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tv   Wolf  CNN  December 1, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PST

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>> i'm jim chuto for wolf blitzer. thank you very much for joining us on this moment us day in the news. a bombshell here in washington. >> a guilty plea from the former national security adviser ads mitting he lied two days after being sworn in as security adviser.
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the special office cooperating and remember that special counsel is looking into possible collusion between the trump team and russians during the 2016 presidential election. here is his statement and i'm quoting, 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. i accept full responsibility for all of my actions. admitting to lying about conversations with the ambassador of russia and that foreign power interfered in the presidential election. michael flynn is no small player. he was a constant presence in the campaign as well as a trusted adviser to president trump throughout. after president trump was inaugurated as his national security adviser.
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white house correspondent jim acosta and checking on reaction of our prime and justice reporter. what did general flynn admit to and what he got in exchange for that from prosecutors? >> we know that he basically admitted to lying to the fbi about conversations he had with the former russian ambassador. this has been a part of an fbi investigation and the russian interference and he played a role meeting with various trump officials. we know in january when michael flynn had the conversations and when the fbi had the conversations, they interviewed him and asked him questions about his conversation and one having to do with sanctions that the obama administration was
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imposing on russia and a second conversation we learned had to do with a un vote against israeli settlements that was going to be had at the security council. there were at least two topic of these conversations that the fbi questioned him about. he lied about the nature of those conversations. we know some of those conversations he relayed information back to officials about it according to the court documents released. all of this the fbi built a case and he came forward and pleaded guilty and he is cooperating. his cooperation would entail that he will continue to provide information to the government and to special counsel's team and the fbi as they see fit. it is clear that he already provided substantial information to them.
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taking full responsibility for his actions today in court. moments after, releasing a statement. let me read that to you. he said i recognize that the actions i acknowledged in court today were wrong and through 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 said he accepts full responsibility for his actions. probably not the last that we hear about his cooperation. >> keep in mind, one count of lying and making false statements on four separate occasions. i want to go to jim acosta at the white house. michael flynn was an obama
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administration official. >> on behalf of the white house and in response to the flynn news, i reported earlier this year that president obama tried to warn president trump to avoid michael flynn in the transition after the election when president-elect trump met with obama and he rather thanned him to stay away. here is the statement from ty one. this is basically how the spouse is responding. total michael flynn, a former national security adviser for 25 days in the trump administration entered a guilty plea to a count of making a false statement to the fbi. they resulted in his resignation in february of this year. nothing about the guilty plea or
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the charge implicates anyone other than mr. flynn. the conclusion of this phase of the counsel's work demonstrates that the counsel is moving with the speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion. interesting to note there is that the white house has a fixation and i talked to the white house earlier this morning who was close to team trump. there seems to be an expectation that a false one that these matters are going to wrap up any time soon. if you look at what michael flynn is pleading guilty to in the do you means, they are saying that they are saying that the officials directed him to make contact with the russians. that would require the office to reach out to officials to get to the bottom of that information. we other than that in the last
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week of december, the incoming 3resz secretary sean spicer and jason miller who was supposed to be the incoming communications director did not take that post. they were asked about the contacts between michael flynn and at the time, the two income incoming officials were trying to explain that michael flynn was giving courtesy calls to the russian ambassador and now we understand that was far from the case according to investigators. michael flynn was talking about the sanctions imposed in response to russian meddling and that flynn was talking about this matter before he was in office. a lot of implications when it comes to not only the officials who were potentially involved, but the content of that.
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>> the white house could be clear belies the explanation on many points. in fact it said that flynn kept members of the transition team apprised of the conversations and the idea that that was news. they didn't know about it belied by the statement. adam schiff is the ranking member on the house intelligence committee which is doing their own investigation of the trump team's interference in the campaign. thanks for taking the time to join us. >> good to be with you. >> i want to get your reaction to this remarkable moment to the adviser entering the courthouse and pleading guilty to a federal crime. >> we can't lose our shock value as easy as it is over the last year. this is the national security adviser to the country. the chief adviser to the president in terms of protecting our country and basically he admitted he was a liar when it came to telling authorities
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about his sbrkzs with one of our adversaries, that being russia. this is part of a broader pattern in which the administration officials lied about their contacts with russians. it's breathtaking. we are also right in listening to that white house statement where they say these are the lies he told the white house. actually if you read his statement, flynn today acknowledges he told officials about this. those people all became part of that white house. it's not going to be that easy for the white house to say nothing to see here. >> not only did he keep them informed with one of the calls, but he was directed by someone in the campaign. par. >> the white house argument has been he was free lansing here and acting alone. you are doing your own
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investigation here. does that stand up in the facts? >> of course not, but we have seen this pattern when manafort got in trouble. he was the campaign manager. when the papadopoulos plea took place, he was just an adviser and he's a liar. now it's the national security adviser, one of the most visible surrogates. not someone they can write off as a person who volunteered his time. there is no belittling the significance here. that group of officials that mueller is referring to in that statement that goes unnamed is the smallest of people and -- >> do you know who they are? is described as a surn official and is a very senior transition official. do you know who they are?
