03] So, you were waiting for this, right? You know Rick Gates. You know him personally. You know him well. You know, I suppose, that that he has a problem with the truth at times, as he admitted today. Did anything he said today surprise you, Shan?
SHAN WU, FORMER LAWYER FOR RICK GATES: I thought that the admission of the stealing and, you know, commenting on public record, obviously, Erin, but that was a huge reveal and that was really, I think, quite a bombshell. I mean, it gives the defense a lot of ammunition. It allowed them to deliver on their promise that they made in their opening statement. But that was the most stunning part of his testimony to me.
BURNETT: And, you know, John, Gates testified that he helped Manafort file false tax returns, OK? Now, obviously we're going to talk in a moment about things he admitted to lying about and cheating. But it doesn't get more clear than that. So, is Manafort's bet at this point go for pardon from the President? Or is it what, have people think gates is a worse liar? I mean, what's the strategy?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, the pardon play is a lot of moves out here. So I think the strategy seems to be to run down Gates to say, you know, I was just a patsy. I wasn't that hands on, which was contradicted by his own bookkeeper and I was the victim of Gates' nefarious activity.
The problem here is, I mean, first of all, everybody's dirty. This is only the best people, Erin. You know, everyone here -- only the best people.
AVLON: But it also really does show the way that the international political consultant class really has become a grift. And these folks, really, they talk about populism, they use it as a political strategy, but they are making more money than most working folks will ever see in their life in a year and still go broke. That's how corrupt and incompetent they are.
BURNETT: After $60 million from Ukraine alone, right, allegedly, Paul Manafort says he's bankrupt in 2016. Now, Carrie, you know, the thing is, Shan was saying, Gates admitted to a lot of lying, right? That several hundred thousand dollars he admitted of cheating Manafort out of. That was an incredible admission.
Obviously, they knew that was going to come out so they want to put it out themselves. Look, he lied to his own accountant and he admitted to lying to his own accountant. He's an admitted liar. So does this help Manafort's argument that Gates was the mastermind, even though, of course, Manafort's landscaper and ostrich coat provider and Mercedes Benz dealer all said that he did it all himself?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, you know, it's going to come down to not just what Gates says but all the other evidence that's been admitted in the trial. Whether that's through other witnesses, the other accountant who testified last week, the documents, the digital evidence, all the other 2types of evidence that's been assembled and the prosecutors have put on. Gates' testimony is in addition to that.
But from my perspective, he is incentivize to tell the truth in this trial. And that's because he really is testifying for his life. His cooperation agreement and his truthful cooperation will affect how he is sentenced, whether he is sentenced to several years in jail or whether he gets much more leniency than that. And the prosecutors will have an opportunity to weigh in on that. So I think from his perspective and his family and his outlook on his life, he is incentivize to tell the truth on the stand.
BURNETT: Right. And of course he has multiple young kids at home. I mean, all of these things do play into someone's decision here. I mean, Shan, Gates and Manafort, as Cara was saying, right, we're talking about a 20-year relationship, and Manafort she said, you know, looked straight at Gates today. Took him on. Stared him down. Gates wouldn't look him in the eye. Looked at the prosecutor instead. What do you read into that?
WU: That's not uncommon with a cooperator. I mean, that goes against human nature to have to go against someone who has been your mentor, someone close to you. And it's a big strain on folks like that psychologically. And, you know, Carrie's completely right. He's really up there fighting for his life. He wants to be able to get out of jail faster and have a life with his kids, but for the defense that's also good fodder. I mean, he --
WU: -- can be incentivize to tell the truth or they can say he is incentivize to lie and say anything the prosecution wants him to say.
BURNETT: Right. Anything, right, to get back to be with his kids. I mean, one of the people Gates says was listed on Manafort's foreign bank accounts, I mentioned this, is the same person Manafort e-mailed --
BURNETT: -- to get to Oleg Deripaska. Oleg Deripaska is a Putin insider and a billionaire. Manafort offers him these private briefings around the convention of the campaign. AVLON: Totally normal.
