tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN October 30, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
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just millions of dollars in alleged money laundering and tax evasion and deception in connection with prior lobbying work for pro-russian forces in ukraine. as you know, he entered a not guilty plea. so did his business associate and his fellow campaign official, rick gates. both surrendering today. now, as we said, under house arrest. each has previously denied financial wrongdoing. they each now face counts including conspiracy against the united states and conspiracy to launder money. manafort's lawyer spoke briefly late today. >> there is no evidence that mr. manafort or the trump campaign colluded with the russian government. >> and that is precisely what makes today's papadopoulos revelation so potentially explosive. it opens a window, for the very first time, onto potential frame work and a time line for special counsel robert mueller to try to show collusion. it may also reveal more about how mueller plans to proceed from here on out and the leverage he may have to and flip paul manafort and others. federal authorities arrested george papadopoulos on the 27th
of july, pleaded guilty on the 5th of this month to making false statements to the fbi about contacts with russia. this was all kept totally under wraps until today. nothing leaked. we'll talk more in a minute about the significance of court filings to keep it that way. first, though, what do the documents in the case itself actually reveal and what they add to the trump/russia time line that we already have reported about? papadopoulos joined the campaign in march of last year. >> george papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant. excellent guy. >> that was the president announcing five members of his foreign policy advisory team in an interview with the "washington post" back on march 21st. carter page was also mentioned in that group. now, remember, mr. trump had been under pressure to name some foreign policy advisers to add credibility to his campaign. flash forward to april of 2016, on or about the 26th, according to the documents, one foreign contact, a russian professor, said to have ties to the kremlin, tells papadopoulos that he, quote, learned that the russians had obtained dirt on
then-candidate clinton. thousands of clinton e-mails. now, remember, we already know that russian hackers had breached the democratic national committee twice, including in march of last year. just a month before papadopoulos spoke with this professor. now, may, papadopoulos e-mails a high-ranking trump campaign official, who cnn has learned was paul manafort. it reads in part, quote, russia has been eager to meet mr. trump for quite some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss. manafort forwarded that e-mail to another campaign official, who cnn has learned is rick gates, writing, quote, we need someone to commute that d.t. is not doing these trips. it should be someone low level in the campaign so as not send any signals. now we come back to a familiar date, which is june 3rd. publicist rob goldstone e-mails donald trump jr. saying the russian government is working to help his father's campaign, saying a kremlin connected lawyer can deliver dirt on hillary clinton and wants to meet. don junior e-mails back 17 minutes later, if it's what you say, i love it. six days later, the trump tower meeting, he's there, jared
kushner is there, so is paul manafort. don junior initially describes the meeting as being about adoption, which for the russian government really means u.s. sanctions against moscow. don junior later admits he went looking for dirt, says anyone in his position would, but says he came away empty handed. a month later, july 7th and 8th, carter page, that other member of the candidate advisory group, traveled to moscow. that may be significant, because remember, that e-mail we talked about a second ago, the one that said, quote, 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 signals. was the cater page trip the moscow trip? we don't know for sure, but the timing indicates the possibility. now, back to the court document unsealed today and the next date on or about the 14th of july of last year. george papadopoulos writing to the individual known as fc 2, foreign contact 2. papadopoulos proposing a, quote, meeting for august or september in the u.k., london, with me and my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser and you, members of president
putin's office and the mfa, the russian ministry of foreign affairs, to hold a day of consultations and to meet one another. it has been approved from our side. eight days later, the first wikileaks e-mail dump, five days after that, this from candidate trump. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> the campaign said that was just humor. now, as you know, everyone from the president on down has denied, repeatedly and loudly, that anyone in the campaign colluded with russia. today, the white house press secretary not only denied that george papadopoulos acted in any official capacity during the campaign, she kind of denied his existence. >> this individual was the member of a volunteer advisory council that met one time over the course of a year. it was a volunteer position. again, somebody on a volunteer committee. again, he was a volunteer. he was not paid by the campaign. he was a volunteer on a, again, council that met once.
