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Interview with Amb. Richard Haass; Roger Stone is Keeping All Legal Options Open; The Rams and the Patriots Hold Rallies Before Traveling to Atlanta for Super Bowl; Screen Actors Guild Awards. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired January 28, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:39] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, the most-trusted name in news.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido is calling for people to protest nationwide. He is demanding new elections in the fight to oust the sitting and elected president, Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro pushing back, claiming that Venezuela is the victim of a U.S. conspiracy, saying that the U.S. orchestrated a coup to remove him -- or attempt to -- from office.
Joining me now to discuss, Ambassador Richard Haass. He is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also author of "A World in Disarray."
Ambassador, always good to have you on.
AMB. RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So, first, let me ask you just in the simplest terms, the U.S., of course, has a rocky record of interference in Latin American politics through decades. Does the U.S. have the power, here, to successfully force a sitting president, in Maduro, out of power?
HAASS: The short answer, it doesn't. And the short answer, also, is it shouldn't. We don't want to turn this into a U.S. -Venezuelan crisis.
This is really a crisis of legitimacy, or the lack of it, of this Venezuelan government. The U.S. is coordinating quite properly with any number of Venezuela's neighbors. We can put pressure on the government, but we can't force it out.
The people who have the power here are probably going to be the Venezuelan military. Right now, they're largely -- they seem to be supporting the government. And the question is, can we persuade them that their future and their country's future would be better served if they distanced themselves from this government? SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. Because this is, of course, a
president -- in President Trump, who has said he wants to remove the U.S. from foreign entanglements, withdrawing from Syria, reducing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Now, talking, it appears, based on reporting, of -- of military options, even, for Venezuela. A question, of course, how serious he is about that.
But why this focus in this administration on Venezuela right now, when in other places it wants to pull U.S. -- the U.S. back?
HAASS: Well, you're right that it's something of an exception. In another way, as well, Jim, here we are. We're talking about democracy, we're talking about human rights. This is an administration that's largely ignored such concerns around the world, whether dealing with North Korea, Russia, China, Turkey, Philippines, you name it.
But I don't think this is really about military intervention by the United States or anybody else. I think the next big question for us is whether we turn up the economic heat, sanctions against this government. We still import a lot of their crude oil. We sell, to them, all sorts of refined products. So I think that's the real issue.
Maybe we could couple it with aid flows to help the Venezuelan people who are suffering tremendously.
SCIUTTO: They really are. I mean, you're watching a country fall apart, there.
I want to move on to another topic, and that is Afghanistan. You have really remarkable news here, especially in light of the fact, there have been so many false starts on this. But it appears to be substantive talks between the U.S. and our Afghan partners, and the Taliban.
I just want to ask you in the simplest terms. The Taliban in Afghanistan has been responsible for countless deaths of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians. Is this a partner that the U.S. can trust?
HAASS: The short answer -- again, in a day of short answers, I think not.
HAASS: You don't necessarily negotiate with people you trust. You've got real differences with them. The question is -- and there was some interesting news today about whether the Taliban would agree not to, again, invite back terrorists. That was obviously what happened at the time of 9/11.
But this leaves out a whole lot of other things. We're not -- this is not a U.S.-Taliban negotiation. There's something else called the Government of Afghanistan. They've been our partner for the best part of the last 17 years, and their goals and U.S. goals could be very different. And the real question is not simply whether the Taliban will get back
into bed with terrorists, but whether we can come up with an agreement that the government can live with as well as the Taliban.
SCIUTTO: The president's views on Afghanistan are public and for -- he seems to want to get U.S. troops out of there, already cutting that deployment in half.
Of course, a peace agreement could bring the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces here. And I wonder if you're concerned that these talks could be used as a fig leaf for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan?
[10:35:03] HAASS: Absolutely. Or what this reminds of, in an odd sort of way, of where we were in Vietnam in the early and mid-1970s, where the United States seems to want to get out but we've had a partner, as we had in Vietnam and South Vietnam, as we now have in Afghanistan, and they've got a very different set of concerns.
