tv Inside Politics CNN December 1, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST
special counsel. the white house knows and the president and the people around him know what michael flynn knows. so i'm sure that there are deep concerns and some intensive discussions going on right now. >> to say the very least. it's great to see you. i want to make sure our viewers know that tomorrow there is an important episode of the ax files. inside politics with john king starts now. welcome to inside politics. i'm john king. major breaking news on the special counsel investigation into russian meddling. the fired national security adviser michael flynn cut a deal, a plea agreement in federal court in washington, d.c. pleading guilty to lying to the pbi and admitting he misled
investigators about interactions with the former russian ambassador. he is now facing the possibility of five years in prison. what flynn lied about has been a critical focus of the russia probes across the government. whether he asked the russians to go easy and not retaliate under the obama administration back in december 2016 during the transition period. prosecutors say senior transition officials at mar a lago knew about the investigations as they were happening. live from here in washington, d.c., take us in the courtroom. what happened? >> john, it was just a short time ago that michael flynn stood before the court and accepted responsibility for lying to the fbi and pleaded guilty. you heard prosecutors lay out the evidence of what was going on and exactly what you just said about his conversations with people in mar a lago seemed
to be an important aspect of this investigation. they raised it in court. there is significance to it. what the significance is is something we are trying to figure out. flynn did plead guilty. a huge development here. he took responsibility a short time later issued a statement. let me read that to you. it says, i recognize that the actions i acknowledged in court today were wrong and that my faith in god i am working to set things right. my guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision i made in the best interest of my family and of our country. then he says, i accept full responsibility for my actions. clearly a crucial decision, a big decision for michael flynn to do this. we know people have been visiting him at his home to talk to him. finally he made the decision he says in his statement to do
what's right accepting this guilty plea and accepting responsibility for what he did. >> noting in that statement that he is cooperating. hugely significant. i want to bring our legal analyst into the conversation. a lot of things we knew that he was being look said at. possibilities and not disclosing international lobbying and the like. what did you learn from everything we have heard and seen so far this morning. what is the most important? >> on january 24th, a morning presumably when he that morning briefed the president of the united states on the state of the world because that's what national security advisers do. later that day he went to the fbi and committed a felony. he committed a felony by lying about the critical issues at the core of mueller's investigation. about what the nature of the relationship was between the trump administration or the
trump campaign and russia. as well as about the russian government's attitude towards israel. these are subjects that have been at the core of what mueller has been looking at. it has been very central to what congress is investigating. we know now that mueller lied. i'm sorry. we know now that flynn lied. the question is now, the many unanswered questions that are now raised by it. who knew that these conversations between russia and flynn were going on? who knew what the results of the conversations were and at whose direction was flynn acting? all of those questions now become extremely important and presumably flynn is going to be answering all of those because he agreed to cooperate with the
mueller investigation. this is a case that reaches directly into the heart of the trump administration. into the oval office. michael flynn was the most important national security figure in the white house short of the president and the vice president and the fact that he is now a convicted felon who was cooperating with an ongoing federal investigation is immensely important. >> immensely important. good way to sum it up. thank you for joining us. let's bring the conversation in the room with me to share the reporting. dana bash and jim chute. there is a lot to talk about. let's take it slowly and methodically because of the importance. i want to start with this. you heard as part of his statement, general flynn said he is cooperating with the special counsel. as part of its statement to the judge, the special counsel said the conversations that flynn had with the russians he said came at the direction of senior transition officials unnamed in
court and they were reported back. the senior transition officials around the president of the united states. the president-elect at that point. we don't have the names to those. ty cobb said this. nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than mr. flynn. what the special counsel said in court calls that into serious question. >> look, that is a political statement. that statement from ty cobb aimed at making donald trump happy and keeping the mummies at bay, but at the end of the day, it has no bearing on what flynn might be telling the special counsel's office. number two, the rest of the statement is that flynn was an obama official. that is the most disingenuous and silly part of the statement. yes, he was an obama official and he was fired. he was somebody who the obama administration warned trump about. he was somebody who the current president of the united states floated personate to a newspaper report as a possible running
mate when he was doing the pick of vps well after he was fired. he was chanting lock her up that the cameras had to stop or they had to usher him off stage. chris krifchristie and jeff sess before this president was elected had warned of having flynn in a consequential position like security adviser. they said he should be at odni and flynn considered that beneath him and jared kushner and other members of the trump family took over the transition. it basically gave flynn his pick of what he wanted and this is what he chose. trump's routine when people get in trouble, paul manafort and steve bannon. i barely know the guy. that's not going to work here. >> this was his right hand man. you know bob mueller.
we know that flynn was with the foreign lobbying and you could have charged him with that. if you wanted one charge, you could have done that. what is the significance that bob mueller at a time when they said what are you up to? is this worth the money and the cloud and the time over a president charges with russia ambassador and says in court reported back to the rest of the transition? >> that telling you that this is an ongoing investigation. that implicates a lot of people in the trump inner circle. failure to disclose financial contacts and be done with this. he picked four lies. that would have been 20 years and he picked one. there is substantial cooperation going on here. >> he has a pretty easy deal.