he was a volunteer on the campaign and a volunteer member of an advisory council. i'm telling you that he was a volunteer member of an advisory council that literally met one time. >> safe to say they are getting to know him now, and that's because not only is he clearly helping special counsel mueller build a collusion case, today's revelations also included court filings on keeping the entire papadopoulos angle under wraps, which could become the biggest blockbuster of all. cnn chief legal analyst jeffrey tubin explain. >> the court papers suggest that and i think we can put it up on the air, defendant has indicated he's willing to cooperate. and then, on the next page, public disclosure of the defendant's initial appearance, however, would significantly undermine his ability to serve as a proactive cooperator. what this says to me is that papadopoulos, between july and october, was wearing a wire. he was recording conversations secretly with people who are subjects and targets of this
investigation. that's the only reasonable explanation of what's in those court papers. if he was wearing a wire this summer and fall, think about that, just weeks ago, that is a whole new chapter of possibilities in this investigation and potentially a very, very big deal. >> so a day we expected to begin with one or more indictments ended with far more than just that. and the story that we broke on this program friday night has taken a big leap since then. joining us now are the correspondents who have been all over this from day one, jim sciutto, pamela brown, and evan perez. jim, is any of this evidence of collusion, which as we talked about the last hour is not itself a crime according to special counsel muller's team? >> the special counsel certainly hasn't made any conclusions as to whether there is collusion or coordination, whatever you call it. and it hasn't identified in these court documents any of these conversations or e-mails, specifically, in so many words, as evidence of collusion. but keep in mind this.
twice in the court documents made public today, unsealed today, there are direct references to this investigation being one that is looking into, among other things, the possibility of collusion or coordination. one of those references, references the january 27th interview of george papadopoulos. it says, in fact, specifically in the documents at the time that part of the investigation was looking into collusion, cooperation between trump associates and the russian campaign. but more recently in a court opinion unsealed today as well, dated october 2nd, so this month, 2017, the very first lines of that court opinion, which i'm holding right here, say expressly, this is a matter of national importance and that the u.s., through the special counsel's office, is investigating foreign interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion in those efforts by american citizens. that's a court opinion relating to this case. so that is still very clearly a subject of this investigation regardless of what the president says or what you hear from
behind the white house podium. >> evan, you were describing today as a down payment on future efforts by mueller. what do you mean by that? >> well, anderson, it's clear that the special counsel and his team really are honing in on manafort, and they think that he has something to give. they are -- what you saw today is an effort to build and to show perhaps how much leverage they believe they have. i think it's no accident that they unveiled -- or they unsealed the papadopoulos indictment and plea agreement and gave, at least, a window into the type of information he's already provided to the special prosecutor. what i think is happening here is that they clearly believe manafort has some information that he can give, he can flip up. so the question is, who can manafort provide information against? i mean, not many people who are above where manafort was in the hierarchy of that campaign, we're talking about the president, we're talking about
those closest to him. >> pamela, can you explain the big picture, the allegations against manafort and his business associate, rick gates? >> so the allegations center on financial wrongdoing. the indictment alleges they made millions of dollars in their consulting and lobbying work for ukraine, and they tried to hide that money, $75 million allegedly going through these offshore accounts. and the fbi also says they lied about it. that they were deceitful about the money they had made from ukraine. and they were using this money to decorate their homes, pay for the children's tuition, take lavish trips. and so that is really what it centers on. not particularly to anything they did during the campaign, though it is in the time frame of when both manafort and rick gates worked for the campaign, because it says in the indictment that these alleged activities happened from 2008
through 2017. we should note, though, both men deny any financial wrongdoing. they both pleaded not guilty today. now they are on house arrest. manafort is on $10 million bail. rick gates on $5 million bail. >> jim, any -- i mean, there is clarity tonight on who papadopoulos is communicating with inside the campaign, or is there, other than manafort and gates? cnn's confirmed those e-mails were to manafort and gates. but who was giving him the okay from the campaign to continue his efforts? do we know? >> listen, these documents, these court filings are rife with evidence of communications that belie sarah sanders' statement from behind the white house podium that this was just a low-level guy in the campaign who no one talked to and no one had any interest in because he has repeated communications with very senior people in the campaign, one of which i reported earlier today, one of these communications about conversations with the russians and meetings with russia, perhaps in europe as well, is
with paul manafort. then the campaign chairman. another one of them is with rick gates, then paul manafort's deputy. there are other officials cited in there, described in those documents as campaign supervisor, other senior officials, who not only are receiving e-mails from george papadopoulos, but their answering those e-mails and they're answering requests that are contained in those e-mails. papadopoulos discussing meetings he had with russians who said they had dirt on hillary clinton. there were responses to those e-mails. discussions of whether he should meet with them. there are instructions from someone described as a campaign supervisor in those documents encouraging him, based on papadopoulos' testimony, to take a meeting in russia. so the idea that he just showed up once as a volunteer at one foreign policy session is belied by repeated communications for months between him and senior campaign officials about meetings and, in fact, getting instructions from those officials to move forward with those meetings.
