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Trump Revokes Ex-CIA Director John Brennan's Security Clearance; Former CIA Director Hayden Responds to President's Thinly Veiled Threat to Revoke His Security Clearance; Questions About People Who Surround Pres. Trump; Bruni NYT Op-Ed: "The Revenge Of The Lesser Trumps"; Bruni: Trump Imitators Turn Their Teacher's Lessons Against Him; Jury Gets The Manafort Case; Jury Sets To Begin Deliberations In Manafort Trial; Prosecution's Closing Argument To Jury, Manafort Lied; Four-Year-Old Adopted Girl Faces Possible Deportation. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

After days of battling claims from Omarosa Manigault Newman, the White House chose today to announce that the president has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, and is reviewing the status of nine others, all former officials the president clearly dislikes for public comments they have made or actions they've taken. The White House says what the president did today is all about national security and not about silencing critics or settling scores.

So, let's look at who the White House is singling out. John Brennan has obviously been very critical of the president as has former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who is also a CNN contributor. Fired FBI Director James Comey is obviously a critique of the president. As is has been former CIA Director Michael Hayden, also a CNN contributor, who's going to join us in a moment.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates clashed with the president. He fired her. He often rails against Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice. Same goes for former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr, former U.S. associate deputy attorney general.

Everyone on that list is either a critic or someone the president has locked horns with, a point not lost today in the White House briefing room.


REPORTER: How can Americans not interpret that as not getting back against his critics? And isn't it also an attempt to curtail their freedom of speech by penalizing them for being critical on television?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not at all. The president has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information and who has access to it. And that's what he's doing is fulfilling that responsibility in this action. This is actionally specific to Mr. Brennan, and the others are currently under review. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Keeping them honest, however, we are now learning that some key current intelligence professionals appear not to have been involved in the president's decision, at least not the nation's top ranking official. CNN's Jim Sciutto has learned that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, was not consulted on the Brennan decision and apparently whoever had to proof read the president's statement was also taken off-guard. They missed this.

Take a look at this. It's dated the 26th of last month, suggesting the president made the decision back then but waited until now to make it public. The White House blames a cut and paste error. As for when the decision was actually made, an official claimed not to know.

It certainly raises the possibility at least that the president was just waiting for the right moment to announce this, such as before a verdict in the Paul Manafort case or in the middle of the increasingly nasty fight with former White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Was today's announcement an effort to change the subject away from those allegations that Manigault Newman has made? We'll talk more with our guests about that shortly.

But to the point about whether this is about payback or not, the White House was given a chance to provide evidence that there is an actual procedure being followed here and a consistent set of standards being applied.

So, here's how that played out today, starting with a reporter asking Sarah Sanders about part of the case she made today against John Brennan, that he misled Congress in 2014.


REPORTER: Just so I understand the standard the president is applying, you outlined two areas of testimony from Brennan. Is that the only standard by which this administration is asserting he should have his security clearance revoked?

SANDERS: Again, I laid out the reasons in the opening statement, specific to Director Brennan.


SANDERS: The others are currently under review. I don't have any specifics on those at this point.

REPORTER: My question is, is that the standard? If you give erroneous testimony, you say something you have to correct at a certain date in the future, you work for this administration, for example. Is that you could lose your security clearance?

SANDERS: My understanding is this is being looked at on a case-by- case basis, which is why each individual is being reviewed and determination made at that point. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, it's hard to know what to glean from that, except that the White House really has yet to offer evidence of any objective test for who get their clearance revoked. We do know however that the president's bill of particulars against John Brennan seems to draw highly from his own vocal criticism of the president.


SANDERS: Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.

Mr. Brennan's line and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries which is to sow division and chaos. Any access granted to our nation's secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal interests.


COOPER: OK. So, lying and making unfounded allegations, that's bad, like saying the former president of the United States was not really born in America, or the former president wiretapped the candidate at Trump Tower.

Also really bad are, quote, wild outbursts on the Internet and television. So saying this, for example, is clearly out. When you give a crazed crying low life break and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog.

So, that's good for the old security clearance.

[20:05:00] People like that cannot be granted access to secrets, according to the White House. For instance, you wouldn't want anyone to share classified information with Russia's ambassador and foreign minister when they come to visit us. Sources tell CNN that the president did.

Nor is it possibly or probably a good idea to sit for more than two weeks on word that your own national security adviser may be compromised, while all the while that man retains access to the nation's deepest secrets, which is exactly what happened.

Here is how fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates described it to me. Her warning to White House Counsel Don McGahn against the evidence against national security adviser Michael Flynn.


SALLY YATES, FIRED ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: I called Don McGahn and told him I had a very sensitive matter that I needed to discuss with him that day, and it needed to be in person.

COOPER: When you actually met, were you just in his regular office?

YATES: We are. But his office is a SCIF.

COOPER: Secure?

