tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN October 27, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
that may be flynn and manafort will talk about the jared kushner meeting or the president's efforts to obstruct the justice department investigation of flynn. so there are lots of ripple effects that these indictments have. but in mueller's case, i think really all he's doing is looking at evidence, making determinations, bringing charges and then the collateral consequences of those charges will be determined down the line. >> everybody just hold on. we are just at the top of the hour. for our viewers who are just joining us, there is breaking news tonight. it is big. the first indictment in special counsel robert mueller's wide-ranging russia investigation. now whatever you may think of the underlying allegations, this is the landmark. cnn's pamela brown joining us with the exclusive. what have you learned? >> reporter: our team, myself, evan perez, simone, have learned a grand jury -- a federal grand
jury in washington d.c. today approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel robert mueller. this is according to sources briefed on the matter. the charges are still sealed under order from a federal judge at this hour. and plans are being prepared for anyone charged to be taken into custody, perhaps as soon as this monday, the sources told us. it's unclear what the charges are, anderson. as i said, the indictments are still under seal. a spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment for our story. but as you know, mueller was appointed in may to lead this investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 u.s. election. and on friday, top lawyers who are helping to lead the mueller probe, including veteran prosecutor andrew weissmann, were seen entering the courtroom at the d.c. federal court where the grand jury meets, according to our producer laura robinson, they were there to hear testimony in the russia investigation, and the
reporters, including our producer laura, saw a flurry of activity at the grand jury room, but officials made no announcements. and now we have learned that perhaps that flurry of activity was because today was the day that the grand jury approved the first charges in the mueller probe. >> to bring charges like this, what is the process? who would have had to approve that? >> right. so bob mueller and his team, weissmann, who's been leading some of the work here, some of the presentation to the grand jury, he's been in the grand jury, he was seen today. so he and his team would presumably, we're told, go to the department of justice, the deputy attorney general there, the dag, rod rosenstein, and review the charges with him. now rod -- rod rosenstein is the acting attorney general because as you may recall, sessions, the attorney general, was recused from this investigation. so the deputy attorney general took over this investigation and appointed bob mueller as special counsel.
so he and mueller would ultimately go over the charges, and rod rosenstein would eventually approve what charges would be submitted to the grand jury, anderson. >> pam, do you have any idea who the charges are against? what kind of charges they are? >> we do have an idea, but we are not reporting that as of now. as we mentioned, the indictments are under seal and, to our knowledge, the people who have been charged have not been notified. we have reached out to some of the attorneys representing clients that we know are being looked at in the russia probe, and so far they're unaware of anything. but, you know, that is part of the challenge -- that's one of the big challenges of covering a story like this. until they are unsealed, it's hard to get details. of course, we'll know more when the first bit of law enforcement activity happens, whether this person or these people turn themselves in or are arrested, possibly as early as monday we're told and we'll learn a lot more, anderson. >> pam, can you just explain for our viewers why we wouldn't report the name. >> because we -- these people
have not been notified, to our knowledge, the people who have been charged by the grand jury today. to our knowledge, they haven't been notified so we want to wait and let -- of course, we'll do some more reporting as the story unfolds. but until those people are notified, we will not be reporting the names. >> how significant, pam, is this development? >> it's very significant. as you said, it's a landmark. this is an investigation that's been going on for more than a year that has -- even involves the white house, the president, the obstruction of justice probe, the investigators in mueller's shop have been looking into possible collusion during the 2016 campaign with the russians. we know they've been looking at paul manafort, former campaign chairman, michael flynn, the former national security advisor and this is really sort of what people have been waiting for. will robert mueller's team, the special counsel appointed in may after much drama, bring charges against anyone. so this is the first significant step in this investigation that
we have learned they believe they have enough of a case, probable cause, to go to the grand jury and bring these indictments. and so, it's certainly significant. what will be interesting to see here, anderson is what these charges are. because if they have nothing to do with collusion, with the campaign, with russia, then you can imagine there will be some criticism that, you know -- especially from the white house which is already -- the president as you know has come out and said this is a waste of taxpayer dollars, this is a hoax, a witch hunt. hunt. they will make the argument that they were right. so we'll just have to wait and see what exactly these charges are. anderson. >> as always, great reporting. thank you. speaking of the white house, cnn's sarah murray is there for us tonight. sarah, we first reported this just over 30 minutes ago. any reaction there tonight? >> reporter: well, anderson, so far there's no word from the white house, which is probably not a surprise. as you pointed out, it just came out. we still don't have -- we're not reporting the names or the charges that were filed.
