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Trump Steps Up Attacks As His Lawyers Negotiate With Mueller; Prosecutors May Not Call Manafort Deputy Rick Gates To Testify; CNN: Mueller Willing To Allow Trump To Answer Some Questions In Writing But Still Wants A Sit-Down Interview. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 1, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: Out front next, breaking news, the Special Counsel and the President's lawyers back to negotiating a sit- down interview. The talks firing Trump up, leading to one of the most jaw-dropping tweets of his presidency.

Plus, the fringe conspiracy theorist group that's become more and more visible at Trump rallies across the country. What is QAnon? And the alleged Russian spy, new reports detailing hundreds of thousands of dollars in suspicious transactions. Let's go out front.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, the breaking news, President Trump in a fit of rage. CNN learning that the President is lashing out on Twitter because of a briefing on Mueller's latest offer for an interview in the Russia investigation.

And tonight, the Washington Post is reporting Mueller's most recent offer would cut the number of questions to the President in the interview about obstruction of justice by nearly half. Cutting it by nearly half is not good enough for the President. Obstruction in any form is something team Trump has been very clear is a nonstarter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said what the President would be willing to sit down --

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sort of figure out in the area of collusion, not obstruction. And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meaning he would answer questions about collusion, not obstruction or vice versa?

GIULIANI: No, collusion, not obstruction.


BURNETT: So, very clear, right? Not obstruction. Collusion OK, not obstruction. The fact that obstruction is still part of the interview appears to be setting the President off. He tweeted this morning, "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further." Stop the investigation.

The President fuming behind closed doors, but in public, find to go on Twitter upset. But in public he doesn't want to answer questions about it.




BURNETT: Ignoring reporter questions for the 18th time since last Wednesday. Now, put aside for the moment, that Sessions cannot actually stop the Russia investigation because he has recused himself from overseeing it.

The key point here is that this week is the first time Trump has publicly called on Sessions to stop Mueller, right? He's complained about if I had known he was going to recuse himself, I'd never would have picked him, blah, blah, blah. But he's never said directly he should stop it. And we know Mueller is looking at Trump's tweets as potential evidence in a possible obstruction of justice case. So did the President just give Mueller more evidence today? Well, here's the President's Attorney Rudy Giuliani.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the Attorney General see this as a directive or --

GIULIANI: No, it's an opinion. It's what it is. It's, as we've said, immediately it's an opinion. And he used his -- he used the medium that he uses for opinions, Twitter.


BURNETT: It's an opinion. Now that was the talking point repeated a number of times today from the White House podium.


ZEKE: The President said a few weeks ago that he did -- or a few months ago, sorry, that he was not going to intervene with the Department of Justice's handling of that investigation. Does that tweet this morning mark a change in posture by the President?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not an order. It's the President's opinion. The President is not obstructing, he's fighting back. The President is stating his opinion.

Once I again, as I said earlier, the President is stating his opinion. It's not an order. I think I've clarified this about 10 times now. It's the President's opinion.


BURNETT: OK, got it. That led our Jeff Zeleny to ask Sarah Sanders this.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said that his tweet this morning was his opinion. When he tells you something, as a member of his staff, how do you know if it's a directive from the President or if it's simply his opinion?

SANDERS: The President makes it pretty clear when I'm having those conversations with him. David, go ahead.

ZELENY: It seemed pretty clear.


BURNETT: Should stop the rigged witch hunt is pretty clear. And the White House has made it clear in the past, by the way, that the President's tweets -- they're going to use this word opinion really until today -- they've actually been very specific, that his tweets are official statements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are President Trump's tweets considered official White House statements?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the President is the President of the United States, so they are considered official statements by the President of the United States.


BURNETT: So if you take the White House at its word, Trump saying Sessions should, quote, stop this rigged witch hunt is an official statement. So to defend a tweet given that, Giuliani has resorted to, well, you just have to listen to this. He's parsing words.


GIULIANI: He used the word should. He didn't use the word must, and there was no presidential directive that followed it.


BURNETT: The would, wouldn't, should, must -- Jeff Zeleny is out front live at the White House. Jeff, I don't know that we've ever had semantics play such an important role in a White House as we are now. What more can you tell us about the President's thinking as these Mueller investigations go on and obstruction, you know, obviously is still on the table from Mueller's side? [19:05:06] ZELENY: Erin, it's clear semantics led by the President, led by his messages on social media in the morning on Twitter, in the morning lead to a strategy. The strategy comes after the President tweets. You saw about an hour and a half or so after the President urged, called on his Attorney General to stop the Russia investigation. Suddenly Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, other lawyers were saying, no, no, this is an opinion.

