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CNN NEWSROOM

Roger Stone's Associate Says He Refuses Mueller Plea Deal; Trump Defends Use of Tear Gas Against Migrants at Border; Noose Found at Mississippi Capitol Amid Racially-Tinged Election; Trump Campaigns Tonight in Racially-Charged Senate Runoff. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 26, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: New developments in the Russia investigation. Jerome Corsi, an associate of President Trump's ally, Roger Stone, says he will reject a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. He tells CNN, quote, they can put me in prison the rest of my life, I am not going to sign a lie, end quote.

Mueller has reportedly shown interest in Corsi's ties to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Corsi says he was offered a plea deal on one count of perjury. So, let's try this again. Shimon Prokupecz is back with us. And former federal prosecutor, Berit Berger is here as well. So, Shimon, for the folks who weren't watching earlier, tell me more about the deal. And do we have any idea what Mueller was hoping to gain with him?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: We don't have any ideas as to what exactly Mueller had to gain with him. It could just be nothing. It could be that Mueller's team here feels he committed a crime. He lied to them. He perhaps lied before a grand jury and therefore they were left with no choice but to charge them with a crime. He's rejecting. He's come to him, it seems, according to Corsi, that the Mueller team has come to him and said, hey, we want you to plead guilty. It's a deal.

It's essentially a plea deal where he would plead to this one count. He would come to court, admit that he lied and then the case would essentially be over. He would potentially face some kind of jail time. It could be that he could get no jail time. But something has happened here, because all along, Corsi has been claiming that he's been cooperating with the Special Counsel, spent 40 hours with them, provided them with tons of information. Said he was working on a plea negotiation, and then all of a sudden, this morning, everything had changed and he was now denying that he's going to take any kind of a plea. Rejecting any kind of a plea. Said he's basically done.

And now the big question is, what does Mueller do? What does their team do? Do they go ahead and file charges? It's really unclear, because as with everything that involved this Mueller case, we never know from their side what they're thinking until they actually do something. The other thing, I think, what's interesting is that Corsi gave an

explanation this morning in an interview about how he knew about the Julian Assange e-mails, as it relates to Tony -- as I relates to Podesta, and how he knew about the Podesta e-mails. It's fascinating, in that he's saying he did he has on work and did some forensic work and he connected some dots and that is how he knew that Julian Assange must have the Podesta e-mails.

[15:35:00] Well, it seems that the Special Counsel is not necessarily buying that. Again, we don't know exactly what they've confronted him with, with what information they have. But for now, I guess the most important thing in all of this is that the deal is off.

BALDWIN: Shimon, thank you. And Berit, Shimon brought up the point a second ago about what Mueller could do now. Presumably, Mueller knows what information Corsi would have. Is it too off-base to think that Mueller could just pull him in?

BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, we know that he has been -- well, at least it's been reported that he's been subpoenaed and that he has given them some information.

BALDWIN: Yes.

BERGER: Again, I think there's an important point to be made here, that everything that we've heard about this plea deal falling apart has all come from Corsi, who, as you know, has sort of made his career on spending sort of --

BALDWIN: Conspiracies.

BERGER: -- wild stories. Exactly. So, I think we have to take everything with a grain of salt. I mean, I think if it is to be believed, and assuming this is true, that the Special Counsel who's threatened him that he would be indicted and then the plea deal fell through, my guess is that he will then be indicted. This is not a prosecutor who's going to sit there and make island threats. If he says he's going to be indicted, he's going to follow through.

BALDWIN: Remind us why Corsi is such a key figure here? Everyone's been sort of circling around Roger Stone, right? I mean, I think it's curious that he hasn't been called up yet, which may be worrisome for him. But with Corsi, he could be that key piece of this puzzle, connecting WikiLeaks, Russia, and the Trump campaign.

BERGER: That's exactly right. So, he would be, in my opinion, a cooperating witness, if he, you know, agreed to do that, that could really lead them to Stone. Could get right to the heart of WikiLeaks, about what knew what, when. But if he's not willing to cooperate, I mean, if he has lied to the Special Counsel, he's really forced his hand and the Special Counsel won't really have much choice but to follow through.