BURNETT: And he goes through this guy who is believed to be a Russian, you know, agent, informant or close ties to Russian intelligence, perhaps the best way to say it. And that's who he is talking to. That guy is now turns out he's on some of these accounts.
BURNETT: OK. They're not allowed to talk about, quote, unquote, Russia. But this is a key link to Trump and it just got established.
AVLON: This is a key link. This is actually, I would argue, the biggest news so far out of the trial because it does establish that Trump's campaign manager is taking money from the Kremlin. Look, it's bad enough when, you know, you live in Virginia and you've got a Cyprus bank account that you're funneling money through, but this is a direct connection to the Kremlin and to the spy services.
[19:10:06] And that raises a lot of questions that are very relevant about the decisions that were made, the ties that were established and the unusual amount of contact between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Was Manafort the sole conduit, the primary conduit? Who knows. But there is a money trail here and that is indelible.
BURNETT: And Carrie, that was a crucial thing that was established today, or at least that they tried to establish, right? That you have one of these guys with, you know, ties to Russian intelligence and to a Putin insider who Manafort was making promises to, offers to, who is now on one of these bank accounts.
CORDERO: Right. Well, so they've established the bank accounts. The bigger picture is that the President's campaign manager is someone who had also worked for a Russian-backed candidate in Ukraine for many years. I mean, so this Russia connection pervades the Manafort relationship and so many other members, there were so many different contacts between members of the campaign and Russia. So, one does wonder whether this particular piece is something that is relevant to the broader Special Counsel investigation looking at deeper Russian influence in the campaign and potential other coordination or communication with the campaign generally.
BURNETT: All right. And obviously that, of course, is the heart of this, this trial, which is the first big test for Bob Mueller in his Russian investigation. Thanks to all.
And next, Trump told to stop tweeting about that now infamous Trump Tower meeting. Just how damaging is his latest admission that the whole point of the meeting was to get dirt on Clinton?
Plus, the President taking his war with the media to a new level. Could the Secretary of Defense, though, Jim Mattis, lauded as a voice of reason by so many, be on his side?
And we're just hours from the first votes being cast in a crucial special election. Should be a shoo-in for Republicans. Is the President helping or hurting?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe that our President currently has my best interests at heart. It's a little scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:15:37] BURNETT: New tonight, stop tweeting about the Trump Tower meeting. A source telling CNN that is the plea that President Trump's advisers are making to him tonight, telling him it is only giving oxygen to a toxic topic. This one day after the President tweeted, "Fake news reporting had complete fabrication, but I am concern about the meeting my wonderful son Donald had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent. Totally legal and done all the time in politics and it went nowhere. I did not know about it."
OK, the problem was going on Twitter and saying things like that is that the record with the President is very public. Remember, it was Trump himself who was involved in the crafting of that statement on Air Force One about the meeting in which he claimed the meeting was about adoptions and explicitly not about dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now he's saying the opposite.
Earlier today Don Jr. was asked about the contradiction on Laura Ingraham's radio show. And let me play for you what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, TALK SHOW HOST: Do you want any comments on that, Donny? Because they're hitting you on that for contradictions. I mean, they're calling it worse than contradictions, obviously.
DON TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Hello?
INGRAHAM: Yes. Donny, what is your reaction to all of that? We're going to see if we can reconnect with Donald Trump Jr. On this because we can't seem to hear him. Don, do you hear that? We don't know where he went.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. Well, whatever. He did something for a couple of minutes and then he called back in and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR.: Somehow you got cut off -- they started playing the recording and then it got cut off. It was a 20-minute meeting, it ended up being, you know, about essentially nothing that was relevant to any of these things and, you know, that's all it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT. He's with President Trump in New Jersey for his vacation. And, Jeff, obviously that was a moment today. Do you have any indication that the President will listen to his advisers' advice about these tweets, explicitly his constant need to weigh in on this meeting in Trump Tower.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, if the past is any indication the President rarely, if ever, listened to his advisers about what to tweet, or more importantly not to tweet. But Don Jr. there was doing something that his advisers want his father not to do, is not give oxygen to this story. That's what we are told by advisers to this President. They want him to stop tweeting about that Trump Tower meeting specifically. Because now we're on to about, you know, the explanation number 3.0 or 4.0 here adding oxygen and more fodder, if you will.
