tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC October 30, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PDT
headquarters in new york. we are just minutes away from the white house press briefing. expecting the first on-camera statement in what has been the biggest day in the russia investigation so far. two former top campaign officials indicted, including former campaign chair paul manafort. what could potentially be an even more damage revelation, a former foreign policy campaign aide has been accused of lying to media to get dirt on hillary clinton. george papadopoulos has not become the first person to plead guilty in special counsel bob mueller's special investigation but the first tying ruche sha to the trump campaign. to be clear, this indictment does not state a case for collusion between russia and the campaign. let's start with nbc news justice correspondent, pete williams, and garrett haake is in washington, d.c. and chief white house correspondent hallie jackson joins us as well. pete, let's start with manafort and gates, the indictments there. what can you tell us?
>> they're basically charged with earning millions of dollars, $75 million at least in lobbying fees -- consulting fees they charge the government of ukraine, but the government says -- the u.s. government, mr. mueller's prosecutors say manafort and gates hid most of that from federal regulators and the tax man by putting it in offshore accounts. they say they did this so they wouldn't have to pay taxes on it, and so they wouldn't have to register as foreign agents. it also says that the justice department actually started investigating whether they had an improper relationship with ukraine, at least one they weren't reporting, as much as a year ago. they denied then doing any work inside the u.s., but the indictment says they were actually lobbying members of congress, trying to persuade them about sanctions against ukraine. you're looking at pictures this morning when they -- manafort left his house in that black
suv. he was not actually arrested by federal agents but worked out an agreement where he would turn himself into the fbi in downtown washington. he spent some time there. now is in the u.s. courthouse waiting for his hearing. that's a picture of mr. manafort inside that suv as he was driving away, pulling down the visor. that's him in the backseat. the charges say that they lied to the fbi about this work and about whether they were, in fact, lobbying for the government of ukraine. now, it's important to note, as i think we have, that this indictment doesn't say anything about the central task robert mueller faced at looking at whether anyone in the united states was helping russia influence the elections. it should be noted the president of ukraine that they were consulting for was very closely connected to vladimir putin. >> so, let's talk a little, too, about george papadopoulos. we just got this statement from his lawyer. it says it's in the best interest of our client not to comment at this point.
but is this essentially a cooperating witness? what do we know -- >> yes. >> -- about what he has now? >> he's in a very different category. remember, manafort and gates have simply been charged. they were indicted by a federal grand jury last friday. the indictment was placed under seal and made public this morning when they turned themselves in. george papadopoulos, by contrast, was actually arrested. we now know all this case was in secret. we now know he was arrested in july. that on october 5th he pleaded guilty. you'll see that this is basically the guts of the charge against him. he was a foreign policy adviser to the trump campaign. it says -- the wording on our graphic says complaint but this is actually not a complaint. this is a plea agreement. this is what he has admitted to. he says he was in touch with russians overseas who represented to him they had contacts with senior people in the russian government, who said they had dirt on hillary clinton about her e-mails and that they
made this promise to him before it was even known in the u.s. that the russians had hacked into the dnc system and had stolen some of her e-mails. so, it says that he denied twice to the fbi that he was in touch with these russians while he was an adviser to the trump campaign. it says, in fact, that he was an adviser to the campaign at the time he was in touch with these russians. they wanted to set up a meeting, according to the court documents, between the president -- between donald trump and the president of russia, vladimir putin, a meeting that never happened. >> and, hallie, even before these blockbuster developments, two indictments, one guilty plea, the president was already tweeting, but in real-time now, what's the latest reaction as we wait for sarah sanders to take to the podium? >> reporter: i think you're seeing it foreshad doed on the president's twitter account there, which is where we often get the instant reaction from him. so, as this news was breaking, specifically about these indictments against paul manafort and rick gates, who
people who are very familiar faces to anybody on the campaign trail, the president tweeted twice. he said, sorry, but this is years ago before paul manafort was part of the trump campaign but why aren't crooked hillary and the dems the focus? adding moments later, there is, all caps, no collusion. this should not be a surprise to see the president react to the special counsel probe in the past, given that he tries to frequently change the topic, turn the focus against his political opponents. in this case, hillary clinton. number two, he talked about that this is years ago, before paul manafort was part of the trump campaign. paul manafort joined the trump campaign at the end of march 2016. let me read you a quote from the indictment, which is from approximately 2006 through at least 2016. manafort and gates laundered the money, on the money laundering charge, through scores of united states and foreign corporations. what this says is there will be questions that sarah huckabee sanders will have to answer
about this today in the briefing room. again, i imagine what we've seen from the president is what she will be reflecting, this idea that the president is distancing himself from paul manafort and rick gates and potentially george papadopoulos. that is a significant plea agreement. and i expect we will hear the words hillary clinton and democrats probably more than once in this briefing. let me just talk about george papadopoulos, to, because that's a name that is likely far less familiar to people than paul manafort. papadopoulos was a young, foreign policy adviser. he worked for a very short period of time for ben carson's campaign, advising him there, shifted over to the trump campaign. and, in fact, is in this picture here with donald trump from the end of march, a picture that was posted, where else, on donald trump's twitter page. can you see papadopoulos in this shot sitting with now attorney general jeff sessions. why is jeff sessions in that shot? let's take a trip down memory lane. jeff sessions led the national security advisory board that papadopoulos sat on. that was announced in early march. think back to spring of 2016. one of the comments i heard from a source today who knows
