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More Lawmakers Call for Subpoena of Trump's Translator; Alleged Russian Agent in D.C. Court; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 18, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Then went and cleaned it up yesterday. Today, he's saying he doesn't believe his intel people again, who say it's ongoing, the attacks are ongoing. He says, no, they're not.



GERGEN: -- Putin.

BORGER: I have to ask the question about whether the -- I don't know the answer to this -- whether the translator has already been debriefed by the Intelligence Community. It would seem to me that there's a real interest in knowing what went on. And I don't know whether privilege applies there or not. I would assume -- Michael, I would assume not.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Michael, to you, yes, would it apply?


MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: When you think of executive privilege, it is usually in the context of the president receiving advice from his senior advisors about matters. I'm not sure that this exactly fits within that strict definition of deliberative process or executive privilege. We saw in Whitewater -- David will remember -- when the President Clinton -- when President Clinton tried to assert executive privilege of some sort with respect to the Secret Service agent -- Starr wanted to talk to Secret Service agents about what they overheard, the president may have said. And there was a big dust-up over that. Which is why I say, Brooke, the better way is for this to go from the president to his senior advisors in a debrief, then the senior advisors in the ordinary course come to the Hill and tell us what they learned.


REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I would find it hard to believe that they would -- that anybody would debrief the translator. You have to remember these translators are conduits for the principal. When they write notes --


BALDWIN: That's what I was trying to get across.


KIRBY: Yes, Brooke, it's not a verbatim set of note-taking. The way I used to take notes when I would sit in with meetings with Secretary Kerry or his staff and you have professional note-takers. It is not verbatim. It is to help them provide the words in the other language in the right context. So it is shorthand, and often they use abbreviations that only they know. I think it would be highly unlikely for anybody in the Intel Community to find a reason to talk to the translators. Never been done before, at least in my experience.


BORGER: But it may be the best thing they have, to be honest.

BALDWIN: Maybe. We know -- who knows? But this will come up, right, potentially, in this press briefing ahead.

Quick break. Quick break. Stand by.

So much has happened since the last time we saw Sarah Sanders at that podium. Remember back to that guy, Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief? He resigned like two weeks ago. Lots has happened since then. Lots to ask her about.

Quick break. We're back in a moment.


[14:35:00] BALDWIN: The woman accused of acting as a Russian agent is in court right now. Maria Butina, a Russian graduate student, is charged with conspiring against the United States. Prosecutors say she was trying to influence American politicians and lawmakers to favor Russian interests, making close connections with both the Republican Party and the NRA.

She was first arrested this weekend for trying to leave Washington, D.C. Court documents reveal some pretty stunning orders from a Russian politician after Butina expressed some uncertainty. This politician, Torshin, wrote her privately on Twitter, quote, "Patience and cold blood." Plus, "Faith in yourself and everything will definitely turn out."

Sara Murray just walked out of that court. They're in recess right now. Shimon Prokupecz has been digging on the story as well.

Sara, first to you.

What's happened so far today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the court is in recess. This is a detention hearing. Butina arrived here with her lawyer, entered a plea of not guilty. She was wearing the customary orange prison jump suit upon her arrival.

But what these two sides are battling about, her lawyer as well as the government, is this question about whether she should be detained pending trial, whether she should remain in jail. The government laid out its case that we've seen in these court filings before, once again, alleging she was running an influence operation here in the U.S., that she was in contact with top Russian officials, that she had ties to Russian intelligence. They even showed the photo of her in front of the U.S. capitol around the inauguration. They've also made a point of saying that this is a Russian citizen. So if she leaves and she gets in a diplomatic vehicle, if she goes to the Russian embassy, there's nothing the United States government can do to ensure that she remains in the country and to ensure that she shows up for trial.

Now when her lawyer was speaking on her behalf, he was saying she's already had a number of encounters with government officials. She's received inquiries from the Federal Election Commission. She's received inquiries from Senate Finance Committee. She testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And in none of these cases did she flee the country. He's arguing she should be released on her own recognizance.

But the reason, Brooke, we are in recess right now is the court asked to address specifically this question of whether it is true that Maria Butina could walk out of this courthouse, go to a Russian embassy and immediately leave the country. Her lawyer said he can see that that is a risk, but he noted that there were Russian consular officials who were in the courtroom at the time. He wanted to confer with them to figure out exactly what the laws are. And that is why we are in recess right now so Maria Butina's lawyer can confer with those Russian consular officials.

BALDWIN: Shimon, you're so great at big-picturing this. Why is this one piece so significant in this overarching story? And how has the Russian foreign ministry -- they've weighed in as well, yes?

[14:39:55] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they did weigh in. They basically questioned the timing of this arrest, saying it was is done to undercut the meeting between -- the summit between the president be -- the two presidents, the Russian president and President Trump. That's not true, according to the U.S. government. They say they moved in to arrest her because she was going to leave Washington, D.C. And it is probably highly likely that the FBI would never have arrested her on Sunday if she would have stayed in Washington, D.C. In these kinds of situations, in these kinds of investigations, the FBI spends years monitoring these kinds of people.


BALDWIN: Shimon, hang tight.

Here she is, Sarah Sanders at the White House.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He'll address the veterans of foreign wars' 119th annual convention. President Trump is committed to our veterans and his work to reform the V.A. and to ensure veterans are given the care and support they deserve.

(WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING FROM 14:40:47 TO 15:00:06)

[15:00:06] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask you about the immediate reaction to the president's comments that he made at that joint press conference in Helsinki --