So we shouldn't just be negotiating a withdrawal pact (ph). We've got to have a three-way negotiation that deals with the future of Afghanistan, and I think that will be extremely difficult to pull off, apart from the reason you suggest. The Taliban's ambitions or interests don't necessarily, to say the least, line up with our own or the government's.
SCIUTTO: Yes, they've wanted to see the U.S. out of there for -- well, since the beginning.
Final question, if I can, on Russia. You saw the U.S. Treasury officially lifted those sanctions on the Kremlin ally who's been indicted by the special counsel for helping the interference in the 2016 election, Oleg Deripaska.
Officially lifted those sanctions. This despite reporting that Deripaska and his allies might be skirting some of the measures that were meant to minimize his influence in these companies here.
I wonder if, in your view, this is a gift by the Trump administration to Russia, to Putin?
HAASS: Jim, I would just add this to the long list of things that mystify me when it comes to Russia and U.S.-Russia relations. Why we would be hurrying to lift these sanctions, given all the questions, given the fact that Mueller's reporters is weeks or months away, given what we do know as well as what we don't know.
It's just not obvious why the Treasury Department would be doing this. It once again tees up the question, what is motivating U.S. policy towards Russia because it sure doesn't look like traditional U.S. national interests.
SCIUTTO: Well, what do you suspect is motivating the policy, then?
HAASS: Well, again, that gets into the (ph) land (ph) I'm not prepared to go to, about what other considerations there might be. I just don't understand it, on narrow foreign policy grounds. SCIUTTO: Ambassador Richard Haass, thanks very much, as always.
HAASS: Thank you.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. A change in tone for Roger Stone. Up next, why he says he may cooperate with Robert Mueller.
[10:41:40] HARLOW: Welcome back. Longtime advisor to President Trump, Roger Stone, digging in this morning, talking to cameras, journalists outside of his home in Florida just a few moments ago, repeating his claim. He says he's being unfairly targeted after his arrest in the Russia probe.
SCIUTTO: But over the weekend, he seemed to soften his tone somewhat, perhaps strategically, telling one interviewer that he was open to testifying to the special counsel.
Let's speak about it now with CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.
So, Jennifer, did you see Roger Stone kind of playing both sides this week, in those comments (ph)? Because of course, on Friday, with great bravado, he said, "I will never testify to the special counsel." Then he said, "Well, you know, actually, maybe I will."
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think he's trying to keep all of his options open here. On the one hand, he wants to give President Trump the talking points that he's looking for: no collusion, so that that pardon kind of is still out there.
On the other hand, he wants to say, "I'm going to fight this," and tells people, "Please, you know, give to my defense fund so I can pay my lawyers."
On the other hand, when asked if he's cooperating, he said, "Well, you know, you know, you never know. I haven't been asked. I'll have to talk about that with my lawyer."
So I really think he's just trying to keep everything on the table and stay in the limelight, most importantly for him.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and it's incredible when you think about it, that you have, I mean, these public discussions about this ongoing case, and even message-sending --
HARLOW (?): Yes.
SCIUTTO: -- to parties involved, and with enormous power. And it's become a -- you know, it's become standard, it's just you have to shake your head sometimes.
HARLOW: In an interview -- he gave a number of interviews. He was on with our Chris Cuomo first on Friday night -- and he said President Trump told the special counsel, Bob Mueller, that he did not speak with Stone about Wikileaks.
To be fair, you know, CNN and other outlets have reported that. Should we take this as a sign that Trump and Stone have communicated directly about testimony?
And if so, any concerns about --
RODGERS: Yes, that struck --
HARLOW: -- that? Like, how do you read that?
RODGERS: That struck me, too. I wondered, you know, how he would know what the president told the special counsel. There has been some reporting --
HARLOW: There's been some reporting.
RODGERS: -- about it, but you know, nothing definitive. And he seemed to be speaking as if he knew.