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>> i don't know. it's a narrow category of people it could be. >> wo is in that list should. >> pence and reince priebus. >> is the president? >> the president is in that list as well. it would explains if they were in the know and explain why he was so reluctant to fire flynn. why at the time the president was not upset that flynn had lied, but only that the press found out. that is consistent with a president who knew this all along. >> the core allegations involved here, shortly after flynn was interviewed by the fbi, i believe on the terror24th. sa sally yates warned him that he lied and he asked the fbi
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director to end the investigation. is that obstruction? the investigations, i asked the question yesterday whether they instructed the him to take any action what he considered him into the russian investigation. all of this ought to be of profound disturbance to us. about conversations with u.s. sanctions on russia. president obama opposed four russian interference with the
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election. is there something illegal about the president-elect trump at that time telling a foreign power that the sanctions imposed by the current president of the united states, this is something that when there is a new sheriff in town, would that amount to illegal activity? >> the criminal charge would be experience. if there were as we saw interactions between the campaign and the russians, there were further discussions about how that would be deliver and wikileaks. when it became exposed and the obama administration sanctioned them if as a part of that experience, members of that campaign now in office said hey, russians don't do anything about
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this. that could be part of a broader experience and we are a long distance from making the connections. this could be part of that picture. in the absence of that, we can't forget the fact that this followed the investigation on trump's behalf. we see his national security designation instructed to go to the russians and say don't react to this. we are with you here. don't react to this. essentially we will take care of things. that in itself is deeply troubling. >> the president said at various times during the campaign and since his election that this investigation is a witch hunt and there is nothing here. he said there were no contacts between his team and the campaign.
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in this statement of offense, we have multiple contacts that have been documented as a federal crime. in your view has the president lied about his communications with russia? >> abundantly. and frequently. and in about every way. most significantly in denying that it happened, saying it's a hoax. saying i asked putin and we don't know. did he do it and he said he didn't. we know exactly what the russians did and the president. when he said we don't know that is a lie and when he said we don't have contacts with the russians, that's a lie. his son said i had no contacts with leaky, that's a lie. when general flynn said i never discussed sanctions, that was a lie. unfortunately the list goes on and on. >> today final question as you look at the president's national security adviser here.
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what he has pled guilty to. the substance of those conversations. the people he had the conversations with and the trump transition team. do you believe what we see here today leads to the president? >> i don't know. it all depends on who the officials are. if the senior officials by the fbi and if they made the same false statements that general flynn did and they were part of that discussion that led to this may not be the last guilty plea we see. >> a momentous day. thank you very much for taking the time. >> still ahead, robert mueller's russia probe is reaching a former official. we will look at where the investigation goes from here. on capitol hill, senate republicans are trying to keep
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their eye on another issue entirely. tax reform. after the break we will look at where the vote stands. patrick woke up with a sore back. but he's got work to do. so he took aleve this morning. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. tylenol can't do that. aleve. all day strong. all day long.
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>> welcome become. right to the breaking news. michael flynn, president trump's national security adviser pled guilty to lying to the fbi. multiple times. more importantly perhaps is now cooperating with the special counsel leading the russia probe. i want to bring in someone who worked directly with special counsel robert mueller and knows how he runs his investigation. the former special assistant at the department of justice.
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what does that cooperation entail? >> it's going to be about the coordination between the campaign and russian officials. what flynn testified to is he had the links and coordination and lied about them. and he had senior transition officials about this. mueller goes from here and said well then, who are the senior officials and do they violate criminal laws? laws could be violated.
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if they lied like flynn did, they were in like flynn did. there was violation of the computer fraud and abuse act. violations of and violation of the logan act. with respect to the people flynn had contact in order to determine whether there were things that were criminal. >> thanks very much. michael makes a good point and how only lying is contained in this statement of offense. it also talks about the foreign registration act, etc. we will get to that shortly. part of the "washington post" team that pun a pulitzer prize for the watergate coverage. laura coates as well. analyst david gregory and chief
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analyst deploria borger. if i can begin with you, you have some experience on the investigating presidents and. >> they are usually significant and not definitive, but woe chose where mueller is headed. it's very significant that the plea by general flynn addresses the sanctions. that is the holy grail for the russians and have sanctions removed that the united states had instituted. that stands at the center of what russians wanted the united states to do. it is clearer that the incoming trump team was working to get sanctions removed.
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mr. kushner is one who you would think of. the son in law in these situations and there is a team that men moved on to run the transition they are under serious investigations. you mentioned watergate is that the system is working. the legal system is working. there is plenty of room for the president of the united states if the facts go that way and
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there are ominous signals because the president has lied so often about the matters under discussion here. we have a long way to go and we are only seeing part of it, but this is a very bad day for those in the white house. many are implicated through what general flynn is testifying. >> despite what we know. and that reflects what has been a long-term response for the investigation by the white house. flynn lied to us too. he was free lancing in effect. the fact is you look at the statement of offense and he makes it clear he was keeping the trump transition team apprised of the calls back and forth on the same day.
