tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN October 30, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
happening now, breaking news. evidence of collusion? a former trumpcare advisor admits he lied to the fbi about his contacts in a surprise deal to cooperate with investigators. the plea by george papadopoulos reveals critical new information about moscow's election meddling and its outreach to the trump camp. >> paul manafort surrenders to authorities, along with her former deputy, facing charges including conspiracy against the united states. proactive cooperator, we're digging deeper into how and when the feds flipped george papadopoulos and what he may be telling investigators about russia and the trump campaign. the white house sin cysting the
indictments have nothing to do with mr. trump. are americans buying an attempt to downplay the biggest twist in the russia investigation. i'm wolf blitzer you're in "the situation room". we're following break news on the newly unsaled criminal charges against three former trump campaign officials, including the chairman, paul manafort, tonight special counsel robert mueller is moving into the next phase of his investigation into possible collusion between the trump team and russia. the most significant development, george papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about his russia contacts including a, quote, discussion of dirt relating to hillary clinton's e-mails.
details in court documents detail the clearest connection yet between russia trying to interfere with the 2016 election. he's working with the fbi and may be providing information about other trump campaign insiders. paul manafort under arrest after an arrangement on his 12-count indictment. he's accused of conspiracy against the united states, conspiracy to launder money and other charges separate from his work for the trump campaign. his former deputy, rick gates also charged in the indictment. both men pleaded not guilty just a little while ago. the trump administration is trying to downplay all of this with the president insisting there's no evidence of collusion. his tweet was posted before disclosure of the papadopoulos plea deal. we're covering all of this with our guests, including the
democrat of the foreign relations committee, and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by. first let's go to pamela brown. with these new charges we got a lot of critical new information about the russia investigation. >> that's right. we learned that charges showed the mueller investigation is focussing on possible collusion as well as crimes committed even before the campaign as the special prosecutor probe enters this new phase it could be just the beginning of charges against manafort and gates and a third associate charged with lying to the fbi now cooperating with authorities. >> it's a first sign robert mueller is sezeroing in occlusi with russia and the trump campaign. george papadopoulos seen meeting here last year pleaded guilty on october 5th to making false statements to the fbi about his
contacts with russia. according to records unsealed today it said papadopoulos falsely lied about conversations. one of the documents describes an e-mail sent to a high ranking official. the e-mail had the if subject line, request from russia to meet with mr. trump. it went on to say russia was eager to meet with the candidate and had been reaching out. the campaign official forwarded the e-mail to another official, who the source says is rick gates, that e-mail said we need someone to communicate that dt is not doing these trips it should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal. in another e-mail, a supervisor tells papadopoulos alleged that i encourage you to, quote, make the trip if it is feasible.
that trip to russia never happened according to officials. also today surrendering at the fbi in washington, former campaign manager paul manafort and campaign official rick gates. the two were business societies prior associates prior to the trump campaign. they worked as political consultants and lob giiests in the ukraine. it includes conspiracy against the united states, to launder money both men have previously denied financial wrong doing and manafort's lawyer spoke to reporters on his behalf. . >> there is no evidence that mr. manafort colluded with the russian government. >> they say they received tens of millions of dollars for their ukraine work and hid it through
scores of united states corporations, and bank accounts and they used money from offshore accounts to pay for mortgages, clothing, childrens' tu tuition and home decorating. all this going on while they were working for the trump campaign. in july, the fbi executed a no-knock search warrant with guns drawn on manafort's home, seizing financial and tax documents. today the government asked for bail set at $10 million for manafort and $5 million for gates with both men put on house arrest after surrendering their passports. >> great reporting. our entire team broke this team friday, we're very proud of you guys for that. now to the white house and the reaction to the charges. we heard a family take today
that this is all much a do about nothing but there are very, very significant developments. >> reporter: absolutely, wolf and the white house was on its heels after these indictments came down. the president appeared to be blind-sided though by perhaps the biggest thing today, the plea deal with george papadopoulos. behind the scenes i'm told papadopoulos is described as an overse louse volunteer. >> the white house trouted out a staff of misleading talking points to down play the big move by robert mueller. >> we're not worrying about it distracting because it doesn't have to do with us. this is action that took place outside of the campaign or campaign activity. >> it echos what the president
tweeted about paul manafort and rick gates. sorry this is years ago. the crooked hillary and the democrats are the focus. the former trump foreign policy advisor, seen in this campaign photo, who pleaded guilty to making statements to the fbi, about his efforts to funnel sources to top campaign officials. white house press secretary sarah sanders displayed him as having little role with the campaign. but trump described him as a heavier roll in an interview last year. >> george papadopoulos he's an oil and energy consultant. he's a group of some of the people we're dealing with. we have many other people in different aspects of what we do.
