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NFL Players Kneel, Raise Fists Or Sit Out National Anthem; Federal Judge Threatens To Hold A.G. Sessions In Contempt; Ingraham: America That We Know Doesn't Exist Anymore; Prosecution In Manafort Trial Expected To Rest Case Today; Rep. Nunes: We Must "Keep The Majority" To Protect Trump. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 10, 2018 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- railed against the protests in the past, how will he respond this morning?

Remember, this is the one year anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where the President said there were fine people on both sides.

Remember, also, some of the president's supporters on cable TV have lamented the demographic changes saying this is not the America we love. The question is who is we here?

Along those lines, overnight, the federal judge threatening to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt, the judge erupted after learning two asylum seekers fighting deportation were on a plane and being sent back to El Salvador. The judge ordered that flight to turn around. So, what is the next move from the Trump administration?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: All of those headlines playing out as comments from one of President Trump's most ardent supporter, House Intel Chairman Devin Nunez add fire to an already contentious debate over partisanship. Loyalty in your elected officials.

Nunez caught on tape, suggesting Republicans must retain control of the House to protect President Trump from Robert Mueller.

Critics say the leaked audio is proof Nunez is compromised. The spokesman for Nunez insisting the comments were routine and there's no larger plot in play.

In the meantime for team Mueller, prosecutors expected to raise their case today in the broad trial of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Therefore, final witnesses were familiar with Manafort's real estate portfolio and his debt. They're set to take the stand. Plus, questions about why the prosecution didn't want the defense asking its star witness about the Trump campaign.

There is a lot happening of this very busy Friday morning. So let's begin with CNN White House Correspondent, Abby Phillip. Oh, sorry, not Abby Phillip, we have Phil Mattingly here in the studio with word for us.

Phil, good morning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning Erica. I want to talk about something that is very clearly still an issue, the national anthem kneeling issue. It is very much alive and well with no clear resolution in the NFL.

You just had to take a look last night, a full schedule of preseason week one games. And take a look at Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Robert Wilson taking a knee during the anthem to protest social injustices before taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A four members of the Jacksonville Jaguars and three players of the Seattle Seahawks also made statements by waiting in the tunnel during the national anthem before taking the field last night.

And the NFL at this time says no punish will be -- punishment will be handed out while they continues to work with the players union on a mutually agreeable policy. After the game, one of the players who knelt, Kenny Stills, spoke out about his decision.


KENNY STILLS, WIDE RECEIVER, MIAMI DOLPHINS: Being part of the 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 angel with me with other being out there. And, you know, I'm grateful that he sees what's happening and he wants to stand up and do something about it as well.


MATTINGLY: And the player who started these protests Colin Kaepernick is not currently in the league but he is clearly keeping an eye on the protest.

Last night he tweeted a picture with Stills along with the message, "My brother K Stills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee."

Albert Wilson joined him in protest, stay strong brother. These guys are clearly an issue. It's not going to anywhere anytime soon and something we have imagined the President will probably be responding to in short order.

BERMAN: Yes, at only 6:03 a.m. He's no doubt waking up. We are waiting to see how he response.

Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon and CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis.

Errol, the president spent a whole football season last year making a political issue out of this, criticizing the players and the owners.

The NFL try to address this in the off season. They'd like to this issue completely go away and they couldn't reach a conclusive agreement with the players union. And these players that we saw last night, it felt to me they were making a statement saying we're grown ups. We're adults here. You really can't tell us what to do and I don't know that you are addressing the issues that were protested (ph).

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. Exactly right. On the formal part, the first part of what you mentioned is the owners may have acted improperly without properly sort of negotiating this with the players union. And that in itself is going to be sort of separate dispute. Can you change the work rules in this way without consulting with them? So, that's going to go through some kind of mediation.

When it comes to the underlying issue, I mean, that's what protests was always all about. This is a civil rights demonstration. This wasn't just a work place dispute and this is something that I think the president may come to, maybe not regret, but I think he's drawing probably more of a reaction than he expected

I don't know if this president expected that all of these people, these very proud, very wealthy, very culturally powerful people were going to just sort of submit and stand up and do whatever it is he wanted him to do.

There are very serious very underlying issues for which the President is responsible. So, he's not just a bystander here and he's not just kind of agitating from the sidelines.

