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Trump Agrees to Temporarily Reopen Government Without Any Wall Funding; Longtime Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 25, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICIAL: And they probably, as Mr. Swecker said, were able to gather more evidence this morning.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And also gathering evidence, Chris, not only his home in Fort Lauderdale, but his home, his apartment in New York has apparently also been searched. What else are they looking for?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, yes, in this digital age, establishing probable cause for this type of search, you can search anywhere there's computer media, there's mobile devices, whether -- and if there's Internet service in a particular location. That's enough to get you in the house to search for digital evidence.
There may be paper documents they're looking for. There might be other types of financial records they're looking for, written records. People still do have written documents.
So I just believe that this is -- you don't see the direct connection with Russia yet, but I think there's a very deliberate strategy that Director Mueller, former Director Mueller, is using. And I think, in the end, this will all come together in a fairly significant indictment that does tie that loose end up, which is the direct connection between what we know is Russian interference and some -- one or more U.S. persons.
BALDWIN: Got it.
Chris and Carrie, thank you.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.
Whew. What a day it has been. Within a span of just a couple of hours, three breaking news stories. The president's longtime associate and first campaign adviser, as we were just discussing, Roger Stone, has been indicted for lying, obstruction and witness tampering.
There have been monster delays at U.S. airports today as well, as our air-traffic control system has reached this breaking point on staffing, which led in part to what we just saw moments ago, the president of the United States announcing there from the Rose Garden this short-term deal with Democrats to put an end to the shutdown mess, key words, for now.
And so that is where we begin this hour, moments ago, the president announcing a deal to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. It is only temporary. The deal reached with Democrats only reopens the government for three weeks to give both sides more time to work out a permanent solution.
The big announcement coming as federal workers missed their second paycheck on day 35 of the shutdown, and as the president is still pushing for some type of wall or barrier at the southern border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn't want to use it at this time. Hopefully, it will be unnecessary.
I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship. You are fantastic people. You are incredible patriots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Here is what Democratic sources say this deal entails, funding the government through February 15, in the hopes of figuring out a permanent solution, again, key here, no money for a border wall right now, but it does provide funds for border security and it also includes a back pay provision for furloughed employees.
So, let's start with CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip.
And, Abby, I noted this before. It was like it was so, I used the word shameful to hear the applause, you know, from members there at the White House applauding this man being the president of the United States who is the reason for his $5.7 billion for this wall for the government shutdown.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Brooke, it was incredibly amazing to hear that from a peanut gallery of White House and administration staffers who had gathered in the Rose Garden to hear the president and then applaud him on his way out as he begins to close what is an incredibly sad chapter in this country's history, the longest shutdown ever, 35 days, federal workers going unpaid.
And, at the end of the day, the deal that is going to be voted on today is the same deal that could have been voted on 35 days ago. It could have been voted on, on Tuesday, before the deadline for federal workers to get their paychecks by today, but it wasn't. And I think President Trump clearly acknowledged that he is not
getting his border wall in this particular deal, but in the process of talking about what Democrats are describing as a major cave on the president.
The president reiterated so many misleading statements about what's going on, on the border, some outright falsehoods about what's going on, on the border, to continue to press his case for that border wall.
Now, we have three weeks in which we will see perhaps real negotiations happening. Now, remember, Democrats have been saying they don't even want to talk to the president about border security until the government is reopen.
So this could signal real talks back and forth about this issue. But the president left that Rose Garden by saying this, that he would shut -- either shut down the government again on February 15, or he would use executive action to build the wall if he isn't given the wall by congressional Democrats.
So, there is a very real possibility that in three weeks we could be right back where we started on this shutdown here at the White House, with no progress being made and the government being about to be shut down.
Brooke, one of the things that has been weighing on this White House has been all of the damage that's been caused by the shutdown, but today when everybody woke up to and went about their day hearing all this news from the air traffic control system being crippled by the shutdown, the stress being placed on federal workers, that was one of the main reasons, according to our sources, that this pressure really started to really weigh on the president, forcing him into the position that he is in right now.
There is a real question, though, about whether the president is going to be able to get more out of Democrats in the next three weeks than he has been able to get up until this point. Democrats have no reason to give the president has wall, especially considering that he has caved on this, he caved on the State of the Union.
