Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Caves On Wall, Agrees To Reopen Government; Mueller Indicts Trump Ally Roger Stone, Says He Coordinated With Trump Campaign Officials About WikiLeaks' Stolen Emails; Indictment: "Multiple Occasions" Of Communication Between Roger Stone And Trump Campaign Officials; Stone Claims He's Been "Falsely Accused" Of Lying, Says The Charges Against Him "In No Way" Relate To Russian Collusion. Aired: 5-6p ET
Aired January 25, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Happening now, breaking news, Trump caves. In a total capitulation of congressional Democrats, President Trump rolls over and agrees to end the five-week government shutdown on the Democrats term, abandoning what he demanded day after day including as recently as yesterday. The President is reopening the government without getting any money for his border wall, but will he shut down everything again in three weeks?
Stone gets rolled, one time Trump ally, Roger Stone, is indicted by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrested in a pre dawn FBI raid that stone says terrorized his wife and dogs. Tonight, Stone is charged with obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering in connection with Russia's hacking of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. Stone says he's innocent, but did Mueller just land his most important indictment yet?
Directed to contact. Roger Stone's indictment provides the clearest evidence so far pointing to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia revealing and I'm quoting now one - a senior campaign official was directed to contact Stone to find out what damaging information WikiLeaks plan to release about Hillary Clinton. So who on the campaign was talking to Stone and why?
And dirty tricks, Stones career as a political troublemaker and hatchet man spans the presidencies of Richard Nixon to Donald Trump. Could the man who once bragged about using dirty tricks to get Richard Nixon elected go to jail for breaking the law and does he have any surprises left up his sleeve?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in The Situation Room.
We're following multiple breaking stories this afternoon. In a total reversal, President Trump agreed to reopen the federal government for three weeks until February 15th while negotiators work out a deal on border security. The announcement came hours after a long-time Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone was arrested in Florida. Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Stone on charges of obstruction, witness tampering, making false statements to investigators. At one point, the indictment detail Stone's efforts to obtain information from WikiLeaks at the request of "a senior Trump campaign official."
I'll speak with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. A member of the Intelligence Committee. The same committee to which Stone is accused of lying and our Correspondent Analysts and Specialists. They will have full coverage of all the breaking news. You're going to have much more on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of Roger Stone in just a few moment, but first let's begin with CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.
Jim, the President caved the Democrat's demands today, didn't he?
JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. No wall, just a cave. President Trump suffered one of his biggest tactical defeats of his political life caving on his demand for a wall on the border as part of a deal to reopen the government. The President did agree to sign a short-term spending deal to get the government up and running, but that agreement could easily lead to another damaging shutdown in just a few weeks.
President Trump's demand for a wall came tumbling down as he backed off in a standoff with Democrats over the government shutdown and made an unthinkable concession. He agreed to sign a spending bill without money for his border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will sign a bill to open our government for three weeks until February 15th. I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible. It'll happen fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the President caution the short-term agreement to reopen the government will only last three weeks, warning if he doesn't have his wall then, a shutdown could happen all over again. Raising the prospect that he could declare a national emergency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcome the concession from the White House but stated democrats aren't about to give the president what he wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE AMINORITY LEADER: I genuinely hope that this
process can produce something that is good for the country and acceptable to both sides. We don't agree on some of the specifics of border security. Democrats are against the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President didn't sound like he was giving up on his wall as he adlibbed big portions of his remarks arguing border barriers work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I believe drugs, large percentages of which come through the southern border will be cut by a number that nobody will believe. So let me be very clear, we really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At one point in his speech, Mr. Trump sounded as though he's not dealing with reality, praising federal employees for not complaining about working without being paid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You are fantastic people. You are incredible patriots. Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone but your families would know or understand and not only did you not complain but in many cases you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and about its border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But federal workers have been sounding the alarm about the shutdown's devastating effects including the potential for an aviation disaster with so many air traffic controllers pushed to the breaking point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRISH GILBERT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION: We are already short staffed. So now you've added the stress to air traffic controllers on - and their personal circumstances, and they're not sleeping at night. Now, we are concerned that they're not fit for duty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President surrender on the shutdown also reveals a new political reality in Washington with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all but forcing Mr. Trump to eat his own tweets, after he promised no cave just days ago. All Democrats had to do was pointed the video from last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.
