Return to Transcripts main page
Roger Stone Indictment Links Trump Campaign To WikiLeaks; Presidential Power Struggle In Venezuela; Good Samaritan Gives Colin Powell Roadside Assistance; Thomas Perez Discussing Roger Stone's Indictment. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 26, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for staying with us.
In the past 30 or so hours, Americans have seen people celebrating, celebrating something that really wasn't a happy ending. President Trump ended his standoff with House speaker Nancy Pelosi when they agreed to reopen the government just temporarily. The President claiming to be proud of this deal when it was a total concession on his part. He didn't get what he wanted. No wall money, no state of the union, at least not next week. He didn't get anything he wanted. And then this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: Roger Stone, once one of the President's most trusted confidants arrested on heavy federal charges by the Robert Mueller special counsel team. After he bonded out, what looked like a victory party on the courthouse steps. His arraignment is on Tuesday. Stone not only celebrating, but he went on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: First of all, I always said that there could be some process crime.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
STONE: There is still no evidence whatsoever that I had advanced knowledge of the topic, subject or the source of the WikiLeaks disclosures. I never received any of the WikiLeaks disclosures. I never communicated with Assange or WikiLeaks other than the limited communication on twitter or direct message, which I gave to the House intelligence committee last September, I guess it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Roger Stone, despite his denials, now the face of the cleanest line so far allegedly linking President Trump's campaign to the Russians who hacked and stole a big pile of Democratic emails and the Web site that leaked them to the world.
Here's CNN Sara Murray.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Roger Stone reveling Friday in the post arrest limelight after his initial appearance before a judge in Florida.
STONE: As I have always said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
MURRAY: But only after the predawn raid Stone hoped to avoid. FBI agents swarmed Stone's Fort Lauderdale home, arresting President Trump's longtime political adviser and friend, searching Stone's homes in Florida and New York.
STONE: They terrorized by wife, my dogs.
MURRAY: Hours later, Stone vowed to fight the charges against him.
STONE: I will plead not guilty to these charges. I will defeat them in court.
CABRERA: The indictment against Stone describes how he coordinated with senior Trump campaign officials to seek out stolen Democratic emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton's campaign and then he bragged about his contacts with WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange.
STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange.
MURRAY: According to the indictment, Stone spoke to senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.
Stone was contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases by WikiLeaks. Prosecutors also alleged a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases.
It's unclear who delivered those instructions and which officials Stone was in touch with about WikiLeaks. At least one of them was Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and chief executive of the Trump campaign.
But Stone was not charged with conspiracy. He faces one count of obstruction and five counts of making false statements. Both related to his alleged lies before the House intelligence committee.
STONE: Any error I made in my testimony would be both immaterial and without intent.
MURRAY: He also faces one count of trying to tamper with testimony from New York radio host, Randy Credico. At one point even threatening to steal Credico's dog. Stone has claimed Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks which Credico denies. According to the indictment, Stone told Credico, Stone wall him, plead
the fifth, anything to save the plan, amid with references to Richard Nixon and a character in the godfather movies.
A longtime political operative, Stone encouraged Trump to run for President and served as an adviser in the early months of Trump's Presidential campaign.
As the White House made this claim.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has nothing to do with the President and certainly nothing to do with the White House.
MURRAY: On Friday, Stone doubled down on his loyalty pledge.
STONE: There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the President.
MURRAY: Sara Murray, CNN Washington.
CABRERA: Now let me bring in two of our legal analysts, Elie Honig who is a former federal prosecutors and Shan Wu who is also a defense attorney.
Elie, I know you have said that this Russian hacking of the DNC emails and then the leaking or the publication through WikiLeaks brings this inside the Trump campaign. I want you to listen to President Trump in October of 2016 and keep in mind that the leak began in the summer of 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:21] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, this just came out. This just came out. WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. And I said write a couple of them down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, again, that is October 10th of 2016. And by then, a lot had been exposed about the email hack. Legally, how do you look at what the President was saying around the campaign trail in light of all we all know?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: That clip has not aged well for the President. He is not going to like a piece of video where he is saying I love WikiLeaks. The question is going to be how deep within the campaign did the knowledge go? I think the key phrase from this indictment is senior Trump campaign officials. Note the senior, note the plural, officials, right. And we have that sort of mysterious passage where one of the officials was directed by an unnamed person.
