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Court Documents: Mueller Looks for Criminal Activity of Manafort as Campaign Chairman; Trump Cancels Trip to Oversee Syria Response; Trump After FBI Raids Cohen: "Attorney-Client Privilege is Dead"; Mark Zuckerberg Faces Grilling by Senators. Aired 11:30a-12n ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now CNN reporter, Kara Scannell, with much more on this.
Kara, President Trump and so many close to him have, again and again, said what Manafort is being investigated for has nothing to do with the campaign so has nothing to do with us. Is that not the case?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: What we have seen from the court documents filed last night is that Special Counselor Mueller's team has been looking at Manafort for his work while he was with the campaign. Specifically, the search warrant that was filed in court last night about this raid on Manafort's apartment last summer. Details of that, Mueller's team was looking at his role during the campaign, specifically asking about any communications, records, documents, that Manafort had with anyone who attended that July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where members of the Trump campaign were supposed to get, quote, "dirt" from some Russians on Hillary Clinton. The search warrant also says that they were looking for information that Manafort might have relating to the Agaralas (ph), the very wealthy Russian real estate family. That family worked with Trump previously before he ran for office in efforts to host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and also to have talks that never materialized but to have a Trump Tower in Moscow. The search warrant also tells us they were looking into whether Manafort violated the financial -- a ban on foreign investments in the campaign that would also squarely fit within the campaign.
And so what we're seeing here is that Mueller's team is looking into Manafort for his role in the campaign. And we even saw last week, Rod Rosenstein, a memo released in another court filing that showed he had authorized the special counsel to look at Manafort in a potential collusion with Russians -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Fascinating development.
Kara, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Keep an eye on that.
Also breaking this morning, the White House is saying that the president will skip an international trip scheduled for this weekend. They say he wants to stay at the White House and monitor the situation in Syria. Is this a sign that military action may be coming soon? That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:36:12] BOLDUAN: President Trump just this morning announcing he's canceling plans to travel to South America for a summit later this week. The move, according to several sources, took staffers at the White House by total surprise. This morning, the press secretary announced the president is instead going to stay home to oversee the U.S. response to last weekend's alleged chemical attack in Syria. We know the president and the defense secretary have said that all options are on the table in how the U.S. will respond. So what is the Pentagon preparing for?
Let's go over to the Pentagon. Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is there.
Barbara, what are you hearing? What are you picking up?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Right now, very much a heavy wait-and-see mode for the president to make that decision, and if it is military action, for orders to be issued. What we do know is President Trump talking to both the British and the French leaders, there will be an effort, if this comes to military action, to include both countries and make this more of a coalition strike, not just with the U.S. out in front.
So a key question right now is, what targets in Syria would you want to hit? Do you want to hit air fields? Well, this alleged chemical strike was carried out by helicopters, which move around. Just hitting an air field really doesn't shut it all down. Do you want to hit the actual chemical storage site? If you do that, you risk dispersing chemical agent into the atmosphere, potentially, injuring people nearby. That is very difficult. Are the Russians actually complicit? Are you going address, potentially, Russian targets and really escalate this situation? Are you going to address Assad's regime? Are you going to go essentially downtown Damascus, go after his intelligence headquarters, his command and control? That is likely to make the Russians very upset.
A lot of concern about what targets, how you hit them, who hits them, and making sure you escalate to the point you want to escalate and not further -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Every target coming with huge risk as you laid it out.
Barbara, thank you so much.
As we stand by to hear what the president does decide, let's bring in Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to discuss.
Senator, thank you for coming in.
The White House says he's canceling this trip this weekend to monitor the situation in Syria. Just that, do you take it as a sign that military action is coming? SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, I hope so. I can't
imagine this situation not resulting in decisive military force being used. What Obama did didn't work. What Trump did the first time didn't work. There's no doubt in my mind that this chemical attack came from the Assad regime. So at the end of the day, you got to have a military response that destroys Assad's capability to do it yet again.
BOLDUAN: Barbara was laying out, it is tough to decide what option to hit. What is a good option? You would be forced to take out the Air Force, but it doesn't sound like taking out the Air Force would have stopped if the chemical attacks coming out of a helicopter.
GRAHAM: Well, if their bases can't be used for fighter jets, that's a step in the right direction. I would go after all the infrastructure around his air capability. I would hit his intelligence services, who are complicit in war crimes. I would make Assad a target. I also think he's a war criminal. I would do is let Kim Jong-Un and the ayatollah know that when Trump sets a red line, he means it. If this is not an all-out assault on Assad's capability to deliver chemical weapons, if it is not an effort to degrade his regime, it would be a miserable failure. It's got to be part of a broader strategy.
BOLDUAN: Senator, when you say you think Assad should be a military target, you think he's a legitimate military target?
BOLDUAN: You support the president going in and taking him out?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. I think he's a war criminal by any definition. How many people to you have to kill by chlorine gas before you become a war criminal? How many times do you have to gas your own people? How many hundreds of thousands do you have to kill? Yes, he's a definite legitimate target.
