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tv   Wolf  CNN  March 28, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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president of the united states under oath. stormy daniels and her lawyer are now pushing the president to break his silence. a curveball just weeks before the high-stakes summit between president trump and kim jong-un. what happened inside the secret meeting between china and the north korean dictator? and a major development with the russia investigation. the special counsel now says one of the president's top campaign officials was knowingly in touch with a russian intelligence operative during the campaign. but let's start with the legal wrangling surrounding the president of the united states. as the attorney for the former adult film actress stormy daniels wants president trump to have his day in court. he's now filed a motion in a california court asking a judge there to order the president and his personal attorney, michael cohen, to give depositions about the nondisclosure agreement stormy daniels signed. michael cohen paid $130,000 for
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that signature out of his own pocket. here's the statement. quote, we are confident that after applying supreme court precedent from the clinton matter, the court will order the depositions and the trial to proceed. we expect to be placing the president and his fixer under oath in the coming months, close quote. our chief white house correspondent jim acosta is at the white house. he's making a reference to the deposition given by then-president bill clinton in the paula jones case back in 1998. has there been a response from the white house on the prospects of the president, the current president, having to give a deposition in this case? >> reporter: wolf, there certainly are echoes of the '90s playing out this week over here at the white house. but as of yet, no, the white house has not responded to this prospect of the president giving a deposition in the stormy daniels case. i've asked various white house officials. they haven't gotten back to us yet. i suspect, wolf, when sarah
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sanders holds the briefing coming coming up at 2:00, that she'll be peppered with questions on that subject, mainly because as we all know, president clinton did have to give a deposition in the paula jones case. it was part of his undoing in terms of the impeachment that occurred late in his administration. that's obviously something that this white house wants to avoid, this president wants to avoid. but again, it underlines why there are so many people around washington who are starting to suspect that perhaps it's the stormy daniels case that may be more dangerous to this president, this presidency, than the russia investigation, wolf. >> the white house on a very, very different matter, jim, as you know, is taking credit for the meeting between china's president, the north korean leader kim jong-un. what are you hearing over there? >> reporter: they are taking credit for it, wolf. it was interesting, yesterday and in the last couple days, they have not had much to say about that suspicious train that appeared to be carrying the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, into china and back.
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but last night, the white house confirmed that china did give the president a heads up on this. the white house a heads up on this. the president tweeted earlier today that he was contacted, i guess, directly or indirectly by china's president xi jinping, saying received message last night from xi jinping of china that his meeting with kim jong-un went very well and kim looks forward to his meeting with me. in the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost. there's another tweet from the president, i don't want to read the whole thing, but it is interesting because it indicates that the president's meeting with kim jong-un, at least for now, is on. he says he's looking forward to that meeting. that answers one of our questions we've had this week, which is well, what's happening with this meeting with kim jong-un? we've been getting some c conflicting messages from the administration, as to whether there are going to be conditions and so forth. but the president indicating on twitter this morning that that meeting appears to be on at the moment. i think what this all
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underlines, and this will also come up during the briefing today, that this meeting between kim jong-un and xi jinping in china really underlines just how much of a role china has in all of this. for a while there, we were all talking about the prospect of trilateral meetings, perhaps, between the u.s., south korea, and north korea, but as you saw with that meeting between kim jong-un and xi jinping, china may not want a seat at the table, but they certainly want influence. >> they certainly have a lot of influence. clearly there's no doubt about that. we'll see what happens in the scheduled april meeting between kim jong-un and the south korean president and in may, presumably, if it goes forward, the meeting between kim jong-un and president trump. lots happening on the korean peninsula right now. jim acosta, thanks very much. we'll stand by for the white house preefibriefing as well. let's talk about all these developments. joining us now, bloomberg news white house reporter sharon
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pettypiece, cnn analyst michael zeldin, and our chief political analyst gloria borger. it could be a spectacle. the president of the united states doing a deposition in connection with the stormy daniels case. >> sure. i mean, remember when bill clinton was deposed in the paula jones case. that led to his downfall, as we all know, because he lied in that deposition. that eventually led to his impeachment. so the this, as jim was pointing out, could be more perilous for the president than even russia because thissing happ could hap sooner. >> if, in fact, it goes forward. what are the chances, michael, that it will? >> this is a distinguishable case from jones versus clinton in this respect. the motion that was filed by stormy daniels' lawyer is a motion for declaratory judgment. that is, is this a contract that's valid? and secondarily, defamation.
