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AT THIS HOUR
Sources: Homeland Security Adviser Bossert Was "Pushed Out"; FBI Raids Office, Hotel Room Of Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump On Cohen Raid: "Attorney-Client Privilege Is Dead"; Source: Bolton Pushed Out Homeland Security Adviser Bossert. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The market reacting to that and I think also frankly the return of Kate Bolduan. "AT THIS HOUR" begins right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. President Trump is fuming this morning, but it seems it is a whole new kind of angry today, offering up these musings on Twitter, which I'll show you right here. A total witch-hunt and attorney-client privilege is dead, proof at the very least that a good night's sleep did not calm the president down after this shocking moment just yesterday.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have this witch-hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now and actually much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination it started. And it is a disgrace. It is frankly a real disgrace. It is an attack on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for.
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BOLDUAN: The president and pretty much everyone else now has wondered what exactly the FBI is looking for or has after they raided the office and hotel room of Trump's Personal Attorney Michael Cohen just yesterday morning.
But the bigger question today is actually is the president going to try and fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller? No word yet, of course, but stay tuned. Today is young. There is a lost ground to cover here.
So, first, let's get over to the White House. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there. Kaitlan, I have a ton of questions on that. We also have some more breaking news to get to, another key White House figure is resigning, what has happened with Tom Bossert?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Kate, quite a day here at the White House. It's only 11:00, I should not, but, yes, Tom Bossert, the Homeland Security adviser, is on his way out the door. He has resigned. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has issued a statement on his behalf saying, quote, "The president is grateful for Tom's commitment to the safety and security of our great country."
She goes on to say that Tom led the White House's efforts to protect the homeland from terrorist threats, strengthen our cyber defenses and respond to an unprecedented series of natural disasters.
President Trump thanks him for his patriotic service and wishes him well, and to be clear here, Kate, there have been a lot of departures here at the Trump White House in the last few weeks. Many of them are always widely expected. This one was certainly not.
And Tom Bossert was just on the Sunday shows being the face for the administration in the wake of that chemical attack in Syria, saying that no -- that all options were on the table, weighing their decisions.
Of course, this comes as the president has canceled his trip to South America later on this week to monitor the situation in Syria and to handle the American response here. So, this certainly was a surprise and now sources are telling the CNN White House team, my colleague, Jeff Zeleny, that Bossert was actually pushed out.
That this was not a decision he made, that he was pushed out of the door and that it even caught several White House officials off guard, especially those who work closely with him and several of them were in meetings without their phones when news of his departure broke and found out that Tom Bossert is leaving the White House from reports in the media.
Just to give you a sense of how sudden and surprising this is, not just to those of us who cover the White House, but also to those who work inside of this White House as well, that Tom Bossert, the Homeland Security adviser, is leaving here -- Kate.
KEILAR: He has been a key advocate and key public voice. Inside and outside the White House for the president on all homeland and national security issues. This is an amazing moment right now.
But also other amazing moments that have happened in the last 24 hours, if you can keep track, Kaitlan, the president, his attorney and the FBI, where do things really stand at this moment, I guess, is the only thing we can ever say from the White House perspective when it comes to that raid yesterday?
COLLINS: Well, we're really in a stunning place, Kate. I mean, typically, we report on the president fuming and complaining about the Russia investigation privately to his aides, to his allies, those he feels comfortable speaking with.
But yesterday for the first time we heard the president very publicly lashing out, very angry after news that the FBI agents had raided Michael Cohen's office broke, the president at a dinner with senior military leaders at the White House last night when they were supposed to be discussing Syria. And they invited the cameras in and unprompted, no reporters asked the president about this yet, he started to speak about this, lashing out not only at the fact that that raid had happened, something he called disgraceful, but also at the special counsel, Robert Mueller, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, someone he has privately complained about multiple times.
It was a very stunning display, very stunning outburst from the president we saw, Kate, and we were just seeing just how truly furious the president is on camera.
KEILAR: Yes, and it doesn't seem like it is going away. So, stay close to the camera, Kaitlan. Who knows what is going to happen next?
All right. So, what really happened in that raid, though, of the president's personal attorney, who authorized it and what were they looking for? There's a lot to get to and it's important to understand.
So, let me bring in crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, who has all of this for us from Washington. So, Shimon, the president called the raid a break-in when he spoke out yesterday. He also called it disgraceful and unfair, but what exactly do we know about this raid other than the fact that it was not clearly a break-in?
[11:05:06] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, yes, Kate, certainly not a break-in, it's certainly aggressive in terms of what the FBI did here, fanning out to different locations in New York that are connected to Michael Cohen and executing these search warrants and entering locations that are connected to him while he was not there perhaps.
