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Standing By For Major Court Filing In Paul Manafort Case; Mueller Reveals New Russia Probe Details Ahead Of Report; New York Times: Cohen Gave Info On Trump Family Business; Interview with Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); Sources: Trump's Team Working To Sow Divisions Among 2020 Rivals & Looking To "Cause Chaos From The Left & Right"; Trump Admin Weighs Softening Demands on North Korea; Interview with Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA); Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged with Soliciting Sex. Aired: 7-8p ET

Aired February 22, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, breaking news, we're standing by for what could be one of Mueller's most revealing memos yet. This one about Paul Manafort. What clues will he reveal about the Special Counsel's investigation. Also breaking, Michael Cohen reportedly speaking to federal prosecutors in New York about Trump's family business. Is this about to become a major problem for the President. Plus, President Trump defending a member of his cabinet who was just told he broke the law. Let's go OutFront.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight with breaking news, Robert Mueller is about to release what could be the most revealing documents to date. A sentencing memo in his case against the President's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Manafort's interviews have been a significant part of Mueller's investigation to date and with his investigation appearing to wrap up, this could be the last major filing. Over the past few months, we have learned a lot from the memos like this last month because of a computer formatting glitch, no kidding, that's honestly what it was.

Manafort's attorneys accidentally revealed Mueller believed he was sharing polling data with an associate with ties to Russian intelligence during the 2016 election. And in December, Mueller revealed that Manafort was still communicating with the Trump administration into 2018 after promising the Special Counsel he wasn't talking to anyone. So could tonight offer what everyone is waiting to find out? We will find that out all together.

As we await that, we are learning prosecutors out of New York are preparing to hit Paul Manafort with state criminal charges, which is significant because those charges would be pardon-proof. This all comes as Mueller is now expected to take at least one more week to complete his investigation, but that's not stopping President Trump, of course, from offering his verdict today.


it's a hoax. It's one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on this country, so I look forward to seeing the report. If it's an honest report, it will say that. If it's not an honest report, it won't.


BOLDUAN: Evan Perez is OutFront for us live in Washington. Evan, this filing tonight could be very important.

EVAN PEREZ, SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It really could, Kate. Look, I think one of the things we're looking for is for Andrew Weissmann who is the lead prosecutor in the Manafort case to sort of lay out an overarching theory of exactly what happened in 2016. They've hinted at it in some of the previous filings, including suggesting that Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik who is one of his business associates in Ukraine who are according to the Special Counsel is essentially a Russian agent that they were essentially the connection between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

So is tonight the time that they could do that? We believe so, simply because this is one of the last times that the prosecutors and the Special Counsel have to essentially lay this all out before Paul Manafort is sentenced in early March. So that's what we're looking for from this filing. And then, of course, today comes the news from the New York Times from Bloomberg that are reporting that even if Paul Manafort gets a pardon after he gets sentenced here in federal court, that the prosecutors in New York, in New York State are looking to bring state charges with related to some of its financial doings there.

We reported here at CNN that the prosecutors there had asked an accountant who worked for Paul Manafort for information about a loan. So, again, there's a lot of things swirling around Paul Manafort, so even if he ends up getting a pardon from President Trump and that's obviously still very much in the air, the state prosecutors appear to be on the verge of bringing charges there as a way to try to make sure that that at least some justice is brought against Paul Manafort in their eyes.

Now, of course, New York State law still has this double jeopardy issue that they're going to have to deal with. We'll see how they deal with that. But, Kate, again Paul Manafort is at the center of all of the attention. He was the Trump campaign chairman so, of course, it befits him that he would be at the center of all this tonight.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We're going to talk about that double jeopardy question a little bit later in the show. Great to see you, Evan. Thank you so much.

PEREZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OutFront with me tonight the Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. He's a Member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for being here. So there is quite a bit that could be happening tonight and it is going on with regard to the Russia investigation.

We know already that Manafort, barring a pardon, is likely to effectively be facing a life sentence for the crimes that he has pleaded guilty to. You and with the case the Special Counsel has brought against him, your committee had been investigating Russian collusion for quite some time and that will pick up once again. Do you think Paul Manafort is the linchpin to collusion with Russia if there is?


REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, DEMOCRAT: Well, he could be. He could be and as you've pointed out now tonight, his contact with Konstantin Kilimnik is probably the most interesting and questionable element of all of these many, many Russian contacts whether if it's Don Jr. in Trump Tower or Michael Cohen on building a tower in Moscow. Here's the thing and this is something that people might not appreciate that if you haven't run a bunch of elections you might not fully understand, polling data which Mueller would have us believe was conveyed to Konstantin Kilimnik is the fuel, is the raw material that drives any campaigns.

BOLDUAN: It's everything, yes.

HIMES: That tells you who you target, what odds you run, what you say and so if in fact that is true and the other thing that people need to understand is that was Kilimnik a Russian agent. In the United States we have people who work for the CIA, who work for the FBI, who work for the government and then everybody else doesn't work for the government. That distinction does not exist in Russia.

There are all sorts of people in the shadows, oligarchs and others who are seeking favors with the Kremlin. Exactly how connected he is to Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin is open to interpretation, but it's quite possible and it's possible and it's alleged that Kilimnik took this information which is the raw material of any campaign and conveyed it to the Russians. We need to know exactly what happened there.

BOLDUAN: According to Bloomberg News, prosecutors as Evan was getting to, prosecutors here in Manhattan in the DA's office, they're now preparing state criminal charges. Basically, so it is - so they're pardon-proof when it comes to - if that would come about against Paul Manafort because he has connections to Manhattan and they could do that. Do you think he's going to get a pardon? Where do you think this is?

HIMES: Well, I'm glad that the Special Counsel is sort of putting in place an insurance policy, because I mean let's just look at the facts of the way the President has talked about the possibility of pardons, two things. One; he has not ruled out pardons. You would think if a President wanted to set the country's mind that he would say, "Look, this involves me. There's a lot of interconnections, so no one associated with this is going to be pardoned." He has not said that.

And think about the language that he has used. He's praised on Twitter. He has praised people including Manafort who haven't cooperated with the Special Counsel and he called Michael Cohen and others who did cooperate with the Special Counsel rats. This is the language and I don't want to overstate this, I'm not saying the President is clearly guilty of crimes, but when you call somebody who's cooperating a rat and you praise somebody who's not cooperating, I mean this is right out of the Godfather.

BOLDUAN: We are expecting the Mueller report in the coming weeks. I mean it seems like it's really wrapping up next week unlikely now maybe the week after that. Will Congress and the public sees, once that's turned in, it's really up to the Attorney General? The regulation requires essentially him to say, "Investigation is done." And he doesn't have to give beyond that and I do wonder if that and he surely hasn't made any promises that he would, do you think you are going to see the report?

HIMES: I'm pretty sure we are going to see the report. And look, there's a couple of things that ...

BOLDUAN: By force or by virtue of offering it up?

HIMES: ... well, that's that, of course, it's precisely the question. Look, there's a couple things at play here and I would suggest there are sort of two things that are important and then there's one thing that is overwhelmingly important. The two things that are important is that we can't really sort of report that would compromise sources and methods, that would put at risk people who work with the CIA or the FBI. That's important. We can deal with that.

And, of course, prosecutors typically if somebody is not charged they don't want to damage somebody's reputation by putting up, but - now remember first of all the FBI crossed that particular Rubicon long ago when James Comey I think wrongly decided to tell the American public that they had investigated Hillary Clinton, that there were no charges, so they've crossed that Rubicon.

But thirdly here's the really big thing. The Mueller investigation, of course, has torn our politics apart for two years now and the idea that this report of, whatever it is, 500 pages is going to sit in a safe somewhere while the American public looks at itself as, "What just happened?" That's absurd. There is a powerful, powerful public interest in making sure that whatever the truth is that it's out there.

Look, the report may say that the President is guilty of absolutely no collusion. If that's the case, put it out there. If there are questions, put it out there. We can follow up. It has to get out there and as you point out, if it doesn't happen voluntarily, we will in all likelihood subpoena that report.

BOLDUAN: We will see that fight I think soon. You mentioned Michael Cohen next week he will be back on Capitol Hill. He's going to testify in public, but he is also going to be behind closed doors. He's going to be speaking to your committee as well as at the Senate Intel, what do you want to know from him? HIMES: Well, all we know about Michael Cohen telling the truth is

what he told the Special Counsel and what the Special Counsel reported in the various memos we've seen. So he's going to jail because he lied to Congress, so naturally Congress probably wants to ask a bunch of those questions that we asked before and I also think that quite apart from us answering those questions, presumably he answered those questions for the Special Counsel, the other thing we're going to get, this is what I think is really pretty harsh on the White House, it's not likely that Michael Cohen is going to reveal something dramatic illegal behavior on the part of the President or the President's people.