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the judge would have to decide first whether he or she needs discovery, a deposition, in order to determine whether this is a valid contract. if the court can say on its face, this contract is valid or invalid, you may not get to a discovery stage. with respect to the defamation kags, that's against cohen only and not the president. so we're one step removed from knowing whether or not discovery will be ordered against the president, whether or not it's necessary for the court to resolve the issue that's before. >> there's not going to be a ruling on this until the end of april. is that right? >> i think that's when the hearing is set. >> in california. >> one case that is much closer to that discovery deposition stage is the summer zervos litigation. >> she's the former "apprentice" contestant who's also filed a lawsuit. >> that's right. and that's the more damaging of the cases. >> it doesn't have the dlashssas details. there's no porn star.
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but the lawyers i've been talking to say the same thing, that that's the one to watch because it's much more further along. the likelihood of us getting to discovery and a deposition is much closer. >> and she already lost one round in it. so there's another, you know -- >> it looks like it's going forward. i'm sure his lawyers will fight to stop it. >> and the paula jones case was cited as the precedent in that case, saying no one is above the law. >> and add to that the fact that in the summer zervos case, it's an unwanted touching, whereas stormy daniels and mcdougal are consensual relationships. this is groping and defamation, and that will definitely lead to a deposition if the court of appeals affirms the trial court's decision. >> so he's got a lot of legal issues, the president of the united states, gloria. with robert mueller's russia probe, a lot of legal questions there. he's got a lot of legal questions with these three women who are now bringing forward these cases. but his legal team seems to be in disarray. his private legal team as well
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as his white house counsel's office. >> look, john dowd resigned abruptly as one of the lead attorneys in the russia investigation. publicly and abruptly. a lot of lawyers who worked with him are upset about it because they obviously think it didn't do the president any good. but the reason he resigned was because he had a bad client, and the client wasn't taking his advice. the client wanted to bring in joe digenova. so they are searching for attorneys. they have been turned down by many. you know, i was just told, we're in rush, we don't necessarily need somebody from a huge law firm or whatever. we're taking our time.
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we are still in discussions with the special counsel about trump testifying. those have not gone off the rails because another presidential attorney has been involved in them and will continue to be involved in them. so they're down playing it. but it's kind of astonishing to me that in washington, d.c., of all places. >> and as many great things as people can say about a constitutional lawyer who has argued multiple times in front of the supreme court, sure, there's a constitutional element to this case about the executive prif le privileges and powers of the president, but this is also a criminal case. is a constitutional lawyer going to be sitting next to you during an interview with mueller or a grand jury -- well, there won't be anyone next to him in a grand jury testimony if it gets to that point, but is a constitutional lawyer going to be the one next to you helping you navigate questions about your business dealings, about obstruction of justice. those issues still remain, even if they want to portray this as a constitutional case. >> on top of all this, there's a
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major development in the mueller russia probe with word now that rick gates, who was the deputy campaign manager for the trump campaign, all of a sudden there's word that during the campaign he was actually meeting with an individual the u.s. suspected of having connections to russian intelligence. >> that's right. the report is that in the september/october 2016 period, gates was meeting with the head of the manafort -- it's called i think david manafort limited, the kiev office of paul manafort, who is reported to have ties to russian military intelligence, and they were meeting during this time period. now, it's also important to remember that right before these meetings, manafort was meeting with him as well, and they were discussing the dnc hacked e-mails. they've got this dnc hacked e-mail conversation in october. you've got september and october
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meetings with gates and this russian intelligence officer. this russian intelligence officer is also tied closely to the aluminum magnet who is tied to putin, who manafort is doing business with. so you've got this incredible circle of people. >> manafort has pleaded not guilty, but gates has already pleaded guilty and is cooperating. it could presume my report in some sort of collusion. >> by the way, this just got kind of dropped out there. it's very interesting to me the way this special counsel, their team, just dropped this out there. was it in sort of relation to how it affects manafort or how it affects gates? i mean, what's the reason? >> so you're absolutely right. in the sentencing memorandum of the lawyer who worked on that supposedly independent report, he told mueller during his
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interview that by the way, gates was meeting with this russian intelligence officer. and just in the sentencing memorandum, mueller and team decides to put that in. >> are they signaling, are they messaging to someone. >> so there is a message that's being sent. >> bread crumbs. >> there are so many characters in this. it is like a tolstoy novel. if paul manafort is batman, gates is robin. a lot of people's jaws dropped that he would turn on manafort. he's also connected to one of trump's closest friends who he was working for at the time of this arrest. so i think he's a very important person to watch. >> clearly the robert mueller team is sending a message with this disclosure, buried inside this other issue. >> i would say, wolf, mostly they're spending it to manafort, which is saying you've got to cooperate. >> still refusing to cooperate. everybody stick around.
