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GOP Rep. Chris Collins Arrested On Insider Trading Charges; Giuliani: Trump Team Will Respond To Mueller Today; Rick Gates Concludes His Testimony In Manafort Trial; GOP Facing tougher Battles In November. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 8, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:01] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLTICAL REPORTER: But they were also able to say this was more broadly the Republican Party. And you don't want them in control anymore.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: To that point Nancy Pelosi issuing a statement saying that shows a rampant culture of corruption, self-enrichment of Republicans in Washington today. I'm going to guess that's going to show up in campaign ads in the country pretty soon.

The timing is horrible for the Republican leadership. Now again, Collins is not a senior member. He's not a part of the leadership but he is a frequent defender of the President on television. We're 89 days away from midterm election and it's already a steeper than steep hill for the Republican Party and then wham. One of your members accused of this.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And any seat that can potentially be in play all of sudden is a bad thing for the GOP because they're playing so close to the wire and a good thing for Democrats.

Any sort of high-profile person, even it's on the most appropriate. It's not like it's Paul Ryan or something, but it has a potential ricocheting effect on how much people start to view and question the integrity of various members of the GOP, especially those who have been tying themselves more close to the President.

And again, like you said that's not based on any sort of direct connection of order that's going on but it's just the mental association of people you see on television being the surrogates for the President. And it raises -- brought up questions about that, too, about where accountable is going to start and where it's going to stop.

And I think that there's no way of directly predicting. You can't draw a straight hard line between this episode and how a voter who may be kind of the fence would feel in a district that's a swing district, whether or not it's Chris Collins.

But that's now in the either and it something that the President going to have to address. I wonder how long it takes him to disavow the support that he got from Collins or potentially -- KING: Or not.

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I mean. Well, his just about other people that end up not being any more like shining -- but maybe he'll also defend him because his done that too.

KING: And again to button this up. You saw that presentation from Geoffrey Berman. If you're Michael Cohen, and you're watching that, you're thinking one of these guys are good. They have their details. If you're Donald Trump, you personally interviewed Mr. Berman when you pushed out the Obama hold over.

Preet Bharara was in that job. You interviewed Mr. Berman, if I'm right his a former law partner or Rudy Giuliani. Is he not? He's of the President's personal attorney now. So this is a trump appointee personally interviewed by the President who understands the sensitivity of this southern district of New York because he live there in Manhattan making this case, so having (ph) case.

Again, the congressman says he's innocent and will fight it. We'll keep track of these development send a political follow up.

Next for us here though, the aforementioned Rudy Giuliani says team Trump now sending a new offer to the Special Counsel about the terms of a possible -- emphasis on possible -- face-to-face interview with the President.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:36:38] KING: Welcome back. Rudy Giuliani telling CNN today, the President's legal team will respond today to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's latest proposed conditions for face-to-face interview with the President.

Giuliani telling CNN's Dana Bash, who's with us on the panel here, the counteroffer is, in his words, "A good-faith attempt to reach an agreement." But that counteroffer still appears to draw a line in the sand over what questions Mueller can and cannot ask the President.

For example, what did you say about Flynn? Why did you fire Comey? They already know our answer. If they can show us something in that area that didn't involve those direct questions that we didn't consider perjury traps, we would consider it.

Forgive me, but we have had these offers and counteroffers and kind of offers, predating Giuliani and now for months since Giuliani has come into the lead. Is this a stall to just get Mueller to decide, yes or no, will you subpoena the President, or are they inching toward tortured process closer to possible agreement?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESONDENT: The short answer is we don't know. We really genuinely don't know the answer. There is sort of the legal perspective of this and the political perspective of this.

And they, in some ways, are contradictory. The legal perspective is let's get this done. The people on the President's team who are lawyers and not politicians. On the political side, there is a growing understanding and school of thought that the longer this drags out, meaning like at this point, we're second week in August. We're talking about three more weeks until Labor Day.

The harder it will be politically for Robert Mueller to say, OK, I'm going to interview the President or maybe even issue a subpoena because it's in that traditional window of not doing it Labor Day until the elections.

