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Ex-Trump Campaign Chief Faces Second Sentencing; Group of GOP Senators Pushing Proposal That Would Limit Future National Emergency Declarations, Trump Headed For Clash With Congress Over 2020 Budget; Interview With Rep. Tom Reed. Aired 10-10:30 ET

Aired March 13, 2019 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Thank you for being on it for us.

[10:00:01]

It is truly significant.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes.

Top of the hour here, and it is a busy one. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

Breaking news right now. In Washington, the first person to be indicted by the Special Counsel is in his second and final sentencing hearing. Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump presidential campaign, former top dollar lobbyist foreign autocrats, could get as much as ten years in prison for conspiring against the United States and conspiring to tamper with witnesses.

SCIUTTO: We're getting a lot of new information out of the courtroom as those proceedings are underway right now, Manafort facing the judge in this case. You know, it's Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz. They are at the D.C. federal courthouse. We've been hearing some interesting statements and meaningful statements from the judge in the last few minutes. Tell us what you're hearing and why it's important.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So there's a lot going on inside court right now. The prosecutors have spoken, the judge has talked and Manafort's attorneys have talked. And they're arguing obviously that Manafort should get some sort of credit for pleading guilty for admitting that he did what he did. Obviously, there are issues because he lied during his cooperation agreement.

And what we're learning from our reporters inside in the court is that the judge has said that Manafort has met his burden and has given him some credit for pleading and giving sworn admission court. This is for his pleading guilty. How will all this wind up in the end? We still don't know. But, obviously, the fact that the judge here is saying, okay, I'm going to give you some credit for this, could help in lightening the sentence that Paul Manafort will eventually get here. PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's really been a key focus, this idea of whether he has accepted personal responsibility. Mueller's prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann has argued that, no, he hasn't accepted responsibility, he has lied, also emphasizing that even though Manafort argued he was not the leader of the conspiracy, that in fact he was. And so you're hearing from both defense and prosecutors in this case.

Just to sort of paint a picture of what's going on inside again to reset [ph] for our viewers, Paul Manafort arrived today in a wheelchair. He was wearing a suit, unlike last week when we saw him in prison scrubs. And our producer, Katelyn Polantz, says that he looks thinner and he looks gray.

PROKUPECZ: A much different view from what many folks who have not seen Paul Manafort publicly. You know, he wears these nice suits, was always clean cut, wore nice ties. He is wearing a suit today. He is a wearing purple tie. But she did notice how thin he looked and how gray his hair was. So we're getting some color.

But sitting, the prosecutor was talking, Andrew Weissman was laying out their argument. He just looked straight. Katelyn Polantz is saying that he just looks straight. He didn't look at the prosecutor. Paul Manafort did not look at the prosecutor as he was speaking, laying out, essentially saying that Paul Manafort has lied and the judge should take that into consideration.

BROWN: And just the big picture, you know, this is someone who was the Trump campaign chairman. And just to think about the fall from grace from when he was the campaign chairman to now, as he faces his final sentencing, this really caps it all off today and we'll be looking to see what the judge does. She has a maximum of ten years that she can sentence him to. Will she stack on any years to the four years he's already been given or will they run concurrent? That's one of the things we're looking for.

PROKUPECZ: I think it's also important to make the point, Pam, that this is really the last -- perhaps the last big argument that we're going to see from the Special Counsel's office about their case, about this two-year, what, like two-year investigation. This is the last time that we're going to hear them speak in court. And what this means for them, keep in mind that Paul Manafort was the center, was really the center of this investigation for quite some time. This is now coming to an end. And hearing from prosecutors in court, you can sense that they know the meaning of this and what this means for them and really for this entire investigation now as it comes to an end.

BROWN: Katelyn Polantz, our our producer inside said, actually, Andrew Weissman seemed a little bit nervous for the first time. She noticed because prosecutors know how high the stakes are. This is one of the most high profile investigations of the Mueller probe. And, of course, Mueller's -- Manafort's, rather, attorneys have argued, look, these charges have nothing to do with Russian collusion. We'll probably hear more of the same today. Back to you.

HARLOW: Those are really good points, Pamela and Shimon. We appreciate it. And, of course, Michael Flynn, Mueller's team also wants to also sentence Michael Flynn. He doesn't want it yet. But, again, sort of the culmination and what this means for the bigger picture here.

Jennifer, to you. Today's judge in this sentencing, Amy Berman- Jackson, very different from T.S. Ellis.

[10:05:00]

And she did say at the outset here that this is not a revision of what another court did. Clearly, that's pointing to the pretty low sentence that Ellis handed down last week. So what do you expect today from Manafort?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think she is being very business-like about this. You know, she has things she has to do. She has to go through all of the calculations for the sentencing guideline.