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more news we're following. the president says no way the second amendment to the u.s. constitution will ever be repealed after a u.s. supreme court justice has called for just that. and forget mexico. cnn has new reporting on who the president says could pay for his long-promised border wall. plus, is the president gearing up for a war with amazon? we have details on the new report that has the stock plummeting. i have type 2 diabetes.
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let's see who delivers more. comcast business offers fast gig-speeds across our network. at&t doesn't. we offer more complete reliability with up to 8 hours of 4g wireless network backup. at&t, no way. we offer 35 voice features and solutions that grow with your business. at&t, not so much. we give you 75 mbps for $59.95. that's more speed than at&t's comparable bundle, for less. call today. president trump is using the second amendment to the constitution, the right to keep and bear arms, as a rallying cry for conservatives. the president tweeting earlier today, quote, the second amendment will never be repealed. as much as democrats would like to see this happen and despite the words yesterday of former supreme court justice stevens,
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no way. we need more republicans in 2018 and must always hold the supreme court, close quote. the president is referring to this opinion piece from the former u.s. supreme court justice john paul stevens. in it, stevens argues for repealing the second amendment. he says it would give lobbying groups like the nra less power and allow the government to better reform gun control. let's discuss this and more with democratic congressman steve cohn of tennessee. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. nice to be with you. >> do you think the second amendment to the constitution should be repealed? >> we need better supreme court judges who can interpret the second amendment in a way that is in keeping with what the american people want. you know, i think that there's a right to bear arms, of individuals to protect their homes, and i passed a right to carry bill when i was a state senator because people ought to have a right to protect their home. but there are reasonable restrictions that can be placed on the purchase of weapons like ar-15s and ak-47s.
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that's been the case through history. sawed off shotguns were not allowed since 1938, and even in the heller decision of 2008, which was awful in a 5-4 decision, the supreme court said that there could be restrictions. so no, i think the supreme court needs better justices who interpret the second amendment and the way it should be interpreted, which is kind of what justice stevens says. it was for a well-regulated militia, but it won't be repealed and it's a political issue. this is one place where president trump is right about the law. even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. >> let me ask you about another sensitive issue. the president's plan to build a wall along the southern border with mexico. cnn's reporting that the president has actually been talking privately in recent days about using the u.s. military budget to pay for the wall. he's even floated the idea to the house speaker paul ryan. this move would require congressional approval. do you think that's something
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that the president could get, use military funds because it's a defense, national security issue, to build that wall? >> it's a national security issue only in that it may be necessary to keep the president psychologically balanced. he seems to be obsessed with this wall, and he may be losing a certain amount of psychological balance, which we need to have in a president. the congress would have to approve that funding. i think the house might do it. i don't think the senate will. it needs 60 votes. there's no basis in science and fact and study and certainly even in military. no way that anybody sees that as a necessary wall to protect us from the inflow of immigration -- from imlegllegal immigration from mexico and drugs. the immigration has been reduced and is the lowest it's ever been. so i don't think that makes sense. i don't think it would pass the senate.
