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Source: White House Narrowing List of Suspected Op-Ed Authors; Conway: Trump Thinks Mystery Official Is In National Security; Obama: Trump Is "Capitalizing On Resentment"; Roger Stone Associate Appears Before Mueller Grand Jury; Convicted Ex-Trump Adviser Contradicts Sessions, Says He Was "Enthusiastic" About Trump-Putin Meeting. Aired at 7-8p ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. We'll stay in close touch. And thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the White House narrowing down its list of suspects behind that scathing "New York Times" op-ed. This as senior advisor Kellyanne Conway said the president thinks the person who is on the national security team.

And former President Obama hammering President Trump again and again, but could the scathing review fire up Trump's base? And a close associate of Roger Stone, who today appeared before Robert Mueller's grand jury, will join me live. What did Mueller want to know? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. President Trump senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, saying tonight that the president believes the anonymous writer of "The New York Times" op-ed is somebody on the national security team. Listen to what she just told our Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that person is inside of the White House?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Most of us don't think that. The president just today said he believes it's somebody in national security. But what I do believe is that who has said that ought to come forward and say it, or ought to resign because the loyalty is not to the president, or at all, it's loyalty to the presidency. It's loyal to the constitution.


BOLDUAN: And White House aides to the president say the -- that they have the search narrowed down to a few individuals now. This comes as Trump is now demanding his attorney general launch an investigation to uncover the identity of the person behind that opinion piece. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was, because I really believe it's national security.


BOLDUAN: But investigate what? No one has -- at least yet -- claimed the author divulged or referenced to anything classified in that essay. "New York Times" tonight is putting out this statement saying, "We're confident that the Department of Justice understands that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power."

And when NBC News pressed White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today about what law was broken, she reportedly could not identify one, adding that she is not a lawyer.

Kaitlan Collins is live at the White House with much more on this.

Kaitlan, yet again a lot of moving parts on this tonight. The hunt is on. It seems to be the fever pitch and it appears maybe the president's narrowing down the list of people he suspects.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. It does seem to still be very much a guessing game back here at the White House of who it is that wrote that scathing op-ed questioning the president's leadership ability but now aides seem to be under the impression that they have narrowed down the list of who it could be that wrote that op-ed.

Ever since it was first published in "The New York Times" on Wednesday, aides have been throwing out ideas, even texting reports who they think it could be. Based on either what they've heard here in the West Wing or what those rumors are about who could have authored this.

But of course, Kate, if they have narrowed down this list of who they think it could be out of a pool of hundreds of people who carry that title of senior official here at the White House, it raises the question of why then President Trump suggested today that his Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be the one investigating who it is that authored the op-ed.

We know the president is desperate to find out who it is that wrote that. Last night you heard him at his rally saying that he believes "The New York Times" reporter should try to break that because he thought it would be a good scoop. But clearly here, there's still very much that effort underway to find out who it is. Because the president today said now after that has been published, he's sitting in meeting looking around and when he doesn't recognize someone, it is raising suspicions for him. So that is a question there for the president. He wants to find out who it is.

And aides are trying to convince the president that it wasn't somebody in the West Wind. They want to push the suspicion away from the president's inner circle and from those people he works with every day because, of course, they realize just what that could do to harm them if the president does suspect it is them who wrote that scathing op- ed, Kate.

Of course, there are still a lot of questions about who it is, what the identity of this person is and it is still consuming this West Wing as you saw the president bringing that up even though he's miles away from Washington at all of his evens doing fundraisers and his campaigns today. And it is not likely that he's going to stop talking about it until he finds out who it is that wrote that.

BOLDUAN: OK. Either he thinks he's working for him or he just simply doesn't care or can't help himself. Great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you so much.

OUTFRONT now, David Gergen, former presidential adviser to four presidents, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, is a "New York Times" White House reporter, and Shan Wu is here, he's a former federal prosecutor.

Thanks all for being here. Julie, you just heard what Kellyanne Conway told Christiane Amanpour about who the president thinks the opinion writer is. What are you hearing?

[19:04:59] JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, of course, it's, as Kaitlan said, it's been a big guessing game and we're all hearing different things about who it could be. I mean one of the things I think that's going on here is that we have known for a long time that this White House is full of kind of feuding factions and often there's some competing interests and competing egos in the room.

