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Trump Threatens to Pull Security Clearance for CNN's Phil Mudd; Manafort Jury Sends Another Note to Judge. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 21, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:11] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Totally unglued. President Trump continuing to taunt his critics, dangling their security clearances as leverage of some sort. His latest target, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterror official, Phil Mudd. The president seemingly reacting to this exchange from Friday's "A.C. 360."


PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: When I am requested to sit on an advisory board -- let me ask you one question. How much do you think I'm paid to do that at the request of the U.S. government? Give me one answer. And you've got 10 seconds. How much?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I will ask you a question. How much are you paid for your --


MUDD: Answer the question!

DENNARD: -- your contracting gig for being a --


MUDD: I have no contract with the U.S. government that pays money.


MUDD: Zero.


HILL: In a tweet, the president said Mudd was, quote, "totally unglued and weird," and questioned his mental condition. The president has seen a swirl of controversy after yanking the security clearance for former CIA Director John Brennan last week.

Let's break it down with CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, when we look at this, the president also tweeting this morning about former DNI Clapper, saying, maybe Clapper is being nice to me in some of his criticism of John Brennan so he doesn't lose his security clearance.

If you look at all of this, it feels like it is becoming a reality show of, what can I do to keep my security clearance or take it away.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Becoming a reality show. The only thing I disagree with you there is I think it's been a reality show for a while. This is the latest twist.

We know Donald Trump likes the idea of revoking security clearances in the same way he likes the idea of presidential pardons because he can just do it. There's a sort of policy in place by which typically security clearance are considered to be revoked. A wrote a piece last week. There are 13 ways and reasons by which they are typically revoked. Mental stability is one, alcohol or drug abuse or suspected drug abuse. Those are the usual reasons. Disagreeing politically -- this is in regards to John Brennan -- is not one. Not being friendly enough to the administration as Kellyanne Conway said John Brennan wasn't, is not one. I do think when you are sort of dangling it in front of people, that's not what the revocation process is supposed to look like.

HILL: The president also dangled the status of Robert Mueller's own clearance, in addition to there was an article in the "New Yorker" talking about that revoking clearances is something that has been talked about 17 months ago. The president pushing back on that reporting. It's interesting to see how much this is now, ever since John Brennan, this is a part of what we talk about every day.

CILLIZZA: Well, look, note this, Erica. It's consistent with what we know about Donald Trump. He does believe that there's a deep state conspiracy out to get him, that didn't want him to win in the first place, and that is working to actively undermine him. Whether that's Bob Mueller, James Comey, at times, Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, who he mentions regularly, a Justice Department official. He believes that. Therefore, the security clearance question, whether it's John Brennan or Michael Hayden or Clapper, whoever you want, that's all of a piece with this logic, that, well, of course, these people are out to get me so I will show them.

Again, even if you support President Trump, what you should consider is, would you be OK with whoever -- let's say a Democrat gets elected president in 2020 or 2024. Would you be OK with that person revoking, let's say, CIA Director Gina Haspel's security credentials because she's an outspoken critic of the next Democratic administration? My guess is the answer to that is no. And it should be no. But that's why you should also oppose using security clearances to settle things on people that speak out against you.

[11:35:13] HILL: You make it seem so simple, Chris Cillizza.

Thank you, my friend.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: We are continuing to follow breaking news in the Paul Manafort trial. Learning more, hopefully, about this note the jury has submitted.

Jessica Schneider is live outside the courthouse with the latest.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Erica, a little bit of this mystery now unveiled. The jury did submit a note to the judge. We have gotten word as to what the jury wants to know. Specifically, they want to know from the judge if they can't reach a conclusion on just one count, what does that do for the other counts? Remember, there are 18 counts that Paul Manafort is facing here. This jury seems to be asking, what if we can't come to a decision or even a unanimous decision on one of those 18 counts?