papadopoulos was, yeah there was dearth of foreign policy advisers from the establishment, those who had more experience, because candidates -- a lot of republicans had snapped them all up already. people like rubio, jeb bush. perhaps that's how the trump team pulled on this sort of younger guy, this yoirng what he called adviser who talked a lot about energy -- >> he was 29 at the time? >> yeah. age is no prerequisite for a job. >> experience you might say in foreign policy might be something that a candidate who doesn't have any foreign policy experience might look for. >> reporter: and he talked about some of these projtsz he was working on. he said he was an energy consultant. when you look back at what he actually did, there was a question of just how much experience he had. this is, again, from a candidate who promised to hire the very best people. and so, i think that there is plenty of fodder for a discussion here in the briefing room in, what, eight minutes from now. >> yep. well, eight minutes plus, however long it takes sarah sanders to get her prep done. so, we will be watching for you,
hallie jackson. let me go to garrett haake outside the courthouse. will wha will happens there? >> reporter: this will be relatively short and sweet. we expect manafort and rick gates to appear in a courtroom in the second floor of the federal courthouse. they'll be in front of a judge for an initial appearance, which is really kind of a formality. the judge will review the charges in front of them, to make sure they have attorneys, they do. and they probably will not be asked to put in a plea. but the most interesting thing that will happen in this is the judge will set their terms for release here. after they've now been charged with these crimes. so, we'll see if mueller and his team want to play hard ball and ask for high bail or even that these people be held over until the next hearing. but more than likely we'll see some kind of bail term set, possibly being asked to surrender their passport, that kind of thing. that will be kind of the most interesting moving part that will happen in that hearing. and then we expect to hear from manafort's attorney who told
reporters he'll come out and address us here essentially on the courthouse steps when this wraps up. we'll get a little manafort's side of this equation in the short period of time after this hearing concludes. chris? >> thank you so much. i know you'll be reporting back to us when that all goes down. pete williams, hallie jackson, garrett haake, thanks to all. ari, and former acting director of the cia. barbara mcquaid is a former attorney in michigan and msnbc contributor. ari, i'm going to start with you. let's put both of these events together. as pete points out, these are very different things. two men under indictment. another one who has pled guilty. but when you look at them in total, what does it tell you about robert mueller's investigation? >> it tells you bob mueller is using a surprise strategy, that he had arrested someone in the summer and flipped them into a cooperating witness, providing information about kremlin
intermediaries offering dirt on hillary clinton and her e-mails. and no one knew anything about this. this was not the leak people who follow this stuff over the weekend, as you and i do, may be thinking, oh, what's going to happen? none of this was known. it raises other questions. are there other people who have been secretly arrested under seal, other people who have become cooperating witnesses at this moment and we would only find out about that weeks or months from now. this is very different from other investigations like ken starr who had a lot of leaks. famously he never indicted anyone in that case except his spokesman was indicted for illegal leaking and cleared of that, i should mention. big headline is the russia piece in the former adviser papadopoulos. the manafort stuff is wide-ranging and suggests a long-running criminal conspiracy about lying how he made his money, who he represented, including a oligarch and lying about the tax he evaded to the tune of $75 million moving through these offshore accounts. if none of that touches donald
trump, that news ultimately will not be as widespread significant as this russia news. >> could this, barbara, be just the beginning? how do you see this? is this the first step here in terms of paul manafort, for example? where do you see -- what does today tell you and what are the questions that you still have? >> i do think in is just the first step. i agree with ari the more significant case today we learned about are the charges against george papadopoulos. and i think the timing of unsealing both of these on the same day is no coincidence. >> why? >> mueller and his team are doing this very strategically. i think the papadopoulos document, if you look at it closely, identifies three trump campaign officials. they call them a senior campaign adviser, a high-level campaign official and the senior policy adviser. they don't name them because they're not prepared to identify them or charge them. but everybody in the campaign, i guarantee you, knows exactly who they are, including paul
manafort. this is a dog whistle to paul manafort, you better play ball or else we're ready to go forward on these three as well. >> you're nodding. >> yes, barbara is a prosecutor who understands intimately deeply how these cases are built. this is the beginning, not the end. when you have other people named who may have knowledge of activities, be they directly criminal or be they a cover-up and they become criminal not from the first instance, if there was no conspiracy with russia, but, rather, when you lie about it. this is a false statements charge, at we don't know what else mueller would have had on papadopoulos. i'm nodding because i think it's very legally interesting to have other people empimplicated but named in this freshly unsealed indictment. >> i want to read a portion of the doj statement concerning communications between papadopoulos and an unknown overseas professor, who was understood to have ties to the kremlin. quote, on or about april 30, 2016, defendant papadopoulos thanks the professor for his, quote, critical help in arranging a meeting between the
campaign and the russian government and remarked, it's history making if it happens. what does that say to you? >> you know, what that says to me, chris, i think really the important thing that jumps out is that what we learned about papadopoulos today is the second instance we have documented of the russian government reaching out to the trump campaign. because i think that ultimately came from someone officialed in russia through cutouts to papadopoulos. of course, the other one is the operation that the russians mounted when they sent the lawyer in to see donald trump jr. in june. that clearly was a russian intelligence operation with a minimal goal of trying to get compromising data on donald trump jr. >> from the way they operate, would that be usual? they're looking at many different possible ways. if the russians want to somehow get a foothold into the campaign, it would be maybe unusual for them to go down just