So that's sort of the long answer. And they are in the dark. I mean, we're all in the dark about what Robert Mueller is doing. They're in the dark as well. All they know is what they have on paper from Mueller in these back and forth offers and counteroffers.

Giuliani said there is one area, wouldn't say if it was collusion. Wouldn't say if it was obstruction, where he thinks that they can agree and this counteroffer that they're going to send today shows some agreement. Wouldn't tell me what it was.

And on that whole question of obstruction, I asked him about it because on Monday he told the post obstruction is off the table. Yesterday, I think he told Politico, well, maybe there is some possibility. I think the way to sum up what he said to me was, it's going to be hard for us to read anything that deals with allegation of obstruction because we consider most of that a perjury trap.

Now others consider a question, a basic question of what were you thinking, what were you doing, just a question not a perjury trap.

KING: Yes, including the Air Force One phone call about the Trump Tower meeting that the President has now said, was yes, his son was going into a room with known Russians expecting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, which if you looked at a law book or federal election regulation would be illegal.

Donald Trump Jr. says I don't know that, I guess that's the excuse. But OK, a key point about the timing though. 60 days out from a federal election. Justice Department regulations, James Comey, if you're watching, say you should just shut up. Shut it down. Keep doing your work, but do it private. You don't go public. You don't do new charges. Everyone expects Bob Mueller because he's a career guy is going to follow that.

[12:40:00] In a way they're putting pressure on Bob Mueller to decide, put up or shut up. Maybe issue a public statement saying, we're shutting this down for now but then that guarantees, it carries over to 2019.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Although the truth is matter. I'm not sure how much pressure there is on Bob Mueller because he's not been very public. Yes, you might say, well, let's not announce any new indictments in those 60 days but it's not like he's been dramatically public issuing lots of statements and this would be a quiet period.

He can just keep working during the election. There's no reason why that necessarily would --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which is entirely possible for that to happen.

SHEAR: Right. That he just keeps kind of -- he goes to ground but going to ground is essentially what we've got. He doesn't do a lot.

KING: We will live in a different world if he continues his work into 2019 and the Democrats recapture control of the House, however.

HENDERSON: That's right. And you hear -- this idea that if the House flips, then you better watch out because they got power, the investigative power if you're Democrats to go after the President.

DEMIRJIAN: But at that point, you already. If you have House split, then you already know that the Democrats are going to go after the President likely anyway on this, but many question of more details that would come on it if Mueller is still continuing that output.

KING: The part that makes this again back to the Collins indictment one of these things that if you pitch this as a novel or TV series, they tell you to go away, it's too unbelievable. Is to remember how much more they know than we know as this back and forth goes on. That's why it remains a mystery. We'll see if tell us when the Special Counsel responds to the counteroffer.

Up next, related case. The defense pummels a key witness in the Paul Manafort trial. Who will the jury believe?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. We're heavy on legal news today. An update from the Paul Manafort trial. Start witness for the prosecution. Rick Gates concluded his testimony a bit earlier this morning after three days on the witness stand.

[12:45:05] During cross-examination, Manafort's attorney tried to make Gates' credibility and honesty the big focus saying "This jury is supposes to believe you after all the lies you told?" Gates responded, "I'm here to tell the truth." Mr. Manafort had the same path. I'm here. I have taken responsibility. I am trying to change.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has been following this case. Shimon, so the star witness is done. What's the sense now that Gates is finished?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I think the sense there is the Defense Attorney Kevin Downing there did exactly what he should have done. He went after gates' credibility from everything from the money that he allegedly stole or admitted to stealing from Paul Manafort to now some of these more salacious details about extramarital affairs.

In fact, this morning when the attorney went back at Gates about that accusing him of having four extramarital affairs. Prosecutors had objected to it. That answer, obviously, gates did not give, but he did go on to say he did some bad things and, "He had made many mistakes over many years". So it's true, John, here that his credibility, all of these things, these misdeeds or so, that had involved in his life all these years had been front and center. But whether or not he actually damaged the credibility of Rick Gates is really unclear. And we'll have to wait for the jury to decide.

