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Paul Manafort to Respond to Mueller's Allegations Today; Mueller Wants to Know About 2016 Trump Campaign's Ties to NRA; Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired January 23, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:34:30] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Paul Manafort's legal team, that's of course the former campaign chairman for President Trump, facing a deadline. Minutes from now, 10:00 a.m. is the drop-dead time to respond to Special Counsel Mueller's allegations that the former Trump campaign chairman breached his plea agreement by lying to investigators when he was supposed to be cooperating with its Russia probe.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So prosecutors recently filed 30-plus heavily redacted pages laying out factual allegations, a claim that Manafort repeatedly lied in those responses to Mueller and to his team at the FBI.

Joining us now Kara Scannell.

So today's deadline day. What do we expect to see from Manafort's team?

[09:35:05] KARA SCANNELL, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll see Manafort's team push back on these allegations that Mueller made last week in those heavily redacted filings and what we learned from that is that Mueller is alleging that Manafort had lied multiple times, causing them to want to rip up his cooperation agreement. Specifically they said that he lied about contacts he had with the administration that continued well into 2018 as well as conversations and meetings he held with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian who the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence, including Manafort's alleged to have given Kilimnik polling data during the campaign.

So we'll hear from Manafort's team today, their response to this. A lot of this has been under seal or redacted and it's unclear yet if we're going to see how much of the details we'll see in Manafort's filing today -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Other headline here, a former Trump campaign aide is telling CNN that Mueller's team has expressed interest in ties between the Trump campaign and the NRA during the 2016 campaign. I mean, this relates to where they're getting money, from an overseas source here. What more have we learned?

SCANNELL: Well, that's right. So Sara Murray is reporting that Mueller's team has asked people about the Trump campaign's ties to the NRA. Sam Nunberg, a campaign aide, had actually spoken with Sara Murray and told her that he was asked by Mueller's team specifically two things. How they first -- how Trump's campaign first got connected with the NRA and also how did campaign -- how did candidate Trump during the campaign end up speaking at the NRA's annual convention in 2015. That was just before he launched his campaign.

So we are seeing Mueller's team now sort of asking about the NRA and the connections. The NRA had given -- they've given more than $30 million to the Trump campaign, more than they have given to other campaigns in the past so that has already put them under a lot of scrutiny, particularly in Congress. Now we're hearing Mueller's team has asked questions about this as recently as last month.

Now the NRA did not get back to us for comment and it's important to note that in the questions that Mueller's team submitted to Donald Trump in those written questions they did not ask him about the NRA so it's not clear if this is a deeper dive by the Mueller or if this is more of them looking to check the box -- Jim, Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Kara Scannell, thanks very much.

Let's discuss now with Jennifer Rodgers. She's a former federal prosecutor and now a CNN legal analyst.

So the last Manafort filing, it told us something, right? Because it told us what he had lied about, you know, were important things. His contacts with Russia and his conversations with the White House about those contacts. So the filing today. Do we have a chance of learning more detail about that and how it relates to the broader investigation?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we might learn a little bit more. I mean, I expect we'll see some denials from Manafort, of course. But the real decision point for Manafort was to not demand a hearing so, you know, the Mueller team came in and said you lied about all of these things, we're ripping up your agreement and the judge says OK, Manafort, do you want a hearing about this and force them to bring in their witnesses and prove all of this, and he said, well, no.

So what we're seeing in these filings instead is really a chipping away at some of the details of these allegations. He's trying to turn lies into failures of memory, for example.

HARLOW: Right.

RODGERS: He's trying to minimize the importance of some of these lies to the team so we're not really going to see a wholesale that's absolutely not true. We're going to see, oh, you know, this wasn't as bad as it seems.


RODGERS: This administration contact was really just letting someone use my name, you know, those sorts of things. So that's really what we're going to see. It's not going to tell us a whole lot. HARLOW: Yes. I'm interested in what Manafort's goal is in all of

this. I mean, look at the prison time he's already, you know, got. And what's ahead for him. What's the sort of best--case scenario? What is his legal team pushing for here when they say look, these were nothing more than honest mistakes?

