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Rick Gates Testifies in Paul Manafort's Trial; Paul Ryan Gives Interview to "New York Times" Reporter; California Firefighters Battle Largest Wildfire In State's History; Intelligence Chiefs: Russia Interference In U.S. Political System Ongoing. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired August 7, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the case of tweeting about Trump Tower, I am told that he was urged to cut it out, to stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is hurting himself and his son at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been a challenging and deadly fire season.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Firefighters in California racing to contain what is now the largest wild fire that state's history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of us that are saying our prayers that this just escapes us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we have a lot to get to in this hour, so good morning everyone. Welcome to your New Day. It is Tuesday, August 7, 8:00 now in the east.
In just about half an hour, Rick Gates will be back on the stand. He is the star witness in the government's case against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. Gates was Manafort's long-time deputy, and he told the jury yesterday that he knowingly committed financial crimes alongside Paul Manafort and at the direction of Paul Manafort. Gates says they had 15 different foreign accounts that they did not report to the federal government and that they knew that was illegal.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: When the defense gets its chance on cross- examination, they will do everything they can to discredit Gates, painting him as the real criminal and not Paul Manafort. The question is, who exactly is Rick Gates? Where did he fit in to the Trump campaign? CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All eyes and ears are on Rick Gates as he takes the witness stand in the Paul Manafort trial. Manafort's former righthand man flipped in February, pleading guilty to lying and has been cooperating with the special counsel ever since. Gates is likely viewed as the prosecution's star witness less for what he'll tell the jury and more for what information he could be providing behind the scenes. Since this Virginia trial is strictly related to charges of bank and tax fraud, the judge has barred all mentions of Russia and president Trump. But Rick Gates could be sharing information related to the campaign and its possible Russia connections to the special counsel's team as part of their broader investigation into collusion.
Gates was Manafort's deputy for three months Paul Manafort served as Trump's campaign chairman and stayed on with the campaign even after Manafort was ousted in August, 2016, amid questions about his work in Ukraine. Gates was even the deputy chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee. While Gates told the "New York Times" last June that all allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Russia were totally ridiculous and without merit, the special counsel has since alleged Gates was in contact with a man who worked a Russian spy agency, Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik was a close colleague of Paul Manafort's, and prosecutors say Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October, 2016, while he worked for the Trump campaign. Kilimnik has since been charged in a separate case in Washington, D.C., for helping Manafort tamper with witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Mr. Manafort owe you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign?
SCHNEIDER: Gates was also involved in a failed business venture with Manafort and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Deripaska has since sued Manafort and Gates for mishandling the $100 million he invested in a private equity company Manafort and Gates were supposed to manage it. During the campaign, Manafort allegedly offered Deripaska a private briefing two weeks before Trump accepted the nomination. All of the details behind these deals are fair game for prosecutors to now probe Gates on as part of the plea deal he struck this year.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CAMEROTA: Very interesting. Our thanks to Jessica there.
Just out this morning, there is a new interview in the "New York Times" magazine, and it is with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who rarely speaks publicly, or at least to the media. In it he addresses his relationship with President Trump and how he handles the commander in chief. At one point he even references avoiding, quote, "tragedies" with the president.
Let's discuss all of this. We have CNN political commentator and former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania Charlie Dent, and director, president, and CEO of the Wilson Center, Jane Harman. She is also a former Democratic congresswoman. OK, great to have both of you. So here is the hot off the presses, I'll read a couple of these
passes. It's from the great reporter Mark Leibovich, and he has gotten Paul Ryan to say things, Jane. A lot of people say where has Paul Ryan been? With some of the things, the controversies in the Trump campaign, why isn't he speaker speaking out? Here is the answer. "Ryan prefers to tell how he feels in private. He joins a large group of Trump putative allies, many of whom have worked in the administration, who insist that they have shaped Trump's thinking and behavior in private. The "trust me, I've stopped this from being much worse" approach. Quote, "I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy, I avoided that tragedy," Ryan tells me. I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal, I advanced this goal."