They 're trying to put pressure on him. And to the extent that he's got to respond, the response has to be something more than shouting obscenities at a rally.

HILL: Well, also and it's been turned around by the President we should point out. So, you know, Errol, you're laying -- and John, this is exactly what this was about from the very beginning with Colin Kaepernick. The president is the one who has made this political and who has made it about something far different than what is was originally intended to start a conversation about.

[06:05:12] JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And what the President has shown every intention of fanning the flames of this culture wars because he thinks it benefits him politically, right. I mean, he is attracted to this issue because he thinks this is an example of positive polarization in the advice of Roger Ailes where he can inflame culture wars and distract some other issues.

Now, one of the ironies of what occurred last night is that, you know, some of the players that wore t-shirts talking about prison statistics. And the President the same day, almost the same time was conducting a dinner about prison reform, counting some bipartisan possibility progress. But the President, you know, doesn't seem to make the connection between these two things.

He wants the game politically by dividing while still advancing bipartisan bills that might help solve some of the underlying issues. BERMAN: And that's the President ways how he will respond this morning. He may take into account, this is the one year anniversary of the protest in Charlottesville. Again, we're waiting to see how he responds along where to discuss this.

HILL: Which is important to point out. There is -- it is amazing how much Thursday and Friday in August to get to, but also really important happening over night. As we're waiting for that reaction, there has been quick reaction to what happened from a judge who didn't basically said who said.

Do I need to hold the attorney general in contempt here? This is had to do with the ACLU have brought a case and this is related to for folks who were just joining us changes in what you can claim if you are seeking asylum coming into this country, most notably, domestic and gang violence?

And a case was being heard for two women that was brought by the ACLU who were actually in the process of being deported as the case was being heard and were not supposed be.

BERMAN: Right.

HILL: Were not supposed to be on a plane. He ordered the plane be turned around, the plane have landed, they are now back we're told in Texas. How much of an issue though is this moving forward for this administration? Because at one point, the judge wasn't just talking about Sessions, he need Kirstjen Nielsen, I mean he went on. He is not happy.

LOUIS: That's right. And, look, they've got to put some sense to this. The most striking part of all of these families separation and changes, there was asylum procedures and so forth, is that the administration does want to have and implemented them. And now, the system is catching up.

The system includes a coequal branch of government called the judiciary and at least one federal judge with lifetime employment who said that, you know what, I'm going to invoke my powers. If I tell you that we're going to have a hearing before you act on deportation, I mean it and I will even have the plane brought back from El Salvador to emphasize the point. His also got some contempt powers.

Now look, no judge, not this judge or any other is going to push it so far as to, you know, call in the attorney general and hold him in contempt in front of him that would provoke sort of a crisis. But the reality is, it's a warning shot for this administration they've got to get it together.

BERMAN: And there's the case where he have -- let me read what the judge say here because I think it's a worth thing if we put up on the screen. Put up one of the statements on the screen and I'll read from the screen.

"I want those people brought back forthwith. I'm directing the government to turn that plane around either now or when it lands, turn the plane around and bring those people back to the United States. It's outrageous. "

AVLON: Yes. Judge Sullivan was justly furious because he refuse conducting a hearing about this asylum seekers seeking justice. And the government, the federal government had utterly disregarded the process and was already deporting them. I mean, that is such an insult to the rule of law. And, you know, this concept of coequal branches of government has been a little bit degraded by a lot of folks recently.

So this judge took the extraordinary step by saying, look, if you don't do this I'm going to bring you in and tell me why we shouldn't hold the attorney general and the director of Homeland Security in contempt? Because they're showing contempt for the process of the rule of law, that's what set the judge off.

BERMAN: So there's a legal discussion and then I also think there is the larger cultural discussion taking place in the United States. And we are talking about the supporters of the President. I think we got a window. And, no, not all. When you're talking about some supporters like on Fox News, specific commentators, we saw Laura Ingraham who's got a show the other night and she calls the great deal of controversy with what she said about both illegal and legal immigrants in this country. Let's listen.


LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist any more. Massive demographic changes have been hoisted upon the American people. And there changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed.

Now, much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that of course progressives love.


BERMAN: So, massive demographic changes, Errol that we don't like.

