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THE SITUATION ROOM
Paul Manafort Sentence Underway in Federal Court; Michael Cohen's Lawyer Talked Pardon with Trump Team More than Once; Interview with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) of House Oversight and Intelligence Committees about Manafort Sentencing and Cohen Hearings; Administration Official: Justice Department May Examine Whether Michael Cohen Committed Perjury Over Pardon Claims; House Passes Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism & Bigotry; Trump Open To Talks Amid North Korea Missile Activity; New Regime Documentary Paints Failed Summit As A Success. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 7, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now: breaking news. Manafort sentencing. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appears in a federal courtroom to face sentencing for his conviction on tax and banking crimes.
Will he spend the rest of his life in prison?
Pardon problem: sources say Michael Cohen's lawyer raised the idea of a pardon more than once with the Trump team. But Cohen testified publicly that he never asked for a pardon. A powerful House Democrat says he warned Cohen he would nail him to a cross if he lied.
Does Cohen have a serious new problem?
Family feud: House Democrats are divided over the proper response to a new congresswoman's comments widely viewed as anti-Semitic.
Will a broad anti-hate resolution put the matter to rest or will it reflect a growing split within the party?
And Kim's documentary: President Trump walked out of his summit with Kim Jong-un and the U.S. is anxiously eyeing the North Korea's new missile activity. But the dictator's regime is showing a new documentary painting the summit as a glowing success.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news. BLITZER: Breaking news: Paul Manafort's sentencing hearing is under way. Former Trump campaign chairman in federal court in Alexandra, Virginia, months after his conviction. Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of up to 25 years.
He will face another sentencing next week for a different set of crimes.
Also breaking, a new problem for former Trump fixer Michael Cohen. Sources say his lawyer raised the idea of a pardon more than once with the Trump legal team but Cohen publicly told Congress he never, never asked for a pardon.
Now the powerful House Oversight Committee chairman said he warned Cohen he would nail him to a cross if he lied. I'll speak with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the Oversight and Intelligence Committees. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the Manafort sentencing. Our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, is outside the federal courthouse in Alexandra.
And joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM, our national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessey.
Shimon, Manafort's lawyers have said his health has declined in prison. He has been in prison now for nine months. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
What's the latest?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: He certainly can, Wolf. Just to give our viewers the latest, the judge just took a 15- minute break. He asked for a recess after hearing some arguments from the attorneys inside the courtroom.
He has now taken a 15-minute break. We have now well over an hour underway into this sentencing hearing, where, as you said, Paul Manafort could learn that he could face the rest of his life in prison with the time that he faces here, up to 25 years.
The other thing that we have seen here is that Paul Manafort came into court. He was wheeled in, in a wheelchair. He had a cane with him. He was also wearing a green jail jumpsuit.
He has been in this. His family has been inside. His lawyers, obviously, have been by his side. And now the judge has taken a 15- minute break. We've heard legal arguments from prosecutors, from the defense team and the judge is considering those.
The most significant aspects of this hearing have yet to get underway. And, hopefully, that will start once this break is concluded.
BLITZER: Yes. This could go on for a little while. Shimon, prosecutors have said that Manafort hasn't shown remorse and even lied under oath after agreeing to what was described as a plea deal.
Will we hear directly from Manafort in that federal courtroom today?
PROKUPECZ: That is the big question. Usually in these kinds of hearings, we do hear from the defendants. It is their last chance. This could be Manafort's last chance to plead his case, to ask for leniency from the judge.
It could very well. Within the next hour, perhaps next 30 minutes or so, we could hear from Paul Manafort. He would address the judge and tell the judge why he should not spend the rest of his life in prison.
BLITZER: Susan, this is the president's former campaign chairman. He spent, what, five or six months basically running the Trump campaign back in 2016. He is now being sentenced in this major criminal case. This is a significant --
BLITZER: -- moment.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY: I think it is. It's also significant for the president even though he's trying to distance himself from Paul Manafort. In part because it reflects on President Trump's personal judgment.
A lot of these red flags about Manafort were known for a long time. They were known well before he joined the Trump campaign. This isn't new information that the president learned while he was a candidate, when Manafort was ultimately been forced to step down.
After Manafort was forced to step down because of revelations about his inappropriate and potential illegal conduct in the Ukraine, reportedly he stayed in contact with the president and with White House officials, sort of to this day.
Now Manafort hasn't been charged with any issues directly related to the Russia investigation or the special counsel's probe as related to that.
One big question here, though, is he going to feature -- is Manafort's conduct going to feature in an ultimate Mueller report to Congress even if it doesn't end up being part of the crimes he was charged with?
BLITZER: Shimon, I understand you're getting more information from what's going on in the courtroom.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, Wolf, we have a team inside. They've just emailed us, saying, before the break, the judge was saying that -- basically that Paul Manafort will not get any credit for his cooperation.
He also said, Wolf -- let me find this here for a second. He said -- the judge here noted that Manafort, who spent 50 hours speaking to the special counsel, says he should not get any credit for that. The judge also says that he does not get any credit today for accepting responsibility for his crimes.