>> evan, you've done extensive reporting on the june 2016 meeting with donald trump jr. in trump tower. that meeting all started with the same method of proposing dirt on hillary clinton allegedly coming, according to goldstone, from a lawyer connected to the russian government. is it -- i mean, it's kind of interesting that the tactic of promising dirt, in the case of papadopoulos, it was from a professor who had ties to the kremlin allegedly, which papadopoulos lied to the fbi about knowing, and then admitted he did know. it was the same kind of direct promise of information from the russian government in both meetings. >> right. i think it's no accident that the government is showing these communications. and i think what it tells you is really what we've been talking about on this program, and since this investigation began, which is this is the russian playbook. this is why people in the national security agencies, the cia, the director of national
intelligence and the fbi last year were sort of hair on fire. they were a little bit alarmed at the idea that the russians seemed to be trying to insinuate themselves through carter page, through papadopoulos, through other people, trying to get a way into the campaign to get access to the trump campaign, and seemingly getting encouragement at those efforts, anderson. so i think what we've heard so much about over the last few months, including about that don junior meeting, is very much within the playbook that we know the russians use. they try to use whatever they can to try to insinuate themselves into this campaign, and seemingly they were getting responses, which is why they kept doing it. evan perez, jim sciutto, pamela brown, appreciate your reporting. coming up next, late word on the president's reaction to all this, whether jobs with the no big deal tone from his press secretary today. and later reaction from gop lawmakers as well as the non-reaction from the top republican in the house. my name is jeff sheldon,
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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. calm and cool or hot and bothered? that is the question. how is the president reacting to the breaking news today? if you say today's press briefing, you might say the first, but new reporting says otherwise. jim acosta has that reporting. he joins us now from north lawn of the white house. so what do we know about how the president took the news of these indictments?
>> reporter: well, anderson, from what we understand from talking to various sources here, he was not happy about this news that came out this morning. that has to be understood. obviously this russia investigation is creeping closer to the oval office, it's creeping closer to the white house. but my understanding from talking to sources over here, anderson, is they are plodding ahead as if this is a, quote, distraction, is the way one white house source described it to me earlier this evening. they still view this as a distraction, even though the former trump campaign chairman paul manafort and his deputy rick gates, and this once very little known advisor george papadopoulos, his plea deal coming down, that has not really grabbed ahold of officials here as being any kind of major news. i will tell you, anderson, talking to sources this evening, the concern is just how much of this they can take. i talked to one source earlier this evening who said that
they're now starting to describe george papadopoulos as a, quote, overzealous volunteer. anderson that, appears to be an indication that they do understand that some of this news that came out today is not good for them or else they would have continued to describe him the way sarah sanders was describing him during the briefing today, which was just a volunteer with a limited role with the campaign. >> as far as a white house strategy for dealing with mueller and the investigation, do they have one? >> reporter: you know, at this point, anderson, it appears the strategy is to do no harm. to allow mueller to continue this investigation. i will tell you, when you talk to people who are very close to the messaging and strategy inside this white house, there are concerns about the president going ahead sort of half-cocked and deciding all of a sudden, the way he did with jim comey, to go ahead and fire the special counsel. it was interesting to hear the questions come up at the briefing today when sarah sanders, the press secretary, was asked about this. she did not close the door on
this possibility that the president might fire bob mueller. she said that he has no plan or intent to do that right now, to have any changes in the special counsel's office, but that is no ironclad commitment that robert mueller is staying in that position. of course, when you talk to people up on capitol hill, any kind of move like that to unload the special counsel would really trigger a pretty swift reaction from congress that this white house would probably not like to see, anderson. >> jim acosta, appreciate it. joining us is our panel. kirsten powers, jeffrey toobin, ken cuccinelli, carl bernstein, shimon prokupecz, and stephen moore. kirsten, let's start with you. today, how do you see it? >> i think we all thought the manafort news would probably be the biggest news, and it ended up not being the case. you know, i understand the white house's argument that it was an overzealous volunteer person.