one track. >> absolutely. a rule of thumb in that business is, you know, throw everything up against the wall carefully and see what sticks. so these are two instances we have. it will not surprise me at all if we don't find -- if we find other instances like this. and there's another implication that occurred to me thinking about this today. for -- for president trump. and that is that if he wanted to fire mueller a week or two ago, it would have been difficult and it would have kicked up a controversy and a lot of dust but he might have got an way with it. i actually think he could not get away with it now. if he were to try to fire mueller, raise the question of whether that's an impeachable offense. >> so this marks no matter how you look at it in your mind, and as somebody who understands how these work, this marks for you a major point because it is
essentially -- as some people have put it, the end of the beginning. this is starting the next phase and the next phase starts to get really serious when you're talking about people facing prison. >> that's right. what was theoretical a couple days ago is now concrete and having worked with bob mueller, i just skimmed this indictment, but having had discussions with him in the past about his standard for evidence, the bar is very high. for him evidence amounts to very hard documentable information, understood the chain of custody, everything about it is airtight by the time he puts something down and calls it evidence so i think this is a turning point in the case. but as ari said, i would emphasize it's not the beginning of the end at all. it's the end of the beginning. i see this going on for a number of months. surely manafort's lawyers will
challenge this. surely they will burn up some time, unless manafort has agreed to cooperate and already made a deal. we don't know that yet. >> chris, i'm just curious, john, if he can speak to how these what he called cutouts work. how does that work if russia is sending those cutouts and does that create potential criminal exposure to any american, in this case trump aides, meeting up with their intermediaries? >> if not criminal exposure, it creates a problem politically for the campaign, i think. by a cutout i mean someone that the russians choose to put between the origin of the idea to approach the trump campaign and the actual approach. in other words, look at the donald trump jr. meeting, there were, i think by my account, about six different people in that line before the meeting actually occurred. that gives the russians what they would call plausible sdnability. for all those people in the
middle, they may or may not be aware of what is happening to them or what their role is. so they begin to expose themselves. ari, you're the lawyer so i would leave this definition to you, but from an intelligence officer's point of view, they begin to expose themselves to at least the beginnings of what amounts to treason when you start cooperating with a foreign power in some way. >> wow. >> i'm not a lawyer here. what i'm saying f you're in that chain somewhere, and ultimately it's judged that what you've done has contributed to damaging situation for the united states, and i have to emphasize, i think we're far from being able to conclude that legally, that's how treason begins. that's how it begins. i want to make clear i'm not accusing anyone of treason here. >> right. but when you -- actually, when you go through it and you think about what some of the things are that people will latch onto, for example, one of the things
will be the deep dive that you see in this about the ways in which paul manafort spent this money that he allegedly made through this. i mean, it's $12 million, they're saying n offshore funds to pay for almost $5.5 million in home improvements in the hamptons. he spent almost $1 million on an antique -- in an antique rug store. $849,000 plus on six years in a clothing store. all of that, again, is good fodder for talking points. but if you could pick up on what the potential here is on what former director -- the former director was saying about the possibility of where this might be going, do you see possibly -- again, we're a long way from that looking at these documents, but do you see there could be something as serious as treason? >> no, i think treason, if you really look at the statute itself, requires we be involved in some armed conflict with
enemy and providing aid and comfort to the enemy. i don't know we'd be able to charge that, per se, treasonesque, colluding with adversaries for political gain, i think that's a significant problem. in terms of what statutes might be charged, conspiracy against the united states to interfere with the fair elections, i think that could be a potential charge. violating campaign finance laws, that could be a potential charge. i think there are still legal problems with engaging in this behave. the allegations against paul manafort right now and his colleague, rick gates, appear to be unrelated to russian interference with the election. they are very significant, as you point out, the money laundering statute brings with it a potential 20-year sentence. almost most defendants don't get that much, it is usually based on the amount of money. it's $75 million. i think the criminal exposure is very, very high.
i think no coincidence they're unsealing the papadopoulos charge on the same day to give manafort that strong hint that the way for you to reduce any potential exposure you have is cooperating at this stage. >> you're not in the business of making bets here, you're a lawyer, ari, but what cow think the chances are there are already ongoing talks between the mueller team and manafort about, hey, let's work this out? >> i can't say. what i can say is we know they made it very clear he was a target before this so there was at least one implied before the indictment. are there further off-ramps? i think barbara is explaining very clearly how you don't send your best case first with nothing else to do. you send your best case and you may be saying to manafort, we have even more, this is going to be very difficult, we'll get more cooperation. paul manafort may know a lot of things on the campaign but he
also knows they're not done with the interviews. he's already under the bus. are people going to push him further under the bus since they know he'll be taking the fall. it can get a lot worse for him. we can say that as a matter of circumstance. we're here living this, reporting this -- >> in real time. >> in real time. we always say all these individuals are innocent until proven guilty. >> absolutely. >> there's a legal process in this country. sitting here listening to a former prosecutor in barbara and former cia official in john, and think about what we just discussed in a few moments, the nature of treasonese behavior if you're too close to a cutout from an adversary, $75 million off the books that links back to putin oligarch and those aligned with putin and this admission, this confession, undisputed from a trump official talkinging about kremlin offers for secret clinton e-mail dirt at a time when no one knew was happening because the e-mails hadn't leaked.