RODGERS: So he's just trying to get a chip away at the sentence. He's facing somewhere around 10 years. Had he kept his cooperation agreement he could have faced nothing or very little. So what his team is trying to do now is minimize the damage. He's going in for about 10 years. He's almost 70 years old. They're going to try to scale that back a little bit, and say to the judge, listen, it's not great but it's not as bad as the Mueller team makes it out to be so don't give him the whole 10 years. He's older. He has physical ailments, you know, maybe try to get that back a little bit to give him a chance to see daylight after his prison sentence.



SCIUTTO: The special counsel still asking -- and this is a key question. Right? Because the question is, did the NRA get money not just from a foreign source but hostile power in the midst of interfering in the election. Still asking questions about it but they were not included in the written questions to the president. Does that -- would that mean that they're investigating other campaign ties but not the president's involvement in that?

RODGERS: Well, it's not clear exactly what they're doing but, you know, remember we also have this case out of the Southern District of New York with Maria Butina.

HARLOW: Right.

RODGERS: Who of course was, you know, a Russian person, unregistered foreign agent. And --

HARLOW: Using the NRA.

RODGERS: Using the NRA. So I think that maybe some information from that case when she started cooperating has now informed what the Mueller team is doing so maybe they didn't have that information at the time of the written questions so that's something that's kind of come together a little bit later but they're clearly interested in how this money came from Russia, to the NRA, to the Trump team and looking at those contacts.

SCIUTTO: Jennifer --

HARLOW: Jenifer Rodgers, thank you. We'll be watching this as it is deadline day. And should get those responses soon.

[09:40:03] Federal workers preparing to unbelievably miss a second paycheck this Friday. Air traffic controllers aren't only worried about paying the bills, though. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Just hours from now, federal employees and union are set to protest this record breaking shutdown on Capitol Hill. Workers are missing their second paycheck this week which is an enormous price to pay.

HARLOW: Yes. A huge price so they shouldn't have to pay and for a lot of them it's not just about that ,right? Not just about that personal crisis, I'm trying to make ends meet. They're worried about the impact the shutdown is having on safety for the rest of the country.

Let's go to our correspondent Scott McLean. He's following all of this live.

What can you tell us?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim and Poppy. Well, the good news for federal workers is that all of them will get paid as soon as the shutdown is over, the problem though is that they've got bills to pay right now. For those deemed essential, they're in even a tougher spot because many of them don't have the option to take on another job because they still have to show up for work. We're talking about people like TSA agents or air traffic controllers. We met one controller this week, she directs pilots for a living but she is having a much tougher time directing politicians to end this shut down.Now we're worried about how to pay the bills when we get home. We're worried about buying groceries.


MCLEAN: At the Centennial Airport outside Denver, the runway is flush with cash, sleek private jets and the rich and famous who fly them. But these days the people up in the control tower are more frugal than flush when it comes to money.

JENNY BENJAMIN: Now we're worried about how we're going to pay the bills when we get home, we're worried about buying groceries.

MCLEAN: Jenny Benjamin is one of thousands of air traffic controllers working without pay due to the partial government shutdown. She parks her car with a sign in the windshield "will vector for food."

BENJAMIN: Because a lot of our controllers, like that's what you call it, you're vectoring people in the airspace.

MCLEAN: Lately vectoring hasn't put bread on the table. At her home in the Colorado foothills, lights and stockings are still hung. Christmas was delayed until her husband Joe returned from Iraq barely a week ago.

JOE BENJAMIN: It's a different feeling and the focus isn't on welcome home. Now there's the added stress of what's happening with both our financial future. MCLEAN: Joe is in the air national guard. His return means he'll no

longer be paid. What was once a dual-income household now has no income at all. They have savings but only for a while.

JENNY BENJAMIN: I can't last months or years like the President mentioned that this could go on for. MCLEAN: This week Jenny went with her union to Washington.

JENNY BENJAMIN: Hi, my name is Jenny Benjamin.

