tv CNN Right Now With Brianna Keilar CNN January 8, 2019 10:00am-11:01am PST
his base is on board as he goes up for reelection. >> this has been "inside politics." brianna keilar starts right now. i'm brianna k irielar live h "cnn right now." hours away from the president's prime time pitch to americans on his wall, this as his vice president pushes more misleading claims. plus the president's son-in-law making last-minute calls to lawmakers as concerns grow that some republicans are beginning to waiver. and another man turns up dead at the home of a democratic mega donor. two deaths in 18 months. cnn investigates. we begin with charges against the russian lawyer who met in trump tower with donald
trump jr. and others after promising to deliver dirt on hillary clinton during the campaign. federal prosecutors are charging natalia veselnitskaya with obstruction. it ties herself to the russian government, something she has minimized. sierra marie here now with details. what are these obstruction charges about, sierra? >> reporter: they are obstruction charges in connection with this money laundering case, but it's really interesting because it does once again highlight her ties to the russian government. let's step back and remind our viewers who natalia veselinskaya is. she was in that trump tower meeting in 2016 with members of the campaign who showed up to get dirt on hillary clinton. instead they met veselnitskaya
who wanted to talk about adoptions. she had said she had no connection with the russian government. later she revealed she was actually an informant. so this gets to the heart of her communications with the russian government. prosecutors say she can still see who she was in contact with and collaborated with the russian government in this case. in part of this latest filing, it says the russian prosecutor from a personal e-mail account sent to veselnitskay ara. that just shows the extent of their communication. she was asked if she was mounting a case and if that was obstruction. this is what she said. >> you said you never tried to dictate the case the russian prosecutor was giving. if you did and that's what these documents suggest, would that be an obstruction of justice?
if you were trying to dictate -- [ speaking foreign language ] >> you can see her there being upset about the possibility of obstruction of justice, the charge she now faces. cnn reached her again today. she refused to comment on these charges she's facing, and instead she told cnn she will defend my professional honor. she also said she was frustrated by the media coverage on her. brianna, in reality, she's not here in the united states. it's very unlikely she'll be taken into custody unless she decides to leave russia. >> michael zelman is here to discuss this. he was a former federal prosecutor and he was a special assistant of robert mueller at the department of justice. you heard her say she'll probably never see the inside of a courtroom, so why is this
significant? >> because if she leads russia through an int ee rrinterpol, ta notice that she could be arrested. you want to stay in russia the rest of your life assuming russian law never changes, so be it, but if you move outside russia, we're going to grab you. >> so robert mueller and the special counsel, this is not them, this is the southern district of new york, to be clear. but how would the special counsel be looking at this? what would the significance be? is this something that could have spun off from information they had? >> so it's an interesting case, which was a civil forfeiture action in new york, which was purchased by criminal proceeds from a crime in russia. sometimes it's mirroring the sealed case.
a case in the united states has an action against the use. veselnitskaya files a false declaration in the case. her role as a special prosecutor in russia shows that her activities were not that far a freelancer but was a coordinated effort on behalf of russia when she met with trump at the trump tower meeting. that's the connection. she is now heart and soul part of the russian government's apparatus as it reaches out to don jr. in the trump tower meeting on june 9. >> and she has tried to minimize that relationship. >> absolutely. >> thanks so much. now to politics and the president in prime time. president trump goes before the country tonight trying to convince americans that there is an immigration crisis along the southern border. he'll try to persuade them to back his border wall demands and likely blame democrats for the
partial government shutdown that is now into its third week. the president faces a credibility crisis, though, over misleading claims about immigration. vice president mike pence doesn't think that's a problem. >> when the president addresses the nation tonight, he'll be laying out the facts to the american people of what is a genuine humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. the time has come for the democrats to come to the table and start negotiating, not just to end the partial government shutdown but to address the humanitarian insecurity crisis. >> let's bring in cnn white house reporter sara westwood. sara, we're going to fact-check pence in just a moment, important to note, but first, more than half of americans, about 57% in a december poll, said they opposed the president's border wall. what's his strategy with this address tonight? >> reporter: well, brianna,
president trump clearly wants to be the one setting the terms of debate about border security as his arguments in favor of building that border wall have failed and left the partial government shutdown to 18 days now. and they express concerns that the border message just wasn't resonating with people, even after trump made several attempts to personally sell that message which was at the brief appearance at the podium last week in the rose garden. so far he hasn't been able to convince members of congress or most americans that the wall is necessary. sources say the idea of trump doing a prime time address have been floating around the west wing for about a week now. acting chief of staff mick mulvaney was a proponent of this idea. president trump expressed interest in doing this prime time address over the weekend during a staff retreat at camp david. we expect the president to use his speech tonight to cast the problem of illegal immigration