that's within a few minutes of reporting this out. there's so much here. >> barbara, when we hear from sarah sanders, let's just take the politics out of it. let's take the reality of it. i understand we already heard this, as hallie pointed out, we got an early indication from the president on what they'll say, this is a long time ago, before he came to work on the campaign. they're essentially saying there's no there there. this has nothing to do with the chous. the president put in all caps, there is no collusion. there is not a direct tie right now, that's not to say that's not where it's going? >> he's completely ignoring the papadopoulos charges which do talk about efforts to collude with the russians. the manafort charges, he is right at the moment don't relate at all to the trump campaign. the significance of them is that it gives robert mueller some leverage to negotiate
cooperation from paul manafort, who i think is a person likely to have a lot of valuable information. even if he wasn't willing to cooperate preindictment, once you see that indictment and the possibility, as ari said of more crime charges to come, i think he might be rethinking his position about whether he ought to cooperated. i think president trump's tweets only address a very small part of the story. the more significant part are these charges against papadopoulos, which absolutely refer to russian collusion. >> barbara, john, ari, i want to thank all of you. we want to talk about who manafort and gates are. i'm joined by cynthia mcfadden, richard engel joins us and rick, "new york times" reporter and msnbc contributor. cynthia, let me start with you because you studied manafort's history as a political heavyweight on domestic and global stages. what can you tell people we
already didn't know from watching him say on the sunday shows? >> it's interesting because when you look back at his early life, his -- he sort of was born into politics. his father, a three-time mayor of the town he grew up in, new briton, connecticut. his first job out of law school was working for the white house for jerry ford's white house. he then campaigned for ronald reagan. we have some wonderful video on a piece we'll do on "nightly" tonight with ronald reagan saying, you know, let's make america great again. but soon after he started a company. after ronald reagan became president, he did something along with roger stone and lee atwater and others that wasn't considered kosher in the '80s. he learned how to profit to be a gatekeep toert reagan administration. he was known as the torcher's representative. he represented all kinds of bad folks all over the world. and he did it in a way that made him a lot of money. we at least now know, a lot of that money was hidden. i want to add to this whole
notion that this may be in part leverage. >> putting your hat on as a lawyer, yeah. >> remember, you know, some of -- these are not jay walking charges. some of these charges can carry up to 20 years in prison. so, this is certainly gotten mr. manafort's attention and mr. gates' attention. if they know something, that would help bring this to the white house, i think we can be pretty certain there may be some negotiations going on. >> while this is not a case when you look at each individual count, maybe one carries a possible of 20, one 10, you don't start adding them up. we're still looking at the potential of something incredibly serious and long-term. >> absolutely. >> i want to go to richard now, because i know you've been following manafort's business trail. you first discovered he had those much stronger financial ties to a russian oligarch than previously reported. what can you tell us about that, richard? >> as cynthia was just saying, manafort had this lobbying firm/consulting firm where he would travel around the world
and he would help his clients with their own personal campaigns. a lot of unsavory characters and help them with their public image in the united states. one of his main clients, probably his biggest client in the later years was the so-called party of regions, the party of the ukraine kran president, then ukrainian president yanukovych. this was a pro-russian party. manafort was key, officials told us, in helping yanukovych get elected to become president of the country. so, right there there's an interesting russian connection in that he's working for this pro-putin can dashgts helps the pro-putin candidate get elected in ukraine and is getting tens of millions of dollars, which are described today in this indictment. so, how did he get the money? if you look through the indictment, it's listed that this money, tens of millions of
dollars for doing work to help a pro-putin candidate in ukraine was funneled through a network, a quite opaque network of cypress-based companies. >> this is a theme here, the cypress connection. >> that's what we've been focusing on. i think cypress is key to understanding this. cypress has long had a reputation as a way station for russian money to go in and out of russia. manafort set up a network of companies there. he was using this network to buy all the things you were just describing, home improvements, even to pay a housekeeper, to buy some real estate. this same network he set up, we've shown, was the same network that was used for about $60 billion -- $null60 million, excuse me, with one of the
leading russian oligarchs and has been considered one of the top three, four, five officials who are closest or oligarchs closest to vladimir putin. so, it wasn't just that he was moving money through cypress. he was using a network to move money that was the same network that he was using to get tens of millions of dollars mostly in loans from oleg daraposka. >> i want to talk about rick gates because you interviewed him in june. what can you tell us about his role here? >> basically, rick gates followed in the place of the paul manafort to do work and do business. he was number two, the guy who did the operations, who rented the offices, who bought the plane tickets, who got the allies organized on the ground. so, he was involved in everything that paul manafort was involved in. when we spoke to him over the
summer, mr. gates was pretty firm that these offshore entities were used for legal purposes. in his telling, the offshore entities in cypress were actually set up at the behest of their clients in eastern europe who preferred to use the banks in cypress. of course, as we're saying before, you know, it's also a popular tax haven and way station for russian money. so, it will be very interesting to see what happens here. also to point out with gates, it's really important here. you know, after manafort was pushed out of the campaign, gates stayed on. he remained involved in the campaign. he helped with the rnc negotiationses. he helped organize the convention. he helped organize the inaugu l inaugural. after that he went to work briefly at the super pac, the outside group backing president trump's agenda. he was around for a lot longer, which actually moves the scope of the influence here up along the timeline quite a bit.