I'm not going to blame you for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And take the mantle he did. Now, Senior administration officials says the administration is taking steps to make sure federal workers do receive their back pay as soon as possible. It's not clear exactly when that will take place. It may vary agency by agency and the big question tonight, Wolf, is just how much political damage has been done to the President not only is the President dealing with his cave on the shutdown, there is also the indictment of as long time advisor, Roger Stone. As one Trump advisor put it to me earlier today, the White House is in a valley tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that's what it looks like. Jim Acosta, thanks very much for that report. I want to turn now to today's other major breaking story. Special Console Robert Muller's indictment of long time Trump ally, Roger Stone. Our Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here with us. Take us through, Jim, what happened today.
JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In the simplest terms, that headline by itself is significance. Long time ally, and friend and advisor of this President indicted multiple crimes, seven counts; obstruction, lying, witness tampering. He was not, however, charge today with conspiracy. That is key. That has been one of the key questions of the Mueller investigation that said a number of lawyers in here see a pattern of a coordination foreknowledge of releases by WikiLeaks, which U.S. Intelligence views as having worked along with Russia here. That is a pattern concerning not just the lawyers here, but a number of lawmakers who will ultimately have the judgment on this going forward.
Boos, jeers and a defiant smile outside the federal courthouse in Florida after a judge released Roger Stone on a $250,000 bond. Stone flashed victory signs reminiscent of Richard Nixon over a course of lock him up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The longtime friend and adviser to Donald Trump now charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for allegedly seeking stolen emails from WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton, while in close contact with senior Trump campaign officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court. I believe this is a politically motivated investigation. (END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early this morning, it was a tense drama as FBI agents in tactical gear raided Stone's Florida home to arrest him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI. Open the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI also searched his New York apartment. The indictment charged him with obstruction of justice, lying and witness tampering but not conspiracy. However, the 24-page document chronicles a series of communications between Stone, WikiLeaks and senior Trump campaign officials about both the content and the timing of the release of Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russia. According to the Special Counsel's indictment, after the July 22, 2016 release of stolen Democratic National Committee emails by Organization 1 which CNN has identified as WikiLeaks'.
A senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information WikiLeaks had regarding the Clinton campaign. Neither the identity of that official or the official who gave the direction have yet been revealed. Prosecutors cite as evidence text messages and emails with senior campaign officials about his contact with WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually have communicated with Assange.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of those texts dated October 7, 2016 after WikiLeaks released the first set of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign's chairman John Podesta and associate of a high ranking Trump campaign official sent a text message to Stone that read, "Well done." CNN has identified that high ranking campaign official as then campaign CEO, Steve Bannon. The coordination with WikiLeaks is of concern to the Special Counsel because of the organization's ties to Russia.
In 2016 the U.S. Intelligence Community said that WikiLeaks released the hacked emails in a manner quote "consistent with the methods and motivations of Russia directed efforts." The Special Counsel also indicted Stone for witness tampering. This for allegedly attempting to sway radio host Randy Credico allegedly a go between with Assange before Credico testified to Congress.
The indictment alleges that Stone said Credico quote "should do a Frank Pentangeli" referring to a character in The Godfather Part Two who lied to Congress. The indictment also says that stone emailed Credico to say quote "You are a rat. A stoolie." Stone then said that he would quote "Take that dog away from you" referring to his pet. Stone and President Trump have been friends since the 1980s, when Stone first encouraged Trump to run for President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: Trump is someone through the '80s who took enormous risks and succeeded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As explored in the Netflix documentary "Get Me Roger Stone." Today, Stone once again expressed his loyalty to Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: 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.
SCIUTTO: To be clear, WikiLeaks was not a minor player in Russia's interference in the 2016 election. It was in fact a central player in the view of U.S. Intelligence and I'll just remind what the former Director of the CIA now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about WikiLeaks in April of 2017. He said, "It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is - a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia." And, of course, Wolf, it is WikiLeaks, Roger Stone, President's ally, longtime friend and advisor was communicating with here and the central question was, was he coordinating with WikiLeaks and with Russia therefore to intervene - interfere, rather, in the election.
BLITZER: All right, very important indeed. Jim, stay with us. I want to bring in our Political Correspondent Sara Murray who's done exceptional reporting on Roger Stone's emails multiple times here in The Situation Room including as recently as last night which she reported that today potentially today he could be indicted. Also joining us our Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, and our Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.