And I was actually wanting to know if the White House was going do adopt that same line. Usually they refer questions to them. This time it came in the reverse. We heard from the President's lawyers and then echoed by the White House Press Secretary at the podium there. But it's interesting to know where does the presidential opinion begin, a presidential directive end, we don't know the answer to that.

Erin, we do know that all this is coming during the second day of the trial of Paul Manafort. Yes, the President did not directly involved, but boy, as we reported last evening here, he is watching this very carefully. He proved that today by talking about all of this. He also is getting closer, of course, we heard Sarah Sanders talk about, you know, it's time to wrap this up. It is time to get this going.

One of the things important to point out, one of the reasons that the Mueller investigation is still going, they are still waiting on that interview with the President if he'll do it or not. So Erin, all this amounts to one tonight. The President consumed by this Russia investigation is pretty much all the White House was talking about today. Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

And I want to go now to the Democratic Congressman of New York Jerry Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, I appreciate your time. You know, look, we're reporting tonight President Trump is in a fit of rage over these negotiations. The fact that obstruction of justice is still on the table. The Washington Post saying that Mueller is agreeing to cut the number of questions about the topic down, but that topic is still right there, obstruction of justice is important here. Why do you think the President is so upset about it?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think he's upset about it because he knows he's very vulnerable to an obstruction of justice charge. You know, he said that -- when he said in his tweet that the Attorney General should do something, when someone tells a subordinate officer you should do something, it normally is considered an instruction. Like when Henry III, I think, he was said if only someone would rid me of this meddlesome priest.

And the President has tried to intimidate the special prosecutor repeatedly. This tweet is another example of that. And this tweet itself is probably more evidence of an ongoing obstruction of justice.

BURNETT: So if obstruction of justice is the issue as you point out, the tweet today does rise even more in significance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now. That's the words the President used this morning. Do you, Congressman, see this as obstruction of justice? That tweet in and of itself with the word should, not must, as Rudy Giuliani points out?

NADLER: I think you have to consider it with all the other evidence, all the other tweets, all the other statements, with the fact that he reportedly ordered that the Special Counsel be fired and was stopped only when the White House Counsel Don McGahn said he would quit over the issue.


NADLER: The fact that he keeps saying that Sessions did a terrible thing by recusing himself so he can't protect the President against the investigation, which means so he can't obstruct justice. Yes, I think this is more evidence in an obstruction of justice case. And the fact that the President keeps intimidating or trying to intimidate the Special Counsel and keeps trying to not just intimidate, but trash the special prosecutor and the people with him saying that they're 17 angry Democrats and it's a witch hunt. It's all pressure on the prosecutor and that's all obstruction.

BURNETT: So, can I just point Giuliani's excuse one more time for the tweet? Because I think it's significant what he tried to do here. Here it is, Congressman.


GIULIANI: He used the word should, he didn't use the word must. And there was no presidential directive that followed it.


BURNETT: Is that smart or is that desperate?

NADLER: It's desperate. Normally when someone says a subordinate should do something, that's considered a directive --


NADLER: -- to do it.


NADLER: That's normally how the English language is used. And there's a long history here. And you put it together with all the other attempts by the President and the people around him, even the Republicans in Congress to pressure the special prosecutor, it makes up, I think, a very clear case. It increases the amount of evidence of obstruction of justice.

And let me say one other thing. The special prosecutor has every right to subpoena the President under the Nixon precedent and under the Paula Jones versus Clinton precedent.

BURNETT: Yes. NADLER: The special prosecutor has every right to subpoena him and get his testimony whether he likes it or not. And he should not even be in the position of negotiating with the President as to the subjects that he will discuss.

BURNETT: And yet of course they are.

NADLER: He's entitled to every man's evidence.

[19:10:04] BURNETT: When you hear, though, that collusion is not a topic, at least that we understand, you know, obviously the negotiations are going on. But they're willing to talk about collusion, the President is. Collusion conspiracy, Russia, he's willing to talk about all that. Does that make you think that it's less likely that he's guilty on anything to do with Russia, that this really is just an obstruction of justice issue?

NADLER: No. I think there's a lot of evidence in the public domain about conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to violate our laws in conjunction with Russia. What's not yet in the public domain is information, although some has been suggested, that would tie the President personally.

