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Corsi Refuses Plea Deal; Government Climate Report; Trump Campaigns in Mississippi; Trump Attacks Mueller; Looming Shutdown over Wall. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 26, 2018 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Let me give Nancy Pelosi some help on transitions, when that kid's ready, I'll step aside.

Brianna Keilar starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, it's the biggest story impacting the entire world. And not only does the president not believe it, it appears he tried to bury it.

A startling move by General Motors that will cut thousands of jobs across the rust belt.

And a Senate seat at stake, a racially charged runoff, and now, throw in a presidential visit to the tension in Mississippi.

And a dangerous new standoff may be putting Russia and Ukraine on the brink of war.

We start with the latest in the Russia investigation.

An associate of long time Trump adviser Roger Stone is refusing a plea deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jerome Corsi told CNN he will not agree to the plea deal on one count of perjury saying, quote, they can put me in prison the rest of my life. I am not going to sign a lie.

Mueller's team is investigating what Corsi knew about the WikiLeaks e- mail release. Corsi has previously said he expects to be indicted by Mueller for giving, quote, false information to the special council or grand jury.

And joining me now to discuss this, we have former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle.

So, Kim, what does this mean for Robert Mueller and his investigation?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that's really hard to tell. We could assume that there was some negotiations that went on. We know that Mr. Corsi testified not only before the grand jury but spent several hours with government investigators. So we know Mr. Mueller has proof, has facts to support this perjury allegation and, for whatever reason, these talks broke down. Either Mr. Mueller decided that the cooperation wasn't worth it and didn't offer kind of a deal to cooperate in exchange for a lesser sentence, or Mr. Corsi has some other reason to back out of this, which with the introduction of Mr. Whitaker into this entire probe, there's a lot of questions, I think, looming over how these decisions are being made.

KEILAR: Corsi did describe the experience of being with Mueller's team. He said it was like being interrogated as a POW in the Korean War.

And Roger Stone also just released a statement. He said, I continue to see that my friend, Dr. Jerry Corsi, is being harassed by the special counsel, not for lying, but for refusing to lie. It is inconceivable that in America someone would be prosecuted for refusing to swear to a false narrative pushed on him by Mueller investigators.

What's your reaction?

WEHLE: Well, I think that's public relations. I mean Mr. Stone is on record as saying admit nothing, deny everything, launch a counter attack. That sort of being the way to address these types of situations.

Mr. Mueller is a pro and I have 100 percent confidence that there is actual evidence backing up this kind of a situation because it's required by DOJ regulations, in addition to the fact that this is the kind of person his reputation stands up for.

KEILAR: Then for months you have Mueller, who's been circling Roger Stone here. Does this imply anything for Stone if Corsi is not cooperating?

WEHLE: Well, I mean if he goes to trail instead, so if he doesn't cooperate and they still charge him with perjury, and there could be additional counts, then that would mean that we would go to trial and we'd have lots of evidence and witnesses presented in public, like we saw with Mr. Manafort. That's not something I think anyone involved in this story necessarily -- who might have criminal liability is going to like.

Now, of course, the question here, as viewers know, is whether Mr. Corsi and Mr. Stone were -- was connected and the leaks of DNC e-mails by WikiLeaks and the e-mails themselves were stolen by the Russians. So this is core to this question of what people have called collusion. Of course, collusion, as we all know, isn't a crime, but, yes, it implicates Mr. Stone to the extent to which Mr. Corsi has information about communicating with Mr. Stone about these leaks prior to their dissemination, which did influence the election.

KEILAR: All right, Kim, thanks so much. Kim Wehle with us.

Now to President Trump's dismissals and denials. The president is under fire for his take on several major issues, both here in the United States and around the world. The president denying or dismissing findings from scientists, government agencies and U.S. intelligence. For example, a new report warns of dire consequences from climate change. The release of the report was moved up to this past Friday during the Thanksgiving holiday. The president has dismissed global warming as a hoax.

And then there's the intel findings on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to sources, the CIA concluded last week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi's killing. The president's response, quote, maybe he did, and maybe he didn't.