That would be something that the Special Counsel would say, "Hey, you can't talk about that." But you can expect Michael Cohen after he's been beaten up by this President, in some ways dragged through the mud by the President's people, you can bet he's going to talk a lot about the President's behavior. And this is a President, of course, who in public behaves in ways that we wouldn't tolerate from our teenage kids. So you can imagine the kind of stories that Michael Cohen may decide to tell and that's going to be ugly for the White House.

BOLDUAN: And then yet another person coming up to Capitol Hill where it then gets down to the credibility of the person that is testifying and what you'll hear.

HIMES: Yes. Well, that will be a big fight. Yes.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Good to see you. Thank you so much for coming here, Congressman.

HIMES: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. OutFront for us next, we have more breaking news. Michael Cohen just recently meeting with federal prosecutors and according to the New York Times offering up more details about the Trump family business. What did investigators want to know? Plus, President Trump's new obsession.


TRUMP: Bernie Sanders --

Beto O'Rourke --


BOLDUAN: How he now plans to play a role in the Democrats primary. And the owner of the New England Patriots and a longtime friend of President Trump's charged with soliciting sex, a warrant for his arrest imminent.

Some breaking news, New York Times reporting that President Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen has given prosecutors new information about Trump's family business. Sources say the meeting happened last month and Cohen shared details about questionable insurance claims the companies filed over the years. This after CNN reported SDNY requested interviews with members of the Trump Organization and Cohen also reportedly offered information about a donor to Trump's inaugural committee.


OutFront now former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick, and former Counsel to the U.S. Attorney - for the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Carrie Cordero. Great to see you, guys. I'm sorry, Carrie.


BOLDUAN: Harry, Cohen, I find this fascinating with this new detail coming out, because it's apparent that Cohen is still offering up and trying to offer up information to prosecutors about the Trump family, about Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization and his business. What do you think this new information could mean?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I think it means a couple of things. One, is I think it means the Southern District still has, as it's been reported, an active investigation into something relating to the Trump Organization. We may not know all the details yet, but clearly something is going on.

The second thing that's happening here is there something called a Rule 35 motion. Even a defendant who has already been sentenced can continue to try to cooperate to try to work off that sentence through cooperation and by continuing to meet one inference we can draw that Cohen is hoping that he might be able to essentially turn the southern district prosecutors around and convince them that he does merit some reduction in his sentence for cooperation.

BOLDUAN: That's an interesting point. I mean, Juliette, we know from previous reporting that President Trump believes that the SDNY investigation could be a bigger threat to him than the Mueller probe. How big of a threat is SDNY becoming?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think it's becoming a huge threat especially from the perspective of Donald Trump's interest. As I've been saying, Donald Trump cares about his brand, his family and his money probably more than he cares about the sanctity of the Oval Office, so to speak.

And so to the extent that the New York investigation is looking directly at those issues, whether it's the money, the foundation, the children, the tax schemes, the insurance schemes now, the inauguration, all of that stuff, that is going to be things that implicate him not only - while he's in office, but will implicate him if he is out of office in either 2020 or even 2024. These investigations are going to go on throughout his presidency and after because these have to do with his personal finances.

BOLDUAN: Well, and it's like one chapter is about to close, Carrie, when the Mueller report is wrapped up in the next weeks. But then the next chapter begins on a couple of fronts and these other investigations, as Juliette points out, they're clearly not close to doing the same being wrapped up, and it's not just the Trump Organization, it's the charitable foundation, it's the inaugural committee, it's the Presidential transition. How long could these investigations dog the President?

CORDERO: Well, there's no timestamp on these investigations and there have been so many spin-offs from the Special Counsel's investigation that have spun cases off to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia, to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, others as well, Eastern District of Virginia, just to name three that we know about. So there are so many spin-off investigations. And those, they don't have a limit on when they have to end.

Complex financial investigations, white-collar crime investigations can take time and so I think with Michael Cohen coming back what it just shows is that as prosecutors develop more information in whatever particular aspect they're conducting, they come up with more questions, and so they can come back to him or call him back in and say, "We have this new piece of information. What do you think about this?" And they can do that with all of the other cooperators as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Harry, Cohen is going to be testifying, he's going to be meeting with basically three committees next week. He's going to be testifying in public for one of them before Congress next week. The President was asked about it today and had a comment about it today. Let me play it for you. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any concerns about Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress this week?

