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AT THIS HOUR
FBI Arrests Roger Stone in Russia Investigation; White House Says Stone's Arrest Has Nothing to Do with Trump; Stone Charged with 7 Counts, Including Lying to Intel Committee Investigating Russian Election Meddling. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 25, 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] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You know CNN is going to stay on this story, so stay with us.
"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
We are following two breaking developments on two major stories, the Russia investigation and the government shutdown. The shutdown now having an enormous effect on air travel. Big flight delays this morning thanks to, according to the FAA, air traffic control staffing issues. We will have much more on that in just a moment for you.
There's also a huge development this morning in the Russia probe, the arrest and indictment of Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime associate. Stone was arrested at his home in Florida early this morning by the FBI. On the left side of your screen, we are showing you the exclusive CNN video of that arrest that happened in Fort Lauderdale just this morning.
This hour, Roger Stone will be making his first appearance in federal court. We have reporters, correspondents there. We will bring you all of those developments when they happen.
This moment is a huge moment in the nearly two-year-old Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller accusing Stone in this indictment of seeking stolen e-mails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, and laying out that a senior Trump campaign official was, quote, "directed" to reach out to Stone for that information. That's just the beginning of it. Seven counts he is charged with. You are looking at live pictures of the courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. We'll bring you any developments about Roger Stone and his first appearance when they come.
There's clearly a lot to get through. We'll break it down for you right now. CNN's Sara Murray and Evan Perez are here to start us off.
Sara, let me begin with you.
You broke the story this morning of the arrest. Talk to us about this indictment and Stone's alleged outreach to WikiLeaks. SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. When you look at the
indictment, the crimes concerning the charges he's facing have to do with witness tampering and lying to the House Intelligence Committee. The indictment really lays out sort of a broader issue and question about whether there was collusion. Roger Stone isn't charged with it, but it shows the various outreach efforts and contacts between Roger Stone and officials in the Trump campaign. It talks about how, in the summer of 2016, Stone was talking to senior Trump campaign officials and they wanted to know about future releases that were coming from WikiLeaks. It talks about an exchange with an aide to a senior Trump campaign official in October of 2016 after WikiLeaks had started releasing the stolen e-mails from former Clinton chairman, John Podesta. And this person wrote to Stone, "Well done." We don't know who all the people were that Stone was in touch with. We know one Trump campaign official he had contact with regarding WikiLeaks was Steve Bannon, who was a very senior person in the Trump campaign. We are waiting to see if we learn more today about whether we get insight into who the officials were.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, Sara, stick with me.
Let me bring in Evan on this right now.
Evan, he is accused of trying to stonewall the House Intelligence Committee. What does the indictment say about that?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: One of the more remarkable things in this court document, Kate, is the fact that you can tell that the special counsel and the investigators know so much more than is allowed that they put into this document.
I'll show you in particular we are talking about text messages, e- mails that Roger Stone is communicating to other people, according to the special counsel, as a way to sort of obstruct this investigation and the investigation by the House of Representatives and the Congress into whatever happened in the 2016 election.
We will refer to one particular in November of 2017, a text message between Roger Stone and someone identified as Person Two. In it, the Person Two said his lawyer wanted to see him, and Stone responded, quote, "Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth, anything to save the plan. Richard Nixon." Identifying the idea that he was trying to stall the investigation by Congress. There was another text message, another one between Stone and Person Two, who he said he should do a, quote, a Frank Natanga (ph)," this is a reference to the "Godfather" movies. Another one from December 2017 in which Roger Stone texted Person Two and said, "And if you turned over anything to the FBI, you are a fool."
Clearly, according to the special counsel, this shows that Roger Stone and people he was in touch with, this Person Two -- we don't know who that person is, is not identified in the court documents -- essentially were carrying out an operation to try to conceal and try to lye and try to hide this from investigators in Congress who were looking into whatever his role was in the 2016 election and any communications with people associated in the campaign and the Russians.
[11:05:09] BOLDUAN: So, Sara, Roger Stone's attorney is now speaking out this morning. You spoke to Roger Stone's attorney last night. Quite a turn of events since he issued the statement this morning. What is Stone's attorney saying this morning as opposed to what he told you last night.