But I can tell you from certainly from court observers who have been there, the jury has been paying attention to this evidence. Gates has been on the stand now for three days. It ended now some new witnesses, FBI witnesses and other witnesses that are going to come in and help the government's case.

KING: And we'll certainly watch those next witnesses to see if the prosecution thinks it needs to use documents or other evidence to get back at those credibility's. Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate thank you're tracking this trial for us.

A quick break, when we come back we're still counting votes in some of the big elections last night. But still even though we're not absolutely certain of the winners, we do have some important lessons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:51:51] KING: Welcome back. We still don't have final results in several outstanding races from last night's election. Also closely watching as we keep counting President Trump who backed multiple candidates in those races.

The President tweeting this morning, "As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates" within reason the President's says, they will win. Well, that's part of the big debate today, the result still razor thin. Take for example the Republican primary and the Kansas governor's race.

Trump back candidate Kris Kobach, his in a dead hear but the current Republican governor Jeff Colyer. Colyer issued a statement this morning noting the margin less than one-tenth of one percent as they keep looking at the votes there.

Another squeaker, Ohio's 12th Congressional District. The Republican you see here, 1750 more votes. A narrow vote lead in that special election, the Republican Troy Balderson is claiming victory. Won't be official however, until absentee, provisional ballots are counted. About 8,000-plus of those, we expect might take ten days.

Let's take a closer look though. The President did go out into this state. If you look into Trump country, the rural areas, yes, Troy Balderson getting big margins in Morrow County part of the district. But turnout itself, actually underwhelming. Not as many people turned out as Republicans might have hoped.

It the same when you go to these other small rural counties. Again, a big win for Balderson, turnout underwhelming. The big difference for Balderson was here Delaware County, it's more suburb and it's got some rural areas up here as you get Columbus more suburban. This was the big difference for Balderson. The O'Conner campaign thought it would do better in Delaware County. These numbers made the difference helping offset Danny O'Connor's big win in the piece of Franklin County that is in the district. This closed in Columbus suburbs where frankly, the President is toxic with suburban women and other members.

The President said though, he made the difference for Balderson. When you look at the overall results as we wait for the final verdict, Democrat Danny O'Connor who win or lose is still on the ballot in the November election says the President is overstating his role.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY O'CONNER (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I don't think he knows what he's talking about. You can fly in, hang out here for a couple hours, fly out. You don't walk on our roads. You don't have kids that go to our schools. You don't deal with the public health crisis with addiction that we have here in our state every single day. I think it's more important to have grassroots conversations. And Troy Balderson can have all the people he wants fly in from D.C. I don't think it makes too much of a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining our conversation, waiting patiently through all the legal news, that close to polls Podcast, Democrat Margie Omero, Republican Kristin Soltis Anderson. Thank you for waiting. I wanted to have more time for this today.

We'll continue the conversation in the days ahead. What did we learn last night? Republicans say, it looks like we're going to win in Ohio 12. There were thoughts we're going to lose, a win is a win. Democrats say, wait a minute. Trump carried that district by 11 points. The last Republican incumbent won walking away. And we almost won there for --

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: So the Republicans have done reasonably well in terms of actually scoring the Ws, scoring the win in a variety of house special elections.

But if you just win by a point in a place where you're supposed to win by a lot, does that spell doom for November? I think what we learned last night is, one, if you look at the geography of that district, in places that are quite suburban, denser, that the types of places where perhaps Republicans did well maybe a decade ago. Trending much, much bluer.

[12:55:10] And so that means a lot of these Republicans who are in these suburban districts, maybe the types of places that Hillary Clinton won a little bit, if Democrats can pick up those seats, that's going to be their path to the majority.

KING: And let me go through some of the numbers, for give me Margie before you jump on. Here's we got to this, we have 82 races, 82 Republican-held seats in our races to watch. Looking to November, Hillary Clinton carried 23 of those.

So that's where the Democrats first look. If Hillary Clinton could carry them in 2016, this should be a more Democratic year, you go there. The Democrats need 23. So that would be enough if they sweep those. Then you look at the rest 59 seats carried by President Trump. In where he ran weaker. Where he ran weaker than in Ohio 12. So you've got 59 plus 23. There's a pretty good target list for the Democrats.