And really to do this, they would need to go through all sorts of steps to get permission. The FBI would need the permission, even the U.S. attorney in New York who is overseeing this, we're told, would need permission from high level, high level people at the DOJ to do this.
Now some of the things that they would have to do also is set up -- what is called a clean team to search for -- through this evidence to make sure and to sort out what is relevant to this investigation. They can't give up everything that they have obtained during these searches.
Those agents and lawyers need to go through that information and then give what is relevant to this investigation to those investigators. Also, there are all sorts of procedures that are in place to make sure that this is proper.
FBI agents have to appear before a judge in New York where they would swear to tell the truth and have to sign off on this warrant. Another step that they would have to take -- that would have to take place here.
And then there is all sorts of permission at the Department of Justice, including the top, really, right now who is Rod Rosenstein, overseeing the Russia probe also. They would need permission from him in order to do this.
He, as we know, is the person ultimately referred this investigation to the U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York.
KEILAR: Shimon, what do we know about the U.S., Jeffrey Berman, who signed off on the raid because brought up, of course, also by the president as well.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, right. So, we know that he was appointed by the president, by Trump, he was a law partner of Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani was part of a team that was vetting these U.S. attorneys. And he was essentially suggested to the president by Rudy Giuliani.
We also know that he donated money to the president, but he's a former prosecutor, many folks in New York know him. He has connections to other prosecutors, part of some larger prosecutions. And he's also met with the president before about the job, so certainly, you know, one of these people who could come into focus as this moves forward.
KEILAR: All right, Shimon, thanks so much. A lot to get to. So, let's dig into this, as Shimon was kicking it off right there, with defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, Seth Waxman is here, and Larry Noble, the former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission.
Larry, let me start with you, the impetus for this raid, we're learning, hearing from sources, is the Stormy Daniels situation, if you want to call it. We're told investigators are looking into possible bank fraud, election violations, what would they be looking for when they walk into that office and into Michael Cohen's hotel room then?
LARRY NOBLE, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: Well, what they could be look for documents, e-mails, letters, bank documents that would show one, what he said to the bank, when he applied for this loan. Now, we don't know, we have been told it was basically a line of credit.
We don't know if he took the line of credit out just for this loan or it's one he had already, but they would be looking for documents surrounding that. On the campaign finance side, you know, Donald Trump said that he -- Donald Trump, did not know about this deal, $130,000.
That then raises the question of whether or not Cohen on his own was paying for this, which is the way they're making it look like, and if there was -- they may be looking for documents showing that he talked to the campaign or had some relationship with the campaign regarding this $130,000.
That would then make it a serious illegal contribution from Michael Cohen to the campaign. If Michael Cohen was operating totally independently of the campaign, and Donald Trump didn't know anything about this, there may not be a campaign finance violation.
So, I think what they're looking for there is some connections between Cohen and the campaign and Donald Trump regarding Stormy Daniels and the payoff to Stormy Daniels.
KEILAR: And Seth, just this morning, the president, tweeted out very succinctly, attorney-client privilege is dead. That was just all that he said. When you're a justice, you took -- you took part in raids of attorneys like these, like this, or know that the process that this goes through. Can you answer to the president here? Is attorney- client privilege dead?
SETH WAXMAN, DICKINSON WRIGHT LAW FIRM: No, it is not dead. It is alive and well, and yes, when I was at the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. for 13 years, I had three or four cases where unfortunately one attorney or another got themselves caught up in a criminal investigation.
I will tell you, it is an incredibly thorough process as a prosecutor you have to go through starting at main justice. There are individual units within the Department of Justice that prosecutors have to submit applications to before you get to a level where, of course, here the president is involved where you get to the attorney general or the assistant attorney general and then the Southern District of New York.
If you come to those organizations or units with flimsy evidence, he said, she said type of evidence, you are not getting that application approved. You have to have typically documents, e-mails, text messages, something showing very high level of evidence to dig into what is almost sacrosanct, the attorney-client privilege.
[11:10:08] But there are exceptions like the crime-fraud exception we're hearing so much about.
BOLDUAN: And Seth, this question came up also after that early morning raid of Paul Manafort's house, which feels like a year and a half ago. Why not first request this information? Why go in with a raid?
WAXMAN: Well, they may have requested it, but in this circumstance search warrants are sought and obtained because there is some fear that the evidence may be destroyed or that the target of the search warrant isn't being forth coming in those voluntary requests.
