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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Tries Claiming He Wasn't Close to Personal Fixer; Jeff Sessions Hits Back at Trump Saying the DOJ won't be Improperly Influenced; Trump Says If I'm Impeached, Everybody Would Be Poor; Manafort Juror Says Lone Woman Was Hold out on 10 Counts. Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired August 23, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: -- who already pled guilty in the Mueller probe, just a coffee boy. This is the kind of thing he does. But make no mistake, we saw Michael Cohen, he set up a show company to make two payments to women making allegations that Donald Trump had affairs with them in the 2000s. He did this to silence them, to influence the election in the runup to the 2016 election. How do I know that? Because Michael Cohen testified under oath to that in the southern district of New York. OK. I want to play one last clip. Can't have a Donald Trump interview without him talking about winning. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's part of my life, I guess my whole life has been this way. Somebody said, oh, gee, this is always such controversy. And I don't know, I've always had controversy in my life. And I've always succeeded. I've always won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CILLIZZA: Well, he's 100 percent right, Ana, he always has had controversy. Donald Trump the private citizen, Donald Trump the politician, controversy surrounds him. And I do think it's important, I won, I always win, remember, in Donald Trump's world there's not really a right and wrong. There's a winning and not winning. A pro- Donald Trump and not-pro-Donald Trump. And that's it. That's how he sees the world. Very revealing. I urge people if you want more, go to CNN.com. There's a lot more that he said there. But that gives you a taste of what I would say is an A-plus interview.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Well done, my friend. I give you an A-plus for effort.

CILLIZZA: A-plus-plus.

CABRERA: Yes, yes, thank you.

We're just getting some new sound, by the way, from the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as the President argues against his own impeachment. Giuliani says the people will revolt if it gets to that point and he doesn't stop there. That's next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions leaving a White House meeting moments ago after finally punching back hard today at his boss, President Trump. Sessions today declaring the Justice Department, quote, will not be improperly influenced by political considerations and adding, quote, I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in.

This is after the President heaped fresh insults on his Attorney General. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He took the job and then he said, I'm going to recuse myself. I said, what kind of a man is this? The only reason I gave him the job because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Let's get right to CNN White House reporter Kaitlin Collins. Kaitlan, what are you hearing from your sources, what happened between the President and Sessions behind White House doors this afternoon after first the President's remarks then Sessions' statement?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, it appears that Jeff Sessions left the White House today and still has his job. At least for now. We're told by sources that this fight between the President and Sessions, this very public fight, that is completely extraordinary. Didn't come up during their meeting with other White House officials including senior adviser and son-in-law to the President, Jared Kushner, during the meeting about prison reform today.

But surely it was still seemingly an awkward meeting since the two of them are in this very public feud right now over the President voicing his complaints about Jeff Sessions and Jeff Sessions pushing back and pushing back pretty forcibly in a pretty stunning statement that you don't often see from a very quiet attorney general there today. That was certainly something stunning.

But another stunning thing that the President said during that interview with Fox News was that he picked Jeff Sessions to be the attorney general, the leading law enforcement individual in the country, because of his loyalty to him. Because as you'll recall, back during the campaign, Jeff Sessions was one of the first and highest-profile people to endorse the President. The first sitting senator to endorse the President for sure.

And now the President saying he only offered him that job because of loyalty and clearly expressing his displeasure that, of course, we know goes back to that decision last March to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Something that the President just has not been able to forgive Jeff Sessions for doing. But with that statement today, someone I talked to who's close to Jeff Sessions said essentially that Sessions was -- daring the President to fire him by issuing such a statement. Completely contradicting what the President said saying, yes, he has taken control of the Justice Department and he's going to continue to do his job there until if the President does decide to fire him. Something the President did not answer when he was asked directly during that interview will you fire Jeff Sessions? He instead choosing to leave him twisting in the winded for now as he has been for essentially the past year and a half.

CABRERA: And the big question is, is anything different this time? It's been so many times we've been talking about the President's attack on his attorney general and, yet, it goes on and on. Kaitlan, we're also hearing now from the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on talk of impeachment. What did he say?

COLLINS: That's right, Ana. We just heard from the President's lead attorney representing him in the Russia probe on impeachment and to give you a little background, this impeachment talk has accelerated since Michael Cohen, the President's former attorney, implicated him in a crime earlier this week saying that he directed him to make those payments to those two women who alleged that they had affairs with President Trump. And now Rudy Giuliani, himself, is weighing in and here's what he had to say about all of this.