[08:05:05] Mark Leibovich says "I locked in on the word tragedy. It sets the mind reeling to whatever thwarted tragedies Ryan might be talking about. I asked for an example. "No, I don't want to," Ryan replied, "that's more than I usually say." That is true. That is more than he usually says. So that is such a window into what the people who are working with the president believe they're doing.
JANE HARMAN, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT, AND CEO, WILSON CENTER: Let me say, this is Ryan's tragedy. I knew Paul Ryan before. And I was a huge admirer of Jack Kemp whom I did know, and his compassionate conservatism was the model for Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan was his mentee. And Paul came to Congress gong ho to do things that were compassionate and to balance the budget, eliminate the deficit, things that I also cared about as a centrist Democrat, and he was a great guy when he headed the budget committee. And he also I think blew it when he didn't support Bowles-Simpson which would have been the best blueprint for budget balance and revising entitlements and so forth. Obama didn't support his own commission, either.
CAMEROTA: Have you been disappointed?
HARMAN: Yes. Now I am disappointed. He's the speaker of the House. He has a huge conservative block that has its own opinions, which he has to respect, but I think he should be speaking out about what he thinks. And being quiet and calling things a tragedy seems to me comes, sadly -- makes it more his tragedy than the country's tragedy.
BERMAN: Congressman Charlie Dent, you were there until very recently. When Paul Ryan says that he stood in the way of tragedy, prevented tragedy, what do you think he's talking about?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I was in the room -- I should say I was on the conference call in October of 2016 after the "Access Hollywood" video came out. We had a Monday conference call, and the speaker at that time said that he was going to campaign for Republican candidates for Congress and that he was really not going to be involved with the presidential campaign. Eleven of us spoke on that conference call. I defended the speaker and said that was the right approach. The other 10 all lambasted the speaker more or less, criticized him.
And so I think ever since that time, the speaker has been a bit chastened. Any time he's pushed back against Trump, he would then experience a rearguard action from some of his own members, so I think he was in many respects looking over his shoulder at House Republican conference who wanted the speaker to be more supportive of the president. And I think this experience with Donald Trump at times can be a soul-destroying exercise, and I think this has been very difficult for the speaker.
I think his instincts are to speak up and be more critical, but he has this pressure from his right flank and this rearguard action.
CAMEROTA: Here's another passage I'll read to you and get your comments. "Paul Ryan said again that Trump just loves to, quote, "troll you guys." I asked him if he derived enjoyment from watching you guys being so expertly trolled. "Not really," Ryan said, "I don't think like that and I don't act like that." He said "Trump just wants to see your heads explode. He just wants you to spend the next 12 hours talking about this." I asked Ryan who the "you guys" being trolled were. "The country," he said chuckling. "The people who don't like him," he clarified, "the non-Trumpers." I asked Ryan if he was one of the you guys. "Sometimes," he said, "yes."
Well, that's a big admission, I think, but I also just don't find it funny. I just don't find it funny that the speaker of the House finds it funny that the president so expertly trolls the media and the people who don't agree with him.
HARMAN: Well, let me say -- I say this all the time that whether we voted for Trump or didn't, he's our president and our country has to succeed. And we should be invested in doing what we can from wherever we are to help the country succeed. And people have different opinions about what about that is including people think that Trump is doing the right thing.
But Paul Ryan can't disappear. He's the speaker of the House. Whether some group of people in the House will get mad at him, so what? He has to take their views into account. He's leaving Congress. He has a bully pulpit, a boom box where he can communicate wherever his views are. And at least to me when I knew him back in the day -- and I still know him somewhat -- but when I knew him back in the day he was principled, impressive, well-prepared, polite, all the things you would want, I think, in a speaker of the House.
BERMAN: I have got to say, this is a really interesting piece that Mark Leibovich wrote. It's full of tension because Leibovich is pushing Ryan, Ryan doesn't want to be pushed. Ryan is pushing back right there. But the concept that the president is trolling the country, congressman, is an interesting statement. And the fact that the speaker of the House doesn't stand up in between that trolling, doesn't try to make it stop, is also interesting.
[08:10:00] And, again, congressman, you quit, you retired from Congress right now. Do you feel that Republican there and the speaker of the house have abdicated a certain amount of responsibility?
