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Active Shooter in Illinois; Trump Makes False Claims to Defend Border Wall; Trump Declares National Emergency; Judge Issues Gag Order in Roger Stone Case. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 15, 2019 - 15:00   ET



RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And also, frankly, to protect Roger Stone against himself.

Any smart attorney would advise him not to be doing what he's doing, not to be on television and the Internet and elsewhere mouthing off about his case. And she, I think, is trying to preserve, frankly, the integrity of the judicial process that she's overseeing.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Let me read a portion of the judge's order.

I -- quote -- "Counsel for the parties and the witnesses must refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case." This is Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

And I'm recalling Roger Stone arguing against this to begin with, saying: I'm no Kim Kardashian. I'm not that much of a celebrity.

Apparently, she thinks otherwise?

MARIOTTI: Well, he's gotten a lot of press coverage. He said a lot of things.

I mean, to me, a client like Roger Stone is a nightmare to have as a client. I have clients who at times say things to the media that I disagree with. They act contrary to my advice. But Roger Stone has really taken that to the nth degree. I mean, he's made a lot of proclamations about what the evidence is going to show, what really happened, what Mueller's doing, attacking the prosecutors.

And if I was his lawyer, I would be thinking about, how are we going to get a pardon or how are we going to get a deal with Mueller? Well, his statements aren't going to help him get a deal with Mueller. That's for sure. So unless they're moving the pardon situation forward for Mr. Stone, they're very ill-advised because they're going to be used against him in the potential trial.

And, frankly, a lot of them are not supported by the other evidence that we already know about.

CABRERA: Let me bring in Kara Scannell.

Kara, remind everybody the charges, what Roger Stone is facing, what he is accused of.


So Roger Stone was indicted on multiple charges of lying when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, also witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. So he's facing some serious charges there.

And in the judge's order today, she's saying that she doesn't want him to talk about this case or any of the parties to talk about the case in a way that could influence the jury. That's her job is to ensure that the jury isn't tainted and they can give Roger Stone a fair trial.

Now, she previously said that he could continue to talk about foreign policy immigration or even Tom Brady, the Patriots football player. She just doesn't want any discussions about the case, anything that could taint the jury. And she's also putting restrictions, saying that no one should make any comments when they're coming and going from any court proceedings because there are large crowds that are forming when Roger Stone has been in court these past two times -- Ana.

CABRERA: And so, Renato, what does this mean moving forward? What would be the next step in the case?

MARIOTTI: Well, Roger Stone is still in a spot where he's going to be looking at those charges and potentially filing motions, either challenging the charges in some way. We have already seen one such motion that I think is a meritless.

Then we have got there's going to be some additional disputes over discovery, potentially, and other issues, any challenge he has to the government's authority. And then I would expect her to be setting a trial date, unless Roger Stone decides at some point that he wants to plead guilty, which does not appear to be in the cards.

CABRERA: All right. Renato, stand by. Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

As we close out another week, the country may have avoided one national dilemma, a government shutdown, but President Trump has now thrown the nation into a new one that legal experts say will likely come to a head in the Supreme Court.

Today, he declared a national emergency to fund his border wall. The signing seen here in this White House photo is now going to unlock nearly half of the $8 billion he wants for construction. But it's also unleashing major backlash, deepening the divide between parties, also laying bare a very large growing chasm within the president's own party.

Several leading Republicans are expressing concern about the precedent this sets, using the national declaration authority this way, in a move Democrats say is a work around Congress. The president was asked about that after today's announcement, and he pointed to 31 other current active national emergencies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we are going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border. And we're going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it -- not because it was a campaign promise, which it is.

When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all comes through the port of entry. It's wrong. It's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie. They say walls don't work. Walls work 100 percent.

I expect to be sued. I shouldn't be sued. Very rarely do you get sued when you do national emergency. And then other people say, "Oh, if you use it for this, now what are we using it for?"

We've got to get rid of drugs, and gangs and people. It's an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop, but it's very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy.


So I think that we will be very successful in court. I think it's clear. And the people that say we create precedent, well, what do you have -- 56 or a lot of times -- well, that's creating precedent. And many of those are far less important than having a border.


CABRERA: I go now to CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip at the White House.

Abby, now that this national emergency has been signed, what happens next?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Ana, now the real fight begins.

And the White House has been expecting that there will be some legal challenges to this, and the president alluded to that today. He even suggested that he expected to lose, at least initially, in some of these court battles. And that's because Democrats have been saying that this is both about whether or not there is actually a national emergency and also about whether or not the president is trying to you usurp power that is granted in the Constitution to Congress to appropriate money for projects in order to simply build his wall.

One of the things that we need to look at more closely is, where's this money coming from exactly? The White House has identified three main sources outside of what Congress is giving him, $1.375 billion. Several of them involve taking money from the Department of Defense construction budget, military construction budget, also a drug interdiction budget, and then some money, a smaller pot, is coming from asset forfeiture. But some of these pots of money are going to be highly controversial.

Taking money, for example, from DOD defense contracting projects is likely to find some resistance in Congress, not just from Democrats, but from Republicans as well.

And the court battles could start almost immediately. The president mentioned the Ninth Circuit specifically. He is expecting that these court battles will be fought in states like California, where the president has said the courts are more favorable to Democratic opinions, although many people would disagree with that.

But that's just to give you a sense of where the White House's head is on some of these legal challenges that are to come. And also there is Congress. The Republicans are saying, look, Mr. President, if you do this now, using executive action, the next president could simply undo what you did.

So there's a long road ahead. And I think the White House and President Trump are expecting this process not actually to be much faster, but to potentially take months, and could even get held up in courts for years -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, years.

Thank you, Abby Phillip.

So the president laid out his emergency declaration at this wide- ranging press conference. He got a number of facts wrong to try to defend his border wall, including walls working 100 percent of the time.

His own Customs and Border Protection tweeted this video last month of a wall's obvious weakness. It shows undocumented immigrants using a ladder to scale the wall. This is along the Arizona-Mexico border.

CNN correspondent Tom Foreman is here now to fact-check what the president said today.

Tom, what else did the president get wrong?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, he just poured out a torrent of dubious and in many cases flat-out wrong statements as he talked to reporters.

One is a statement that he's rolled out to his supporters many times to huge cheers, and that is the idea that he has already started on this wall.


TRUMP: We're right now in construction with wall in some of the most important areas. And we have renovated a tremendous amount of wall, making it just as good as new.

That's where a lot of the money has been spent, on renovation.


FOREMAN: That second part there is correct. Renovation of existing parts of wall has been under way, just as it has been under every single president.

But this suggestion that he has already started building new parts of the wall, that has not happened. There may be some actual construction next month on a very small portion of some new wall. But there has been none so far.

So, taken all together, that is at very best a misleading statement. He also jumped onto this theme that he's been just ballyhooing over and over again, that El Paso had a giant crime problem, they put up a big wall, and it ended.


TRUMP: When the wall went up, was it better? You were there, some of you."

It was not only better. It was like 100 percent better.


FOREMAN: Go to El Paso, you will see that they have a giant barrier and wall system there right now. And, yes, they did have a giant spike in crime. It went way up, and it did come way down.

Here's the problem. The wall was built down in this area. All of this has already happened, and crime actually went up afterwards. So that claim is simply false about El Paso and has been proven false over and over again.

And one more. He talked about this idea of drugs coming in, this sort of "Mad Max" vision of drugs, people just rushing across all this open land where there's no wall, bringing in all sorts of dangerous narcotics.




TRUMP: And a big majority of the big drugs -- the big drug loads don't go through ports of entry. They can't go through ports of entry. You can't take big loads because you have people -- we have some very capable people, the Border Patrol, law enforcement, looking.


FOREMAN: Very vague terms, big drugs, big loads. We don't know exactly what he means.

What we do know is that the Drug Enforcement Administration, the very drug people and law enforcement he will be citing, they say the vast number of illegal drugs are coming through ports of entry.

Look at this about heroin, for example, where they said the majority of the flow is through personally owned vehicles entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers.

You want some proof? Here are the pictures that they show of those drugs being smuggled in. So the very people he's citing are saying he is wrong.

The only drug class coming in through open land where maybe a border wall would slow them down or present a problem is marijuana. So this claim is also false, Ana.

And it was just one of many things he said, as I mentioned at the beginning, dubious at best, flat-out false at worst.

CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you for breaking it down.

Now for the analysis, joining us now is the author of this book, "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Nationalist Uprising," CNN political analyst Josh Green, who is also national correspondent for "Bloomberg Businessweek," and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti is back with us.

Josh, you have written about the origins of the wall becoming such a focal point of President Trump's campaign. Can Trump now check the box on his list of campaign promises?

JOSH GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't think he can.

I mean, one of the reasons is, I tell the story of the wall's genesis in the book. It was never supposed to be a real policy. This was a trick that his advisers came up with to keep Trump focused on the issue of immigration. This wasn't built on any sort of analysis that showed there's any kind of a need for a border wall.

The problem, I think, for Trump is that this became sort of the central, defining feature of his presidential campaign. He got elected. He promised he would build it. He promised that Mexico would pay for it.

And now I think he fears looking weak if he doesn't produce it. So he's tried a couple of things from pretending the wall is already being built and that we just need to finish it to now this morning declaring a national emergency, which is a sort of maximalist way of showing the public that he's trying to do something to move the wall forward, whether or not in fact he manages to do so.

CABRERA: At the same time, the president is saying this is a national emergency, he's also saying this. Listen.


TRUMP: On the wall, they skimped. So I did -- I was successful in that sense, but I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do

this, but I would rather do it much faster. And I don't have to do it for the election. I have already done a lot of wall for the election, 2020. And the only reason we're up here talking about this is because of the election.


CABRERA: Sounds like one of those record scratch moments, where like, wait, did he just say that? I didn't need to do this?

Did he just undermine his entire case for an emergency, Renato?

MARIOTTI: Well, it certainly doesn't help. There's no question that that's going to be cited in the lawsuits challenging this.

And it just doesn't look good. The good news for Trump is that the statute doesn't define what an emergency is. So the focus of the legal challenge is going to be on whether or not the military really needs to be used for this and some of the other details in these statutes.

But, look, it's a very bad look for Trump. It's the sort of thing that I mentioned a moment ago, sometimes you have these clients where you you're just shaking your head. That's a sort of lawyer's nightmare when your client goes up there and says something that undercuts your case.

It just is the sort of thing where you could imagine -- a lot of times courts like to be deferential to a president's ability to exercise power. If 9/11 occurred and Trump came up there and said, look, we have a national emergency because of 9/11, I think a court would be very deferential in determining whether -- in deciding whether or not the military is necessary for a particular project.

But given that on its face this appears to not be an emergency -- if you don't need to do it, it doesn't seem like it would be an emergency -- I think a court is going to look very carefully at some of the other claims that have very significant legal issues for him related to those statutes.

CABRERA: OK, guys, stand by.

Turning out to be a very busy Friday afternoon. We have more breaking news this hour in the special counsel investigation.

New exclusive CNN reporting that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has now been interviewed by Robert Mueller, the special counsel's team.

CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown is here with this reporting.

Pam, do we know when this interview took place?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do have a sense of the timing and that was some time late summer, early fall.

But Sarah Sanders issued a statement, a rare statement exclusively to CNN, confirming that she was interviewed by the special counsel's team, Robert Mueller's team.


Here's she said in the interview to CNN.

She said: "The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them."

So this is what we know. This interview was one of the final known interviews by Mueller's team with White House officials. And it came around the same time as the special counsel's interview with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, well after a number of other senior officials, including former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer were brought in for questioning.

It's unclear why this was so late. But we are told that the White House did not immediately agree to grant the special counsel interview with Sanders, according to one of the sources I spoke with.

Now, similarly, as CNN reported back in December, White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller's request to interview John Kelly, former chief of staff, who ultimately responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators.

So while we don't know the substance of the interview with Sanders, one likely area of interest was how she was -- she composed statements that she made on the podium defending the president regarding the Russia investigation.

As Mueller wraps up his Russia probe, Ana, one focus of investigators has been on conflicting public statements by President Trump and his team that could be seen as an effort to obstruct justice.

Now, CNN reported last month more about this, how Mueller's team is looking at public statements from people. They appear to be looking at whether Trump's public statements were an attempt to undermine the obstruction probe in a way to influence other witnesses.

