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Trump Launches Fresh Attacks on Former CIA Director; Trump Says Social Media Censoring Conservatives & Twitter CEO Responds; Bomb Killing 40 Children in Yemen Was Supplied by U.S.; ; Pennsylvania Grand Jury: 300 Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing over 1,000 Children; Manafort's Legal Team's Renewed Confidence as Jury Heads into 3rd Day of Deliberations Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 18, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:56] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin with fresh attacks today by President Trump against the nation's former CIA Director John Brennan, tweeting this morning, "Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA director? He will go down as easily the worst in history. And since getting out, he has become nothing less than a loud-mouth partisan political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets of our country."
This week, the president revoked John Brennan's security clearance. The move prompted more than 70 intelligence officials, including top former CIA directors, to come together with a statement warning the president that the country will be weakened if there's a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.
Brennan himself fired back at the president, calling him drunk on power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's drunk on power. He really is. And I think he's abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is in a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is liable to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And Trump may not be stopping with Brennan. He has ordered the White House to draft more clearance cancellations of current and former officials, all of whom have been publicly critical of the president or tied to the Russia investigation in some way.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is in New Jersey where the president is staying and tweeting this weekend.
Ryan, what more can you tell us? RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, it seems pretty clear the
president is not backing down in any way, shape or form. From not only the action he's taken to revoke some security clearances but the threat of revoking more in the future. That could be, in part, because he is getting a degree of cover from some prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill who have basically backed him up on his point of view that he has this power to do so and can use it whenever he sees fit.
That isn't, however, getting the president any friends within the Intelligence Community. And as you mentioned, there's a growing list of current and former intelligence officials who are speaking out against the president's motives. In fact, many of them pointing out that this is difficult and could lead to a national security breach because it will make intelligence officials feel as though they cannot give the president objective information as a result.
Listen to part of the statement these intelligence officials put out. They said, quote, "All of us believe it is critical to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure. But we believe equally strongly that the former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without the fear of being punished for doing so. The country will be weakened if there's a political litmus test," they call it, "applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views."
That's part of what the concern here is, that this isn't the president protecting state secrets. It's more of the president going on an attack on those who he views as his political enemies and perhaps as a way to interrupt the Russia investigation and the special counsel.
So, Fred, the criticism continues but the president clearly not changing course.
WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
With me now, Shawn Turner, a CNN national security analyst, and Samantha Vinograd, a CNN national security analyst as well.
Good to see you both.
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Shawn, you first.
As someone who worked with Brennan, what is your reaction to the president revoking Brennan's security clearance and then Brennan responding by saying the president is drunk on power? It's an egregious act, he says?
TURNER: Yes, I think, first of all, you know, the president revoking John Brennan's security clearance is a clear demonstration that the president is willing to go to extreme measures to exert influence, power and control over government officials, former government officials, if they dare to speak out. And I think obviously, as a lot of my former colleagues have said, it's an egregious step.
But to be clear, Fred, this is really not so much about security clearances as it is about the right of senior informed intelligence officials to speak out and to say when they think when the president has made decisions they don't agree with. As someone who spent a lot of time in government, I have defended the president when I thought that he made national security decisions that were in the best interest of the safety and security of this country. By the same token, I've been critical of the president when I thought he made decisions that were not in the best interest of our national security. And I think what everybody should understand is that former officials should have the right to do that. And the Intelligence Community, we call that speaking truth to power. And it's a very important aspect of our democracy.
[13:05:34] WHITFIELD: So, Sam, with this escalation and tension between the U.S. Intel Community and the president, members of the Intel Community, they're going to continue to do their jobs, right? But does this kind of criticism or preemptive strike and even, you know, the latest strike against Brennan and the preemptive strike against others and the list being compiled, how does that cause ripples within the Intelligence Community, you know, second-guessing, anything like that?
SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Fred, I think that this undoubtedly has to have an operational impact on the functioning of the Intelligence Community. The Intelligence Community, intelligence analysts, intelligence operatives, are unbiased. They're apolitical when they go to work every day. At this point, imagine you're an intelligence analyst and you show up and you review foreign intelligence that happens to make unhelpful or inflammatory statements about President Trump and you want to write a report that could end up at the White House summarizing how a foreign leader or a foreign country views the president. You know, you look at a country like Germany where he has an 11 percent approval rating. I'm guessing that intel analysts are going to find some intelligence that shows he's not very well liked there. That might lead them to be really worried about putting pen to paper in case that report ends up at the White House, the president gets upset and thinks he's going to take punitive actions against whomever authorized that report. I don't doubt that intelligence analysts are going to work every day, working as hard as they can, but there's unconsciously or consciously I think that fear of retribution. And we have not heard from CIA Director Gina Haspel on the messages she's sending within the Central Intelligence Agency to her team, to encourage them to keep working hard. We have a statement from the DNI that appropriately and accurately lays out that the president used his executive authority to make this decision against Brennan. But imagine the morale within these buildings right now, and both Gina Haspel and the DNI trying to encourage their teams to continue working hard in a fashion that doesn't fear retribution.
WHITFIELD: And, Shawn, this removal of clearance on Brennan, and the threat to do the same for others, that is punishment. I mean, the president has already said so. But he also said this really isn't to silence them. Listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no silence. If anything, I'm giving up a bigger voice. Many people don't even know who he is, and now he has the bigger voice, and that's OK with me because I like taking on voices like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So that's his explanation. But is that the logic?
TURNER: Yes, look, I don't discount the possibility that the president and the administration and his team are using this revocation of security clearances in order to distract from other things that are happening in the news cycle. The problem I have with this is this is an escalation sort of issue. When you revoke the security clearances of people like John Brennan, and on this list he has, Jim Clapper, Susan Rice and others, look, these are people outside the Intelligence Community. They're not walking into intelligence agencies and perusing intelligence and then going on television and talking about what they see. When you extend that to people like Bruce Ohr and you extend that to other people who are in the Intelligence Community who are actively working on intelligence issues, be they the Russia investigation or other issues, then you're not only doing, as Sam pointed out, you're not only limiting the president's ability to have full access and information regarding what's happening in the intelligence world, but you're also impacting the livelihood of those individuals who spent their entire life working in the Intelligence Community. Yes, it's possible, with regard to these individuals, that this is somewhat of a P.R. stunt. But it goes much further when you're talking about people who are actually working in the I.C.
WHITFIELD: Or disrupting the livelihood, doesn't seem to be something the president is mindful of, nor really cares about. Andrew McCabe, that's just one example, just before his full retirement, Sam. So there are some very strong messages being sent by the president, you know, whether it's that kind of -- you know, whatever you want to decipher from all of this. But, you know, what is somebody who is actively working, like a Bruce Ohr, you know, to think, how might this impact the way in which he executes his job on an ongoing investigation if, indeed, the president were to go as far as removing his clearance?
[13:10:00] VINOGRAD: I think that it's going to make anybody, as I mentioned, fearful that the president is going to take punitive action if he doesn't like what's ending up on his desk. I think that law enforcement officials alongside intelligence analysts are going to keep trying to work hard. But unconsciously, just logically speaking, wouldn't you be worried at this point? Wouldn't you have a feeling that something bad may happen to you if you proceed with your work in an apolitical and nonpartisan fashion and --
WHITFIELD: That would be the objective. That would be the objective.
VINOGRAD: Exactly. That's what we should all want. That's what we should all want. I think it's definitely going to have an impact. Perhaps that's what the president wants. He wants this kind of overlay of trepidation and anxiety on all the government agencies that are working on things that he may not like and that really undermines our democracy and helps one person out, and that's Vladimir Putin, who's really happy our institutions are under this horrible cloud because of the president's abuse of power.
WHITFIELD: Quickly, can it add to the Mueller investigation? If obstruction is one of those things, how is that potentially not in that category?
TURNER: Absolutely. Look, the president is being vocal about his desire to quiet people who are working on the Mueller investigation. I mean, he went out and said very directly that, you know, when it came to John Brennan, that he was part of this whole thing and that it was a witch hunt. So you don't have to go very far to see the president is drawing those connections. But I will say, Fred, I've been very heartened by the fact that, as I talk to people in the Intelligence Community, people really do feel as though this is the time to speak out. So I think that, you know, we're going to see people continue to push hard to make sure that they don't allow this to move forward.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now.
