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Robert Mueller Wants Trump to Answer Obstruction Questions in Person; Prosecutors Still Plan to Call Rick Gates to Testify; Interview with Representative Adam Kinzinger; Ivanka Trump Contradicts President Trump. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired August 2, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And resting and recovering -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Both great updates. Very welcome news.
Leyla, thank you for the reporting and bringing that to us this morning.
Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
Your move, Mr. President. Sources tell CNN the special counsel is offering to further limit his questions on obstruction of justice if the president will answer those in person, face-to-face, as he says he is eager to do. And the president's lawyers are much less eager to see that happen. While White House officials insist that when the president wrote yesterday morning, quote, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now," he wasn't making an order, the White House says. This was just his opinion.
Suppose it depends what your definition of should is.
This as the bank fraud and tax evasion trial of president's former campaign chief enters day three. But the president does have a rally tonight in Pennsylvania, another one in Ohio on Saturday, which aides are increasingly counting on to boost his mood and keep him busy.
Abby Phillip is at the White House with more.
So, Abby, when we look at why there is a disconnect between the president and his legal team still on whether he should do a Mueller interview face-to-face or not, the president thinks that he can persuade the special counsel. Explain.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. The president is increasingly convinced, according to "The New York Times," that this is all about explaining to special counsel Robert Mueller that this is a witch hunt. He wants to do that in person in the context of a sit-down interview. But his lawyers really disagree and they've been saying it for weeks. Rudy Giuliani most recently on CNN on Monday. They disagree with this idea that an interview is a good idea at all. And they have been working with Mueller for weeks to try to limit the
scope of a potential interview if one is going to happen at all. Mueller has not exactly obliged them in this. But they are still pushing. But they also have to contend with their boss, the president who disagrees with that strategy, who thinks that an interview will clear this whole thing up. All of this just creating even more uncertainty around whether or not this interview is even going to happen in the first place.
HARLOW: OK. Abby, keep us posted as you hear more from the White House. Thank you.
Today is day three of Paul Manafort's trial. It's under way this morning in Alexandria, Virginia. We are getting some new information. Let's go to our Shimon Prokupecz who has that reporting for us. So a few knew things just crossing. First of all there is some clarity now on whether Manafort's deputy Rick Gates will take the stand for Mueller's team. What are you hearing?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And the word is from the prosecutors there in court just moments ago that Rick Gates will take the stand. He will testify. Of course, this -- they had to clarify this today after a prosecutor there yesterday raised the idea or the possibility that Rick Gates would not testify. Prosecutors came in this morning, told the judge that they do intend to call Rick Gates.
And really moving quickly here, Poppy. He may take the stand tomorrow or Monday. So we do expect to hear from Rick Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors, is the former deputy to Paul Manafort and is going to be a key witness. He could testify tomorrow -- Poppy.
HARLOW: OK. This thing is moving very, very quickly. Also on whether Manafort himself will testify. I mean, we've had no indication of that yet. But the judge did just bring it up?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, the judge did bring it up. So prosecutors have been wanting to make some arguments, some questions about some of the taxes that Manafort didn't pay. You know, obviously, it's a trial about taxes, about the IRS, whether or not he was audited. They have some issues about concerns, the defense did about the prosecutors obviously raising that. The judge today in court said that if Manafort was to take the stand, that it is a possibility that prosecutors would be able to question him about that. Simply, this doesn't give us any idea or any sort of thinking into whether or not the defense is going to call Paul Manafort.
But obviously the judge raising it today saying he is not going to force a decision yet. Certainly, not until the prosecution rests their case, which could happen next week. I mean, things are moving very quickly here. Nine witnesses already testified. We'll have a couple today. Tomorrow could be a big day. And prosecutors say they could be done with their case next week.
HARLOW: OK. Shimon, it is moving very quickly. Keep us posted as these things change. Thank you very much. So thank you and see you soon. That is the message from President
Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It's a tweet overnight that we see. The president is praising Kim after returning those 55 possible remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's also a veteran himself and a current pilot in the Air National Guard.
Thank you for being here.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: You bet.
HARLOW: So let's begin on North Korea. The president writes to Kim, quote, "I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action." You tweeted, this is righting a wrong.
[10:05:04] Does Kim Jong-un deserve this praise from the president?
KINZINGER: I don't think so. Look, this is something that should have been done at the end of the Korean War. America has always held that we leave nobody behind. And actually, yesterday -- this should not be taken away. It was a very emotional day for me to watch that in America even decades later, follows through on its promise, and we see that situation in Turkey with the pastor.
