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Trump Campaign Associates Manafort and Gates Charged; Former Trump Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Pleaded Guilty to Lying to FBI. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:15] CNN ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "Breaking News."
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and tax evasion that is what the president's former campaign chairman and his deputy are up against today.
Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the first to be charged as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Both men surrendered to the FBI just this morning and in just a little while will be facing a federal judge in Washington, D.C. And that is a lot and that is not all.
Also breaking this morning, another court document, unsealed. A former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI officials.
The complaint says George Papadopoulos he lied about his contacts with foreign nationals who had close connections to the Russian government, and the criminal complaint mentions the 2016 election investigation into coordination.
What else will happen today? What does this say about Robert -- don't laugh, Jeffrey Toobin -- about Robert Mueller's investigation, and what does this mean for the president?
And, yes, he is already responding on Twitter.
Clearly, we have a lot to cover this hour. Let's get to it.
Let's begin with CNN's Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, part of the team who broke the big news Friday night that this indictment of Manafort and Gates was coming. He's outside of the courthouse where Manafort and Gates will make their first appearance.
Evan, lay this out for us. We've now got multiple indictments to be discussing. What exactly does this Manafort-Gates indictment tell us?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we know that Manafort and Gates are going to be heading to the courthouse here in the next couple of hours to face those charges that they -- that the government unsealed this morning. And really what they describe is over the course of over a decade, these men were in business with the former ruling party in the Ukraine, and according to the government, they were concealing bank accounts in Cyprus, Saint Vincent and other places, millions of dollars that were flowing through allegedly to hide this relationship with the former Ukrainian government.
They failed to register as foreign agents for all these years that they were acting on behalf of the Ukrainian government. So that's the crux of those charges.
We know that they were notified this morning. The charges were filed on Friday here at this courthouse by the grand jury and they were notified this morning. They turned themselves in to the FBI and so again we expect that they will be here in court later in the next couple hours.
The second indictment that you mentioned is against George Papadopoulos, who is a former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign. And it turns out that he pleaded guilty on October 3rd to lying to the FBI.
According to the documents that have now been made public, the FBI says that he met with them a couple of times in January and in February for interviews, and in those interviews, he lied about his contacts with people who had ties to the Russian government.
One of them was a professor who is based in London and who apparently had ties to the -- close ties to the Russian government, and according to the documents, he was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. E-mails and so on according to the FBI.
In a subsequent meeting or communications, rather, he was communicating -- Papadopoulos was communicating with someone with who also had ties to the Russian government. He even set up a meeting in London with Putin's niece, Vladimir Putin's niece, and the Russian ambassador. So lots of ties here to the Russian government that are being directly alleged for the first time as part of this investigation.
Again, this is the first time we're hearing of anything that Robert Mueller has turned up that shows direct efforts between the people in the Trump campaign talking to Russians about making some kind of coordinated effort against Hillary Clinton.
This is part of an effort that we know the FBI has been looking at. The allegation was that the Russians were trying to insinuate themselves into the Trump campaign and this is the first proof that we're seeing that Robert Mueller has uncovered that.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And this coming as the second, but also now some very clear statements as we were reading, as we continue to read through this complaint, making very direct connections to the coordination investigation that Robert Mueller was charged with. Very clear what the Papadopoulos complaint that we're going through right now.
We've got a lot to get to.
Evan is at the courthouse.
Thank you so much.
Let's get over to the White House now, and CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing there this morning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the last time we checked in there had been no official statement from the White House, but we have heard from the president himself on the Manafort charges this morning.
He just shortly a while ago, he got on Twitter and said, "Sorry, but this is years ago before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't crooked Hillary and Democrats the focus."
And then Kate, he added, "Also, there is no collusion."
[11:05:10] Now in those tweets the president did not touch on the news of this latest report that George Papadopoulos, one of his foreign policy advisors to the Trump campaign, has also pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
We know that he was questioned by agents just one week after the president was inaugurated here in Washington, D.C., and that he was arrested at a Washington airport over the summer.
And a notable part of that unsealed record from today on Papadopoulos is that he's met with the FBI and the government officials several times since his arrest to provide them with information.
