Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Paul Manafort Trial Begins; Trump vs. Koch Brothers; ICE Calls Child Detention Facilities 'Summer Camps'. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 31, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He then lied on tax forms, essentially didn't report the income, didn't report that he had money being held in overseas accounts.

Now, then there are the bank fraud charges that are accusing Manafort of lying. This all stems from when once all the money that he made from the Ukrainians really dried up, he needed more money. And so prosecutors say, in order to get more than $20 million in loans, he doctored forms, didn't disclose debt.

All they say was to help support this lavish lifestyle that prosecutors are going to argue at trial that he lived. Now, at 69, certainly, Manafort is facing the rest of his life in prison, certainly far from the lavish lifestyle that he lived, as he now awaits this jury's decision.

And, Brooke, it's important to keep in mind that there's always still the possibility that he will plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Could happen. Opening statements start this afternoon. Shimon, thank you so much.

So let's just talk more about this jury that has just been sworn. Here's what we know. It's six men, six women. The four alternates are three women and one man. But the one thing that -- easy for me to say -- the one thing attorneys don't know about these jurors is who they voted for back in November '16.

The judge ruled previously that prosecutors and the defense could not ask potential jurors that very question.

So with me now, chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

And, Jeffrey Toobin, I heard you on TV calling this a rocket docket, but holy smokes, this was fast.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, but this is typical of that courthouse in Alexandria. They pick the jury in the morning, opening statements in the afternoon.

The early prediction was that this trial was going to last three weeks. I will bet you cash money, Brooke Baldwin, that this case lasts less than three weeks and maybe just about two. I mean, they move cases in the Eastern District.

And, perhaps more importantly, especially for Paul Manafort, it's known as a very pro-prosecution courthouse. Acquittals are very rare there.

BALDWIN: Wow.

All right, we just mentioned a second ago that these attorneys -- and, by the way, they took seven rounds in the selection process for attorneys on both sides to reach these 12 jurors. We know they weren't allowed to ask who he or she voted for, but how did -- what kinds of questions were they allowed to ask?

TOOBIN: Well, they asked questions about their background, their professions, their educational history, anyone with relatives in law enforcement, any personal experience with the criminal justice system.

The demographics of the Eastern District of Virginia are generally more conservative than certainly the District of Columbia, where his second trial is supposed to take place. It's much more white, much less -- even though the northern part of Virginia is trending much more Democratic than it used to, it's certainly not nearly as Democratic as the -- as the District of Columbia.

BALDWIN: Yes.

TOOBIN: Those general perceptions are probably accurate, but again applying those to the 12 people is -- it's hard to do.

BALDWIN: You're on the money. We have noted that the initial jury pool of 65 people from Northern Virginia was largely white, but the group that will decide his fate is actually quite diverse.

Looking ahead, Jeff Toobin, just the next couple of steps, how does this jury avoid outside influence on a case so massive in a time when information and news is entirely pervasive and at your fingertips?

TOOBIN: You know, Brooke, I have been covering these high-profile trials for many years. And one thing those of us in the news media can never understand is, how do people not follow us, how do people not...

BALDWIN: Don't they at every turn?

TOOBIN: And you know what? And they actually have no problem at all not following the news.

BALDWIN: What?

TOOBIN: I mean, especially in a case like this. It's not televised, so you won't see replays at night. You know what? Tragically, there are people who don't follow the news and find the instruction not to watch us something they actually can accomplish. It breaks my heart, but it's true.

BALDWIN: I will take you up on your cash money bet on how fast this goes, by the way.

TOOBIN: All right.

BALDWIN: But stay with me, because I have got more for you.

I want to turn now to this new line of defense that President Trump seems to be taking in the Russia investigation. So he now, the president, is echoing the words of his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tweeting this: "Collusion is not a crime." Then he uses his familiar phrasing about how there was no collusion.

Is this the latest iteration on how to view this whole Trump Tower meeting? Again, that is when top campaign officials, Trump campaign officials, including the president's own son, met with four Russians during the campaign.