>> you don't take 20 years and make it five for nothing. it is important that he picked the un and he picked sanctions. the june 9th meeting with donald trump jr. is all about sanctions. you have kushner, manford, donald trump jr. the un is about kushner and israel and egypt and the un resolution that was not vetoed. he issing these people this is important stuff. also is that these lies took place -- these conversations took place during the transition and the lie took place four days after. mueller is not appointed until five months later. the fbi has the counter intelligence investigation going on. i don't know that these guys are thinking about what mueller may be thinking. mueller is not there. they may be more inclined to lie. one of the lies is flynn said i don't remember. that's a lie. jeff sessions said i don't
remember a hundred times in three days of testimony. this is a lot of bad news no matter what ty cobb said for a lot of reasons. >> on that note, people in trump world, the thing that i hear most that they are most concerned about is basic. they are concerned that the now president of the united states, the then candidate specifically asked michael flynn to make contact with the russians. that that is possible. we don't know. michael flynn knows and he has to tell the prosecution if that's true. >> in mar a lago they said in court. that's the president's winter white house. call it his retreat in florida. i want to go through this. to the point that if you turn in michael flynn, this is not an advanced guy on the campaign. this is the national security adviser of the united states. one of the most sensitive guys in the government. then candidate during much of the campaign.
december 22nd, now admits he asked the russian ambassador to get the vote. the incoming administration is not supposed to touch the letters of government until after the hands come off the bible. december 29th, flynn asked the russian ambassador don't have vladimir putin retaliate. trump is inaugurated and he lied days after taking his job and the then acting attorney general sally yates said you guys have a problem here. then president trump fires yates. not flynn. flynn only resigns after "the washington post" and other media outlets said black mail problem in the white house. >> keep this in mind. what we heard in the courtroom belies any administration argument that michael flynn was free lansing. he kept mar a lago apprised in the conversations and he said senior officials told him to carry out the conversations women don't know if the senior
officials included the president, but the white house cannot argue that this was michael flynn going off as a loose cannon here. at least what he is telling them. the white house and the president's argument is one, this is a witch hunt and two, it's coffee bow and low level people. that is belied by the facts of the last couple of weeks. this is the national security adviser and campaign chairman indicted. his deputy campaign chairman indicted. this is a federal crime. lying. this is no small deal. it is lying about material issues about sanctions against russia for interfering in the election. about a un resolution regarding israel. material issues. it's not just about golf games, right? what we heard in the courtroom and the documents belie every administration argument so far. >> it shows an expanding
investigation. the president keeps saying wrap this up as quickly as possible, but were you trying to pull the levers before you assumed control of the united states government? we know they are investigating the firing of the director james comey before bob mueller got here the effort to obstruct. when he said go easy on michael flynn, was he being easy on his friend or does he know what flynn knows which gets you to senior officials at mar a lago. how does it work now. he is cooperating. what is the process and if the national security adviser to the president of the united states, if you cut a deal with him that goes easy on him, you don't cut a deal with someone that high up and tell me if i'm wrong, unless you think you can go higher. >> the timeline of these things is you are told you are a target. you get a lawyer. the lawyer calls and said we can work out a deal. the lawyer said what have you got to offer and makes a presentation of what the testimony would be.
the prosecutors think about it and they generally bring the individual in. they assess his credibility and make a decision. in this case it is clearly that they assess that flynn has a story to tell as he said he did. it's credible and a jury would believe it. i believe they have that evidence not necessarily in the grand jury, but possibly. what flynn has to be talking about is the senior white house officials. manafort, kushner, cory's name i can never pronounce. those guys i think it is believed communicated with the president. the one point is did the president direct this or was this directed at one level beneath the president, don junior, etc. i don't think that the prosecutor believes that they didn't report back to the president. any allegation by the president that i didn't know it was going on here. he said it under oath and he
will find himself in the same position that flynn is. that's a liar. >> one thing i heard with the white house official, it goes further that is a person speaking in the background. we know flynn is a liar and he is going to lie. you are going to hear more of that in the coming days. i don't think you will hear from the president for as long as they can keep his hands tied behind his back. >> they can question michael flynn's truth telling, but not his access to the president which they tried to do with other people. more breaking news ahead. we have to go to a quick break. we tried to get comment from the senate chair of the intelligence committee and he was not successful, but not for lack of effort. >> this is a pretty significant charge. >> thanks for your interest. i don't anything to say to you today. appreciate it. david.