Then, again, it's Roger Stone so, you know, we know he lied to Congress about what he knew and what he was doing, so it's hard to say.
TEXT: Roger Stone Charges; 5 counts: False Statements; 1 count: Obstruction of an official proceeding; 1 count: Witness tampering
RODGERS: But it did strike me, too. And I think, you know, ultimately, someone ought to try to get the answer to that, whether Roger Stone was in the loop with those questions in a non-public way.
SCIUTTO: And there have been indications about other kinds of communications between the president and those involved here.
Let me ask you, big picture, though. Because Friday was a big day --
RODGERS (?): Big day.
SCIUTTO: -- the president's long-time advisor. And you read this indictment, it's no small thing. It wasn't just one lie, it was a series of lies.
And there were a series of communications, at least about Wikileaks, its releases. And on particular days that were consequential in this election.
TEXT: Trump Advisors who Mueller Says Lied in Probe: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone
SCIUTTO: When you looked at that as a prosecutor, did you see evidence in there of a possible conspiracy?
RODGERS: Well, what was interesting is, you know, of course they did get him for lying. We now know that there was interest in the campaign about learning what Wikileaks had, getting advance notice, getting specific things from them. So that's all very important.
The problem is, where does that get you legally? Because, you know, it's not illegal to learn information that's going to be publicly released in advance necessarily. The crime would be if they were involved at the stage of the hacking.
You know, typically prosecutors don't charge the release of information afterwards --
SCIUTTO: Wait, that --
RODGERS: -- that's First Amendment rights, as far as --
SCIUTTO: -- so I was -- I must have misunderstood. Because I thought that receiving information from a foreign party would be constituted as some sort of a contribution, you know, beyond --
[10:45:04] HARLOW (?): -- guidelines (ph).
SCIUTTO: -- you wouldn't actually have to steal it if you were given it as a gift --
RODGERS: That's the one possibility, is this -- the kind of a campaign violation --
RODGERS: -- again, receiving something of value. But that is a stretch, I think.
SCIUTTO: I see.
RODGERS: You know, receiving something of value from the campaign, it's information that everyone's going to receive. Does it have a special value to the campaign? Maybe.
But there's never been a case charged like that before. So I think it's a bit of a reach.
HARLOW: What about beyond Roger Stone's testimony, should he testify whatever he says? His word versus his technology and his devices.
Because it is telling -- of course, all the coverage went to that morning raid that we saw, Roger Stone being arrested. But what you saw less of, I think -- but perhaps equally important -- is they carried devices out of both of his homes.
RODGERS: So this --
HARLOW: In Florida and in New York.
RODGERS: So this is the point of the search warrant, right? Is to try to collect what he had. You know, he's been under the gun for a while. He may have destroyed evidence.
On the other hand, he may not have known how to destroy all the evidence on devices, right? There are technical issues there. So, you know, that's what they're trying to collect here.
He says what he says. They want to get to the actual data. They have a lot of it already, obviously, from the charges we know. But there may be things they don't have yet.
They will scrub it. The FBI's got the best guys for this. So we know eventually, hopefully, we'll find out what they were able to recover.
SCIUTTO: Where else did we see investigators carry out a raid, get a lot of electronic information and then big indictments followed? Michael Cohen, right?
HARLOW: Yes. Exactly.
SCIUTTO: So you (ph) could -- it ain't over on this one, I suppose.
RODGERS: Never over, apparently.
HARLOW: Thanks, Jennifer.
SCIUTTO: Jennifer, thanks very much.
HARLOW: Super Bowl, anyone? Countdown is on. The Rams and Patriots arrive in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII. And (inaudible) -- Jim is --
SCIUTTO: Oh, Jesus.
HARLOW: -- so excited.
SCIUTTO: Not again.
HARLOW: Are you ready for the big game? Next.
[10:51:15] SCIUTTO: Super Bowl Week is here. The teams have arrived in Atlanta, with all apologies to our colleague John Berman, I'm not so excited about this Super Bowl. I'm sorry. I'll throw it out there.
