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CNN RIGHT NOW
Roger Stone Indicted; Deal Near to Re-open the Government; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Interview with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired January 25, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And if he does say what you just said, that would be a major concession by the president. We'll watch this play out. Don't go anywhere.
Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS today. Breaking news continues with Brianna Keilar right now. Have a great day.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, we begin with breaking news involving the latest indictment in the Russia investigation.
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CROWD: Lock him up! Lock him up!
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KEILAR: In the Russia probe, Trump associate Roger Stone left federal court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, just a short time ago after his indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. Stone is accused of coordinating with Trump campaign officials about the release of stolen WikiLeaks e-mails. E-mails that could have damaged Trump's opponents. And he says that he's going to fight the charges and won't testify against the president.
Stone was indicted on seven counts. There was one count of obstructing an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, one count of witness tampering.
Roger Stone seemed to be enjoying the attention as he stepped to the microphone moments ago. He talked about his arrest, the charges and his undying support for President Trump.
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ROGER STONE, TRUMP ASSOCIATE: After a two-year inquisition, the charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration, or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign. I am falsely accused of making false statements during my testimony to
the House Intelligence Committee. That is incorrect. Any error I made in my testimony would be both immaterial and without intent. I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation.
I am troubled by the political motivations of the prosecutors. And as I have said previously, there is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN's Evan Perez is joining me now on this story.
Take us through this, take us through the charges and what happened today in court.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, today was a removal (ph) hearing down in Ft. Lauderdale. He's expected to -- the next court hearing is next week here in Washington, D.C., which is where Roger Stone was indicted on seven counts, as you mentioned. Seven counts that includes obstruction of an official proceeding. This is his false testimony according to his -- according to the special counsel, he provided false testimony, as well as encouraging others to provide false testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, as well as five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering.
And we'll go through a little bit of what the special counsel is alleging in these court documents. And one -- the bigger one is obviously the idea that, according to the special counsel, Roger Stone was acting in concert, in coordination with people inside the campaign, inside the Trump campaign, in order to get these e-mails from WikiLeaks, which, as you know, the government says is an arm essentially of the Russian -- of the Russian intelligence services. And there's this July 22, 2016 -- after the July 2016 release of stolen DNC e-mails by WikiLeaks, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1, which is WikiLeaks, had regarding the Trump -- the Clinton campaign. Stone thereafter told the Trump campaign about potential future releases of damaging information from WikiLeaks.
Again, this is -- goes to the heart of what the Mueller investigation is all about, whether or not there was an effort by people close to the campaign, in this case Roger Stone, who, as you know, is a friend of the presidents going back to the 1970s, a prominent supporter of the campaign, coordinating with, in this case, WikiLeaks, which is a stand-in, according to the special counsel, according to the FBI, for Russian intelligence.
And then there's the witness tampering parts of this indictment, Brianna. There's a 2017 -- November 2017 text message between Roger Stone and a witness that we know is to be Randy Credico, a radio host in New York, who was supposedly a go-between between Roger Stone and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. According to this text message it says, Roger is telling Credico, stonewall it, plead the fifth, anything to save the plan. And he sites Richard Nixon.
In another one from December 2017 in which Roger Stone tells Credico, before his House Intelligence testimony, that he should do, quote, a Frank Pentangeli. Now, this is a reference to "The Godfather" movies. And he's suggesting that Credico avoid contradicting what Roger had testified in his own testimony. And then he says, quote, if you turned over anything to the FBI, you're a fool.
[13:05:20] And according to the special counsel, Brianna, this is what Roger Stone essentially was doing, was trying to throw mud in the water, trying to essentially obstruct what the special counsel, what the House Intelligence Committee was trying to figure, was trying to figure out what happened in 2016. And, again, this goes to the heart of this investigation. Whether or not there's somebody inside the campaign, and you can see there was several references to people, according to the special counsel, that are inside the campaign.
Now you -- as you pointed out, Roger Stone says this has nothing to do with collusion, and that's a -- that's something we've also heard from the president's attorney, from the president, and from the White House press secretary earlier today.