but if you look at what he talks about, it all seems on the up and up until you get to the fact that he lied about it. right. so there's actually -- there's nothing wrong with him sending e-mails saying i tried to set up a meeting, which they apparently wanted, but the fact he decided he needed to lie about it and lie about the fact that the campaign did, in fact, know about it, that he was exchanging e-mails with them, that he had, in fact, met with people who he said he didn't meet with, when plainly he met them before he was on the campaign, that's what raises a red flag. it's like, why are you lying about it if this is just a basic thing you would be doing, you know, as a person working on the foreign policy team. >> does that raise red flags for you? >> yeah. i would disagree. i would say this was red flag central. you know, the idea that the russians were offering -- first you meet a random professor who then has these links to the kremlin. that's shady, and then who are offering you opposition -- or
stolen e-mails. that should raise a red flag. usually people would call the fbi in that instance. the other piece is staging these meetings. we have to remember that this was still a campaign. they hadn't even won the election. this isn't a transition. private citizens should not be negotiating meetings with foreign governments to discuss policy. actually, there is a law against that. it's called the logan act. it's from 1799. it's only been used twice. but it's because you don't want to undermine a sitting administration. so i think this was sketchy from the get-go. and the fact that he lied about it just shows that -- and the fact that's what mueller's charging him with shows that he means business. i bet there's people who are sweating right now who have already been interviewed by the fbi and who may -- >> ken? >> let's not forget, every candidate for president who wants to be taken seriously goes to foreign countries. look at me.
i've got the chops. the considered very successful meeting with the mexican president by then-candidate trump, relative to expectations, particularly right in the same time frame, middle of august if i remember correctly, that the only item in the papadopoulos indictment that suggests anyone other than papadopoulos was encouraged about him proceeding with russia -- and contrary to what jim said a few minutes ago, it took five months of papadopoulos' one-way communication. jim implied these were conversations. that is not what the indictment says. >> i have a question for you. >> let me finish this one point. sure, i'm happy to answer. so he gets to the middle of august, and the indictment says after months of doing this. and then the campaign person not named says, well, that sounds great if you can set it up, make it happen. and the next line of the indictment is the meeting never took place. >> ken, in that very successful
meeting with the president of mexico, did trump talk about thousands of hillary clinton's e-mails that the mexican government had? >> i think that was more of a damage control meeting. >> i'm just saying, it's not just -- >> it isn't about that kind of tactical advantage. it isn't about opo. that meeting was about something else -- >> but this is the second of two meetings we know about where the pitch was i'm the russia government, dirt on hillary clinton. >> phil mudd said earlier, from an intel perspective, this is kind of 101. the russians accurately identified their soft spot. they want dirt on hillary, and they're responding to that. papadopoulos responded to it, trump junior responded to it. they never got, as far as we can tell -- >> you're assuming the conclusion of the investigation. we don't know that. >> well, that's right. >> but now we're getting out of the weeds and down to what's really important. we have seen in these
indictments and we see from what mueller is now doing and we really have a roadmap. we are looking at what he is building a kind of case of a conspiracy to undermine this country's electoral system through communications with a foreign government. it's a conspiracy case about collusion. and in this -- one of the most fascinating elements of this is there is a sentence in the indictment of papadopoulos in which it is revealed that in april of 2016 he heard from this russian london professor that there were thousands of e-mails about or from hillary. this is months before we had any idea that these were e-mails that the trump campaign or assange or anybody else had an ability to get. this means that early on the trump campaign knew that the