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>> welcome back. much more on the breaking news. the plea deal and the cooperation agreement. the other breaking news in washington. the senate on the verge of passing what would be a historic overhaul of the tax code. jeff flake of arizona said he is a yes which makes him the 50th decisive vote in favor of the legislation. phil, does your math match mitch mcconnell's math. >> they said we have the votes. this is notable for two reasons. he never speaks in the hall way and that was a big deal. making clear they believe they whipped the votes you noted on jeff flake. that was a big get. senator colins is also headed in that direction. we are a long way from where we were last night where this thing seemed to fall apart. in the issue last night was deficit and senator bob corker.
here's the calculation leaders made. they are going to cut bob corker loose. they are not adding a trigger to raise tax if it doesn't matchup. they are not going to try to address debt or deficit issues. they are going to move forward. jeff flake was paired up with the deficit concerns in his statement. laying out why he is a yes. his other concerns whether it's related to expensing or something outside the tax bill, a commitment from leadership that they would address the daca issue in a permanent manner in the weeks ahead. that's how he got to yes. the most interesting element is there were four people we were keeping an eye on. collins, ron johnson, flake and corker. senate leaders got johnson by boosting up the pass through credit up to 23%. what i said about flake, they looked like they were on the track and that equals 51 if senator collins comes out to
yes, this is a major victory for republican leaders. they believe they can get it done today. we are waiting for the final details in the bill. the big detail is how you pay for all this. we know what they are probably going to do is bump up the repatriation rate. that would be his money that the companies bring back to the united states. that will raise about $110 million and other money too. the bottom line and details they decide, right now leaders say they have the votes to pass the historic tax reform. >> old school deal making. not everything has changed. we will check back as the hour develops. up next, the russia investigation, the president calls it a hoax and it reaches deep in his inner circle. together, great things come in twos. like t-mobile and netflix. right now when you get an unlimited family plan, netflix is included. ho ho ho! t-mobile covers your netflix subscription... best christmas gift ever! ...so you can binge watch all year long.
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it's russia and donald trump. i have nothing to do with russia. >> this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up. . an excuse for the democrats for having lost the election. >> there is no collusion. you know why? i don't speak to russians. >> the president's score is no secret, but the label of a witch hunt took a giant. the last hour, the security adviser michael flynn admitted he lied to the fbi about conversations he had with the russians, specifically russia's ambassador. the first administration official and the fourth person to be charged in rob uert
mueller's investigation. was there collusion with the trump campaign and did trump as president fire the former fbi director james comby in an effort to obstruct? and to kickoff december, here's the headline. merry christmas for mueller. flynn pleads guilty of lying to the fbi. cnn white house correspondent, abby philipps. we played the top because we know how this gets under his skin. take us inside the white house. the president for all they are saying, this is michael flynn and michael flynn is a liar and lied to us and the fbi. we are done with him. this is a trusted campaign adviser. he agreed to cooperate with the special counsel and appears to be getting a good deal to do it. they have to. >> yeah, given that this is very
different from the other two charges that we saw in this case, the white house is remarkably characterizing this as something that doesn't touch upon the president and this administration. flynn is in a bubble and he was only in the administration for less than a month and the charges have nothing to do with anyone but him. that's the white house line this morning, but it's not clear whether that's true based on the plea agreement that flynn came to. he is indicating he was in communication with other people in the white house. talking to white house aides this morning, they are still processing that and trying to figure out who that person is and what that could mean for them. at the moment their public reaction is the same as with manafort and papadopoulos. the investigation is coming to a close where in december we are getting close to the end. that seems to be a little bit of wishful thinking. >> that's silly on the face. >> what are they supposed to say?