Remember the history here. First there were ample denials that nobody ever met with the Russians. Then they admitted that plenty people met with the Russians. We now know of over 80, 8-0 contacts with Russian officials during the campaign and during the transition. Then they said, well, they may have met with the Russian officials, but they weren't talking about help for the campaign. And now we know that at least in sometimes they were talking about Russian help for the Trump campaign.

We don't yet have public evidence tying the President directly to this, but that remains to be seen and I'm sure that the Special Counsel knows a lot more than we do publicly.

BURNETT: Absolutely. Now, on the issue of obstruction, which obviously could become so poor, Giuliani did raise a key point today that I wanted to give you a chance to respond to, Congressman. Let me play it for you.


GIULIANI: The best proof is in the pudding. He didn't obstruct the investigation. It's been going on for a year and a half. They've talked to every witness they want to. We haven't asserted executive privilege. And they've gotten every single last document.


BURNETT: Congressman, does he have a point? This investigation has been going on for 441 days. The President may say a whole lot of things, but it's still going on. Does Giuliani have a point?

NADLER: Well, no, I don't. No, I don't think so. First, 441 days is not a long time for an investigation like this. He keeps calling it a witch hunt. And if it's a witch hunt they've caught a lot of witches. They've issued over 30 indictments. They've got five guilty pleas including from people close to the President in his campaign and his administration.

Remember, the Benghazi investigation went on for 2.5 years. The Iran- Contra investigation for four years. And this, for an investigation of such complexity and breadth seems to be moving, judging from the guilty pleas and the indictments very rapidly. And the fact that they haven't shut it down simply shows that they think that there would be a Saturday night massacre, 1973 firestorm if they did. And I think they would.

BURNETT: All right.

NADLER: There would be.

BURNETT: Congressman Nadler, I appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.

NADLER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next prosecutors laying out Paul Manafort's life of lavish spending, including more than a million dollars spent on luxury clothes. But a star witness, his own former deputy, may not testify. Why?

Plus, why is the White House giving the OK for Trump to attack the press? And could this explain why Trump says that you need to show I.D. to buy groceries?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump, have you ever used a coupon in your life?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I've never even gone to a, really, a food market with my wife. So --




[09:16:52] BURNETT: Breaking news, day two of Paul Manafort's trial has just ended. This is the first trial resulting from the Special Counsel's Russia probe. Today operative (ph) witness is detailing Manafort's extravagant spending which included home improvements of more than $1 million in 2013 alone. Money coming from international accounts mostly. Men's clothes costing $443,160 at one boutique alone that same year. The store manager testifying Manafort was the only client to pay by international wire. And buying a Mercedes-Benz SL 550 for $123,000 partly in cash wired from Cyprus.

Evan Perez was inside that courtroom today. Evan, what was the key take away today? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key take away, Erin, was the way the government was really trying to use these eight witnesses that we had today to try to show how Paul Manafort was using these offshore accounts to fund this lavish life-style. We heard from home renovators, we heard from the Mercedes dealer, real estate agents, and of course we heard from his audience (ph), the people who were furnishing some of these very expensive high end men's clothing. We caught up with one of the witnesses after he testified. Take a listen to what he had to say.


PEREZ (voice-over): You said in your testimony there that Mr. Manafort was not the only client who sent wire -- international wire transfers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't go into client privacy issues.

PEREZ (voice-over): But he was an important client to your business?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I stated, he was a very good customer. That's all I can do now.

PEREZ (voice-over): Thank you.


PEREZ: Ad that was one of the managers for the House of Bijan, a very exclusive store in Beverly Hills that calls itself the most expensive store in the world. And really the judge kind of knee-capped the government a little bit today, Erin, reminding them that Paul Manafort's wealth and his lavish life-style were not on trial today. But he allowed them to continue drawing this road map showing how this money kept coming from these offshore accounts to fund this lavish life-style here in the United States. And somehow that money was not showing up on Paul Manafort's tax returns. Erin?

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Evan.

And I want to go now to John Dean, Nixon's White House Counsel during Watergate, and Gloria Borger, our Chief Political Analyst. John, extravagance spending detailed -- in painful detail, let's put it that way, paid for by wire transfer from Cyprus, international accounts. How important is this?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I think it's very important. It has a couple of facts. First of all, it shows his expenditure of funds, but also it has sort of a negative impact on the jury often. I'm sure that's why the judge cut it down to at least what they thought -- he felt was a fair bare minimum to show because jurors don't like people who are filthy rich and just spend their money at will like this. So I think that was one of the drives.