So it would make sense, it would be a logical step in the investigation to interview the press secretary, someone who has been a central part of the Trump White House. She's been there from the beginning. She was part of the campaign. It's really not a surprise that they would want to interview her in this case.

This is just the first time we're learning about it. And it is unclear why this was so late in the game, the interviews with White House officials.

CABRERA: Why do you think the timing is what it is, Renato? Any thoughts? MARIOTTI: Sure.

I mean, look, Mueller did interview other folks in the press shop, most notably Sean Spicer, relating to statements that were made by the president. Pamela just noted a moment ago, I think aptly, that a focus of the Mueller investigation is obstruction of justice.

I am convinced, frankly, that Mueller's going to ultimately go far down that road and conclude that there is obstruction of justice here. And part of that is what -- the difference in the explanations that were offered internally, when they were discussing externally, and then what the explanations were to the public for certain actions.

So you could imagine for -- if the president is taking an action, and he denies it publicly, does that suggest a consciousness of guilt? Does that suggest a desire to hide what they were doing?

I think that's the sort of thing that Mueller could use, not because the mere statement by Sanders is itself a crime, which it's not, but because it shows the motive to hide. It goes, when combined with the other evidence, to show that the president had the intent to obstruct justice.

BROWN: And I just want to just emphasize what you said. This is no way indicates that she could be in any legal trouble.

This is clearly an inevitable part of this investigation that they would want to interview the person who was the press secretary who was at the podium speaking on behalf of the president. And we know from our previous reporting that one of the things Mueller has been focused on is that Air Force One statement about the Don Jr. meeting at Trump Tower, that initially misleading statement.

Sarah Sanders had initially come out -- she came out and said that the president weighed in on the statement, as any father would. And then we learned from the president's own lawyers that actually he dictated that statement. And she has not corrected the record on that front.

But it would be something that investigators would want to ask her about logically. Did the president tell you to come out and say that he merely weighed in on the statement, rather than directed?

These would be some of the logical questions investigators would want to ask her. Again, it's not a surprise that she was interviewed. We're just now finding out about it from this rare on-the-record statement from Sarah Sanders herself.

CABRERA: And, quickly, Josh Green, if you're still with me, what does this tell you about just how close Mueller's investigation is coming to the president?

GREEN: Well, I think the fact that she wasn't interviewed early on suggested that maybe Mueller didn't think she was central to this in quite the way that a Hope Hicks or a Sean Spicer was.

But certainly the investigators are being as thorough as they can. And I think, as Pamela said a moment ago, part of that includes interviewing the person at the podium. And so assuming that Mueller is dotted every I and every T, this is an interview that was bound to happen at some point.

Now CNN has reported that it has. If anything, that tells us that we're getting closer to the end. When that will come, I couldn't say.


CABRERA: All right, Josh Green, Pam Brown, Renato Mariotti, thank you all.

Breaking news into CNN.

The Supreme Court has decided to look at the fate of a citizenship question on the census in 2020. Stand by.


CABRERA: Just into CNN, word of an active shooter situation in Aurora, Illinois.

We have live pictures overhead. This is about an hour outside Chicago.

Let's go to CNN Brynn Gingras.

What are you learning, Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the Henry Pratt corporation.

And we understand from its Web site that is a company that makes valves for wastewater -- water products for piping. Unclear how many people actually work there


But we have confirmation from the Aurora, Illinois, Police Department that, as you can see, officers are on the scene, that there is an active shooter situation.

What we don't know at this point is if there are any injuries, if there's been any transports, or really what's going on, only the fact that there's an active shooter situation inside this company.

Of course, we're working to get more information, but you can see the scene there in Aurora, lots of medical personnel there on the scene, as well as police cars. And as soon as we get more information, we're going to bring that to you.

CABRERA: Police telling us, at least a source telling us, all command police staff left the department for this scene around 30 minutes ago.

We know Brynn is going to continue to work the phones.

I want to bring in Josh Campbell, our CNN law enforcement analyst, for us, also former FBI, who is going to be joining us in just a moment.

I'm being told a quick break. Then, when we come back, we will continue the conversation, as we continue to follow breaking news, an active shooter situation in Aurora, Illinois.

Stay with us.