tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN December 9, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
48 hours after being implicated in two federal crimes of directing hush money payments, president trump is resorting to his strategy of distract and deny. the president spending his sunday morning railing against former fbi director james comey aaccusing him, without evidence, of lying to congress. steve of chaf john kelly will leave his post at the end of the year, an announcement supposed to come formally tomorrow. despite that, the russia cloud conditions to hang with whether a sitting president can be indicted. lawmakers on both sides agree on this. no one is above the law. >> i disagree with you in the differently justice. there is nothing in the constitution that prohibits the president from being indicted. i think it's very important that
we originated in rebellion against the english king women did not seek to create another king. nobody, not the president or anybody else can be above the law. >> if someone violated the law, the application of the law should be applied to them as any other citizen. if you are in a position of great authority, it should be the case. i don't know if we will have that case, but my position on that will not be a political decision. we are a nation of laws and no one in the country no matter who you are is above it. >> let's check in with sarah westwood at the white house. sarah? >> president trump has been spending this weekend going after his former fbi director and railing against the paris climate accord and calling for the end of the russia investigation and making a series of personnel changes and talking about everything but robert mueller's claim and court filings submitted that the president directed his former attorney michael cohen to make
two illegal payments during the 2016 race. while the president was awaiting the filings, he started what is a spree of high level appointments starting with the announcement of his new attorney general, bill barr on friday morning. he announced his pick for the next un ambassador, heather nauert. he announced the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and will replace the outgoing chairman joseph dunford and he ended speculation by saying that his chief of staff john kelly would be leaving the white house. in that same conversation with reporters here at the white house as he was leaving to attend the army-navy game in philadelphia, he said the team was happy with the filings that prosecutors submitted on friday although he had not read the memos himself. because they didn't include evidence of russian collusion. they did tie the president to the alleged campaign violations
related to payments made to women who had alleged that they had affairs with president trump trying to come forward during the 2016 race. congressman jerry nadler, the top democrat on the judiciary committee said his involvement would be impeachable offenses in his view even if politically they didn't rise to the level of impeachment. listen to what he told jake tapper this morning. >> if it is proven that the president directed or coordinated with cohen to commit the felonies, if it's proven and it is alleged by the prosecutors, if it's proven, are those impeachable offenses? >> well, they would be impeachable offenses. whether they are important enough to justify impeachment is a different question. each though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of obtaining the office.
that would be the impeachable offense. >> the white house has attacked cohen and worked to undermine his credibility and sought to distance the president about the c conduct of his former associates. this week, president trump will have to confront these new disclosures from the special counsel, robert mueller, even as his administration is adjusting to new faces at the highest levels. >> thank you so much from the white house. joining me to discuss further, strategist and cnn commentator, hillary rosen and correspondent for the washington examiner and dav david drucker. good to see all of you. shan, you first. is it an issue of you cannot indict a sitting president or you cannot prosecute a sitting president? >> i think it's both. there is nothing in the law that
prohibits indicting and prosecuting, but it is the justice department's policy not to do that. that immediately creates a constitutional crisis. i don't think this is some have been speculating what if the president murdered somebody. that's not the scenario we are facing. it's appropriately in the political realm, there would be articles of impeachment and a trial, but i think that in terms of the level of proof here, there is probable cause and this is an accusation by the justice department that he committed the felonies. >> listen to what senator rand paul had to say about this special counsel's probe. >> i'm absolutely against it. it's a miscarriage of justice and we shouldn't have prosecutors going after one person. if we are going to put people in jail for campaign finance violations -- every president gets prosecuted and everybody gets thrown in jail when they
are done with office. >> your reaction? is the inference that one person is being pursued here? >> the president has been a target and they have been trying to follow out if he had any role in misdeeds and collusion and other matters, but i don't think it's a case where the special counsel itself lends itself to banana republic and we might be in a legal circus. a lot of people run for president and not a lot of them end up with fec violations. some do and it's minor and they pay a fine and it's over. what rand paul is trying to do is defend the president and suggest that anything that the special counsel might do that ropes in president trump would be illegitimate and that's understandable from a political standpoint. look, supporters are trying to deal with a new reality. that is you will have a democratic house with democratic chair men and impeachment
