Return to Transcripts main page
New Details Emerging in Roger Stone Trial Today; Nikki Haley Speaks on Internal Dynamics in Trump White House; Supreme Court Hearing DACA Arguments Today. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired November 12, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We have news just in to CNN. This is significant because it goes back to the origins of the Russia investigation. This is Rick Gates, he's the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, testifying in the Roger Stone trial that the Trump campaign's reaction to WikiLeaks' announcement that stolen documents, documents and e-mails stolen by Russia were going to be released and via WikiLeaks, that their reaction was one of happiness. And he, Gates, called that announcement a gift to the campaign.
We're joined now to discuss this and other developments today, former FBI special agent and CNN legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa, and Washington investigative correspondent for "The New York Times," Mark Mazzetti. Asha, Mark, great to have you both.
Mark, you've covered this investigation from the beginning. And a lot of folks have just sort of let this drop at the end of the Mueller report. But what you're seeing here, one, is an allegation of communications between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks via Roger Stone -- that's a key question in this trial here -- but also what's clear from Gates' testimony is the Trump campaign was welcoming this information stolen by Russia. Tell us the significance of his testimony.
MARK MAZZETTI, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. The timing is interesting, right? Because it puts the timetable back earlier to when the Trump campaign knew about possibly -- and WikiLeaks putting out information that could, in their minds, help the campaign.
This is in the spring of 2016. Recall what's happening at that time. This is just after the Russian government, according to the Mueller investigation, had penetrated Democratic servers. It is right around the time a young Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, is told about dirt about Hillary Clinton. And so now, we're hearing that Roger Stone informs the campaign about WikiLeaks information previous -- you know, earlier than known before. So that's quite interesting.
Now, I think it's important for viewers to know that, you know, most likely this is all information that was in the Mueller report but was redacted because of the ongoing Stone trial. So it's not new information that Mueller didn't know about. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's a very interesting point.
Asha, let me ask you about something that just crossed also. Mick Mulvaney is no longer trying to attach himself to these lawsuits, asking the court to decide if he can testify or not. He's just not going to. Significance?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's significant in a couple of respects. So first, the lawsuit that he was trying to join was one where the court was being asked to rule on this idea of absolute immunity, which is a creation --
RANGAPPA: -- of the executive branch, which predates Trump, but is this idea that senior advisors are completely immune from any kind of congressional subpoenas.
I don't think that -- I don't think it's going to go well generally, but I think it was not going to go well specifically for him. And it's not good for a court to put that in stone. And so I think that, you know, getting out of it, like, avoids the court having to litigate it and come down on that particular issue.
Of course, him not testifying adds to the potential obstruction case that the House might bring --
RANGAPPA: -- as part of its articles of impeachment against Trump as well. So we'll see how this goes.
SCIUTTO: More news is coming out, guys, as this is happening. And apologize, Mark and Asha, if you haven't seen this yourselves yet. So I'm asking for your takes on the fly here.
But again, from the Stone trial and Gates' testimony, he is highlighting just how extensively Stone had told the campaign -- and this is key -- prior to the first WikiLeaks release, again of e-mails stolen by Russia. Prior to that release, July 22nd, that they should be expecting drops of information that could help Trump.
And he was also asked to describe a call between Trump and Stone in the days just after that July 22nd e-mail drop. I mean, what's the significance here of Stone communicating or getting information from someone that these -- these drops, intended to influence the campaign and e-mail stolen by Russia, who's getting heads-up about them in advance? Significant in the broader investigation?
MAZZETTI: Well, I would -- I mean, I would say that, you know the significance is -- it's yet another example of senior Trump officials having awareness of this damaging information out there, and welcoming it, right? Being -- embracing the idea that WikiLeaks or others might be releasing information that could damage Hillary Clinton. Recall this is also around the time that Donald Trump Jr. welcomed a meeting at Trump Tower when he was promised dirt about Hillary Clinton. [10:35:15]
So I don't think it -- you know, these revelations today are going to change, you know, broad conclusions. Because again, I do think these were -- Mueller's investigators had awareness of all this because they had Gates as a cooperating witness. But it does, interestingly, add another point to the timeline about the awareness of the Trump campaign.
HARLOW: Yes, for sure. Thank you both for jumping on all those headlines, just crossed the minute before you came to air. We appreciate it, Asha and Mark, very much.
Ahead, Nikki Haley, former U.N. -- U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says she warned the president that two top officials inside the White House were working against him. What else she is revealing about her time in the Trump administration is next.