[15:40:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Hardly. I think it's inevitable that he won't. President Trump is completely cleared. You have this Cohen guy, he doesn't know anything about Russian collusion. Doesn't know anything about obstruction. He's a massive liar. If anything, it's turned very much in the President's favor. I think impeachment would be totally horrible. I mean there's no reason. He didn't collude with the Russians. He didn't obstruct justice. Everything Cohen says has been disproved. You'd only impeach him for political reasons and the American people would revolt against that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Rudy Giuliani there on a golf course in Scotland wearing his Trump hat. Rudy Giuliani's been out of the country this week when the Paul Manafort verdict came down and Michael Cohen made his appearance in a New York courtroom. Something that frustrated President Trump with his lead attorney being so far away. But you hear there Rudy Giuliani predicting dire circumstances if President Trump would be impeached. And that's something that his client, his number one client, also said during an interview saying that he believed if he would be impeached that the stock markets would crash, and everyone would be poor -- Ana.

CABRERA: Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you. And I want to play what the President said about the prospect of his own impeachment this morning on Fox. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You know, I guess it says something like high crimes and all, I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job. I'll tell you what, if I ever got impeached I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe in reverse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Let me bring in SE Cupp, host of "SE CUPP UNFILTERED", which has a new home here on CNN, on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Welcome to weekends first of all. Welcome to the show today here at the CNN newsroom. Thank you for being with us. I first just want to get your take on what we heard from Giuliani and President Trump talking about impeachment. The President forced to address his own impeachment. Sounds like they're playing politics of fear right out of that playbook.

SE CUPP, HOST, SE CUPP UNFILTERED: They are. A couple things, Trump's description of impeachment is almost comically inane. He seems to believe that the health of the markets, alone, would guarantee his job security. And just ask Bill Clinton if having a robust economy and record growth and unemployment kept him in office. It didn't.

But you're right, this is political jargon and frankly, it's a good strategy. Rudy Giuliani, remember, is not playing legal counsel, per se, to the President. He's playing political adviser. And in sort of stoking these fears among the electorate that if Democrats win the House they'll try to impeach the President, that's for turnout. That's a good message. That's a good fear for Rudy Giuliani and Trump to convey to Republicans you better come out and vote to keep Republicans in the House or this whole thing is going to end in revolt as Giuliani said.

CABRERA: The question is, will it be effective in turning out the base, turning out voters for Republicans?

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: I also want to ask about the President's comments today with Jeff Sessions and Jeff Sessions hitting back. I mean, it's really stunning to see this play out. An attorney general of the United States going after the President of the United States and vice versa.

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: And largely Republicans are sort of just sitting on their hands. Why?

CUPP: Well, look, when it comes to Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump just isn't that into this thing that we have in our modern democracy, separation of powers. He's just not into it. He doesn't understand. He doesn't appreciate it. If he were starting his own country, he would definitely leave that part out of the charter. So, that he is constantly grappling with Jeff Sessions and sort of wondering why Jeff sessions isn't coming to his rescue is not surprising.

Finally, though, it seems, you know, Jeff Sessions is very frustrated by this and you can almost hear in his own statement back to Trump, him trying to reason with the President. Trying to say, look, we've been so effective at DOJ, at getting your agenda, you know, through. Sort of trying to remind the President you need me here. You want me here. But, you know, reasoning with Trump is like reasoning with my 3-year-old. I can say all I want, I'm doing this for you. He still wants what he wants when he wants it.

[15:45:00] CABRERA: I want to know, though, what Republicans are thinking. What's in their mind, as we look at what is --

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: -- what seems to be an upside-down world, right? Where you have right now the Republicans, the party of morals, sort of brushing off this idea of hush payments regarding women who may have had an affair with the President of the United States. And I mean, that, alone, is one thing, but then on top of it, the issue with Jeff Sessions and the President's ongoing attacks at the Department of Justice. Again, the Republican Party used to be the party of law and order.

CUPP: Yes. I mean, it's worse --

CABRERA: How do you explain it?