That is an interesting line from the judge. I don't know what, in the end, this will mean in terms of how much prison time Paul Manafort is going to get. But certainly already we're seeing a judge take -- the judge here take a certain tone at this hearing.
BLITZER: It's interesting. You're in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., right now, Shimon. We're awaiting the sentencing in this trial. Next Wednesday there will be more sentencing in a separate trial involving Manafort, who pled guilty to conspiracy, to commit witness tampering, conspiracy and other charges as well.
What happens today, could that affect the sentencing he receives next week, here in Washington, D.C.?
PROKUPECZ: It could potentially affect it, because his attorneys could come in and argue that he has already received a substantial sentence in this case and, therefore, there's really no point in giving him any additional prison time in Washington, D.C.
The judge could also ultimately run it concurrent, meaning he would serve it basically in the same amount of time that he's going to get in this case, that whatever he gets in the D.C. case would not be added onto the sentencing that he ultimately gets here.
Two very different cases. More significant jail time, prison time, I should say, in this case. Obviously in the D.C. case you have the whole factor of this is where he pleaded guilty to these crimes. This is where he told prosecutors and the special counsel that he wanted to cooperate. He goes in to cooperate.
They then say, you know what?
He wasn't so cooperative. He lied to us. The judge agreed with the special counsel's office there in Washington, D.C., that Paul Manafort lied and was not cooperative.
Nonetheless, will he get any more significant time after today?
It could be but it could also be that the judge agrees to put all of these sentences together and, therefore, he wouldn't get any additional time.
The big question still remains here right now in Virginia, how much prison time is Paul Manafort going to get?
BLITZER: Remember, he's 69 years old, turns 70 April 1st, less than a month away. If he gets 15, 20, 25 years, whatever he gets, that could be a life sentence.
Susan, it was a big win for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, when Manafort was convicted. He was convicted on various counts, five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, one count hiding foreign bank accounts from federal authorities. Next week, convicted of conspiracy to commit witness tampering, conspiracy to his illegal Ukrainian lobbying and money laundering.
What connection, if any, does this have with Mueller's Russian probe?
HENNESSEY: We don't know yet. I think it's a win for the special counsel's office in that this is not a witch hunt. They found real significant crimes and individuals are going to spend a lot of jail time.
That said, there are still a lot of unanswered questions here and particularly a lot of unanswered questions related to Manafort's contact with Russians.
Why did he reportedly hand over this polling data?
Was he actually this tie between the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign?
So I think one sort of concern here is that maybe this sentencing is an indication that ultimately the special counsel's office didn't get to --
HENNESSEY: -- the bottom of everything. They found lots of criminal activity. They were even able to prove it in court. But they weren't ultimately able to answer all those questions.
One real question is whether or not this is a preview of what the ultimate Mueller report might look like. They're about to wrap up this investigation. This does sort of raise the question of whether or not they're in a position where they feel like they have the full story about what happened and they're prepared to tell Congress and the American people.
BLITZER: Susan, stand by. Shimon, stand by. We're awaiting the word from the federal judge on how many years in prison Paul Manafort will get.
Other important news we're watching right now. The powerful House Oversight Committee chairman, Democrat Elijah Cummings, said he warned ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen that he would nail him to the cross if he lied to Congress.
Now there are new very serious questions about Cohen's public testimony that he, quote, "never asked for a presidential pardon." Let's go to CNN's Kara Scannell.
Kara, conversations about a pardon for Cohen occurred more than once.
What are you learning about the extent of those discussions?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Multiple sources have told CNN that Michael Cohen's former attorney had more than one conversation with lawyers for the president about a pardon.
These conversations occurred before Michael Cohen's properties were raided, both before and after, during the time period they were operating under a joint defense agreement. Sources tell us one of these conversations occurred when Rudy Giuliani joined the legal team in 2018. He was briefed by Cohen's attorney, Steven Ryan.
During the conversation they talked about various ways this investigation could be resolved and during that conversation, sources tell us the issue of a pardon came up. Rudy Giuliani said he never offered anyone a pardon. He's pretty clear about that across the board.
Another time the prospect of a pardon came up was when Steven Ryan had met with and discussed with Jay Sekulow after Cohen's properties were raided. One source said it was more of a run of the mill conversation between attorneys. But the prospect of a pardon did come up.
Sekulow is very clear in denying that he has had any discussions directly or indirectly with Cohen's team about a pardon. And a third time that Michael Cohen told Congress that he had conversations with lawyers who said they were close to Rudy Giuliani and could work with him in potentially securing a pardon.
I've reached one of those attorneys. He has called this account inaccurate. He says if Michael Cohen would waive privilege, he would describe why this is inaccurate but he also said that his conversations with Cohen occurred before Rudy Giuliani joined the legal team.
It came up because one of his law partners serves on the Manhattan school board with Michael Cohen. So there's a lot of dispute and discrepancy over the content of the conversations, how seriously a pardon was being discussed.
