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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Roger Stone Indictment; He Sought Stolen Emails In Coordination With Trump Campaign Officials; Roger Stone To Be Arraigned In A DC Courtroom Tuesday; White House Claims Stone Charges Have Nothing To Do With The President; Stone: I Will Never Testify Against President Trump; Roger Stone's Long History Of Dirty Politics; Roger Stone Indictments: He Sought Stolen E-mails In Coordination With Trump Campaign Officials; Ex-Trump Campaign Char Manafort Could Face More Charges. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired January 25, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stone was contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases by WikiLeaks. Prosecutors also allege a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases.
It's unclear who deliver those instructions and which officials Stone was in touch with about WikiLeaks. At least one of them was Steve Bannon, the former White House Chief Strategist and Chief Executive of the Trump campaign. But Stone was not charged with conspiracy. He faces one count of obstruction and five counts of making false statements, both related to his alleged lies before the House Intelligence Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: Any error I made my testimony would be both immaterial and without intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: He also faces one count of trying to tamper with testimony from New York radio host, Randy Credico. At one point even threatening to steal Credico's dog. Stone has claimed Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks which Credico denies. According to the indictment, Stone told Credico, "Stonewall wall it. Plead the Fifth, anything to save the plan," and made references to Richard Nixon and a character in The Godfather movies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never knew no godfather.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: A long time political operative, Stone encouraged Trump to run for President and served as an adviser in the early months of Trump's presidential campaign. As the White House made this claim ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has nothing to do
with the President and certainly nothing to do with the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Today, Stone double down on his loyalty pledge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the President.
MURRAY: Now, in a court filing, the Special Counsel's office is giving us an indication of why this indictment was originally handed down under seal and also why they probably use such heavy handed tactics in picking up Roger Stone this morning says they wanted this indictment under seal, because they were concerned that Roger Stone may decide to flee or to destroy evidence.
Now, Roger Stone has been under scrutiny for the better part of two years, so it's interesting if he decide to destroy evidence just last night. At any rate, he'll be appearing in DC, in court on Tuesday for his arraignment, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, and Sara Murray joins the panel of experts here. And, Sara, I just want to clarify something because it seems like a very important part of this on page 4.12, after the WikiLeaks release of stolen DNC emails, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information WikiLeaks had on Hillary Clinton. Do we have any idea who the senior Trump official was that directed a different senior Trump campaign official? Because presumably you can only be directed if you are also senior.
MURRAY: Right, and we don't know the answer to that. I mean, we know that Steve Bannon was one of the people that Roger Stone is in touch with in the Trump campaign, but that's basically all we know, and that tells you that there were multiple senior campaign officials who are involved in this conversation about trying to get this information they believed Roger Stone had about WikiLeaks. I think the obvious question is, was this then candidate Trump who is making this direction and we don't have an answer to that question yet, Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, and this was July 22, Bannon hadn't joined the campaign yet.
MURRAY: Pre Bannon, yes.
TAPPER: So this would be when Manafort was in the campaign.
MURRAY: So this would have been a senior Trump campaign official who contacted Stone and then another senior Trump campaign official who made that direction.
TAPPER: Who made the direction. Yes. And it's important whether it was Manafort telling Rick Gates to do it or whether somebody else was telling Manafort to do it. Kim Wehle, let me bring you in, because the Trump campaign is all over this despite what Sarah Sanders says. I mean, the President is not referenced, but the Trump campaign is all over it. Is this conspiracy? Is this "collusion"?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, collusion is a non-legal term, conspiracy is a legal term. I think the point was made that charging does not include conspiracy, that requires a meaning in the minds in addition to a step towards some kind of crime. But here we do have, as you mentioned, throughout this indictment references to Trump and the campaign and Mr. Stone being the intermediary, basically communicating in a really brazen way about these leaks of damaging information from the Clinton campaign.
