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Trump Faces A Credibility Crisis in Primetime Address Tonight; Trump Has Not Made Final Decision on Declaring National Emergency; Kushner Is Telling Lawmakers Support Will Shift in Trump's Favor; Manafort Says in A New Filing, I Did Not Intentionally Mislead Mueller; Turkish President Rips Bolton's Mistake on Syria. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired January 8, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Fact checkers, eat your Wheaties today. President Trump and his loose relationship with the truth are going primetime. Front and center, the now 18-day government shutdown, an issue President Trump has campaigned on and is now trying to sell to you, the American people. Clearly, crisis is this administration's new favorite word to describe what is happening at the border and why a wall they say is the best fix, but that is proven to be a tough sell for, one, the human impact of the shutdown is excruciatingly real. If a deal is not reached, most of the 800,000 government workers impacted won't get a paycheck and then there's the sell. As the administration tries to win over members of congress, they have repeatedly leaned on misleading and at times flat out false claims. Vice President Mike Pence again today caught in the same lie that was already exposed when Sarah Sanders tried to use it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were apprehended attempting to come in to the United States through various means in the last year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: As ABC's John carl and the Department of Homeland Security point out when suspected terrorists are apprehended, it is overwhelmingly at airports and not at the southern border. An administration official with access to the internal data tells CNN roughly a dozen people, a dozen, on the terror watch list were encountered at the southern border between October of 2017 and October of 2018. Half were arrested at a legal point of entry. Not 4,000. 12. If you're doing the math with me at home, the administration was off by about 3,988 suspected terrorists. And while we're on the subject of numbers, again, I give you the Vice President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: But 3,000 special interest individuals, people with suspicious backgrounds that may suggest terrorist connections were apprehended at our southern border. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Special interest individuals. According to the department of homeland security from 2016, a special interest individual is merely a citizen of a country that the U.S. government has designated as having a tendency to promote terrorism, places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, but the individual may not have any suspected connection to terrorism whatsoever. In fact, the U.S. welcomes thousands of people from these countries each and every year in the form of visas and citizenship. So, what's key here is the difference between using the phrase special interests individual, right, when you come from this hostile country and being on a terror watch list where you're a terrorist. And finally, the Vice President mentioned this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Last year alone, 17,000 individuals with criminal histories were apprehended at our southern border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Now, Customs and Border protection data does show 17,000 people with criminal backgrounds were encountered at the border in the fiscal year of 2018, but that does not mean all of these people had a connection to terrorism or even violent crime. According to CBP a large portion were nonviolent crimes including entering the U.S. illegally. So, with so much clearly on the line with this border wall and the government standoff, was the vice President's shell game strategy a preview of what we'll be seeing tonight? Like I said, fact checkers get ready.
With me with a preview of what we can expect tonight, Dan Pfeiffer and a CNN political commentator and also with me, Dana Bash. So great to have both of you guys on. Dana, you first. So, would this President knowing the spotlight is on him tonight, do you think he will dare to bring up more misleading statistics?
DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, boy. I mean, it is absolutely likely that that is going to happen, but I can tell you that it does seem as though from seeing and hearing the scrambling going on behind the scenes to try to correct and explain some of the egregious misinformation that has been put out there that you just laid out so well, that there is more of an understanding that that's not going to help when it comes to negotiations and with the Democrats and more importantly, winning the broader P.R. war. They've got their base.
[14:05:00] That's a given. Always has been with this President. But the broader P.R. war, particularly as we creep up on Friday, which is as we've talked about a lot, the first day that most of these federal workers who are furloughed are not going to see their paychecks. Yes, it is possible. Look, Stephen Miller is almost surely going to be writing the speech and he is a true believer when it comes to the need to really, really change immigration policy. He's a true believer on some of the facts that don't exactly get put out accurately a lot of times and so the question is whether he is going to be fact checked and whether there are going to be a lot more eyeballs on this kind of speech as it should be, as dan will tell you, for any primetime speech. When you ask the networks for very, very important time in primetime when they are making a lot of money with very important programming, you better be as accurate as you hope to be and as you should be.
