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Report: Trump Team Sets Midterm Shut Down Over Mueller Interview; Giuliani Falsely Says That A Probe Must End Before The Election by Law; Nunes Tape Reveals Republican Party Are The Only Ones Who Can Clear Trump; Judge in Manafort Case Says He Was Wrong for Scolding Prosecutors; Fox Host Takes Aim at Legal Immigrants Echoing A Similar Line Coming from The White House; Kobach Sees No Problem in Overseeing The Recount of His Own Race. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, Wolf, thank you so much. High, everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN on this Thursday, count with me, 889 days until election day, get ready for a mid-term showdown, not just at the polls, but also between the president and the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani is the one setting up the stakes here as Trump's lawyers negotiate if the president will do an interview with Mueller.

And Giuliani is also riding on both sides of the argument here on whether the Russia investigation will actually be a drag on Republicans in November. Because just hours after he insisted that Mueller should wrap this whole thing up by September 1, inaccurately saying that the Department of Justice rules dictate that, not true, Giuliani posited this, that Republicans could benefit from prolonging the process into the November elections.

This is what he told CNN, let me quote: "When I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would have been the right legal strategy, but then hurt politically. Now I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it. And the president needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they are energized. Nothing would energize Republicans more than, let's save the president.

So, let's start there. I have with me CNN's senior political analyst, David Gergen, former White House advisor for four separate presidents. And Berit Berger, a former federal prosecutor, from the southern district of New York in office they Giuliani once said. So, thanks for coming by. David Gergen, first to you on this notion that Giuliani is saying that this would actually help Republicans come November, can you explain that for me?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Republicans having been looking for every day they can to energize their base, right. They have people that are angry but they are not turning out, and they have been looking out for this so-called blue wave. I think it's become pretty apparent, and Berit and I were talking about this earlier, what Giuliani is doing now is trying to negotiate his way past Labor Day with Mueller, with the expectation that after Labor Day and before the mid-terms, Mueller will not present his case, that under Justice Department traditions and rules, you're not supposed to interfere with elections. But if they can push the conclusion or the negotiation past Labor Day, they are home free.

BALDWIN: so, you would agree that if he is able to do that and push it past that goal post, this would get more Republicans out?

GERGEN: And I think that's what they're playing to. They haven't found anything really energizes, save the president, save Trump? I think that would energy them.

BALDWIN: Let me play a clip, Berit, for you, this is Giuliani saying the special investigator must finish this investigation 60 days prior to the election.


RUDY GIULIANI, THE PRESIDENT'S ATTORNEY: 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. He's got plenty of time to either decide -- we offered him an opportunity to do a form of questioning. He could say yes or no.


BALDWIN: So, I suppose it is an unwritten rule that one would not want to drop an investigation bomb right in around the election. At the same time, though, there is no rule on the books?

BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: There's no rule on the books, there's no written guidance on this. I think the closest thing was a 2012 memo by Attorney General Eric Holder in which he discussed the idea that you don't want to drop political bombshells close to an election, we don't want to take any actions that could be seen to be trying to influence a political election, but there's nothing in writing. I think tradition is, we probably would have this quiet period before an election. I think it would be unlikely that the special prosecutor's office would have an announcement come down, or a plea. But this investigation can continue, there's nothing barring them to continue to interview witnesses or gather evidence.

GERGEN: I think he's very likely to bring a report and wrap this up after Labor Day, might he go ahead and indict others lower down?

BALDWIN: Prior to the general election, that's a good question.


BERGER: I would be surprised if there was any big indictment that came closer to the election. But remember, his report is not going to the general public. His report is going to Rod Rosenstein, so it kind of puts it in his boat then as to when he would choose to make that public. I would be surprised if any of that comes down before the election. [14:05:00] GERGEN: But you can't control the leaks.

BERGER: Exactly.

BALDWIN: OK. Stay with me the two of you. Because I want to talk about Devin Nunes in just a second. But let me set this up. So, switching from what Trump's attorney said, to the words of another ardent Trump supporter, in fact arguably, House intelligence committee chairman, Devin Nunes, has done the most to try to get in the way of this whole Russia investigation. Now this secret recording reveals now the important role he thinks the House of Representatives should be playing in protecting the president.