And I think what people need to keep in mind here is why this matters. This matters because it could have affected the actual outcome of the election. Our democratic process could have been distorted by virtue of these leaks and the stolen emails, which is also a crime.
TAPPER: Of course, President Trump mentioned WikiLeaks all the time. I want to get your take on something Jen Psaki because you used to speak from the podium on behalf of the Obama campaign. Take a listen to this exchange between John Berman on CNN New Day and Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, trying to get to the bottom of whether or not President Trump was the one who directed anybody to talk to Stone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: Did the President direct someone to contact Roger Stone about stolen emails?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, John, I'm not an attorney. I haven't read through that. Even if I had, I'm not going to be able to provide you some type of insight or legal analysis. What I can tell you is that the specific charges that have been brought against Mr. Stone don't have anything to do with the President.
BERMAN: Well, do you know whether that individual was the President?
SANDERS: Look, I know that the charges are about whether or not he gave false statements.
BERMAN: Did the President know or not? Was it the President who made that direction or not?
SANDERS: Once again I haven't read this document.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, it would seem like before the interview you would settle as to whether or not the President was the one that directed the campaign, the senior campaign official to reach out to Roger Stone.
PSAKI: Since that would be the most obvious question you would be asked. I mean, watching that, one, it's very painful to watch even though I'm not a Trump supporter, obviously. That would have been what you would have prepped you could have decided you were going to cancel the interview, you could have been criticized for that, but what she did there, she made it seem like maybe he did know, maybe he was the person who directed it. And that actually did more damage than it did clean anything up and that's never where you want to be as the spokesperson after an interview.
TAPPER: And presumably you would have read the indictment before coming on that.
PSAKI: Presumably you would have read the indictment certainly before coming out to do an interview, but you also would have decided whether it was a wise thing to do an interview at all.
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to what Roger Stone had to say today, Bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the President. I am one of his oldest friends. I am a fervent supporter of the President. I think he is doing a great job of making America great again.
TAPPER: There's nothing in this indictment that suggests that President Trump talk to Roger Stone at all, but there is stuff about people on the campaign. So he doesn't have to testify against President Trump.
BILL KRISTOL, CONSERVATIVE WRITER: Right. It's interesting that that occurred to him that he might have to and it does raise the question of whether it wasn't the President who directed the senior official to deal with WikiLeaks or that the President would have known about such a direction. I do want to say in the last panel I said incorrectly that the Senate had voted in December to keep the government open through the whole fiscal year, it was just through February 8th, so just to clarify that.
TAPPER: Thank you for the correction.
KRISTOL: Yes. But, no, I mean look as of now the - let me put it this way, because of what Sarah Sanders said. As of now the White House does not denied, I believe, that the President might be the person at who's direction the senior campaign official dealt with WikiLeaks. That remains an open question. He could deny it now. Sarah Sanders could deny it now. She could walk in and ask the President and the President could say, "No, it wasn't me," and then they could deny it. "I had no knowledge of it." But as of now that has not been denied.
TAPPER: I think that we've been told that Manafort was not the one that reached out to Stone. MURRAY: So we've gotten a lot of denials from the left people, but
I'm thinking - I'm running back through some of these denials in my head and I know that Roger Stone has denied that he ever discussed WikiLeaks with Donald Trump, President Trump, candidate Trump. I also know that Trump's folks, his legal team have said that he never discussed WikiLeaks with Roger Stone. We haven't ever gotten the denial that there was a conversation through an intermediary, perhaps, about WikiLeaks. We still didn't get that denial today, obviously, from Sarah Sanders. But as I'm racking my brain for previous denials, I can't remember that when he's rolling that out either.
TAPPER: Yes, Kim, as an experienced prosecutor, is Mueller is not done, do you think?
WEHLE: Oh, no. I think one thing that this demonstrates is that the notion that the whole thing will wrap up in the next month is kind of folly. I think there's a lot here as was mentioned we just see the tip of the iceberg. What's really interesting about this is there's a lot of documentary evidence, texts and emails from Mr. Stone. In this indictment, I encourage people to actually read the actual indictment. But no this is going to go on.