in fact, into the trump presidency a bit. >> yeah, he actually was the liaison between the campaign and the rnc. those ties kept going. when you think about this, and it's interesting to me, cynthia, when richard uses the word opaque and you hear about these different companies in cypress, it all sounds so very complicated, but it does take you back to the beginning of this when bob mueller was setting up his team and there was a lot of talk about the kind of lawyers he was bringing in who had experience in incredibly complex financial transactions. a lot of this had started before he actually was named the special prosecutor. but he has a team clearly that was designed to do exactly what it seems to have done, which is follow the money. >> exactly. the building blocks are here. you know, it's very interesting, as you suggest, this investigation we now know from the indictments began in september of 2016. that was right after paul manafort was forced to step down
after revelations in "the new york times" about all these cash payments that he received for work in the ukraine. so, that, no doubt, brought prosecutors attention long before mueller was appointed as special prosecutor. >> we're still waiting, and i want to get your take on this from your legal perspective, paul manafort and gates are going to be in court. one of the things we're looking for, because not a lot is going to be said and done there, is will they get a bail? obviously, in particular, paul manafort is a person of significant means. but do you see any circumstances in which they don't walk out of there? >> no, i think they probably will. i think they'll be told to turn over their passports, though. they want to make sure they're around to talk to. >> i want to go back f i can, richard, to the russian oligarch oleg darapaski who did respond to you after your piece was published. what do we know what happened
between that time and now and him and what -- any action or comments, if any, he has made. >> actually we reached out to him numerous times and haven't gotten much from him. we received comments from manafort's people and we received documents that can prove that some of this money, millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars came from oleg but he has not been saying very much. we're seeing a money trail from pro-russian interest, the party of regions in ukraine, this pro-putin group went through these accounts in cypress, this opaque network and ended up buying things in the united states. real estate with gardening, landscaping, lots of different things in the united states. you also have to look at the actual trail itself. that's the part in cypress.
you have to see not just how the money -- where the money went from this pro-russian interest to ending up at the landscaping and real estate, but how did it move. that network was the same network that manafort used to get tens of millions of dollars from oleg daraposka. we've been able to prove that through looking at different banking records, different forms that were filed internationally. russia, russian oligarchs and putin aren't mentioned in this indictment. this indictment is quite technical. it shows where the money came from, how it was moved and where specifically it went in the united states. you see a trail of money there. we can say the same trail was the trail that was used to move tens of millions of dollars from this particular russian oligarch. >> we just got the two-minute warning at the white house. i want to go quickly, first of
all, to the courthouse, which is where msnbc correspondent garrett haake is standing by. we believe, i assume, manafort has appeared at his arraignment hearing? >> reporter: not yet, chris. our producer inside is still working their way through the line to get in. we've seen his attorneys in the courtroom but not yet mr. manafort or gates themselves. >> sarah sanders is coming to the podium. >> a topic all of you are preparing to ask me about and that's tax reform. a couple of you got it. the initial house tax reform bill will be introduced on wednesday by the ways and means committee. this is the product of months of work and now going through an open process in the house. the committee plans to mark up the bill next week starting on monday. the house is likely to consider the bill -- the bill week november 13th. in order to stay on pace, we to
want see a house bill passed by thanksgiving. this is very aggressive timeline but one that will help us get tax cuts this year so families and businesses can plan for 2018. we look forward to the details of the tax bill being released on wednesday but today i want to take a step back and explain what we're working to do using an anecdote we can all understand. this story has been floating around the internet for a while. it's important to keep in mind that the numbers are not exact. i'm also not encouraging any drinking. so, file that away. it's mostly for my parents. i think you'll enjoy it. suppose every day ten people for our purposes, we'll say reporters, go out for beer. the bill for all ten comes to $100. if these ten reporters paid their tab every night the way we pay our taxes, would go something like this. the first four, the poorest, would pay nothing. the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh would pay $7, the eighth would pay $12, the ninth would pay
$18, the tenth, the richest, would pay $59. so, that's what they decided to do. the ten reporters drink in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the bar owner threw them a curveball. since you're all such good customers, he said, i'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. drinks for the ten reporters would now cost just $80. the group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. so the first four were unaffected. they would still drik for free. what about the other six? how could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get their fair share? these are the reporters, after all, so they're concerned with fairness. they realize that $20 divided by six is $3.33. but if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth reporter and the sixth reporter, would each end up being paid to drink beer. so, the bar owner suggested it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was.
