Return to Transcripts main page


Manafort To Serve Total Of 7.5 Years Between Two Cases; Canada Transport Minister Grounds Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 13, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE: I really won't be surprise if there's just more defiance now that this is all over. He's been sentenced. He's been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison between these two cases. I would look to hear more of the same from them. I mean, they even said in court today that, but for the 2016 election they didn't believe that Manafort would have been here today.

And as you'll recall, last week, shortly after the sentencing in Virginia, they came out, release the statements saying, once again this shows there is no Russian collusion speaking to an audience of one, as you pointed it out, John, to the President of the United States who is capable, who has the authority to give Paul Manafort a pardon. And as we've heard, Trump has been sympathetic toward Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman. And so, that is really who Manafort and his legal team is speaking to at this point.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: A gag order is no longer in effect.


PROKUPECZ: So Kevin Downing, the attorney for Paul Manafort, is free to speak now. And certainly, we haven't heard much from him. Every time we've tried to talk to him, he says I can't speak because of the gag order. That is now lifted. So let's see what he has to say and does he talk to this audience of one. Paul Manafort is now looking -- spending about seven years of his life.

BROWN: He's 77.

PROKUPECZ: Well, he's 77. He has no time left for --

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We'll show you Manafort -- It's now with Shimon, forgive me for interrupting one second.

But, that is Paul Manafort's family leaving the courthouse right there walking down the sidewalk outside of the federal courthouse here in Washington D.C., cameraman getting jumpsuit a little bit there, sorry for that.

Shimon, I'm sorry to interrupt. Continue.

PROKUPECZ: No, just you know, so he's going to be in there for at least, maybe another six years or so unless the President pardons him. That is what many expect in the end, that the president will do that. Obviously, that won't happen until Mueller is done. That could happen very soon, as well.

The other thing that I think, it's important to know, just what this means in terms of this investigation. Pam and I were talking about this earlier, you know, this is really the last -- perhaps the last big moment of this investigation is this in thing a key figure in this entire investigation. This case is now over.

Paul Manafort was one of the key figures in all of this. He's now done. There is nothing more to do for the Special Counsel with his case that is now over. And I think, that weighed heavily on the prosecutors who spoke today in court at times, you know, there was -- you saw little emotion from them. They were hugging or giving -- shaking hands afterwards, after the prosecutor finished speaking. And publicly, they've taken a lot of heat certainly from the President, from other folks. That has weighed heavily on them. And it was their opportunity to really get in there and tell the judge how they -- what they feel about Paul Manafort?

BROWN: Yes, I mean, look, this is an investigation they spent nearly two years on. And what they were trying to do today make the case. This has not been a witch hunt over the last nearly two years that Paul Manafort committed serious crimes and he committed crimes even after pleading guilty.

But on the other hand, as you've been pointing out, John, critics of the Special Counsel probe, including the President, will likely pounce on this saying, he's spending seven and a half years behind bars and he was sentenced to that. And, for no charges related to Russian collusion, that is something that I think critics of the probe will also really seize on. John?

KING: That's just one chapter, one chapter in the prompt closing today. And again, you saw a couple of shots there on Paul Manafort's family. They have a lot to consider as they go home today. Their days in court are over. But Mr. Manafort is going to spend several years in prison.

We're going to work in a quick break. We're waiting to see Mr. Manafort's attorneys to emerge in the courthouse. We'll see. It never happens in the past. But any comment from the Special Counsel's office as well. Quick break. We'll be right back with more of the breaking news.


[12:37:54] KING: Back to our breaking news, Paul Manafort sentenced in the second of two. Federal court sentenced him today. Federal judge adding six years to his prison term, a combined out seven and a half year sentence for Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman. We're waiting to see if Manafort's lawyers will speak when they emerge in the federal courthouse here in Washington.

Outside of that courthouse, CNN's Pamela Brown, Kara Scannell and Shimon Prokupecz, give us some more details here of a, what we anticipate, but b, just some of the drama inside this court hearing that went on for hours. Manafort saying he's sorry and making his case for leniency. Special Counsel's Office laying out the details of these crimes and the judge being quite skeptical that the remorse she was hearing today was genuine.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes. I mean, that's right John. The judge was -- she really didn't mince words here. She was saying that Manafort -- she said that essentially, his career was about gaining the system.

She said that, you know, all of this argument is all spin that he's been giving her. And she was saying that it was -- it played out in court, it played out during this whole process of him engaging in witness tampering when he was out on bail. She said that he had lied about the ways he was going to post bail. He said he could use the mortgage and then he said that the bank was entitled to mortgage that they had, the property that was backed by the mortgage.