designed to deal with legal misdeeds and entirely a political judgment. democrats have to decide once mueller issues a report whether or not they believe the offenses, if there are any, are impeachable and whether or not they believe it is politically feasible and politically advantageous for them to go about impeaching the president. all of these have different scales and different levels of what the answer is. it's not cut and dry. >> so hillary, former chief of staff rahm emmanuel said it wouldn't be advisable if the first order of business for a control controlled house would be impeachment proceedings. what do you think about whether it should be the first order of business or if it should come after mueller's report? >> i think we heard nancy pelosi and carrie nadler, the two people say that that is not the first order of business, but that inquiries into behavior
are. i think it's worth stepping back for a minute. there have been debates about the implications of the mueller report, but it's worth stepping back and looking at what people would do, what people would be saying on the other side of the aisle if this were hillary clinton who were president or barack obama or bill clinton or our last two democratic presidents. bill clinton was impeached by a republican house for lying about having sex. preside period. we are talking about a charge from the justice department that the president subverted the fec laws to assure his election as president. there is a huge difference here. there is going to be an increasing amount of cry from americans generally to take the mueller report and the mueller findings seriously as they keep coming down the pike. it's premature to make a
decision about the outcome, but i think we have seen from the first few sentencing documents that this is an inquiry bearing real offenses by the president and his cronies. >> then there was this notable moment during former fbi comey's testimony that came out in transcripts. when he was asking about being fired as fbi director and lawyer stepped in and said this. i'm quoting now. mr. chairman, to the extent that questions goes to the special counsel's investigation into obstruction, the witness will not be able to answer. what's going on here. parameters of the questions of that closed door meeting. >> it would be a mistake to read too much into that. it's fair to read into that. there is no question that the special counsel is looking at the question. i don't know that that fbi's
lawyers mean that they are far down the road. it makes sense that they would not want comey to be answering in the transcript that would go public. he will be a witness then and has been a witness. they are looking at it and there is a lot of danger for the president on obstruction issue. particularly he has a situation where he submitted answers in writing. they are likely to be contradicted by what cohen's evidence is and worse for him under that unusual joint defense agreement. it's possible that the alleged falsehoods by manafort conformed to inaccuracies in trump's written statement which would be a big problem. it's like two people cheating on exams with the wrong answers. >> how concerned should they be? he was about to head to philadelphia for the army-navy game, he said he is happy with what we have been reading and
said it's turning around nicely. does he mean that? >> i don't think the president means that. the president was satisfy and he would lay off and let the investigation work and approach this from a position of confidence and let supporters of his deal with the political battles that always exist around the special counsel investigation. the president is concerned because these are really political matters even when you are dealing with a legal investigation that politically he will end up in a tough spot in the 2020 reelection. that's why he is trying to shape public opinion and shape the opinion of the mueller report before it has ever been issued. that's one of the reasons why most of the major leaks on what mueller is doing have come from the president's team in an effort to litigate these things so by the time in advance mueller issues his report, people will be looking the other way. with this president, there is
one issue or scandal or whatever word you want to use on top of another until it runs together. none of them get a full airing. that's the way the president likes it. >> perhaps trying to change the subject with yesterday's spontaneous announcement that his chief of staff would be heading out late or this year when reportedly a more formal announcement was going to be made tomorrow, monday. >> in fairness to the announcements, they tend to happen when reporters are catching him on the fly and he doesn't have a talking point. he's just telling the truth, which is a miracle. it is important to realize that part of the president's pr game in this is to try and delegitimize the inquiry so that that when house democrats take over, demanding documents that we know the administration will
be resistant to happened over and demand witnesses to the table. they can set this up as their own version of kind of a political inquiry, a political witch hunt. i think you are going to find democrats be very fact-based. very low emotion, but very methodical and how they start to investigate this administration. >> we will leave it there for now. good to see you all. thank you. >> take care. >> a new report about the relationship between jared kushner and the crown prince of saudi arabia and the contacts following the murder of jamal khashoggi. and later, growing pressure on the white house as the guilty pleas and the charges in the mueller probe mount. will republicans in congress continue to stand by the president? more on that straight ahead. what if numbers tell only half the story? at t. rowe price, hundreds of our experts go beyond the numbers to examine investment opportunities firsthand.