MURRAY: It is a change of events. I can tell you, Kate, last night, when I was speaking to Roger Stone's attorney, they did not think this would be coming this morning. Roger Stone and his legal team also felt like he would have an opportunity to turn himself in if there was ever a warrant out for his arrest, if he was facing charges. He always felt like he would have a chance to turn himself in like previous witnesses did. That was not the case. They showed up at his house before dawn. We have that video there. They were very surprised. I talked to Stone's attorney today, and he said, if you look at the charges in this indictment, it's essentially about lying. It has nothing to do with collusion. He said, "They found no Russian collusion or they would have charged him with it."
We have seen throughout this saga Roger Stone has been defiant and insistent that he would fight charges against him. Today, Stone's attorney said, if he made misstatements, they were just due to forgetfulness, they weren't intentional lies, and said they were immaterial.
BOLDUAN: Hearing a lot about the forgetfulness and misstatements from a lot of people in this Russia probe.
Thank you, Sara.
Evan, what do we know about the other Stone associates? You mentioned Person One and Person Two. They are mentioned throughout this indictment.
PEREZ: That's right. Look, there's a lot of characters around Roger Stone. One of them is Jerome Corsi. We saw documents released by Jerome Corsi himself in which he said he was in contact and in negotiations with the special counsel, that they were trying to get him to plead guilty to false statements. He said the purpose was to try to flip him against Roger Stone. In the ensuing week since that happened, Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi seem to have fallen out. We don't know what might be going on behind the scenes. But so far, I know Sara has reached out to Jerome Corsi's side to see if they have heard anything. So far, no contact. But we don't know whether or not Jerome Corsi could be facing charges. Certainly, the documents that he released indicated that they believe that he had lied and they were trying to get him to plead guilty. We will see whether this changes any of that.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Evan. Thank you so much.
Sara, thanks so much.
Great reporting today. Really appreciate it, you guys. Still nothing directly from President Trump -- I'll check my Twitter
in a second -- about Roger Stone's arrest and indictment. But we are hearing from the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders.
CNN's John Berman spoke to Sarah Sanders this morning. She said very clearly that Stone's arrest has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the White House. That is the first word from the White House today.
Let's get over there. Kaitlan Collins is there for us.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing from the White House? What about what Sarah said this morning to CNN?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That was a statement you could have predicted. That was an interview that had been scheduled before the news of Roger Stone's indictment broke.
Sarah Sanders came out here and she said she had not read the indictment and the White House had not been tipped off about it beforehand. But when she was asked about whether there were damning allegations in the indictment, which is that someone in the Trump campaign, a senior official, was directed to reach out to Roger Stone about making contact with WikiLeaks, Sarah Sanders was asked if that was President Trump who directed that senior campaign official to do that.
And here's how she responded to John Berman.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know the charges are about whether or not he gave false statements. That's on that individual. That has nothing to do with the president. Those are the charges that they have brought against this individual. When you want to get into specific questions, you will have to talk to the president's outside counsel on that.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Sarah, you were a member of the Trump campaign during this timeframe. Were you aware of the efforts to get in touch with WikiLeaks through Roger Stone during this time period, June and July of 12015?
SANDERS: I was a member of the campaign, which is why I know that there was, as I have said a dozen times, as the president said probably hundreds of times, there was no collusion, there was no wrongdoing by the president. What I also know is outlets just like yours, CNN, spent a significant time not only looking for information of WikiLeaks but reporting on it. Does that mean CNN is guilty of collusion? The charges brought against Mr. Stone have nothing to do with the president.
SANDERS: That is what I'm clear on and that's what I can tell you about it today. BERMAN: You keep telling me you are clear on that. But then you will
not answer whether it was the president who directed a senior Trump campaign official to contact Roger Stone. And you may not know. You may not know. All I'm saying is --
SANDERS: I have answered the question several times. You just don't like my answer.
BERMAN: No, no, no.
BERMAN: Did the president know or no not? Was it the president who made that direction or not?