Now we know that from my colleague Jeff Zeleny that the president did meet with White House lawyers this morning to go over these charges for Manafort and Rick Gates and that they weren't expecting to make a statement until they -- more fully grasp the scope of these charges. But it looks like the president is going ahead and making his own statements on Twitter.
Now we are scheduled to hear from the press secretary Sarah Sanders here at a briefing at the White House at 1:00 shortly before Gates and Manafort appear in court. And we will likely hear more from them on that then unless, Kate, the president tweets about it before then.
BOLDUAN: And we will all -- we will stand by and see. I'm already amazed that he tweeted about it even once already today about his former campaign chairman and what has happened.
Let's get to it right now.
Paul Manafort and -- Paul Manafort is not here -- Paul Callan, though, is, a former prosecutor, and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here.
CNN's chief legal analyst, chief correspondent Jim Sciutto is joining us from Washington.
Jeffrey, Paul, let's talk about George Papadopoulos. Because as we're going through, this is the other document that has now been unsealed. I've gotten through half of it before we jumped on TV.
This in one regard you've got Manafort. There's no statement. There's no mention of Trump, there's no mention of the campaign, and that's all over this complaint.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Correct. And, you know, it is a very different crime. It is a very different set of circumstances than the Manafort investigation. It is about the activities of the Trump campaign.
Apparently, this fellow Papadopoulos was trying to set up a meeting between Trump himself and Trump advisors with representatives of Putin's government and then he lied about it on January 27th when he spoke to the FBI.
What the Trump White House will certainly point out is that these meetings did not take place, which is a fact, that is worth knowing. However, the fact that a --
BOLDUAN: Trump adviser.
TOOBIN: Trump campaign adviser pleaded guilty to a federal crime about activities that he conducted during the Trump campaign about relationships with Russia is certainly highly significant.
BOLDUAN: Paul, what is your first impression of this?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is going to send shivers through the White House because this is sort of --
BOLDUAN: It should.
CALLAN: Well, yes, because this is classic in terms of the way special prosecutors proceed.
They find people who make the mistake of lying to the investigators or lying to the FBI, which is a crime. And then they bring them in, and now they've got leverage, they hand down an indictment and they use that leverage to get more information.
So anybody at the White House who's being interviewed now has the message if you don't tell the absolute and complete truth, you could be indicted in a similar kind of indictment.
The second thing I think that is very important here, is that the mandate, of course, the special prosecutor, is to see if there was Russian tampering with the election.
And Mueller very methodically is looking to see who are Trump's intermediaries to the Russians. Now this is -- was a foreign policy adviser of his. Obviously this person was setting up meetings with the Russians which he was lying about. Manafort, of course, that indictment is just loaded with foreign contacts including people in the Ukraine who are friendly to the Soviet Union.
So he's methodically showing connections by the Trump campaign. We don't see evidence of direct tampering in both of these indictments at this point. But, remember, these are the first two indictments.
TOOBIN: And remember the Papadopoulos case --
TOOBIN: It's nothing alleged. It is a guilty plea.
BOLDUAN: He's pleaded guilty.
TOOBIN: He has pleaded guilty. The Manafort and Gates case is a -- simply an indictment and they are presumed innocent, and we don't know if they're guilty or not. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty.
BOLDUAN: In keeping those -- that's an important distinction as we continue the discussion.
But and especially on this Papadopoulos point, Jim, let me bring you in.
So what we are learning and what you know, does Papadopoulos equal collusion?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He doesn't equal collusion, but it does mean that Mueller has not eliminated collusion or cooperation or coordination whatever word you use.
SCIUTTO: He's not eliminated as a line of inquiry. And it's right in the language there. If you look at the first page of the statement of the offense. It says this is part of an investigation of whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. So immediately that belies President Trump and his advisers, his supporters in the last week who have said that the question of collusion has been eliminated. It's right here in paper on the first page.
[11:10:00] As Jeffrey Toobin makes the point, this is not an alleged crime. The lie related to this is one that this Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to. Some other lines I will draw your attention to this from this.
If you look later in the language there, it's very specific about what he lied about. One is that he stated that foreign contact, I told him that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. So that one of the contacts with Russians known to the U.S. regarded the offer of dirt, damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The final point I would draw your attention to is the last line and it states that he is now cooperating with authorities and since his arrest on this he has in fact met with the government on numerous occasions as the court documents say to provide information and answer questions. That I think just echo Paul Callan, should be of concern to the White House going forward.
