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Justice Department Implicates President in Campaign Finance Violations; Sentencing Memo for Michael Cohen Released; President Trump Tweets Newly Released Documents Concerning Special Counsel Investigation Clear Him; Former Mueller Colleague Kristan Peters- Hamlin Interviewed; Annual Army-Navy Football Game to Commence. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 8, 2018 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:26] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, it is Saturday, December 8th. I am Victor Blackwell.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jessica Dean in for Christi Paul this morning, and welcome to the CNN Newsroom.

BLACKWELL: This morning, the president of the United States is being implicated in two crimes by his own Justice Department and the people he appointed.

DEAN: Federal prosecutors are not directly accusing Trump of directing personal lawyer Michael Cohen to break federal election laws and pay hush money to two women he allegedly had affairs with.

BLACKWELL: The president's response in a tweet this morning. "After two years and millions of pages of documents and a cost of over $30 million, no collusion."

DEAN: This is the key phrase from Cohen's sentencing memo released by prosecutors. Let this sink in. "Cohen's commission of two finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for the president of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws -- transparency."

BLACKWELL: CNN's Jeremy Herb and Boris Sanchez are digging into these new filings. We are going to start with Jeremy. Take us through the memos.

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Victor. This is one of the most revealing looks we've had to date in what Mueller's investigation has uncovered. And as you said, what's most significant here is the fact that federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan have for the first time publicly implicated, directly implicated, excuse me, the president when he directed Cohen to commit crimes during the campaign of offering women not to tell their stories about the alleged affair.

We also learned about new contacts that Mr. Cohen had with Russians in the early stages of the campaign, including one Russian who claimed ties to Moscow and said that he would offer political synergy to the Trump campaign. Those conversations were taking place as part of Mr. Cohen's work on the Trump Tower Moscow project in 2015 and into 2016.

And what the Mueller filing did was connected that business work to the question of Russian election meddling, saying that Trump had substantial business interest to gain from the Trump Tower project, and that discussions about it were going on at the same time that Russia was actively meddling in the campaign.

Mr. Cohen was -- the prosecutor said he should receive a substantial sentence after his attorneys had asked for no jail time. Cohen is charged with crimes, including tax fraud, campaign finance violations that are tied to the payments to women, and also lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project.

The big question, of course, in all this is what does it mean for the president. He tweeted Friday that the filing clears the president, but it does, in fact, actually directly implicate him in crimes that Cohen committed. Now, the Justice Department has not accused Trump of a crime and has said that the sitting president cannot actually be charged or indicted, but of course this is something that we think House Democrats are sure to take up into the new year once they take the House, Victor and Jessica.

DEAN: Jeremy Herb, thanks so much.

President Trump seemed to brush off Mueller's latest reveal on Twitter while trying to change the subject with another staff shakeup.

BLACKWELL: White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Washington with the reaction. So what are you hearing from the White House?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Victor, and Jessica. Yes, the president breaking some news just a short while ago, announcing that he is installing a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is a very high position within the administration, effectively the highest ranking adviser in the military to the president. We reported that this was coming yesterday, and here it is, the tweet. The president writing, quote, "I am pleased to announce my nomination of four-star General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the United States Army, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff replacing General Joe Dunford who will be retiring." The president going on to say that he is thankful for both of their service, and adding that as of yet no date of transition has been determined, so they're still figuring out that.

Transitioning over to his response to the Mueller investigation, you're absolutely right. The president effectively brushed off the news that Jeremy just reported about what is in those sentencing memos. Sarah Sanders yesterday put out a statement effectively saying that the media was reaching for a story. She says that in no way do these filings implicate the president, though that isn't exactly clear from what's actually in the documents.

I want to bring up now the very short tweet that the president sent last night that Jeremy referred to. He simply wrote as these documents were being released, quote, "Totally clears the president, thank you." [10:05:04] Of course, there's the question of who Individual One is in

that Michael Cohen sentencing filing who apparently directed Cohen to commit a pair of felonies. The president is expected to attend Army- Navy later today in Philadelphia. You can bet that when he departs here at the White House, we will have questions for him. Of course we'll wait and see if he answers, Victor and Jessica.

