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AT THIS HOUR
Rosenstein to Leave DOJ After New Attorney General Confirmed; Unredacted Court Filing on Manafort Hints at Russian Collusion; Trump to Meet with Congressional Leaders Amid Shutdown Stalemate; Trump May Still Declare National Emergency to Build Wall; McAllen, Texas, Mayor Discusses Shutdown/Border Fight Ahead of Trump Border Visit. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired January 9, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's news. She said yes when you asked if taxpayers will pay for the wall. She said yes.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: She did. But she also raised again compromise --
SCIUTTO: -- the president said yesterday. We'll see if there's reality behind it. Yes.
HARLOW: Very important interview.
All right. Thanks for being with us today. We'll be you here back tomorrow morning.
HARLOW; "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We are watching both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue right now as the country enters day 19 of the partial government shutdown with no end in sight. Soon we'll hear from President Trump for the first time since his Oval Office address.
Also, we'll hear from the Democratic leaders of Congress holding an event this hour with furloughed government workers, a sure sign that last night did very little, if anything at all, to change the state of play today. We will bring you the news from both sides when it happens.
But there are also major new developments in the special counsel's Russia investigation. The man who has overseen the probe since it began in May of 2017 is on his way out. A source telling CNN that Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave the Justice Department in the coming weeks once the president's nominee to be the next attorney general, William Barr, is confirmed. This comes as the most-wild of wild things happened in a wild and
tangled tale. New details of the allegations against Paul Manafort were revealed due to bad formatting of a court filing. Seriously, a poorly redacted court document showing the first, the clearest signs yet of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
Here with the details, CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarret, and CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.
Laura, first to you.
What are you hearing about Rosenstein's exit, when and why?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Kate, good morning. We're told that the deputy attorney general, the number two over here at the Justice Department, who has been managing the special counsel's Russia investigation day to day since its inception, is planning to leave the department sometime soon after Bill Barr, the president's permanent pick to lead the Justice Department, is confirmed, assuming that he is confirmed. There's no firm timing on this. It should happen soon after he's confirmed. We're told that Rosenstein wants to ensure a smooth transition for Barr and he is not being forced out. Of course, no deputy attorney general stays on forever, but Rosenstein has become a household name given his oversight of the Mueller probe. So the news of his impending departure raises the question of whether this also means that Rosenstein (sic) is wrapping up his work. A source tells my colleague, Evan Perez, that Rosenstein has been signaling to other officials that he wanted to stay on to see Mueller through or at least to the point where he thought that Mueller would be protected.
Of course, all of this further raising the stakes for Barr, the president's nominee for attorney general, as his confirmation hearings begin next week. Senators are already raising this issue. Adam Schiff, the House leader on the Democratic side for the Intelligence Committee, telling Manu Raju that this raises real questions. He's concerned about it and he thinks Barr should step aside. Whereas, Lindsey Graham, the incoming leader of the House Judiciary Committee, just telling my colleague, Jeremy Herb, that Barr actually told him in a private meeting that he has no plans to do anything to interfere with Mueller's work. And when asked if it was a win/shut (ph), he said no -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: There you go. That from the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's an important statement there.
Laura, thank you so much.
So, Shimon, on this unbelievable development in the Manafort case --
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: I was waiting to see how you would say it.
BOLDUAN: What more can you tell us about these accidental revelations? JARRETT: The formatting mistake that's revealed very sensitive
information in this investigation. I think it's so sensitive that even members of Congress, who have been investigating the Russia collusion, didn't even know about this. So it is very sensitive. It is a big deal.
It's essentially that Paul Manafort was sharing information with people tied to Russian intelligence, people tied to the Kremlin. What his lawyers revealed yesterday in these court papers was that Paul Manafort shared polling data. This is sensitive internal polling data that the campaign had in 2016 while he was the chairman of the campaign. He shared that information. He fed other information to the Russians according to his lawyers. All are very much a big concern, obviously, because what was the point of this? We don't know why the Russians had asked for this, if they asked for this. Why did Paul Manafort decide that it was important to share this information with the campaign.