One thing that I thought was interesting when Corsi was talking about, you know, why this fell through, he made some comments like, oh, you know, I forgot about certain e-mails and they confronted me with them and now they want to charge me with perjury. Which as a former prosecutor, I take umbrage, because prosecutors are not going to bring perjury charges against somebody for really an honest mistake. You have to show that this was a lie about something material, you have to show that the person lied, you know, willfully about something.

BALDWIN: They wouldn't do that.

BERGER: They wouldn't do it. They're not trying to trap or trick Corsi. If anything, they would want him to give them information so he could potentially be a cooperating witness.

BALDWIN: To potentially lead them to the big fish.

BERGER: That's exactly right.

BALDWIN: Berit Berger, thank you very much.

A chaotic scene as migrants try to rush one of the busiest border crossings between the United States and Mexico. We will speak with someone who was there as the President defends using tear gas against them.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you comfortable tear gassing children, like what we saw at the border?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not -- as you know, they're not -- they had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas and here's the bottom line. Nobody's coming into our country unless they come in legally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was the President moments ago, defending the use of tear gas over the weekend, at one of the busiest border crossings between the United States and Mexico. Video captured U.S. border patrol agents deploying that tear gas on Central Americans seeking asylum. It is a group that included women and children. The San Diego Border Patrol chief tells CNN some 500 migrants rushed the border from the Mexican side, overwhelming police blockades. And my next guest was there, captured video of the dispute, just before the border patrol deployed flash bangs and the tear gas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDY FRY, REPORTER, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: They're circling overhead, they're threatening these people that they're going to shoot if they try to come in. And babies are crying here. I mean, they're scared.

OK, so what's happening right now. This group went ahead and they ran passed the federal police on the other side. This basically goes to the canal. And police are trying to hold them up here. There's a fight going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was "San Diego Union-Tribune" reporter Wendy Fry. She's with me now. Wendy, the video, the scene there, I want to have you describe it in just a second. But do you know yet who green lit the tear gas? Does anyone know?

FRY: Brooke, yes, hi, thanks for having me. Yes, I do believe that the border patrol, customs border protection, CBP has put out a statement that says that the border patrol threw the tear gas. I definitely saw it coming from the other side of where we were, which was on the Mexican side, so I know that it came from the U.S. Border Patrol that were standing there on the other side of where we were.

BALDWIN: And take me into the thick of it. Here you are, some of your video, what was it like? Who were you with? Set the scene.

FRY: Sure. Sure. It was really chaotic, as you can see. So, a group of the migrants ran around the federal police and they did rush up to the border, up to a border fence, and then a small group, a handful, maybe, of young men, young adults, maybe young teenagers started -- they found kind of a little hole in the border fence and they sort of started trying to pull it back a little bit and run through. And they were, of course, met with U.S. Border Patrol agents on the other side.

[15:45:00] And one or maybe two or three of those young men picked up rocks and started hurling them across the border. And that's when border patrol agents responded with nonlethal fire, so they were firing off maybe pepper balls, they were firing off flash bangs. So non-lethal explosions to scare people back away from the line. So, at that moment when they threw that or they fired what sounded like gunfire, a large group of the migrants ran back away from the line, away from the border fence, including myself.

And then just moments after that, a helicopter, a huge Department of Homeland Security helicopter sort of flew really low, almost parallel to the embankment where the migrants were standing and pointed what looked like an assault rifle at a large group of migrants, including myself, and that's when women and children ducked under a train for cover. And it was --

BALDWIN: So that was the video we saw of you with the kids. Got it.

FRY: Yes, the child, you can see, is just terrified.

BALDWIN: You mentioned a second ago -- you use the phrase "rush the border." just remind people who are watching, seeking asylum is legal. Walking up, having a conversation with the customs and border patrol in a calm manner, legal. So, what's your understanding of why this group rushed the border the way they did?