HARLOW: Can I just -- I'm sorry to jump in, but this is germane to what you're answering. So I'm just hearing in my ear that the judge, Judge Jackson, is going to let both sides argue before her right now what they think the sentence should be.

RODGERS: That's right. So the judge goes through the guidelines and makes the formal calculation that the court will be using. Then she lets each side speak to whatever they want to be, what the sentence ought to be and why. And then she will turn to the defendant himself, Paul Manafort, and ask him whether he wants to address the court. I expect he will. Defendants almost always do, as he did last week. He may not actually apologize or express remorse, per se, but he'll probably talk about how hard this has all been on him and his family and ask for a low sentence. So that's the procedure that the judge will go through.

She's being very efficient about it. She's moving quickly. I think she's a bit more nonsense -- no nonsense than we saw last week. But it sounds like she's going through her paces and then she'll make her decision. And it's a holistic exercise in a lot of ways. She has to set the guideline's range. But, ultimately, she has pick a number that she feels comports with everything that she's heard in the case.

And so the when the parties talk about should he get acceptance of responsibility or not, it matters to whether he actually technically gets the three points off of the guidelines calculation. But it's really more than that because that's really what goes into what she thinks is the appropriate sentence here overall.

SCIUTTO: Well, this brings up the question of cooperating some of the time, right, or telling the truth some of the time. Because with Michael Cohen, for instance, in New York, prosecutors here were brutal on him, I mean, he cooperated on some things but didn't on others. And they said, not good enough. With Paul Manafort, does the court view partial cooperation as, at all, positive or do they demand you've got to be an open book here, you've got to be cooperating all the time? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think we have to remember that the judges constitute a separate branch of government in terms of this. They are not -- technically, they don't work with the prosecutors. And they can take into consideration cooperation. But, ultimately, of course, it's up to the judge. And prosecutors here have said that Manafort lied to them after he agreed to cooperate with them, which is really astounding because you don't plead guilty to a crime and then say, I'll cooperate, and then go in and tell lies. It looks horrible. So I think in this case, that will be held against Manafort.

We have to also remember that this is the case where Manafort allegedly threatened a witness or tried to tamper with a witness, and that's why he lost his bail. So he's engaged in some activities with respect to this case that he did not engage in allegedly before Ellis. So if she wants to go hard on him, she's got a lot of justification for it. I think, and I happen to agree with Jennifer, there will be a concurrent sentence handed down here but I think it will be a sentence that will add to the time he's doing. So, for instance, if she gives him six years to run concurrent with Ellis's sentence, he serves an extra two years.

So I think that's probably where you'll see this sentence fall. However, she could sentence him to ten years as well and say that that's going to --

SCIUTTO: We got surprised last week, and then always the possibility for surprise on the upside or the downside.

CALLAN: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: We understand that there are more details coming from inside that courtroom. And, keep in mind, you have the judge speaking, you have the lawyers for both prosecution and defense speaking. We have both Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown outside the courthouse there. What's the latest?

BROWN: Well, we're hearing from Judge Jackson and how she views Paul Manafort pleading guilty. And, basically, she, in one sense, gave Paul Manafort a small reprieve, saying he met his burden. She gives him credit for pleading guilty, but she also made clear that is not an example of his character or determination that he legally accepted responsibility isn't a judgment of character, she says. That will come later today during the hearing. Of course, we'll bring you updates on when that comes up.

But she said his acceptance of responsibility per her determination so far is not, in a quote, in a more existential and personal sense. So, basically, she is saying here that, yes, he did accept the responsibility by pleading guilty in a legal sense but that is not a reflection of his character, that will be visited later in the hearing.

PROKUPECZ: And that's going to probably be a big factor in her determination because as much as Paul Manafort did accept responsibility by pleading guilty. And, usually, this is something that judges take into consideration because the whole point of pleading guilty is so you can get less prison time. So that is something she's going to have to consider. But it's his activity after he pleaded guilty, that's something that is very different in this case than we see in most cases because of the lying to the FBI agents and the grand jury.

[10:10:05]

BROWN: Yes. She's basically saying, look, the lying, the witness tampering, that has undercut you pleading guilty, speaking to Paul Manafort. So she's saying that certainly is playing a role here. We'll keep you posted on any developments on that front.

HARLOW: All right, great reporting, guys. Thank you so much.

