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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Eyes Presidential Run Against Trump; "Manhattan Madam" Testifying Before Grand Jury; Mueller Team Closes In On Names Linked To Roger Stone; Trump Attorney Talk Negotiation With Mueller On Radio Show; 21,000 Residents Running As Flames Grow. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 10, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:05] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our politics lead, believe it or not, Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is in Iowa today, at the most traditional early state campaign stops, the Iowa state fair. Tomorrow night, he's headlining the Iowa wing ding Democratic dinner because -- he is considering running for president in 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I'm here to listen to the great people of Iowa, explore the fair and figure out if it makes sense to run for the presidency. I'm serious about considering it. I haven't made a decision as to what I'm going to do. I'll make the decision in the coming weeks. You know? Maybe I'm going a bit longer than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, let's talk about it with the experts.
So, I will say, when it comes to the mayors that are thinking about running, Garcetti in Los Angeles, Landrieu in New Orleans, et cetera, you know, I make the argument, well, President Trump has no prior political experience. Why can't a mayor do it, you know? It used to be like you can't -- even a House member was too low on the totem pole.
Why not Michael Avenatti? Why not?
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. Why not?
TAPPER: No, I'm serious.
KUCINICH: I mean, seriously, in another time and another place, I would reject this out of hand and laugh at it. He has amazing exposure because of no pun intended, but because he's on cable news constantly. He is someone --
TAPPER: Because of a porn star. That's the pun. OK.
KUCINCH: Sorry. Anyway, it's Friday, folks.
But no, he has a lot of -- on TV constantly. He's really taken up the #resistance cause. So, you know, maybe what he says is that there's some -- there's no one right now running or considering running who's taking to the president and being aggressive.
And so, he thinks that someone needs to be aggressive like Trump. They want a fighter. You heard that from Republicans a lot. And now they got Trump.
TAPPER: And he says also, why a politician? Why do you want a politician? Why do you want some old face? How about a new face? How about somebody when's as Jackie said going to take it to the president?
PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Because there's a job that happens after you get elected and I like someone to be good at it. And I think the last year and a half suggested maybe having a little experience might be helpful.
I think -- even if you like Trump's policies, I think you could say he's a fairly effective and not very knowledgeable at the job itself, it's just not clear to me. Also, I don't think the party -- Republicans often like these big-time outsiders, Obama was an outsider who's actually a sitting senator who had been a professor, who would also been in state senate before.
So, I just don't think that's actually a good view of the Democratic Party. And this is a citizen, I would like a president who knows what they're doing. I just don't think this is a good trend to continue.
TAPPER: Karine, you're affiliated with moveon.org. You have your finger on the pulse of progressive voters and Democratic activists. Do you think anyone will take a bite of this pie? Is this possible?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Oh man, it's hard to even fathom. I mean, first of all, it's so early. I think all of us are so focused on November and 2018 and all the work that this needs to go into.
TAPPER: Except for the people who are running for president.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, except for the people -- the president had the ding dong, yes.
TAPPER: No, but I mean the Corey Bookers, Elizabeth Warren, they're all figuring it out.
JEAN-PIERRE: They're all figuring it out. God bless them. Go with God.
It is just -- you know, I don't know what to say about this. It's so crazy. I mean, the thing that I -- I guess the nice thing that I can say about Avenatti is that he has managed to seemingly get under the skin of Donald Trump. He is incredibly aggressive.
But I agree with Perry. It would be nice to have someone with experience, commander in chief Avenatti? I'm not sure about that one.
TAPPER: So, boy. That's the most skeptical expression I have ever seen you give. You have been on the show for three years under Trump.
TAPPER: So, let me just say who do you think actually would be a good challenger to President Trump for the Democrats to put up in 2020?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: So, there's a lot of interesting debates among Democrats and one of them is the sort of what Avenatti said. I mean, a fighter as opposed to a boring politician who would run on his experience.