>> how can you describe mr. papadopoulos as having a limited role when there's a photograph of mr. papadopoulos sitting -- >> the campaign had thousands of photographs with millions of people. >> how is it not collusion when george papadopoulos is in kak with various people who are promising dirt on hillary clinton? a series of events that closely mirrors what occurred with the president's own son. how is that not collusion? >> this vinl was the member of a voluntary add vizry counsel that met one time, and he was part of the list that read out "the washington pos" i'd hardly call that a regular advisor or you want to push he's a senior member of the staff. he was not paid by the campaigns. >> sanders also mischaracterized the extent of papadopoulos's actions. the fbi saying he made repeated
attempts to contact russias. >> he reached out it was nothing beyond that. >> as for manafort, she minimized his role in the campaign. >> he was brought in to lead the delegate, which he did, and was dismissed not long after that. >> he served as campaign chairman for three months. denying contacts with the russias during last year's conventions. >> are there any ties between you and the campaign and putin and his rejeej. >> no. that's absurd. >> the big difference here is you have a meeting that took place versus millions of dollars being sent to create fake information to influence the e election. you compare the two, those are apples and oranges. what the dnc did is exchange money -- >> now the white house was also asked whether the president is considering the possibility of issuing pardons in the
investigation, sarah sanders said it's too early to consider that. but when it comes to paul manafort, the president had no plans either. so the white house making this case this is much ado about nothing, but if it is, why are they preserving those options? that's a hard circle to square. >> the papadopoulos plea hearing, the transcript was released and one of the prosecutors working with the special counsel, robert mueller's team, he said this whole papadopoulos case there's a large scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part. a small part. i assume officials over at the white house they're nervous about what could come next? >> i think some of them are, wolf, but i'm sensing a good deal of defiance.
i spoke to a source who was in touch with white house officials who was aware of the message and talking points they view what happened today as a distraction. it's an incredible takeaway. it may be delusional to view this as a distraction. as we can tell, the disstraks is only getting bigger and bigger. >> gym acosta at the white house. senator ed marquis is joining us, he's a democrat on the foreign relations committee. is there evidence now, do you think this is hard evidence of collusion? >> i think in the papadopoulos case, it's clear that he was trying to, through an intermediary, get information that russian officials may have had on hillary clinton. and if that's the case, then what we have here is some contact between someone inside of the trump campaign with a russian who said that he had
information on hillary. so that is evidence that collusion was being attempted, at least by papadopoulos. and i think that his lying about it is clearly the center of attention, which mueller and others are now focussing upon. >> you know, he -- papadopoulos was first told about russia and so-called dirt on hillary clinton in the form of thousands of e-mails, that was in april of 2016, long before most americans knew of any hacked e-mails or the russian effort to undermine hillary clinton and help the trump campaign. so how concerning is that? >> i think it's very concern. again, i believe it's the reason why we have to ensure that we protect robert mueller and his investigation from having him be fired by the trump white house or that there be any pardons that are issued out of this white house with any of these
individuals, including manafort and gates to make sure the american people ultimately find out what happened during our presidential election last year. what was the extent to which there was an attempt to have russians come in and to influence that most sacred of all of our institutions. >> papadopoulos repeatedly tried to set up an in-person meeting between president trump and kremlin officials and high level campaign officials were aware of that effort. senator, what does that tell you? >> again, it says that there definitely was a thread that was seeking to be connected. and i think there's a lot more that has to be known about what was taking place and it's clear that this is just the first step, but it is something that ultimately must be protected leadly within our own country to mick sure all the facts become known to the american people. they have a right to know what happened.