And so, I think the biggest question I have here, we know Stone was in contact with senior campaign officials. Who were they? How senior were they? And how much did they know? One thing this indictment shows us they knew WikiLeaks was involved in dumping these, and they were coordinating strategically about what types of emails, what types of messages, which is why I think it is a big step against the whole no collusion theme.
CABRERA: So as, Elie mentioned, Shan, Stone was indicted. And there are all these other names that come up throughout the indictment. Not names, but people who are referenced, senior campaign officials, person one, person two. Why not name names?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, usually the prosecutors are kind of caution about wanting to name people unless they're actually the targets. They don't want their names necessarily put forth into the public.
Sometimes it can be quite a puzzle, as we all know, to figure out who they are. Here I don't think it is a mystery. Here I think the person number two as your clip has showed, it is Randy Credico and certainly, the case there in terms of the threats, the tampering against him is very much open and shut.
Now I think the biggest problem as Elie was saying is that this indicates the intent and the interest of the campaign in wanting to reach towards the collusion. They started out with absolutely no contact with the Russians. Obviously there are contacts now. There is substantive interaction going on there with Manafort giving polling information. And this indictment indicate that they were eager to try to work with them whether they were ultimately able to do so or not.
CABRERA: Now, Stone was never contacted by Mueller's team. We don't believe he was ever interviewed by Mueller's team, at least according to our reporting, according to what Stone has said. And yet this indictment happened. There is this raid in the middle of the night.
Elie, what does that tell you?
HONIG: It tells me they have had Roger Stone in their sights from very early on. When you have someone who you know is a target, someone who you have good reason to believe early on, were going to be charging this person, you do exactly what we saw Mueller do.
Mueller was in contact with and subpoenaed every single person in Stone's orbit, Credico, Corsi, Christine Davis, Andrew Miller. All these sort of names surrounding Stone because they were focused very early on Stone. They focused in on him. They grabbed him. And, you know, there is some controversy about the early morning raid. People have asked did they have to go in a 6:00 a.m. That's a tough call for a prosecutor. You can either go in at 6:00 a.m. or you can arrange a surrender. And I think Mueller's team here calculated he is not to be trusted. He is a danger to flee perhaps. That is a little dramatic but to get rid of evidence, right.
And when you have search warrants in hand, like Mueller did, you need to have a little bit of an element of surprise so there cannot be direction of evidence. But I think Mueller understands people will complain about that and see it as heavy handed.
CABRERA: Sara has talked about, in order for this to be a crime, there had to be the intent to lie. And here he is last night here on CNN defending himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: Where is the Russian collusion, Chris? Where is the WikiLeaks collaboration? Where is the evidence that I received anything from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange and passed it on to Donald Trump or the Trump campaign? It simply does not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Shan, the point of collusion, is he wrong?
WU: Well, he is right in the sense that there is no substantive charge there about him actually taking a step in furtherance of the conspiracy or talking about what the conspiracy would have been. In terms of what is in there, I mean, he really I'm sure Eli will agree, doesn't have any defense we can tell because he is actually telling Credico that he should lie and Stone wall.
But he is right that there is no solid evidence of the actual collusion. And that's why he is focusing on that, because that's the only thing he can focus on. All of his bravado right now, he is going to fight this to the end, that's all going to change a lot. When you are old and alone in your cell, that is a lot different that standing in front of the cameras or courthouse steps.
Also, Judge Jackson in D.C. Wallace (ph) before in the Gates case, she is very strict on those gag orders. This is going to be the last we hear of him making the talk show circuit.
[20:10:17] CABRERA: Brad Parscale, he is Trump's current 2020 campaign manager was part of the campaign back in 2016 as well. He tweeted this a little over a year ago.
He writes, truth, Jared Kushner and Eric Trump were joint deputy campaign managers to Donald Trump. Nobody else. Not one person made a decision without their approval. Others just took credit for this family's amazing ability. I'm done with all these lies. They will be embarrassed.