russians supposedly had these e-mails. and what the indictment says is they went after them. and that's what we keep seeing is this. and, yes, he might have been a self-starter. it's possible. he might have been low-level, but he talked to manafort about that. that's what we know from this indictment. also, i think it's very likely that he talked to mr. flynn about that. so we now have papadopoulos talking to the top officials, national security officials in the campaign who themselves daily talk to the candidate himself. and the question becomes, and we'll have to find out, did these matters come to the attention of donald trump, the candidate -- >> which, by the way, is also the question from the donald trump jr. meeting, the candidate's son holds this meeting excited to get information allegedly coming from the russian government. the idea that he never mentioned it to his dad or no one in that meeting ever mentioned it to the candidate --
>> what we now see that we didn't know about was all of these people salivating early on, in the spring, about e-mails that the russians might have. it changes a big perception. >> i want to get out of the weeds and actually look at the big picture here. i mean, this is an incredible demoralizing story. >> in what sense? >> demoralizing that now we have further evidence of potential, you know, administration or campaign relationships with russia. but look, we learned a week or two ago that the same thing happened with the hillary clinton campaign, that they essentially bought a dossier from the -- that john podesta bought this s do say of allegations against the obama administration -- or against trump. my point is both parties i think are so disgusting here and both campaigns, that they would deal with the russians. i'm an old warrior. this isn't mexico, this is
russia. they are an enemy of the united states. >> you're getting two things -- i don't know that anybody in the clinton campaign was told the russian government is giving you this information. >> but they got the dossier from the russians. >> no, they bought -- >> they got it from a private investigator. >> they funded opposition research, and indeed -- >> they were middle men. >> that operation, opposition research was conducted by someone who was indeed trying to -- >> let's not go down the road of the dossier. jeff, for you, is this clear evidence of -- collusion is not a crime, but attempted collusion? attempted conspiracy? >> it certainly is suggestive. but also, you have to remember where we are in this investigation. this morning, how many of us could identify george papadopoulos. sorry, i've been saying it all day excellently. >> we were all focused on carter
page of the unknown five. >> right. so, you know, if you look at the e-mails that went with the information to which he pled guilty, there was not a lot of code words. everybody was talking openly about these relationships. you have to assume that that was continuing, just as in june they were talking openly about their relationship with the russians, donald trump jr. was with the trump tower meeting. i think if you had told any of us a week ago, a month ago, that this guilty plea would be coming, i think we would have been astonished. i remain astonished. but it is still very early days in this investigation. >> we have to take a quick break. a lot more to discuss with the panel when we come back. we'll be right back. another day of work. why do you do it? it's not just a pay check, you actually like what you do.
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a milestone day in this presidency, the significance difficult to overstate. the first indictment in special counsel robert mueller's investigation. i want to go right back to our panel for more reaction. jeff, we haven't addressed the other kind of surprising thing that we learned about papadopoulos today, that he's been cooperating for some time now. >> absolutely. >> do you know what the level of cooperation is? is it clear what the level of cooperation is? >> it's not clear, but it's clearly suggested. in the document that the special counsel filed explaining why his guilty plea should have been under seal, he pointed out that he was arrested at the end of july, didn't plead guilty until the beginning of october. and the reason according to mueller, that the paperwork was sealed is because he was doing what they called proactive cooperation, which suggests strongly to me he was wearing a wire. he was taping telephone calls
he was taping one-on-one conversations with someone. and i wouldn't speculate about who, but that just suggests how dramatic this could be, because we're talking about cooperation that might have ended two weeks ago. that's just what an ongoing investigation this is. >> would anybody who was fearing of what had happened on the campaign be so stupid to communicate with this guy, papadopoulos over the last couple of months? >> one of the things you always learn, as a prosecutor, the defense attorneys always say in closing argument is, of course, he wouldn't endorse the check in his own name. no one would be that stupid. people are that stupid all the time. just as we were not thinking that papadopoulos was going to be prosecuted, they probably didn't think so either. betting on the stupidity of people as far as i'm concerned is always good money.
