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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

75 Former Intelligence Officials Criticize President Trump for Pulling Ex-CIA Director Brennan Security Clearance; Washington Post: White House Drafts More Clearance Cancellations Demanded by President Trump Could Be Released As Distractions to Unfavorable News; Manafort Jurors End Work For Week With No Verdict As Pres. Trump Again Calls The Case "Very Sad"; Colorado Man Suspected In Deaths Of Children, Wife; Military Parade In Washington Postponed; Feds Want Prison Time For Russia Probe Figure. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:16] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: They served with distinction, some risking their lives on the front lines of the Cold War and every war since. Now, the president of the United States is battling them and belittling them, and they are hitting back hard, and their number is growing.

Jim Sciutto here, sitting in tonight for Anderson.

Right now, upwards of 75 former intelligence officials are at odds with President Trump. First, there are new names on the list of former senior intelligence officials condemning the president's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. That number now up to 15.

That is 15 former directors and deputy directors of the CIA and directors of national intelligence, dating back to the Reagan administration, all signing on to a statement that reads in part, quote: the president's action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials have nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech. Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views.

Again, these are household names -- General David Petraeus, Judge William Webster, Leon Panetta, James Clapper -- people who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations or both.

And late today, 60 other former CIA officials weighed in as well with a statement of their own. That's 60. One of them, Phil Mudd, is going to join us shortly.

In any case, the president appears undeterred. In fact, he appears eager to go after another name on what critics are now calling his own enemies list of currently serving Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Bruce Ohr's security clearance?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Say it?

REPORTER: Bruce Ohr's security clearance?

TRUMP: I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I'll be taking it away very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Never heard of Bruce Ohr? It's probably because he is a pretty small player in what the president would call a large conspiracy against him.

Mr. Ohr communicated with the author of a Russian dossier, Christopher Steele, this after Mr. Trump's victory. But there is no evidence that Mr. Ohr did anything wrong in speaking with Mr. Steele, none. Mr. Ohr was associate deputy attorney general after all, so a dossier like the one that Mr. Steele had compiled would certainly be of interest to him.

But whatever you think of the DOJ or the Central Intelligence Agency, either now or through years past, you ought to know that what President Trump is doing is simply without precedent. With very rare exception, chief executives do not even get involved in who does or does not have a security clearance. They just don't.

But this president has, and every time he talks about it, he underscores his motivation for doing it. You'll remember that the White House has yet to say that John Brennan in any way mishandled classified information, and it's hard not to notice that the other former officials now under review all have connections, real or in the president's mind to the overall Russia probe.

And he admitted yesterday that this was for him about Russia and punishing perceived critics. And he repeated that himself today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look, I say it. I say it again. That whole situation is a rigged witch-hunt. It's a totally rigged deal. They should be looking at the other side. They should be looking at all the people that got fired by them.

All of the people that got fired, they should be looking at Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie for dealing with by the way indirectly Russians. They should be looking at Steele. They should be looking at all these FBI guys who got fired and demoted.

It's a really -- it's not us. It is a rigged witch-hunt. I've said it for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That is the president of the United States in his own words for the second time in two days revealing the motivation behind taking away people's security clearances, his words and his deeds. And as you have seen, it is moving people who would otherwise by and large avoid controversy to step forward in public, including, as you know, retired Admiral William McRaven who oversaw the takedown of Osama bin Laden and many other special operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban in wartime. I just want to re-read a portion of his statement from yesterday, because it probably moved a lot of others today to get involved in public.

He wrote, quote: Through your actions, to the president he said, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and worst of all, divided us as a nation.

Here's how the president responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:05:02] TRUMP: I don't know McRaven. I know that I've gotten tremendous response from having done that because security clearances are very important to me, very, very important. And I've had a tremendous response for having done that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Joining us now is one of the 15 top former intelligence officials who weighed in last night and again today. David Cohen served as the deputy director of the CIA from 2015 through last year. He is also a former assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing.

Mr. Cohen, thanks very much for taking the time.

DAVID COHEN, SIGNED STATEMENT SUPPORTING BRENNAN: Good to be here.

SCIUTTO: First, I want to ask you, why did you think it was important to sign this letter in public?

COHEN: Well, Jim, I think it was time to stand up and be counted, and to join with other former directors and deputy directors, and to say clearly that what the president is doing departs from precedent and departs from precedent in a dangerous way.

The whole process of security clearances, of who gets them and how they get revoked has forever been an apolitical process. Politics hasn't factor into it. And the president now inserts politics and his own personal fears about the Russia investigation into this process, it undermines our security.

And I think it's important that those of White House have had the privilege of serving at -- in leadership levels and in the intelligence community call him to account.