And the important thing to keep in mind is that what was going on around this time in 2016 was that the Russians themselves were launching their own sort of campaign to try and help Trump win. We had all these Russians that were indicted, this troll farm for social media, Facebook. They were posting all sorts of information, false information. They were targeting specific groups. Now the big question, is was this polling data that Paul Manafort supplied and gave to Russian intelligence, was that in any way used to help them.
[11:05:23] BOLDUAN: Shimon, stick around with me.
Laura, thank you so much. She has more reporting coming to her all the time. We'll get back to her.
Shimon is going to stick around with me. And I also want to the conversation, former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, Shan Wu, and CNN political correspondent, Sara Murray.
Great to see you guys.
So, Shan, I definitely want to get to Manafort because I've got a million and a half questions. But I do want to start with the news about Rod Rosenstein. If Rosenstein was telling people that he was not going to leave his post until the Mueller investigation is complete or close enough -- and that is the reporting we're hearing from Evan Perez -- does that mean that's what we're looking at, that this thing is wrapping up?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not sure if we can draw that strong of an inference. He certainly made those statements. We don't know if behind scenes he had the change, his own motivations or there was pressure from the White House. To me, this is the White House clearing the decks. They're getting ready for the new A.G. to come in. Barr has no interest in having a holdover the deputy attorney general. Barr himself once was a deputy attorney general overseeing the criminal sections. So he feels like he has that well in hand. He's not going to recuse no more than Whittaker did. I think he's very likely to be confirmed given that he is a former attorney general of the United States.
BOLDUAN: Shimon, as Laura was reporting, that Lindsey Graham is now saying he's basically had assurances from Barr that he's not going to stop Mueller from finishing the investigation. And also go so far as to say Barr told him that he'd follow procedure while erring on the side of transparency about sharing Mueller's final report to Congress. I wonder what you're hearing about how much, if Barr wanted to, how much he could influence the investigation or maybe the report is the most important part.
PROKUPECZ: Probably right now would be the report, because everything that's involved with this investigation is well on its way. We don't get the sense there are any new aspects of this investigation that are ongoing. It's not like there's new information that's come into Mueller or the Department of Justice.
PROKUPECZ: The thing is, it could be very well, once and if Barr is confirmed, that we get into February here and this entire investigation, when he takes over, Department of Justice, can be over and Mueller could be finished, his report could be complete and it would just be sitting on his desk. And then the determination will need to be made as to what becomes public. It's customary that the Department of Justice doesn't like to reveal certain information. Comey got himself in trouble by doing so. What will Barr do? What will the new Department of Justice under Barr, what will they do? That's going to become sort of the topic of conversation as we move forward once there's a new attorney general.
BOLDUAN: And you can be sure a big topic during his confirmation hearing next week.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
BOLDUAN: One quick note, Shan, I want to ask you about. The Mueller grand jury was just granted a six-month extension. When you look at the timing of Rosenstein, who could be out in weeks, you've got Barr coming in, the assumption is that the Mueller investigation is wrapping up, but the grand jury was just granted a six months extension. How does that fit into this?
WU: It's pretty customary for prosecutors to err on the side of caution in extending the life of the grand jury. It's a big pain for them if the grand jury expires. They have to read in a new grand jury, meaning, they have to read in transcription. They're going to want to preserve that for the possibility of further work. And it seems like there is further work going on, so I don't know if we can tie that too tightly to the report issue, but they're still working on things.
BOLDUAN: In terms of that further work, Sara, then there's Paul Manafort sharing polling data with a close business associate with ties to Russian intelligence during the campaign. I want to play for everybody how one Democrat and one Republican reacted to this news since it's come out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNY HECK, (D), WASHINGTON: This is a little bit akin to coming on a crime scene with a dead body and a bullet hole and standing over the body is Paul Manafort with a gun in his hand and smoke's coming out the barrel. He colluded, he colluded, he colluded.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R), OKLAHOMA: But communicating with someone about polling data is no secret thing in that sense. So, again, looking for that as the smoking gun, I think, would be a pretty big stretch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Sara, Sara, what is the universe of possibility of why Manafort would share this?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question. I mean, why would this Russian associate be interested in the campaign's polling data? Why would Paul Manafort have any reason to share it with this guy? That's the question is that Mueller probably has the answer to and gets to the heart of was there actually something here that amounts to collusion. Was Kilimnik interested in this information, Konstantin Kilimnik, because he wanted to share it with Russian military intelligence, because Russian military intelligence wanted to know where to direct their troll farm efforts, where to direct some of their hacking efforts, what kinds of states and what kind of voters to target, where it would be most effective. The documents we have right now don't lay that out, but it's certainly a possibility. If you drew all those lines there, that's something that could amount to collusion. I just don't think that we have the full picture of this yet. That's something that Robert Mueller is still working on and will make public whenever he feels like it -- Kate?