so that puts the white house in a little bit of a difficult position. but it's worth noting what the white house's tenor, what the president's tenor has been on this investigation so far. obviously he's denounced the entire question of russia collusion as a hoax. the entire russia investigation as a hoax. he said it's politically motivated. now, as pam points out, because mueller has such a broad purview, we don't know what the charges are yet. we don't know if these would be charges that are related potentially to russian collusion or if these could be charges that spun off of something else that mueller and his team found along the way. so that's one of the big things that we're waiting to see. and obviously, that will be a big part of driving what the white house's response to this, i imagine, would be. once they have a better grasp of what those charges are, and, of course, who could be involved in this. >> sarah, thanks very much for that from the white house. we have a team of political and legal experts assembled for us, as well as some of the most experienced reporters on the planet. carl bernstein, paul callen,
ryan lizza, alice stewart, maria cardona, also jack kingston, david gergen, laura cotes, michael zeldin, john dean, and on the phone cnn chief legal analyst jeffrey toobin. as you can tell, we knew it was going to be a very slow friday night. jeff toobin, how big a deal is this? >> it's an enormous deal. you know, remember, the whole idea of a special prosecutor is to see if there are any crimes to be prosecuted. robert mueller has decided there are at least one defendant with one -- you know with a crime. we will see whether he can make his case in court. we will see whether it leads to other people, but the fact is, this is an investigation of russia and collusion and now the prosecutor has brought some charges. >> david gergen, how do you rank this in terms of the magnitude? >> i think we're going to be held in suspense until the documents are unsealed, the indictments are unsealed. until then we can't really measure it.
what we do know is the dam is breaking. we do know the mueller investigation, there were some speculations, and the trump white house was trying to make us believe there was nothing here. we do know there's something here. we do know that mueller has probable cause to believe that crimes were committed by at least one person. and that's significant, but how significant? i think it very much depends upon what charges are brought. i continue to believe that mueller -- it would be an odd thing, it seems to me, if you're thinking of how you're going to game plan this out, to go with a case only that involves a personal activity unrelated to the collusion, unrelated to the president, unrelated to russia against manafort, i just think it would be an odd way to start, because i do think, as the reporting from the white house says, they're ready to pounce, the white house, if this is simply a manafort thing. i know legally they can keep
going from there, but that's going to be seen as a weak move. if, on the other hand, the charges come back and they involve something that could go up the line, could involve the white house itself and could involve the president, that is a very, very big deal. >> michael, i sort of asked you this in the last hour, but given the level of experience of the prosecutors on mueller's team, to david gergen's point, they would be very aware of how this would be perceived. would that be a concern? >> well, i suppose if they think about things in political terms. but again as we talked about in the last hour, if you look at the whitewater case as an example. that was a case where president clinton was under investigation for fraud in the dealings in whitewater. what happened in the starr investigation was there were several investigations about collateral matters that brought indictments and those people were charged and they tried to leverage those people with respect to the primary target, bill clinton. the same thing could follow here.
they are bringing charges that they know they can bring -- remember, mueller has only been on the job five months. that's not a long time for a complex, counterintelligence investigation. they bring charges that they can bring, which they can prove, which has the purpose of either letting other people know if they had any doubts about bob mueller's seriousness of purpose, that he's a serious fellow and they should take what he does seriously. and that he tells the person against whom charges have been brought, we believe potentially that you have more information to give us as it relates to our primary inquiry, which is this conspiracy, counterintelligence collusion inquiry, and we want your cooperation. so there's a lot of purposes when you bring an indictment that don't necessarily take into account how the politics may spin out. it really is a very different matter sometimes when prosecutors look at their evidence and what they can prove and how they want to proceed along the time lines they have set out for themselves. >> michael, given your experience with robert mueller
and the department of justice, can you just explain the kind of team he has assembled. it's obviously a large number of very experienced attorneys, he has fbi agents, and what is the process of how they conduct interviews, what they do in the field. how extensive is this? >> so bob mueller has essentially assembled a little u.s. attorneys office under the auspices of the special counsel mandate that he has. the people he has brought in are all very experienced prosecutors in the area of fraud and corruption and counterintelligence. he has russian speakers as well on his team. he has agents embedded in the prosecutorial team. they all have work streams. some will be working on the manafort inquiry. some will be working on the flynn inquiry. some will be working on the obstruction of justice, if that's a line of inquiry. some will be working on conclusion. so all these teams will be working in parallel to one another and they'll see, as they progress, where the roads
intersect. and mueller's team is known for -- lead prosecutor weissmann is a no nonsense sort of guy. and we saw that in the way in which they proceeded in manafort's case. they knocked down the door, they subpoenaed his lawyer and his spokesman. so there may be an effort here, if it is paul manafort because his case is one of the most advanced from what has been reflected in the public record. that he's trying to put down a marker with respect to somebody as important as manafort in the collusion investigation to say, we have you on this, we need you on that. let's talk. >> john dean, what about the point that jeff toobin made earlier that often the first indictments are often aimed at getting kind of a smaller fish? >> that's certainly been true as with most prosecutors' offices. and it could play very interestingly here. we've got a lot of chatter on capitol hill about the funding