[11:10:00] SANDERS: One again, I haven't read this document. I'm not an attorney. I'm not going to be able to get into the weeds on those specifics.
SANDERS: But I can tell you are the charges brought against Mr. Stone have nothing to do with the president, have nothing to do with the White House.
SANDERS: Again, I think those same questions that you are asking, you can ask any of the number of the people you work with.
SANDERS: CNN reached out looking for information on Wikileaks.
BERMAN: You say it had nothing to do with the president.
SANDERS: CNN reported on this.
BERMAN: At the same time, you say it had nothing to do with the president, you won't or can't tell me whether or not it was the president who directed this action.
Let me ask you this. Did the White House get a heads up from the Justice Department that this arrest was going to take place this morning?
SANDERS: Not that I know of. I'm not aware of any notification ahead of time.
BERMAN: This is the sixth individual connected to the president either through the Trump Organization or Trump campaign that has been charged in the Mueller investigation. That's a lot of people, Sarah. SANDERS: Yes. All on things that, again, have nothing to do with the
president. Just because they had some association with the president at some point doesn't mean things they did in their private lives and their personal lives --
BERMAN: But, Sarah --
SANDERS: -- that may or may or not have been right or wrong, and that doesn't have anything to do with the president. The question and the big thing that the Mueller investigation is supposed to center on is whether or not the president --
BERMAN: No, that's not true.
SANDERS: -- in some outrageous way, colluded with Russia.
BERMAN: That's not true. That's not true.
SANDERS: And the answer to that is no. The president did nothing wrong.
BERMAN: That's not true. The special counsel was directed to find out whether the Trump campaign had any contact or collusion with the Russians. The Trump campaign. And now you have the campaign chair, who will appear in court today. You have Michael Cohen, who was a political adviser and someone who worked in the Trump Organization, under indictment. You have Gates as well and you have Roger Stone --
SANDERS: Under indictment on businesses that had nothing to do with the president. Let me make one thing clear, John.
SANDERS: The president did nothing wrong. There was no collusion on his part.
COLLINS: So you can see, Kate, from that interview, that she repeatedly does not say yes or no, if it was the president who directed a senior campaign official to reach out to Roger Stone about making the contacts at WikiLeaks. Kate, that is likely because Sarah Sanders doesn't know the extent of the conversations between President Trump and Roger Stone, someone who formerly served as an advisor on his campaign only for a brief period of time, but then went on to informally advise him.
So, Kate, the White House's response to this is that it has nothing to do with the president. But we should note that the president's campaign is mentioned over two dozen times in this indictment.
BOLDUAN: That's for sure.
Great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you so much. A lot to be going on at the White House.
Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, former FBI special agent, now CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, and CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Great to see you guys. I have a million and a half questions.
Renato, first to you.
When you see this indictment, all of the reporting that we have from our CNN team on this, what does this mean for Roger Stone?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Roger Stone is in a lot of trouble. On the low end, he is looking at something like 15 to 21 months in terms of sentencing guidelines. The high end, 41 to 51 months. The reason I'm giving different ranges is because there are threats he made in this indictment, allegedly, towards Randy Credico, where he essentially at one point seems to threaten his life, and at another point he threatens to take Mr. Credico's little dog, which is obviously something I don't think a judge would like. The question is whether or not he made a threat to do physical harm to Mr. Credico. That is something that a judge would have to consider.
But these are serious charges. There's no question in my mind that if Stone is convicted by a jury, that a judge is going to sentence him to a substantial prison sentence. The question is, how many years would Stone get. And then that, I think, leads to the question. We know that there's a search warrant today because CNN was outside seeing that occur in real time. And I think the question I,s what more could come now that we have this indictment.
BOLDUAN: We will get the amazing reporting that came about and the gut instinct of the reports involved is what led to CNN being in the right place in the right time. We'll get to that in just a second.