KEILAR: All right, Evan, stand by for us.
We are going to analyze this in just a moment, but there's some breaking news coming to us from the White House.
CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is with us.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
KEILAR: And this has to do with the shutdown.
Jim, catch us up here. What's going on?
ACOSTA: Yes, Brianna, we are expecting the president to make some sort of announcement over here at the White House. They're making preparations in the Rose Garden for the president to make an announcement.
I talked to a senior White House official in just the last few minutes who said that the president is expected to announce what this official referred to as a way forward out of the shutdown, out of the stalemate over the president's demand for a wall on the border with Mexico.
Now I -- we want to point out, just in the last couple of minutes, my colleagues, Kaitlan Collins over here at the White House, Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, they are reporting that negotiations are moving forward on an agreement to reopen the government. This has not received final signoff from all sides, so all of this is very fluid.
But, according to what we're hearing right now from those sources, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer over in the Senate is involved in these talks and that this potentially involves some sort of short-term spending bill or continued resolution to reopen the government while these talks continue. Now, I should point out, and as we were speaking right here, right
now, Brianna, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, she has also just tweeted in just the last few moments about this. Obviously we saw her earlier this morning talking on "NEW DAY." She says in a tweet, the president will make remarks regarding the shutdown in the Rose Garden today at 1:30 p.m. This will be an open press event.
And so it seems like the cat is out of the bag. If folks are wondering whether or not we might see a bright, shiny object before the end of the day after that stunning news, the indictment of Roger Stone, one of the president's long-time advisers and friends. It appears we have one. The question is, whether or not at this hour, Brianna, is that bright, shiny object potentially light at the end of the tunnel in terms of this government shutdown? Are we finally going to see an end to the government shutdown? I think a lot of that is going to hinge on what the president says, as we've seen so often before.
And you know this, Brianna, covering all of this, President Trump likes to keep things fluid. And what we know at 1:08 p.m. East Coast Time may not be the case when he makes his announcement at 1:30 p.m. in about 20 minutes from now.
But we'll be looking forward to a Rose Garden announcement from the president here -- over here at the White House. And according to a senior White House official who I just spoke with a few moments ago, this potentially has to do with what this official referred to as a way forward. It sounds like there's movement up on Capitol Hill, movement over here in the White House. And I imagine, Brianna, those pictures we saw this morning of the ground stop over at LaGuardia, all of the chaos that potentially could be unfolding for travelers across the country if this shutdown continues, that has to be weighing heavily on this White House as well, Brianna.
KEILAR: Really ratcheting up the pressure.
ACOSTA: That's right.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Acosta for us at the White House, thank you.
I want to bring in Gloria Borger and Dana Bash to talk about this with us.
What a day. What a news day, right?
OK, but if -- if there appears to be some sort of agreement, walk us through what that could be, Dana, because we knew that there was this bipartisan group of senators --
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
KEILAR: That was aiming for essentially -- something that we've heard about before, which is a -- I mean this has been on the table --
KEILAR: Or discussed or out there -- a stopgap measure that funds the government for a short period of time so that they can talk about border security separately.
BASH: You have a bipartisan group of senators banging their collective heads against a wall because it looks like what they have been talking about and begging the president to do might be exactly the road that he is going to go down. We'll see in, what, about 20 minutes if that -- if that is the case.
If he does open the government, it is -- it is -- there's no other way to say it, and see it as the fact that he capitulated. He has had no choice. It has gotten worse and worse and worse for him politically. People who are close to him, people who are around him who I'm talking to have been tearing their hair out, extremely upset about the political damage. And the political damage is a fallout from the real world damage that this has been doing.
[13:10:13] Look, he might -- we'll see what happens. This is extremely fluid. I would not be surprised if he, you know, signed something to reopen the government without the legislative funding for the wall and maybe on the side also says, I'm going to use some emergency funding to start so that he saves face. We'll see exactly how it goes. Again, my understanding is that it is very, very fluid.