So before we get into that, let's just review the changing narrative on this infamous sit-down meeting. So first, don't forget the initial line was there was no meeting, right? Remember, it took place back in June of 2016. Not a peep about this.

[15:05:01]

And then take a look at this from Donald Trump Jr. So, Don Jr., this is nine months after it happened, quoting him: "Did I meet with people that were Russian? I'm sure. I'm sure I did, but none that were set up, and certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form."

That was then. Then, in July of last year, "The New York Times" broke the story, and the story became that, yes, there was a meeting, but it was on Russian adoptions, or more accurately sanctions. Very soon after, the Trump team was then forced to fess up that the meeting was actually to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And then the public was told, OK, yes, there was this meeting, but no dirt on Hillary Clinton actually came from it. Don Jr. reportedly said this about the Russian lawyer with the supposedly Clinton dirt -- quote -- "Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense."

Here we are today, when the president and his say collusion is not a crime.

So, Jeff Toobin, back over to you on this. First, just legal definitions. It's not collusion technically here, right? It would be conspiracy.

TOOBIN: It would be some kind of conspiracy, right.

And it's also true that lawyers affiliated with Trump, including Jay Sekulow, have said for many months that collusion is not a crime. What makes today so interesting and unusual is that yesterday, on "NEW DAY," Rudy Giuliani made a big point of saying collusion was not a crime.

And we see that statement echoed immediately by President Trump in a tweet. You know, unfortunately, we're sort of getting into legal semantics here. If you are assisting a foreign government to intervene in an American election, that is unlawful. That is a legal conspiracy.

That crime is not called collusion in the law books, but illegal campaign contributions by a foreign company -- countries, foreign companies, that would be a crime. Hacking by foreign entities or anyone that an American campaign is assisting, that would be a crime.

So collusion by that word is not a crime, but a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and other laws, that is a crime and that's really what the Mueller investigation is all about.

BALDWIN: OK, so since Rudy Giuliani sat down with Alisyn Camerota yesterday and this whole collusion is not a crime has become a thing, I want to ask you if this fits it more of a pattern of Rudy Giuliani going on TV, dropping these bombs, maybe trying to get out in front of a story, lessen the shock value.

What would they be trying to get out ahead of?

TOOBIN: I'm not really sure. I actually was in the studio with Alisyn and David Gregory when this -- and so I was watching the interview, like, live.

BALDWIN: Yes.

TOOBIN: And I didn't get the impression that Rudy Giuliani was like intentionally moving the goalpost. It seemed like a more of a stream of consciousness thing.

BALDWIN: Less strategy, more stream of consciousness.

TOOBIN: Yes. And it's also a position that the president and his defenders have been saying for a number of months. I mean, it's not like some new idea that collusion is not a crime.

What's interesting is the president picked it up. And now that there is substantial evidence that there were at least some contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, maybe the sort of next line of defense is, well, maybe there was collusion, but collusion itself is not a crime.

BALDWIN: OK.

TOOBIN: I'm trying. I'm working with you here, Brooke.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: That's what I think was going on.

BALDWIN: I got you, I got you.

But all the confusion. So, if Mueller says that he wouldn't indict a sitting president -- I'm just playing this forward -- and Giuliani and Trump, they learn his fate -- they know it comes down to this P.R. battle, right? I mean, that isn't that really the war that they're waging, court of public opinion, Giuliani going on TV, Trump reiterating a tweet?

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

And I think this is a very important point, is that the resolution of Robert Mueller's investigation of the president is not going to be in a courtroom. There will be no prosecution. That is not Justice Department policy. And, of course, it's not clear that the president committed any crime anyway, so he's going to issue a report in some form that will go to Rod Rosenstein.

Congress, it's unclear exactly how it will be released. But once that's released, the Trump supporters will respond to it. And I have every belief that, like everything else in the Trump presidency, 40 percent of the people are going to believe Donald Trump, somewhere around 55 percent of the people are not going to believe Donald Trump, and we're going to be more unless where we are. It's going to be a public relations battle.

[15:10:01]

But one anomaly of the Trump presidency is just no one ever seems to change their mind, regardless of what the news is.

