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Federal Judge's Statements in the Manafort Investigation; President Trump Addresses NRA Convention. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 4, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00]

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: A federal judge in Virginia today delivering sharp criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team say he believes Mueller's motivation is to oust President Trump from office. The judge is presiding over Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort's bank fraud case which was brought to him by Mueller's team. The judge unleashed his anger and skepticism at a court hearing this morning. CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider joins me with more on what happened. Walk us through. What happened in that courtroom?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was quite remarkable, Erica. The federal judge, his name is T. S. Ellis, he really seemed to reprimand the Special Counsel's lawyer here and even sort of lost his temper at times all while he expressed his doubt that the Special Counsel is acting within its scope or properly following its mandates. So remember, Paul Manafort, he is facing 18 counts, including bank fraud, in federal court in Virginia.

Now that's on top of the counts that he faces here in Washington, D.C. And the criticism from his lawyers that these charges, they don't relate to the campaign and therefore they just go too far for the Special Counsel. So Judge Ellis who is a Reagan appointee; he's been a federal judge since the 1980s. He echoed some of Paul Manafort's lawyers concerns. He said this in part while on the bench today in federal court. He said, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," the judge told Michael Dreeben on the Special Counsel's team.

Instead, the judge said that they were only interested in Manafort because what he could provide that would lead to the President's, quote, "prosecution or impeachment, that's what you're really interested in.? And the judge continued here really reprimanding the Special Counsel's team saying this, he said, "We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the Special Prosecutor has the power do anything he or she wants. The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power."

So a little bit there echoing some of the tweets we've seen from the President himself. So Erica, this was a hearing on Paul Manafort's motion to dismiss the entirety of the Virginia case. He contends the special counsel went too far in charging him with crimes that don't directly relate to the campaign. The judge will rule on that in a later date. In the meantime Erica, the judge will get access in this case to that unredacted August 17 memo that was from Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein.

It spells out the Special Counsel's authority. The judge will be getting this, however, the memo will remain sealed so only the judge will be able to see it. That will no doubt cast a little bit more light for this judge on just how broadly the Special Counsel's powers are as to what they are investigate. We got a glimpse of this memo; a lot of it was redacted but it did say explicitly that the Special Counsel could examine Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine and whether he included with Russian officials during the campaign itself. The judge will get a look at that. But a stern rebuke from the federal judge today in that case, Erica.

HILL: Jessica, appreciate it. I want to bring in our CNN Legal Analyst, Paul Callan. Paul, when you look at this, sort of a two-part question for you. Number one, common is it for a judge to be so forceful and blistering in court? And, number two, is this based on what we know, is this within the scope of the Special Counsel?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well first we don't see judges excoriate prosecutors this way anymore. And you know they're really supposed to be neutral arbiters between the prosecution and the defense.

HILL: I'm going to stop you there because I think the President is taking the podium. He's there of course in Dallas to address the annual meeting of the NRA. A lot of questions of whether we'll hear the President talk about other topics of the day. Earlier this morning, of course, he weighed in on Rudy Giuliani, also told us we'd be hearing soon information about that meeting with North Korea. Could any of those topics come up today? Could the President reference the latest jobs report?

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Let's all listen in as the President in Dallas.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, folks. Thank you very much, a great honor to be here and I want to thank Chris (ph), so many people have done such an incredible job. And these are real patriots, they really are and they don't get the kind of adulation.

But really, they do and we know that. I want to thank Wayne LaPierre. I want to thank my friend, our great Vice President Mike Pence for his terrific remarks.

(APPLAUSE)

I also want to recognize our great Texas leaders. We love Texas, do we love Texas?

(APPLAUSE)

Governor Greg Abbott, my friend, where's Greg? Governor Greg Abbott. And he's running, and I've already done it but I will tell you, Greg, I fully endorse you, you are endorsed. He has done a great job.

