Return to Transcripts main page


Awaiting New Court Filings from Paul Manafort; Mueller Team Investigating Trump Campaign Relationship with NRA; Giuliani Job Safe Regardless of Gaffs; Republicans Upset About Upcoming Cohen Testimony; Student in Viral Video with Native American Defends Himself; South Bend Mayor Enters 2020 Presidential Race; Phoenix Police Arrest Suspect in Sexual Assault of Woman in Vegetative State. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired January 23, 2019 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're waiting a new court filing from Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Meantime, there's another development with the special counsel. CNN has learned that Robert Mueller's team is expressing interest now in the Trump campaign's relationship with the National Rifle Association, the NRA.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now with details on both fronts.

Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Kate, we're still waiting for Manafort's filing to come in. Nothing yet. We're expecting today to see from Manafort, his lawyers' arguments to try to discredit what the special counsel has alleged. They say Manafort lied about several things, including contacts with the administration up until early 2018 as well as his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian that the FBI alleges has ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort is alleged to have communicated with him during the campaign and shared polling data with him, which is a very important piece of data during the campaign. We're waiting for Manafort's filing to come in.

But meanwhile, we've learned that Mueller's team is asking questions about the Trump campaign's relationship with the NRA. The NRA put more than $30 million into the campaign, more than they put into other campaigns previously. Sam Nunberg, who was a campaign aide, told our Sara Murray that he was questioned by Mueller about this and specifically they wanted to know when the Trump campaign first formed their relationship with the NRA and how it was that Donald Trump spoke at the NRA's annual meeting in 2015 just before he launched his presidential run. Those are areas Mueller's team are looking at.

The NRA did not respond to request for comment. We understand that Donald Trump was not asked about the NRA in his written questions, so it's unclear if Mueller's team is carving a new area here or if they're just looking to check some boxes -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. All right, Kara, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Let me bring in CNN legal analyst, Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor, and Jack Quinn, former White House counsel for President Clinton.

Great to see you both.

Shan, let me start with you on what Kara was talking about.

The special counsel asking about Trump and his campaign ties to and in relationship with the NRA. What would the special counsel care about that?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Looking to develop whether they were influenced by Russia in trying to influence the campaign. For example, they might be looking at the question of, was there campaign contributions made, what was the source of that money, could the money have actually come from Russia. And of course, looking to see if there were substantive exchanges, talking about what kind of issues the NRA thinks the Russians could weigh in on and the Russians trying to get some intel from them on how they could most effectively influence the campaign.

BOLDUAN: There's that, Jack. But then there's Rudy Giuliani that we get to discuss. He's making headlines once again because of another word salad. Now we have word from the White House that the president does not have any problem with what Rudy Giuliani has said, unsaid and said again, in the past few days. And that Giuliani's job may be the one job that is still safe around the president, even though he changed the timeline of the Trump Tower talks, he opened the possibility that Trump talked to Michael Cohen before his congressional testimony.

What does that tell you? Are you surprised that he's the one with job security?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I guess I'm not surprised, Kate. Rudy is a master at sowing confusion, distraction and denial. He even has mastered the art of denying things he said.

BOLDUAN: Literally on-the-record in quotes, yes.

QUINN: Literally on-the-record in quotes. I tell you what, I do have a suggestion here. I feel like Trump saying, Russia, if you're listening. Congress, if you're listening, subpoena Rudy Giuliani to one of these committee hearings. I think it's really important that Rudy have the opportunity to testify under oath about all of the bizarre contradictions that he has put in the water around this investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. He's not going to be able to say, you can't subpoena me, I can't be required to testify because I'm his lawyer, because he hasn't acted as a lawyer. And moreover, he has on so many occasions acted in a way that simply waives attorney/client privilege, as has the president himself. I think it would advance the ball here if we could get Rudy under oath and try to pin down what he believes to be the truth of some of these things about which he is sowing confusion. BOLDUAN: If he's saying all of that so much and so readily in public,

why wouldn't he want to say it before a congressional committee?

Shan, do you agree with that?

WU: Absolutely. I think he would make an excellent pairing with Michael Cohen's testimony, because then, although Michael Cohen is going to be a little bit limited, you can have Rudy sort of test the stuff Michael is talking about and corroborate it.

