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Interview with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY); NYT: Manhattan District Attorney Prepares to Charge Manafort; ISIS Bride's Father Sues Trump Administration over Citizenship; Nike Stock Falls after Duke Star Breaks Shoe. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 22, 2019 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think after the attorney general makes that announcement, is there a way short of a subpoena you think you will be able to convince the administration?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL, (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I won't hold my breath. I do think that we need to know, American people need to know. It would be absolutely terrible, I think, if the report would not be made public at least to some extent involving the Congress. We are going to demand it.

BOLDUAN: We have talked previously about issuing, potentially issuing a subpoena for the interpreter who was the only other American to be in the room with President Trump, one of the meetings with President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Are you any closer to getting information from the interpreter? Are you any closer to taking any moves to get the information that you have not had from any of the meetings between Putin and Trump?

ENGEL: No. It is still on the table. We haven't made any decision on it yet. It's still on the table and we'll do it. But there are so many other things that we don't get information about. It has been one thing after another after another that, when we do get information, we are shocked, at least I'm shocked, that we got something. There's this attitude that Congress is a nuisance and Congress is going to just try to go against the president. I'm not going after the president. I'm going after the truth and let the chips fall where they may. I just don't understand why there's an attitude of not wanting to involve the Congress. We need to --


BOLDUAN: Probably it's because of the position from Democrats, writ large, and what many have said about the president and efforts of the administration, broadly, not specifically to you.

That does get to the letter you wrote with other chairmen with regard to the upcoming summit with North Korea. You say that the administration has been withholding information about ongoing talks with North Korea. What do you think they are withholding?

ENGEL: I don't know. It makes you suspicious when you don't know. First of all, I think it's a situation where they would rather keep us in the loop -- not in the loop, keep us in the dark. It's what we get out of it. What are we looking for? I want to make sure that any agreement -- and if it comes out, I will be the first to compliment the president -- that North Korea would be required to destroy all of its nuclear weapons. We don't know. We hear all kinds of conflicting reports that Kim Jong-Un isn't really serious, that he is going to hide some things, that he is going to destroy some things but not everything.

BOLDUAN: Do you really think the administration in these discussions with North Korea are stonewalling you, from updating you on their progress?

ENGEL: Well --


BOLDUAN: Is your experience that you have had much more of an update with regard to other sensitive negotiations with adversaries?

ENGEL: North Korea -- we focused on North Korea because next week the president is going to be meeting with the North Koreans in Hanoi.


ENGEL: We don't know much about it. That is not acceptable. That's why we focused on it because it is something that is coming up next week.

The bottom line is that the finished product that would be acceptable to me would be one that would guarantee that North Korea would destroy all of its nuclear weapons. Short of that, it's not really a deal to get rid of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. We really don't know what the administration is looking for, what they have accepted, what they haven't accepted. Why should we be in the dark? We should be informed as members of Congress. That's the way our Constitution goes. That's the way our democracy goes.

BOLDUAN: We did learn overnight that the administration is now not planning a full pullout of Syria, U.S. troops out of Syria, at least right now. The way Sarah Sanders had said it, they're going to keep some 200 Americans there as a peacekeeping group for a while, for the time being. Are you encouraged by that?

ENGEL: No. Because I think that the president's pulling out of troops in Syria is a catastrophe. I think it hits our allies, the Kurds, who are loyal and faithful allies all these years. It doesn't afford them any protection. They can be slaughtered by Turkey.

And also by getting out of Syria precipitously, we are watching that country fall deeper and deeper into the Russian orbit. I think that this is not acceptable. Now 200 is better than nothing. I think eventually we need to get out of Syria. This is the wrong time. If we find out that it is a disaster in a few years, we will have to send troops right back there at greater cost to American lives and at greater costs to what may happen, anything unforeseen.

[11:35:05] This is a situation where the president made the announcement. Obviously, nobody knew about it. Mattis, the defense secretary, resigned.


ENGEL: What kind of decisions are being made when the defense secretary, who is the main person in these kinds of policies, doesn't know anything about it? This is, again, the president making snap decisions, not listening to those around him, not listening to what should happen. Someone like Mattis wasn't going to stand for it. It is unprecedented in American history that a secretary of defense would resign like this.

So the 200 is better than nothing, but, you know, we are trying now to get our allies, Britain and France, to substitute. They don't want to substitute. If we are not going to be there and do what we need to do with them as allies, they are not going to pull our chestnuts out of the fire. It is a ridiculous decision made by the president. I would hope that he would reverse it. I don't want our troops to stay on foreign soil, but you have to take into account what the possibilities are if we pull out. I think anybody who know the situation in Syria believes that pulling out would be a disaster.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what tomorrow brings, honestly, when it comes to --


ENGEL: -- something new.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for coming on

ENGEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate your time.

ENGEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

We're going to be right back after this.


[11:41:01] BOLDUAN: Some breaking news just in. The "New York Times" is reporting that the Manhattan district attorney is preparing new criminal charges against Paul Manafort. That's in addition to the federal charges that the former Trump campaign chairman is already facing. And this move has some big implications for Manafort.

Let's get over to CNN's Kara Scannell.

Kara, what are you learning about this?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. The "New York Times" is reporting that the New York district attorney's office, that's led by Cy Vance, is investigating and is preparing charges against Paul Manafort. According to "The Times," a grand jury has been convened and has been hearing evidence, and it's likely to come to a vote in the next coming weeks. So it looks like the New York district attorney's office is moving closer to preparing these charges.

They've been investigating Manafort for nearly as long as Robert Mueller's team this investigation has looked at the bank fraud aspects as well as the tax fraud aspects. Manafort owns three properties in New York City. Those all fall under the jurisdiction of the New York district attorney. This is now moving forward as we see Robert Mueller's investigation wrap up. That's critical because the district attorney's office has kept their investigation on the back burner. They haven't wanted to interfere with Robert Mueller's investigation. Now that Mueller's investigation is wrapping up with Paul Manafort expected to be sentenced in the next couple of weeks, the D.A.'s office stands ready to bring these charges in the event Manafort is pardoned. And that's really what is going on here.

And it's also we've been reporting that the New York attorney general's office, of a different New York body, has also been investigating Manafort and could bring charges as well if there is a pardon in this case on the federal level.

So the state prosecutors stand ready to investigate and are preparing, according to the "New York Times," to bring these charges possibly in the next couple of weeks -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And that's fascinating aspect about what this would do is, even if a pardon would come, and nothing has been said about that yet, this would mean that state charges you can't be pardoned from. And that is what this could really be about.

Kara, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Much more on this as it comes in

Still coming up for us, no longer welcome. That's the message from President Trump to a woman who left Alabama to join ISIS and now wants to come back to the United States. Now her father is suing the Trump administration. We'll talk to the family's attorney, next.


[11:47:39] BOLDUAN: She left Alabama to join ISIS now, years later, she wants to come back to what she calls home. And now Hoda Muthana's father is suing the Trump administration because the president says she is not allowed back.

The president tweeting this this week, " I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, to not allow Hoda Muthana back into the country."

Her dad says she is a U.S. citizen, she has a U.S. passport. She says she was born in New Jersey after he had given up his diplomatic status and that is why they're suing now.

Let me play you what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said just yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: She is a terrorist. She is not a U.S. citizen. She ought not return to this country.

She may have been born here. She is not a U.S. citizen nor is she entitled to U.S. citizenship.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Is that because she is a daughter of a diplomat and she was born here, is that --

POMPEO: That's right.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is the lawyer for Hoda Muthana's father, Charles Swift.

Thank you for coming in.


BOLDUAN: What do you say to the secretary of state?

SWIFT: Well, it's odd because the secretary of state's office said that her father was not a diplomat at the time. They have acknowledged that, from a letter in 2004, that acknowledged that her father was discharged from his position as a diplomat as of September 1, 1994, about 35 days -- excuse me -- almost 55 days before Hoda was born.

BOLDUAN: And so that is what this is coming down to. It does make me wonder, though, if this is as cut and dry as you say, there's a piece of paper and, in 2004, she was able to get a U.S. passport obviously long after that, what do you think the administration is doing here then?

SWIFT: Well, I think that there's a natural appeal. First, let me start here. If you ask the American public, banishment for going over to ISIS would seem to be an appropriate punishment. You can't come back. The Constitution, however, forbids that as a punishment and the Supreme Court has spoken very clearly that this is an inappropriate level to strip citizenship. So the administration has reasons to try and stop it. I would say, though, that the legal case that the administration has is not a very strong one.

BOLDUAN: The secretary of state in that interview says that she is a terrorist. Is she a terrorist?

[11:50:09] SWIFT: Well, and the part of that, her family -- let's understand something on this. By coming back, she subjects herself to criminal prosecution. Her best defense would be, I'm not a U.S. citizen. That would be her best defense. She's actually coming back to be prosecuted. She understands that she's going to be prosecuted. Her family understands it. Her family supports her prosecution and punishment if she comes back. This is actually, for her, about her 18-month-old son, who, by virtue of her citizenship, is also a citizen. As she said to me, I ruined my life, I don't want to ruin his.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for you -- you say she and the family say she is prepared to face charges for her choices --


BOLDUAN: -- and what she's done. I want to play for you this interview that she did with ABC News. I want to play for you when she was asked about that. Let me play for you what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think you deserve a punishment for what you did?