So again, going back to we don't know who the senior Trump campaign officials are, but, Elie, based on what we do see in this indictment, should these other members of Trump's circle, family members, be worried?
HONIG: Yes. That tweet will also go in the "didn't age well" file because we have seen not just here but also, if you remember the hush money payments, right. Those payments were authorized by executives within the Trump organization, executive one and executive two. And the smaller the inner circle really is, the less wiggle room there is going to be for Donald Trump Jr., for Jared Kushner, maybe for Eric Trump to wiggle out of potential charges that could be coming down the road.
CABRERA: And, yet, those are people we don't believe have talked to Robert Mueller's team.
HONIG: Which would fit into the same category we discussed before potentially of someone who -- people who were identified early on as targets, as likely defendants in the future.
CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much Elie Honig and Shan Wu. Always good to have your expertise and insight.
Nancy Pelosi, one of President Trump's -- I don't know if you want to call her adversaries, but we certainly know that the two don't see eye to eye. She seems to have scored one point. President Trump zero after the latest round over the shutdown. The President having to cave after a self-inflicted crisis of the 35 day shutdown that gained absolutely nothing. So what happens now in three weeks?
We are live at the White House.
[20:17:12] CABRERA: A humiliating loss, the President struck to reopen the government. Remember when he said this on Christmas?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I can't tell you when the government's going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. I'll call it whatever they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, after 35 days, Trump changed his tune, agreeing to re- open the government for three weeks. The White House in Congress continued to negotiate funding for border security, a deal that was originally proposed weeks ago.
CNN Boris Sanchez joins us from the White House.
Boris, the President was adamant he would not back down without the border wall money. What changed his mind?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, in a single word, pressure. On one hand, President Trump started seeing his poll numbers sliding, his disapproval numbers going occupy. On the other hand, and perhaps most importantly, on Thursday night a source indicates that he got a call from Senator Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, apparently telling the President he was not sure if he could keep senate republicans in line on the issue of immigration. McConnell apparently told President Trump that several Republican senators were frustrated at what they saw as a lack of clear resilient or lack of a better plan from this White House on how to re-open the federal government. On top of that, on Friday we saw delays at several airports across the
countries as air traffic controllers started calling in sick. They hadn't been paid in weeks because of the federal shutdown. Add all of that together and President Trump ultimately gave Democrats what they had been asking for for weeks without getting a single cent for his long promised border wall.
The President may say that he didn't concede on this issue but now Democrats are emboldened and Republicans appear to be split. So it is unclear how negotiations are going to move forward.
One adviser to the President said that privately this was a humiliating loss for a man who often doesn't often lose -- Ana.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.
The longest shutdown in history is over, but the pain and the impact runs deep. The financial stress still lingering for hundreds of thousands of these federal workers missing two paychecks.
I want to talk to Alex Hutchins, he a TSA screener at the world's busiest airport in Atlanta.
And Alex, thanks for being with us. I know you have four children, you have five grandchildren. What is on your mind now and how are you feeling about things today?
ALEX HUTCHINS, TSA SCREENER WAITING ON PAYCHECK: Ana, I'm kind of feeling a little frustrated. Even though we are opening the federal government back up, it is temporarily. And so, pretty much, what you are doing is kicking the can down the road. We are trying to plan and live our lives, not by 21 days.
CABRERA: The big question now is when do you get your paycheck? Are you getting any official guidance from the agency on a firm date when you will finally get paid?
HUTCHINS: Well, as of this morning, they sent out a text message letting everyone know that if funding goes properly, we should start collecting our money by around Thursday.
CABRERA: Thursday? Not until Thursday?
HUTCHINS: I know, right?
CABRERA: What was your reaction when you heard that? That's mine hearing it.
HUTCHINS: I said the same thing you just said. Thursday, are you serious? I need my money today.
CABRERA: No kidding. Share with me what you have been going through, what you and your colleagues have had to endure during this shutdown.