TAPPER: And also all the denials from Stone. Sara, President Trump tweeted today, "Greatest Witch Hunt in the history of our country. No collusion," blah, blah, blah, "Who alerted CNN to be there?" That's a reference to the fact that CNN have this great exclusive video this morning. And to be clear, CNN was not alerted to be there, it was through a reporting that there was a hunch. Tell us more.
MURRAY: Yes. I mean we did have a hunch. We heard that the grand jury was going to be meeting on Thursday and that struck us as unusual and they did actually. They heard testimony from Jerome Corsi's step son on Thursday and we heard through our sources that there was a reason that it was scheduled for Thursday. There were some suggestion that they might be busy, Mueller's team might be busy on Friday and we have a couple of our eagle eyed reporters who spotted one of the prosecutors who has been working on this Roger Stone case leave the office with a suitcase and so ...
TAPPER: A suitcase, where are you going?
MURRAY: It just didn't seem like the right time for a prosecutor on the Roger Stone case to be taking a fun weekend away and so we decided that out of an abundance of caution, we should stakeout Roger Stone's home just in case something did happen. And Stone and his attorney I think we're very convinced that he would have an opportunity to turn himself in, that they would not get this kind of treatment from the FBI. But we followed what was unusual court activity, unusual prosecutor activity and it was Roger Stone day.
TAPPER: Great reporting, great hunches. I'm glad it all worked out. Thanks, everyone. Stick around. Stone has been called the cockroach of American politics. He was even fired ones from the Dole campaign because of a sleazy swinger ad. The take a look at Roger Stone sorted and downright shady past next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're now under oath, were you at anytime a member of a crime organization headed by Michael Corleone.
FRANK PENTANGELI: I don't know nothing about that. Oh, I was in oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago. That's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was the character, Frank Pentangeli, from the movie Godfather Part Two. A one time ally of Michael Corleone who cooperates with the FBI and then recants before that committee, claiming that the FBI told him to lie.
Today we learned that Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime confidant ...
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- cooperates with the FBI and then recants before that committee claiming that the FBI told him to lie. Today we learned that Roger Stone, President Trump's longtime confidant has been charged with instructing a witness in the Mueller investigation to "pull a frank pentangle which as you see means to lie.
Stone has been a fixture in Republican politics for more than four decades including a stint on the Trump campaign but now his sleazy take-no-prisoners approach might actually land him in the slammer.
ROGER STONE, TRUMP ASSOCIATE: I'm Roger Stone R-O-G-E-R S-T-O-N-E.
TAPPER: He's been called The Dirty Trickster, The Prince of Darkness, even the Cockroach of American Politics by the left-leaning New Republic. And Roger Stone flaunts many of these monikers as proudly as he flaunts his Nixon back tattoo.
STONE: I'm an agent provocateur.
TAPPER: Stone's reputation is hard-earned. His notorious political rap sheet goes back to the Nixon campaign when the then-19-year-old donated money to Nixon's opponent. He said it was from the Young Socialist Alliance and gave the receipt to the press. It didn't get any more ethical from there.
In 1980, Stone began a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort that unapologetically catered to human rights abusers. Stone once boasted they "Lined up most of the dictators in the world that we could find. Pro-western dictators, of course. The good ones."
Nevertheless, the questionable consultants resume is filled with work for Republican stars. Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., and of course --
STONE: I'm a political adviser to Donald Trump.
TAPPER: While working for Bob Dole, Stone's personal I have caused the public stir. He was forced to resign from Dole's presidential campaign after a tabloid revealed that he and his wife had placed an ad for a sex partner in a paper called Local Swing Fever. But Stone did not go away He continued to stir the political pot. In 1999, Stone helped Donald Trump navigate his first short-lived campaign for the presidency.
STONE: I've got to give my best advice but Mr. Trump makes the decisions. And frankly, the polls so far kind of reflected voters like it.