BURNETT: Especially I suppose obviously if they are being accused of, you know, shirking their taxes. I mean, Gloria, the defense strategy has been to blame this on Rick Gates. Rick Gates did it, Rick Gates did it.

[19:20:02] And obviously the prosecution knew this. The witnesses today kept coming out and saying they never dealt with gates. A builder told the court in an e-mail Manafort said, quote, on matters of contract and budget you will deal with me. The neighbor who sold Manafort a home which was paid for with money from Cyprus in part, said Manafort orchestrated the transaction.


BURNETT: I mean, they're going right at the heart of that blame it on my number two argument.

BORGER: Right, because they know that the number two has been cooperating with the government. So what they're trying to do is discredit him and say, look, if you think I'm a bad guy, this is the guy who really ran everything. I wasn't the bad guy. He was the bad guy. I mean, you kind of would expect him to do it.

I think the big question now is whether Gates is actually going to end up testifying. There was a hint today that perhaps he wouldn't, and then, of course, they can change any time. And then the defense can also try and tear apart Rick Gates if they want to. But it's kind of not surprising that they would say, you know, it wasn't us. This was the guy that was in charge of my financial situation, so he was the bad guy.

BURNETT: John, as Gloria points out, it was a big moment when the prosecutors said Rick Gates may not testify because he is the star here. That was news to everyone, including the judge. And as Gloria said, it could change. But what does it tell you that they're trying to put that in question?

DEAN: Well, if you look at the transcript, what it said is the government was actually on both sides of this issue. He said he may or may not testify. They would monitor this as the trial went along. But what it would say if he does not testify is that they think they can put their case on without him and spare him from being attacked. But, however, the defense could also call him as a witness and put him on as a hostile witness and would give them the right to just cross- examine him.

The government, anybody they put on, they vouch for. That way the government also wouldn't have to vouch for him if the defense called him. So this can get to be a real chess game.

BURNETT: So, I have to say there was a list of exhibits, right, as you both know. It was all the pictures of the extravagant spending and things like that. The judge was getting a little testy. You know, this is a judge, right, who in May had said to the prosecution, you guys are just out to get Bob Mueller, right? I mean, he's been critical of him before -- and how to get Bob Mueller, I'm sorry, Bob Mueller is out to get Donald Trump.

And today he said -- told prosecutors to hurry up or move along. He wouldn't allow the pictures to be shown in the courtroom. But guess what, guys? They have just come out and that means that the ostrich coat is now available for everyone to see. This is what a $15,000 ostrich coat can get you. Gloria, this might be one of the ugliest things I've ever seen.

BORGER: Yes. I'm not sure I would buy it either, Erin.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) and everybody.

BORGER: Would you buy that? Would you buy that for your hubby? I don't think so. But --

BURNETT: No, not at any price.

BORGER: Not even on sale, OK. But I think the price is high and I think what the judge is trying to say is, OK, stop gilding the lilly here. We get it. We get that he had an extravagant life-style. We see this coat which he decided to spend $15,000 on. And maybe it looks real good on Paul Manafort. Who knows.

But I think what the judge is saying, all right, move along here because, you know, this judge is infamous for getting these trials done pretty quickly. Said you have three weeks, some people say it will take two.


BORGER: And, you know, he's saying, OK, we get it. We get that he bought the Mercedes, we get that he did this extravagant outdoor garden with built-in barbecue, blah, blah, blah. We get that he bought these clothes for over $400,000. You know, I saw Paul Manafort at the convention, for example, I never noticed how great his suits were.

BURNETT: No, no, they were suits, they fit well.

BORGER: Yes, they will.

BURNETT: John Dean, do the pictures matter when we see things like the ostrich coat? What does mean to the jury?

DEAN: Well they can have an impression on the jury. Pictures always help. It's going to even get more complex when they start introducing all these documents. Those can get very, very dull for the jury and they really want to keep the jury engaged in the case and pictures help, charts help, particularly with a heavily documented case like this one.

BURNETT: It is like the ugliest jackets I've even seen. I'm just saying this is the first time anyone ever seen these, OK. These are the exhibits that literally just coming out right now.