But it seems that everyone agrees that during these conversations how the case may play out and be resolved, at various times the prospect of a pardon was raised -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Susan, I want to make sure that everybody understands what Cohen precisely said under oath, publicly, before Congress last week. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I have never asked for, nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That sounds pretty blunt to me.
HENNESSEY: It certainly is an unequivocal statement. We don't have quite enough information about the nature of these discussions to say whether or not that was a lie to Congress, sort of in the legal perjury sense.
That does touch on this issue, ongoing issue of Michael Cohen's credibility. He really needed to come in and be as credible, honest and forthright as possible not just for his own sake but for the sake of any prosecutor that's interested in relying on his testimony into the future.
Whenever you make that kind of unequivocal statement, I never asked for a pardon, I wouldn't accept one, certainly what we're hearing now raises questions about whether or not he skirted the line, depending upon how much he knew about what his lawyers were doing.
Ultimately, though, the most legally significant piece here is not what Cohen said to Congress. It's how the president responded, whether or not the president did effectively dangle a pardon to Cohen for not cooperating with prosecutors.
What would be the problem if the president's lawyers did dangle a pardon in front of Cohen?
HENICAN: You potentially have an issue of obstruction of justice. The president has the power to pardon individuals. But if he offered or suggested that he would pardon someone in exchange for them not providing truthful testimony against him, that potentially does go to sort of this course of conduct.
One thing to keep in mind, we're really focused on what Trump's lawyers may have done in private. We've seen the president do this openly. He contemplated, saying he wouldn't take a pardon off the table for Paul Manafort and he has praised individuals --
HENNESSEY: -- on Twitter for staying strong and not cooperating with prosecutors. He suggested he might pardon Michael Flynn. So these questions, both legal and also political, have been out in the open for a very long time.
BLITZER: Kara, if that were not enough, there's more. Now we are learning that Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for nearly $2 million because the Trump Organization didn't pay legal fees. Tell us about that.
SCANNELL: That's right. Michael Cohen filed the lawsuit today in New York, saying that the Trump Organization breached their agreement to indemnify him of legal fees and expenses he would incur for his work at the Trump Organization, which he says included the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal as well as the preparation for investigations and the Mueller investigation.
Cohen alleges this agreement was struck in July 2017 as these investigations were going underway. Then when it came time to -- when Michael Cohen's document review after his raid was being finalized, that the Trump Organization just stopped paying those legal fees.
And Cohen is alleging that's because he was switching lawyers and was going to start the path to cooperate with prosecutors. He's saying he was entitled to still be covered because he was working under this agreement with the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization has declined to comment. But people familiar
with the Trump camp's thinking says that Michael Cohen was being investigated for a host of crimes that he ultimately pled guilty to that had nothing at all to do with his work on the campaign, including lying to a bank and tax fraud.
And it also said it would be inappropriate for the Trump Organization to pay his legal fees once he began cooperating.
BLITZER: Kara, I want to make sure to get back to you.
Susan, stand by as well.
Joining us now, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the intelligence and Oversight Committees.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CALIF.), MEMBER, OVERSIGHT AND INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We could learn Paul Manafort's sentence in the Virginia case any moment now. If we get that word, of course, we'll interrupt this interview. Let's talk about what's going on, T.S. Elliott (sic), the federal judge, he reiterated these crimes are not related to collusion with Russia.
What does that tell you?
Well, what Manafort has been charged and convicted of is common, garden variety tax evasion, financial fraud and we still don't know to what extent Mueller, the special counsel, has determined that he was engaged in any kind of effort to undermine the election. We won't know that until the report comes out.
The federal judge T.S. Ellis, I should note. Manafort is facing up to potentially 25 years in prison. Manafort served as the Trump campaign chairman.
How will this reflect on the president?
SPEIER: The real question is, is the president going to pardon him?
He certainly has dangled that pardon in front of Mr. Manafort and I'm sure Mr. Manafort is holding out hope that he will receive that.
BLITZER: There are other developments unfolding right now, involving Michael Cohen. You had a chance to question Cohen publicly when he appeared before the Oversight Committee last week. You also heard his testimony behind closed doors when you were there for his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.
When Cohen testified that he never asked for a pardon from President Trump, was that a lie?
SPEIER: So it's all in the interpretation. Did he ever ask Donald Trump personally for a pardon?
I don't know that we can answer that question at this point in time. Whether or not his attorneys engaged in negotiations with Donald Trump's attorneys is something that will certainly come out in the transcript.
But there's no question that, again, the president was dangling a pardon to Michael Cohen. What's more interesting about this particular dangle is the fact that he had already lied for the president. He had already taken a couple of bullets for the president, so to speak, by paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and creating this LLC, getting a home loan in order to do it.
So he has lied a number of times for the president and is the president then dangling a pardon?
That is, in fact, suborning perjury; that is, in fact, obstructing justice.
BLITZER: The chair of your Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, says he's studying the transcript of Cohen's testimony.
If you do find that Cohen perjured himself, what do you do next?
What would that mean?
