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AT THIS HOUR

Roger Stone In Court For Arraignment; Stone Pleads Not Guilty, Expected To Speak Soon. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 29, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, folks will often put China up there. China and Russia, but China is the bigger long-term threat. It's quite a lot. We're going to keep bringing it to you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We will. Thanks for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Just blocks from the White House, any moment now, longtime Trump ally and adviser, Roger Stone, he will be appearing before a Federal Judge. Stone is expected to plead not guilty today. Seven charges stemming from the Russia investigation. They include witness tampering, lying to lawmakers and obstructing justice.

When asked that ever-present question when it comes to the Russia investigation and those close to the President whether Stone could be pardoned by the President, the White House Press Secretary, well, she didn't say yes but she didn't rule it out either. CNN's Kara Scannell, she's outside the courthouse where all of the action is right now.

Kara, what are you expecting in court right now?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, Roger Stone just entered the courtroom wearing a blue suit and a blue tie. He's expected to be arraigned in just a few moments once the proceedings get underway on those seven charges of witness tampering, false statements and obstruction. Now, Roger Stone has said he's been on quite a publicity tour over the weekend, he has said he will plead not guilty to these charges. Each charge faces as much as five years in prison if he were to be convicted.

Now, we're also expecting to hear from Roger Stone after the hearing. He is expected to speak outside the courthouse to reporters. And, Kate, over the weekend in one of these many interviews that Roger Stone gave, he was also asked specifically about that parting question and he said he has had absolutely no conversations with the President about that, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, so there's that until it changes, of course, but there's a lot that will be happening in this courtroom. Kara will be bringing us all of the updates as it plays out. So Kara stick close, I really appreciate it.

Joining me right now in the meantime is Shan Wu, former Federal Prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers is here, CNN Legal Analyst and Former Federal Prosecutor, and Evan Perez CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent.

It's great to see you guys.

Jennifer, being arraigned, what are you looking for, what are you looking to come out of court today? What do you want to know?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not much actually because it's a pretty technical proceeding. He really is just going to plead guilty, the charges will be read to him and all of that. What I'll look for is what's coming next. They'll set a discovery schedule, a motion schedule, then we'll have a little bit of a better sense of timing of what's coming, but the judge is not interested in how many FBI agents came to the house, whether the President is going to pardon him, all of those things that Roger Stone has been out and about talking to the press about are not going to be at issue in court today. It'll be pretty low-key, I would say.

BOLDUAN: Low-key and Roger Stone, those two things do not go together though. I will tell you, Jennifer, as you well know.

Shan, as we have noted, Roger Stone has been talking to the media every since he was arrested. Do you think the judge either today or when this go to the next judge will be putting a stop to that? Do you think they could be putting a stop to it today or something of a gag order?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Usually the magistrate judge which is the one he's appearing in front of today, Judge Robinson, usually they don't do too much besides the ministerial aspect. But the judge assigned to it, the Federal District Judge, Judge Jackson who I was in front of in the gates case, she is a very hardliner in terms of how she treats gag orders and I would fully expect that she issues one for Roger Stone.

So I think he may have seen shortly the end of his talk days. Although this morning that might not come down, so he might still be free to come out on the courthouse steps and make some more news.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, of course, stand by for that. Evan, is Shan - well, no, because Shan has appeared before the judge when he represented Rick Gates, the deputy campaign manager for a moment. This case will eventually be handled by the same judge who's handling the brunt of the cases with regard to the Russia investigation, Amy Berman Jackson. I mean she's handling the Manafort case, she handle the Rick Gates case and others that are wrapped up in the probe. What have you learned from how she handles those cases kind of to what Shan is talking about and what that could mean for Roger Stone's case?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look I think one of the things that Roger likes to do and you saw the big broad smile as he entered the courtroom this morning, the courthouse this morning, he tries to minimize and he tries to say that this is not a serious thing. And certainly if you go to Roger Stone's fundraising Web sites, one of the big questions is who framed Roger Stone, right? The answer is if you look if you look at these court documents, Roger Stone framed Roger Stone, because there are his text messages, there are his emails.

[11:05:00]

The investigators have a lot of proof to back up these allegations, these seven counts that he is charged with and at some point he's going to have to treat these extremely seriously. I think his legal team certainly does. He's got these lawyers that just came up from Florida that they had a little bit of a delay in getting waived in to the District of Columbia courts, but they are treating this extremely seriously because there's a lot of evidence that is stacked up against him.