They've been breaking so many other stories in the Russia meddling investigation. I don't even want to remember how many but you guys have been doing an excellent job for us. Sara, tell us a little bit about Stone. This is the sixth Trump associate, close associate charged in Mueller's probe. It's the clearest link yet by all accounts between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks efforts to use stolen Hillary Clinton emails, DNC emails, John Podesta emails stolen by the Russians according to the U.S. government, according to Mike Pompeo or the former CIA Director and then designed to be released to hurt the Clinton campaign.
SARA MURRAY, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, that's right. And I think as Jim pointed out, there is no charge of conspiracy in this environment, but it does lay out all of the different times that Roger Stone was in contact with Trump campaign officials that shows you they were senior campaign officials, sometimes they were taking directions from someone who is even more senior than they were.
And I also think it establishes a pattern of just how eager the Trump campaign was to get their hands on whatever they believe WikiLeaks had. They kept reaching out and saying, "Do you know what is coming? Do you know what's going to be released publicly? What is it that WikiLeaks had? They knew that it was damaging information about Hillary Clinton and it's clear that they were very eager to get their hands on it, Wolf.
EVAN PEREZ, SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And, Wolf, one of the things you keep hearing from the Trump campaign and people associated with the campaign is that when you actually got anything, well that that doesn't really excuse any of this. And just because you didn't get anything doesn't mean you didn't try and doesn't mean that there's a huge problem politically and perhaps legally with attempting to secure these emails.
Shimon Prokupecz, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: And how does all of this change with this being the clearest link right now to all this, how does this change going forward certainly for Mueller and the investigators, and where does this go now.
I mean, that's sort of the biggest question.
BLITZER: The key question now is the senior Trump campaign officials who are communicating with Roger Stone including one senior campaign official who was clearly mentioned in the indictment, unnamed, who was told to go ahead and work with Stone on all of these WikiLeaks issues.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. And we don't know who that person is. Certainly, the only senior person in the campaign who we know that Roger Stone was in touch with was Steve Bannon, but he doesn't come into the campaign until much, much later. Today, Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary for the White House was asked repeatedly by John Berman whether or not the President was at all involved in this and all she would say was that the President was not mentioned in this indictment. But listen to what she had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: You keep telling me you're clear on that but then 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 you get ...
SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY OF THE WHITE HOUSE: I actually have answered the question several times. You just don't like my answer.
BERMAN: No, no, no, you haven't ...
SANDERS: And these two things aren't the same.
BERMAN: Well, 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.
SANDERS: I'm not an attorney. I'm not going to be able to get into the weeds on those specifics. What 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, what really this shows you in her answers or her lack of answers really show you how far we've come. We've come from there is no collusion whatsoever to now there was no collusion involving the President.
BLITZER: The President, yes.
MURRAY: I think the other thing we do know is that, yes, Roger Stone was in touch with Steve Bannon. Roger Stone was also in touch with Donald Trump during the campaign. It was sporadic. It's not clear how frequent their contact was. It's not clear at the end of the campaign if they were able to talk that frequently, because Donald Trump was keeping a very busy campaign schedule. But for them not to be able come out and say directly, "No, this is not something that Donald Trump directed and aided to do." No, Donald Trump was not in touch with Roger Stone about that on a day when we're getting this kind of indictment I think is very telling.
BLITZER: He was not formally charged with conspiracy. He was charged with a whole bunch of other stuff, but how close is this to what we call collusion or conspiracy?
SCIUTTO: Well, there's a clear pattern here of discussions. The appearance of foreknowledge of releases and also some evidence of communication in the other direction, right, here and under direction from senior Trump campaign officials. We don't know why Robert Mueller didn't charge conspiracy, possibly he doesn't believe he has a case is also possible. I've spoken to lawyers that that leaves the door open to Roger Stone cooperating perhaps offering more information about those communications.
But just one final point on that, I would just draw attention to that date; October 7, 2016, because of the question here. Well, they might have asked for help but didn't get help. That was a day that the Trump campaign got enormous help from WikiLeaks because less than an hour after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, what was seen at the time as a fatal moment for the President's campaign was the dump of the first tranche of WikiLeaks' emails of Hillary Clinton stolen campaign emails.
And you have communications in here about that and communications coming back saying, "Well done." Was a request made to dump that material then to distract from Access Hollywood, we don't know yet. But the Trump campaign certainly got help from WikiLeaks within the hour of the release of a tape that many thought was the end of the President's campaign.
BLITZER: It's interesting, Sara, because last night you were here with me in The Situation Room and you reported that you had spoken to Stone's lawyer who was not expecting any indictment anytime soon, but we saw what happened around 6:00 a.m. this morning when the FBI - and we've got some exclusive video showed up at his residence in Fort Lauderdale.