KEILAR: Because they'd been readying the White House. We had -- CNN had exclusive reporting, they had been readying an emergency declaration to find other funds for this.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. That's right, so he could always reserve the right after say there's a three-week kind of interregnum, OK, we're going to reopen the government. We have three weeks to work this out. If it doesn't work out, after three weeks I reserve the right to declare whatever, you know, national emergency.
But let me -- let me also reiterate what Dana is saying. I think the president had no choice here. I mean in a -- you know, he's caving to what everybody else has been talking about for the last week or so, as you -- as you point out, particularly after, you know, Wilbur Ross yesterday and Lara Trump and all these people came out, well, Wilbur Ross saying, why don't these people just take out a loan? Oh, that's a good idea.
So all of this together with the airport issues that we saw today and, by the way, with the Roger Stone indictment, this is a little changing of the subject here.
BORGER: So all of this put together, I think the president, who is, after all, understands stagecraft, understood that he had to cut some kind of a deal.
BASH: And could I just add one other thing, because obviously, as we've been saying, this should be and is framed as the president's strategy all along and, therefore, it's his political problem, much more so than Democrats. BORGER: Right.
BASH: But that's not to say it's not a potential political problem for Democrats also. I'm hearing from senior Democrats that they are hearing more and more from their rank and file, particularly the new members who tend to come from more moderate districts, saying they're getting pounded because the Trump message, the Republican message that they don't care about border security has started to seep in as well.
KEILAR: They've -- and that's why you've heard them trying to talk more generally, a little more specifically, about border security.
KEILAR: Dana Bash put it very well when she said people -- members of Congress, senators, have been banging their head against the wall.
Well, here's one of them, Democratic Maryland Senator Ben Cardin.
You, sir, have been working with Lisa Murkowski on this bipartisan proposal that we were just talking about to reopen the government in the short term so that people can get their back pay just for a few weeks, continue to work, alleviate those financial pressures, the safety pressures on the situation. Now that we see the president is going to be making some sort of announcement, what's your expectation about this deal?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, we're certainly hopeful that he will follow the recommendations made by about two dozen senators, half Democrats, half Republicans, who have said, look, open up government, give us a chance to work on a border security package. We'll work together in a bipartisan manner and produce a result.
So what we're hoping to hear is that we're going to get an opportunity to do just that, that we -- that we'll end this government shutdown and then we'll be able to deal with the border security issues.
We've already seen some positive results. We saw, as a result of our conversations, the Majority Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer engaged in negotiations. We knew the Senate had to play a key role here. So it looked like the Senate is played a more dominant role in trying to bridge the gap with the president.
I think that's all positive news. We've got to get government open. This is disastrous.
KEILAR: Did you know anything about this? And I wonder if you think, is it really the Senate that's exerting the pressure on the president, or is it looking at a ground stop in LaGuardia and hearing unions for flight attendants and air traffic controllers raising questions about mistakes being made and safety concerns?
CARDIN: Make no mistake about it, this shutdown is dangerous. It never should have happened and it needs to end. The danger of what's -- this shutdown has caused individual lives into our country is the dominating pressure to get government open, no question about that. The -- Mitch McConnell was absent in negotiations during the first 34
days. We now have gotten the Senate engaged in trying to negotiate a reasonable way to open up government. It's a lot easier working with legislators than it is with the president of the United States on a practical way that we can open government and use the process in Congress to produce a border security package.
So I do think it was a combination. Clearly the pressure and danger of this shutdown, but also the fact that we have been able to get Democrats and Republicans in the Senate working together to encourage our leadership to get involved.
[13:15:06] KEILAR: So is this going to be, in your expectation, perhaps an announcement from the president where he's talking about some sort of agreement with Congress, or do you think this is going to be him going it alone in some regard and taking some sort of executive action to reopen the government, or at least for the funding?
CARDIN: Well, I'll never try to speak for President Trump, but what I hope we'll hear is that we will have a period of time the government will be open, the workers will be able to get their back pay and current pay, agencies will be able to get up to full strength and Congress will be empowered to try to work on a bipartisan border security package.
What else the president is intending to do, I wouldn't want to try to guess.
