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Trump Lashed Out at FBI After Release of Secret FISA Documents; Judge Could Delay Manafort Trial; White House Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 23, 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] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: Carter Page lived in Russia. During this time, Page he began dealings with Gazprom, a giant oil and gas company with ties to Putin. So there was concerns about Carter Page prior to this Steele dossier.
Let's go to the next slide. Again, OK, remember, this was authorized once. The FISA warrant was authorized once and reauthorized three more times, Brooke, by federally appointed judges. Who were they appointed by? George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. In case you didn't notice the similarity, these people are all Republicans. All Republicans picked these judges.
And the last one here, this is important. Donald Trump said, "I didn't know anything about this. Why wasn't I briefed about all of this information regarding Russia?" He was, August 17, 2016. OK? He's the Republican nominee at this point. Donald Trump briefed, "Foreign adversaries, including Russia, would try to infiltrate the campaign." Obama goes public. October 9th, Trump says, "The reason they blame Russia is because they're trying to tarnish me." Then he's the president-elect. Two weeks before he's sworn in, the Intelligence Community chief showed him the efforts of Russia to try to compromise him.
Again, Brooke, time and time again, whether it's that tweet you read or what Donald Trump says more broadly on Twitter and elsewhere, he's just not presenting facts when it relates to the FISA warrant, Carter Page, the FBI investigation, the special counsel. He's making a lot of connections but facts don't bear out that they exist.
Back to you -- Brooke?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Quickly, the fact that you weren't able to show the FISA court documents were redacted, yes, but they have never been released before.
CILLIZZA: Never released before, correct.
BALDWIN: Unprecedented that they're released.
Chris Cillizza, thank you so much for walking us through all of that.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: As the backlash grows more toxic over the president's dismissal of Russia attacks on U.S., any moment, the White House will answer for all of this. We're standing by.
Also, in two days, the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is set to start. But now that is in jeopardy. Hear why and what just happened with five witnesses in that case.
[14:36:22] BALDWIN: Just in at CNN, just two days before the criminal trial to set to begin, former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is in court as a judge is deciding whether to delay it.
Shimon Prokupecz is on this for us. He's outside the courthouse.
Shimon, what's the deal?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. We're waiting, Brooke, for the judge to decide whether or not he's going to delay this trial for perhaps another two weeks or a week. It's not entirely clear.
Manafort's attorneys came into court today asking for this delay, saying they had just received new documents and they need some time to review the new documents. It seemed at least that the judge was giving some indications he was inclined to do that. We're waiting for him to make that decision. He's listening to other matters right now we're told. That's the delay. Manafort and his attorneys were ordered back to court at 2:00. We're waiting for that.
The other news here today, Brooke, is that the judge has granted immunity to five witnesses for the prosecution. The special counsel's office made a request of the judge last week for immunity for the five mystery witnesses. It's not entirely clear to us yet who they are. That may happen today. We may get a list of the witnesses that are going to testify against Paul Manafort. The judge and the prosecutors here have indicated they have about 30 witnesses that they intend to call and that list could be made public later this afternoon.
BALDWIN: All right. We'll wait for the news and the request for that delay.
Shimon, thank you.
For now, and staying in Washington, live pictures inside that briefing room, waiting to see Sarah Huckabee Sanders stand behind the podium. The last White House briefing got pretty heated as the president walked back his comments after he'd stood alongside Vladimir Putin, and now that he has walked them back again, how will Sarah Huckabee Sanders respond? We're about the find out.
[14:40:54] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has met with 23 Senators. Unfortunately, all of them were Republicans. That's because Senator Schumer is encouraging his members to not even meet with the judge. For members of the opposing party to demand answers to questions and
yet refuse to even meet with the qualified Supreme Court nominee is unprecedented. Senator Schumer should stop these political games and meet with Judge Kavanaugh.
We welcome Senate Democrats who take their constitutional duty of advise and consent seriously. Judge Kavanaugh stands ready to meet with members of both parties. As you know, here in a few minutes the president will be participating in an event and we're excited to hold the 2018 Made In America product showcase here at the White House.
The president is committed to policies that ensure more products are made in America. Today we will see items like snowboards made by Never Summer Industries in Colorado, campers made by the Newmar Corporation in Indiana and F-150 truck made by the Ford Motor Company in Michigan and baseball bats made by BWP Bats in Pennsylvania and a personal favorite, Ranger Boats from Flippin, Arkansas is also here.
The president celebrates every state's effort and commitment to American made products, and he is honored to have these companies here today and we look forward to having you all join us at that event here shortly, and with that we'll hurry and jump into questions.
