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Mueller to Reveal Details on Trump Insiders Flynn, Manafort, Cohen; Bush's Service Dog Sully Visits Capitol Rotunda; CIA Director Haspel Briefs Senators on Khashoggi Murder; Trump Tweets Raise Questions about Witness Tampering. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired December 4, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, CIA Director Gina Haspel is behind closed doors with a key group of Senators. She's there to brief them on the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. This, after lawmakers demanded that she show up when she didn't last week when there was a briefing for the full Senate.
Also on Capitol Hill, people continue to stream in to pay their respects to former President George H.W. Bush. Just look at those beautiful pictures inside the capitol rotunda. He's lying in state there inside the rotunda ahead of his state funeral tomorrow morning. Some key visitors are expected this hour. We're going to have much more on that in just a few minutes. The Honor Guard standing watch over it all.
First, we return to this. Today is a critical day for the special counsel's Russia investigation. Robert Mueller's team has until midnight tonight to file new information on Michael Flynn, the president's former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians and subsequently agreed to cooperate with the Mueller team. That's just today.
This week, we're also going to learn more about Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Shimon Prokupecz is following all of this for us.
Shimon, it's been a year now since Michael Flynn's plea deal. What is expected to come out in this memo?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Kate. It was November 30th last year, 2017, when Flynn agreed to start cooperating with the special counsel. And now, he's ready to be sentenced, the special counsel says. As a result, they have to file a memo today detailing perhaps the level of cooperation that Michael Flynn has basically given to the special counsel, to the government, perhaps other parts of the Department of Justice and the FBI, all in hopes, really, why he's cooperating was to get a lenient sentence. Essentially trying to avoid a substantial amount of jail time. As a result, the government has to file a letter on his behalf, a memo where they're going to detail how he cooperated, where he cooperated. And also important is the impact of his cooperation. What level of impact has his cooperation had on the special counsel's investigation? That is how much did it advance the investigation? So all of that we can learn at any point within the hour, later today perhaps. We don't exactly know when the special counsel intends to file this memo. But nonetheless, most important probably for all of us is that it may give us a glimpse, a further glimpse, a deeper glimpse into this investigation and where things stand. And also very important for Michael Flynn in all of this is he's going to learn as to how much jail time potentially the government is going to recommend for him, if any jail time at all.
BOLDUAN: We'll see. Of course, one of the big contributing factors is how cooperative, how helpful the information is --
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
BOLDUAN: -- that someone is able to provide to the special counsel.
Great to see you, Shimon. Stay close, my friend. We know it happens when you're away from the camera. It all happens.
Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, Anne Milgram, a former prosecutor and former attorney general for the state of New Jersey, and Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney.
Thank you for being here.
Anne, this is basically the case against Michael Flynn, right? What are you looking for? What are you expecting to come out?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there are a couple things to look for. As Shimon said, yes, the government will say whether or not he's cooperated and whether they're recommending that the judge gives him a lesser sentence. And also, is the government asking for jail time or not. That's a question that's still open. And the second thing I think we'll see is a more detailed recitation of Flynn's crimes. When he pled guilty, we heard about the lying to the FBI related to the Russian government. There may be other things. When cooperators come in, they confess to everything, so the government may go through other information. I don't know if that's the case, but it's possible we'll learn a lot more about Michael Flynn.
BOLDUAN: Again, read the documents carefully.
Harry, it's been a year. Why has he been on the hook for so long? Do you read anything into that or is that typical?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It's not typical, and it's really one of the more interesting aspects of this, Kate. It's been delayed four different times as Flynn's cooperation has been ongoing. You know, this is like the prehistory of the Mueller probe. You remember this all came to a head on Valentine's Day, you know, back in 2017. As Anne says, we'll learn a lot about Flynn, but we could potentially learn a lot more about everything that surrounded Flynn when he was consorting with the Russians, being an agent for Turkey without being registered. President Obama warned Trump about Flynn in the Oval Office two days after the election, as did other people. As Mueller now details his cooperation, there's a very real prospect that it will give chapter and verse of the things that Flynn has now told them and contributed to the probe, which takes us back to the beginning of the Russia connection.
[11:05:00] BOLDUAN: I do wonder, then, when it takes us back to the beginning, are we nearing the end?
What do you make of the timing of kind of what the special counsel will be laying out? It was delayed four times. This now comes pretty shortly after the president has submitted his written answers, sworn answers.
BOLDUAN: Do you read into it?