YATES: Absolutely.

COOPER: So, he would have been aware that this is unusual to have the acting attorney general coming over and doing this on such urgent notice and in a SCIF.

YATES: Sure. Mr. McGahn got it. He knew that this was serious and then it was important.

COOPER: You wanted the White House staff.

YATES: Absolutely, yes.

COOPER: To do something.

YATES: We expected the White House to act.

COOPER: Did you expect them to act quickly?


COOPER: There was urgency to the information?



COOPER: Sally Yates gave the warning on January 26th of 2016. And Flynn stepped down on the 13th of February. So for more than two weeks, the White House knew he might pose a threat to national security, but chose to do nothing.

Joining us now, a man whose security clearance is said to be under review by the administration now, former CIA and NSA director, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, CNN contributor.

General Hayden, first of all, just how do you interpret the actions by President Trump that he is taking against John Brennan, and what he's basically threatening to do to you and others?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA & NSA DIRECTOR: Yes. So, first of all, Anderson, with regard to John, it was personal and it was vindictive. And, frankly, I think it was an overall judgment that John was being somewhat effective.

You can tell I'm here at Dulles. I've been traveling all day. So, that tape you just played of Sarah Sanders describing why the president did it, I could translate for you, Anderson, is that John Brennan's life experience gives him legitimacy to say a lot of the things he is saying, and the White House couldn't stand for that. So, you've got the misuse of power here I think with regard to John.

Now, you've got the others, included, that was a threat that was put out there from the White House press room. In essence, we're under review, that's simply telling us that we're all being watched. We need to be careful. Now, frankly, I don't think that's going to affect any of us. But just the fact that the threat was made is very disappointing.

And, finally, Anderson, one final thing, and this is a big one. This is -- this is the one that really matters. The White House just messaged the entire American intelligence community if you stand up and say things that upset the president or with which he disagrees, he will punish you. And that is a horrible message to be sending to folks who are there to tell you objective truth.

COOPER: Well, yes, let's drill down just on that last point, because I do think it's a very important one, and one maybe that kind of got lost in a lot of the coverage today. You know, just explain the role of what intelligence officials are supposed to be doing for the president, just in terms of giving the president information that the president may not want to hear, if they suddenly are afraid -- that can have a big impact, a potentially very negative impact.

HAYDEN: Yes. And to be fair to this president, this happens with all presidents. We even have a name for it, Anderson. Well call it the "phenomenon of the unpleasant fact" where you go in there with something that cuts across the president's policy, politics, preferences or personality, and you better be ready to stand your ground. And that's always hard.

But what we just saw here is a president who seems to be willing to punish those people, admittedly all out of government, or most of us anyway, who want the stand our ground. That's a disservice to himself. He is undercutting the very people who should be able to bring him things.

Look, we had serious arguments within the Bush administration with regard to Iranian weapons of mass destruction, and whether or not they stopped their nuclear weapons program. We had deep arguments, but the president never, the vice president never tried to delegitimize us.

COOPER: Can you just explain why former intelligence officials like yourselves retain security clearances or traditionally have? I mean, it's not just a status symbol or a kind of a favor, you know, a favor.


COOPER: There is a reason for it.

HAYDEN: Yes. Yes, there is. And frankly, Anderson, it's not confined to just the most senior levels of the American intelligence community. There are literally tens of thousands of folks in kind of my status as retired who retained their clearances for very positive reasons.

[20:10:08] They go work for industries. They're advisers to the government. They're called in.

In my case, and I can tell you very candidly, I formalized while I was director an informal process by actually codifying that all former directors would have a permanent clearance so that I could call on them at any time. And so, the fact that we're being singled out is being tied to our monetizing this or why do these guys have this, but it's only this small group they're paying attention to. The universe of people like us is really large, and for good reason.

COOPER: But I also think the point of -- you know, I imagine a lonely position running the CIA, given the amount of information you have access to, to be able to call up a former head of the CIA and talk about a specific issue from the past that that person may have dealt with, just from a security standpoint, that would seem to have value.

HAYDEN: Oh, absolutely. And in my own life as retiree, I've actually had the agency call me and say, hey, Mr. Director, do you remember that trip to Islamabad back in '07. Do you recall the meeting with and, you know, fill in the blank, because the historical record, the written record isn't quite clear. And they want to kind of plum your memory to make sure they have a good position when it comes to talking to Pakistanis.

In other case, I've called folks in and said, this one's got me stumped. Have you ever seen this before? Is this new, or is it just new to me? And you ask these good folks who offer you advice.

COOPER: The reporting by Jim Sciutto that the president did not consult with the current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, on this, does that --


COOPER: -- surprise you? I mean, should -- is that -- if this really is a legitimate review based on national security issues, is he somebody who could be kind of looped in?