BALDWIN: Networks are taking the President tonight. Dan, how remarkable is it that there's even this debate to take an address by the President of the United States from the oval office?
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, you know -- the Presidents ask for time all the time. They almost always get it. The networks have to make a decision with a normal President, this is not one, about whether the subject matter is worthy of the time. What is different with this President is, the networks CNN included are -- know that they are very likely going to put forward inaccurate information to their public, to their viewers, and we've never just -- there's no rules to deal with a known liar as President of the United States and -- which is why this was a tough decision. Frankly, the networks made the wrong decision in this case.
BALDWIN: But -- let -- this is the President of the United States, this is potentially the longest government shutdown in the history of America. Don't we need to listen and, yes, certainly fact check and let me tell you here at CNN, we have a whole crew to fact check and also listening to the rebuttal. Shouldn't we be listening to the President?
PFEIFFER: You can listen to him and you should -- it should be covered. I don't think it needs to be covered in realtime. Do a five- or ten-minute delay and fact check in realtime. What is your greater obligation? To appear quote/unquote, balanced or to ensure that your viewers are getting accurate information in realtime? We've never been in a situation where that was an actual test for a network. It is here today tonight and it says a lot about the sad state of affairs in America.
BALDWIN: Dana, how do you see it?
BASH: Yes, luckily, it's above both of our pay grades, Brooke to make these decisions.
BALDWIN: To be a fact checker -- let me just say, dan, I mean, especially if they use new misleading statistics. We're already familiar with this 4,000 number but when you throw other misleading statistics in there, I can only speak for myself in that I can't instantly -- you can't instantly bang fact check something. It just takes longer. People think it's like VH 1 pop-up video and its impossible.
BASH: I think you're dating yourself. Dan's way too young for that. I remember. I remember, Brooke. In all seriousness, I was joking that it's above our pay grade, but it is these are really unchartered waters.
BALDWIN: Totally. BASH: Dan is right. Dan was on the side with this when asking the
networks for time for his boss -- I remember covering the bush White House and there were times when he was asking for primetime window for explaining the Iraq war, things like that in to it, not at the beginning, but in to it and there was a debate about whether to take it and it was a question about whether it was worth it, whether it was really warranting of primetime discussion. The whole question of fact checking is a real one and there is no easy answer and the -- and the best answer is, Brooke, I think what you gave, which is this is our job to fact check. We will be fact checking.
[14:10:00] BASH: If you're watching one of the networks and you don't feel satisfied, turn on CNN because we have more time than they do to give the fact check and the other thing that's different that you don't usually get in a primetime address from the President is a rebuttal. That's something that happens with the State of the Union address or an address to Congress not a regular speech to the nation on a policy issue.
BALDWIN: Let me move past this and yes, yes, yes, please due tune in to CNN. I want to move on to Jared Kushner. The reporting is he's been working the phones. He's been jumping on the phone with all these Republicans basically saying to them, hey, listen, people will be tuning in tonight and their opinion of this wall will change, but, but my push to that is the opinion on this wall has not shifted in three years. So, Dan, try to take off your partisan hat for me. If you're listening to this President for eight minutes tonight, what could this President say to change the hearts and minds?
PFEIFFER: There is one thing that Republicans and Democrats do agree on here which is that Jared Kushner is absolutely terrible at his job. This is the person who told President Trump that firing Jim Comey would be a political winner and the reason why this is sort of idiotic stuff he's spouting, Trump has been talking about this topic for four years. We just had a midterm election where he manufactured a crisis -- the buzz word crisis --
BALDWIN: The caravan.