QUESTION: Sarah, thanks. Is the president considering the Republican House intel request to declassify key sections of the records with respect to that FISA document release, and will he do that declassification before the House goes into recess at the end (ph)?
SANDERS: The president wants to -- has purposefully (ph) remained uninvolved in this process. He said repeatedly that he wants the Department of Justice to be fully transparent with these requests from Congress and he's going to continue at this point to remain uninvolved.
However, he sees more and more every single day that this is proving further and further to be a total witch hunt, particularly because it was based on a false and unverified and discredited dossier.
QUESTION: Yeah Sarah, we saw The President's tweet on Iran last night. What prompted him to use such strong language on them?
SANDERS: The President's been I think pretty strong since day one in his language towards Iran. He was responding to comments made from them, and he's going to continue to focus on the safety and security of American people.
Go ahead, Steve (ph).
QUESTION: What would it take to have direct negotiations between the President and President Rouhani?
SANDERS: I'm not going to get into specifics and certainly not negotiate with the press. That would be a determination that the President would make on what that looks like, but the ultimate goal and the focus of the President is making sure we keep nuclear weapons out of their hands and that we focus on the protection of America.
QUESTION: Sarah, the President tweeted yesterday that Russia's election interference was all a big hoax. Those were the words he used, but last week he said he had full faith in the U.S. intelligence agencies. So does he believe the interference was a big hoax or does he have faith in the intelligence agencies that have concluded definitively the other way, that -- that Russia did in fact ...
SANDERS: As the president has said many times and stated over and over again, as have I, as have a number of other administration officials, we maintain that Russia interfered in the elections. The president however very much so and has repeatedly, as again have the rest of us, that his campaign colluding in that process is a total hoax and we still hold -- hold strong to that.
QUESTION: He suggested overall that it was a hoax, though.
SANDERS: The president is referencing the collusion component. Once again, the president has faith in the intelligence that suggests and maintain that Russia was involved in the elections. However, it's also important that that same information concludes that it had no impact on the election and that the president again would like to repeat that there was no collusion.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Sort of following up on that question, the president has very forcefully spoken out against Iran, he's very forcefully spoken out against North Korea, he has said that he will forcefully speak out against any threat to the United States.
Russia election interference is a threat to our democracy, why will he not forcefully denounce that?
SANDERS: The president has been incredibly tough on Russia. He's brought it up directly to him in person every single time that they have met. He has put unprecedented sanctions and been extremely tough on Russia across a number of fronts, which we've addressed here many times before.
Frankly, I'm not sure why that is so hard for the media to write about. We've repeated it time and time again, the policy that the president has been -- since day one in office has been extremely tough on Russia, probably more so than any other country.
QUESTION: Thank you Sarah. Senator Rand Paul today made a strong attempt to vitiate the credibility of former CIA Director John Brennan, saying that he's, and I quote "monetizing his security clearance and that it should be removed from him."
He even called on the president to do this. Will the president consider Senator Paul's suggestion and call for the removal of former Director Brennan's security clearance?
SANDERS: Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan's security clearance, he's also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicize and in some cases monetize their public service and security clearances.
Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.
QUESTION: ... a follow-up question to Steve (ph) first. When the president pulled out of the JCPOA, he did not reveal an alternate plan to address Iran's nuclear ambitions. He seemed to bank on economic sanctions being enough to get them back to the table.
Is that still his Plan B?
SANDERS: Look, as we have said, The President's number one goal is to make sure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon. We have similar and shared interests with our European allies, we're continuing to have discussions with them, and when we have specifics on that front, we'll let you know.
QUESTION: ... about Russia, Sarah. Sarah, my question was a follow-up. But my question about Russia is that, you know, President Trump continues to air his grievances about the coverage of his meeting with Vladimir Putin.
SANDERS: Because (ph) you guys continue to obsessively cover it.
QUESTION: Well -- but we can't really because it's been seven days. We have not received a readout. We have not received any specific details about agreements that were reached, whether formally or verbally.
So when can we expect that? And by the way, did (ph)...
SANDERS: The only specific...
QUESTION: ... he take notes? SANDERS: ... agreement that was made was that the two national security teams from both the United States and Russia would continue, at a working level, these discussions.
I can tell you that Ambassador Bolton plans to have a meeting, a follow-up with his counterpart from Russia next month, in addition to meetings with other European allies to further those discussions.
And we'll keep you posted, and when we have specific details...
QUESTION: Sarah, so does President Trump plan on ordering to move any carriers or additional military resources to the region, should Iran continue to pose the threat that he alluded to in his tweet?
SANDERS: I don't...