TAPPER: A year later, in 2000, Stone took credit for disrupting the Florida recount by organizing a Republican riot at the Miami-Dade Elections Office. All the while, the Stone list of dirty tricks and black ops continued to grow. Stone took credit for the downfall of then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer saying he found out about Spitzer's penchant for prostitutes from a sex worker he met at a Miami swingers club.
STONE: Welcome to Stones Zone.
TAPPER: Through his online channel the Stones Zone and national T.V. appearances, Stone has four years pedaled countless deranged conspiracy theories.
STONE: I am not a conspiracy theorist I'm a conspiracy realist.
TAPPER: And through all of this, there has been a mainstay, his longtime friend Donald Trump who reportedly continued confiding in stone even after firing him from his campaign in 2015. Stone claims he quit.
STONE: We go back a very long time. I have -- Donald Trump came to my wedding, I went to two of his. I was at both his parent's funerals. I have great affection for Trump and the Trump family.
TAPPER: So what advice might the president have received? One passage from Stone's book of life lesson stands out "Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counter-attack.
TAPPER: So take a listen to Roger Stone today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. He's being talked about because he was indicted.
NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Jake, he's looking like a mini Nixon there. The only thing he didn't say is I am NOT a crook directly and it's really not a good look. I mean, there have been 35 -- 34 people charged, three companies, almost 100 -- you know, it's -- something wrong with this man and it's something wrong with all of the President's men. It seems like that this entire -- I mean he has been -- the President -- I want people to wrap their minds around this. President Trump has been under some type of investigation ever since he took office. Imagine that.
TAPPER: So President Trump tweeted in December about Roger Stone, Kevin. Take a listen to this or take a look at this. I will never testify against Trump. That's President from quoting Stone. This statement was recently made by Roger Stone essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out-of-control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about "President Trump." Nice to know that some people still have "guts." That does seem to be paramount to President Trump more than anything else, loyalty to him.
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And he is the personification of the Trump approach to politics too, right? Which is forget -- it's not so much about ideas but whatever you do and Brian Stelter quoted this earlier, whatever you do don't be boring, right? And that's Donald Trump's approach to politics. It's the same thing with Roger Stone.
I think the bet here and it's -- and it's -- and it'll be interesting to see whether it has to right but the bet here that Roger Stone is making is that this can be won in the court of public opinion. The Special Counsel is making the bet that this is going to be won in the court of law and that that ultimately is what will win the day. We're going to have to see that play out over the next few months.
[16:50:14] BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think Roger Stone is making the bet that he will be pardoned by Donald Trump.
MADDEN: That's it. And with public opinion from Donald Trump's base.
TAPPER: Oh, I see. I see. For the base. So -- and the indictment makes some incredible allegations against Stone. I should say they're not the allegations, there's evidence of them including he threatened to kill the dog of Person Number Two in the indictment Randy Credico. He tells Credico, "You are a rat, a stoolie, you backstab your friends, run your mouth, my lawyers are dying to rip you to shreds. I am so ready. Let's get it on. Prepare to die." And then there's also some stuff about his dog. Let's show a picture of the dog because I just want to show you. It's a sweet little dog. MADDEN: And he complained about the FBI raid waking up his dog. So we know if anything that they're dog people.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, the truth is no one's going to cry if Roger Stone goes to jail or when he goes to jail.
TAPPER: He might like it.
PSAKI: He might. Who knows? But the real question is given all of their history here between Trump and Roger Stone, is it actually plausible he didn't know what he was up to.
TURNER: That's right.
PSAKI: What did Trump, know when did he know it, we don't know it yet but I'm sure we'll learn it, and that's why it's interesting --
MADDEN: That's why the court of law is much bigger than the court of public opinion.
TAPPER: Can I also just say like it's pretty remarkable that the President of the United States has a close associate like Roger Stone. I mean, there are dirty tricksters in every party in every you know, every corner of politics but this is a close friend of President Trump and this guy is awful.
