Return to Transcripts main page


Corsi Shows Draft Court Documents of E-mails with Stone; Manafort Legal Team Keep's Trump's Legal Team in Loop; Trump Willing to Shut Down Government over Border Wall Funding; Senate Expected to Vote on Mueller Protection Bill. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 28, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:14] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Paul Manafort is headed back to court. He'll be before the judge again Friday morning. It will be the first time since prosecutors informed the judge that Manafort broke his plea deal. This comes after a huge 24 hours in the special counsel investigation. Draft court documents are giving new insight into what Robert Mueller's team may know about efforts by Trump associates to work with WikiLeaks.

And new details that Manafort's legal team has been keeping Trump's team in the loop while working with the special counsel.

And as we reported, "The Guardian" is reporting Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, just before joining the campaign, something Manafort denies.

CNN's Sara Murray has done some extraordinary reporting on this. She's joining me now.

Let's talk about Jerome Corsi. A known conspiracy theorist, a friend, associate of Roger Stone. He is showing you these draft court documents and had a lot to say.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is in these plea negotiations with the special counsel's office. They said, he has lied to us, let's talk about you striking up a plea deal. He says he's not going to do that. But he shares this batch of draft documents with CNN. In them, you can really see these e-mails between Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone in the summer of 2016. You can see how badly Rogers is trying to Corsi to get information from WikiLeaks, to get e-mails before they are released. You see Corsi, in 2016, suggesting that he somehow knows that WikiLeaks has the dirt and when they are going to release it. Corsi says he was never in touch with Assange. Roger Stone says he never got anything early. That's what the court documents show

So then I did an interview with Corsi and he starts to lay out other things that investigators were interested in asking him about, including investigations with Roger Stone the day the "Access Hollywood" tape was released during the campaign. Here's what Corsi said about that.


JEROME CORSI, ROGER STONE ASSOCIATE: We get to October 7, which was a very, very busy day here in New York, and Roger calls me three times. We have three times we have a discussion. My recollection is that Roger is saying this is going to be dropped and Assange better get going. Why don't you get to your buddy Assange and tell him to start? I didn't have contact with Assange. Roger, going back to July and August, may have led him on.


MURRAY: So Corsi's impression is Roger wants him to help mitigate the fallout of the tape that hasn't even been released yet.


MURRAY: Roger Stone says he hasn't offered any evidence to collaborate this story. Roger called it pure, unadulterated, unmitigated B.S.

This is one of the incidents investigators were asking Corsi about. They also asked him about his involvement with Roger Stone around that tweet. Remember, Roger Stone tweeted --


MURRAY: -- Podesta's time in the barrel and said it didn't have anything to do with Podesta's e-mails, it was all about the business dealings. Jerome Corsi provided him the research that was the basis of the tweet. Corsi says the tweet came first and my memo was a coverup that came later.

Here is how he described Roger's interaction with him about the tweet.


CORSI: What I recall is Roger said, I have done this tweet, I think it was August 21, and he said Podesta will have his time in the barrel, whatever, to that effect. Roger was saying, you know, I want you to help me figure out a way to make it sound like I didn't know these were Podesta's e-mails that Assange had, that isn't what you were referring to.


MURRAY: Roger Stone denies that this is how it all went down. Jerome Corsi said it didn't seem like that big of a deal, it is old-fashioned politicking. You create a narrative to cover something up. But the investigators, he says, were very interested in it.

[11:35:11] BOLDUAN: It seems maybe they're learning that this is not what old-fashioned politicking might look like.

Amazing interview, Sara. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

A lot to try to dive through as Jerome Corsi speaking so publicly about the legal goings on with the Russia investigation.

With me now is CNN legal analyst, Shan Wu. He was also the lawyer for former Trump aid, Paul Manafort's long time right-hand man, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe.

Shan, how big of a potential issue is it that Roger Stone was asking Jerome Corsi to get in touch with Julian Assange? What do you make of this?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think perhaps Sara should get hired on by the Mueller team with that investigative reporting.


