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INSIDE POLITICS

Feds Wiretapped Former Trump Campaign Chairman; NYT: Fed Picked Lock, Served Search Warrant; Dems Sound The Alarm Over New GOP Health Bill; GOP Pressing Forward With Obamacare Repeal Bill; Clinton Wont Rule Out Contesting 2016 Election. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:02] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: And it's essentially become part of the investigation and it's certainly the intelligence that they have been working off and some of the intelligence that the FBI agents have been working through.

Keep in mind that the FISA, his secret warrants that gave the FBI permission to listen in to Manafort started in 2014 when he was doing some work for a pro-Ukrainian, the Ukrainian government out of Washington, D.C. And there was some suspicious activity that raised concern and the FBI started their investigation and they went to the FISA Court and got these warrants.

The warrants been continued for some time. We don't know when it stopped, but what we do know in regards to the Russia meddling investigation which the former FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed in July when he testified before Congress, excuse me, when he testified for Congress that the investigation have started in July. That is when we believe sometime around then that the FBI asked for another FISA warrant. It's not clear exactly when they started listening in on Manafort's conversations. In the Russia meddling investigation if it was while he was as the campaign chairman, but we do know definitively that it went into early this year when Manafort and Trump were still speaking.

JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: Shocking new details. Let's continue the investigation. Shimon, appreciate that exclusive reporting.

Meanwhile, the New York Times also has the scoop on Paul Manafort. This one reads a lot like a spy novel. An inside account, a predawn raid where agents picked the locks of Manafort's home and then warned him he is likely to be indicted.

Listen to the final paragraph of this piece. "To get the warrant, Mr. Mueller's team had to show probable cause that Mr. Manafort's home contained evidence of a crime. To be allowed to pick the lock and enter the home unannounced, prosecutors had to persuade a federal judge that Mr. Manafort was likely to destroy the evidence."

Let's start the conversation there. You cannot get a FISA warrant, the wiretapping without going into the secret court and making a case to a judge that somebody is doing something with some foreign actor that raises legitimate suspicions. So they had one, then they were back and got a second one at a time we know he was talking to then- candidate Trump, President-elect Trump and he continue through President Trump.

That's one, the FISA warrant. Then you have the New York Times story, to get a warrant, the guy is in his house. We are not going to knock. We're going to pick the lock and go in and get that -- to get that permission, again, you can't just walk in with judge and say we want to kick the door down. You've got to convince the judge there's something to find. And if you've convinced if you knock on the door, he's going to destroy it. What does that tell us?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, a couple of caveats, but the FISA Court warrant is shocking because in order to get that it's tremendously difficult. They are top secret and you have to show that there is probable cause that this guy is an agent of a foreign power. But the caveat I would make is that it doesn't mean that he was that or there is evidence he was acting as such while he was chairman of the Trump campaign.

The FBI was investigating him since 2014, and so nonetheless it does not look good to have a guy for whom there was probable cause. He was an agent of a foreign power whether or not he was. Chairing your campaign. So, regardless, this is not good for Trump, but I think all along what people thought about the Russia investigation is not that Donald Trump was on the phone colluding with Vladimir Putin. But he was reckless in terms of the people he allowed to work on his campaign and, you know, turn the other -- look the other way regarding the kind of corrupt people he had around him.

KING: And when you see the tough tactics, that tells you, number one, I think they can't do this unless they have a pretty good case against Mr. Manafort. But number two, the idea that they're going to indict you, you're the target of investigation. A prosecutor do that when they want you to throw up your hands up and say, OK, OK, what do you want? Let me cooperate.

JULIE DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, these separate issues here and they're obviously connected. One of them is, as my colleague's reported, part of what the Mueller team is trying to do here is they quoted someone saying, you know, you want to strike terror into the hearts of people so they cooperate with the investigation. And they understand that you're serious that you're moving quickly and that people better tell you the truth otherwise they're going to, you know, you could be subject to tactics like this.

So there's the issue of Manafort and his liability here and his potential wrong-doing. But the thing about the FISA warrants, other than the fact that they were able to be gotten which indicates that Paul Manafort was doing something that, you know, at least on its face looked to authorities like it could be colluded or operating on behalf of foreign power. Is that he was talking to Trump during parts of these times. So, now the President knows and his legal team knows and everyone around him knows that if Paul Manafort ever mentioned anything to do with the campaign with regard to Russia to the President on the phone, this could directly implicate the President. [12:35:09] And because they are collecting all this evidence of Paul Manafort's potential wrong-doing, other areas, he has a great incentive to flip. If he didn't have an incentive before, he's going to have a big incentive now.

KING: It was a very good new details about that raid today in the New York Times that the raid itself was reported sometime ago. When that happened, forgive me for interrupting Michael in here, but when that happened, here's what the President said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Mr. Manafort. Haven't spoken to him for a long time, but I know him. He was with the campaign as you know for a very short period of time, relatively short of period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Relatively short period of time. He was a very important person in the campaign. He was a key architect of the convention strategy then became campaign chairman. He was not with the campaign very long period of time. The President is right about that. But when he was there, he was somebody.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: When he was there he was a guy who worked for me. But -- I mean, let's contrast here what we've seen from, you know, from the New York Times, right. I mean, the point that Julie was making about the tone of Robert Mueller's team, of this force and precision they're bringing to this and the heavy hitters they have on this team and contrast it with the team of lawyers that the President has around him.