The jury right now, along with the defense team and the prosecution, they are in this courtroom. The judge will be deciding how exactly he is going to answer this question. They have to come to a unanimous verdict on each and every count. But it does remain to be seen if, perhaps, they can't reach a conclusion on one of the 18 counts, perhaps there might be a hung jury on one of those counts. But that's up to the judge to determine how to instruct them moving on. It also does sort of lead to speculation that perhaps the jury has pretty much wrapped this up on 17 of the 18 counts. This is all speculation based on that question. This jury asking the judge, what do we do if we can't figure out one of the counts? What does it do for the other 17 counts? Erica, perhaps a lot of speculation here. We're going to learn more as this judge definitively instructs this jury as to how to proceed.

They have also asked for a new verdict sheet. Presumably, they have been marking down the verdicts as to each count as they have been going. Now they want a new sheet to maybe clean things up or to redo it.

A little uncertainty with this question. It seems to imply maybe they are close to a final verdict and are having trouble on one count. Perhaps we will know more as to the clarification the judge will give and what this means for the deliberations here when we hear from the judge himself.

We are standing by in the courtroom. We will get back to you as to exactly what the judge says here. Again, it does give that impression that perhaps this jury is close here -- Erica?

HILL: It certainly does.

Jessica, we will wait for the update once we hear more from the judge inside the courtroom. Thank you.

Also want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Paul, I saw you shaking your head as Jessica was saying if -- if they are asking about one count, perhaps it could mean that the other 17 there's not an issue with. If it's just one count out of 18, where they can't come to a unanimous decision, based on your experience, what could that mean to this trial as a whole? Does this end up being a hung jury on one count? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it wouldn't be a hung jury on one

count. The judge can call them in and just say, all right, we will take a verdict with what you have now. The judge could take a verdict on the 17 counts that they have made a decision on and send them back out only on the one that they are hung on. What that does is it would preserve the jury verdict on the 17 counts. Sometimes you are afraid they will go back in and they will start rearguing the counts where they say they have reached a decision. That would preserve the 17 and then just have them try to decide the last one.

Now what this means is a very interesting question. My view of it is -- it's always dangerous to speculate about this stuff. But if they have reached a decision on 17 counts, if you find somebody innocent on 17 counts, I don't know if you would be fooling around about the last count. I think you would probably find him innocent on that as well.

HILL: You are saying, in your gut?

CALLAN: It feels like, more probably than not, they may be looking at guilt on 17 counts and then they are having a problem with the evidence on the 18th count. As I say, this is speculation.

HILL: I want to bring in Evan Perez, our justice reporter, outside the courthouse.

Evan, what more are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: We were inside the courtroom. The judge read the note to the -- both sides, to the defense and prosecution. He prepared them for what he wants to do next. What he wants to do next is to give them instruction to go back and see if they can come to a decision, come to consensus on that one count. That appears one count is what they are not able to reach a decision on. Then he says he also is prepared to tell the jury that if they have only a partial verdict that he is prepared to accept that. Again, this is something that he gave the prosecution and the defense some notice on. He wants to hear from them as to what their view is on his instructions. That is the -- he has given them a few minutes to go over the language that he is going to use. But essentially, he will bring back the jury. He will give them some instruction to go back and see if he had can work out a consensus on that one count that they appear to be stuck on. And then if they still cannot reach one -- reach a final verdict, then he will accept a partial verdict. He has said that to the courtroom.

We are waiting in the next few minutes, the judge is going to reconvene the court and he will bring back the jury and then we will see what next steps he will provide to the jury.

[11:40:54] HILL: We will be waiting for that.

Also want to bring in Shimon Prokupecz as we are continuing to talk more of this.

Shimon, as we look at this, if it's just this one count as we heard from Evan, and the judge is saying, if you can't -- I'm sending you back in, if you can't come to a consensus on that, I'm going to accept what you decided, what you found on the other 17 counts. I mean, how quickly do we think we could learn what that decision is?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: We can learn pretty quickly here. We are learning the judge is basically having discussions with the two sides, with the prosecutors and the defense team, in terms of what kind of instruction he is going to give to the jury. It seems he is going to tell them to go ahead, go back in and continue to deliberate, to continue to work through this so they can come to a unanimous decision. The judge, according to our folks that are inside the courtroom, is saying this is very typical that this happens. Keep in mind, you have 18 counts here. Pretty complicated legal case. The law here is complicated. It's not that easy. It's not uncommon for jurors to ask these kinds of questions.