of the special prosecutor's office that's very current right now. this is going to play into that, and the republican notion that they might want to cut back on the independent counsel or special prosecutor's efforts. so i think this is a big deal. >> laura, how do you see this? >> well, you know, forgive the pun here about the comments about the idea of partisanship weighing in, you know, robert mueller's team is not playing a game of cards. they don't need to lead, literally, with trump. they can build their case over time. they can decide which cases take the priority. and if there is enough evidence to have probable cause that a crime has been committed, and that particular case can be closed with an indictment, they can proceed with that. to have the suggestion that they may need to appease or placate people on the hill about the order in which they prioritize the decision to prosecute would really undermine his objectivity and the charge that he has. his charge is to have an independent yet parallel
investigation, his being the criminal probe and congress being a legislative inquiry on how to be proactive to run it in the future. so i think that robert mueller has shown over time, in the past several months, you've seen a butting of heads or a turf war between congressional members who wanted to have subpoenas and were who woulding information or written transcripts offered to robert mueller's team in retaliation for his inability or refusal to give them information ahead of time. this turf war indicates to me that robert mueller is actually acting independently and perhaps in the interest of the criminal probe. now what actually happens from here we do not know. but i suspect that he is less concerned with the partisan viewpoint of how he is running the operation, and instead, the order of what he can prove right now to the grand jury. >> it's interesting that this happens at a time when it seems like the white house and republicans are sort of trying to take back the momentum in terms of launching, you know, efforts saying that hillary clinton is the person who's
colluding with russia, talking about investigating her, investigating the uranium deal. >> there's a lot of chatter tonight among democrats saying ah-ha. this is why the republicans investigative machinery on capitol hill has suddenly seized on hillary clinton. this is perhaps maybe why trump was tweeting about how the investigation into collusion is over today. i don't know if that's the case or not. i don't know if the white house would have been apprised of this -- >> we're told -- i mean, we talked about this in the last hour, that it was unlikely the white house would have been apprised. >> the justice department, obviously rosenstein was -- as our reporters said, would have been -- would have known and whether the white house -- that could have leaked to the white house or not, i don't know. it leaked to cnn, maybe it could have leaked to the white house. obviously, i don't know. how big a deal is this? it depends on who was indicted and what the charges are. if donald trump is indicted for obstruction of justice, pretty big deal obviously. i don't think anyone thinks that's what's going on here. if it's the most likely person, the person we have the most public information on that he was close to being indicted, paul manafort, depends on what
the charges are. of course, being indicted does not mean that one committed a crime. there's a long process after this. >> carl bernstein, though, it does make real something that at this point has been sort of intangible. the existence -- people have known the existence of robert mueller, but it's been sort of this guy off in the shadows with his team. you knew he was out there, clearly the white house was concerned about it. all of a sudden, it's now in the headlines, it's very real. >> it's the first visible public move, and it will become public once this indictment is announced, that mueller has made. you have to proceed on the assumption that the lawyer certainly involved in these cases believe that mueller is attempting to penetrate what he thinks is a cover up. a cover up of what occurred surrounding russia's interference in our campaign and the possibility that people around donald trump, perhaps including donald trump, members of his family, business associates, encouraged that interference in our campaign. that's the underlying issue.
and whether or not these indictments are part of a puzzle that mueller is putting together to penetrate a possible cover up is really what we're looking at here. it's the first public move and we can expect more. there's a long way to go in a sprawling investigation, and as all the attorneys on this panel have pointed out, this sends a signal to others who may be part of a cover up that you could go to jail for 15, 20, 25 years, unless you cooperate with us and tell us what you know. and there's the political question that i would hope republicans would raise among themselves and encourage the participation of the white house in cooperating with this inquiry and see that the president and his people are cleared of all wrong doing, if that's what's involved here, instead of attacking the special counsel. >> interesting, this comes out at a time, in a day, in a few days, where the white house and many republicans have been
politically speaking, pushing back really hard on mueller, talking about all the time and money that he's using with this investigation and trump today tweeting that everyone is saying that it hasn't led to any kind of indication there was collusion between trump and russia, but collusion between hillary and russia. i was in little rock during the whitewater trials and that investigation. and democrats back then at the time were saying that ken starr was nothing more than a million dollar paid taxpayer sex police for a man who was caught cheating on his wife. so democrats were pushing back on the whitewater investigation just like republicans are pushing back on this. i think this is important. i think this is significant. when we're looking at this all came about based on possible russia interference in the election, now the investigation is about possible collusion, potential obstruction of justice by the president and this investigation is much more broad than a lot of people think. it's what has arosen from the investigation or what may arise. so that opens it up -- >> it's also easier to push back when the mueller team hasn't put a marker in the ground.
this is the first time they've actually put a marker in the ground of the beginning of something. >> absolutely. i think that goes to show more than anything that i think republicans and those pushing back on this being a witch hunt and spending all this money, that's not going to deter him, it's not going to deter his team. what they're doing is not going to stop the investigation or change their momentum or their aggressiveness for pursuing these charges. >> maria? >> i completely agree. and i agree also that the smartest thing for trump to do, though we know he's not going to do it, is for whatever comes out of this, for him to say, yes, let's do this. let's get this done. let's get everything out there. if he truly believes that there's nothing to hide, which is why he keeps saying all of this is a hoax, but i think that betrays the fact that he is fearful that something is there and they are going to find a cover up, but if he really wasn't fearful, if he really thought he was completely innocent, he would embrace this 100%. and say, let's do this.