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i'm not sure it would pass the house. >> well, as you know, a lot of your democratic colleagues were ready to support the funding, maybe $20 billion or $25 billion, for the wall if it also resulted at the same time in allowing the dreamers, maybe 2 million or so, to stay here in the united states legally and have an event chiual pathway to citizenship. all those negotiations collapsed, as you know. but would you be willing to fund the wall in exchange for allowing the dreamers a legal pathway to citizenship? >> the dreamers should have a legal pathway to citizenship. they had one under president obama. president trump stopped it by rescinding that order, executive order, and put them in jeopardy. now he's using them as hostages. i would not want to pay that price and throw away that much money, but i would not want to jeopardize the dreamers who are here without any volition of their own and have proven to be good citizens. so we'll see where it comes to.
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my vote won't be the vote that would stop it, but i certainly won't get on the bandwagon to allow a hostage taker to get his ransom. >> all right. let's talk about the russia investigation right now. cnn has learned that at least five law firms have declined to represent the president. why do you think these attorneys are so hesitant to get involved and actually help him in his legal related issues? >> everybody who's gotten involved -- not everybody, but most people who have gotten involved with trump have come away with a stain. people in the congress who he was going to nominate, ended up getting in trouble or other things were exposed. people went over there, like mr. dowd, and left because they couldn't work with the president. the president is not a good client for a lawyer. he is unpredictable. he doesn't listen to advice. he thinks he's the source of all knowledg knowledge. so it's difficult for him to get
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a lawyer who will possibly stain their reputation because of the difficulty of dealing with the client. no lawyer would recommend him go into a hearing with robert mueller. yet, he says he wants to do it. i hope he does it. that'd be great. if he's innocent, maybe he should. if he has nothing to hide, he shouldn't be trying to stop the mueller investigation. he shouldn't be trying to put a straight jacket on mueller. and he shouldn't be trying to keep the american people from knowing about relationships he might have had with russia or mr. gates or mr. papadopoulos or mr. manafort or any of the other folks who were so close to russia that he had involved in his campaign. >> congressman steve cohen, thanks for joining us. >> happy easter to all your viewers. this is the 50th anniversary of martin luther king's assassination. it's important to renew our commitment to dr. king's dream. >> we'll have extensive coverage of that coming up in april as well. thanks so much for joining us.
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same to you. coming up, a secret meeting between kim jong-un and china's xi jinping is highlighting a major diplomatic challenge confronting president trump just ahead of his own now scheduled, expected face-to-face meeting with the north korean leader. all of this as we await a white house briefing. looking at live pictures. reporters haven't assembled yet. they will be very soon. we'll of course have live coverage. thing. your letting go thing. your sorry not sorry thing. your out with the old in with the new, onto bigger and better thing. get the live tv you love. no bulky hardware. no satellite. no annual contract. try directv now for $10/mo for 3 months. more for your thing. that's our thing. visit directvnow dot com you wouldn't accept from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills?