Really what's going on now, while the court is in recess, is the two sides are discussing with the judge what the instruction to the jury will be. It's likely he will just send them back in to go ahead and deliberate.

What happens if they come back and they say, we have tried and we still can't come to a conclusion, a decision on this one count? Perhaps the judge will then discuss with the attorneys and they may all agree, let's take a partial verdict.

The point here -- I think this is what's important here -- is that we have progress. It seems the jurors have worked through a lot of this. It seems they have at least come to some conclusions, some decisions. Now perhaps they are hung up on this one issue, this one count. Maybe we will get more news on that after the judge gives them their instruction and they go back and have lunch and continue to discuss and we will see where things progress from there.

HILL: Paul Callan, as the judge is discussing this with attorneys for both sides, what are the attorneys saying in that discussion? What are the cases they are making as to how the judge should proceed and what should be said?

CALLAN: What they are discussing is something lawyers call an Allen Charge. An Allen Charge is given when a jury is deadlocked and you want to send them back out and you want to get them to try to get back to work and make a decision. The Allen Charge usually -- they call it sometimes the dynamite charge. There's not so much dynamite in it in my opinion. What it says essentially is, we want you to go back out and conscientiously examine your own views but compare those to the views of other jurors, be respectful of each other, try to reach a decision. If you don't reach a decision, another juror my may have to do so. That's what would be done if you had no agreement. But here you have 17 counts.

I think what you are going to see is a modified Allen Charge. You will see a gentler approach from the judge saying, you know, thank you for the work you have done so far. You have done a great job at reaching a conclusion. Why don't you go back out and get back to work on that last count and see if you can reach a conclusion. I think it's going to be a mild instruction to them to just keep on working to resolve it. If you can't, come back, because the judge is going to take a partial verdict. He is not going to have a problem doing that.

[11:44:12] HILL: We will continue following this breaking news.

Stay with us here as we take a quick break. When we are back, more from the courthouse where the jury is asking, what happens if we cannot come to a unanimous decision on one of the 18 counts.


HILL: We are following breaking news outside -- live outside the courthouse where we are waiting on a verdict from the jury. This is day four of deliberations. They have sent a note to the judge. The fourth question they have asked.

Our Jessica Schneider is live outside the courthouse with the latest on the question and what more we can glean from it -- Jessica?

[11:49:23] SCHNEIDER: Erica, about an hour and a half into the jury deliberations today, that's right, the jury sent a note. They asked the judge, what do we do if we can't come to a unanimous decision on one of those 18 counts? How would that inability to determine that one count affect the other 17? That is the question up to this discretion of the judge.

What's happening right now in court is that there's a five-minute recess. The judge is coming up with a way to explain to the jury he wants them to go back into the jury room and try yet again to come up with a unanimous decision on this one count that seems to be the one remaining count that they are having trouble with. So the judge needs both sides, the defense and prosecution, to agree on this language that he will instruct the jury with before sending them back into the room. The judge has also said that he is prepared to accept a partial verdict in this case, but he does want to have the jury go back for another try at this. So that's what's going to unfold right now.

You know, the judge did say this isn't completely unusual, that these types of things happen. There are 18 counts pending here. Sometimes jurors ask, what do we do if we can't come to a decision on all of the counts that we're considering here? So really, this happening fairly quickly in day four of deliberations here. We saw that note on Thursday where they asked the four questions. Since then, there hasn't been any note of substantial questioning from this jury. So this is really the first time since Thursday we've seen the jurors asking questions, showing that perhaps they have made substantial progress here but can't determine what to do about this one remaining count.

So we're going to see in a little bit just exactly how the judge instructs this jury and presumably that jury will go back and try again on this one count. We'll see from there. It could be a while, or we might see something, some more movement today -- Erica?

HILL: Jessica Schneider, live outside the courthouse.

Also with us is Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, as we look at this, Jessica mentioned the possibility of a partial verdict. What are the judge's options at this point?