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a key player handled the fallout of the murder of jamal khashoggi. the president's senior adviser and son-in-law, jared kushner after he was accused of ordering jamal khashoggi's killing. the times said kushner offered mohammad bin salman, always known as mbs advice on how to weather the storm following jamal khashoggi's death. it goes on to say kushner and mbs were chatting privately and informally in the days after the murder despite white house protocol that national security staff be on all phone calls with foreign leaders. according to three former white house officials and two others briefed by the saudi royal court, i'm quoting now from the paper, the two men were on a first name basis, calling each other jared and mohamed in text messages and phone calls, end quote. kushner admitted he had contact with mbs when he talked to van
jones in october. >> what advice did you give mbs in this situation? >> just to be transparent. to be fully transparent. the world is watching and this is a very, very serious accusation and serious situation and to make sure you are transparent and to take this very seriously. >> in november, the cia concluded mbs, the crown prince personally ordered jamal khashoggi's killing. kushner continued to argue that saudi arabia is a key ally to the trump administration. let's bring in bob bayer. good to see you both. is the white house compromised with this kind of relationship? >> well, fred, it's worse than compromised. i find this outrageous that he would be on the phone with the man accused of killing jamal
khashoggi. weathering the storm, for me that transslagz i will help you cover this up. at this point in diplomatic communications, they should revert to the state department and there should be notes going back and forth written and an adviser should not be on the phone trying to comfort a man who probablyureded the murder of an american columnist. it's out ragious. >> is it doesn't appear though the relationship will change in any way. the president has always said that saudi arabia is important for really big deals. does this mean that saudi arabia gets to operate with impunity in the eyes of the white house? >> that's an important question and one that you are seeing opinions including lindsey graham trying to use congress's powers to impose some sort of consequences for what happened. i think bob is right that we
knew and have known from the beginning that jared kushner and mbs had this personal relationship and we saw it play out over the visits to the united states and the dinners. these are both men in their 30s who had peers from an age perspective and had the ability to forge of bonds of a relationship that would bear fruit on the foreign policy front. after jamal khashoggi's killing rveths the circumstances of that from a policy perspective have changed. the fact that several u.s. officials were willing to talk to the "new york times" about this and get the information out there tells you just how deep the concerns run inside the white house with the impending change in the chief of staff. i think we will see that this will be a new challenge for john kelly's successor. >> they are close in age.