Also, he has yet to respond to Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian navy ships and the detention of 24 sailors.

And we mentioned that report on global warming. It warns that climate change will kill thousands and the U.S. economy could lose billions of dollars by the end of the century.

CNN's senior political analyst, John Avlon, has this global warming "Reality Check."

[13:05:01] JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Tryptophan is a hell of a drug. And while you were working off that food coma and gearing up to bum rush the stores, you might have missed this bit of news. The climate is galloping towards catastrophe.

In the afternoon of Black Friday, the Trump administration released a 1,600-page report produced by a dozen federal departments and hundreds of scientists. It wasn't supposed to come out until December. Well, that's what's known as a classic Friday news dump, when the information gets released that powerful people don't want you to see or pay attention to.

And what's surreal about this massive congressionally mandated report is that it completely contradictions the science challenged beliefs of our commander in chief. Here's a quick refresher.

Trump has called climate change a hoax and a canard created by the Chinese and fault -- based on faulty science and manipulated data. And just last Wednesday he repeated one of his favorite rifts, confusing climate with weather while looking at record cold temperatures across the U.S., tweeting, whatever happened to global warming?

But Trump's own agencies and scientists disagree with him completely on this. The report concludes that some of the worst effects of climate change are already beginning in the form of sharply rising sea levels, destructive heat waves and wildfires. This is the new normal with, quote, growing challenges to human health and safety and quality of life and the rate of economic growth.

Now, it's that last bit that might get Trump's attention, money. The report says the cost of climate change could hit hundreds of billions of dollars annually by the end of the century. The worst effects will be seen in lost labor, extreme temperatures and crumbling infrastructure. Worst case, climate change could strip away 10 percent of the nation's GDP over the next 80 years. That's a powerful message for a president obsessed with economic growth. And from floods in the southeast that threaten crops in the Midwest, to rising ozone levels in the upper plains, some of the areas that the reports say could be hardest hit are in the heart of Trump's red state base. You can't spin your way out of science, folks.

KEILAR: Thanks, John.

Now, more on this in a moment.

Meantime, President Trump is getting ready head to Mississippi for two rallies tonight in a racially charged Senate contest. He's throwing his weight behind Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith as she continues to keep her seat in -- as she tries to keep her seat, I should say, in tomorrow's runoff election. Her opponent, Mike Espy, is vying to become the first African-American senator in the state in more than a century. Hyde-Smith has faced backlash for making a joke about a public hanging and she appeared to defend the state's confederate past.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Jackson.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the president is on his way to Mississippi. He'll be in Tupelo. He'll also be in Biloxi, Mississippi. And, of course, he's here to campaign on behalf of Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.

This races has grown competitive, very much so, in part because of words that have come from the senator herself. The remarks she made regarding wanting to have a front row seat at a public hanging has energized a part of this electorate, especially African-Americans and Democrats. African-Americans make up a very large percentage of the voter registration in this state. Anywhere from 33 to 36 percent of voters.

And then on top of that, those comments have also possibly turned off some Republican supporters. And that's why people believe that this race is close. And it's also why they hope, at least Republicans do, that the star power of the president's appearance here will help carry Hyde-Smith over the finish line to victory.

But there's another factor here, and that is the \Thanksgiving holiday. This is a runoff election. Everything in both campaigns came to a shuttering halt. There were no door knocking. There was no real on the street campaigning in observance of the holiday. So, in essence, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, they -- they had to get going again and they're only just now on both sides getting in gear. And it's all going to come down to turnout. It's as simple as that. Who shows up to vote, who stays home, will determine who wins.


KEILAR: All right, Martin Savidge, thank you so much, in Jackson.

Just moments ago we saw former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos enter the door to the Federal Correction Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin. And just before walking in, as you just saw there in that video, he embraced his wife. Papadopoulos has been sentenced to 14 days in prison as part of a plea deal in the Mueller investigation.