SCIUTTO: There is a story that just broke tonight in "The Washington Post." It says that the White House has already drafted documents revoking the security clearances of several other current and former officials who you'll remember when Sarah Sanders first announced Brennan's revocation on Wednesday, she mentioned James Clapper and others, and according to "The Washington Post" that Trump wants to sign most, if not all of them.

And just one more detail, "The Post" reporting that the plan is to release these statements revoking those security clearances at times when there are unfavorable news cycles to distract.

What's your reaction to that story?

COHEN: Well, what we know is that the statement about John Brennan's security clearance being revoked was actually dated July 26th. And it was issued just a few days ago. So, clearly, they had that in their back pocket. I don't know if they saved it for what they thought was an opportune time to distract from other stories.

SCIUTTO: The day of the Omarosa news.

COHEN: Yes, perhaps. But regardless, the decision to revoke these security clearances has nothing to do with any of the people on that list that Sarah Sanders read out mishandling classified information, doing anything that is in the standards for why someone should or should not have a security clearance. It is a plate importantly nakedly political act, and one that departs from our nation's history.

SCIUTTO: The president has characterized -- well, certainly John Brennan, and I'll imagine he'll do the same for others as he revokes them as partisans who are bring biased against him. Today, perhaps belying the president's claim, James Woolsey, also a former director of the CIA in the early 1990s, who supported the president, in fact, he advised the president during his campaign, he released his own letter. Our understanding is that he would have signed on to the other but he was not contacted in time.

I'm just going to quote from the letter he himself wrote on his own. He said that objective criteria should be used in evaluating who gets to keep a security clearance.

Does this belie the president's assertion that this is all about partisanship against him as opposed to the facts?

COHEN: Look, I think the president has said basically this is about two things. One is to try to silence his critics. You can see from that list of people that they're looking at to revoke their clearances, it includes Mike Hayden.

Now, Mike Hayden has nothing whatsoever to do with the Russia investigation. But Mike Hayden, former director of the CIA, former director of the NSA under Republican administrations, has been critical of the president. The only possible reason that Mike Hayden is on that list is because the president done like the criticism that he received from Mike Hayden.

And then you have other people on the list that are in the president's mind somehow involved in the Russia investigation like Bruce Ohr. That is I think the motivation here, both to go after critics and as a foreshadowing, I think to the folks on the Mueller team that they also may have their security clearances revoked. It's a way for the president to shut down the Mueller investigation by revoking the clearances of the prosecutors and the investigators.

SCIUTTO: You've advised a president in time of war. The reason that former officials keep their security clearances is so they can do the same thing. When there is a threat -- Admiral McRaven, for instance, who has been involved in many dozens of counterterror raids, if for instance this president was confronted with the possibility of another bin Laden raid, you might want to call up Bill McRaven.

[20:10:06] Is it a risk to U.S. national security, damaging to U.S. national security to in effect exile these people with these expertise?

COHEN: There is a reason that the tradition grew up that former directors and former deputy directors and former military official likes Admiral McRaven retain their clearance. That's because the people who are currently holding those offices like to be able to rely on people with experience, with expertise, with some historical perspective, and to call on them for their guidance. That's a good thing. That's a good thing for our country. It's a good thing for our national security. If that is no longer available, it would be detrimental, for sure.

SCIUTTO: David Cohen, thanks very much for taking the time.

COHEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: As we mentioned at the top, last night's statement from the 12, then the 13 and now the 15 intelligence chiefs and deputies was followed late today by a statement from 60 other former intelligence professionals. I just want to highlight a few of those names and their accomplishments so you can get a better sense of the caliber and the sacrifice and the service of these men and women.

Let's start with Greg Vogel. He is the former CIA deputy director for operations. He was in charge of covert ops and is credited with saving the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a friendly fire strike in Afghanistan just after 9/11. Remember that.

There is Letitia Long. She is the former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. She is the first woman to head a U.S. intelligence agency.

There is the highly decorated Jeremy Bash, and there is also CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd -- a long history in counterterrorism who joins us now, along with CNN political commentator Paris Dennard.

Phil, since you are one of those who signed your name to that list, the second letter coming from former intelligence officials today, tell me why you and your colleagues went public today, challenging, protesting the president's actions?

PHIL MUDD, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISOR: I don't understand, Jim, why we keep talking about security clearances. This is not about security clearances. My peers on that letter spent our lives -- I joined in '85 -- fighting countries. The North Koreans, looking at other adversaries or potential adversaries, the Chinese, the Russian.

These countries, one of the common characteristics they have is people who want to speak out because they have views that don't correspond with the views of government are either sideline order in some cases if you look at Vladimir Putin, murdered. This is not about security clearances. This is about the president trying to intimidate people to say you're a dog and I'll muzzle you.