mbs is around 33 and jared kushner is 37. when they have conversations, bob, are these grounds for counter intelligence investigation? if so, would it even happen under this administration? >> absolutely. we need a record of those conversations. did jared kushner encourage mohammad bin salman in any way? that's what diplomacy is about. congress should subpoena the conversation fist there is a record of them or at the least, the texts it. this is as bad as accusations about hillary and her e-mail having informal channels to a head of state who murdered an american. i have never seen this in american diplomacy ever. go back as far as you like. >> the white house seems to have already let the jeannie out of the bottle so to speak by throwing its arms around saudi arabia and saying that we will learn of this investigation even
before details from the cia report came. is there an indication that they would treat them differently? >> there is not. the president has staked out his preference for how to go forward. not only does he consider it essential for his approach to iran and the palestinian-israeli issue, but he just is not willing to go around the edges of this point. that doesn't have much to do with jared kushner, but as long as he remains in the white house, this is an important front for communications and one that if the saudi government is able to have a tab on it, the u.s. government not just the white house, but the intelligence agencies and the policy making agencies and the counsel want to have a full understanding of the
communications between that core, the president and his core inner circle and the leader such as mbs. that will be the challenge for the staff and perhaps a target for the democratic house majority coming in in january. >> bob, you have expressed how astounding this is in terms of things being played out. the son in law had a hard time with security clearances. add these layers on to that and where are you in terms of his role, his influence and what's next? >> fred, first of all, he doesn't know what he is doing with saudi arabia. what we need fast is an ambassador there in place and he should be the only one communicating with the saudi government. you simply cannot have amateurs playing around in foreign policy. it's going to lead to more disasters. it just will. if he's not wedged out of this position fast, i guarantee you
there will be more. >> all right, bob and margaret, good to see you both. >> you, too. >> complete silence from republican leadership as special counsel robert mueller's latest court filings edge closer to president trump. will gop lawmakers stay quiet and stand by the president if the probe intensifies? that's next. in america, the zip code you're born in can determine your future. the y helps fill the opportunity gap with education programs for all. for a better us, donate to your local y today. for a better us, ...and i found out that i'ma from the big toe lian. of that sexy italian boot! so this holiday season it's ancestrydna per tutti! order your kit now at ancestry.com
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guilty pleas and charges mount. a headline reads, siege warfare. republican anxiety spikes as trump faces growing legal and political perils. this follows revelations this week from mueller's court memos that president trump has been implicated in two crimes in the 2016 campaign. those filings say trump's former personal lawyer, michael cohen acted at trump's direction in an alleged hush money scheme. if they ring true, how will republicans respond? for that let's bring in commentator anna navarro and charlie dent. good tow see both of you. charlie, you first. democratic congressman jerry nadler who was slated to welcome chairman of the house judiciary committee said these accusations could be impeachable offenses, but whether they are important
enough remains to be seen. why does there appear to be so much silence from key republican leadership on the president being implicated and what should happen next if proven to be true? >> well, fredricka, what i think happened is many congressional republicans have made the calculation that it is safer for them politically to stand with the president. they are conditioned to be concerned about primaries, but i don't think this is a good long-term strategy. many republicans are in safe seats and barely won their elections. many others are not in such safe seats lost elections. maybe when the econ meep turns or maybe when this mueller bombshell drops, maybe some will turn, but in the short-term, they tend to stick with him. overtime, they will realize it's a perilous place to be. independents turned on him by 12
points. i have always been surprised that so many are willing to stand next to the president knowing his approval is so dismal and so many more shoes are about to drop. >> do you see this as damaging to the political leadership and the gop overall? damaging to america for this kind of stuff? >> all of the above. look, it's damaging to the gop. they paid a high price already. over 40 seats have been lost. maybe over 40 after the north carolina situation is resolved. governor seats and legislatures. they paid a high political price for silence and complicity with donald trump. i think they are scared and they should be scared. donald trump is a guy who has no qualms about coming after other republicans. he prefers to lose the seat to a democrat. for example, with mia love or carlos here in miami than to have a republican who dares speak up against him or confront
him. i also think there is the issue of avoiding talking about this as much as possible until they absolutely necessarily have to. until bob mueller comes out with all of his revelations and whatever he ends upcoming up with. i think they are procrastinating and avoiding and in happy silence as long as they can possibly be. >> here's what republican senator marco rubio said on outer band. >> it's about the country. it's about what our laws are and about the fact that no one should be above the law. from the beginning of all of this, what we deserve is the truth. no one is beneath the law. no one is not entitled to protecti protections, but no one is above it. we want to know everything that happened here and we will know everything at in point. those who are accused or potentially accused have another. we don't know what additional informs the justice department
has to corroborate some of this. they don't have to put that that? in the filings. my interest in all of this is for all the information to be out there so the court system can make judicial decisions and the american people can make political decisions and congress as well. >> do you agree with senator rubio and do you believe there are contingency plans that republicans are talking about now? >> if i heard senator rubio correctly, it's pretty clear to me that director mueller is likely to not indict the president, but he is going to take this big stink bomb of a report and dump it on kong's cos lap and say you deal with it. there are legal issues and certainly political issues and senator rubio and other republicans are going to be forced to deal with it and confront it. i don't believe that jerry nadler is necessarily the house
democrats will take up impeachment on a partisan basis. there may be reluctance to do that. they should only move if they see republicans stepping forward with them. >> so on mueller's filings that reveal campaign chairman paul manafort lied about five major things with communications with russia and the campaign. what does that tell you about and the revelation that manafort continued to talk to the white house even this year? >> i think we are all wanting to know who that person he was talking to in the white house continued to speak to in the white house is. how senior they were and what the relevance of those conversations are. when you take a look at what's happening with manafort and you take a look at what's happening with cohen, flynn, you keep thinking to yourself, donald trump is right. he does hire the best people. doesn't he? about what marco rubio said on that clip, i agree with him.
