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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Special Report. Aired 11p-12:30a ET
Aired February 9, 2018 - 23:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:10] ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN special report.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only being a politician for a short period of time, how am I doing? Am I doing ok? I'm President. I'm President. You believe it, right?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A shadow hangs over the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why so many lies?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not normal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most explosive evidence yet in the Russia investigation.
BROWN: The urgent questions.
TRUMP: Fake News.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it appropriate for you to meet with the Russian officials?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars?
BROWN: At the heart of the Trump Russia mystery.
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with.
BROWN: But there were secret contacts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking and stunning news the release of an e- mail McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came from Russians.
BROWN: Some denials that defy the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't even know what you're talking about. It's crazy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disgusting and so phony. BROWN: A shocking dismissal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States has terminated the Director of the FBI.
TRUMP: She is a show boat, a grandstander.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were lies, plain and simple.
BROWN: Donald Trump's changing stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President. Mr. President.
TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.
I've done a lot of business with the Russians.
BROWN: Compliments for Vladimir Putin.
TRUMP: He is really very much of a leader.
He has done an amazing job, so smart.
BROWN: Attacks on American institutions.
TRUMP: When you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.
BROWN: Where does in story end?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may or may not find evidence of an impeachable offense.
TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.
BROWN: Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown. For more than a year I've been part of a CNN team investigating this critically important story. A consensus of U.S. Intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered with the treasured right of American democracy the free and fair election of a President. The big question now, were the Russians working with any associates of Donald Trump or his company or his campaign? We followed hundreds of different threads to financiers. We've reported new information almost every day.
Tonight we will bring that reporting all together in one place to tell a more complete story. We don't know how this investigative journey will end, but we do know where it starts.
In November of 2013, Donald Trump brought the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.
TRUMP: Russia and Putin, you know, I was in Moscow and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, everybody. Welcome to Moscow! [23:05:00] TRUMP: It's an amazing location. Moscow. All of Russia
is going wild over it. We're very happy, the Miss Universe pageant is setting records.
BROWN: Trump seemed to have the time of his life.
TRUMP: Wow. That is really --
You're looking very --
That is really nice. Now I belong.
BROWN: The big man on campus. Donald Trump.
This is the unlikely place where an unusual cast of characters first emerged. Men who would end up in the middle of an investigation that has plagued the presidency. Donald Trump was paid between 12 and $20 million to bring Miss Universe to Russia.
TRUMP: Russia wanted it, Moscow wanted it, and everybody wanted the Miss Universe. We had 18 countries that wanted it. They fought really hard to get it.
BROWN: The money came from this man, Agalarov.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing hospitality and support.
BROWN: A billionaire developer, friend of Vladimir Putin, sometimes called the Trump of Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then they were whisked away to the magnificent Agalarov estate.
BROWN: Miss Universe was a family affair. Son Emin sang at the pageant. And his mom got a job, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fashion and beauty expert, Irina Agalarov!
BROWN: Trump seemed thrilled with his new Russian friends. Before the pageant, Trump invited the Agalarov's to Las Vegas to deal the Miss Universe deal. It was guess who is coming to dinner, Trump style. Agalarov was there of course and so was music publicist Rob Goldstone. A fan of silly Facebook posts, he is the man who wrote the infamous e-mails to Donald Trump Jr., e-mails that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. And Emin, the singer, would later help Goldstone set up the Trump tower meeting with Russians. And there was one more mystery guest, who would later show up at Trump tower. Ike Kaveladze, who works for Agalarov. Trump wined and dined all of them, but he was after a bigger fish to make his pageant great.
TRUMP: Well, we've invited President Putin. I know he'd like to go.
BROWN: Before the Miss Universe deal, Donald Trump almost never spoke of Vladimir Putin. It was 2013 when he seemed to develop an intense admiration for the Russian strong man. TRUMP: He is put himself -- a lot of people would say he is put
himself at the forefront of the world as a leader. He is done an amazing job of showing certain leadership that our people have not been able to match.
BROWN: He would echo those sentiments many times in the years to come.
TRUMP: Putin has an 80 percent popularity in this country. He is so outsmarting the United States that all of a sudden the people in Russia like him. Run but a very smart cookie, much smarter than our President.
BROWN: This was also when Trump first began giving conflicting accounts about knowing Putin.
TRUMP: Do you have a relationship? With Vladimir Putin, a conversational relationship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?
TRUMP: I have no relationship with Putin.
BROWN: He would change his story repeatedly.
TRUMP: We were stable mates. We did very well that night.
I don't know him, I have nothing to do with him, and I know nothing other than he will respect me.
BROWN: Vladimir Putin did not show up at the pageant, but Trump made other contacts.
TRUMP: I got to meet other leaders there. It was a massive event. I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals.
BROWN: It's hard to say if oligarchs or generals were at the pageant or at any of the wild late night parties.
TRUMP: Everybody was there. It was a massive event. It was tremendous.
BROWN: But Trump did have at least one business meeting.
TRUMP: We're thinking about doing a Trump tower Moscow. So we're talking to a group of people about doing that.
BROWN: Trump sent this good-bye tweet to his new Russian friends. Fantastic job, he said. Trump tower Moscow is next. Four years would pass, but the players at Miss Universe would return to take center stage in the Trump-Russia drama.
[23:10:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most explosive evidence yet in the Russia investigation.
BROWN: It was in July.
JAKE TAPPER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST CARTOONIST: Breaking and stunning news the released of an email chain from last June.
BROWN: But the world first learned about the Trump tower meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: E-mails revealed that Donald Trump Jr. Went into a meeting with a Russian lawyer.