DENT: John, I often believe right now that we're in a period now not so much of separation of powers but separation of parties. And I think probably the greatest regret that I have and I think that maybe some of my Republican colleagues will have at some point, particularly after the November election, is that we didn't reassert our Article One powers. When the president does things on trade that we find so objectionable, we should stand up and pass legislation, do the hearings and reclaim our authority. Don't let him enact these tariffs without congressional approval.
And there's so many other areas where we should be pushing back much more forcefully and strongly than we have, on NATO or other areas. I can think of a number of areas we should have been pushing back harder, and I think the parties right now -- it's got on the point now we talk about separation of political parties where the legislative branch in too many respects has subordinated itself to the executive branch and in some respects also to the judicial branch. A lot of people who supported Donald Trump simply did it for judges. And I've said Article One is the most important article in the constitution, more important than two and three, and we should get our priorities straight.
CAMEROTA: Jane, listen, we've seen this play out again and again. People who do speak out against the president, Democrats or Republicans, it's often political suicide for them. The president is a compelling person and he holds his base really well and really deeply. And so what did you -- what do you want to hear from Paul Ryan?
HARMAN: First of all, a shout-out for Charlie Dent. We were friends, we are friends. We work closely together, bipartisanship does live in small places in the Congress.
But on this thing Trump is potent. He knows what his base is, he goes there all the time. If you want to get reelected and you're a Republican you probably have to think carefully about if and when you want to offend him, no question. It will be interesting to see what happens in Ohio tonight. Conor Lamb won in Trump country in Pennsylvania, and if the Democrat wins tonight or has a good shot to win in November, that's a huge lesson, because those are the two key states. And I did hear what John Kasich said, you quoted him about offending white women in the suburbs.
CAMEROTA: Suburban women are an important swing vote tonight.
HARMAN: No question, no question. And the child separation policy is driving them away. So we'll see.
BERMAN: We will hear what some Trump voters think about that child separation policy in just a minute because Alisyn has a fascinating panel with Trump voters. Jane, while I have you here I want to ask you about Iran, because some sanctions snapped back in place last night on Iran after the United States left the Iran nuclear deal. Where does this go? Where are we one month from now, two months from now?
HARMAN: What's the end game? What is Trump's end game? If it's regime collapse in Iran, which it might be because if the economy tanks further, there could be more citizen unrest and so forth, but if our goal is regime collapse, and I think Bolton said the goal was regime change, the message to Kim Jong-un in North Korea is, oops, if your family has been devoted for 70 years for regime survival and now you just saw the deal signed by Iran not only be blown up but then the administration that signed it with others call for regime change, why would Kim be motivated to do anything?
So this ricochets across the globe, and both China and Russia are no longer supporting our actions in Iran. They may end up continuing to trade with Iran. That will be an interesting movie. I think they probably will be continuing to trade. So I don't see what the end is, and the danger of miscalculation on both sides is huge. Maybe the evangelicals like it because they support Israel. Maybe the Sunni states like it because they're enemies of Iran. But I don't see in a month or six months where we get to with Iran that's more stabilizing for us or the Middle East or the world.
CAMEROTA: Charlie, you know what the Trump position has been, which is that they didn't want to give Iran who have continued to be bad actors in the region any financial impetus to do that, and so they need to hurt them with sanctions. Your thoughts?
DENT: Well, I would say this. That I agree with Jane, and by the way, she's a real subject matter expert on these issues, but I'd rather deal with one nuclear crisis at a time. I voted against the Iran nuclear agreement. It is flawed. But simply stepping back and re-imposing sanctions of course is going to miff the Europeans. And I think European companies in the end will choose the United States over Iran. There's too much business to be lost. But my fear is we're isolating ourselves. And we can't simply look at the Iran agreement in isolation. We have to look at this in a broader context. The president has pulled out of Paris. He's threatened to pull out of NAFTA. He's made noises about NATO. He's pulled out of TPP.
[08:15:03] And I think there a lot of people out there who are afraid to enter into new agreement with this administration, because they're not sure an American commitment will be durable.
