Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Russia Election Interference Probe Has Cost $25 Million So Far; Mueller Says Flynn "Chose to Make False Statements"; D.C. Court on High Alert Today Over Mueller Mystery; Dow Falls 500 points in Final Minutes of Trading. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 14, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN: More breaking news on this Friday. Coming in to CNN, we now have some new figures from the Justice Department about how much the Russia investigation has cost taxpayers. Laura Jarrett is joining us live now with more on this. What have you learned?

[15:35:00] LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Ana, we just got the latest installment -- the third installment, actually, of this running tally that we've been getting from the Justice Department on the Russia investigation. And what it shows is from April to September of this year, the investigation has cost roughly $8.5 million. And so, when you combine that with the previous tallies that we've received from past months, the 6.7 and 10 million, you get a grand total of $25 million since Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May of 2017.

We've obviously seen the fruits of his labor quite a bit this year. We've seen over 36 different people and entities charged with very different federal crimes. We've also seen seven people plead guilty in this investigation, including -- as you were just referencing -- the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, along with the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, along with a slew of others.

So, we've seen, obviously, a variety of different outputs from all the money that has been spent here. But I should mention, only a fraction of this is actually from the Special Counsel's team. The way they break this down is there are actually costs that are spent directly by Mueller and then also by DOJ components that would have been spent even if the Special Counsel wasn't appointed. Of course, the Russia investigation existed before Mueller was appointed. So, over the life of Mueller, he's actually only spent a little over $12 million, which is a far cry from some of the grab bag of figures that we seeing the President tweet out lately. We seeing him take aim at the costs -- how much this has been running to date. Tweeting out different figures somewhere in the range of $30 million and $40 million, Ana, and that is not true.

CABRERA: Now we now know, as you point out, $12 million for Mueller's team specifically, additional dollars going to other parts of the Justice Department. Thank you so much, Laura Jarrett, we appreciate that. More on this breaking news involving Michael Flynn's sentencing.

Plus, we are getting new details about a court in Washington on high alert today involving a mystery appearance by Robert Mueller team and a grand jury. Stick around.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Back to our breaking news. The Special Counsel just slamming Michael Flynn's team for their criticism of his FBI interview. This is part of a new memo by Robert Mueller that was just filed within the last half hour or so. It could have an impact on Flynn's punishment when he is sentenced next week. Let me bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, Josh Campbell, who is a former FBI supervisory special agent. Josh, you conducted some of these interviews like the one that Michael Flynn sat through. The one in which he and his team criticize the FBI agents for how they handle themselves and how they conducted his interview. Now we're seeing more specifically the notes from the FBI agent who did that interview. What's your takeaway?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, this is the response from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to a memo that Flynn has actually submitted recently to the court. And is important to understand that because this is essentially a rebuttal of some of the claims that Flynn was making. Now, if you go back to what he had originally said, Michael Flynn, he indicated that he was cooperating with authorities -- which is true. He's cooperating with the Special Counsel's office.

But then he did something else that was really bizarre in the sense that he actually took a page essentially from President Trump's play book and tried to attack the investigators. Saying that, look, I was unfairly set up here, unfairly targeted. He indicated that the FBI had failed to tell him that lying was against the law and then they fail to tell him that, you know, he should have an attorney with him. This actually takes that head on. And it's very remarkable and dramatic in the sense that you see Robert Mueller saying, look, you are a 33-year veteran of the armed forces. You are a former head of an intelligence agency and you are a sitting national security adviser. You know lying to the FBI is illegal. You should not be reminded of that. So, that's the first thing that I think is important.

The second thing, and I can tell you having served in the FBI in the director's office when all this was going down, one thing that has always fascinated me is, you know, Michael Flynn, they talk about this Logan Act violation. Where, you know, he actually talking with the foreign ambassador from Russia and that that may have run afoul of the law to have a private citizen that's engaged in some type of diplomatic discussion.

The truth of the matter is no one seriously thought that Michael Flynn was going to be prosecuted under the Logan Act for talking to a former ambassador as far as his responsibility on the transition. Because no one's been prosecuted since 1852 for this very obscure law. The question was why did he sit across from FBI agents and lie to them? And I can tell you having conducted those interviews, when you're talking to someone you know what they're saying to be false, you have records, you have transcripts, it really puts you back on your heels and you wonder why is this person lying to me? So, just a series of dramatic developments here. Obviously, Robert Mueller coming up to the defense of these agents and actually saying that, no, you weren't mistreated, you should have known better. There was nothing about the atmosphere. There was nothing about the characteristics of that interview that would've caused you to live. This is on you.

CABRERA: I'm looking at the attachment that are a part of this filing in which we see the notes from Peter Strzok after that interview. Because you, again, have done these interviews, you've taken notes following interviews. Does everything look like it was done by the book?

CAMPBELL: Well, so there are a lot of redactions in there. So, to be fair, I mean, we only know what we know looking at this. But I think this is what's important for the American people, our viewers to understand. That this 302 -- as we call it -- this is a testimonial document that an FBI agent does, conducts an interview and then writes up a report. This is an FBI agent sitting down with the other FBI agent who interviewed Michael Flynn.