The final point I would make, Kate, is this -- Robert Mueller did not have to release the details of this guilty plea today. He did not. This took place on October 3rd, nearly a month ago.
So on a day when you have crimes alleged against Manafort and Gates for largely business crimes, is there a message being sent here from the special counsel that this other line of inquiry into cooperation, coordination with Russia is not closed yet.
BOLDUAN: Well, specifically, on that, Jeff. What do you make? He pled guilty on October 5th is what this document says. Why unseal all of this on the same day?
TOOBIN: I think the answer is, he did not want Gates and Manafort to know that Papadopoulos was cooperating.
BOLDUAN: He, Bob Mueller.
TOOBIN: Bob Mueller did not want anyone to know that Papadopoulos was cooperating.
I think Jim puts his finger on a very important point. It's the very last line in the filing against Papadopoulos, which says that he has met with him several times.
Another point that's worth raising about the Papadopoulos guilty plea, the false statement for which he pled guilty was January 27th, 2017. Months before Mueller was even appointed. Mueller was appointed in May.
So this shows that the FBI has been investigating connections between Russia and the Trump campaign for quite some time, not just since May, and Mueller's appointment.
So there is undoubtedly other -- there are undoubtedly other interviews that Mueller and company will be looking at to see if false statements are made or whether there are leads there to further investigation.
And on this point, this happening in the same day, it doesn't have to happen in the same day that all of this was unsealed. If it is sending a message, who is it sending a message to?
CALLAN: I think it's sending message to all of the people who were in high-level positions in the Trump election campaign. And many of those, of course, have moved with him into the White House.
So any of those people now know that they have to be absolutely truthful in speaking to the FBI, because they will be indicted. This precedent has been set. And, of course, the Manafort indictment, I think, is very, very important because by going after Manafort, and there's a theory out there that Manafort may have been having financial problems, which caused him to hope that his appointment as campaign director might get him out of the woods.
BOLDUAN: Sure, it doesn't look like financial problems when you look at the dollar figures in that indictment -- keep going.
TOOBIN: You know, but it's true.
BOLDUAN: Huge numbers.
CALLAN: Yes, that was -- that was -- when people were looking at this early on, the thought was that that's maybe where the special prosecutor was going. That Manafort maybe had some liquidity, some financial problems and he thought being appointed as Trump campaign manager might get him out of the woods here.
And it could leave you with a scenario, and this is I think where Trump is going to go eventually, because there are going to be more indictments coming down the road. He's going to say I didn't know anything about this. That's going to be his fallback defense in the end.
Even if my campaign officials, my campaign employees were contacting the Russians, I knew nothing about it. So it has nothing to do with me and it has nothing to do with my presidency. That's going to be Trump's fallback position.
BOLDUAN: And how convincing that is, I guess, is yet to be determined.
Jim, give me a final thought, especially on this just kind of, as you mentioned, the trifecta of what we've learned just this morning?
SCIUTTO: One other point is let's not dismiss Manafort and Gates alleged crimes here either as purely business related. That's another message you've heard from Trump world is -- listen, this is business stuff. It was long before they were in the campaign. Just a couple of examples.
It's alleged in here that -- not alleged, but part of the criminal charges alleged are that Manafort was lobbying on behalf of a Russian- backed leader in Ukraine, really against U.S. interests in Europe.
[11:15:00] One of the parties he was lobbying on behalf of is an anti- NATO party. NATO is a U.S. alliance. He was helping them lobby against NATO. And NATO presence there. He was lobbying for this Russian-backed Ukrainian leader. Two members of U.S. Congress in favor of the jailing of that Russian-backed leader's political opponent.
Going to U.S. Congress, the halls of the Congress and lobbying U.S. members of Congress, that it's OK. That this Russian-backed leader in Ukraine was jailing his political opponent. I mean, these are not small things. They're not just minor business crimes far a field. They relate directly to U.S. interests in Europe and you might say U.S. values in Europe.
BOLDUAN: Gentlemen, stand by.
I want to go over to Washington one more time.
Let's go over to Pamela Brown. She's got some reporting here.