We spent our career saying that we're fighting for the right of 330 million Americans to speak, and the president said no. That will never happen in this country. All of us will speak until we are dragged away. I don't care what I say. I don't care what John Brennan says. I have the right to say it.

I don't care whether the president likes it or not. If it's Bush, if it's Obama, if it's Trump, I have the right to say it. That's the reason we wrote that letter.

SCIUTTO: Paris, let me ask you, long-time Trump supporter, who should the American people trust? Who should the American people listen to on this issue? Seventy-five men and women like that who have served and continue to serve their country, who have served both Republican and Democratic presidents, I might ad, or the president on this? Whose right?

PARIS DENNARD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF BLACK OUTREACH FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think they are both right. I think --

SCIUTTO: The president is trying to silence them. In this case, one has to be right. Buzz they're saying the president was wrong to remove the security clearance under threat of taking away people's voice here.

DENNARD: What we have seen since John Brennan's security clearance has been revoked is that nobody's voice has been silenced. Mr. Cohen came on your program, said whatever he wanted to. Others have come on and said exactly what they want to. They continue to be contributors on cable news. They continue to tweet as they wish.

Phil Mudd came on this program tonight and said he won't be silenced. So, the idea that somehow revoking their security clearance is going to silence them is not true. They're still talking.

SCIUTTO: Why is the president doing it? To what end?

DENNARD: I think what we have to look at is the idea of norms and laws and privileges and rights. And these are all getting confused under this administration with people thinking that because something was a norm means that it's law. That's not the case.

A lot of these people that have these security clearances, and this is the secret in the swampy Washington, D.C., they have them and they keep them because it's profitable for them after they leave government, because if you a security clearance, especially high level security clearance, your contracts and consulting gig pay you a lot more money because of the access that you have. I hope the president continues to do this, and I hope he adds Omarosa

to the list, because if she has a clearance, she too because of her actions should have it revoked.

[20:15:06] SCIUTTO: I don't know if I would put Omarosa in the same category as the 75 people who signed the letters.

But, Phil Mudd, I imagine you want to react.

MUDD: Profitable, Paris? When I am required to sit on an advisory board, let me ask you one question, how much do you think I'm paid to do that at the request of the U.S. government? Give me one answer, and you've got 10 seconds? How much?

DENNARD: I'll ask you a question. How much are you paid for your contracting gig?

MUDD: I have no contracts with the U.S. government that pay money. Zero.

DENNARD: And this is the thing.

MUDD: The U.S. government --

(CROSSTALK)

DENNARD: Phil, let's be honest.

MUDD: That's it.

DENNARD: I'm not talking about your role with the federal government. I'm talking about --

MUDD: Oh, who are you talking about? Are you talking General Hayden?

DENNARD: Consultant and a contractor, the consulting firms that they form and you all get is because you get more money when having a consultant -- for having the security clearance. Stop acting like that doesn't happen.

(CROSSTALK)

MUDD: That is incorrect. I have zero consulting relationships with the U.S. government. Zero.

DENNARD: I'm not talking -- Phil, that's a good talking point. I'm not talking about relationship with the government. I'm talking about in the private sector. When you a security clearance --

(CROSSTALK)

MUDD: I have zero relationships with the private sector that involve my security clearance. Zero. Zero. I get zero dollars from consulting companies that deal with the U.S. government. Are we clear? DENNARD: Well, he will be clear in saying that everybody in

Washington, D.C. knows -- if you don't want to be honest about it, that's on you -- but if you have a security clearance and you keep it, you get more money to have it.

MUDD: We're done. We're done. Get out!

SCIUTTO: Phil --

DENNARD: It's not your show. I'm staying right here.

Don't be so defensive about this.

(CROSSTALK)

MUDD: Get out.

DENNARD: Don't be so defensive about this. Your voice is still here. You can still do whatever you want. But the politicalization of the intelligence community under this administration with the people coming on here every day tweeting and talking about this administration, you all have made it about politics, not the president.

SCIUTTO: Let's take a beat here for a second. And Phil, I appreciate your patience because I know it's getting personal here.

Paris, a point of fact here, and Phil makes a point which is a point of fact. When a Phil Mudd who serves an advisory board for counterterror threats and goes and participates in conversations with the agency about those threats, he is not getting paid for that.

DENNARD: That's not what I'm talking about.

SCIUTTO: When Bill McRaven is consulted on counterterror operations because he led dozens of missions, deadly missions --

DENNARD: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- where soldiers risked their live, he is not paid for that. What you seem to be doing here --

DENNARD: No.

SCIUTTO: -- is saying that because people have jobs outside of government after they leave government, that therefore you're saying that is justification to take away their clearances when government and agencies rely on them for their counsel? Is that what you're arguing?