And I think there are some sort of behind the scenes shifting of blame going on by people who don't know who it is but who are trying to sort of pin the blame on colleagues who they have long had an ax to grind against.

So there's some of that that's kind of muddying the picture. I think it's really hard to say from what we know, from what we've seen of the op-ed who this person is and clearly it is a person if you read it, it wouldn't stretch credulity to think that it's someone who has been working in the national security realm --


DAVIS: -- because there are clearly security concerns that are raised. But for the president to say that this is a matter of national security that the identity of the person be divulged, that really is a stretch because there is no specific information in there that is classified information. There are no actual specifics given at all. It's more portrait of a situation inside the White House that is obviously very concerning to people because it confirms a lot of the reports that we've been hearing about and reporting on ourselves for, you know, the last couple of years.

BOLDUAN: Yes. There seems to be a lot of stretching going on when it comes to this. I mean, David, Conway also seems to be contradicting the president on whether this whole thing is worthy of an investigation. Let me play this for you. Listen.


CONWAY: I'm not interested in the investigation. I guess those who are investigating, great. I really hope they find the person. I believe the person will solve himself or herself out though because that's usually what happens. People brag to the wrong person. They brag that they did this or they did that. Because they -- I assume part of this isn't the goal here not what the op-ed pretends the goal is, Christiane, isn't the goal here really to try to sew chaos and get us all suspicious of each other --

AMANPOUR: Is that what's happening? Are you getting suspicious of each other?

CONWAY: No, that isn't what happens.


BOLDUAN: So Kellyanne said there shouldn't be an investigation and the president is calling on Sessions to begin an investigation. Should they not be on the same page on this one, David?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: They should be. But one who needs to get on the same page is the president and not Kellyanne Conway. I mean calling for the Department of Justice to investigate a statement that violates no apparent law, it's just -- it's a very difficult to figure out. OK, if you found out through the Department of Justice, so what?

You can't -- you don't have a criminal case because there is no crime here that anybody can see about. There is no classified information that's been published. But more than that, Kate, if I may say so, this seems to me a complete distraction. The White House I think is fuelling this search for the person so that it will make the story about what the person has to say go away and in fact they want to shoot the messenger --

BOLDUAN: Focus on who it is rather than the content.

GERGEN: -- so they kill the message.


GERGEN: Yes, absolutely. Want to shoot the messenger so they can kill the message. And, you know, what this person had to say is very serious and we do know that Mike Allen for example of Axios has reported he's had calls from other senior officials saying I could have written the same thing.

This is not an isolated person. It is an individual from my point of view sounds more like a cry from the heart, accreditor (ph) by someone who would like the president to succeed but is deeply, deeply worried by what is going on and we, the American people, deserve to know more about what is going on.

BOLDUAN: David makes a very important point. I think for everyone to remember to not to lose the forest through the trees on this, right? Another distraction of a distraction of a distraction. Because, Shan, on those basic level and maybe you can just put this to bed for us, can you figure out a law that was broken in any way with this piece?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, Kate. They have an H.R. problem, not a national security problem. If you look at the -- what's written, there's no violation of law. I mean I can see why someone like the president might think, oh, gosh, if they talk about this, they might talk about something else.

But if, you know, if I was Jeff Sessions and you came to me with this, I'd say, Mr. President, this is an internal matter and this is not something that's appropriate to use the Justice Department for or the FBI. I mean the FBI does not function as President Trump's PIs. They're not private investigators. They have an important function if there is actual predicate for criminal wrongdoing and there just really isn't here. It really is a First Amendment question and somebody is expressing their concerns.

BOLDUAN: Let's get this back to Julie. I think I've asked you this a million times, what does Sessions do now?

DAVIS: Well, I mean I think Shan and David are right. There's really nothing for him to do. I guess he pushes back. I guess it's just a question of whether he puts out one of these statements that we've seen him put out a couple of times before and more remarkable circumstances where he says I'm not going to do that.

[19:10:00] But it does tell you something about the president. I mean if we just step back again in the way that you were suggesting, that his first instinct is, well, that he is the president and he should have the ability to use his power to go and find this person whose identity he wants to know so badly.