DEAN: We will, too. Boris Sanchez at the White House for us, thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: The president and his team say nothing to see here on the latest Russia probe filings, but the facts suggest otherwise. Here to discuss, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu. Welcome back to Newsroom.

Samantha, let me start with you, and I want to read from the Mueller memo about this Russian who contacted Michael Cohen, and it says that "in or around November, 2015," so very early in the campaign, "Cohen received contact information for and spoke with a Russian national who claimed to be a trusted person in the Russian Federation who could offer the campaign political synergy and synergy on a government level." I've never heard the phrase "political synergy." What's that mean to you? What is that?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Victor, political synergy to me seems like the polite way of saying collusion. Political synergy, if you just Google what "synergy" means, it's cooperation between two organizations or agents to achieve an outcome that's greater than the sum of their parts. So what we have here is potentially the special counsel indicating that Michael Cohen, perhaps at the direction of the president was actively working to cooperate with an operative of the Russian government or high placed Russian on a business deal.

And while we wait for Robert Mueller to see whether there was any collusion, in fact, Victor, I just want to say this is a counterintelligence goldmine. It is a fact that the Russian government knew about lies that directly implicated the president well before our own Department of Justice did. So while we look at what happened during the campaign, I think that we also have to think about what impact this may have had on ongoing Russian policy when President Trump got to the White House, because, again, he knew that Russia and Vladimir Putin was well aware of the lies which are a leverage point and bribery point well before our own government did.

BLACKWELL: Shan, the president's supporters will say this didn't go anywhere because Michael Cohen didn't follow-up and there was no actual meeting with this person or with someone else about the Moscow project, building a tower there. But what the filing says is that Cohen didn't follow up on the meeting not because he thought it was wrong or he called the FBI, but because he thought he already had an in somewhere else in the Russian government and he was good.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think Sam's point is very well taken. This is a huge national security problem, a huge vulnerability. And the key there is exactly what did Michael Cohen convey to the president about these issues. And that's the huge vulnerability for the president. This is Michael Cohen, someone who was his confidante, his lawyer, you speak freely to the lawyers. If that information has already been turned over to Mueller or is forthcoming that Cohen specifically talked about this, quote-unquote, synergy, then that is going to be one of the missing links to the president having knowledge of trying to work with Russia.

On the Moscow tower type issues, these are even more concrete details already emerged, because that endangers President Trump because of the timing. He already gave these written answers. And most likely if he addressed business dealings with Russia, he most likely continued to deny them as he has publicly done that. So these are all very specific issues that caused a lot of problems for him, not to mention the campaign finance violations.

And when we talk about the Justice Department not having accused, I think I disagree with that. The department has accused him. They're not charging him because there's the issue of whether you can charge a sitting president, but these are enormous vulnerabilities for the president as well as his family from the Cohen issues.

BLACKWELL: Samantha, one more specific from the Mueller memo. Let's put it on the screen. And the government writes here, "The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project," speaking of the Moscow project, that tower, "and discuss it with Individual-1," President Trump, "well into the campaign," then private citizen Trump, "was material to the ongoing Congressional and special counsel office investigations, particularly because it occurred at the time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election," connecting here in this document the attempt to get Moscow Trump Tower with the interference in the U.S. election. Your view of the connection of those two here?

VINOGRAD: Victor, there are just so many different puzzle pieces coming together, many of which the administration has said are mere coincidences up until this point.

[10:10:03] We know that President Trump, then candidate Trump, was pursuing a business deal in Russia. We know that President Trump, then candidate Trump, was pursuing a business deal in Russia. We know that Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump as a candidate for reasons separate from this business deal. They thought that Donald Trump would pursue policies most helpful to the Russian Federation. And then finally, we now know there were ongoing contacts between the administration and operatives from the Russian government. We haven't talked about Paul Manafort yet, but he was in direct contact with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is suspected of having ties to Russian military intelligence.

So while all of these things are coming together, the real question is whether this political synergy that is referenced is in fact active cooperation to coordinate on politics, to coordinate on the outcome of an election and the policies that then candidate Trump said that he would pursue if elected. BLACKWELL: Shan, let me come to you with the final point here.