TRUMP: No. No. No. A lawyer client but he's taking his own chances.


BOLDUAN: It sounds like the President thinks - he says, "Lawyer- client," and to me that sounds like the President thinks that they're protected by attorney-client privilege when Cohen goes to testify before Congress next week. Is that even close to the case?

SANDICK: It doesn't seem like most of what they did together would be privileged. We'll recall that when the search warrant was executed, the initial response from the President was, "There are my privileged communications. The government can't take them."

BOLDUAN: Right. Right, exactly. SANDICK: It turned out to be almost entirely non-privileged and I

think that's going to be the case here. He's putting on a brave face and that's commendable, but as everyone has said tonight the subject of Cohen's cooperation and what he knows about the Trump Organization posed real risks to the President.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Carrie, what do you think about it?


Is there any line do you think that that when he's facing Capitol Hill, Cohen, next week that he's going to say that's privileged communication between me and Donald Trump?

CORDERO: I think it's pretty unlikely. The fact to the matter is the President says what is convenient based on the circumstances of a particular day, so when he think it's convenient, when that first search took place of Michael Cohen that Harry mentioned, when that first search took place he thought it was convenient to say, "Oh, there might be a lot of attorney-client privileged information." When Michael Cohen was charged with crimes, all of a sudden, "Oh, he only was -" the President said something along the lines of, "He only did a tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work." Those were really his business dealings.

So the President says whatever is convenient on the particular time and when Michael Cohen goes to testify, he's going to be under oath and he is going to answer whatever questions that they ask and so many of the questions that they're going to ask are things that potentially are not going to be falling under the specific realm of attorney- client privilege.

BOLDUAN: And Juliette, we know that the some of the topics, if you will, that he's supposed to speak to are Trump's business practices, Trump's possible conflicts of interest, Trump's compliance with tax laws and the hush money payments that have been the source of a lot of conversation. I mean, add to that this is going to be before cameras for the world to see with wall-to-wall coverage of it and I do wonder how damaging it can be for the President with the understanding, Juliette, that Cohen has got credibility issues. He's already admitted to lying to Congress.

KAYYEM: I think that's right. I think really what's going to be interesting in this coming week or at least in the in the public forums is to what extent Michael Cohen can sort of keep it together. I mean we've seen him in interviews one on one. We weren't in the courtroom or for those of us who weren't in the courtroom couldn't see him in some of his hearings before. And so I don't know how he's going to comport himself in terms of does he seem like a reliable witness, someone who is actually now telling the truth.

Remember, he is going to jail for not telling the truth after he had a plea arrangement, so he's got sort of a background on the other hand. We have yet to hear from anyone in Trump's inner circle disclose this kind of information not about the specifics, though those are relevant, but simply about how did Trump keep his empire so to speak together in terms of all of the smoke and mirrors, because what we do know is that's essentially how Trump did it.

And for that, that's going to be a lot of curiosity whether it leads to criminal liability for Trump, I don't know. But I think it's going to be about who the President is if we don't already know.

BOLDUAN: Yes, great to see you, guys. I really appreciate it. Thank you. OutFront for us next, President Trump pressed about Congressman Steve King and his decision to seek reelection after defending white nationalism.


TRUMP: You know I don't want to think about the situation.


BOLDUAN: After all this time, really? Plus, CNN learning there are concerns inside the White House about what the President may do when he sits down with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un.


New tonight, chaos and division, that is what President Trump wants to instill in the Democratic primary already, according to new CNN reporting. Sources say the President is growing increasingly fixated on the 2020 primary fight and yes it is still well over a year before he knows who his challenger will be. He has been watching their announcement rallies, keeping an eye on their town halls and meeting regularly with his campaign team, all that behind the scenes. Well, this is what he says in public.


TRUMP: I'm not worried. So far, I love the competition. I love what I see.


BOLDUAN: Abby Phillip is OutFront now live for the White House. Abby, it's almost as if he's wishing the general election had already begun.