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what was an unannounced visit is making head lines around the world. the secret meeting between north korean leader kim jong-un and the chinese president xi jinping sent a powerful message to president trump. china is back on north korea's side. the news of these talks comes right before a major announcement of a trade deal between the united states and south korea. so what does all this mean? let's bring in elizabeth sherwood randall, a former obama white house coordinator for defense policy and weapons of
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mass destruction. she also served as national security council director on europe, nato, and the european union. elizabeth, thanks so much for joining us. let's talk about this very important visit by kim jong-un to beijing. the trip seemed to end some years of strained ties between the two countries. aside from bridging the gap somewhat, what do you think these two leaders accomplished? >> it's very important that china be in the game, of course, because china has influence over the north koreans, particularly with respect to keeping their struggling economy afloat. but the reality is that china is playing chess, not checkers. we have to be aware that china's interests don't entirely align with the interests of the united states. so china doesn't necessarily want to keep america in the region and has every reason, therefore, to want to advance an agreement that might put pressure on us to retreat from our commitment to asia. that would not be in the american national security interests. we have many interests in asia,
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many allies. and we're there for the long term. >> earlier, the president tweeted this. quote, for years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the korean peninsula was not even a small possibility. now there's a small chance kim jong-un will do what is right for his people and humanity. look forward to our meeting. so you think there is now a real possibility of denuclearization of the korean peninsula? >> this is a very long game we're going to have to play. and there is maximum pressure right now on pyongyang. so that creates a context for a possible negotiation. in addition, because the north koreans continue to build an arsenal that now potentially threatens the united states' homeland, this is a moment for us to be interested in a conversation with the north koreans. but there are many pitfalls. first of all, the north koreans
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cheat on agreements, and we know it. second, china, as i noted, isn't necessarily interested in america remaining in the region, and we have every reason to want to stay a major player in asia. and third, we have little leadership that has remained in place at the department of state, which is essential to advancing a substantive negotiation, which will be complex. and with the absence of many senior diplomats who have retired recently and a lack of a secretary of the state who's confirmed, there's reason to be concerned about a negotiation that will require great and rigorous attention to detail. >> so that raises the question, is it a good idea for the president of the united states to be meeting in the next few weeks with the leader of north korea? >> look, this is a bold move. and we're going to have to see how it plays out. what will be very important is there be care taken in what is agreed to on the spot. as i said, we know that the north koreans have cheated
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before. there are two paths to a nuclear weapon. you can pursue plutonium reprocessing or uranium enrichment. in the clinton administration, the north koreans agreed to stop their nuclear program, stop their plutonium reprocessing, but in fact, they were secretly beginning to enrich uranium. so that's a very important thing to watch. in addition, it will be crucial for the president to avoid making any commitment to reduce the american troop presence in the republic of korea, to stop our military exercises, or make any promises that would reduce our power and leverage in the region. >> well, they said they're not going to oppose the scheduled u.s. h u.s./south korean military exercises that are going on now. and they really haven't had a nuclear test or a ballistic missile test since last november. how much credit does all the tough talk from president trump, how much credit do all the sanctions imposed by the trump administration and the earlier obama administration, but the
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trump administration specifically, how much credit do they deserve for what seems to be an easing of tensions on the korean peninsula? >> i think that the north koreans wanted very much to be treated with respect at the olympics. and that happened. so that was a reason that i believe they withheld from testing ballistic missiles. now we have a president who's said some things that are quite unusual for an american president, essentially threatening nuclear war in a way that has been not the precedent that is set by previous presidents. so he may have created so much anxiety in the region about the possibility of war that he has brought those who have previously not been willing to come to the table, to the table. but we'll have to see whether this actually bears out in a concrete agreement that advances america's and its al lies' national interests in the region. >> we all remember the false hopes that occurred during the clinton administration when the secretary of state madeline albright went to pyongyang. there was great hope.
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obviously that disappeared relative relatively quickly. elizabeth sherwood-randall, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. breaking news involving a lawsuit against the trump administration alleging that foreign gifts made to the president might actually be illegal. let's go to the justice department. our correspondent laura jarrett is standing by. >> hey there, wolf. a big victory for two democratic state ags, one in d.c., one in maryland, with a federal judge now in maryland saying this lawsuit can go through. the main issue here was a legal one. it was whether the challengers actually had standing to sue in this case. as many people have alleged that president trump is accepting money from foreign government, dignitary who choose to stay at the trump international hotel here in washington. the judge here today is not making a ruling on the merits, but he is saying that they've alleged enough for the suit to go through. as the trump organization and lawyers for trump have said, those plaintiffs weren't harmed. the judge here disagrees.
