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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Trump Implicated in Two Crimes on the Eve of 2016 Election; Mueller Says Manafort Lied About Five Key Issues; Police Fire Tear Gas at Paris Protesters; Stocks Plunge on Mixed U.S.-China Trade Tensions; Army-Navy: Football Legend and Serviceman. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 8, 2018 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mueller dropping a major bomb on Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now know a lot more about where Mueller is heading and who must be next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His own justice department, Trump's own appointees saying that you, Mr. President, are directly implicated in federal felonies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a normal case, if he weren't the President, he should expect to be indicted. But as we know, the Department of Justice has opined that you cannot indict a sitting President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President would say, "Well, here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it." I would have to say to him, "Well Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. It violates the law."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean in for Christi Paul this morning. Federal prosecutors are zeroing in on what may be a worst-case scenario for the White House. President Trump directly implicated in two federal crimes connected to the Russia investigation.

BLACKWELL: Now for the first time a team of investigators say that then-candidate Trump explicitly directed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to break federal election law. The memo is seven pages long but here's a key phrase from the filing, and it's important that we let these words resonate. So I'm going to read them for you.

"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.

While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with individual one, the President of United States. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election."

DEAN: In a second filing, special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team says former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors and shockingly, they say Manafort was in contact with the Trump Administration as recently as this year. Manafort was indicted in 2017. And we begin with the latest details on the case against Michael Cohen.

BLACKWELL: CNN's M. J. Lee explains what these memos could mean for Cohen when he's sentenced next week.

M. J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very dramatic day for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, as he waits his sentencing next week; two separate filings, one from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and another filing from the Southern District of New York, laying out some of the details of Michael Cohen's wrongdoings.

The filing from Special Counsel Robert Mueller laying out how Michael Cohen has extensively cooperated with the special counsel's office including in seven interviews and how he provided details about his own contacts with Russians, here's a key passage from that Mueller filing.

It says, "The defendant has taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct. He chose to accept responsibility for his false statements and admit to his conduct in open court. He also has gone to significant lengths to assist the special counsel's investigation."

It also says that the cooperation that Michael Cohen has shown should be taken into consideration when that joint sentencing happens next week. Now, the filing from SDNY, the Southern District of New York, that actually was very bad news for Michael Cohen when taken on its own.

It said that Michael Cohen should get a substantial term of imprisonment and only a modest leniency when it comes to his prison sentence. Again, that is expected next week. This filing from SDNY laid out how Michael Cohen evaded taxes, how he lied to banks, and also how he illegally tried to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

That, of course is referring to the hush payments that were made to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who said that they had affairs with Donald Trump. A key passage from that SDNY filing says that, "After cheating the IRS for years, lying to banks and to Congress and seeking to criminally influence the presidential election, Cohen's decision to plead guilty rather than seek a pardon for his many bold crimes does not make him a hero." [08:05:00] So this will be a blow for Michael Cohen and his lawyers

who are arguing that Michael Cohen should get actually no jail time because of the extent of his cooperation with investigators and also because he is committed to helping the government get to the truth. The SDNY clearly does not agree with that assessment. M. J. Lee, CNN, New York.

DEAN: M. J., Thank you. And well, President Trump appears to be brushing off the implications of these memos from Mueller's team memo.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in now CNN's White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez. Boris, the President, has tweeted now several times about this -- the latest implications for his administration, what's he saying this morning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Victor and Jessica. Yes, the President actually just tweeted a few moments ago. I want to bring that tweet up now. He writes.

"After two years and millions of pages of documents and a cost of over $30 million, no collusion." We should clarify what was filed yesterday was a sentencing document against Paul Manafort, the President's former campaign Chairman and Michael Cohen his personal attorney, those in no way are the final report that we're expecting a Robert Mueller to put out.

There is some speculation as to when that may happen. But, again, that is not the final verdict of whether the President or anyone on his campaign colluded with Russians back in the 2016 election.

I did want to point out that Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary, released a statement yesterday pertaining to those filings. In Manafort's case she effectively says that that filing doesn't implicate the President at all. She suggests that that is more related to Manafort's financial crimes.