>> also, in the campaign and it's continued into the white house, they have prided themselves on bringing in whole groups of people who have never been in these circumstances before. so if you're in your third tour in a white house, and fred who you vaguely remember seeing on a twitter feed about foreign policy is leaning his shoulder at you when he asked you questions, flag are going up, but it's not happening here. this is new for most of these folks. newer than it would be for a lot of others. and look, that's part of what the american people wanted. they wanted to just turn the place over. but part of what you get with that is less experience, and this is one of those elements. >> these indictments send a clear signal in the way mueller has done this and the price he's asked for in terms of bail for these two suspects, the whole
of these events today shows everybody who's been working in this campaign and around trump that he is building a case. meanwhile, mueller has 21,000 e-mails he's obtained from the white house. and they're all potential perjury traps just as we see papadopoulos got trapped into perj perjury, perhaps, because of what mueller knew. all of trump's people have to talk to the fbi and be truthful. and that means everything that they observe from trump's assistant, all the way through, even his family, have to be truthful. >> i was reading today a comparison between this kind of prosecution and a prosecution that the department of justice would run against a mob figure. against an organized crime family. is it similar in the way they build a case? >> you're going to start from the bottom and work your way up to get the big fish, right? that gives the leverage against the bigger people up the chain
to keep flipping until you get the people that you want to get. >> sometimes the people you get at the top are not convicted -- al capone wasn't convicted. >> al capone was convicted for tax evasion. al capone's bodyguard was convicted for violating the game act because he had dead birds in his freezer. they're going to get you for what you find. you don't want to have the proverbial dead birds in your freezer. the bread and butter of these investigations, particularly when the fbi go out, is 18 usc 1001, which is lying to federal agents. every time i interview someone, i let them know lying to a federal official is a felony. >> they can lie to you, you can't lie to them? >> what's that? >> the police can lie to you -- >> that happens. >> you can bluff. >> we have to take a break. we'll continue the conversation.
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house say there is nothing to see here. for the republican leadership the tactic seems to be, there's nothing
to say here. take a look. >> i have nothing to add to these indictments other than this is what robert mueller was tasked to do. i haven't read the indictments and i don't know the specific details of the indictments, but that is how the judicial process works. >> back with kirsten powers. also joining is scott jennings and brian fallon. brian, since you're just joining us, the former press secretary for hillary clinton, i'm wondering what you make of today. >> i think politically today has a lot of meaning because you saw last week the trump administration and its allies trying to gather a head of steam to call mueller's integrity into question, suggesting he should step down. fox news was getting a steady drum beat. after a day like today where robert mueller dropped the mic and showed what a serious prosecutor really does and how
he goes about mountd mounting a serious investigation, you have the campaign chairman under house arrest, staring at charges that could deliver 10 to 15 years in prison, which could be a life sentence considering his age, he's playing for keeps. it sends a message to all the other white house staff officials. i think at this point it becomes much harder for the president to entertain any notion of firing bob mueller. it makes it harder for the republicans to look away if he even entertains that idea. >> scott? >> i don't think they should seriously entertain firing bob mueller or taking any action that would stop this investigation because it is clear the russians tried to meddle in the election. i'm not yet convinced there was high-level collusion. they did try to cultivate people. we need to find out what happened and the president i think, should seriously consider starting a task force to make sure this doesn't happen in the future. you had the attempt to infiltrate the campaign, but there's this digital advertising stuff going on on the periphery.