Looking through -- looking more into Papadopoulos and communications and Facebook, what are you picking up?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And what's so interesting with this is, unlike the Gates and the Manafort indictment, when you look at the criminal complaint for George Papadopoulos, the foreign policy adviser who president -- now President Trump, then candidate Trump, recognized to "The Washington Post" editorial board in March of 2016. This did affect the campaign. And this is something that the White House frankly is going to have to address.
You know, they can distance themselves from the indictments relating to Manafort and Gates, but clearly in this complaint, it alleges the FBI says that Papadopoulos was in touch with foreign nationals who he understood to have close relationships with senior Russian officials. This was during his time on the campaign.
And what struck me is that the complaint says, not only did he lie to the FBI about the nature of the extent of his relationships with these foreign nationals, but it also says he tried to obstruct the FBI by deleting his Facebook page in February. This was after he had met with the FBI, after he had been interviewed.
He, apparently, according to this complaint deleted his Facebook page in February that had contacts between him and officials connected to senior Russian officials.
And what's interesting here is that it sort of belied, it sort of contradicts what he had told the FBI in previous interviews so he apparently deleted this Facebook page, created a new one that did not have any of those communications.
And so it's really interesting to me when you look at the broader picture here, he was allegedly told in this complaint by a professor in London, who had ties to Russians, that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. They had thousands and thousands of e-mails.
As we know, Kate, WikiLeaks during the campaign only released DNC e- mails as well as John Podesta e-mails. As far as I know there weren't any e-mails related specifically to Hillary Clinton. But we do know and just trying -- you know, looking at big picture here, as you try to connect the dots, there was an effort on people, a researcher, connected to the campaign, reaching out to Russians looking for Hillary Clinton's thousands of missing e-mails, the 33,000 deleted e- mails. As you know, we reported last week, Cambridge Analytica data firm connected the campaign, reached out to WikiLeaks asking them if they needed help with Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
I just think it's interesting in that context as we look through this complaint. Clearly, this is someone who was part of the campaign, that Donald Trump had recognized who was in touch with people connected to the senior Russian government officials talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, talking about dirt on Hillary. So it's really just interesting in the broader context here.
BOLDUAN: And there is still a lot more context for us all to kind of soak through as we look through this complaint.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you panel. Thank you so much. We're going to have much more on our breaking news ahead.
Two people connected to the Trump campaign under indictment.
Well, Paul Manafort was once the face of the Trump campaign. His associate, Rick Gates, he kept a lower profile.
What do we know about Gates? Why was he visiting the White House several times, still this year? Stay with us.
[11:23:10] BOLDUAN: All right, we continue to follow the breaking news.
Former Trump foreign policy adviser pleads guilty to making false statements to the FBI in the Russian probe and two former Trump campaign officials have been indicted. Paul Manafort, his long-time business associate Rick Gates charged with conspiracy against the United States and more. That indictment just unsealed this morning. And this afternoon, these men will be headed to court for their first appearance before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
Manafort was in large part the face of the campaign for a brief time, brief, but critical time during the election when he served as campaign chairman.
Rick Gates is a much less visible figure, but one who worked for the campaign and the Trump world if you will, much longer than Manafort.
So what's his story?
CNN's senior Washington correspondent Brianna Keilar is live now with more details.
Brianna, Rick Gates might not be a household name, likely to become one very soon, but what do folks need to know? BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of, Kate, there is no Rick Gates without Paul Manafort. This is someone who is seen as a protege, very much in lockstep with Paul Manafort. And when Paul Manafort was the chairman on the Trump campaign, Gates was his deputy. So he was working in a capacity as an aide to the Trump campaign and this stemmed from the fact that he had been a long- time business associate working with Manafort at his lobbying firm for years and years.
So they had been very much associated together in business for some time. And that had to do with working with a number of clients who included foreign leaders, including a number of pro-Russian foreign leaders. And then after Manafort was ousted from the campaign, you fast forward a little bit, eventually Gates was working for "America First," the pro-Trump PAC, and that was short lived, but then he went on to work with Tom Barrack, who as you know, Kate, is someone very closely associated with President Trump as a confident. He ran his inaugural committee.