>> we now know senator that after papadopoulos sent an e-mail entitled request from russia to meet mr. trump. paul manafort actually forwarded that e-mail to his deputy rick gates, who wrote, let's discuss we need someone to communicate that d.t. is not doing these trips. it should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal. how do you read that comment from manafort? >> again, i think that is probably going to be a subject of conversation between robert mueller and manafort and gates in order to determine what exactly was the intent. was it to hide the fact that there was a connection that was being opened with the russians? all of that is yet to be explored. it's key -- again, i keep returning to this point. it's key that this investigation remain completely protected and that on a bipartisan basis
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the fbi. in the motion to seal the filings involving george papadopoulos, senator, it said this, and let me read it specifically because it could be very significant. defendant has indicated that he is willing to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation into russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. public disclosure of the defendant's initial appearance would undermine his ability to serve as a proactive cooperator. clear words, senator. what sort of information could papadopoulos help provide to the fbi in this investigation? >> well, clearly what is of most interest is any collusion that did exist in actuality between the trump campaign and the russian government. that's all to be determined in the days, weeks, months ahead. but this is the beginning of it.
and mr. papadopoulos is someone who clearly has relevant information, which should be made available. not only to mr. mueller but also to the united states congress, because we're investigating as well what the influence is that the russians sought to and perhaps successfully had our election. but again to make it clear, if there's any attempt to remove robert mueller or to give a pardon to any of these witnesses, it would cause a constitutional crisis in our country, because i think there would be a bipartisan response that would be volcanic from capitol hill in objection to what the white house might attempt. >> senator, before i let you go, your committee, the senate on foreign relations committee,
heard testimony from james mattis, and rex tillerson, for the use of military force. what can you tell us about this latest effort? >> again, under the united states constitution, congress has the sole and exclusive right to declare war, since 2001 and the use of military force in afghanist afghanistan, it's been used as an elastic band to take us into country after country after country. and if the president is accurate in what he is saying and has the full intent to do so, he's talking about taking a pre-emptive strike potentially against north korea and its nuclear weapons program. that should be something that comes before the united states congress before the president is allowed to potentially use nuclear weapons against another country where that other country
has not attacked us and it should be something that should within the province of the united states congress. so this whole question of the authorization for use of military force by our country is something that increasingly has to be reclaimed by the congress. >> senator, thanks for joining us. ahead more breaking news the white house rocked by a guilty plea by a former campaign advisor, now cooperating with the fbi. and at the same time two are indicted on conspiracy charges against the united states. hey hun, huh! we gotta go. come on. ♪
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we're following major breaking news on the special counsel's russia investigation. former trump campaign chairman paul manafort is under house arrest after being charged with money laundering and tax evasion with his former business partner, rick gates. in addition there was another big reveal, we learned that foreign policy advisor george papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts. let's bring in manu raju. >> they had extensive detail in documents that were just unsealed about george papadopoulos and this effort that he undertook to try to set up a meeting between senior
officials at the kremlin and the trump campaign. there are a lot of questions about the effort that he undertook and questions about why he lied to investigators. >> soon after joining the trump campaign in march 2016, george papadopoulos had a meeting with the london based prosk sor. papadopoulos was promised dirt on hillary clinton in the form of thousands of e-mails obtained by the russians. around the time that clinton's campaign chairman, john podesta was hacked. according to unsealed court documents today george papadopoulos add admitsmitted t to authorities and that tprofess just a guy. when he knew he had contacts