PFEIFFER: Migrant crisis, caravan and they lost the largest landslide in decades in a midterm election. So the public has rendered their judgment and for Trump to change public opinion, he has to do something he has not tried to do for one second since going on the national stage which is speak to someone other than his base and so it is virtually impossible task for Trump to achieve what Jared Kushner is promising these people and it's so dumb to promise it because there's going to be polling right afterwards to show he was wrong which is going to make it more likely, not less likely, that these Republicans will abandon Trump to reopen the government at some point, hopefully in the near future.
BALDWIN: Dana, do you think there's anything the President can say to shift minds? BASH: Yes, I do think there is and it has to come from the President.
You're right, Dan. Jared Kushner can say all the right things and he apparently has been behind the scenes as have other members of the administration from the Vice President on down, but the issue is, it's not just about Democrats not trusting any deal, it's Republicans not trusting unless and until they hear it from the President himself.
BALDWIN: Dan Pfeifer, Dana Bash, thank you both. Vh1 pop-up video, Dan Pfeiffer? Not at all?
PFEIFFER: I never heard of this thing.
BALDWIN: We're moving on.
Breaking news here, President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort now responding to the allegations that he lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators after agreeing to cooperate. What court filings moments ago revealed?
Also, federal prosecutors announcing charges against a Russian lawyer who was at the center of that Trump tower meeting with members of the Trump campaign. New details on that next. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Just in, attorney for President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are responding that Manafort lied to the special counsel's office investigating Russian election meddling and breached his plea agreement with Robert Mueller. Shimon Prokupecz is with me now. Walk me through this court filing.
SHIMON PROKUPESZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Something remarkable here has happened in these court documents. Information that we were not supposed to see that wasn't properly redacted by Paul Manafort's attorneys reveals some really startling information in that, Paul Manafort, it says that Manafort met, traveled to Madrid and met with a Russian intelligence official, someone the FBI has simply said was working for the Russian government at some point and shared polling data from the Presidential campaign.
PROKUPESZ: This is when he was the chairman of the campaign in 2016. Now this is a man we've talked about often. His name is Konstantin V. Kilimnik.
They know who he is. They believe he's worked with Russian intelligence. This is not information that the government probably wanted out there and Paul Manafort's attorneys wanted out there but they did not properly redact the information and reading this, it certainly jumped out at us and the other information in this court filing just details how Paul Manafort didn't mean to lie. He didn't intentionally lie to the special counsel. They talked about how he cooperated, provide his password, provided emails, his computers to the special counsel when he was cooperating and the other thing significant here is that they say they're not going to necessarily fight these assertions from the special counsel and basically, they're just leaving it up to the court to decide whether or not Paul Manafort here lied.
BALDWIN: OK. Shimon, hang tight with me because I want to move on. I got Ellie Hoenig. I want analysis on the proper redacting. I'm not a lawyer. I don't know how you don't redact key things like sharing polling data when you're hanging out in Madrid. What's your read on that?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's an attorney's nightmare. Attorneys are not good technologically. There's software where you can redact out certain pieces of the documents and apparently Manafort's lawyers failed to do that.
BALDWIN: How significant is that?
[14:20:00] HONIG: We talk about collusion which is not a legal term but just collusion in the normal everyday sense. You have the chairman of the campaign during a key point of the campaign, spring into summer, communicating with someone that has a known connection into Russian intel on core political data, the polling numbers. It doesn't get any more direct in terms of political collusion in the general sense than that.
BALDWIN: So, they're saying he didn't lie to Mueller -- he didn't mean to lie is what Shimon said.
HONIG: They're bailing out of here. They're trying to have it both ways. They picked a fight they then no-showed here. It's like a little kid. Did you steal the cookies? What's behind your back? I don't want to show you. Manafort put himself in a terrible situation by lying to Mueller and now they want to bail out with as little damage as they can.
BALDWIN: Shimon, back over to you. The Russian lawyer who helped organize that infamous Trump tower meeting has now been charged in a separate case. Tell me about those charges.