You know, Gloria, now this is the first test for Mueller, this trial. And Trump obviously, you know, as you've been reporting, is obsessed with Mueller. He's not happy with the latest volley in this negotiation over an interview. And you're saying negotiations over this interview are going at a glacial pace. BORGER: Right. It's just, it's just excruciating. And finally the -- and Rudy Giuliani announced this today when he was in New Hampshire.

[19:25:07] Finally the Mueller team responded to a letter that Trump's team had said. And they've been negotiating about the President's testimony and what he testifies on. The Trump team has said, you know, we're happy to talk to you about anything that happened pre- inauguration which would be collusion. But the obstruction part of this not so much. And our reporting shows that Mueller is kind of leaning a little more heavily into the question of whether he does want to hear from Trump personally about obstruction because obviously intent is an issue in obstruction. And John knows this better than I do.

And maybe in exchange for that, he would say, you know what? We're going to take a little less time with the President. We'll narrow the amount of time he actually has to speak to us. But again, this is a volley that's going to go back and forth and back and forth.

BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.

And next, the White House defending the increasing attacks on reporters like this one.



BURNETT: And a fringe conspiracy theorist groups growing more visible at Trump event with shirts and signs bearing the letter Q. Who are they?


BURNETT: New tonight, the White House defending the harassment and heckling of our Jim Acosta at a Trump rally last night in Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the White House willing to say right now in view of what happened with one of our TV colleagues last night that it is wrong for his most vocal supporters to be menacing toward journalist doing their jobs in a situation like or in any situation?

SANDERS: The president as I just said does not support violence against anyone and/or anything. This is a two-way street. We certainly support a free press. We certainly condemn violence against anybody, but we also ask that people act responsibly and report accurately and fairly.

REPORTER: No one was being violent last night yet people trying to yell over them, preventing them from doing their jobs and yelling that their network sucks on live TV. Does he support that or not?

SANDERS: While we certainly support freedom of the press, we support freedom of the speech. We think those things go hand in hand.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OK. Just so you see what sparked this exchange between that reporter, of course, he's the editor for "The Daily Mail", and Sanders. Here's what those hecklers did at the rally last night.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now former White House aide Keith Boykin, and former Republican senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.

Keith, you're with me. Let me start with you.

You saw the video, right? That was happening to Jim Acosta. You saw Sanders ask repeatedly from "The Daily Mail", she was pretty clear, right, trying to say it's a two-way street, it's freedom of speech. Your reaction?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: This is not about freedom of speech in this case. This is about freedom of the press. The president has a duty, he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, to defend the freedom of the press. He's not doing that.

Everybody was up in arms a few weeks because Sarah Sanders couldn't eat in a restaurant. They talked about civility. Well, here's the president of the United States essentially encouraging his supporters to chant CNN sucks, not long after the attorney general was encouraging high school kids to say lock her up about Hillary Clinton.

Where is the civility from the Trump White House? The fish rots from the head is what I always say. And the leadership of the president of the United States is lacking.

BURNETT: So, Rick, you know, it's clear President Trump supports the heckling. Sarah Sanders, that was a tortured response, but she was sort of trying to have it both ways. The president isn't. He retweeted a video shared by his son Eric of those protesters heckling Jim Acosta. So, he put the video out there with the #truth. That's the president of the United States' response.

Is that OK?

RICK SANTORUM (R), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president should not be encouraging that kind of crass and boorish behavior. I don't know how menacing it was. I don't agree with necessarily it was menacing. I don't think there was any real threat to Jim Acosta's safety at that point.

But, look, it just goes to the devolution of civility in our discourse. And, you know, as Keith mentioned, the other side does it, too, and there's lots of menacing on some of these marches on the left and some of these -- some of the things that you hear toward Republican politicians. So, both sides do it. But the president should not be encouraging it.

And that's where I would draw the line.

BURNETT: Senator, in your mind, the fish rots from the head analogy, though, that the president of the United States sets this tone on a daily basis, that the words he uses, the things he communicates -- I mean, look, this is a guy who has tweeted out Wrestlemania event where he beats up Vince McMahon and Vince McMahon's face is covered happens to be a CNN logo. Or a train hitting a person, also a CNN logo.

I picked CNN examples, but I mean, I could give you many more.

SANTORUM: Yes. I mean, you know, there is also a little -- give a little room for humor here and sort of what's going on.

But the reality is that the president does and has every right to fight with the press.