BROWN: The President's son had a secret meeting with Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly told she was working for the kremlin and that she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
BROWN: And it wasn't just Don Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were there, too.
TAPPER: The subject line of the e-mail chain, Russia-Clinton, private and confidential.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it might have been fake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like a fascicle episode.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia-Clinton private and confidential?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who follows them down that rat hole?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not very smart people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What? Seriously, what?
BROWN: Some of the e-mails read like a script for a bond movie, but they were written by Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This can't be dismissed as people out to get Donald J. Trump Jr. or fake news. This is evidence of willingness to commit collusion.
BROWN: The offer of political dirt came courtesy of Agalarov with assist from his pop star son, Emin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is obviously very high level and sensitive information, but it is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Donald Trump Jr. is told the Russian government is trying to elect your father President, he doesn't say what do you mean? How can that be? He says, "I want to hear this."
BROWN: The actual response? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "If it's what you say, I love it."
BROWN: The Trump camp's explanations were confusing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strange and conflicting accounts from the White House on that meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with the Russian lawyer.
BROWN: The first explanation has become a focus of the Mueller investigation, because it was misleading.
Donald Trump Jr. told the "New York Times" it was, quote, primarily about Russian adoption. That statement may spell legal trouble for President, because he helped write it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He weighed in offered suggestion like any father would do.
BROWN: "The New York Times" reported that the day after the statement was issued there was a conference call involving the President. Then senior adviser Hope Hicks and spokesman Mark Corallo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Donald Trump.
BROWN: Corallo expressed concern that the Trump tower emails contradicted Trump Jr.'s statement. But Hicks said, quote, the emails will never get out. Her lawyer denies that account.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they misleading statement was put out, the core question is the classic question of intent. Were Trump administration officials starting with the President himself lying to the public about the nature of his campaign's dealings with Russia?
BROWN: Even as the story of the meeting was first breaking, Trump defenders were downplaying it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know much about it, other than it seems to be a big nothing burger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of those people who says it's a nothing burger
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a massive nothing burger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton?
BROWN: Finally Don Jr. acknowledged the full story that he met with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stories kept changing about what the meaning was about.
BROWN: We got more information when Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News.
DONALD TRUMP JR., OLDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Someone sent me an email. I can't help what someone sends me, you know. I read it. I responded accordingly. If there was something interesting there I think it's pretty common.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The difference in this case was that it came from Russians.
BROWN: Russia, America's adversary, Sean Hannity didn't press Trump Jr. about Russian interference. But one year earlier Jake Tapper did. He asked Trump Jr. about what were then still just suspicions.
TAPPER: Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- I asked him about the DNC leak, and he suggested that experts are saying that Russians were behind both the hacking of the DNC e-mails and their release.
BROWN: Keep in mind as you watch this it was six weeks after the Trump tower meeting, after Trump Jr. had been told Russia wanted to help his father win.
[23:15:07] TRUMP JR: Well it just goes to show you their moral compass. They'll say anything to be able to win this. This is time and time again, lie after lie. It's disgusting, so phony.
BROWN: Journalists began questioning everything they heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are 100 percent confident that no one in the campaign, not don Jr., not Paul Manafort, no one told the President anything about these emails, anything about this meeting before it happened and he will testify to that under oath?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I'm not -- no one it testifying -- asked him to testify under oath on this. So I don't know how that is coming into the picture. The President wasn't at the meeting, was not aware of the meeting, and did not participate in the meeting. The fact is the President wasn't involved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a legal side but the political side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah there is the political side which is you're out there. And you're saying constantly there was no effort to collude with the Russians in any way shape or form. And suddenly you have your son, your campaign manager and your senior adviser all in a meeting with Russians who have promised to bring you dirt.
BROWN: On the very same day his son set up that meeting, Donald Trump told a crowd that he would soon have something to share on the Clintons.
TRUMP: I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week. And we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you'll find it very informative and very interesting.
BROWN: Trump never did give that speech. But finally with all of Washington buzzing about the Trump tower meeting, Donald Trump weighed in from France.
TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent.
BROWN: Even among Republicans, the response was, really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any time you are in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the moment you watch either Dr. Zhivago to read brothers of Karamozov you need to disclose every contacts with Russia.
BROWN: Donald Trump Jr. said he had done that.
TRUMP JR: As far as this incident is concerned this is all of it.
This is everything. This is everything.
BROWN: But it was not everything. There were more Russians there who were never mention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we learned more people were in that meeting than just the lawyer and the three members of the Trump team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are learning more about who was the eighth person in the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian attorney.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The eighth person in the room, he was a representative of the Agalarov family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN is reporting that there was somebody else in the meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're now basically waiting to find out if there are any Russians who were in New York that day who were not in that meeting.
BROWN: The eight people were Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rob Goldstone and three Russian men, lobbyists were not mention, Agalarov executive (inaudible) and a translator. The leader of the meeting, Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. A character right out of a spy novel she seldom tells the same story twice. At first she denied any connection to the Russian government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have connections to the Russian government?
BROWN: But she does has connections to the chief prosecutor in Russia who she shared her talking points with months before the Trump tower meeting. She also denied bringing up any dirt on Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make sure that everybody understand that is there was never a talk about damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.
BROWN: Now she says she may have had dirt about alleged illegal donations to the Clinton campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Natalia says she provided certain documents to the Russian prosecutor general.
BROWN: Agalarov family attorney Scott Balber spoke with Veselnitskaya.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She makes reference to the possibility that money was also provided to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.