I mean it's an instinct that is not really in keeping with what the definition of the president of the United States is. It may be in keeping with what leaders of some other countries that don't have the same rights and freedoms that our country has are. But, you know, it's quite something that his first instinct is to say, you know, what are the ways in which I can use this White House, my government, to try and target this person who is said something about me that I don't like.

BOLDUAN: You're right. You're absolutely right. Because, David, I mean, as Julie is saying, let's not gloss over this fact. That the president of the United States is here actually believes that the Justice Department should be fighting his fights, whatever they may be. And this isn't the first time obviously.

Just earlier this week, he made that abundantly clear when he lashed out at Sessions again for indicting two Republican congressmen before the midterms for -- God forbid, it hurt Republicans politically at least in the president's view. I mean it is pretty astonishing. GERGEN: It is very astonishing. The president hasn't broken any laws himself. What he has broken are the unwritten laws about how a president -- how the Justice Department as an independent agency and what the right -- the use of power is by a president. And, you know, I think "New York Times" has a point when they're calling it an abuse of power. And they just ran a long editorial today about the respect for the rule of law and where is it in this administration and, you know, how corrosive the kind of efforts he used, of the Justice Department to go after people has become.

It -- when you violate these unwritten laws, what scholars call the norms of the presidency, you diminish the respect for the office and you diminish the trust that people have in the Justice Department, in the legal process.

BOLDUAN: And it is funny when you talk about trust of the Justice Department as Kellyanne Conway at the very top, Shan, is talking about trying, you know, that this is hurting the trust amongst the executive branch. It seems there's a lot of trust --

GERGEN: Exactly. For governing purposes.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Shan.

WU: I mean the more the president talks about how untrustworthy the Justice Department is, the more he's ultimately trying to damage it. And Sessions dilemma here is, you know, a, how does he save his job, and b, to the extent he has any sense of the historical role of the attorney general. I mean, he has to pushback on that because he's really trying to preserve the credibility.

If he continues to basically submit to the president's whims, he actually helps create the impression that the Justice Department is simply at the president's beck and call which is absolutely wrong.

BOLDUAN: I'll say this and I can be wrong, but the chances that this president said he wants an investigation and may say it again and again and again and then it never happens and that's the way it is, chances, high. Just look at the track record.

Guys, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, President Obama back on the campaign trail and taking on President Trump.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?


BOLDUAN: Plus, a Roger Stone associate testifies before Robert Mueller's grand jury today, what did Mueller wants to know from Randy Critico? Critico is my guest. And breaking news, a former Trump campaign adviser was just sentenced in the Russia investigation. We'll have Jake Tapper's exclusive interview with George Papadopoulos.


[19:17:18] BOLDUAN: Tonight, former President Obama taking on Trump. For the first time since Obama left office, he's calling out his successor directly on everything from politicizing the Justice Department to attacking the press. Obama made his case point by point.


OBAMA: This should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents.

TRUMP: I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was, because I really believe it's national security.

OBAMA: We're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be saying that Nazis are bad?

TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

OBAMA: I complain plenty about Fox News. But you never heard me threaten to shut them down. Or call them enemies of the people.

TRUMP: A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, Keith Boykin, former Clinton White House aide and David Brody, chief political analyst at the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Thanks both for being here. So, Keith, is this the Obama you've been waiting for this cycle?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Oh, yes. I mean this is really refreshing. That contrast that you just showed. To see a president who actually could speak in complete sentences again, who understands the rule of law, who respects the constitution, who doesn't pay off porn stars and playmates, who doesn't have his campaign chairman indicted and convicted, who doesn't have his lawyer sentenced to jail or pleading guilty, who just understands the importance of respecting government and the institutions of government.

Doesn't attack our institution, doesn't attack his own attorney general, doesn't compare himself to NFL athletes and create conflict for no reason. This is a country that deserves better leadership than we have right now. And President Obama's witness today with testimony to why we could be doing better and we should be doing better and why this election is so important in 2018.

BOLDUAN: And you're going to see he keeps making the case for that because it is all about 2018 and that's what the president said this morning, David. But I want to play also how President Trump then responded this afternoon to President Obama.


TRUMP: I watched it, but I fell asleep. I found he's very good, very good for sleeping.


BOLDUAN: So President Trump tried to dismiss President Obama. And obviously, what do you think though the impact is of Obama getting back on the campaign trail for Republican voters in 2018? Trump supporters and others?