It was important enough, at least in the mind of Robert Mueller, that he wanted to capture from Peter Strzok, who was a person conducting the actual interview with Flynn, tell me about what took place.

[15:45:04] Tell me about the circumstances. Walk me through everything that took place on that day, from soup to nuts, from whatever the FBI first reached out to Flynn, to whenever he sat there and he actually lied to you. And the reason why I think that is important, because if you look at the time frame, if you look the, you know, the calendar, obviously, live Michael Flynn was on the hook for lying. And obviously he was part of the FBI's investigation and then Special Counsel Mueller's investigation when he came on the scene. So, it was key at that point where you probably had Flynn saying, look, I've been treated unfairly, there are circumstances about this interview that are unfair. So, this actually signaled that Robert Mueller wanted to hear directly from the agent who did the interview, get that locked in, get it on paper in these notes and that's what we're reading today.

CABRERA: All right, Josh Campbell, thank you for your insight. Another quick break, we'll be right back with much more on our special coverage following the new documents just released by Robert Mueller.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Back now with more of our breaking news. This new Flynn filing from Robert Mueller's team. I want to bring back my panel. We've got Evan, Jennifer and Shimon with us. When you found another interesting -- we'll pop it up here.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, there is something in here where they talk about -- there's a line in here about the former Attorney General, the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, when she learned that the FBI was going to interview Michael Flynn. It says here that she was not happy. Essentially what happens -- we don't know why. That's the only thing it says. But what happens is, that former FBI director, James Comey, happens to be on the phone with her and he says to her, the FBI agents are now interviewing Michael Flynn. And for whatever reason, just notes that she was not happy about --

CABRERA: And a reminder to our viewers, that Sally Yates is the person who went to the White House and said Michael Flynn is lying to the Vice President and now that could be a potential liability. The Russians could have some leverage over this White House, as a result. Evan, as we get this information, these documents from Robert Mueller's team, we do understand there's a mystery grand jury also convening in Washington.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. There is a mystery that is before the grand jury. This is a mysterious case. We don't know what it's about. Essentially, for the last couple of months, they have been having these meetings with the judge. It's gone up to appeal. Somebody is being asked to provide information to, we believe, to the Special Counsel. And they are fighting back, and so this is being fought out behind the scenes. They have not disclosed anything about whatever this fight is about. We don't know the substance of it. We don't even know who it is that received what would have been a subpoena, essentially. And so that's been one of the big mysteries.

Today the reporters went over there, because we knew there was going to be a hearing. And the court security took the extraordinary move to seal off an entire floor of the courthouse, so reporters were sitting in stairwells and trying to take elevators, getting stuck in elevators, trying to get a glimpse of who it was. I actually went up to one of the lawyers, because I was there one day when they were having one of these hearings. And I sat outside of the courtroom, and I -- when they came out, I approached the lawyers to try to get some information out of them. They refused to talk to me. So, we've been trying to figure this out. Every reporter in Washington has been trying to figure this out for several weeks.

CABRERA: Is this really unusual, this secrecy, with this grand jury, Jennifer?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Highly unusual. But, of course, remember, usually you don't have this kind of press attention. Right. Usually someone can sneak in and have a hearing and no one is the wiser. So, yes, highly unusual. But highly unusual times. Can't wait to find out.

PROKUPECZ: I tell you one thing, whoever is fighting this is spending a lot of money to do it. This is not cheap. The motions that are being filed, these appearances in court, this is not cheap.

PEREZ: They've hired a very big, big law firm from the south that is fighting this thing, whatever it is. And so, they're going all the way up through the appeals process to try to make sure --

PROKUPECZ: Big money here. So, someone is spending a lot of money to have all of this information not revealed. We'll hopefully learn eventually who it is.

CABRERA: Again, we know there are multiple investigations that are ongoing by Robert Mueller's team right now as we've seen in some of the court filings in the last couple of weeks. We have much more on this breaking news. Thank you, first of all, Shimon, Evan, and Jennifer, for being with me throughout this hour as we are looking through these new documents.

More on that, plus the Dow to tanking right now in these final minutes of trading. Take a look at that. Down more than 521. We'll tell you why here on CNN. Stay with us.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: We just announced our CNN hero of the year. But in the season of giving we want to show how you can help. All of our 2018 top ten heroes continue their important work and have your donations matched dollar for dollar. Here is Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR OF CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360: I'm Anderson Cooper. Each of this year's top ten CNN Heroes really proves that one person can make a difference. And, again, this year we're making it easy for you to support their great work. Just go to CNNheroes.com and click donate beneath any 2018 top ten CNN Hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fund-raiser on Crowdrise. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States.

No matter the amount, you can make a big difference in helping our heroes continue their life-changing work. And right now, through January 2nd, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $50,000 for each of this year's honorees. CNN is proud to offer this simple way to support each cause and celebrate all of these everyday people who are changing the world. You can donate from your laptop, your tablet or your phone. Just go to CNNheroes.com. Your donation in any amount will help them help others. Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Such great people who can use all of our help. If you know someone who deserves to be a CNN Hero, nominations are open for 2019. Tell us about them at CNNheroes.com.

Quick check of the big board. We know the Dow is dropping dramatically here as we end the workweek. Down 500 points right now. We're going to continue to watch this as we continue our coverage here on CNN. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.