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Report: Paul Manafort Sought A Plea Deal to Avoid A Second Trial According to "The Wall Street Journal"; White House Is Mum on McCain Chaos, Sessions, North Korea; Giuliani Says No Word from Mueller On Trump Interview; Google Rejects Trump's Claim That Searches Are Determined by Ideology; Senator Graham Gives Tribute to His Friend McCain on The Senate Floor. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being here. Just one week after a jury in Virginia convicted Paul Manafort on eight federal charges, a federal judge in Washington, DC has delayed opening statements in his second criminal trial by a week. The defense team for President Trump's former campaign chairman also wants the trial moved out of the nation's capital. This as "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Manafort actually tried to strike a plea deal with prosecutors this time around but apparently it fell through. CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupesz is on this is so talk to me just about what this second trial entails and what we know about that plea deal that did not quite go through.

SHIMON PROKUPESZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So, Brooke, certainly the second trial will likely focus a lot more on Paul Manafort's foreign work. We'll hear more details about his work for the Ukrainian government, so that should come up. You know, it is likely we may even hear the word Russia because these were pro-Russian moves here in the Ukraine that he was work -- people in the Ukraine he was working for. We may hear a lot more about his foreign work. Of course, this is what the trial is about. The fact that he didn't file, he didn't report the work for the Ukrainian government and also there is money laundering charges. So, this could be quite nor interesting than what we saw in the Alexandria, Virginia trial in that though will focus a lot on the money he made we'll hear a lot more color, a lot more of what Paul Manafort had been doing, of course, before he joined the Trump campaign, Brooke.

Now as to that plea deal that "The Wall Street Journal" was reporting on, our information it appears to be sort of something that both prosecutors and the defense team briefly worked on. It was perhaps to avoid a second trial. Of course, given that Paul Manafort had already been convicted it could be that both sides are trying to work out a deal just essentially to avoid this other trial. The other thing that is important to note here is that this doesn't appear to be some kind of a flip deal where Paul Manafort would have agreed to cooperate with the government and strictly appears to be something they were working on to try to avoid this second trial which as you said is now going to start on September 24th.

BALDWIN: Go it, Shimon, thank you for that. Let's talk about all of this and so much more here. We've got a great group of people. CNN national reporter MJ Lee, CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin, who

was a former special assistant to Bob Mueller, CNN political analyst Julie Hirschfeld Davis. She is a White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and Chris Cillizza, our politics reporter and editor at large.

I'm a big fan of taking a 30,000-foot view, if I may hear at first. Then we will get into the Manafort weaves in a second. The Julie let me start with you. The delayed back and forth surrounding how the White House to honor John McCain, the North Korea story warning that the denuclearization talks could fall apart, the Trump Foundation CFO facing immunity, a public spat continuing with Jeff Sessions. We thought we would have a briefing today where some of that would be addressed. That is not happening but of all of the above what's at the top of the list for the White House to take on?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, certainly the fact that the legal troubles are continuing and some of the developments out of the Manafort trial and the investigation seem to be progressing is a constant worry for the president. That's certainly also the case in terms of Michael Cohen and what's going on with that case. They know that there's a lot that's hanging throughout and a lot of potential revelations that could be damaging to him so that's like a constant worry in the background.

The McCain thing this week, I think it is going to be, frankly, a very difficult week for the president. We saw the back and forth with the flag and the statement and no statement and, you know, in the end he did put one out and this is going to be a week intensely focused on remembering John McCain as a hero and we know the president didn't like John McCain very much, felt he was a rival and adversary and out to get him and will have to watch that unfold and he is not going to be a part of it.

And then, of course, on some of the things that were positive items that he was really sort of touting with voters and polls tell us are more positive in the minds of the public in terms of the economy and North Korea, the fact that, you know, we have seen the North Korea issue sort of turn against where the White House was hoping that it would go is a disappointment to them for sure.

BALDWIN: The flip on North Korea. This whole, you know, flag flap with this president and, you know, Chris, you and I were on TV yesterday talking about how it will be a mighty long week for the president because it won't be about him.

[14:05:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: That's right. It will be about someone who as Julie said he didn't like and didn't get along with. I'll -- give me Jeff Sessions out of the list of stories, Brooke. I'll tell you why. This feels like it's a couple things. It's Donald Trump's personal enmity. You have Lindsey Graham saying that this is an unhealable relationship. Something needs to change.

BALDWIN: We have that. Let me hit pause. Roll the sound from the "Today Show."


