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Bush 41's Casket Arrives at Joint Base Andrew; Trump Says Cohen Should Receive Full Sentence; Trump Says China Agreed to Reduce Tariffs on Car Imports; Crown Prince Communicated with Aide in Hours Before and After Khashoggi's Murder. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 3, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Brooke Baldwin today. Thank you for joining us as the nation mourns for the 41st President during a week of tributes. The one happening in just hours will give Americans who have never met George H.W. Bush an up-close opportunity to pay their respects. He will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda starting tonight through Wednesday morning, with plans to keep the Rotunda open all hours during that time. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday in Houston. And today every step of his transport, from Texas to the nation's capital has been met with honor and ceremony. And you will see, that will continue in just a short time from now, his body will arrive to the D.C. area to Air Force One, which has been renamed Special Mission 41 to recognize the final flight of the World War II aviator. We will bring you the arrival live right here on CNN. And as we wait, I want to go now to CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, talk to us about the memorial events this week. Who will be giving the eulogies?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as President George H.W. Bush prepares to make his final trip here to Washington, preparations are underway here at Joint Base Andrews. He'll be landing in a Special Air mission 41, which is really Air Force One, but it's only called that when the President, of course, is onboard. But certainly, there will be the full trappings and welcome here, including a 21-gun salute. But then he will go to the Capitol, as you said. But it is the eulogy, that's so interesting. His son, George W. Bush, of course, the 43rd President will be giving a eulogy at the National Cathedral on Wednesday, as well as the former Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, that is signifying the world alliances that former President Bush crafted so much of. And a friend of the President will be signifying the congressional branch of this. And finally, historian and biographer Jon Meacham will also be delivering a eulogy, as he did at Barbara Bush's earlier this year. And of course, there will be a second ceremony, service on Thursday, at the Bush family church in Houston. And his grandson, George P. Bush, who's still in the family business, if you will, the agriculture commissioner in the state of Texas, he will be giving a eulogy, as well as Secretary of State, James Baker, one of former President Bush's closest friends. He was there with him until his very last moments on Friday. He will also be delivering a eulogy. Those are some of the people who are going to be paying tribute to the President from different chapters of his life. But also, interesting, other visitors will be coming, including the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. She announced this morning that she will be traveling here to Washington to pay her respects and she said in a statement, as well as what she was saying over the weekend at the G20 summit in Argentina, that she credits and all of Germany credits the work of George H.W. Bush in reunifying Germany. So certainly, that is one of the world leaders now, the current world leaders who still remembers and praises the work of this President, who is known for building alliances, known for building these bridges here. But he will be arriving here with his family. I actually caught up with Jeb Bush a few hours ago. He will be in town, as well. He had a conversation with President Trump over the weekend. He said the President was very gracious. Ana?
CABRERA: Jeff Zeleny, awaiting the former President's arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Thank you. You may have seen this image of the President's service dog, Sully, lying in front of his casket. How touching is that? Later this hour, I'll speak live to one of the men who helped train sully here in the newsroom.
Meantime, the Russia probe is expected to kick into overdrive this week. And you don't have to look much further than the President's own Twitter feed to know that he is well aware of what may be coming today. The President lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller and attacking his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is now cooperating with Mueller. The President says Cohen is making up stories to get a lighter sentence and should serve a full and complete sentence. Now, the President's fury comes as the Mueller team is set to file two reports, detailing the climbs committed by Michael Flynn and Manafort this week. During his tweet storm this morning, the President did offer praise for one of his former advisers, Roger Stone, who is also under scrutiny, by the way, by the special counsel.
He tweeted this, "I will never testify against Trump. This statement was made recently by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about President Trump. Nice to know that some people still have guts." That tweet follows an interview Stone gave to ABC this week, denying contact with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election and vowing to never testify against the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's no circumstance under which I would testify against the President, because I would have to bear false witness against him. I would have to make things up, and I'm not going to do that. I've had no discussion regarding a pardon. The only person I've pushed for a pardon for is Marcus Garvey, who I think should be pardoned posthumously. And
[14:05:00] I wrote the President about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not Paul Manafort?