if i were the white house, i'd be looking at what i can control and what i can't control. the investigation dye is cast. they can't control what happens at this point. the fbi is interviewing people. they can't control who may have lied. what they can control is policy and governing. so they need to control their impulses, focus on the crisis at hand in north korea, try to get that stuff right. because there's very little -- no tweet, no statement can change the course of this investigation at this point. >> i don't know that there's any "there" there. we don't know if there's collusion. maybe there's not, but other people are going to down for other things. if there is a "there" there, they're going to find it. >> there seems to be an effort, at least on the part of some people. >> when you've had no-knock raids executed, you've had peoples' storage facilities
raided, you've had a guy wearing a wire for at least a month, maybe months. if there's something to be found, they're going to find it. >> at this point can we really say with a straight face there's no evidence of efforts at collusion, whether it's donald trump junior saying believing information is coming from the russian government and saying let's take a look at it or this guy, papadopoulos as well? as low level as he may be. >> one thing we know is the russians were pushing on an open door in their attempts to find people in the trump campaign who were interested. >> it seemed like multiple doors? >> multiple doors. we know, from the trump tower meeting that don junior was excited to take that meeting. even if the meeting didn't bear fruit. we know papadopoulos was telling everyone in the campaign he could that he wanted to set up meetings between trump and putin, campaign officials and other russian officials. and the plea agreement ends with
this kind of cliff hanger, that the agents say not all the facts that they know about are in that plea agreement. and it ends with this tantalizing, oh, someone told me about the thousands of e-mails that have dirt on hillary clinton. we don't know what happened next. so that whole chronology sort of dies there. brian and i were talking about this before. is that mueller's way of showing everyone, i know a whole lot more than any of you people thought i knew, and that's why he did the big reveal today -- >> i want to ask you about the strategy of how that was worded and why not announce everything. let's take a quick break and we'll continue the conversation next. mine's way better.
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back with the panel. a very unusual day in american politics and the lowest point in the trump presidency according to the latest poll. just 38% said tay approve of the job the president is doing, down five points since september. the previous low was 39% in may. polling was taken before the news of the indictments. the latest gallup poll has him at 33% job approval. that poll is based on a three-day rolling average. before the break, we were talking about the wording of the information that was released and the fbi basically saying they haven't put out all the information on papadopoulos. why would they hold stuff back? >> they want to make people
nervous, because when you don't know what mueller knows, you get kind of scared. and when he comes knocking, you may be more willing to cough up some information. >> so they didn't even have to put out the information they did. there wasn't a requirement, they could have held everything back? >> well, he's pleading guilty, so they're laying out enough to show that it substantiates the charge for which he's pleading guilty. but it's not like manafort where they have to lay out all the allegations against him, because they're going to go and prove this in court. so it's a different kind of document. the other thing that's important to understand is, mueller has other information from sensitive sources. so there may be things he may not be ready to put out there yet or he's waiting to corroborate by other means. and i think this is especially relevant with the manafort indictment because, you know, trump has mentioned that this is
all stuff that happened before the campaign. remember that those two fisa warrants started in 2014 or so and continued all the way up until january of this year. so there -- and a fisa would mean that he was demonstrably and knowingly acting along with a foreign intelligence service. so there may be additional information that mueller has that he either wants other people to corroborate in order to build a larger collusion case and he may supersede this indictment against manafort as it grows. >> does that mean that they might know that he actually talked to other people on the campaign about what he was told about the hillary clinton e-mails and they just left that out? is that possible? >> you mean with papadopoulos? >> i think that's entirely possible. >> it seems quite likely. they're basically telling us at that hearing where papadopoulos entered his guilty plea said this is just a small part of a larger investigation. so anybody thought that bob mueller's team was just going to
settle for getting those old charges against manafort is fooling themselves. you now have two instances, papadopoulos and donald trump jr. in june expressing their intent, their eagerness to obtain whatever the russians were advertising as having had. it seems impossible to believe that after the russians twice indicated to these representatives from the trump campaign that they had the dirt on hillary clinton and wanted to help collude with donald trump's campaign that the trump campaign just dropped it. what we are getting at, we know that they have the intent. what we don't know if they had the opportunity. was there a follow-up meeting where the russians actually came with the e-mails or started to plot out the dissemination plan for the e-mails. >> or were there more e-mails from donald trump jr. to hope hicks and other people in the campaign saying, wow, can you believe the russians are backing dad's campaign? the only e-mails we've seen from donald trump, jr. are the e-mails that he himself released. >> this is why donald trump was so upset about a special prosecutor because if this just, you know, congressional inquiries you're not going to