Now, Laura Ingraham last night tried to walk that back a little bit. David Duke among others have praised her initial statement. She called David Duke a racist, didn't want to associate herself with him. But I'm not quit sure what demographic changes she's talking about. I don't know who the "we" is there.

[06:10:02] LOUIS: Yes. You come to the party, don't get surprised if somebody wants to dance with you. I mean, that's what you tell you Laura Ingraham.

The reality is -- and also we should point out she's factually wrong. We have immigration policy that's set by law. We did vote for people who made those laws. This goes back to the 1965 Act, some subsequent amendments to it.

So we have a diverse country because we voted for and we wish to be and we are a diverse country. I mean that's just the reality of it.

She's reflecting of course an ugly old native strain that's always been there. It's, you know, they're pushing against the tide. There are some people who I think politically believed that all of the new diversity, all of the people coming into the country are going to end up in the Democratic Party and that's what driving a lot of this. I think it's the next substantial fight of that they're never going to get back into contention in certain states like, say, New Mexico if they don't do something about immigration.

AVLON: But that's almost dignifying what she said by creating a political rationale. A lot of this is simply emotional. And that wasn't a dog whistles, that was a bullhorn.

That was about, not only singling out illegal immigration if we got a policy debate about it, but legal immigration. She specifically said legal immigration. That is about a changing face of America, that is about victimhood and white identity politics at the time when the president of their party is empower.

It was as ugly as it gets, naked for everyone to see on primetime TV and it gave comfort to people who call themselves white nationalists on the eve of the anniversary of Charlottesville. It is worth getting outraged about that. Sometimes we have an outraged Olympics in media. This was naked and if she was uncomfortable by David Duke praising her, really she should asked herself why David Duke (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: There is an irony alert here, like a flashing irony alert here which is that, you know, within 24 hours of that happening the first lady's parents -- yes.

HILL: Became U.S. citizen.

BERMAN: Became U.S. citizens.

HILL: By --

AVLON: Through chain migration.

HILL: Of which the President is not a fan as we know and would like to do away with.

AVLON: Yes, explicitly. So, sounds like the first lady and Steven Miller should sit down and have a little kind of talk.

BERMAN: I wonder if Laura Ingraham will lament to the changing Slovenian phase of America.

HILL: It would suppose to be a Norwegian --


LOUIS: Yes. It was supposed to be a Norwegian.

HILL: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: They're all by it, a dozen miles or so.

HILL: Still to come after a week of high drama in the Paul Manafort trial. The prosecution is set to rest its case. And a moment, they just maybe giving us a clue about the Mueller probe. We're live at the very latest ahead.


[06:16:11] BERMAN: Prosecutors in the Paul Manafort tax and bank fraud trial expected to rest their case today. And there's a new sign that Rick Gates, the government star witness may be assisting the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference beyond the case against Manafort.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the Court House in Alexandria in Virginia, so many interesting moments over the last 24 hours Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, we knew from the start that this was not going to be your run of the bill financial fraud case that has been anything, but we've had twists and turns. As you said, almost everyday we've had clashes between the prosecution and the judge. And against that backdrop, the government, today, expects to rest its case.


JOHNS (voice-over): New signs that Rick Gates may be helping Special Council Robert Mueller beyond the case against Paul Manafort.

Mueller's team asking to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and the Judge T.S. Ellis under wraps because it would reveal details of the ongoing investigation.

The secret side bar conversation happened in the middle of Gates' testimony on Tuesday after Manafort's lawyer asked Gates whether Mueller's team questioned him on several occasions about his time on the Trump campaign. Prosecutors objecting to that question.

Gates was Manafort's deputy when he served as Trump's campaign chairman in 2016 and continued working on the team through President Trump's inauguration.

Meanwhile, Judge Ellis issuing a rare apology for criticizing the prosecution. Ellis reprimanded prosecutors on Wednesday for allowing an IRS witness to remain in the court room during other testimony. Prosecutors reminded the judge he explicitly gave the witness permission to stay.

The next day, Ellis admitting to the jury put aside any criticism, "I was wrong in that. This robe doesn't make me anything other than human."