KEILAR: All right, but you didn't know this was -- you didn't know this was happening until it started breaking, obviously, though, right? Were you informed of this in any way by -- from Republicans or the White House?
CARDIN: For the last couple of days we've had some very, very positive discussions among Democrats and Republicans. I knew that the White House was fully aware of our conversations, as was Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer. So we knew that -- that our conversations, we were getting positive feedback. So, yes, I do believe that there has been an effort made to bridge the gap and see -- put politics aside for one moment to get government open so that we can end this dangerous situation.
KEILAR: Before I let you go, I do want to talk to you about Roger Stone, who was indicted today on seven charges, including witness tampering, making false statements, five of those charges of that, and then obstruction of a federal proceeding.
Prosecutors say that he sought e-mails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks, that he was coordinating with Trump campaign officials while he was seeking those documents or information about them and then he lied about it. The president has tweeted -- he once again said, there's no collusion because these charges are about getting in the way of the investigation, witness tampering, lying.
What is your response to him saying this is proof there's no collusion? CARDIN: Well, first, I think the specific information that's been released in regard to the Stone indictment are very alarming as to his role in regards to the Trump campaign. These are issues obviously under current investigation by the Mueller investigation. It just underscores the importance for us to allow the Mueller investigation to complete its work without any interference from the White House. Let them get their job done. And then we want that report as quickly as possible to the American people and to Congress. So these are very serious issues and the indictments themselves provide a lot of specifics.
KEILAR: All right, Senator Ben Cardin, thank you so much for being with us.
CARDIN: Thank you.
KEILAR: Moments from now, the president is going to reveal his deal with Congress to reopen the government. We're going to take it live from the White House.
And more on Roger Stone and what this means for the Mueller investigation.
[13:22:30] KEILAR: Let's get back now to the indictment of Roger Stone. He left his first court appearance just a short time ago. Stone was indicted by a federal grand jury as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. And there he was in dramatic flair.
He is facing these charges, one count of obstruction, five counts of giving false statements, one count of witness tampering.
And we have California Congressman Ted Lieu on Capitol Hill. He is a Democrat.
You are on the Judiciary Committee. Thanks for being with us, sir.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: OK. So Roger Stone and President Trump's attorney both say that this proves there was no collusion. I should say, we heard that -- right, we heard that in the president's tweet. We've heard that from Roger Stone's attorney, that you look at these charges, witness tampering, false statements.
KEILAR: The issue of collusion is not in these charges, conspiracy not in these charges. What do you say to that?
LIEU: Right. This looks like an explosive indictment because the facts they set forth look like collusion. Essentially we had a senior Trump campaign official who was directed to contact Roger Stone to get damaging information about the Clinton campaign from WikiLeaks. We also know that WikiLeaks work with the Russians and former CIA Chief Mike Pompeo described WikiLeaks as a non-state hostile foreign intelligence service.
So if the facts set forth in the indictment are true, then we have collusion. We basically have the Trump campaign trying to get damaging information about Clinton from WikiLeaks who was working with the Russians.
KEILAR: So there's the facts of the indictment where prosecutors are alleging that he was seeking this information from WikiLeaks and that he was coordinating with Trump campaign officials as he was doing it. But when you look at the charges that have to do with witness tampering and lying, there's a different thing.
So you think that this is just showing where the charges ultimately, the actual counts, are going to go beyond what we've seen today?
LIEU: The most stunning part of the indictment is that a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Roger Stone. And so what I want to know is, who did that? Certainly it wasn't Melania.
KEILAR: Who do -- who do you think did it?
LIEU: It could only be a certain number of people. There was only a certain number of people that could have made that high-level direction, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Junior or even Donald Trump himself. As the facts come out, and I'm on the House Judiciary Committee, we'll investigate because we want to know what did the president know and when did he know it? And we will conduct those investigations and show the truth to the American people.
[13:25:04] KEILAR: Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, was on CNN today talking to our John Berman. And you could see what her strategy in all of this was. She said this indictment has nothing to do with the president. It has nothing to do with the White House.
