Return to Transcripts main page
Manafort Jury Deliberates For Second Day; New Ad in Maine's 2nd District Race; Trump's Parade Plans. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired August 17, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:32:33] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. The Paul Manafort jury now nearing its tenth hour of deliberations. That, of course, not stopping the president from weighing in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't talk about that now. I don't talk about that. 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 hour 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 VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, the judge in the trial saying earlier today he's optimistic for a verdict sometime soon. Until then, court watchers debating the meaning of this question from the jury and what it portends for Mr. Manafort's fate. The jury yesterday asking the judge to redefine reasonable doubt.
Joining me now to share their insights, former number two during the Ken Starr Whitewater investigation, Sol Wisenberg, CNN Legal Analyst Shan Woo. He previously represented former Manafort partner and Deputy Rick Gates. And CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Let me just start with the president. Norms are broken every day in this presidency. But for a president of the United States, forget the name, any president of the United States to speak publicly during a trial of somebody -- this trial is about nothing to do -- mostly nothing to do with the Trump campaign, but to speak publicly about a trial while a jury is in the room, huh?
SOLOMON WISENBERG, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It's very troubling and it's -- I mean, he's got his own Justice Department prosecutors. It's not just Mueller's people. He's got his own DOJ prosecutors, Uzo Asonye there working on that case. I think what's really going on here, unfortunately, is it only takes one juror to get a hung jury. One of our final trials was in the eastern district of Virginia, when I worked for Ken Starr. The jury deadlocked 11-1 for conviction. We talked to the jurors afterwards and there was one person on that jury who was not going to vote against Bill Clinton.
And all you need is one juror and that's one of the things that makes the president's comments so very disturbing.
KING: And so let's come back to the jury. It's a risky business. It's been a while, but I used to cover trials when I first started in this business. And the jury comes back with questions and that's when everyone starts, you know, trying to get the Ouija board and throw (INAUDIBLE) cards to figure out.
A jury coming in and saying, define reasonable doubt or redefine reasonable doubt. Does that tell you, what? Do you -- is that -- are there any clues to that? Should the prosecution be worried? They're not sure what reasonable doubt is?
[12:35:01] SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I would have been worried last night. As a prosecutor, you really don't like to even hear the phrase reasonable doubt. So don't even like to say it in the courtroom myself when I was a prosecutor.
The timing was worrisome yesterday because it seemed very early for them to be asking that. It could have indicated some dissension. On the other hand, it's been quiet today I think in terms of substantive questions. And they may have been just taking care of their initial doubts, whatever they thought was a little bit weaker. And maybe they're very certain about the rest of the case. Sometimes they do that.
KING: And anything out of the courtroom today?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: No, all we know is lunch was delivered to them just a short time ago. So they're working through lunch, which is always a good sign. And I think to Shan's point here is that we, you know, we all kind of sit around. This is like probably the worst time for lawyers who are trying this case. It's that you're just trying to read tea leaves but nothing.
It seems like they're just working. I think even their questions yesterday really had to do with the law. It didn't sound like any of the questions had to do with the evidence or they had any doubts about the evidence. It really had to do with the law, which is what you would normally see with jurors. That they're working through the different charges and have questions about the law.
KING: And again, just for those of you maybe not paying day-to-day attention to the trial, five counts of tax fraud, four counts of hiding foreign bank accounts, nine counts of bank fraud. The president says it's sad what they're doing. If there's evidence to support that, that's the government's job, is it not? Whether he's the former Trump campaign chairman or whether he's a businessman who has nothing to do with politics.
WISENBERG: Oh, if you're looking at it as an isolated trial, of course the president is echoing some of the comments made by the judge, unfortunately, in this case, who says look, you're only after Manafort because you're really going after Trump. I don't think it's right, but the law allows you to do it. My take on the questions is you can't tell anything from the questions except -- there's only one question the jury asked that was really substantive and important. And it was, what if you don't control 50 percent of a foreign bank account on paper but you really do control disposition of the assets? Do you have to file -- do you have to notify the IRS on that? And the judge re-read the portion of the jury instructions that said, yes, you do.
That was really the only thing that I thought was significant because that's really a question that could be answered and that's crucial to some of the counts.
KING: And a smart question related to very complicated bank -- overseas banking rules. That tells you the jury is plugged in right there. Do you make anything of it? We got, you know, 18 criminal charges, 27 prosecution witnesses, no witnesses called by the defense. Does that -- and again, the constitution says you do not have to present a defense. The constitution says the defendant does not have to testify.
From your experience, does that matter to a jury? Are they in there saying, why, why did Paul Manafort say nothing? Why didn't they give us anybody to challenge? They challenged Rick Gates in cross, but why didn't they bring anybody in to help us?