SANTORUM: The press focuses, this network and others, focus a lot of time and energy going after this president on a pretty continual basis and the president has a right to fight back and get his people riled up. But he doesn't -- he should not be encouraging people to act in a boorish manner that prevents a network from doing its job.

BURNETT: Look, I've said it before, I'll say it again. What we try to do is talk about facts and speaking truth to power. We are dealing with a uniquely fact-challenged individual. So, by calling him out for his constant lack of adhering to the truth, if you want to call that being negative, call that being negative.

Here is the problem. We are in an unprecedented time -- OK?

SANTORUM: I agree with all of that. We are also in an unprecedented era where you have networks paying a lot more attention to everything this president does than you've seen any other time in American history. You can say, well, he brings it on himself. That may be true, but the reality is that this network and other networks focus on this president almost constantly and going after him on a constant basis.

BURNETT: Go ahead.

[19:35:00] BOYKIN: He's a president of the United States. "The Washington Post" reported today that the president has told 4,229 lies since taking office. That's unprecedented in the history of American politics to have a president repeatedly lie that much while in office.

It is the duty of the press to hold him accountable, especially when he provides misinformation to the public. That's all that CNN and "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" are doing.

I did a search today on Twitter. I found 47 different times where Donald Trump has attacked CNN since he's taken office, 47 different times. How many times he's attacked Vladimir Putin since he's taken office?

Yes, exactly. He doesn't do it, that's the point. Donald Trump is supposed to be defending our country. Instead he's busy defending Vladimir Putin and attacking our institutions. That is not what a president should be doing.

BURNETT: Someone else will come out and say there will be a report on CNN he's considering firing his lawyer. He'll; go, fake news, don't listen to them, three days later, he fires his lawyer. He does it again and again and again, right? He's just -- he's saying something a lot of people are going to believe, and it isn't true.

Is that a problem?

SANTORUM: Look, you heard me many, many times criticize the president for saying things that don't comfort with the facts. And I -- it is a problem and you have every right to point it out.

But that's not my point. First off, lots of politicians lie. The previous president told a lot of whoppers of lies that had a lot of substantive -- a lot of substantive, you know, outcomes to the country. But the issue is how much of the time the media spends on just going after this president for the things he does. I mean, they'll spend an entire evening day after day after day hammering this president and I think the president has a right to push back and fight back.

BOYKIN: But not to call the press the enemy of the American people. That's wrong. We have enemies. It's not the free press.

SANTORUM: I would agree -- I would agree there's a lot of hyperbole there that is not helpful, and he shouldn't do. But he has every right to fight back when they're attacking them as viciously as they are.

BURNETT: Well, thank you both.

I think one of the issues here, of course, is what the outcome will be, right? Members of the conspiracy theory group have been spotted at a Trump rally. This is a far-right theories are being pushed by this group. We're talking about all kinds of bizarre things. They say people want to kill the president. They're talking about pedophiles. This is what can come from talk like his.

Plus, the alleged Russian spy accused of moving around massive amounts of money. Why? Well, Maria Butina's lawyer is responding, ahead.


[19:41:13] BURNETT: New tonight, a fringe conspiracy theorist group growing more visible at Trump events around the country. People wearing t-shirts with the letter Q, waving signs stating "We are Q" at Trump rallies, including the one last night in Tampa.

Now, Q stands for QAnon, Q Anonymous, a group that believes among other things that the deep state is out to kill President Trump. That is just scratching the surface.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Photos of missiles and mysterious strangers, rants about a shadow government, free masons, secret symbols and predictions of a world about to change -- all of this is part of the conspiracy stew kicked up by QAnon, an Internet conspiracy persona. Some followers of whom showed up at the president's most recent rally, and many of whom see him as a hero, like them, ready to embrace wild theories to claim secret plots against him and to attack anyone who says otherwise.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fake news, fake news. They are fake.

FOREMAN: Internet postings associated with the movement gained traction fast among followers like one that says the Parkland school shooting victims and witnesses were really actors.

NBC News noted earlier this week a spate of YouTube videos falsely accusing top celebrities of pedophilia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The higher you go, the more sick it gets.

FOREMAN: At the same time, the Q is attracting interest from others, including Roseanne Barr and Curt Schilling.

CURT SCHILLING: And I've been asked, do you believe the Q? Do you know who the Q is?

FOREMAN: "The Washington Post" says the Q is an anonymous user claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance waging war against the so-called deep state in service to the 45th president.

But back on earth, this is known. The promotion of conspiracy theories can have real consequence.

