Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RIGHT NOW
Manafort Charged in New York; Manafort To Serve Seven and a Half Years; Rep. Dan Kildee (D) Michigan is Interviewed about Manafort's Sentence and Boeing Accidents; Emails Detail Backchannel with Giuliani and Cohen. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired March 13, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We'll keep an eye on this. Of course, a big story outside of Washington, your safety.
Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS.
Don't go anywhere. It's a busy day. Brianna Keilar starts right now.
Have a great afternoon.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: John, thank you.
I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
And breaking right now, a one-two punch for Paul Manafort. Moments after being sentenced in federal court, he was hit with state charges out of New York. A week after receiving a surprisingly light 47-month sentence in another courtroom, Manafort was given a much stiffer sentence closer to the maximum. The judge adding another 43 months on top of those 47 that he's already going to serve. Then moments after that sentence was handed down, the Manhattan attorney general announced that Manafort is being charged with several state crimes.
Our Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Kara Scannell are at the district courthouse here in Washington.
And, Shimon, before we get into what happened in court, the Manhattan district attorney has filed these state charges. What can you tell us about this decision?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It's very similar, the charges are in nature -- in nature, to what Paul Manafort has already been charged by the special counsel's office, this having to do with mortgage fraud, financial crimes. This is something that the DA's office in Manhattan, there led by Cyrus Vance, has been looking into really since the beginning of the special counsel's investigation. There are properties and banks and financial institutions that Paul Manafort used that have offices in New York, that are headquartered in New York. And so that is how they have been able to bring some of these charges. And they've been investigating this for quite some time. They did not want to announce any of these charges until the Mueller
team was done with their investigation with Paul Manafort. The timing, significant. Obviously, they were paying attention to today. And once the sentencing was done, that is when they unsealed these indictments.
Essentially what this now does is that it makes those charges in New York pardon proof. And these are not charges that the president can pardon Paul Manafort for. He could pardon him on these federal conviction now and the federal sentencing, but the president would not be able to pardon Paul Manafort on the state charges which obviously is of concern to investigators, has been of concern to many people involved in this investigation that Paul Manafort essentially at some point could go free. This perhaps now prevents that from happening with these state charges out of New York.
KEILAR: And, Kara, you were actually inside of the courtroom when all of this happened. How did Paul Manafort react to this sentence?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: You know, he was completely motionless. And, interestingly, his defense table was motionless. The prosecutors were motionless. There was no react at all to the sentencing. And, in a way, it was as though they were sort of expecting that they could face a lot here. This judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, has had a different history with Paul Manafort than the judge in Virginia has. You know, Manafort was before her for -- he admitted that he had done witness tampering. He admitted that -- he -- involved in that crime, the prosecutor said that he had broken his cooperation agreement by lying to them. So she had a different tone toward him than perhaps Judge Ellis did.
You know, it was just a very calm, non-reaction. Manafort he facing her. He arrived in court in a wheelchair wearing a suit. He looked at her while she delivered her remarks to him. And she didn't really mince her words at all. She basically said that his whole defense was a game of spin. That, you know, his career was built on gaming the system.
You know, Manafort's lawyers had argued that, you know, but for the special counsel's investigation, he wouldn't even be here. This was a regulatory type of, you know, infraction. And the judge said that was absolutely not the case, that the special counsel's office, you know, was not on trial here. That Manafort had committed these crimes. He committed them multiple crimes over multiple years of his life. And she was holding him to account on that. You know, and she's -- she made it specific -- specifically took the time to say that this argument of no collusion had -- was unrelated to the matter at hand and it was not factoring into her decision today at all to tack on those additional years on Manafort's sentence, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, very important point, Kara.
Go on, Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: (INAUDIBLE) it's a non-sequitur.
KEILAR: That's right. PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
KEILAR: Yes, she called it a non --
PROKUPECZ: She made a whole point of this during -- a non-sequitur. She took issue with the fact that the attorneys would even put this in court filings and try to argue any of this. And she said that it's irrelevant to what she's trying to do here today and for the sentence that she ultimately imposed on Paul Manafort.
KEILAR: And tell --
BROWN: Yes, I mean, it was really a dressing down of Manafort's attorneys, too.
Oh, go ahead, Brianna.
KEILAR: I was going to say, tell us what's next for Paul Manafort, Pamela.
