Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Bolton and Kelly Get into Heated Shouting Match in West Wing; Manafort has Met with Mueller's Team Nine Times in Past Month; $28K Reward Offered for Missing Pregnant Postal Worker; New Turmoil with USA Gymnastics. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 18, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was also an issue over, well, what happens if a state court orders the president to comply with something, let's say a deposition, and he refuses to do so, then what happens? Can he be held in contempt? Can he be jailed? So, that was another issue at hand. Mariann Wang, Zervos's lawyer, says that he could be held in contempt. And said that President Clinton was at one point held in contempt. So, that's the bottom line. Those are the arguments. The same arguments we heard earlier this year. The judge already ruled in Summer Zervos's favor. The question is whether that will be reversed.

One more interesting point we should bring up. We spoke outside with Mariann Wang and Summer Zervos, both of them made an appeal to people who support her case to go to her GoFundMe page and to contribute. So, that's an interesting issue here as well.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Quickly, what happens next? Is it the judge that makes the decision?

JONES: The judge will make a decision. It could take weeks or even longer. And there is another hearing, a separate hearing in this case, next Friday on discovery issues. They're fighting over discovery -- answering questions as well. So, there's a lot of elements to this case.

CABRERA: We know you'll stay on top of it. Thank you, Athena Jones.

Up next, the deputy attorney general giving a rare interview to defend Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. This as we are learning the special counsel team has talked to Paul Manafort nine times since he pleaded guilty to tax fraud. We'll break down what could be happening behind the scenes. Plus, just in, word of a heated argument inside the West Wing between two of the President's closest advisors. We're live at the White House next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: We're just getting this into CNN. Chief of Staff, John Kelly and National Security Advisor, John Bolton apparently just got into a shouting match over a recent surge in border crossings. That's what two sources are telling CNN right now. Kaitlan Collins is joining us live from the White House. What more can you tell us about this, Kaitlan? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we're told

it got pretty ugly inside the West Wing today between the Chief of Staff and national security advisor as they were meeting to discuss a recent surge in border crossings. Something that we know has infuriated President Trump. He's been agitated by that for days now and threatened to shut down the border on Twitter this morning.

But the fight that was the worst was the one between John Bolton and John Kelly today. I'm told they got into an extremely heated disagreement inside the West Wing that involved cursing and all kinds of profanity. And that turned into a shouting match that even startled other people here in the West Wing. Now, Ana, you know this is quite a divisive West Wing, arguing is pretty typical here but this was different today. This was more dramatic. And one source told me today it equated to essentially a falling out between the two men. And they were fearing that there could be a resignation that could come out of this and they didn't think it would be from John Bolton the national security advisor. Who continued on with his meetings per normal today.

But from John Kelly, who has threatened resigning multiple times in the past but they're told today they truly thought that this could lead to him to step down from his role as the Chief of Staff. Now that argument went on. And President Trump was involved in the beginning of it. But instead of taking John Kelly's side, who has agreed with him before an immigration, he was on John Bolton's side during this disagreement. Which only increased John Kelly's agitation over all of this. So, it was a really ugly fight between them. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the President himself and his feelings on the recent surge in border crossings.

But now there is a question of whether or not John Kelly is going to step down from his job. He's not scheduled to travel with the President to that rally in Montana tonight. And people inside the West Wing are questioning right now if he's going to continue on in this role. But even if he stays here, Ana, what we have seen is this is laying bare a very bitter feud between John Bolton and John Kelly that has been going on for weeks now. But today were told that it really hit a high mark -- Ana.

CABRERA: And is it a tipping point, is the bigger question in terms of what happens next.

COLLINS: That's right.

CABRERA: Kaitlan, thank you very much for that reporting.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's quiet period has not been very quiet. CNN is learning new details. Convicted felon and former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort and his lawyers visiting Mueller's office nine times in the past month. Manafort is cooperating with Mueller as part of his plea agreement. Also, this, CNN has learned discussions between President Trump's legal team and Mueller's office have intensified in recent weeks. Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin. He is a former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department. Michael, first, your take on Manafort's nine visits to Mueller's office?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Manafort has at least nine topics that Mueller will be interested in as it relates to collusion and the Ukraine plaque at the Republican National Convention. Funds coming into the Trump campaign from outside, all sorts of things that Manafort has personal knowledge of. Most particularly perhaps the June 9th Trump Tower meeting that he participated in with Jared Kushner and Don Jr. So, I think it's logical that Mueller now having waited all this time for Manafort to begin his cooperation is going to debrief him and debrief him against testimony that he's received from Flynn and Gates previously. It's a long, painstaking process. And so, I think that nothing is unexpected here because Manafort is such a central player in what Mueller is looking at on the conclusion aspect of his mandate.