And I think that's the biggest issue that we must contend. Well, yes, Iran is a huge problem. But I'm not sure that I see the end game like Jane said that we got to a better place. And I just don't see us moving there right now. But Iran is going to continue to be problem for us but now we got two nuclear deals on the table, North Korea and Iran and I'm not real optimistic right now.
CAMEROTA: All right, Charlie Dent, Jane Harman thank you both very much for being here. Great to have --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A rare morning love fest among the panel.
CAMEROTA: Jane's always bringing the love.
JANE HARMAN, FORMER CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN: For you, Alisyn, you bet.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. That's fabulous. All right, meanwhile we have to get to some breaking news right now because firefighters in Northern California are racing to contain what is now the largest wildfire in that state's history. The flames have scorched nearly 284,000 acres. They've destroyed more than 100 homes. And of course people have been killed.
CNN's Dan Simon is live in Lakeport, California, with all of the breaking details, just the magnitude of this is stunning, Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this fire is so massive that it's about the size of the city of Los Angeles. It's actually two fires, it is the river fire and the ranch fire but firefighters are treating them basically as just one large fire.
At this point it just about 30 percent contained. Now while it is considered the biggest wildfire in the state's history, it is not the most destructive because the fire is really burning in a remote area and unfortunately firefighters are hoping or they think that will stay in that area but as the weather continues to whip up the wind at night and you've got bone dry brush they are concern that it could push into some of those populated communities, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Dan, I want to ask you about the President tweeting about this because his message was so different than what we've heard from firefighters. In his tweet he slammed environmental laws and hi tweeted that the fires are "Being magnified and made so much worse by bad environmental laws which are not allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized." is there a shortage of water to fight this because of some laws?
SIMON: Absolutely not. Experts have no idea what the President is talking about here. There's no shortage of water when it comes to battling these wildfires. Now there have been ongoing concerns really for decades between farmers and environmental groups and commercial fishermen about water diversion projects, but really has nothing to do with wildfires so nobody really knows what the President is talking about here, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Well, Dan, thank you very much for all of that reporting. We'll check back with you.
BURMAN: Right, there's a special election in Ohio primaries in five states today, the midterms just around the corner. Is the United States prepared to stop a cyber attack? We have a new dire warning from someone who has been in the middle of all of it coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs.
DAN COATS; DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We acknowledge the threat. It is real. It is continuing.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Make no mistake, the scope of this foreign influence threat is both broad and deep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: A dire warning from the nation's top intelligence chiefs last week. This is with primaries in four states today, a special election and other. How vulnerable is the U.S. election system to a cyber attack.
Joining us now, Chief Cybersecurity Officer for Carbon Black Tom Kellermann who served on the commission on cyber security under President Obama. Tom, thank so much for being with us. You heard the intelligence chief last week, what was your assessment of what they said? Were they sending the right message?
TOM KELLERMANN, CHIEF CYBERSECURITY OFFICER FOR CARBON BLACK: Yes, they were. We are facing a clear and present danger from Russia and other nation states that have colonized wide swathes of American critical infrastructure and systems.
These attacks began in 2014 and they've actually escalated dramatically over the past three to four months. Our Carbon Black statistics noted that 80 percent of new attacks against our customers were emanating from Russia just in the last six weeks.
BERMAN: You say it's escalated in the past three or four months. It's interesting because Dan Coats, who has been outspoken about the nature of the threat says he doesn't see evidence yet that these attacks are quite as direct or coherent as they were in 2016.
If we can, let's play Dan Coats talking about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: Relative to what we have seen for the midterm elections. It is not the kind of robust campaign that we assessed in the 2016 election. As I mentioned publicly just a few weeks ago. We're only one keyboard click away from finding out something we haven't seen up to this particular point in time but right now we have not seen that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So he says not as robust yet as it was in 2016. But what are you seeing?
KELLERMANN: So, what he's referencing is they are much more targeted in the past. But now they're much more broader. It's more of a wildfire. The U.S. is essentially facing a cyber insurgency. You're seeing much more lateral movement and in that they compromise systems and then move freely between connected networks and plant back doors or secret passage ways in the systems so they have access to them in the future.