DENNARD: No. What I'm arguing, Jim, is that -- and I appreciate every one of those persons' service. And I know how important everyone in the intelligence currently serving and the past are in the role that they play for this country.

But what I'm talking about is the private sector. Let's not act like all these men and women sit at home all day and just consult with the federal government and don't earn a living. Everybody knows, Jim, that a part of keeping your clearance means you get more money for having the clearance when you consult and when you have contracts with other companies and when you set up your own firms. This is what happens.

SCIUTTO: Phil, he's making an argument there, and you made your point on what you do for government. What's your response to Paris' argument here?

MUDD: Well, we got 24 hours. I got a simple suggestion. Go to the original 15 signatories of the letter yesterday and ask how much income by a percentage they make from their security clearances.

Mine? Zero. Thanks a lot.

SCIUTTO: Here's a question I want to put to you, Paris, because it gets to the larger issue here. This is a question of national security, it is not? You keep security clearances when you leave the profession because you may be called on to give advice based on your experience when the U.S. faces a national security threat, as Phil does when he is called in, when, for instance, there is a new threat to bringing bombs on airplanes, right? They call Phil in to say, how can we use your experience to prevent bombs from going on airplanes?

As an American, would you feel safer if that counsel was not available to the president of the United States?

DENNARD: What I would hope, Jim, there is a mechanism so that if called upon and if need, the individuals that served prior could come back and do it on a temporary basis.

SCIUTTO: That's exactly what this is. To be clear, there is a misunderstanding, I don't know if you know, just for the sake of our viewers, to have a clearance doesn't mean that David Cohen can walk into the CIA any day and call up classified files. It means that if he's called upon, he is already cleared to go in that building and view classified information.

So, the system you're talking about is exactly the system that's in place which is exactly the system that the president here is removing by removing their security clearances.

[20:20:07] Does that change your view?

DENNARD: Well, Jim, let's be honest. He is not eliminating the entire system.

SCIUTTO: He is doing it for a bunch of prominent people.

DENNARD: What he's doing is for those people who have been overtly political or for those people whom the president believes have done things that have been political as it relates to the Russia investigation, that didn't do a good job in that early on or being sitting here, calling the president saying he has committed treason or calling him treasonous, by utilizing that intelligence clearance that they have, saying that they're qualifying their position and calling the president treasonous because of the access that they have, the president is saying you people on this list should not have that security clearance.

Why do we think that these people are the only ones that can provide this intelligence? There is a large intelligence community out there.

SCIUTTO: These are the directors and deputy directors from the last 25 years. They're pretty well qualified if you look at the last 25 years.

DENNARD: And there was a lot more people that were just under them that are equally qualified and can provide that same level of intelligence.

SCIUTTO: Phil Mudd, I'm going to give you a quick final word.

MUDD: Can I say one more thing? Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, got on the campaign trail and asked that a political opponent be locked up, what a third world dictator does. If the question -- if the litmus is whether someone in intelligence gets involved in politics, why did the president ask him to be national security adviser instead of suggesting that his security clearance be removed? I want to hear the answer that?

SCIUTTO: And on that point, we researched this day, and CNN reported earlier today, Michael Flynn's security clearance has been suspended, but not revoked. It remains suspended since he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators.

Phil Mudd, Paris Dennard, thanks very much for the conversation. It's a difficult one, but we appreciate you joining us.

DENNARD: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Next, where are congressional Republicans in all this? We're joined by one of their former colleagues. A one-time Trump supporter, long-time conservative who now has a very different view.

And later, what another day of deliberation means in the Paul Manafort trial as well as President Trump's unprecedented, some say unpresidential decision to weigh in on it, even as the unsequestered jurors are making their decision.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: There is breaking news tonight as well as more serious questions in the wake of the president's decision to revoke John Brennan's security clearance and his eagerness now to go further. "The Washington Post" tonight reporting that other revocation letters are ready to go, and that there has been discussion in the White House of doling them out as distraction during unfavorable news cycles.

We're going to discuss this with our next guest, as well as this, the suspicious lack of pushback from Republican lawmakers. Senator Bob Corker has pushed back, but he is retiring. So, is House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Yet this is what he said last month when the president was only threatening what he has now done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think he is trolling people, honestly. This is something that's in the purview of the executive branch. I think some of these people have already lost their clearances. Some people keep their clearances.

That's something that the executive branch deals with. It's not really in our purview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, he laughed it off then. Now, it's a reality. Essentially, he's saying it's no business of his, and the question now is what kind of message is that sending to the executive branch.

My next guest has thoughts on all that. He is former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh. He is nothing if not a staunch conservative, and he once was a fan of the president.