SCIUTTO: We learned this morning that Nikki Haley told President Trump that two top officials in his White House were questioning, even trying to undermine his authority. The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. also claims that John Kelly, then-chief of staff, and Rex Tillerson, then-secretary of state, tried to recruit her to join their cause, but she says she refused.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: They (ph) totally knew that I was not going to be with them because what they --
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC ANCHOR, THIS MORNING: But did you say that?
HALEY: They were -- it was very aware.
GUTHRIE: And did you tell the president afterward, hey --
HALEY: I told (INAUDIBLE) that we -- if this is what the president wanted, and especially we were talking about the issue of Palestinian aid, that we needed to do that.
GUTHRIE: Did you say to the president later, hey, you've got two guys working against you.
HALEY: The president was aware, yes.
GUTHRIE: You told him?
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: That is significant.
Also this morning, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pushing back on those claims and others made about him in Nikki Haley's new book. He denies taking any action to undermine the president. He says Haley, quote, "rarely participated" in his, quote, "many meetings" with the president.
Let's talk about this and a lot more. CNN's senior political analyst David Gergen, former advisor to President Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, is here. David, so good to have your experience, your perspective, especially on a momentous --
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Terrific, thank you.
HARLOW: -- week like this. We'll talk about impeachment hearings in just a moment. But on Nikki Haley, she also -- Savannah pushed her in the interview this morning on whether she felt the president was honest.
HARLOW: And she said yes. What's the Nikki Haley play here?
GERGEN: Well, first of all, you can certainly understand why Donald Trump likes to see her out there for him. She's by far and away the most articulate, the most likeable of his surrogate speakers.
And one has to wonder whether she's also auditioning to become secretary of state after 2020, or perhaps even more, looking down the road toward 2024. She's the -- she's the kind of candidate Republicans like -- would very much like to have at the top of the ticket.
What has been interesting about her is she's made this journey from sort of a Republican mainstreamer to a Trumper. She was very, very -- she, you know, she -- her critics would say she was in Trump's pocket throughout this interview today, and in the book itself.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about this because really, the key revelation of this book -- let's forget Nikki Haley's own political ambitions -- is that two senior administration --
SCIUTTO: -- officials in Trump's administration, the secretary of state and the chief of staff, were concerned, according to her account, that the president was endangering U.S. lives and that they felt it was their duty --
SCIUTTO: -- to counter him.
Now, you have statements from Kelly and Tillerson, challenging some of the details of Nikki Haley's story here, but neither of them, given the opportunity, said, I have full -- and always have had -- full confidence in this president, his decision-making ability, his desire to protect --
SCIUTTO: -- the interests of this nation. Neither of them said that, given that obvious opportunity. What's the significance?
GERGEN: Well, I think -- I think overall, look, I -- this is a classic case with Tillerson and Kelly, when speaking truth to power comes into play. If you're going to be -- occupy these high positions -- and I -- every administration I've worked in, and there have been four, there have been -- there have been conflicts at the top about -- because the call -- the decisions the president has to make are usually very tough calls, the hard calls. It doesn't come to you unless it's like a 51-49 kind of call.
And so people are on both sides. And they think that what they believe is in the interest of the country. And they -- and therefore, it's imperative for them to come forward to the president and tell him what they think. And that's what Kelly has said in response to Haley's book. We were trying to create an open, ethical framework of conversations with him. And I think there's nothing wrong with that at all. That's what people like -- at the top should be doing.
HARLOW: David Gergen, as you prepare --
GERGEN: You (ph) -- I'm sorry, yes, go ahead, please.
HARLOW: Go ahead. No, no, no. Finish your thought.
GERGEN: Well, I just want to say, obviously you shouldn't undermine the president, you shouldn't work to weaken him. But you should be willing to tell truth to power --
GERGEN: -- you should be willing to tell conscience to power.
SCIUTTO: And it's interesting you note that, David. Because that is, to some degree, what Kelly and Tillerson said they did. They simply (ph) offered (ph) the best, wisest advice I could give in that moment.
SCIUTTO: Again, a non-denial denial, and no --
SCIUTTO: -- opportunity to taken (ph) to say -- to sing the president's praises.
HARLOW: It's true.
HARLOW: So I was just going to ask, I guess, in conclusion, David, you've just -- you've been through a lot and you've advised a lot of presidents, including President Nixon.
GERGEN: We all feel like we've been through a lot now.
HARLOW: OK, you've been through more than Jim and I, that's for sure. And saying nothing about your age, my friend, but I am just wondering what you are thinking and looking for as these public impeachment hearings in the House begin tomorrow morning.
GERGEN: Sure. I appreciate that. Listen, I think the critical question is, how is this going to play out on television, to have these dedicated people, who are very smart, who have always seem themselves as sort of career public servants, how will they -- will they win over the public? Or will the people think, oh, this is way too complicated, and move on?