BROWN: That's a good question. You know, it was interesting to me that the judge took issue with the fact that Manafort's lawyers kept bringing up there's no collusion, and then just after the sentencing, Kevin Downing, Manafort's lawyer, came out -- what's -- what did he say? There was no Russian collusion. Clearly, Brianna, he was speaking to an audience of one, and that is President Trump.
[13:05:16] So in terms of what's next, that's what we're going to be being looking at. Yes, there is a chapter that is closing here in terms of the investigation and the sentencing of Paul Manafort, but now the looming question is, will President Trump pardon Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman? He, of course, the president, has been very outspoken. He believes the whole thing is a witch hunt, the whole investigation. He has been sympathetic toward Manafort and he's not taken a pardon off the table for Manafort.
So that's what we're going to be keeping an eye on, what does the president do. It's clear that Manafort's team has been sending a message to President Trump, trying to align themselves with him, saying that there is no Russian collusion that Manafort was charged with. So we'll have to wait and see. But that doesn't take away these state charges in terms of what happens there because that is pardon proof.
KEILAR: What is next for the Mueller investigation, Pamela?
BROWN: Well, that is the big question. I mean this really could be sort of the big, final --
PROKUPECZ: The last big one.
BROWN: Piece of the puzzle here today. I mean, that is why this is so huge, right? I mean of course there is the ongoing situation with Roger Stone, who has been charged, and so we're going to be keeping an eye on that. But, by all accounts, and our reporting is that the end is very near. It's going to happen very soon, we believe, where the attorney general will be announcing that Mueller has turned over his confidential report to him. And so this really could be the biggest, final piece of the puzzle, and that is why the stakes were so high today.
KEILAR: All right, Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Kara Scannell, stand by for us as we continue to cover this.
And for more on this sentencing of Paul Manafort and what all of this means, we have our chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero with us.
So we're talking about the president's former campaign chairman, another member of his inner circle being sentenced. What's the impact of this?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that the fact that you had his lawyers, as Pamela was talking about, outside the courthouse for the second time in two weeks making an obvious plea for a pardon is noteworthy.
KEILAR: No collusion, right? No collusion.
BASH: Is no collusion. Right. After -- minutes after the judge basically admonished the Manafort legal team for even suggesting or even mentioning collusion, because that was not part of the evidence of the trial at all, wasn't part of the evidence of his conviction at all. And yet he still did it because he's trying to get his client a pardon. I mean let's just call it what it is, and that is what it is.
More broadly, you know, you know, take what you will from this, but I do think that people have become desensitized to the notion of people who are in the president's orbit going to jail or on the cusp of going to jail, but they shouldn't be. This is a big deal. This is a man who was a very central figure, not for his whole campaign, the president's right, but for an important part of the campaign.
KEILAR: An important, significant part of it.
BASH: Making sure that the president, then candidate, secured enough delegates to go on and be the formal Republican nominee to go on to face Hillary Clinton in the general election.
KEILAR: And to go through the convention, too, right?
BASH: Yes. Exactly.
KEILAR: He was there through the convention. I mean this is such a visible time that Paul Manafort was a part of this.
So the judge sentences Manafort to an additional three and a half years in prison, adding to that 47 months that we had seen. So sending a different kind of message than the judge in Virginia here. A total of seven and a half years.
What's your opinion on the sentence? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So I think it was a fair sentence.
She did go for ten years total on the two counts, but she also said that part of that 30 months of it could be run concurrently, so at the same time as his sentence from the Eastern District of Virginia, and that judge also had given him some additional time served, about nine months of time served. So the overall tally is about seven and a half years, but I think he actually could serve a little bit under seven years with that time served in Virginia. So I think it was fair.
And as the president is thinking about a potential pardon, which it must be that he is, I think that's a really hard political argument for him to make that this was somehow an abuse of the justice system or that Paul Manafort was treated too harshly because the -- although Judge Jackson was more harsh in her sentence than Judge Ellis, who was very lenient compared to what the sentencing guidelines were, this is a fair sentence given everything that he was convicted of and pled guilty to in the D.C. court.
KEILAR: It does seem, though -- and like you said, it's -- and it's so important to note that, Carrie, that exactly what you said, he -- but he's trying to -- he's trying to lay the groundwork for the PR argument on this, which is, hey, this was something different than they were going after. I mean that is -- that doesn't matter, as Carrie said.
[13:10:08] BASH: Exactly. It shouldn't.