When it comes to Cohen, she says that there's no new information there despite the revelation or the continuing confirmation, I should say, that it appears the President may have committed a campaign finance violation. She goes on to suggest that Michael Cohen is no hero, echoing a line in one of the sentencing documents.

Previously the President had tweeted that this, totally clears him. In fact, it does not it leads to further questions and further pressing of the President -- there's that tweet there -- and this administration to find out exactly what he knew and when he knew it. Ultimately, a lot of questions for this administration to answer. We'll see if the President continues tweeting later today, Jessica and Victor.

DEAN: All right. Boris Sanchez from the White House this morning, thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: So much to discuss on both the legal and political consequences, joining me now Amie Parnes, Senior Political Correspondent for The Hill and Michael Zeldin, CNN Legal Analyst and Former Special Assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department. Welcome back to both of you.

And Michael I want to start with you. But I want to start with the banner, the headline here. That these filings now suggest or they say that the President directed his personal attorney to commit federal crimes to protect his campaign.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN Legal Analyst: That's right, that's what the headline is. Now we have to be careful about two things here. One is, this is the statements of Cohen and now sort of accepted by the prosecutor's office in connection with Cohen's guilty plea.

That it's quite a different matter, I think, sometimes as a prosecutor to be able to prove that in a court of law. I would expect that the President would defend an allegation that these monies were paid to influence the outcome of the election, which is that -- which is required to willfully violate this statute and make it a felony, by saying that he -- if he did this, he did it to protect his family and his wife. And so you've got this dual motive for doing so.

So in terms of prosecuting a case against the President, it's not quite so simple. But as a banner headline that the Southern District of New York has accepted as true that the President directed Cohen to violate the law, that's significant stuff.

BLACKWELL: And they would have to have more than just his word, right, considering that he's lying so consistently for some time now.

ZELDIN: Exactly. And I think they have that in the form of Pecker, the Head of American International Media, the--

BLACKWELL: David Pecker.

ZELDIN: David Pecker, the head of the organization that bought these stories from the CFO of the Trump Organization. So I expect they have corroborative evidence through other witnesses and they probably have documentary evidence too.

But it's again this question of what was the president intention in making these payments which would be complicated for a prosecutor. But that's not necessarily what we need to do right now. We need to say only that the President has been said to have violated the law by his own Justice Department in the Southern District of New York.

BLACKWELL: All right. So to you Amie, just fact-checking the response here from Sarah Sanders, when she says that the government's filings in Mr. Cohen's case tell us nothing of value that wasn't already known.

AMIE PARNES, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: I mean, I think, that that's not right, obviously. And I think it kind of leads us a little closer to finding out the truth and where individual one or President Trump was in this case.

[08:10:00] And I think you know it's very clear that in any other case if any other person was involved in instructing someone or directing someone to pay off two women on the eve of the election, this would be a bad thing for anyone -- for anyone in elected office.

So I don't think that this is good news for him. It shows that the walls are closing in on not only -- you know, there is this Cohen matter, but there is everything else and this was just a sampling, Victor, of what Mueller knows. I think more, obviously, he's going to come out in the coming days and weeks.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let me talk to you about the political element. Rahm Emanuel is on with David Axelrod on The Axe Files later tonight. And of course he was in addition to being President Obama's Chief of Staff and Mayor of Chicago, now he was also the Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House. And he has some advice for House Democrats who were going to take control in January, watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: You don't focus immediately on Trump. Focus immediately you have something with the Secretary of Labor, you have with EPA, you have an 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. And I think Mueller will deal with Trump.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And he's 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 VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Now that was recorded before the release of these documents or the filing of the documents. What do you know, how does that correspond with the direction that House Democrats are intending to go?

PARNES: I think that's very much kind of on par with what House Democrats are thinking. You're not hearing very many calls for impeachment in recent months. They've kind of laid low on that. You hear kind of rumblings of it behind the scenes.

But I think I think Rahm is right, that they do want to sort of take a more to let Mueller kind of do his thing to focus on the other elements around President Trump, and I think that's the approach that they're going to take.

But I think Republicans are going to be increasingly under pressure to say, do you agree, with this particularly right now in this moment. I mean, it will be interesting to see which Republicans can kind of come out and say, yes, this is a step too far and we need to take action.