FRY: Right. So, they were trying to peacefully walk to the border. They started out as a peaceful march. They were carrying white flags and they were peacefully marching, just like they did on Thanksgiving Day. They were walking peacefully toward El Chaparral, it's the pedestrian bridge that leads to ped west of San Ysidro, where they were trying to approach U.S. immigration authorities and ask for asylum.

However, Mexican federal police blocked them right at the foot of that pedestrian bridge, and that's when frustrations kind of started to rise. It definitely got more heated, as you saw there with the federal police, the conflict that happened there. And then people just started running in all different directions. So, I ran east, east of the vehicle, crossing my photographer. Ran with a group that ran towards the pedestrian west. Almost everyone ran through that canal. That's some video that I've seen quite a lot. So almost everyone ran over the canal, toward the border.

BALDWIN: And again, when the President was just asked about this, he said that the customs and border patrol are being rushed by some tough people. Nobody is coming into our country unless they are coming legally, so says Trump, just within the last couple of minutes. Wendy Fry, thank you very much.

FRY: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Three weeks after the election, Republican Congresswoman, Mia Love, delivers a sharp concession speech and some of her most pointed remarks were directed straight at President Trump.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A racially charged special election in Mississippi just took another unsettling turn after nooses were found at the state capitol. In addition, signs were found on the grounds reading "we are hanging nooses to remind people that times have not changed." Other signs were in protest following controversial remarks by Republican Senate Candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith. She came under heavy criticism for saying she would attend a public hanging if invited. Hyde-Smith has since said her comment was twisted and that she would apologize to anyone she offended.

But this comes as President Trump is in route to Mississippi where he will hold not just one but two rallies tonight in support of Hyde- Smith. A new report has also emerged that Cindy Hyde-Smith attended a private all-white high school back in the 1970s to avoid integration. Adding to her controversial run, a Facebook picture recently surfaced of her wearing confederate clothing. She's also defended Mississippi's confederate past.

So, with me now, Karen Cox, she's a history professor at UNC Charlotte. And author of the book, "Dixie's Daughters." Karen, welcome to you. And you know, I wrote your piece on CNN.com, you wrote that Hyde-Smith's views are not surprising to students of southern history. Why?

KAREN COX, HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNC CHARLOTTE: Well, generations of white Southerners were raised on the narrative that she espouses. Over a century ago, The United Daughter of the Confederacy worked to create a program of education with white children in the South. Whether that was changing textbooks, celebrating confederate heroes on their birthdays, informing a group like the Children of the Confederacy.

But what has happened is that generation after generation of white Southerners have bought into this mythology of the confederacy. It was used at midcentury by segregationists. It continued to be taught in schools. And Hyde-Smith attended a segregation academy where she very likely learned some of this -- the same ahistorical information.

BALDWIN: Now despite the fact that all of this is now being dug up, we're learning more about her -- her proud Southern roots. I mean, it's one thing to be a proud Southerner, right, but it's another to espouse the things that she has. There has been serious public pushback over what she has done, what she has said. Which is certainly a good thing. But the fact is that Trump is holding these two rallies tonight by her side. Where do you think Mississippi will fall?

COX: That's really hard to say. They have -- they definitely have a choice to make. Trump's arrival in Mississippi to rally for Hyde- Smith is a reaffirmation of the comments that she made. But I know that not all Mississippians think the way she does, and I think for the future of the state and the future of all races, I think her opponent is probably the better choice.

BALDWIN: That special selection tomorrow. We will all be watching. Karen Cox, thank you very much.

COX: Thank you.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Coming up, more on the news, you saw here live right here in NASA completing a historic landing on Mars. We'll briefly what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The coolest thing happened on my show earlier today. After traveling for nearly seven month and nearly 300 million miles, NASA landed the "Insight" probe on mars. And here is what happened at NASA control. [16:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touchdown confirmed. (CHEERS).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Elation at the JPL in Pasadena. Here's the thing -- only 40 percent of the missions to mars actually succeed. The Red Planet is a graveyard of failed attempts. Today we all witnessed history and success and look at this -- "Insight" is already sending back pictures of mars. Massive congrats to the NASA scientists and engineers and mathematicians who made this happen.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you very much for being with me here today. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.