MILGRAM: I think there are a couple points. The first point, which I think is worth saying, is cooperators cooperate against people and they usually cooperate up. That's something we still don't know, who has Michael Flynn provided information against. So that will be very interesting. In terms of the timing, here's what hard. There could be two different reasons why the timing happened. One could be he was still providing cooperation that was valuable to the government and there were reasons they wanted to keep that secret or not want him sentenced. So it could be based on cooperation. The second piece could be I think you're right that the probe is coming to a close soon. That could mean months. It doesn't mean tomorrow.
MILGRAM: But it could be that they just didn't want this information out there, particularly because it does relate to the Russian piece of the investigation. They might just not have wanted it out there six months ago when they were still continuing to interview witnesses and make their case.
MILGRAM: Really hard to know.
BOLDUAN: As everything, until the documents come out, read something into it and read nothing.
Harry, you have Flynn today. Then you have a sentencing memo on Michael Cohen this week and you have prosecutors laying out on Friday what they believe Paul Manafort has lied about to them since he had reached the plea deal with them. Of those, which do you think will be the most significant?
LITMAN: Potentially today, just in the sense that as Anne says, it's a mystery, but it could detail so much going back toward higher ups. But I think Manafort, because the government was really irate at Manafort's lies and it came through in the sentencing memorandum. And they're going to come through with both barrels when they explain to the judge just what he was lying about. And Manafort was pushed to cooperate because the people above him are so few and so important. So if that is -- and I think the indications are it will not be under seal. It will be a public document. That could be a real dynamite filing from the special counsel.
BOLDUAN: All right, we'll wait and see when that happens.
I also want to cut over right now and head back to Capitol Hill, the capitol rotunda. You will see right there's Sully H.W. Bush. He is President George H.W. Bush's service dog. The companion that has been with President Bush since the passing of Barbara Bush, someone who is a companion who has been very important to President Bush in his final days. And this was a moment that a lot of folks are waiting for to see if Sully would come to see the president. We do remember that the president's spokesman had tweeted out a photograph of Sully laying before the president's casket just days ago with the caption, "Mission Complete."
Phil Mattingly is joining me now watching this as well.
Not only is that one adorable dog, but this speaks to a creature so important to the president in his final days.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really captured the attention of the whole country when Jim McGrath, George H.W. Bush's spokesman, tweeted out the picture of Sully laying next to the casket of President George H.W. Bush. And those who have been involved with veterans' organizations or worked with veterans when they've come home, you have seen examples of this in the past where the service dogs have such close relationships with the individuals they serve. You noted, Sully joined President George H.W. Bush in June after the passing of President Bush's wife, stayed with him throughout. Put out a two-page list of commands her could do. Jim McGrath, the spokesman, said the thing he couldn't do is make a martini, and even that maybe was up for debate. I think when he travelled, he told us he had a constant stream of pictures of him over the last 72 hours. Traveled to Washington with the casket on Air Force One or Special Mission 41 at the time. Everyone has been waiting.
What's most interesting is you look at the luminaries and VIPs and the former cabinet officials, lawmakers, vice presidents, people like that. The people I have been talking to waiting in line, ordinary people waiting in line to pay their respects, I would say one out of three or four when I have talked to them said, do you know when Sully is coming? That's how much he's resonated with the people. And it underscores this moment for this country that they have looked to latch on to what President Bush represented, the people around him and what they represent, the man he was. And if there's in any way, shape, or form an animal could represent that, it looks like, at least in the eyes of the people showing up to show their respects, Sully definitely did that -- Kate?
[11:10:04] BOLDUAN: You see Tom Ridge is right there with Sully.
Phil, of course, everyone can day there are so many people in George H.W. Bush's life so much longer than this sweet little creature, but this is such a sweet nature of this moment. And also highlights, I think, and maybe H.W. Bush would want it, highlights, as you said, of these service dogs and what they do and what they can do for veterans and for so many. And the sweet nature of this moment, I think, is really precious that the Bush family planned this, that he was able to come over and join in the moment to pay tribute to the president.
MATTINGLY: Look, there's no question about it. I think it also goes with the theme of the day, which is obviously, yesterday, you saw the memorial service here in the capitol, you saw President Trump and the first lady pay their respects. What today is about is about the man himself. You have people who benefitted from the Americans with Disabilities Act coming over as well. I think --
BOLDUAN: I think they're right there.
BOLDUAN: They might be -- some of them might be right there with Sully, right there.