Shawn Turner, Samantha Vinograd, thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, a free-speech controversy tied to conspiracy theories and election meddling. Twitter and other social media facing backlash after President Trump accuses them of censoring conservative groups. What the CEO of Twitter has to say about that, next.
[13:16:13] WHITFIELD: Twitter is caught in the middle of a free- speech controversy. Just this morning, President Trump accused social-media platforms of suppressing Republican and conservative voices, tweeting, "They're closing down the opinions of many people on the right while, at the same time, doing nothing to others. Too many voices are being destroyed. Some good, some bad. And that cannot be allowed to happen."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with CNN's Brian Stelter to set the record straight.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": The president called you out for shadow banning. What is the truth around that idea? JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: So I think a lot of the statements behind
the statement, the question behind the question, is, look, shadow banning is a very widely defined term. There's not one single definition. So the definition that we found that seems to resonate with the most people is, you know, not amplifying particular messages, or if someone puts out a tweet, hiding that tweet from everyone without that person who tweeted it knowing about it.
So the real question behind the question is are we doing something according to political ideology or viewpoints. And we are not. Period. We do not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology. We look at behavior. And we use that behavior as a signal to add to relevance. We need to constantly show that we're not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is more left leaning. And I think it's important to articulate our bias and to share it with people so people understand us. But we need to remove all bias from how we act in our policies and our enforcement.
STELTER: People have these assumptions that you're out to get them or something.
DORSEY: Which is why transparency matters so much.
DORSEY: Which is why being open about our own personal views and what we think about what's happening is important. I'll fully admit I haven't done enough of that. I haven't done enough of, like, articulating my own personal objectives with this service and my own personal objectives in the world. And I think people see a faceless corporation that has -- they don't assume that humans are in it, you know, or that they're genuine or authentic. They just assume based on what the output is. And that's on us. That's on me.
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now, "USA Today" White House correspondent, Gregory Korte, and "Politico" foreign affairs correspondent, Nahal Toosi.
Good to see both of you.
Nahal, you first.
Do you believe that Dorsey is telling the truth that Twitter is politically blind when it comes to enforcing its rules?
NAHAL TOOSI, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I think it often comes down to the numbers. He might say, look, we're not looking at someone's political ideology when we decide to ban them or not, but if nine of the 10 people you ban are conservatives versus liberals, then you're going to be opening up yourself to questions of bias.
WHITFIELD: And, Gregory, in Trump's tweet, he said, I'm quoting now, "Speaking loudly and clearly for his administration, we won't let that happen."
Well, there's a summation of his sentiments. So is he threatening to intervene in some way on Twitter?
GREGORY KORTE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Let's just say that President Trump is sort of an unlikely champion of free speech, given his position on NFL players taking a knee. He's currently going after Omarosa Manigault, his former aide, for enforcing a nondisclosure agreement. He's battled with the press constantly throughout his presidency.
He likes Twitter because he sees it as an unfiltered way for him to talk directly to the American people. He cherishes that. It's unclear what power he may have to regulate that. It is a new technology. It's not under the regulatory regimes we have for radio and television and older technologies. So it's certainly something that Congress has expressed an interest in, both Facebook and Twitter. But it's unclear what power the president might have, if any, to enforce that.
[13:20:36] WHITFIELD: And, Nahal, far-right conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, you know, who has been severely restricted from Apple, YouTube and Facebook, but he is somewhat active on Twitter. Why do you suppose there's this different approach depending on the medium?
TOOSI: Well, this is one of the mysteries. My understanding is Twitter has suspended him for a while for one of the things he did in terms of making a violent threat. But suspension is not the same thing as banning. Whether or not Alex Jones changing his behavior and stops trafficking in conspiracy theories, like accusing the Sandy Hook parents of making up the deaths of their children, you know, I don't know that suspension is going to do it. I think Twitter actually has been pretty inconsistent. It hasn't necessarily explained itself very well when it comes to why it treats certain people one way versus another. And Trump actually is a good example. There are some people who make the argument that the president has himself violated the supposed rules of behavior on Twitter and he, himself, should have his account banned. If that were to happen, things would go nuts. But Twitter has a lot of explaining to do, I would say.
WHITFIELD: I wonder, Gregory, is there a feeling, at least from Twitter's point of view, you know, that the president would be off limits, no matter what?