as a matter of national security. we've seen administration officials increasingly use the word crisis to describe what's going on at the southern border, and we've seen them use some misleading statistics to build their case as trump considers declaring a national emergency to get funding for his border wall, bypass congress if he's unable to do it legislatively. brianna, the speech tonight also comes two days before the president goes to the southern border, a trip he'll most likely use as a platform to reinforce tonight's message. >> sara westwood at the white house, appreciate that. the trump administration, as sarah noted, has been throwing around a lot of numbers while trying to justify the shutdown and their demand for more than 5 $5 billion for the president's wall. today it was the vice president's turn. >> nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were apprehended, attempting to come into the united states through various means in the last year. >> 3,000 special interest
individuals, people with suspicious backgrounds that may suggest terrorist connections were apprehended at our southern border. last year alone 17,000 individuals with criminal histories were apprehended at our southern border. >> let's bring in ryan nobles because this is an important fact check you're going to lead us through. tell us what was right and wrong about what the vice president said. >> it's important to keep in mind, brianna, that they are very focused on the southern border. but they're focused on this number, 4,000. they did mention in that quote that they come through various means in the last year. various means could mean a lot of different things when you're talking about people who are entering the united states that could be suspected of something related to terrorism. but when we're specifically talking about the southern border, this is what the customs and border protection has specifically said about what
they found there, roughly a dozen, that's 12, individuals on the terror watch list were encountered at the southern border. now, if we unpack that number even further, we find out that half were arrested by crossing the southern border illegally, the other half were actually prevented from getting in the united states by entering in 2018. if you go back to what the president said about terror organizations through mexico, the state department has pushed back on that quote. as you can see, it says, there are no known international terror organizations operating in mexico, and there is no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has ever traveled through mexico to gain access to the united states. none. no credible information whatsoever. so where are these 4,000 people
coming from? according to this dhs fact sheet, they said roughly 3,755 known or suspected terrorists tried entering the united states in 2017. keep in mind tonight's speech is going to be focused here on the southern border and potentially building a wall on the southern border. but the fact is, that number that is cite bid the department of homeland security, repeated by terrorists as late as this morning it talking to people coming through airports and other. so that's an important thing to keep in the back of your mind as you hear the president speak tonight. >> for a reasonable perspective on this, i want to welcome jeh johnson. he's the director of homeland security under president obama. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me on, brianna. >> you're one of only six people
to hold the job of security. what do you think? >> let me begin by saying this, and there is a big picture aspect that the american people should really be focused on. to the extent there is a security crisis on our southern border, it is, frankly, self-inflicted. because the very people we depend upon to secure our land, sea and air borders are the people we are requiring to work without pay right now, putting their families and themselves under all kinds of stress and anxiety about how they're going to make ends meet, because many of them do live paycheck to paycheck. they're part of homeland security and i used to lead that organization. so the longer the shutdown goes on, i'm concerned we'll reach a breaking point. we're hearing reports that tsa officers are calling in sick. if these people miss a paycheck
in my judgment, priority number one has to be opening up the government and start paying these people who perform these security functions. >> we have led the reporting of that ts ara should listen to th latest pilots union. they're worried about a security issue. the president has said this isn't real, there really isn't a threat caused by a sick out. if you were the homeland security looking at a sick out, at what level of security would you be in at this moment.
>> i w if we miss a pay period, and it looks increasingly to be the case, that more and more of our personnel are going to start calling in sick. how many different contacts are there? they all need to be paid. this is an untenable situation. you're talking about people who have starting salaries of 10, 18,000 a year. right now that's not happening. that is a very problematic situation and i think it's going to get increasingly worse. >> on the border, she said, the threat is real. the number of terror-watchlisted encountered at our southern border has increased over the last two years. the exact number is sensitive and details about these cases are extremely sensitive.
we heard about six trying to come through port of entry. she is making this case about these are many apprehended. >> first, i thought your fact check was pretty good. second, we refer to special interest aliens. they are not necessarily known or suspected terrorists. because of their movement, because of their origin and other things, they fall into the category of special interest aliens we encounter. then you have those on a terror watch list, and in my experience, and i'm sure this is still true, those who show up on a terror watch list tend to show up at airports. they're quickly turned around by our customs officials who, by the
the way, most of these people show up at airports, not our land borders. our land borders, without a doubt, are being flooded right now with people. there is a border problem because of the people of south america and that is my judgment. >> you said, i am concerned with what we refer to as the special interest alien that comes from the other hemisphere, the concern being that someone coming from another country -- not mexico, but a country where there is an attempted role, how real is that? >> we should be focused on
identifying special forces one way or another. i told my team we need to have an interagency approach pd for testimony of failing on airport. there is further slefgs done, a go straight to detention. then there is a number that is public. the numbers that actually reach that point are relatively small. which is why -- we need to focus on dealing with what's going on in the home laland right now, te who self-radicalize. >> the president is considering declaring a national emergency with what he says is a crisis. you actually disagree on the southern border.