BROWN: Donald Trump said that a year ago. No people has now grown to 12 people. Trump associates who had contacts with Russians. Two of the most prominent have been charged with crimes. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
[23:50:00] Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to, among other charges, money laundering. You'll hear more about them later in this story. But one lesser known player is also in the hot seat. Donald Trump first mentioned him at a meeting with "Washington Post" editors in 2016.
TRUMP: George Papadopoulos, he is an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.
BROWN: Excellent guy George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you called George Papadopoulos an excellent guy. What is your reaction?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President what's your reaction to George Papadopoulos.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BROWN: The Trump team has been working overtime to portray him as nobody.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This individual was a member of a volunteer advisory council.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the coffee boy. If he was wearing a wire all we'd know now is whether he prefers caramel over regular American coffee.
BROWN: But the coffee boy found his way to the big boy table with Donald Trump and other top campaign people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't know how to even make a coffee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fiance of George Papadopoulos, Simona Mangiante, says he was much more than a coffee boy. SIMONA MANGIANTE, FIANCEE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: He attended many
events and entertained contacts with high level officials of different countries. He was actively giving his input and insight in terms of strategies.
BROWN: And it turns out Papadopoulos may be the very reason there is a Trump Russia investigation. "The New York Times" reports that back in May of 2016 Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that the kremlin had thousands of emails that could be damaging to Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a big deal, the fact that a Trump foreign policy official is bragging that he knows early that Russia has said they have the emails and they want to use them and release them to benefit Republicans in the election.
BROWN: When the emails began to leak, Australia told the U.S. what the young campaign aide had said. And that apparently played a role in the decision to open an FBI investigation. Papadopoulos is now cooperating with the Mueller team.
When we come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President thinks it's a witch hunt. Is there any way to respond to that?
BROWN: Before there was a Mueller investigation.
TRUMP: He has become more famous than me.
BROWN: There was a Comey investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I Remember standing in the newsroom and somebody gasped, went, I thought what happened.
BROWN: The Jim Comey bombshell, that no one saw coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a dark moment in American history today.
[23:26:40] BROWN: Just over 100 days in office, President Trump scored a much needed win after a house vote on health care.
TRUMP: Only being a politician for a short period of time, how am I doing? Am I doing OK? I'm President. Hey, I'm President. Can you believe it?
BROWN: But days later he made a decision that potentially put his presidency in legal and political jeopardy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have major breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moments ago breaking news that no one saw coming today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember standing in the newsroom and somebody gasped, went --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bombshell at the White House, James Comey is out.
BROWN: President Trump had abruptly fired the man in charge of investigating his campaign's ties to Russia. Although the President is allowed to fire the FBI Director, there were suspicions about Trump's motivations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not normal. This is not how Presidents behave. It's a dark moment in American history today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One Senator says it is plunging the country into and I quote here a full-fledged constitutional crisis.
BROWN: It fueled calls for a special prosecutor and raised questions about how the firing was handled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Comey wasn't even in the City. He was all the way across the country.
He actually found out by looking up and seeing it on the television.
ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: Just -- I just got to stop it. He was talking to FBI agents in Los Angeles and he looks up and sees that he is fired from television?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is what we are told.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That just gives you a sense of how impulsive this firing was. And it really did back fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The underlying facts are not in dispute. The President fired James Comey. The issue is, why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did something specific happen? Was there a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House coms department didn't know about it.
BROWN: The media team was scrambling to answer reporter questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They couldn't come up with some talking points, a statement an explanation by the basic facts.
BROWN: And Sean Spicer was left standing by the bushes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No cameras up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Observing hold on turn the lights off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No cameras in a moment you'll do 101.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Relax enjoy the night. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You saw no --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They deliberately didn't tell the press office because they thought they would leak it. He was mistrustful of his staff.
BROWN: At first a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was given as the justification for the firing. Rosenstein has been the top official overseeing the Russian investigation since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last March. That recusal infuriated President Trump who reportedly saw it as disloyal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He expected a certain measure of person loyalty from Sessions which is not how the U.S. Government is supposed to work.
BROWN: On the night of the Comey firing, the chaos continued.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What prompted that? What was it like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to ask the deputy Attorney General.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just started two weeks ago with the White House told him to do that? ?
BROWN: The memo was critical of Comey's handling of Hillary Clinton's emails before the election.
COOPER: Why now are you concerned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation when as a candidate Donald Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I think you're looking at the wrong set of facts here. In other words you're going back to the campaign. This man is the President of the United States. He acted decisively today. He took the recommendation of the deputy --
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[23:30:00] ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: ...a candidate Donald Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I think you're looking at the wrong set of facts here. In other words you're going back to the campaign. This man is the President of the United States. He acted decisively today. He took the recommendation of the deputy Attorney General who recommended that. PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Finally Trump gave what
appeared to be his real reason.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said, you know this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
BROWN: The day after Comey was fired, Trump shared his feelings about it with Russian officials visiting the oval office. According to the "New York Times," the President said, "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a staggering moment of disparaging the Director of the FBI, albeit fired, to an adversarial power.
BROWN: Perhaps of greater importance is when the President also said this. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That is taken off."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The words relieving pressure will raise questions for investigators.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BROWN: The President has consistently said that he did not obstruct justice when he fired James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Comey will this be --
BROWN: The two men come from completely different worlds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Comey is a professional law man. He has a respect for the traditions of the Justice Department.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It should be about the facts and the law. That is why I became FBI Director.
BROWN: Donald Trump on the other hand is a businessman.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATION CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: He expects absolute loyalty from everybody working for him. That is the culture in which he has operated for many, many years.