CABRERA: As far as other players within the President's orbit, we also know nine of Roger Stone's friends and aides have spoken to Mueller's office or received grand jury subpoenas. How significant is that?

[15:40:00] ZELDIN: That is like Manafort, which is to say that these guys are being looked at for their interactions with foreign nationals. In Stone's case, it's WikiLeaks, Julian Assange as it relates to the e-mails that were hacked at the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta. It is a crime to hack, as the Russians have found out by being indicted for it and it is equally criminal to conspire with them, or aid and abet them or further distributed it. So, if Roger Stone did any of that stuff -- and he denies it flat out -- then he is in harm's way. And so, these people in his orbit are being brought in to find out whether there is a compelling legal case to be made for this or this is not worthy of prosecution.

CABRERA: Michael Zeldin, always good to get your take. Thank you. We appreciate your expertise.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Up next, the former President of USA gymnastics is behind bars now after U.S. marshals tracked him down at a cabin in Tennessee. Here what prosecutors say he did to obstruct the sex abuse investigation into former team doctor, Larry Nassar.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. The U.S. Postal Service is now offering a reward to help find a missing postal worker who police say vanished without a trace two weeks ago. Kierra Coles is a letter carrier. She's also three months pregnant. CNN affiliate, WLS, reports she called in sick the day she was reported missing. But police just released this surveillance video showing Coles dressed for work and leaving her Chicago apartment on October 2nd. She walked past her car and has not been seen since. Family members say she would never just leave and not tell anyone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAREN PHILLIPS, MOTHER OF MISSING POSTAL WORKER: We talk all the time. If we miss one day, it's just one day. Never four, five, six, eight, nine days. No way.

JOSEPH COLES, FATHER MISSING POSTAL WORKER: Over joy. I miss the smile on her face. If anybody know anything, please call in, let us know. We love her, we miss her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The postal service reward for information is $25,000. Coles' postal union has also put up a reward for $3,500.

OK, get this, the former President of USA Gymnastics has now been arrested on charges he tampered with evidence in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case. The U.S. marshals apparently tracked him down in his cabin in Tennessee. In response, the organization released this statement.

Quote, USA Gymnastics has learned of the charges filed against its former CEO Steve Penny, who resigned in March 2017. We support law enforcements efforts and have fully cooperated with the investigators by the Texas Rangers, Congress and others, and will continue to do so to help the survivors and our community heal from this tragedy.

The organization has been struggling to recover since Nassar pleaded guilty to sexual assaulting more than 150 girls and women. USA Gymnastics is also defending itself this week from yet another controversy. After just days on the job, the interim President Mary Bono resigns. She came under fire for a negative tweet about Nike. Joining us now is one of the first reporter to break the Larry Nassar sexual abuse story for the, Marisa Kwiatkowski. She is an investigative reporter for the "IndyStar." Marisa, what the heck is going on?

MARISA KWIATKOWSKI, INDYSTAR REPORTER WHO BROKE NASSAR SEX ABUSE STORY: It's been a busy week.

CABRERA: Yes, fill us in. What is your sense of why they can't seem to get it together?

KWIATKOWSKI: I think a lot of it comes down to a difference of looking at how things will be perceived from the outside. So obviously a lot of the criticism around the interim president, who resigned after five days, was both that Nike tweet and the fact that she worked for Faegre Baker Daniels, which had represented USA Gymnastics in 2015 when it was handling the allegations against Larry Nassar. So there have been a lot of questions about the tone as it relates to USA Gymnastics.

CABRERA: Were you surprised to learn of Penny's arrest?

KWIATKOWSKI: We knew that authorities had been looking at him for a while, so I wouldn't say I was surprised. I think it happened pretty quickly.

CABRERA: All of these developments, do you have a sense of what kind of impact this is going to have on gymnastics as a sport?

KWIATKOWSKI: I think the challenge for the past two and a half years with gymnastics is there's been so much attention now on the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and handling of sexual abuse allegations within the sport that it takes the spotlight away from the amazing athletes that are still involved with the program.

CABRERA: What kind of leader do they need in this new era? Do they need a complete outsider to have maybe fresh thinking what's your take?

KWIATKOWSKI: There have been a lot of different perspectives on that. Some people feel that a complete outsider would be beneficial. And others feel someone who is engaged with the organization and has been critical of the organization would be the best way for them to move forward as a positive entity that is showing through word and actions that they're putting athletes faces first.

CABRERA: Marisa Kwiatkowski, thanks very much for joining us.