>> i believe that to the accident tent anything has been citely. so -- but that authority is typically used for military defense, so i'm concerned this may be an effort to jam a square peg in a round hole. >> former r for being wuts today. >> millions of americans who depend on food stramps weeks away from losing them if the shutdown remember. they will be voting in one of the most vital electoral states. so which party will we go to in
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food stamps and nutrition for young kids in america. this is what a number of americans count on and this is part of the partial shutdown. this could be extended into february. many of those children could be left to go hungry. and renters in affordable housing could be facing eviction. we have lauren holland -- ellen
holland with us. this is a non-profit that advocates for recipients of low-income housing and also owns some profit-based low-income housing that provides non-profit housing for folks. >> that's correct. >> tell us how this works and why there is a problem with the funding, where the ushissue is. >> we're talking about project-based assistance, also known as section 8 based assistance. there are more than 100,000 homes served by this income. the average income is $12,000 per year, so very low income. predominantly elderly. the majority of the property has a resident who is elderly or disabled. the property is privately owned. so they are private owners that have agreed to work with the government to provide this
housing. under the way the program works, residents pay no more than 30% of their income for rent and then the federal government is supposed to make up the difference with rental assistance. the annual contracts that get renewed between hud and the owner every year. this is where we're p rrunning o a problem. >> some are up in january, some are up in february, whenever it began, right? >> we know that congress understands how important it is and has consistently provided full funding for project base rental assistance, but because of what's happened where we had a continuing resolution and then a government shutdown, for some reason the contracts are not being renewed for the month of january. we were told basically yesterday by hud. before the shutdown happened -- let me back up. this is a complicated program so i want to make sure you and your viewers understand it. before the shutdown, hud provided some assurances when it
looked like a shutdown might happen that they had the budget authority to renew contracts through the month of january, and that they would do everything they could to continue renewing them after that, although they may run into some problems in february. we were very alarmed by that. >> so that's the surprise, you just found out yesterday, actually, no, the january thing is not real. those are not going to be renewed. what does that mean for people who are depending on this housing? >> so all of a sudden, owners of 500 -- properties with 500 contracts, which we think is 30 to 40,000 residents who will be affected have found thout that their contracts will not be renewed in january and they have no resources coming from hud. if they have faa insurance, and many of them do, they can pull out funds from reserves, but
they may not get it. >> we're talking about elderly and disabled, but the reality is the rent is not going to get paid. they pay part of it but the majority gets paid by the government and the government is not paying. >> and the rents are tied to the market, so this is not a low rent. it's privately owned. it's tied to market rates. and these properties exist throughout the country in cities and in rural communities and in suburbs, so whatever the market rate swhat the rent need to be paid. whether they can continue services for the elderly and disabled that they currently provide and depending how long the shutdown drags on, whether they will be forced to raise rent on people who have, in many cases, a fixed income, and in all cases, a very low income.
>> ellen hoffman, thank you very much. we've been trying to highlight how this affects americans. >> thank you. breaking news, we're now hearing that paul manafort has a response to accusations by robert mueller's team that he lied to the special counsel. hear what he said. is boost® delicious boost® high protein nutritional drink has 20 grams of protein, along with 26 essential vitamins and minerals. boost® high protein. be up for life.