Here is what I think --
[11:40:07] BOLDUAN: But is anything short of regime change going to be acceptable to you now?
GRAHAM: My goal is to give Syria back to the Syrian people, not the Iranians. There's three things we got to avoid in Syria. Damascus falling into the hands of the Iranians. That will create a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut. They're funneling weapons from Damascus to Lebanon, which is a nightmare for Israel. We can't let ISIS come back. That's why we need to lead troops in Syria working with coalition partners. And the last thing, the way we handle this situation has to be a strong message to other bad actors like North Korea and Iran.
BOLDUAN: Because we don't know what the president is going to decide, we don't know -- have you spoken to him, by the way, since the chemical attack? GRAHAM: No, I haven't. The last time I talked to him, it was about
withdrawing our forces. We have 2,000 people working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to hold the territory we liberated from ISIS. If we don't keep that force in place, I think ISIS will come back. I think Europeans should be on the ground with us helping train Syrian Democratic Forces. I think Arabs should pay for the cost of reconstructing Syria. I think they should be on the ground. But an American withdrawal in that part of Syria will lead, I think, to the rise of ISIS yet again. And --
BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you about that. The White House press secretary was asked yesterday about the fact that he's -- his desire to bring troops, to bring troops home, and she says that it is not -- that it in no way degrades his ability to hold parties responsible. Do you think that's true? Do you think he can do both of these things?
GRAHAM: Absolutely, not. Absolutely, not. If the goal is to make the Arabs pay more and contribute more, if the goal is to get European partners more involved in dealing with Syria, count me in. If the goal is to leave Syria and outsource our national security to some foreign army, count me out. There's no substitute for American forces when it comes to holding the territory liberated by ISIS. And you have to believe that ISIS is no threat to the United States. You have to believe that Iran dominating Syria doesn't matter to the United States. I reject both of those concepts.
So we got to do two things. We've got to hold the territory --
BOLDUAN: So when Sarah Sanders says you can do both of these things, you say she's wrong?
BOLDUAN: The White House stance is his desire to pull everybody out and also hold people accountable is not possible?
GRAHAM: Not possible. Would be the biggest mistake since Obama left Iraq. How many times do we have to learn the same lesson? If you leave too soon, you'll regret it. So, 2,000 troops are small compared to what we have had in Iraq, Afghanistan in the past. And 2,000 troops can really do some good in Syria. If we pull out, there's no way we're going to hold the territory without some American involvement. And if you don't understand that Syria is crucial to regional stability in our national security, you're making a huge mistake.
BOLDUAN: At this moment, we don't know how the president is going to respond. If he doesn't respond with military action, if he doesn't do that, if he says let's go to the U.N. and discuss, what does that mean to you? GRAHAM: It would be the biggest mistake of his presidency. Good luck
getting North Korea to change their behavior because you drew a red line. Whether you should or shouldn't, you did. So Trump says he's going to pay a big price. At the end of the day, if he doesn't pay a big price, then President Trump becomes like Obama, weak in the eyes of our enemies and unreliable in the eyes of our allies. So this is the most consequential decision he'll make. He said Assad will pay a big price. That big price has to include the destruction of his air capability and putting him on the target less. Anything less is not a very big price.
BOLDUAN: You called this a defining moment for this administration, for this presidency.
BOLDUAN: The way you lay it out, it seems like it sure is.
Senator Graham, we have more to discuss, including the FBI raid of president --
GRAHAM: I'll be back.
BOLDUAN: You're not leaving. I've locked the door where you are. You cannot leave.
[11:45:00] BOLDUAN: We'll be right back. We'll talk about the FBI raid and Michael Cohen after the break.
BOLDUAN: President Trump seething and ranting today after the FBI raided his long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The president's anger unfolded for the cameras yesterday. Today, on Twitter, he wrote, "Attorney-client privilege is dead" and "a total witch hunt." Agents raided Cohen's office and hotel room in a surprise move yesterday. Sources tell CNN they seized documents and bank records connected to the hush money payment to former porn star, Stormy Daniels. Where does that mean right now?
Let's discuss. Back with me, Senator Lindsey Graham.
Senator, your favorite topic, dealing with this.
BOLDUAN: Michael Cohen is Trump's personal attorney, long-time friend, long-time fixer. His office raided yesterday. You heard that, and you thought what? GRAHAM: You know, I was a bit perplexed, so I really don't know what
they're looking at or what they're going for. But let's unpack this. If it were about Russian collusion in terms of the campaign, I doubt Mueller would have given this to the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. So that tells me it's probably not related to Mueller's core mission. As for the Southern District of New York, the U.S. attorney was appointed by Trump. He was Rudy Giuliani's law partner. So I don't think he's on a witch hunt. So most likely Mueller found something that he thought somebody else should look at, and he picked the guy in New York.
[11:49:52] BOLDUAN: You said in the past that if Trump would fire Robert Mueller, it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. After his comments last night, what he said to cameras, he was asked directly, and he didn't say no. And his witch hunt tweet today, do you think it's more of a possibility today than it was yesterday?