SPEIER: He would be in contempt of Congress, much like others who have lied to Congress. They could be subject to any action, much like Michael Cohen lied to Congress in terms of the Intelligence Committee and that was used by special counsel --
SPEIER: -- Mueller to charge him. In this particular case, though, there appears to be a real interest on the part of Michael Cohen to cooperate in every way.
He said it over and over again to the House Intelligence Committee members and staff, if you want more information, I'll get more information. I'm happy to share it with you.
I think from his perspective, he is attempting to walk the straight and narrow. And it's all going to be in the interpretation of whether or not his attorney made the request or whether he made the request. He's probably speaking from the position of him making a request to the president of the United States.
BLITZER: You and your colleagues on the two committees and staff spent hours questioning Michael Cohen and his claims.
Does this new information, potentially of whether he perjured himself cast a shadow over that and his testimony?
SPEIER: Once the transcript becomes public and documents become public, there will be new revelations that will be, frankly, as explosive if not more so, than what we heard in the open hearing. BLITZER: Can you give us a little headline?
SPEIER: I can't.
BLITZER: What you're referring to?
SPEIER: No, I can't. But it's going to become public rather soon. So you'll have the benefit of it. But it is fairly compelling in my review.
BLITZER: When do you think the transcripts will be made available?
SPEIER: Probably within the next three weeks to a month.
BLITZER: We will look forward to reading those transcripts.
As you know, the House Intelligence Committee, chairman Adam Schiff and Cohen himself, by the way, they said Cohen's cooperation will continue. He is supposed to begin his three-year prison sentence in May.
Will you ask him potentially to come back and answer more questions?
SPEIER: There is conceivably an opportunity to do that. He was cooperative. He has said that he would provide any additional information that the committee wants. So we'll see if it's necessary.
BLITZER: In the public hearing last week, you asked Cohen -- I reread the transcript of that; that was public -- which attorneys reviewed and edited his previous false testimony. One of the reason he's going to jail for three years is he lied under oath before Congress.
He told you that Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney, and Abbe Lowell, a private attorney representing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, he mentioned those two names specifically.
Do you understand if they make any substantive changes, those two attorneys to what he said before Congress?
SPEIER: That will become very clear once the transcript becomes public, Wolf. That's all I can say.
BLITZER: You're giving us a hint maybe there's something there.
Is that what I'm hearing?
SPEIER: I'm not giving you any hints. I'm just telling you what I'm able to tell you at this time.
BLITZER: I understand. You have strict guidelines of what you can and can't say.
Is the House Intelligence Committee still planning on having Felix Sater, that Russian American business associate of President Trump's, testify publicly next week or have those plans changed? SPEIER: I know that we want to have Felix Sater return and testify before the committee. I certainly would like to see it public. I would like to see more of these interviews made public because the American public has a right to know.
I think it's very informative and it's an opportunity for the public to make their own judgments on these cases.
BLITZER: Some good stuff to think about. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you so much for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta has some breaking news for us.
What are you learning?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Getting back to this discussion you were just having about Michael Cohen's testimony and whether or not he had been dangled a pardon by the president's legal team.
I talked to an administration official this afternoon who said that the Department of Justice may have to take a hard look at whether Cohen perjured himself when he said in that testimony he had not been in discussions with the president's legal team about some kind of pardon.
This official said it was a, quote, "weird thing to lie about" under oath in front of lawmakers, given that it was widely understood inside the president's legal team that Giuliani had been fielding requests from various attorneys seeking pardons in the Russia investigation.
This official went on to say that people inside the White House could not believe their ears when they heard Michael Cohen make this comment on TV, as this official said, "on TV with his hand in the air."
So that is an initial read over here at the White House. Obviously, they take a dim view of Michael Cohen. You heard the president refer to him as a rat. You heard the president's supporters refer to him as a liar.
So it's not too surprising to hear administration officials say that. But to hear an administration official say perhaps the Department of Justice may have to take a hard look as to whether or not Michael Cohen --
ACOSTA: -- may have perjured himself, that sounds pretty serious.
We were in the Oval Office earlier today when the president was meeting with the Czech prime minister Babis in the Oval Office. We had a brief moment to ask the president some questions and at that moment I asked the president whether or not his legal team had been in discussions with Michael Cohen's legal team about a pardon. Here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, any talk of pardons between your representatives, your lawyers, and Michael Cohen's legal team?
TRUMP: Thank you all very much.
ACOSTA: Will there be any pardons?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So there you see it, Wolf. The president did not want to take that question. He moved on to another reporter and pretended as if he didn't really hear the question when, in fact, you could tell he heard the question.
But Wolf, getting back to what we were just saying a few moments ago, I think it is rather significant that an administration official is saying that the Justice Department may have to examine what Michael Cohen said last week.
You were playing that clip a few moments ago. As the congresswoman was saying, maybe you have to parse exactly what Michael Cohen said to find out if he perjured himself or was not telling the full truth to lawmakers. But the administration, the White House is taking a hard look at that and wondering whether or not Michael Cohen may have, indeed, perjured himself.