KORTE: Yes, I think they pretty much addressed that. They've set up an exception to the exception I think on this rule, where, look, if you're a government official, if you're a world figure, if you have something newsworthy to say, then they're not going to block you. I think certainly the president --
WHITFIELD: Is that hypocritical? I mean, depending on the power potentially that you have, the rules are different as to whether you would be able to continue to use that as, you know, a method of your sentiments? KORTE: Look, this is a central dilemma of the Trump presidency,
right? Is that Donald Trump is the president of the United States. But he often tweets in his own voice, as sort of Donald Trump, celebrity, former "Apprentice" star, real estate magnet, just the power of his personality. You can't really separate the two. And so -- but we do know that the White House treats his tweets from @realDonaldTrump as presidential statements. They're often published in the companion of presidential documents, which is a historic record of the Trump presidency. So it's really hard to differentiate what is a presidential statement and what is Donald Trump being Donald Trump.
WHITFIELD: I think some people have come to surmise they're one and the same. You're really getting what is on top of mind from him when he tweets out.
WHITFIELD: All right, Gregory Korte, Nahal Toosi, thank you so much.
See the rest of the Brian Stelter's interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tomorrow morning, 11:00 eastern, right here on CNN.
Straight ahead, CNN can now confirm the bomb used in the tragic attack on schoolchildren in Yemen was sold as part of a U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Now new questions are surfacing over U.S. complicity in that attack.
[13:28:09] WHITFIELD: All right, now a CNN exclusive on the deadly school bus attack in Yemen. We have new evidence that the bomb that killed 40 children last week was supplied by the United States.
CNN senior international correspondent, Nima Elbagir, has more details.
And a warning to viewers, her report contains disturbing images.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every day, this man visits the graveyard where his two little boys are buried. Today, he brought their 5-year-old brother along. He's all the man has left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): People are screaming out the names of their children. I tried to tell the women it couldn't be true. Then a man ran through the crowd, shouting that a plane had struck the children's bus.
ELBAGIR: On August 9, he filmed his class on the long-awaited school trip, a reward for graduating summer school. Within hours, it had all gone horribly wrong.
ELBAGIR: A plane from the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition struck a bus carrying them. Dozens died. Some of the bodies were so mutilated, identification became impossible.
ELBAGIR: All that's left are scraps of schoolbooks, warped metal and a single backpack.
Eyewitnesses tell CNN this was a direct hit in the middle of a busy market.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY (through translation): I saw the bomb hit the bus. It blew it into those shops and three bodies clear to the other side of those buildings. We found bodies scattered everywhere. There was a severed head inside the bomb crater.
ELBAGIR: This video of shrapnel was filmed in the aftermath of the attack and sent to CNN by a contact.
[13:30:00] A cameraman working for CNN subsequently filmed these images for us.
Munitions experts tell CNN this was a U.S.-made marked M.K.-82 bomb, weighing in at half a ton. The first five digits there are the cage number, the commercial and government entity number. This number here denotes Lockheed Martin, one of the top U.S. defense contractors.
ANNOUNCER: We're at the forefront of the science that makes them real.
ELBAGIR: This particular M.K.-82 is a Paveway, a laser-guided precision bomb. It's targeting accuracy a particular point of pride for Lockheed Martin. Part of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia sanctioned and contracted out by the U.S. government.
So why does this matter? Because the devastation inflicted by the M.K.-82 is all too familiar in Yemen. In March 2016, a strike at a market using the similarly laser-guided 2,000-pound M.K.-84 killed 97 people. In October 2016, another strike on a funeral hall killed 155 people and wounded hundreds more. Then the bus attack on August 9th, where they're still counting the dead.
ELBAGIR: The U.S. doesn't just sell arms to the coalition in its battle against the Iranian-backed rebel Houthi militias. It provides intelligence, helps with targeting procedures, midair refueling.
President Obama blocked sales of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia over human rights concerned. Six months later, under the newly elected Trump administration, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson overturned the ban.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Look, there's a balance that needs to be struck. The president also noted that the Saudis have a right to defend themselves. They were being attacked from across the southern border by Houthis, who were aided by Iran and were launching rockets and missiles.