by doing that he explained, they continue following the principle of the tax system they'd been using. he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should pay now. so, the fifth reporter, like the first four, now paid nothing. he got a 100% savings. the sixth now paid $2 instead of $3, a 33% savings. the seventh now paid $5 instead of $7, a 28% savings. the eighth now paid $9 instead of $12, a 25% saving. the ninth now paid $14 instead of $18, which was a 22% saving. the tenth now paid $49 instead of $59, a 16% saving. so, each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free. once outside the bar the reporters began to compare their savings. i only got $1 out of the $20 saving, dpee clard the sixth reporter. she point to the tenth reporter, he got $10. yes, that's right, exclaimed the fifth reporter. only saved $1, too. it's unfair he received ten
times more benefit than me. that's true, shouted the seventh reporter. why should he get $10 back when i only got $2? the wealthy gets all the breaks. wait a minute, yelled the first four reporters in unison, we didn't get anything at all. this new tax system exploits the poor. the nine reporters yelled at the tenth and made him feel bad. so, the next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks and the nine sat down and had their beers without him. when it came time to pay the bill they discovered something important. they no longer had enough money between them all to even cover half of the bill. that, ladies and gentlemen s how our tax system works. the people who already paid the highest taxes will naturally benefit from a tax reduction but not the largest percent benefit. taxing them too much attack them and they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. this is a silly story, of course, but it illustrates some very important points. our tax cuts and reforms will create a fairer system that works better for everyone. and it will make our country the friendliest in the world for american families trying to
build a better life for themselves and their children. and for american companies with a competitive edge. i'll be happy to get that story to everybody so you can get those numbers later. again, i know that that may be an oversimplification but i think it paints a very good picture of the tax system. with that, i'll take your questions. >> reporter: first i'd like to get the white house reaction to the indictment with gates and manafort, and papadopoulos. we've heard a couple tweets from the president. if you can help me understand when he says, whi aren't crooked hillary and the dems the focus is he saying special counsel mueller should be investigating hillary clinton and the democrats? and is he going to rule out, once and for all, firing robert mueller? >> i'll address the second question first. the president said last week, i believe it was last week, and i've said several times before, there's no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel.
but, look, today's announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president's campaign or campaign activity. the real collusion scandal, as we've said several times before, has everything to do with the clinton campaign, fusion gps and russia. there's clear evidence of the clinton campaign colluding with russian intelligence to spread disinformation and smear the president, to influence the election. we've been saying since day one there's been no evidence of trump/russia collusion and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all. >> but george papadopoulos, it is specifically about the campaign. >> it has nothing to do with the activities of the campaign. it has to do with his failure to tell the truth. that doesn't have anything to do with the campaign or campaign's activities. >> it isn't clear of evidence yet of ties between the trump campaign and russian official simploos there are no activities or official capacity in which the trump campaign was engaged in any of these activities. most of them took place well before the campaign even ever existed. >> can you just explain what
george papadopoulos's role with the campaign was? >> it was extremely limited. it was a volunteer position. again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard. >> what about the outreach he made to campaign officials to try to put together this -- >> you mean the outreach that was repeatedly denied and -- >> well, that's what i meant. >> we're not going to take any action on that. >> can you explain what happened with his outreach? >> he reached out and nothing happened beyond that, which i think shows, one, his level of importance in the campaign and, two, shows what little role he had within coordinating anything officially for the campaign. >> thanks a lot. i wanted to ask about mr. mueller's investigation. the president at times has called it a hoax and a witch hunt. you've used similar type of language as it relates to his investigation. last week you indicated, sarah, that you believe that
mr. mueller is wrapping up his investigation. and i've heard similar things coming from other senior administration officials. do you still believe mr. mueller is in the process of wrapping up his investigation? >> we still expect this to conclude soon, yes. >> paul manafort was in the president's campaign at one time. i would lij to know what the president's relationship is with him now? do they still talk? when was the last time they might have had contact. >> as far as we can tell, we know they haven't spoken in several months. the last known conversation was back all the way to february. as far as anything beyond that, with paul, i'm not sure of any other contact. [ inaudible ] >> i know there was some initial contact after the president was sworn in with him at meetings at the white house but nothing directly with the president. debora? >> yes, shu shg, thank you.
according to the indictment, george papadopoulos attended a foreign policy meeting, the president was there. he said that he talked about how he -- that russia wanted to talk to the president. what did the president think when he said he wanted to arrange a meeting between trump and putin? how did others in the campaign react to that? >> i'm not sure the president recalls specific details of the meeting. again, it was a brief meeting that took place quite some time ago. it was the one time that group ever met. beyond that i don't have anything to add. >> thank you, sarah. as you mentioned, mr. manafort, mr. gates were named in this as not having anything to do with the campaign, but with alleged money laundering regard aring other business. now, under those circumstances, would the president consider or rule out pardoning either of them? >> i haven't had any considerations with him about that. i think we should let the process play through before we start looking at those steps.