Michael Isikoff with Yahoo! News reported just days ago that Mueller's team was telling defense attorneys they were just wrapping up some loose ends. With the introduction of what we learned yesterday and several days earlier, the other Cohen documents, the Manafort documents, new characters, new investigations, the Flynn documents as well, do you see this as wrapping up loose ends?

WU: I don't really see it wrapping up loose ends. I think we have to remember that what's new to us is obviously not new to the Mueller team. They've known about it for a while. So I'm not sure what that phrase means, wrapping up some loose ends. They may be putting the finishing touches on these particular strands of the investigation. Does that mean they're about to issue a report? Still kind of hard to tell. I would guess that because there are new players, new charges, they are not in that position yet. They need to know how some of that is going to work out. They need to know if there's going to be further cooperation that they need to follow up on.

So it doesn't quite seem to me to be, as we have been speculating for a while, that it is near the end of this portion of the investigation. I would see it more as kind of middle at the moment.

BLACKWELL: Shan, Samantha, thank you very much. Of course, we have to talk about the Manafort filing as well. So join us again in just a couple of minutes.

DEAN: Special counsel Robert Mueller says Paul Manafort lied to his investigators, and even though Manafort was once Trump's 2016 campaign chairman, the White House says the latest filing has nothing to do with the president. Next, we're going to take a closer look at that claim.

BLACKWELL: And we'll take you to Paris as the French capital is rocked again by violent protests. Police now using tear gas and water cannons to control protestors.

DEAN: And it's bitterly cold in Philadelphia, perfect weather for America's game, Army-Navy. Coy Wire is braving the elements.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It is still chilly, can't feel my fingers. It's in the 20s I believe. But it's going to heat up on the field. Army and Navy, the men who look to serve our country and play the game they love in front of the nation they love. It's later today, and we have a special guest coming up later in the hour. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:17:18] BLACKWELL: In Robert Mueller's new court filing, the Special Counsel says that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied again and again about several key points.

DEAN: The filing says it continued after he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Mueller's team says Manafort lied about his contact with the Trump administration officials. They say he also lied about interactions with a Russian associate, a man with ties to a Russian intelligence unit accused of hacking Democrats. That filing also says Manafort lied about wire transfers and another DOJ investigation.

So a lot to discuss on both the legal and the political consequences of this latest filing. And CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu joins me now to break it all down. Shan, a lot of lying in that filing according to officials there. We now know thanks to the filing that Manafort had continued contact with Trump administration officials as late as this year, he was indicted in 2017. What does that mean for the officials and the White House as well?

WU: Well, it is a very troubling development, Jessica, because if he was contacting the officials, those officials are going to need to be spoken to and interviewed. And of course, what's looming over that is whether there's some sort of an obstruction effort going on. And so not only are those officials going to be concerned and they may be in jeopardy, but there's this very odd joint defense agreement that Manafort's team entered into with the Trump legal team, which to me as defense counsel is very risky business to be in a joint defense agreement with someone who is cooperating, it's risky for everyone.

Here it's particularly dangerous because if Manafort is lying to the Mueller team and is passing on those lies to the president's legal team, and President Trump's written answers tried to conform to Manafort's lies, then the president is going to have some real jeopardy. How do you catch people cheating on a test with each other? You look at the answers and they have the same wrong answers. And if they have the same wrong answers here, it is going to be a potential 1001 violation.

DEAN: It is really interesting stuff. We also know that Manafort appeared before the grand jury at least twice. And some legal experts I spoke with earlier today say that that really signals this is an active, ongoing investigation, that there's still more out there. Would you agree with that assessment?

WU: I would agree with that. The grand jury is an investigative tool. So you can use it to either lock in a witness's statement so they can't change them later on, or those grand juries may be investigating particular criminal cases that they wanted Manafort to supply information on. So unquestionably, that indicates that there's active ongoing work happening.

[10:20:05] DEAN: And what comes next for Manafort himself, and what would the process look like if the president indeed decides to pardon him?