So Don Jr. clearly, I guess, having a bad connection or maybe hanging up or something there not talking about it. But, look, the President clearly -- the context and timing of this is fascinating. A, the Paul Manafort trial is happening now. But B, always remember he knows more about what Bob Mueller and his team are doing in the moment than any of us do. So he clearly felt some reason to try and explain that meeting again over the weekend. That's why he tweeted that out. So we'll see if he actually follows the advice of not tweeting again.
Also we know, Erin, that Rudy Giuliani and other legal advisers are saying within the coming days they believe that they will respond to the Special Counsel's request for an interview. So maybe by the end of this vacation week here in New Jersey, we will finally have an answer to if the President will sit for an interview or not. And then of course if it's not, will a subpoena come? So that's what is going through the President's mind, at least, here in New Jersey, Erin.
BURNETT: Right. Of course his team threatening to take it to the Supreme Court. We'll see what it will happen. Obviously --
BURNETT: -- didn't work for somebody like Bill Clinton, but they could try.
And next, let's go now to Democratic Congressman from Illinois, Mike Quigley, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. And Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight. You heard Jeff reporting, right, the advisers of the President are telling him to stop tweeting about this Trump Tower meeting after the President's tweet yesterday where he admitted the point of the meeting was getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, it was not about adoptions. And obviously he had -- in the statement that he helped draft said the exact opposite. How significant do you think this tweet was yesterday about the Trump Tower meeting, given that it so directly contradicted a statement that he helped to author?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: I think that gap this morning that you heard in the interview, if it was me, as the President's son, I'd be calling my dad and said, dad, don't do me any more favors. Obviously, I think this was extraordinarily damning to the President and his son, as if they didn't need any more damage at this point in time.
[19:20:01] I think the President is under the belief that if he said something is legal then it must be legal. Obviously this is not. He also ignores the fact that this event took place with the Russians and Trump Jr. said, this is what we want, I love it, indicates that they were -- this was a conspiracy to work with the Russians to attack the Democratic process.
BURNETT: Well, certainly not anything --
QUIGLEY: The fact that they were disappointed by this --
QUIGLEY: -- and the fact -- let's just put the timeline with it. Two months before, George Papadopoulos was told by the Russians that they have information, troves of e-mails on Hillary Clinton. The message from Trump Jr. is, if you have it, we want it. Just days after the Trump Tower meeting, WikiLeaks announces that it has that information, it has those e-mails on Hillary Clinton. The timing is there. Obviously, the President has done nothing but help us prove the fact that this was a conspiracy.
BURNETT: Let's just, though, one thing, I mean, obviously in the tweet he is saying something very different than the statement, right. The tweet he is saying the whole point of this was to get information about Hillary Clinton. And the statement was, oh, it was just about adoptions. But this whole thing about that it was about to get dirt, this tweet is actually not the first time the President has said it.
I just want to play for you, Congressman, him back in July of 2017, so a year ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent. I've only been in politics for two years, but I've had many people call up, oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person or, frankly, Hillary. That's very standard in politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And then days after that, Congressman, he tweeted, "Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics."
When you take that context, right, he had already contradicted the statement from Air Force One. So, does that make you think the tweet yesterday is less significant? You know, he's admitted before that that's what this was about. And then obviously they were disappointed. According to them, it was only about adoptions. But this all would then seem to add up, no? QUIGLEY: No. I think you take Steve Bannon's comments of all people. He said that meeting was treasonous. He also said it was very, very unlikely. A chance of zero that the President didn't know about that meeting. The same thing Mr. Cohen said last week. So clearly this is a much bigger deal than he wants to acknowledge.
And the fact that all the other dots are being connected, given the fact that his foreign policy adviser has already pled guilty and is cooperating, his campaign chairman is on trial and his own personal attorney is positioning himself by all rational analysis for about to flip on the President. So this is a President reacting poorly. I was a criminal defense attorney for 10 years. I had clients like the President, in that their ego made them forget the fact that they're not lawyers and they don't have any idea how the law works. And the President is hurting himself and his son at this time.