BALDWIN: Well, we're going to talk to you throughout this whole thing.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

TOOBIN: Yes, ma'am.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Breaking news. Just months before the midterms, Facebook discovering dozens of new fake accounts believed to be run by Russians. See what messages they were trying to spread and who was being targeted.

Also, stunning testimonies where Trump administration officials repeat the claim that facilities for migrant children are like summer camp, and at least one admits he warned the White House that the policy of separating families could cause lasting damage. We will play this heated exchange for you as senators grilled them on Capitol Hill.

Also ahead, President Trump's chief of staff may have a longer life at the White House than many people thought -- details on what John Kelly just told the staff.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:17]

BALDWIN: An announcement by Facebook that it is shutting down dozens of Facebook and Instagram accounts believed to be run by Russians. CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is on this today.

Drew, what?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Facebook saying that it is evidence Russian actors could continue to try to disrupt, meddle in, infiltrate the U.S. political debate, if not our elections themselves.

Brooke, the Department of Homeland Security seems to be pretty sure. We just heard from a Homeland Security official who says, "We continue to see Russian information operations directed at undermining American democracy."

What this is all about is Facebook finding this inauthentic behavior. Basically, whoever set up these pages, 32 pages, aren't who they say they are. And though they are not sure, Facebook believes it's Russians. It's typical of the behavior we saw around the 2016 elections, where Russians set up these fake sites, got real Americans to like, follow these pages, and then sent out disinformation to encourage division in America.

It happened again. It worked again. Nearly 290,000 users were following these fake sites. One of the most followed pages called Resistors, and this group actually set up a counterprotest to a white nationalist rally that's being planned in D.C. less than two weeks from today.

We talked to an actual -- another leader of a group who was in contact with this group and was shocked to learn it was Russians doing this. The event was called No Unite the Right. And the people behind the fake page actually communicated with these real American citizens in five different Facebook groups, who all agreed to co-host the event -- 2,600 Facebook users said they were interested in attending.

And that, Brooke, was just one of 30 events the fake accounts set up in the past year. As for who's behind it, again, Facebook, not sure it's Russians, but it has all the hallmarks of the activities the Russians did around the presidential elections. A few differences. This time, the pages didn't lead directly back to Russian I.P. addresses.

They also used third-party services to buy ads to try to boost their posts and encourage people to follow these pages.

BALDWIN: So what is Facebook doing about it?

GRIFFIN: Well, they're telling us about it. They're telling us that they shut down these sites, but, more importantly, I think they're going back to everybody who linked into these sites, right? So if you're home and you thought you were linking into this resistance group, you're going to get a message from Facebook saying, hey, this wasn't real.

This wasn't a resistance group. It was most likely Russians behind the whole thing -- Brooke. BALDWIN: Wow.

Drew Griffin, thank you so much on Facebook.

And now to this stunning new testimony on the separation of migrant kids from their families at the southern border. The number of detained children whose parents are no longer in the country now stands at 510, that number from a Health and Human Services official testifying before a Senate panel today.

We also heard from other top officials about the treatment of these children in these facilities, as ICE -- an ICE official even comparing it to a summer camp.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW ALBENCE, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: I think the best way to describe them is to be more like a summer camp. These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water. They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured, as well as unstructured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you would send your child to these centers? Yes? No?

(CROSSTALK)

JENNIFER HIGGINS, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: That's -- that's a difficult question to answer. I would -- I would -- it's -- it's difficult to put myself in the position of an individual who takes a dangerous journey in which their child can be harmed, let alone whether I would...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, these are deemed summer camps, so, you know...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to Sunlen Serfaty. She's our CNN congressional correspondent.

And, Sunlen, summer camp?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke.

It's certainly just one of many eyebrows-raising moments coming from this hearing up here on Capitol Hill today. Perhaps one of the other ones was from Commander Jonathan White of HHS.

Today, he acknowledged while testifying up here on Capitol Hill that he raised a number of concerns internally in advance of the zero tolerance policy taking place, concerns internally about the trauma potentially that it could have on these children being separated from their families, the harm, he says, the psychological injuries that could come to children.