What I will tell you is we certainly had under the Obama administration deep concerns about the way the Saudis were targeting. And we acted on those concerns by limiting the kinds of munitions that they would being given. And stridently trying to argue for them to be more careful and cautious.
ELBAGIR: Saudi Arabia denies targeting civilians and defends the incident as a legitimate military operation in a retaliatory response to a Houthi ballistic missile from the day before.
When asked to comment on CNN to evidence, the coalition spokesperson told us, "The coalition is taking all practical measures to minimize civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy." Adding that, "It would not be appropriate for the coalition to comment further while the investigation is under way."
The U.S. wouldn't comment on the origins of the bomb, but the State Department is calling for a Saudi-led investigation, which the U.S. defense secretary supports.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Wars are always tragic. We've got to find a way to protect innocents in the midst of this one.
ELBAGIR: The cell phone footage is all this father has left of the two boys, their last happy moments.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ELBAGIR: The father isn't optimistic an investigation will change anything. In a country where loss has become common place, they aren't even praying for justice anymore, just peace.
Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Still ahead, a grand jury reports 300 predator priests in Pennsylvania have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children. The alleged abuse spanning decades.
[13:38:10] WHITFIELD: Top church officials speaking out on the latest child abuse scandal to rock the Catholic Church. A grand jury's nearly 900-page report details decades of sexual abuses by priests and cover-ups by bishops. The Vatican calling the accusations "criminally and morally reprehensible." I want to warn you, this story contains descriptions of sexual assault
that many will find disturbing.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Pittsburgh.
Polo, the diocese of Pittsburgh specifically was a huge part of the attorney general's report.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's why we're here this afternoon, Fred. That's because about 99 of the clergy members of the roughly 300 that are mentioned in that grand jury report are from essentially here. So that is why we're here, simply trying to follow up on this. One man who spoke to the grand jury laying out and painting a very disturbing picture of what he says took place decades ago, particularly here at the church of the south side of the city. He said, he told the grand jury he was befriended by a priest here who then introduced him to other clergy members from surrounding parishes. He also said that he was sexually assaulted by this priest and also other of those clergy members. And then mentioned that he was asked to wear a golden cross. You may ask yourself why that matters. Well, according to this man who spoke to the grand jury, he said he and other young boys who had to wear those golden crosses as a mark that would identify them as, quote, "optimal victims for further abuse." He also claimed the priest and other of those clergy members kept an extensive collection of child pornography and even took inappropriate photographs of them as well. So those are some of those disturbing details that you warned our viewers about and what the grand jury has heard about.
Important to point out some of those clergy members were eventually convicted in the late '80s. There was one, however, whose case was dismissed. That is the other major angle in the story here. The reason why those charges were dismissed is because of the statute of limitations. It's one of the reasons why many of these cases were not and perhaps will not ever be prosecuted -- Fred?
[13:40:17] WHITFIELD: How has the bishop of the diocese of Pittsburgh spoken out?
SANDOVAL: Yes, the head of the Catholic Church, at least here in Pittsburgh, has certainly released a statement, something very powerful, calling some of these victims, people who need healing, and who need assistance from the church.
I want to read you a direct quote from a statement of the quote the bishop put out in the days following the release of the report. He said, "We cannot bury our heads in the sand. There were instances in the past, as outlined in this report, when the church acted in ways that did not respond effectively to victims. Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did. For that, I express profound regret."
The bishop laying out some of the changes that have happened in the last several decades, like psychological counseling and even economic or at least financial help for some of these victims. But also more importantly, laid out some of the changes that have happened in the last several days, since this report was issued by the attorney general of the state and the grand jury, saying that there has been some of those changes put in place. For example, they've hired an outside expert to really take a closer look at how the diocese here in Pittsburgh is handling this. And more than anything else, also, that they plan on posting the names of some of these priests who have been named in these allegations and, in some cases, convicted on their Web site. They certainly have taken a step in the right direction.
The district attorney tells me, yes, they are in contact with the diocese and, yes, they are relaying some of those complaints to them. But the question, will any of these cases actually end up in a court of law?
WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.
All right, next, Paul Manafort's legal team now finding renewed confidence as the jury heads into a third day of deliberations. And the president publicly weighs in on the trial. We'll discuss, next.