[11:10:36] BOLDUAN: Or maybe not considering how this all went down.
Shan, I cannot get off of this point. How does this happen in such an important investigation and case that this was accidentally revealed in a court document? And what does this mean to the special counsel's investigation now that this is out there?
WU: It's certainly a tantalizing little bit of hidden piece of the puzzle that weren't meant to be revealed.
I will introduce just a tantalizing question if it really was that inadvertent. This is not a simple question of they used the wrong color highlighter. This was an electronic redaction through Adobe Acrobat. Apparently, only the Pro version disallows where you cut and paste words that appear. It's a little bit of a technical issue. It's very hard to imagine that, at this caliber of lawyering with this much on the table in terms of high stakes, they didn't have very good I.T. people doing that. That's quite puzzling that would emerge. It seems like a basic I.T. mistake, someone didn't give them the right instruction manual.
BOLDUAN: We're going to get to the place where I blame Adobe. I'm definitely blaming Adobe on this one.
Sara, since you've been following this so closely, what questions does this now raise for everyone? This is the clearest sign, if it's a sign yet, of coordination.
MURRAY: Right, absolutely. So the question is, why was Paul Manafort sharing this information. Why was he so in touch with Konstantin Kilimnik? Did Kilimnik want something from him? Did Manafort want something from the Russians? And who else knew about all of these interactions? Was this confined to Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, or is this something that spread to other levels of the campaign? Is this going to be the beginning of the answer to whether there was any collusion, or is this still a small part? Remember, we still have questions about what's going to happen to Roger Stone. We still have questions about whether there was any foreign money that made its way into the campaign. We've seen little inklings of these things along the way, but we've still seen no broader answer or broader narrative on those issues from Robert Mueller. This may be winding down, but still a lot of big unanswered questions out there.
BOLDUAN: One answered question now, actually, is, yes, Shan Wu, it this is tantalizing. And, yes, I blame Adobe.
And I blame you, Shimon.
Great to see you guys. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, we are watching the White House where we will soon hear from President Trump without the teleprompter when he signs a new bill in the Oval Office. We'll hear if he addresses the border wall, though.
Plus, President Trump heads to the southern border tomorrow. I'm going to speak with the man who will greet President Trump when he lands, the mayor of McAllen Texas, and his view on this shutdown and border fight.
[11:17:44] BOLDUAN: Right now, we're waiting to hear from President Trump, who's speaking from the Oval Office, his first remarks after trying to make his case to the nation for why the government shutdown is worth money for a border wall. Stand by for that.
There's more, though, a lot more. The president is also heading to Capitol Hill to try and shore up support among his own party.
And later this afternoon, he's meeting with congressional leaders of both parties back at the White House about this very same thing. As we're looking at a shutdown 19 days in and counting.
CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill following all this. Abby Phillip is at the White House for us a well.
Abby Phillip, let me start with you.
First, the fight over the border sure seems like -- the only way to put it is in exactly the same place this morning as it was yesterday despite these dueling primetime addresses. What are you hearing? What's going to happen today?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It does very much seem that way, Kate. Both the president and congressional leaders on the Democratic side gave both sides of their story last night, but their positions really have not changed from where we were when this shutdown began 19 days ago. But today could be a very pivotal day. The president has several meetings, both with his Republican lawmakers on the Hill, but also with congressional leaders here at the White House. It could be an opportunity for both sides to once again put their cards on the table and find out what it might take to end this shutdown.
At the moment, however, it does seem that the president still wants his wall. He's still framing this as a humanitarian and border security crisis at the border. And the White House is still dangling the possibility that he might declare a national emergency in order to build his wall anyway. That's something that Republicans on the Hill have said is not going to be helpful to negotiations.
