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An Associate Of The President's Friend, And Long Time Adviser, Roger Stone Is In, "Plea Negotiations With Special Counsel Robert Mueller;" Former CIA And NSA Director General Michael Hayden Who Also Works With Us Here As An Analyst Suffered A Stroke Earlier This Week; The White House Is Asking The US Supreme Court To Take Up The Administration's Transgender Military Ban. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, CNN: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN on this Friday. We begin with the news with the Russia probe. An associate of the President's friend, and long time adviser, Roger Stone is in, quote unquote, "plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller." Jerome Corsi is his name. He also knows President Trump. He wouldn't comment further to CNN about these talks, but Corsi's role in this investigation largely revolves around the possibility that he may have been an intermediary between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, specifically in the time before the 2016 release of hacked e-mails that were damaging to the Clinton campaign.

Corsi is a well-known conspiracy theorist and if a deal comes through, it would indicate that he was actually speaking the truth just a couple of days ago when he predicted an indictment from Mueller was coming.


JEROME CORSI, ASSOCIATE OF ROGER STONE: I got served a subpoena on August 28th at my home, two FBI agents show up unannounced. I did not talk to the FBI. Of course my wife was pretty startled and we began a series of discussions with them that have gone on for two months.

And at the end of that two months, even though I did everything I could to cooperate, the entire negotiation and discussions have just blown up and now I fully anticipate in the next few days I will be indicted by Mueller for some form or other of giving false information to the special counsel or to one of the other grand jury or however they want to do the indictment, but I'm going to be criminally charged.

Now, the subpoena came to my home three days before my 72nd birthday, and this has been one of the most frightening experiences of my life.


BALDWIN: Let me turn now to CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt, and Alex, remind us the role and the relationship that Corsi had with Stone and how he's involved in all of this.

ALEX MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And how he may potentially be a witness against Roger Stone. Corsi says that he in talks, we just heard there with the Mueller team, but this time he's talking about a possible plea deal, which he has confirmed to CNN. And that means that the special counsel will certainly have a lot of questions about that relationship that he has with Roger Stone and what information was shared between the two of them.

Corsi is not someone many people may have heard of. He's a bit of a fringe player in all of this, but he could provide a crucial missing link between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign, specifically with regards to any possible coordination with WikiLeaks and the release of hacked Democratic e-mails in 2016 before the election. Corsi has said he was not in direct contact with the group. He did not have a source inside WikiLeaks. He claims that he simply developed a theory that the Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta that his e-mails had been obtained by WikiLeaks and that they would be released in October right before the election, that of course then did happen.

Corsi says he shared that prediction with Roger Stone, that it was based on open information and the prior release by WikiLeaks of DNC e- mails and as I noted of course, that prediction then turned out to be true and as you noted, Corsi is a conspiracy theorist. He and President Trump were allies in the birther conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States, which of course, Brooke, we know it well is not true. So we have to emphasize that we don't know the status of a plea deal for Corsi. Negotiations are ongoing, they can always fall apart. And for now of course, he isn't saying anything more. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alex, thank you. >Let's analyze all of this with CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. He is former prosecutor. So Paul Kallen, if Corsi does flip, that could be bad news for Roger Stone. What could he reveal and how might that play into the bigger picture of collusion?

PAUL CALLAN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes, it could be bad news for Roger Stone and it also could provide a link back to the President because Mueller is now circling back to the Trump campaign and he's doing exactly what he was told to do when he was hired for this job and that is focus on any connections if there were, between the Trump campaign and the hacking of e-mails by the Russians to influence the American election.

Now, Roger Stone originally said he got his information about WikiLeaks, which sounded like he was in direct contact with Julian Assange, not from Assange himself but from a talk host, a radio talk host named Randy Cortico.