But, Dana, that is what this means for Roger Stone. What does this mean for President Trump?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is really the question, Kate. I'm so glad you asked me that. Of course, we are combing through this indictment. We are trying to find all of the clues that Robert Mueller, the bread crumbs his is leaving with regard to the big picture. This is probably, as far as we know, the last indictment, the last major shoe to drop that everybody was waiting for on a legal front before we potentially see this Mueller report or the Mueller report is completed. Whether we see it, that is another discussion. That is really the important thing to keep in mind. We talk to people in around the Trump orbit who say they are preparing the president for a very harsh Mueller report. And whether or not it is potentially criminal, that is going to be up to the members of Congress, who are going to be responsible for deciding whether there are impeachable offenses. Politically, they are prepared for something very harsh. This indictment that we are seeing today is just the latest piece of evidence about that. [11:15:38] BOLDUAN: Dana, you said the latest shoe to drop. I just
had a flash of the late John McCain in his words throughout this thing. His take always was this, being the probe, is a centipede and we will see more shoes to drop off that centipede. That is the one thing you can guarantee. That washed over me when you said that.
Asha, I will show you one more time to our viewers the exclusive CNN video of the arrest this morning. This is the first time that Mueller's team has arrested someone in this way, even though there's been a lot of arrests, there has been a heck of a lot of charges and a lot of people with indictments. Why would the FBI handle it this way this morning?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I can't see actually what you're showing. But I would say here is that, as Renato pointed out, there was a search warrant executed on Roger Stone's home. We know that they are not related to the charges that he has already been charged with. Mueller has indicted him on these. He already has the evidence on this. I think a question is, what else are they gathering? They would have to say that to a judge that there's evidence of a crime in this location. So I do think that there may be more to come.
RANGAPPA: The other thing I just want to point out is, in this indictment, one of the things that jumped out to me is, you know, the talking points around the release of the e-mails. One of them was this idea that Hillary was old and sick and not feeling well. So there's this passage of the Russian disinformation talking points into the campaign as a way of contextualizing and creating a narrative around the damaging e-mails that are coming out. I don't want to miss that point because it is that disinformation which was part of the Russian operation.
BOLDUAN: Renato, he is charged with seven counts, lying to federal officials, obstruction of justice, witness tampering. We heard from Sarah Sanders, there's no collusion and no conspiracy charge. This is something that Stone's attorney made note of, there's no collusion and no conspiracy charge here. That was part of their response. They say it vindicates him. Is that the case?
MARIOTTI: First of all, to Sarah Sanders, maybe because I'm a former prosecutor, but when I listened to that video, it sounded incriminating, not exculpatory to me. She was asked a very pointed and direct question by John Berman, did you know anything about the campaign reaching out to WikiLeaks to try to coordinate with them or find out information from them. What is her response? She says, well, CNN tries to do the same thing. CNN tries to get their hands on the e-mails. The question wasn't that. The question was whether or not the campaign did that and whether or not she was aware of Trump being involved in that. She was not willing to answer the question. That sounded like an evasive answer to me, sounded like she did not want to answer the direct question. Regardless of whether or not there's a conspiracy charge in this indictment, it raises very substantial questions. The president of the United States on Twitter was calling Roger Stone someone with guts for refusing to flip. We know now, in this indictment, Stone had good reason to be hiding things from Congress and the public. I think the question that this raises is, why does the president care about Stone not flipping? Why does the president care about Stone remaining silent? That, to me, is the question posed by it. Sure, it's important that there's no conspiracy, but that is a key question.
BOLDUAN: Guys, will you stick with me.
I'm just hearing from the Control Room that the hearing, the first appearance of Roger Stone in Florida has just wrapped up.
Let's go to Florida right now. CNN's Nick Valencia is outside there.
Nick, you were inside for the hearing, Tell us about it, please.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a sight to see. Roger Stone appeared with his counsel wearing a blue Polo and jeans, looking a little bit disheveled this morning. He was handcuffed, shackled around his waist, his feet. His hands were handcuffed as well, resting in front of him. The judge gave him instructions, letting him know he was being held on $250,000 bond, a signature bond, where he didn't have to put money down so long as he agreed to appear when he is notified to appear before court. He spoke very little, was very respectful of the judge, saying he understanded (sic) her instructions. He has restricted travel, only allowed to travel three places, the eastern district of Washington, D.C. and Virginia to also the eastern district of New York and here in South Florida. It was a packed courtroom. A lot of interest and attention here as he made his first court appearance. We understand from the court's instructions that he will be released to the U.S. Marshalls. We believe that is happening now. It was a relatively quick court appearance, lasting only about 10 minutes. But, Kate, a sight to see, Roger Stone looking disheveled this morning wearing a blue Polo, saggy jeans, and handcuffed, shackled around his waist and ankles -- Kate?