[11:35:09] BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you guys about that. Michael Cohen testifying before a House committee is supposed to be in a couple weeks. Republicans on the committee are now upset because what they say is that his attorney said his testimony is going to exclude any topic that's under investigation, which we know is quite broad. If that's really the case, does that mean that he's not going to talk about why he lied to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow or about the hush payments that he said Donald Trump directed him to make?

What do you think, Shan?

WU: I think the answer to that should be yes, because if you're his lawyer, and I'm counselling him, and the special counsel doesn't want to touch on those areas, you have to avoid them very broadly as opposed to kind of weaving in and out of them. Nonetheless, I think there will be some fertile ground for him to cover, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Jack, what do you think? Do you think Republicans have good reason to be upset, or as they put it, his testimony is going to be unsatisfying and frustrating?

QUINN: I think they have grounds to be upset. It's like that Peanuts cartoon where Lucy is pulling the football away. It appears as though Cohen has changed course. You have to wonder why he said he was looking forward to coming in and telling his truth and so on, and then, all of a sudden, he's trimming his sails in terms of what he's willing to talk about. If I were working for special counsel Mueller, I would say, we've got to be curious here whether, for example, Michael Cohen has been intimidated by somebody, whether he is experiencing some fear that doesn't originate in his own heart, but that may have caused him to pull back. In short, is there some obstruction going on here? We need to know whether that's so or not. Again, I'm speculating, but I would want to make sure there's nothing untoward going on.

BOLDUAN: It will be fascinating regardless, how much he says or how much he doesn't when that testimony happens.

Great to see you both. Thank you guys.

WU: Thank you so much.

QUINN: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, the student who became the face of a viral encounter between teenagers, students and a Native American elder, is now speaking out. Why he says he does not owe anyone an apology.





[11:42:15] BOLDUAN: The Covington Catholic High School student at the center of a viral video that sparked a national conversation where he stared down a Native American elder, he is now speaking out. In an interview with the "Today Show," Nick Sandmann is defending himself. Watch.


NICK SANDMANN, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. I don't -- my position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips. I respect him. I'd like to talk to him. I mean, in hindsight, I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Sara Sidner is joining us now. She's been following this story since this video surfaced.

Sara, what else did Sandmann have to say?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's asked about his facial expression, what some people think is a smirk, what other people say is a smile. He said he was smiling. He said -- someone asked him, what do you think that Phillips thought when you were standing there, because we know that Nathaniel Phillips, the elder from the Omaha tribe, had said he felt that he was being mocked. At one point, there were tomahawk chops happening while they were chanting. But it was Phillips who did come in between the group and another group of men who were hurling racial epithets all over the place at anyone, including these kids. You hear Nick Sandmann saying that he feels like he should have walked away, in hindsight, but he felt like at the time he was just trying to calm things down. So that's where we are.

Let me let you understand also that we have heard from Nathaniel Phillips as far as his comment on the statement that Nick Sandmann sent out a couple of days ago. I want to give you a sense of Mr. Phillips is saying. He says, look, he read the statement that Nick Sandmann sent out. He said, "He did not apologize," Nick Sandmann himself. And he said he believed that there were some intentional falsehoods in Nick Sandmann's statements but that he had faith that the two could work this out and come together to make things better.

BOLDUAN: Let's let that happen.

Thank you, Sara. Great to see you. Really appreciate it. SIDNER: Sure.

[11:44:31] BOLDUAN: We have some breaking news this morning. A major development in what is a very disturbing case. Police have now arrested a nurse suspected of sexual assault after a woman who was in a vegetative state gave birth at that facility right there. A very important update. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: His name is hard to spell and harder to pronounce. The Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, thinks President Pete Buttigieg has a nice ring to it. This morning, he joined the crowded field of Democrats making a run for the White House in 2020. Listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: The case here is simple, that it's time for a new generation of leadership in our country.

We can't rewind to 1950 or, for that matter, to 2010.


BOLDUAN: He is now the ninth Democrat to get into the race for 2020. And it is only January 23rd. It's not even February yet and there are something like at least six Democrats that everyone is still waiting to hear what their plans are.