with the kremlin. >> papadopoulos is direct evidence that someone with the campaign was being contacted by russians with information that they had lots of so-called dirt that included e-mails on hillary clinton. >> papadopoulos also down played contacts he had with a female russian national when, in fact, she had ties to the russian government that papadopoulos pitched to the trump campaign campaign as an effort to have trump meet with with putin in russia. he even described the woman as putin's niece. a campaign supervisor praised papadopoulos for, quote, great work. it reached the highest levels of the trump campaign with paul manafort and rick gates e-mailing to say that d.t. is not doing these trips it should be someone low level in the
campaign so as not to send any signal. but in july 2016, papadopoulos said a meeting between senior trump officials with putin aids, quote, had been approved from our sides. he was arrested on july 27th and later pled guilty for knowingly and willfully making materially false statements. >> it was extremely limited, it was a volunteer position. he reached out and nothing happened beyond that. >> but trump himself told "the washington post" in march 2016 that papadopoulos, seen in this photo with trump, was on his foreign policy team. >> george papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy. >> according to his linked in account graduated from de-paul university in 2009 and worked as a research associate as the
hudson institution. he worked for ben carson before switching to the trump team. >> reporter: now george papadopoulos had been of interest to the house and senate intelligence committees but i'm told by sources on those panels that he has not been interviewed by those committees as he came under focus by special counsel robert mueller, but tonight wolf more reaction coming in from capitol hill. senator lindsay grey graham tol it's okay to have contact with the russians. >> the president is getting a lot of recommendations. thanks very much. let's brings in our specialist to discuss. how momentous are these charges,
especially the guilty plea by papadopoulos? >> i think it's very, very important, wolf. again, we're only at the beginning of this, i believe. we're going to see just how important it was. but when you consider what papadopoulos is saying, and the fact that he has been with investigators for months, we don't know what else he's been telling them. we also know that he is the person, so far at this point, who has made the link between the russians and the campaign. and he -- he himself seemed to be an intermediary. and when sarah sanders said today, none of this involves the campaign and -- perhaps she was talking about paul manafort and rick gates and the question of financial improprieties, i think you have to look at this and look at the e-mails that went back and forth, particularly the e-mail from a campaign official which said, we need someone to communicate that donald trump is
not doing these trips and that someone low level in the campaign should go so as not to send any signal, i think then you have to start, you know, unspooling all of this and trying to figure out who these people were, what they were doing, what they intended to get from the russians, and what the russians intended to provide. >> and whether they actually got anything. >> exactly. and whether they got anything. >> that's really the key. >> and we know this spring when the "the washington post" was doing some reporting they were saying manafort never wanted anything, and we didn't pay any attention to papadopoulos, so i think this has to be played out. >> what does it tell you that papadopoulos was made aware of the russian's so called dirt on hillary clinton in the terms of thousands of e-mails in april of 2016. >> we don't know what that means -- >> this is long before wep we nigh there were hacked e-mails. >> we don't know if it was the
russians dangling potential dirt in front of them to lure them into the -- these trump officials into having a meeting, a consultation, whether thigh had these e-mails they were talking about, whether they produced them. we don't know the answer to that. but the fact that this is in there, you're right, before it became public that hillary's e-mail and more importantly the dnc e-mails were hacked. we don't know how the correlation is there, but the fact that the word dirt is used, which is the same word that was used during the e-mail exchange with donald trump jr. and a different -- or a russian national is very note worthy. >> that was the meeting leading up to the trump tower in july of 2016. >> you were part of the team that broke all this news friday night. good work. what do today's rel evaluations