Just recently, though, he tweeted the following. Quote, I wanted a distributive force, and I understood that disruption would be messy, but I did not want and I cannot accept a dishonest bully who purposely lies to the American people every single day and who regularly places his own interests above the country's interest.

Joe Walsh, he joins us now.

Mr. Walsh, thank you very much for taking the time. We appreciate it.

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Good to be with you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, what made you write that tweet. What led you? You've, of course, been a supporter of Trump in the past. Less than a year ago, you tweeted quite controversially to remind our viewer, that if Mr. Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket. I know more recently you have had criticism for the president.

But this criticism particularly pointed. Why?

WALSH: Jim, it's gotten to the point where I don't believe a single word that comes out of this president's mouth. I think that combined with the fact, and it's been a fascinating discussion that you've had the last half hour. This is one more example where this president has placed his own personal political interests above the security interests of the country.

These revoking these security clearances have absolutely, as you said, nothing to do with the national security. It's all about Trump and Trump's politics. And the whole Russia investigation, Jim, to begin. Russia attacked us. I mean, this bizarro world that we're living in, we were attacked in

2016, and this president still doesn't believe that, acknowledge it, or do anything to defend us.

SCIUTTO: The president said this morning that he has received, quote, a tremendous response for suspending Brennan's security clearance, as we've been talking about. You have those 75 former CIA directors, senior officials, et cetera who rebuke the president's action. You're in touch with many supporters of the president, many Republicans.

Do you sense them sticking to him on this issue or like yourself, do you find folks quietly perhaps saying this is too far?

WALSH: Look, I realize, Jim, a while ago that I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth. So when he said what he said this morning, I don't pay attention to it. I'm finding that more and more Republicans out there feel that same way.

And I'll be really direct. Most of my former Republican colleagues in the house privately they say exactly what I say publicly. They're just afraid to say it publicly. They know that this president -- they've got to watch him like a 10-year-old child so that the country will be secure. They're afraid to say that publicly, Jim, because, again, they want to get reelected, and he's still got most of the base.

SCIUTTO: Is that a breach of their responsibility, though?

WALSH: Yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: If they believe it's genuinely dangerous?

WALSH: Yes. Jim, it's -- look, it's terribly disappointing. They hated when he called Omarosa a dog privately. They won't say that publicly.

They don't like the way he's revoked John Brennan's security clearances. They don't think it's appropriate. They know it's endangering national security, but they won't say that publicly.

They can't stand the way he goes after Robert Mueller. Look, when I was in Congress, I swore to defend and uphold this Constitution. They have as well. It's a real shame that they won't speak out publicly.

SCIUTTO: Isn't the definition of courage speaking out, standing up when it's difficult?

WALSH: Amen, amen. And I think what's going to happen, Jim, is you're going see more folks thought the country angry with what this president's doin, and then you'll probably see politicians do what politicians do. They'll follow that.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Walsh, thank you for speaking straight to us.

WALSH: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: You have a good night.

Coming up, President Trump weighs in again on his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, this as jury deliberations in the trial are under way.

And later, details on a horrible murder case in Colorado where a father is suspected in killing his own two children and his own pregnant wife.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: In normal times, no President would even dare comment on an ongoing criminal trial. And in normal times, a President would definitely not weigh in on an ongoing criminal trial involving his own former campaign chairman who was accused of 18 felonies. And he would definitely, definitely not open the door to pardoning said former campaign chairman. Friends, these are not normal times.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort (INAUDIBLE)?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I don't talk about that now. I don't talk about that now. I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad when you look at what's going on there. I think it's a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what? He happens to be a very good person, and I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: After court was recessed, reporters approached one of Manafort's defense attorneys who not surprisingly was thrilled with the President's comments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Downing, what was your reaction to the President today?

KEVIN DOWNING, PAUL MANAFORT'S ATTORNEY: I was very happy to hear from the President and that is supporting Mr. Manafort.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: I'll bet. Keep in mind the jury is not sequestered in the Manafort case and could certainly get wind of the President's remarks. Sara Murray joins me now.

Could the President's comments put the jury, well -- poison the jury on this position?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you point out the jury obviously is not sequestered. These are normal human beings who are going to go home over the weekend. And if they turn on the television, if they pick up a newspaper. They will see the President's comments saying that this is very sad. I mean, that said, the jury got very explicit instructions from the judge about what they are supposed to consider when they are weighing this decision, what they're supposed to take into account.

[20:35:05] And on that list of factors is not how does the President feel, you know, about the way this trial should turn out. And we know the President has always felt this was a witch-hunt. We've seen him talk publicly about the Manafort case before. But it is a question, you know. What happens to jurors if they go home over the weekend, see this and could it sway their decision one way or another?

SCIUTTO: And was it the judge's decision not to sequester them?