BLITZER: From the conversations I've had, they say he perjured himself when he said under oath that he never sought a job in the new administration.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BLITZER: That's a second count of potentially perjury. They want that investigated.
Is that what you're hearing as well?
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. This official said that as well. The official said that the president's legal team, that people here at the White House, find it odd that Michael Cohen has made a couple of comments now that are just not in line with the facts and that are easily verifiable.
I remember, you know, during the transition period, when it was widely known that Michael Cohen wanted a job in the Trump administration and, when it didn't happen, he didn't feel very good about that. And that was widely known.
So It was odd to hear Michael Cohen say something to the opposite effect. And as for Michael Cohen saying last week, in front of the cameras, after raising his hand and swearing to tell the truth under oath to that committee, you don't have to be a Trump supporter to wonder why the president's personal attorney would do something like that when he has already been in hot water for lying to Congress, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta, I want to get back to you shortly. Stand by.
We've got a lot of breaking news unfolding right now. We're awaiting the decision by the federal judge in Northern Virginia on a sentencing for Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman. Looking at live pictures. That should be coming down fairly soon. Much more on the breaking news, right after this.
WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: We're following a breaking news. An administration official tells CNN that the Justice Department may be looking into whether Michael Cohen perjured himself when he claimed he never asked the President for a pardon. Also tonight, President Manafort - Paul Manafort, I should say, is about to learn his fate any minute now. A federal judge will hand down a sentence to the former Trump campaign chairman who was convicted last year on multiple banking and tax crimes. Let's get right to our experts for more analysis.
And Laura, prosecutors have agreed that potentially he could get a sentence of, what, between 19 and 25 years in prison. The Judge says Manafort will not - this is what the Judge said today, "Will not get credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes." Does that give us a sense of what we should anticipate how many years the 69-year-old Manafort is about to turn 70 will get.
LAURA JARETT, JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: Well, this Judge is hard to predict. Judge Ellis is a colorful character. As we remember, he's gone after the prosecutors in this case pretty hard, especially in the early days sort of suggesting that they were trying to put the squeeze on Manafort as a way to get to the President.
On other times he said that this case is on solid footing and just a short time ago, according to the people who are in the courtroom for us, he talked about how he has been sending a message of deterrence in the past with other prior defendants, not in Manafort's case. But he said in England they hung pickpockets.
So in one way, he's probably just mouthing off but on the other hand he may throw the book at him and I don't expect that he will actually sentence him to 25 years. I think that would be pretty harsh in this case, but we may see him sort of split the baby somewhere in the 10 to 12 range.
BLITZER: Yes, that's what a lot of people anticipate. Chris, they argued, prosecutors, that Manafort showed little remorse for his crimes, lied under oath even after promising to cooperate as part of some sort of plea deal. How does that go over?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN: Well, out of all the people that have fallen under Bob Mueller-SDNY combination, Manafort has been the one who is the least willing to play ball. He was the one - Rick Gates, Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, they all set plea deals.
He didn't. It went to a jury trial. He was convicted of eight counts in that jury trial. Then, when the second trial was coming up last fall, he makes a plea agreement that he then breaks. I mean if you're, forget being a judge, if you're just a rational human being and you look at this pattern of behavior, particularly when you consider what Manafort is alleged to have done in vis-a-vis the Ukrainians, there's not a lot of remorse or he saw the error of his ways, it's just kind of a guy who continues to think, "Well, those laws don't apply to me." Even when he has been convicted and cuts a plea deal with the Special Counsel, he's repeatedly caught -
I don't know. I differ to Laura on what years he gets, but you can see how this is - he does not paint a sympathetic figure at the moment.
BLITZER: We haven't heard from Manafort. We might, Bianna, hear from him today, asking the judge for a leniency. That would be the normal course in a sentencing hearing like this. He's convicted of all of these crimes but nothing apparently to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, so what does that mean?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, it's something that the Judge reiterated today and interestingly enough it's something that the President has reiterated in the past and will likely reiterate once we hear the sentencing as well. Look, I agree with Chris, he's one of the least sympathetic figures we've seen throughout the past couple of years.
His demeanor in the court today, a far cry from the man that we knew very smug and self-confident, always on television, always conducting interviews, today apparently coming into the courtroom in a wheelchair, looking frail. And if we do hear from him many would say it's a little too late, because he had an opportunity. He did cooperate, had an opportunity to cooperate with the prosecution as well and with the Mueller team and not only did he delay that cooperation, but it turns out he lied as well.
And look at the characterization that Mueller's team made about him, that he was one of the smuggest people they had encountered in years. And despite the fact there may not have been any collusion with regards to the Trump campaign, when you talk about his character, I mean, look at the past couple of decades, you've got everything from fraud to money laundering. I mean, you can have an entire list of everything this man is accused of. None of it is good and none of it is redeeming.
BLITZER: It's interesting, Philip, I'm anxious to get your thoughts. He's about to turn 70. He's not in great health right now by all accounts. He spent the last nine months in jail awaiting sentencing. A lot of that time in solitary confinement. What kind of role will that play? PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: He's done. I'll
explain, but he's done. Let me explain why. The backdrop before I get to health, et cetera, is he violated probation. He violated his cooperation agreement with the Special Counsel and he forced a trial in a case that's open-and-shut.