ABBY PHILLIP, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Kate, we know that elections and politics are one of the President Trump's favorite part of this job and so it's no surprise that he's really eager to dive into the 2020 election sizing up his Democratic competition and paying very close attention to all of these candidates who are jumping into this race in the last several weeks. According to this report by my colleagues, Jeff Zeleny and Kaitlan Collins, the President has been holding regular meetings at the White House with his campaign advisers planning out there their strategy for 2020, but he's also been asking them some specific questions about certain candidates.

In recent days he's asked them about Joe Biden, seeking some political intelligence on the former Vice President, but he's also expressed admiration for people like the Senator Amy Klobuchar and he's admired how she seems to connect with voters. He's asked some questions about Sherrod Brown, for example, wondering if perhaps the Ohio Senator might have some reach in the Midwestern voters that he did so well with in 2016. But all in all the White House is looking at a strategy that actually centers on one word which is socialism, the President looked at Bernie Sanders announcement in the past week and they believed that it was a great foil for the message that they want to roll out in 2020.

And ultimately according to one advisor, the President is seeking to sow chaos from the left and the right. The idea being to exacerbate divisions among Democrats hoping to weaken whoever comes up against him when the general election does come around, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. Great to see you, Abby. Thank you. OutFront with me now Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation and Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. So Scott, typically I would say that you expect the incumbent President to kind of sit back and watch the food fight that eventually does play out on the other side, but proactively trying to sow chaos and division this far-out from the general, is this a campaign strategy you would recommend?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Absolutely. I think more than chaos and division. It's a campaign to go ahead and define whoever the Democratic nominee is going to be as the reporter pointed out a socialist.

BOLDUAN: So define them all, all 175 of them.

JENNINGS: You heard him do it in the State of the Union - that's right, the incumbent presidents have huge advantage, they have time, they have resources, they have the power of the Oval Office to change the news of the day. They have a lot of advantages and one of those advantages is to shape the narrative of our national politics and to use the pulpit of the office to start to define the opponents. And he wants every single Democrat and all the worst things as he sees it about those Democrats to stick to whoever the eventual nominee is.

They've settled on this idea that it's sort of freedom free markets capitalism and a good economy versus socialism. And whoever the Democratic nominee is, is going to have to carry that tag because the President is never going to let it go.


BOLDUAN: Joan, one Republican who talks to the President regularly told CNN this -- and this is a really good point -- people may knock him in terms of running the government but he gets the campaign and can't wait to get started.

I mean, in some senses it feels like Donald Trump never stopped campaigning.

JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Never stopped campaigning, yes.

BOLDUAN: And he's good at campaigning.

WALSH: Yes, he's decent. He's decent.

He obviously hates his job. He has a lot of executive time. He spends a lot of time watching TV. I'm sure he loves this campaign as it unfolds.

I'm sure it's like he'd like to cast political apprentice, like a season of political apprentice. I'm sure he loves it all.

But as Scott is saying, I mean, I think this label socialism, you know, Republicans labeled Medicare and Social Security socialism as well. Bernie Sanders is the only socialist in the race and he's basically a social Democrat. He's not for nationalizing the means of production. He's for a robust welfare state.

So, this is not going to go very far. Young people are not afraid of the word socialism but there are very few socialists, actual socialists around, and there's only one at this point running for president.

BOLDUAN: I mean, Scott, is it going to backfire?

JENNINGS: No, it is not. Joan, you ought to take a look at the recent polling on how Democrats view the word socialism versus how all of America views the word socialism. There is a lot of softness, a lot of fondness for the word "socialism" inside the Democratic Party. It's not just Bernie Sanders. The heart and soul of the Democratic party right now is rooted in that Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders view of the world, that we do need a robust welfare state --


WALSH: Joe Biden is not a socialist. Democrats have a huge appetite for solving some of the enormous problems that have emerged over the last 20 years, even while we had Democratic presidents to be honest, Scott. Climate change is enormous. We did not go far enough with the Affordable Care Act. It needs to be fixed, and some people have an appetite for going beyond it, either to Medicare-for-All or Medicare as a public option.

These will be debated and that is very exciting, and the American people will get to make a choice and the Democratic voters will have a lot of choices whether they want a socialist, whether they want a centrist, whether they want Midwesterners, we have two African- Americans, we have at least five women. It's going to be an exciting race.

And the president is a bully. We know that. He is a juvenile bully. He's going to come up with nicknames but I don't think it's going to tarnish these people.

BOLDUAN: Well, one thing we do know, one thing that unifies them is their desire to unseat and kick the president out of the White House, so we'll see how that plays out when he tries to sow this chaos.