I actually rather think -- I think they would be better off with the more -- someone who has showed to govern, someone who's calm, someone who can reach across the aisle. I actually think someone like Landrieu, with executive experience, who's worked with Republicans, governed effectively a city in a Republican state, New Orleans, would be a pretty good nominee.
Or maybe someone else who's sort of -- so I think a contrast of Trump might be a better sell than the more effective at fighting Trump and hard to say and not sure who they'll nominate. They may nominate a fighter even though I might say you're better off nominating someone who could show -- who could govern effectively.
TAPPER: You know who else was at the Iowa state fair, by the way -- former Speaker of the House John Boehner. He was asked why he was there. Take a listen to his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I stopped by. See what's going on at the fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Thought I'd stop by and see what's going on at the fair. He doesn't live in Iowa.
KUCINICH: Tom DeLay does, right? Who's a good friend of his from Congress.
TAPPER: So, just hanging out with a buddy?
[16:35:00] KUCINICH: I don't know that for a fact, but that's the only connection I can possibly -- maybe John Boehner is running. I'm just kidding.
BACON: He has a better chance of the Democratic nomination than Republican nomination at this point for John Boehner I would say. TAPPER: But speaking of speakers, I want to say, Bill, you said
something on this show I think on Wednesday morning or Wednesday afternoon about how Nancy Pelosi was the best argument against Democrat control that Republicans have and since then, you obviously had been doing your homework, Republicans have been pushing that message very, very hard.
This was in the Ohio special election this ad. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: After lying the whole campaign, dishonest Danny O'Connor now admits he'd vote for Pelosi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pelosi is running for reelection. You'd do that?
DANNY O'CONNOR: I would support whoever the Democratic Party will support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
O'CONNOR: Whoever the Democratic Party will support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
AD NARRATOR: Dishonest Danny lied about Pelosi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So whether or not that had any affect, NBC News is reporting that there are 51 Democratic House candidates and incumbents who are not expressly supporting Nancy Pelosi for speaker if they take the House. Is she a liability in any way?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I don't think that she is a liability right now. I think what's happening is Republicans don't have an issue that they can really run on. They can't run on tax cuts, because they're running away from it. It's so unpopular.
They can't run on health care because Americans know that voters know they tried to take away health care and there's family separation out there, which is really awful and a moral issue. And so, what they're doing is they're going back to the playbook of tricks and pulling out a boogie man which happens to be Nancy Pelosi.
And look, at the end of the day I think what I look at is Democrats and Democrats energized, the term is it's a base election and we see that. We see that they're coming out for these issues and they're coming out in record numbers even in the special elections. Cutting away double digit leads -- well, I should say leads that we saw from 2016 on the Republican side.
TAPPER: I just want to play the sound of a Michigan Democratic candidate talking about voting for Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Will you vote for Nancy Pelosi?
RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Probably not.
BERMAN: Probably not?
TLAIB: That's my answer. No, probably not.
BERMAN: Why not?
TLAIB: All I can tell you is she doesn't speak about the issues that are important to the families of the 13th congressional district and they're a priority for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KUCINICH: Listen, that to me means that candidate has polling showing she's toxic, which is what Republicans have been saying for years, that when you meet with Republicans both NRCC and the outside groups, that's what they -- the other outside groups, that's what they say, too. So, there's a reason this is being done. It's not just because.
TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.
Coming up next, two mysterious meetings today. One of the women who ran a high profile prostitution ring now part of the Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation.
Stay with us.
[16:42:09] TAPPER: Two secret meetings today raising a lot of questions of what's going on in Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation.
First, testifying before the grand jury in D.C. today, Kristin Davis, also known as the "Manhattan Madam", the woman who served jail time for running a prostitution ring linked to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
The second mystery today, an odd sidebar in the Paul Manafort trial in Alexandria, Virginia. The judge meeting with lawyers for almost five hours, and we have no idea what they were talking about.
But let's start with the "Manhattan Madam" and CNN's MJ Lee at the federal courthouse.