I'm uncomfortable with tweeting praises to Chairman Kim. But I ultimately think that when you look at this process that's going to be laid out in terms of whether we actually get to a denuclearized North Korea, all of these actions, tweets, maneuvers, everything will be judged based on what that end result is. And in the moment, I was like, I've said a while ago, there's going to be things that we're uncomfortable with, things the North Koreans are uncomfortable with. And hopefully, at the end of this, though, we see a denuclearized verifiable North Korea.
HARLOW: OK. On the Mueller probe you've been very vocal and you've said that this thing has to be allowed to proceed and come to fruition. The president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani yesterday in his words said the special counsel needs to, quote, "put up or shut up." Do you agree?
KINZINGER: I'd actually love to see this probe wrap up. But it needs to wrap up after all the work is done. This has been, what, over a year now in the making. It's really torn the country apart. And there's been no evidence pointing to collusion. And so I'm looking at this saying, I want the special counsel to finish it because Americans -- if this thing just ends prematurely, it's going to be this division in our country going forward forever. And it's going to cast a shadow everywhere.
Let's get the report. But if -- you know, I'm sure he is not watching me right now. But if he is watching, I would say, let's wrap this up as fast as you can while doing all your work, because it's time for America to deal with whatever it says and move forward and heal as best we can in a very divided time. HARLOW: I think we've learned he does not have a television in his
office. So if that's where he is, he is not watching right now.
HARLOW: Congressman, your colleagues in the Senate, your colleagues in the Senate yesterday blocked a Democratic amendment that would have provided $250 million to ramp up election security ahead of the midterms. This would go to new voting equipment, et cetera, cyber security efforts.
In your side on the House, House Democrats had tried to amend a bill last month for election security funding, $380 million worth. It would kick in October 1st right ahead of the midterms. You and your fellow Republicans voted against that. I know you are concerned about election meddling. So why oppose that?
KINZINGER: Because it's a maneuver by the minority party to kill a bill. I mean, that's all it is. And this is something, frankly, we did when we were in the minority. The Democrats do it now that they are and if ever in the future, god forbid, we're in the minority, we're going to do it again. It's a messaging thing called a motion to recommit that is simply designed to kill a bill and send it back to committee. And I have voted against every motion to recommit ever since I have been in Congress. So what they do is they tack that on. And then they go out and do press releases through the DCCC and through their candidates and say, Kinzinger and other people oppose, which is ludicrous.
HARLOW: So should the Senate --
KINZINGER: I sign with every other member --
HARLOW: When it comes to just more money for election security, the Senate, for example, yesterday Republicans who voted against this $250 million amendment, should they -- you know, if you were a Republican in the Senate, would you have voted for that?
KINZINGER: I don't -- see, I don't know if that was a parliamentary maneuver, if that took money away from other areas. I don't know the details of that. I just know basically what you just said. I can tell you, though, if anybody wants to argue that Republicans -- at least most of us -- aren't concerned with election meddling, we are. I signed a letter with Democrat and Republican members of the Illinois delegation because Illinois was a target, saying this is a huge problem. And I'll continue to work to secure our ballot box because I think that's what undermines democracy.
HARLOW: And more money for it? OK. You said --
KINZINGER: Yes, yes, wherever it's necessary.
HARLOW: You said in a recent interview on FOX, it was interesting, let me quote you. "People in Congress or the Senate or in other positions are scared to call him," meaning the president, "are scared to call him out when he is incorrect." Do you think too many of your fellow Republicans right now are scared to call out the president because they see the polling numbers in the party and they say 88 percent of Republicans are supportive of this president?
KINZINGER: I don't know -- yes, I guess there's some fear. I mean, you tick off people that support you if you do it. But I think what's incumbent on us as members of Congress -- what I have always said is I'm going to support the president in every way I can. I will oppose him when I must and I don't celebrate having to do that. But I represent 700,000 people and my responsibility is to do what I think is right for the district. So for instance, whether it's, you know, trade policy against specifically Canada, Mexico, Europe, or something like that you've got to be clear. But at the same time, I'm going to support the president everywhere I can. I wish him a lot of success.
HARLOW: Well, let's talk about something you asked this president to do. You sent a letter on July 13th, so just about two weeks ago, to the White House on Syria. This is an issue for you as a veteran, as an American, as a representative that is incredibly important.
[10:10:04] You look at the civil war, you know, more than 500,000 people killed, more than 50,000 children there killed. You sent a letter to the White House just two weeks ago. You called on them to establish more no-fly zones specifically in southwestern and eastern Syria. Have you gotten a response? And if not, is this White House doing enough right now on the ground in Syria and when it comes to initiatives like this?
KINZINGER: Yes, I haven't gotten a response that I know of. And, you know, frankly, I think we need to do a lot more in Syria. So I would say no. They have been very aggressive against ISIS. I have no complaints with the counter-ISIS plan. The president has stepped that up massively. And we've seen ISIS dispersed. There are going to be a fight for a long time still because they're not dispersing in the communities. But my concern starting with the last administration is Bashar al-Assad is killing so many people and creating an environment that that's what is allowing these folks to radicalize because they are so angry and they're looking to the United States to help.