BLACKWELL: Michael, an interesting legal perspective here. We've said for some time now that it's not illegal to lie to reporters or to the public on certain issues, The Moscow Project, the payment to the women. But do you see in this filing that Mueller believes that it is evidence of obstruction of justice to lie to the public?

ZELDIN: It seems that that is clear between the lines of what Mueller is saying here. Mueller has said with respect to Cohen and with respect to Manafort that they're lying to the public, and particularly Cohen. They're lying to the public. Sort of distracted the investigators from their core mission and that distraction interfered with their investigation. That interference could give rise to obstruction.

So Ken Starr said the same thing about Bill Clinton's lying during the Whitewater investigation. He said, it was obstruction of his investigation. So it's not clear to me that Mueller will not take the same view with respect to the President. That all of these lies that are trying to divert the attention of the American people and to make the job more difficult for investigators, isn't part of the mosaic of what he will look at as obstruction.

And I think, Victor, is one other thing to add to this--

BLACKWELL: Quickly.

ZELDIN: that in the Cohen documents it says that Cohen was in touch with the White House during 2017 and '18 and that Cohen discussed with others his false testimony before Congress. That has to be fleshed out. If Cohen was talking to the White House about submitting false testimony, that's a very serious felony.

BLACKWELL: All right, Michael Zeldin, Amie Parnes, thank you both.

PARNES: Thank you.

DEAN: Special Counsel Robert Mueller, says Paul Manafort lied to his investigators. And even though Manafort was once Trump's Campaign Chairman, the White House says, this latest filing has nothing to do with the President. Next we're going to take a closer look at that claim.

BLACKWELL: Plus a volatile week for the markets after the Dow dropped more than a 1, 000 points. What caused that sell-off and how was your 401(k) effected?

DEAN: And this was the scene moments ago in Paris. Protesters pulling down makeshift barricades and setting them alight on anti -- as anti- government violence rocks France yet again. Police forced to use tear gas and water cannons to control that situation. We're going to take you there.

[08:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEAN: In a new court filing special counsel Robert Mueller says former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort lied again and again about several key points, and this was after he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Joining us now with more on what that means for the wider rush investigation, CNN Politics Reporter Jeremy Herb by joins us live from Washington, Jeremy?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, that's right the court filing we got yesterday from Mueller accusing former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort of lying, details the wealth of evidence that is growing that we've seen that Mueller has connecting Trump's team in their contacts with the Russians during the 2016 campaign.

The document accuses Manafort of lying about five different issues after he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in his plea agreement earlier this year. The document provides kind of clues about some of Manafort's interactions with the Russians as well as some questions that we just don't know the answer to yet.

One of the items Mueller says Manafort lied about was contact with Trump administration officials over the past year, including a senior administration official. Mueller says he has text messages documenting some of these communications.

[08:20:00] Now what we don't know is who Manafort was talking to and why and more importantly why he allegedly lied about it to the special counsel. Another of the lies that Mueller documented is says that Manafort lied about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik who is a Russian national, the prosecutors say, has ties to Russian military intelligence.

Now much of the section involvement Kilimnik in the filing yesterday is redacted, but there have been questions swirling about collusion involving Kilimnik given his closest to Manafort and Russian military intelligence that was active during and allegedly meddling during the campaign.

Manafort has denied that he actively lied to the special counsel. But what this means for him is that he could face additional charges before he sentenced for crimes he already was convicted of earlier this year. Victor and Jessica.

BLACKWELL: All right Jeremy Herb for us, thank you so much.

DEAN: And there's a lot to discuss on both the legal front and the political front on all of this, Amie Parnes and Michael Zeldin are back with us. Amie I want to start with you. We have seen this White House and the President really try to separate itself from all of this.

We've heard the President say, "Oh, I don't really know Paul Manafort that well. They've really tried to put some distance between themselves and all of this. And now we have word that Manafort was in contact with the White House as recently as this year following his indictment. What does this mean for the White House?

AMIE PARNES, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: I mean it's not good, Jessica. And you will recall a couple of months ago or maybe a year ago when the financial dealings came back they tried to say, "Oh, this has nothing to do with Russia. This is all him and his personal dealings. This now brings it a step closer and even closer to the White House

and the fact that he was that Mueller has text messages and other communications that show that he was in touch with a senior administration official and Trump officials, this actually we'll let it speak for itself. They're still in touch and they're still communicating about what is happening and that does not bode well for the White House clearly.

