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Giuliani to Mueller: End the Investigation by September; Nunes in Secret Recording: "We Have to Keep the Majority" to Protect Trump; Rep. Chris Collins Refuses to Step Down after Arrest. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: No. All right. Keep us posted, Rene. Thank you for that.

And thank you, everyone, for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Robert Mueller, you are on the clock, or that's at least what President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, would like you to think. President Trump's legal team is telling the special counsel to wrap-up the Russia investigation within the next three weeks, or else. Or else what? That is not entirely clear. But this is part of the very latest round in the game of cat-and-mouse that has been playing out for months and months and months about the possibility of Trump sitting down for an interview with the special counsel. Giuliani says it's now Mueller's move with a deadline fast approaching.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think if it isn't over by September, then we have a very, very serious violation of the Justice Department rules that you shouldn't be conducting one of these investigations in the 60-day period. Look, he's got plenty of time to either decide -- we offered him an opportunity to do a form of questioning. He can say yes or no.


BOLDUAN: A moment on that. There's no hard-and-fast rule saying any investigation must stop two months before an election. There's a DOJ policy that no overt moves should be made in an investigation of a candidate within 60 days of that candidate's election. That's not the case here, of course, because as everyone knows, and goes without saying, President Trump is not up for re-election, not on the ballot in November. But former U.S. attorney, Rudy Giuliani, seems to be glossing over that in a very big way.

Regardless, if the investigation continues past September, Giuliani also says that works in their favor. So in summary, it should end, but if it doesn't, it's good for them. Got it? CNN's Abby Phillip is New Jersey traveling with the president with

much more on this.

So, Abby, we hear what Rudy Giuliani is saying, and Rudy Giuliani is talking quite a lot about it. Are we likely to hear the president on any of this today?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it is not clear whether the president is ever going to tweet or, you know -- no one knows, whether it's his lawyers or his aides. But I think what we're seeing here with Giuliani is an attempt to keep this story going. I mean, the -- Giuliani just a few days ago was saying wrap this thing up. And now he's saying, even if it doesn't wrap-up, maybe it will be good for us. Perhaps an acknowledgment that what's happening here is that the ball really is in Mueller's court. That they don't have control over the timing of this.

But in their response to Mueller, sent back this week, it didn't really bring us much closer to a resolution. But here's what Giuliani and his team are saying about what they think the parameters ought to be for a sit-down interview with the president. They are OK with the prospect of an interview, but they're saying any questions about obstruction of justice should be limited in scope, and perhaps only answered on paper.

Meanwhile, Mueller's team not at all interested in that. They have basically said they want to ask the president about collusion, about obstruction of justice, and about his associates' contacts with Russians. But the question about whether or not the president answers obstruction questions from Mueller is all about the prospect of what Giuliani is calling a perjury trap.

Now, listen to him explain what he's worried about in the context of a perjury trap on "Hannity" last night.


GIULIANI: The reality is, he doesn't need to ask a single question on obstruction. He has all of the answers. They're not going to change. The president is not going to change his testimony. So stop the nonsense. You are trying to trap him into perjury, because you don't have a case.


PHILLIP: While common sense might say that if you don't have anything to hide, if you're not going to lie, then you shouldn't be worried about a perjury trap. So it's not really clear what exactly Giuliani is saying there. But that's the crux of the issue right now. This is the center of the negotiations between the two camps and I don't know that we're getting much closer to a resolution -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: I feel like we're never going to be any closer to a resolution until it just finally pops up out of nowhere. Because we're just going to continue like this.

Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much.

Joining me now, to try to make sense of it, Seth Waxman, criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, and CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

Mark, let's start with the politics of this. I feel like it's more than the legal side of this at this point.

No offense, Seth.

Because it does seem like more of a P.R. strategy right now than a legal one. What is Rudy Giuliani up to, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's doing a couple of things. One is, he's continuing to try to create an incredible amount of white noise around the situation, try to bring doubt into this investigation. If you heard him over and over again, saying, look, Mueller has all of the information. If he wants to, you know, pursue something as a president, then he should do so. What's wrong with that logic and that thinking is that Mueller isn't -- it's not his goal to try to go out and find if Donald Trump did something wrong. That isn't his goal. His goal is to find out if there was any collusion in -- you know, with Russia and in between the campaign, as well as what other things happened around that. So what you are hearing from the Trump folks and the Trump supporters is they're acting like this is Mueller's sole goal, is to try to get the president. That is absolutely not the case. But Rudy Giuliani and other surrogates and lawyers are going to continue to do so, to try to create an atmosphere that is very divisive, you know, against this investigation.