TURNER: Birds of a feather.
PSAKI: Has a Nixon tattoo. That's a big red flag right there.
KRISTOL: I think that's unfair to Nixon, really. I just want to say.
TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. Roger Stone was not even the only Trump associate in court today. That's next.
[16:55:08]TAPPER: Breaking right now. The Senate just passed the legislation to reopen the government after the President announced an end to the shutdown without any funding for his border wall. The whole reason that the shutdown happen to begin with. We'll keep you posted on that story as it develops.
Also in the "POLITICS LEAD" today. As the President's former associate Roger Stone appeared in court in Florida, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was also in front of a federal judge in D.C. Today Mueller's team would not rule out the option that they might bring more charges against Manafort. Let's talk about it with a my panel.
Shimon, six of President Trump's closest associates have all been indicted, Stone, Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. Of those six, I guess, you could say Papadopoulos wasn't a close associate but the other five sure were. That's a lot of people close to you to be going to jail or charged with crimes. SHIMON PROKUPECS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It is. And there
is one central theme I think in all of this is that a lot of them have been charged with lying to investigators about what they knew, about their various interactions, really with some very shady people whether it be Russians, whether it be WikiLeaks. That is the central theme I think in everything that we're seeing in a lot of these charges that are coming from Mueller and from SDNY. People lying to protect the President.
TAPPER: And, Sara, this is the defense we heard from the White House today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: 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 that they did in their private lives and their personal, that may or may not have been right or wrong, that doesn't have anything to do with the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Well, I mean, arguably they had to do with electing the President.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. Also, private lives and personal lives, I mean Michael Cohen has now implicated the President in hush money payments. Paul Manafort has certainly gotten in trouble for his own business dealings but also for being in touch with a Russian counterpart allegedly with ties to Russian intelligence while he was running the Trump campaign.
TAPPER: Sharing campaign data.
MURRAY: And sharing campaign data with that person. And now we have Roger Stone who was directed -- who was in touch with a campaign official, who was directed by an even more senior campaign official to go figure out what WikiLeaks had and the White House can't answer whether the person who is giving those directions was President Trump at the time then-Candidate Trump.
So I think if your defense is going to be this has nothing to do with the White House or this has nothing to do with the president, it doesn't really hold water in in these cases.
TAPPER: And you said, Kim, earlier in the show that you don't think Mueller is anything close to done. Is he leading to the President? I mean where is he going with all this?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I worked on the Whitewater investigation. That was seven years and it was so much narrower than this. So I just think there -- we're at the tip of the iceberg. There could be a lot. The big question really has to do is what -- how could this president ultimately be held accountable if it's -- I think there's a debate, a legitimate debate as to whether you can indict a sitting president. The DOJ guidance is no.
And then we've got the question of whether this Congress is going to go forward with an impeachment. I personally believe that's really a legislative political solution is the solution, and at this point or at least to determine whether impeachment is proper. And at this point, we just don't see any movement in that direction. But we've also as mentioned, issues regarding witness tampering too. That is something that was in both the articles of impeachment for Mr. Nixon and articles of impeachment for Mr. Clinton.
So I think on a bipartisan level, if you look historically, we're in that mode where it's time to start looking at this seriously.
TAPPER: And Shimon, just a note. A week ago the President and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani were praising the Special Counsel for slapping back that BuzzFeed report. But today, of course, they're back to witch-hunt.
PROKUPECS: Yes. Of course, they are. And more concerned about how we knew to be you know, at Roger Stone's home in Florida and certainly in that tweet calling this a witch-hunt. Look, I think what we have all seen here is that Mueller has been very methodical in how he's been doing this investigation.
TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all for being here. Be sure to tune in CNN on Monday night for a special event in Iowa. I'm going to host a live town hall with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris of California. It all starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday. But first be sure to check out CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday morning. I'm going to talk to Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Julian Castro 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.