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Trump Speaks Amid Security Clearance Battle; Manafort Jury In 2nd Day of Deliberations & Asking Judge Questions. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think for that reason, I think in November we are going to do extremely well, extremely well.


TRUMP: I'd like to see twice, but we're going to see. This took place when I had, as you know, the world's top executives, among the world's top executives and the head of Pepsi-Cola, a great woman who is now retiring. She said -- I asked, what could we do to make it better? She said, two times a year reporting, not quarterly. I thought of it. It made sense to me. You know, we are not thinking far enough out. We have been accused of that for a long time, this country. We are looking at that very, very seriously. We are looking at twice a year instead of four times a year.


TRUMP: I don't know McRaven. I know I have gotten tremendous response from having done that because security clearances are very important to me. Very, very important. I have had a tremendous response for having done that.


TRUMP: There's no silence. If anything, I'm giving them a bigger voice. Many people don't even know who he is. Now he has a bigger voice. That's OK with me because I like taking on voices like that. I have never respected him. I have never had a lot of respect. Senator Burr said it best. If you knew anything, why didn't you report it when you were before all of these committees, including their committee. He had a chance to report. He never did. This was just -- came up lately. It's a disgusting thing, frankly.

Look, I say it. I say it again. That whole situation is a rigged witch hunt. It's a totally rigged deal. They should be looking at the other side. They should be looking at all the people that got fired by them, all of the people that got fired. They should be looking at Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie, for dealing with, by the way, indirectly Russians. They should be looking at Steele. They should be looking at the FBI guys who got fired and demoted. It's a really -- it's not us. It is a rigged witch hunt. I've said it for a long time.



TRUMP: I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I will be taking it away very quickly. I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace with his wife, Nellie. For him to be in the Justice Department and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace. That's disqualifying for Mueller. Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts also directly. You know that. Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted. In fact, Comey is like his best friend. I could go into conflict after conflict. Sadly, Mr. Mueller is conflicted. Let him write his report. We did nothing. There's no collusion. If he was doing an honest report, he would write it on the other side. Because when you look at criminality and you look at problems, take a look at what they did, including colluding with the Russians, the other side.


TRUMP: I can't hear you too well. You have to shout.


TRUMP: Turkey has been a problem for a long time. They have not acted as a friend. We will see what happens. They have a wonderful Christian pastor, he is a wonderful man, Pastor Brunson. They made up this phony charge that he is a spy, and he is not a spy. He has gone through a trial right now, if you call it a trial. They should have given him back a long time ago. Turkey has, in my opinion, acted very, very badly. So we haven't seen the last of that. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can't take our people. You will see what happens.


TRUMP: I don't talk about that now. I don't talk about that now. I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. When you look at what's going on there. I think it's a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. He happens to be a very good person. I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.

Thank you very much.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right there, at the very end, President Trump talking about Paul Manafort, saying he happened to be a very good person, sad day.

President had a lot on his mind to help out to the Hamptons.

Let's talk about it. Joining me, Chris Cillizza is here, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Caitlin Huey Burns, national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics," and retired Rear Admiral John Kirby is here, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst, former spokesman for the Defense and State Departments under President Obama.

Thank you so much for being here.

Chris, President Trump had a lot to say this morning, specifically, let's start with the very big issue with real life consequences, talking about revoking, stripping John Brennan of his security clearance, talking about doing it to other people. The president's response to questions about it today was, if anything, I'm giving him a bigger voice, when it comes to Brennan, which I found fascinating, also says, returned on his own to the whole thing is a witch hunt, the whole thing is a rigged deal.

[11:05:38] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLILTICAL REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: Yes. OK. A couple things. He is not wrong that John Brennan is getting a big megaphone from this. That's point one. Point two, remember that the White House's official line via Sarah Sanders is that Brennan's security clearance was taken away because he was endangering the national security. But Donald Trump seems to suggest that it's more about the negative things that John Brennan has said about the Russia investigation vis-a-vis Donald Trump than about any broader national security concern. Remember, Kate, this is like pardons in a way. Things that Donald Trump can do unilaterally, that he likes doing because he can do them unilaterally, and I think that we will see more of not less of. The thing that is remarkable in the way that Donald Trump phrased his response to the question about John Brennan, he said, it's getting a tremendous response.