WU: I think that's in the back of their minds a little bit, but I think that jurors tend to really follow the judge's instructions. And when they're told not to consider that, they don't. I think the defense is sending a slight message that we feel confident. We're happy to sit back and attack and say they haven't proven their case. And of course, as a practical matter, they may have lacked any good evidence to put forth towards.
PROKUPECZ: And I also think that what we're seeing from this jury, it looks like that had no effect on them. The fact that -- I mean, they've been deliberating -- when you think about the 10, 11 hours now, that's a lot of time. And it's clear that the fact that Manafort did not put a defense had no effect so far, at least, you know, in terms of how they're thinking from what we're seeing.
KING: And a quick last point. News organizations are going to see this judge this afternoon. They're trying to get transcripts of conferences of portions in pull aside conferences between the attorneys in the case which happens all the time. They want those released.
It looks like the judge is inclined to do that with the exception possibly of the one conversation with -- about Rick Gates not testifying about something very significant, right?
PROKUPECZ: Right. This is a special counsel investigation. They had a side bar that he sealed. These are all sealed transcripts now. The judge sealing these transcripts, he said he's going to release some of them.
Obviously the one where they talked about Rick Gates' cooperation and other information that he's been providing the special counsel, that is not going to be made public.
KING: All right. I appreciate you all coming in. I'm going to ask the staff to hold you guys hostage until we get it through. (INAUDIBLE) sorry, you can't leave the building.
Up next for us here, a Maine Democrat wants to throw his Republican opponent literally overboard.
[12:43:57] KING: Topping our political radar today, Senator Rand Paul says he'll ask President Trump to lift sanctions that ban some Russian lawmakers from visiting the United States. During his trip to Moscow this month, Senator Paul invited members of both Houses of the Russian Federal Assembly to Washington this fall to continue the dialogue. And he told Fox News they've accepted.
But U.S. sanctions in place since 2014 block the leaders of both chambers from visiting the United States.
Honest Abe $9.7 million in debt. Actually it's not Honest Abe but it's the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation that owes that big money after taking out a loan 11 years ago to buy some rare Lincoln artifacts, including a beaver-fur stovepipe for the Springfield, Illinois museum. If they can't pay up by October, the museum says it may have to put some of those items up for auction. So if you want to help, there's a Save Lincoln Artifacts GoFundMe page. So far, not anywhere close to what it needs but it's taking in more than $16,000.
A new political ad releasing here first on INSIDE POLITICS features Jared Golden, he's the Democratic congressional hopeful for Maine, he's on a lobster boat. All (INAUDIBLE) is local right.
[12:45:02] Golden trying to unseat two-term Republican Bruce Poliquin. CNN rates this race for Maine second congressional district a toss-up. And it'll be one to watch for November.
Republicans saying the Democrat is too liberal. Here's the Democrat's response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED GOLDEN (D), MAINE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm Jared Golden, and it's time for Maine to show Washington what needs to go overboard. Special interests, to block cheaper prescription drugs for Canada, career politicians, and Bruce Poliquin, who voted for plans that would gut social security and Medicare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, you watch the whole thing when you got to live in Maine. I guess (INAUDIBLE) the whole thing. But he pulls up a nice little lobster at the end.
It's creative. We show it, we're interested in how, how do you differentiate yourself in this environment in the final what, 11 1/2 weeks out now -- almost 11 weeks out from the election campaign? That is one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. You have all these national arguments or they do a local argument?
PROKUPECZ: You know, it's interesting the air war has started very early compared to other election cycles. Speaker Paul Ryan's Super PAC actually has dropped about $10 million in August alone. Typically they would wait until after Labor Day to do that last cycle. But now they believe that they want to define these candidates early. They want to attack, going defensive and they know how difficult of an environment this is. So they're fighting this -- they're waging this war now.
That was an ad in response to the attacks that have already been waged against that candidate. So for the Republicans, they -- you know, their chance of keeping the House are increasingly slim. To win the -- to keep the House, they got to do things like go after these guys, drive up their negatives, tie them to Nancy Pelosi to see if works.
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And note the actual policy issues that he raised in that ad. Prescription drugs, Medicare. We know that health care has been the most animating issue for Democrats. That's why Democratic senators are focused on it. If you look at polling, that is what drive -- that's what motivated the Democratic base.
So it is no coincidence that he's focusing on those issues. The Democrat's major win during the Trump presidency was being able to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It's clearly also an issue in the Supreme Court confirmation fight over Brett Kavanaugh. And we'll see that continue through November.
KING: And there's just so many ads to your point, there's so many ads. You can't escape them especially if you live in these competitive states that if you can be a little different, maybe you get people to pay attention. That's why we'll see how this race turns out.