And they have shown that they can get the upper hand from a president who has not actually in his political life seen this kind of defeat before -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Abby, thank you very much at the White House.
Let's expand the conversation.
With me now, CNN chief local analyst Gloria Borger and Eliza Collins, politics reporter for "USA Today."
Gloria, is this a total Trump cave?
(LAUGHTER) GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, when you think about, this could have been done weeks ago, that the Democrats have been talking about reopening the government, and then let's have a discussion about some kind of immigration reform. We will do it that way.
And the president said, no, no, no, I need money for the wall. And he didn't get money for the wall today. What was striking to me was that the president somehow today -- and my notes are not verbatim -- but he did say that the Democrats have finally acknowledged that having barriers, walls, fences are some kind of important part of the solution.
I haven't heard that from Democrats. They have in the past voted for certain kinds of barriers, as we know, but that's not a part of this new discussion. So I don't know where he's getting that from. And also he hung out this notion that I'm hanging this emergency authority over your head, which, as you were discussing in the last segment, is very questionable legally.
And that's an issue for conservatives as well, because a lot of conservatives think it's an abuse of presidential authority.
Yes, as Carrie Cordero was pointing, the clock is ticking...
BORGER: Yes, Carrie.
BALDWIN: ... on the viability of that.
And it was Trump's phrase, "I have a powerful alternative, I won't use it now, dot, dot, dot" -- so we will see what happens in three weeks.
Eliza, to you, right now, as everyone's reacting to this, apparently right-wing media is going off over this. How will the Sean Hannitys of the world defend Trump on this?
ELIZA COLLINS, "USA TODAY": I don't know if they can.
On my way over here, I was texting with a conservative who was close to the White House, and he said that this stabbed the base in the heart.
COLLINS: I mean, this was Trump's biggest promise to the base. They really wanted it. And he's completely failed to do that, and he failed to do it to Nancy Pelosi, who is, of course, their favorite foe.
So it's really interesting. I mean, I was just at the Capitol. I talked to Senator Kevin Cramer, who's a Republican senator. He voted no yesterday on the Democratic bill, which was essentially the same thing, just a different date, and today said he would support this, and basically his reasoning was that the president was going to support it today. But I asked how he could defend it to the base, and he said there's no question the base is going to be upset. So I'm not sure how the Sean Hannitys of the world are able to defend it.
BALDWIN: Stabbing the heart of the base, which is so much of what, as we always discuss, matters so much to the president.
You still -- you have these 800,000 or so federal workers? You have, of course, a lot of these contractors who won't be getting back pay. They're all like, you know, at least for some of them, when are we getting paid? That's still a big, big question mark.
And, Gloria, I go back to, again, 35 days this thing has gone on, that he is not getting a penny for his wall. And I can't imagine that these federal workers are like, what was all this for, if nothing has come of this?
BORGER: Right. Right.
And they're also thinking, what's going to happen in three weeks?
BORGER: We could be back at square one here in three weeks, and despite the president's homage to the strength of federal workers, which we have not heard a lot over the past three weeks from this president or his Cabinet, he went out of his way to do that today, we know that the Democrats are not going to give on the wall and that the president is going to be getting a lot of input from conservatives about how he messed this up.
And so we don't know where we are going to be in three weeks. Maybe they will come up with some kind of a compromise that they couldn't get. But if that involves dreamers, for example, we know where the Democrats are, and we know where the president is, and they're never going to agree on that.
Then the base would really get angry. So I'm trying to think in my mind, where do they go on this? Where can they go? And maybe the national emergency is the place they go, or the president goes, but that doesn't solve the issue either, because it winds up in court.
BALDWIN: Eliza, who's the key lawmaker to watch behind the scenes moving this whole thing forward?
COLLINS: I think we have got to watch Mitch McConnell. I mean, he stayed quiet for a really long time. In December, the Senate unanimously passed a bill very similar to this one. And the president said he wasn't going to sign it.
And so McConnell basically said, all right, hands off, deal with the Democrats. And then we saw him come back on the scene this week. He held those two votes yesterday. One was the Democratic bill very similar to this one. The other was the president's proposal. Both failed. The Democratic bill got a few more votes.
They got six Republicans on their side. But McConnell is -- basically, people close to McConnell have said that that was a message. He was trying to say, look, neither worked. We have got to come to the table. And then we saw real movement.