MURRAY: Yes, I think that Roger stone and his attorney both really felt like he was going to have a chance to turn himself in, Wolf. To see these kind of tactics that you're seeing right here, we have not seen them do this with any other person involved in this investigation when it comes to being arrested. Obviously, they raided Paul Manafort's home because they were curious about getting information from him. They were worried he was going to destroy it.
We haven't seen someone picked up like this and we've learned today in the documents that the reason that the Special Counsel wanted to keep this indictments sealed was because they were worried that Roger Stone may try to flee or that he may try to destroy some documents. It's a little questionable because Roger Stone has been under scrutiny for about two years, so I don't know why he would decide that Thursday night would be the night to start shredding and burning things, but that was the explanation the Special Counsel gave. And clearly this was a big surprise this morning to Roger Stone and his attorney.
PROKUPECZ: ... to get permission to do this. This isn't something that the FBI could do on their own. This came out in a court document because they had to get permission from a judge.
BLITZER: From whom?
PROKUPECZ: A judge.
MURRAY: A judge.
PROKUPECZ: To get this kind of a warren, to go in and do this, this way, they had to get permission, and there were legitimate concerns when you think about the way Roger Stone has been behaving throughout this investigation, it seems to me that they had some legitimate concerns.
BLITZER: And this is not by over - by any means yet, there could be some more indictments down the road. Guys, great, great reporting. Thank you very, very much.
Let's bring in Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California. He's on both the Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee. So Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIFORNIA: Of course, Wolf.
BLITZER: We have a lot to discuss about Roger Stone. He was charged, as you know, with providing false testimony to your committee, the House Intelligence Committee. But first, were you surprised to see President Trump today capitulate to Democratic demands and to reopen the federal government without getting a penny for his border wall?
SWALWELL: No, but I was happy to see it, Wolf. And I know there will be a day to judge what the President's "deal" means for his own job. But right now I'm just focused on what it means for the 800,000 people and their jobs as far as being able to go back to work, have the dignity in providing and being able to put food on their tables and pay the rent and mortgages. So that's a good thing for those workers, anyone attached to the services they provide.
BLITZER: The President says that if he doesn't get a fair deal on border security funding over the next three weeks, he will either shut down the government once again or he'll declare some sort of national emergency use his executive power to go ahead and find money elsewhere from the U.S. government and build that wall. Do you plan to offer him any kind of funding at all for some sort of barrier or wall?
SWALWELL: The President will get smart security. He will get barriers in vulnerable places. He'll get increased border patrol agents, increased technologies at the port of entries where 90% of the drugs are coming across the borders. But a contiguous wall, a hundred plus miles of wall where it's not needed, he's not going to get that and I think he's learning the wrong lessons from the last 35 days if he's suggesting that the answer is in three weeks to go back to this.
And just stepping back, Wolf, it's great that we're reopening government and these workers are going to get paychecks, but it really is a crisis in the White House when the best this President can do is just extend us three weeks out. We are just careening from crisis to crisis when we
need long-term certainty for our government.
BLITZER: Let's turn to the other major news of the day. The indictment of Roger Stone, but Stone and the President's legal team say this indictment does not allege collusion with Russia, how do you read this indictment?
SWALWELL: I see an intense interest between the Trump campaign and Roger Stone to get the Russian hacked emails against their opponent to help Donald Trump's candidacy. And also, Wolf, stepping back, in America, you don't get to bury evidence obstruct justice, tamper with witnesses, and lie to investigators and then get out of jail free card because the prosecutors can't find the evidence. We assume and this is the reason we have these charges that he is facing that if you're doing all of this, it's because you're trying to lie and cover up for the underlying crime. It's a consciousness of guilt.
BLITZER: The Special Counsel lays out what he calls multiple occasions of communication between Stone and Trump campaign officials on WikiLeaks' plans to release hacked emails and significantly Mueller write that in July 2016 and I'm quoting now "A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization number one, WikiLeaks, had regarding the Clinton campaign." Who do you think directed that outreach? SWALWELL: It might be candidate Trump and I say that, Wolf, because
we already know from Michael Cohen and his plea agreement and other evidence that candidate Trump was engaged in rigging polls. He was engaged in paying off witnesses who would speak up about his character and so he's operated in shadowy ways. And also this senior Trump official can only be directed by somebody more senior than that person, which leaves very few individuals and it's certainly something that we will seek to find out in our investigation, but I'm sure Bob Mueller's team, they already know answer to that.