>> i think that he has said that. and he said it publically, let's go ahead and get the cards on the table. i want to get back to something that ryan said, though, about how big of a deal it is just to keep things in perspective. during the clinton administration, there were 47 people who were indicted, 14 were convicted and went to jail. but during the reagan administration, there were 31. so administrations that can be successful do have, sometimes, scars on them because of things like this. you don't know who this person is or what he or she did, and until we know that, i think there's -- there might be assumption and maybe some partisans are saying, this is directly related to trump. it might not be at all, because we don't know, for example, what some of these people have done in prior lives or even while they were involved in the campaign. >> paul? >> two things. i found it to be very, very strange that today of all days the president would be giving speeches saying that he's been cleared in the mueller investigation of russian collusion. suddenly we next hear about an indictment, a sealed indictment that's been handed down. now, rod rosenstein, the
assistant attorney general, in charge, deputy attorney general, under the statute has to be notified by mueller of any significant developments in the investigation. so question number one is, did that leak back to the president and that's why he's around the country saying he's been cleared. and i think secondly, what's going to be really interesting next week, if it turns out to be an indictment of paul manafort, let's say, for money laundering or something related to his business which predated his involvement in the trump presidential campaign, the message that the trump administration is going to see is that the trump financial empire could also have problems here because this means -- >> when he was asked by the "new york times" about that, he said that was a red line. >> that's the red line. don't cross that red line. well, he's crossed the red line, possibly with respect to lower-level people and what does that mean to the president. we have to take a quick break. we're going to have more about the implications for the white house when we come back and
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find a price that fits. tripadvisor. well, lik-oh!st of you, i j-very nice.a house. now i'm turning into my dad. i text in full sentences. i refer to every child as chief. this hat was free. what am i supposed to do, not wear it? next thing you know, i'm telling strangers defense wins championships. -well, it does. -right? why is the door open? are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood? at least i bundled home and auto on an internet website, progressive.com. progressive can't save you from becoming your parents, but we can save you money when you bundle home and auto. i mean, why would i replace this? it's not broken. still no reaction from the white house at this late hour to tonight's landmark breaking news, first charges filed in robert mueller's russia probe. cnn's evan perez, pamela brown and shimon prokupecz got the exclusive. a federal grand jury in washington d.c. approving the indictments. we do not know who, and we also don't know the charges. arrests expected as early as monday. back now with the panel.
john dean, what about the idea that jeff toobin was talking about earlier that the first indictments usually are the smaller fish. in this case, though, i mean, could it be more advantageous if they're concerned about the politics of this? if they're concerned about being attacked for have no there there that they would go for larger charges? >> anderson, the politics of it are where the mistakes were made in watergate. we wrote the book of whatnot to do. and one of the things is to not overreact or take actions that are going to jeopardize your case or your situation. and so, an unknown or unexpected indictment could be more problems than an expected indictment. manafort is sort of expected. something they're not anticipating, they may well overreact to. so i think it's a good time to look at the history book in how they handle this politically. >> carl, you wrote part of the history book. >> well, watergate is particularly relevant because
republicans took a principled stand about richard nixon above party. and we haven't seen that happen yet, and hopefully we will during this investigation. the other point to make is that mueller, like the congressional committees, has 20, 21,000 e-mails from people in the white house, people in the campaign. and those are potentially perjury traps for all the people that mueller is interviewing who have provided those e-mails. so that all of those folks have got to tell the truth about what they observed, what they know. otherwise, they are in danger of perjuring themselves and the example of the people who are being indicted here is foremost in their mind. that, i believe, i'll bow to the prosecutors on this, is probably part of a strategy that we're seeing here. it's not just about the manaforts of the world. it's about those who have been very close to donald trump, in his entourage for many years.
>> carl talks about the number of e-mails. that gets to a point that i think is important, ryan. we only publically, for all the reporting that's been done, got peaks at the tip of the iceberg as far as what other potential information is out there. we don't know about -- what we know about the donald trump jr. meeting in that -- in trump tower with the russians comes from the one e-mail or so, the little e-mail chain that we've seen. there are probably other e-mails related to that meeting that we have no idea about. >> we have so little visibility into this investigation. mueller is operating with a massive staff, spending resources that -- millions of dollars with people flying all over the world. the ability that we in the press do not have to subpoena documents obviously to bring in people and get them to testify under oath. we are seeing just a tiny, tiny sliver of what this investigation is all about. that doesn't mean that, you know -- we're in a very tough position tonight because we don't know who's indicted and we don't know what it's for. and it'll be very interesting to see what both donald trump tweets about this and what, in
general, the white house has to say about this. or maybe he won't tweet what he says about it, in general. they're going to have a decision to make once they see who's indicted and what it's for. does the white house and trump defend the person? does he dismiss the allegations? or do they say, well -- do they say this is within mueller's rights to do and let the process work out. it'll be very interesting to see how trump reacts and other people who may be indicted will be watching trump's reaction, because remember, at the end of the day he has authority to pardon anyone. >> i'd like to say, though, i want to talk to my good friend to my left here. as a principled democrat stand, if it shows this was manafort, and hess misbehaving, but had nothing to do with the campaign, but the they say we've run up this russia collusion thing as far as it will go -- >> that's a fallacy. >> yeah, but i want to say this. >> i also want to say -- >> we don't want to move on from
that. as we've been talking about, that could be an opening salvo. >> it might be. but i want to see a -- >> why would democrats or anybody come forward and say there's nothing else there? >> i can tell you right now that's not going to happen. >> at the time when mueller comes out and says, you know what, there was no collusion, that in fact the senate and house committees who haven't been able to find something, they are right, there's nothing out there. >> you're kind of dreaming if you think that's going to happen on monday. >> remember this. the ranking member of the democrat investigation team, my friend adam schiff, has spent more time doing press interviews than he's been sitting in committee hearings during the investigation. >> he's been sitting in committee hearings. >> so when we say that's not visib visible, that's not true at all. >> it is visible. >> we don't know half of it. >> john dean, just from having been in a white house under fire, like this, how would you see this white house sort of reacting to this? or how would you advise them to?