HAYDEN: Yes, let me give you an odd answer, Anderson. It shocked me and did not surprise me. It shocked me that this would be done without any sense of process, but it did not surprise me because frankly, I -- I don't want to imply anything with the current leadership, but frankly, I can't imagine Senator Coats or Director Haspel or any of the other leaders signing on to this for cause, saying this is a good idea because.

So I'm not surprised at all that they weren't consulted. I'm shocked that the White House thought it was OK not to consult them.

COOPER: So, General Hayden, do you think your security clearance is going to be taken away?

HAYDEN: I don't know. But, Anderson, I hope this interview is evidence. I don't intend to change what I say or think or write. And I'll just let the chips fall where they may.

Look, I've had clearance for about 50 years, and I don't need to keep it in perpetuity until the day I die, particularly if my retaining a clearance would seem to be sending a signal that I've somehow accommodated by beliefs to the demands of the current administration.

COOPER: General Hayden, I appreciate you getting off a plane and talking to us. Thank you very much.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to bring in our political analyst Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent, of course, for "The New York Times," David Gergen who served in Democratic and Republican White Houses alike, going back to Richard Nixon, who had a list of his own enemies, of course, famously. Also, legendary investigative reporter Carl Bernstein.

So, Maggie, what do you make of President Trump today? I mean, the backdated statement notwithstanding, how much is this about changing the subject? How much of this is having power against his critics or some combination thereof?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it's a lot of things. I think the backdating of that statement was important. I don't think it was backdated. I think that was when they started looking at this. And I think because there tends to be a keystone cops aspect to how very serious things are executed by this administration, that was what went out initially because it wasn't even looked at. It was just fired off.

Look, I think that part of this is the White House has been really shaken up by the Omarosa book. They have seemed unable to get their hands around it. I think the president has been bested by his own tricks. He does not know what's on those tapes.

Being out of control is something that makes him feel very nervous and anxious and uncomfortable. And so, I think some of these was turning around to look strong, as if you are punching someone else, and fine.

But this was done with no process. I still can't get clarity from anyone I talked to about exactly what the guideline is here, what's the rule? When I ask the question, what is this decision based on?

Well, you can't have somebody like this, you know, becoming partisan. You can't have such a prominent national security official with clearance so at odds and at war with the administration, engaging in this way.

[20:15:03] What about Michael Flynn who chanted "lock her up" at the Republican National Convention?

COOPER: Right. John Bolton.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COOPER: He had a security clearance while he was on Fox, you know, trashing the prior administration.

HABERMAN: Correct, correct.

And so, I mean, there is no consistent standard here and the line is very clear that these are people I think that General Hayden had it correct, that these are people who have been critical of the president and/or are somehow tied in some way, even if it's distant, to the dossier that while it did not start the Russia investigation, the president continues to insist it did. And so, it's impossible pick one apart.

There are legitimate reasons to talk about whether people should have clearances in perpetuity. And that's a fine discussion to have. But this is not how you have that conversation.

COOPER: David, I don't want to dramatize this in any way, but is there, as far as you know, any precedent for this in the history of -- I mean, obviously, people have had security clearances revoked. Have they ever had them revoked for being a critic of the president?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Everyone's scrambling to find the answer to that, Anderson. So far, no one has. I can't remember anything like that. People have had their security clearances revoked for cause. But there is no apparent cause here.

I do think Maggie makes an important point that theoretically, you know, there is no reason why when officials leave public service, they should carry their security clearances with them. They can always come -- if they're called back in, they can always have a one-day clearance and have a frank conversation.

But the way the president goes about these things, as usual, is so obnoxious and outrageous and so destructive of our norms that he tramples upon whatever argument he and his administration may have, and instead what you have is a clear-cut case, I don't think there is any controversy about, he is simply going after his critics to silence them, to punish them because Brennan in particular has been tough on him.

But what is lost in all of this, Anderson, if I may make one final point is the tradition that presidents and their administrations have frequently in years past reached out to the other side and asked for help, asked for wisdom, asked for experience. When John Kennedy had his Bay of Pig, he called in President Eisenhower after it was over to help him think it through, what he had done right and what he had done wrong. Bill Clinton told me the most important adviser he had on the Soviet Union was none other than Richard Nixon. They had a private set of conversations going.

And Barack Obama, who did he turn to, who did he look to for a model, a role model of how to do foreign policy? It was George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker. He called Baker in.

You know, all of that has been lost. And I think it's -- you know, when you get beyond the Trump personality and all of his obsession, we're also losing something very fundamental.

COOPER: You know, Carl, everybody knows about President Nixon famous to having an enemies list. Is this comparable to that?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Yes, but it's worse, because it's hard to make an argument that Richard Nixon was a threat to the security, the national security of the United States. In this statement from the president and his people, they are saying that Brennan's erratic behavior and conduct threatened the national security.