And this is being done in the energy sector. It's being done on the financial sector and targeting some of the major institutions of the west from NATO, organizations to U.S. institutions themselves. BERMAN: Energy, financial institutions. How about the elections systems? We're talking about vote counting, any evidence that is going on there?
KELLERMANN: We have no true evidence that it's going on in those systems, those systems are incredibly vulnerable to compromise an attack. Those systems do not have sufficient security on them, those system have not been assessed for the fact that compromises as may already exist.
And some states have been reticent to help the help from Department of Homeland Security and FBI in securing those systems. And that is a huge mistake.
BERMAN: Why? Why do they reject that help?
KELLERMANN: I'm not sure. Maybe it's a state versus federal construct. The cultural divide of essentially state rights versus the federal government and they don't want them being involved in their state elections.
[8:20:05] But that being said like we're dealing with a massive colonization of wide swathes of American infrastructure, not just by Russian threat actors but Chinese threat actors, North Korean threat actors and Iranian threat actors.
All of which, essentially have a dog in the fight in terms of who would win the election and/or the future of American foreign policy towards them and economic policy. In fact with China you see a dramatic escalation of cyber attacks in tandem with the trade war.
BERMAN: Interesting you're talking about China, Iran and also back to Russia, what's the goal here? What is Russia trying to do right in so far as you see it?
KELLERMANN: It's information dominance. They want the capacity to have access to our most sensitive and critical systems. Should things escalate between us and Russia vis-a-vis the Baltics or vis-a-vis Ukraine, they would have the capacity to turn off the energy sector, to misplace information in the financial sector, to manipulate the integrity of information for the media and/or institutions that rely upon it.
Information warfare for them is on a continuum. It's a constant thing. It involves hearts and minds through the integrity of data and the capacity to control that data itself.
BERMAN: The cyber attack is the method they are using. What I'm interested in is what they're trying to achieve with it. Can you tell?
KELLERMANN: Yes, actually. General Georgy Zhukov (ph) a famous Russian general declared that war was on a continuum and information warfare was the way to destabilize the institutions of the west. That democracies of the west would fail if you could undermine the institutions by undermining the information and integrity of the information they relied upon.
And so they are sowing distrust in the media, in our institutions themselves and within critical infrastructures at the same time they are putting themselves in positions should it escalate. They would have the capacity to destroy those systems.
BERMAN: I mean really some of the things you've been discussing and looking into and one thing jumped off the page as I'm sure it would to all our viewers which is you think the Russians are trying to get into our iPhones and control cameras there? Explain what you're seeing?
KELLERMANN: So in 2014 a Pawn Storm campaign was massive campaign that utilized Russian cyber criminals and cyber militia members to target the 2300 most powerful people on the east coast and their spouses.
And in this campaign they leverage some piece of Malware, a virus called X-Agent which allowed them to turn on the microphone and/or camera specific to location and calendar settings. They almost pioneered the active compromise of Apple devices back then and they continue to try to do so today.
If you think about it, your phone essentially could be operated as a bug because you're constantly carrying it on yourself and the microphone could be leveraged specific to the fact there's an important meeting today or important dinner tonight.
BERMAN: I see, think about. Imagine, I don't want to think about it. That sounds too scary. Very quickly in 15 seconds or left, what does the government need to do to stop this?
KELLERMANN: Fundamentally they need to impose greater security standards on the electoral systems and critical infrastructures of the U.S. by leveraging next-gen antivirus technologies by actually conducting compromised assessment and funding the security of America as we are dealing a cyber insurgent.
BERMAN: Any sign they're doing this?
KELLERMANN: DHS and FBI are trying hard. They've got a herculean task in front of them but some states are reticent and frankly the government itself should allow cyber command to take the gloves off.
BERMAN: Tom Kellerman, great to have you with us. Thank you for scaring us this morning.
KELLERMAN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: John, we are more than 18 months into the Trump presidency so we wanted to check in with a panel of Donald Trump's voters to see how they're feeling today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lot of -- I have to be crass about it, idiots who voted for him, including myself at one time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take great offense. I'm not an idiot. It's a wise decision that people voted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: And that's just one portion. It gets even more fiery. We'll show you some of that next.