But having a lobster at the end. I once shot a stand-up in Maine using lobsters to make a point. (INAUDIBLE) the lobster is true.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got it from you.
KING: Just reminding me of a great trip to Maine when I saw these ads. So there you go.
Up next for us, the politics of the big parade. White House staffers stay on message on the plans even when faced with some obvious distractions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I'm very proud to work for a man who loves this country and the men and women in uniform, parade or no parade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And of course the news today is it sounds like --
CONWAY: It's the man behind me mowing the lawn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, he's trying to get on T.V. And there he go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a little parade going on behind you.
[12:50:49] KING: Welcome back. The parade is off, but a tweet war is on. President Trump reluctantly cancelling that big military parade he wanted to have here in D.C. this November. The commander-in-chief says local Washington, D.C. politicians are price gouging. The president tweeting this, this morning.
"Local politicians who run Washington, D.C. poorly know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I canceled it. Never let someone hold you up."
That from the president of the Unite States. D.C's mayor though taking that attack as a badge of honor, responding in kind. Here's her tweet. "Yes, I'm Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., the local politician who finally got through to the reality star in the White House with the realities. $21.6 million of parades, events, side demonstrations in Trump America, sad."
The president says maybe there can be a parade next year. In the meantime, he'll attend a smaller military parade at a military base just outside Washington. And he says he'll also travel to Paris for another big military parade there. This isn't all Muriel Bowser's fault, is it?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Of course not. It's something the president decided to do without any thought without any -- he was in Paris a year ago for the Bastille Day celebration. He got the idea in his mind, wow, this is a good parade. I want to have one like this.
It was widely seen inside the Pentagon as not being a good idea. That, you know, A, will be expensive. But even more than that, never mind how expensive it would be, just the image that would show. This is not what the United States has done traditionally.
So the --you know, ever since then, they've been trying to sort of walk it back. So by now saying he'll be going to Paris after the midterms, I'm not sure that's -- how it's going to be viewed at that point. Maybe he'll want to be getting out of town. I think I remember Obama taking a trip in 2010 after getting shellacked in the midterms. It's a good place for a president to go. But on this, the military, no one thought it was a good idea.
KING: And there was a report, ABC News, I believe, that the overall price tag -- the mayor talked about what D.C. said it would need for security and for demonstrations. ABC saying the overall price tag was somewhere in the ballpark of $92 million.
Now the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, generally known, he's a retired general, he's sort of a (INAUDIBLE) guy, $92 million, Mr. Secretary?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Whoever told you that is probably smoking something that's legal in my state but not in most states. I'm not dignifying that number with any reply. I would discount that.
Anybody who said that, I almost guarantee you one thing, they probably need to stay anonymous. No kidding, because you look like an idiot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And yet though, it was just hours after that that the president himself pulls the plug on it and gets in the tweet war with the mayor.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean, 92 million or 21 million, it's still a lot of money and or exactly what? That was a question a lot of people had.
I mean, you saw an American allegiance statement yesterday -- or rather a very strong statement saying this money should be spent elsewhere, like providing veterans care. And maybe there should be a parade after the war on terrorism is ultimately won. That's been the big concern. Perhaps -- but the focus is not just the money but the focus on military action rather than a celebration.
KING: It's funny you would say that because Kellyanne Conway, counsel to the president out on television this morning, essentially asked again whether a $21 million (INAUDIBLE) is this spending millions, tens of millions of dollars on a military parade because the president saw one he thought was really cool in Paris and wanted to have one on it's own, is that a good use of taxpayers' money?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: I think the best use of the American tax dollars of $700 billion is to give them the resources and the respect they need, not disrespecting the flag and yelling at our brave men and women in uniform when they walk by and saying America was never great. Go tell that to all those people in the military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's called a punt. She didn't answer the question about the parade. She moved on to the increase in military spending the president did win as part of the budget with Congress.
KIM: And remember, deficit hawk isn't necessarily always the first words that come into mind when you think about the president. I mean, because he didn't campaign on cutting -- you know, he said he wouldn't touch Medicare or social security during the campaign. [12:55:02] He was lambasted when he was on the verge of signing that major spending by fiscal conservatives earlier this year.
But -- so you can think when he first got the idea of a parade, the idea of the cost of this was unnecessarily foremost in his mind.
KING: And you heard Kellyanne Conway at the very end there, talking about saying America was never great. That was a swipe at the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In the next hour, you'll hear his latest attempt to correct that.
Thanks for joining us today on the INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning as well. We're up early, 8 a.m. Eastern.
Jim Sciutto is in for Wolf. He'll continue our coverage after a quick break. Have a great day and a wonderful weekend.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto in again for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever --