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McCabe Interview Revelation; Manafort Lied to Mueller; Barr To be Confirmed; Praying for Trump's Signature; Interview with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired February 14, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:24] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, the fired FBI deputy director now admitting publicly there were conversations about removing the president from office using the 25th Amendment.
A secret meeting with Russians at a cigar club. A judge finds that Paul Manafort lied about it to Robert Mueller. The question is, why?
And freshman Democrats turning Congress upside down and whether they're inspiring or ticking off their colleagues depends on who you ask.
Also, the man who called out a Republican congressman for displaying a racist book in his office will join me live.
We begin with stunning revelations from former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe, who was fired after being roundly criticized and questioned by the White House is now opening up about his time as acting director and about the steps that he took to protect the ongoing Russia investigations in the immediate aftermath of James Comey's firing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage. And that was something that troubled me greatly.
SCOTT PELLEY, HOST, "60 MINUTES": How long was it after that, that you decided to start the obstruction of justice and counter intelligence investigations involving the president?
MCCABE: I think the next day I met with the team investigating the Russia cases and I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward. I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion, that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace. I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground and if someone came in behind me and close it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do it that without creating a record of why they made that decision.
PELLEY: You wanted a documentary record --
MCCABE: That's right.
PELLEY: That those investigations had begun because you feared that they would be made to go away?
MCCABE: That's exactly right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN's Laura Jarrett is at the Justice Department.
So, another revelation from this interview, Laura, is that the 25th Amendment was discussed inside the halls of the Justice Department.
Tell us about this. What do we know?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: It's pretty shocking, Brianna. In this interview with "60 Minutes," McCabe essentially doing a tell all. And that portion of the interview isn't even out yet. But the "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley has described it in details, essentially reiterating what we have already reported, McCabe having these discussions with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who's been overseeing the Russia investigation essentially since its inception in 2017, at least appointing Robert Mueller.
And what McCabe is alleging here is that they were discussing potentially recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to oust President Trump from office and that they also discussed Rosenstein wearing a wire to record his conversations with the president.
Now, in the past, Rosenstein has pushed back on this. And again today, the Department of Justice saying on his behalf here, quote, Brianna, the deputy attorney general again rejects Mr. McCabe's recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect. They go on to say, the deputy attorney general never authorized any recordings that Mr. McCabe references. As the deputy attorney general previously stated, based on his personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.
Of course, not saying that these topics weren't discussed, but that the DAG never pursued them, never actually advocated for this. It wasn't a realistic possibility.
Of course here, the issue is McCabe's credibility. He is someone who has been fired from the FBI for lying to internal investigators. On the other hand, he kept contemporaneous notes. So it has now become a war of words, once again, between Rosenstein and McCabe, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Laura Jarrett, thank you so much for summing all of that up for us.
Evan Perez, let's start with this admission from McCabe that the 25th Amendment was discussed as a vehicle to remove the president and that there was a discussion -- it went as far as which cabinet members could be recruited. What did you make of this?
[13:05:04] EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean it's sort of incredible to hear Scott Pelley describe that they went to the lengths of even trying to decide which cabinet members would be most likely to support such an idea.
And, look, I think Rod Rosenstein's not saying that it didn't happen. We've heard from other officials who were part of this discussion, that they took it that Rob Rosenstein was essentially joking about this, sort of saying something sarcastically.
McCabe says, you know, not only was it -- was he serious. We actually went to FBI lawyers to actually talk about this and see if this was a viable option.
Now, the important thing here is that Robert Mueller's investigation is coming to a close at some point perhaps in the next -- in the next few weeks. And perhaps we're going to get an answer as to whether or not what McCabe has been saying, what Jim Comey said in his book and in his interviews, whether their concerns about the president were -- you know, were born out by this investigation, whether they were right that the president was essentially acting at the behest of the Russians or certainly his campaign was.
KEILAR: And presumably, Carrie Cordero, they -- and we may not know the evidence that would support the answer to the question I'm going to ask you, but why would they be looking into that, the 25th Amendment?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so, the 25th Amendment covers whether or not a president can be removed if they're unable to carry out the duties of the presidency. So, really, it's unlikely that that really would have been a good fit, and that's why we hear Rod Rosenstein saying, there's nothing about my interactions with the president --
CORDERO: Intigating (ph) that he was incapacitated or unable to be able to carry out the duties of the office.