>> how about saying we are not going to comment and see how the investigation plays out. i don't think that's in their dna. i think we talked before about the president, but there are a lot of senior administration officials who were transition officials. most of the officials are now in very high levels of the white house. they are hurting the other people and what they are worried about is jared kushner. he was running the point on policy during the transition. it's not a big stretch to think that he was at least one of the people that michael flynn said there is nothing to investigate and he was talking about his discussions with the russians. never mind a different subject here. discussions they had with the un security counsel resolution
during the transition. if he did that, it could be illegal under what's known as the logan act. private citizens can't conduct foreign policy. >> that's huge and raises the key point which is jared kushner in two respects. he worked closely with flynn on a number of issues and he was really the one who allowed flynn as i said to be in this national security adviser position in the first place. it was essentially this was what flynn wanted and here you go. in terms. transition officials and who was around at mar a lago, you can figure it out. most of them are not in the administration anymore. jared kushner, his wife and maybe one or two other people are it. they are starting to widdle it down. the main question is what the president knew and whether any
this gets to him. >> we determine whether flynn spoke on his own and what knew and approved of his actions. they must be allowed to continue without interference. it's called the logan act, but private citizens, even transition officials are not supposed to meddle in the business of the united states government until they are in the united states government. >> i think we are in wait and see mode as we have been for a long time, but this is materially different than the papadopoulos thing. flynn was high ranking and clearly close to the president. he wrapped up both in the firing of comey and the possibility of obstruction of justice charges and russian interference. he has been in the past done shady dealings with the turkish government while in the transition. none of this looks good in the fact that he will cooperate. we will find out much more about this. what does he know and what was he directed to do and what did the president know and the
things he did, how problematic were they? they can be shady without crossing that line. >> you keep hearing for the president and we had no contact with russians and jeff sessions concedes he had meetings. jared concedes he had meetings and michael flynn for me. 12 associates had contacts with russians in the campaign and there were 19 face-to-face interactions with russians and figures. 51 communication meetings and more that we know of in the public sphere. when you hear anyone, i don't wear what the politics were, there were no contacts, there were contacts, there were contablco contacts, there were contacts. on the flynn plea deal about how the president was over the summer started reaching out to the key players. the senate intelligence committee. roy blunt, a senior member of the republican leadership in the senate. isn't it time for to you shut
these investigations down. that can be an aspirational thing and we can't read minds and i'm the president of the united states, do my bidding. >> their defense in the white house is he says these things publicly. it is true, but that's not an excuse. it is true that we don't know exactly what he was trying to convey and if there was a law that had a line crossed or if it's a norm. in any other administration if you had a story like this about a sitting president calling members obama and clinton, go down the list of previous presidents, calling them the ranking member of the senate intelligence committee in charge of an investigation that touches on the president saying time to wrap it up, there would be an enormous outcry and calls for removal. at least censure. it calls to theing degree that
are numbed. another larger story that michael flynn blew up this morning. what it means remains to be seen, but this summer the president was russia over many months. including literally strangers at bed minster and start talking about how russia has nothing to do with him. >> this was related to the flynn conversation. one of the big problems was the question of what did donald trump say to james comb be whether he wanted comb tey to e this investigation. what maggie laid out is a pattern of behavior that the president is indicating to people who are in charge of the investigations. he wants them to end it. that calls into question the idea at the very beginning that the white house claims that
trump did no such thing. there is a lot of evidence he did that to three members of the senate who are investigated. >> it's a question of obstruction of justice which is no small thing. you can't make that leap when you are talking about two branches of government. it's definitely unusual and inappropriate, but with a criminal investigation going on. >> we need to take a quick break. talking about flynn being a private citizen. justice rolled down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. that's james comey's tape on michael flynn. the investigation began because the president fired james comey. up next, michael flynn, they won't be able to call him the coffee boy.
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something called atopic dermatitis, which can be caused by inflammation under your skin. maybe you should ask your doctor? go to eczemaexposed.com to learn more. >> we do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law. if i, a guy who knows this business, if i did a tenth of what she did, i would be in jail today. >> that's michael flynn 16 months ago at a speech that is both a great irony and a great focus today. a constant campaign for candidate trump. a playerer for president-elect trump. one of the most critical and sensitive jobs in the united states government.
when members of his team get in trouble, we talked about the president as if you go to lines. that guy was not all that important. i hardly knew him. he wasn't around long. that won't hunt with the special counsel, robert mueller. with pictures side by side, too many to count. and there is this. >> you are being vetted we are told as a vice presidential candidate. >> i want to thank general flynn for being a great guy. great man. >> it's very, very unfair the way general flynn was treated. in my opinion he's a very good person. i believe it would be very unfair to hear from somebody we don't even know and run out and fire a general. >> you go back through the words and they have all new meaning
with a man who was as close to the candidate as they were around the table. they cannot dismiss him as somebody who was not that involved. that makes it significant. the prosecutor said he spoke to the russians during the transition which is wrong and they reported it back to the senior officials. that is why this was at the trump white house. between that, a tweet that i think president trump had when he was candidate trump about how it was a terrible crime and you ought to do time for that. then the interview where you played with the president where he was doing signalling to flynn. i'm on your side. be nice.
