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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
FBI Raids Paul Manafort's Home; Interview With Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 9, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with more on our world lead.
Just hours after President Trump threatened to unleash fire and fury like the world has never seen against North Korea, the Kim Jong-un regime issued a chilling announcement that it is -- quote -- "examining the operational plan to strike areas around the U.S. territory of Guam."
Let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson, who is in Guam.
Ivan, it's not the first time Guam has faced threats from North Korea, given the U.S. territory's strategic importance.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
And one of the reasons that North Korea made this threat was that it was angry about U.S. bombers that had taken off from Andersen Air Force Base here on Guam and conducted flights over North Korea, the most -- not North Korea -- I'm sorry -- the Korean Peninsula, and accompanied by fighter planes from U.S. allies Japan and South Korea.
But another reason why it's threatening Guam is, it's the closest U.S. territory geographically to North Korea. There are clearly U.S. military installations that are far closer geographically there in Japan and in South Korea. But this is a way that the North Korean regime can try to threaten the U.S.
I have to say, having landed here just after midnight, I don't see signs of panic here, though a U.S. border guard at the airport did joke, "Welcome to ground zero."
There is clearly some concern when there are threats directly against this island, but we're not seeing any signs of major panic.
If anything, the hotels here seem to be booked to capacity, and believe it or not, I flew in on a plane from South Korea which was full of Asian tourists coming here, presumably to enjoy the beaches behind me -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Ivan Watson in Guam for us, thank you so much.
Joining me now is the governor of Guam, Eddie Baza Calvo.
Thank you so much for joining me, Governor.
How afraid are the citizens of Guam?
GOV. EDDIE BAZA CALVO, GUAM: Good morning, Jake.
I think, from the standpoint for the people of Guam, we're almost used to this. This is -- since I have been governor starting in 2013, there has been a number of threats made by the government of North Korea in regards to attack on Guam and on other American bases, and including Hawaii.
So, there is concern and there is fear from some parts, but there is also general calm, understanding that this is not the first time.
And I want to thank you so much for allowing me to speak here, because there is a concern from not only me as a governor and the people of Guam on the escalation of rhetoric coming from all sides, but also some of the concerns that we have in regards to rhetoric made by some of our political leaders who make decisions that are so important to the people of Guam.
TAPPER: Are you specifically concerned about the language that you're hearing from President Trump?
CALVO: Well, actually, more specifically is Senator Lindsey Graham.
And I'm concerned about -- and I will be clear with this. When someone in a position of the U.S. Senate says, and it's forcing an option when it comes to military action, and they say it's better on that side of the world than on the American homeland, I hope he understands that separate in this region from any other theater in terms of where American forces are now -- and I talk about Southwest Asia, I talk about the Middle East, I talk about Africa, and I also talk about Europe.
Aside from maybe the component of the nuclear part of this, there is a big difference between every other theater. If there was to be conflict in this region, understand that there is an archipelago 600- miles-long called the Marianas that encompasses two U.S. territories, Guam in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas.
If there was to be conflict and that battle was to occur over there, not only do we endanger the lives of tens of thousands of military and their dependents -- and I think the media has been very clear on those numbers -- but you're also talking over 200,000 American citizens, civilians, that will be caught in the crosshairs.
And I get concerned when leaders who are making decisions seem to not understand geography or maybe a little bit about American civics and U.S. states and territories. This is why it's important
TAPPER: That's a good point, sir.
But let me just ask you before the Skype goes out, in 2013, a THAAD missile defense system was deployed to Guam. Do you have any idea when it was last tested? And are you confident that it will be operational to protect your citizens if need be, God forbid?
CALVO: Yes, there was a test, I would say, a month or so ago, that there has been this constant testing.
I'm not saying a shooting of any type of missile for defense purposes, but a testing of the system. And, again, there have been -- because we're an American territory and because we are so -- seem to be in the middle of a lot of things, there is a lot of dialogue, communication and coordination between our administration, the civil government and the local military command, to the Marianas, so that there is an exchange of information.
And, again, even looking at potentialities of worst-case scenarios, there is a coordinated effort. So, I feel very confident, not only in those forces defending Guam within the terrestrial land of Guam, but also those at sea and also on bases located in Korea and Japan.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, thank you so much for your time today, sir. We appreciate it.
The FBI searched the home of President Trumps former campaign chair Paul Manafort in an unannounced pre-dawn raid. What could that tell us about the special counsel investigation into Russia?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead, and another mounting headache for President Trump and his associates, the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible collusion with Russia.