But listen to White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, explain where we are on that front today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- the president declare a national emergency this week?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's something we're still looking at, something that --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But a crisis means it's happening and it's happening now and there's no time to waste, so why not do it?
SANDERS: The best solution is to be able to work with Congress to get this done because you can close a lot of the loopholes, fund border security fully. That's what we're hopeful to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So the president didn't do it last night. But aides have been telling us it's still a possibility if he feels like these negotiations are not going anywhere. That being said, it does sound like Sarah Sanders believes they would prefer to go the congressional route. That could very well be because many of his colleagues on the Hill believe that that's the best route anyway. If he declares a national emergency, it could create a lengthy legal fight, a lengthy political fight, and it could make this problem far worse -- Kate?
[11:20:20] BOLDUAN: Yes, before any border wall funding would be going anywhere, this legal fight would be played out.
Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much.
Lauren, Trump is headed there to meet with Republicans very soon. What are you hearing from this this morning?
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It depends on which Republican you ask. A lot of Republicans say the president did a good job last night making the case on why he needs a border wall, why the border is a national security issue at this time. But there are also beginning to be some cracks with Republicans. One of them coming from Republican Adam Kinzinger. He's a Republican who said he might be for starting to vote for individual appropriations bills that Democrats are going to bring to the House floor today.
Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R), ILLINOIS: If it, again, an agreeable bill, an agreeable appropriation, I'll reopen as much government as I can. But Democrats are going to have to come to the table and compromise. We are, too. It's not going to be just our way or the highway. I think there's people that probably don't want to attach DACA to something like this. We don't need to do that. This is a super easy issue to solve. And this is what just frustrates me our here is we can all solve this and it's like an 80 percent agreement when you're done. Nobody wants to give anybody a win or anything else. We've got to get past that. We're going to continue in this stupid shutdown idiocy cycle for the rest of our time out here and that's got to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOX: Kate, it looks like what happens in that meeting today with Republicans and the president is going to have a big impact. The results of this federal government shutdown are only going to intensify in the upcoming days when federal workers miss a pay period, January 11th. It's going to be a really tough meeting for the president. But if Republicans are still behind him at the end of it, the president might have more negotiating power with Democrats when he meets with them later today.
BOLDUAN: You make a very important point is that the impact being felt, that the pain being felt, it's only going to be more come the end of this week. That is something that no one can forget. I do think Adam Kinzinger coined a new phrase for this whole thing, "the stupid idiocy shutdown cycle." I think that might be what we all need to call it from now on.
Great to see you, Lauren. I appreciate it. Thank you.
FOX: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: So that is all today. Tomorrow, President Trump heads to the border. He's set to visit McAllen Texas. One of the people he'll be meeting with is the mayor there, Mayor Jim Darling. I spoke with him a short time ago.
BOLDUAN: When the president touches down tomorrow, what do you want the president to see?
JIM DARLING, (R), MAYOR, MCALLEN, TEXAS: Well, hopefully, he'll see my smiling face. I'm supposed to greet him. So he'll see that. But I think I'd like to have him see really kind of what the conditions of the border are, especially relating to two things. I think one would be the building of the wall or the barrier, whatever it is, to see a couple of things in relation to that. One would be property owner rights, how that affects property owners. Number two, the efficiency of where it's going to be from that standpoint. And, three, kind of explain -- I think what is missing in some of the messages is we already have a border, unlike California or New Mexico and Arizona, where you wouldn't know where the border is except for the barrier. We already have a border. And making sure that people understand, by creating a wall, you may be creating a new border, and he talked about in the speech, and the impact of that in relationship to these asylum seekers and how all that works. The second thing
DARLING: Go ahead.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead. I'm sorry.
DARLING: The second thing we'd like to see is some of the port of entries, you know, he's crafted the USMCA agreement and post-NAFTA agreement, and show him the needs at the port of entries to make that agreement a success and what it takes for the port of entries for commerce to be successful in carrying out that agreement.
BOLDUAN: If I could, I want to read for you what the president said yesterday, though, about his visit to the border. He reportedly told journalists in an off the record briefing that he sees this visit as merely a photo op. And he also reportedly told journalists in this briefing the following: "It's not going to change a damn thing, but I'm still doing it."