GRAHAM: Not really, because what Senator Grassley said, what many Republicans have said, that Mr. Mueller is well respected. I think he's doing a professional job. He can only be removed for cause. I don't see any reason to fire Mr. Mueller.
I know the president is frustrated. He's told me, over and over, he did nothing to collude with the Russians. He thinks this thing is kind of running outside the boundaries here. But at the end of the day, Mueller needs to continue to do his job, and without political interference, and I think most members of Congress view it that way.
BOLDUAN: But he did have the opportunity to say that, to say, no, I have no reason not to want to fire Bob Mueller yesterday. He was asked directly, and he didn't say no. As you mentioned, you and most Republicans said Mueller should be able to finish his investigation and finish his job. Is there any reason not to act now as a member of Congress before Trump fires Mueller to prevent him from firing Mueller?
GRAHAM: Well, all I can say is that Mr. Mueller, to be removed, has to be removed for cause. I have legislation that would require a court to look at a removal of the special counsel as to whether or not it fits in the definition for cause, not just for Mueller or for any future special counsel. But the bottom line is I'm not worried about Trump firing Mueller because I think he's smarter than that. I know he's frustrated. You would be frustrated, too, if your personal attorney had his office raided.
BOLDUAN: I would be nervous.
GRAHAM: Here's what I think. I don't know what Cohen did. This whole idea of borrowing money against your house to pay a claim to Stormy Daniels was bizarre by any legal standard that I know. The fact that he settled the claim and didn't tell the president is kind of out there. So I don't know what they're looking at. Chances are this is more about Cohen than it is Trump. But we'll see over time. BOLDUAN: Is there something more than -- you say you don't believe
that Trump will get to the point of firing Bob Mueller.
GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.
BOLDUAN: You think he decide better than that.
GRAHAM: Yes, I do.
BOLDUAN: But why would Congress -- as Grassley said today, it would be suicide. John Kennedy said today that he doesn't think he would do that because he knows Congress would act if he did. Why not act now to prevent it, to make sure Mueller has to stay in place? Is it just the sensitivity that you would be, I don't know, poking it in the eye?
GRAHAM: Well - planning in a narrative that I'm not overly worried about. But I have legislation. I think the president understands where most of us is at. If Senator Grassley wants to bring the bill up for a vote, that would be fine by me. But I'm not worried about President Trump firing Mueller. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Mr. Mueller can do his job without political interference. And I wish there was a special counsel looking at the DOJ and FBI abuses of the FISA warrant process, but maybe we'll get there later.
BOLDUAN: There's always a special counsel to go around.
Senator Graham, thank you for coming in. Appreciate it.
GRAHAM: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Coming up for us, a short time from now, the CEO of Facebook is set to face a grilling on Capitol Hill from a whole lot of Senators. His company in major crisis mode right now. What will Mark Zuckerberg say? That's next.
[11:57:42] BOLDUAN: Today could be the biggest day of Mark Zuckerberg's entire career. The Facebook CEO is set to testify before Congress this afternoon for the very first time. And not just any committee. He's actually facing a joint committee, which means some 44 Senators will be questioning him. That's nearly half the Senate. Yes, that is the extent of my math abilities. Zuckerberg's task is a huge one, apologizing for the personal data and fake news controversy that has engulfed the social media giant. And also explaining how he and his company will stop it from happening again, if they can.
Joining me now with a preview, senior technology correspondent, Laurie Segall, is on Capitol Hill for us.
Laurie, this is a huge test for Zuckerberg. What is he expected to face today? LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, having spent
some time with him -- I interviewed him weeks ago. He is nervous. He admitted to me he doesn't like doing on-camera interviews, and this will be a lot of political theater, so a lot of different muscle for him as a CEO, who has been inward facing.
I spoke to a source from Facebook. To get him prepped for it, they've actually been doing mock hearings. So they took over a conference room and set up a fake congressional hearing. Over the last week, he's been answering questions. And he's prepared, I think, to make the case for Facebook to remind people, what I'm told, why Facebook matters, why it's important. He's also prepared to push back a little bit, to say, as appropriate, I respectfully disagree with this. He'll defend the company's business model. I'm also told he wants to appear that the strategy is to be contrite, humble and respectful. It will probably mention his children to humanize him, as opposed to villainize him. It'll be very interesting to see how that plays out. The source I spoke to says he is nervous, but he's confident and ready to take this on.
This is an important moment for him because lawmakers' users are wondering if they can trust the platform. The next conversation we'll have is on regulatory issues and regulations that the company will be facing. And a lot of that hinges on today -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Laurie, being contrite and humble is everyone's goal going in.
BOLDUAN: But going in hour seven, when they're still in the hearing, that might be tough. We'll see.
Great to see you, Laurie.
BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.
Laurie Segall will cover it for us. She'll been on Capitol Hill all day.
And thank you guys all for joining me AT THIS HOUR.
"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.
[12:00:09] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate.
And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing another very busy news day with us.