My colleagues, Peter Nichols and Rebecca Ballhaus reported last week that Trump's lawyers were arguing over whether or not they should recommend Kushner step aside for legal reasons, for legal protection for the President. The New York Times have the stunning story that Trump's own attorneys are sitting in a restaurant that's widely known to be populated with New York Times reporters openly discussing, you know, this case. So the confusion swirling around the Trump campaign, the Trump lawyers' team and sort of the force that Mueller is bringing not only is the FISA warrant shocking, like this dichotomy is pretty shocking too.

KING: And there's a lot of tension.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: The combination of this so-called no-knock warrant for Manafort and the insinuation, you know, on top of that that he has evidence in his home that he would destroy if you knock on the door and the idea that they believe he's committed enough of a crime, that's what prosecutors say or what legal experts say prosecutors are doing when they try to flip a witness. In other word, they believe he has information on other people including his former colleagues, potentially people in the campaign possibly. Again, we have no idea if he was speaking -- if he actually, you know, had the President caught in these surveillances. So we don't know what the connection is there, but clearly Mueller is after something bigger.

KING: Is after something bigger. I just want to know before we go to break, the President's personal friend and attorney Michael Cohen was also up on Capitol Hill today. He was supposed to testify -- take questions in private at the Senate Intelligence Committee. That was canceled.

The committee was mad that Mr. Cohen for that statement about what he planned to tell them beforehand. It's a little process argument here led that to be canceled. Mr. Cohen though said that despite that disagreement that he'd be happy to come back and answer questions when the committee wants to reschedule that.

Up next, listen to Democrats and learn. The latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare has a very little chance of passing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:42:33] SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: We're going to be looking at a bill that will hurt our people, will give them worse health care, will go backwards.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: This is the bill that's coming before us. This is the threat right now to our nation and to millions of people.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's just another version of the same old cruel, heartless, shameless plan that Republicans have spent the last eight months trying to jam down the throats of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That urge intel by Senate Democrats is quite telling. They know a last ditch Republican effort to replace Obamacare as a chance of getting the necessary 50 votes. You're looking right here live pictures outside the Capital. That's Cory Booker, the Democratic Senator from New Jersey.

Again, another rally, they're speaking out against the proposal that's sponsored by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. Now that proposal still doesn't have enough votes, but it's pretty close. If it became law, here's what we'd do. It would dramatically shift big health care funding in coverage decisions to states. It eliminates, for example, both the individual and the employer coverage mandates in Obamacare.

Federal subsidies disappear. Instead states would make coverage rules using lump sump block grants and Medicaid money. It also would be up to the states to decide whether insurance must keep or allowed to change or even, in some cases, eliminate coverage mandates now in Obamacare.

Now we know the Democrats don't like it, but the political math depends on Republicans who can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate. Count Rand Paul as one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The yes vote keeps Obamacare in place. But this is not a repeal bill, this is sort of, hey, we're going to take Obamacare, replace it with Obamacare, but we're going to let the states have a little more power in how we spend it. We're going to keep the taxes and keep the spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This is probably deja vu to many of you out there in the country. The Republicans have tried several times in the past eight months to pass an Obamacare repeal or replace bills they call repeal that aren't quite repeal, but at least replace. How urgent is this? We'd showed you some pictures just moments ago.

Vice President Pence was at the United Nations with the President. He came back to Washington for the weekly Republican senator's luncheon. With him right there, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the sponsors of this piece of legislation who has been doing what we called the whip count here in Washington, counting around seeing how many votes he needs. They are now going to that lunch to try to sell this bill.

We are told by sources on Capitol Hill help me here at the table to take this quite seriously. That they were close before, but they are at least close again.

KAPUR: So other than Rand Paul, who's already announced that he's a no. I spoke to Senator Susan Collins yesterday and she sounded very skeptical about this bill.

[12:45:04] She said, she is worried about what it would do to Medicaid in her state. She is worried about what it would do to coverage and how would affect the insurance market in Maine. She also said it's procedurally a problem that the CBO is not going to put out a full analysis of what this bill would mean for insurance coverage and what it would mean for the deficit.

There's going to give a red light or a green light as to whether it applies. It can't be done under reconciliation rules. She is one of them. Lisa Murkowski also yesterday said she's doing her due diligence. She's speaking to a governor who, by the way, came out criticizing this bill today. And John McCain, a critical vote, the decisive vote last time who told some reporters yesterday that he is still concerned about the process. He wants it to go through regular order, but he did not shut the door.

KING: Right. So the schedule here, at least, one hearing and I think they scheduled two hearings, to try to satisfy. It's not exactly the regular process, but to (INAUDIBLE) we're going to have hearing, two hearings, people can talk about this. That's to try to get that.