Ellis has repeatedly clashed with the prosecution in this trial preventing them from showing pictures of Manafort's luxurious purchases. Saying, Mr. Manafort is not on trial for having a lavish lifestyle. In another contentious exchange, Ellis telling Prosecutor Greg Andres, look at me when you're talking to me and suggesting he was crying. Andres insisting there are not in my eyes, Judge. Ellis firing back, well, they're watery.

Prosecutors laying Manaforts alleged back fraud on Thursday pointing to his multimillion dollar lot in New York City's so-ho neighborhood, and Air BNB employee testifying the property was pulled from their website from late February to early March 2016.

During that time, Manafort telling a back it was a second home used by his family in order to secure a $3.4 million mortgage.

Manafort even sending his then son-in-law an e-mail instructing him and his daughter to lie to the bank, writing, "Remember, he believes that you and Jessica are living there."

A banker familiar with the loan testifying Manafort would not have secured the loan had they known the apartment was a rental unit.


JOHNS: Prosecutors have at least four more witnesses to call at least two of those witnesses, have immunity from prosecution and come from Federal savings bank. Of course, that's a very same bank of his testimony that CEO Stephen Calk was suggested to be nominated for Secretary of the Army. John, Erica, back to you.

HILL: All right. Joe, thank you. Let's bring in Errol Louis, John Avlon, and joining us CNN Legal Analyst Ross Garber as we look at all of this. Obviously, the prosecutions set to rest the case, but one of the things that really stand out of course is what we are not allowed to know about and the answer that we are not allowed to hear. Is there anything to read into that?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the Russian probe is clearly the thing that's not in the court room that's hanging over the court room.

[06:20:03] And it's not surprising that Gates would've been questioned about that. He was Manafort's sort of aid to camp in the private sector, he was Manafort's deputy on the campaign. So, it's not surprising that prosecutors are going to want to talk to Gates about the Russian probe.

HILL: Is it surprising though that that question, that simple question, which is funny in here. Were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign? Why is that particular question though? Why is it so tough to say, yes, I was.

GARBER: I was actually in the court room when that question was asked. And honestly, I was surprised that the judge didn't let that line of inquiry go further. Because Gates' credibility, Gates' credibility whether he's being truthful or not is central to the Manafort trial.

And the notion that the Fed's lawyers couldn't probe that any further. I found that very interesting.

BERMAN: So, Ross, since you brought up the issue of being surprised by this judge. Can we talk about the judge?

GARBER: Why not.

BERMAN: For a second here. And, you know, Joe was talking about the fact that this judge taunted the prosecutor for having watery eyes at one point.

I'm not sure I've seen that before nor have I seen judge apologize the way he did yesterday for badgering the prosecution. How do you think this plays in there.

GARBER: Hey John, I've been in front of judges who are take control of their courtroom. This judge, you know, in my experience, has sort of, you know, hit the boundaries of that. You know, it's not unusual for a judge to want to insert himself or herself, but the sort of a personal interactions with prosecutors, particularly in front of the jury is very, very unusual.

AVLON: I mean just accusing a prosecutor of crying --

GARBER: Yes, I've never accused of crying.

AVLON: -- it doesn't seem like anything I would recognize as a judicial temper.

BERMAN: No, I will say there it goes (ph) pointing at the break the response from the prosecutor is one that we hear from my children. No, I'm not crying, right? It's just watery.

HILL: No, it just watery.


BERMAN: Let me pivot to the Mueller investigation in so far as it involves possible Russian meddling in the election. Devin Nunez who is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee was recorded at a fundraiser, a Republican fundraiser in Washington State where he may have made a mistake of telling the truth out loud. Listen to what he says


DEVIN NUNEZ, CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If Sessions won't un-recuse and the Mueller won't clear the president, we're the only ones, which is really the danger. That's why I keep -- thank you for saying it by the way. I mean, we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.


BERMAN: So, Errol, we're the only ones in Congress there. That jumps off of that page right there. It isn't whether or not the Mueller team clears the President, it's not the facts that will clear the administration.

LOUIS: Right.

BERMAN: This Republican member of Congress says it's up to us to clear the President.

LOUIS: That's right. This is -- it reflects the same kind of line of discussion that you hear from Rudy Giuliani works for the president as his lawyer. It's the idea that we must protect the president at all cost. And right behind that there are some -- is an assumption that there's something he has to be protected from. Not just the facts of the probe as a distraction, but that there's something very serious that's underlying there. I mean, hear this from the chair of the intelligence committee very, very disturbing.