I mean, what I as a prosecutor, when I was a prosecutor, when I'm asking for documents and say I want communications relating to x, y and z, there could be some subjective interpretation that goes on between what I had in my mind and what the defense lawyer receiving that request has in his or her mind.
And so, to cut all that kind of maybe ambiguity out, you go get yourself a search warrant and then you and the FBI agents involved get to look at it firsthand. You don't have to rely on either the subjective evaluation of a defense lawyer or of course, the risk that a target may be destroying or getting rid of evidence.
KEILAR: And Larry, I also read this in "The Washington Post" this morning, "You can't get much worse than this. Other than arresting someone's wife or putting pressure on a family member." This is not a good day for Michael Cohen. Is this necessarily a bad day for Donald Trump?
NOBLE: It is not a good day for Donald Trump. You don't want your lawyer being subpoenaed or -- it is not what you want to wake up and hear. It is not a good day for Donald Trump. Also, his reaction to it shows that he doesn't think it is a good day for him.
You know, we've heard for a long time has been his personal lawyer, but he's also been described as kind of a fixer for Donald Trump. So, I think they're very concerned about what may come out of this. A lot of things may not be covered by attorney-client privilege that he did especially if he was things on his own, you know, for the campaign.
So, I think they have a reason to be nervous if there is anything that they're trying to hide or if there is anything they don't want to come out. I think the things are beginning -- the box is beginning to close a little, and I think we're going to find out more about what actually happened.
BOLDUAN: Stay tuned to stay tuned. Seth, Larry, thank you, guys.
Coming up for us, the president says that many people, his words, want him to fire Bob Mueller, but one top Republican now says that move would be, quote, "suicide." Details on that ahead.
Plus, breaking this morning, the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort is now under investigation for actions that he took during the campaign. What is in these newly uncovered search documents and the new problems that they pose for the White House? Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: As mentioned, another sudden departure at the White House, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert is out. We're starting to learn a little more about why he is out. Let's get back over to the White House, Kaitlan Collins is still there for us. Kaitlan, what are you hearing?
COLLINS: It's been so long since I've seen you. Yes, Kate, we are now reporting why Tom Bossert is leaving as Homeland Security adviser at this White House. As I just said, a few minutes ago, this is something that was widely unexpected here, not -- actually a surprise to people who worked directly with Tom Bossert.
We are now told by a source familiar with how all of this unfolded that it was John Bolton, the new national security adviser, who officially started in his role as the third national security adviser of the Trump administration on Monday, pushed Bossert out of this role, not because he has a serious personal problem with Bossert, but because he wanted his own person in this role.
So, this move certainly caught people off guard. This comes as John Bolton is just getting started here, hitting the ground running really with all of these Syria decisions going on. But also, we should note, that the National Security Council spokesperson, Michael Anton, also announced his departure earlier this week. So, those are two departures that we have seen since John Bolton has taken over here. Tom Bossert is just the latest one right now -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: So, how many are left before they start filling in the holes? Kaitlan, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
All right. Let's discuss this and everything else, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash is joining me now as well as CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cilizza.
So, Dana, it seems that Tom Bossert, I don't even know if we call it a resignation, but Tom Bossert being out is a surprise to a lot of folks. What are you hearing?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just that. Look, Tom Bossert is someone who has a lot of respect from and by a lot of Republicans, inside the White House, and outside the White House. He came from Capitol Hill. He's somebody -- and also worked in previous administrations.
He actually worked in the Bush administration under Fran Townsend, who was the first Homeland Security director and he is somebody who just to put it plainly knows what he's doing. So, the fact that he was told he no longer has a job so abruptly certainly is jarring.
And I know Kaitlan reported from her sources, I've been talking to mine as well, the shock of this. Having said that, because this is not a policy issue necessarily or anything of that nature, this does seem to be John Bolton, the brand-new national security adviser saying he wants his people in.
A little bit of a subplot is that Bossert was initially brought on at the beginning of the administration at an elevated status and frankly he was brought on, we reported at the time, to counter then national security adviser Michael Flynn, because a lot of people were worried about frankly about the stability of Michael Flynn.
And so, in that sense, he might have been almost too senior for someone like John Bolton and we'll see who he puts in Bossert's place.
BOLDUAN: I think it is also an additional strange part about this, the resignations, pushing out, firings, whatever happened, and the new people are not named in that position immediately where this transition, you normally see a transition when the new top dog comes in.
[11:20:00] But, Chris, back to the other -- just give me 5 seconds, more breaking news, back to the other big story this morning, the president, the FBI raid and his personal attorney, I mean, do you remember it was not so long ago when it was a big deal that President Trump would even name Robert Mueller in a tweet.