The governor of Arizona did come out for it. I was told yesterday that McCain is trying to get to yes, but he's not there yet. The question becomes -- so we have to start to Lisa Murkowski, we have to start John McCain probably not in a literal sense. But they are the two key votes here. Again, it's going to come down to them.

The policy argument, Susan Collins says, no, Medicaid still same issue. Lisa Murkowski having that same conversation with herself. Leads to uncertainty for people who rely on the Medicaid expansion money for coverage in their states. For the political argument for Republicans is we have to do this. We've promised for seven years we're going to do this. How we're going to 2018. What's going to win? The policy concerns or the political imperative?

JOHNSON: You know, this is not really a repeal of Obamacare. I think it is important to note that it leaves the regulatory architecture that if you talk to conservatives like Mike Lee that was their major -- the Utah Senator -- that was their major beef. The regulatory architecture and the taxes. And this really does the infrastructure in place. It just shifts the money from the federal government to the states.

So Rand Paul is not really wrong when he voices these complaints. And I think to a certain extent, the drama you're seeing from Democrats is a little bit overstated and that it's not a sweeping repeal. But I do think that the drama on the Republican side or that the stress you're seeing from Republicans is that they need to pass something, anything.

Donald Trump was not wrong when he hammered Mitch McConnell saying you going to get something done. And the Republicans had seven years to do this. They really should have had something ready and teed up. And there's a real desperation to do something even if it's not a full repeal.

KING: But that's the key (ph). What is the risk I think they'll go through this again. The Vice President, Lindsey Graham coming down the steps for the cameras in urgent meeting saying we're just one vote short.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: They've already shown themselves really in a factual. And I do think the rational that you were talking about that they have to do something is does move the vast majority of Republicans here. The problem is that for the swing votes that they need for Lisa Murkowski and John McCain (ph), they're not going to be swayed by that. They've already shown that they're not going to just take it, grab it anything that's called a repeal and say this is a win.

This Medicaid expansion was one of the more popular elements of Obamacare even with all the other problems that lawmakers on both sides say they are with the existing health law. The Medicaid expansion was one of the more popular things. So I think it's going to be very difficult to get people like that over the hump if they haven't gotten there yet. KING: If you are a Republican voter out there in America specially a Republican voter and you have questions about your health care. You see them go through this again and they don't do it. That is why quite interesting.

I just want to read this before we go to break. This is Senator John Cornyn, the number two Senate Republican on the relationship between Senate Republicans and President Trump. "I think it's like a thunderstorm. After a while it clears up, the sun comes out and it's everything is OK. Asked if he finds that relationship acceptable, Cornyn said bluntly, what choice do I have?" Welcome to Washington.

Up next, Hillary Clinton raises the specter of doing something she once called horrifying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:53:04] KING: Welcome back. Listen here. A tongue in cheek moment from Hillary Clinton last night here in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Russians and their allies, whoever they turn out to be --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: She got lashed from the crowd there, but earlier in an NPR interview about her new book, listen here, a stunning answer to a very serious question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY GROSS, HOST, NPR'S FRESH AIR: Would you completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?

CLINTON: No, I would not. I would say --

GROSS: You're not going to rule it out?

CLINTON: No, I wouldn't rule it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's a hypothetical, complicate booed hypothetical, but that's a pretty stunning thing to say. What does that mean?

BENDER: That means Trump was right all along. This is what this is about. I'm kidding here. She said later in the interview that she doesn't quite know what she means here, right? There's no way to actually delegitimize this election in our current process. But she leaves it open, right? At the very least keeps us talking about her and this book. And keeps the pressure on this investigation.

DAVIS: The best thing -- KAPUR: Questioning, as in questioning in her mind or legally challenging the legitimacy? The latter would be a huge deal. If she, in her mind, decides that these allegations don't give credence to the fact that he was, you know, that he deserves to be President, that's a very different thing than challenging it. So I'm not --

JOHNSON: I think she's already at the former, OK? So I think it seems like we're talking about the latter but the thing that really struck me was that it was Donald Trump who, during the campaign, was absolutely hammered for saying that he wasn't going to accept the results of the election.

KING: Hillary Clinton was doing the hammering.

JOHNSON: But they're (INAUDIBLE) in so many ways. I think they're right.

KING: Right.

DAVIS: And that was one of the things that, you know, we all talked about when it all came to light the degree to which Russia sought to influence the election one of the ways in which we talked about having done that.

[12:55:04] Is that they undermined people's confidence in the system because they were able to, you know, hack and they were able to do enough to disrupt and there's not a like a clear understanding yet of the full scope of what was done. But what they were able to do was make people question is this election actually legitimate or is it not. That's one of the reasons President Obama didn't want to come out the way that Hillary Clinton now that he should have come out and been tougher about it and been more explicit.

It is ironic that now she is coming forward ans saying, yes, I would question it myself and you would challenge it. I mean, that sort of thing right into what the strategy was here right on the part of Russia. It was to make the American people wonder whether this was actually legitimate election.

KING: But when she also was asked to choose between Putin or Trump, she said I have to take that under advisement. For the following reason, I ran against both of them.

Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer is up after a quick break.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.