Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RIGHT NOW
Manafort in New Filing: "I Did Not Mislead Mueller"; Trump Faces Credibility Crisis in Primetime Address Tonight; Turkey's President Slams Bolton's "Serious Mistake" on Syria; Second Man Found Dead at Home of Democratic Mega Donor. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired January 8, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:32:54] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, have responded to accusations that Manafort lied to special counsel investigators.
Joining us now for more is CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, and former federal prosecutor, Michael Zeldin.
Walk us through this. This is a response to the allegations that he lied.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: To me, in reading this, the most significant thing in all this is that Manafort's lawyers are saying they're not going to challenge these assertions by prosecutors -
KEILAR: They're not going to.
PROKUPECZ: They're not going to.
KEILAR: They're not going to challenge it.
PROKUPECZ: Because they believe he didn't lie, but they're at a point now where they're saying we're not going to challenge these assertions. Essentially, we'll see what the judge here does. But it seems this now becomes a moot point.
The other thing they did go through is how -- the ways in which Manafort has cooperated since he pleaded guilty. And they say that he handed over computers, e-mail accounts and passwords in this cooperation. So they do go into some detail about some of the information that he's given the special counsel. But they essentially say, you know what, we're not going to challenge this at this point.
KEILAR: Michael, what sticks out to you here?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What they are saying, in essence, as Shimon says, if there were lies, they were unintentional lies. There was not a purposeful misleading of the prosecutors. There may have been honest mistakes of memory, and you, Judge, could view all the record of evidence before you and make your own determination about it. If at the end of your review of all the information before you, you want to hear from us, you'll hear from us. But at this point this is like two people watching a car wreck with two points of view as to who caused it, and there's not a real lie at the heart of what is the matter here.
KEILAR: Do you believe that, that there's no lie at the heart of this?
ZELDIN: Well, you know --
KEILAR: Would the special counsel have made this move if they felt there was just some unintentional mistake that was made?
[13:34:58] ZELDIN: No. If you asked me, do I think the special counsel believe they lied, the answer is absolutely yes. As you read this and you understand what the nature of the lies were about, you think, well, really, this is what he is going to lie about, his meetings with Klimnik who he already admitted to having tampered with witnesses with respect to the payments of moneys, $125,000? When all of this stuff has been established on the record as something they know about? It seems to me that somewhere in between lies what really is going on here, which is Manafort being less than fully candid and the government being pretty hard on what they expect to be truth telling.
KEILAR: Michael Zeldin, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.
The president claims some of his predecessors advised him to build a wall. The problem is the all said, no, they didn't. Hear how Vice President Pence struggled to answer for the president's claim.
Plus, who is speaking on behalf of the U.S.? The Turkish president ripping national security advisor, John Bolton, for contradicting President Trump's deal on the Syria withdrawal.
[13:40:45] KEILAR: President Trump using the prestige of his office tonight to make his case in the boarder wall fight and the shutdown debacle. He'll portray the situation along the southern border as a security and humanitarian crisis. But misleading claims by the president and his administration may undermine his message.
Joining me now is Michigan Democratic congressman and chief deputy whip, Dan Kildee.
Thank you for being with us.
REP. DAN KILDEE, (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you.
KEILAR: What do you think of the president addressing the nation on primetime tonight?
KILDEE: He's going to use the opportunity to try to make his case, something he hasn't been able to do so far. Frankly, I don't think he's his own best spokesperson, because his word has really not been consistent on this question.
KEILAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are going to give a government response after this speech. I want to ask what you want to hear. But I also wonder, when it comes to the messenger, would you want to see a fresh face? We've seen a lot of them in these discussions. Democrats feel they've been effective at the White House. Would it have been a better idea to have maybe a border state member or lawmaker or someone who could really speak from a home state perspective on why they feel this isn't a crisis?
KILDEE: I think it's right those members are speaking up, but at this moment, we need the leaders of the House and the Senate to lay out in a clear fashion what we have done and what we are willing to do in order to get the government open, and then have a conversation about the need for border security, immigration reform. Our leadership can make it very clear what they're willing to put on the floor and what they already have put on the floor. And I think that will give the American people a pretty clear contrast between the chaos of Donald Trump and his daily change of mind and change of thought, and I think a real clear and consistent position that Speaker Pelosi and the Senate leadership have taken. We passed the legislation, for example, that the Senate already passed. If it was a good idea for the Senate Republicans three weeks ago to keep government open and settle this question on border security through direct conversation, why isn't that a good idea now?
KEILAR: So you want to hear more from the top rather than, say, take an approach like a response to the State of the Union that sometimes has fresh blood? That's the distinction?
KILDEE: Right now, we're in a practical moment where we need to be able to know and the American people should know what we're able to put on the floor.
KEILAR: Jared Kushner, who is President Trump's son-in-law and his adviser, he has actually been working the phones. A source says he called at least one Democratic Senator really to say that public support is going to grow for the border wall after the president makes his case, because there's some concern that Republicans could be caving or considering caving at some point, or at least wavering. What do you think about him making those calls?
KILDEE: I think it's pretty dangerous that one of the president's chief advisers is more concerned about the perception of this whole case, of this whole argument, than the policy. We need to get the policy right.
KEILAR: Do you worry that some Americans could swing in favor of the president tonight and say he's made a good case for this? Is that a real concern to you?