We are just learning that FBI agents raided the Virginia home of former Trump campaign Paul Manafort's last month as part of that investigation. Manafort's spokesman acknowledged the raid to CNN.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins me now for more.
And, Jessica, what exactly were they looking for?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this raid was to secure materials that Paul Manafort presumably had not already turned over.
In fact, federal agents seized financial records, tax records, and some documents that Paul Manafort had already turned over to Senate investigators. But the fact that this raid happened as a surprise, in the darkness of the early morning hours, it signifies the Special Counsel may be sending a message and getting serious.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: FBI agents descended on Paul Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia apartment in an unannounced pre-dawn raid late last month, according to the Washington Post. It unfolded in the early morning hours July 26th with agents seizing financial and tax records, among other documents. The raid appears to be unusual since Manafort repeatedly claimed he is cooperating and it marks the significant step in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The FBI agents working for Special Counsel Mueller believe he is hiding something and that they conducted the search in the early morning as is normal for them so that the individual who's resident it is has no opportunity to destroy or otherwise tamper with the evidence that they seek.
SCHNEIDER: Manafort stepped down as Trump's Campaign Chair last August as questions about Russia's involvement in the election intensified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you, or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: No, there are not. It's absurd and you know, there is no basis to it.
SCHNEIDER: But CNN has learned investigators had become suspicious of Manafort after they turned up intercepted communications from suspected Russian operatives discussing Russian efforts to work with Manafort to gather information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House according to U.S. officials. Manafort's attendance at a June 20, 2016, Trump tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer has also piqued the interest of federal investigators. During the campaign, Manafort denied working with the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it so farfetched to blame the Russian and say the motive was to help you?
MANAFORT: It's just absurd.
SCHNEIDER: Agents raided Manafort's home one day after he met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee. And CNN has told Manafort turned in approximately 400 pages to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 2nd. Many of those documents pertained to Manafort's retroactively registering as a foreign agent at the end of June. Investigators are scrutinizing Manafort's tax and business records to determine whether any criminal violation may have occurred. Mueller's former Special Counsel at the Justice Department says if there's evidence of other crimes committed by Manafort, it could be leverage for the Special Counsel to convince Manafort to cooperate.
ZELDIN: If you can obtain charges that are viable against them on something collateral to that, then you can use that as leverage to strike a deal with respect to the type of evidence you want with respect to the heart of your matter, in this case, the collusion.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: And Paul Manafort's spokesman confirmed the raid but then reiterated that Manafort has "consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well." But as you heard from the former Special Counsel to Robert Mueller when he was at the DOJ, the FBI obviously hadn't gotten what they wanted and Jake, they ultimately resorted to this early morning raid.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Jessica Schneider thanks so much. Let's talk to my political panel. Ken Cuccinelli, you were the Attorney General of Virginia. How do you interpret this raid? Is the Special Counsel trying to squeeze Paul Manafort?
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think there's a - squeezing is probably giving him too much of an ill motive. This is an information gathering tool. It's appropriate for Special Counsel to use. He's using it. It demonstrates they've gathered some information and they have more questions. Of course, Manafort, with his failure to file exposure to other foreign banks, in particular with respect to his Ukraine work with pro-Russian individuals and entities has exposed himself to exactly this kind of inquiry from the Special Counsel. So I don't find anything unusual about it. I think if I were in Robert Mueller's position and Manafort had filed a year late the kind of disclosures that he did, I suspect that I would have sought a warrant to go into his house, too.
TAPPER: Brian Fallon used to be the Spokesman for the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. Do you agree? I mean, is that the only reason, or would you think it's possible that they were worried that he might destroy the documents?
BRIAN FALLON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Well, I suspect that there probably was some concern that he was either withholding materials, that while he may have voluntarily given over some things that there were other things he did not turn over. Or that they had some fear that he was going to destroy evidence because if they were content that he had turned everything over, there'd been no reason obviously to go to his house. The other thing that's notable about this is it being a search warrant to go authorize a raid of the man's home and they had to go to a judge and meet a probable cause standard, so they would have had have been very specific in the paperwork that they would have filed with the judge about what they were looking for and what evidence it may be, what kind of crime it would be evidence of.