WU: For Manafort himself, they're going to be in for a little bit of a fight with the special counsel over whether he really lied or not. But it is important to know that for a cooperator, the prosecutors are the judge, jury, and executioner. Those cooperation agreements say that the determination of whether he cooperated is in sole discretion of the United States government. So they're going to have an uphill battle convincing the judge that they still deserve the benefits of their bargain. With regards to the pardon process, normally, I emphasize normally,

the pardon process is very structured, there's a pardon attorney at the Justice Department, I worked for the A.g. there, that was one of my areas where we liaisoned with the pardon attorney. But President Trump has entirely short-circuited that. He will take up pardons whenever they come to him. So it is very unclear what that process could look like.

There are political reasons why he would want to delay the pardon until a little bit later down the road. But it is very hard to know what kind of process there would be. Normally there's careful vetting, memos are exchanged, a lot of people are teeing this up before it gets to that kind of level, but that doesn't exist here.

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN: Right. Much more to come. Shan Wu, thanks so much for being with us.

WU: You're welcome.

DEAN: Also to come this morning, court filings shed new insights into the Russian investigation. We're going to speak exclusively with an attorney who worked with Robert Mueller. She says he's the real deal.

BLACKWELL: And breaking news out of France, violent protests bring the capital to a standstill again. Cars burning for now a fourth weekend, 30 people have been injured in Paris, police are using tear gas, water cannons to control thousands of demonstrators. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:26:25] BLACKWELL: Breaking news. There are violent protests in Paris happening right now. Look at this. Protesters set a car on fire there in the city. Earlier they tore down boards put out to protect shop fronts, setting those on fire as well.

DEAN: Officials say at least 31,000 are demonstrating across the country. At least 30 people have been injured. Paris police tell CNN at least 508 people have been taken into custody. This is the fourth weekend of violent protests across France.

He was once known as President Trump's fixer. Now federal prosecutors want Michael Cohen to face substantial jail time, as much as four years for tax fraud and campaign finance crimes, some of which they say Cohen committed at the direction of Trump himself.

BLACKWELL: And in a separate filing, Robert Mueller says Cohen not only lied about contacts with Russia but that one Russian national actually offered Cohen political synergy between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes this summer and was charged with one count of lying to Congress by Mueller's office is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

And as the White House tries to down play the developments surrounding Michael Cohen, President Trump is hoping to dominate headlines in a different way by announcing some staff changes. Here to discuss, Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former spokesperson for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, and A. Scott Bolden, chair of the National Bar Association and former chairman of the Washington Democratic Party. Gentlemen, welcome back.

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, CHAIR, NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION PAC: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Brian, let me start with you here and the headline here. The Justice Department now says, not the Special Counsel but the southern district of New York says that the president directed his personal attorney to break federal law to protect his campaign. And what's the president's response to that? "Totally clears the president, thank you." Does it?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPRESENTATIVE STRATEGIST: I disagree with the Justice Department that this shows he broke the law. Donald Trump wasn't just a candidate, Donald Trump was also a husband and business person, and he had very much a lot of interest in making sure that he wasn't blackmailed by women who were threatening to come out and make these public accusations against him.

So I think the Justice Department has been pushed back by jury after jury because of overreach when it comes to saying politicians took bribes or politicians broke campaign finance law. They have a very broad and liberal view of what counts as violation of those laws. I don't know that those accusations, that those charges will stand up in a federal court with a jury because he can very plausibly argue that he had to protect his own personal character, his own reputation, and his own marriage in this particular case. It's not just about the campaign. These were not campaign funds.

BLACKWELL: Scott, before you respond to that, let me get an answer to the question. Did these documents totally clear the president?

BOLDEN: Me or Brian?

BLACKWELL: That was to Brian. I want Brian to answer that, and I'll let you respond to him.

BOLDEN: All right.

ROBINSON: I don't think this purely clears the president. I think it shows that Michael Cohen has been charged with a lot of things that don't necessarily touch the president in any way, but also where the president is accurate is that nothing directly attaches to him breaking a law in a very clear way. The Russian collusion thing, there's no Russian collusion proven by what we now know.

BLACKWELL: All right, Scott, you come in on that.

[10:30:00] BOLDEN: Russian collusion. The Republicans and GOP and Donald Trump believe that collusion is some safe harbor, because they know that he did not have any direct conversations with Russia. But here's the key. If he directed his people to coordinate with Russia on any level, and we see some of that in these new filings and stuff, then he is not only responsible politically, but he could have broken the law legally, and that's super important.

And when you talk about these documents clear him, that doesn't border on nonsensical, it is nonsensical. You have his own Department of Justice prosecuting Cohen, his personal lawyer, arguing that Donald Trump directed his lawyer to break the law, and whether he was protecting his family, whether he was doing it for any other reason, intent is certainly important, but transparency is more important when it comes to breaking campaign finance laws.

Ask former president candidate Edwards. While he may have been cleared, it still was violation of the law vis-a-vis the fact that he was prosecuted. And in this case, not only is Cohen being prosecuted, but he has pled guilty to it. So it doesn't really matter what Brian is talking about or those talking points. What matters is his own DOJ, Trump's DOJ, has put in some filings that the president of the United States co-conspired or arguably was an unindicted co- conspirator in directing his lawyer to break the law. As Americans we should all be concerned about that, Democrat or GOP, and 20, 30, 40 years ago Nixon left the White House over similar allegations, and this president still sits there with the protection of the GOP, at least for now.

ROBINSON: I think he broke the law.

BLACKWELL: OK, all right, so we know that even if he did break the law, the DOJ guidelines are that they're not going to indict a sitting president. So the question here is political. And what then will the parties do. What will Democrats when they get control in January do. We can expect Republicans will do nothing as their clock runs out over next couple of weeks, considering their record of oversight on the White House thus far. I want you to listen to Rahm Emanuel, former chair of the Democratic caucus in the House, and his advice to Congressional Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO: Don't focus immediately on Trump. Focus immediately, you have something with secretary of labor, you have with EPA, you have Interior Department, you have it at the Commerce Department, you have it at HUD, he has brought the swamp to Washington and flooded the plains. Mueller will deal with Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has begun to turn over his cards.

EMANUEL: That's right. You don't have to go and lead Mueller. You need Mueller to lead. You have an entire government that is not on its game protecting the American people. The House should focus there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Scott, that interview with Rahm Emanuel was taped for "Ax Files" and it's going to air tonight before the release of these latest documents. Do you think that's good advice?

BOLDEN: I think it is good advice, but I would supplement it with the following. While the swamp may have been brought to Washington, there are a lot of unanswered questions for Congress and the Senate in regard to Donald Trump, his business dealings, and whether there was even a quid pro quo whereby American foreign policy has been subjected or suborned to his business interests. We're seeing some of that.

I think Congressman Schiff ought to be looking at this collusion investigation that the Republicans completely walked away from, and to that part I think they ought to continue to dig there. Not get in the way of the Mueller investigation, but really to supplement what wasn't done by the Republicans. I think you'll see that and I think you'll see a lot of them look at other stuff that Rahm Emanuel talked about. They've only got two years. They may take those two years to make priorities and then arguably, when the Democrats take over the Senate, then they can even do more, let alone the election in 2020 for a new president.

BLACKWELL: Let me get Brian in here, because we are taking it for granted now that Republicans are not going to do anything. Where are they? Why aren't we hearing from Republicans in Congress about these documents? Even if they don't believe them, where's the defense of the president? And if they do believe them, where's the criticism of the president? They're saying nothing.

ROBINSON: First, let me start by saying that Democrats should listen to Rahm Emanuel. He is the smartest Democratic operative that I have seen in modern history. And if President Obama listened him on Obamacare, Democrats would not have lost as bad in 2010 as they ended up doing. The Republicans are tied directly to President Trump. His success is their success. And you're going to see them defend him, which is the role of the party, over and over again.

BLACKWELL: Where are they? Because we're not keeping them away from cameras.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: We're in a lame duck session now. We're now all getting geared up for January and start of the new Congress. This is not a time when all the members are spending every day in D.C.

[10:35:06] BLACKWELL: Yes, but there are cameras in home districts. The excuses you're giving, Brian, for not seeing Republicans in front of cameras really don't hold up. If this were another president, they would have been beating down doors to get to a camera, would they not?