BURNETT: Now, you talk about being a criminal defense attorney, so I want to ask you about the Paul Manafort trial. Rick Gates took the stand today as former, you know, protege, admitted Manafort had secret bank accounts in Cyprus, a place that you visited, you told me was central to the Russian investigation overall. Congressman Quigley, do you think Mueller's Manafort trial in which they're not supposed to use the word Russia, will lead back to Trump and Russian collusion together?
QUIGLEY: It's hard to predict exactly where the prosecution will take this trial or the other Manafort trial as it goes forward. This is a complicated web that involves personal finances and I think criminal behavior, but it's all interconnected with the Russian investigation at exactly the same time. It's easy to forget what happened five news cycles ago.
But previously we learned in court documents that Mr. Gates was in the weeks before the campaign meeting with Russian intelligence officials. The same people, the same Russian intelligence, military intelligence officials that work with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates in Ukraine. It all comes back. These folks were all swimming. There is no other way to describe it. They were all swimming in the same cesspool.
If you talk about money laundering, it does go back to Cyprus, where the Russians were laundering money, where apparently these accusations Mr. Manafort was laundering money. The fact that Mr. Ross had a bank there at the exact same time. So it's hard to believe all of these coincidences. There's a lot of dots. It's going to take a long time to connect them. There are different threads. It's why it's all the more important to let the Mueller investigation take its course.
[19:25:00] BURNETT: All right, Congressman Quigley, thank you very much. And of course when you say Mr. Ross, just so everyone knows, referring to the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who is involved with banks of Cyprus.
And next, the President not on the same page as his own daughter and top adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I don't believe journalists --
IVANKA TRUMP, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, with just hours before polls open, why are Republicans scrambling to hold on to a crucial seat that should, frankly, for them be a complete slam dunk?
BURNETT: President Trump taking his self-proclaimed war with the media to a new level, now claiming the media can, quote, cause war, tweeting, "The fake news hates me saying they are the enemy of the people only because they know it's true. I'm providing great service by explaining this to the American people. They purposely cause great division and distrust. They can also cause war. They are very dangerous and sick."
Dangerous and sick and causing war. Obviously, it's very unclear what the President of the United States could be referring to. But it does appear that when it comes to the media, the President may have some support from the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis himself. A hugely significant thing to say.
And Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT. I mean, Barbara, obviously, it's not just the President's message anymore, others in the administration are echoing his notion that the media is a national security concern. You know, Jim Mattis, someone who is embraced by moderates, people on the left, the right, seen as a voice of reason and calm in this administration, him everyone having this point of view could be hugely significant. What have you learned?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Let's start at the beginning tonight. Look, the President offering no examples, we don't know what he means. The White House Press Secretary offering one example of concerns about national security reporting. Her example widely debunked. It simply wasn't true.
The Defense Secretary James Mattis like every defense secretary is concerned about confidential classified information getting out there in public. He's concerned -- he's talked about this -- about information about troop movements, which can be sensitive, information about military readiness. And there's no question, he has really put a clamp on parts of the military from talking about what they're doing because he feels that it gives enemy forces, adversaries an advantage.
Whether you agree with that or not, the fact is there is simply no evidence that a free press in this country is causing or leading to any wars. Worth remembering, the president of the United States, and this is not opinion, this is fact, he and the defense secretary send troops into harm's way to defend the nation's values, which, of course, include a free press and free speech -- Erin. BURNETT: And, Barbara, what are you hearing about who is influencing this campaign, really --
BURNETT: -- of the administration coming out more forcefully, backing the president's view that the media is the enemy of the people?
STARR: This may be one of the most interesting questions right now. It has escaped no one's attention at the Pentagon in positions of authority that there is a new communications chief at the White House, former Fox News executive Bill Shine. Nothing publicly pointing to him but Bill Shine is someone who keeps a very tight rein on the communications message, and there is a lot of questioning about whether any of this would really be happening. Would the rhetoric be so hot and so difficult if Bill Shine didn't want it to be? Erin?