KEILAR: But in the court of public opinion it is going to matter. There are going to be people, who if the president were to pardon Paul Manafort will say, oh, yes, that's why. That makes sense.
BASH: Yes. Exactly. And that's why you heard our reporting from inside the courtroom the notion from the defense team that this probably wouldn't have been even an issue. He wouldn't have been prosecuted had he not actually been a part of the Trump team in 2016. He was a target. He was a target because the crimes that he now has been convicted of and sent to jail for committing didn't have to do with the Trump campaign. And it was only because he was involved was he convicted. But the point is, is that, if you are the president of the United States, and you understand that this man, whether he was part of your campaign or not, committed crimes to the point where, you know, he has to have this double sentence, that should tell you something about a potential pardon, whether it had to do with your time on the trail or not.
KEILAR: Let's talk about what we're seeing out of New York state, because this is key.
So, I mean, wow, slapped with state charges so quickly. What do you make of this?
CORDERO: Well, it does look that the state investigation has been going on for about a year and they were waiting for this to take place before they actually unsealed their indictment that had been brought by a state grand jury. I do think that there is politically, not legally, I think there is
some risk with the Manhattan D.A. and what we saw about a day or so ago with an inquiry by the New York attorney general that they -- because we're in this environment where the politics and the legal system are becoming so intertwined in our public discussion, I think there's a risk that these prosecutions could be perceived as politically motivated. And that's not good for the justice system overall.
KEILAR: Isn't there also a legal risk, though, double jeopardy?
CORDERO: There is a double jeopardy risk where -- but it would depend on exactly what they're charging him with. So this sounds like it's mortgage fraud, which is -- I would assume that they would have been very careful about this. And that would be different than the bank fraud and the wire fraud and the other financial frauds that Manafort was convicted of in federal court.
But I just do think that there is this risk that people will have the perception that they are pursuing these cases for political motivation, which is not the way that we want our prosecutive (ph) system to work.
BASH: And not to pile on here, but it does bear repeating, as somebody who was following Donald Trump around in 2016. He promised he would hire the best people. And this is a man who he hired for an important job who committed many federal crimes and potentially is going to be prosecuted in New York state.
KEILAR: It's a very -- you can't underscore it enough.
Dana Bash, thank you, Carrie Cordero.
Now, would you fly on that Boeing model that's involved in two deadly crashes? The world is grounding them, but the U.S. is refusing. We'll discuss that.
Plus, the Trump administration's connections to Boeing and questions about whether influence is playing a part.
And actress Lori Loughlin turning herself in as the college cheating scandal sparks a debate about privilege and money across American society.
[13:17:44] KEILAR: The other shoe has dropped for Paul Manafort today being sentenced in U.S. district court to an additional 73 months in prison. That adds to his previous sentence and concurrent time. Manafort is looking at spending the next seven and a half years behind bars.
We have Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee with us from Capitol Hill. Sir, thanks for being with us.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: When you look at this sentence, do you think it's fair?
KILDEE: Well, you know, I -- I'm one who tends to leave those decisions to the justice system. I have an incredible amount of confidence in it. And I think it's difficult and I think sometimes unadvisable for those of us who are policymakers to either second guess or prejudge how the justice system adjudicates a particular case. So, so long as he was given a fair hearing and the prosecution was given a chance to present its case, I'm one who tends to just default to the fact that the system produced the result. I think it is justice and I'm going to leave it at that.
KEILAR: So he gets this sentence, and then, almost immediately, state prosecutors charge him in New York. And we just had one of our legal experts on who says, if you're looking at this by the book, you should be concerned that this will start to be seen as political. It's clear that Manafort's making a play for a pardon. He brought up no collusion in court when there was nothing -- there wasn't even anything in the case about that. His lawyers said it outside of court. So do you worry that this will be seen as political?
KILDEE: Well, I think that's really -- I guess political is sort of in the eye of the beholder. If the state charges were brought and it can be explained that they were brought after this sentencing was done for some reason that has legal merit, that's one perspective that I think could be potentially valid. But not having practiced law, not being an attorney, I wouldn't want to dive too deeply into that.
But, let's be clear, Mr. Manafort clearly is guilty of very serious crimes. Those crimes may also extend to state law that could have been violated. After all, it's not -- I don't think it's too great a conclusion to draw that if he was engaged in criminal activity that violated federal law, that it's very possible he was doing things that violate state law and he should be held accountable for that.