BROWN: Their relationship got off to a bad start. Before the inauguration James Comey was in charge of telling Donald Trump about the dossier. The controversial document contained allegations about the President gathered as part of an opposition research project during the campaign.
COMEY: I didn't want him thinking that I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way.
BROWN: It turns out that is exactly what the President thought. According to an interview he gave "The New York Times."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump's reaction was anger. He said it was completely false.
BROWN: The encounter apparently didn't sit well with Comey either.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We know he went back to the FBI suburban and pulled out a classified computer and wrote his first memo about his interactions with Donald Trump.
COMEY: I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting. And so I thought it is really important to document.
TRUMP: The inauguration was such a success.
BROWN: Comey's next public encounter with the President was awkward. The Director of the FBI thought it was crucial to keep his distance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He stands in the part of the room that is physically as far from the President as is possible to be.
BROWN: But then.
TRUMP: Oh, and there is -- James. He has become more famous than me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It encapsulated the difficult position Comey was in. Because he was at once the FBI Director, answerable to the President of the United States. But also conducting an investigation of the Trump campaign, which the President obviously hated.
COMEY: You've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room. What the President whispered in my ear was I really look forward to working with you.
BROWN: The President kept reaching out. Next came an invitation to dinner at the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very fact that the President whose campaign is under investigation is asking to have dinner with the FBI Director alone raises all sorts of red flags. As it did for Comey.
COMEY: The dinner was an effort to build a relationship. In fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.
BROWN: The President's words, according to Comey, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."
COMEY: He was asking for something and I was refusing to give it.
BROWN: The White House denied he was asking for personal loyalty.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the President wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law.
BROWN: It is their last meeting which may prove to be critical in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just picture the scene. In the oval office, the
FBI Director is there with his boss, Jeff Sessions, with other very senior officials. They are told to leave the room by the President. And then it's just a one-on-one.
COMEY: Why would you kick the Attorney General, the chief of staff out to talk to me? My impression was something big is about to happen.
[23:35:00] BROWN: This was one day after national security adviser Michael Flynn had been forced out. The White House said Flynn was fired, because he lied to the Vice President about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Questions have been raised about whether the President knew Flynn also lied to the FBI, which is a federal crime. So another critical question is whether Trump knew it when he said this, according to Comey. I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.
COMEY: This is the President of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that, but that is the way I took it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so wildly inappropriate, so contrary to how the government is supposed to work. And it may well be evidence of a crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn, and also you look.
TRUMP: No, no. Next question.
BROWN: It may have been Comey's appearance on Capitol Hill, just days before he was fired in early May, that finally sealed his fate. Comey was asked about his decision to publicly announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation before the election.
COMEY: Look, this was terrible. It makes my mildly gnashes to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly it wouldn't change the decision.
BROWN: Comey's concern that he influenced the outcome of the election infuriated the President.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump heard it as a personal attack.
TRUMP: Look, he is a show boat. He is a grant stander
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Donald Trump hear that is he hears my presidency is illegitimate. You're trying to question whether or not I should be in the oval office right now.
TRUMP: The Russians did not affect the vote. And everybody seems to think that.
BROWN: The President spent a rainy weekend at his New Jersey golf resort stewing about Jim Comey's testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came back and decided, I'm going to do it. I'm going to fire James Comey.
BROWN: Among those supporting the President's decision. Son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really did show that so some of the people around the President who were pushing this are beyond politically naive.
BROWN: After his fire James Comey returned to Capitol Hill and revealed something extraordinary.
COMEY: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.
BROWN: The memo describe his last meeting with the President and in the oval office.
COMEY: I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
BROWN: He was right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is huge, Pamela.
BROWN: This is a significant step we are learning the deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to now oversee the Russia probe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a dangerous day for the President potentially.
BROWN: Just about a month after terminating Comey, Trump may have pursued yet another firing. He pressed White House counsel Don McGahn to look into potential conflicts involving Robert Mueller. "The New York Times" reported that Trump wanted Mueller fired. Until McGahn threatened to quit, warning it would be catastrophic for the Trump presidency.
TRUMP: Fake news folks, fake news.
BROWN: The President now says he wants to talk to Mueller under oath. Even though his lawyers have advised him against it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The special counsel has a very wide net that he can cast to look into all things Russia, and who knows what else's going to find.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Comey, the President.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That wouldn't have happened had the President Trump not fired James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your next move? Will you come back, sir? BROWN: Still ahead, chasing an oligarch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owed you millions of dollars when he was head of the Trump campaign?
BROWN: To chase down the real story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he offer those private briefings to you to try to repay the debt.
BROWN: On all the President's men.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get lost, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you sign my Russian flag? Sign my Russian flag. Sign my Russian flag.
[23:42:20] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Manafort will surrender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indictment, conspiracy against the United States.
BROWN: A former campaign chairman, indicted on nine counts.
TRUMP: I have the smartest people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trusted adviser, Jared Kushner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has a secret means of communicating with the kremlin.
BROWN: A top adviser who discussed a back channel with the Russians.
TRUMP: I have the most dedicated people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Flynn has resigned tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back door communications with Russia.
BROWN: And a national security adviser guilty of lying to the FBI.
TRUMP: I have the best people.
BROWN: Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn. This is the story of all the President's men.
TRUMP: I got the best in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Settle down, guys. You all right? Ready? Ok.
BROWN: November 10th, 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talked about some of the organizational issues.
BROWN: Two days after the election, President Obama gives his successor a piece of advice.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That ensures our President-Elect is successful.