MURRAY: Well, there has been no move to sequester them. You know, you could have done that at the beginning there clearly wasn't an effort to do that. And obviously the judge didn't have any concern about sending them home over the weekend.

SCIUTTO: Amazing, these times. You know, I'm not going to ask you to read tea leaves here. And we're just trying to read tea leave, but are there any indications based on the questions they've been asking the judge or the time that they've taken so far in deliberations to which way they're leaning?

MURRAY: Well, they go back on Monday for their third day of deliberations. Obviously, you know, if you're the prosecutors in this case you would love for it to be a slam-dunk. You would love the jury to come back and say, you know, we're going to give you everything you want, we find him guilty in all accounts. That's the perfect, we don't live in a perfect world.

Manafort's defense attorney did say that he felt like it was to his client's benefit that the jury was taking so long to deliberate. But, you know, as you know, Jim, there are a number of different charges Manafort is facing. These are complicated. It's a financial case. It seems like the jury is doing their due diligence, and I don't know that we can really read the tea leaves one way or another if they decide to a couple days to pour over what was essentially two weeks of financial information thrown their way.

SCIUTTO: I was (INAUDIBLE), I know you have that as well, I mean it's complicated -- a complicated stuff for a layman. Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Joining us to help sort out both President Trump's remarks as well as these past couple days of jury deliberation, members of our own CNN legal team, Jennifer Rodgers, Renato Mariotti.

Jennifer, if I could begin with you, you have a President, a sitting President of the United States making a public comment as the jury's deliberating and the jury is not sequestered, is that prejudicing the outcome of this case?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It could be. I think that's one of the reasons the President made the comment. I mean it's an absolutely outrageous thing to do. He is putting his thumb on the scale here. You know, who knows whether any of the jurors will see this, but there's a great danger that they will. So it's highly inappropriate. And I think it's also just a continuation of the President's attack on the criminal justice system and on the Department of Justice. It absolutely should never happen.

SCIUTTO: Renato, the defense counsel, then, he is experienced. He himself was in the Department of Justice for 15 years. Is he behaving ethically by welcoming the President's comments on this?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, he absolutely is not. There is a rule, a rule 3.6 in most jurisdictions, including Virginia that says that attorneys should not be making comments that could prejudice a jury in an ongoing trial. And obviously when you a defense attorney coming out and saying we really appreciate the fact that the President of the United States supports our client, of course that's something that's going to get covered. He should know better. And I would be surprised if Judge Ellis does not say something to him about that.

You know, Judge Ellis does not have power over the President. The President doesn't appear before him. But attorneys are held to a higher standard. I know that might surprise people at home. But we're actually held to a higher ethical standard, and he should be responsible for those comments.

SCIUTTO: No, we'll let that one hang out there. But Jennifer, what -- we know the President is certainly not afraid to use or even advertise his pardon power. Did you interpret today's comments where he at least left that open? He certainly didn't say I'm not thinking about it as sending a signal?

RODGERS: I don't know whether he was sending a signal. I mean, I think at this point, there is no way that Paul Manafort is going to be cooperating before a verdict comes in or anything like that. So I don't think he is sending a signal to Manafort. I just think he is keeping his options open. I mean even the fact that a President would consider someone in Manafort's situation is really outrageous.

So, even the fact that he wouldn't answer that by saying no, I won't is bad. But I think he is just keeping his options open. And we very well may see that action from him, although I don't think it will be now. It wouldn't be until after his second case is resolved for sure, and also the midterms, I think.

SCIUTTO: Renato, I know that reading tea leaves based on how long a jury is deliberating can cut both ways, frankly there are a lot of complicated charges here. They're 18. But you're an experienced lawyer. As you look at this, are you surprised it's extending to Monday? Does that give you a sign that they're having trouble reaching consensus, or is it just impossible to say?

MARIOTTI: It's not surprising that it's taking this long. I've tried many cases like this. I was a federal prosecutor who tried a lot of complex white collar trials like this one. Typically the rule of thumb we had is that for every day of trial testimony, it takes about an hour of deliberation. So they're not really far over that at this point. But if you're a prosecutor, you want the jury to come back quickly. That's going to be a prosecution verdict.

[20:40:02] And this was a case with very, very strong evidence. That said, as you point out, the jury's being careful. It's a bad sign for prosecutors that the jury asked a question about reasonable doubt. That usually means, not always, but that often means that there is one or two holdouts, that the rest of the jurors are trying to convince. And in my experience, a lot of times that results in a compromised verdict where you have guilty on some counts and not guilty on others which is a loss for the defendant. As long as he is guilty on one count, he's a felon, and the judge can consider everything he did, even the things he's acquitted on, at sentencing.

SCIUTTO: Interesting, interesting. Jennifer Rodgers, Renato Mariotti, thanks very much.