[13:20:02] I do understand what the perception might be, but I think, again, the courts, I think, generally do a pretty good job of determining guilt and innocence. It's not perfect, but it's the system we have and I think it's the one we have to allow run its course.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that is on the mind of so many air travelers here in the U.S. because they're concerned right now. They're watching countries and airlines elsewhere in the world ground this Boeing model plane that crashed in Ethiopia this week and in Indonesia back in October. The U.S. is not grounding this Boeing model.
Would you feel safe personally flying home to Michigan on a Boeing 737 Max 8?
KILDEE: Well, you know, I -- I will admit, this is a troubling situation. I fly twice a week. my -- members of my family fly. And I think this is one of those cases where we should err -- clearly err on the side of public safety, at least until we have a better understanding of what is the cause -- the underlying cause behind these crashes.
If it is something systemic, we should know that. You know, I generally defer to the expert, but, in this case, I do think there's a serious question. And my personal preference would be that we not have Americans flying on these planes until we have a better understanding of what the cause of these now two very deadly crashes were.
KEILAR: So Boeing actually failed to provide a software fix for the flight control system in the 737 Max 8 until after that October crash. There were pilots who looked at that and felt like this was a criminal omission. This was nuts. That's what -- what was what they thought about this.
The software fix, then according to "The Wall Street Journal," was supposed to happen in January. But then it was delayed in part because of that government shutdown because the FAA was largely offline.
What's your reaction to this revelation?
KILDEE: Well, that's pretty troubling. And I think if -- you know, if the facts -- those anecdotes are borne out to be true, I think there could be some real liability here. I don't want to suggest who particularly was at fault, but, you know, we have an obligation, when we have a system that is designed to protect people, to make sure that we follow through on that promise and not take for granted that those systems are going to work. There's a reason we have rigorous systems and there's a reason that we enforce those rigorous regulations on manufacturers and on those who operate airlines.
We have a good track record in this country. The reason we have a good track record is because of rigorous enforcement. And we ought to do that in every instance. And if it's not the case in this instance, I think there will be some very serious liability -- criminal or civil liability.
KEILAR: I think of other instances in transportation disasters where the heads of these companies are called up before Congress and asked to answer questions so that the public can see this. Do you think that Boeing needs to come up to The Hill? Do you think that Democrats should be seeking that out and asking questions so that the public can get answers?
KILDEE: I think the questions have to be answered. And if they're not going to be answered in the near-term voluntarily by those who have information that could help us understand what took place, then I think Congress then would absolutely have a duty to act and subpoena those people to come and testify.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman Dan Kildee, thanks for being with us.
KILDEE: Thanks, Brianna.
KEILAR: We do have some breaking news. CNN has obtained e-mails that show a back channel between President
Trump's legal team and Michael Cohen. What those e-mails say and what it means for the investigation, next.
[13:28:05] KEILAR: We have breaking news.
CNN has exclusively obtained e-mails sent by a lawyer with longtime ties to Rudy Giuliani to Michael Cohen and they show a back channel being established between Donald Trump's legal team and his former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen.
We have CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, who is here with her latest reporting.
Tell us what these e-mails are all about.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we've obtained two e-mails which contain communications from April 2018. And that was, remember, after Michael Cohen's office was raided. And they're between Michael Cohen and a lawyer named Bob Costello. And they're largely about Cohen's relationship with the White House which Costello describes in glowing ways in this e-mail.
And one of them is, I spoke with Rudy. Very, very positive. You are loved. And ends with, sleep well tonight. You have friends in high places.
Now, these are part of documents that have been seen by congressional committees, but the interpretation of what's being said here and what was meant really depends on who you ask.
KEILAR: All right. So you talked --
KEILAR: With Costello.
KEILAR: Who wrote the e-mail. What did he tell you about what this meant?
BORGER: Well, OK. So, let me -- let me start with Michael Cohen sympathizers, OK.
BORGER: Michael Cohen sympathizers say this is proof that a pardon was dangled in front of him. They say this is an attorney with close ties to Rudy Giuliani who, by the way, just joined the president's legal team days before. So they say, just look at this. Look at this evidence. And he -- he was dangling this pardon in not so many words because, as we point out in our piece, the word pardon was never actually used. [13:29:48] But I did talk to Robert Costello last night and he called that explanation, and I'm quoting here, utter nonsense, and he said that what he was doing was trying to smooth out a troubled relationship between the president and Michael Cohen and vice versa.