And in some cases, again, this started with President Obama, so both sides share some blame on this, we've ceded a lot of Syria to Russia and Iran, and now we're trying to claw that back from Iran. And it's difficult to do without a stronger commitment. And I'm not talking massive military forces. But a no-fly zone is easy to do.
HARLOW: You brought up Russia and Iran in the letter you sent to the White House and this was just after the president stood side by side with Vladimir Putin on stage in -- you know, in Helsinki and said that Putin and Russia could help the United States in Syria. When you hear the president say something like that and you look at sort of who is aiding Assad the most, how does that sit in your stomach?
KINZINGER: I don't like it. You know, I have been very clear that Russia does not have American good interests in mind. You think about -- a number of years ago we accidentally bombed a hospital in Afghanistan. And that was like world news for a week. We went through all these things to figure out why we did it. And we held people accountable.
The Russians bombed like three hospitals a day or three medical clinics a day. The idea that somehow the Russians can be the miraculous savior of Syria simply unrealistic and wrong. And so, you know, in areas like this, I think the president is doing a lot of great stuff in foreign policy. A lot of great stuff.
HARLOW: But --
KINZINGER: But in areas I disagree on, I'm going to have to be vocal about it.
HARLOW: OK. We have to go. This is a yes or no answer, because we have to go very quickly. The president said with Rush Limbaugh yesterday that shutting down the government if he doesn't get the wall funding before the midterms is, quote, "a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before," meaning the midterms.
Would a government shutdown before the midterms be great for Republican candidates?
HARLOW: Thank you, Congressman. Congressman Adam Kinzinger joining us. I think that's the first actual one-word answer I have ever gotten from a lawmaker. I appreciate you being with me.
Moments ago the president's daughter Ivanka Trump contradicted her father's attacks on the media. Remember he's called the media the enemy of the American people. She said, no, the media is not. Hear much more from her ahead.
Also, the president doubling down on his attacks towards one of his party's major donors. We are talking about of course the Koch brothers. What's the strategy here?
And Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is on administrative leave. This as the university investigates whether Meyer was aware of domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach.
[10:17:40] HARLOW: Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and adviser, saying this morning, she does not believe the press is the enemy of the American people. Now why would she? Because her father has said that over and over again. Here is her response when asked by Axios.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ALLEN, AXIOS CO-FOUNDER: First I have to ask you, in front of my colleagues here and the press, do you think that we're the enemy of the people?
IVANKA TRUMP, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Sorry?
ALLEN: Do you think the media is the enemy of the people?
TRUMP. No, I do not.
ALLEN: That's not a view that's shared in your family.
TRUMP: Are you looking for me to elaborate?
TRUMP: No, I don't.
HARLOW: No, no, and no, I don't. With me now is CNN political commentator and Errol Louis and legal analyst Paul Callan.
And Paul, we'll get to the Manafort trial in a moment but this just crossed and I wanted Errol to weigh in on it. I sort of laugh and the audience laugh, but it's actually not funny at all when the president calls the -- you know, the fourth estates, the press the enemy of the American people. And Ivanka Trump clearly said no, she also was on a very different page with her dad. When she was asked about the family separation she called it a low point for me as well. But also warned of coyotes and other issues with children being trafficked.
You know, look, this is -- she's out there more now as the "New York Times" elaborated on this past week.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right.
HARLOW: Out there more now, and standing opposite her father on some things.
LOUIS: Absolutely. And this is -- by no means is this anything resembling a big tent, shall we say, but one of the tensions that's been running through the White House from the beginning was that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, see seemed to be in a different place than a lot of the hardcore, real workhorses of the Trump administration. So there are times when they are a little isolated. The familial connection of course means that they can't be completely excluded, can't be fired, can't be removed. And so it ends up helping the administration in some respects to have someone there.
I would point out, just in that exchange, though, it kind of gets laughed off. She's on a different page than her father when it comes to this hot button phrase. But underlying it of course is a very serious issue.
LOUIS: And I don't know if she was given the right level of serious attention about what it means to have a president, even if it is her father, making those kind of comments. That's really where the interview I would have hoped could have gone. HARLOW: Followed up.
Paul, to you on Mueller and the investigation and the different page that the president is on from his own legal team. And the reporting in "The New York Times" this morning from Mike Schmidt and Maggie Haberman really makes you believe this isn't just they are acting as though they're on different teams.