(APPLAUSE)

I'll tell you, he would -- you had your water just pouring down on top of you, just kept coming and coming, he kept calling and calling, we need more money, money, money.

(LAUGHTER)

And you know what? We gave it to you.

(APPLAUSE)

Fully endorsed. Attorney General Ken Paxton, tremendous guy.

(APPLAUSE)

And by the way, Ken, you have my full endorsement, and Angela, your wife, has my full endorsement. She just had a big victory.

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Senator John Cornyn, been with me right from the beginning. John, thank you. Thank you, John.

(APPLAUSE)

Full endorsement for this man. Ted Cruz, where's Ted? Where's Ted?

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Boy that was very rousing.

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That's a good sign. Congressman Pete Sessions and Congressman Mike Burgess, great friends.

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We're also joined by Pete Ricketts, Dana Loesch, Charlie Kirk, Diamond and Silk.

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Where are you? Where are you? They're so great. Mark Geist, Richard Hutchens (ph), Pete Brownell and Leslie Rutledge, finally I wanted to thank all of you, the true American patriots of the NRA who defend our rights, our liberty and our great American flag, thank you, thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

The people in this hall have never taken our freedom granted. Never. And you have never stopped fighting for our beloved Constitution. Incredible people. Thank you.

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You give your time, your energy, your vote, and your voice to stand strong for those sacred rights given to us by God, including the right to self defense.

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And now thanks to your activism and dedication, you'll have

[14:40:00]

an administration fighting to protect your 2nd Amendment, and we will protect your 2nd Amendment.

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Your 2nd Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president.

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All of us -- thank you. Thank you. All of us here today are united by the same timeless values. We believe that our liberty is a gift from our creator and that no government can ever take it away. We believe in the rule of law.

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And we support the men and women of law enforcement.

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We have pride in our history and respect for our heritage. We put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and we all proudly stand for the National Anthem. We proudly stand.

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AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!

TRUMP: What people. What great people.

AUDIENCE: We love you!

TRUMP: And this is your record crowd, you know, all time record crowd. You do know that, so, just remember.

(APPLAUSE) Nice to set record.

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We love our country, and we believe our citizens deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

TRUMP: For the last 15 months, that is exactly what we have been doing. We are all finally putting America first.

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And we are seeing the incredible results as a result of our massive tax cuts, and everybody is benefiting and everybody is happy.

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And the Democrats are very concerned. You watch how well we do in '18. You watch. You watch.

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Get out and vote. Don't be complacent. Don't be complacent. Now, history says that when you win the presidency you get complacent. We all know the feeling. Do you know the feeling? Not too many.

(LAUGHTER)

Like, 90 percent of the time, you win the presidency and, for whatever reason, you lose the midterm. We can't let that happen. And the word is "complacent."

You know, I kept thinking to myself, "Why is that? I wonder why." Think about it. You win. You have this great win. Now, you take a breath. You relax. All of a sudden, two years is up. They're fighting like hell, and you're complacent. We cannot get complacent. We have to win the midterms.

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Because since the election, we've created 3.2 million jobs, unthought-of. If we would have said that three years ago, during the campaign, people would have said, "What a horrible exaggeration. That's so terrible." They wouldn't have believed it.

Three-point-two million. The unemployment rate -- you saw that just today -- just fell beneath four percent for the first time since the beginning of this century.

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You know, I heard it was about 19 years. I said, "Wait a minute.

'The beginning of the century' sounds better." So I say, "The beginning of the century."

[14:45:00]

(LAUGHTER)

More beautiful.

(LAUGHTER)

African-American unemployment has reached another all-time, in history, record low -- in history.

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And by the way, Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye, thank you.

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When I saw the number, I said, "That must be a mistake. How can that happen?" Even the pollsters thought there must be a mistake.

(LAUGHTER)

No. We've come a long way. You remember, I'd come into big rooms, big audiences, and I'd say, "What do you have to lose?" Because the Democrats have always had that vote. I said, "What do you have to lose?" Horrible on crime, horrible on education, horrible on education.