that is how a number of white house aides interpreted it. the president believes he can sell people on most things. after flynn was fired, i don't remember if it was the day or the day after, but aide were on the phone with flynn. there was an effort to try to keep him happy and not feeling that way. that raises questions about why that would be given a be november people who were fired from the white house with the bus freely controlling over. >> when the president keeps wishing aloud publicly that he wants the investigation to contract and end, this tells us the logan act, look it up if you have never heard of it before. most people probably haven't. trying to work the security council and something president obama did during the transition. that clearly is a focus of this investigation. laid out in court documents today. then listen here.
this is james comb whoa saey wh they asked him stay with me and come with me alone into the office and said can you think about going ease on my friend, mike flynn. >> i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states and me alone saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey it, but that's how i took it. >> he said i hope. >> those were his exact words, correct. >> we are 11 months, 10 months into the trump administration. we have the court documents and i understand they are looking at the logan act violations by the security adviser to the united states who said he said he reported back to other senior official who is did not stop this and apparently did not say whoa, halt.
and the comey question of obstruction. >> i was talking to a former prosecutor involved in plea deals many times. they said a couple of things. not only do we have james comey's open testimony under oath saying that the president asked him to lay off flynn, but the question is how much was flynn involved in the conversations? that will be one of the first questions if it hasn't been asked of flynn by the special counsel's office. if there was more of a conversation about it, more intentional then that would give more credence to obstruction of justice. something else this person said, there is so much we don't know that we don't know. so much that robert mueller's office doesn't know to ask. that is one of the big dangers and the benefits of the special counsel's office and dinners of the white house with this plea agreement. as part of not going to jail or
limited jail time, we don't know what's going to happen. michael flynn will be required to give everything that he possibly can on all of the avenues. whether it is collusion or anything financial. who knows. those are the things that are likely raising a barm bells and if if they are not, they should. >> they are concerned it's not just a witch hunt. this investigation is going towards the president. that's what people are trned about. despite the rosy this investigation has gone off the rails and is already out of control. there are few options left to
trump and one could be to interfere with mueller. lindsey graham saying publicly mr. president, don't try to pardon flynn. don't try to do anything here. it's a real warning that needs to be said. people are concerned that there is no way to stop mueller at this point. >> we will find out later what mueller was talking about. not all discussions with a foreign entity or trn is illegal, but the thing i have thought about this white house is even if there is no there there, they were sly enough to cover up collusion with the russians. because they are reckless, arrogant and undisciplined. this is what has taken flynn down. he was reckless and undisciplined and dishonest. they think will be the pattern over and over again. they are going to trip themselves up, they will mess up over and over again. that will get them deeper into this.
>> lack of knowledge of the laws. we will see them raise an important point. we were too to collude. we barely won with this scrappy campaign and we were not aware of this. that's not going to cut it. >> that's not going to cut it and in flynn's case you make it worse because you get caught lying to the pbi. the security adviser in a plea deal to special counsel. what comes next? but i wasn't really feeling it. you know what, i'm not buying this. you gotta come a little harder dawg. you gotta figure it out. eh, i don't know. shaky on the walk, carriage was off. randy jackson judging a dog show. i don't know dawg. surprising. what's not surprising? how much money lisa saved by switching to geico. wow! performance of the night. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
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news. michael flynn, former adviser to president trump leading guilty to lying to the fbi and is now cooperating with the mueller investigation. this is the price michael flynn, adviser at the white house for 25 days and a former obama official said they are trying to brush this guy off as nobody. what strikes us here as we move on? >> that are statement teletells you a lot about how the white house has dealt with this investigation. this is a cognitive disenance. this is a period who tells lie lies and falsehoods to a degree and a frequency we have not seen before from a period. everybody president tells
falsehoods, but not like this. things are getting closer for the president. you are seeing a level of cognitive disenance around how they describe this. it's important to remember how much of this is not true and this is just not true. the president's ignorance of politics and of the law is not a justive if there was wrong-do g wrong-doing. that's not an excuse. >> they are moving forward on a tax cut plan. the other parallel universe called a government. >> all the sound and fury of trump allowed normal things to happen. and so that's the environment we are in. two things about this and one with his testimony that will be very interesting and i think the way trump reacts to this because it was someone loyal and close to him and it will be talked