So, for that, let's go to Manu Raju, he's our senior congressional correspondent. And Manu, tell me what is said.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: this confirmed a lot of suspicions particularly from Democrats that Nunes has wielded his gavel atop the House intelligence committee to try to protect the president from the Mueller investigation and revealing in rather stark terms that the House Republicans need to keep their majority in order to protect the president from Mueller. Here's what he said.


REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R), CALIFORNIA: So therein lies the classic Catch- 22 situation, which puts us in such a tough spot. Sessions won't un- recuse, Mueller won't clear the president, we are the only ones.

Which is really the danger. That's why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away...


RAJU: So, he appeared at a fund-raiser with Cathy McMorris-Rodgers was a member of the House Republican leadership. I have reached out to her office to see if she agrees with this assessment by Nunes. I have not heard back from her office. The speaker's office of Paul Ryan also has not commented on this, but this comes after a long line of efforts by Nunes to go after the Justice Department, to go after the FBI. After Democrats have accused him of scuttling the Russia investigation as part of the House intelligence committee's probe, so these comments undoubtedly are going to feed those accusations that Nunes has used his power to help the president.

BALDWIN: OK, Manu, thank you. David and Berit, back over to you. And this is what I would affectionately call a record scratch moment where you have a member of the House Of Representatives, who is talking to these folks at this dinner, paying a pretty penny with these donors, saying we in the House Of Representatives need to protect the president, save the president, instead really doing his duty of oversight over this administration.

GERGEN: Sometimes the truth actually emerges and you get a pretty clear sense of what people actually believe.

BALDWIN: It's stunning.

GERGEN: But what also is very distressing, it's very clear the next three months are not going to be about governing, about doing good things for the country, it's going to be a hand to hand combat, everything this administration does or everything the Republicans do, with Democrats is going to be colored by how do we win the midterms.

BALDWIN: One of his quotes, just drilling back down, Berit, "if Sessions won't un-recuse, and Mueller clear the president. We are the only ones which is really the danger."

Un-recusal, is that even a thing?

BERGER: I'm not sure that is actually a thing. This should be shocking to all of us that he's publicly admitting that the goal of their investigation is actually not to do an investigation at all but just to sort of clear the president.

But this isn't actually that surprising, this is just a public acknowledgement of what they have been doing this entire time. The sole focus of this investigation, I think we can put air quotes around that now, is to discredit the special counsel's investigation.

GERGEN: I think they have succeed beyond their dreams in discrediting Mueller. And I think that's one reason why they want to keep down this path. It's not pretty, but it's working to some degree. In the sense that a lot of Republicans are turning against Mueller. The election ordinarily would be a referendum on Trump. They want to make it a referendum on Mueller and what he is trying to do.

BALDWIN: And David, to you, what he said about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh, because Nunes says they can go ahead with impeachment of the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein here because the Senate will have to take that up and the senate he said needs to be focused on confirming Kavanaugh, A, is that true, would you agree that the Senate cannot really --

GERGEN: I can't see that, they're on two different tracks and if there is an impeachment proceeding which would be unfair and inappropriate. If there is an impeachment proceeding, it will go on for some time. And it won't go to the Senate for -

[14:10:00] BALDWIN: It won't derail what's happening with Kavanagh?

GERGEN: No. no, no. From the Democrats point of view, they obviously want to hold the House before they start impeachment proceedings. But it's becoming more apparent that it's in the Democrats' best interest to stop talking about impeachment and say we want to leave this to the voters in the midterms and in the general election of 2020.

BALDWIN: That's your line to Democrats going for November?

GERGEN: Yes, yes. BALDWIN: OK. David and Berit, thank you so much.

Coming up next here on CNN, the judge in the Paul Manafort trial admits he messed up after repeatedly clashing with prosecutors. The judge admitting that he made a mistake in the trial. We will have those details next.