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president lost confidence in Jeff Sessions. I'm telling you what everybody in the country knows. This is a dysfunctional relationship. We need a better one. Is there somebody who's highly qualified that has the confidence of the president and will also understand their job is to protect Mueller in yes. We can find that person after the election if that's what the president wants.


CILLIZZA: There you go. I think that piece that Senator graham mentioned to protect Mueller. Sessions is most intriguing. Not just a Donald Trump fighting with another cabinet member. Right? It is that. It is also this is the guy who's the head of the justice department. The justice department is the one that formed the special counsel. That continues as Julie mentioned to be this sort of undercurrent. Is bob Mueller going to sit down with Donald Trump? When will the report come out? How will Donald Trump react in feels like to me Sessions is wrapped up in that. Trump may not get rid of Sessions as he would like for near of how it looks in the Mueller investigation. Maybe Lindsay Graham is giving him an opening for after the election to get rid of him.

BALDWIN: What do you think about that? We have talked so many times of is everybody on the Jeff Sessions watch? Might his days be numbered? How do you see it?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: It is really fascinating and kind of amazing that Jeff Sessions is still in the position he is in. Right? You have seen so many people from cabinet members to White House aides go in and out of this administration because things have been so tumultuous and Jeff Sessions has taken a lot of public heat from the president. He has made it very, very clear whether it's on Twitter or in his public statements that he is not a fan of Jeff Sessions being in that position and he has sort of decided to stick it out an to I think it's not even sort of surprising that Lindsay Graham would point out the obvious which is that this relationship really soured and not a good relationship. But I think Chris makes a good point that the key thing in what Lindsay Graham said is this needs to be a person to protect the Mueller investigation. That, of course, in contrast to President Trump's own view of the Mueller investigation which is that he's constantly calling it a Russia witch hunt and it is politically motivated.

BALDWIN: Quick note to everyone. We will be seeing Senator Graham on the floor of the U.S. Senate in a couple of minutes speaking about his dear friend, the late Senator John McCain. We'll take it live when we see him. Michael, I want to move to you. Dana Bash has new reporting that the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said they have not heard back from Robert Mueller's office in nearly three weeks. Any idea why and might the answer start with a "S"?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, firstly, I guess I have to take issue with Rudy Giuliani being Trump's lawyer as it relates to the Mueller investigation. He is not in communication with the special counsel's office. It is the Raskins and Emmet Flood who have done that. They have written a letter to Mueller and said here's the terms under which we could proceed. Mueller has not responded. Why he has not responded is anybody's guess. Could be there's a shoe to drop and he is just biding his time. It would be that the 60 days are approaching that he's not supposed to do something substantial with respect to an election and just therefore biding his time. Or he's otherwise preoccupied. But we just don't know. It is true that the Raskins wrote a letter and ----

BALDWIN: Subpoena?

ZELDIN: Mueller hasn't responded.

BALDWIN: Might they be cooking up a subpoena? Might that be a possibility?

ZELDIN: It is possible. I think they would like to negotiate the terms of an interview of some sort, whether it be written or oral or oral with respect to collusion and written with respect to perhaps obstruction. Maybe it is that Mueller is biding his time because he's going to the Justice department and saying, hey, look. I want to subpoena this guy. And they're negotiating the terms of that. Rosenstein has to approve that subpoena. May be that Mueller is saying to the OLC, can you revisit -- we can't indict a sitting president. There's all sorts of possibilities out there. Silence is silence. We don't know why.

BALDWIN: Got it. Chris, let me end with you on something that the president tweeted about at the ripe hour of 5:00 a.m. claiming Google search results are political biased and it's my understanding that you think perhaps this was a tweet result of Trump watching too much of that other TV channel.

[14:10:00] CILLIZZA: Yes. Look. Fox Business had one of his favorite hosts Lou Dobbs talking about this is from PJ Media, sort of a non-scientific attempt to divine the algorithm that Google uses to produce your news results in your news results are different than my news results. I want to read I think we have the Google statement


CILLIZZA: Let me --

BALDWIN: Here you go.

CILLIZZA: Search is not used to set a political agenda. We don't bias our results toward any political ideology. We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.

Here's what's tough about this. First of all, I think Google's 100 percent right. Here's what's tough. This is a conspiracy theory. OK? What's impossible to disprove is what Google uses because their algorithm is secret. So, I can't disprove the sentiment but I can tell you that anyone who studied the Google algorithm and most news organizations do, to try to figure out how to bump yourself up there, because we want our stuff to be the thing that people look at.