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here's what he says in part, wolf. a large number of maryland and district court residents are being affected and will continue to be affected when foreign and state governments choose to stay, host events, and dine at the hotel rather than at comparable district of columbia establishments. the whole issue was they can't compete. the judge is now saying this can go through. this is still in the early stages. it was a motion to dismiss, which is a relatively low bar for the plaintiffs to try to get across, but a judge in new york had already dismissed a similar suit. so this is really a first of its kind, wolf. >> well, it's a significant development. we'll stay on top of it. laura, thanks very much. we're getting other breaking news right now, potentially even more significant. "the new york times" now reporting that the president's lawyer raised the idea of trump pardoning michael flynn and paul
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breaking news. "the new york times" is now reporting that former trump attorney john dowd talked about pardons last year for michael flynn and paul manafort. dowd, as you know, the lead attorney for president trump, resigned last week. manafort is facing charges. michael flynn, the former national security adviser to the president, has pleaded guilty. here with us, michael zeldin and chief political analyst gloria borger. let me read a couple sentences from this "new york times" story, then we'll discuss.
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a lawyer for president trump approached the idea of mr. trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, michael t. flynn and paul manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions. the discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer john dowd was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation. gloria, potentially a very significant development. >> well, it is. i think that the big question -- you know, the big question is whether this could be interpreted as some form of obstruction of justice, if in fact, you're trying to pardon people who may impact the president in a negative way. i think we should also point out that at a meeting, i believe last summer, with the president and his lawyers, i believe it was the president who raised the possibility of how broad his
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pardoning was, right, how much he could -- and they told him you have, you know, broad discretion to pardon people. but ty cobb has issued a statement on the record. john dowd told "the new york times" on the record that he never mentioned this pardoning to manafort's attorneys. but "the new york times" clearly has sources which say in fact that that subject was raised. >> and one additional sentence from the article, the talks suggest that mr. trump's lawyers were concerned about what mr. flynn and mr. manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, robert s. mueller, in exchange for leniency. mr. mueller's team could investigate the prospect that mr. dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry. >> that's right. well, two things. one, was dowd trying to obstruct
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justice independently? was dowd as a spokesman for the president trying to say this is what the president's doing? that would be a second obstruction. i think it's the latter we're most interested in. if the president was using his constitutional authority to pardon in a way to interfere with the investigation of robert mueller or to influence the testimony of prospective witnesses, that would clearly fit into the obstruction of justic justice constitutes, the interference with a witness testifyi testifying statutes, and would raise the prospect of abuse of office. >> if word got to manafort and flynn, for example, you know what, guys, don't cooperate with mueller because the president is thinking of giving you a pardon in any case, that could be a very, very significant development. >> absolutely. and many people still are of the mind when they look at the manafort case and the testimony that gates can offer, and we saw in the earlier segment when
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gates is told now that -- it's revealed gates is talking to russian intelligence officers. that's another message potentially to manafort. they're saying to manafort, cooperate here, cooperate here. the president was saying stand down, don't cooperate, there's a pardon coming down the road for you, maybe that's what we're seeing playing out here. that could be very obstructive. >> we're going to be speaking with joe becker, one of the reporters who wrote this story for "the new york times." we'll take a quick break. much more on the breaking news right after this. in the fingers is helping build the new new york. once home to the world's image center, new york state is now a leader in optics, photonics and imaging. fueled by strong university partnerships, providing the world's best talent. and supported with workforce development to create even more opportunities. all across new york state, we're building the new new york. to grow your business with us in new york state, visit
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we're continuing to follow
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the breaking news. "the new york times" now reporting that former trump attorney john dowd talked about pardons last year for both michael flynn and paul manafort. dowd resigned last week. manafort is facing charges. michael flynn, the former national security adviser, has pled guilty. once again, our legal analyst michael zeldin is with us, our chief political analyst gloria borger. also joining us on the phone is joe becker, breaking the story for "the new york times." give us the made head line. what have you guys learned? >> well, we know that a lawyer, as you said, a lawyer for mr. trump talked about pardons, broached the idea of pardons both michael flynn and paul manafort. this happened as the special counsel's investigation was really heating up. especially as it relates to mr. flynn. these discussions took place over the summer at a time when
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the grand jury was hearing evidence against mr. flynn on a range of potential crimes. of course, mr. flynn ended up cutting a deal with the prosecutor. so one question is, you know, would this prevent him from cutting a deal and telling the special it would be very, very unusual for mr. dowd to do something like this and freelance it. but we know that mr. trump himself, you know, raised the idea of pardons. so, you know, i think it's, you know, very significant development. >> in the "new york times" article you quote john dowd as saying there were no discussions, as far as i know. no discussions. you quote jay sekulow one of the president's private attorneys
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saying never have i had any pardons of any individual involved in this inquiry. and white house chief counsel, ty cobb, one of the white house counsel's, ty cobb, has given us the same statement he has given the times saying i've only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at white house. do you see those as denials to your reporting? >> we're very, very confident in our reporting. i also think if you look at the statements that were given to us, and just given to you as well, our story doesn't say that mr. sekulow made those calls or mr. dowd made those calls -- sorry, that mr. cobb made those calls. it's a denial that we don't raise in the story.