The military parade that the President wanted in Washington, asked for, it's now off, at least until next year. Just ahead, who the President is now blaming for the postponement, and where he said he's going to go instead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: It is no secret that President Trump likes pomp and circumstance. So much so that in fact according to the "Washington Post," when he was a guest at a Bastille Day parade in Paris a year ago, he told Pentagon brass that he wanted the same thing at home. Now cost estimates a ballooning with an administration official telling CNN that planning estimates are ranging to as high as $92 million.

So today in a tweet the President said, quote, "The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. poorly know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a prize for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I canceled it". In that same tweet he said that he would attend a parade in Paris on November 11th, commemorating the end of World War I.

[20:45:07] Joining me now to talk about raining on the President's parade, a veteran of many White House, David Gergen and CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter, author of the book "Gaslighting America."

So David, you now have the President saying that he was the one who decided on his own to pull the plug on the military parade, but we know that there wasn't a lot of -- there weren't a lot of folks who were excited about this, even in the Pentagon, his own advisers, et cetera. Does he pay a political price for reversing here?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. I think mostly it's going to be sighs of relief. I think he pays a political price for the petulance he has shown for closing it down, in attacking the mayor of District Columbia and people around it being the reason why they couldn't put this parade on. I think most people see through that argument.

But the critical thing is this, Jim, and that is most young veterans don't feel they need a parade. In contrast to the veterans coming home from Vietnam, who were often received shabbily, the young veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq and a horn of Africa, they're widely celebrated. In fact, there are a huge number of veterans -- young veterans running for Congress this fall, and CNN has reported a striking number of them are winning primaries and are getting into the finals and they're looking like strong candidates.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point, because the reception is certainly different from in decades past. Amanda, the parade was in fact the President's idea, but we know that the financial figures behind this, tens of millions of dollars, they were different estimates was really a big factor here. Was it ever a good idea in terms of spending this kind of money, particularly when the President himself has talked about they're being insufficient funds for veterans coming home, wounded vets, et cetera.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No the country is $21 trillion in debt. It was always a bad idea, although we should always celebrate the veterans. But President Trump had it wrong. He wanted a parade for himself in front of the White House. His priorities were skewed. But I actually feel good about how this turned out because its evidence the system worked.

Trump had a bad idea to waste money on a bad project. People presented him facts and evidence, and he actually listen and backed down. And of course he had a uniquely Trumpian statement, you know, sort of declaring victory, falsely claiming that he saved the taxpayers money but whatever. The system actually worked in this case. And so I'm going to be happy about it. And I would encourage Donald Trump if he wants to go see a military parade go, down to eight at night, at Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. every summer Friday they put on a great performance, and they would probably love to have him.

SCIUTTO: It is a great show. That's a great recommendation. Follow that, David, it appears the President got this idea when he was in France, the Bastille Day parade in France, a tradition there. You served multiple U.S. Presidents of both parties. Why is it that this is not something that the U.S. does by tradition?

GERGEN: I think we have -- we are quietly more confident about who we are in our military. We have the best trained military in the world. The morale in our current military is very high, and we don't feel the need to be -- express ourselves in that way. I mean frankly, you know, this for many in military leadership, the idea of this parade was less reminiscent of what they do in Bastille Day in France than it was in those great big parades you use see at the Kremlin, or the kind of thing you see in North Korea. And this was bringing out Trump's authoritarian instincts I'm afraid.

SCIUTTO: That's a thought. Amanda, do you find as someone who served Republican lawmakers before, does that concern you? Because, it's not the only time, as you know, that the President has expressed admiration, perhaps a little envy of the power that totalitarian leaders, Putin, Kim, and others have? CARPENTER: Yes. And I think that's what made the idea of a military parade in Washington, D.C. uncomfortable. We heard the reports that he wanted the tanks to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue during his inauguration. And it seemed like he wanted to display his personal power, the might that he would wield from the White House rather than, again, expressing thanks for our veterans, showing a quiet confidence that America should have. And this is not what we do. As someone who's worked in Washington, D.C., who considers this area home, the idea of tanks rolling through our city streets is just a very uncomfortable thing to even contemplate.

SCIUTTO: I hear you.

GERGEN: Jim, it's a vanity project. It's a vanity project. You know, and this was being done essentially to please one man. People were going along with it. But when the price tag rose and rose, what really killed this was the fact that the costs -- the estimated costs have it, it gone from anywhere like any (INAUDIBLE) and $30 million that up to $90 million.

[20:50:09] SCIUTTO: Yes, exactly right. Too much to bear. David Gergen, Amanda Carpenter, thanks very much.