MCLEAN: She warned public safety is at risk and some controllers look to take on second jobs.

JENNY BENJAMIN: We need to be perfect at this job. And we don't really want people taking extra jobs because they're not coming to work rested now.

MCLEAN: She met with staff of both Colorado senators who've urged the President to reopen government. They don't agree on border security, but Benjamin doesn't care, she just wants to be paid.

JENNY BENJAMIN: We don't care how it happens. We want the shutdown to end as soon as possible. It needs to be today.


MCLEAN: If you're wondering, Jenny did fly commercial from Colorado to Washington and back and so she still has enough confidence to fly herself but she says the airspace is less safe today than it was before the shutdown and it only gets worse the longer this drags on for. Jim, Poppy. ACOSTA: We had an air traffic controller tell us the same, was it last week?

HARLOW: Yes, yes. ACOSTA: These are real consequences. Scott Mclean, thanks very much. Senator Elizabeth Warren takes her attacks on President Trump all the way to Puerto Rico. We're live in San Juan, that's coming up.


HARLOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren slamming President Trump during her trip to Puerto Rico, telling residents there that the Presidents treats Puerto Rico with "extraordinary disrespect."

ACOSTA: This comes as the Trump administration considers using hurricane relief funds to pay for a border wall. Remember this is Hurricane that killed an estimated 3,000 people in Puerto Rick. CNN national political correspondent M.J Lee is following Senator Warren there, she's joining us live from San Juan, Puerto Rico. What's the reception like been there for Senator Warren?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey good morning guys, really interesting decision by Senator Elizabeth Warren to visit Puerto Rico just three weeks after she announced her exploratory campaign. As you know, the residents of Puerto Rico, even though they are U.S. citizens do not get to vote in the U.S. presidential general election. She is not the first presidential hopeful to visit this island. You might recall that last week we saw former San Antonio Senator Julian Castro visit the island as well. All goes to show that there are clear political reasons for Democratic candidates to come to the island of Puerto Rico. First of all, it is obviously an important way to reach out to the Hispanic constituency whether it is the people here or the folks in a state like say Florida. And second, it is clearly giving these democratic candidates an important opportunity to go after President Trump, particularly on the issue of how the Trump administration has responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the recovery efforts here, including the new reporting that the Trump administration, I apologize it's very windy here, the Trump adminstration looking at ways to potentially divert hurricane funding for President Trump's border wall. Now when I caught up with Senator Warren yesterday here in San Juan, she had some pretty harsh words for the President, saying that he has treated the people of Puerto Rico with extraordinary disrespect. Here she is.


SENATOR WARREN: Look, let's be very clear. President Trump has treated Puerto Rico with extraordinary disrespect. Donald Trump won't even pay the people of Puerto Rico the courtesy of acknowledging the deaths of the people they love. He looks over to Puerto Rico to see if he can take away unspent dollars that were designated for relief efforts. It's just fundamentally wrong.


LEE: Later today Senator Warren is headed to South Carolina, all as the democratic field seems to be growing by the day. Yesterday I had a chance to ask her as well, what she feels about the fact that there are now four democratic female candidates running for president and she said this moment should be celebrated and it is long overdue. Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: It is a really interesting decision to go there so early and to highlight that it is, for sure.

ACOSTA: Well and it's connected to current debate because he is talking about diverting funds from Puerto Rico for the wall.

HARLOW: All right M.J. Lee thank you. So, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, trying to become the openly gay President of the United States, Pete Buttigieg, I hope - I totally mispronounced that it's Buttigieg, I think I've got that right now. Is launching an exploratory committee today, 37-years-old the democrat served in Afghanistan before running for mayor of South Bend in 2012. In a statement he said in a moment like this underdog campaigns will go further than the establishment would normally allow.

ACOSTA: Well there've beena lot of lessons to that about under dog campaigns in recent cycles.

HARLOW: That's true.

ACOSTA: The President likes to make his case by talking about San Diego's border wall. What does San Diego's own mayor think? We're going to ask him directly.