To provide a little bit of context. Rod Rosenstein and Andy McCabe are such credible people, both of them, with long, distinguished careers.
KEILAR: They are incredible. So even -- OK, so even though you hear Laura Jarrett saying, look, when it comes to McCabe, he had issues with lying to internal investigators because that happened.
KEILAR: So you tell us --
CORDERO: So -- I mean he was fired. The record that was created to fire him was based on this inspector general report that indicated that he lied -- it drew the conclusion that he lied to inspector general investigators.
But if we look at their careers --
KEILAR: About? Just -- it was about talking --
CORDERO: It was about providing information to the media.
KEILAR: To reporters. OK, that's right.
CORDERO: To reporters.
CORDERO: Which, by the way, was within the scope of his activities as the deputy director at the time.
I read that report. I think the inspector general's report, you could look at it in a couple different ways. It wasn't very precise about some of the timings of meetings and things like that, that it talked about with McCabe. So when I look back at the two of them, I look at -- and I had never worked personally with either one. I look at their careers and both of them have decades worth careers of honorable service in the department.
So I think, taking that, this is really -- they had two different takeaways from a meeting that took place. Andy McCabe seems to have taken the words seriously when they were discussing the 25th Amendment. Legally, I don't think that there's really any there there.
KEILAR: Yes, that's a really good point.
So, Pamela Brown, the other part that is so interesting is this discussion of Rod Rosenstein wearing a wire to potentially tape the president for evidence.
So we're going to hear more about this presumably on Sunday when we see this full story as it airs on "60 Minutes." But let's listen to how Scott Pelley summarizes this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, offered to wear a wire into the White House to record potentially incriminating conversations with the president. A statement was released after that, that that was never serious. It was sarcastic, et cetera. McCabe, in our interview, says, no, it came up more than once and it was so serious that he took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And, Pamela Brown, I feel like very little surprises you at this point. Did this surprise you?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It surprised me because for the first time we're learning that it was something that came up, according to McCabe, on multiple occasions and that he took it so seriously that he took it to the FBI lawyer.
Now, again, as Evan said, we've heard from other sources -- and I -- Rosenstein, you know, he denies it, but that he was joking, that the belief by some was that he was joking. Clearly that wasn't the view of Andy McCabe as he says it in the book.
Now, the question I have, when we're hearing more about this, because we have reported extensively on the chaos, the fact that these -- some of these officials felt like they needed to reign in the president. Andy McCabe opened up the obstruction probe after the Comey firing, before Mueller was appointed. Now we're hearing more about these 25th Amendment discussions, wearing a wire. It does make you wonder if -- what else they knew or information they were acting on beyond just the firing of James Comey because these are extremely serious, unprecedented steps, to my knowledge, talking about this regarding the president of the United States.
PEREZ: Right. And you hear the people -- people -- supporters of the president bring up -- and the president's son, I think --
[13:10:02] PEREZ: Bringing up the idea that this essentially is a coup. And, look, in hindsight, it kind of looks a little bit like -- because we don't' know -- again, we don't know, as Pam said, we don't know everything that they knew and why they acted the way they did. Again, I think the verdict is still out as to whether or not they were freaking out unnecessarily, whether they were overreacting. We don't know.
KEILAR: Maybe they knew something we don't know.
And we are going to have to leave it there.
But, you guys are coming back. So, stand by.
BROWN: OK, good.
KEILAR: We have much more to talk about ahead.
A dramatic ruling. A judge finding that Paul Manafort lied to Robert Mueller about a lot of things, including his meeting with a Russian at a cigar bar. The question is, who else knew about the meeting?
Plus, sources tell CNN the president thinks the Democrats outplayed Republicans as Congress gets ready to vote on the spending bill.
And some breaking news. Amazon cancelling plans to put a second headquarters in New York City after political pressure, including from freshman Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
[13:15:16] KEILAR: The legal jeopardy facing President Trump's former campaign chairman just got a lot worse. A federal judge ruling that Paul Manafort intentionally lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, breaching his plea agreement with them.