That was, I think, like March. Now President Trump seems to be openly musing about firing Bob Mueller in front of cameras. I mean, did this all just enter a new phase?
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think so. Openly musing while angry, by the way, Kate, frustrated and angry in the wake of that raid on Michael Cohen's office and home. Donald Trump used what is a very common rhetorical device that he often does, which is the many people are saying.
You know, many people are saying he's the greatest person ever, many people are saying he has the best crowds ever. Many are saying he should fire Bob Mueller. It's something he leans on that sort of crutch regularly.
I think to float sort of a trial balloon out there. Obviously, Chuck Grassley, very senior senator from Iowa, Republican, told Suzanne Malveaux that it would be political suicide for Trump to fire Mueller. Maybe.
That doesn't mean Trump won't do it. He views his political success as breaking all political norms. I've always been skeptical that Trump would ultimately go down that road. It felt sort of like the last bond he wouldn't break, there was this sacred thing because he knew it would set off total and complete chaos. I'm less sure of that now.
BOLDUAN: That's the thing, Dana. From the congressional perspective you have Chuck Grassley saying it would be suicide. We heard from Lindsey Graham, he said this would be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency. Senator Kennedy also saying that Trump knows he can't go that way because it would provoke congressional action. He knows that. Is it guaranteed that there would be Congressional action in response?
BASH: Is it guaranteed? No. Nothing is guaranteed these days. But, you know, I will say that I'm hearing more talk from Republicans about the need for protect the special counsel piece of legislation, putting it in statute.
We heard the Democratic Senate leader go on the Senate floor this morning saying it, but that's not a surprise. To hear from Republicans, it is interesting, and the question is whether or not the Senate majority leader and then, of course, the House speaker, whether they would be willing to go for it.
Can I just add one thing? Obviously, this discussion is about Robert Mueller, because he's leading the investigation on Russia, but the other person we should really look at is Rod Rosenstein.
He's the deputy attorney general. He's the man who is in charge of the Russia investigation. But more importantly, in this scenario, he had to have known, he had to have signed off on this raid of Michael Cohen's office.
Rod Rosenstein is a Trump appointee. If Trump feels like Rod Rosenstein is not appropriate for the job, he could -- he could get fired and there is very little Congress can do to protect him. I mean, he is serving at the pleasure of the president. That could set off a whole domino effect where as if the president has somebody else in the Justice Department, that would be -- do his bidding, perhaps that person could fire Robert Mueller.
There is so many scenarios here that we need to look at beyond and besides Robert Mueller and things that the president has within his purview and authority to do.
CILIZZA: Just very quickly to add to that point, she's exactly 100 percent right. Remember, for all this talk of will Donald Trump fire Bob Mueller, that -- Donald Trump didn't fire Bob Mueller. Donald Trump directs the head of the Justice Department, in this case it would be Rod Rosenstein to do so.
Rod Rosenstein refuses, he gets fired. That's how we got the Saturday night massacre. Nixon told his Justice Department to get rid of the special counsel. So, remember who is leading that investigation, who is Bob Mueller's boss matters hugely whether it is related to this Russia probe or the Michael Cohen stuff.
BOLDUAN: It sounds small, but no small thing when it comes to this president. Who is in the White House now to cool him off, to calm him down? This is the first major crisis and Hope Hicks is not there anymore and I wonder who is going to be there to cool this thing off before it boils over.
BASH: That's exactly right, Kate. That's such an important point. I've been hearing from people close to the president for the past month or so, concerned what happens when Hope leaves. She's gone. More importantly, broadly the fact that he doesn't have very many people around him who he trusts, who he relies on, people in his comfort zone.
BOLDUAN: Yes, that's right. Guys, it's great to see you. Stick close to the cameras. I'm telling everybody that today. Thank you.
[11:25:04] Breaking this morning, the special counsel is investigating former Trump campaign chief, Paul Manafort, for potential crimes during the campaign. That's new. Details on that ahead.
BOLDUAN: While President Trump is stewing and fuming about the FBI raid on his personal attorney, he also has some new trouble to worry about with his former campaign chairman. CNN has found a newly released search warrant documents that investigators were now not only looking into possible crimes by Paul Manafort before he worked with the Trump campaign, a favorite defense by Trump supporters, by the way.
The documents now reveal that for the first time that they're also looking into potential criminal activity while Manafort was working with the Trump campaign.
Joining me now CNN reporter, Kara Scannell, with much more on this. So, Kara, President Trump and so many close to him have again and again said that when Manafort is being investigated for has nothing to do with the campaign so has nothing to do with us. Is that now not the case?