BROWN: Do not hire Michael Flynn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now the oath of office.
BROWN: As your national security adviser.
CNN was told something by U.S. officials that was deeply concerning.
TRUMP: The next President of the United States, right here.
BROWN: During the campaign, American intelligence picked up the Russians bragging that they had a strong relationship with Flynn.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You have to take some of the conversations we were told with a little bit of a grain of salt. But this set off an alarm for the Obama administration officials who were quite worried about it.
TRUMP: People talk about temperament.
BROWN: Flynn worried intelligence officials for months. In 2015 the retired three-star general appeared on the kremlin funded news channel, R.T.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia and the United States have to work together on this.
BROWN: He even spoke at an event celebrating R.T.'s 10th anniversary. And he sat next to Vladimir Putin at dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you have a former top intelligence official in the United States government, celebrates this gala for what is the propaganda army of the kremlin.
BROWN: Flynn made almost $34,000 for his appearance. But investigators looking into his security clearance said Flynn told them he did not take any money for the trip from a foreign source.
[23:45:02] MIKE FLYNN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I didn't take any money from Russia, if that is what you're asking me.
BROWN: Congressional members from both parties had said he may have broken the law in the process.
JASON CHAFFETZ, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It appears as if he did take the money. It was inappropriate and there are repercussions for the violation of law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It leads investigators to wonder why, aren't you disclosing certain things. What do you have to hide?
BROWN: Flynn has denied what he has called, quote, false accusations of treason.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you betray your country?
BROWN: But the bombshell of Robert Mueller's investigation came on December 1st when Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While he was national security adviser, he told FBI agents that he had not discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador during the transition. But he had talked sanctions and the FBI knew it. Because the ambassador had been monitored by U.S. Intelligence.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He said he didn't do it. And there were transcripts clearly showing that he did.
BROWN: What's more, Flynn admitted in his plea deal that the sanctions talks had been coordinated with Trump's transition team.
TAPPER: The White House cannot argue this was Michael Flynn going off as a loose cannon here.
BROWN: A White House lawyer claimed that Flynn's guilty plea didn't implicate anyone else. Before he pleaded guilty, Flynn was facing a lot of tough legal issues. But Mueller only charged him with one count. So it's possible that Flynn has an even bigger story to tell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing Manafort come in now with counsel.
BROWN: Paul Manafort, the President's former campaign chairman is also facing possible jail time. He is charged with money laundering millions of dollars, concealing his work for a foreign government and conspiring against the United States. He has pleaded not guilty.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The special counsel makes an aggressive argument that this is someone who can't be trusted.
BROWN: Manafort made a lot of his money working for this man. Putin's ally, Victor Yanukovych, the former President of the Ukraine. He was a strong man who presided over a deadly crackdown against protesters in the streets of Kiev. He left his country in disgrace. Manafort had helped bring him to power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Manafort has for decades been the Washington lobbyist and influence peddler around the world for a lot of the most vicious dictators we have seen.
BROWN: The question is was Manafort also linked to Russia's strong man, Vladimir Putin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there are not. It's absurd. And you know, there is no basis to it.
BROWN: But U.S. Intelligence saw a different story. Agents intercepted communications from suspected Russian operatives indicating that Manafort appeared to be asking them for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They describe him essentially encouraging help, encouraging the Russians to provide assistance to Donald Trump's campaign.
BROWN: Manafort's ties to Russia go way back. He worked for a close associate of Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that Mr. Manafort owes you millions of dollars?
BROWN: Deripaska, one of a few of wealth oligarchs Putin consults with regularly according to a U.S. State Department cable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can pick up the phone to the oligarchs saying I need a message to this American and it gets done, because he is Vladimir Putin and that is how the system works.
BROWN: Less than two weeks before Trump got nominated, Manafort offered to brief Deripaska him privately on how the campaign was going, according to the "Washington Post".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not often that the Russians get somebody to volunteer like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he owe you millions of dollars?
BROWN: In fact court documents indicate that Manafort may have been in debt to Deripaska.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he offer you the private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that why he offered them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get lost, please. Thank you.
BROWN: Deripaska spokesman told CNN that the oligarch was never offered briefings by Manafort. Manafort's spokesman has denied that Manafort was in debt to Deripaska during the Trump campaign and afterwards. But he has admitted that Manafort offered the briefings. Manafort was also at the Trump tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kushner will you sign my Russian flag? Sign my Russian flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sign my Russian flag.
BROWN: And so was the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any comment Mr. Kushner?
BROWN: Kushner hasn't been charged with any crimes. The troubling questions have been raised about his connections to Russia.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Jared Kushner is incredibly important for several reasons.
[23:50:00] He is a witness to virtually all the central issues in this investigation. He is also important because he is an independent actor. He is someone who had contacts with Russian representatives.
BROWN: Kushner has not been forthcoming about those contacts. He was required by law to disclose them to the FBI for his security clearance. But he has repeatedly omitted foreign contacts and had to submit his forms four times sparking tough questions from both parties. His reasons for the revisions range from forgetfulness to a clerical error.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: There have been stories appearing for months about Jared Kushner's meetings.
BROWN: December 1, 2016, Kushner meets with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak in Trump tower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador.
BROWN: They discussed setting up a back channel with Moscow at Russia's own embassy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to say that raises the red flag and why wasn't this reported?
BROWN: Kushner claimed he wanted to discuss Syria and said the arrangement was never set up.
Some U.S. Intelligence believe that Sergey Kislyak was one of Russia's top spies in Washington.