So I think watching McConnell on this, of course, the Freedom Caucus, the conservatives have a lot of influence on the president. They were in the White House when President Trump decided he was going to shut down the government. So I think we need to be watching them on this. So far, they have stuck by him.
Mark Meadows today said, let's see how Democrats do in these next three weeks. But they are very tapped into the base. And so I think we need to be watching Mitch McConnell, who sort of understands Congress very well and what deals can get done, and then the conservatives whispering in Trump's other ear to just play to his base.
BORGER: I also think Lindsey Graham is somebody you need to watch, because he's sort of the newest...
BALDWIN: Trump whisperer?
BORGER: ... Trump whisperer, right. You took the words right out of my mouth. So he is.
But don't forget Lindsey Graham is somebody who way back in the day signed on to comprehensive immigration reform, has always been for it, which is not where the president is, but who has been talking about a compromise.
And so I think he could end up being some kind of a go-between. But, then again, he's not very popular with conservatives on this issue. But maybe he will play a few rounds of golf with the president in Florida and they can -- they can figure it out. I don't know.
BALDWIN: Well, let's hope that is -- that is a game of golf that actually results in something here for everyone involved.
Gloria and Eliza, ladies, thank you so much.
In addition to the news with the government reopening for a hot minute here, we have the other huge story of the day involving Roger Stone, now the sixth associate of President Trump to be charged by special counsel Robert Mueller. We have reaction from the White House and what this means for President Trump, both legally and politically.
Back in a moment.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. It's Friday. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Wowza. Let me so -- we're talking about Roger Stone today. And Roger
Stone is a longtime Trump adviser/associate. He is now out on a quarter-million dollar bond after being arraigned in a Florida court on a slew of charges, among them, obstruction, false statements and witness tampering.
And here he was later this morning walking out of court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation. But I have made it clear I will not testify against the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: It all started with a dramatic raid this morning at his home in Fort Lauderdale, seen here in this CNN exclusive video, carried out, we should mention, by FBI agents who were not being paid at the time because of the government shutdown.
But the main takeaway is this, and it's a huge one, is that Roger Stone is accused of seeking stolen e-mails from WikiLeaks that could hurt Trump's opponents, in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials.
This is the first time prosecutors have alleged that there were additional people close to the then Republican candidate who were involved. We don't know their names, but we do know at least one person's actions from the indictment.
Let me read the section for you now: "After the first release of DNC e-mails, a senior Trump official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1" -- Organization 1 being WikiLeaks.
The big question now is, who in July of 2016 could have been considered a senior Trump campaign official?
So with me now, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig and Jennifer Rodgers. Elie was also former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. And Jennifer is a former federal prosecutor.
So let's just dive right in.
To you first, just between the -- this moment in front of the courthouse with Roger Stone and that entire indictment, what is your biggest takeaway?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The biggest takeaway to me now is that no collusion is just a straight-up empty slogan.
We now know for sure that the Russian effort to hack the DNC and to put those e-mails out through WikiLeaks has now landed squarely in the upper reaches of the Trump campaign. There is no getting around that. If you look at this environment, we know every word that Robert Mueller puts in writing is correct, locked in and for a purpose.
BALDWIN: Purposeful, locked in.
HONIG: And there you can say no collusion, he hasn't been charged with collusion. Collusion is not even a federal crime.
This puts the hacking effort right in the campaign.
BALDWIN: The line, the was directed, the was directed, senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact, do you think that could be the most damning line of this whole thing?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's the one that most puts Trump in the middle of this, right, because who could possibly be directing senior campaign officials? Really, no one other than the candidate, right?
So it really does read as if Trump was on board with Roger Stone's contact with WikiLeaks, getting the dirt from them, getting specific dirt from them on topics that they then wanted to use in their campaign against Hillary Clinton.
BALDWIN: Which we were talking earlier in my office, because I always try to avoid passive voice, right? And this was written in passive voice, in the sense then -- in the sense that it said directed -- was directed.
It didn't say someone directed senior Trump campaign official to reach out to -- and that was -- you think that's purposeful?
HONIG: I do. I do.
Look, we all -- Jennifer I hate passive voice. You do too.
HONIG: What this -- when you do an indictment, you name the defendant, Roger Stone, here, and everybody else gets a label, Individual 1, Executive 1, Campaign Official 1.