[13:46:36] WHITFIELD: Jurors in the Paul Manafort trial will begin a third day of deliberations Monday morning. President Trump's former campaign chairman is charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts. Jurors have asked the judge four questions, including a request to define reasonable doubt.
Manafort's attorney is suggesting that longer deliberations actually favor his client.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY OFR PAUL MANAFORT: The jury are happy to continue deliberating on Monday, we're happy to see them doing so, and everyone, have a great weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does a longer deliberation work in your favor?
DOWNING: I think it does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Avery Friedman is civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland.
Good to see you.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Hi, Fredricka.
And Richard Herman is a criminal defense attorney, joining us from Las Vegas.
It's been too long, gentlemen.
FRIEDMAN: It sure has. Good to be back.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: It has, Fred, for sure.
WHITFIELD: I missed you.
HERMAN: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much.
Richard, you first, you know, in your experience what does it mean, if you want to, you know, read the tea leaves, longer deliberations usually favoring the defense?
HERMAN: The defense attorney's a little cocky there with his comments like that. He went beyond that actually, Fred. He thanked the president of the United States. This eloquent wordsmith decided to go out and say last week, ooh, Manafort. This is why the jury is in deliberation, Fred. Manafort is a very good person. And this trial is so sad. What a sad day for this country.
WHITFIELD: Yes, the president said that.
HERMAN: This is an abomination, Fred --
HERMAN: -- for the president of the United States to comment like that. I mean, that, to me, we could go for obstruction of justice against him, jury tampering. How does the president have the gall to --
WHITFIELD: And the jurors are not sequestered.
HERMAN: A jury --
WHITFIELD: What worries you about that, Richard
WHITFIELD: -- because, yes, you know, the jurors have gotten instructions from the judge, you don't read anything --
HERMAN: That's right. That's right.
(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: You know, you don't watch television, all this stuff.
WHITFIELD: When a president does that, a sitting president, do you believe that could potentially be influential to the outcome of these jurors deliberating?
HERMAN: Oh, 100 percent.
FRIEDMAN: It's not going to make any difference.
HERMAN: Oh, really?
FRIEDMAN: It's not going to make any difference. Yes.
FRIEDMAN: You really have to be fair about this. The fact is T.S. Ellis, very tough, for the office of special counsel, but you know what, he's been fair in this trial. It's gone along. It's been tame. It's been a good trial. It's the first time America has had an opportunity to see the office of special counsel. They have been careful. They have been methodical. They've been doing it right. And so in practical terms, I don't care what the president is saying. I think these jurors are going to stick by their oath. They're going to follow what Judge Ellis has had to say. I think the result will be a fair one. And frankly, based on what I've seeing, it doesn't matter about Rick Gates, the assistant to Paul Manafort. It matters about the accountants and the officials that looked over those returns. That's what they're going to be looking at. And they also, by the way, want to see that $15,000 ostrich coat that Mr. Manafort was wearing. And that is not -- I don't care what the defense lawyers are saying.
WHITFIELD: OK, Richard?
HERMAN: In a perfect world, all of that sounds beautiful, except for the fact when, if I tell you, Fred, think of any color you want, but don't think of the color red. I don't care what the jury -- what the judge instructs this jury. They know this is a politically charged case. It's not a sequestered jury. They're comingling with press, walking through the cafeteria. No guards around them. They're going on the Internet, watching TV.
WHITFIELD: So you worry about how they may --
HERMAN: They see how important this case is.
[13:50:19] WHITFIELD: -- be influenced.
WHITFIELD: So when the jurors ask questions, which is completely normal --
WHITFIELD: -- they want clarification, you know, passing questions, et cetera.
HERMAN: That's right. That's right.
WHITFIELD: But it also speaks to perhaps the diligence of the jurors or, you know, taking into consideration this is very serious and there are 18 counts here. It's a lot.
So, Avery, is it as simple as, you know what, they want to make sure that they have real clarity on everything, and that neither the prosecution nor the defense needs to be reading into going into the third day, asking at least four questions that we know of, you know, poring through all the details of these 18 counts.
FRIEDMAN: Well, and you know what? Let me tell you something. I finished a federal trial in federal court with the same situation, where jurors came out, asking good questions. Frederica, let me tell you something. This jury took its oath seriously. They came back --
HERMAN: How do you know?