[11:25:05] But, again, this all stems back to Paul Manafort who is the campaign chairman for a short period of time, for a key period of time during the Trump campaign, allowing him to get the delegates he needed to become the nominee going through the convention until Paul Manafort stepped down amid questions of his ties to pro-Russian leaders, including specifically the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014.
He had been accused of laundering millions and millions of dollars. There was questions about whether Manafort and others had helped him accomplish that.
And we learned, Kate, that Manafort had actually been under surveillance by the Feds in 2014 and then again in 2016. That was really the cloud under which he ended up stepping down from the campaign.
BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. And this indictment says that they're looking at activities between 2006 and 2017. So all the way through.
Brianna, Great to see you. Thank you so much.
The panel is back with me to discuss this element of this. And there's a lot to go through.
It seems, you said it, Jeffrey, this is -- you would know, I do not -- this is a long indictment. It seems complicated reading it.
TOOBIN: It is.
BOLDUAN: Talk to me about these charges, though.
So you've got conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as unregistered agents on foreign principal, misleading statements, false statements, failure to report.
What does it all say? TOOBIN: That's a good -- that's a good question. Because it's like what's the deal with this? What is the government saying he did wrong?
TOOBIN: The gist of it is that he was a representative of the Ukrainian government at a time when it was very pro-Putin. He was paid millions of dollars and he wanted to cover that up. He wanted to cover up how much money he made, he wanted to cover up what he was doing for them, and the timing of his relationship with the Ukrainians. That's the gist of this case.
Another point to make about the complexity of it, is that if this case goes to trial given the way the federal legal system works, there is no way this case could get to trial in less than six months.
BOLDUAN: Oh, really?
TOOBIN: Absolutely not. I mean, this is a complicated case. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of motions made by the defenses as their right. They will ask for discovery. They will ask to have the case dismissed on various grounds.
BOLDUAN: They are pushing for Mueller to wrap this up.
TOOBIN: That's my point.
TOOBIN: Is that anyone who thinks that Mueller is on the verge of ending in 2017, this will either -- this will dissuade them of that. This guarantees that the Mueller investigation will go well into 2018.
CALLAN: Yes. It probably means it's going to go into 2019, because you have to figure, these are the first indictments coming down. If there are other indictments, which there undoubtedly will be, let's say hypothetically this one gets tried first, and I agree with Jeffrey completely.
Six months is an optimistic trial date. Those subsequent indictments are probably going to push into late 2018, maybe even into 2019.
So we're looking at a very long investigation. Even though it appears that Mueller is moving quickly.
BOLDUAN: Would you expect these to be the first charges out of the gate?
TOOBIN: Well, once we knew that the FBI had executed a search warrant at Manafort's house.
TOOBIN: You don't execute a search warrant at someone's house unless you have very good suspicion that they -- I mean, you can't get a search warrant unless the magistrate agrees that there is probable cause to --
BOLDUAN: Exactly the way that they did it, right?
TOOBIN: You're right. There will be evidence of criminal activity there. So we've known he was investigating Manafort in a very serious way for a couple of months.
So it's not a surprise that Manafort was indicted. I think it is somewhat of a surprise that Gates is indicted. He is not someone who is on my radar screen and I follow these matters pretty closely. And I'm not aware he was on many other people's radar screens.
So that I think is somewhat of a surprise. And, certainly, the guilty plea by Papadopoulos is a major surprise.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Major.
TOOBIN: Especially since, you know, his statement to the FBI wasn't even made when Mueller was the special counsel. It was made four months before that in January.
BOLDUAN: Let me bring in Shimon Prokupecz. He's part of the team that broke the fact that this indictment was coming on Friday afternoon.
Shimon, your reporting -- some of your reporting is that when it comes to Manafort and Gates, when it comes to this indictment, something that could be involved here is that they could be up against something of a clock, some kind of statute of limitations deadline.
Is that correct?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's correct. And that has to do with some of the tax charges and some of the tax violations. And that had -- that's why we also -- we knew that the special prosecutor was kind of under the gun here. There were some timing issues. So what we all along thought maybe what might happen is maybe they'll indict him on one of the charges, sort of to stop the clock on whatever it is that they were concerned about. And then eventually maybe do some super seeding indictments or whatever maybe as they continue the investigation.