It's the erratic behavior and conduct of Donald Trump that is a threat to the national security through actions such as this and through what we saw in Helsinki and through what we saw in the oval office in the presence of the Russian ambassador when he revealed national security secrets. This is a reckless president of the United States with no regard for the rule of law or tradition and for decency in terms of people expressing their legitimate freedom of speech.

Mr. Brennan has a right to freedom of speech, critic or no critic. It should not strip him of his ability to practice his livelihood. He is, as far as we know, he has been a great patriotic American, served presidents of both parties. This is an unheard of, unprecedented action by a retributive president of the United States.

COOPER: Yes, I want to pick this conversation up after the break. It's an important one.

And also later in the program, is the Omarosa Manigault Newman story a case of Trump versus lesser Trumps? We're joined by columnist Frank Bruni, he thinks so, and Paris Dennard, find out what he thinks.

Also tonight, the Paul Manafort case is now up to the jury. We'll have details on closing arguments and what the judge had to say ahead on the program.


COOPER: Before the break, former CIA Director Michael Hayden offered a stinging critic of President Trump's decision to pull John Brennan's security clearance, threatening his clearance and that of others. Listen.


HAYDEN: That was a threat that was put out there from the White House press room. In essence, we're under review. That's simply telling us that we're all being watched. We need to be careful.

Now, frankly, I don't think that's going to affect any of us. But just the fact that the threat was made is very disappointing.

And finally, Anderson, one final thing, and that is the big one. This is the one that really matters. The White House just messaged the entire American intelligence community if you stand up and say things that upset the president or with which he disagrees, he will punish you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: We're back with Maggie Haberman, David Gergen and Carl Bernstein.

Maggie, you just heard Michael Hayden say this isn't going to change anything that he says about the president. Clapper has said the same thing.

How likely is it, do you think, that the president will do to them what he did to John Brennan?

HABERMAN: Oh, I think it's a possibility that he'll continue to hang over people's heads, including people that don't have their clearance anymore, which was -- again, I mentioned the keystone cops aspect of this in the previous block which is unfortunately clouds how serous this actually is. But it is aimed at trying. It is supposed to be an anvil hanging over people's heads. I might do this, I might not, so you are should just be careful. And since only I, the president, know where this line is and there's no process, if you cross it, I will know. So you should be afraid of that.

Paul Ryan, when the president first started this about the clearances a couple of weeks ago, the House speaker said that he thought the president was, and I quote, trolling people with this, in other words, trying to provoke a reaction, wasn't really serious. As we know over and over, what Donald Trump says gets dismissed as that's just how he talks or wait until he asks a few times or says it a few times. He's clearly said this a few times.

And if you take out the name President Trump and put in President Obama and he did something similar, you have to ask yourself how quickly this Congress would be reacting and calling for a hearing and all sorts of other things.

COOPER: Yes, and how little Republicans acting right now.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COOPER: I mean, David, the fact that the president says John Brennan has displayed, and I'm quoting erratic conduct and behavior -- I mean, it would sort of be funny or ironic, if it wasn't actually serious and coming from the president of the United States.

GERGEN: Well, certainly. It's very rich for this White House to be talking about the erratic behavior of John Brennan and about his, quote, wild outbursts. It's just unbelievable that they choose those rationale.

Listen, I think there is a good chance that if the president sees a way clear, if he has a path forward to bring the ax down on these other people, he will do that. He clearly is trying to delegitimize people, to minimize their importance in the public square, and I'm sure he wants to take some of the fire out of John Brennan, if he can, if he can minimize who he is before the Mueller report comes down and we have a whole big new national debate. The more he can get rid of his critics the better from his point of view. But I think it's going to backfire on him. John Brennan is going to get more attention, have more access to the

airwaves as a result of this.

COOPER: Carl, do you have any doubt? Maggie talked about this a little before. Do you have any doubt that this at least in part and the announcement of it today is a desire to change the discussion away from Omarosa Manigault Newman?

BERNSTEIN: Not just Omarosa, but also this is happening when the Mueller investigation is closing in on Donald Trump, his family, and his associates, both in terms of collusion, real collusion and obstruction of justice. It's no accident whatsoever.

The other thing, though, what we're seeing today is this is what dictators do. This is a dictatorial exercise of power that should frighten and call on all Republicans to say, Mr. President, you cannot do this. You are trying to inhibit the free speech of people who may be in opposition to you, but they have a right to express themselves. This is an act of authoritarianism and demagoguery which defines who Donald Trump is and his total disregard for the First Amendment as we have seen when he calls the press the enemies of the people.

Now, the national security and intelligence bureaucracy that has served the nation well through the last 20, 25 years is also being called, in essence, an enemy of the people by a president whose actions are inimical to the interests of the people of this country. And that's really what all this is about, and this is noise to distract from his own inimical conduct and behavior which is beyond anything we have seen from any president of the United States, certainly in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.