KILDEE: Not really. I think the American people are pretty practical. What I hear from them in my hometown of Flint and Saginaw is, get your work done, solve these problems without using a new crisis that is a manufacture of the president himself, a government shutdown, in order to solve another problem. People are sick of that. They elected new leadership in the House because they want to see us roll up their sleeves and actually legislate. So seeing the president react to that by essentially acting like a spoiled child and saying, if I don't get my way. Forget the Constitution, forget the responsibilities in the House and the Senate, if I don't get my way, I'm closing the government down for months or years. That's not what the American people want to see.
KEILAR: I do want to talk about the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. President Erdogan, of Turkey, says the national security adviser, John Bolton, who has made a visit to the region, that he made a mistake, a serious mistake, Erdogan called it, when he said the U.S. would only withdraw from Syria if Turkey pledged not to attack Kurdish fighters. They are allies, the Kurdish fighters, of the U.S. in the region helping to fight ISIS. Turkey considers the Kurds to be terrorists. What do you make of this? President Erdogan saying it is not acceptable. What will that mean for the withdrawal of troops, do you think?
[13:45:13] KILDEE: It's another example of more chaos in the White House. It's not just chaos for entertainment purposes, this is really consequential. When a senior member of the president's national security team can't be trusted to articulate the policies of the president -- I'm not suggesting that there Bolton is wrong, what I am suggesting is that no one knows what the Trump policies are because they seem to change from one day to the next. The concern, of course, is that foreign leaders can't take the word of an emissary of the United States, that they speak for the United States, because the president will either forget what he said, which I think is possibly what's going on here, or change his mind.
KEILAR: Do you think he just forgot what he said when he was talking about clearly an expeditious withdrawal of troops from Syria? John Bolton goes to the region. There are allies in the region concerned about what the president said. John Bolton said actually it's going to go slower. Do you think it's the president forgetting what he said?
KILDEE: It's hard to figure out what's going on in Donald Trump's mind. So to give him the benefit of the mind, either he doesn't have a clue what he's doing, which is an argument one could make, or he changes his mind on a whim, or he simply forgets. It does appear he's not a psychologically stable person from time to time.
KEILAR: You will go out on a limb and say that?
KILDEE: He frightens a lot of people. Myself included.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman
KILDEE: This is really dangerous.
KEILAR: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.
KILDEE: Thank you.
KEILAR: A disturbing story. Another man found dead inside the home of a Democratic mega donor, the second death in 18 months. CNN is reporting next.
Plus, the Russian lawyer at the center of the infamous Trump Tower meeting now charged with obstruction of justice in an unrelated meeting. We'll have details on that ahead.
[13:51:31] KEILAR: For the second time in just 18 months a man has been found dead inside the House of prominent Democratic donor, Edward Buck. Buck is also known as a Hollywood billionaire and a political activist. And in an earlier incident, it was a 26-year-old man who had died from a drug overdose. Buck was present both times.
Stephanie Elam is joining us from Los Angeles.
Stephanie, what do we know about the man found dead yet?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know a lot. We know he was a black man in his 50s. Still not clear why he died or what was the cause of his death. And as you said, Ed Buck was home both of these times. And that's why some people are calling it suspicious at this point.
Just to compare and contrast a little bit what happened here. With Gemmel Moore, who died, the 26-year-old who died in 2017, we do know that drug paraphernalia was found. We also know that that death was ruled accidental. Buck was never charged in that.
Because this was happening again, the Los Angeles LGBT center is calling on the Los Angeles County sheriff to do a full investigation to find out what happened here, what is happening here. But his lawyer says that this is a man who is part of this community in west Hollywood here in Los Angeles and that he knows people who sometimes need help and who have problems with drugs, and he's trying to help them get away from that.
Take a listen to what he said here earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEYMOUR AMSTER, ATTORNEY FOR EDWARD BUCK: This is not a situation where Mr. Buck has caused the death. This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had long time friends who unfortunately do not handle their life well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: Now, I just got off the phone with Mr. Amster, Mr. Buck's attorney, and he did say that he does try to -- Mr. Buck tries to step in and help people in their time of need and tell them to stop doing drugs. He says, his lawyer is saying that he believes it will be proven that the man who most recently passed away in his apartment will have taken these drugs elsewhere and that will prove that he did not take the drugs on his property. He believes it will be found to be an overdose but that part is unclear at this time -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Are there critics who are questioning that account from the lawyer?
ELAM: There are critics who are questioning lots of this because of the fact that it is two black men found dead within 18 months. There are people out there protesting. One protester saying that if it had been a white, rich man who had been donating -- I'm sorry, a black man and two white men had been found dead that there would be more investigations. Some believing also because he is a Democratic donor in the city of Los Angeles that he's using his influence to stop these investigations from going further. That is why people want to see a deeper dive into what's happening here.
KEILAR: All right. Stephanie Elam, we know you will continue to follow this important case. Thank you.
[13:54:19] Just in, more fallout from the shutdown. We are just getting word that Joshua Tree National Park is going to close. Standby for details.
KEILAR: This is just in. In California, Joshua Tree National Park is going to be closing starting Thursday because of the partial government shutdown. The park service Web site says it is to allow staff to address sanitation issues, safety issues, also resource protection issues. Because since the shutdown, the park has not had enough staff to oversee the land. There's been about eight rangers for -- eight rangers for 800,000 acres.
And a spokesman telling the "L.A. Times" about this, that, "The way it looks right now because of resources or lack thereof, we have about eight rangers that oversee a large park. We will remain closed until appropriations are put into place to reopen."
Normally, in the case of a shutdown, you see the government decide to close national parks but a lot of them have remained opened. Joshua Tree will be closed now because they don't have the resources. We've seen reports that visitors without rangers overseeing them have driven off road, that they've damaged the trees that give Joshua Tree its name.
That is it for me.