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): The woman known as the "Manhattan Madam", Kristin Davis, scheduled to testify today before a grand jury in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Special counsel investigators could be interested in her ties the long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. She was interviewed by investigators last week. She and Stone have been close friends for a decade. ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Kristin Davis is a brilliant
woman, a friend of mine, someone who has made mistakes and has paid her debt to society.
LEE: Davis once ran a high-end prostitution ring. She went to jail as part of the scandal surrounding then-Democratic New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The remorse I feel will always be with me.
LEE: She even unsuccessfully ran for New York governor in 2010, with Stone as her strategist.
KRISTIN DAVIS, MANHATTAN MADAM: I have redeemed myself and Americans believe in second chances.
LEE: Davis has also worked with Stone more recently. In late 2016, she helped him with clerical tasks and his website.
STONE: She knows of no Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal activity on my part in connection with the presidential election or otherwise.
LEE: Mueller's team has been looking into possible contact between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign.
U.S. intelligence concluded Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials and provided the stolen emails to WikiLeaks, all as part of Moscow's effort to meddle in the election.
Assange denied the hacked documents came from the Russian government.
Stone once bragged about being in contact with Assange.
STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there's no telling what the October surprise may be.
LEE: But later walked it back.
STONE: Where's the proof? There is no proof.
LEE: But the circle continuing to tighten around Stone as Mueller has also subpoenaed Randy Credico to testify next month. The comedian and radio show host's attorney telling CNN he intends to comply.
Stone claims Credico was a back channel to Assange during the 2016 campaign. Stone telling CNN, I now realize the Credico source was a WikiLeaks lawyer and not Assange himself. At no time that Credico tell me what the source, content or scope of the WikiLeaks disclosures would be.
And while Davis appears to be cooperating with Mueller, another former aide of Stone's, Andrew Miller, did not appear for a scheduled grand jury hearing today and was held in contempt.
[16:45:06] His attorney telling reporters --
PAUL KAMENAR, LAWYER OF ANDREW MILLER: We supplied all the documents that they wanted so we had to have one thing that he was refusing to do namely go before the grand jury in order for us to get the contempt and to appeal.
LEE: Jake, as you know Rudy Giuliani has said this investigation battle -- better be wrapped up by September 1st. Thing's pretty clear that that is not going to happen. Randy Credico's lawyer telling CNN that he plans to testify before the grand jury on September 7th. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, I guess Mueller is not that interested in Rudy Giuliani's scheduling. Thanks so much, M.J. Lee, I appreciate it. Let's bring in Laura Coates who joins our panel of experts. And so Laura, you have the Manhattan Madam's planned testimony today. In addition to that you have Andrew Miller, Roger stones former associate supposed to testify before the grand jury, skipped it, he's being held in contempt. Then, Mueller subpoenas Randy Credico who Stone claims was his back channel to WikiLeaks. It sure seems like Mueller has focused on people around Roger Stone.
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Certainly. I mean up till now everyone has thought that perhaps Mueller's only focus was going to be on trying to squeeze people to get to the presumed target of Donald Trump. But it seems that with Paul Manafort, with Michael Chen, and now with Roger Stone, you're talking about not tangentially related issues but maybe concentric circles were on the inner circle you've got people like that who he's focused on now. And you're saying you have yourself a problem here. Remember his mandate is not just about collusion. It's or whatever he also uncovers in the process of investigating that particular crime. And in doing so he is finding one person after another who's in that on inner orbit who is saying, well, maybe it's you who's the new target don't worry about what I want with respect to Donald Trump.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: But this does lead to Trump you could say I've always thought Stone would be the center of whatever collusion there was. He obviously was in -- he seems to been in touch with WikiLeaks. Mueller is obviously very focused on that relationship right now. And look, how far -- that just sent us Roger Stone from Donald Trump. Do we -- are we confident that if Roger Stone chats with WikiLeaks, hey there's some e-mails been stolen probably could helpful on the timing of that, that he doesn't then tell Donald Trump about that? I mean, he famously clicked from the campaign right in 25th.