WU: Absolutely. It's just very, very puzzling as to why the two of them would be in such intense communications about this if there was nothing to it. From the prosecutorial standpoint, that is a huge red flag that will keep you going at them. What I make of that is it seems like there's something that they are working on specifically to counter what they are anticipating coming out. The reference to, it's Podesta's turn, it really defies common sense to think it is anything but the knowledge about the e-mails coming out. It is also, from an investigative standpoint, an extraordinary scene to have them explaining all of this on television. I'm sure that if he varies in the least bit from what he was explaining to the prosecutors, that is further problems for him in terms of the false statements to them. So it's very unclear what --


BOLDUAN: That was the other thing I was going to ask you. If he was negotiating a plea deal with the special counsel, why would he speak so publicly?

WU: It does not make any sense. I'm assuming he is getting legal advice. I would tell him just to be quiet. There's no way we would allow a client to go on national television and begin giving their version of it, at the same time that they are being interviewed by the special counsel. He may be taking the view point that there's no hope of convincing the special counsel that he can get a good deal or that he didn't do it, so maybe figures he will throw it all out there in the hopes of perhaps attracting the president's attention.

BOLDUAN: On Manafort and his cooperation deal, the idea of the fact that his team was talking to the Trump team about what he was telling Mueller, not illegal. But isn't it quite unusual if he is actually supposedly working with Mueller that he would also then be telling Trump's team what he is talking about?

WU: I think that is very unusual. I heard some commentators say, no big deal, it's a joint defense agreement. I would never be in a joint defense agreement with somebody who is cooperating with the government. It doesn't make any sense.

I think what is particularly intriguing about this is the two-way street aspect of it, which is if the Trump team is suggesting to Manafort's team what would be useful to say, I think there's the potential for converting some of the lawyers now into witnesses, because if you are worried about Manafort lying and obstruction, you will want to know, what were the instructions. That might be an attempt to pierce the normal privilege aspect of that. It is very risky business for lawyers to be doing that.

BOLDUAN: So many questions. What would Trump do with the information that they got and why would there be a motivation to do this if it was anything other than trying to, I don't know, seek a pardon maybe?

Great to see you, Shan. I really appreciate it. Much more to come on this.

WU: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: A tit for tat. General Motors says President Trump's threat to cut subsidies isn't really that big of a deal. We'll talk with Congressman Tom Reed about that and much more, next.


[11:43:34] BOLDUAN: Ready for a show down. President Trump telling "Politico" today that he is ready to fight it out with lawmakers and is willing to shut down the government over border wall funding if his dollar amount isn't met. Telling "Politico" this: "I don't do anything just for political gain." But he also says he believes that a pitched battle over the border is a total winner politically for him.

Joining me now, Republican Congressman Tom Reed, of New York.

Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. TOM REED, (R), NEW YORK: Always a pleasure to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

The president isn't budging on the $5 billion amount. When he says that he is totally willing to shut down the government and also says, and I'll read the full quote, "I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner."

Is shutting down the government a winner?

REED: Obviously that is something to be avoided, in my opinion, from a political perspective. But what the president is saying, and I agree with, is that we need to secure the border. We need to get the border functioning again. If we are going to have this political fight and this fight on Capitol Hill, maybe this is the time to have it. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Is this a game of chicken at this point? We have been through this, I don't know if we can count anymore. Do you think there's a chance the government will see a partial shutdown?

REED: I think we will be able to avoid a shutdown. Obviously, this is about negotiations between the White House and the House and the Senate. I think we will have to bridge the difference. People recognize we have a problem at the southern border. It is not secure. It is not functioning. And they need the resources in order to make it so.

[11:45:08] BOLDUAN: Would you accept less than $5 billion in this funding bill in order to keep the government from partially shutting down?

REED: Of course. Obviously, the number needs to be reasonable. The number needs to be based on what is requested by the officials on the ground, the frontline individuals that know what is best. And if $5 billion is more than they need, then obviously open to reducing the number or if it needs more. It is all about securing the border and making the country safe but also making sure the border is functioning for the folks that are trying to come here legally.

BOLDUAN: Does it need to go specifically to building the wall or are you talking about border security?

REED: I think we are talking about border security. A wall is part of border security. That is a structure that needs to be part of the portfolio in order to secure the border.

BOLDUAN: Do you think the president understands that?

REED: Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: That it is not just about the wall?

REED: I do believe that. In watching the conversations and watching the cabinet officials, this is bigger than just a wall. It's not about the physical structure, per se. That is important. That needs to be part of this solution. But we need more than just physical structures. We need technology. We need people. We need resources. We need to be able to deploy those across the spectrum.