HARLOW: It's not clear at all. It's not clear at all. Andy Choles, live outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium with more on this week's kickoff.
I'm, you know, sort of excited for it. I probably can only stay up for, like, two minutes of it. But, you know, there you go.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, unfortunately for you guys, the Patriots win the Super Bowl, like, every single year. So --
HARLOW: I know.
SCIUTTO: Yes. SCHOLES: -- we have to deal with Berman like this all the time.
HARLOW: Every time.
SCHOLES: But, you know, yes. Both teams, loading up yesterday and making their way here, to Atlanta. And before they left their respective towns, they both held pretty big rallies before going to the airport.
And check out Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. More than 35,000 fans on hand to see the Patriots off. And, you know, this is nothing new for the team. This is the Patriots' fourth Super Bowl in five years.
But Bill Belichick said this was the biggest send-off they've ever had. This is going to be Tom Brady's record ninth Super Bowl appearance, and he got the fans pretty pumped up before leaving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: We're excited. I hope you guys are excited. And as Dev (ph) said, "Let's let them hear it all the way down to Atlanta. We're still here! We're still here!"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: And Brady apparently is going to be here for a long time. He told ESPN yesterday that there is a zero percent change that Super Bowl LIII is going to be his final game. He plans to play much longer.
At 41 years old, Brady is looking to become the oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl.
Now, the Rams, meanwhile, they didn't have 35K at their rally, but still had an impressive crowd out there. Their rally was outside the site of their new stadium in Inglewood, California that's set to open in 2020.
Their head coach, Sean McVay, said they've got one more thing to check off on their checklist for this season, and that's win the Super Bowl.
Last night, the teams did arrive here to Atlanta, and Super Bowl Week gets off and running tonight with Super Bowl Opening Night. The teams set to meet with the media at State Farm Arena, which is right next door to where I'm standing right here.
The Rams going to go at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, then the Patriots, they're late-night. They get to go at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, guys.
And, you know, opening night, it used to be called "Media Day." Back in the day, it was just the media talking to the players and the coaches.
It's this huge circus now, where there's all kinds of people running around --
SCHOLES: -- asking questions. And fans even buy tickets to come watch us do this. So it's going to be quite the night, as it usually is.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, I'm a lifelong New Yorker, but I think I just became an L.A. Rams fan, this Super Bowl, just for -- I mean, spread the wealth, right? Spread the wealth a little bit.
HARLOW: All right --
SCHOLES: Want to see somebody new? Yes, all right.
HARLOW: I think I'm on Team Berman for this one, you know? Why not just go for it, Pats?
All right. Thanks, Andy. I appreciate it.
SCHOLES: All right.
HARLOW: The Marvel mega-hit "Black Panther" won the biggest honor last night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
SCIUTTO: The cast of the superhero movie won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Motion Picture. The star, Chadwick Boseman, talked about the cultural significance of the film's just incredible success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHADWICK BOSEMAN, ACTOR, BLACK PANTHER: We knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world, that we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: On the television side, the cast of "This Is Us" celebrated a big win, taking home the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series honor, that for the second consecutive year.
HARLOW: Big congrats to all of them.
[10:55:00] Another big highlight, actor Alan Alda who has Parkinson's Disease -- of course -- receiving the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: It may never have been more urgent to see the world through another person's eyes. And when a culture is divided so sharply, actors can help, at least a little, just by doing what we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Quite a moment.
SCIUTTO: He's such a favorite. Yes. It's sad to see that --
HARLOW: Such a favorite.
SCIUTTO: -- but it was great to see him up there. And he's still doing what he loves to do.
HARLOW: Absolutely. It was.
So President Trump, not ruling out another shutdown if he doesn't get border wall funding in the next three weeks of negotiations here. How realistic is a deal? We are live from the White House, coming up.
[11:05:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Kamala Harris, a Live CNN Town Hall. Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.