CUPP: It's actually worse than that. You're -- believe me, speaking my language here as a Republican and as a woman. To watch this party, defend not just the President's infidelities but child separation policies. For example, as the party of family values. To defend these attacks on our law enforcement as the party of law and order. It's deeply disappointing. Through this week, you know, August is usually a very slow time for politics and news. It hasn't -- through this week, I was struck by something one Republican senator said to a reporter, and that was Pat Roberts, about all of this. Michael Cohen, Chris Collins. He said, it is what it is. And I just wonder, is that the bumper sticker for 2018? Is that the bumper sticker --?

CABRERA: The new standard where all of a sudden --

CUPP: It is what it is.

CABRERA: -- it's OK?

CUPP: That's a sad commentary about where the party is, not just leadership but rank and file. It's disappointing.

CABRERA: We'll see where it goes from here. SE Cupp, thank you for giving us your thoughts. Don't forget about the new show. It starts this weekend. It premieres "UNFILTERED" at 6 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Up next, a Trump voter who was on the jury for Paul Manafort's trial now speaking out saying she wanted him to be innocent, but the paper trail was too convincing. Details on the lone holdout who kept them from reaching a guilty verdict on all the counts.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: A juror in the Paul Manafort trial is now going public about what went on behind the scenes during four days of deliberations. The jury Trump voter revealed a lone holdout on jury save Manafort from being convicted on all 18 counts. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the deliberations like? Was it heated?

PAULA DUNCAN, MANAFORT JUROR: It was. Crazily enough there were even tears. Two of the jurors, one of the females that did finally change her vote to guilty would come in one day and say guilty and then the next day say, oh no I felt pressured I want to change my vote. So, there was a lot of back and forth with that. But finally, once again we got all those documents, put them in front of her and she changed her vote to guilty again. But the one holdout would not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining us now jury consultant, Mark Calzaretta, the director of litigation consulting, Magna Legal Services. Mark, thank you for being with us. Take us behind the scenes. What happens when one person on the jury is the road block? It must be intense.

MARK CALZARETTA, JURY CONSULTANT (via Skype): It certainly is. And you can just listen to the description of say the entire panel putting all of the documents out in front of a particular juror. And you are the last one standing and you have that kind of pressure and the entire group trying to persuade you. It is intense. There is no doubt about it, very intense.

CABRERA: Is what she described typical of tempers flaring or tears falling as one juror being -- kind of wavering? Is that usual? Oh, yes, OK, guilty. No, I don't think so anymore. Yes, I think so. Is that usual?

CALZARETTA: You know, I think each juror if you think about this, you know, each juror needs to go home and feel good about what they did. Right? They're going to have to go home, they have to lay their head on the pillow and they have to live with the verdict. In you're talking about a criminal verdict here. So, you are not just talking about civil where it is two companies fighting potentially over money. You hold someone's fate in your hands. Jurors go into that deliberation and each of them individually has an outcome in mind. How they would like the outcome to end and one that is good for them.

And then they begin to barter. And they have to work through those issues and then eventually come to some common ground. For certain jurors they will give and take here. And I think what you saw here is that they were able to convict on many counts. So, for many of the jurors I think at the end of the day they want to go home eventually. Right? They want to get out of there. So, you will have one hold out that isn't going to budge. Sometimes that's where it ends up and the other jurors are satisfied enough that they did their job and they are getting a guilty verdict at least on a number of counts. And they did their job and the other juror, give them credit, like it or not, standing your ground and say I'm not going to acquiesce.

They have to be able to sleep at night. Mark Calzaretta, I wish we had more time. Thank you so much for your insight. We really appreciate you joining us.

[15:55:00] CALZARETTA: Thank you.

CABRERA: And this just in to CNN, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter has just stepped down from his committee assignment. And it comes right after he was arraigned in a California courtroom accused of misusing more than a quarter million dollars in campaign funds. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. Here is a segment we are calling "Mighty Millennials" and it highlights a new generation of political candidates. Among them is a Republican, Morgan Murtaugh, who is vying for a House seat in California. The 26-year-old is the youngest candidate running for Congress this year. She's a former anchor for "One America" news network. She says she supports President Trump but said she would vote to impeach him if the special counsel proves he participated in high crimes and misdemeanors. Murtaugh is running against a nine term Democratic incumbent, 74-year-old Susan Davis.

Now on the Democratic side, Colin Allred, is making some headlines for an increasingly tight race against 11 term Texas congressman, Pete Sessions. He is 35 years old, a former NFL player and civil rights attorney. He was just endorsed by former President Obama and he is now neck and neck with Congressman Session in the polls.

I'm Ana Cabrera, thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.