[19:20:09] DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCAST NETWORK NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Kate, this is really fascinating to me. President Obama on a campaign trail is another injection and infusion for the Trump base. And I'm trying to figure this out. Do Democrats in the Washington establishment want Trump and the Republicans to do well in the midterms because you've got Mr. or Ms. Anonymous in the op-ed and now you've got President Obama on the campaign trail which is an injection point as well.

You've got the deep state anonymous situation going on and you've got now President Obama. You know, it's just like you're giving the Trump base more fuel to actually have a shot in the midterms.

And look, this is all about getting out the base and I have to tell you, with President Obama, he has a ceiling. What I mean by that is, the Democrats are already enthused. If the Anti-Trump venom is out there, we know that. They're going to show up regardless of President Obama is on the campaign trail. It's up to the White House, President Trump and Mike Pence and all the others to make sure that base turns out and matches it or exceeds it.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting. Keith, what do you think?

BOYKIN: Well, I mean, Donald Trump is incredibly unpopular. His base is going to turn out and support him regardless and he supports his candidates. But our base, the liberal base, the left base, the Democratic base still -- even though it's excited and motivated doesn't have anybody who can respond to Donald Trump on the same level as Donald Trump who is at that presidential stature. So having President Obama speak is incredibly important.

Remember, President Obama got 69 million votes when he ran for office. That's more than any other person that have run for office have gotten and when he left the office, he's popular, he was at 57%. Donald Trump is at 41.6% right now. So if I'll take my chances between Donald Trump and Barack Obama speaking at the same time, that motivates Obama voters, that motivates Democratic voters to turn out who might not necessary turn out in the midterm election. That's incredibly important.

BRODY: You know, Keith, it's -- Kate, it's interesting, we've kind of saw a microcosm of two Americans in those sound bites, right? I mean you saw President Obama talking kind of a -- a little bit of a highbrow. It's not highbrow, he's very, you know, intellectual and all of that and, you know, he's wonderful and he's all of that when it comes to the words. And that appeals to a lot of folks.

But then you have Donald Trump is like I was sleeping through it and, you know what, that appeals to a lot of folks too because he's a billionaire who talks like a cab driver. And if Mitt Romney had that skill, he'd be president of the United States probably today.

So you've got two different Americas out there that are seeing and hearing two completely different things.

BOLDUAN: I will just say as the observer, I hope it's not two different Americas. I hope you can say --

BRODY: Well, they see two different things.

BOYKIN: I just want a president who doesn't sleep through a speech, who doesn't sleep through a cabinet meeting and stays away.


BOYKIN: Actually who knows how to stay awake and pay attention long enough to read a book or read a briefing. This guy is too asleep at the wheel to be able to do his job confidently.

BRODY: One of the first things, Keith, that had you said was that, you know, like -- it was nice to hear President Obama, you know, complete a sentence, we don't hear that often or whatever it was. It was like a ha, ha line, I get it, and a serious line too, by the way, but that's the type of stuff that Trump voters here, where you discount --

BOYKIN: I don't care what the Trump voters.


BRODY: Hang on, Keith.


BRODY: Discounting what Trump voters, first of all, voted for in this president and also when you start to do those type of lines, you're really kind of not just demeaning him, but the folks that voted for him and --


BOYKIN: OK, David, but just think about how many times President Trump has on Twitter and in public attacked Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democrat, the NFL players, people who were celebrities who have nothing to do with politics. He's completely attacking Americans all of the time and nobody said anything about it, but Obama (INAUDIBLE) critical with President Trump and we say, oh, he shouldn't speak out because that's going to turn off Trump voters.

BRODY: You know what?

BOYKIN: I think that's asymmetrical perspective and we really need to not think about it that way.

BRODY: I will just say that --

BOLDUAN: Final thought.

BRODY: I will just say that the reason Donald Trump is president after eight years of Barack Obama in a very liberal culture, it went one way and also politicians, both Republicans and Democrats for decades have been saying they're going to get their act together and they never did and voters said, you know what, we're going to try something different and, boy, Donald Trump is different.

BOLDUAN: And that's what 2018 is about. Do people like the act of Donald Trump or is it time -- as midterms do that they're going to be -- he's going to be up against a whole heck of hurt if the Democrats win the House.

All right, guys, great to see you. Thanks so much.