MARGIE OMERO, CO-HOST, "THE POLLSTERS" PODCAST: Right. On top of that, here's to look at the amount of spending that the Republicans did in this district. They outspent Democrats by 5 to 1. Are they going to be able to match that kind overspend, not just in all the districts that Trump won by double digits, plus the Clinton-held district.

I mean how many districts are you going to have Republicans outspending Democrats? Not that many and if that's what's required to hold on to just barely by a tread, a district that went to Trump by such a large margin that hasn't been held by a Democrat in decades. I mean, that shows that a lot of --

KING: Just quickly correct my numbers. So there are 59 other Republican held seats and 36 of those, Trump ran weaker than in Ohio 12th. So there's the target list for the Democrats. You had another?

ANDERSON: Yes. Well, my only pushback would be that this is a special election in August. There's -- it's hard to get voters to the polls, period. And so I think the real question is, you mentioned some of those counties where for Republican turn out may have been lower than they were hoping.

By the time November rolls around, that those Republican base voters realize what the stakes are and turn out. That's one of the only reasons why I might say some of these special elections, are they necessarily predictive? I don't know.

KING: So you are saying essentially if Danny O'Connor had a shot, it was last year better than --

ANDERSON: In a year where Democratic voters who are low propensity voters are much enthusiastic, I think that the specials are the better chance for Democrats and some --

KING: Another high peripheral race and you had some work on this race is the Kansas governor's race. Where the President surprised, I use the polite term. The Kansas Republican Party by tweeting his support for Kris Kobach against an incumbent Republican governor which is unusual, shall we say. And now Kobach is ahead by 100 votes. So this is one going to go for a while until we get it. But Democrats are praying he wins because --

OMERO: Look, Kobach is ahead early. He initially and you saw that Kobach and all the public polling was ahead before the Trump endorsment. So I don't know if it made an impact. You have a sitting incumbent governor and very well known secretary of state. So I don't know what extent Trump's endorsement made a difference. People in Kansas are going to be looking of that thinking about Sam Brownback and his failed experiment when trying to figure out how they're going to vote in November.

KING: You think the Democrats could win that state though?

OMERO: Yes. I mean look -- you have a lot of folks in Kansas. There's been a lot polling that have showed that people don't feel the state is going in the right direction. Sam Brownback experiment some taxes, well-known, split his own party. And I think you're going to have people really looking at something else and that's what they're seeing in center lower county (ph).

KING: And so what do you tell a Republican who calls you up today and says Trump carried my district by six points. I feel good but my Democratic challenge is maybe raising more money than me. What shall I do?

ANDERSON: Stop feeling good. Stop feeling good. It's the number one thing I say. Even if you think you've got an OK shot at winning. I mean, you need to run like you are many, many points down. You need to remind your core voters why they should turn out. If Republicans even have a slight dip in turnout from what they're used to in midterms, that's what the Democratic wave is going to crash over.

KING: What else do we see last night?

OMERO: You saw a lot of women candidates winning in all kinds of races in primaries. You have by two to one, you see women winning -- we've talked about this before. Women winning their primaries where there's not an incumbent and a woman versus a man, about 64 percent, 69 percent. On the Republican side about 34 percent of Republican women winning those types of primaries.

You've seen incredibly diverse field. You see a woman who may be the first Muslim woman member of Congress out of Michigan. Native American woman winning a primary in Kansas, a lot of really exciting folks on the Democratic side.

KING: We will come back to that. I wanted to spend more time on the year of the women aspect of this today. I'll give you the final word. Is the President right that he's good for his party, or is the President maybe a little warped in his thinking?

ANDERSON: Republican voters like their President an awful lot. And I think there are swing voters who like the way the economy is going but have questions about his temperament. I think the question is, are they interested in keeping a Congress that will support the President in November? I think that's still an open question.

KING: Still an open question. We're done with special elections. Now it's all main event. Primaries and general election, you move ladies. I'll bring you back when we have more time. Thank you for your patience today. Thanks for joining us on "INSIDE POLITICS."

Stay with us. See you back here this time tomorrow.

Wolf starts right now. Have a good day.