CILLIZZA: He is right about that. It's getting a tremendous response. I don't know that he meant it in the way that it accurately reads. Such is life.

BOLDUAN: To offer some more context -- I want to bring you in, John, on this.

To offer more context, this is what President Trump told the "Wall Street Journal" after stripping Brennan of his security clearance. He said to "Wall Street Journal," "I call it a rigged witch hunt. It is a sham and these people led it. I think it's something that had to be done."

But the White House maintained that it has to do with national security reasons, offering no proof about it.

The pushback now from many heavyweights in the Intelligence Community, from McRaven to Michael Hayden to David Petraeus to Michael Morell to Robert Gates joining the letter, can you offer perspective of what this pushback kind of perspective that the president is getting to this, even though the calls the response tremendous?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DEPLOMATIC ANALYST: I agree with Chris. It's tremendous, but not in the way the president wants it to come across as. These are significant individuals, non-partisan primarily individuals in national security leadership positions or former who have clearly identified what's really going on here. They do believe it's an attempt to stifle criticism. But also it will have a trickle- down effect on current and former officials at much lower levels who will be more affected by the chilling effect this decision and future decisions on security clearance will have. Number two, they have noted that it will have -- potentially could have a negative impact on this administration and maybe even administrations going forward on their ability to reach out to these former officials and glean their wisdom and their experience about issues that they are dealing -- the current administration is dealing with.

Look, it's not likely that Trump was going to reach out to Brennan or Clapper any time soon. But he is actually cutting his own nose off to spite his face when he sort of gives these guys the Heisman and cuts them off from the potential access to classified information.

The last thing I will say is, this was a classic White House message mismatch. Sarah Sanders said this was about Brennan's frenzied commentary and his erratic behavior. The president just today and in that "Wall Street Journal" interview made it very clear that this was about retaliation for the Russia investigation and for Brennan's role in it.

BOLDUAN: If there's any question, I think he puts it to rest with what he said just now.

KIRBY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Asked if he is trying to silence critics, he goes to the tag lines that he goes to all the time when it comes to the Russia investigation.

KIRBY: That's exactly right.

BOLDUAN: It's a witch hunt, I've said it for a long time. There was nothing about national security concerns in his reasoning.

CILLIZZA: What we know, Kate, is that, in his mind, it's linked. Right? That's what he goes to.


BOLDUAN: Isn't that the only thing that matters? He is the only one with the power to strip security clearance.

CILLIZZA: Yes, absolutely. That's why always listen to his tweets and what he says as opposed to the official White House response is.

[11:10:05] Caitlin, let me bring you in.

One person who is not a former -- who is a current who President Trump brought up is Bruce Ohr, who works at the Justice Department. He said in one -- he said that, "I suspect I will be taking it away very shortly." That was pretty declarative that Bruce Ohr's security clearance is coming out.

CAITLIN HUEY BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Caitlin Huey Burns, national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics," Bruce Ohr, his wife, who Trump was referring to, worked for Fusion GPS, linked to that Steele dossier, that is part of why Trump is -- feeds into what we were talking about.


BOLDUAN: Has become a foe for the president.

HUEY BURNS: Right. Certainly, this is not just about John Brennan. He has this list of other targets that seems to be growing by the day.

What's really interesting to consider here is the way in which, first of all, Trump likes to have these foils. He does not mind at all that Brennan is coming up, because he can use him as a punching bag continuously. But also what's really important to consider here is the reaction that we have seen on Capitol Hill, and the fact is that the president does not really -- has not really suffered substantive political consequences for these actions. You hear from Lindsey Graham and other Senators, who don't think that Brennan is a sympathetic figure at all, coming to the president's side. The president feels like he has support there. Also, just in 2016, when you had the 50 Republican officials coming out against the president to see the president re-elected, so this fuels him more than it stops him. I'm waiting to see what else this prompts him to do.

BOLDUAN: I do -- exactly to Caitlin's point, Chris, I have found it fascinating in the response on Capitol Hill amongst Republicans. Some of the most pro-military, hawkish Republicans, they are backing -- many of them backing the president, especially when it comes to John Brennan.

CILLIZZA: Yes. The one that stood out to me -- I'm surprised, too. The one that stood out to me was Orrin Hatch, who is retiring from the Senate in Utah, been in the Senate a very long time, said essentially, I'm surprised that the president didn't revoke Brennan's clearance sooner, he hasn't been a friend to the administration. That's not any reason why you revoke a security clearance. It's not about being friends or saying nice things. Kellyanne Conway said something similar this morning, well, Brennan hasn't been a friend to us. That's not it. That's not -- that's not why security clearances get revoked. Is he and Clapper speaking from classified information to criticize the president? There's no evidence that that's the case. I think that's a very dangerous line, that dissent is enough to be something that you would revoke security clearance. As John makes the point, it doesn't really hurt Brennan. It hurts the collected institutional wisdom sharing within the Intelligence Community.

BOLDUAN: Michael Morell said this morning, and it's what you are saying, John, but Michel Morell said this morning, this doesn't hurt the individual. This hurts the government with this decision.

But I think it's important to not get lost in this. It's so -- we cover the president because he is speaking, because he is the president of the United States as he is heading to Marine One and on to Air Force One.

Not to get lost in this, John, is the perspective, we're in this odd, strange place where the -- when it comes to this moment, the main story -- the central story might actually be Omarosa and her book and tapes and the distraction from the main story is this stripping of security clearances with real-life consequences that we are looking at. The timing here has been -- I really want to make sure it's not lost. The original statement, John, was -- you can speak to this as you have put out many statements as the spokesman for the Defense and State Departments. The original statement was weeks ago, days after the president said he was reviewing it but not released -- not announced until now. The "Washington post" is reporting that it has a lot to do with the Omarosa situation, if you will.

KIRBY: Yes. According to "Post" reporting, it was Sarah Sanders who wanted to keep that statement in the back pocket, and pull it out when they need it. They decided that now this week, with Omarosa's book out there, there was the time to do it.

Look, it's despicable as a strategy and tactic. It worked for them. This has overtaken --


BOLDUAN: Not to be Pollyanna, administrations do this. White House's do this. You release information for maximum impact.

KIRBY: I cannot confirm or deny that I held on to a statement for a --


BOLDUAN: Exactly.

[11:15:07] KIRBY: Look, of course, when you are a government P.R. guy, you think about the timing, absolutely. In this case, they would tell you it not only worked but worked for a -- this is a big story. It's not just a small distraction. We should be debating the reasons behind it. It's much -- it's much more of a national security story than anything Omarosa's book lass to say about Trump and his leadership style. I don't think in the long run, even though Trump thinks it makes him look strong and it's getting the tremendous response, I don't think that what they have done, what the president is considering doing with future clearances is good for this country, good for our national security. Quite frankly, I don't believe it's good for him and his administration.

BOLDUAN: We do find ourselves -- the president does find himself in -- I don't know if we can say unfamiliar ground going head to head with the Intelligence Community in the most public way possible now.

Chris, great to see you.

John, great to see you.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Caitlin, thanks for coming in. Great to see you as well. I appreciate it. We have more to come. Let's see what else the president has to say.

Until then, we will focus on this. This could be a big moment. A jury is debating the fate of ex-Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Will Special Counsel Bob Mueller see a win here? Or is it an acquittal in the cards? What the jury is asking the judge. We will take you live to the courthouse.

Plus, the president says he's canceled plans for a military parade in the nation's capital, blaming local officials for the skyrocketing price tag. The mayor of D.C. is firing back. The defense secretary had something to say about it. Are they all on the same page? Shockingly, no.

We'll be right back.


[11:21:14] BOLDUAN: Paul Manafort's fate, Robert Mueller's future, both are on line in a northern Virginia courtroom right now. And 12 men and women of the jury are back deliberating the case against President Trump's former campaign chairman for tax evasion and bank fraud charges against him. This is their second day deliberating. While everyone waits for a final answer there, this is also about more than Manafort's alleged crimes. This is also about the credibility and maybe the way forward for Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. For now, the jury has 18 counts, and page after page after page of e- mails and financial documents and testimony to consider. They have some questions for the judge.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has been following this. She's outside the courthouse for us.