If I was the judge I'm like, "Why did we do that? The documents prove you're guilty." On this issue of age and health, let me point out two things. He's 69, soon to turn 70. He's not 89. He's not about ready to die. His health is not terminal cancer. I think he's got gout and he doesn't like the food in prison or something.
So I think if you're looking for the sympathy vote, if you're going either to what he did or to things like health and age, I don't think it's going to work. He's done.
BLITZER: Everybody stand by for a moment, we got some more breaking news coming out of the House of Representatives where a resolution has just passed condemning anti-semitism and other forms of bigotry and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had struggled to contain the fallout from comments made by the freshman lawmaker Democrat Ilhan Omar. Our Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty has been tracking the controversy. So give us the very latest, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Wolf, this resolution just passed in the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote of 407 to 23, one person voting present. Notably here no Democrats voted against this resolution including Ilhan Omar. She voted for this resolution. She, the person, that really sparked this controversy and sparked this resolution from needing to be written in the first place.
Twenty-three Republicans voted against this. Many Republicans we heard going into this vote took the floor or during time of debate and said that they felt that this resolution was too broad. The way it was rewritten and certainly had been rewritten many ways over the last few days. They felt that it covered too much ground that they would have, they say, have it preferred to - have it focus just on opposing anti-semitism.
This resolution really did merge to not necessarily focused on anti- semitism specifically, but far broader, anti hate in general, calling out anti-semitism, anti-Islamophobia and anti-white supremacy. And that certainly a product at the end of the day that Nancy Pelosi felt the pressure to do, felt the pressure after there were so much consternation, so much concern. A bitter battle over the last 48 hours within her Democratic caucus.
Those who felt like this anti-semitic resolution as it stood two days ago singled out Ilhan Omar too much and they pushed Nancy Pelosi to make these changes and the changes in the end meant that this did pass on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. But certainly House Democratic leadership, Wolf, will have to recover from the battle that really highlighted the very deep divides within their caucus right now. BLITZER: Well, what does it say, Sunlen, about the deep divides
between the establishment Democratic leadership Nancy Pelosi and the other top leaders in the House of Representatives versus some of the newcomers who are just arriving in Washington?
SERFATY: It shows, Wolf, that they potentially will have to stumble and will hit these problems going forward too. This wasn't necessarily just only about allegations of anti-semitism.
It was about the power that this new wing of the Democratic Party especially over in the House has. The fact that we heard from many House freshmen speaking up and coming to the defense of their friend and colleague Ilhan Omar and that was able to push the so-called old guard up here on Capitol Hill, so it will be such a fascinating dynamic to watch as the days, and weeks, and months go on with this new freshman class.
BLITZER: Well, the resolution and it's a lengthy resolution, it's got a lot of details in there. We've all gone through it overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives. Let me get Chris Cillizza's reaction.
CILLIZZA: Yes. First of all, I think someone, excuse me, someone hit it right. What this is, putting aside the mishegoss of the back-and- forth of this past week, what this speaks to is the changing contours of the Democratic Party, both in Congress and more broadly nationally. This is a fight that will happen on the Presidential level as well. What you saw was what seemed to Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders to be relatively straightforward.
Ilhan Omar who has made comments in the past at Aipac Israeli group that they seem to think was anti-semitic.
CILLIZZA: Pro-Israel. Eliot Engel, prominent Jewish member of Congress had the Foreign Relations Committee comes out and says, "She should apologize." OK, so Nancy Pelosi thinks, "OK, well, we're operating on the way things usually work. Let's draft a resolution so we condemn this." Except she didn't calculate for the fact that the party is changing. These younger members, we talk a lot about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but there's many others.
They don't play by those same rules of the sit back, do what the leadership tells you. Don't really speak your mind. Kind of wait and see. You don't want to get in trouble because then you won't move up the seniority ladder. So this conflict is born of a - rare, I should say, a rare miscalculation by Nancy Pelosi who I think is one of the most gifted politicians of her generation, at least, of what this Democratic Party is willing to say and do and fight for.
This is someone made it right. This is not an isolated incident. This may be forgotten. There will be other things like this in the future. And to be honest, they wasted a week that they were hoping to talk about the fact that the Senate is going to pass a resolution that says they disapprove of Donald Trump's border wall.
The Republican-controlled Senate and what they're going to do tomorrow which is pass the House, which is pass an ethics package, and a campaign finance reform package. We're going to talk to anything about that. We spent the whole week on this thing.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of the Democratic leaders were complaining about the media. Some of them even sounding like Donald Trump complaining about the media in this particular case. Bianna, what do you think?
GOLODRYGA: Look, I agree. I think this was some attention that the Democratic Party did not see coming and did not necessarily seek as well. There had been a lot of what aboutisms, look at what the President has said, look at what other Republican Members of Congress have said in the past sort of to deflect off of what the issue at hand was.