Dana Bash, to you on the politics of all of it. We all remember what the President said about after Paul Manafort after these charges came down. We remember what he said after the first sentencing a week ago. Sarah Sanders yesterday at the White House when asked about any potential pardon, where the President's head is on that for Manafort, said he'll make a decision when he's ready. What are you hearing about the White House stance on all of this?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's not a no at all and that's note worthy, as is the continued sort of refrain from Rudy Giuliani and other members of the President's legal team which Giuliani even told me again last night that they have said repeatedly to all of these lawyers of all of these characters, we're not discussing a pardon yet. We're not talking about it now.

And that's a very important thing to remember here. I mentioned earlier that it was certainly not an accident that Manafort's attorney came outside the courthouse last week after that 47-month sentence and made crystal clear that Paul Manafort was not found guilty of nor is he going to jail for collusion with Russians.

SCIUTTO: And a point the President we can expect to repeat. We're getting new details. It's happening as we speak from inside the courtroom. Shimon Prokupecz outside the D.C. federal courthouse. Shimon, what's the latest?

PROKUPECZ: So prosecutors are continuing to talk. Andrew Weissman, who has been the lead prosecutor on the Paul Manafort case, is explaining to the judge his argument, giving his argument on the sentence.

And just a couple of things I want to highlight that he has so far told the judge. He's saying that, quote, Mr. Manafort committed crimes that undermined our political process. They're talking about his work overseas, obviously, some of the things that he did here in the U.S. So they are highlighting going through how he was making his money.

But I think it was important to highlight here of how the Special Counsel views Mr. Manafort and they are describing that he committed crimes that undermines our political process. BROWN: And he also said that Manafort accepted money from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch, even though he wasn't one of the central figures in the case Konstantin Kilimnik was. They made a point of saying that, look, this is someone who illegally accepted money from Oleg Deripaska, this Russian oligarch. And the way he laundered money, his conspiracy against the U.S., the prosecutors are arguing undermines the political process.

And remember, in a previous filing, the prosecutors argued that Manafort and some of his alleged lies and aspects of his case goes to the heart of the Special Counsel's investigation. And the judge agreed with him on that even though he is not charged specifically with his work on the campaign.

PROKUPECZ: Here is just some more color from inside court, what the prosecutors are arguing. They're saying that Manafort had to make a choice. He decided to represent foreign governments instead of work for the U.S. government. Of course, this is what the prosecutors are saying. They're saying that secrecy was integral for Mr. Manafort, wanted to do for Ukraine. This is, again, going through his work for the Ukrainian government, obviously on behalf of the Russians.

So they're going through it all. They're laying out -- like I said earlier, I think this is going to be really their last chance. This is for the Special Counsel's office to tell the public what they have been doing these last few years and last year-and-a-half, two years of this investigation. And they're laying it out here. They're explaining exactly what they believe Paul Manafort was involved in.

BROWN: And remember, quickly, last week was a blow in many ways to the Special Counsel with the judge sentencing Manafort to around four years, much less than the 25 years that the Special Counsel had suggested. And so this really is a last ditch effort for the Special Counsel to make its case against Paul Manafort, this high profile investigation that's been nearly two years under Mueller. Back to you.

SCIUTTO: All right. Pamela, Shimon, thanks very much. And should know that folks will often say this case had nothing to do with anything Russia-related. Paul Manafort was working for, and getting millions of dollars, for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, lobbying, for instance, in D.C. to justify the jailing of a political opponent in Ukraine, justifying that to U.S. lawmakers. So these are not small things. They're not petty crimes. We're staying on top of all the developments as Manafort faces his second sentencing.

[10:15:00]

Plus, we're now learning just this morning that at least five pilots here in the U.S. have filed complaints about the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in recent months but airlines in the U.S. are still flying this plane. Dozens of them are in the air over the U.S. right now. What's going on?

HARLOW: And it's the largest scam of its kind ever prosecuted. A college bribery scheme that allegedly involved dozens of wealthy parents, Hollywood's elite and college administrators themselves. Now, a warrant is out for one actress's arrest while another actress is out on bond.

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HARLOW: All right. Right now, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is facing his second court sentencing. At any moment, the federal judge will hand down her sentence for him, which could be up to ten years in prison.

[10:20:02]

Also happening right now, a group of republican senators are making a last ditch effort to save the President from an embarrassing defeat in the Senate over his wall. Their idea, support the President on declaring a national emergency right now only if he agrees to support a bill that would curtail the President's power to declare future national emergencies and be checked by Congress.

With me now is Republican Congressman Tom Reed of New York, who has proposed a similar legislation on the House side. Good morning. Thank you for being here. On the Senate side, it is Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah who has proposed this measure. Let me read you what he wrote last night. Quote, if we don't want our President acting like a king, we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so. Do you share his concern?