i think the prudent thing to do is wait for muler to come out without of his report, but the prudent thing to do would be for congress for the senate to move on the bipartisan bill that is in front of them that is sitting there without action being taken to protect mueller from unjust firing. they can avoid a huge headache for themselves if they take this step. they can send a very strong message to donald trump. we want to see the full report. we want this to come to conclusion by taking that simple step. i don't understand their unwillingness. cowardis. inability to confront donald trump. >> we will leave it there. anna navarro and charlie dent, good to see you both. from fox news to the united nations. heather nauert is president trump's pick to be the next un ambassador. is she the right fit for the job?
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today marco rubio who is on the foreign relations committee said he was holding off on supporting her nomination for now. >> i think she has been at the state department for almost two years and traveled extensively. i think she has the ability to do the job well which is to be america's advocate in this international forum. i will have to meet with her before i can answer that question. she has just been nominated. i don't know her well. i don't know much about her work. she has been the spokesperson at the state department and the things you are asking is does she have detailed knowledge in a level that allow her to be successful at the united nations. i don't know. >> bill richardson was the ambassador in the clinton administration. good to see you, ambassador? what is the criteria which is ambassador to the un. how were you assessed for that job?
>> you have to have foreign policy experience. she had a crash course as spokes woman. you have to learn intensively in dealing with the press to explain foreign policy. the one dealing i had with her on the rohingya issue, i thought she handled@least with me, very well. she reached out and i got a chance to talk to the secretary of state. the negative side, political stature, you have to have that political stature like nikki haley and other who is had the job to be effective at the un. you have to have a relationship with the president. i'm not sure she has that. she has a good relationship with the secretary of state, but i think the job has been diminished by not having a cabinet level the way it was when i was un ambassador. nikki haley. she will not be participating in the major foreign policy decisions that are taken up at
the white house. the policy side will be deminnished at the un. >> you are concerned about the diminishing of that role. >> when you are a cabinet level, you are almost an equal to the secretary of state, although you report to the secretary of state. the cia director and the secretary of defense. you are in those national security meetings. outside of un decisions. now that won't happen. so there is a danger that the job will be primarily advocating the existing foreign policy of the united states. i worry, too. we are hostile to the united nations. the president doesn't like globalism. she may find the un a bit hostile there. you want somebody that can maneuver intensively to advocate for u.s. interests. >> what are is the white house's
argument on how it is advantageous to diminish the role. >> they will say one, we are a country that pushes sovereignty. we are not involved globally. we are cutting the un. number two, where i think there is a real danger there is we need somebody strong at the un that is going to say to russia or china in the security council, don't beat this on syria or north carolina. that's where she has to have the strongest learning curve. she seems to be politically adept, but i worry that the diminishing of the job is not going to be in u.s. interest. >> before you get that job, you have to be confirmed by the senate. if she were to call upon you for advice on how to best prepare for a confirmation hearing for this job, give me a thumb nail sketch of how would you advise her on preparedness?