TAPPER: But they stayed in touch.
KRISTOL: They stayed in touch. He's been his -- he's been Trump's closest political adviser for 25 years.
TAPPER: And he ran his presidential campaign in 2000. KRISTOL: Right, yes, the little one that faded away. So I mean, no
-- so I mean the idea that going after Stone doesn't get you very, very close to Trump and whether there might be other evidence, so was he in touch with Trump, phone records, all those people to whom Trump spoke who said I just talked to Roger. I mean, I think this is very dangerous for Trump.
TAPPER: And listen -- and listen to this because obviously, this is the new world were in. Sean Hannity took the day off from his radio show and of course, Jay Sekulow, the President's attorney substitute, hosted for him. And of course he had Rudy Giuliani, the other presidential attorney call in and they basically did Sean Hannity's show today. Here's a little bit of the chat. This just happened a few minutes ago, them chatting about negotiations with Mueller's team for an interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I think the Constitution is clear that there's not a right to interview the President under Article Two. I think the Supreme Court would come to that conclusion. I think it also raises serious issues not just for this President but for future presidencies and especially Rudy with the nature and scope of the cooperation that this White House has given to the investigators is unprecedented.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: It sure sounds like there's no plan whatsoever to let Mueller interview President Trump.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: No and they don't want -- they don't want that to happen at all and they're trying to avoid that at any cost, clearly. Look, they're on Sean Hannity's radio show. They are clearly communicating to the base they're communicating to the people who support Donald Trump. This is not a legal argument at all. I'm not a lawyer. Laura is here, she can kind of dive into the legalese of this a lot more than I can, but it is a P.R. play and that's all that this is. And also they know we only hear it from their side, we're not hearing from Mueller. We don't know what's going on and we don't know what Mueller has.
TAPPER: And Laura, let me ask you, is the Constitution clear that there's not a right to interview the President under Article Two.
COATES: No. The Constitution deals very little (INAUDIBLE). Should I elaborate further on that? The Constitution does little to talk about the affirmative rights, about what you cannot do, and it talks about separation of powers etcetera, we can talk about all those things. But in reality, it is laughable that Giuliani and Sekulow, both of whom were the President's private attorneys are having these conversations not behind closed doors. I'm sure they will intend to assert privilege at some point in the future about these conversations and they'd like to say they've made all these magnanimous gestures to try to say I've dictated all the terms to you, Mueller, why won't you allow me to do exactly what I would like to do. It's like my own four-year-old daughter saying, well why can't I do what I want to do, because you don't hold the power in this relationship. I do, sweetheart. And you think about this notion --
TAPPER: And you're Mueller.
COATES: I'm Mueller --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Trump is your daughter.
COATES: Is my daughter Trump? I don't know. No, I don't want to go there but she's somewhere in between Sekulow, Giuliani, and Trump. That's true.
[16:50:00] KRISTOL: That's harsh.
COATES: But -- it's harsh, I love her. I love her. She's --
PIERRE: She's much better than they were.
COATES: She is my mini-me.
PIERRE: There you go.
COATES: But really, you think about all these notions and I don't want to suggest for one second that the idea that Roger Stone has connected to Donald Trump means that there is not an ultimate conclusion that Donald Trump himself may have legal jeopardy which is why they're so concerned about it. It's just that Mueller has proven he could walk and chew gum at the same time. He can focus on an ultimate target and also add on additional ones. And remember that the FBI -- the indictment he filed with these twelve GRU agents talked about somebody who was in constant communication trying to facilitate collusion activity. That's your Roger Stone.
TAPPER: And listen to this, Jackie, because here's Roger Stone clearly very aware that Mueller is talking to people in his immediate circle of family and friends. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I'm also mindful of any prosecutor's ability to squeeze underlings to get them to compose testimony against a bigger fish so I've made it abundantly clear that there's no circumstances under which I would testify against the president. I would not rule out cooperating if they think I can be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But here's the interesting formulation of that sentence. He didn't say I have nothing to testify against the President about, he just said he wouldn't testify against the President.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. I mean, as we've seen in those other clips, it's not that Roger Stone has chosen his words well leading up to this and yes, he seems to be in some legal jeopardy here. That's all there is to it.