Also, a nightmare scenario for two young children flying by themselves, their flight ended up diverted to another city because of bad weather, how these kids under the age of 10 ended up in a hotel room overnight. The father says both parents were left in the dark. The airline disputes that and is defending its actions. We'll talk to the dad involved coming up next.

And a nail biter in Kansas, the race for the governor could come down to a recount. One problem here, the person technically in charge of overseeing that recount is the Republican candidate. David Gergen is laughing. Why he's not recusing himself. Let's discuss that. You're watching CNN and I am Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: A stunning admission from the judge in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. This judge is T.S. Ellis conceding today he was wrong for scolding prosecutors. Let me remind you that the prosecutors in this case working for the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the man leading the Russia probe. This case is a critical test for Mueller's team. Paul Manafort pleading not guilty to 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. He stands accused of illegally hiding tens of millions of dollars earned for consulting with pro- Putin politicians in Ukraine.

So with me now, correspondent Randy Kaye, covering this whole trial and in particular this judge, is back with us. And the apology, the mea culpa, what does that stem from?

RANDY KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was a big move. The prosecution has this expert, this IRS agent that was supposed to testify and was testifying for the prosecution. But they allowed this expert, an expert witness to sit in on the trial and hear other witnesses. They say that the judge had agreed to that, that the judge was well aware of that, but still the judge criticized them in front of the jury for allowing this expert to remain in the courtroom and listen to the other witness testimony.

He admonished the prosecutor in front of the jury and then the prosecutors said they were going to file a motion to clean up the record and clear the air with the jury. And then came this apology and this morning, apologizing in front of the jury, and the courtroom saying, put aside any criticism, I was probably wrong in that, this robe doesn't make me anything other than human. That was his apology.

BALDWIN: Is it possible do you think that he just forgot? How crazy it is that you have a judge in this mega-important trial apologizing?

BERGER: I have never had a judge apologize to me. There's a first for everything. I think he just did forget. I don't think we can attribute any bad motive to that, but it was a pretty shocking admonition of the prosecution. This was a ruling he had made at the beginning of the trial, specifically saying both their case agent in this trial and then this other witness and then he called them out for during it. So, I think he was right to apologize. I think it's not common for judges to do that, but I think he did the right thing in this situation.

BALDWIN: Tell me more about the judge, he is known for his wit, he is known for getting things rolling, keeping the train on the tracks.

KAYE: Yes, he really keeps things moving, for sure. The court has a reputation for being a docket rocket. Because things do move so fast with all of the judges there. But he has cut off witnesses, he's cut off attorneys, he's said next question, he's butted in to them as they're questioning the witnesses, but he also admonished them for, it's got such interesting eccentricities, he's told them to rein in their facial expression, stop rolling your eyes at me and indicating to the jury that you're having to deal with this idiot judge as he put it.

And look at me when I'm talking to you he is telling the prosecutors. The prosecutor said look I just don't want to give away my facial expression. That's why I'm not looking at you. He basically accused him of having tears in your eyes. He said I don't have tears in my eyes. And the judge said well, they are watery.

So, he is just such an interesting character, some of the reporters have described as shock and awe just watching him in action.

BALDWIN: He's been in this part of Virginia for years, hasn't he? This judge T.S. Elliott. Randy and Berit, thank you so much for that. Next here, she says, quote, the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore.


[14:20:00] LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like.


BALDWIN: Yes, didn't in there. Going on to partly blame legal immigrants for her unwanted shift in American demographics, let's discuss that, next.


[14:25:00] BALDWIN: The build the wall sentiment of this Trump White House is once again morphing and Fox News host Laura Ingraham put herself smack in that metamorphosis by lamenting not just how illegal immigration is changing the United States, but echoing what we have heard recently from the White House, she complained about legal immigrants as well. Listen to what she said.


INGRAHAM: In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country's changed. Now much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.