BLITZER: The indictment also points to an August 2016 email in which Jerome Corsi tells Roger Stone that more emails are coming and he explains what he calls and I'm quoting now "The game hackers are now about -" he calls them the game hackers, what they're all about, Corsi writes, "Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC, Hillary Rodham Clinton, old memory bad, has stroke." Does that indicate to you Congressman some coordination on messaging that was in line with what the so called hackers were doing what they know and who we know are the Russians, according to the U.S. government, it was the Russian GRU which was hacking and then providing that information to what they call their cutout WikiLeaks.
SWALWELL: This indictment provides alignment between what the Trump campaign was doing and what we know from other indictments that the Russians were doing.
You're now starting to see that while the Russians were posting on Facebook and YouTube these indications that there's something wrong with Hillary Clinton's health, the candidate was also doing the same thing. And now Bob Mueller has proved that there are back channel communications where Roger Stone is aware of efforts to suggest this.
Another - something that I think now we have more clarity on is why was Donald Trump all of a sudden in July of 2016 talking about WikiLeaks so much saying he loves WikiLeaks. He must have said it hundreds of times. Well, we now know that that is the month where the Trump - that senior campaign official is directed to start working with Roger Stone who is working with WikiLeaks.
BLITZER: Roger stone denies that he lied to you and other members of the House Intelligence Committee. He says he's falsely accused of providing false testimony. What's your reaction to that?
SWALWELL: Well, the indictment speaks for itself. Bob Mueller is a serious investigator so is everyone on his team and this came from a grand jury. But it's a message that should be sent to any other witness that comes before us, is you have to be straight with Congress, and if you're not, you're going to be held accountable. And I expect, Wolf, that there are other witnesses who are still out there, who may face the same reckoning that Roger stone face today, and then Michael Cohen faced last month.
BLITZER: Congressman Swalwell, thanks so much for joining us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Up next. We're watching the Capitol Hill as the deal to end the government shutdown makes its way through Congress. Why did the President cave into the Democrat's demands today? And does the timing have anything to do with the indictment of President Trump's long time ally, Roger Stone.
[17:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Our breaking news on the same day, President Trump's long-time ally, Roger Stone, was indicted by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and arrested in a predawn FBI raid on his home in Florida. The president reversed himself and agreed to reopen the federal government for the next three weeks while negotiators try to work on a deal on border security. We have a lot to talk about with our political and legal experts. And I want to bring them all in right now. So, Gloria, what do you make of this, first of all, the Roger Stone, you're doing a lot of reporting on this. It was a very dramatic raid. You saw the exclusive CNN video.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I did. I think it's not something that wasn't expected. We all knew that at some point, Roger Stone was likely to be indicted, even Roger Stone knew that. But the details contained in this indictment are kind of striking to me, particularly one detail, Wolf, which talks about after the July release of stolen DNC e-mails by organization one, which WikiLeaks. A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases.
What does that mean? That means, to me, that who has the authority in the small Trump Campaign to direct a senior campaign official to do something? There aren't a lot of people. There are a few. One of them obviously is the candidate but the others are senior officials like Manafort or Jared or whoever, we just don't know who it is. And I think what we're seeing is -- and you could tell me more about this -- is that Mueller is making a case here for a conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
And what we're seeing in indictment after indictment is something that perhaps in the end, he will connect all of the dots and he will say that there was a conspiracy here among these people who were in the campaign. Whether or not it includes Donald Trump, we have no idea.
BLITZER: You see evidence of conspiracy here or collusion? And if you do, why wasn't it mentioned in the indictment?
SUSAN HENNESSY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: So, I evidence of coordination, which is the actual thing -- the actually term that's included in those documents, setting out the scope of Mueller's investigation. There are clear coordination, there is clear links here. You know, Roger Stone attempts to be (INAUDIBLE), which we don't know that he actually obtains non-public information that turns out to be accurate.
So, lucky guess if it's not that. You know, I think one reason -- you know, significantly as well, the Trump Campaign appears to believe he actually is, you know, a real go between and sort of being cut out for WikiLeaks and attempt to use and exploit that. You know, one reason why we might not have seen, sort of that charge in this document is because the false statement here is just an absolute slam dunk, and because Jerome Corsi had previously leaked his draft plea agreement but had already sort of burned this information for the public.