She went into how he was arguing about his solitary confinement being so terrible. Then she went on to describe that he had a private room with a shower, a computer, a phone, e-mail, television. So, she just started knocking down from the simplest levels to then going on to the fraud that he committed saying that, you know, everything was about deceit, everything was about spin and lies. And so, she was not buying his argument that he got caught up in the system. And he would only have been prosecuted.

But for the Special Counsel investigation, she really hammered him on that. And she said, you know, even in his statement today which she said she appreciated, she didn't find at all that he was accepting responsibility and it was very interesting.

She also noted that of all of the defendants that she's seen over the years, once where English is not their first language. They would often write a letter to the court expressing their remorse, their sorrow or how are they going to improve themselves. And she said it really stuck out to her today that she received no letter from Manafort and just these brief words that he gave in court today.

[12:40:10] PROKUPECZ: And Kara and I were talking during the break just about how the atmosphere in the court, just how quiet it was and still.

SCANNELL: Yes, it was really remarkable, I mean with the weight of this during when the prosecutor was speaking and he is laying out the facts of what the charges they brought and why they're here today. Manafort was seating, he's in a wheelchair, he's wearing a suit and tie today unlike the jumpsuit, the prison jumpsuit he wear last week.

But he would hit his back to the prosecutors at times he looked like he was staring off into space. At other point he was writing a letter to his lawyer. And then, when his lawyers were speaking he just sat very quietly as they were arguing and defending for him. And when the judge was giving up her sentence, you know, again his he -- this time he was turned and he was facing her. But he was completely motionless during the entire process.

I -- we did not see any reaction by the prosecutors today. I mean, I think the big shock was last week when there was a real big number, the big potential jail time. And we just didn't see any reaction today I think it also because the judge, you know, actually said that Manafort was not public enemy number one. She said he's not a victim either and so she had the sentence reflect that. And so, that's where we see, you know, a longer sentence here not the maximum that it could have been, but very interesting not to see much of a reaction from anyone. Either the prosecutors Manafort himself who was very still and his wife also she was seating in second row behind him, and she was also pretty emotionless the entire time.

BROWN: Yes. She was clearly trying to strike a balance here, and it is true. It was to what two and a half years concurrent but he'll serve simultaneously. I mean, she could have piled it all on top of the four years. But no doubt about it, she gave Paul Manafort and his attorneys addressing down today in court.

For his actions she reprimanded his attorneys for bringing up that there was no Russia collusion and the court filing saying that's a non sequitur that has nothing to do with what is before me here today. So, she was none too pleased with his attorneys bringing that up. And with Paul Manafort himself she basically said he is playing games, you could see right through it. And that one point said, were you spreading the fact then they get a better deal or now they get a better deal. Is the same she could see through what he was doing through his calculating in actions today, John?

KING: Will you guys stand by the courthouse. We're waiting to see if Manafort's legal team comes out to speak to reporters, there's other breaking news today too.

Coming up next for us, the Canadian transport minister calling out American regulators as Canada now joins a long global list in grounds, all Boeing 737 MAX jets.


KING: Breaking news. Paul Manafort's Lawyer Kevin Downing outside of the federal court house here in Washington. Let us see.


KEVIN DOWNING, MANAFORT ATTORNEY: Anyone who is in the courtroom today, what I'm about to say will not be a surprise. Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case. So that makes--


DOWNING: -- two courts. Two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion of any Russian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liar. That's not she said.

DOWNING: Part number two, very sad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what she said.

DOWNING: Very sad day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what she said.

DOWNING: For such a how was court sentence that is totally unnecessary. Most like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are liars, man. You're not lawyers. You're liars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not what she said.


[12:45:13] KING: A brief statement there, a brief statement there from Kevin Downing. Paul Manafort's lead attorney's saying in this, I guess, were somewhat predictable. Some protesters they're saying, it's not what the judge said. But Kevin Downing saying, Judge Jackson making clear today there was no Russian collusion. That has been a trademark play for Paul Manafort's lawyer outside of court when he leaves these hearing, you see him now walking down the streets with the inevitable cluster of cameramen chasing him some people just passers by out there. Some people who are in the courtroom clearly wanting to make a political statement as well.