COOPER: Maggie, I wonder what you make of General Hayden's raising the concern tonight about the impact it has on others who are currently in the intelligence community about their willingness to speak truth to power essentially when speaking to the president, when giving perhaps information the president doesn't want to hear, their willingness to do that, and perhaps their willingness to what happens once they leave their positions if they can't get a -- keep a security clearance for a corporate job or continue a career.

HABERMAN: I think it's a legitimate concern. Again, look, I think you can have a rational discussion about how clearances are kept when people leave their jobs, and I think that that is a separate conversation from whether they might be critical of the person currently in the seat.

I think that in terms of the effect that it could have on people who are currently there and part of the national security apparatus, it absolutely could have a chilling effect on how people give him information, on how willing people are willing to be in terms of forthcoming. It also I think has an intended effect on whistle- blowers who could also be speaking to various types of authorities, who could be speaks to the special counsel's investigators, who could be speaking to all kinds of people.

This is -- we have not seen something like this that I can remember, and it is stunning. And it will get dismissed as he is trying to change the subject, or this is all about Omarosa. And those things are true. But it is a dramatic escalation from anything that we have seen him do. It's a reminder of how much of our system is norms, not laws.

And it is impossible to imagine Congress not acting with any other president previously. Paul Ryan has been completely silent about this today.

COOPER: David, you know, to Maggie's point about sort of this kind of being a big escalation, imagine -- it's hard to imagine what might happen if the president really is cornered in a legal framework by Mueller or in some other way, what norm will then be pushed over. I mean, if this is what is happening at this stage, if there actually is, you know, more than smoke, if there is actually fire in some of these allegations, there's no really telling what direction it's going to, you know, potentially lash out at.

GERGEN: I agree. Because they go to Carl's point. This President has very strong authoritarian instincts, and we don't know what he's going to do if cornered. You know, he could be like a -- you know, he likes to use animal analogies. Animals when cornered, you know, strike out. And I think that's the intention, part of the drama of all of this is we don't know what he's going to do next because he will knock over all the norms. He is very destructive. He is contemptuous, contemptuous of past traditions and people.

And this is all about saving him and, you know, preserving his legitimacy. And I think we are in very, very unknown territory. I don't think the danger, frankly, is that of civil servants, national security officials feeling inhibited about talking to the President that problem has been out there since the beginning. I think the real issue here is whether the President is going to knock over all these norms, and whether the next President is going to go back to tradition or whether the next President, we're going to be in a wholly different place in our society where lying is acceptable, where this kind of obnoxious behavior is acceptable.

COOPER: Yes, is this the new normal. Maggie Haberman, David Gergen --


COOPER: -- Carl Bernstein, thanks very much.

Whether or not the President's announcement today was designed as a distraction, Omarosa Manigault-Newman continues to make headlines. Ahead, what her employment in the White House says about the kind of people the President has chosen to surround himself with.


COOPER: As we noted earlier in the program, the date listed on the President's directive of revoking John Brennan's security clearance raises the question whether the announcement today was made at least to detract from claims Omarosa Manigault-Newman has been making against the White House. "New York Times" columnist Frank Bruni wrote about the fight between Manigault-Newman and the President. His op-ed today carrying the headline the revenge of the lesser Trumps.

Frank Bruni joins us now along with CNN political commentator Paris Denard. So in this piece, you said, and I quote, "The problem with being Donald Trump isn't just being Donald Trump. It's all the other lesser Trumps around you. It's the versions of yourself that you create, the echoes of yourself that you inspire. They'll devour you in the end". What do you mean by the lesser Trumps? Who are they? And is he being devoured by them?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they're trying their best. And I'm talking about Omarosa. I'm talking about Michael Cohen. I'm talking about to some extent Paul Manafort. People who ended up in his orbit I think in part because he saw bits of himself in them, and people who I think have taken cues from him and are turning his lessons against him. As you watch Omarosa on this book tour, you can't help but say to yourself she reminds you of Donald Trump, you know, meting out the revelations one by one, contradicting herself and leaving us to puzzle through it, hurling bold accusations, knowing that will capture the news cycle, whether she can back them up or not.

[20:35:12] Who does that sound like? That sounds like the President of the United States, the person she worked for. I think that's one of the reasons it's so mesmerizing to us, and I think so it's one of the reasons it gets so deep under his skin.

COOPER: And also perhaps one of the reasons that, it seems like the White House is struggling to figure out exactly how to counteract this.

BRUNI: And doing a terrible job. Because, would she have gotten nearly the attention she has this week, would her book be at number two the last time I looked on Amazon if Donald Trump hadn't tweeted what he had. I mean he has made this much worse just as he did to fire --

COOPER: With at least 10 tweets about her.

BRUNI: Yes, yes. I mean -- but he did the same thing with fire and fury.

COOPER: Right.

BRUNI: And this is not a strategy. This is not him deciding it's the best course. This is him operating on anger and emotion alone.