tell us about where the special counsel stands now and where it's heading. >> the papadopoulos revelation was huge. it came out of nowhere and took all of us by surprise. it tells us where the direction of this investigation is still occlusi oncollusion, because when you read through the affidavit that the government unsealed as it relates to papadopoulos. they talk about the officials he was talking to. campaign supervisor, senior foreign policy advisors that he was talking to, telling them he's having these meetings with russians. so basically now the fbi has a good road map into who papadopoulos was talking to and they may want to talk to these other people that papadopoulos was talking to -- >> if they haven't already. phil mudd you used to work at
the cia. how does that look to the u.s. intelligence committee, the russian involvement for example. >> this is intelligence 101. the first thing the russians are doing is vulnerability assessment. for them the trump team is a target and determining what the vulnerability is. in this case it's easy. as dana was saying, the vulnerability is dirt on hillary clinton, whether it's approach to donald jr. or another advisor. they're going to say why don't you meet with, as we know, an attorney who spoke with don junior and then at the back end of this, there's a simple end of the story going to the departure of mike flynn to the administration. there's a cost to that kind of cooperation with the russians. we'll give you stuff but we want the relief of sanctions we know mike flynn left because of a a
conversation with the russian ambassador potentially about relief of sanctions. so this is intelligence 101. >> papadopoulos is pleading guilty to making a false statement to the fbi. we saw these documents, read them all today. he's cooperating after pleading guilty and he's being described as a proactive cooperator. you're a former u.s. attorney explain what that means, a proactive cooperator. >> the only thing it can mean to me, especially given the timing here, he was arrested in july, but he didn't plead guilty until the beginning of october. it certainly suggests that during those months of july, august, september, in the beginning of october he may have been wearing a wire. he may have been talking to his former colleagues. that is what proactive cooperation means to me. and if he is, or if he did do
that, you know, the mind reels at the possibilities. i don't know if he did that and i don't know who he spoke to, if he did. but that is the kind of gold prosecutors look for which is admissions from their targets and there is no better way to get admissions than to have someone they trust wearing a wire. >> let me ask phil, in addition to the cia and fbi, do you think he might have been wearing a wire over these past few weeks or months in order to engrash yat himself with the prosecutors. >> heck, yes. the first way you build a case is through informants and the second is through wires. communications picture, wolf, can give you a snapshot of things like financial transaction. it cannot get into somebody's head to talk about things like intent. so this guy for the past 60 days can fill in significant pieces
of the puzzle. you can't get an entire picture from financial records and e-mails. i agree with jeffrey. his comments would be critical. >> if i can elaborate on that. he was in the conversations with the trump officials about russia, about the contacts with russia. obviously they're not caution on e-mails. presumably they were not kaurks on the conversations either. mueller now has an insider. if you read the e-mails he was taken seriously and his testimony is going to be very important. >> just to jeffrey's point, that is a big get for the fbi to have someone working on the campaign, had eyes into these meetings, also just to go back to what jeffrey was saying. today the plea hearing where
papadopoulos pleaded guilty was also unsealed. and in that it lays out some of papadopoulos's cooperation, and the government said he had been providing what they called a roadmap into the investigation. they called it a roadmap and interestingly they called it a smaller piece of the larger investigation. >> i'll read, one of the prosecutors working for mueller, there's a large-scale ongoing investigation which this case, the papadopoulos case, is a small part. >> right. >> quickly. >> despite what you heard from sarah huckabee-sanders today, you can bet that the people who worked on that campaign are scrambling to try to figure out if they weren't the people, who were the people that went unnamed in the affidavit and indictment, who were involved in getting the e-mails and e-mailing one another about russia. >> he fills in all the blangs for him. they had an idea, they go to
them, he cooperates with them, they give him some information, he fills in the blanks and they move up the change. >> everybody stick around. there's more breaking news we'll be right back. when heartburn hits fight back fast with tums chewy bites. fast relief in every bite. crunchy outside. chewy inside. tum tum tum tum tums chewy bites.