So there's a very specific thing that Bob Mueller has in mind here with respect to potential wrongdoing for him to have sought this. And Ken is right. I agree with him. There's all kinds of potential wrongdoing and exposure that Manafort may have that's related to his work even part of him joining the campaign, potential tax evasion, potential failure to disclose his lobbying activities on behalf of foreign governments. So if it stays compartmentalized like that, then the Trump orbit doesn't really have a problem. But Manafort has also been present for these meetings like the Donald Trump Jr. meeting in June, so what else does he have to shed light on related to campaign activities? That should be the worry because if he tries to get off or get more favorable treatment on his own problems, he might be a useful witness with respect to campaign activities.
[16:50:35] TAPPER: Interesting. Jackie, let's turn to the inter - part of what's going on right now between President Trump and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Monday, McConnell said the President had excessive expectations about how quickly Congress could act on his legislative priorities. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I've been in this line of work before, and I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This afternoon, the President tweeted a response. Senator Mitch McConnell said, I had "excessive expectations, but I don't think so. After seven years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?" What do you think?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the President does have point when talking about the whole health care situation. Why wasn't there something ready to go? You've heard that from a lot of republicans, frankly. However, it's not - and these two have gone back and forth. Remember after the health care vote, you saw the President tweeting about 60 votes. It had nothing to do with the health care vote, but that's beside the point. You know that got under Mitch McConnell's skin because he's thinking, you don't even know what you're talking about when it comes to this. But I will say it's not all gloom and doom between these two because the President did endorse Luther Strange in that Alabama race -
TAPPER: Senate Race.
KUCINICH: The Senate Race and that is Mitch McConnell's guy. And he could have gone with a couple other candidates who've all been really trying to ingratiate themselves to President Trump.
TAPPER: And Ken, let me ask you about that because I know there are a lot of conservatives that were very disappointed that President Trump endorsed incumbent Senator Strange who had been appointed to that position to fill Jeff Sessions' seat because they wanted somebody who's maybe more grassroots conservative, more tea party like Mo Brooks who was a Congressman or others. What do you think?
CUCCINELLI: Well, certainly I think that as between the President and Mitch McConnell on the original battle here, conservative side with the President. We do think they failed. The Senate Leadership has failed, Mitch McConnell is at the focus of that. I agree with you about the disappointment with respect to the President's recent endorsement. A year ago he endorsed John McCain. You know, look at the year since then with John McCain. The President hasn't gotten anything out of that and John McCain was the vote that killed repeal, or even the opportunity to get to repeal.
So that path hasn't been a productive one from either the President's perspective or grassroots conservative's perspective. And I do think it's appropriate for the President to keep putting pressure on Mitch McConnell to at least do what he said he was going to do. Now, for the seven years, it was ObamaCare, but the reality is that you can't name anything really significant that Mitch McConnell has gotten through the Senate all while this administration has really taken major steps in the regulatory front to advance the agenda the President laid forward. They recently put through some appointments which is obviously productive, but that even so is behind schedule and there's a lot of them being held up, including by people like Lisa Murkowski.
TAPPER: And Brian, for a Democrat like you, this must be kind of fun.
FALLON: Well, I think, actually, they both have a point. I mean, Mitch McConnell coined the term repeal and replace and seven years later, not have a plan in place ready to go when a Republican President comes in. I do think he's on the hook for that. However, it's not like Donald Trump really rolled up his sleeves and helped get that bill through. So I think they both have -
CUCCINELLI: But he did have seven years of promises on that front.
FALLON: To me the salient thing is look, they're going into full legislative session where they're going to have full plate in terms of debt ceiling that they're going to need to raise, spending bill to keep the government running, and then they're talking about doing tax reform or some kind of tax plan. And that's too complicated a priority to get done on auto pilot. There's going to need to be a give and take in cooperation between the White House and the Capitol Hill. So if trust is at this low that we're seeing right now, I don't know how they get all those major issues through.
TAPPER: Ken, Brian, and Jackie, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Why is the Russian Air Force plane flying over through some of the United States' most highly guarded locations? That story next.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. Sticking with our "WORLD LEAD," an unarmed Russian Air Force jet flew over several key landmarks here in the Washington area at low altitude today including the Capitol, the Pentagon, CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia and Joint Base Andrews, home of Air Force I of course. The flight was part of a long standing treaty that allows Militaries of the U.S. and Russia to observe the other from the air according to the two people familiar with the flight.
Sources say the second flight is planned for this evening and this one will fly over Bedminster, New Jersey where the President is experiencing his so-called working vacation. The flights were approved by the United States government. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN, we actually read them. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.