COOPER: Paris, Tim O'Brien wrote, who -- you know, famously was sued by Donald Trump, wrote a column about all this entitled "Trump and Omarosa Are Kind Red Spirits." Do you buy that at all that they're kindred spirits? Are there similarities there in the way that they to Frank's point promote themselves, counter punch the methods that they use?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, I think it's hard to say that Omarosa did not have an example of how to be an effective communicator, did not have an example of how to punch hard, and didn't have an effective example of the then Donald Trump when she was a person, appearing on "The Apprentice."

Look, since 2004 until 2017, she was attached to the Donald Trump enterprise and "The Apprentice" and his orbit. And so she understands. She knows. I mean in the book that she wrote, she attributes a lot, the first book, the B-Switch book, to Donald Trump and the boardroom and learning from him. So I think there is some truth to the fact that she might have learned how to be strong, how to be effective, how to be what she is doing now in terms of manipulating the media to get what they want. That's what Donald Trump was known for doing in the past.

But I think right now what you see, I don't think these are lesser Trumps. I think what you saw and what you see are people who signed up because they actually believed in the President's make America great again agenda. I think they actually wanted to serve and were inspired by him. And I think the American people said you know what? If I can have some nontraditional people around the President who believe in trying to help make America great again, I'll take them --

COOPER: Do you think --

DENNARD: -- over people like the governor of New York who says America was never that great.

COOPER: Do you believe Omarosa was one of those people who really was inspired by Donald Trump and wanted to serve for those purposes?

DENNARD: Absolutely, absolutely. No question about it. In Omarosa's first -- one of her earlier book, B-Switch, she says that she wanted to be -- I think she even said in an interview, she wanted to be a billionaire. She wanted to be like him.

COOPER: Right.

DENNARD: She wanted -- she -- because if and today Donald Trump is --

COOPER: You know, I mean certainly in the White House is different than wanting to be a billionaire.

DENNARD: That's true. And I think she was inspired by his message and wanted to be effective in opening up the party and taking his message to the black community. That's why she signed up to work on the campaign in transition.

COOPER: So what happened?

DENNARD: Well, what happened is she was fired, and her feelings were hurt, and she realized her money stream was over. And she decided to go against him, and she was plotting a lot of this along the way, because, again, it's about survival. The President views people -- I think Lynne Patton said this. The President views people in wins and losses, and she was look at this, I got to win. I got to be number one. That's why she -- COOPER: So wait a minute. On the other hand you're saying that she

was a true believer and she got into it for all the right reasons but -- are that was the firing that turned her, but she was -- seems like she was laying the groundwork for quite a while. I mean she's recording stuff, you know, from back in what, 2016 before she was even in the White House that would seem to indicate a level of forethought that wasn't just freaking out over being fired.

DENNARD: Well, Anderson, I don't want to believe that the Omarosa that I know, or that I knew, the Omarosa that was talking to the American people and to the black community for since 2016 was that diabolical and was that --

COOPER: Really, Paris?

DENNARD: To be doing that since then.

COOPER: OK. All right.

DENNARD: I just thought -- I don't believe that that's -- I can't believe that she was doing that because she was so convincing to me.


DENNARD: And to other people that she believed in this President and his mission to help the black community and help urban communities.

COOPER: I think that reflects well on you that you don't want to believe that about her. But I mean frank, just the evidence from, again, I'm not a student of the celebrity apprentice or whatever apprentice she was on, but that seemed to be her calling card. (INAUDIBLE) I mean I saw her a little bit on "Celebrity Big Brother" after she was fired. And I mean, she was kind of masterful. I mean.

BRUNI: That is the sunniest spin on Omarosa I've ever heard. She's the hidden the -- no come on.

[20:40:02] COOPER: Again, i think it reflects the person at heart.

BRUNI: I wish I had that kind of idealism. But she is the epitome of an opportunist. And as you pointed out, she was tape recording her conversations along the way, not because she was aboard to make America great again, but because she was an opportunist who was beginning to see that the walls might close in on her and she wanted protection. So that's the truth to Omarosa.

COOPER: She -- I mean, you know, Paris, I mean she's been on, you know, talk shows and dissing people from -- I mean that's -- isn't that -- this has been her calling card from the get-go, hasn't it?

DENNARD: It has been her calling card. But, again, I think a lot of people and I think the President felt that when she signed up to be in public service, when she signed up to be a public service to get to work on the campaign, that it was not Omarosa the actress, the reality TV star, it was Omarosa the person who wants to serve and serve this President. But -- and I think that is what Donald Trump inspired in people. And that's why so many people came and actually elected him President.

COPOPER: All right, Paris Dennard, thank you very much. Frank Bruni, appreciate it.

Up next, the jury set to begin deliberations on the Paul Manafort fraud trial. How both sides made their closing arguments when we continue.