WALSH: Agree.

BOLDUAN: So, Scott, we know that the president has got plenty of time to watch what the Democrats are doing. But, again, today, he says they basically knows nothing about a member of his own party, Republican Congressman Steve King. Stripped of his committee assignments over those racist comments he made to "The New York Times", basically saying why is -- white nationalism isn't a bad word.

King says he has nothing to apologize for and now says he's running for re-election. This is not new. This got a lot of attention and has for years if we're being honest. Here's what the president said today.


REPORTER: Do you think Steve King should run again for Congress? He said he'd run.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know anything about the situation. When did he announce?


TRUMP: I have not seen it. He hasn't told me anything so -- we'll have to take a look.

REPORTER: Are you still in touch with him?

TRUMP: I haven't spoken to him in a long time, no. I haven't spoken -- I have not been involved in that.


BOLDUAN: That does deem to be his go to line for essentially no comment. Is that OK?

JENNINGS: I'll tell you, if I were Steve King, hearing the president say, oh, I haven't talked to him for a long time is one of the most hurtful things because Steve King wants all the Republicans in Iowa to think I've got the ear of the president, I'm in touch with Donald Trump and he goes on TV and says, I haven't spoken to him in a long time. I think the president may be just simply depriving him of oxygen.

You know, my position on Steve King is well known. I want him out of the Congress and I think the Republicans in Iowa ought to rise up and throw him out in the next primary, and I think they ought to listen to the president. He's not in touch with Steve King and ought to find somebody else.

BOLDUAN: Real quick?

WALSH: Well, I think he's being very cautious. He's not throwing Steve King under the bus. He needs a lot of those die-hard Steve King voters. I mean, the president and Steve King have a lot in common in terms of their own politics so I thought it was kind of cagey and not a renunciation as Scott has renounced him.

BOLDUAN: Yes, definitely not as far as the president likes to jump even before he gets full information on a lot of thing.

But, regardless, thank you guys for being here. Scott, good to see you. Joan, good to see you.

This weekend on CNN, don't miss a live interview with Kamala Harris on "INSIDE POLITICS". It's Sunday morning, 8:00.

OUTFRONT next, just days before President Trump meets with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, is the administration about to give up on a key nuclear demand?

Plus, the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, accused of soliciting sex at a day spa. Investigators say they have video evidence.


[19:38:38] BOLDUAN: Tonight, CNN has learned the Trump administration is considering softening one of its key demands on North Korea. Officials are considering backing off an earlier demand that North Korea provide a full accounting of its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the U.S. easing concessions. Previously, the administration has made it clear that this accounting was going to be an important part of the next summit.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it will be absolutely imperative in the next summit that we come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all the development sites, allowing for inspections of those sites and a plan for dismantling a nuclear weapon.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, what's your reaction to the fact that this is being debated right now ahead of the summit?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: It means we agreed to do the summit without any deliverables, and it's interesting to see the president claim that he's accomplished so much. He made huge concessions at the last summit and got nothing that makes us safer.

He confers a great honor on Kim. He ceases the military exercises that are so critical to South Korea's defense and in effect softens sanctions because once you have the atmospherics of a meeting like that, businesses know they can move forward with deals and, in fact, that's what they've done.

[19:40:14] So he provided huge concessions, got nothing that makes us safer and he's bragging about what a great negotiator he is.

BOLDUAN: What is the goal then? Do you think, of this next summit if one of -- this earlier condition, this was one of the earlier conditions becomes not a condition at all now?

SHERMAN: Well, the focus should be on stopping the creation of fissile material. Just since the last summit, North Korea has probably created enough fissile material to make eight new bombs. We've got to stop the creation of fissile material, whether that'd be through uranium enrichment or whether that'd be reprocessing leading to plutonium. And if we can do that, then we're making our country safer.

If they're going to continue to make bombs between the second summit and what they would hope would be a third summit, then we've really accomplished very little.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for you what the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said last June. Listen to this.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Going to get complete denuclearization. Only then will there be relief from the sanctions.


BOLDUAN: Only then, he says. Now let me play you what he said in an interview yesterday.


POMPEO: The American people should know, we have the toughest economic sanctions that have ever been placed on North Korea and we won't -- we won't release that pressure until such time as we're confident that we've substantially reduced that risk.