REP. TOM REED (R), N.Y.: I absolutely do. That's why -- thanks, Poppy, for having me on. That's why we dropped this legislation in the House to recognize this is an institutional problem with Congress. Congress has given that authority away to the president.

Now, the President, even under the proposed reform that the Senator and I are looking to do, still has the ability to act in emergency action but it forces Congress to have to make a determination in each and every one of those declarations going forward.

HARLOW: Then why, Congressman, did you just recently vote against legislation to block the President from declaring this national emergency? I don't get it.

REED: Yes. Because, Poppy, I agree that there's a national emergency at our border. In future declarations, I am going to agree or disagree with that declaration by the President. But what happens now, and this is the problem, it gets caught up in politics because they pick and choose in Congress when they weigh in on a national emergency act.

HARLOW: So if you think it is a national emergency, then the legislation that you yourself proposed in the House that would allow Congress to check the President in that 60-day window wouldn't apply. I mean, I don't understand. It does seem like you're trying to have it both ways, Congressman. Respectfully, are you not?

REED: No, that's false because we would be able to determine whether or not that emergency is truly an emergency and would be required to make that determination, not like it is now where Congress can weigh in and doesn't have to weigh in. We have emergency declarations on the books from 30 years ago, Poppy. That is not the way to have emergencies dealt with in America.

And what we proposed is that, look, the President is going to have to act in emergencies, act at the border. But Congress within that 60- window has to agree with that. And if not, then that declaration ceases and that authority ends. If we do agree as part of Congress with the President, then that emergency declaration goes forward for a limited period of time.

HARLOW: Do you agree with Senator Mike Lee that the President is, quote, acting like a king?

REED: I believe any president that is unchecked with a co-equal branch in Congress is using authority that is way beyond what we --

HARLOW: So that would be -- is that a yes then in this situation where that legislation isn't in place to check the President on this one?

REED: I think any president would be using that authority and has used that authority way to beyond the checks and balances of the constitution. I'm going to label it characteristic. What I'm going to say is, we have an institutional problem in Congress and Congress has delegated that authority away to the President. We need to claw that back.

REED: All right. Let's talk about the budget, some bullet points from the Trump 2020 budget proposal. Again, it's just a proposal. But it shows where the priorities of this administration are, right, on spending. You've got this $8.6 billion request on the wall, you've got a 5% increase in defense spending. But look at some of these cuts, big cuts to Medicare or big cuts to Medicaid, cuts to snack, food stamps, cuts to housing aide.

Here is the President running in 2015. And I quote his Tweet, I was the first and only potentially GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Did he mislead the American people?

REED: No. Wait, what the budget is proposing is getting healthcare costs under control in Medicare and Medicaid going forward. And we can't have that conversation without labeling it misleading or some type of political bump [ph] and then where all debates are lost on that.

HARLOW: I totally think this has to be a conversation. I think every American does, right? They see what's going on with our out of control debt and deficits. However, when you look at this budget, even the very bipartisan, not liked by progressives, by the way, committee for a responsible budget says that this Trump 2020 budget cuts Medicare spending by $575 because of the way it goes into those block grants for the states. Do you support those cuts?

REED: Yes, because I'm about reforming Medicare. I think we have to get Medicare reformed in order to safe it and get healthcare costs down. So how they're doing, quote, unquote, those cuts is reining in costs, because -- think about how D.C. operates to everybody out there. When you rein in healthcare costs under Medicare, people label that a cut in Medicare. That is exactly what they're doing.

HARLOW: I know what you're talking about. But this is a cut.

[10:25:00]

I mean, this is not me. This is a committee for a responsible federal budget, bipartisan again, looking at how this would work with the increase in healthcare costs that go up year-by-year over the next decade, they say this would amount to a $575 billion cut.

And the reason I ask you is because back in 2014 under the Obama administration, you called Obamacare's $300 billion cut to Medicare advantage, quote, the White House cuts are, quote, unfair and further jeopardize access. So I'm wondering if you feel the same this time around.

REED: Yes. And I do feel the same in regards to reforming, reducing costs in Medicare, getting those -- if you want to call them cuts, we'll call them cuts. But from my perspective, it's about delivering a new system under Medicare that's going to lower cut costs.

HARLOW: It sounds like you don't like what you're seeing there. Let's see where this goes. I appreciate your time, Congressman. We've got to get back to the breaking news. Thank you so much.

REED: Yes, let's lower those healthcare costs.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, dozens of countries and airlines have decided that the Boeing 737 Max 8 is too dangerous to fly. Why hasn't the U.S. and why is it still flying here?

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