>> papadopoulos at this time was working -- was reporting to jeff sessions at the time, who was overseeing trump's foreign add adviser committee. what does this mean for snegsz. >> someone on a volunteer committee, i'm not sure how that would impact the attorney general directly. >> can you say, given what we have learned over the last few hours, can you say when the president was first aware that russia was behind the hacking and was in possession of e-mails, what they considered to be damaging e-mails about the clinton campaign, that they were trying to get to -- to the trump campaign? when was he first aware of that? >> i'm not sure of the specific date of when that took place. so, i'd have to look and get back to you. >> sarah, does the president regret having had -- having hired paul manafort to be his campaign manager? and is he and the rest of the white house concerned this will
take away from tax policy -- >> we're not worried about it distracking because it doesn't have anything to do with us. it this action that took place outside of the campaign or campaign activity. >> does he have regrets to having hired him -- >> i didn't ask him that question specifically. >> how can you describe mr. papadopoulos as having a limited role when there's a photograph of mr. papadopoulos sitting at a table with -- >> the president has thousands of photographs with millions of people, so -- >> and he was also cited by "the washington post" as who his top foreign policy advisers are. that seems to fight against what you're saying. also, how is it not collusion when george papadopoulos is in contact with various people who are promising dirt on hillary clinton, a series of events that closely mirrors what occurred with the president's own son? >> this individual was on a -- >> talking with russians in pursuit of information that was damaging about the clintons. how is all of that not
collusion? >> look, this individual was the member of a volunteer advisory council that met one time over the course of a year. and he was part of a list that was read out in "the washington post." i'd hardly call that some sort of regular adviser or as you want to push that he's like a senior member of the staff. he was not paid by the campaign. he was a volunteer on, again, a council that met once. >> activity, sarah, he was pursuing information -- >> i think, again, he was a volunteer. i think that's and you need to ask him. i'm not here to speak on behalf of the thousands of people that may have volunteered on the campaign. >> i -- believe it or not i have a question on this and also on tax reform. the president has called on congress to investigate hillary clinton. is he confident that they will do that? >> i think that's a question you have to ask congress. but i think there are enough reports and enough information out there that seems to suggest it might not be a bad idea. >> any congressional leaders of
committees -- >> i don't know if he's had a member of congress specifically tell him that they're planning that. >> my question about tax reform. where does the president stand on the idea of phasing in the corporate tax cut so it would reach 20% some time around 2022? >> i think the president's been clear that his priority is to make sure that's where we start with the tax plan currently. i think, again, he's laid out what his principles are. as of right now that hasn't changed and don't anticipate it will. major? >> the terminology, sarah. when you say george papadopoulos had no official capacity, what do you mean by that? >> meaning a volunteer on the campaign and a volunteer member of an advisory council that met one time. >> so, his activities were entirely of his invention, no one asked him to do any of these things, is that what you're telling the american public? >> i'm telling you that he was a volunteer member of an advisory council that literally met one time. >> the reason i ask, because there are two episodes in which
people associated with the campaign, at lease one incident and george papadopoulos is a member of a foreign policy or military advisory committee sought dirt on hillary clinton from people representing themselves as either linked to or associated with the russian government. is that just a coincidence? >> the only interaction i'm aware of that deals with this individual was him reaching out and being repeatedly denied. so, that's all i can tell you, is he was -- he asked to do things. he was basically pushed back or not responded to in any way. so, any actions that he took would have been on his own and you'd have to ask him about those because i can't answer -- >> later activities -- that same kind of meeting at trump tower? >> i'm sorry? >> what explains the campaign's later involvement with those associated with the russian government or said they were to get dirt on hillary clinton later in the campaign? >> they took one meeting. nothing came of it. no, i don't believe so. >> that does not indicate a pattern, trying to obtain that information -- >> a pattern of getting information about your opponent?
no. the big difference here is you have a meeting that took place versus millions of dollars being sent to create fake information to actually influence the election. you compare those two, those are apples and oranges. what the clinton campaign did, what the dnc did was actually exchange money. necessity took a meeting. those are far different. and one is pretty common practice in any campaign to take a meeting. the other one is actually paying money for false information. that's a big deal and a big difference. >> thanks, sarah. i have two questions. first, if i could follow up on your comment about the gps dossier. this is an issue many senior level administration officials have pointed to during these questions about the special counsel. has the white house asked the department of justice to look into this issue? >> not that i'm aware of. >> have you spoken with the president today? >> yes, i have. >> can you give us a little about his reaction to the news this morning? obviously, news that swept the nation's capitol. but how did the president respond to this news about two people who did work for his campaign? was he disappointed that paul
manafort received this news today that he was being charged on these 12 counts? >> he responded the way the rest of us in the white house have. that's without a lot of reaction because it doesn't have anything to do with us. >> we are talking about about t the most senior members of the campaign through a pivotal time. who are now under federal indictment. >> for something they did outside of the campaign. >> they did allege ldsly conduct during their campaign 37 doesn't it speak to the president's judgment that he would choose to have these two people in high appointments -- >> these were seasoned operatives. you make it sound like they were regular offenders that have been in massive amounts of trouble. these are season ed operatives. paul manafort was brought in to run the campaign and was dismissed not too long after that. >> he has no regrets?