December 13, 2016, Kushner meets with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a sanction Russian bank that is funded Putin's projects, like the Sochi Olympics. The bank was also used as a cover by a Russian spy in New York City who went to prison for espionage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergei Gorkov was actually one of three Russian spies.
BROWN: And Gorkov himself attended the training academy for Russian intelligence operatives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you really speak to Jared Kushner about in New York when you met him in December?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No comments.
BROWN: There have been questions about whether Kushner might have discussed his family's business with banker Gorkov. Kushner owns a fifth avenue building with a reported $1.2 billion mortgage coming due in 2019. Kushner says that his business dealings never came up with Gorkov and all of his meetings with Russians were nothing to worry about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your bank said it was a business meeting.
BROWN: But Gorkov's bank implied that the meeting with Kushner was about business. Referring to Kushner as the head of the Kushner industry. Robert Mueller's team has expressed interest in Kushner, including his role in the firing of James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advise you campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
BROWN: Investigators still have many questions for the President's men.
TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The collusion question?
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is not closed.
TRUMP: To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.
BROWN: When we return.
TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia.
BROWN: But Donald Trump has made money with Russians.
TRUMP: I paid $40 million, I sold it for $100 million. And I sold it to a Russian.
[23:57:34] TRUMP: Does anybody have any questions?
BROWN: The day after that bombshell announcement, President Trump had his first chance to strike back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this the right move or is this part of a witch hunt?
TRUMP: Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a witch hunt and a hoax.
TRUMP: Russia is a ruse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fiction, total fabrication.
TRUMP: It's all fake news.
BROWN: But no matter what the Trump team would call it, the Russia investigation was very real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President thinks it's a witch hunt. Is there any way you can respond to that?
BROWN: And under Robert Mueller, going in a direction the President did not want it to go.
TRUMP: I have a great company. I built an unbelievable company. If you look there, you see there's nothing in Russia.
TOOBIN: If you listen to the statements of the President and his team about the Mueller investigation, they feel like financial issues, Trump's business dealings should be walled off, should be off limits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To look at a real estate deal from ten years ago would be way outside of the scope of the man date, we would certainly object to that.
TOOBIN: It's quite clear that Mueller's team is looking directly at his business dealings for the perfectly understandable reason that money can be a motive.
BROWN: We follow the money to the very beginning of Trump's connection to Russia. Decades earlier. In 1987, when 41-year-old Donald Trump took off for his very first business trip to Moscow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1987, Donald Trump was flush with money. And Donald was invited to Russia. So he and Ivanka went to Russia and they tried to make a deal to build a Trump tower there.
BROWN: That deal never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was talk of Trump tower in Moscow.
BROWN: But again and again, Trump would keep on trying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald's tried at least five times to build a Trump tower in Moscow.
TOOBIN: Donald Trump has an enormous ability to deny reality. Reality is that during the campaign, not just in ancient history, during the campaign, he was negotiating for a hotel to be built in Moscow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Erin, we've learned that Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer was in talks with Moscow through an intermediary about a proposal to build Trump Tower there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the definition of business dealings in Russia.
PAMELA BROWN, SPECIAL REPORT, HOST: The deal outlined in a nonbinding letter of intent signed by Trump in the fall of 2015 fell through, but not before Trump's attorney reached out to the Kremlin for help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cohen said in a statement today he emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov for help on this project on behalf of the Trump organization.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We could make deals in Russia very easily if I wanted to.
BROWN: But according to economist and investigative journalist James Henry, all the focus on Trump's deals in Russia might be missing the point.
JAMES HENRY, ECONOMIST AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: It isn't so much that he's investing in Russia, it's that he's receiving finance from the former Soviet Union states, from oligarchs.
TRUMP: I have got more oligarchs living in my building.
BROWN: And before he became a politician, businessman Donald Trump boasted about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had any dealings with the Russians.
TRUMP: I have done a lot of business with the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most expensive home ever sold in America.
BROWN: Back in 2008, at the height of the U.S. housing collapse, Trump made a record breaking deal with a Russian oligarch known as the Fertilizer King, Dmitry Rybolovlev.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He bought from Donald Trump a mansion about two miles from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
TRUMP: I paid $40 million. I sold it for $100 million, and I sold it to a Russian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Donald J. Trump.
BROWN: Rybolovlev would reappear during the 2016 election. When according to news, his private plane was spotted in two U.S. cities where Trump was campaigning, Concorde, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It certainly looks suspicious that you have this leading Russian oligarch bird-dogging our President on the campaign trail.
BROWN: A White House source told McClatchy News the pair never met. And Rybolovlev called the overlaps a pure coincidence that occurred while he was traveling on unrelated business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still don't understand that to this day.
BROWN: What remains clear, however is that this oligarch is hardly the only Russian to have bolstered Trump's bottom line. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a surprising number of Russians involved
in his deals everywhere.
BROWN: After his catastrophic financial collapse in 1991, that threatened to end his empire for good, Trump spent most of the decade digging out from under enormous debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was basically unfinanceable by major banks.
BROWN: Luckily for Trump, a new source of money was just around the corner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have this unbelievable avalanche of money pouring in from the former Soviet Union, just when Trump is in serious trouble financially.
BROWN: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia state owned businesses moved into private hands, creating a class of wealthy oligarchs, some of whom invested in American real estate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Word spread if you want to park money in the U.S. and have the lowest risk of being noticed you, have to buy real estate.
BROWN: And in the years that followed, properties like Trump World Tower in New York, according to Bloomberg News, and his development in sunny isles Florida, according to Reuters, started filling up with Russian buyers.