Heckling is Kevin Downing spoke about we talked about this a bit earlier. You might have thought there would be an additional comment at the end of this federal chapter for Paul Manafort these were, there could be another court chapter for Paul Manafort just ahead. No Russian collusion. Speaking to the cameras but really speaking to the President of the United States.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm just struck how not subtle that was. And into your point, we should have expected it. We've seen it in their filings, we've seen it in their statements in the past. But there was literally nothing else that he had to say. And then, Kevin Downing is well known of his career, well known as well as respected lawyer here in town.

But yes. It's -- I've been trying over the last couple of weeks to try and figure out, OK, what is the other angle here? Why do they keep making this point? It can't all just be about a pardon or it can't all just be about speaking to the President. But it's really hard to think anything but that.

And I can just tell you the extension of this, over the course of the last 20 minutes or so, I've received repeated texts from Republicans on Capitol Hill basically saying, he's totally going to pardon him. Isn't he? We're out of sheer terror about what that would mean politically for them in the months ahead.

KING: Republicans on Capitol Hill think a bad political move for the President especially heading into an election year, to pardon somebody, your former campaign chairman who has been convicted twice now of swampy conduct as I will say. But let's connected dots and go back to Kara Scannell outside the federal court house because one of the concerns of other prosecutors has been the possibility the President would deliver a pardon, New York authorities today delivering their answer to that question.

SCANNEL: I'm sorry John. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office which is lead by side advance filed a 16 count indictment against Paul Manafort, making allegations that he violated residential mortgage fraud. In attempting to commit residential mortgage fraud conspiracy and falsifying business records.

Now, many of the charges in this case are exactly the same ones that he committed in Virginia. It has to do with the same loans that Manafort taken out from banks and that he lied to the banks in order to get those loans.

This raises two questions. And on the one hand this is a move by the state prosecutors to say that this is, you know, a way to pardon proof the case in case President Trump does pardon Donald Trump.

I'm sorry. Case from pardon Paul Manafort on the federal crime he was sentenced to today. But now the State charges are a different level. They are not with in the bounce with President apart of him. So, this is new fresh liability that Paul Manafort faces, it also will raise the question of double jeopardy because there are some overlapping crimes that were committed here. And that is what we really going to see Manafort's team argue in court.

But by the move today the district attorney's office bringing this indictment believe that they can work through these double jeopardy.


SCANNELL: And they are confident that they can bring this case.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, they can. These are obviously relating to charges out of New York. Just to let everyone know, the Manhattan D.A.'s Office has been investigating this. Probably since charges were brought against Paul Manafort since he was investigated by the Mueller team. So, they have been working on this for quite some time.

One of the reasons they didn't move sooner was that they didn't want to interfere in the Mueller probe. They sort have been keeping secret in private and making sure that they don't interfere in that investigation.

Now that it's very apparent that Mueller is done with Paul Manafort. And as Kara said, this is a way to pardon-proof this so that if the President does pardon Paul Manafort, he's still facing a substantial amount of prison time. This time it will be on state charges out of New York. So--

BROWN: That can't be pardoned, right?

PROKUPECZ: You know, maybe Paul Manafort maybe feeling some fear today. There may be some. But he's certainly not out of the woods here now. He's in a lot of trouble now in New York.

BROWN: And that is to this sort of a looming question now after this final sentencing. What is Donald Trump going to do? Will he pardon Paul Manafort? And you've just heard Kevin Downing his attorney, sort of make that plea. It seems to Donald Trump directly saying, there was no Russian collusion.

Once again, reiterating what he said last week even though this case had nothing to do with Russian collusion, that wasn't the charges before the court today. But clearly, they want to echo what the President has said, there was no Russian collusion. And so the idea of whether the -- the question of whether the President will pardon Paul Manafort is still very much sort of up in the air. The President hasn't closed the door on it, he hasn't taken it off the table, he's been sympathetic toward Paul Manafort.

[12:50:01] But this new development that Kara just reported shows that even if the President does choose to pardon Manafort. There's still could be state charges he faces that he couldn't be pardoned from.

KING: And guys of the court house, thank you. So stay with us in case there are new developments there. Elie Honig, I want to bring you into the conversation because this is yet another reminder that this legal case so often intersects collides and worst gets intertwine with politics in the sense that when I started this business I covered the courts a lot. You have state prosecutors, federal prosecutors. They have the same case they essentially go into the room.

So, who was the best case or who has the sentencing guidelines? Who does that make the most sense to handle this to get justice? In this case you have state officials saying, we're worried that this guy might get a pardon. So we're going to have a political fire wall, if you will.