Clearly, Obama still gets people talking. We'll continue doing that.

OUTFRONT next, Roger Stone claims Randy Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks and today Credico met Robert Mueller's grand jury. What did he say? What did they ask? Credico is my guess.

Plus weed, whiskey and a flame thrower. That's what's provocative CEO Elon Musk is under fire for another bizarre interview.

[19:24:58] Is he having a meltdown? We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, another associate of Roger Stone, a long time confidant of President Trump testified before the Mueller grand jury today. He joins in growing list of Stone associates who have been contacted by Mueller's team. Does this mean Stone is a target? Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did I ever the hell get involved in this mess?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Comedian and host Randy Credico incredulous that he was called to testify before special counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury. Credico arrived at the courthouse with his therapy dog Bianca and told the grand jury about his relationship with Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Trump.

Stone has claimed Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign. Credico has denied he was the intermediary. Assange was also topic of inquiry from special counsel prosecutors inside of the grand jury room.

RANDY CREDICO, ROBERT STONE AIDE: I can go back and do what I was doing before. Hopefully. And that is advocating for the release and the freedom of Julian Assange who is a very close friend of mine.

SCHNEIDER: Credico's court appearance is yet another sign that Mueller's team might be moving in on Roger Stone. Stone first attracted scrutiny in 2016 when he claimed to be in contact with Julian Assange and made this prediction on Twitter that October. Wednesday at Hillary Clinton is done. Hashtag WikiLeaks.

Soon after stolen e-mails from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta were published via WikiLeaks and used as campaign fodder by Donald Trump.

TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.


SCHNEIDER: U.S. intelligence has since concluded it was Russian intelligence that hacked Democratic targets and used WikiLeaks to spread that material online. And while Stone has admitted he previously communicated with one of the hackers that claimed responsibility, Stone denies he had any knowledge of the hacking.

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I'm not involved in any collusion or coordination or conspiracy with the Russians or anyone else. And there is no evidence to the contrary.

RANDY CREDICO, ROGER STONE ASSOCIATE: The atmosphere was very --

SCHNEIDER: Credico isn't the only Stone associate being questioned about prosecutors.

Prominent conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi was called to come before the grand jury but arranged a volunteer interview instead. Corsi wrote an article on March 2017 that explained he was the source who told Roger Stone WikiLeaks would soon publish the damaging e-mails from John Podesta. Corsi has been questioned about the FBI but his attorney insists he had no communication with Julian Assange, WikiLeaks or Russian controlled Guccifer 2.0.


SCHNEIDER: So while all of this seems to point to the conclusion that Mueller's investigation -- investigators are circling in on Roger Stone, Stone insists he still has not been contacted by the special counsel and he stressed to CNN that he has no prior knowledge of hacked e-mails and was not involved in any potential collusion efforts related to the 2016 campaign -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: All right. Jessica, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT tonight, Randy Credico, the associate of Roger Stone who testified before the Mueller grand jury today.

Mr. Credico, thanks for coming in.

RANDY CREDICO, TESTIFIED BEFORE MUELLER GRAND JURY TODAY: Yes. In the words of Ronald Reagan, there you go again, calling me an associate. I'm not an associate. People keep lumping me in as an associate, and all those other characters.

BOLDUAN: And what would you prefer?

CREDICO: Someone I've known for 16 years, but not an associate of Roger Stone.

BOLDUAN: OK. Someone you have known --

CREDICO: That's a mischaracterization.

BOLDUAN: Someone you have known for a very long time.


BOLDUAN: And you said earlier today you were asked about your relationship with Roger Stone in the grand jury. What did they ask you about that relationship?

CREDICO: Well, I will say this, that the preponderance of the questions today were about Roger Stone and my relationship with him. But I really can't go into the substance because I was there for about two or three hours and, you know, I was told by my lawyer I have a big mouth not to talk about the substance of that questioning today.

BOLDUAN: But -- I wonder why? Was there any restrictions put on your -- put on you by the Mueller team?

CREDICO: No. There is no restrictions and I'm still subject to recall. And we'll see what happens there. And plus, today, I also got a e-mail from the Senate Intel Committee that they now want to interview me, and I guess I'll be getting a subpoena from them soon.

BOLDUAN: Did they say on what specific topic?