BURNETT: Barbara, thank you.
And I want to go now to Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent of "The Nation", along with Amy Kremer, cofounder and co-chair of women for Trump.
So, Joan, you hear Barbara's reporting, trying to get more on the same page.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Yes.
BURNETT: Bill Shine, former Fox News executive, top executive, obviously.
BURNETT: Sort of a longtime consigliere of Roger Ailes --
BURNETT: -- is behind this. And these tweets, right? The media can cause war, is Bill Shine's work?
WALSH: With no examples.
I think it's partly Bill Shine's work. It's obviously the president's thinking, but it's ratcheted up since Bill Shine came along. And the way I think about it, Erin, what Bill Shine and Roger Ailes did at Fox News, they didn't depict Democrats as merely people we disagree with on policy or politics or taxation. They depicted Democrats as being the enemy, a being bad people, as being soft on national security.
And so, it does strike me that this is something that the president's been doing, but to flip it into a national security concern could reflect Bill Shine's influence. Let's make the media just as awful and evil as they could possibly be.
BURNETT: Amy, what in the world could the president be referring to when he says the media can cause war? And I just to contextualize this, right? The media's job in the past year has included having to report on a president of the United States, who has promised to unleash fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen on Kim Jong-un, who has called Kim Jong-un a little rocket man.
Then gone to a -- you know, a summit with him where they were best friends, but we are causing war?
AMY KREMER, CO-CHAIR, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Well, Erin, look, I think the whole point is he's fed up with the fake news. And he's echoing the sentiment of people across the country, millions and millions of people across the country. It doesn't matter what Sarah Sanders believes or what I believe. What matters is what he thinks.
That's why Sarah Sanders stood at that podium last week and defended the president and did not elaborate on what she thought. I mean, you know, it's perception. Perception is reality.
Last Monday night, I was on this program and before I went on I tweeted asking, do you agree with the president that the press is the enemy of the people? I didn't actually put in there that fake news is the enemy of the people, which is technically what he said.
It had almost 40,000 votes and 93 percent of the people said yes. I mean, that's a problem --
WALSH: That's scary.
KREMER: -- when perception is reality.
WALSH: That's really scary.
BURNETT: Well, it is a problem. Of course, it's a self-selected group of people who choose to reply to anything. I'm not trying to denigrate who you asked. I'm just simply saying.
But it is a problem, of course, when a message of not trusting, a pillar of what this country stands for is coming from the top. And when Barbara reports that you have some in the Defense Department who are agreeing -- and by the way, I think it's significant what she's saying, their frustration is things like troop movements. Longstanding battle between the press --
WALSH: Right, Democrats and Republicans. It's not ideological whatsoever.
BURNETT: But there is a debate, it appears, in this administration on this issue. Let me just play for both of you Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people. I think some journalists are the enemy of the relevant --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. CONWAY: -- and enemy of the news you can use.
IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER: I've certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate.
[19:35:06] So I've, you know, had some -- I have some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe, especially when they sort of feel targeted, but, no, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you think is behind that? These are two people who do not usually speak out against this president.
BURNETT: Even on the most obvious of issues on which they may disagree.
BURNETT: They did.
WALSH: I think there are a couple of things going on. First of all, I believe they probably had the president's permission, because I don't think they would do something this major without giving him a head's up.
The second thing is both of these women want to live in a world post- Trump. We don't know when that's going to be, it could be two years, it could be six years, but they both -- you know, Kellyanne is a creature of the swamp. She came from there.
BURNETT: We've all known Kellyanne for many years as a Republican operative.
WALSH: For 20 years. And she will have another -- she would like to have another 20 good years after this. So, she needs to say that. Ivanka is very mindful of how her own image is being tarnished, Erin, by her association with her father's administration. So, she is known for massaging the press and trying to get -- and still trying to get good press.
So, it's not totally surprising that these two women would be the ones who do it.