BOLDUAN: So, he goes from complete denuclearization to substantially reduced risk being the measure of if sanctions are going to be relieved. I mean, that seems like a softer tone. What does it mean to you?

SHERMAN: Well, they've already lessened the sanctions. You know, Ted Yoho is the chief Republican on the Asia subcommittee and I the chief Democrat on the Asia subcommittee wrote to the administration in 2017 and again in 2018 demanding tougher sanctions on North Korea and particularly a willingness to sanction those large Chinese banks that are doing business with North Korea. We got no substantive response.

So I don't think it's just whether sanctions will be lessened in the future. They've already been lessened. In fact, the whole -- the whole summit atmospherics create an image especially with Chinese and Russian businesses that, hey, the sanctions aren't all that serious and our failure to sanction large Chinese banks underlines that. So there's a lot of cheating going on, a lot of winking going on.

And I wouldn't mind seeing our sanctions rolled back in return for something that made us much safer, even if it did not lead to the complete end of North Korea's possessing nuclear weapons. But so far, we've got nothing that makes us safer and we've released pressure on the sanctions.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you really quickly about the House is going to be bringing forth -- going to be voting next week on the emergency declaration to stop the president's emergency declaration regarding the border wall. The president's promising to veto it. When he does, should House Democrats file a lawsuit?

SHERMAN: Oh, there are a number of lawsuits and I'm sure --

BOLDUAN: Yes, a lot of states. Do you think the House should?

SHERMAN: -- either as a -- clearly, we should. And whether we do it as a group of individuals or whether we do it as a body is something we'd want to talk to the lawyers about. But he is stretching this statute, which is frankly way too loose in how it's constructed, but he's stretching it out of all recognition. And we've got to try to hope that the courts will step in and rein him in.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks so much for the time.

SHERMAN: Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, the owner of the New England Patriots caught in a sting accused of soliciting sex from prostitutes and now a warrant for his arrest could be imminent.

Plus, President Trump standing by his labor secretary tonight who broke the law when he struck a deal with an alleged serial sex abuser.


[19:48:16] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the owner of the New England Patriots charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution. Police say Robert Kraft was caught as part of an international human trafficking sting centered on a day spa in Jupiter, Florida. They say evidence includes video of Kraft in a room at the spa receiving, quote, paid acts.

Kraft is a long-time friend of President Trump's, who was asked about the charges today.


TRUMP: Well, it's very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He's proclaimed his innocence totally, and -- but I'm very surprised to see it.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now is Christine Brennan, sports columnist for "USA Today." I mean, Christine, this isn't just any owner of any sports team. This

is Robert Kraft, this is the New England Patriots. It is hard to understate how big of a deal this is, I think.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: You're right, Kate. Obviously, the New England Patriots are a very big deal. Dominant team, perhaps most dominant in a generation in sports, just won the Super Bowl. Robert Kraft is their very visible owner.

He is -- he seeks the limelight. You know, there are owners in sports who shun the limelight, who want to be in the shadows. Not Robert Kraft. He is right out there, he loves it, he mixed it up in the deflate-gate story, defending his quarterback, Tom Brady, to the end.

I think most sports fans -- many people in the culture don't even follow sports that closely, they know who Robert Kraft is. And, of course, that is all of Robert Kraft's doing. Now the fact he is in the news for this, well, the potential fall, if there is a fall, of course, is even more dramatic and profound, because of the lofty perch that he has chosen for himself.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent way of putting it.

And Kraft denies this. A spokesman for him put out a statement that says they categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.

[19:50:04] Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.

But his team just won the Super Bowl. Take this all together. I mean, could this have implications for the team or his ownership?

BRENNAN: It absolutely could. There is a personal conduct policy, Kate, for everyone in the National Football League. That is not just the players or the coaches. This also goes all the way to the owners.

There could be a suspension. There could be a fine. Now, I'm sure people are saying, wait a minute, suspend the owner, what does that mean? You don't get a chance to have the shrimp in the suite at the stadium for six games? Well, that might be it.

In the case of the Indianapolis Colts several years ago, the owner then, Jim Irsay, pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and received a six-game suspension and a half million dollar fine. I think, again, if there is guilt found in this, I think that would be the least of what Robert Kraft would be looking at from the National Football League, because again, the NFL does have jurisdiction and holds its owners, it says, to even higher standards than its players.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We'll see. There is -- there is another layer of just how strange this is. How close of friends that Kraft is with the president. I mean, the president speaks often about his friend, Bob Kraft. I mean, I am remembering back to him talking about the tax bill and saying my friend Bob Kraft called me up about it.