>> i think this white house -- i would advise them to look at what we did wrong, and not repeat that action. that's the first place i'd say. and i would say not to overreact to this. that's where you can get into trouble. so i think that the -- this white house has a tendency to overreact. somewhat calm down since they brought on ty cobb at the white house and he's right there on the scene, so that might help. and i think that would be a good place to start. let cobb handle it, rather than the press office or president. >> just hearkening back to a point raised by carl a moment ago. i think in this indictment, what you'll probably see is an indictment for lying to the fbi, or lying to federal investigators. that would be a very important message to send to the white house that the special prosecutor's dead serious in this investigation, and if you tell a lie, you're going to be indict td indited. and telling a lie to the fbi is criminal. >> david gergen, you wanted to say something. >> yes, i wanted to say a couple of points.
i want to go back to this, what chris has been saying. i think he's got it right. it's a question partly, as we discussed all along, about what the indictments are for. but it's very much a question, too, of who the indictments are against. and we've been talking, you know, the main person we've been talking all along is paul manafort. it is just very possible that the indictment could be against michael flynn. because he's -- and it's worth noting that in the last few days, jim woolsey, former head of cia, who was in the transition, and abruptly left, abruptly left, with no explanation, is a very honest man, he was there to observe a lot of this, and he got the hell out. now, he went in to -- he talked to the fbi in the last few days. he's gone public with that. so there is that possibility. i would think if it were someone like flynn, that would also be a very, very big deal. i want to make one other point. because i do think this is like a chess game. both sides are playing chess.
and the question arises among some democrats, on this pardon question, of whether the president a few weeks ago intentionally pardoned arpaio, the sheriff, in order to send a signal to the people who are being questioned, hang in there, hang tough, i'll help you out at the end of the day. >> which is entirely under his purview to do. >> absolutely. >> as to federal charges. >> michael, go ahead. >> on the federal charges. >> only as to federal charges. we know for example, that the attorney general of new york, schneiderman, has an up and running investigation with respect to matters within his jurisdiction that are state. but also, i also think david is absolutely right. but the danger in pardoning people before indictments, or before convictions, is that it runs the risk of being viewed as obstructionist behavior, or abuse of office behavior. if you started willy-nilly
par donning anyone who could say something bad against you, i think mueller would have to take that into account for obstruction of justice for an investigation. or for a potential abuse of office. >> that's true. but the signal is, if you stay quiet, and they eventually charge you with something, or they eventually find you guilty of something, i will pardon you at that point. >> well, right. if you're willing to wait until after your conviction, and hope that you get a pardon as opposed to seeing that there's an indictment against somebody, irrespective of what the charges are, knowing that mueller is not a person to be fooled around with, you may then say, i better go in there and make a plea deal now. i'd rather take a plea deal up front rather than wait until indictment and conviction and perhaps sentencing, and then hope for a pardon. >> everybody plays a chess game. >> michael, how --
>> i want to go back to the michael flynn point, too. >> go ahead. >> i just think that michael flynn, you know, was pretty deep into some stuff that was very, very questionable. we know he lied to various people along the way. if he lied to a variety of people around the white house, there's a decent chance he lied to the fbi. >> and i think it was michael you had said earlier, or someone had said earlier, if it's paul manafort and it's financial, you know, relating to financial deals with ukraine, that could also send a message to michael flynn who had financial dealings with turkey. >> that's right. and it also could send a message to trump and kushner and cohen and others in the financial orbit of the trumps, that mueller does not accept "the new york times" red line in the sand. and that he's going to pursue those cases, and those -- it doesn't make a difference in some sense legally whether you're charged with, you know,
violation of collateral criminal statute or collusion, if you end up in jail for five years. you know, there's a lot of pressure on a lot of people who are under inquiry to cooperate with mueller. i think after the fact of this indictment. >> michael, how easy or difficult is it to get a grand jury to indict? i mean, i know some people are critical of the process. say it's -- you can get them to indict anything. how do you see it? >> salami sandwich. >> ham sandwich used to be the phrase. >> right. one who doesn't eat ham, i don't know about that. but the reality is that prosecutors have a great deal of authority and influence over the grand jury. and one of the criticisms of the grand jury process is that defense counselor are not invited in to give their chance of getting a no prosecution charge brought. but i think that in a case like
this, with the serious prosecutors that mueller has on his team, they're not just going to indict a case because they have the power to. as jeffrey toobin said earlier, they want to indict a case that they can win. they don't want to indict a case and lose. so they're going to indict if they think they have sufficient evidence that they can prove in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt, and obtain a conviction that will be upheld on appeal. i think that while in the routine state, grand jury cases, maybe the ham sandwich gets indicted, but in this case it's a whole different standard that the prosecutors will bring to bear on the evidence that they bring. >> michael, in a case like this, how much of it is a paper trail that, you know, that they have tracked down, and have, and how much of it is somebody giving testimony? >> i think it's -- >> obviously a combination. >> that's right. it's a combination. and it depends on the specific charges. if it's a money laundering, or
tax case, then those are going to be very paper intensive, and then bolstered by oral testimony. witness testimony. if it's not a paper sort of case, if it's a -- just a straight up lying to the fbi 1001 or false statements or perjury case, that's pretty much a witness driven case with some documentation that proves what the witness said under oath is a lie. so it depends on what charges they bring, anderson, but typically it's a combination of both. >> paul. >> on this subject of whether you can indict a ham sandwich, which is an old story, you know, in federal court, you almost never see what we call runaway grand juries where they don't go along with the prosecutor. they almost always indict. jeffrey was starting to tell a story earlier, and i remember them from when i was presenting cases to grand juries, you're in a room with 23 people on the grand jury. a little auditorium. a little old lady sitting in the back knitting. and she's saying to the next person over, oh, here's mr.