BURNETT: But you're saying you think the president knew. I mean, do you agree with that, Amy? That the president could have known that they were going to do this and was on board and loves there was more discussion about it, and he's the one actually orchestrating this whole thing?
KREMER: I have no idea, Erin, honestly, but I mean, we all know that the president speaks his mind. He is not filtered whatsoever and he goes out there and says it. And the thing is, this isn't the first time he said it over the past week.
KREMER: I mean, this has been going on for quite some time. I don't know when the first time he said it was, but it's concerning that we are in an environment where there is so much hate and animosity towards anything political right now.
I mean, I've had death threats, had to call the FBI after being on this network. Horrific, horrific messages left for me. I mean, I shouldn't have to go through that. My family shouldn't have to deal with that. None of us should.
I think everybody needs to take a step back and get a dog, get a life outside of politics because we cannot live like this. It's not healthy for any of us. We are seeing violence perpetrated on people.
Look at Candace Owens being run out of a hotel in Philadelphia because -- by Antifa. So, I mean, that's not -- none of us need to live this way.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
WALSH: Thank you.
BURNETT: Next, Trump's last-minute pitch to save a Republican seat that has gone Republican for 35 years. So, is he helping or hurting in Ohio?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Troy Balderson is going to help me do that right, Troy? Troy? Yes? OK. He said yes. If he said no, I'm out of here, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, why would the alleged Russian spy spending time with a Trump aide weeks before the 2016 election? Wait until you hear the details on this new development in this whole Russia investigation. Maria Butina's attorney is my guest.
[19:41:52] BURNETT: New tonight, jaw-dropping numbers on how much money is being thrown at a crucial special election. This comes as we're hours away from the polls opening in Ohio. Outside groups reporting Republicans, supporting Republicans, I'm sorry, have some $5.25 million into this one race, which is five times more than Democrats'. This is the first seat that Republicans have controlled for 35 years. Trump even hit the trail for the Republican in Ohio.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
TROY BALDERSON (R), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I can't thank you enough. Let's get motivated. We're down --
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican State Senator Troy Balderson should be writing his victory speech for tomorrow night, instead he's fighting his Democratic opponent Danny O'Connor for every vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is ready to win?
CARROLL: The latest poll shows a virtual tie, yet it's a seat Republicans have solidly held for decades. A loss here would be seen as a defeat, not only for Balderson, but also for the president.
BALDERSON: Mr. President, we don't want to go back. I'm not tired of winning.
CARROLL: Trump won the district by 11 points two years ago. He held a campaign-style rally on Saturday to fire up his base.
TRUMP: We must elect Troy Balderson.
CARROLL: The central Ohio district is primarily white. It covers rural stretches as well as suburbs of Columbus. Both sides courting voters who could tip the win in their favor, namely independents like these two women, Mara Protich and April Kennedy are friends and co-own a business together. Protich is supporting O'Connor, while Kennedy is backing Balderson.
MARA PORTICH, SUPPORTS DANNY O'CONNOR: A man's character is very important and I don't believe that our president currently has my best interests at heart. And I've watched some of the things that have happened in the past few months and it's a little scary.
CARROLL (on camera): So, your defining decision wasn't about both candidates but about the president?
PORTICH: More about getting Democratic back into office.
APRIL KENNEDY, SUPPORTS TROY BALDERSON: I'm probably a lot like millions of Americans where it's not necessarily that you like the candidate of choice, but it's who you dislike less. And I think that during the presidential election, I believe that's how Trump ended up in office, but I think that this race with Balderson is the same way.
CARROLL (voice-over): Kennedy says she's concerned about O'Connor's ties to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is seen unfavorably by a majority of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll. O'Connor waffled on whether he would support Pelosi during a previous interview and attack ads keep tying him to the minority leader.
DANNY O'CONNOR (D), OHIO CANDIDATE FOR U.S. HOUSE: Well, I've said time and time again that I would vote against Nancy Pelosi and we need new leadership in Washington because what we see now is not working.
CARROLL (on camera): But do you think that's resonating with some people on the fence who are uncomfortable?