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campaign chairman paul manafort had responded to accusations that manafort lied to special counsel investigators. joining us now for more is shim shimon porkupez and michael zelman. >> the lawyers are saying they're not going to challenge because they believe he didn't lie, but they're at a point now where they're saying we're not going to challenge these assertions. essentially we'll see what the judge here does, but it seems this now becomes a moot point. the other thing they did go through is how -- the ways in which manafort has cooperated since he pleaded guilty, and they say that he handed over computers, e-mail accounts and passwords in this cooperation. so they do go into some detail
about some of the information that he's given the special counsel, but they essentially say, you know what, we're not going to challenge this at this point. >> michael, what sticks out to you here? >> what they are saying, in essence, as shimon says, if there were lies, they were unintentional lies. there was not a purposeful misleading of the prosecutors. there may have been honest mistakes of memory, and you, judge, could view all the record of evidence before you and make your own determination about it. if at the end of your review of all the information before you, you want to hear from us, you'll hear from us, but at this point this is like two people watching a car wreck with two points of view as to who caused it, and there is not a real lie at the heart of what is the matter here. >> do you believe that, that there is no lie at the heart of this? >> well -- >> would the special counsel have made this move if they felt there was just some unintentional mistake that was
made? >> no. if you asked me, do i think the special counsel believe they lied, the answer is absolutely yes. as you read this and you understand what the nature of the lies were about, you think, well, really? this is what he is going to lie about, his meetings with klimnik who he already admitted to having tampered with witnesses with respect to the payments of moneys, $125,000? when all of this stuff has been established on the record as something they know about? it seems to me that somewhere in between lies what really is going on here, which is manafort being less than fully candid and the government being pretty hard on what they expect to be truth telling. >> michael zeldin, shimon prokupecz, thank you very much. the president claims some of his advisers advised him to build a wall. the problem is they said, no, they didn't.
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he'll contend that the border is a security and humanitarian crisis. but his administration may undermine his message. joining me now is michigan democratic congressman and chief dan kilde. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> what do you think of the president being on prime time tonight? >> he's going to use the opportunity to try to make his case, something he hasn't been able to do so far. frankly, i don't think he's his own best spokesperson, because his word has really not been consistent on this question. >> house speaker nancy pelosi and minority leader chuck schumer are going to give a government response after this speech. i want to ask what you hear, but i also wonder when it comes to the messenger, would you want to see a fresh face? we've sign leen a lot of them i these discussions. would it have been a better idea to have maybe a border state member or lawmaker or someone who could really speak from a home state perspective on why
they feel this isn't a crisis? >> i think it's right those members are speaking up, but at this moment we need the leaders of the house and the senate to lay out in a clear fashion what we have done and what we are willing to do in order to get the government open, and then have a conversation about the need for border security immigration reform. our leadership can make it very clear what they're willing to put on the floor and what they already have put on the floor, and i think that will give the american people a pretty clear contrast between the chaos of donald trump and his daily change of mind and change of thought, and i think a real clear and consistent position that speaker pelosi and the senate leadership have taken. we passed the legislation, for example, that the senate already passed. if it was a good idea for the senate republicans three weeks ago to keep government open and settle this question on border security through direct conversation, why isn't that a good idea now? >> so you want to hear more from the top rather than, say, take an approach from the state of
the union that sometimes has fresh blood? that's the distinction? >> we're in a practical moment where we need to be able to know and the american people should know what we're able to put on the floor. >> jared kushner, who is president trump's son-in-law and his adviser, he has actually been working the phones. a source says he called at least one democratic senator really to say that public support is going to grow for the border wall after the president makes his case, because there is some concern that republicans could be caving or considering caving at some point, or at least wavering. what do you think about him making those calls? >> i think it's pretty dangerous that one of the president's chief advisers is more concerned about the perception of this whole case, of this whole argument, than the policy. we need to get the policy right. >> do you worry that some americans could swing in favor of the president tonight and say, he's made a good case for this? is that a real concern to you? >> not really. i think the american people are
pretty practical. what i hear from them in my hometown of flint and saginaw is, stop using a crisis of the government itself, a government shutdown, in order to solve another problem. people are sick of that. they elected new leadership in the house because they want to see us roll up their sleeves and actually legislate, so seeing the president essentially acting like a spoiled child and say, if i don't get my way -- forget the responsibilities in the house and the senate, if i don't get my way, i'm closing the government down for months or years, that's not what the american people want to see. >> i do want to talk about the planned withdrawal of u.s. troops from syria. president erdogan of turkey says the national security adviser, john bolton, who has made a visit to the region, that he made a mistake, a serious mistake, erdogan called it, when he said the u.s. would only withdraw from syria if turkey pledged not to attack kurdish
fighters. they are allies, the kurdish fighters, of the u.s. in the region helping to fight isis. turkey considers the kurds to be terrorists. what do you make of this? president erdogan saying it is not acceptable. what will that mean for the withdrawal of troops, do you think? >> it's another example of more chaos in the white house. it's not just chaos for entertainment purposes, this is really consequential. when a senior member of the president's national security team can't be trusted to articulate the policies of the president, i'm not suggesting that there bolton is wrong, what i am suggesting is that no one knows what the trump policies are because they seem to change from one day to the next. the concern, of course, is that foreign leaders can't take the word of an emissary of the united states, that they speak for the united states because the president will either forget
what he said, which i think is possibly what's going on here, or change his mind. >> do you think he just forgot what he said when he was talking about clearly an expeditious withdrawal of troops in syria? john bolton goes to the region. there are allies in the region concerned about what the president said. john bolton said actually it's going to go slower. do you think it's the president forgetting what he said? >> it's hard to figure out what's going on in donald trump's mind. so giving him the benefit of the mind, either he doesn't have a clue what he's doing, which is an argument one could make, or he changes his mind on a whim or he simply forgets. it does appear he's not a psychologically stable person from time to time. >> you will go out on a limb to say that. >> he frames a lot of people, myself included. >> thank you very much. %-p. another man found dead inside the home of a democratic mega donor. the second death in 18 months.