FRIEDMAN: -- and they asked probably the most common question about burden of proof. That was the right thing to do. And I think it's cynical and unfair to say, well, just because, you know, Donald Trump made a remark that somehow it's going to skew the outcome, it is not. And I think you have to have faith in the jury system, in our American system of law. Generally, some exceptions, generally, it works.
WHITFIELD: And then, Richard, what does it say, in you view, if anything, that the defense didn't put up, you know, a host of witnesses, didn't challenge beyond its, you know, opening and closing statements, didn't even offer, you know, Paul Manafort? What does this tell you about the strategy or perhaps even confidence of the defense?
HERMAN: Well, no, the confidence of the defense, you don't have to question that, Fred. Look, you get dealt a set of cards, and you do the best you can with them. They had nothing to put up there for defense. They were not going to put Manafort on the stand, because he would have got annihilated, and he would have convicted himself --
FRIEDMAN: Right. Right.
HERMAN: -- so they couldn't do that. So they decided to argue rather in summation, smoke and mirrors, blame Gates, blame everybody under the sun except Manafort. Listen, Fred, it's a paper-trail case. It really is an open-and-shut conviction, no matter which way you look at it. The mere fact that the case has gone now until Monday, I understand they got home early Friday because the juror -- some juror had something to do so the judge let them out early. If the case goes past Monday, Fred, if it goes into Tuesday or Wednesday, the government's in trouble. You're going to have one or two or more jurors holding out and this is going to be a problem for the government if they don't come back with a conviction, I think, by the end of Monday.
WHITFIELD: Avery, you're shaking your head. You do not agree?
FRIEDMAN: Absolutely wrong. There's going to be a conviction. It's not going to be 18 counts. And whether -- you know, there are documents, almost 400 documents here. The jury is serious. They're taking this case seriously. And even if it goes beyond that, even if it goes beyond it, we're looking for a conviction here.
WHITFIELD: All right. We shall see, gentlemen. Always a pleasure to see you and hear from you.
HERMAN: Always a pleasure to see you, Frederica.
WHITFIELD: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Oh, are you coming to Atlanta? Come on down. Let's all get together here.
FRIEDMAN: One of these days. You bet.
WHITFIELD: OK, good. We'll all be in the same room. I'd like that.
Thank you. Good to see you guys.
Straight ahead, it's the name on everyone's lips, including the president -- Omarosa. Her secret recordings in the White House and with White House officials and aides, well, all of that has been dominating headlines. But Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refuses, at least for a while, to even say her name. CNN's Jeanne Moos, up next.
[13:58:19] WHITFIELD: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says a lot of different names from the podium of the press room, but it's really hard for her to say the one name that we're all talking about, Omarosa.
Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is inescapable.
UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Omarosa Manigault Newman.
MOOS: Better known as.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Omarosa.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Omarosa. BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Omarosa.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you feel betrayed by Omarosa, sir?
MOOS: But you know who won't betray the president by even speaking Omarosa's name?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It wasn't until this individual started to negatively attack --
MOOS: Omarosa was on practically every reporter's lips in the White House briefing room.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Like Omarosa.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Make Omarosa feel bad.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You would like the president to stop tweeting about Omarosa.
MOOS: Even the president uses her name, "Wacky Omarosa, wacky and deranged Omarosa."
But when Sarah Sanders was asked about it --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- Omarosa --
MOOS: -- she did everything to avoid saying her name.
SANDERS: This individual with the fact that this person, like the author of this book --
MOOS: Her favorite formulation for avoiding the "O" word.
SANDERS: -- the individual.
The lack of integrity that this individual has shown.
MOOS: I guess "this individual" beats being called --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Low life. She's a low life.
MOOS: Sarah Sanders finally broke down and said it one time.
SANDERS: -- in respect to Omarosa.
MOOS: "This individual" reminds us of "that woman."
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
MOOS: Ms. Manigault Newman's famous first name may have been plastered on the screen but it was screened out by the press secretary.
SANDERS: This individual --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
CLINTON: -- that woman.
SANDERS: This person --
MOOS: -- New York.
[14:00:00] WHITFIELD: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, and it all starts right now.
Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We continue this hour with fresh attacks today by President Trump --