O'CONNOR: I think, yes. I mean, people aren't focused on that stuff.
CARROLL (voice-over): The GOP has spent $4.5 million on TV ads in the race, versus Democrats who spent $3 million. Despite all that, diner owner Rick Hahn still remains undecided.
RICK HAHN, OWNER, NANCY'S HOME COOKING: I can stay I'm still in a neutral zone. I'm not really leaning.
CARROLL (on camera): Down to the wire then.
HAHN: Down to the wire.
[19:45:01] CARROLL: And, Erin, it should be noted that we did reach out to the Balderson campaign, trying to get the candidate in an interview, but they did not return our calls.
As for at diner owner that you heard from there, again, he's an independent, he's undecided. I asked him if the president coming here, would that sway his decision in any way? He said no. I asked, what issue is most important to him, is it health care, is it immigration?
He said whichever candidate stands the best in terms of standing up for small businesses, that would be the deciding factor for him -- Erin.
BURNETT: OK. Very interesting.
All right. Thanks so much, Jason Carroll.
And next, from a concert to a birthday party, why was a former Trump campaign aide repeatedly inviting an alleged Russian spy to associate events just before the election. Maria Butina's attorney is my guest.
Plus, Jeanne Moos on Trump's new guilty pleasure, TiVoing Trump.
BURNETT: New tonight, a former top adviser to the Trump campaign firing back after a report that he's linked to an accused Russian agent Maria Butina. "The Washington Post" reported that Butina and J.D. Gordon, who was the former director of national security to the Trump campaign, socialized in the weeks before the election. Gordon invited her to a concert, to his birthday party, to drinks. This places her in closer contact with Trump's team than was previously known.
Now, Gordon responds to CNN saying, quote: From everything I've read since her arrest last month, it seems the Maria Butina saga is basically a sensationalized click bait story meant to smear steady stream of Republicans and NRA members she reportedly encountered over the past few years. I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn't come across?
OUTFRONT now, Maria Butina's attorney, Bob Driscoll, is back with me.
And, Bob, as always, I appreciate your time.
ROBERT DRISCOLL, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED SPY MARIA BUTINA: Thank you.
[19:50:00] BURNETT: So, let me just start with your response here. You've called these interactions between Butina and Gordon innocuous. In one email, Paul Erickson, the GOP operative that Butina was in a romantic relationship with, though, reportedly told her that, quote, Gordon was playing, quote, a crucial role in the Trump transition effort and would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners to occasionally hold.
It does sound like she had specific reasons to meet with Gordon, right, which had everything to do with his role on team Trump. Do you agree or do you think no?
DRISCOLL: Well, I think she wanted to meet them for networking purposes and for the U.S./Russia dinners which again were dinners that, you know, were open and commented on by lots of people, even written about. And I think she did invite him to one of the U.S./Russia dinners. He was unable to attend. But then they went out, as you said, to a concert and drinks I think once, and I think that was about it.
So, I think that the notion that there is something nefarious about this is belied by the fact that clearly J.D. Gordon was significant player in the Trump foreign policy, you know, group at some point during the campaign. He would have been perfect if Maria was targeting people. But it's just one of those Washington things where they bumped into each other at a --
DRISCOLL: -- embassy party and did a few events afterwards and left it there.
BURNETT: OK, but it's interesting you say he would have been perfect, because I do want to ask you, there were more e-mails between them. Gordon reportedly e-mailed Butina a video clip of him on RT, which is obviously the state-run Russia propaganda channel. She reportedly told him that he, quote, looked very good, he invited her to a Styx concert, to his birthday party, to drinks.
Look, Bob, let's be direct here. Gordon is 21 years older than your client, inviting somebody to a concert of a group that, you know, she was two years old when they were hot. I mea, are you sure this was all -- this was only networking?
DRISCOLL: Well, there is certainly nothing romantic between the two of them. I mean, she had a boyfriend, and I'm not sure what J.D. Gordon's, you know, love life is like. But I think, really, that's what's it for. You've got somebody using grad school for foreign policy who has a chance to meet somebody who has a role in foreign policy and a professional job in foreign policy.