TRUMP: My name is Donald Trump and I am the largest real estate developer in New York.
BROWN: Meanwhile, Donald Trump was finding his way into American living rooms across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has this incredible stroke of luck. He turns into an actor playing a successful businessman.
TRUMP: Who will be The Apprentice?
BROWN: And the Apprentice opened the door for Trump for a new way of making money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump had shifted his business model. He became a brand name at that point. He began licensing his name and putting his name on everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doing it a hap-hazard, chaotic way.
TRUMP: When it comes to great stakes, I just raised the stakes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump steaks, Trump water, and Trump wine, Trump this and that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He licensed neckties. He licensed buildings. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He plugs into the solutions, beautiful, beautiful
solution, that if I don't ask a lot of questions and I allow my name to go on projects, then I'll get paid.
[12:05:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are buildings in which he didn't put up a penny but he got a multimillion dollar fee upfront that would have the Trump name on them.
TRUMP: The Trump Soho is a very, very special building.
BROWN: In the case of Trump Tower Soho, the Trump organization got 18 percent ownership of the tower without investing a single dime, according to Bloomberg News. The financing for the project was left up to his partner, Bay Rock Group.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a problematic project from top to bottom.
BROWN: A lawsuit filed by a former Bay Rock insider in 2010, accuses Bay Rock of money laundering and having questionable ties to Russia and Russian organized crime. The suit is ongoing and Bay Rock denies the allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a -- why would Trump ever do business with those guys.
BROWN: Guys like Russian born Felix Sater, Bay Rock's Key Executive. Sater's lawyer, Robert Wolf says that the suit accusing Bay Rock of shady dealings is a "shake down."
FELIX SATER, BAY ROCK'S KEY EXECUTIVE: My life has been beyond interesting.
BROWN: Sater was a twice convicted felon. After his second conviction, he cooperated on cases with the Justice Department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Felix had been convicted of stabbing someone in the neck with a glass in 1991. He did a year in prison for that, and 1998 he's convicted of a $40 million financial fraud involving penny stocks, commodity trading.
BROWN: Despite his checkered past, Sater's business ties to the Trump organization extended well beyond the Soho deal. Together with Bay Rock, they explored additional Trump deals in the U.S. and abroad. Yet in sworn testimony in a 2013 deposition, Trump insisted he barely even knew Sater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About how many times have you conversed with Mr. Sater?
TRUMP: Over the years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the years.
TRUMP: Not many. If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is absolutely untrue that Donald Trump doesn't know Felix Sater.
BROWN: At one point, he worked out of an office at Trump Tower and held a business card for the Trump organization. He was also the go- between for Trump's most recent and perhaps most controversial attempt at building Trump Tower Moscow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to the New York Times, Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow to tour the proposal and even suggested to him that he could help him win the presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The emails have now come out in which you see Sater actually saying that we could use this business opportunity to get Donald Trump elected.
TRUMP: President Trump would be so much better for U.S.-Russian relations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no question during the campaign that Trump was trying to get closer to Russia and repair relations with Russia.
TRUMP: There's nothing I can think of that I would rather do than have Russia friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In one question for the Mueller investigation, is whether the reason Trump was reaching out to Russia was because he was making money or expecting to make money from relationships with Putin's people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:10:01] BROWN: Houston, Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Power.
BROWN: The heart of Texas' Facebook page invites its 250,000 followers to the Stop Islamization of Texas Rally. And adbot promotes it. At precisely the same time and place, people gather for the United Muslims of America Facebook event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down with the racist.
BROWN: Shockingly, Americans had nothing to do with starting those Facebook groups. But for about $200, Russian trolls got 15,000 people to see their fake ads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Across the country, you may very well have driven by a protest for any hot-button issue. These protests in some cases were organized out of Russia.
BROWN: Russian imposters pushing messages, sometimes violent, false and often controversial, $100,000 in Facebook ads, thousands of Twitter accounts, and Google ad dollars. Russians were behind it all, creating content designed to pit Americans against one another.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
BROWN: Now, Capitol Hill wants answers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The political ad was paid for by rubles. Isn't that a red flag? How could that happen?
BROWN: Almost all of the propaganda found so far traces back to the internet research agency. Investigators say it was financed by a company owned by this man, a Russian oligarch, a wealthy businessman and part of Putin's inner circle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hired people that had a quota, working in 12 hour shifts leading up to the election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was an entire English language department, specifically designed to insert messages, social media posts in the United States. They were required to watch House Of Cards to better understand American politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In two weeks time, you will be heading to the ballot box to decide what kind of country you want to live in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea was to masquerade themselves as Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They understood that black lives matter ads should be targeted to cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, which saw violent protests over police killings of African-American men. They understood gay rights were a big issue, and gun rights were a big issue.
BROWN: Some people have seen these videos, posted to pages now identified as part of Moscow's influence campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a really detailed, thoughtful process of how do I make this look legitimate.
BROWN: Legitimacy boosted when influential people amplified the message, bearing the Tennessee State Seal, this Russian run account was re-tweeted by Donald Trump Jr., Kelly Anne Conway and Michael Flynn.
[12:15:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In sharing this content, Trump's campaign in effect, whether knowingly or unknowingly helped legitimize and spread Russian disinformation.
TRUMP: I doubt I would be here if it weren't for social media, to be honest with you.
BROWN: From tweets to posts to pictures, the Trump team used every digital tool to their advantage. Looking back, that approach was born out of sheer necessity. From day one, candidate Trump faced an uphill battle. He lacked the foot soldiers and local offices that his opponents had spent months, even years, cultivating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're wondering why he isn't buying ads, running a traditional campaign. It's because he has no money.