PROKUPESZ: Yes. So, this is a separate case that comes out of New York, out of the southern district of New York, which is been doing a civil investigation, forfeiture procedures against some Russians for a tax scheme. She, Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya, was representing this group, these Russians and filed some documents with the court may concern allegations saying that she had done an independent investigation. Well, it turns out the government is saying that's not the case at all. In fact, that the Russian government helped her in the investigation, that they cooperated in essence, colluded with her, they helped her in the investigation, though she claimed that this was a completely independent investigation and they used that as a way to file these charges against her, this indictment for obstruction. Keep in mind, the documents she filed in connection with that is a were filed in 2015. Why they're bringing the charges almost four years later is not entirely clear. Obviously, her name has been out there, it surfaced during the Trump tower meeting and she's been a figure in this entire Mueller and Russia collusion investigation. If you have to wonder if that may have played a role in any of this.
BALDWIN: So then, Elie, these are totally separate charges, would this have any impact on the Mueller investigation whatsoever?
HONIG: Sure. First of all, it changes the calculus on that Trump Tower meeting which is suspicious and potentially criminal. What we knew before is that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had this meeting in Trump tower with Russians, including this Veselnitskaya who was an attorney who we knew represented wealthy Russians. We know she was working directly with corrupt Russian public officials so that ups the stakes of the Trump Tower meeting. The other thing goes to sanctions. The sanctions are going to lie at the heart of what we'll see from Mueller. They explain why were the Russians so eager for Trump to win because they believed he would ease sanctions? Veselnitskaya we now know worked directly with and for corrupt public officials to falsify evidence in a case where the fraud in that case was outed by a Russian lawyer who was arrested by the Russians and beaten to death in 2009 which then gave rise to the Magnitsky Act which is the law that allows the United States to sanction Russians. Sanctions are going to be a big theme that we see from Mueller going forward as the motivation for why there may have been collusion to begin with.
BALDWIN: We will watch for it as it all continues to drip, drip, drip. Thank you both so much.
The President meantime claims that some of his predecessors advised him to build a wall, but the problem is, all of them, all of them said they didn't. Here how vice President pence struggled to answer for the President's claim.
Plus, a serious mistake, the President of turkey now blasting the Trump administration shifting foreign policy on Syria after John Bolton contradicts the President. We're back in a moment.
[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: In a fiery address to his parliament, Turkey's President slammed President Trump's national security adviser John Bolton over the planned U.S. troop pullout from Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP, ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY TOOBIN (through translator): Bolton has made a serious mistake and whoever thinks like this has also made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That mistake President Erdogan is referring to, Bolton's comments at the U.S. will only withdraw if its troops if turkey pledged not to attack our Kurdish allies near Syria. The Bolton's contradict what his own boss, President Trump said, and is creating confusion about the U.S. position on Syria. Max Boot is with us. Always a pleasure. Let me run this past you. One of two things is happening here. Either President Trump, you know, made a deal and is totally backing off or Trump made a deal and the administration is ignoring him? What do you think?
[14:30:00] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that the administration is deeply confused and it's almost impossible to figure out what their Syria policy is. The snub that Erdogan delivered today really goes to the contradiction at the heart of that policy. On December 19th, Trump said he's going to pull all the U.S. troops out of Syria after a phone call with Erdogan in which the Turkish President said they would take care of is. It's clear today that Turks have zero interest in fighting is, they want to fight the Kurds who are our allies. Donald Trump has a decision to make. Is he going to pull the troops out as he said even if it leads to a slaughter of our Kurdish allies or is he going to keep the troops in there as Bolton seems to want. There is no other option.
BALDWIN: Did Trump signoff on Bolton doing this?
BOOT: Who knows, Brooke. This is the most shambolic, chaotic, dysfunctional administration in history. There is no policy coordination. The administration often seems to be pursuing multiple foreign policies at the same time with Trump saying one thing, his aides saying another and Trump saying something entirely different the next day. Who knows if Trump signed off on what Bolton is saying? It's a mystery.