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. for the second time in just 18 months a man has been found dead inside the house of prominent democratic donor edward buck. buck is also known as a hollywood billionaire and a political activist and in the earlier incident it was a 26-year-old man who had died from a drug overdose. buck was present both times. stephanie is joining us from los angeles. what do we know about the man found dead yet? >> reporter: we don't know a
lot. we know he was a black man in his 50s. still not clear why he died or what was the cause of his death and as you said, ed buck was home both of these times and that's why some people are calling it suspicious at this point. just to compare and contrast a little bit what happened here. with moore who died, the 26-year-old who died in 2017, we do know that drug paraphernalia was found. we also know that that death was ruled accidental. buck was never charged in that. because this was happening again, the los angeles lgbt center is calling on the sheriff to do a full investigation to find out what happened here -- what is happening here but his lawyer says that this is a man who's part of this community in west hollywood here in los angeles and that he knows people who sometimes need help and who have problems with drugs and he's trying to help them get away from that. take a listen to what he said here earlier today. >> this is not a situation where mr. buck has caused the death.
this is a situation where mr. buck has had long time friends who unfortunately do not handle their life well. >> reporter: now, i just got off the phone with mr. buck's attorney and he did say that he does try to -- mr. buck tries to step in and help people in their time of need and tell them to stop doing drugs. he says, his lawyer is saying that he believes it will be proven that the man who most recently passed away in his apartment will have taken these drugs elsewhere. he believes it will be found to be an overdose but that part unclear at this time, brianna. >> are there critics who are questioning that account from the lawyer? >> reporter: there are critics who are questioning lots of this because of the fact that it is two black men found dead within 18 months. there are people out there protesting. one protester saying that if it had been a white, rich man who had been donating -- i'm sorry, a black man and two white men
had been found dead that there would be more investigations. some believing also because he is a democratic donor in the city of los angeles that he's using his influence to stop these investigations for going further. that is why people want to see a deeper dive into what's happening here. >> all right. stephanie elam, we know you will continue to follow this important case. thank you. just in, more fall out from the shutdown. we are just getting word that joshua tree is going to close. standby for details. >> tech: at safelite autoglass we know that when you're spending time with the grandkids every minute counts. and you don't have time for a cracked windshield. that's why we show you exactly when we'll be there. saving you time, so you can keep saving the world. >> kids: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪ these days we're all stressed.
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this is just in. in california, joshua tree national park is going to be closing starting thursday because of the partial government shutdown. the park service website says it is to allow staff to address sanitation issues, safety issues, also resource protection issues because since the shutdown, the park has not had enough staff to oversee the land. there's been about eight rangers for -- eight rangers for 800,000 acres and a spokesman telling "the l.a. times" about this that the way it looks right now because of resources or lack there yf, we have about eight rangers that oversee a large park. we will remained closed until appropriations are put into place to reopen. nofrlly in the case of a shutdown, you see the government decide to close national parks but a lot of them have remained opened. joshua tree will be closed now because they don't have the
resources. we've seen reports that visitors without rangers overseeing them have driven off road, that they've damaged the trees that give joshua tree its name. that is it for me. "newsroom" with brooke baldwin starts right now. hi, i'm brooke baldwin. you're watching cnn. fact checkers, eat your wheaties today. president trump and his loose relationship with the truth are going primetime. front and center, the now 18 day government shutdown, an issue president trump has campaigned on and is now trying to sell to you, the american people. clearly, crisis is this administration's new favorite word to describe what is happening at the border and why a wall they say is the best fix, but that is proven to be a tough sell for, one, the human impact of the shutdown