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mr. dowd does deny scheduling the pardons but we're very confident in our reporting. >> there is a flat denial, no discussions, from john dowd, as far as i know, no discussions. >> listen iing to jo, seems to she has sources who understand very well that there were. the big question here is if this it did occur, why, if it was before flynn flipped? >> pled guilty and started to cooperate. >> it seems to me, to raise the question we talked about before, that the legitimate question that gets raised now is were -- was the president's lawyer -- and did he do it on his own, even though he says he didn't do it, did he do it on his own and was he trying to avoid a situation in which flynn was cooperating?
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because that would not be good for his own client. >> when john dowd says there were no discussions, period, "the new york times" says we have plenty of sources saying there were discussions so something is going on. >> something is going on. of course, the thing that is important to remember is that even if this were true and pardons were offered and accepted, mueller could still make these people testify. they could still be forced to testify and give evidence in front of grand jury and not be charged with a crime except lying. then the secondary pardon of lying, which seems untenable. i think it's a failing idea but that doesn't mean it wasn't contemplated. the sheriff arpaio pardon, that was unacceptable in many people's eyes. maybe the thought was if i do this, what are the consequences? it could be just that, feelers were put out to see how would
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this play out. gloria, remind us, the president had thought about pardons. we don't know if he actually did anything about it, but it was under consideration. >> right. and this is also reported in the "times" piece today. there was a meeting at which the president was asking about pardons and the extent to which he could pardon people. and i was told at the time that it was kind of an informational session, that there were a list of options open to the president vis-a-vis what he could do and that pardoning was something on the list. you hear ty cobb say again today this was nothing that was seriously discussed other than in a q & a discussion with the president where his options were being laid out. this story, however, puts that
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in an entirely different light. by the way, we don't know, as jo becker was pointing out, if there was freelancing go ping on here or the president knew about it or didn't know about it zblaes nothing wrong with the president asking his legal team, let's talk about pardons. the president has every right to do that. >> that's exactly what he should be doing, asking his legal counsel what are the parameters of my issuing a pardon. i think there's nothing wrong with that. if, however, his couldn't plaths was so that i can interfere with, that's where it becomes problematic. we don't have evidence of that. that's what would be -- >> presumably mueller and his team are looking into that. >> that would change it from an appropriate conversation with your advisers to an inappropriate attempt to interfere with a federal investigation. >> it's a complicated situation but a very significant development right now. >> no question. >> much more on this coming up, guys. thanks very much. we'll continue to follow, of course, the breaking news, a topic that's likely to dominate today's white house press
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briefing set to begin, we're told, fairly soon, right at the top of the hour. we'll see if it does. much more of our special coverage right after this.
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now more businesses in more places can afford to dream gig. comcast, building america's largest gig-speed network. hi there. i'm brooke baldwin. you're watching cnn. here is the breaking news this afternoon as we're waiting for that press briefing to begin any moment now,e pictures. "new york times" is now reporting that john dowd, the former head of president trump's personal legal team who stepped down a couple of days ago floated the idea of pardoning aides flynn and manafort. if he h