ROBINSON: The Democrats are certainly going to do that, and that's what they're going to do for the next two years, beat down doors to be on camera to talk about President Trump, and they're going to investigate and investigate and investigate. And while it's going to be a headache for the White House, it's going to be good for Republicans overall because Americans don't want that.

BLACKWELL: Still no answer to where are Republicans today. If they believe the president did not break the law, where are they defending him? If they believe that he did, where is the criticism from Republicans in Congress? They are quiet, they are saying nothing, and they should

have to come forward and go on record. Let me jump in.

ROBINSON: They'll attack them when they do.

BOLDEN: They're running for cover. That's where they are.

ROBINSON: No, they're not.

BOLDEN: And they're meeting privately to determine how long they can stick with this president as the Mueller investigation goes on. That's my take on it.

BLACKWELL: All right, we've got to wrap it there. A. Scott Bolden, Brian, Robinson, thanks so much.

ROBINSON: Thanks.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: A reminder, as you saw there, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins CNN's David Axelrod for "The Ax Files" tonight at 7:00 right here on CNN.

DEAN: And still ahead, new details in recently released federal documents that implicate the president in two crimes. Plus we're going to talk to an attorney who worked with Robert Mueller closely and has complete confidence in his handling of the probe. She says he is quite the chess player. Kristan Peters-Hamlin joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:07] DEAN: A trove of information released in the Russian investigation from Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlines the level of cooperation from Michael Cohen and from Paul Manafort. New court filings shed light on how closely the president's team was in contact with Russian officials and others linked to the Kremlin. A lot of details coming out from this investigation.

And joining me to discuss all of this, civil attorney and former federal prosecutor Kristan Peters-Hamlin. And Kristan, you worked with Robert Mueller at the Justice Department. That is a man that's name is omnipresent right now, but we really don't see him or hear from him, we don't hear him talk. Help us understand the man behind one of the most if not the most consequential investigations in modern political history.

KRISTAN PETERS-HAMLIN: Well, I think your viewers, Jessica, should know he is a man who is committed to the highest ideals of the Justice Department. He is impartial in his execution of the Department of Justice's missions. He is a very principled man of integrity. He is a great strategic thinker, and he has got a laser-like focus.

DEAN: Right. And you've said there's not a single person in the entire country who would be more skilled and perfect for the special counsel position. You kind of elaborated why that is, but what makes you say I can lavish that kind of praise on this person? PETERS-HAMLIN: If you think about his background, and what he did

bringing him to this point, he's a man who has been appointed by four different presidents to the highest offices in the Department of Justice, by two different parties. So his impartiality has been basically endorsed by both parties.

He has served for 12 years as head of the FBI, 10 years under George Bush, the 43rd president, and two years under Barack Obama. He has served in three different United States attorney offices, three of some of the biggest and most important -- San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C. He had served under Dick Thornburgh as the deputy attorney general of the United States on an acting basis and also as the head of the criminal division. So he just has an incredible background that he brought to bear for the mission.

DEAN: And I hear you have a little anecdote that you think really describes him. What is that?

PETERS-HAMLIN: He was somebody who was at the top of the Justice Department as an acting attorney general and then as the head of the criminal division, and then when he left office after Bill Clinton was elected, he was working in private practice for a while, and really just missed the mission of the Justice Department. So he came back to the Washington, D.C. U.S. attorney's office as a line assistant, and that would be kind of the equivalent of being a general and then signing up to be a private because you want to be there when you're storming the beaches of Normandy. Who does that but somebody who has humility and who is all about the job and not about himself. It's never about him. It's about the mission.

DEAN: It sounds -- you have also talked about he really is devoted to country and that that's a very important thing for him.

PETERS-HAMLIN: I think that he loves his country and loves the Justice Department, and he is a very inspiring person in terms of his high ideals.

[10:45:02] DEAN: And so as you watch this unfold, you see all the things, all the developments that came out yesterday, big developments in all of this. What runs through your mind as you're watching him begin to bring this all to fruition?

PETERS-HAMLIN: Well, I'm not surprised. Bob is a masterful prosecutor. And the FEC violations that are very, very obviously, the obstruction, the Russian interference, the conspiracy to defraud, these are very complicated matters, and very varied matters, and all of them have been put on his desk. And so I'm not at all surprised that he is tying together in these days this very complex web of corruption in the Trump campaign and Trump administration.