CREDICO: No, they didn't. My lawyer got one in the middle of the grand jury appearance today, he got an e-mail from the Senate Intel Committee. So it was kind of shocking because I went out for a break and he tells me that, you know, like midway through the appearance.

BOLDUAN: But I'll say, other people who have been interviewed by Robert Mueller's team, they have spoken out about the questions asked, the characterizations that have happened from inside of the room, the answers they've offered. Why are you hesitant?

CREDICO: Well, because I think we should just let it play out. You know, I'm not some of the other people that want to get on and -- you know, they like the attention. I don't like this kind of attention.

I was in show business for 25, 30 years. I like that kind of attention. And I'm not yearning it right now for this. Not something I kind of by happenstance have fallen in. It's like a Forrest Gump or a Zelig character, Myshkin from "The Idiot:, just kind of fell into this story here.

BOLDUAN: How would you describe what kind of questions you were asked about Julian Assange today?

CREDICO: Nothing. It was really nothing about Assange. There were no questions about Assange. Maybe, you know, did I meet with him at one point -- it had something to do with Stone and not Assange. There you go, you elicited out of me that was a question but Assange was really not part of the inquiry.

BOLDUAN: You previously denied being the back channel between Stone and Assange. Did you say that under oath today?

CREDICO: Probably. You want me to say -- yes, I definitely was not a back channel to Julian Assange, if there was even a back channel to Julian Assange.

BOLDUAN: And you said that under oath today. They asked you that and you said that.


BOLDUAN: Why would Stone say you were his back channel then?

CREDICO: You know, you're going to have to ask him that and I'm sure he will be out in full force with a lot of his friends, some of the alt right guys will come out attacking me for, you know, throwing cold water on this entire Stone narrative.

[19:35:06] BOLDUAN: Did you get the impression inside of the room today that Mueller's team thinks you are -- you in fact were the go- between? Even though you denied it, did you get the impression that they were pressing you on that fact?

CREDICO: You are very good there, Kate. Let me see. I really can't say if they thought that I was -- I doubt if they thought that I was.

This is a very professional group. You take a look at Senate and House and here's a lot -- it's a lot of grandstanding in the Senate and House Intel Committees. I think these people know everything already.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting --

CREDICO: They have all of the information.

BOLDUAN: That is interesting and I want to ask you about that because other folks who have spoken to Mueller have come out and the way they describe is that they think it's a bit frightening how much information that Mueller and his team had going in. Did you get that sense?

CREDICO: I wasn't frightened. You know, I had my dog with me and I want to thank the Mueller team for allowing my dog to come in. And by the way, the dog was not seen by the grand jury. I didn't bring it in as a prop. I brought it in in a very discrete bag and she was under the table.

But they are -- it is a very thorough and professional investigation and nobody is grandstanding there like they are in the House and the Senate, and I probably will not appear before the Senate. We're going to fight that if we get a subpoena.

BOLDUAN: So, wait, it was an invitation and you're not going to go unless you are forced.

CREDICO: Even if I'm subpoenaed there is a good chance I'm not going to participate in that circus.

BOLDUAN: Did you get a sense inside the room today that Roger Stone is in trouble?

CREDICO: You know --

BOLDUAN: Give me your gut.

CREDICO: In my gut, is he in trouble? I mean, look, all you have to do, you have a coloring book, I don't need to give you Crayolas here to fill in the blanks. I mean, just look at the last year of the stories that I'm involved in and the stories that he's involved in and put it together yourself.

But I really am not going to talk about it too much. I want -- just let it play out. Let this whole thing play out and I want to get back -- because I said today, I want to get back to where I was before this thing came down and that is advocating --


BOLDUAN: It might be a while before you do that. But let me ask you really quick. The difference between how you felt going in and the how you felt leaving, do you feel now that you are -- have more or less legal exposure that you're facing?

CREDICO: I think I'm -- I think I'll be fine, I haven't done anything wrong. I think I will be fine out of this.

BOLDUAN: Well, that's why I asked. Do you think Roger Stone is going to be fine?

CREDICO: Is Roger going to -- I don't know. I really can't tell you. You would make a good prosecutor, I'll tell you. But I don't know what is going on. I'm not going to disclose too much of what happened.

I did enough right now and I -- you can talk to my lawyer about this. Right now, what I have said, they're going to be angry with me and so now I'm nervous about that.