COOPER: Well jury deliberations begin tomorrow morning in the trial of former Trump chairman Paul Manafort after closing arguments were heard today. Manafort, as you know, facing 18 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud. His defense team wrapped the case without calling a single witness. Prosecutors called 27 witnesses to the stand, put 388 exhibits into evidence over the 12-day trial. The first case brought to trial by Robert Mueller's team. Jessica Schneider was in the courtroom today. She joins us with more. So what was more of the prosecution's closing argument?

[20:45:08] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, prosecutors really stressed two main themes here today. They said, first of all, Paul Manafort is not above the law. And secondly, they repeatedly accused him of lying. They said he lied to the government, they lied -- he lied to the book keepers, that he also lied to the bankers. They said that his financial records and his e-mails were just littered with lies. So lying was the big theme for prosecutors.

They also talked about Rick Gates. Of course, that's Paul Manafort's former right-hand man who has since flipped. He's pleaded guilty. He's now cooperating with the special counsel. And the prosecutors really own up to it. They said, look Rick might not be a boy scout, as they put it, but they said the function of Rick Gates was to really corroborate all the evidence that was right there in black and white, right there in the documents. So they said don't believe all of these bad things that the defense team is saying about Rick Gates. Really, take Rick Gates' testimony, match it up with the documents, and we believe we've proved our case.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, they were pointing out the importance of the documents. The defense, though, was again trying to go after Rick Gates more, correct?

SCHNEIDER: In fact, at one point, the defense attorney Kevin Downing turned to the jury and said point-blank, he said Rick Gates has been lying to you. The defense team was trying to flip this saying that the only reason Rick Gates has cooperated with prosecutors is to save himself from prison. They said that prosecutors were desperate to make their case against Manafort. That's why they relied on Rick Gates.

The defense team also did something somewhat controversial in the (INAUDIBLE)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: -- are lies. There's no dispute about that. The bank applications are full of lies. I mean -- and the defense, you know, they had nothing to say about that. I mean, I just -- this case is a complete mystery to me why it went to trial.

COOPER: The fact that the defense didn't put any witnesses on the stand, did that -- I mean, you know, obviously they're not going to put Manafort on.


COOPER: But did it surprise you they didn't put anybody?

TOOBIN: You know, I mean it's usually the case that defendants put their case in through the cross-examination of the government's witnesses. It is also usually the case that defendants get convicted because -- and especially in federal court, and especially in the northern district of Virginia, the so-called rocket docket, where it's a pro prosecution jury pool. It's upwards of 90% of defendants get convicted. And in a case like this, I just don't see what choice the jury has.

COOPER: It does seem smart for the prosecution -- I mean and sort of the obvious thing to do which is telling the jury put your faith in the documents. If you don't believe Rick Gates, fine, you know, yes, fine he may be unreliable. The documents alone are not.

TOOBIN: That's right. And, you know, especially in federal court, the prosecutors use cooperators all the time. And defense attorneys quite appropriately say they're liar, they're terrible people. The government chose these people, and the response was the prosecutors did here is no, no, we didn't choose the witnesses in this case. Paul Manafort chose the witnesses in this case. He's the one who was partners with Rick Gates. He's the one who was working with these foreign bank accounts with him.

You know, why is he suddenly such a terrible person when he is simply telling you what they did together?

COOPER: I mean it's basically the argument some are making about Omarosa Manigault-Newman and the President.

TOOBIN: I was thinking the same thing.

COOPER: It's who you surround yourself with.

TOOBIN: Exactly, you know, suddenly Omarosa is so terrible. At least Donald Trump doesn't have to worry at this moment about a prosecution.

COOPER: But just in terms of Manafort's legal troubles, they have no life after this. I mean there's more.

[20:49:57] TOOBIN: Oh, yes, a similar but somewhat different case is due just in a few weeks in the District of Columbia in Washington. I have my doubts about whether that case will actually go to trial.


TOOBIN: Because I don't believe that Manafort has the resources or even the will to go through this again.

COOPER: So you think a plea bargain?

TOOBIN: I think he -- well, I don't think he has any bargaining power. I think he would just as they say eat the indictment. I think he would just simply plead guilty because, you know, the expense. It's very draining to sit there and listen to people say terrible things about you. It's very expensive --

COOPER: It's like being on Twitter.

TOOBIN: Yes. It's like -- except more jail afterwards.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much. We'll see.

Well, check with Chris, see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing, my friend? Interesting show. I am watching and learning as we go along.

We have James Clapper on tonight to give us some perspective not just on whether he likes this move or not. I love listening to General Hayden talk about the practicalities. I want to dig into that more with Clapper. How much did he use the team before him to help him in his job? What does he know about the current team and what might happen and what might this move to all that? And f course as you noted earlier, this is a big fat distraction.

