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Manhattan Madame Testifies Before Mueller Grand Jury; Prosecution Expected to Rest Case Today; NFL Players Take Knee, Raise Fists in Preseason Games. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired August 10, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:17] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York.

This morning the Mueller probe continues and today the so called Manhattan Madam, Kirstin Davis, will be in front of a grand jury in Washington. She at one time ran a high-dollar escort service and did go to jail for it. She's also a close friend to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. But other than that it's just not clear this morning what Robert Mueller's grand jury wants to hear from her.

Our MJ Lee joins me now with more on this. So she will be in front of the grand jury, but why?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, that's a very, very good question, Poppy. We do know that Kristin Davis is going to appear behind me, the courthouse that is behind me as a witness in the Mueller investigation. If you'll recall last week she was actually interviewed by the Mueller team, though she and her lawyers have not said how that interview went.

Just to remind everyone, our best guess right now is that all of this has to do with her connection to Roger Stone, the former Trump adviser. They have been friends for a very long time and she has also done work for Roger Stone including clerical and Web site work for him. They also have a very close personal relationship. He is actually the godfather of two of her sons.

Now Mueller, obviously, has shown great interest in Roger Stone and any involvement that he had with the 2016 election as he looked into a possible Russian collusion in the 2016 campaign.

Now I should note that Roger Stone himself has very much insisted that Kirstin Davis doesn't know anything about the 2016 elections, that she knows nothing about Russian collusion. Again unclear why the Mueller team is interested in having Kristin Davis testify before the grand jury today. As we find out more details, we will get those to you -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, MJ, thank you for the reporting.

Also this morning at another courthouse, this one in Alexandria, Virginia, for the second time prosecutors in Paul Manafort's trial are challenging the judge that is presiding over this case. Judge TS Ellis. Asking him to correct something he said. Let's go to our Joe Johns who joins me outside the courthouse. What

happened this time?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's fascinating. This is the second time, the second straight day the Mueller team has gone after the judge for something he said in front of the jury, on the record, that they say could affect the trial. This time it's about bank fraud and conspiracy. The simple version of it is during questioning yesterday the prosecution had a witness on the stand from Citizens Bank, and was asking about a loan Paul Manafort requested and asked for using fraudulent information.

The judge quipped and got a laugh out of it when he said you might want to spend your time on a loan that was granted. Now why is that important? Well, the prosecution argues that what they were trying to show with that witness was conspiracy. And it's very well settled law that even if a conspiracy was not successful, if you can show that there was a conspiracy and there was an overt, illegal act then you can show that in the case. Of course conspiracy is one of the counts that is charged in this case.

The government, again, asking the judge once again to correct the record and instruct the jury that he was not trying to lead them in the direction of believing that the law said you had to frankly have an actual loan granted in a case like this. But only that Manafort had applied for that loan with fraudulent information -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Got it. And Joe, before you go, it's also intriguing that we've learned that Rick Gates is not only sort of required to testify as part of this plea deal with the Mueller team, in this trial he's required to help with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The broader Russia probe by Mueller's team. That's part of his cooperation deal in all of this. What do we know about that requirement?

JOHNS: Well, what we know is that Mr. Gates has to cooperate. He has to cooperate fully. We also know that there was a discussion earlier in the trial when he was being questioned by prosecution or defense. I believe it was the defense and he was asked if he had been talked -- if he had talked to the FBI about the campaign. There was a brief bench conference, a discussion with the judge and the attorneys and that was the end of it.

Now we do know that attorneys have asked for that portion of the bench conference to be sealed so that information about this ongoing investigation can't get out.

[10:05:09] We do not know the substance. All we know that -- is that there was some type of discussion about it.

HARLOW: OK. Joe Johns outside the courthouse. Thank you, as the trial resumes.

Now let's talk to our experts, federal and white-collar defense attorney Caroline Polisi and CNN political analyst, Ryan Lizza. Nice to have you both here. I'm glad -- I haven't seen you in a

while, my friend, Ryan Lizza, so thank you for waking up early for me this morning.

Let me just get your --

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 10:00 a.m., it's not that early.