POLICE OFFICER: The Hoover Dam was evacuated.

FOREMAN: In June, police detained an armed man after he blocked Hoover Dam, demanding the release of a government report apparently about Hillary Clinton's e-mail although such a report was already out.

In 2016, police say a man fired a rifle in a D.C. pizza place as he claimed he was investigating a widespread conspiracy theory about human trafficking. He was convicted and is now serving four years.

ALEX JONES, INFO WARS: We're not covering pizza gate enough.

FOREMAN: And Alex Jones who pushed the pizza-gate conspiracy on his radio show is now in court over another made-up tale. Families of victims in the Sandy Hook school shooting say they have been hounded mercilessly since Jones claimed their story was part of a hoax to push for gun control. He is countersuing them for legal defense fees. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Yet, for all of that, back if 2015, candidate Donald Trump spoke glowingly of Alex Jones and maybe that's why it's not surprising the QAnon crowd is now crowding around the president and showing their support -- Erin.

BURNETT: Tom, thank you very much.

And next, the alleged Russian spy and the GOP operative accused of reportedly moving around massive amounts of money. What's behind the mysterious transactions? Maria Butina's attorney will answer.

And breaking news, a homecoming 60 years in the making for Americans who lost their lives in the Korean War. Tonight, the likely remains finally back on American soil.


[19:48:10] BURNETT: New tonight, fresh details about alleged Russian operative Maria Butina's actions in the United States. "BuzzFeed" reporting about a series of bank transactions totaling nearly $300,000 by Butina, and a Republican operative that were flagged by Wells Fargo as, quote-unquote, "suspicious".

OUTFRONT now, Maria Butina's lawyer Robert Driscoll, who is back with me.

And, Bob, I appreciate your time. Good to have you back.


BURNETT: Look, Wells Fargo has, you know, come out and said they could find no, in their words, apparent economic business or lawful purpose to explain these transactions. Obviously those are pretty harsh words, no apparent economic business or lawful purpose.

What is your response to that?

DRISCOLL: Well, I don't believe it was Wells Fargo who said that. I think that was probably the FBI source that leaked to "BuzzFeed". And there's a reason suspicious activity reports, it's supposed to remain private, it's because they can be easily misconstrued. Most people that leak them probably can't interpret them properly.

I saw nothing in the transactions that were described that at least with regard to Maria are unusual. For example, she has a Russian bank account which is not unusual for a Russian national.


DRISCOLL: And there were $98,000 transactions in a four-year period. It comes out to about $2,000 a month, which was essentially her credit card bill. She would make a payment on her Russian credit card every month and sometimes her boyfriend would throw a thousand dollars or something towards that. And, you know, that part is not unusual at all. And the rest of it seemed to merge the two of them together.

So, I think it's unfortunate because there is a lot of double and triple accounting. So, for example, if Maria's boyfriend Paul Erickson withdrew some money from his account, transfer it to her account and she sent it to Russia to pay a credit card bill, it's unclear to me whether that's not $4,000.

BURNETT: You're disputing the 300 altogether?

DRISCOLL: Well, I just -- I'm not positive that 300 is even the right number.

[19:50:02] But even if it were, like I said --


DRISCOLL: -- the $100,000 through her account, or $98,000, over four years, that's $2,000 a month. That's not unusual.


DRISCOLL: And the rest of the amounts would got knot be unusual for someone like Paul Erickson.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me go through the rest of the reporting and give you a chance to respond to it then.


BURNETT: Because "BuzzFeed" is saying that there was 405 -- I'm sorry, $45,000 to an undisclosed law firm.


BURNETT: Payment made on behalf of Butina. More than $90,000 sent between Butina and Erickson, the Republican operative, her boyfriend. And they're saying while she was graduate student over a four-month period. That's what they're reporting.

And they're also saying this came as Erickson himself had overdraft fees. He was taking out payday loans. He was far from flush. He was actually in dire financial straits.

Does that add to you? I mean, what were these transfers about?

DRISCOLL: I mean, whatever Erickson's financial situation doesn't have anything do with whether or not somebody is an agent for foreign government. I mean, $45,000 in legal fees, you know --

BURNETT: She was a graduate student at the time. What would ever cause her to incur $45,000 in legal fees?

DRISCOLL: Well, she has been under investigation by several committees of the United States Congress since last fall. So, I'd imagine that had something to do with it.