So while Roger I think you're going to hear when he comes out of court, he's going to try to minimize and try to create a circus atmosphere around this. I think this judge as Shan Wu was just pointing out, she's going to treat this extremely seriously and she's not going to put up with a lot of the circus atmosphere that he likes to create.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, when it comes to - I'm just hearing word from inside the court that Roger Stone's attorney has officially pled not guilty on his behalf. A judge can tell Roger Stone to stop talking, right?

RODGERS: Yes, definitely. A judge can impose a gag order on the clients, the lawyers, anyone.

BOLDUAN: When it comes to Roger Stone, I almost wonder why you would not in order to protect the case. When you know this guy's history, he likes to talk.

RODGERS: That's true. I mean, the only reason that you would do and I mean you got to slip it on his head because of course people generally speaking have the right to speak out about whatever they want.

BOLDUAN: Right. That's true.

RODGERS: Is to protect the case. Are there other people who are going to be charged? Is there a reason that his speaking out would buy us a potential jury down the road if he goes to trial. Like those are the things that judge is considering, but again it's likely to be Judge Jackson and not whatever magistrate judge is handling this case. But it's now been assigned to Judge Jackson, which means at any time including today if she wishes, she could impose that order on the parties.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting. Guys, stick with me. It sounds like things are moving really quickly inside the courtroom. Let's get to Kara Scannell once again. Kara, what are you hearing from inside? SCANNELL: Okay, our team inside is reporting that Roger Stone's

attorney has entered a plea of not guilty for Roger Stone and things are moving really fast inside here. The government is not asking for a change in bail conditions. Roger Stone was released on Friday on $250,000 bond.

It appears that the government is sticking with that and the judge who will get the case next, this case is before magistrate judge today, but the judge overseeing this, Amy Berman Jackson, I believe you mentioned her a moment ago, she's already asked for a hearing in this. That hearing is going to be this Friday. So Roger Stone will be back in court here this Friday and then it will be before the judge that will oversee his case as well as these other related cases in the Russia investigation, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Kara, thank you so much. So Shan, this is all getting going for Roger Stone, if you will. The first step of money when it comes to him. I do want to get your take on this question when you kind of talk about the circus around Roger Stone. It is a very serious matter, but it is a question that has come up once again. It's come up before and it's come up once again this time with Roger Stone about the possibility of a pardon.

When Sarah Sanders was asked about it yesterday, she was asked if the President's ruled out a pardon, she says, "I'm not aware of that. Haven't had any conversations around it." "Can you guarantee that the President won't pardon Roger Stone?" "I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals. That are just ridiculous things that I haven't heard about."

We look back, she did say the very same thing about Paul Manafort when asked this question. Do you read anything into this?

WU: I think it's hard to read anything into her response. I certainly think that Stone is doing the right actions to keep himself in contention for the pardon. The real hard part of sort of predicting with this President about pardons is he doesn't follow any particular process. He's kind of bypassed the Office of the Pardon Attorney, so it's really hard to tell.

He certainly seems to like the fact that Stone seems very defiant at this point. I mean, I would half expect Stone to rip off his shirt and show he's replaced the Nixon tattoo with a Trump tattoo. But it's really hard to tell if Trump actually will pardon any of these folks, but he's certainly dangling that in front of them still.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That would be a painful modification. That's for sure. Evan, one of the big things about the Stone indictment was links between the Trump campaign and Russia. But it also doesn't show the Trump campaign engaged in conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. That's what we don't see in that indictment.

PEREZ: Yes, that's right.

BOLDUAN: From what you're learning, do you think is that the beginning and end of it when it comes to Stone or do you think more charges could be coming?

PEREZ: Well, I think there are additional charges that could be coming. Certainly we see a little bit of a sign from this case that has been going on of Andrew Miller, this is somebody - an aide to Roger Stone who has been fighting a subpoena from the Mueller investigators and his lawyers say that they've gotten an indication that the government still wants to pursue that subpoena.

[11:10:05]

And that could be an indication perhaps of additional charges against Roger Stone. But that said, I think the President and people around him and certainly Roger have been attacking this indictment saying that what's missing from that is any proof of collusion. But look I think one of the things that we have to step back and look at this is certainly if you look at what is described in this indictment, you see that there are multiple people inside the campaign who are making efforts to try to use, go-betweens to try to get information about what WikiLeaks was planning to release.