HUTCHINS: It's been very difficult. I mean, a lot of screeners, you know, we are trying to actually do a job professionally, but you also have in your mind that it is hard to do your job when you are stressing and trying to understand that you are not getting paid. You are not getting bills and it is constantly on your mind but you are trying to do, maintain a standard and your job professionally.
And a lot of organizations reached out to us, you know. Same this as the polls, organizations like that, Della airlines, those guys, southwest airlines, they were great. They did a lot of things to actually try to make it easier for us like providing meals, paying light bills and stuff like that, but it was really stressful to actually hear people saying, hey, I got to go to apply for food stamps.
These are prideful people. And it is a shame that the federal government puts you in a position where you have to decide and suck up your pride and go down there and ask for federal assistance or state assistance from someone that you don't feel like you should be having to do that. That's why you work. You work to avoid for doing those things such as that.
[20:20:31] CABRERA: You work in a job in service to this country. I want you to listen to the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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)
CABRERA: Alex, I know you are worried another shutdown standoff could still be brewing. And do you think we will end up where we started come February 15th?
HUTCHINS: Yes. I think in February 15th, we will be right back where we start off. You cannot solve a 21st century solution with a medieval problem. The problem that we have, come on, seriously, it doesn't require all of this, you know.
CABRERA: What is the message you have to Washington, to the President, to Congress who now go into this period of negotiations?
HUTCHINS: My message to them is understand this, that this country was founded based on the premise of freedom for all. Even though we went through our issues of not allowing everyone to have that same freedom that your motto was, but understand this. Immigration is not your problem. The problem is we are dealing within America is oppression.
Oppression is what is driving people to the opioids. People don't want to accept the fact of saying, hey, I got problems. And so, until we get to the point where we can sit down and have a dialogue and understand that diversity, that's the future the world is about diversity. No one can get the old (INAUDIBLE) anymore and just say, hey, I'm just going to deal with people within my circle. No, you got to reach out. If the only time you come across a Mexican
is when you get Mexican food, something is wrong with you.
CABRERA: So what I'm hearing you say is border security and specifically a wall is not worth another government shutdown, correct?
HUTCHINS: No, it is not. A wall is not worth this, no. Not with the technology that we have. Like I said, we got technology right now that can recognize the fact that tunnels are being dug under the ground. We have that kind of technology in this country. But we are - Americans, we are resolved. We will go through a lot and deal with a lot. But at the end of the day, we are going to fix ourselves and move on from this.
CABRERA: You talked about the pride people have in the work you do. Government jobs always had this reputation of long-term security and stability. That's exactly why some people are drawn to this kind of work. Did this shutdown ordeal change your perspective on that front?
HUTCHINS: No. I didn't say my perspective on that point because that premise still exists. The problem is this right here. People have got to get out and vote. You cannot sit on the sideline any longer and watch the world go by because there are consequences to not voting.
CABRERA: Alex Hutchins, I appreciate you being with us. Good luck and we wish you the absolute best. I'm glad you will be paid soon.
HUTCHINS: All right. Thank you. I appreciate it.
CABRERA: He's a hacker, a fugitive and the founder of WikiLeaks. We will take a closer look at the role Julian Assange plays in Mueller's indictment of Roger Stone. And we will talk to the head of Democratic National Committee responding to the Stone indictment and could it impact their lawsuit against the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia. Tom Perez joins me live next.
[20:28:28] CABRERA: More now on the indictment of Roger Stone. He is accused of seeking stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton's campaign while allegedly coordinating with senior Trump campaign officials. A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls Stone (INAUDIBLE) arrest intimidation and says the military style arrest was wholly unnecessary. Stone is also down playing his arrest and insisting he never sought the stolen e-mails.
CNN's Phil Black has more now on the extent of this alleged link between Stone and WikiLeaks.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: WikiLeaks says Roger Stone's indictment proves what it always maintained, that there was no direct communication between Stone and its founder Julian Assange. The view of WikiLeaks and Assange supporters is that Roger Stone wanted access to WikiLeaks information and he was hoping for some people to think he could get it, that he deliberately promoted himself as a conduit to WikiLeaks and to Julian Assange, even though no such line of communication ever existed.