accused of obstructing justice to theat the fbinuclear war, and of violating the constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth. if that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become? i'm tom steyer, and like you,
i'm a citizen who knows it's up to us to do something. it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet today people in congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right. our country depends on it. we have breaking news just coming into "the situation room." facebook is now revealing how many people may have seen
russia-linked during the campaign. dylan, tell our viewers what you're learning. >> reporter: cnn has received a copy of facebook's written testimony that they will present to lawmakers in a series of public hearings this week. it includes in very significant detail, content generated by the russia troll farm that was seeking to meddle in american politics through social media. that content was served to 126 million facebook users in the united states, according to facebook estimates. that is more than half the total u.s. voting population. that is a significant number. now, of course, one ad, one story promoted and created and generated into somebody's time line doesn't necessarily mean they saw it, it doesn't
necessarily mean it influenced the way they voted in the campaign or how they felt about politics. but that is an extraordinary number and so much higher than the reach facebook previously disclosed. remember they initially said it was crazy to think russia meddling had any influence in the 2016 election. then they said ads bought by the research agency may have reached 10 million voters we're now looking at 126 million americans who may have been exposed to content generated by this troll farm that's backed by the kremlin. >> thanks very much for that. phil mudd what does that say to you when you hear those numbers and the success of this russian troll farm. >> i can't overestimate the significance of this. the
the congress of the united states is focused on questions like, what did trump advisers do. what's happening now has to twist government on its head. when we go forward two years, the questions congress should be asking is, how do we ensure the intelligence committee is passing information about russian activities on the internet, so facebook realtime. i'm not talking about 30 days, i'm talking about realtime can take stuff off the internet. we need a war room where the national security agency are together with facebook, given facebook top secret information to react with. they have to get this stuff off the internet. >> it does raise all sorts of legal questions, right? >> it's -- you know, this is a real brave new world, and we often talk about media bias, and what does fox do, nbc do.
the real news source for many americans is their facebook feed. facebook doesn't tell us what the algorithm is that chooses what stories we get. they don't tell us, they say they're going to start telling us. who's paying for everything people see in their facebook feed. it goes to the whole idea of how voters are persuaded of their views now. facebook is making a slow and cautious start. they have a big responsibility for how american politics works now, and they haven't stepped up. >> we get a sense of the enormity of what the russians were trying to do here. they were pulling every strand they possibly could to try to
figure out a way to influence this election. including going to senior advisers in donald trump's campaign. >> it's amazing. everyone stand by to you for a moment. there's more breaking news we're following right now. including the indictment of paul manafort. you know how they send you money to cover repairs and... they took forever to pay you, right? no, i got paid right away, but... at the very end of it all, my agent... wouldn't even call you back, right? no, she called to see if i was happy. but if i wasn't happy with my claim experience for any reason, they'd give me my money back, no questions asked. can you believe that? no. the claim satisfaction guarantee, only from allstate. switching to allstate is worth it. another day at the office. why do you put up with it? believe it or not you actually like what you do. even love it. and today, you can do things you never could before.
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one of the most prominent targets in the russia investigation is formally under indictment. the charges against paul manafort, stem from his work with a key vladimir putin ally in ukraine. you the indictment details the working relationship between manafort and the russian operative. >> you don't get closer to the kremlin than victor yanakovic. he was always seen as the political candidate. when protests broke out here, and he was forced to abscond with millions and millions of dollars of ukrainian money that
he embezzled. he absconded to russia. he told a tv interviewer that he owed his life to vladimir putin because putin has offered him shelter in russia. very close ties to russia. very close ties to the kremlin beyond that, this is a man who stands accused of rampant corruption. there is a lot of corruption. even in ukrainian standards, he stood out for having stolen hundreds of millions of dollars potential potentially from this country. he stand as caused of potentially having called on riot police to fire bullets on those pro western demonstrators who took to the square back in 2014. he's accused of imprisoning his political opponents. clearly by any measure, to the
kremlin raising the question of why anyone involved in u.s. politics would want to be so deeply and intimately involved with someone who was so close to yanakovich. >> paul manafort was well paid. has there been any reaction to the news of these indictments? >> this is kind of interesting, wolf. we've seen some sporadic comment coming from mostly activists who were opposed to victor yanacovic and what he presided over. what we haven't heard from yet is the government, the country's president. one aren't analysts are suggesting we haven't heard anything from the ukrainian government yet is because they're possibly concerned or anxious about upsetting the white house.
they rely heavily on all different number of various forms of usa, they can't afford to get into some protracted political battle with the trump administration, there has been speculation that that may be contributing to their absence in making some kind of a statement against manafort. >> kristen, thanks very much. that's it for me. a special breaking news coverage continues right now with erin burnett "outfront." good evening, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, the clearest evidence of collusion. the guilty plea a surprise bombshell, a former trump campaign foreign policy adviser pleading guilty to making a false statement about his contacts with russian agents. george