QUESTION: I also have a follow-up...
SANDERS: ... have any specific announcements on that.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, then, Secretary -- Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday talked a lot about corruption and human rights abuses in Iran.
Why is he zeroing in and why is the administration zeroing in on Iran when a number of other states are guilty of the same transgressions including Russia, which we are now warming up to?
SANDERS: Again, we've had tough conversations with Russia. We've been tough on them with our policy. As I stated this morning, we can be tough on more than one country at a time and that's exactly what we're doing.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah. Could you explain a little bit, the threshold that the president has for taking away former officials' (ph) security clearance?
Is it his position, then, that any former Obama administration official who holds clearance and does (ph) make political statements about him should have their clearance revoked? Or is it just limited to the names right now that you -- that you read?
SANDERS: As of right now, we are exploring the mechanism on those specific names. I'll keep you posted when there's further...
QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sarah. The language the president used in the tweet that he sent out last night was very similar to the language he used last August in New Jersey when he spoke of fire and fury being rained down on North Korea. And of course, that led to a one-on-one meeting the president ultimately had with Kim Jong Un.
Is the president open to diplomacy with Iran, meeting perhaps one-on- one with President Rouhani?
SANDERS: I'm not going to negotiate with the specifics that the president or the administration will be looking at. Again, our goal was to stop Iran from nuclear weapons and we'll keep you posted as we move through that process.
QUESTION: ... your statement regarding Judge Kavanaugh. I think you made it (ph) the very top -- there's one Republican senator who says he's undecided. Well, there's a few that say there's (ph) undecided.
But Rand Paul in particular says that -- he says, "I'm honestly undecided. I'm very concerned about his position on privacy and the Fourth Amendment."
Are you concerned about losing Rand Paul once this vote for Judge Kavanaugh ultimately gets to the floor...
SANDERS: We're certainly hopeful that Senator Paul will do the right thing and vote for this very highly qualified nominee.
QUESTION: Yes. Sarah, flipping around John's (ph) question about Iran, considering the comments that we've heard in the past day -- from the president's tweet, Ambassador Bolton's statement, which you put out, and Secretary Pompeo's speech last night -- what is stopping this administration from just openly advocating regime change in Iran?
SANDERS: Again, our focus is on stopping Iran from having nuclear weapons regardless of who is there. That's what our priority is. And if we have any further announcements on that front, I'll let you know.
But the president, his administration are going to continue pushing and advocating for that.
QUESTION: Sarah, regarding one of the stories that broke on Friday, how did the president feel when he found out that his longtime lawyer and fixer had recorded him surreptitiously?
SANDERS: While the President maintains that he's done nothing wrong on this specific topic, I'd refer you to the President's outside council.
QUESTION: Does the President still deny that he ever had a relationship with a woman named Karen McDougal? SANDERS: Once again, the President maintains that he's done nothing wrong and I would refer you to Rudy Giuliani for all questions on that matter.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up, first on this statement you made about Brennan and his security clearance, are you considering any additional actions against Brennan and the other names you've -- you read off? In addition to revoking their security clearances, is there any other action under review?
SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: And then to go back real quick to the Russia investigation. So the FISA application on Carter Page states that he is a Russian agent involved in clandestine activities.
Given that the President continues to say there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, is he concerned or does he not believe the intelligence community's assessment that Carter Page was a Russian agent?
SANDERS: Again, I think that we've spoken extensively what our position is on this, and we're -- have no changes to that.
QUESTION: Sarah, the President is threatening to punish Brennan and Comey and Clapper for saying things about him that he doesn't like. Is that presidential?
SANDERS: The President is exploring these mechanisms to resume -- remove security clearance because they politicize and in some cases actually monetize their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the President is extremely inappropriate.
The President contends to the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.
QUESTION: So ...
SANDERS: When we have further updates on that front, I'll certainly let you know.
QUESTION: Every speech he doesn't like and he wants to punish them for it?
SANDERS: No, I think you are creating your own story there. The President doesn't like the fact that people are politicizing agencies and departments that are specifically meant to not be political and not meant to be monetized off of security clearances.
QUESTION: Sarah, a separate question after but to follow up on that, isn't the President doing exactly what you just said the President doesn't want all these people doing, politicizing matters of national security by going after his political enemies?
SANDERS: No, the President's not making baseless accusations of improper contact with a foreign government and accusing the President of the United States of treasonous activity.
When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you're the person that holds the nation's deepest, most sacred secrets at your hands and you go out and you make false accusations against the President of the United States, he thinks that is a -- something to be very concerned with and we're exploring what those options are and what that looks like.