It's just kind of a typical Washington behavior that lots of people do. They meet somebody and --
DRISCOLL: -- go out with them socially and see who they might know in common and what they might do together career-wise.
BURNETT: So --
DRISCOLL: I think that's a completely normal interaction that people have all the time.
BURNETT: But when you say J.D. would have been a perfect target for a Russian agent, she is Russian. She is 21 years younger. She's -- but obviously, you deny that she was a Russian agent. You do think he would have been a good target?
DRISCOLL: Well, yes. I mean, I think in some ways, her conduct surrounding J.D. doesn't make any sense if, you know, if the argument that you see in the press that she is some kind of red sparrow kind of using her womanly wiles to get information. You know, there was no contact about J.D. Gordon back with people in Russia. There was no follow-up.
It have would have been a lot more aggressive situation if her goal was to come and get foreign policy influence in the U.S., J.D. Gordon probably would have been a pretty good person. But they went out a couple of times, they never followed up and had about six e-mails. So, again, the limited nature of it I think belies that there is anything sinister going on. I kind of agree with J.D. Gordon that it really wasn't all that big a deal.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, it's just -- you know, I'm just thinking, you know, putting myself in a situation. It seems unusual for a guy 21 years older to invite me to a Styx concert that I had only met once for -- you know, at an embassy party.
The federal indictment against Butina says in addition to dating Erickson, whom you refer to of course as her boyfriend --
BURNETT: -- that, quote, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than Erickson sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.
BURNETT: I just want to ask you, and again, I know you deny she did this. But do you believe that they are referencing J.D. Gordon? Do you believe they're referencing anyone else? Do you have any idea who they're referring to there?
DRISCOLL: I don't. I have my own speculation. I do not believe -- I note that the allegation the government made in a proffer, which they didn't provide evidence for yet, hopefully we'll see it soon.
DRISCOLL: Does not state a time or a place. And I do not believe it had anything to do with her trips to America and the meetings with various high profile Republicans. I think people have drawn that inference. I don't believe it's true.
But again, we'll have to see. I'll give the government a chance to put up its proof in court and we'll see. But I just do not believe that that inference can be drawn. I think there is a reason the government made its 2statement in such a limited way that there -- I think they might be, you know, might be something much more innocuous than people are saying.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Bob, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you.
DRISCOLL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, TiVoing Trump. Jeanne Moos on why it's must-see TV in the White House.
[19:57:54] BURNETT: Guess who's obsessed with watching reruns of Trump? Give up?
Jeanne Moos has the answer.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know who loves watching Trump rallies? Trump. The president is often portrayed as the type who likes looking at himself in mirrors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be yuge!
MOOS: And now, "Axios" is reporting he enjoys replaying his rallies on the TV in the dining room next to the Oval Office. Imagine reliving all that fist-pumping, finger-pointing, and waving.
Give yourself a hand for how you tossed out protesters.
TRUMP: Goodbye, darling.
MOOS: Got out the vote.
TRUMP: Get your asses out tomorrow and vote.
MOOS: And confused your critics with puzzling sound bites.
TRUMP: You see what they do? Bing, bing, right? You see what they're doing?
MOOS: The White House wouldn't comment, but Axios reports when watching replays, Trump will interject commentary, reveling in his most controversial lines -- wait for it. See what I did there, he'll say? 2
Whether it'd be using insulting nicknames --
MOOS: -- or imitating himself if he act more like other presidents.
TRUMP: I'm very presidential.
MOOS: There are parts the president might prefer to fast forward through, like the other day when he said --
TRUMP: Flamingo dancers from Argentina. On the Tallahassee trail.
MOOS: Well, actually, it's the Appalachian trail, and they're called family men family Flamenco dancers, that someone tweeted, President Trump, this is the flamingo dancer.
"Axios" reports that in the early days of the administration, President Trump loved re-watching his debates with Hillary. This was one of his favorite exchanges.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton --
MOOS: But replays don't always age well. These days that "in jail" stuff is hitting closer to home.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: Thank you for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.