BOLDUAN: I wouldn't be nervous. I'm just asking for honest answers and there is no problem or getting in trouble if you give honest answers.

CREDICO: Yes. I'm giving -- I gave honest answers today.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

CREDICO: I was not in a position to perjure myself today. They ask me questions and I answer them and not going to subject myself to perjury.

BOLDUAN: Randy Credico, thank you for coming in and we'll follow up about that invitation from the Senate Intelligence Committee. I appreciate your time.

CREDICO: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, the Trump campaign aide who helped triggered the FBI's investigation into Trump's campaign. He was just sentenced and now, George Papadopoulos is speaking exclusively to CNN.

Plus, the provocative, always provocative Tesla CEO Elon Musk latest stunt has a lot of people wondering, honestly, is everything OK?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tobacco and marijuana in there. That is all it is.



[19:42:45] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: President Trump weighing in on the sentencing of his former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos was just sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to investigators about his contact during the 2016 campaign with individuals tied to Russia.

Trump tweeting this in response, 14 days for $28 million, $2 million a day. No collusion. A great day for America.

CNN's Jake Tapper spoke to Papadopoulos exclusively ahead of his sentencing. Take a listen.



GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: March 31st at the national security meeting.

TAPPER: There is a photo of you at the table. Candidate Trump is there, Senator Jeff Sessions is there. What was discussed at that meeting in terms of Russia, in terms of meeting with Putin?

PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember, it was I that brought up anything regarding Russia. I was under the impression that an individual I had met in Rome, the so-called professor, was able to provide high level connections in Russia that would result in some sort of summit or meeting -- mostly for a photo op.

So I sat down and, you know, I looked the candidate -- I looked at candidate Trump directly in his eyes and said I can do this for you if it is in your interest. And if it is in the campaign's interest. And the collective energy in the room, of course, there were some dissenters but the collective energy in the room seemed to be interested.

TAPPER: The collective energy. Was Donald Trump interested?

PAPADOPOULOS: The candidate gave me sort of a nod. He wasn't committed either way. But I took it as he was thinking.

TAPPER: Senator Jeff Sessions was there, too.


TAPPER: At the table. What was his response?

PAPADOPOULOS: My recollection was that the senator was enthusiastic about a meeting between the candidate and President Putin.

TAPPER: So you say that then senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions was enthusiastic about the idea of candidate Trump meeting Putin but he has said the exact opposite. He says he testified before Congress saying that he, quote, pushed back when you raised the possibility of a meeting with Russia.

[19:45:04] That's not true, you're saying.

PAPADOPOULOS: I don't remember that.

TAPPER: You don't remember him pushing back.


TAPPER: You remember him saying this is a good idea.

PAPADOPOULOS: I remember him being enthusiastic about a potential meeting between the candidate and president Putin after I raised the question.


BOLDUAN: Jake is joining me now.

Jake, it is really interesting interview. What else did he tell you?

TAPPER: There is so much. I mean, one of the big revelations is that in addition to telling Alexander Downer, the former Australian ambassador to the U.K., about the fact that he had heard Russia had Hillary Clinton's e-mails. He also told us in this exclusive interview that he also told the Greek foreign minister in 2016 that Russia -- he had heard had Hillary Clinton e-mails and co incidentally the next day that Greek foreign minister met with Vladimir Putin.

In addition, Padopoulos's life and you have to watch the whole documentary, the hour-long special to get it -- the impression of what is going on. But it's -- there are so many odd characters that come in and out. There is so much stage craft and spy craft going on and suspicion about this person with Israeli intelligence and this person with Russian intelligence that enter his life. It is really quite a story.

BOLDUAN: The so-called coffee boy breaking his silence. It is great to see you, Jake. Thanks so much.

TAPPER: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And don't miss -- of course -- Jake's entire interview with George Papadopoulos airing in a special report tonight at 11:00 p.m. on CNN.

OUTFRONT next, Tesla visionary CEO Elon Musk lights up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's legal, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Totally legal. That is all it is.


BOLDUAN: But his latest antics are raising questioning about his well being.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the mystery that has everyone stumped.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who do you think wrote the op-ed?