callan back in, he has an interesting witness today i'll bet. and because they're seeing the same prosecutors every day that they come into work on the grand jury. so they develop a sense of trust with the prosecutors. they're not seeing defense attorneys coming in saying, hey, you can't believe any of this stuff. when the prosecutor submits the charges at the end of the evidence, more often than not they're going to indict. and that's why that phrase first came up. it's ironic, because the founding fathers created the grand juries to protect us from overzealous prosecutors, but in essence it's the opposite. >> laura, i know you want to say something. >> that's true. i certainly am a prosecutor and have both eaten and indicted my fair share of the ham sandwiches. but you know, when you're thinking about this issue, you have to realize that we're moving now from the theoretical hypothetical case where everybody was complaining for months on end about the nebulous term of collusion. now we have maybe a reality based definition and a finger to
point and maybe a name to attach the terminology to. it's true that a grand jury can be encouraged and influenced and persuaded by a prosecutor, but they are also independent people who are assessing information, not in the theoretical sense, but actually reviewing things they were able to obtain under their subpoena power. i think one tactic that will be used by the white house or anybody who may be a naysayer once we know the charges, is the notion that the grand jury was simply rubber stamping anything that an overzealous witch hunter was trying to do. but, in fact, that would belie once again, what the charge of the special counsel is, which is to present evidence, not to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but say here is all the information we have, now you tell me whether or not there's enough that this person probably committed the crime we are talking about. and so i think the tendency to discredit based on that notion of the ham sandwich will be one that will be a weapon by the white house or anybody else. but your headline, anderson, says everything we need to know. this is the first charges that may be filed in this overall investigation.
the first one, which really presumes there may be more. and also shows there may be a different priority scale. not that there is a farcical or false charge being brought. >> we have to take a quick break. we're going to continue this discussion. more with the breaking news, as laura just said. the first charges filed in the mueller investigation, when we come back. ddy! in fact, 68% of people who have built their... ...website using gocentral, did it in under an hour, and you can too. build a better website - in under an hour. with gocentral from godaddy. t-mobile's unlimited now includes netflix on us. that's right. netflix on us. get 4 unlimited lines for just $40 bucks each. taxes and fees included. and now netflix included. blue moon is brewed mwith valencia orange peel,
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hours of what is, by any stretch of the imagination, a significant moment in the russia/trump/robert mueller saga. the first indictments, and mondays perhaps we're expecting to see the first people taken into custody which could make quite a weekend ahead for those involved. back now with the panel. the process i find fascinating. there's going to be a lot of people sweating for the next day or so, until their lawyers are informed, according to evan perez or pamela brown, it could be sunday when the lawyers are actually informed. >> one of the things i was thinking about, anderson, when michael zelden was talking about how this is presumably the beginning, and how this could last a very long time. and you mentioned, jack, all of the indictments under the clinton administration, reagan administration, this could go on for years. one of the things we know donald trump is not good at is compartmentalizing. that was something clinton was very good at. they put a team together to make sure that that team was focused on the investigations while clinton could govern until he,
obviously, had to deal with this. i'm hoping just for the sake of the nation that somebody, or a group of people are sitting down with trump in the white house today, hopefully ty cobb, hopefully it's kelly, hopefully it's other lawyers, to put a plan together to say, mr. president, you cannot be tweeting about this. you cannot overreact. as we have seen from john dean. >> how many times has that conversation been had. i think that's asked and answered. >> i know. but this is like a -- >> you're still looking for a pivot. >> if they refer to this as a witch hunt, i think that's a serious mistake. i think, as john dean said, learn from the mistakes in the past. they need to bring in ty cobb and his crew to answer questions on this from now on. this should be a full-fledged formal investigation. and we're not going to comment on it. i think there should be no more tweets about this is costly and expensive, and everyone believes there's no there there. i think they should step back and -- >> i want to mention one thing.