DEAN: Kristan, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

PETERS-HAMLIN: Thank you, Jessica.

BLACKWELL: Well, today pride is on the line. Coy Wire is live from a chilly -- it is cold, not chilly, it is downright cold in Philadelphia, getting us ready for America's game, Army-Navy. Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. It is chilly here, in the 20s. You can hear it is warming up with the National Anthem, cadets and midshipmen getting ready for the big game. Coming up, a special guest, four star General Jim McConville joins us live to talk about his version of what may happen today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:51:08] DEAN: Army ended a 14 year winning streak by Navy back in 2016, and then won last year. Will Navy be able to stop the latest streak, or will Army sink Navy again?

BLACKWELL: Coy Wire is live from Philadelphia with a very proud Army alum, General James McConville. Good morning to you.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. A very special guest indeed, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General Jim McConville. I want to ask you, chief of staff of the Army back in World War II reputedly said I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player. What do you want the nation to know about the young men we'll see playing on this field today?

GEN. JIM MCCONVILLE, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY: You're going to see some extraordinary young men. In fact, when I had missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, I wanted a West Point football player. And what the American people are going to see is these extraordinary young men and women have chosen to serve their country and are doing so well. And what's great about this game, we have 180,000 soldiers right in 140 countries. They're going to be watching this game, cheering this thing on. And this is the best of America.

WIRE: We were talking earlier, winning matters.

MCCONVILLE: Absolutely. Army football, United States Army, when we send them on the football field, when we send them to the battlefield, they don't go to participate. They don't go to try heard. They go to win, because winning does matter.

WIRE: Outstanding. Army is favored in this one for the first time since 2001. But I want to talk about the game in general. For those who may not have seen the pageantry and tradition of the Army-Navy game, what makes this special?

MCCONVILLE: What makes it special is the people participating. Just not on the football field but also those who are in the stands. All of these cadets have raised their right hand and said they want to serve their country after it was attacked 17 years ago. And they know they may be going to harm's way, yet they continue to serve. We are so blessed to have them.

WIRE: The humility, the honor and respect that is on display, general, it is a pleasure, honor and privilege for you to join us today. Is there anything as we leave that you would like to say to those watching around the world? MCCONVILLE: I would like to say two things. I'd like to say thanks

to the American people, we're very blessed in the support we get. Our soldiers can't walk through an airport, a restaurant, or Philadelphia in fact without being thanking them for their service. And thanks to those young men and women that are deployed right now in harm's way. We're very, very proud of what they're doing for this country so we can enjoy events like this.

WIRE: General, thank you so much. It's an honor and a privilege. Good luck.

MCCONVILLE: Thank you, appreciate it. Thank you. Go, beat Navy.

WIRE: Back to you.

DEAN: Thanks, guys. Coming up next, a special festive delivery in space. The SpaceX Dragon capsule has just successfully docked with the International Space Station, delivering essential cargo and Christmas dinner, because why not. We'll be right back.

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[10:59:14] BLACKWELL: SpaceX's Dragon capsule reached the International Space Station this morning after a satellite caused a slight delay in docking.

DEAN: The cargo ship is littered with supplies for the crew and hundreds of science and research projects. The shipment also includes, though, a traditional Christmas dinner, smoked turkey breast, cranberry sauce, fruitcake. You're not feeling that one. Sugar cookies with tubes of icing for decorating. The ISS crew has a spacewalk planned for Tuesday and Dragon will return to earth next month. I think it's free stride.

BLACKWELL: Just not the cranberry sauce. That will come straight out of the can.

DEAN: Thanks so much for watching.

BLACKWELL: There's much more ahead in the next hour of CNN's Newsroom. We turn it over now to our colleague, Fredricka Whitfield.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you so much. Good to see you both.

BLACKWELL: Likewise.

WHITFIELD: Great morning, yes?

BLACKWELL: Very good morning.

DEAN: Very good.

WHITFIELD: All right, very good. Have a good day.

BLACKWELL: You, too. Take care, you all.