What do you say to that?
DARLING: Well, you know, since 2014, we've experienced that. I'll give one exception. I think Senator Cornyn. We've had politicians, Republicans and Democrats, come down for photo ops since 2014. So that wouldn't surprise me. The Democrats would go to the detention center, Republicans would go on a river boat, and then go back to Washington and talk about compromise to achieve both border security and immigration reform. I understand that statement, but that's really kind of what's been the game plan politically for the last four or five years.
[11:24:59] BOLDUAN: The president paints a very dire picture of what he says is happening along the border. He's called it an emergency. He's called it a crisis at the border when it comes to drugs and human trafficking and gangs. Also, he talks about terrorism as well. What do you say -- would you say that is what is happening along the border in McAllen, Texas?
DARLING: I think one of the statistics in the crisis on the border really started in 2014 when President Obama talked about immigration reform and we had a great influx of people seeking asylum from Central America. Those numbers are still anywhere between 75 percent and above are asylum seekers, which is depicted in the media somewhat as a crisis on the border. When you think about the solution to that with the wall and that became a political football and actually helped win an election, so we're really talking about the wall here as solving that problem of all that you mentioned. But in reality, the bulk of the 75 percent of the people coming across causing this crisis is asylum seekers. If you build a wall, they can still come across the river, because we have existing border now, and the wall doesn't track the river, if you will. There's a wide space many times between the wall and where the river is. Once those asylum seekers cross the river, it's my understanding they're eligible then for asylum hearings if they answer the questions right, which most do. So I don't know how -- to me building the wall solves a problem of the bulk of the alleged crisis with that, except it probably exacerbates the problem because it creates more problems for Border Patrol and how, what do they do with those people once they cross the river, yet they haven't hit the wall yet. So --
BOLDUAN: So, Mayor, what I hear you saying is you are supportive of having a wall. Do you think there's a crisis right now to the level of needing to keep the government shutdown in order to fund a wall?
DARLING: I didn't say I was in support of a wall. I think there's a misconception that the wall will solve the major problem of what is conceived as a crisis on the border, and that's the hundreds of people a day that are coming across seeking asylum.
As far as narcotics, you take a look at those kinds of typical illegal aliens that were seeking employment in the underground employment and drug dealers and all those, those are at a relatively all-time low. The Border Patrol and DEA and all of that is doing a relatively good job in curtailing that kind of activity. What really caused the crisis in 2014 has continued to be a crisis, at least from a political standpoint, has been asylum seekers. That's why I'm saying that I don't think a wall necessarily solves that particular problem.
BOLDUAN: When the president points to terrorism and the president points to drugs coming over the border, do you think that he is correct in saying that a border wall will fix that?
DARLING: No. I think some drugs obviously come across the river, but they also come through the ports of entry.
DARLING: So technology at the port of entry would be, I think, much more efficient because I would think most drugs are coming in there. They're not coming all from the southern border. Obviously, China into the ports in California -- (INAUDIBLE). They fly across the border. We have a tremendous appetite for drugs in this country and they're going to come as long as the demand is there. You'd think a country that's built on the law of supply and demand would understand that. But they're coming from other places besides across the river.
BOLDUAN: So I know you are welcoming the president. You want to show him the border, as you welcome many politicians. But what we're looking at right now is the 19th day of a government shutdown over the border wall and funding for it. There are federal workers who are off the job or working unpaid because of it. The president says this is all worth it in order for him to get more money for the border wall. Do you see it that way?
DARLING: Is the shutdown worth it? No. I think the president's negotiation style -- I read his book, too -- is to force the issue and to force, in this case, the Democrats to sit down and negotiate. I think compromise is important. I think there's fault on both sides. I think the Republicans and Democrats, they've been dealing with this problem for five years. If it's as monumental as they claim politically, then they should solve it. That's involving compromise. And I don't see compromise from either side. I would hope Washington gets it together. If local government couldn't solve a problem of that magnitude in five years, you'd have new local government officials. I would like to see them get that done. I think the president's style of negotiation, unfortunately, it does hurt people. We have our friend and neighbors, our federal employees down here not working. I hate to see that.