And by phrasing this in the passive voice, it allowed Mueller to sort sidestep that.
BALDWIN: Avoid it.
HONIG: Yes, he didn't have to say Person 1 or Official 1 or Candidate 1 or anything like that.
But I also want to pick up on something that Jennifer said. The coordination here was not sort of incidental or by the by. It was strategic. If we look at the e-mails that are laid out in this indictment, they are talking about, where do we make these leaked e- mails count the most?
There's a part where they're talking about, let's stress the theme that Hillary's not of sound mind anymore, right? There's a part where they're talking about, we want e-mails from a specific date range, August 10 to 30th, preferably the 20th.
They're looking for something specific. There's a point where they're saying Hillary's people are pushing back. These are strategically coordinated e-mails and texts that are that are now linked from the campaign to the Russians.
BALDWIN: On the e-mails and the texts, everyone says Mueller knows all, right? Everyone keeps saying that he has all the receipts, all the e-mails, all the texts, all the documents.
One excerpt from the indictment seems to prove that. Prosecutors note that Stone was in the possession of e-mails and texts about the hacked documents at the exact time he lied and told Congress he had no knowledge of such e-mails and texts.
So my question would be, why lie about something that is demonstrably false?
RODGERS: That is so often the question that we ask ourselves, as you're doing...
RODGERS: Why are people lying?
BALDWIN: We got the e-mail right here.
RODGERS: He's sitting there saying there were no written communications between me and my conduit. And yet there are dozens and dozens and dozens, and he must know these electronic records don't just disappear.
He didn't set fire to them and put them in the fireplace and they're gone forever. So it's hard to know, except that at a certain time before his testimony at least, this was all part of this big bluster campaign that Roger Stone was carrying on, right?
He was, you know, saying, oh, yes, it was me. I knew all about this WikiLeaks stuff. And then he said, no, I didn't. But the moment he goes before Congress, we're now in a different boat. And I do want to say, I want to give some credit to the representatives who asked the right questions here.
So often, those folks unfortunately don't really know how to phrase question is in the right way. They make people like me Elie and me cringe. This time, they did. They asked the right questions. They got the answers that they needed to bring these false statements charges. And that's really, really important, because that's the only time that he testified and he was subject to those kinds of penalties. HONIG: Stone is a weird bird, right?
BALDWIN: He is?
HONIG: Yes. I mean, we were talking about some of his sort of personal peccadillos.
HONIG: But everyone should go back and read Jeffrey Toobin's interview with him 10 years ago in "The New Yorker." It's brilliant.
But, remember, Roger Stone's personal motto is, admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack. And we saw it on the courthouse steps already.
BALDWIN: The Nixon tattoo, the loving the cameras, the mention of "The Godfather," probably the last thing you would want to quote and look up to, and if you're doing whatever you're doing.
Let me just thank you both right now, Elie and Jennifer. Appreciate you walking through this indictment with me today.
So that's one of the huge stories.
Of course, the other big story, the breaking news, the president and Democrats making this short-term deal now to reopen the government. This is what we just got from the president speaking at the White House, officials there telling CNN one catalyst for the president backing down was all the chaos earlier this morning at some of the nation's busiest airports, widespread staffing issues that forced total ground stops for a period of time.
So we will get reaction from two air traffic controllers who should be getting paychecks sometime soon.
BALDWIN: A deal reached between the president and Democrats to reopen the government, at least for the next three weeks.
So why today and why now? According to a White House official, the massive delays we're seeing today at several major airports across the country did play a key role in the president's decision.
The delays the direct result of the shutdown, thanks to staffing issues with air traffic controllers. They are the men and women working without pay to keep our skies safe, responsible for all of the planes you see in the air right now.
They are the eyes and ears for pilots on the ground, juggling countless flights each and every day, an extremely stressful job.
So with me now, Trish Gilbert, the executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and air traffic controller Jim Marinitti, who is also southern regional vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
So, first and foremost, thank you so much for what you do.
We were talking just quickly. Just for perspective, if you take NyQuil, you can't -- you can't be an air traffic controller for two days. That is how on point and how much of a perfectionist you really have to be to do this job.
You guys saw the president's announcement, the applause at the White House for the government reopening for three weeks. You called this irresponsible when we talked the other day. How did you feel?