HARLOW: Well, you know, I know you like to snooze. Let me --


HARLOW: Let me get your read on why Kristin Davis, the so-called Manhattan Madam, would be brought in front of this grand jury. We know that she served jail time for running this, you know, escort service and we know that she's a longtime close friend of Roger Stone who is a longtime close confidant and adviser to the president.

But, I mean, is that enough to put her on Robert Mueller's radar? What's your read?

LIZZA: Well, I think it's the second fact you mentioned. I don't think it has anything to do with the -- you know, the escort service.

HARLOW: What she did. Yes.

LIZZA: Right? I mean, I think that's obviously an interesting detail about her biography. But clearly she worked for Stone and had some insights into his life and work and relationships. And, you know, of all the people that we've been sort of watching Mueller circle, Stone seems to be one of the top targets of this investigation. Right? I mean, he seems to be on that list of people that is most -- you know, likely to be some potential jeopardy here. And I think he said as much himself. So I assume like the other people Mueller has interviewed, he interviewed another person that worked for Stone. It's to get some further insights into whether he has any links to the people --


LIZZA: -- who hacked and dumped those e-mails.

HARLOW: Right. So on that point, Caroline, sometimes attorneys are often, they will hold their sort of one of their bigger targets, if you're a target of this, until the end. Right? Now oddly maybe, Stone -- Roger Stone told our Anderson Cooper this week that he has not even been contacted by the Mueller team despite his ties, not just to the president but to WikiLeaks. Does it surprise you? If it's true does it surprise you?

CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL AND WHITE HOUSE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It doesn't surprise me. If he is the target of an investigation, that's right.

HARLOW: Which we don't know. POLISI: Right. Typically targets don't go in to talk to

investigators or not subpoenaed before the grand jury because they have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination obviously. But I think this Manhattan Madam story, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the fact that Roger Stone was an unindicted person in the most recent indictment that Bob Mueller put down. 12 GRU agents. He's the one that had contact with Guccifer 2.0.

HARLOW: Right. It's believed.

POLISI: It's believed.

HARLOW: He was not named.

POLISI: Correct. He was not named but he's an American, we know that he had ties to Guccifer 2.0 so I think clearly if this Manhattan Madam was intimate with Mr. Stone around that time period, that's what Mueller is going to want to know.

HARLOW: Ryan Lizza, when you look at what Joe just described, the side bar conversation that happened earlier this week tied to Rick Gates, the star prosecution witness in the Manafort trial, as it pertains to the question that was asked of him by the defense in terms of his role in the Trump campaign, tie all those threads together for me in terms of the importance potentially of that.

LIZZA: Well, a lot of people pointed out, a lot of people -- defenders of the president points out that the Manafort and Gates, the sort of trouble they're in all precedes their work for Trump.

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: You know, goes right up to the line of them working for Trump. It's all about violations and alleged fraud and tax evasion that happened during their, you know, years of work in Ukraine. But the one question we have all had is after Gates' service to Mueller in this Manafort trial is over, did he also and is he also working with Mueller on the question of collusion and giving Mueller information about his role as the deputy for the Trump campaign.

And remember, Gates stayed in the campaign longer than Manafort. He was there after Manafort left. So he knows a lot. And so we don't know what was said in that side bar. But it seems to suggest that the government wanted to keep it private and it gave us one of the first hints that he is indeed not finished with his work for the government after this Manafort trial but that his -- that the next phase of this, the phase that we've all been sort of waiting for, the question of collusion, Mueller is not finished with that and Gates may indeed be an important source of information on that question.

[10:10:17] HARLOW: Gates may be an important source of information than, Caroline, the president could be a very important source information but it's now been eight months of back and forth and back and forth about whether the president will sit for this interview with Mueller, that Mueller seemed to want, Rudy Giuliani had dinner with the president last night. You can imagine that the two spoke about this.

What's your read on where this goes? I mean, at some point you've just got to say it's going to happen or it's not, right?

POLISI: Absolutely. And my personal opinion is this is all theatrics. This good cop, bad cop, the implication that President Trump really wants to sit down with Mueller and his team but that the only thing holding him back are his attorneys. I don't buy it quite frankly. I don't think they ever had any intention of having Trump sit down. We all know he has a very unique relationship with the truth. He's not going to be able to tell the whole truth and accurate truth in a conversation. He's just not going to. So I likely think if Mueller really wants to talk to Trump, this is going to get to a subpoena. He's not going to agree --


HARLOW: He'll take it all the way up to the Supreme Court?