Jessica, where do things stand right now?

JESSICA SCHNDEIDER, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, we are an hour and 40 minutes into day two of the deliberations for this jury. There were seven hours where we didn't hear anything from the jury until the end of the day, just before 5:00. We got that one note containing four questions. They were questions about tax filings, also the foreign bank accounts of Paul Manafort. They wanted clarification. Perhaps the most interesting question was they also wanted clarification on the reasonable doubt standard. Prosecutors must prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors asked the jury, can you clarify for us what reasonable doubt means. The judge said, you can have some possible doubt. That's OK. Maybe a little bit of doubt. You need to go as long as there's reasonable doubt here. So the judge tried to clarify who knows what the jury read out of that. They back at deliberations for day two.

Also, Kate, the judge will hear a motion at 2:00 p.m. from CNN and other news outlets to make public some of the transcripts that were court proceedings done in secret. That will happen at 2:oo p.m. Perhaps we will know more about what happened behind the scenes when the public was out of view. We could get more information at 2:00 p.m. -- Kate? BOLDUAN: When the sound machine is turned on, what happened.

Great to see you, Jessica.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We will keep close to you.

Joining me joining to discuss this and what these questions really means, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers is here, and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Page Pate.

Thank you both for being here.

Jennifer, to these four questions asked by the jury, let's focus on the one question, to define reasonable doubt. The judge's direction as it was put was that the prosecutors must prove their case not beyond possible doubt but beyond doubt based on reason. What does that mean? Does that give the jury any further direction?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's so unsatisfying, right, for jurors to hear that thing. It doesn't give them much more direction. That's what the appellate courts have said is the proper instruction. Just restructure it. It's a doubt that's reasonable. I have heard it so many times. Juries struggle with the reasonable doubt standard. The higher courts have said that they don't want to define it further than that. That don't want to give the jurors a percentage or anything like that. So this is a very, very common situation. Jurors don't like it. They are sent back to continue to struggle with it. It's not uncommon. It doesn't mean they are having a hard time. It just means they want the clarification that, unfortunately, the judge can't really give them. They will kind of continue to have to work through it.

BOLDUAN: Keep going, boys and girls, is essentially what he said.

RODGERS: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Page, the defense hears that question and also the other three questions that had to do with foreign banking disclosure requirements far over my head, they hear this questioning from -- the questions from the jury, the defense hears it, and thinks what?

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good news, absolutely. What it means is the jury is pouring over the documents, they are carefully analyzing the evidence. Even more importantly, they want to make sure they understand the proper burden that the prosecution has to meet in a case like this. If I'm the defense team, and I hear the jury after a day's worth of deliberations come out with these questions, I'm feeling good. But I'm not going to get too excited. I had a trial last week where the jury came out with favorable questions, but ultimately decided against our client. It could not mean -- it could be significant as far as reasonable doubt. It does show they are working through the evidence. It doesn't mean that we are looking at a jury that's predisposed at this point to find him guilty. [11:25:35] BOLDUAN: It could mean something or nothing.

PATE: Exactly. It's like reading tea leaves. We never know until the verdict is returned.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, we are finding out that for Manafort's next trial, as this is playing out, the Mueller team has -- CNN is reporting, it's three times amount of evidence to present against Manafort than with this trial. What is the difference between these two trials? What does this mean?

RODGERS: It really just means that there are different kinds of charges. The amount of evidence you put forward isn't really about how strong the case is, per se. It's more about what kind of documentary and witness evidence you need to prove your case. Different kinds of cases have different kinds of requirements for that. Obviously, document-intensive types of charges like tax fraud and like the failing to register as a foreign agent are more document heavy than, say, a bank robbery case. It doesn't mean a lot except that it might take longer to put those charges in because putting in each piece of evidence and explaining it does take time.

BOLDUAN: First things first. Day two of jury deliberations in this trial against Paul Manafort under way right now.

Jennifer, thank you.

Page, thanks so much.

PATE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, no military parade, at least not for now. The president blaming local officials for soaring costs for the military parade that he dreamed for. Now D.C.'s mayor is speaking out, fighting back. That's next.