I think this is the moment for the Democrats when they really have to begin changing public opinion more dramatically than they have if they wish to break off any Republicans in the Senate, where this is ultimately going to go.
It is ultimately -- and beyond that, it is going, as Nikki Haley said, it's also going to go to the voters, there's no question about that, in November 2020.
SCIUTTO: David Gergen, we're going to be drawing on your wisdom --
GERGEN: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: -- more than once, I think, in the coming days and weeks.
HARLOW: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thanks very much.
GERGEN: OK, you're kind, you're kind. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Well, the highest court in the land will soon determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants. These are people who were children when they were brought into this country, currently under protection. Where they go next will be decided in that building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
SCIUTTO: These are demonstrations on the steps of the Supreme Court this morning. The justices, right now, are hearing arguments on President Trump's decision to end DACA protections. The Obama-era program protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, protects them from deportation.
President Trump issued an executive order to end those protections in 2017. Lower courts, however, kept them in place. The fate of those 700,000 people under that program now remain in limbo.
Joining me now is Todd Schulte. He's president of FWD.us, a bipartisan group focused on fixing the immigration system. Todd also recently went to the border, and we're going to show you some of the things he found there.
But first, on this DACA question, Todd, because this is something that you cover very closely here. The court is considering the Trump decision here to end the Obama administration program. But central to their decision-making here is how Trump ended that program. Can you explain to our viewers what that is and how it's relevant?
TODD SCHULTE, PRESIDENT, FWD.US: Yes, that's right. DACA has been a transformative program for about 700,000 young Americans who came to this country at the average age of six and have been here for over 20 years.
And what the Supreme Court is hearing is you know, the manner in which the president unlawfully ended the program. And a number of federal courts have said, a president does have the theoretical right to end this program, but the way in which this administration, led by Attorney General Sessions, went through with it was unlawful. And multiple federal courts have said that's the case.
SCIUTTO: And that's because in the meeting where the decision was made, no rationale was given. Is that right? It was just kind of a one-line thing saying we're ending this --
SCIUTTO: -- and that therefore undermines their legal argument?
SCHULTE: Well, they stood up and they said, we're getting rid of it because it's unconstitutional and it's illegal. And in fact, DACA has been around, at that point, for five years. It's been around for seven years now. It is legal. So you can't just arbitrarily and capriciously --
SCHULTE: -- end a program. So they went about this in the wrong way, and multiple federal judges have said that's the case.
SCIUTTO: OK. Now, in the court, will the Trump administration be given a mulligan, as it were, here, given an opportunity to give another rationale. And say, hey forget what we said about that before, this is why we really ended the program.
SCHULTE: Well, I think if you look at the support for the program, 85 percent of the public thinks Dreamers should stay in this country -- SCIUTTO: Yes.
SCHULTE: -- the lawyer who's arguing today, Ted Olson, was actually George W. Bush's solicitor general. You have the United States Chamber of Commerce in support of this program.
This program has been a huge win and ending this program would be truly devastating. I mean, you'd lose the ability for 700,000 young people to --
SCHULTE: -- live and work legally in this country. So we're really confident we're going to win today at the Supreme Court.
SCIUTTO: OK. Let's talk about something else because you went down to the border, where you found -- I mean, just the fact that I don't think most folks are aware of, that the asylum system for taking in people claiming suffering or danger to their life at home, has virtually come to a stop. And now these camps have developed on the Mexico side of the border. Tell us what you saw there and why this is happening.
SCHULTE: Yes. So if you think back to 2018, you saw the family separation crisis. And this was really the first assault on the asylum system that got national attention.
What you have seen subsequently is a series of interlocking policies that are really designed to essentially end the entire asylum system in the U.S.-Mexico border.
This is at a time when unauthorized crossings have plummeted historically. But what you are seeing here is essentially a tent camp in Matamoros, directly across from Brownsville. And what you can see on those visual is awful. The conditions are terrible.
It is a result of U.S. policy, and it is about 3,000 people -- that's up from 500 people only two months ago -- who are living in camps, feet -- I mean, three, 10, 25 feet from the border because they are too scared to go inland into Mexico, because these are incredibly dangerous places. But we are sending women and children there to wait for months or potentially ever before they get a fair asylum hearing.
SCIUTTO: Well, those pictures you showed -- we can show them again -- tell a story here, and I think it's a phenomenon that most Americans aren't aware is happening down there. Todd Schulte, thanks very much.
SCHULTE: Thanks for having me.
HARLOW: Pictures speak a thousand words, especially in this case.
HARLOW: Great to hear from him. All right. Big week, thanks for being with us today, one day out from
the historic public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. We're learning more about the strategies of House Democrats and Republicans for tomorrow morning. Stay with CNN.