DEAN: And Michael, we saw that list and when Jeremy was talking, of all the lies that Manafort is accused of, he's lied about the contact with the White House, he's lied about his contact with Russians, why is he lying and what's the endgame here?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN Legal Analyst: Well the endgame is that he's going to go to prison. So that's the end game for Manafort. Why he's lying? It seems that he has a disposition to lie that maybe genetic. It's not -- legally from a defend yourself and try to get the best deal standpoint, none of this makes sense.

But what I think is important from Jeremy's reporting and from these documents is that, both Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen were in touch with the White House in 2017 and 2018, what the nature of that contact was and what it was that they were trying to do with the White House. That is, was the White House trying to shape their testimony, both with respect to Cohen as he testified before the Hill and Manafort as he cooperated in "with Mueller".

And if there is evidence, and it's a big word "if", if there is evidence that the White House was endeavoring to construct a false narrative to be presented to Congress on Cohen's part or Manafort in respect of Mueller, then that is the most sort of legally problematic thing that the White House will face. I think far more so than the collusion allegations, because this would be suborning perjury and witness tampering, which is a very straightforward proposition for a prosecutor to bring if the evidence supports it.

DEAN: And Michael, we also learned that manna Ford has been in front of a grand jury twice this fall, what do you think that says, what do you read into that?

ZELDIN: Well, we know from the filings in this case, Cohen and Manafort and in Flynn that there's an ongoing criminal investigation that the Justice Department -- we don't know we're in the Justice Department is undertaking.

And so the fact that Manafort is testifying before a grand jury, to me, indicates that there is a live case that's ongoing, that's receiving evidence that is likely to result in an indictment. We don't know for what substance and for what target, but this is a very live criminal investigation that a lot of people are participating in with the Justice Department.

DEAN: Right. And Amie quickly before we go, what about Congressional Republicans? We have all this new information, where is the red line for them do you think? Do you think -- do you expect to hear from anybody that we haven't from who finally says, "OK, this is concerning to me". Or do you think they kind of continue forward in the way they've been moving?

[08:25:00] PARNES: That's the interesting question I think, Jessica, is how Republicans will handle this news. These are more drips in the bucket and -- but they bring us closer to where everything Democrats say that there was collusion and there was all of that.

So it'll be interesting to see if Republicans kind of come out and say this was a step too far. That we now have evidence that there was and maybe not collusion, but there was contact made and so this is -- it will be interesting to see if anyone comes out now to admit as much.

DEAN: Yes, much more to come on all of this. Amie Parnes and Michael Zeldin, thanks so much to both of you.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Now the fourth round of violent protest across France. Look at this. More than a 1, 000 demonstrators are in the street. Police using tear gas, water cannons to control the crowd you see now another fire here for the fourth consecutive weekend. We'll take you live to Paris next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[08:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Welcome back I'm Victor Blackwell.

DEAN: I'm Jessica Dean in for Christi Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: France says 31, 000 people are protesting across the country. In Paris right now about 1, 500 of those are facing off with police. Now we want to show you -- look at his pictures a few moments ago, protesters tore down boards put up to protect shops from setting them on fire. Police quickly moved in with tear gas to try to disperse them.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: It's the fourth weekend of violent protests across France and Paris police tell CNN 475 people have been taken into custody.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now to discuss CNN Contributor David Andelman. David, good morning to you. The immediate challenge of course is what's happening on the street. We've got our Melissa Bell focusing on that. But with you I want to discuss what do these protesters want?

Macron has scrapped this fuel tax increase that appear to have not satisfied the protesters. Are there more concessions on the way because that clearly wasn't enough?

DAVID ANDELMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, clearly wasn't enough. It's not really sure what is going to be enough. This is a make-or-break weekend for Macron. He has to show that he is, A, in charge of this country. So he has really put more police, more forces of law and order into the streets than ever.

What you're seeing on the Champs Elysees is just a very small part of Paris. Paris is completely locked down at this point. Every bridge across Central Paris, every bridge across has been closed off now by the Gendarmerie, the National Guard. And there's no mucking around this time. He is serious.