QUESTION: ... the (inaudible) on the message to ...
SANDERS: Sorry, I got to keep moving because we're running out of time.
I got about two more questions left.
Katelyn (ph), go ahead.
QUESTION: ... the President's message to Paul Manafort, does he have one?
SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of.
Katelyn (ph), go ahead.
QUESTION: When is the President going to make this decision on those security clearances?
SANDERS: As I said, when we have an update we will let you know.
QUESTION: So -- so my ...
SANDERS: Last question.
QUESTION: ... my question -- that was just a follow up on that. My question, has the President -- since you didn't answer if he's briefed -- since they haven't briefed reporters on what went down during the two hour meeting ...
SANDERS: Actually, we had a press conference, the President's done a number of interviews. We've actually put out quite a bit of information following that meeting, so.
QUESTION: So my question is on -- not the press, but has the President briefed his National Security Advisor, his Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence and the Defense Secretary on what exactly was said between him and President Putin?
SANDERS: The President has met and spoken with all of those individuals since his meeting with President Putin.
QUESTION: And when he briefs them, is he relying solely on his own memory to tell them what happened during that two hour meeting?
SANDERS: The President has met and consulted with all of his national security team and we feel very confident in those talks.
QUESTION: But it's on what he remembers that happened, it's not ...
SANDERS: Katelyn (ph), I'm not going to go into specific details on how the President interacts every single time with his national security team.
QUESTION: Well this is a rarity though, it's a sit down with the Russian President ...
SANDERS: It's actually not a rarity, it's a normal practice for two world leaders to be able to have a conversation with one another.
QUESTION: ... Russia ...
SANDERS: David (ph), go ahead.
QUESTION: What about -- what about President Obama and Vice President Biden and their -- and their security clearances, are they on the list as well?
[14:55:44] SANDERS: I'm not aware of any plans on that at this point.
Thanks so much, guys. We'll see you --
BALDWIN: OK. So Sarah Huckabee Sanders there. Let's just call it what it was. She threw a grenade in there when it comes to the news that she's now saying the White House is now considering not only revoking the security clearance of the former CIA Chief John Brennan but also that of Comey, Clapper, McCabe and Rice.
In case you missed it, let's re-roll the found and then we'll have a big discussion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan's security clearance, he's also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicized and, in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate. And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Dana Bash, starting with you first.
We know that Senator Rand Paul was supposedly meeting with the president to revoke the security clearance of Mr. Brennan. That whole list? What are you thinking?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's political. I mean, it's political. We need to call things for what they are. This is political. There's no question that James Clapper and others, I mean, Susan Rice was always a political appointee when she was working for the president of the United States. The others are in different categories. Clapper and Brennan and others, particularly Clapper, have been in the United States military. They have served Democrats. They have served Republicans. It is only in recent months that they have been extraordinarily political, because they say it's what they see is needed with the president who is not respecting institutions, especially the Intelligence Community, where they all worked.
Just by way of context, when I say it's political, Michael Flynn was in the Intelligence Community. He headed one of the intelligence agencies, the Defense Intelligence Agency. And after that, he was making money. He still had his security clearance. He was on the campaign trail saying that Hillary Clinton should be locked up. He didn't get his security clearance pulled by Barack Obama, the then- president. If you're looking for something that is as -- is the closest to compare it to would probably be that. And, again, we have not seen any of the individuals that Sarah Sanders put out now on the campaign trail actively campaigning for or against a candidate. Not yet.
BALDWIN: So if this is politically motivated, this would be retaliation, Gloria Borger. Is this even doable?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think the president could do what he wants. You'd have to double check me on that. Maybe David would know.
But I agree with Dana that it's punishing your critics. It's telling people whom he sees on television or reads in tweets who are criticizing him, I'm going to get you. And I don't think it will stop them from criticizing him. It may stop them from getting the intelligence that a lot of people think you need to keep getting to continue through the years. So these people can consultant with the current people who were in office.
But as Dana points out, Flynn was marching around stage saying, "lock her up," and nobody did anything about that. And it's petty and small. And it's -- Rand Paul had an idea, gave it to the president. He probably thought it was just great.
(CROSSTALK) BORGER: So all these people who have devoted their lives to public service, whether you like them or not, suddenly, Donald Trump says, well, I don't like what you're saying, so you have no clearance.
BALDWIN: Mark Garcetti (ph) and Aaron David Miller, hang tight with me for a second.
We have James Clapper on the line. James Clapper is a CNN national security analyst and former director of National Intelligence.
Mr. Clapper, you are apparently now on a list, according to the White House, as of two minutes ago, they would like to --