[11:05:34] BOLDUAN: Seth, Giuliani told NPR yesterday that, in his view, this kind of counter, counter, counteroffer they sent back, they say that this may be the last best chance, is the way Giuliani put it, for Mueller to get an interview with Donald Trump. What do you think that means? What does that mean to you?

SETH WAXMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I see this whole dance that we've been watching for months as kind of a sham. A sham on both sides. You know, Donald Trump does not want to be in the room with Bob Mueller and his investigators. This is like he's heading out to the playground to the fight and he's telling his friends to hold him back. But on the other side, Bob Mueller, in my opinion, doesn't want to be in that room right now, either. Federal prosecutors want to wait until the end of their investigation to question their subject, or target. Most importantly, they want to accumulate all of the evidence, including their key cooperators that they haven't yet brought into the fold. People like Paul Manafort of Michael Cohen or Roger Stone. If Mr. Manafort were to flip after this trial, if he were convicted, for example, Mr. Manafort could potentially walk Mr. Mueller through his conversations with the president before, during and after that Trump Tower meeting. That is critical information for the prosecution to be in the room with the president and question him on.

So, you know, I see this dance as going on, you know, through the election, through the end of the year. I tell people to sit back and relax, be enjoy their summer. I think there will be a grand jury subpoena after the new year, that that will be challenged. It will go to the Supreme Court. It's my opinion that Mueller wins that fight. But I think this is still a long road and we're going to see this dance continue on.

BOLDUAN: Seth likes to dance, because we're going to get your dancing shoes on, Seth. Because it is continuing.

Mark, Giuliani is making the case that they would like to have it wrapped up by September. But also tells CNN that if this goes beyond that, he thinks it's good for them. In his view, he told Dana Bash that nothing would energize Republicans more than let's save the president. In terms of saying that obviously this continues. Do polls bear that out, do you think?

PRESTON: I don't necessarily buy that, that is actually going to energize Republicans. What it will do is energize a certain segment of the Republican base, and that is, you know, the 33 to 37 to 38 percent people who look at the president and are die-hard supporters. When we talk about the president's approval rating, Kate, we always talk about him being in the high 80s and into the 90s. Those are folks who think that he's doing well with policy. It doesn't mean that those are the same folks that are going to come out and vote for a congressman or a Senator because Donald Trump tells them to do so. Look what happened up in Ohio this past week. We saw a Democrat contest a seat and, quite frankly, could still potentially win that seat in an area that has been very strongly Republican. So I think when we look at that, you have to look at all of the politics of it all. I think Rudy Giuliani, by saying that, is trying to energize a certain part of Donald Trump's base, and also, again, to try to cast any kind of divisiveness and questioning anything that has to do with this investigation.

BOLDUAN: On the point of what should be allowed and what shouldn't be allowed in an interview, Seth, when Giuliani says he doesn't want anything to be included that would -- that would be a perjury trap, he -- Giuliani suggests that would include questions like, what did you say about Flynn, and why did you fire Comey. If those are off limits, do you think Mueller would ever agree to conduct an interview and not ask about these central themes?

WAXMAN: Absolutely not. No federal prosecutor is going to limit themselves that way. And this idea of a perjury trap is just a red herring. I'll tell you, from Department of Justice perspective, a perjury trap, at its base, is when a federal prosecutor does not have a basis in law or fact to interview a person, because they don't believe there are charges. Yet, they bring that person in simply to try to catch them in a lie. The example that has come up, in my experience, is when a prosecutor immunizes a person, in other words, will never be charged with a substantive crime, be it murder, bank fraud or whatever, and then the prosecutors hears that person out telling others, friends or associates, they didn't commit the crime. And the prosecutors want to bring that person in, just to hear what they have to say on that point, knowing full well, they can never charge that person. That's a perjury trap. Where there's no basis to ever bring a charge. Because there's immunization in that case. Here, Mueller has got this investigation. By all accounts, it's legitimate. Rod Rosenstein has said it's legitimate. The best way to avoid a perjury trap or what Mr. Giuliani is most concerned about and maybe the president, just don't lie.

[11:10:09] BOLDUAN: It's a good suggestion. I'll take it to heart. Especially when I've got to do this interview next. Good to remember. Things to live by.

Great to see you, Mark.

Great to see you, Seth.

Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Another Trump ally is speaking out about the Russia investigation, but these remarks not intended to be made public. It's a secret recording of one of Donald Trump's biggest allies on Capitol Hill, Congressman Devin Nunes, at a closed-door fundraiser. And in the recording, first obtained by NBC, Nunes makes the case that it is their responsibility, Republicans, the Republicans and the House of Representatives, to act as the last line of defense to protect the president of the United States. Listen.


REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R), CALIFORNIA: So therein lies -- so it's like your classic catch-22 situation, where I mean, we're at a -- this -- what puts us in such a tough spot. Recessions won't cover -- Mueller won't -- the president. We're the only one. Which is really the danger. That's why -- thank you for saying that, by the way. I mean, we have to keep all these. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Manu Raju is in Washington with much more on this.

Manu, as I listen to this, you on one hand, not surprising to hear Devin Nunes make the case that he doesn't want the president to be impeached. On the other hand, he seems to be saying it's Congress' job to protect the president rather than serve as a check on the executive branch, which is their job.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And it's also Congress' job, in his view, House Republicans' job to protect the president from the Mueller investigation, which is actually what the Democrats have been accusing Nunes of doing for the past year. Ever since when he initially was running the Russia investigation, he came across what he viewed was something as controversial. He went to the White House, briefed the president about what he viewed as a concern and some intelligence reports, and not even brief his own committee. That prompted outrage from Democrats. There are questions about how he handled some of the classified intelligence, forcing him to temporarily step aside from running the Russia investigation. But outside, he continued to wield power. He squashed Democratic efforts to bring forward witnesses to the committee, to issue subpoenas, and the like. And, Kate, this essentially -- these public -- private comments at this fundraiser feeding into the narrative that Democrats have been pushing for some time that is all about Nunes protecting the president as he investigates the investigators, the FBI and the Justice Department, rather than what Russia did in 2016.

BOLDUAN: And, Manu, there's much of more in this, as well, in this fundraiser that he talked about. He talks about it -- almost seems to be acknowledging a strategy when it comes to possibly impeaching someone else, the man overseeing the Russia investigation, Rod Rosenstein.

RAJU: Yes, he raises some questions about the timing of impeaching Rod Rosenstein, suggesting it's best to do this after the Senate were to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to be the Supreme Court -- next Supreme Court justice, because of concerns that the process could tie up the Senate and imperil the efforts to confirm Kavanaugh before the midterms. Here's what Nunes said.


NUNES: Yes, well, it's -- so it's a bit complicated, right? And I say that, because you have to -- so we only have so many months left. So if we actually look to impeach, OK, what that does, that trigger the Senate then has to take it up. Well, you have to decide what you want right now. Because the Senate only has so much time. You will have to drop everything and not confirm the new Supreme Court justice. You're not getting from -- like I said publicly, Rosenstein -- impeached. So I don't think you're going to get any argument from most of our colleagues. The question is, the timing of it right before the election.


CATHY MCMORRIS-RODGERS, (R), WASHINGTON: So the Senate has to start --


NUNES: They would have to start -- they would have to start -- the Senate would have to drop everything they're doing and start to -- start with the impeachment of Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed.


NUNES: So it's a -- it's not a matter of -- Rosenstein. It's a matter of timing.


RAJU: Now, Kate, there are not the votes in the House to impeach Rod Rosenstein. Certainly, not the votes in the Senate to convict him. But clearly, Nunes has been pushing this line for some time. And Kate also, I've asked both the speaker's office and also Cathy McMorris- Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership, who Nunes' fundraiser was attending -- that fundraiser, if they agreed with Nunes on these two points, I have not heard back yet. So we'll see if they align themselves with Nunes, particularly about whether or not -- they believe the House majority is necessary to protect Trump from Mueller -- Kate?

[11:15:09] BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, you heard right there on the tape with him. Really interesting to hear what she has to say on that.

Manu, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up, refusing stepdown and still running for re-election. Republican Congressman Chris Collins remains defiant after being arrested for insider trading. So what happens now?

Plus, a stunning development in the Manafort trial. The judge admitting he made a mistake. Details on that, ahead.


[11:19:58] BOLDUAN: "I'm innocent and not going anywhere" -- that's the message from Republican Congressman Chris Collins today as he's facing federal charges of insider trading, offering what he says are his first and last public remarks about the charges against him. Collins says they are meritless, and his name will be cleared.


REP. CHRIS COLLINS, (R), NEW YORK: The charges that have been levied against me are meritless. And I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name.

I look forward to being fully vindicated, and exonerated, ending any and all questions relating to my affiliation with an aide.


BOLDUAN: But a 30-page indictment from federal prosecutors suggests otherwise.

All the while, Collins made one thing very clear last night. He's up for re-election in November, and he's staying on the ballot.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is here with the very latest.