PROKUPECZ: That's certainly an option, Erica. But it's also -- he'd have to consult with the attorneys. It's more on really the defense attorney's side, Manafort's attorneys, and what they want to do here. They can go ahead and tell the judge, OK, let's take a partial verdict here. Obviously, prosecutors would have some say. Really, the person who has all the say here is the defense team. Obviously the judge. So he could. It's likely that he's going to send them back in. In fact, that's what we believe. At least that's the indication he gave to everyone in court, that he had planned to send them back in to try and figure out this one count.

We don't know which count it is. That's the issue here. Is it the last count? Is it the first count? Of course, these kind of counts all work together, so we don't really have any understanding of what count this is. The judge seemed to think he knew what they were talking about, but he didn't want to go there. He didn't want to further prod, ask questions of the jury. When you're in such a sensitive situation like deliberations, you don't want to sway them in any way. So it's clear the judge is trying to stay out of the deliberations and probably just wants to keep it very broad and just say to them, go back in, keep working, have your lunch, and let's see what happens after that. It's likely that's what's going to happen here, unless the defense team decides or argues perhaps they'll take a partial verdict here.

HILL: We are all waiting with baited breath here as we wait to see what happens.

Shimon, thank you.

Also want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Paul, a couple of things I want to pick up on there in terms of what Shimon just reported. He is saying, unless the defense will take a partial verdict, what do you think the chances are of that?

CALLAN: I don't really -- I don't know that it will be entirely up to them because if this jury comes back and says, we just can't reach a verdict on one count, traditionally, the court would declare a hung jury on that count and then take the verdict on the other counts. So the defense may try to delay that and say, judge, let them go back out and continue deliberating, especially if they think the counts are not guilty counts on the first 17.


HILL: Although, it's interesting, as you said to me just before the break, that this says to you there's probably a better chance that it would be guilty on those other 17 counts, because if you're finding someone not guilty on 17 counts, it's a little easier to look at that last charge and say, well, you know, as we look at this again.

CALLAN: Yes, the last -- they might say -- and it's a momentum thing, all right. You're going through all of these complicated charges. On every one, you say he's innocent. There's sort of a momentum that builds up. Then are you going to ding him just on the one last count? Because, you know, maybe it's a closer call. No, I don't think so. I think most juries probably once they're in that innocent sort of role, they're going to just check off innocent all the way down. That's why I think this feels like guilty on the other counts.

HILL: It is so complicated -- this is something you and I were talking about earlier today -- in terms of how complicated each one of these charges are, how much evidence there is. What, 372 different pieces of evidence. At one point, the jury said, can you help us, remind us what goes with what. Exhibits one through 20 go with charge one. And the judge wouldn't do that.

CALLAN: No, he wouldn't. You know, this is such a complex case, and it moved so quickly because Judge Ellis wouldn't put up with anything delay. He pushed the case on. We have 10 days of testimony, 27 witnesses, over 370 exhibits. And we have counts involving income tax evasion, bank fraud, involving offshore banks, banks in Cypriot. We have implications with Ukraine and other countries. We have an enormously complex fact pattern here. So I can see how this jury would have struggled with this complex case. And by the way, these tax cases and money laundering cases and bank fraud cases, they're all very, very complicated cases. Very, very hard on juries to reach decisions.

[11:55:31] HILL: In terms of how difficult it is to sort of get all of those ducks in a row, because these are such complicated charges, are you surprised that at this point they are saying it's just one charge that we can't agree on?

CALLAN: Yes, I am surprised. I mean, the fact they've agreed on 17 charges is remarkable in a complex case. Also, remember how the prosecutors thought it out in this case. This is what they frequently do, federal prosecutors. First of all, they get convictions in 90 percent of the cases they try. So they're used to winning. They lined up the ostrich coat and other things that made Manafort look bad, like he was spending too much money. It looks like it could be a fast verdict if they were just looking at the ostrich coach.

HILL: We'll all be waiting to see.

Paul Callan, always appreciate it. Thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you.

HILL: Stay with us. We'll have the very latest just ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King. We'll have more. Stay with us on CNN.


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