[10:20:08] That no, the president really does want to sit down with Mueller, even though his lawyers are advising him against it. And here's why. They write, quote, "In effect he," being the president, "believes that he can convince the investigators for the special counsel of his belief that their own inquiry say witch hunt." What do you make of that?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's not surprising to me that the president would, in his own mind, think he could talk Mueller out of investigating him. So, I mean, this is a possibility. But I can tell you this. No lawyer will ever recommend to him that he should sit down and talk with Mueller. And I suspect that in the end, the president will follow his lawyer's advice on something that might be as critical as whether he survives the presidency.
HARLOW: Even if it means not sitting down at all for an interview? Because we know from Gloria Borger's reporting overnight that Mueller will give a little bit on the obstruction questions, Errol. But he still wants to ask some obstruction questions face-to-face to the president. If Giuliani, you know, and the president's White House team can't stomach that.
HARLOW: And they say don't do it, how does the president politically go out and tell voters and explain why he won't sit for an interview even though he says he did nothing wrong?
LOUIS: Politically, he has quite a lot of wiggle room, shall we say, a lot of leeway with his base to say things that make no sense at all, right? To say things that are directly contradictory. But he is in a great deal of danger if he goes in because whether or not they make some agreement around obstruction, there's always this question about -- you know, sort of raising new issues and independently drawing new attention and new charges on oneself by giving false statements under oath.
I mean, you know, you cannot do that. It is a crime whether or not you have formally been placed under oath to lie to federal officials. You cannot lie to the FBI when they come and ask you a couple of questions. So he doesn't want to expose himself to that. I suspect that his lawyers will be able to convince him of that. There are a lot of things you can't convince Donald Trump about.
I think on this score, they can convince him that these people are hostile. One word out of place can lead to a catastrophically bad legal situation for you.
LOUIS: And you don't have to do it.
HARLOW: And this is someone who's been deposed before. I mean, he knows what it's like.
CALLAN: He is a seasoned pro. He's had thousands of lawsuits against him and he's been through a lot. And he's a master at sort of giving vague answers that are sort of not prosecutable as perjury. But he is up against a seasoned team of prosecutors here. And if he lies, as Errol says in the interview, he's committed a new crime. And he doesn't know if Mueller has some piece of information that there hasn't been any publicity about that they're going to launch on him in the context of an agreed upon subject area. And that's what the lawyers are afraid of.
HARLOW: Errol, on the Manafort case, which is now in day three in the federal courthouse in Alexandra, Virginia, I thought the president might stay out of it and not tweet about it. He chose to weigh in yesterday on Twitter and said, why didn't the Justice Department tell me they were investigating my campaign chairman. It's kind of obvious as to why they didn't tell him. But I asked you that because his team is trying to get him out to do these rallies and get him not focused on the Manafort investigation, et cetera. But he is weighing in.
What's your sense and your reporting on how much the American people care about this trial and how they see it as relating to the president or not? Because this is not a case -- this one -- about his work for the president.
LOUIS: Nevertheless, I think if you lay this on, say, the Watergate template that some of us older folks have lived through, this is around the time where the public actually does start to pay attention, where it starts to get big.
LOUIS: I mean, it's one thing if some obscure, you know, Papadopoulos or somebody gets charged. And, you know, who was he? And I never heard of him. This was the campaign chairman, this is something who's been a force in American politics for decades. This is somebody who's got an easy to understand story involving ostrich jackets and, you know, all kinds of opulence. To have the campaign chairman for the sitting president of the United States possibly convicted of financial fraud involving foreign powers, and then we're going to get into another trial, this is exactly I think when the public will start to weigh in, will start to sort of realize hey, there's something seriously wrong here.
CALLAN: And, you know, one other thing I wanted to jump in on with that, with the Manafort trial.
CALLAN: I was looking at some reporting in May by Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times" about one of the original questions that prosecutors were going to ask the president. And the question was, did you have any knowledge of Paul Manafort's outreach to the Russians prior to the inauguration. So I think there is still a potential for a tie to Manafort in the Mueller Russia probe that could be used.
HARLOW: And people have to remember this is about his work for Yanukovych, who was a, you know, basically a Russia puppet in Ukraine.
CALLAN: That's right.
HARLOW: So this is not just about Ukraine, this is very much tied to Russia.
HARLOW: Thank you both very, very much.
Still to come, this could get very, very ugly. The president is threatening to double down on his tariffs with China.
[10:25:02] To double, not just double down. To double U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. What does that mean for you and your pocketbook ahead?
HARLOW: This morning the Trump administration is considering doubling the size of the tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. This would mean that a 10 percent tax would then go up to 25 percent. That would mean a whole lot of stuff.
Let's bring in our CNN Money politics and money reporter, Cristina Alesci. I could have said that more eloquently but this is really a big deal as it happen.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: It is a really big deal if it happens. And this is classic Trump. He's clearly --