>> number one, be bipartisan. get to know some of the democrats on the foreign relations committee. they will be key. don't just be a republican spokes woman advocating for the existing policy. learn about the importance of the united nations and globalism and multilateralism. the un is a good institution on the whole that advocates and helps u.s. interest. 30, i would say do a crash course on those issues where you are intensively dealing at the un. north korea, syria and the plight of women. sexual abuse and endemic diseases. the rights of women and finding ways that we go after terrorists. after all, we have to build international support for our goals. be a good advocate for the un and say to the senate that you will be an advocate despite an
administration that doesn't seem to be very much in that direction. >> all right, bill richardson. always a pleasure. thank you so much. big shoes to fill. it's a tough job. two former employees at president trump's bed minster golf resort now say they worked there as undocumented immigrants. their story in their words straight ahead.
but a story first reported by the "new york times" says managers at his trump national golf club in new jersey knowingly hired illegal immigrants. the paper tracked down two women, one of them was a house keeper who says that she enter acted with the president and his family. cnn's polo sandoval spoke with those women. >> reporter: sandra diaz and victorino morales are the first to speak out about their experience working at a trump golf resort as undocumented women. as first reported by the "new york times" thursday, both were hired as housekeepers at the trump national golf club in bedminster. morales says she was hired in 2013. diaz says she worked there from 2010 through 2013 and has since become a legal permanent resident of the u.s. both claim managers employed by the trump organization knowingly hired them as undocumented
workers. diaz tells me her decision to go public was made in part because of what she calls a high level of hypocrisy. the president launches such hard line immigration rhetoric, says di diaz, yet his organization is doing complete opposite. a former colleague says she has additional reasons for speaking out. she alleges that she was au subjected to demeaning actions from sue peer -- her sue peer aror. she recalls being threatened with deportation. and diaz claims managers went as far as to get fraudulent documents to keep them employed. she was taken to an off site location after being hired and
it was there that she was provided with a bogus social security card and identification. the woman's attorney says that they are prepared to provide proof to authorities if an investigation into the trump organization's hiring practices is launched. >> absolutely, we have docume documentary evidence, we have the testimony of worker, we have the fraudulent document, all of this could be provided to federal or state authorities, both of my clients are willing to cooperate with federal and state authorities. >> reporter: in response to the claim, trump organization spokeswoman amanda miller says that we have tens of thousands of employees across our properties and have very district hiring practices. if any employee submitted false documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately. no public criminal or civil actions have been filed against the trump organization regarding the allegations from morales, diaz and two other women.
morales and diaz tell cnn they do not believe that donald trump was actually aware of the alleged illegal hiring practices and they even have fond memories of their early years working at the trump property. i was very proud to say that i worked there, says diaz. polo sandoval, cnn, new york. for us here at cnn and really everywhere, it is the most wonderful time of the year. and this time we are honoring some of the best humanity has to offer. cnn heros. there are ten extraordinary people who are doing extraordinary things around the world and we can't wait to see who gets top honor this year. join anderson cooper and kelly ripa as they announce the 2018 cnn hero of the year, that is live tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern. ...and i found out that i'm from the big toe of that sexy italian boot! so this holiday season it's ancestrydna per tutti!
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hello given. thanks so much for joining me in sunday. and we start with the looming russia cloud less than 48 hours after being implicated in two federal crimes, directing hush money payments to women after alleged affairs, president trump is resorting to his strategy ever distract and deny. the president is railing against former fbi director james comey accusing him without evidence of lying to congress. the tweets coming one day after president trump's surprising announcement that chief of staff john kelly will leave his post at the end of the year. an announcement that was supposed to come tomorrow. despite that, the russia cloud continues to hang over the white house with questions now being raised over whether a sitting president can be indicted. some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on this, in one is above t is -- no one is above the law. >> i disagree with the