have the ability to subpoena -- >> thousands and thousands -- >> if you lie to the fbi, that's a crime. you can't even lie to them. they can lie to you. you can't lie to them. come on. we don't know. we just found that papadopoulos was, you know, arrested or whatever months ago. is there anybody else? they're squeezing people who would know things. i mean, you know, paul manafort, does he cut a deal? does he want to spend the rest of his life in jail? if anybody would know something, it would be him. what about michael flynn -- >> michael flynn and his son. if they are in fact indicted and does michael flynn then want to try to protect his son? there's so many unknowns in this. just the sheer volume of information that mueller has access to that has not leaked out. >> you get the sense from reading all of the documents that are released today that the one person who is convinced there is collusion is bob mueller. you just get the sense that this is the very, very beginning of a
massive investigation from the transcript of the plea agreement to where the lawyer that brian referred to says this is just a tiny part of this larger investigation to just the way he seemed frustrated with manafort and gates and threw everything at them. to the way he did this sort of dramatic reveal with the information that none of us knew about with papadopoulos. >> and even the timing of the unsealing of the guilty plea by papadopoulos today is probably not a coincidence. if you go back and look at the transcript from the october 5th hearing, they had 30 days to keep it under seal if they wanted. it's not 30 days yet. so they decided they were ready to put it out today. i think it's a warning sign to everybody within the white house that, hey, we know about this and you'll get treated this way if you cooperate and this way if you don't. i also think it's a signal to manafort that, hey, we know about it the collusion aspect of this. if you want to lesson your sentence on the fira violation, come strike a bargain with us. when we come back, the people behind the massive investigation. we'll dig into mueller's investigative team ahead. oooo.
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amid the revelations of these indictments we are learning about more about his team's methods and as the probe continues with more indictments very possible this group of prosecutors is becoming even more important to understanding the overall investigation. tom foreman joins us now with a closer look t so what have you learned, tom? >> anderson, robert mueller's team here is absolutely a who's who of some of the top attorneys in this country. let's take andrew wiseman, for example. he is a leading figure in prosecuting white collar and organized crime figures. michael dreeban over here has argued more than a hundred cases before the u.s. supreme court.
very few lawyers ever get to say anything like that. he's also considered one of the top criminal law experts in this country. jeany reis a former deputy assistant attorney general. she came from the esteemed firm where mueller is in private practice, as did james quarrels over here. he's considered to be the point person in terms of reaching out to the white house when they have to have direct contact. and aaron zepley, he spent years with the fbi studying counterterrorism until he rose to the point of becoming the chief of staff for mueller over here. this is just the front row of his team here, and this is a true dream team of prosecutors. people who not only know how to collect evidence but how to present it, how to turn it into a winning case. how to defend it in court and ultimately to produce not just indictments but convictions and convictions that will stick, anderson. >> yeah. certainly some trump supporters have complained that a few of these people have democratic leanings and history of
supporting democratic causes or campaigns and that feeds the president's claim is that this is a witch-hunt. >> yeah. there is some of that in the sense that some of these people have donated to democratic causes. they've had ties to the obama administration. for example, rhee over here, she actually worked for the obama administration and represented hillary clinton in some lawsuits. that's a relatively small part of this. the real worry for the white house over here is less the partisanship than the sheer depth of expertise. they've handled so many cases of fraud and corruption and criminal conduct. and these people have honed their chops on cases like watergate and enron and many, many more in the justice department. the bottom line is these are people who really know what they're doing and when the white house looks across the street at what they're facing, what they're seeing, anderson, is a very tough army of attorneys who
are headed up by a man who is known for being relentless and following the clues relentlessly to the end. anderson. >> tom foreman, appreciate it. time to hand things over to don lemon. cnn tonight starts right now. breaking news, the biggest bombshell yet in the russia investigation and the white house is hoping you'll believe there's nothing to see here. just move along. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. the trump campaign's closest connection so far to russian meddling in the election. george papadopoulos, a former trump campaign foreign policy adviser pleading guilty to making a false statement to the fbi after he lied about his interactions during the campaign with a foreign contact who discussed dirt related to hillary clinton's e-mails. that's not an accusation. that's not an allegation. it's fact. papadopoulos admits it. now the administration has been insisting all along there's no evidence of collusion with russia.