BALDWIN: Let's have a conversation. With me now CNN political commentator and senior writer for the "Federalist", Mary Catherine Hamm and CNN opinion writer, attorney and immigration analyst, Raul Reyes. So welcome to both of you. And Mary Catherine, just starting with you, when you watch Laura Ingraham say what she just did, she comes across as ignorant and racist. So, can you help me understand what she was trying to say?

MARY CATHERINE HAMM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND SENIOR WRITER FOR THE "FEDERALIST": Well, actually, I did look through all of her monologue and tried to reason this out in the most charitable way possible, but I couldn't do it. Because she says massive demographic shifts both legal and illegal immigration, demographics are what matter, which seems to bring race into the issue. And that she later says it's not about race or ethnicity, it's about what once the common understanding by both parties that American citizenship is a privilege, and understanding about the rule of law. Except she also notes that legal immigration is part of the problem that she is citing, the problem, so it is not actually the rule of law if you say both of those things.

BALDWIN: That is precisely what I wanted to ask Raul, because she's painting this picture and talking about not only illegal immigration, she's blatantly talking about legal immigration as well.

RAUL REYES, CNN OPINION WRITER, ATTORNEY AND IMMIGRATION ANALYST: What she's saying is factually, it is inaccurate because she's talking about the demographic changes that she says we didn't vote for. The collective we that she presupposes, that we don't want.

The fact is three quarters of immigrants in the United States are here legally. Our undocumented population is less than 1/4 of all the immigrants who are here. Three quarters the majority of these immigrants came over legally and they came over by a system of laws that was designed by Congress and leaders that we elected.

So, we did have our say in the types of people that we want here. What she seems to object to is the type of immigrants that are coming.

BALDWIN: Like what?

REYES: It's very interesting that this segment -- this rant was in the middle of a segment began with her criticizing Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, the congressional candidate. And then she had this rant about immigration and then moved on to the story about a Honduran undocumented immigrant accused of some horrific crime.

BALDWIN: What's she saying by not saying?

REYES: It seems that what she doesn't like is a growing Latino population in the country which again for a fact check, Latinos are the largest minority group in the country but we are not even the fastest growing. The fastest growing immigrant group in this country are Asians not Latinos.

So, she seems to be a little bit off base there.

BALDWIN: The other point, Mary Catherine, back over to you, is that normally we want to avoid any sort of trying to translate or interpret what they're saying over there at Fox. Why this is so significant is this is a view that was recently shared by the White House. It was just this week that Steve Miller is out there pushing this plan to punish who receive benefits like welfare.

HAMM: There used to be a delineation in speaking about legal and illegal. But that conservatives would get very mad at people if people accuse them of caring about legal immigrants are bringing that into it. But this is a clear blurring of the line in both cases and it seems explicitly linked to demographics. I think there's a subsection of left they ignore, which are issues with repeated deportations of people who have been accused or even convicted of crimes in some cases and that affects real Americans.

[14:30:00] And we should deal with it in a better way. But when you look at actual stats about cultural assimilation and whether they are taking on the values of America, by second generation it's the same as other generations of immigrants have been, when you look at crime statistics for new immigrants, those neighborhoods have sometimes less crime than native born Americans. When you look at overall stats there are problems we need to deal with and can name, but it's not about this entire community, and this entire community is part of what makes America great, if I may steal a phrase.

BALDWIN: Where have we heard that before? Raul?

REYES: I just think if there's any good news here between his immigrant comments and Stephen Miller taking aim again, and what is an important distinction here. He's taking aim at legal immigrants and their family members who could be citizens. Many have citizen children who might have used public benefits. So that is different from what we've seen before. Community good news here is that the summer we saw from Gallup new polling that shows supports for immigrants is at a record high, probably, maybe in my view, some type of pushback against the Trump administration.

75 percent of Americans say immigration is a good thing. It is as high as 85 percent for Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans. So, a majority of Americans do not agree with this line of thinking promoted by Laura Ingraham.

BALDWIN: I do have one more for you, Mary Catherine, just separately from what we are talking about on this gubernatorial race in Kansas. Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State still often is too close to call gubernatorial race. He is suggesting that he will not recuse himself from his own recount --