MATTINGLY: Yes. I believe they're coming in around the same time. You have military leaders from Desert Storm, people involved in the Points of Light Organization that meant so much to President Bush, people involved in his charitable foundation as well. You have this whole scope and breadth of what President Bush, not just the man from the Oval Office or the man who led the CIA or was an ambassador to the U.N., but the entire scope of his life coming to the forefront.
Obviously, last night, there was the memorial service. Tomorrow, everyone will be paying attention to the National Cathedral. Today, when you combine those groups coming in, plus again, the ordinary people. Kate, I rolled in this morning around 4:35 a.m., talked to the capitol police. They said there had been people coming in throughout the night, 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., to pay their respects. The capitol rotunda is open constantly until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow when his body is moves over to the National Cathedral. It kind of underscores what he achieved in his career and, frankly, how people think of him at this moment.
BOLDUAN: To highlight one of those achievements as we have been discussing, Phil noted, members representing the Americans with Disabilities Act, they were there to honor the president. President Bush signed that landmark legislation into law in July of 1990. And I do know that friends of the president have said that he has told them he considers the signing of the ADA as one of his greatest accomplishments. I think many folks would agree and are very thankful for that.
Phil, thank you so much. Great to have you there.
We'll continue watching the live moments play out as President H.W. Bush continues to lie in state ahead of his state funeral tomorrow at the National Cathedral and we'll bring you the special moments as they come in.
Still ahead for us, though, a different part of the capitol for a different reason. Senator Lindsey Graham said last week he was not happy. His words were, "I'm pissed." And he called the administration's response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi unacceptable. Now, he and a small group of Senators are getting what they demanded, a briefing by the CIA director. What kind of earful is she getting right now? That's next.
Plus this. President Trump's son comes to the defense of the president's chief counselor. Talking -- taking head-on that top Trump adviser's husband. If it wasn't ugly before, it sure is now. Now George Conway is hitting back.
[11:17:42] BOLDUAN: Some lawmakers demanded it. Now they're getting it. CIA Director Gina Haspel is briefing a small group of Senators from key committees this hour on the murder of "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. Even though her agency has high confidence the crown prince directed the murder, Haspel was absent from last week's briefing in front of Senators on the issue, leaving some uncomfortable questions that went to the secretary of state, who did show up for the briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I was asked to be here, and here I am.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senators were frustrated. Normally, in your past role as CIA Director, you would be here briefing the Senators on an issue this sensitive. Why isn't the CIA director here?
POMPEO: I was asked to be here, and I'm here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Some Senators like Lindsey Graham were so furious after that, that they didn't hear from the CIA, Lindsey Graham threatened to hold up votes until they did.
CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill where the briefing is taking place.
Manu, what are you hearing about the briefing right now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just six Senators were expected to attend today's briefing that's going to start in just a matter of moments. There's concern from a number of Senators that not more are involved in this briefing. Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, told me moments ago that the full Senate should be involved in this briefing. This, of course, after last week, James Mattis as well as Mike Pompeo briefed Senators about the Saudi-led war in Yemen but were not able to provide many answers to their questions about the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Today, when they're briefed by the CIA director with a small group of Senators, they do expect to hear what the CIA believes happened with Khashoggi and the role the Saudi crown prince had in this. Of course, we know that the White House has said there's, quote, "no direct evidence" to tie the crown prince to that killing.
And when I asked that question to Bob Corker just moments ago, he pushed back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Whether he directed it or not -- I think he did -- he owns it because it was an agency that he directs that carried it out. So you know, they have shown no ownership of this issue whatsoever. And it's just inappropriate. So regardless, if he directed it, which I think he did, or if it indirectly occurred through an agency he controls, he's taken no ownership of something that breaks all international norms and certainly any American values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:18] RAJU: Now, Kate, Corker told me he is working with a bipartisan group of Senators to target Saudi Arabia. He would not rule out the notion of imposing sanctions on the crown prince or rule out supporting pulling back U.S. involvement with the Saudi-led war in Yemen. A range of options now being considered. He believes it could come to the floor as soon as Monday -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Let's see. Let's first see what comes out of the briefing.
Great to see you, Manu. Thank you very much.
Joining me to discuss is Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, of Rhode Island. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees.
Congressman, thank you so much for coming in.
So the CIA director, she will be briefing this small group of Senators any minute now. Speaker Ryan has asked that the House get a briefing as well. Have you heard any rumblings about that happening?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D), RHODE ISLAND: Yes. My understanding is we will have a briefing on December 13th. It's unclear whether the CIA director will be there. I hope we don't have the same problem the Senate has. It's very important that we have a briefing and understand exactly what has been collected in terms of evidence and then be in a position to take additional action if necessary.