What's your reaction to that?
LIEU: I read the indictment several times. Sarah Sanders admitted she did not read the indictment when she was making these statements. So she was just making stuff up without having read the actual document. If you read the actual document, it lays out basically collusion. It lays out the Trump campaign trying to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton, and they were working with Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, who was working with the Russians. That, to me, is pretty clear. And I think it's very important that we protect the independence of Special Counsel Mueller's office. That's one thing we're going to do on the House Judiciary Committee as well.
KEILAR: When you look at the indictment and Roger Stone's communications about congressional testimony, what do you make of his attorney saying that -- and also, I mean, Roger Stone basically said this, if I -- there were any errors, there was no intent, right? And his attorney says that there was forgetfulness, which might be a little different than what we heard from Roger Stone a short time ago. What do you make of that defense?
LIEU: So Roger Stone's attorney is paid to basically defend his client. Roger Stone, in his press conference impromptu that he gave, said he hadn't read the indictment. So I don't give a lot of stock into what Roger Stone said. Again, if you read the indictment, Robert Mueller has the goods on Mr. Stone. He has a number of text messages, e-mails that basically show Roger Stone contradicting himself.
KEILAR: He said his attorney had read that. So you would assume that he is aware there are text messages and e-mails.
KEILAR: I mean that seems pretty clear that his attorney would have -- I mean, you would hope, counsel him on that.
LIEU: Right. So if you were to read the text messages and e-mails, they directly contradict what Roger Stone stated under oath before Congress.
KEILAR: When, congressman, when he came out and he said -- he made it clear he's not going to testify against President Trump.
KEILAR: He said, I'm not going to bear false witness against the president. I'm not going to make up lies to aid myself.
LIEU: Right. Yes.
KEILAR: I mean he -- it seemed clear that he's basically saying, look, if I'm going down, I'm not taking the president with me here in any way to avoid some sort of negative outcome on my own behalf. How did you interpret that?
LIEU: I interpret that impromptu press conference of Roger Stone as having only one audience person, and that would be Donald Trump. I think Roger Stone was trying to send the president a message.
But, look, we're not asking Roger Stone to bear false witness, we just want Roger Stone to tell the truth, whatever that truth is.
KEILAR: What message do you think he's sending there when you see that presser?
LIEU: I think he wants a pardon from Donald Trump. I think that's why he did that presser.
KEILAR: And that to you seems the clear communication to the president that he's assuring him and he's asking him for some sort of -- he's asking him for something in return?
LIEU: That is correct.
Now, I also do know that Attorney General Nominee William Barr has stated that it would be illegal for the president to give such a pardon in order to prevent the testimony of someone against him.
KEILAR: So, then, where does this go and what's Congress' role in this?
LIEU: So the House Judiciary Committee will start investigations. We just constituted our committee this week. We're going to have our first witness, Mr. Whitaker, of the Department of Justice. We'll hold additional hearings. We'll be looking at issues such as obstruction of justice, abuse of power, witness tampering. We're going to get to the bottom of all of these allegations.
And I just want to make this statement. Donald Trump, like any other American, is entitled to the presumption of innocence. So on the Judiciary Committee, we're going to do these hearings, subpoena these documents for the purposes of trying to find the truth. It will either exonerate Donald Trump or it won't.
KEILAR: I want to ask you one final question before I let you go, because as the facts are laid out according to the prosecution in this charging document, you have, according to them, Roger Stone communicating indirectly with WikiLeaks. You say this is a non-state actor, a hostile actor. But where would the legal precedent be -- I hear what you're saying, you're making that allegation, you're saying the dots can be easily connected to Russia.
Legally, though, that is something that would have to be proven. Why, to you, is that so clear that the dots are connected to Russia and that Roger Stone should have known that by doing this he was, in your view, colluding with Russia to benefit the Trump campaign and change the outcome of the election?
[13:29:53] LIEU: So let me first say it was actually CIA Chief Mike Pompeo at the time who called WikiLeaks a non-state hostile foreign intelligence service. It was well known at the time that WikiLeaks was working with the Russians.