I'd say, "What do you have to lose?" And they voted for me, and we won. But now the numbers are much higher than they ever were with African-American. And we're happy.

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And the same thing with Hispanic American unemployment, which is also at the lowest level in history -- unemployment, lowest level in history.

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And women's unemployment -- women, many women -- is at the lowest level in almost 20 years. Think of that.

TRUMP: So we have the best employment numbers we've virtually ever had. And yet all we hear about is this phony Russia witch hunt. That's all we hear about, isn't it (ph)?

(BOOING)

So just when I'm walking on the stage, a highly respected judge in Virginia made statements. It says -- Wall Street Journal -- it says, "Judge Questions Mueller's Authority to Prosecute Manafort." (APPLAUSE)

Now, Paul Manafort's a nice guy, but you know, he worked for me for a very short period of time -- literally, for like, what? A couple of months? Little period of time. Then what happens? He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. They worked, I think, as a firm, for John McCain. They worked for others. Does anybody say that? No. But he's out there fighting.

On fake news CNN--

(BOOS)

I think NBC may be more distorted and worse, but -- No, but on CNN, they have a headline: "Judge in Manafort Case Says Mueller's Aim is to Hurt Trump." Do you believe that? This is what we're up -- It's called the witch hunt.

So I just said, "Give me that article. I want to read it." Just happened a few minutes before I walked onstage. A federal judge Friday questioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller's authority to bring tax and bank fraud charges unrelated -- unrelated. Nobody knows that. Everyone thinks, "Oh--" Unrelated to the 2016 election against former Trump campaign manager chairman Paul Manafort. He was there for a short while. But he's a good person. He is. I really believe he's a good person.

"Judge T.S. Ellis--" -- who is really something very special, I hear, from many standpoints. He's a respected person. "--suggested the charges before the U.S. district court for the Eastern District of Virginia were just part of the Mueller team's designs to pressure Mr. Manafort into giving up information on President Donald Trump or others in the campaign." I've been saying that for a long time. It's a witch hunt.

Then, none of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump. It doesn't have anything to do. It's from years before.

Then, "How does this have anything to do with the campaign," the judge asks.

Let me tell you, folks, we're all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles. It's really a disgrace. (inaudible)

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

[14:50:00]

Can you imagine, if we ever called for a rally in Washington, D.C.? There wouldn't be enough room. There wouldn't be enough room. We have a lot of love going on. You know, people don't realize, we have great love going on in this country, great love. It's right here. We have--

And -- and by the way, you just saw the recent poll? It came out, the Rasmussen, 51 or 52. It's the highest level I've ever been at. How does that happen when you only get bad publicity? How does that happen?

(APPLAUSE)

That's because people realize -- That's because people realize that a lot of what you read, and a lot of what you see on television is fake. They realize it. The people are smart. The people are smart.

(APPLAUSE)

So you have a battle also. You have a battle to keep your rights, and we're going to keep those rights. You're going to be so happy. You have to say. You weren't sure that Trump was going to win, but you all went out there.

TRUMP: You all went out there, and you voted. You voted.

(APPLAUSE)

And there were times they put up that Trump, Pence, Trump, Pence. There were times you say -- a week before they were saying -- I remember they came out with a lot of phony polls. You know that that's called? Suppression. They convince you that you're wasting your time. Why should you vote? Go to a movie instead. Come home watch the results.

Very few of the people in this room and in this country did that. And we really had a big night.

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Remember they said there is no way, Electoral College, there is no way to 270 for me. There is no way to 270 and they were right. But 306 was OK.

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Crazy. 306. So, we had a great time and I think we're doing better now than ever before. I think we're more popular now from the standpoint, now we've produced. You know, when I was running I said we're going to give you tax cuts and by the way, we are decimating Obamacare. We got a bad vote the evening.