Political ideology is nothing to do with it. This article, I'd urge people, I wrote about it. Go to Read the whole thing, the article and my breakdown of it. This article proves nothing other than one person searched for Trump news and found a series of articles that were by "The Washington Post" and "New York Times," ABC, us.


CILLIZZA: And said, well, those are all left leaning. I'm not sure that every mainstream media organization in the country gets to -- should be grouped as liberal which is what this person was doing so it's not a surprise. Donald Trump, candidacy founded on a conspiracy theory. He continues to traffic in them. He will continue to traffic in them and there will be a certain number of people who believe it no matter what.

BALDWIN: We'll look for your piece. I like the plug. Chris, Julie, Michael and MJ, thank you all so much for that.

Coming up, another explosive claim hits the Catholic Church today. The Pennsylvania attorney general accuses the Vatican of being complicit in the sexual abuse of children. You will hear from the attorney general next.

And it is primary day in Arizona where three Republicans are fighting to fill the seat vacated by Senator Jeff Flake. But as all of the candidates flock to Trump, how is Senator John McCain's death impacting this race?

And as I mentioned a moment ago, one of Senator McCain's closest friends on Capitol Hill pays tribute to him on the Senate floor. We'll be listening for Senator Graham. Stand by for that. You're watching CNN.


GRAHAM: You have come before me, you have done right by our friend Senator McCain. The family appreciates all the good words, the kindnesses, the anecdotes that have come their way. This is a tough time for the family. John has seven wonderful children. Cindy, devoted wife, you really did well by John. But before anything else, I just want the know. I'm going to try to make this somewhat fun. Even though I don't feel in a funny mood right now. But the bottom line is let's start off with the tie.

To anybody who may be watching on television, this is a Naval Academy tie. I wore this today, John, to honor you and to annoy you all at the same time. He would constantly tell me, Lindsey, I wish you were in my Naval Academy class. I said, well, that's very nice, John: You know why, Lindsey? No, John. I would have been in my class I would be six from the bottom, not fifth. Thank you very much, John.

Humiliation and affection were constant companions. The more he humiliated you the more he liked you. In that regard, I was well served. To my colleagues, thank you again so much for what you have done. The only way I know to put this in words that maybe John can relate to is that after a military operation's over, after a mission is complete, the pilots come back and debrief. If there's a military operation, after action report. I thought to myself, what would it say? What would the after-action report for John McCain say? And the purpose of these reports is for lessons learned. So that others will benefit and make sure that we remember. Remember the things that went well. And the things that did not. So, we'll be better off as a unit, as a nation.

The title of the operation was pretty easy. You can say a lot of things about me but clever is not one of them. Operation Maverick. It began in the fall of 1954. The year before I was born. At the Naval Academy. And it ended the 25th of august, 2018. And what can we learn? The source of the report is me. His political wingman. Code name little jerk. You have all got your names and you earned them like I did. Who was lucky enough to walk in his shadow and to witness history up close. To be in the presence of a giant. At a time, everything around us was so small. What did I learn? That if a few dumb jokes told over and over actually become funny and can take you a long way in politics, Marco.

I'm going to give them to you because John liked you. Lindsey, how hot is it in Arizona?

[14:20:00] John: I don't know. It's so hot that the trees chase the dogs. I said, isn't that funny, John? What is unique about Arizona? I don't know, John. I imagine a lot of things. Barry Goldwater ran for president. I ran for president and lost. Lindsey, the only place in the nation mothers tell their children you can never grow up to be president. Jeff, remember that. Maybe you can break the string. Lindsey, aren't you a lawyer? Yes, I am, John. You know the difference of a lawyer and a catfish? One's a bottom dwelling scum sucking creature and the other's a fish. No wonder we did so poorly with the lawyers. You know why I didn't join the Marines? No. A fish. No wonder we did so poorly with the lawyers. You know why I didn't join the Marines? No. My parents were married. What else did I learn? I learned how to fight. A lot. Everything and everybody. I learned how to forgive. In premium, I saw how to heal. On the fighting side, I learned that the captured warrior who was tortured became the statesman who forgave and healed. A relationship between his former adversary and our nation. I went to the Hanoi Hilton. One of the highlights of my life. With John. It's now a museum and we're the bad guys because they get to write how the medium reads. I remember being in front of his cell and you can see the wheels turning and the memories coming back.