KWIATKOWSKI: Thank you.

CABRERA: A rare polio-like illness is affecting children across the country and has ignited fear and worry in parents.

[15:50:00] The CDC has confirmed at least 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis or AFM in multiple states. Dozens of other cases are under investigation. Right now, one mother whose 3-year-old daughter has been diagnosed decided to document her child's progress. She spoke with Kimberly King from CNN affiliate WLOS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH HOLCOMBE, PRESLEE'S MOTHER: What?

KIMBERLY KING, WLOS REPORTER (voice-over): This is 3-year-old Preslee Holcomb. Her mother says Preslee struggled to even speak words after the AFM virus struck her in February.

HOLCOMBE: Preslee, stop fighting, honey, stop.

KING: And this is her mother trying to soothe her while on a vent as Greenville doctors work to keep Preslee alive.

HOLCOMBE: I had already in my mind started thinking about a funeral, and that's a hard thing, but I had begged that she would be healed.

KING: Elizabeth Holcombe said her daughter seemed fine but within three hours one late afternoon.

HOLCOMBE: She flopped out of the chair. She couldn't even sit in the chair. They said four and a half weeks in she would never move her arms and legs.

KING: Holcomb said her daughter tested positive for the enterovirus.

HOLCOMBE: I had that cold that week.

KING: She says it wasn't a bad cold, but she believes her daughter caught it.

HOLCOMBE: I guessing I gave it to her. But it attacked her spine and cough.

KING: She says doctors gave Preslee high doses of vitamin C, and within days her mother says she was able to move her arms. She keeps videos of her daughter's physical therapy for recovery.

HOLCOMBE: I'm so proud of you. Look at you.

She's doing great. She's walking with her walker. She's walking with some crutches. She's determined, and she's making great strides.

KING: While children are more often victims, adults can also get ill. Elizabeth's advice to parents.

HOLCOMBE: If something doesn't seem right, if your child seems tired or lethargic or, you know, can't move their arm or their face is drooping, I would say get to the hospital immediately.

You got it, OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the best advice to prevent AFM from spreading, cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands.

Just in, sources say White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has been advising President Trump to proceed slowly and cautiously on his response to the Saudis and their involvement in the apparent death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Details ahead.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. I'm going to Montana. We're doing a rally for Matt Rosendale who is a fantastic man, and he's doing very well. And we will be talking -- some pretty tough things about Senator Tester who has been a disaster and a disaster frankly for Montana, so we'll see what happens there. The economy is looking fantastic. Some great numbers come out -- came out today, and I will see you folks on the plane, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you believe Jamal Khashoggi is dead?

TRUMP: It certainly looks that way to me. It's very sad. Certainly, looks that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you comment on a shouting match between General Kelly and Ambassador Bolton in the West Wing.

TRUMP: That I've not heard about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything new from Secretary Pompeo today in your meeting?

TRUMP: No, just that we're waiting for some investigations and waiting for the results, and we'll have them very soon. And I think we'll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But we're waiting for the results of about three different investigations that we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon, and I'll see you on the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what are you considering for possible consequences for Saudi based on those --?

TRUMP: Well, it will have to be very severe. I mean, it's bad, bad stuff, but we'll see what happens. OK? Thank you. See you on the plane.

CABRERA: That was the President just moments ago as he gets ready to head to Montana for an event this evening. He's going to be there campaigning for the senate candidate -- GOP senate candidate, the rival of Jon Tester. Who, of course, is the incumbent -- the Democratic incumbent, and he will be there momentarily tonight. But as you heard, he did take a few questions before he boarded Air Force One talking about the latest in the Khashoggi case. The journalist from "The Washington Post," the Saudi journalist who resides here in the U.S., who is now believed to have been murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

When asked, is he dead? The President's answer was it sure looks that way to me. It is very sad. He did not give a definitive answer. He said they are waiting for the investigation. He repeated that multiple times. We are waiting for the investigation to be complete. The in fact, he said that they are waiting for results from three investigations. We know of at least two investigations. The Saudis are doing an investigation and the Turks are also doing an investigation in coordination with Saudi Arabia. So, not exactly shower if there's another investigation. We'll continue to dig on that situation.

Meantime, I also want to let you know before we go about CNN's live town hall event. Dana Bash moderates a discussion with Democratic senate candidate, Beto O'Rourke who is trying to unseat Republican incumbent, Ted Cruz. We should note, CNN did invite Senator Cruz multiple times to appear tonight in his own tall hall but he declined. It all gets started at seven Eastern here on CNN. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now. Thanks for being here.