You could see Robert Mueller potentially deciding, hey, rather than revealing lots of new information and sort of tipping my hand right now, I have to stone-dead to write to my false statements. Let's go ahead and proceed to indictment on that, maybe see if that's potentially a pressure point --
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think we're missing the real story, though. And it is far, far bigger than what was a shocking indictment today and that is -- there's two answers from the White House officials who are named in this document. And clearly, Mueller has more than statements; he's got data. Answer number one and I presume his officials had been interviewed been the Mueller team.
Yes, we knowingly encouraged Roger Stone to contact a foreign entity that was interfering with an American election using stolen data. Yes, we did that. Or -- and that it's going to be stunning if the White House did that, or people who went to the White House did that. Or they lied like everybody else from day one, and they said -- and now we know Mueller has got the data. They said, no, we didn't any of these. It's got to be one of the two. They either knew it and we're going to learn about it or they lied about it. I suspect they'll get indicted too for lying.
BLITZER: Abby, you cover the White House, how concerned are officials over there? Because you heard Stone repeatedly say, he's never going to testify against the president.
[17:35:00] ABBY PHILIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, this is the consistent beating drum that they've been dealing with for over two years now. I think one of the things as we saw Sarah Huckabee Sanders come out this morning and give the answers that she gave which was basically to say Roger Stone is someone who was a part of our campaign, yes, but also advised many other people in the past. And what he was charged with is not specifically -- the president is not specifically named in these documents. But I think what was striking to me, and I think what is striking -- what will striking to a lot of people reading these documents is how Roger Stone's relationship to President Trump has often been described as a personal relationship.
They've been pretty close friends for a long time. He was an early political adviser to the president. But the documents show that Stone's relationship to the campaign was, perhaps, deeper than people may have previously understood and that it wasn't just that he was a hanger on, he was someone who was being directed to do things by senior people within the campaign. So, it really highlights tightly knit Roger Stone is to President Trump's campaign, to senior people in the campaign, and perhaps opens the door for a lot of other people who are a part of that very tight knit group of people, small group of senior advisers to be at potential political risk here as the indictment -- the Mueller probe continues on ward.
BORGER: You know, he was offed from the campaign pretty early on, but that doesn't mean, as points out, that he stopped talking to the candidate. In fact, I remember having a conversation with someone in the campaign and asking, you know, does he still talk to Roger Stone? And the person on the campaign said, well, oh, yes, and he kind of enjoys it because he likes the gossip that Roger Stone gives him and he kind of feels guilty about the fact that he's still talking to him, but he did continue to talk to him.
And we reported at one point that Roger Stone even had a conversation with the president after he was in office and told him to fire -- told him to fire Comey. He said, oh, I think it's a great idea for you to fire Comey, so he continued to communicate with him. And you know, the question is: did he communicate with him about WikiLeaks? We don't know the answer.
BLITZER: We know that Donald Trump, as a civilian, as a -- before he became president, and Roger Stone, had a long-standing relationship going back to the 1980s. It's a pretty significant development. Everybody standby. I want to bring in the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, for his analysis. Director Clapper, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me read a portion of Stone's indictment, and I'll put it up on the screen as well: "After the July 22nd, 2016 release of stolen DNC e- mails by organization number one, that's WikiLeaks, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information organization one had regarding the Clinton Campaign?"
Once again, we know organization number one, Director Clapper, was WikiLeaks, how does the intelligence community view WikiLeaks?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (via Telephone): Well, much as the then-CIA Director Pompeo characterized it as a non-nation/state hostile intelligence service. And you know, we have unfortunately a long track record with WikiLeaks going back to the manning revelations that he shared with -- or she shared with WikiLeaks. So, yes, this is a, you know, a strong connection.
BLITZER: You pointed out to my colleagues earlier today that there are some striking parallels between with what the Russians were saying, what the Trump Campaign was saying in relation to Hillary Clinton. What is most concerning to you?
CLAPPER: Well, you know, gets us the "c" word that everybody is dancing around, whether there was collusion, conspiracy. From my part, and I'll outline this, spent a good bit of time in my book, outlining the striking parallels and similarities between what the Trump Campaign was saying and doing, and what the Russians were saying and doing particularly on social media with specific respect to Hillary Clinton. So, can't say there's a conspiracy and certainly, there's nothing in the indictment about that or collusion but this is another brick in the wall -- maybe that's a bad metaphor on this building the case that gets ever higher in the hierarchy. BLITZER: Director Clapper, thanks so much for joining us.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.