BOLDUAN: When it comes to additional action or not, broadly speaking, for the White House, when it comes to the policy of what to do, as Bob Corker was talking about that with Manu, what to do and how to respond and taking responsibility for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, for the White House, it does seem something like an either/or proposition. Either you hold Saudi Arabia accountable for violating human rights or you have a working relationship with them. Does it have to be an either/or?
CICILLINE: No. In fact, Saudi Arabia, like so many of our allies, the relationship between our two countries is complicated. And while they're an ally in important respects, we also have to speak out and stand up when they undermine core American values. And to see the president of the United States basically before the world say, well, even if he was involved in it, we do have important commercial sales here, and there are a lot of jobs at stake, that's not who we are. Our foreign policy needs to reflect the values of the country. And it's in our national security interests to promote democracy and stability and freedom around the world. We're better off when countries respect the free press, when they respect the rule of law, when there are consequences to this kind of brutal action. So it's really in our interest to get to the bottom of this, to hold the people accountable, and to condemn it in the strongest terms. That's in the long-term interests of the United States. The president's suggestion that we should forsake all of that because of some sales for arms, I think, is both incorrect and really undermines core American values and our moral leadership in the world.
BOLDUAN: And is condemn in the strongest terms, hold them accountable in the strongest terms, is that sanctions against the crown prince?
CICILLINE: Absolutely. It's important we do a full review of our relationship with the Saudis, from top to bottom, and both take appropriate actions in terms of sanctions, in terms of canceling military sales, in terms of ending our assistance to them in Yemen. Everything should be on the table. We have to do a full evaluation of this relationship.
BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you something I know a lot happening in court with regard to the special counsel's investigation. You have Michael Flynn's sentencing documents that will be released, Michael Cohen's sentencing documents that will be released and also what prosecutors believe Paul Manafort lied to them about after they struck a deal with them. What are you looking for? Which of these do you find the most significant?
CICILLINE: I think they're all going to be very significant. We're going to learn a lot this week about the status of the special counsel's investigation. I think I'm particularly interested in hearing more about the Manafort plea blow up and what that means and what the special counsel knows. I think more than anything, we'll see the president respond very badly to all of this as he feels the walls sort of closing in on him. It really does reassert the importance of passing legislation to protect the special counsel. The president is trying to interfere, impede, obstruct this investigation. We have seen him try to cheer on witnesses who are refusing to answer the special counsel's questions and condemn those who are coming forward to tell the truth. I think we should be watching the president's behavior this week as well. But this is just a reminder we have got to take action to protect this investigation. The American people have a right to know what the facts are wherever they lead and to insist that Mr. Mueller be permitted to complete his investigation and report to the Congress and to the American people.
BOLDUAN: Let me ask you, you mentioned it. The tweet that the president put out about Roger Stone, saying that he has guts for saying he's not going to testify, that he would never testify against the president, there are quite a few folks who see that as witness tampering. The former acting solicitor general is one who said that it looks that way, just this morning. Do you think tweets amount to witness tampering? Do you think the president of the United States is going to be brought down by a tweet like that?
[11:25:20] CICILLINE: Well, I think we should remember one thing. Tweets are statements of the president of the United States. I think sometimes when we just describe them as a tweet, it tends to maybe diminish their importance. The White House said early on in this administration, these are official statements of the president of the United States. And any attempt to interfere with this investigation, discourage witnesses from coming forward and telling the truth or to cheer on people who seem to be quiet and refusing to cooperate with the special counsel, I think the special counsel will take careful note of that.
BOLDUAN: In the president's view, in that tweet, he was applauding Stone because Stone, I guess, he was saying Stone would be telling the truth by not telling lies or be coerced to tell lies.
CICILLINE: We know that's simply not the case. I think there have been a number of commentators who said this is behavior you expect of a mob boss, not the president of the United States. Telling people to stay strong, you have guts to refuse to cooperate. The special counsel is entitled to expect that everyone is going to be truthful and honest, and when they're testifying under oath, they're stating the facts, that's all Mr. Mueller wants and expects from all the witnesses.
BOLDUAN: Sounds like we're going to get some of those answers this week.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
CICILLINE: I think so. My pleasure.
BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.
Coming up next for us, it's the family feud -- easy for me to say -- that just won't quit for some reason. Now the president's son is lashing out against the husband of Kellyanne Conway. Why he's accusing George Conway of utter disrespect.