STONE: I have had no discussions with the President about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: With now is Elie Honig, he is a former prosecutor with the Southern District of New York and a CNN legal analyst. Also, joining us, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. So first, Trump's tweet. Is he witness tampering?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's pretty close to the line. The President has had a pretty consistent message throughout this process, which is anyone who testifies or cooperates with law enforcement is weak, gutless, and inherently a liar. And the flip side is anyone who stays silent is heroic and has guts, to use his term. He is right on the edge of witness tampering. Federal law makes it a crime to do anything to dissuade or try to postpone or delay someone's testimony. And if you look at the President's tweets from this morning, if I was a prosecutor and we had a wiretap up on someone's phone and they said those exact things that the President tweeted, I would say, wow, we just got him on obstruction. So, he's really right on the edge.
CABRERA: So, Twitter is just a fine line?
HONIG: Twitter gives you a window into someone's mind. And the President is unfiltered and what he says is absolutely fair game for evidence, for trial, for Mueller's report.
CABRERA: And Gloria, we know all of this is coming about a week after Trump said he wasn't going to rule out a pardon for Paul Manafort. Is Stone, here, essentially asking for one?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You think? I think Roger Stone just sort of came out and said it. Look, I'm not -- I would never, I would never testify against the President. I mean, I think that's sort of putting it right there on the table. Unlike Michael Cohen, is the implication, of course. I'm going to remain loyal. And I think we know that that's what the President is looking for and what he values. And I think Roger Stone is a smart guy who knew exactly what he was saying and doing. And the President wouldn't take a pardon off the table for Paul Manafort. I think given his tweets today, he probably hasn't taken it off the table for Roger Stone, should he need one. But, you know, Michael Cohen is kind of off his list.
CABRERA: We don't know if we're talking to each other directly behind the scenes, but here they're able to communicate through the air waves to each other, in the Twittersphere.
BORGER: We assume they're not talking.
CABRERA: The other thing, Gloria, Trump's other tweet today, how extraordinary is it that the President is calling for his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to be jailed?
BORGER: Well, it's extraordinary on so many levels. I mean, first of all, their personal relationship, which goes back so many years, and we've all said time and time again that Michael Cohen was the fixer. He was the guy who would take a bullet, as he put it, himself for this President. And who did whatever the President wanted. I mean, you know, during the campaign, there was no one more loyal to Donald Trump than Michael Cohen. And now, it's kind of a Shakespearean story here, where Michael Cohen has decided that he can no longer remain loyal and he and the President are at war and the President wants Michael Cohen to go to jail. And I think Michael Cohen feels the same way about the President, in many ways. And so, it's a, it's a story that, you know, we're all kind of waiting to see how it ends. I mean, Michael Cohen believes that he did what he did out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, I would think. And now Donald Trump does everything he can to disparage him and his honesty.
CABRERA: Michael Cohen's team filed some documents over the weekend ahead of his sentencing, asking for no prison time because he is a changed man, teeing up what you just said there, Gloria. Eli, what are the chances he gets no jail time?
HONIG: I think they're kind of low. I know the judge, Judge William Pauley, he's tough, candidly, a little intimidating. He's a stern judge and a stern sentencing. What will be of interest to Judge Pauley, he has very little time for people who commit crimes who know better. He's an attorney, he could have been appearing in front of Judge Pauley. And I think Judge Pauley is a staunch deferred of the justice system and the integrity of the justice system and when you have someone who is an attorney, an officer of the court, who now has pled to a series of very serious crimes, I don't think Judge Pauley is going to take too kindly to that.
CABRERA: And Gloria, doesn't this just sort of play into Trump's hands, this narrative that Cohen is willing to tell Mueller whatever he wants just to get a light sentence?
BORGER: Well, the -- it might, to a degree. But you've got to presume that whatever Michael Cohen is telling Bob Mueller, Bob Mueller might know from other sources. That he has clear corroboration on pieces of information, because it's clear to us, from our reporting, that he considers Michael Cohen a very valuable witness at this point. And Mueller is way too careful and way too smart and has too many smart lawyers working for him to just take incoming and say, OK, that's the truth.
[14:10:00] So clearly, what he is doing, getting Michael Cohen's information, is corroborating it, re-interviewing witnesses, potentially interviewing new witnesses, potentially. And clearly sees Cohen as a valuable part of his mosaic at this point.