[19:50:23] BOLDUAN: Tonight, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk under fire for lighting up during a recent interview. You can see him right here. Musk and host Joe Rogan smoking pot together. Following this episode, Tesla's stock fell by 6 percent by the end of the day. It's just the latest episode in a string of incidents that has some questioning whether the tech mogul can keep this up.

Dan Simon is OUTFRONT.


ELON MUSK, TESLA CEO: Is that a joint?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is one of the world's most successful CEOs, with a net worth estimated at more than $20 billion. So when Elon Musk started smoking a joint on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast, people noticed.

JOE ROGAN, COMEDIAN: Probably can't because of stockholders, right?

MUSK: I mean, it's legal, right?

ROGAN: Totally legal.


ROGAN: How does that work? Do people get upset at you if you do certain things? It's tobacco and marijuana in there. That's all it is.

SIMON: It's just the latest bizarre incident for the high profile CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. He's had a couple of turbulent months.

MUSK: Alcohol is a drug. It's been grandfathered in.

SIMON: On the same day the podcast was published, Tesla's chief accounting officer announced his resignation. He did not cite the incident.

Last month during an emotional interview with "The New York Times," Musk said that 120-hour workweeks were taking a toll on his physical health.

I've had friends come by who are really concerned, he said. Some of Tesla's board members have raised concern about his use of the prescription drug Ambien, which Musk admits he sometimes takes to help him sleep. A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien and magic, he tweeted last year.

The 47-year-old engineer has been called the real life Tony Stark better known as Ironman. But his reputation taking serious hits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE : He is a great tech visionary. It's not clear that he is necessarily a great business leader. And I think that's the fundamental problem that's he's running into right now.

SIMON: Musk's judgment was also questioned when he announced he want to take Tesla private. The company lost nearly $2 billion last year and has never earned a profit. Amid a chorus of criticism, he reversed course, saying Tesla will remain public.

And even his admirers had to be dumbfounded when he attacked one of the British divers who helped rescue 12 boys this summer trapped in a Thailand cave. After Musk proposed using a kid-sized submarine to rescue the boys, the diver called it a PR stunt. Musk retaliated calling the man a pedo, short for pedophile. Musk later apologized, but then last week in an e-mail to "BuzzFeed" escalated the attack, calling him a child rapist.

"BuzzFeed" says Musk did not provide proof of the claims. The diver is reportedly planning to sue.


SIMON: Today while announcing a slew of management changes, Elon Musk e-mailed his employees saying in part, quote, there will be lots of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them. In the meantime, Tesla shares are down about a third of what they were since August. This latest incident is not likely to help. What will help is profitability and Musk says the future quarter looks bright. It can't come soon enough -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Dan, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, who wrote "The New York Times" anonymous op-ed? Jeanne Moos is on the case.


[19:57:51] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the guessing game apparently no one can resist. Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is without question the question of the summer.

Who do you think wrote the op-ed?

Momentary stumped silence on the street.

And on TV?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be this person or actually that person. It could be a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was written by the secretary of.

MOOS: Endless speculation.


MOOS: Punctuated by some daring to name names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it fits Dan Coats like a glove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suggested that it was Kellyanne Conway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was Mr. Vice President.

MOOS: His suspicions raised by the op-ed's use of the word -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lodestar.

MOOS: A weird word that the president favors.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As our lodestar. You are a load star.

MOOS: But could lodestar be a loaded word, pointing to Kellyanne Conway?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the kind of person who would find out that Mike Pence used the word lodestar a lot and put lodestar in to try to pin it on Mike Pence.

MOOS: Colbert claimed he had an exclusive with anonymous.

Are you Mike Pence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not. Even Mike Pence's silhouette is white.

MOOS: On the betting site My Bookie, people were putting their money on Pence.

Omarosa offered a multiple choice survey. The vice president's chief of staff came in first.

But enough of the whodunit. Let's move on to who denies it.

For instance, the vice president.


MOOS: He denies it.


MOOS: He denies it.


MOOS: Spraying the walls of denial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not me, I didn't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember that shaggy song.


MOOS: Someone tweeted a live look inside the White House as they tried to figure who wrote the op-ed. But if you're going to rip into --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anonymous. MOOS: Better learn how to say it.

TRUMP: Anonymous, anonymous, gutless.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

Who do you think wrote "The New York Times" op-ed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very smart people.

MOOS: New York.


BOLDUAN: I am going to leave that there. Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.