What do you know about that relationship?

BRENNAN: Well, even just a few weeks ago, Robert Kraft during the Super Bowl week said that his -- you know, he felt that Donald Trump was doing good things for the country. So he willingly speaks out. And we know there are a lot of very strong feelings on all sides about the president.

Robert Kraft is happy, Kate, to dive right into that, and have those conversations. He has not shied away from any of that, proclaiming his affection for the president and his policies and support for those policies and support for this president.

So how does that mix in? We don't know yet. This story is just beginning to unfold. And where it goes and, of course, allegations of the sex trafficking in addition to prostitution, that is a potentially even more troublesome. Obviously, concerns, of course, for the alleged victims first and foremost, but then for Kraft himself.

And then Donald Trump, we have seen before in sports. He cannot stop speaking out about issues. Whether it be Colin Kaepernick, whether it be other things in sports, LeBron James, et cetera. He wants to pick a fight with those people. So, I'm guessing we will hear more from the president on this issue as it unfolds, even though, obviously, this is apparently one of his good friends.

And it would be -- these are very troubling allegations about his good friend.

BOLDUAN: And it will be noticeable ask striking, given his history of wanting to comment about sports and controversy in sport if he then does not want to when it comes to this and when it comes to his good friend. That's a really good point.

Good to see you, Christine. Thank you so much.

BRENNAN: OK. Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next: President Trump defends a member of his cabinet whom a judge said broke the law.


[19:56:47] BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump standing by his labor secretary, Alex Acosta, after a federal judge just ruled he and other prosecutors broke the law over a plea deal with an alleged serial sex abuser back when Acosta was U.S. attorney in Florida in 2008.

Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jeffrey Epstein is the politically connected Palm Beach billionaire who struck a 2008 plea deal with federal authorities who uncovered evidence of him sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls. The U.S. attorney at the time, a current member of President Trump's cabinet. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta allegedly met up with a lawyer for Epstein and assured his legal team that prosecutors would not contact any of the identified individuals, potential witnesses or potential civil claimants as the two sides hammered out an agreement that ultimately met Epstein avoided trial and federal charges and only served 13 months in a county jail after pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges.

A judge has now ruled that pledge not to inform any of Epstein's accusers of the plea deal was illegal, violating victims' rights.

JULIE BROWN, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: They felt elated that finally someone, you know, of authority conceded they had violated the law and they had treated these girls unfairly.

SCHNEIDER: Julie Brown exposed the hidden agreement in a November story for the "Miami Herald." She has interviewed several victims who detail their abuse.

VIRGINIA ROBERTS, ALLEGED EPSTEIN VICTIM: Everything down to how to be quiet, be subservient. Give Jeffrey what he wants. And, you know, before you know it, I'm being lent out to politicians and to academics.

SCHNEIDER: Now the real criticism is centering around Alex Acosta, who insisted in early February he wasn't alone in approving this deal.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, SECRETARY OF LABOR: Department of Justice leadership at the time reviewed that plea deal. Department of Justice has been defending the actions of the office over the intervening 12 years.

SCHNEIDER: Acosta has not commented since Thursday's court ruling, but the Labor Department reiterated Acosta's stance, saying the office's decisions were approved by departmental leadership. The president appointed Acosta to his position, and long before he ran for office, Donald Trump flaunted his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who has also socialized with former President Bill Clinton.

This is a photo from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in 1997. And he told "New York" magazine in 2002, I have known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said he likes beautiful women as much as I do. And many of them are on the younger side.

President Trump was asked about his labor secretary's role in the Epstein deal Friday.

TRUMP: I really don't know too much about it. I know he's done a great job as labor secretary. And that seems like a long time ago. But I know he's been a fantastic labor secretary.


SCHNEIDER: So what happens now that the judge has ruled the Justice Department's failure to notify victims was illegal? It's unclear. The judge has asked both sides to weigh in on an appropriate remedy, but since Epstein has already served his sentence, it could be difficult to redo any deal.

Now, as for Department of Justice, its Office of Professional Responsibility is has opened an investigation into whether Alex Acosta and others might have committed professional misconduct. And Acosta did tell CNN he would cooperate with that investigation -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thanks so much.

And thank you all so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.