STONE: The charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks, collaboration or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign.
BLACK: At the center of the longtime Trump associate Roger Stone's indictment, stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton's presidential race in coordination to the Trump campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) contact WikiLeaks?
ROGER STONE, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No. I have reversed that before that is incorrect.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But the Mueller probe paints a different picture. Back to July 2016, when WikiLeaks releases thousands of stolen documents from the DNC damaging to Hillary Clinton.
And then after that, a senior Trump campaign official is directed to ask Stone about more damaging information Organization I, WikiLeaks, might have.
By August, Stone gets an e-mail from person one, now confirmed to CNN as Stone associate, Jerome Corsi, including these words. Word is friend in embassy plans two more dumps, one shortly after I'm back. Second in October. Impact plan to be very damaging.
That friend, WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, who has been holdup in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, evading a feud arrest on an unrelated matter and potential extradition to the U.S.
Within a few days of the e-mail, Stone claims direct communication with Assange.
STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there's no telling what the October surprise may be.
BLACK: And sends this e-mail to former Trump adviser, Sam Nunberg. I dined with my new pal Julian Assange last night.
Stone would later explain it was a joke. But was it? Both WikiLeaks and Stone's camps deny Stone and Assange ever meeting and WikiLeaks maintains it wasn't even a back channel tweeting Friday these are only Stone-Corsi attempts at braggadocio. New evidence of no back channel with WikiLeaks.
Amid all these conflicting statements, we know that Stone and WikiLeaks have communicated directly from these private messages on Twitter, October 13, 2016. Stone messages WikiLeaks that since he's been defending them and Assange, they may want to re-examine the strategy of attacking him. A WikiLeaks staff then replies and attempts to distance WikiLeaks from Stone. We appreciate that. However, the false claims of association are being used by the Democrats to undermine the impact of our publications. Don't go there if you don't want us to correct you. WikiLeaks tweeted this statement from an Assange lawyer Friday.
The charges against Mr. Stone do not allege that Mr. Stone lied about his lack of contacts with Julian Assange, but rather about his contacts with others and about documents reflecting those communications and goes on to say that the office of the special council has never spoken with Mr. Assange.
As for Assange, he is now well into this seventh year of confined to or perhaps confining himself to the Ecuadorian embassy and that looks likely to continue because British police say they will arrest him is he emerges for breaching the bail conditions that he broke when he initially answered the embassy.
And Assange still fears that if that happens, he will be extradited to the United States.
Phil Black, CNN London.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Roger Stone is out on bond and doing a whole lot of talking ahead of his next court date on Tuesday.
I want to bring in Thomas Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former labor secretary for President Obama.
Tom, the DNC is currently suing the Trump campaign, Russia and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, alleging a conspiracy to interfere the 2016 election. Do you think Roger Stone's indictment helps your case?
THOMAS PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Absolutely. What Roger Stone did was contained in the complaint we filed. And what we see today is confirmation of that. And what's also important, Ana, to remember is that in the indictment relating to the DNC hack, regarding the Russian intelligence officers, they specifically referenced contact that an unnamed person who we know to be Roger Stone had directly with the Guccifer 2.0 which we know is the Russian military intelligence officers.
So long story short, Stone is neck deep in this effort to undermine the 2016 election. And this indictment goes again into the core of the inner circle of Donald Trump, 40-year relationship there. Dirty trickster by his own account. Tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back. The Richard Nixon sign there coming out of the courtroom.
CABRERA: Yes. But that's -- I mean, that's just his saying -- I mean, that doesn't prove anything, having a Richard Nixon, you know, tattoo on his back.
I mean, the indictment doesn't say -- doesn't mention Russia. It doesn't say anything about Guccifer. So I'm wondering you're connecting those dots.
PEREZ: Well, again, go to the indictment that was released last year involving the DNC hack. And it makes reference to a person that we know was Roger Stone who was having, according to that indictment, direct contact with the Russian military intelligence officers. And, so, you know from that indictment what was taking place there. He was a bridge to WikiLeaks.