POLISI: Absolutely. If he really needs that testimony, he will. I think the law is on his side. We have the Nixon precedent of course about documents, about tapes.

HARLOW: Different, though, because it was about documents.

POLISI: It's different.

HARLOW: And this is about intent.

POLISI: Different but -- right. But it was an 8-0 decision and the overarching theme of that is that the president is not above the law. That's the overarching theme of our Constitution. Nobody is above the law. So I think clearly you could take from that that the Supreme Court would rule he has to sit.

HARLOW: This also makes the Kavanaugh, you know.


HARLOW: So much more interesting.


HARLOW: Because what he said about whether, you know, presidents can be tried, et cetera, while they're in office, though. For another day. Thank you very much, both of you, Ryan Lizza and Caroline Polisi.

LIZZA: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Still to come, the NFL is back. Preseason games as you saw took place last night. The protests are also back. Players taking knees or raising their fist or staying in the locker room during the national anthem. And the president weighing in on all of it this morning. We will discuss. And Charlottesville, Virginia, on high alert under a state of

emergency. Actually the entire state under a state of emergency this weekend as they prepare for the one-year mark since those deadly protests.


[10:16:53] HARLOW: The morning after numerous players from across the NFL knelt or raised fists, or stayed in the locker room during the national anthem at these preseason games last night. The president is attacking them and attacking what he calls their outrage and questioning whether they can even define it, define what they are doing that for.

The president warned in a tweet that they should stand or be suspended without pay. But that is not the regulation of the NFL. Let's go to our Andy Scholes, our sports reporter, for more.

So, Andy, I mean, many people thought that this would happen during the games as they kicked off last night. Walk us through what happened.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, you know, the NFL didn't have a rule. Then they tried to put a rule in place and then now once again they don't have a rule. And the NFL released a statement last night again saying how they enforce their national anthem policy, it was on hold while they continue to have discussions with the players on how to handle this. So in the meantime that means, you know, there's no punishment for players demonstrating during the anthem. And last night multiple players around the league did so before their first preseason game.

So there right there is Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson taking a knee during the national anthem before their game with the Bucs. Stills has kneeled during the anthem the past two seasons and he spoke about the decision to continue to do it after the game.


KENNY STILLS, MIAMI DOLPHINS WIDE RECEIVER: Being a part of this protest hasn't been easy. And you know I've -- I thought I was going to be by myself out there and today I had an angel with me, with Albert being out there, and you know, I'm grateful that he see what's happening and he wants to stand up and do something about it as well.


SCHOLES: Now Colin Kaepernick who started the movement tweeting about Stills saying, "My brother K Stills continue his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee. Albert Wilson joined him in protest. Stay strong, brothers."

And elsewhere around the league, according to reports, four players raised their fists during the anthem while several others remained in the locker room during the anthem before then taking the field. And now back in May, the owners agreed to a national anthem policy

where teams would be fined if players did not stand for the national anthem. Then those teams would individually decide how to punish their own players but after outrage the league then decided to put this policy on hold while they work it out with the players' union, Poppy, and only Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has come out and flat out said his players have to stand for the national anthem.

HARLOW: That's right. OK. Andy, stay with me. All right. Let me jump over to Abby Phillip who is near where the president is right now in New Jersey to get the read from the president on all of this.

Abby, walk us through his reaction in a little more detail this morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Poppy, the president tweeting this morning, kind of predictably about these NFL protests saying that the players are, quote, " unable to define what they are outraged about and demanding that they stand proudly for the national anthem or be suspended without pay."

[10:20:03] Now this is the president of the United States, not the owner of an NFL team. But for a year now, President Trump has been hammering on this issue day by day. Every opportunity that he gets to bring up this issue in part because it's one that plays very well with his base. But it's coming at a problematic time for the president. We are almost at the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville protest that -- where white supremacist marched into streets and President Trump got himself into some trouble about his inability to address those protests, to address what was wrong with the protesters.