And this comes as President Trump attacks the Mueller report even before it's out there, reacting now to these words from noted attorney and Trump friend Alan Dershowitz.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY: I think the report is going to be devastating to the president. And I know that the president seems already working on a response to the report. When I say devastating, I mean it's going to paint a picture that's going to be politically very devastating. I still don't think it's going to make a criminal case because collusion is not criminal.


KEILAR: All right, so let's look at the president's tweet here, quote, when Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble, will he be recommending action on all of the crimes of many kinds from those on the other side and will he be putting in statements from hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw, or spoke to a Russian during this period.

[13:10:13] I want to bring in CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger with us.

Alan Dershowitz said -- he said that this report would be politically devastating. But what does he mean by that if it doesn't show collusion would it still be politically devastating?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but it -- well, it could show -- collusion's not a crime. Conspiracy to defraud the United States government is a crime. So we'll see what it shows.

And he means politically devastating. I think what he means is that there were certain people at high levels in the Trump campaign communicating with Russians for one reason or another. And, you know, you only have to look at the Trump Tower meeting with Don Junior and say, gee, why did -- why did that occur. So what he means is politically devastating.

What he didn't go on and say is that, well, this could lead to say impeachment in a Democratic House, which is clearly the "i" word is a word that Democrats don't want to talk about right now.

The question that I have, Brianna, is how much of this are we going to be able to see because Matt Whitaker, who has taken the place of Sessions, may decide to redact a lot of this and then there could be a fight between the Congress and the Justice Department about how much of this the American public really gets to read.

KEILAR: Let's talk about climate change because there's a report on climate change that the government released on Friday. I mean we talk about the Friday news dump, but this was the Black Friday news dump. I mean no one was paying attention. BORGER: Sure.

KEILAR: So it's not a coincidence when you put something out on Friday. There are, though, some really stunning details that counter what President Trump says.

BORGER: Yes, you know, amazing details. And John Avlon just went over it, affecting as much as a tenth of the economy. I mean we -- you know, we -- we know it is a scientific fact that climate change is real. What we also know is that the Trump administration just put out a, you know, a statement reacting to this which seems to be saying that they need -- that what the country really needs is to focus on improving the transparency and accuracy of our modelling and projections. In other words, that our modelling might be wrong. And we also have a tweet from Donald Trump on November 21 talking about how cold it is outside. Brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records. Whatever happened to global warming?

So there's going to be a lot of talk about the Paris Climate Accords and how to potentially rejoin the rest of the world community on that. But right now it's clear that this administration isn't buying its own report, I should mention, its own report.

KEILAR: How did they continue to downplay this when, you know, last week we had two Republican congressman on.

BORGER: Right.

KEILAR: They don't have the luxury of denying the science when there constituents are under water.

BORGER: That's right.

KEILAR: And this is the reality for a lot of Republicans who were a part of the climate change caucus. So how does the White House continue to do that?

BORGER: Well, I think the way the White House continues to do it is to set up its own arm of scientists to disarm their own scientists inside the government who have already come out and said this is going to be -- this is going to be absolutely devastating for them. I think that when your own government issues this report, if you're inside the Trump administration and you're Donald Trump, you believe it's a deep state doing this to try and deep-six you on the issue of climate.

But as you point out, you have members of Congress from say Miami who are worried about being under water, for example. You have the president, the other week, going to California talking about raking to Jerry Brown, the governor of California, how the forests should be raked. And if you look at Jerry Brown's face, he clearly didn't want to get in a fight with the president.


BORGER: You understand that there is a large part of the scientific community, a preponderance, I would say in the scientific community, who says that Donald Trump is completely wrong.

KEILAR: And a major announcement now by General Motors.


KEILAR: They're going to cut 15 percent of their workforce. It also means closing four plants in the U.S., one in Canada. Politically, what does that mean to the president?

BORGER: Well, some of them are in Ohio and some of them are in Michigan. And, you know, you'll remember I believe it was in July of 2017 the president -- not yet president, said, you know, we're going to be bringing jobs to these areas. And now these plants are closing.