Brynn, Collins was not mincing any words about what he thinks about the case against him and what he thinks about his future. What else are you hearing from Collins and his team?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, before we get to what he's saying, let's quickly highlight what he didn't say in that speech last night, hours after pleading not guilty in front of a federal judge. We were talking about this earlier. The congressman and his wife went before cameras for that statement, but in it, Collins made no mention of his 25-year-old son, Cameron, who is also part of this indictment, accused of selling 1.4 million shares of this drug stock before it was publicly announced that the drug failed the clinical trial, and he's facing serious jail time as well. Instead, the congressman's statement sounded more like a campaign stump. Collins pushed his resume both before joining Capitol Hill and after. He also reaffirmed his passion for this Australian drug company he heavily invested in, took credit for keeping the drug company afloat with investments. Adding he hoped, in the end, this drug would cure M.S. and that was an accomplishment he said he wanted to achieve in life.

Collins also pointed out that he didn't sell his shares of this stock, losing out on millions of dollars when the stock tanked. And maybe this will be part of his defense strategy. We'll have to see. But prosecutors say he couldn't sell them. One, because the Australian stock market where he held shares had been halted, which is a standard move as a drug company prepares to release information on clinical trials. And, two, Collins was also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee at the time.

But as you saw, his speech, it was really a denial and, again, a fight -- a vow to fight for his congressional seat come November.

As far as the drug company is concerned, it called the indictment a private matter for Collins, and released a statement saying it's fully cooperating with the SEC with this investigation -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks for laying it out, Brynn. Really appreciate it.

Let's talk more about this right now. Joining me, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti.

It's great to see you, Renato.

Brynn lays it out perfectly kind of where Collins was very squarely focused and what could be maybe where he's going to be in running his defense in all of this. It's that when it became clear -- he had a big position in this company. A lot of money in this company. When it became clear that the hopes for this drug, this M.S. drug, were -- fell short, he didn't sell. And he took a huge loss for it. Does he have a point?

RANATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is certainly something that will resonate a bit with the jury. Jurors like to see who profited. When I was a prosecutor, I always love when the defendant was somebody who made a lot of money, because I could just tell the jury, follow the money, follow the money. And it's very easy to see why somebody might take part in a criminal scheme.

Here, though, the problem for him is that his son saved a lot of money. I think that he saved himself over half a million-dollars- worth of losses. As she just pointed out, he sold over 1.4 million shares. And the indictment reads to me like there are some cooperators there. There are phone calls and text messages. And the contents of those phone calls are discussed in a vague way, not with quotes around some of the passages as if they were taped. So it seems to me like there are some people flipping against his son.

BOLDUAN: And there could be much more to come, you would suggest?

MARIOTTI: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: He's up for re-election in November. He's not stepping aside. You heard him very clearly last night. He is remaining on the ballot. You talk about what the impact things have on a jury. Does that have an impact on a jury? I also wonder about the timing of how quickly this will move.

MARIOTTI: I don't think -- I think his defense team will be able to drag this case on for many months, so I don't anticipate anything -- there won't be a trial -- unless he wants a trial before the midterm, which I doubt he would -- there won't be a trial before the midterm. He'll be able to drag it out. And what we heard was a very carefully crafted statement, that if I was representing him, I would have drafted. I'm innocent, but I'm not delving into the facts, I'm just going to tell you I'm innocent in kind of a broad way.

BOLDUAN: He made no secret all along -- I mean, a lot of folks have talked about it. He talked about it himself on TV, he kind of like sold this stock to his colleagues or talked it up to his colleagues on Capitol Hill. Does that -- does that complicate things? Or could more lawmakers be facing scrutiny now?

MARIOTTI: You know, it's interesting. Some of them may be witnesses in a case like this. So that's where I would be concerned, if I -- if I represented one of those other congressmen and they asked me, I would tell them, well, you may have to ultimately testify at this trial, which I doubt any of these congressmen would like to do. I will say, this shows part of the problem, and I'm sure viewers are wonder, how is this legal that you have a member of Congress --

[11:25:09] BOLDUAN: That's what lingers out there over all of this, just kind of -- to put a point on it, is that Collins sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He also sits on the sub -- the health subcommittee, which has policy-making responsibilities over the pharmaceutical industry, exactly what you're talking about in this company.

MARIOTTI: Absolutely. A lot of times -- what I've told people many times, what might shock you is what's legal, not what's illegal. A lot of times, a federal prosecutor, I would be asked by people, why aren't you investigating this or that, and I would have to explain to them, actually, that is legal to do. And it is legal for a member of Congress to sit on the board of a private company. And here we're seeing --


BOLDUAN: Even one that he holds a huge policy-making position.

MARIOTTI: It's unethical, but that is -- that is legal. What's illegal is to provide material, nonpublic information, to someone so that they can trade on that information. BOLDUAN: And see if Capitol Hill makes any moves on the first point.

The former, there are already laws in place. Insider trading ill advised.

Great to see you, Renato. Thank you so much.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, a stunning admission nearly a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. The government now says that the number of deaths after the storm could be more than 20 times the official count. That's next.