HILL: It's also --

AVLON: And that --

HILL: Go ahead.

AVLON: And that's why I think its worst than anything Rudy Giuliani would say. Rudy's job right now is to be the President's lawyer, defend his client in the court of public opinion.

Devin Nunez is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and he almost single handedly debased the idea of the independence of that Intelligence Committee and of course, the core idea of the coequal branch of government. He is redefining patriotism and that role of defending constitution is defending the President.

And not only that, he also intimated that we just have to look the Kavanaugh confirmation to go through and then we can deal with potentially impeaching Rosenstein and shutting down this (INAUDIBLE) one way or another.

That is nothing less than sinister and it's against the frame of the election we're kind of back on to as a country.

HILL: And you just brought in which I think we can't loss sight up here is the fact that he is saying our job as Republicans in Congress is to protect the President. Your job as an elected official --

BERMAN: Exactly.

HILL: -- in Congress no matter which party you represent is you represent the people. And also to maintain -- upholds the constitution and to maintain the system of checks and balances and to be a check on the executive branch.

LOUIS: And find to what's going on --

HILL: Yes.

LOUIS: -- before you decide to protect the guy, right? I mean, I would think something I would at least be curios about what the Mueller probe is going to yield before they decide they're going to state vote their, you know, their honor and their careers on defending somebody.

GARBER: And I think that's the point. The notion that this has been politicized and it will be politicized. That's not unusual. I've been involved in a lot of impeachments and the Clinton impeachment was certainly political. But at this point, you know, it doesn't make sense for Nunez to go as far as he has gone.

You know, he is responsible for doing the investigation.

[06:25:02] He should be in the sort of judicial role. You know, the notion that he's being such an overt advocate. I think it's a mistake.


GARBER: I think it's a mistake.

BERMAN: I should note, Ross, you are an impeachment lawyer.

GARBER: I think I may be the only one.

BERMAN: You may be the only one.

BERMAN: If you are watching this out there, and you're in need of an impeachment lawyer.

HILL: He's your guy.

BERMAN: I feel safe. I feel safer.


GARBER: Not yet.

BERMAN: It was interesting. And, you know, Ross, I mean, correctly there's a legal investigation happening right now that's Robert Mueller. But no matter what he decides, this will end up as a political choice. Impeachment by definition is a political choice.

GARBER: Yes. And you charitably -- let's say Nunez actually does believe that this is a witch hunt, that the Mueller investigation is off the rails, that's it's politicized, it's partisan. It still should have, in Congress, at least an appearance of impartiality and fairness, right?

AVLON: We have any clear counter example. The Senate Intelligence Committee which has conducted itself in a thoroughly bipartisan manner being led by Senator Richard Burr, Republican from North Carolina. It's not like this is an undiscovered country folks.

GARBER: And John, as you point, it's going to matter because ultimately this is going to wind up in Congress. These are limit to what the judiciary or Rob Mueller can do with respect to the President. Congress is the check on the presidency. It's going to ultimately the Congress that decides whether the President's actions are appropriate or not.

BERMAN: And so Errol, this was said in a fundraiser for Republican member of Congress that was Devine Nunez wrong in the sense that voters may vote on this issue. Rudy Giuliani brought it up yesterday seeing he thought it would inflame the Republican debate.

LOUIS: That's right. Now, look, the polls actually confirm this, the -- this one thing that brings together the Republicans like nothing else in this very difficult environment that they find themselves coming into the midterms is the notion that what Democrats wanted to do is overturn the results of the 2016 election. We have to defend the President. Let's give him a chance. That gets people to donate. That's get people excited. That gets the Republican face out as well as some of the leaners who decided to chance on Donald Trump.

So, politically speaking, it's a perfectly sensible strategy.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, John Avlon, my future attorney Ross Garber, impeachment lawyer, great to have you here with us. I do appreciate it.

HILL: Can we get the exclusive from you when you get impeach John, is that head over (ph), actually I'll call Ross.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly. He's the guy. Talk to my lawyer.

The holy fire burning close to homes, a state of emergency declared. We are live on the ground.