CALLAN: The connection with Corsi is an entirely different connection with Corsi indicating that he got information or he speculated successfully that WikiLeaks would be leaking this information, but Corsi is also linked to President Trump and he is linked Roger Stone as well. So it's kind of all of these pieces, these chess pieces are being put together on a chess board Mueller. BALDWIN: If Corsi is in plea negotiations, Paul, does that mean he's

given up the goods or does it mean he is willing to give up the goods if he gets a good deal?

CALLAN: It means that he's making a proffer to Federal authorities. And in these proffer sessions, your lawyer goes in and says, listen, this is the information he'll give you. We think it will help your case, but he's not going to do that under oath unless you offer a deal.

Now, the prosecutors in turn have to say he's selling something we need to make a case out or to finish the investigation. They're not going to offer him a deal unless he's got valuable information that they really can't prove through other sources.

BALDWIN: When we heard from Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer earlier this week and he was talking about these written answers that Trump provided to Mueller, this is what Axios had reported quoting then, "Mueller asked about the Russian hacks during the campaign that immediately followed Trump's July 27, 2016 press conference in Florida when Trump said, we all remember this, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 Hillary Clinton e-mails that are missing." We know that Mueller has been circling around Roger Stone. Might Corsi be the smoking gun and be the definitive proof of the link between Russian hackers and WikiLeaks to the Trump campaign? might this be it?

CALLAN: Yes, Brooke. I think Corsi could be a missing link in the investigation that's putting everything together. I find it fascinating that Mueller is so focused on this. He's on the one hand going after the President with specific questions about this very subject. There are lots of rumors out about Roger Stone and now we know that he's putting pressure on Corsi.

So there seems to be sort of a laser beam focus of the Mueller investigation now on this particular set of individuals, and it all has to do with collusion, the very thing that the President has repeatedly said there's no evidence of collusion, it doesn't exist. Well, if it does exist, these are the people who Mueller would be focusing on to prove it.

BALDWIN: We have just gotten a statement in from Roger Stone as we've been talking. So let me just read this for you, Paul Callan. This is what Roger Stone says. "As one can see from his recent videos and his recent interviews, my friend, Dr. Corsi, has been under a tremendous amount of pressure and it is beginning to affect him profoundly. He has stated publicly that he is being asked to say over and over to say things he simply does not believe occurred. I am not aware of any plea talks involving Dr. Corsi. He is an investigative journalist whose activities I would think would be largely covered under the First Amendment. He is relentless in his research and his network of sources is very wide. As for what he may have known and when he may have known it, his discussions to me regarding the Podesta brothers were strictly limited to their overseas business interests unearthed in the Panama papers and other public sources that were writing about John and Tony's activities. To my best recollection, there was not one publication, mainstream or otherwise that ever mentioned John Podesta's e-mail prior to their posting by WikiLeaks. As I told "The Washington Post," if Dr. Corsi new that John Podesta's e-mails had been obtained by anyone and would be published, he never shared this information with me, nor did he give me any such documents." That's Roger Stone. Your reaction.

CALLAN: Roger Stone is talking like a very worried individual. He's making before even knowing what Corsi is saying to the Mueller investigators, he's, you know, making this very detailed public statement to try to distance himself and also to say that Corsi is under tremendous pressure.

Well, how would Stone know that unless he's had discussions with Corsi about this very subject? And you can be sure that the Mueller lawyers are going to be asking Corsi about what discussions he's had with Roger Stone. It's always dangerous had two people who are being looked at by investigators are sitting down with one another to let's say discuss the facts of the case.

A lot of times prosecutors describe that as getting their stories straight. So we'll have to see how the Mueller team handles it.

BALDWIN: Feeling the pressure. Paul Callan, thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you, Brooke.