CABRERA: And Elie, I know you have written about just that, that he doesn't just accept somebody at their word. There has to be corroborating evidence to make sure that he is credible. Thank you both for being with us. I really appreciate it, guys.
Up next, U.S. markets surging as President Trump's trade war with China reaches a temporary truce. But are there any details? And are Trump and China even on the same page?
Also, CNN has obtained several months' worth of WhatsApp messages belonging to journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The clues they reveal about a possible motive in his death.
And he's no fan of President Trump. So why does Bruce Springsteen now think Trump will win again in 2020? We're back in a moment.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Welcome back. It is the international dinner date that Wall Street is cheering. The Dow is up, matching the reaction from global markets to that 90-day truce that was announced in the U.S./China trade war. Its decision to hit pause on more tariffs came at this state dinner between President Trump and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. And while markets are up, analysts note, there are still some details to be worked out. Not any real resolution to the threat from each side to increase tariffs. For now, both nations have agreed to not raise them at the start of the year. But China has yet to acknowledge other details that the U.S. is hailing, like the 90-day deadline to get to an agreement on multiple issues. China agreeing to immediately buy U.S. agricultural products and China cutting tariffs on American cars. In fact, just moments ago, chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow admitted a specific agreement had not been reached on the auto tariffs, despite what President Trump claimed on Twitter. Let me turn now to CNN business editor at large, Richard Quest. So, Richard, how big of a win is this for the U.S.? Is it a win?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Oh, no. No, no, no, no. It's not a win, it's a standoff. It is a truce. The 90 days will show what the longer-term benefits will be. And I think that's why you're seeing what happened in the market today. So, the market opens up 440-odd points. That's the best of the day. It's given back nearly half of all of those gains, more than half of those gains. That's because everybody's saying, yet the potential -- and I'm not being mealy mouthed here, the potential is huge. They could do a deal. But it is 90 days to do that deal. And all they've really done is agree now just not to make the situation worse.
CABRERA: They're kicking the can down the road, it sounds like.
QUEST: Yes, but they've now got a view of what that road looks like. That road is 90 days.
CABRERA: But China's not even acknowledging that 90-day deadline. What do you make of that? That China is not acknowledging some of the agreement that the U.S. is specifically touting, like the car tariffs?
QUEST: It means that they're hoping for wiggle room. It means that they're going to obfuscate. It means that this is going to be much, much more tricky. Which is why Robert Lighthizer of the USTR, an extremely experienced trade negotiator, is taking the helm here. This is not a negotiation for amateurs. This is not about political negotiation. This is about somebody who's actually sat down, looked trade opponents in the eye and said, this is what we want from you, this is what we expect from you, this is what we're going to give you back in return. Remember, this 90-day business, we saw something very similar between Donald Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European commissioner, remember? A few months ago? Europeans, he withdrew his threat and he didn't do this and tariffs on cars. There was an extended negotiating period that was going to follow when that -- nothing's happened from that now either. CABRERA: I sense your skepticism. You believe there is reason to
believe this may not happen?
QUEST: Oh, absolutely. To get the sort of deal that the U.S. is talk about involving structural change of the Chinese economy, something that they have vehemently refused to do so far, absolutely.
CABRERA: What will you be watching next?
QUEST: I will be watching to see real, concrete moves. It's very easy -- look, I can think of a million and one ways that a smoke screen is sent up and everybody says, oh, what that great deal. They're going to buy more cars. Cars, incidentally, that they weren't going to sell anyway. And tariffs that weren't going to be of relevance anyway. Where the Chinese are concerned, in this particular case, you're talking about long-term structural non-tariff barriers. It's a posh way of saying, the Chinese have to change the way they do business. They have been singularly reticent to do so far. 90 days will test whether they are. The market, it's wonderful, isn't it? 174, back up to 223. 440 at the morning. I mean, where this will close, who knows?
CABRERA: And who knows what will change what's happening there between now and the end of the day, as well. Thank you so much. Richard Quest, always good to talk with you. Coming up, a CNN exclusive.
[14:20:00] Uncovering hundreds of WhatsApp messages from Jamal Khashoggi. His comments about the Saudi crown prince and the man now living with guilt about what happened to the murdered journalist.
Plus, Michelle Obama is talking about Sheryl Sandberg's lean-in philosophy. To say she's not a fan is putting it lightly.