But the White House and I think a lot of Republicans were able to use this opportunity to highlight the increasing divide that you do see amongst Congress and the sort of older generation of Democratic congressmen and the new the new freshman congressman. I think for Nancy Pelosi and leadership, their goal now is to make this a one-off and move forward. It's TBD to see if this conversation continues and if other comments are made similar to those that sparked this entire debate.
BLITZER: It's an important - Philip, I want to get your reaction too.
MUDD: Didn't we see this in the last election where an older insurgent, that is Bernie Sanders, says, "Let me pull the party out." It hurts the party, because it divides them against the worst candidate in history. Now, we have new insurgents saying, "Hey, we're going into election where we need to be unified maybe around a moderate candidate, Joe Biden, but let's see if we can separate the party."
Again, this isn't the first time this happened. We just saw people go after Joe Biden for saying, "Mike Pence is a decent guy." And insurgents including from New York say, "You can't say the Vice President is a decent guy." If they don't figure out that as the Democrats how to solve this, I'm looking at the last election 2016 and saying, "I think we just did this."
SUSAN HENNESSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: But part of challenge that policy has is not just addressing legitimate disagreement, good-faith disagreement within her own party itself a really, really monumental task. She also has to figure out how to address those concerns while not allowing the other side to exploit and exacerbate those both in good and bad faith.
And so I think this is one of the things that we're seeing as sort of the original - this very rare misstep on Pelosi's part is that she still thinks that she's dealing with her party. She hasn't yet figured out how exactly to address some of this criticism that's coming from the other side that's not so much about substance and more about sort of twisting them. CILLIZZA: In which by the way the reason for the timing of this, the
reason that it was - number one, they said they were going to do something so they had to do something. I mean that resolution has written, Wolf, really covers - it essentially says, "Do you like good things and not like bad things?" I mean, effectively.
And number two to Susan's point, there was an effort by Republicans to say, "Hey, Wolf, we got a resolution we can introduce to try to further divide the Democratic Party up," and say - well, like take advantage of that little hole that they have been given. So, again, the majority is something every politician wants but can be a very much a double-edged sword and that to win it you need a broad party with lots of victories across the ideological spectrum.
The problem is if you get those victories you have a lot of members across a very broad ideological spectrum.
BLITZER: And the resolution - go ahead, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: I was just going to say Speaker Pelosi tried her best at presenting a united front today and hoping to put this issue to rest. But as we know maybe it's one of the reasons that Democrats were frustrated with media this week as well because you continue to hear what was happening behind closed doors and things got very heated.
One anecdote that stood out to me was one Congress member who said, "Everybody stay off of Twitter." That is sort of the best way to avoid situations like this going forward. So the big question is, "Will this continue?"
BLITZER: And this resolution not only condemned the anti-semitism, it condemned anti-Muslim discrimination, all forms of bigotry. I'll read the first sentence just to give you a sense, but it's a very long resolution.
"Condemning anti-semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the value and aspirations of the United States." And then it goes on to explain. That's why more than 400 of the 435 members of the House voted in favor of this resolution.
Getting back to - we're waiting for the sentencing of Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman. He's about to learn if he's going to have five, 10, 15, 20 years in jail for the various crimes that he was convicted of in Northern Virginia. This is the question, I'm curious, because a lot of people have asked me if he had not become Donald Trump's campaign chairman, if he had not gone to work during the campaign for the Trump campaign, would any of this be happening right now? Did he bring this upon himself by becoming so public?
HENNESSEY: So I think that there's absolutely no question that had Paul Manafort not decided to become Donald Trump's campaign manager, he would not be in federal court right now. That's different than saying that this is the product of sort of a politically motivated witch-hunt that he was targeted because of that behavior.
It appears that Paul Manafort sort of joined the campaign as part of a desperation move. He was really in desperate financial straits. He wanted to use his connection to the campaign in order to help him sort of rehabilitate that set of debts. What he did though was drew a lot of attention on himself, a lot of focus. Prosecutors can't investigate or charge every single crime that everybody is up to.
They certainly couldn't even do it just was in Washington, D.C., the sort of the drain the swamp. There is some element of truth to that. So by sort of getting - drawing the spotlight to himself, drawing this attention Paul Manafort really put himself in that courtroom.
BLITZER: Because Laura it looks like maybe the biggest mistake he made in his life was going to work for the Trump campaign.
JARETT: Well, and there's still so many open questions as Susan has said many times about how this fits into the larger story of potential collusion that Mueller was supposed to be investigating between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Remember, Manafort was one of the original four.
When the FBI first opened its counterintelligence probe way back during the campaign, Manafort was at the heart of that. He continued to be the - obviously, all of those cases then get funneled over to Mueller. But we still don't know why was he sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik.
That still hasn't been answered even the court papers today are oftentimes redacted. Why are they still redacted? What part of this is still ongoing if anything having to do with questions of a conspiracy, a larger conspiracy that's at the heart of the probe?
BLITZER: Phil, you used to work at the FBI. Would the FBI and the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney have gone after Paul Manafort if he had not become the chairman of the Trump campaign?