CARPENTER: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

A quick programming note now. Tomorrow night on CNN, the executive editors of both the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post," they will join David Axelrod for "THE AXE FILES." As you might expect, the topic is the President and the press. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Now you know we have a lot of fake news back there.

The enemy of the people I call them.

DEAN BAQUET, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: I'm deeply concerned, not only concern by the way about what happens inside the United States at some of the volatile Trump rallies. I think that the President has sent a message to despots abroad that you can disrespect the press. We've had Presidents attack the press. We've never had a President go on foreign soil and attack the press.

So both of us have to manage newsrooms with people who operate in the third world, both of us manage news room with people who cover, you know, governments that don't like the press. It's -- I can't tell you how concerning it is that this President has essentially told those governments, you can beat up the press. You can call them enemies of the people.

How can my correspondent in Cairo, who covers a government that's often antagonistic to the press. How can he make the case for the First Amendment and the power of the press and for covering that government independently when we have a President of the United States who says the things he says about the press?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Don't miss this conversation. It's tomorrow on "THE AXE FILES" at 7:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Next, some big breaking news in the Russia investigation involving the man whose drunken boasting apparently kicked it all off. And the prison time that prosecutors now say they want for him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:56:18] SCIUTTO: Well, Fridays sure are busy around here. We've just gotten some more breaking news. The government's sentencing memorandum in the case of George Papadopoulos. He's the Trump campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians. He was expected to cooperate with authorities tonight. Sentencing memo speaks to that and much more.

CNN's Sara Murray she's got the document. She's been reading through it. So what is Robert Mueller recommending?

MURRAY: Well, he's recommending that George Papadopoulos go to jail, goes for zero to six months. Then, you know, they take a pretty dim view of Papadopoulos' cooperation. Remember, this is someone who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, and they basically say he didn't provide a lot of substantial assistance and most of what he fessed up to we are -- he only did it after we confronted him with his own e-mails, his own text messages, other things that investigators had obtained from search warrants.

So this does seem like a much more sort of hostile cooperation situation than what we've seen from other witnesses, for instance Rick Gates, that Mueller has managed to flip and get to cooperate in this probe.

SCIUTTO: And they recommended for Gates, probation is the issue, so they want to send him to jail. Did they make a case as to why the lying matters, impacted the investigation?

MURRAY: They did. So remember, George Papadopoulos was this guy, you know, Trump world has downplayed his role in the campaign, but he was a foreign policy adviser. And as you sort of pointed out before you went to break, he had a conversation with this London-based professor Joseph Mifsud where Mifsud, said he know the Russians have all this dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So when investigators were asking him about this in January of 2017, Papadopoulos agreed to participate in this voluntary interview, and according to this document, he pretty much just lied. He lied throughout the entire interview. So a couple weeks after that interview, this professor is in Washington D.C. and if you read the latest sentencing memo, it says the defendant's lies undermined investigators' ability to challenge the professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States. The government understands the professor left the U.S. in February 2017, has not been back since.

So they're saying this is someone we wanted to talk to about how he knew the Russians said this dirt floating around on Hillary Clinton. And because George Papadopoulos lied in this interview, we were not able to do that. We had this opportunity to detain, question, arrest this guy and we missed it, and it's Papadopoulos' fault.

SCIUTTO: So a line -- remind people because the President has often said the whole investigation started with this dodge dossier, et cetera, when the facts are, in fact, that it was Papadopoulos bragging to an Australian diplomat about the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton that first started the investigation. And that was before the dossier showed up on their doorstep.

MURRAY: Right, that's right. He sort of kicked off this investigation, and that's kind of the irony of him being downplayed as a low-level staffer as how the President has put it on Twitter and people saying he really had no role, because in many ways he set off this investigation. And the fact that he then went on and lied to investigators about his contact with the professor, he lied to investigators about his contact with other Russian officials who were trying to set up meetings between Russian government officials and campaign staffers, I mean that's what got this guy in hot water.

But if you read this document, it's pretty clear from the government's view they do not feel like he was particularly cooperative until they confronted him with evidence. And it seems like they do want to send a signal that, you know, this is what happens if you lie to investigators. This is what happens if you try to impede an investigation. And, you know, he was telling these lies as he was seeking a position in the Trump administration. So, a pretty ballsy move from that guy.

SCIUTTO: No question and this got feel will be charge with lying, of course Michael Flynn as well.

MURRAY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Sara Murray, thanks very much.

A quick reminder. Don't miss Anderson's daily interactive newscast that on Facebook where you get to pick some of the stories he covers. It's called "Full Circle" and you can see it week nights at 6:25 eastern time at facebook.com/andersoncopperfullcircle.

[21:00:07] That's the news today. I want to hand it over now to my good friend and colleague Chris Cuomo on "CUOMO PRIME TIME".