>> one thing i wanted to inject. the tweets have worked for donald trump. >> absolutely. >> they are a road map of his mind. and what we see in the tweets are what he really believes and what his strategy really is. and we've seen a larger strategy all week. muddy the waters, make the conduct of the press the issue here, make the conduct of hillary clinton the issue here. everybody's conduct but the president of the united states, his son-in-law, those around him, those in his campaign. >> let me -- >> i'm in agreement with you. >> we come back to the easy nonparty san answer. turn over all the evidence. let it go. let's let the facts determine what happened. >> but let me speak to that. during the monica lewinsky and the clinton years when hillary clinton got on national tv and said this is a right-wing conspiracy, we in the republican party actually thought, that is the most ridiculous statement that we've ever heard. this is about perjury. this is about covering up. but when she did that, she brilliantly changed the entire debate to politics. when everybody broke into the political camps, democrats
rallied behind clinton, and republicans charged after him, and that's what i'm seeing right now. i think the democrats are going to probably overplay their hand. i think they have in many cases. and whoever it is -- >> they haven't done anything. >> but, you know, when people say this is only the beginning, some of the americans are saying it's the end of it. >> so the obvious thing is, we frankly, don't know what the charges are, or who it is. it's a little bit down the road to sort of figure out how everyone's going to react to it. or what it's going to mean. >> the spectrum is incredibly blind here, right? that's why i think democrats should not who are sort of salivating over this being the end of the trump administration, should probably be cautious. i remember not too long ago when everyone in washington was absolutely certain that hillary clinton -- or not everyone in washington, i should say. most conservatives and republicans were absolutely certain that hillary clinton was going to be indited over, you know, using -- putting
classified information on her e-mails. and the prosecutors looked at that and said there's no case there. >> maybe there is no there there. >> it could be a couple of people with very complicated financial histories like manafort and flynn. once the prosecutors started looking at them intensely, they found indictable offenses for things that are far afield from the core of the russia probe. on the other hand, it could be the opposite. it could be the c word, the collusion we've been talking about. >> it's not too much to expect that if mueller, given his history, that he were to find there was no, quote, collusion or conspiracy to help the russians, he would come forth with that conclusion in a very forthright manner. i think we could even expect it of him from what we know and what he's trying to do in this investigation. >> carl, he's looking at -- what happened to comey, when comey came forward early and terminated the hillary investigation. >> michael, you worked with robert mueller. if there was no -- at the end of
an investigation, do you expect mueller to make some sort of a presentation publicly? is that what he does? >> so under the regulations, 28 cfr section 600, it defines what the special prosecutor's mandate is, how he reacts with the -- interacts with the justice department and what he does at the end of his inquiry. and he does issue a report to the justice department and i think to congress. i have to look that last part up. and that indicates his findings with respect to matters that are not public indictments. then i think the attorney general, in this case rosenstein, deputy attorney general, has the authority to release that report. so i do think he has a final report obligation under the cfr. >> you know, it's interesting, tray gowdy made the statement this week, and he said i still have faith in robert mueller. other members like trent franks, was saying he ought to resign because of his potential role in
covering up this fbi informant who wants to come public and who has made this statement this week. that's going to be interesting and i think that part of the chess game out there. >> and mueller has been on the job for five months, and so it's incredible that he's moving as quickly as he is. i mean, you know, when this started everybody was saying this is going to go on for years. you know, this is how this works, looking at past special prosecutors. >> yeah. >> this action, i think, is an indication he's moving quickly, and i think we're going to see a resolution of this in the months to come. >> do you see this as a fast moving investigation? >> i mean, from may until now it certainly does suggest that he's moving at his own pace. what's faster to me than anything else is you've got the speed in which mueller is able to accomplish something and the pacing in which the media or anyone else is able to understand what he's done. remember, it was several weeks before anyone knew that a warrant had been actually executed at manafort's home. it was several months before anyone was aware that mueller's
team had already investigated the dossier create or, et cetera. you have a pacing in which we're all trying to play catch up to robert mueller, which indicates that he is moving on a track that is focused and singular focus on the charge at hand. but we're not getting at a point that we can say it's anywhere near the end. the grand jury being impaneled is one thing. the actual focus of that investigation is another, but there may be multiple grand juries who are impaneled to deal with multiple facets of this investigation. and again, although the term collusion is now being able to be defined perhaps more narrowly, we've got a lot of arms, once again, in this. many names have been touched and accused in this, from paul manafort to michael flynn to roger stone to jared kushner to donald trump jr. everyone has been implicated in some form or fashion. and mind you, it's not just the fact of the initial charge and the initial goal that robert mueller had to investigate collusion. it's all the things, including self-inflicted wounds that the president of the united states and other people have engaged
in, that opens them up to additional scrutiny. so the more they react, the more they do things to maybe be obstructive or things to try to deflect makes robert mueller's team say well, me thinks the lady doth protest too much and again have that laser focus. so it's evolving as quickly as the trump campaign members are evolving their defense. >> michael, more people obviously have been joining us. if you could just explain the process over the next couple of days and then weeks for these people who are being indicted. i mean, their attorneys, you think will be informed sunday? >> yeah. so back up and go forward. an indictment is returned today. it's a sealed indictment. that means it's not made public and we don't know who was charged or what the charges were. presumably counsel now, if they don't know already privately, will be informed that their client has been indicted and they'll be asked either to bring their client down to the