BOLDUAN: What about breaking up the $5 billion into pieces, like $2.5 billion coming in the coming year, $2.5 billion coming in the following year? I've heard that being floated.

REED: There's some discussion about that, kind of advanced authorization and appropriation in order to get it taken care of so you don't have to go through the multi-step process each year. That is something to be considered. I think fundamentally we are at the point where, let's allocate the resources. If it is $5 billion let's do it, let's get it done, get it out of the House and give it to the Senate, and Chuck Schumer will have a hard decision to make. Is he going to shut down the government in regard to what is necessary to keep us safe at the southern border or is he going to negotiate and get this taken care of? I think he will negotiate and we'll get through this very easily.

BOLDUAN: The question is then, is the president going to negotiate? Neither you nor I can get into his head, ever. Let me ask you about another big issue that is very important to many

Americans. G.M. announcing these massive layoffs and plant closures. The president is threatening to cut all federal subsidies to G.M. in retaliation, essentially. It is not clear what subsidies he is talking about. Do you know?

REED: I don't know exactly. I know there's tax credits. I'm on the tax-writing committee here in the House of Representatives --


BOLDUAN: Doesn't that help the consumer and doesn't have anything to do with the company?

REED: It obviously passes through the company and makes those vehicles that much more attractive to manufacture. I think we are dealing with is a question for G.M. to answer. We bailed out G.M. with hardworking taxpayer dollars. Why are they turning their back on America today? That is not the way we should have a company act here in our backyard. I think the president is right to ask the hard questions of G.M., to say why are you doing this? These are hard- working Americans that stood with you during your dark times. Let's stand with the American workers going forward.

BOLDUAN: You think G.M. should be punished? They say they are making a business decision, saying it is responding to the market and the way the industry is changing.

REED: I can appreciate that. I believe, if there are preferences given to G.M., they should be on the table and say, OK, if that's the case, then you are on your own. By shutting down a factory and closing these facilities, I think the president is absolutely correct. The hard questions need to be asked of G.M., saying what are you doing with the jobs? Where are they going? Bottom line, if you are not going to build them here in America, we in Congress shouldn't give you any type of preferential treatment.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in. Much more to discuss soon. Thank you.

REED: Great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

We are also getting word from Capitol Hill that the Senate could soon be voting on a bill to protect the special counsel's Russia investigation. After so much talk a vote could happen or they could try to force a vote to happen. Will it be blocked? Will it happen? We will take you there live.


[11:53:35] BOLDUAN: Any minute now, a bipartisan group of Senators could be heading to the floor to try and force a vote to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation. Senate Republican leaders have made clear over and over again they have not wanted to bring this issue to the floor. They don't think it's necessary. Will Mitch McConnell block the move? Or are they headed to a faceoff with the president?

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins me now.

Sunlen, what are you hearing about this vote?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDNT: Kate, in just a few minutes, likely in the noon hour, we'll see three Senators, Jeff Flake and two Democratic Senators, Chris Coons and Cory Booker, will go to the Senate floor and try to force a vote to protect the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It is not expected to go anywhere today. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has been very clear that he has very little appetite for this. By the rules of the Senate, they are trying to push this through by something called unanimous consent. And that means one Senator can block this. Very likely when it comes up in the next hour, McConnell will block this today. It was yesterday he said this is a solution in search of a problem. He says he has been given no indication that President Trump so he thinks it is unnecessary. That said, many Democrats and some Republicans are bringing this amid all the concerns given that Trump fired Jeff Sessions and there are many concerns over acting A.G. Matt Whitaker, so really trying to keep the pressure up on leadership on this.

And one Senator, Jeff Flake, said he is really pledged to withhold his vote -- his Republican vote on judicial nominations unless this bill gets a floor vote. Kate, no expectation that that's going to happen.

[11:55:23] BOLDUAN: And because of the kind of power that Jeff Flake holds that has been kind of the one thing that's left open why people might get a vote on this. Not so right now, right, Sunlen?

SERFATY: That's right. Republicans feel very good on where they are on some of these controversial judicial nominations. That leverage is nullified in a large part -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Sunlen. Thank you.

Still ahead, Senators are still behind closed doors for a classified briefing on Saudi Arabia and who ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We are expecting to hear from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he is coming out of the room. We'll bring that to you live.