MUDD: If they had seen evidence of a crime they would have. But I think this is the factor that if you're the lawyers for Manafort that wins with the Judge. It's not going to be his age. It's not going to be his health. It's certainly not going to be remorse. The guy lied from day one, continue to lie and on the final days as well now I kind of feel sorry.
The issue of the Judge saying I'm not sure this investigation would have been this aggressive if you hadn't been in the campaign. I think that might help him get a few years off, but I still think that he's getting seven, eight, 10, 12 years. He is not going to be out for a while.
CALLIZZA: And just one other thing, I mean, I remember writing these stories, I remember reading these stories, anyone who followed politics in sort of the broader political rule than Washington, the day that Paul Manafort got hired, when I was at the Washington Post at the time, I know CNN covered it this, anyone who was in Washington knew that Paul Manafort was never the leading advocate of good government practice.
CALLIZZA: I mean, he was someone who had lobbied for foreign countries. Now, did we know the extent of it? No, but even the most basic Google search would have produced stories about Paul Manafort that might ...
BLITZER: That's a good point. And Bianna, I just want to point out that he was making huge, huge mistakes his entire career by lying, and cheating and stealing.
GOLODRYGA: That's right. Let's not lose sight of really solid investigative reporting. Remember, it was the New York Times' bombshell, the summer of 2016, when we got word that there were ledgers found in Ukraine that sort of connected the dots to his work for Yanukovych or obviously the pro-Russia and Ukrainian President. And then, that's when things started to really fall apart for him.
The Trump Organization, the Trump campaign had no other choice but to make sure that he left as campaign chairman and from there things really unraveled. So I think it's - people investigating him at getting word of his years working overseas for some corrupt administrations and governments that really started his downfall and it landed him where he is today.
BLITZER: And let's not forget in addition to years in jail, he's going to be fined millions and millions of dollars, not that he has millions and millions of dollars. That's going to be a part of the sentencing as well. We have a lot more on the Breaking News right after this.
We're tracking multiple breaking stories, the sentencing for former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, could come at any moment. Also, the Justice Department may look into whether Michael Cohen perjured himself during congressional testimony. I will have more on those stories in just a moment. But first National Security Advisor John Bolton says President Trump is still open to talking with Kim Jong-Un, but right now the United States is keeping a very close eye on North Korea's missile and nuclear activity which the President today once again called disappointing. CNN's Will Ripley is joining us from Beijing. Will, what's the latest?
WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Wolf, a Senior State Department official despite all of the setbacks recently is still expressing optimism that North Korea could denuclearize within President Trump's first term. But we also know the United States will seek clarification about new information about activity at North Korean missile sites.
RIPLEY(off-camera): Growing questions about North Korea's nuclear and missile program in the wake of last week's failed summit in Vietnam. A South Korean lawmaker tells CNN spy agency NIS is tracking increased movements of transport vehicles around a North Korean missile site. Work is underway to rebuild a launch pad and missile engine test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch facility. And what sources say may have derailed talks in Hanoi, a secret uranium enrichment plant just outside Pyongyang.
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: So it's not surprising to me that we see evidence of them continuing with their nuclear or and/or missile program. That is the way they generate leverage.
RIPLEY: Analysts say the North Koreans may be looking for leverage after President Trump walked out of his Hanoi summit with Chairman Kim Jong-Un something regular North Koreans will never even know. They'll never see this empty table from a working lunch called off, never hear these words from President Trump are not reaching a deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Sometimes you have to walk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: Instead, regular North Koreans see this, a carefully edited state T.V. documentary from comrade Kim's triumphant arrival on a bulletproof train to huge crowds lining the streets for a glimpse of his motorcade. Even the moment President Trump called a friendly walk, as far as most North Koreans know it was.
But sources tell CNN Kim's team made a last-ditch attempt to strike a deal with the U.S. offering to dismantle their entire Yongbyon Nuclear Complex in exchange for partial lifting of sanctions just before Trump walked out.
North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-Hui later issued this sharp warning that the U.S. missed a once in a thousand-year opportunity and her chairman may have lost the will to negotiate. A message sources say came directly from Kim himself. But you'd never know any of it watching North Korean T.V. despite the summit's abrupt and humiliating end.
And even as the Trump administration warns of more sanctions if North Korea fails to denuclearize, they're also leaving the door open for a third summit.
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The President is obviously open to talking again. We'll see when that might be scheduled or how it would work out. But he thinks the deal is there if North Korea is prepared to look at the big picture.
RIPLEY: A big picture the U.S. says must not include provocative or threatening behavior.
RIPLEY: It's pretty telling, Wolf, that North Korean documentary was almost 80 minutes long but they only spent about 10 minutes on the meeting with President Trump. A sign of perhaps just how dissatisfied the North Koreans were with the outcome or lack thereof.
BLITZER: Good point. Will Ripley, thank you. Coming up, breaking news, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appears in a federal courtroom to face sentencing for his conviction on tax and banking crimes. Will he spend the rest of his life in prison?