At least according to the Mueller investigation, that smells a lot like the conspiracy that you're talking about. Now, it's not charged in here but certainly for the purposes of Robert Mueller's investigation and when he produces the report, I think you're going to see a description, a narrative that that goes into this very question, Kate. I think it goes into the idea that certainly there were people inside the campaign who are making an effort.

We don't know whether they got anything, but it certainly shows that they were trying to try to get an insight into what WikiLeaks had and how that information could help that campaign, the Trump campaign, against Hillary Clinton and really hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. So, again, those questions perhaps will be answered in the Mueller report whenever that comes.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and actually I do want to ask you guys about the Mueller report, the state of play and the role of the acting Attorney General and the comments that he's made. Let's get a quick break in because it does appear that court might breaking up very shortly in the Roger Stone arraignment. Be right back.

[11:15:00]

All right, we're watching a federal courthouse right there in Washington where longtime Trump adviser, Roger Stone, just pleaded not guilty to seven counts in the Russia investigation. Let's go to the ground. CNN's Kara Scannell, she's outside the courthouse with much more. What are you hearing now, Kara?

SCANNELL: Well, Kate, just 13 minutes this whole arraignment is now over. Roger Stone's lawyer entered that plea of not guilty on behalf of his client. He was charged with seven counts including false statements, witness tampering and obstruction.

It was a much more mundane affair compared with how Roger Stone's usually very colorful. We're told that from our producers inside the courtroom that Roger Stone spoke just once when the judge had gone over his bail conditions which she kept as was the case from the Florida bail, he would have limited travel. He's not allowed to speak to any witnesses.

And only at that point when Roger Stone was explaining this that he answer to the judge, "Yes, your Honor," and that he understood this. But otherwise it was a very quick affair. It was not a colorful Roger Stone appearance, although we are expecting him soon to exit the courtroom and address the cameras. There's no gag order in the case issued today. I know that was something that there was a lot of speculation about and the judge has set a hearing this Friday before the Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

She will oversee this trial if it goes to trial. She is overseeing other Russia investigations, so that hearing will be before her on Friday. We'll have Roger Stone back in court then, Kate, and now we're just waiting for him to exit the courtroom.

BOLDUAN: All right, Kara, and we will bring that to folks when it happens. I really appreciate it, Kara. Thank you so much. Back with me still is Shan Wu, Jennifer Rodgers and Evan Perez. I want to pick up though where we left off just before the break, Evan, which is all of this gets to what will eventually be in the final Mueller report when that is finished and when that is given.

And then comes in, enter into this saga, the acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. And to this point, it is what it is with the acting Attorney General. He says he's there and he wasn't going to recuse himself from overseeing it. But then yesterday, he went before reporters and he said very clearly that he believes that the Mueller report is close to being completed and that he looks forward to that happening.

I mean, he made it clear he's up to speed and that the investigation is nearing its end. Why is that so significant in this moment coming from him?

PEREZ: Well, it's significant because the Justice Department almost never comments on ongoing investigation. Certainly, the details of an ongoing investigation and we were all kind of struck and kind of shocked when Matt Whitaker went there yesterday. And it looks like, if you look at the video, he looks like he's sort of stumbling as he tries to answer another question and then ends up in the area where he essentially says that the Mueller investigation is almost completed.

Now, there's a lot of concern on Capitol Hill, especially from Democrats who basically - first of all, they wanted him to recuse himself. He did not, despite the ethics opinions. The advice from ethics officers of the Justice Department that he should recuse himself. But one of the things that happened yesterday was him sort of talking about whether or not they were going to be a reviews of any decisions.

And so I think there's a lot more questions than answers, frankly, despite sort of the offhanded remark that he gave yesterday, and I think you're going to see Democrats asking for more clarity from Matt Whitaker. Now, one of the important things that we ought to note here is that Matt Whitaker may not be around much longer. Bill Barr is the nominee, right? He's a nominee for the Attorney General and we expected he's probably going to get confirmed in the next three weeks or so.

And so Matt Whitaker may not be at the helm of the Justice Department. He won't be the boss when this Mueller report finally lands on the desk of the Attorney General. So he may not have anything to do with it, but still I think you expect Democrats are going to have some very, very sharp questions for him because of the offhanded comments that he made yesterday.

[11:20:01]

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Shan, what Whitaker said explicitly yesterday on as Evan was just talking about is, "I hope we can get the report from Director Mueller as soon as possible." And as Evan says, Democrats are taking that as the acting AG pressuring Mueller to wrap it up, not asking, telling, maybe. What do you think he was saying here?