[17:39:37] BLITZER: All right. Coming up, we're going to take a closer look at Roger Stone and all of this intriguing history with President Trump, much more on all the breaking news right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal experts. And Gloria, for 35 days, the president was saying he's not going to reopen the government until he gets funding for the border wall. He wanted $5.7 billion. He wound up today getting zero. But he's going to open up the government once again. But listen to the president over these past few weeks insists the government will remain shut unless he gets border wall funding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I will take the mantle with shutting down. And I'm going to shut it down for border security.
I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you, it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they'd like the call it.
The only way you're going to do it is to have a physical barrier, meaning the wall. And if you don't have that, then, we'll just not open it.
They try and make it like it's just about the wall, and it is about the wall.
The wheel -- the wall, there are some things that never get old.
We won't be opening until it's solved. We think this is a much bigger problem. The border is a much more dangerous problem. It's a much bigger problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:45:34] BLITZER: Last night, he said he wouldn't reopen the government until at least he got a pro-rated down payment for the wall. He caved on that today.
BORGER: Never mind. All of that. Never mind. What the president heard from Mitch McConnell yesterday, after the votes, after those show votes, and they lost six Republicans. According to Manu Raju, what the president heard from McConnell was, I don't know that we could keep our Republicans in line. So, we better figure something out.
And so, the president ended up cutting a deal that he could have cut 35, 30 days ago, maybe? He didn't get what he wanted and he's managed to anger not only conservatives, not only moderates, but also losing to Democrats. So, he has found himself in this pickle because of his insistence on this wall. And my question is, what happens three weeks from now, Wolf?
BORGER: I don't know the answer.
BLITZER: Well, he's threatening that he may declare a national emergency and uses executive power to find money elsewhere and take money from Disaster Relief or the Pentagon and go ahead and build the wall on his own, and that would result a huge court --
PHILIP: Yes, it would. And in fact, the longer the president waits to declare a national emergency and dangle it out there for the public, the more his opponents are going to have ammunition to say, while if this was such an emergency, why have you waited 35 days at this point and then additional 21 days to declare a national emergency? It's part of the predicament that White House aides are in. They are very cognizant that they would face legal challenges, just one of the reasons they haven't gone forward with it.
But I think one of the problems White House aides have with feeling with the president is that it's not clear that President Trump understands the politics of this issue. He seems to be convinced that voters are on his side on the wall, when in fact, they are not. And as a result, he ended up being rolled by Pelosi and the Democrats on this issue and could be rolled again in 21 days if there isn't some change of thinking about what is possible in this new political environment in which Dems have very real power in the House.
BLITZER: They didn't get paid -- federal workers, 800,000 of them for 35 days. They're not going to be paid for a few more days, then they'll get reimbursed for their back pay. But is this the height dysfunction here in Washington?
MUDD: No, it gets worse. I mean, as we're just discussing, can you imagine going into the office tomorrow, if you're a federal worker, going to the FBI and saying, well, we're going to get a paycheck in a couple of days, let's restart, say this training program -- paying informants. Let's restart that because -- but in three weeks, we might have to tell that informant sorry, maybe I can't cut a check for you for a fake emergency.
I remember after 9/11 sitting around the table, and if you look at the immigration statistics, far worse under that Republican president than today. Changing immigration by building the wall never came up. This is not 35 days. He's been around for two years and an emergency sits for that long? That's not an emergency in my view.
BLITZER: Even all of this happening, you think they can work out a deal in the next three weeks?
HENNESSEY: I don't think they can, in part, because a deal over what? This is not actually a conflict about policy or about some genuine security issue. It's actually a negotiation over finding a face- saving way out for the president, so that he can tell his base that he'd built a wall that any -- everybody in the legislature, security expert. And I think the president know -- it's actually sort of a non-sensical suggestion as a security matter, and so I think that even the president is not foolish enough to want to close the government once again. I think even he knows that he really has been thoroughly defeated here and it really is a sad statement, though.
BLITZER: Gloria, you've written a lot about Donald Trump: "The Art of the Deal." How he operates --
BORGER: Master negotiator.
BLITZER: Yes, what kind of art of the deal was this?
BORGER: None. This was -- you know, this was not a deal. Donald Trump, when he ran his business used to like to walk into a room and throw the grenade in and then walk out. And if he got a deal, fine. If he didn't get a deal, fine -- he could walk away from it. You can't walk away from the United States government. And that is something that he really just discovered. And the question I have to your point is the Democrats have something they could lose here too. They don't want the government to shut down again either. So, maybe there's a little bit more motive for both of them to get something done. I don't know what that would be, but I'm thinking, they don't want to go through this again.