>> i did not ask him that specifically. >> what leads you to believe the mueller campaign could end soon? and also, welfare reform, the president talked about this a couple weeks ago, i'm trying to find out what is the focus, how do you plan to implement well fare reform. >> we haven't made my specific announcements when it comes so welfare reform, those are on going conversations, and we're looking at ways to improve the system, but not specific to roll out at this time. >> what leads you to believe that this will conclude the mueller investigation. have you been given a heads up, what? >> those are the indications that we have at this time, i can't go any further than that. >> indications from whom and where? >> indications from where? >> as i said, i can't go anywhere further. >> you don't believe there will be any more zimts at all? >> that's a question you have to ask robert mueller? >> it's going to be concludes soon? >> i still attend that i believe
it will be concluded soon. beyond that, i don't have anything else to add on a specific time frame. >> sarah, in march, the president called george papadopoulos an excellent guy. >> he was referring to the counsel, he was going through the list of names with the washington post, nothing more than that, complimentary on behalf of the people that were volunteering on behalf of the campaign. >> a supervisor told him, i would encourage you to make the trip to russia. how does that not constitute the campaign encouraging him to make contact -- >> i'm not aware of that conversation, so i can't speak to that. >> at the end of the day, is there any concern at all from this administration, trying to drill down -- that two people who worked for the president are now under indictment, one has pleaded guilty, and he promised
to hire only the best people? is this an example of the best people to hire? >> this goes back to, these were ago stivties that took place outside the scope of the campaign. i can't comment on anything they did -- >> the president hired paul manafort, to handle the delegate process, which he did, and he was dismissed not too long after that. >> sarah, last week the administration opposed the federal judge's decision that forbid a teen to have an abortion. she's had an abortion. does it set a dangerous press den the going-forward? >> i can't comment on the specifics of that at this point. >> i'd like to ask you about a different topic, just breaking before the briefing, the court banned the president from changing military policy on service from transgender people. what is the reaction from the white house? >> this is something just
announced, the department of justice has it, they're revi reviewing it, i'll refer them to any specific questions. >> congressman gowdy suggested in weekend there should be an investigation into the leaks of the grand jury investigation. robert mueller's investigation. >> do you think there should be an investigation. >> we haven't asked for that investigation to take place. any time there is leaking of sensitive information, it should be looked into, beyond that we don't have any comment. >> does the president hold kushner responsible for hiring paul manafort? >> not that i'm aware of, no. >> does this not raise questions about president trump's vetting process? >> i don't believe so. >> the president said the investigation for the president council stayed within the
confines of russian meddling. does he believe bob mueller overstepped the boundaries of this investigation? >> i haven't spoken with him specifically about that detail. >> my second question regarding the plea agreement with george papadopoulos, you indicated the president did not remember that march 31st meeting with photograph? >> no, i said he didn't remember the meeting? he didn't remember the comments. >> did he remember anything about that meeting, given that he's talked about his great memory? >> i don't believe he went into detail about the meeting itself. he remembers the meeting taking place, but we didn't go into anything beyond that. >> did they have interaction? >> not that i'm aware of. >> gallup just came out with a 33% approval rating for the president. what's your reaction, is the president aware of this? any plans of changing anything? >> we're focused on pushing forward on a very bold agenda, specific to tax reform, tax cuts.
i think that the economy continuing to grow and strengthen is something that will certainly change those numbers. at the same time, i think these are some of the same polls that said, this president would never be president. i don't have a lot of confidence in them. >> sarah, do you have any -- can you please clarify your answer, that the stock market is moving downwards on this news that possibly the corporate rate could be phased in over several years? >> i wasn't sure if you were trying to make the point that the president would be for a phase in or against a phase in? >> no, i said that the president laid out his principles, it doesn't include the phasing in, we're still committed to that moving forward. >> i don't have any reason to believe we have changes on that at this point. >> the red line of the 20%. >> i'm not drawing a red line, i'm saying those are the principles we have laid out and we haven't adjusted since this process started. >> thanks so much, guys, have a good day. >> and so sarah sanders cuts her
briefing off after really what was more or less just 15 minutes or less of answering questions. she started out with a somewhat convoluted story about fairness and taxes. but let's talk a little bit about the things she did say. george papadopoulos, who has plead guilty to lying about meeting he had, and conversations with russians during his time -- she emphasized as a volunteer advisory position. the picture was with jeff sessions and the president. now, i'm told we'll come back to the briefing. let's go to the courthouse in washington. that's where garrek is standing by. was there a plea? >> reporter: i'm going to be brief. paul manafort and rick gates plead not guilty to these dozen
charges unsealed in this indictment today. beyond that, i don't know much, it appears this hearing is ongoing. i'm getting little bits of information as it comes out, i'll pop back up as soon as i know more. >> give us the high sign so we can learn more about that, and the briefing just ended. most of the questions were about exactly what happened and what the white house response is to these two indictments. and the one guilty plea. let me go to kristen welker, who you heard asking questions there. >> i was talking about the way she is trying to frame it for the white house. talking about somebody who has plead guilty to a crime, she said, well, he was on the volunteer advisory council, but one where we saw, among other people at the table, in close proximity, jeff sessions and the president of the united states talking about paul manafort. this indictment has nothing to do with us, because these things named in the indictment happened
before the campaign. and also, as we've seen from them before, trying to young play his role in the campaign, saying he was really just involved in the delegate process, he did that, and then he left. your take on what we heard from sarah sanders? >> i think, chris, you outlined the overall strategy that we're seeing here, at the white house. which is to try to distance the president, his campaign from these indictments and from the actions of george papadopoulos, who has now plead guilty to misleading and not giving the fbi and the special council forthcoming information, so just to tick through some of the top lines here, you're right, she effectively said, look, papadopoulos was someone who was unpaid, who didn't have a whole lot of significance on the campaign. but, of course, the reality is, we know he did send a number of e-mails to top officials for several months running, chris, during that campaign as he was
trying to set up potential meetings with russian officials. in the case of paul manafort, their strategy is to say, look, all of these actions that are under a micro scope right now occurred prior to the campaign. but you heard her get pressed on what this means about the president's judgment, and about how much these individuals were vetted before he brought them on to join his campaign and join his effort. so she really dug in on that point. there were a number of other headlines here, she was asked whether the president is considering firing robert mueller, she reiterated that is not the plan, she also indicated she hasn't had any discussions with him about pardoning mueller or rick gates, who was indicted today -- or papadopoulos. those were a number of the top lines, i think what we're seeing here is this strategy come to the forefront, it's something we've seen from the president himself, which is to say, l