BALDWIN: Also now this breaking story, after a long week of headlines coming out of the White House, just look at all of the happenings from team Trump since last Saturday. Let me read this for you, his controversial visit to the California wildfires, his insult of the admiral who oversaw the Bin Laden raid, his regrets to not visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, his reply that he did not know his acting Attorney General spoke out whatsoever on the Mueller probe, his asylum ban getting overturned in court, the fact that he still hasn't visited an active war zone, the White House fully restoring our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass, his mission of written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, his feud with Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, his stand with the Saudis, despite the CIA saying the Crown Prince ordered the hit on US based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his acting AG under investigation for campaign contributions, keeping in mind this has all been a holiday week, folks.

And just yesterday, his wild politicized phone call with troops on Thanksgiving day and on that call, the President once again defended his position of backing the Saudi royal family saying that the CIA quote "did not come to a conclusion" end quote on the Crown Prince's involvement.

Now the majority in the House are soon to be wants to put that to the test come 2019. So for more on that, let's go to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. And Sarah what is the ranking house intel member Congressman Adam Schiff now saying he wants to do? SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, CNN: Well, Brooke, Congressman

Adam Schiff, who will soon take over the House Intelligence Committee is saying that his committee will look into the death of Jamal Khashoggi and how the administration is responding to it.

And that's just part of what House Democrats say they're going to go after this President for. Obviously, we know they are going to target President Trump over his tax returns, we know that they're going to target the President over areas where his foreign policy might have overlapped with his business interests. That's something that the Ranking Member soon-to-be chairman Adam Schiff says he want to go after. Now, the President is projecting a sense of optimism, a sense that his White House is not worried about Democratic investigations but, of course, a lot of Republicans have been warning that the President will soon face some kind of reality check when Democrats do sweep into power come January. He's never had to preside over divided government and this Khashoggi murder and the way that his administration has handled it, in light of the fact that the President has had business dealings in Saudi Arabia prior to him taking office certainly going to be a focus of Democrats and certainly been a point of criticism up to now, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We're going to stay on that reality check. Sarah, thank you very much. And with that, let me bring in senior political analyst Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and Margaret, so here we've talked about Democrats walking the line of investigation once they are in charge. They are certainly not shying away, all of the three weeks after midterms and look at what soon-to- be chairman Schiff is doing.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but this is sort of a no-brainer, right. I mean, the Democrats, far the big tension has been over the impeachment question with the new Democratic majority coming into the House, some of these new members are on the more liberal or more progressive side than their kind of longer-term career politicians who are like guys, let's look at history, what happened in the 90s, in the Clinton administration, so to the extent which folks both on the intel committee and the government reform and oversight panels can tackles sort of new emerging issues like this one, it seems like a no brainer this would be the course that Schiff would want to take.

BALDWIN; So on the no brainer, we know the Democrats plan to look at whether Trump is deliberately misrepresenting the CIA's conclusion to protect MBS. The Democrats specifically want to look at Trump's financial ties to Saudi Arabia. And I say financial ties because as you cover this President, that is mighty close to what he has referred to as the red line, has it not?

TALEV: Well, that's true. The President talks to the extent that Mr. Mueller's probe delved into business dealings so that would be a red line for him. The President also is sort of in a class outside of other American Presidents of our time because he had this entire business career and the business empire that continues to exist. and so these are not issues that, you know, setting aside the particulars of this just in general the sort of parallel structure of having a business and licensing empire and family members kind of some in the business side and some in the White House side, that is not something that President Obama or President Bush before him sort of have had to contend with.


TALEV: Look, already setting all of this aside, we know that in January when the Democrats took over the House that there would be a lot more of a stepped-up look at both the aspects of the Mueller probe and aspects of foreign policy in the President's dealings, but this has now all been ratcheted up because of all of this. BALDWIN: So that's -- yes, that's January, even early as next week, the world will be watching as both Trump and Mohammed Bin Salman will be at the G-20. The world will watching that. We will be watching how he is with Vladimir Putin and of course, also China's President Xi as everyone is going to be in Argentina and we know the President of course has been watching the markets very, very carefully. He knows the economy matters so much to Americans.