So here's what the judge says that Manafort lied about, his interactions and communications with Russia's Konstantin Kilimnik, a man who had ties -- has ties to Russian intelligence. A $125,000 payment of his legal bills and information material to another Justice Department investigation.
Manafort's lawyers say that he is suffering from serious health issues. He appeared in court in a wheelchair during a hearing in October. He's already spent eight months in jail at this point and he faces two sentences that could add up to decades in prison.
Manafort is just one of several former Trump associates who have lied to authorities. That includes Manafort's deputy, Rick Gates, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as well.
We have Evan, Carrie and Pamela back with us now.
So we know that Manafort lied about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is a political operative, but he has these ties to the Russian intel -- to Russian intel. Specifically it's about a meeting at this cigar bar, which Manafort had ducked out of Trump campaign headquarters to go to with Rick Gates. And they actually handed over internal polling data.
The question, Pamela, is, why would he lie about -- obviously it's a bad thing he was doing, but why would he lie about it?
BROWN: That is the big question. And what really stuck out to me is the judge in this case said, look, this wasn't just a lie on something that was -- on the peripheral of what this investigation is all about. This is a lie about one of the central questions that the special counsel is looking at on Russia collusion. This is a central part of it. This is a judge who has looked at the evidence from the special prosecutor showing why they believe Paul Manafort lied. And so that is significant that this judge is saying that he was lying about central parts of this investigation.
As we know, it recently came to light that he allegedly handed over this polling data to Kilimnik, who is believed to be tied to Russian intel. That is significant. And it's alleged that he is lying about the circumstances surrounding that. And why is the big question. His lawyers say he never intentionally lied. But not only do you have Manafort, you have all of these other people you pointed to, and it certainly raises a lot of questions.
KEILAR: It -- did he stand to make money, Carrie? Was he scared of the Russians? Was this perhaps at the direction of Donald Trump or with the approval of Donald Trump? These are all questions that are out there.
CORDERO: Well, and we know from the various pleadings before the court that Paul Manafort has -- was in touch with the White House even after he was charged with all the various crimes that he has now been convicted of. So I think pardon is certainly a live issue. Whether or not the president would give a pardon to Paul Manafort and whether or not Paul Manafort thinks that he is eligible for one. The president has made a lot of sounds over the years -- over the last couple years of his presidency indicating and taking action that he is willing to use the pardon in unconventional always and bypassing the normal part of the process. So there's that possibility.
And then there's just, what are the other motivations of Paul Manafort? Pamela's absolutely right, though, this was August of 2016. This was right in between -- after this whole summer of activity that the Russian government was taking to influence the election, including the hacking and the releasing of information through surrogates. And it was just a couple months before the election.
So this was right in the heart of when, if there was some back and forth and exchange of information, this was right at the time that it would take place.
KEILAR: Let's take a look at the Senate floor, because we have some breaking news as the Senate votes on the confirmation of William Barr. It's not wrapped up yet, but he now has enough votes that he will be confirmed as the next attorney general. Taking the job for yet another -- once more. He had it back in the '90s.
What is this going to mean, Evan, for the Russian investigation?
PEREZ: Well, it means that he takes over the reins of this investigation. When he gets sworn in, he now -- probably the first thing that will happen is he'll get a national security briefing from the FBI. And probably the second thing that will happen is he'll get read in, finally, on what exactly Robert Mueller's been up to. And so the big question is, you know, I know that we -- we reported yesterday that one of the things that he's already been doing is having discussions with people at the Justice Department, senior officials, to talk about how to land this investigation, how to handle what to do with the information. Do they provide Congress with an update or a redacted version of it? Do they provide, you know, a couple of pages saying it's done, you don't get to know what's in here?
[13:20:02] One of the things that we know is certainly the guiding force inside the Justice Department is, they do not want to pull another James Comey. They do not want to have a situation whereby you say, we're not charging these people, but we're going to tell you all the bad things they did. So that's not going to happen if anybody has anything to say about it.