And this was certainly an interesting exchange with Senator Blumenthal. That was prompted by Blumenthal's question, did anyone within the administration say maybe this wasn't a good idea? Here's what he had to state in response.

[15:20:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN WHITE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: During the deliberative process over the previous year, we raised a number of concerns in the ORR program about any policy which would result in family separation, due to concerns we had about the best interest of the child, as well as about whether that will be operationally supportable with the bed capacity we have.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Now, I'm going to translate that into what I would call layman's language.

You told the administration that kids would suffer as a result, that pain would be inflicted, correct?

WHITE: Separation of children from their parents entails significant risk of harm to children.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, it's traumatic for any child separated from his or her parents. Am I correct? I say that as a parent of four children.

WHITE: There's no question. There's no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: And those words, traumatic psychological injury to the child, certainly significant, Brooke, for coming from this HHS official, especially as they continue to grapple not only the fallout with the status of many of these children, but at the bare minimum, the full accounting for what's going on with the kids that have been separated from their parents.

And you mentioned briefly at the top that we did indeed get some new figures from the administration today. Commander White said that 510 separated children have parents who are no longer in the U.S. Of those 510, 81 of those children have been discharged potentially to a family member.

So that means 429 children still remain in HHS care. But you're right to say that that is a small uptick in the number, with 510 compared to the last time that we saw that metric point with 463. So that shows that very small increase, but that number is going in the wrong direction, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Sunlen, thank you. As the president gets ready to leave for a campaign rally, CNN is

learning he is nervous the Democrats could take back the House this fall. Hear one man. Hear his one-man plan to make sure that doesn't happen.

And the president goes to war on Twitter with one of the most dominant forces in Republican fund-raising -- why he's calling the Koch brothers a total joke.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:27:15]

BALDWIN: We are getting reports that President Trump wants his chief of staff, John Kelly, to stay on the job.

There are also new indications that the president is further breaking from Republican Party leadership.

First to the Kelly news. Today, for the first time, we're hearing that Kelly is telling senior that President Trump has not only asked him to stay on as White House chief of staff, but to stay on through 2020.

So, Gloria Borger is with me, our CNN chief political analyst.

And, Gloria, I was talking to Jeff Zeleny about this at the top of last hour. And I thought it was noteworthy what he said, that this news seeped out by design.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Spread like wildfire by the White House, by the White House. When they want the word out, they want the word out.

And it's clear that John Kelly has gotten a lot of publicity, either, A, he's leaving, or, B, nobody listens to him anymore. And you can't function that way. And I think there was probably a conversation in which he said, I can't function this way, let me know.

And, of course, the president said I want you to stay. Doesn't mean Kelly's going to stay. But it means at least he gets his sort of mojo back a little bit and his authority back a little bit. And when and if he decides to leave, he can do it on his own terms.

BALDWIN: So that's John Kelly.

Let's go to the president's latest tweet. This what he says. "I don't care what the political ramifications are. Our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a government shutdown."

So back to this whole government shutdown notion, which, by the way, Republican leaders have been saying behind closed doors that Trump is saying he will be patient. So is this merely bluster?

BORGER: Yes, but I think -- I think there's no date on that tweet in terms of when he would do it.

So would he do it before the election? I think Mitch McConnell today said, I hope there's another way we could work this out. Hint, hint, Mr. President. You have a Supreme Court nominee that you need to get confirmed. You have a House that you would like to keep in Republican control. People generally don't like government shutdowns. So if you want to think about it, how about after the election?

And so the president hasn't been -- hasn't been specific here. What he's doing is saying, I didn't like the way I had to fund the government last time, and I told you that last time, so this time I'm putting you on notice that I want my wall.

But at the press conference the other day with the Italian prime minister, when the president was asked, is the $25 billion negotiable, he said everything's on the table.

BALDWIN: OK. On the table.

We know that -- I was talking to a Tampa politics reporter last hour about this rally that the president is attending tonight in support of this gubernatorial candidate. We know that -- from our own reporting, that the president is itching to participate in more rallies...

BORGER: Yes.

BALDWIN: ... because he thinks -- you know, he -- he's a little nervous that this whole Mueller