[14:25:00] CABRERA: CNN has exclusive new details about a possible motive in the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN's Nina Dos Santos obtained hundreds of text messages that Khashoggi sent to a friend using WhatsApp in the months before his murder in October criticizing Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Khashoggi writes quote, "He is like a beast like Pac-man, the more victims he eats, the more he wants." In another quote, "May god rid us and this nation of this predicament."
Now, the recipient of those messages is this man, Omar Abdulaziz, a fellow critic and an exile in Canada right now. In October, I spoke to him about Khashoggi's disappearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAR ABDULAZIZ, EXCHANGED TEXT MESSAGES WITH KHASHOGGI: I was asking him, if MBS is going to change his behavior, because for the last few months, he was -- I asked him because he's an expert, I said, do you think this guy is going to change his behavior? He told me, no, that's not going to happen. He's going to be more violent. I said, so what do you think? I said, OK, I'll pray for you that you're not going to be harmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: In another text exchange, the two friends create the possibility of creating an electronic army of fellow critics inside of Saudi Arabia. Now, Khashoggi pledged funds, Abdulaziz bought the hardware to enable others to speak freely. Abdulaziz believes that they hacked his phone and saw those messages. When Khashoggi learned that that happened, he simply wrote, god help us. CNN reached out to Saudi officials about Abdulaziz's allegations and we have not yet received a response. These new details emerge from amid multiple reports that the CIA intercepted messages between the crown prince and one of his key aides around the time of Khashoggi's disappearance. That aide is believed to have been directing the team who carried out the assassination, now according to the "Wall Street Journal," MBS sent at least 11 messages to that aide before and after the killing. Joining us now to discuss this and more, former CIA officer, Evan McMullen. Evan, if U.S. intelligence agencies know that the crown prince had several contacts with this senior aide who allegedly oversaw Khashoggi's death, just before and just after his killing, would they also be able to access the contents of those communications?
EVAN MCMULLEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: They may be able to. It's difficult to say whether they did or not. But they may have been able to. But I think, you know, what we see here is just by virtue even of the fact that they were communicating, it just confirms what you would expect and what you would know if you know anything about Saudi Arabia and countries like these, and that is that big things like this, operations like this, daring operations like this with high potential negative consequences and blowback just don't happen without the, the leaders' authorization. In this case, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. So the fact that Mohammad bin Salman was in touch with the guy who was controlling this operation and that several members of his security team were involved, they were part of the hit team, tells you enough, in addition to the way things work in Saudi Arabia and other such countries, that this is something that the crown prince would have known about. And the other bit of this, Ana, that I think is important is that the crown prince was calling for the luring of Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, as far back as august 2017. So, this had been something that he had long wanted to do, and he had even mentioned, according to the reporting of the CIA report, that if that couldn't be done, that he was, that perhaps Khashoggi could be lured to some other place. And then perhaps, you know, harmed in that way.
CABRERA: Right. Right. The President continues to point out that the crown prince continues to deny he had any involvement. We heard just this weekend, other administration officials using the phrase, there's no smoking gun, there's no direct evidence linking MBS to the murder. Can you understand why they have responded in the way they have?
MCMULLEN: Well, of course, because it absolves them of any responsibility to respond accordingly. Using U.S. power and U.S. resources to punish those who are guilty of this crime. Including, it seems, and I would say that I believe this is the case without much doubt, the crown prince himself. Mohammad bin Salman. So, they, you know, I think this administration, the Trump administration is interested in absolving themselves of that responsibility, and I think another good question is why are they interested in doing that? The President talks a lot about the value of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. It's true, we do have valuable collaboration with them on a variety of issues. But it's also true that the President has a personal interest and a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.
[14:30:00] He has done millions of dollars of real estate deals with Saudi Arabia, with the government there, over time. He even in the past year has, his hotel properties, his properties have earned significant amounts of money from the Saudi Arabian government. So, he's got his own interests there. But I think it's for those reasons that we see the Trump administration trying to obscure the connection between Mohammad bin Salman and this atrocious act.
CABRERA: As far as we know, the President did not have any meetings with MBS, the crown prince at the G20, although they exchanged pleasantries, we're told, at that summit. Also, no formal meeting with President Putin of Russia. But listen to defense secretary James Mattis just this weekend, saying Russia is not done meddling in U.S. elections.