[20:35:01] And WikiLeaks, and don't take my word for it, this is what the Trump State Department has said about WikiLeaks. They are a non- state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors such as Russia. Those aren't Tom Perez' words, that's Secretary of State Pompeo.
People often ask, why should I care about all of this? This was an attack on our democracy. This was an effort to undermine the democratic process. And when I hear things like Trump talking about leaving NATO, that's nuts. And I can't help but wonder that the person who would benefit most from leaving NATO is Putin. And so we have to understand this.
CABRERA: Right. And you talk about the attack on the democracy. We know that Russia is still at it. I want to ask you about that in a second.
But real fast getting back to the indictment before we move on, I want to go over the timeline that is spelled out in this indictment. We've got June and July of 2016 where Stone allegedly informed the Trump campaign officials that WikiLeaks had documents damaging to Hillary Clinton. Then it was July 22nd. WikiLeaks released the first batch of stolen e-mails.
After that, prosecutors say a senior Trump campaign official is directed by someone to contact Stone about additional releases.
And on July 24th, 2016, the president's son, Don Jr., denies Russia is behind this attack and the hack and the release of the DNC e-mails. Here's that moment. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I asked him about the DNC leak, and he suggested that experts are saying that Russians were behind both the leak -- the hacking of the DNC e-mails and their release. He seemed to be suggesting that this is part of a plot to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S SON: That just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they'll say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again lie after lie. I can't think of bigger lies. But that exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp will do. They will lie and do anything to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Tom, do you think the DNC is owed an apology>
PEREZ: Absolutely. That's why we filed this.
But frankly, more importantly, our democracy is owed an apology by this president and by this campaign. That segment you just saw with Donald Trump Jr., I spent over a decade at the Justice Department as prosecutor.
Director Mueller is methodical. I don't think you've seen the end of indictments in connection with this. And Donald Trump Jr. ought to have a good lawyer because when you look at that language that you just sited, Ana, I mean, when you -- when you see this, a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone.
There are not that many senior campaign officials who could be above them. I need my thumbs to count the number of people who are above senior campaign officials.
CABRERA: Who is it then?
PEREZ: Well, I think one obvious suspect is the president himself. And I know that Chairman Schiff is going to get to the bottom of who did Donald Trump Jr. called the day that the meeting occurred at the Trump Tower. He made a call to a cell phone that is unknown.
PEREZ: At the moment. We know who that was or I think -- I think we're going to find out who that was. And I think the broader issue, just to take a step back, I mean, Stone is in big trouble and others have been indicted and/or convicted.
And what we cannot normalize, Ana, is all of this lying, all of this corruption. And we're only talking now about what happened in connection with the effort to upset the election. Look at all these cabinet secretaries. You know, Wilbur Ross in a court opinion, a couple weeks ago that sent this case, the judge said he lied to Congress.
We can't normalize lying in this country by senior officials, by anybody who has taking the oath to uphold the constitution. And that's my fear.
CABRERA: Let me then move on because the 2020 election is around the corner. People can make changes by getting out and voting and we are already seeing the democratic field of contenders getting more crowded every day. You're at the helm of the DNC. You know the criticism last time around.
What is the Democratic National Committee doing right now to ensure the primary process is fair for all?
PEREZ: Well, we've taken a number of steps. We reformed super delegates to make sure that the grassroots or the people who are going to decide this. We've announced our primary debate schedule well in advance of when we knew who the field was going to be.
[20:40:01] If we have a double digit field and I expect we will, we said that our first debate, those who qualify, let's say you had 14 people who qualified, we will have debates on consecutive nights and we will draw straws, draw lots. It will be random draw to figure out who goes on the first night, who goes on the second night.
So we have taken many efforts, and our north star is to make sure that everybody gets a fair shake. That's what it's about. Because if there are 15 people in the race, 14 candidates aren't going to make it to the mountain top. My job, our job at the DNC is to ensure that every candidate, and their supporters, feels like their candidate did get that fair shake. And then when we get to that convention next summer, everybody hits the ground running, we're united.
You saw what happened in the shutdown. Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Democrats were united. We were - we were very clear in what our objectives were. And when we are united, we're at our best.