But, again, Mr. Erickson himself may have had legal fees there as well. So I don't think any of those are particularly suspicious.

Again, she had plenty of normal banking transactions. And I'm sure when this all comes out, it's all explainable. I've looked through her bank accounts myself, and there is nothing unusual for a person in her situation.

BURNETT: Now, she's been, you know, behind bars here for two and a half weeks now as all of this has been going on. Her next court date isn't until September 10th, which is more than a month away.


BURNETT: I mean, Bob, how is she spending her time right now?

DRISCOLL: Well, that's unfortunate. Right now, she's been 18 days in jail and she has not been able to make a call to Russia yet, which is unfortunate. She has not been outside yet.


DRISCOLL: She has been administratively segregated for protective custody reasons for her safety. But really, this is not supposed to be punishment. This is just supposed the keep her in the country.

And, you know, I think that some of her guards and people are being very generous with her, but I think administratively, really, things need to improve because I think the Russian consulate is getting more and more upset. I know her father is upset that he hasn't received a call from her yet.

So, I think that really, these administrative hurdles need to be overcome and the D.C. jail needs to provide her with dental care and glasses and lots of things you need when you're going to be in custody of the state for a little period of time.

BURNETT: Would she be open to cutting a deal with prosecutors?

DRISCOLL: I don't believe -- not when it involves saying something that's not true. I mean, that's always the problem. People talk about cutting a deal. But if you're not an agent for a foreign government, you can't lie and say you are in order to get rid of this.

So, you know, I think that there's -- you know, the government hasn't proposed one. And if they proposed one, we'd look at it. But again, it has to involve the truth. And that's -- you know, that's the bottom line.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Bob. I appreciate your time.

DRISCOLL: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And now, breaking news. I want to show you some live pictures coming out of Hawaii right now. These first caskets coming off a plane from Korea. Vice President Pence overseeing the return of what is believed to be

the remains of 55 American soldiers who lost their lives during the Korean War. Those remains have been gone for all of these years.

Pence's late father was Korean War vet. He says this is proof that the United States is making progress with Kim Jong-un for peace. It's an emotional ceremony, as you can see right now, live in Honolulu. The president joined by two family members of Americans missing in action in North Korea during the war.

The transfer of these remains that these families have wanted for more than five decades is coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the armistice. Experts say it could take years to identify these remains. At the least, it is good that they are being treated with the honor they deserve.

We'll be right back.


[19:57:43] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump at the checkout. When was the last time he saw the inside of a grocery store?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just as reporters were asking when was the last time President Trump went to a grocery store, this 2010 reality show clip surfaced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump, have you ever used a coupon in your life?

TRUMP: Well, I've never even gone to a -- really, a food market with my wife.


MOOS: If you listen to the president, you think instead of just handing over coupons, you should be showing ID.

TRUMP: You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID.

MOOS: Says who?

Did they ask for picture ID when you were paying for groceries?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no way, Jose. This is America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never, ever, ever.


MOOS: You go out and groceries, you need photo id? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you don't.

Where is this coming from?

MOOS: Donald Trump.

Twitter rolled its eyes as well. I got to go grocery shopping today and I hope they don't ask me for an ID before I buy Rice-A-Roni.

It's sort of like when Ellen asked another rich guy, Bill Gates, to guess the price of Rice-A-Roni.


ELLEN DEGENERES, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, it's a dollar. What a bargain.

GATES: I'll take five.


MOOS: President Trump's flub inspired a mock-up grocery shopping identification card. "The Late Show" Instagrammed new rules. Sir, read the sign. No license, no cake mix.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a sandwich, a coke and a bagel with butter.

MOOS: And they didn't have to see picture ID?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think if I asked chocolate, they might have said hey, buddy, that's a little much. Let's see some ID with that.

MOOS: At the White House, they tried to clean up the president's spill.

SANDERS: If you go to a grocery store and buy beer and wine, you'll certainly show your ID.

MOOS: President Trump's faux pas reminded folks of the time President George H.W. Bush seemed overly impressed with a grocery scanner.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: This crossed the open place?

MOOS: This woman recalled the only time she was ever carded for groceries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They asked me for picture ID when I was buying pork chops.

MOOS: Now, she has a bone to pick.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

Next thing you know they'll want a birth certificate to get eggs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this is America. MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: Jeanne found a person who was carded to buy pork chops? Only Jeanne could find a person that actually happened to.

Thank you for joining us.

Anderson starts now.