And one of the reasons, although it may not be the major reason, you know, one of the reasons is the steel tariffs because not that they import so much domestic steel, but it -- I mean foreign steel, but it costs them money to -- more money now to buy domestic steel. So this is -- this whole plays into it, the tariff issue all plays into it and the White House is going to have to respond to it.

[13:15:00] KEILAR: All right, Gloria Borger, thank you so much.


KEILAR: It is a race against the clock. Republicans lose control of the Houses in weeks and a government shutdown could happen in days. At the heart of it all, the president's border wall.

Plus, avoiding a carnival. Republican Trey Gowdy, who led the public Benghazi hearings, wants James Comey's testimony to be private. Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay is going to weigh in on all of this next with us.

And a major escalation of tensions overseas. Russia fires on and captures multiple Ukrainian navy vessels.


KEILAR: Another House win for Democrats and their blue wave. Two-term Republican Congresswoman Mia Love just officially conceded in Utah's extremely close fourth district race. In her concession speech, she slammed the president saying that Trump's vision of the world is, quote, no real relationships, just convenient transactions. The president previously criticized her for not embracing him while she was campaigning.

[13:20:18] Now, since election night, the lead shifted briefly in Love's favor, but then it ultimately swung back and Democrat Ben McAdams won with just a very slim 694 vote margin. Democrats now, at this point, will hold 233 seats in 2019 when they take over control.

And as the clock is running out here on the last days of the GOP's control of the House, the government is bracing for a possible partial shutdown. President Trump's goal is to fund his border wall. It's a major promise, as you know, that he made since the very beginning of his presidential campaign. Joining me now to discuss is former Republican congressman and House majority leader, Tom DeLay.

Thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

TOM DELAY, FORMER REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: My pressure, Brianna. Great to be with you.

KEILAR: So we're looking at this likely government shutdown in less than two weeks. Congress has to pass a bill to fund the government. The president wants money for his wall in that. What do you think the Republicans should do here?

DELAY: Well, if the president wants a wall, he's got to win this fight in the next few weeks because you're not -- he's not going to get any money for the wall for the next two years with the Democrats in control of the House. So he's got to lay down a marker, which he has done. If he has to shut down the government, only 25 percent of the government, by the way, then he's got to make sure that they -- Democrats understand that that's going to happen.

But I think the president being the president is more than -- more than capable of cutting a deal with the Democrats and coming out with something that helps him save face and continue to build on the wall.

KEILAR: And avoid a shutdown, you think?

DELAY: I think they'll avoid a shutdown. I don't think the Democrats want a shutdown. I don't think the Republicans do. And certainly the president does, but if you watch him for the last two years, he's laid down the marker and he will shut it down if he has to. But I think everybody will come together and eventually work. (INAUDIBLE) right up to the deadline before a deal is cut.

KEILAR: SO, Mr. Leader, we've been talking about climate change here, this report that came out from the administration on Friday. It was largely buried. I mean no one -- no one's paying much attention to the news on Black Friday.

But I wonder what you think, because I was reading one of your op-eds from more than 10 years ago where you talk about when it comes to climate change you said that it's mostly nonsense, but you also advocated for a truly workable package of reforms, you said. You said that, you know, no one really voted for a Republican because of his campaign's clever environmental white paper.

But I wonder if you think things have changed here in the last 10 years as we have seen some of these effects. We're seeing more Republican who are talking about climate change, whose constituents are even, you know, under water. You're from the Houston area. You know, you represented the Houston area. You know about this. Is there something that Republicans should be doing here?

DELAY: Yes, they should be standing up for good, solid (INAUDIBLE). I tried to read the report that came out Friday and, frankly, it is horrible. It started -- it's a political document. And I can't understand why the Trump administration allows (INAUDIBLE). And I know that the statute calls for such a report, but for this kind of report, which is nothing more than a political document, and an alarmist political document, why they let it out like this. They should have written a completely different kind of report based on real science.

Climate change is real. It's -- we've -- the climate has --

KEILAR: Wait, so you think -- what, you think scientists in the administration -- you think that they went -- so you're basically saying that there was sort of a conspiracy to do something that was inaccurate? I guess I'm not following you.