BROWN: Trump's campaign threw out the old playbook and turned to a newer, more powerful way to turn out the vote, big data. Jared Kushner oversaw that part of the operation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He treated Trump like an e-commerce company, like a consumer tech company.
BROWN: Trump's digital team bet big on one simple idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can now target your message to a smaller group of people and have that message be more impactful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win. Twitter was how he talked to the people, Facebook is how he won.
BROWN: Trump Campaign Digital Director Brad Parascale led the effort.
BRAD PARASCALE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Now I can find 15 people in the Florida panhandle that are going to buy a TV commercial for. We took opportunities the other side didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like what?
PARASCALE: They had their staff imbedded inside our offices. Facebook employees would show up every day at our offices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facebook offered a service to both political campaigns. The Trump campaign took Facebook up on it. The Clinton campaign surprisingly did not.
BROWN: While Parascale and Kushner testified on Capitol Hill, both deny any collusion with the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By all accounts, the Russians feel like they were successful in what they were trying to accomplish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would imagine every day that Vladimir Putin and the people around him are watching American news, saying, in our wildest dreams we never thought we could be this disruptive. The Russians, probably rightly think that they won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:20:01] BROWN: We close tonight with the dossier, that controversial document which contains many troubling allegations about Donald Trump, his associates and his campaign. Some have said its evidence of collusion, others have said it's been completely disproven, even fake. Neither of these statements is correct. For our story, we will stick to the facts. Ten days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are live in Chicago tonight.
BROWN: On the same night, President Barack Obama was giving his farewell address to the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have breaking news in the nation's capital tonight. I want to go straight to Jake Tapper.
BROWN: A team of CNN reporters broke a stunning story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez, and Carl Bernstein and I have all been working on the story.
BROWN: About America's new President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Claims of Russian efforts to compromise the President-elect, Donald Trump.
BROWN: The President-elect and the outgoing President had been briefed on the most sensational charges in the dossier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allegations that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising, personal, and financial information about Mr. Trump.
BROWN: U.S. officials with direct knowledge told CNN that Trump had been warned, Russia could have information on him. That's the damaging information gathered through surveillance that Vladimir Putin is believed to collect on powerful people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was your concern that the Russians could have leverage over the President of the United States?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BROWN: Former intelligence Chief, James Clapper.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER INTELLIGENCE CHIEF: Gaining leverage, that's their objective. If they can compromise somebody, they have a term for it, compromise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was our sense, our strong sense that the nation's senior most intelligence officials would not waste the time of the President and the President-elect if it was easy to dismiss information. It was a remarkable step.
BROWN: CNN did not reveal the contents of the dossier. Beyond what he learned from sources because it had not been verified, but shortly after CNN broke the story, Buzz Feed published the entire dossier on the internet. Donald Trump was furious.
TRUMP: It's phony stuff. It's a disgrace.
BROWN: Though journalists had not verified it, portions of the dossier had been in FBI hands for month. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout August or September 2016, Chris Steele,
the former MI-6 officer who had compiled the dossier puts it in the hands of someone he knows in Rome who's an FBI agent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Steele was a veteran British spy, worked for the MI-6 intelligence service, was a Russia expert.
BROWN: Steele had compiled the dossier as opposition research for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was from British intelligence, which was based in the country involved in this dossier, Russia, and in fact, since his time in British intelligence, worked for U.S. law enforcement.
BROWN: Now through the FBI investigation and extensive reporting, we know that parts of the dossier are true, because U.S. government intercepts picked up conversations between Russians that corresponded to conversations detailed in the dossier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meetings and conversations contained in the dossier did, in fact, take place at the times and places between the people as described in the dossier.
BROWN: The reports that make up the document allege extensive Russian interference in the election, information that U.S. officials later confirmed to be true.
[12:25:01] BARACK OBAMA, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. The intelligence I have seen gives me great confidence that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was designed to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Those claims in the dossier have all pretty much been verified by the U.S. intelligence community.
BROWN: But even as aspects of the dossier have been established as fact, the document and its creator, Christopher Steele, have come under withering criticism from supporters of President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This, so you understand, is so much bigger than Watergate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They used a dossier of lies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know whether the nation's premier law enforcement agency relied on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it.
BROWN: At the center of the dossier fire storm, is Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, who wrote a controversial memo, alleging FBI and Justice Department abuses. He claims that the agency used the dossier to spy on an American citizen to obtain surveillance warrants against Former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor, Carter Page.
The FBI and Justice Department did cite the dossier, but said they had other, ample evidence of Page's Russian connections dating back to 2013. Still, the dossier remains controversial, especially for its most sensational allegation, that the Kremlin has compromising material on Donald Trump. There has not yet been any proof of that charge.
But a former CIA Station Chief in Moscow, says Russia almost certainly has a file on the President.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you believe that the Russians have compromising information on Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would surprise me gravely if they do not. It's what the FSB does. They've done it for decades and decades.
BROWN: Most important investigators say, is this, the dossier is one piece of information in their wide-ranging inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have spoken to a number of people who have been briefed on the classified intelligence. The one point, they make clear is listen, there's more out there than this. The dossier is one small piece of a much larger picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: As we've tried to bring that picture into focus, we have made several attempts to speak to one of the President's lawyers on camera. We were unable to obtain an interview. Donald Trump maintains in statements and on Twitter, that there was no collusion. But multiple investigations by the special counsel and in Congress continue.
As a result, we will also continue to report this story, focusing on the facts. I am Pamela Brown. Thanks for joining us.