courthouse to turn himself in or if they want to do something that was a little bit more political and showy in my estimation, they would go out to his place of residence or business and arrest him and handcuff him and there will be cameras that show him being taken away by the u. s. marshals. once the indictment is returned then the individual who is charged and goes to court and he appears and makes an initial plea and then the case is set for trial. and then the matter proceeds. so if counsel doesn't know already, they'll be notified probably over the weekend. their client will be given until monday or tuesday to turn themselves in. in cases where an individual is likely not to make bail, sometimes they're not a flight risk, they sometimes give them a little bit longer time to get their affairs in order. the person is likely to make bail, then they often come in pretty promptly, they make their plea or they're presented initially, and then they come
back and they get to continue with their business because they're out on their own release. >> and then if they want some sort of -- if they want that person to flip, those are discussions that they -- that the department of justice team, mueller's team can continue to to have with their attorneys? >> sure. you indict the individual he is presented in court and the charges are given to him. and the lawyers typically meet and the mueller team could say to him, look, this is all we have against your client and it's ring fenced and we're going to go to trial or your client can plead guilty or they can say look, this is step one in the process. we've indicted your client. we are continuing our investigation. we believe he has information that is relevant to other aspects of our investigation. would you like to talk, leading to the possibility of cooperation and a plea agreement? and that's how they go back and
forth and to decide whether they're going to be fighters or whether they're going to be cooperators or a little of both. >> and part of it, though, also, and kind of a question, you could pull somebody in for the equivalent of a traffic violation and really threaten them with the full force of the law and really bully them and that's one of the things that does worry me. you can't fight a special prosecutor. you can't fight a federal judge when you get in their bull's eye and then you're more likely to talk. >> isn't that what prosecutors do in like to every defendant who is, you know -- >> they do. i just wonder if that might be in play. we'll find out. >> oh, it will be. >> no, no -- >> may i respond? >> yeah. go ahead. >> can i respond to that? so there are a couple of things. mueller is not just a loose, free agent, you know, getting to do whatever he wants. he's governed by procedures. he's not day-to-day supervised by rosenstein, but he is supposed to go to rosenstein with respect to important matters like an indictment. they are supposed to discuss it and if rosenstein feels that the
charges are unwarranted, i think the words of the statute are inappropriate or unwarranted, then he can essentially overrule mueller. and so i don't think, jack, there is a likelihood that there will be some traffic court like indictment returned for the sake of bullying because of the process that they have to follow under the code of federal regulations. >> anderson, one last point. >> yeah. >> i did look up at the commercial break and mueller does have to file a report with the attorney general. it's a confidential report, but i believe the attorney general has the authority to release it if he wants to. >> and does rod rosenstein have to approve if mueller wants to try to flip somebody? >> no. >> no. mueller decides. >> to my estimation, that would be the day-to-day supervision that mueller is not subject to by rosenstein. >> david, go ahead. >> i just wanted to ask a point of clarification. very helpful explanation. can we assume since the indictments have come down and they are sealed that rosenstein
has already signed off on these indictments? >> my expectation is because of the way the cfr works is that mueller went to rosenstein, told him what they were going to do. rosenstein made a decision, if you will, that this was not inappropriate or unwarranted, which would prevent mueller potentially from bringing the charges, and therefore, mueller was free to bring the charges. because mueller doesn't need his approval per se -- >> we can assume he's already got rosenstein's blessing. >> well, he's got -- >> for these charges. >> well, yeah. we can use the word blessing, but he wasn't -- the charges weren't rejected by rosenstein. so rosenstein sort of has the power to reject as opposed to a power to approve. maybe that's a hair splitting difference, but that's the way the statute is set up. if it's inappropriate or unwarranted, then rosenstein can intervene. otherwise mueller is not subject to day-to-day supervision and
can proceed as his prosecutorial discretion informs him to do. >> how does this weekend play out? what happens next? >> well, with all of us in the press calling all of the lawyers of the various people associated with the people we think are -- >> i'm surprised you stuck around for these two hours. >> i've been texting various people. and trying to figure out who is indicted. i'm sort of curious about the fact that this leaked out. maybe this is a question more for the lawyers, but i have seen some commentators saying it is sort of surprising that a grand jury -- sealed grand jury indictment actually became public. maybe that's because of this unusual process where the prosecutor had to go to the justice department to have it signed off on and maybe that's the source. >> also reporters saw a lot of activity going on on friday. >> i think you're going to see some criticism of the fact that something this sensitive leaked out from either the justice department or mueller world or the prosecutors.
so i'd also look for that conversation to get started. >> are we concerned or terrified about trump's early saturday morning tweet storm tomorrow? >> very revealing and very interesting. >> that's all the time we have. cnn is going to continue to follow this story. major breaking news. first charges filed in the mueller investigation. it's time to hand things over to don lemon and cnn tonight. here is the breaking news on a friday night. the first charges have been filed in the mueller investigation. this is "cnn tonight" and i'm don lemon. a federal grand jury approving the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel robert mueller. a federal grand jury approving the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel robert mueller. the charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. we're learning that anyone charged, and we don't know yet