(APPLAUSE)

We got a bad vote the evening that we were going to terminate Obamacare. We got a bad vote. You know about that, right. That was not a nice thing. That was an unexpected vote. But if you look at the massive tax cut bill we also got rid of the individual mandate which is the worse part of Obamacare, right.

(APPLAUSE)

I don't know if the people in Texas are going to like this but we also got ANWR in Alaska. So I don't know if you're going to like a little competition, but you know what it is? It's called energy for this country. It's called energy.

(APPLAUSE)

That we like. So, Ted, I think you're happy with that. I think, right? So, we've delivered and when we were running I would say we're going to this, we're going to that, we're going to that. A certain person that's not a very fair person in the media said I have to say Trump has actually delivered more than he promised which is probably the first time people have ever heard that statement.

We actually delivered more than we promised and let me just tell you this, we're really doing well with North Korea. We're really doing well.

(APPLAUSE)

Right. We're doing real well. Remember they said it's going to be terrible. They were actually saying three months ago when the rhetoric was rather sharp, do we agree? I won't use the rhetoric now. Now, I'm trying to calm it down a little bit. So, I'm not going to use the rhetoric. But let's put it this way -- he goes use it.

(APPLAUSE)

I know you come from Texas whoever the hell you are.

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Look for years -- for years they've had this problem, and everybody has said, don't talk, don't talk. Don't -- please don't talk. The last administration had a policy of silence. Don't talk. You may make them and him angry.

[14:55:00}

(LAUGHTER)

Don't talk. If a horrible statement is made about the United States, don't say anything; we have no comment. Please, please, oh, my God.

(APPLAUSE)

Same thing with Iran, remember? We're signing that horrible deal and they're marching in the streets, saying "Death to America." I said, "Who signs a deal when they're marching, saying 'Death to America'?" Who marches (ph)?

They're saying "Death to America," and we have the former administration, as -- as represented by John Kerry -- not the best negotiator we've ever seen -- he never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race, where he fell and broke his leg. That's it (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

That was the only time.

(APPLAUSE)

I said, "Don't tell them you broke your leg. Just stay inside, say you don't want to negotiate. You'll make a much better deal."

(LAUGHTER)

But he broke his leg. And I learned from that. At 73 years old, you never go into a bicycle race, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

Just -- you just don't do that. I'm not 73; he was, OK? Just--

(LAUGHTER)

-- but I'll be there.

But we have great things going on. And, you know, with respect to North Korea, remember how strong it was? And they were saying, "This is going to be nuclear war? We're going to have" -- no. You know what gets you nuclear war? Weakness gets you nuclear war. Being weak gets you nuclear war.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what gets you nuclear war. So let's talk about guns, shall we?

(APPLAUSE)

Paris, France has the toughest gun laws in the world. The president just left Washington -- Emmanuel, great guy -- nobody has guns in Paris, nobody.

And we all remember more than 130 people, plus tremendous numbers of people that were horribly, horribly wounded -- you notice nobody ever talks about that? They talk about the people that died, but they never mentioned that 250 people had horrible, horrible wounds. I mean, they never mention that.

But they died in a restaurant and various other close-proximity places. They were brutally killed by a small group of terrorists that had guns. They took their time and gunned them down one by one -- boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom. If you were in those rooms, one of those people -- and the survivors said it just lasted forever.

TRUMP: But, if one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot. And it would have been a whole different story. I mean, right?

(APPLAUSE)

Right? We all know what's going on in Chicago. But Chicago has the toughest gun laws in our country. They're so tough. But you know what's happening? It seems that, if we're going to outlaw guns, like so many people want to do-Democrats--

(LAUGHTER)

-- you better get out and vote. Then we will get-and you know what I'm going to say. We are going to have to outlaw, immediately, all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists. Right?

They take a truck, and they run over 8 people and wound 16 (ph), like what happened in New York and what just happened. It's happening all over. So let's ban, immediately, all trucks, all vans, maybe all cars. How about cars? Let's ban them. Let's not sell any more cars.?

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