Joining me right now, CNN political director, David Chalian.

[11:50:09] David, your job just gets easier by the day keeping track of this all.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. Nine already ion January 23rd.

BOLDUAN: Mayor Pete, he isn't the first 37-year-old to get into the race.


BOLDUAN: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced a week ago. But he is putting age front and center, framing the election as something of a generational choice. Look at the e-mail he sent out in conjunction with the video this morning. He asked the question, what will America look like in 2054 when I reach the age of the current president, he asked? Fair to say he's decided what his play will be in this crowed field?

CHALIAN: Yes. It so funny, as you noted, Kate. You would think a 37-year-old might have a 30s lean all to himself and he doesn't even have that. And Tulsi Gabbard is another veteran of the post-9/11 world like Pete Buttigieg is. It shows you this isn't your father's Democratic Party. We are seeing a diverse field. But to your point, he is not shying away. This generational message will be at the very core of his candidacy. And notice how he takes it on both President Trump, as you noted in the e-mail, or when he said -- you play the sound bite -- we don't want to go back to the 1950s. And that's a direct attack on Make America Great Again. He's saying there's no again. You don't get to do something again, that making America great is not looking to the future. And he also throws in, we can't rewind to 2010 either. That was when Joe Biden was vice president and those were the Obama years. He's also taking on the elder statesmen, if you will, in his own party, whether it's Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the potential presidential field, or the House leadership that is now in the majority, all in their 70s, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Clyburn.


CHALIAN: He clearly is also aiming some of the generational argument inside his own party tent.

BOLDUAN: It's not just age here. There are a lot of potential firsts here with Buttigieg. If elected, he would be the first openly gay president, the first president to go directly from city hall to the White House. He'd be the first veteran of a war, post-9/11 wars to hold the office. How does that perspective shape this race now?

CHALIAN: He claims that nobody else can match that perspective and that makes him unique in the race. It is striking to see, in his rollout video, images of him and his husband in their home. You've got to remember, it's just two presidential elections ago that same- sex marriage was not legal across the country and now there's somebody who is in a same-sex marriage running for the Democratic nomination.

BOLDUAN: And fascinating, when he came out, he came out in June 2015, and he was re-elected in November right after that, after coming out in Trump country. And South Bend is a different area than the rural area where I grew up, but still an important statement.

It's great to see you, David.

CHALIAN: You, too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: This is another one to watch.

It's great to see you.

Coming up, authorities have just made an arrest after a patient in a vegetative state gives birth in a Phoenix health care facility. This is a troubling story and there's an important update on this. We'll have the very latest on the investigation, next.


[11:58:01] BOLDUAN: New details this hour on an unthinkable crime out of Phoenix. Police have now arrested a nurse they believe sexually assaulted a woman who had been in a vegetative state for more than a decade and she gave birth to a baby boy last month. CNN's Martin Savidge has the latest on this and is joining me now.

Mark, what are police saying now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, have been working nonstop, according to their leadership, because they were motivated by how horrific this crime is, as you rightfully pointed out.

The chief of police made the announcement about the arrest. Here's what she said.


JERI WILLIAMS, CHIEF, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Through a combination of good, old-fashioned police work, combing through evidence, talking to people, following up on information, combined with the marvels of DNA technology, we were able to identify and develop probable cause to arrest a suspect. And at this time, I am announcing the arrest of the suspect we believe who is responsible. He is 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland.


SAVIDGE: Sutherland is a licensed nurse at the health care facility here that is involved and had direct access. Here is the booking photo that was released by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office just a short time ago. The charges against him, he's been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

And I should point out that the victim's family -- she has not been identified, by the way. But the victim's family has put out a statement. This actually came out yesterday, before we knew of this arrest, and they say, quote, "The victims' parents would like to make clear that their daughter is not in a coma. She has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood. She has feelings, likes to be read to, enjoys soft music, and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family."

The reason this is significant, she could have been and would have been aware of the horrible things that were carried out on her, but she didn't have the ability to communicate them to anyone -- Kate?

[12:00:02] BOLDUAN: Just compounds the tragedy here, hearing that.

Martin, thank you so much. I appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: We'll continue to follow this for all of you.

Thank you very much for joining me today, guys.