DELAY: Well, look at the report. The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10 to 20 year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming. That's what this is all about. It's not any new science. It's not any new -- the only new stuff is the alarmist stuff that in 80 years we're going to see people dying and starving and all that kind of stuff. We've -- I remember growing up Paul Early (ph) and his population bomb. He predicted that right now we would all be starving worldwide. And he's been discredited and debunked on his fake science.

[13:25:01] KEILAR: But this isn't one guy. This is -- this is a --

DELAY: It's more than one guy. Everybody bought in -- everybody bought in --

KEILAR: This is -- no, this -- I mean this is overwhelmingly accepted science.

DELAY: No, Brianna, everybody bought into that population bomb and it affect the politics and a lot of bad stuff was passed in Congress and others that never benefitted anybody or had any change.

We need to be focused on adapting to climate and the droughts and fires and those kinds of things. We can adapt. You mentioned Houston. The only reason we had the huge flood that we had was the government- run dams that failed outside of Houston. Nobody's talking about that.

KEILAR: Well, and the reports said it was because -- reports say when -- and just to be clear when you're talk about Harvey, we're talking about feet of rain being dumped in days there in Houston. Reports, reputable reports said that that was increased significantly because of climate change. That it supercharged the storm.

DELAY: Not at all. We -- Brianna, Brianna, we had the same kind of rain about five years ago. And we had some flooding. But we did a lot of adaptation and fixing the infrastructure and stuff. And there were a lot of people that flooded before that didn't flood here.

I'm not minimizing the devastation of the flood in Houston. What I'm saying is the most of the houses that were flooded was because of the two dams built by the Corps of Engineers and managed by government failed. And flooded places that had never had any flooding. So the point is it wasn't climate change that did it --

KEILAR: In the face of unprecedented -- but in the face of unprecedented rain, do (ph) (INAUDIBLE) to climate change is what scientists said.

DELAY: No, no, you can't say that -- it was -- no, it was not an unprecedented rain. We had the same -- we had 24 inches of rain just four or five years ago and didn't have this kind of flooding. We had flooding and we had certain areas that flood, but it wasn't unprecedented. We had -- we've had these storms for the last 100 years and there wasn't the, quote, manmade greenhouse gasses that were going on. We're going to have these storms. We just have to mitigate them.

The fires in California are because of environmental policy. It's not because of climate change. They've shut down whole parts of the forest in California and allowed the brush to grow up, which is -- they call fuel (INAUDIBLE). And instead of cleaning that fuel out and keeping it clean and minimizing the fires, the environmentalists and crazy Governor Jerry Brown --

KEILAR: Well, no, scientists -- I mean I will say -- I will say, Mr. Leader, that scientists take issue with what you're saying. I mean in this report that you're casting aspersions on from the government, this is -- this is 300 leading scientists and 13 federal agencies. What do you say to that?

DELAY: I can give you -- I can give -- I can give you 300 scientists that will say the difference. If you read the report, there is no dissenting opinion. It's all politics.

KEILAR: That will be more difficult to find. Well, what does that mean that there's no dissenting opinion? It means it's widely accepted science.

DELAY: No, it's not difficult to find. No, it's not widely accepted. It's accepted by the politics. Read the first line of the report. It's a political statement. Climate change is caused by man. That's not proven. And there's plenty of scientists that say otherwise. And through the entire report there's no dissenting opinion. They went out and picked out people that would say what their conclusion they already wrote before they even did the report. It's flawed, it's ridiculous, and, frankly, embarrassing.

KEILAR: All right, Tom DeLay, thank you so much for being with us, former majority leader --

DELAY: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Former Republican majority leader. We do appreciate it.

And I should say, I do just have to say this, that there is acceptance among scientists that there is manmade climate change. Just important to note there.

ON the brink of war. Russia fires on and seizes three Ukrainian naval ships in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Plus, children choking on tear gas after officers take action at the border. I'm going to speak with the president of the National Border Patrol Council. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)