[11:20:45] BOLDUAN: You know anything about Roger Stone, that man cares a lot about appearances, especially public appearances. That is not the way he would want to be presented right now.
Nick, thanks so much.
But that is not the important thing.
But, Nick, thank you. I really appreciate it.
Let me get back to Renato Mariotti.
Renato, you are listening to what just happened in court. Your response to it?
MARIOTTI: It's not surprising to me that Roger Stone was released. It suggests that there's no indication they believe he is a flight risk. I don't see why he would be. This is just an opportunity for him to be informed of the charges and get bailed out, et cetera. I think the real work right now for Stone and his attorneys is how they will defend this. I have to say, on the charges in the indictment, it's going to be hard for them to mount a key defense. You notice the focus on their defense is, well, he wasn't charged with this, he wasn't charged with that. I'll tell you, I represent clients who were under indictment or investigation. If you are talking about what your client didn't do and things he is not charged with, that is not a good sign for the defense strategy. The real question that they have to wonder is, will there be more to come? What other charges are out there?.
BOLDUAN: They can add charges. We have seen this with the Russia investigation. They can add things. That's a very basic thing.
Dana, let me bring you in really quick on, we were talking around all of this, and Sarah Sanders and the White House response today. She said a few times this morning that this has nothing to do with the president, this has nothing to do with the White House. That is the response you would expect to come for the White House. You covered extensively Donald Trump's campaign. Who was the one that was talking to Roger Stone throughout the campaign?
BASH: Well, to be clear, with regard to the person cited, unidentified in this indictment, we don't know the answer. We should state that flat.
BASH: We don't know exactly who it is.
However, the person that ended up talking to Roger Stone, our understanding, the most, is the candidate, now-president of the United States. He was kicked to the curve, Roger Stone, pretty early on. But like Donald Trump does with so many people who officially leave his orbit, he keeps in touch. And our understanding is that is true of Roger Stone. So some people, most people in the Trump campaign might not have even known the conversations that Roger Stone was having with Candidate Donald Trump throughout the campaign because they had their own line of communication, likely which is, again, very typical of Donald Trump with a lot of people still to this day who have officially left his orbit.
Look, of course, we expect Sarah Sanders to say this has nothing to do with the president. Of course, it has to do with the presidency and the Trump White House because the Trump White House exists because of the Trump campaign. This indictment states flatly that Roger Stone was in coordination with the Trump campaign, which got President Trump elected to the White House. So on its face, that's what she has to say because she has probably no other choice. But on its face, it is just nonsensical.
BOLDUAN: And then the line from the campaign to Roger Stone, Roger Stone to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks, and as we know from the Intelligence Community, WikiLeaks was the helpful conduit from Russian intelligence to release these e-mails.
Guys, thanks so much. Really appreciate it. [11:24:33] We have lots more breaking news to come. Also breaking
right now, the government shutdown wreaking havoc on air travel, causing delays at major airports across the country. That's next.
BOLDUAN: Longtime associate of Donald Trump arrested early this morning by the FBI. Roger Stone, his first court appearance just wrapping up moments ago, as he is facing seven charges related to the Robert Mueller Russia investigation. The court just wrapped up. You are looking pictures of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. What happens outside the court? We'll bring it to you when it does.
The federal prosecutors charging him with lying to federal officials, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The detailed indictment lays out countless communications, via text, e-mail, and more, that Stone had about the WikiLeaks release of stolen DNC and Clinton campaign e-mails during the election.
One of the allegations is that he lied to the House Intelligence Committee about all of this and also tried to stonewall that very same committee investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Joining me now is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat from Illinois.
Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Kate.
[11:30:08] BOLDUAN: I just want to get your reaction to --