I get it and I'm not questioning the merits of the case brought by Mr. Vance. But is this a good way to have a justice system where we can't trust the President? Therefore, we have to have state charges to back up federal charges?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: No John, I don't like it from a prosecutor's perspective. So, everyone is playing the pardon game now and as you said there's no better intersection of politics and criminal justice than a pardon.

So, first we saw Downing the lawyer for Manafort basically going to the microphone and unleashed this mercenary, you know, begging for a pardon. Totally misleading statement about oh, now two judges have said no collusion. Not at all what the judge today said.

That said, the timing here of the D.A. in Manhattan announcing these charges minutes after the sentence really smacks of a political move by the Manhattan D.A. And you're exactly right. In any normal case you get in the room, the feds, the state, the county level people and you do what we call deconflict. You do exactly what you said John.

You say, who's got the best case? Where does it make most sense of charges? And let's all sort of share evidence and get behind that one prosecution. This idea of serial prosecution one after the other, I don't like is a former prosecutor.

And by the way, Kara's right. This is not necessarily going to pardon proof anything, because Manafort going to have a real double jeopardy argument. In other words, he's go into Manhattan court and say, I've already been prosecuted for this federally. This is double jeopardy and so I don't need -- I am entitled to not be prosecuted again for it.

KING: It guarantee there is nothing else still a lot which have been legal questions here. There's also sadly in some cases while politics involved as well. That Jeff will continue, Elie appreciate it as well.

A quick break when we come back, Canada grounds. Boeing jets, the question now is will the United States join much of the world and follow suit or not?


[12:56:56] KING: More global fall out today for Boeing over safety concerns surrounding it 737 MAX 8 jet. Canada choosing today to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets, both the MAX 8 and the MAX 9 which is a larger version of the plane in question.

The Canadian Transportation Minister saying, they made that decision based on new data adding the United States will have to make its own decisions. The FAA here in the states still standing firm in its choice to keep the plane in the air saying in a statement," The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX. Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."

Canada now joining much of the word essentially leaving the United States alone. There's a lot of pressure from Capitol Hill. There are a lot of levels of this.

Number one, just to make common sense standpoint, why not you say ground them for a few days and check it out. The FAA says, no, that's not how we work, we have to see the data. Number two, the debate about -- we have an acting administrator of the agency this agency. And so, some people are saying, well, there should be somebody permanent, pro in-charge. And on Capitol Hill, I just wanted since Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut as the short time ago saying, why isn't the FAA acting?


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: They should have grounded this plane voluntarily. But the Government shutdown absolutely aggravated and exacerbated the failures of the FAA. They had the new software. They knew of the problem with sense of the airline should be held account over the FAA has responsibility, we act right away.


KING: There is going to be a hearing this week in Congress. But the administration so far seems to say, we don't have the data. No.

MATTINGLY: Well, I'm been struck by not just the 40 plus or more countries that have decided to grounded the U.S. like it happen to move the bottom has fallen out of Boeing's support on Capitol Hill. And Boeing is a lobbying powerhouse most -- but more importantly than that, it has so many plants, so many manufacturing bases in so many States and there are so many members that are very responsive to what they want because its jobs in their states. And a lot of those members yesterday were calling for planes to be grounded.

We're not kind of holding their fire a little bit. And usually, and by knowing yesterday, I think we might have been talking about it in the hallway. I thought something going to have to give soon. You don't see bipartisan bottom dropping out and this able to stays the state to play and it hasn't.

And I think that, I'm struck by that. I'm very intrigued to see what's going on behind the scenes.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And usually FAA is a leader internationally in terms of these decisions. So, it's unusual for them to be on their own.

We know that President Trump spoke with the Boeing CEO yesterday. We don't have full physically anthro (ph) what that conversation entailed. But certainly there's a lot of things going on behind the scenes here. They tried to figure what to do.

KING: And as part of that, just to know need the President does know a lot about planes because he had plane, he's close to his former pilot.


KING: But twitting about the technology on planes in the middle of something like this which I guess is far from the course in this administration. But we have not seen the administration does not usually bow to pressure from Capitol Hill. Is this a case where there'd be enough pressure place on Secretary Chao to step forward and say, OK, we're going to take a pause here? She seems steadfast so far.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Oh, certainly the pressure is growing and whether of Secretary Chao or someone else from the FAA who does testify before Capitol Hill in the coming days, that's certainly what a lawmakers will be asking.

KING: We'll keep an eye on this of course a big story outside of Washington, your safety. Thanks.