HODA MUTHANA, JOINED ISIS AND NOW WANTS TO RETURN TO U.S.: Maybe there would be lessons, maybe a process that would ensure that I will never do this again. Jail time, I don't know if that has an effect on people. I need help mentally as well. I don't have the ideology any more, but I'm traumatized by my experience.


BOLDUAN: She said therapy sessions and she didn't know about jail time. That doesn't necessarily say she's ready to face charges.

SWIFT: She absolutely understands by bringing this suit that she's going to face charges. And I've yet to meet somebody who said, gee, I want the maximum sentence possible. I haven't had that experience as a criminal defense attorney. But she completely understands that coming to the United States, she's going to be prosecuted. It's not her choice whether she's prosecuted and it's not her choice what sentence she receives. It's the United States' choice.

BOLDUAN: Well -- of course. Before filing the lawsuit, did you try to reach out to the State Department to clear this up before this became -- before a tweet from the president and where this is now?

SWIFT: Yes, we started writing -- she additionally contacted her parents and others and said she wanted to surrender. And we contacted both the U.S. attorney's office and then the State Department with letters saying that she wanted to surrender, indicating that she was a citizen, providing evidence that her father wasn't a diplomat at the time, and they chose this route without ever communicating to us. That's why we're suing.

BOLDUAN: What happens --


SWIFT: It was a last resort.

BOLDUAN: What happens to her, what does she do if she's not allowed back in the United States?

SWIFT: In one sense, it's ironic. She's free. She's stateless, but she's free. So the United States says, hey, she's somebody else's problem, not ours.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that would push her back toward extremism?

SWIFT: I don't know. I would say on the part is I think the -- and her family believes that she should face prosecution, that she should come back. And this shows us to be the nation of laws. This shows us to be the good guys. It's both right to hold her accountable and it's both right not to hold her infant son accountable.

BOLDUAN: I've seen her tweets when she went over there, after she had gotten there. Did she support acts of terrorism, to your knowledge? Did she admit that to you?

SWIFT: In the part of that, I haven't discussed it with her. I can tell you this. I think the maddest people at her, the most-angry people are both her family, which have been shocked, disappointed, embarrassed, to name just a few, and then the Muslim population in America is the next most angry group. You have to remember who ISIS kills first and foremost. ISIS kills Muslims. Inside my own office, people are extraordinarily angry at her. But that means she comes back and faces justice, not that her citizenship is stripped with a tweet.

BOLDUAN: I'm very interested to see what comes of this lawsuit and where this heads.

Charles Swift, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your time.

SWIFT: Thank you.

[11:54:25] BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, a technical foul for Nike? Apparently so. The company's stock takes a hit after college basketball's biggest star is injured when his shoe -- you've seen the video -- just basically explodes and rips apart on court. What's Nike saying now?


BOLDUAN: Nike stock taking a hit after facing blowback when college basketball's biggest star was injured as his Nike sneaker tore apart in the first minute of Wednesday's game. Duke's Zion Williamson left the game with a knee injury after this happened. The sole of the sneaker ripping apart from heel to toe.

Despite the company calling it an isolated incident, things are happening now to the company's bottom line.

CNN's Alison Kosik is here to break this down for us.

Alison, what has happened to Nike stock today -- yesterday? ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday, we did see the

stock take a hit. Yesterday was the day after the game we saw and Nike's shares fall about 1 percent today. We're seeing a recovery in those shares. They're up about 1 percent. So we're seeing that the effect of this stunning video of Zion Williamson, his shoe splitting apart, not having any impact on its shares.

Nike was pretty swift with its statement, though, when this happened that evening, putting out this statement saying, "We are obviously concerned and we want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue."

Here's the reality that Nike is working with. You have to look at what kind of game this was. This was a game between arch rivals, Duke and North Carolina. This was nationally televised, a highly anticipated game, so any sneaker that would split apart would certainly -- you know, you would certainly have bad publicity around that.

What's exacerbated this is because it happened to Zion Williamson. This is a college basketball superstar. He is expected to be the top pick at this year's NBA draft, which is happening in June. He's being compared to Lebron James. This happened to such a big star, that's why the focus is on Nike. But analysts and brand experts I talked to say this is not going to have an everlasting effect on Nike. That Nike --


BOLDUAN: -- especially when it comes to -


KOSIK: But Nike will weather this, according to brand experts and analysts. They say, yes, this is embarrassing for Nike but the company will still come out on top.

BOLDUAN: First and foremost, we hope Zion is OK --


BOLDUAN: -- and he'll be back on the court.

Great to see you, Alison.

KOSIK: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.