BLITZER: He met his match in Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker. There's no doubt about that. Elections have consequences. Everybody stand by, we'll have more on the breaking news tonight. The long-time Trump associate Roger Stone has been indicted by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Stone is charged with witness tampering, obstruction and making false statements. Our Brian Todd has a closer look now at the man who may be at the center of Mueller's Russia probe. Brian, tell us more.
[17:50:10] TODD: Wolf, there's so much of Roger Stone's history that you just couldn't make up in a Hollywood script. But it's his connections with Donald Trump and Richard Nixon which tonight seem to define Stone's reputation as a dirty trickster.
TODD: Look familiar? It's meant to. Roger Stone is so proud of his association with Richard Nixon, he's got an image of Nixon tattooed on his back. Stone was still a teenager when he worked with Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and started to hone his skills in what Stone himself once called The Black Arts. Otherwise known as dirty tricks in American politics.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, NIXON BIOGRAPHER: In some way, Roger Stone is the DNA that connects the dirty tricks of Richard Nixon to what are alleged to be the dirty tricks of the Trump Campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, what makes you think you'd be a viable candidate -- TODD: Those who've chronicled Stone and Donald Trump say it was Stone
who first put the idea of running for president into Trump's mind shortly after they met in the 1980s. By the next decade, Stone was calling himself a political adviser to Trump saying the real estate magnate was a different breed of candidate for the White House.
ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, he's not pre-packaged. He's not plastic. He's not scripted. He can't be handled. You know, what you see is what you get. Frankly, I think voters find it refreshing.
TODD: Through the decades, Stone would simply not stop pushing Trump toward a presidential run. And for years, Trump demurred.
BLITZER: Roger Stone a well-known political consultant.
TRUMP: No, I didn't hire him. Roger is a friend of mine. He's a good guy and he looked at the possibility of it. And I just decided I didn't want do it.
TODD: It was back in the 1980s when Roy Cohn, a legendary (INAUDIBLE) and New York lawyer, mentored both Trump and Roger Stone, instilling in both men a pugnacious baring they still carry with them.
MORGAN PEHME, WRITER: Roger subscribes to this group of (INAUDIBLE) he calls Stone Rules. And if you look at Trump and his presidency, he's very much followed them. One of them that we've seen come up a lot in the Mueller probe is admit nothing, deny everything, launch counter attack.
TODD: From faking campaign contributions from socialist, to planting other false information. Roger Stone wouldn't miss a creative trick in trying to sabotage his candidate's opponents. After working on Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign, Stone teamed up with future Trump Campaign Paul Manafort in a lobbying firm, which represented murderous dictators among others. At times, Stone's personal life derailed his career, if only, temporarily. He had to leave Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign when a tabloid published a story on Stone and his wife being swingers.
PEHME: Roger is a very unique individual. He is a body building, pot smoking, dandy swinger. He very much is a Libertarian who embraces Hedonism.
TODD: Tonight, a Roger Stone again vows his loyalty to President Trump, critics say, he symbolizes a strong current in the underside of the politics.
NAFTALI: Roger Stone is among that small group of Americans who are unapologetic about subverting our democracy for the sake of their preferred candidates. They don't believe there's a role for morality in elections.
TODD: And analysts say, what continues to be remarkable about the arc of Roger Stone, is that he was never really exiled from the political world because of his roles in dirty tricks. That, in fact, he was often hired because of those roles. Wolf?
BLITZER: Interesting. But Brian, Donald Trump has not always praised Roger Stone, right?
TODD: Right. Wolf, Trump told our own Jeffrey Toobin in a 2008 New Yorker piece, that he thought that Roger Stone was a "Stone-cold loser" because Stone often took credit for things that Stone never did. Now, Stone, we have to say, does have that reputation. But in 2015, Trump did say in a radio interview that Roger is "a good guy, he's been so loyal and so wonderful." We'll see whether Trump feels that way after Stone's legal proceedings play out here.
BLITZER: Good point. All right, Brian, thanks very much for that report.
[17:54:13] And stay with us for more on today's two major breaking stories. President Trump gives in to the demands of the Congressional Democrats and agrees to reopen the government without any money for his border wall. His capitulation coming the same day as long-time ally, Roger Stone, is indicted by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
[18:00:07] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news.