CABRERA: Tom Perez, thank you very much for being here.
PEREZ: Pleasure to be with you, Ana.
CABRERA: Venezuela is in crisis years in the making. Two men each claim they are the country's rightful president. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling the United Nations to pick a side. So, how exactly did it come to this?
[20:45:25] CABRERA: Venezuela is in chaos, and the world's most powerful nations are taking sides over who is Venezuela's rightful president Nicolas Maduro or opposition leader, Juan Guaido. The power struggle is hitting the U.S., the European Union and much of South America in Guaido's corner. Against Russia, China and handful of others, they're backing Maduro. And Maduro's allies are rejecting the E.U.'s demand for a new election in eight days. Telling them in no uncertain terms to, quote, "go to hell."
The latest from CNN's Rafael Romo who reports Venezuela is on the brink.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): He shouted it at the top of his lungs.
Embattled Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro broke political and diplomatic ties with the United States.
His furious reaction happened only hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized opposition leader, Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt. It's economically incompetent.
ROMO: Venezuela has seen violence and instability for years.
The country is bankrupt and shortages of basic necessities such as medicine for children and food are widespread as we have reported for years.
ROMO (on camera): There's no rice. Rice should be here or milk or baby products and everything is empty.
Now, you can find some other nonessential products like, for example, this is a sweetener for milk. The problem is that even if you buy it, there's no milk.
ROMO (voice-over): The U.S. says more than three million people have fled Venezuela since at least 2014.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: You may not just have a humanitarian catastrophe in Venezuela. We may soon have a growing economic catastrophe in Brazil, in Peru, in Ecuador and in Colombia.
In 2017, President Trump said he wouldn't rule out the military intervention to help restore democracy to the country, and he doubled down last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering a military option for Venezuela?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not considering anything but all options were on the table.
ROMO: A warning from Russia was swift.
SERGEI RYABKOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The resort to military power would be catastrophic. We face now a scenario that may lead to further bloodshed in Venezuela.
ROMO: Russia and China are siding with Maduro, both have invested millions of dollars in Venezuela, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world.
And like other totalitarian regimes, its government has squashed the opposition silenced critics and censored the press.
When we investigated on alleged fraudulent sale of passports, getting reaction took months.
ROMO (on-camera): Foreign minister, what can you say about the allegations that Venezuelan passports are being sold at the embassy in Baghdad? What do you say about it?
How crazy? As foreign minister, do you have any knowledge?
ROMO (voice-over): And now Venezuela is a country with two men calling themselves president. Opposition leader Juan Guaido who swore himself in on Wednesday. And Nicolas Maduro, who is beginning a second sixth year term after a May election many in the international community call a farce because the opposition was not allowed to participate.
Meanwhile, people have come out to the streets again. Clashes between security forces and protesters left more than 120 dead in 2017 and many fear history may repeat again.
Rafael Romo, CNN.
CABRERA: We've all been there stuck on the side of the road with a blown tire. We'll tell you who came to the rescue when Colin Powell needed roadside assistance and how the former secretary of state responded.
[20:50:11] CABRERA: A 3-year-old missing for three days after wandering off is found alive and now back home with his family. The boy was playing with two relatives in his great grandmother's back yard when he apparently took off.
Search teams had been combing through these thick woods for three days when a resident reported she heard the little boy crying. He's crying for his mom. The boy's mother says he's doing well, up and talking and asking to watch Netflix.
Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell is praising a disabled veteran who stopped to give him assistance when Powell's tire blew out earlier this week. Anthony Maggert was wounded, he lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan. He happened to be driving toward Bethesda on Tuesday when he spotted Secretary Powell trying to fix the flat tire. Maggert pulled over and offered to help. And Powell was quite happy to pose for this selfie with the Good Samaritan.
[20:55:05] The four-star army general posted a thank you to Maggert on Facebook, saying "You touched my soul and reminded me about what this country is all about and why it is so great. Let's stop screaming at each other. Let's just take care of each other."
And that's going to do it for me. Thanks for being here. I'm back here at 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.
CNN's special report "BATTLE IN THE BRIEFING BOOM" is next. Good night.