But I think Bill Barr, who's pressured, I think, by the Democrats to --
KEILAR: Meaning that -- that press conference about Hillary Clinton and her e-mails, like that? PEREZ: Right. Exactly. Yes, exactly.
PEREZ: So one of the things that I think you hear lawmakers saying is that they want to pass a law to force the Mueller report out into the open. And so we're going to see whether -- where these two sides meet. So I think this is the big thing that is going to be on his plate once he lands at the Justice Department.
KEILAR: Oh, there's so much ahead.
Evan, Carrie, Pamela, thank you guys so much.
Now, since the president remains noncommittal on that spending bill that would overt a government shutdown, some senators are relying on prayer to try to avoid one.
Plus, lawmakers called him rude, a child. Now, Democrats are threatening to depose Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker about some of his answers.
[13:25:50] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pray in the most Holy name of Christ Jesus our Lord, amen.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Let's all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn't shut down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: That extraordinary moment courtesy of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
That bill that he's talking about is a 1,169 page spending package. Both the House and Senate are expected to pass it before tomorrow's shutdown deadline. But as you just heard, some lawmakers are nervous. They're nervous about what will happen when this bill gets to the president's desk.
White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is standing by.
What will happen? Can you be sure even, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. And I don't think anyone in the White House is either. And, Brianna, we've known the top lines of this deal since Monday night and still not a single White House official has gone on the record to say that the president is going to sign this.
Now, they didn't get the final text until around midnight last night when it was posted and they say they're still reviewing that. They were waiting to see what was in that. But, Brianna, from what I've been talking with sources inside the
White House about, it is -- I'm not at all convinced that the president is going to sign this bill. We know that because the president has been privately complaining about these Republican negotiators who negotiated this deal, including Senator Richard Shelby, saying that he feels that they were outplayed by the Democrats here and that he wishes he had been more involved because he thinks he's such a deal maker that he could have gotten a better deal than what the Republicans got when they were meeting with these Democrats to hash out this border security deal.
Now, the president has been complaining about this. He's been watching coverage of his media allies dismissing this deal as a garbage compromise, as Sean Hannity called it. And, because of that, there have been a slew of phone calls from the White House over the last 24 and 48 hours trying to convince those media allies of the presidents that this is a win for him. They're telling him -- well, they're telling those allies that the president here is at least getting some kind of a concession out of Nancy Pelosi after she said she wouldn't give the president more than $1 for his wall and now he's getting over a billion dollars in this deal. And they're also telling them that if the president does sign this deal to avoid a government shutdown, that he will take some type of executive action to secure further funding for the wall.
Of course, Brianna, they're making those calls because they know if the president sees this negative coverage it could deter him from signing this bill, as he's come close to doing before. So, right now, no White House officials are going as far as to say that the president is going to sign this bill.
All right Kaitlan Collins from the North Lawn. Thank you.
Now we're hearing some extraordinary revelations today about something else. This is coming from former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. In the days after the firing of James Comey as FBI director, he feared that the Russia investigations would be impacted or maybe even ended. And he took steps to make sure that this work did not disappear.
He also says this, quote, I wrote memos about my interactions with President Trump for the same reason that Comey did, to have a contemporaneous record of conversations with a person who cannot be trusted.
We have Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch joining us now.
Thanks for being with us.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thanks. It's good to be with you. Thank you.
KEILAR: So, you're on the House Judiciary Committee. And in September the committee issued a subpoena for those memos. Now we're hearing McCabe talk about why he kept them. Have you been able to see those memos?
DEUTCH: I have not. But this revelation is startling. The -- we've been focused on the 25th Amendment piece of this, rightfully so because it's just such a jarring piece of news that the acting attorney general would be worried about that. But it's also so important to remember that what he called for is an obstruction of justice investigation to ensure that that would take place. That was in advance of Mueller.
It reminds us that even as we wait for the Mueller report, there are still important hearings that we should be holding, oversight hearings in the Judiciary Committee, about obstruction of justice and the president's abuse of power and potentially the violation of his oath of office.
[13:29:57] KEILAR: What do you make of the 25th Amendment part, though, that there was a discussion going on in the DOJ about removing the president from office using the 25th Amendment.