Do you think next week, Trump tries to get a deal with X in Buenos Aires?

TALEV: Yes, I mean, a lot of people are going to be looking at this and look, there are two issues that the G-20 is supposed to tackle. One is trade and the other is climate change. But if APEC is any sort of guide to us, you see a willingness on the part of the President to kind of put a stick in the wheels if it serves his messaging or if he feels that he can be successful with that sort of a challenge.

So all eyes are certainly going to be on whether or not Xi and President Trump can reach some sort of an accommodation that may have a lot to do with how much the Chinese are willing to give up to make some sort of a deal happen. The President does not at this point seem to be looking for a reason to blink.

BALDWIN: That is next week, G-20. Margaret Talev, thank you very. Good to see you. Breaking news, the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to take up the proposed ban on transgender troops, something the lower courts have already struck down. We have those details when we come back.


BALDWIN: We are learning here at CNN that former CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden who also works with us here as an analyst suffered a stroke earlier this week. We are told it happened at home and that he is now receiving expert medical care. His family thanks everyone for their warm wishes as he begins the healing process. And, General, from everyone here at CNN, our thoughts are certainly with you and we look forward to your recovery and getting back here at CNN as soon as you can.

Also just in to CNN, the White House is asking the US Supreme Court to take up the administration's transgender military ban. So far Federal judges have blocked President Trump from banning most transgender people from openly serving in the US military. So to Joan Biskupic we go, our CNN Supreme Court analyst. Joan, what's going on here?

JOAN BISKUPIC, SUPREME COURT ANALYST, CNN: More action between the Supreme Court and the Trump administration that's why we got here. Yes, right now President Trump's ban on most transgender people serving in the US military is being litigated in lower courts.

Lower courts have blocked the policy from fully taking effect and the Trump administration instead of waiting for a full airing in lower courts, which normally is the way, has jumped up to the Supreme Court and said, justices, please intervene at this time. They've just within the hour, Brooke, filed petitions at the Supreme Court in three cases from California and here in the District of Columbia saying come in, review it and the timing they're seeking is review for this court term.

Usually, the justices decide by January what cases they'll hear through April and then we have the big rulings in June and what the Trump administration's lawyers at the Department of Justice are saying is this is important to get clarity right now, not to have lower courts hold this up and have any kind of either inconsistencies or just plain block on this new policy that the Trump administration would want to bar transgender people from serving. Supreme Court justices, please resolve this right away.

BALDWIN: Do you think the Supreme Court will take it?

BISKUPIC: This is a tough one, Brooke, because normally no. Normally it's very hard to make a case for the justices intervening. Lower courts have in a preliminary way said that this could violate the equality guarantee of the Constitution to say that a certain group of people would be prohibited from serving based solely on the fact that they're transgender.

So they have a very high bar to pass and the administration has a high bar to pass. They have a high bar to pass in a compressed period of time. Now, earlier in the week, we saw President Trump refer to judges as either Obama judges or Clinton judges. Now, we certainly have some Trump judges now on the court and I think the Department of Justice might think that they might be getting much more of a sympathetic airing, but I don't know.

I think that if the court under John Roberts agrees to take this up in this kind of urgent manner, it would be sending a signal that would be more favorable to the Trump administration than usual to an administration.

BALDWIN: We'll watch it and see if they do. Joan, good to see you, thank you very much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, some of his chilling last words quoting him, "God, I don't want to die." With his diary reveals about an American who was attacked with arrows and killed ...

[14:25:10] BALDWIN: ... on a remote island by one of the world's most isolated

tribes. Also happening, the government dropping a major report on the human impact of climate change. What it reveals and also the timing. Why was this released the day after Thanksgiving?

Now to more breaking news this afternoon, the Trump administration just released a major, ominous climate change report two weeks earlier than planned, raising suspicions that it was purposely released on Black Friday because fewer people would actually be paying attention. It is no secret that climate change is not exactly a top priority.