And we're not going to let us distract it -- let it distract us from what matters. We're going to talk about this top 10 enemies list, what this is really about and what they don't want us to talk about tonight. We'll get after it anyway.

COOPER: All right. Nine minutes from now. Chris, thanks very much. I'll see you then.

Up next, I've done a lot of stories certainly on immigration issues. Never quite seen a story like this. We'll explain ahead.


[20:55:00] COOPER: If you're a regular viewer of the program, you know, we've covered a lot of angles in the immigration issue. We talk to people on all sides of the story, been on patrol of Mexican police in Juarez, crawled through drug tunnels between the U.S. and Mexico. We haven't seen a story quite like this like the one Gary Tuchman filed for us tonight. And we should note that we've just gotten word there has been some significant development in the story. We'll bring you that in a moment. But first here's Gary's report.


ANGELA BECERRA, IMMIGRANT: Mommy, this is a dolphin.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angela Becerra seems like a normal 4-year-old American girl living in Colorado with her two American parents.

A. BECERRA: I like bread with salt and chocolate bread with candy.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Chocolate bread with candy?

(voice-over): But things are far from normal in their household. That's because Angela might end up being deported. How could this happen?

(on-camera): This week you have found out from the U.S. government that it has been denied her becoming a U.S. citizen.



TUCHMAN (on-camera): And technically as of August 31st she could be deported.



TUCHMAN (voice-over): Angela was born in Peru and was abandoned ending up in an orphanage. Her parents Amy and Marco were working in Peru at the time, Amy working in that same orphanage. She and her husband who is a dual peruvian-U.S. citizen fell in love with the malnourish 12-day-old Angela and applied to adopt her in Peru.

A. BECERRA: We knew it would take two years once we were approved and given custody.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): These Peruvian records translated into English show they were given provisional adoption which is legal custody when Angela was five months old. The adoption was made official when Angela was 2 1/2. The family made the decision to move back home to Colorado but first went to the U.S. embassy in Lima, Peru to ask about the procedure for Angela to become a U.S. citizen.

A. BECERRA: We had verbal confirmation from the embassy that it would take -- that they would do everything they could to get it done in two weeks and four weeks maximum.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But months went by and nothing happened. This past February Amy and Marco got a tourist visa for Angela and brought her home. But the tourist visa expires on August 31st. And just days ago they got this word from U.S. citizenship and immigration services. Angela has been denied. The main reason cited? You have failed to demonstrate that you have had legal custody of the beneficiary for two years prior to filing this form.

A. BECERRA: It said we had not demonstrated that we had full legal custody prior to July 2017. And we had it from October 23rd, 2014. And it's stated in four different court documents.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have not returned our phone calls or e-mail. But Amy says a person from the agency's Missouri office just called her on the phone and told her the agency does have the right to reopen cases.

A. BECERRA: And due to the complexities of your case we have decided to reopen your case.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But Amy and Marco have no idea if that is significant or just lip service. As of now their daughter is still on the verge of being declared undocumented. Little Angela is scheduled to start preschool five days before she could be deported.

(on-camera): You want me to hit your hand, right? Ah! Let me try again. Let me try again.

(voice-over): And if nothing changes this family has to decide whether to go back to Peru or keep their daughter here illegally and fight. But they hope the phone call could possibly mean that somebody has seen the wisdom of allowing two American parents to keep their daughter in America. And if that decision comes --

M. BECERRA: We'll make a big party.

A. BECERRA: Yes. Yes, big part. Yes, big party.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): It will be a great day in this house.


M. BECERRA: It will be great.


COOPER: Gary joins us now. So I understand there's actually some new developments to the story. What's happening?

TUCHMAN: Huge developments, Anderson. Just a short while ago I got a call from the congressman for this district, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. He tells me he had a meeting today with immigration officials here in the Denver area and he says the immigration officials have told him they have decided to reverse their decision about Angela, that she will be allowed to become a U.S. citizen. This just happening. We're told that they have issued a waiver in the best interest of the child. It will take a few months to finalize everything. But as of right now, she has automatic residency, her parents no longer have anything to worry about.

So in a one-week span she was denied. Then the case was reopened. Then the case has been reversed. We should tell you, Anderson, that Congressman Mike Coffman deserves a lot of credit here. The family reached out to him and he's the one who held this meeting. He's the one who's making the announcement. But to his credit he's giving the news media credit too for all the attention being paid.

So either way, for this family, for this little girl, for the parents and for common sense this is all good news. And now they can have their party. Anderson. COOPER: Yes, party, that's great. Gary, appreciate it, thanks very much. Really an amazing story.

Just a reminder for our viewers don't miss our interactive daily newscast on Facebook "Full Circle". You can watch at weeknight, 6:25 p.m. eastern only on Facebook. You'll find it at, it's all one word. We'll see you there tomorrow. Again, 8:00 p.m. eastern of course here on CNN tomorrow night.

[21:00:03] The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time".