And as we walked forward, surrounded by a bunch of handlers, and John McCain was Elvis in Vietnam. It was the most amazing thing in the world. How people adored him in Vietnam. I saw a bunch of photos on the wall of the prisoners playing volleyball, sitting in the sun, with sunglasses on. I said, John? Must not have been that bad after all. He said, with a wry smile, I don't remember it this way. Which allowed us to get out of Vietnam. I remember him embracing a war that nobody wanted to talk about because he understood what it would cost to lose it. I remember him supporting the surge when everybody was willing to get out of Iraq because they were so tired of it and saw no way forward. I remember the fighter.

I remember the 2008 campaign when in 2007 John McCain was fifth in a four-person race. Written off as politically dead. No money. The straight talk express had no wheels. Out of shear determination after a visit to Iraq where General Petraeus allowed him to talk in July to 600 people who are going to reenlist in a war they did not have to continue to fight and about equal number becoming citizens because they were fighting for their country and had expedited citizenship. Two empty chairs in the front with boots and John asked, what is that all about? Two different make it to the ceremony but they were given their citizenship that day. I remember about 2,000 soldiers wanting a photo. And every one of them got it. I remember being so hot I couldn't breathe but we stayed anyway. I remember coming back an getting the nomination only to lose. I remember that night very well. He had wanted to be president. He was prepared to be president.

But it was not his to have. And I remember above all else the speech he gave that night. John taught us how to lose. When you go throughout the world, people remember his concession speech as much as anything else. There's so many countries where you can't afford to lose because they kill you. And John said that night, president Obama is now my president. So, he healed the nation at a time he was hurt. I learned that serving a cause greater than yourself hurts. Anybody in the military can tell you the risk you take. He couldn't put his jacket on. He couldn't comb his hair. Because he got hurt serving a cause greater than himself. I remember how easy it is to say and how hard it is to do. How hard it is to tell your base -- I think you're wrong. How hard it is to solve problems that nobody else wants to talk about.

I learned that failure and success are the different sides of the same coin. That John told me I have become better for my failures because it teaches us and I have been tempted by my success and without my failures I would have never been successful. So, to those striving as a young person, remember John McCain. He failed a not but he never quit and the reason we're talking about him today and the reason I'm crying is because he was successful. In spite of his failures. For family and friends, that after-action report would say a relationship with maverick brought joy and difficulty. Both were your constant companion. He was a difficult man. He could be tough. But the joy that you received from being with him will sustain you for a lifetime.

And I am so lucky to have been in his presence. He taught me that principle and compromise are not mutually exclusive. And the foundation of a great person as well as a great nation. He taught me that emigrations a hard as it is to solve somebody's got to do it. And he said to me, with Ted Kennedy, you're gong to learn, Lindsey, that the other side has to get something, too. I have learned that lesson. To my friends on the other side, as long as I'm here, I'm going to remember that you have to get something, too. He taught me that when good ignores evil it may be convenient but it seldom works. He talked about what would happen in Iraq if we left. He was right. He talked about what would happen in Syria if we didn't get involved. He was right. Why? Because warriors are the best, I believe, at

making peace. And the warrior understands the difference between a false peace and real peace. To those who accused him of wanting endless wars, you had no idea what you were talking about. He wanted sustainable peace. And understood the consequences of not seeing it through. The soldiers adored him. To those who have traveled with John, you seldom had two meals in the same country. You met more people than you could remember. But you were struck by one thing. We're going to really bad places a lot. And those in the military adored this man. He taught me that boldness and practicality must be practiced in equal measure. He believes in climate change and so do I. There's a practical streak of John that I think made him very successful because he told me time and time again you have to let people catch up with you. You have to have a rhythm and a pace.

There are 100 people in this body from different walks of life. You may think you're right. And over time if you are it will be proven. But give the -- your colleagues the time and the understanding to catch up with you. He taught me that honor and imperfection are always in competition. I do not cry for a perfect man. I cry for a man who had honor and always was willing to admit to his imperfection. If you're thinking about getting in politics, the one thing I would ask you to look at when it comes to life of John McCain, that it's OK to tell people I screwed up. I got this wrong. I want to make it right. Honor is in my view doing the right thing at your own expense. And he did that time and time and time again. He taught me that life without passion and love is a sad life. He had a happy life. He had ten lives. He was involved in five aviation accidents. If we sent John a bill for all the planes he crashed he could never pay it off. He lived life to its fullest. He was often disappointed. But he was never deterred from getting back up and going at it again. Love, not a word often associated with Senator McCain. But it should be. Because if you were loved by him you knew it. You were loved with all your faults. And I was lucky to have been loved by him.