And the result of which was one of the counter protesters being killed by a white nationalist. Now President Trump is going into yet another weekend, the one-year anniversary once again stoking racial divisions in this country and raising a lot of questions about whether or not this is just politically motivated or if he has any interest really in addressing some of these racial divides that these protests are -- these players are protesting about -- Poppy.

HARLOW: That's right, Abby Phillip. At the same time, frankly, that, you know, Abby, he just had this roundtable yesterday on criminal justice reform and the prison population, you know, so many more African-Americans, five times than white individuals in prison. And Van Jones said the actions, we are seeing some action but how does the rhetoric match that on this overall issue.

So, Abby, thank you. Let us know what else the president says.

Back with me is Andy Scholes, and also joining me is culture critic and writer Michaela Angela Davis.

Nice so have you both here. Michaela, what struck me from what the president wrote this morning is this line, quote, "Numerous players from different teams wanted to show their," quote -- he puts quote around outrage as if they're not outrage? MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC/WRITER: Yes.

HARLOW: "At something most of them are unable to define." That something, that something is social justice. That's something -- that's something I as a white woman in this country hasn't had to live through and deal with. This is coming from a white man, a white president saying that these players, African-Americans, don't get it?

DAVIS: Yes. On the anniversary of Michael Brown's murder. So yesterday marked four years since Michael Brown which was another flash point. Trayvon, another flash point. To say that they can't define it when we're living in these horrific moments of black boys and men being shot by state, by, you know, dying. So the fact that they are on the field taking a knee and standing and saying that here they go again. It's here he goes again. Yes?

So we weren't surprised that there was going to be some backlash. But it seemed particularly poignant how out of touch he is with what black players are feeling. But also when she said that he's in trouble, I don't think he is. Meaning, I think that Trump is acutely aware of how to play into, to exploit white panic and pathology to his advantage. He never -- there's no repercussions on his side.

HARLOW: To that point, I'll point out the "Wall Street Journal" reporting that when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has mandated that the players stand, when he was deposed in a matter, he -- you know, he said in this deposition, this sworn deposition, that President Trump told him on a phone call at one point talking about the kneeling, et cetera, that this issue, quote, "The president said this one lifts me." Meaning he believes this is good for him politically.

DAVIS: Absolutely. And we can see that -- when he descended down the stairs and talked about Mexicans being rapists, he let us know what his core values were. Right? And how -- and not really his core values, his core strategy. There's a political strategy in stoking the base in this very particular way of again white panic, white pathology, and it has been proven that he doesn't get any backlash from it. A week later, he can be -- you know, after Charlottesville, he was talking about the NFL.

HARLOW: So, Andy, to you, and the NFL, and how -- I mean, the president said, you know, be -- you know, be subject to suspension and no pay. That is not what the NFL is doing right now. They've totally -- you know, I think it's a fact at this point to say bungled this one with the policy then no policy then policy again. Where does it stand?

SCHOLES: Well, like yes, like you just said it right. They had no policy. They came up with a policy then there was outrage, and again then they went to having no policy. So right now they say they are having discussions with the players' union on what to come away with next. But the owners here, Poppy, are in a really tough spot because, you know, one, they don't want to alienate their players and really infringe on their freedom of speech. On the other hand they have sponsors they have to please. And you know, one thing sponsors don't like is, you know, divisive things in the sport.

And so that's where the owners are right now. Jerry Jones, you know, when he had his state of the Cowboys address before the season, he said he thought it was problematic that President Trump, you know, was involved in the situation and he wished it would go away.

[10:25:08] And, you know, the owners, a couple of them, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, you know, they are friends or at least, you know, were friends with President Trump. So it's an interesting predicament for them. You know --

HARLOW: Right.

SCHOLES: They're, you know, have to deal with what he says and then on the other hand, you know, they can't alienate their players because those are the people that they work with every day.


DAVIS: There's a lot of money on either side.

HARLOW: Yes. I mean, and this is so far beyond money, right?

Thank you, guys, both very much, Andy. And Michaela, stick around, we're going to talk a lot about Charlottesville one year later with you in a little bit.

This weekend a stark reminder, as I just said, about race relations in this country. Sunday marks the one year since the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that claimed the lives of those two police officers and of course Heather Heyer. What has changed in the year? Ahead.