WU: I think he was trying to do that. He may have been trying to milk his last moments in the limelight, but it's utterly bizarre behavior for an acting Attorney General. I mean, the Attorney General will soon be confirmed and it's very odd that he would go out on a limb and make this statement. Moreover as it's been pointed out by Evan, the Justice Department does not comment on the status of the ongoing investigation and for him to be basically signaling that it's near completion, it's just really very bizarre behavior and it would really be frowned upon.

I cannot imagine any of the Attorney General's I've worked under ever allowing anyone to make that kind of statement. Their public relations section would never make that kind of statement. So it's very, very bizarre behavior.

BOLDUAN: Well, I feel like you say the bizarre behavior every time you're on and I feel like you might be sending me a message about me, but maybe I'm just being a little sensitive. It's great to see you, guys. In all seriousness, we are watching this federal courthouse in Washington where Roger Stone has just pleaded not guilty. He will be coming out and is expected to stand right there and give his thoughts once again. Maybe he'll tell us on what happens next or what he hopes happens next or who even knows. We'll bring that to you when that happens.

But also breaking this morning, the nation's top intelligence officials contradicting the President of the United States on very big issues. Tenants of his foreign policy, ISIS, North Korea, Iran at a hearing on worldwide threats that is underway right now. We have details coming up.

[11:25:00]

All right, you're looking live outside the courthouse. The circus, we'll call it, outside a federal courthouse in Washington. Roger Stone, Donald Trump's longtime adviser and ally, he has entered a plea of not guilty to seven counts involving the Russia investigation. He is expected to speak at any moment. Let us hope we will be able to hear him with all of the noise that we're hearing right there. Let's go to Kara Scannell, she's on the ground outside the courthouse. Kara, what do you hear right now?

SCANNELL: That's right, Kate, we're waiting for Roger Stone to exit the courtroom where he entered a plea of not guilty to those seven criminal charges of giving false statements to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. The scene inside the courtroom is very different from the one that we expect to play out outside the courtroom. Roger Stone just spoke a few times softly, telling the judge yes he understood the terms of his bail conditions, yes he understood the situation that was playing out there.

But outside the courtroom, we're expected to hear him come out and make his case. I mean he has denied all wrongdoing and so we'll expect him to reiterate that. Now, the judge today set a hearing for Friday where Roger Stone will actually appear before the judge who's going to oversee this whole case and the trial if it goes to that.

Now, at that hearing it's possible there's a lot of speculation that maybe there will be a request for a gag order in the case, we don't know if that's going to occur but for right now there isn't one so we do expect Roger Stone to speak about these charges. But it's quite a different scene inside the courtroom today than we expect to see outside the courtroom and the usual Roger Stone spectacle where he loves to address the cameras.

But today again he entered a plea of not guilty to those seven charges. He's agreed to these bail conditions of $250,000 bond, a limited travel and he can't speak to any witnesses in this case. But we should expect to see Roger Stone exit the courtroom any moment now, Kate, and address the cameras and give his view of the evidence against him and what he expects to do as this perceives to possible trial, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. All right, Kara, thank you so much for the background. Let me bring back in Jennifer Rodgers and Dana Bash is also joining me right now. Jennifer, how much trouble is Roger Stone in?

RODGERS: Well, I think he's in a good deal of trouble in the sense that these are serious charges. The evidence appears to be very, very strong. So I think he goes to trial on these charges he will be convicted. He doesn't face a huge amount of time. It's not like a financial case where the dollar amounts really get you into a very high sentencing guidelines range. So even if he's convicted on all charges, he's looking at maybe two to three years in that range. So a lot of trouble for the conviction, not so much prison time but, of course, there's always this part of possibility out there.

BOLDUAN: Of course. What is the likelihood that more charges will be coming for him do you think?

RODGERS: I don't know. A lot of that will depend on what they find in the search warrants that they've just recently executed. If they find more evidence against -- BOLDUAN: Right, because it wasn't just an arrest. It wasn't just an

arrest, it was an arrest and a search of multiple properties of his.

RODGERS: That's right. So they went in looking for, of course, specific things that they have to detail on the attachment to the search warrant affidavit. So depending on what they find, they may find evidence to include additional charges against him so on that we'll just have to wait and see.

BOLDUAN: And Dana, one of the things that is a necessary important part of the conversation is what this means for President Trump, what this court proceeding, what Roger Stone's role in this indictment means to the President and just yesterday our Jim Acosta he asked Sarah Sanders if the president is concerned as more and more of his associates are indicted and kind of swept up in this.

[11:30:04]