TAPPER: Does he have stuff to talk about with president -- about President Trump? I'm mean, he's saying he won't testify against President Trump but for instance --
KRISTOL: It's not really his choice you know. I mean, if you are -- if you're -- if a subpoena properly obtained, you're compelled to testify or anyone is. It's very striking. I mean, this is a bigger story, I think people have realized. His -- one of his chief aides has refused repeatedly to testify before the grand jury. He's been subpoenaed but refused to testify, he could well be held in contempt and put in jail. That's going pretty far. Remember, he himself, the aid himself was guilty of something he could take the Fifth -- he could take the Fifth so there's no -- you don't have an obligation to incriminate yourself but you do have a duty to testify about other people. So what is he not testifying about with Roger --
TAPPER: This Roger Stone area is fascinating we're going to hear more about it.
KRISTOL: You should have him on the show sometime.
TAPPER: He was on "ANDERSON" the other night I think. Everyone stick around. Coming up next, a raging wildfire in California set on purpose. The man allegedly behind it and the text message he sent that might have stopped this from happening. Stay with us.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: People desperately hosing down their houses as wildfires literally begin burning at the back doors of their homes. The Holy Fire adding to the misery of one of the worst wildfire seasons in the history of the State of California. 21,000 people are now on the run from this fire because of one man whom authorities say started this inferno on purpose. CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Lake Elsinore, California. Stephanie, authorities say this out-of-control fire began as arson.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. And also that man appearing in court today and had an outburst in court saying that this was all a lie. What isn't a lie here is that this blaze is a very difficult fire for the firefighters to contend.
ELAM: Tonight the raging wildfires in Southern California spreading from these remote cliffs to the edges of hillside communities. The Holy Fire forcing more than 21,000 people to evacuate while some make a last-ditch effort to save their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody in the house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, nobody is here but there's fire -- ELAM: Long Beach Police officer Josh Castro filmed these images of
the Holy Fire burning just beyond his yard. Tricky wind patterns creating the so-called Elsinore Front racing uphill one moment, downhill the next pushing flames within feet of these homes. Firefighters here taking a last-minute stand and winning. In this firefight, it's hard to believe none of these homes were lost, firefighters containing the flames.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart was pounding and I was screaming for joy, you know, that they're here just doing that for us here.
ELAM: Authorities say this fire was intentional, allegedly started by Forrest Gordon Clark who's now under arrest and charged with felony arson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just woke up dude. I got burned. So I woke up and my stuff is on fire.
ELAM: Volunteer Fire Chief Mike Milligan has known Clark for decades and even showed us a message he says Clark texted him just two weeks ago. Milligan says he tried to warn authorities about Clark three years ago.
MIKE MILLIGAN, VOLUNTEER FIRE CHIEF: I identified Forrest and I said we have a serious problem in the canyon and everybody more or less knows about it. The holy fire is just one of 15 major fires responders are actively battling across California. So far these fires have charred more than 670,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 structures. And with hot and dry conditions favoring the fires, it could be another month before these fires are contained.
TAPPER: That was Stephanie Elam reporting to us -- reporting for us from California. Her shot went down. Obviously sometimes when you report from the sites of these natural disasters or arson disasters there are technical difficulties like that. Our thanks to Stephanie Elam for the story. You can join me this Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." My guests will be President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Governor -- former Governor Terry McAuliffe. He was governor during the Charlottesville violence a year ago, at Sunday morning at 9:00 and noon. Our coverage now continues with Jim Acosta. He is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching. I'll see you Sunday morning.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, breaking news, Stone associate. A woman known as the Manhattan Madam faces the grand jury, the longtime associate of Roger Stone chooses to appear while other Stone associates defy --