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they make it clear that in fact during the last weekend in december, before they took office over christmas and new year's weekend, there were i'm going to tell the russians this and what would you like me to do and you don't see flynn as a rogue operator. he was being direct and we don't know by whom. this talks about a very senior member of the transition team.
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who could that be? >> that was and when you say very senior, the president was involved in the conversations and you know you have been speaking to people on the hill and the republicans. i want to get that in there. he is among the senior transition officials dealing with the national security. >> he was asked if he was directed by the president and sessions refused to answer. and what is the level of concern?
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you okay now? the concern is very high. from the president about the president on down. it was high before the agreement you laid out about a very senior transition official. but look, even going into this and getting the smoke signals that this was happening, the certain i had from sources was that michael flynn did not just pick up the phone and say let's do something with the sanctions and we will be fine, but maybe
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the had the said tell him it's going to be okay. maybe it was something down the food chain. it was a short food chain. i top the go to you and play for you when i and the president said it during the campaign that this is a witch hunt and there was nothing here. there were no contacts and in the statement of offense, we have those that are documented. has the president lied about the communications his team had with russia? >> well, abundantly. and frequently.
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and in just about every way. most significant in denying this and saying it's a hoax. saying i asked putin and he said he didn't. we know what the russianings did. when he said we don't know, that's a lie. when he said we had no contact with the russians, that's a lie. i had no contacts with wikileaks, that's a lie. when general flynn said i never discussed sanctions, that was a lie. >> this is not the first time where the facts indicate that the president is lying. >> do the lies matter?
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>> why was there such determination during the transition and afterwards? why is there a disand they didn't situate result, but manipulated the electoral system and why don't we have an administration that wants to get to the bottom of it and why don't they figure out the answers? you had in the president choosing someone like flynn. he was warned about him and this was a guy gthat let's not forge the richness of this moment. i didn't hear anyone shout lock him up like he was willing to do at the rally with hillary clinton. we have new video of michael
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flynn senior and michael flynn junior holds his grandson there as it happens. how influential. michael flynn junior had exposure on all the issues. a report of acting as a foreign agent. that can be a powerful motivator. >> if you are seeing a photograph of a family moment. i see bargaining power and bargaining chips and fodder for plea and incentive it to do all of those things. why did he do it? what do we not know and who is the senior official? those are the things that motivated mueller and his team to have this plea.
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the only reason you invest in a plea and hand over the power to allow you to have some impact is because you don't otherwise have it. the answer is what did michael flynn have and what is he willing to give over and all the things he answered before he did a guilty plea today? >> why did the president of the united states go to james comby and say would you go easy? go easy on flynn. now if in fact flynn lied because he didn't want to tell the whole truth about who directing him, what did the president know and when did he know it? >> the thing about the plea agreement is it goes into what happened during the transition. because he is now cooperating,
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he is expected to open the floodgates about the other things he knows. and things he knows and know to ask. that is required of him in any agreement like this. >> they already know what they want to know. we had a number of moments. how momentous is this particular event? >> very.
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it's part and almost all a culmination of in terms of the key witness. there is one person around donald trump and around the campaign and around the transition who dealt with the president as much or more than anyone except jared kushner about dealings with the russians. whether as the white house will have, flynn was operating on his own in any nepharious activities with the russians which seems quite doubtful given what we see in the information that was presented today at the courthouse, there is one other thing here. flynn curiously says in his statement that he has been accused of treason and these are
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false accusations and he said that he is not going to very openly say i colluded with the russians to help undermine an election. his participation here would seem if that statement is approved by the prosecutors, it would seem to preclude him saying that and rather he is going to talk about what may really be a experience none the less. in terms of conducting foreign policy before trump became the president of the united states. all of this goes to obstruction. you can't be the firing of comey and the possibility of obstruction. you have to have an important
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caveat. >> david makes a good point. we have to be clear about where we are as opposed to where we could go. >> the important caveat here is you have in flynn and manafort two people who are in trouble with the law. maybe part of something larger or it may be more isolated. the campaign colluded with the russians. we don't know the answer. >> we are not there yet. >> we know they have not been truthful about contacts and we have questions about why they were so cozy with them.
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an experienced lawyer saying something is ridiculous as he was a clinton administration or obama administration official is amateurish and surprising. >> for doesn't stand up. >> that is actually the administration's defense and a lot of this is when you talked to people who are close to jared, talked to people about. >> we have a long day and we will be staying with the story
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the congressional correspondent is up on capitol hill. hearing that the republicans have the votes? >> senate majority leader mitch mcconnell walked on to the floor after a closed door meeting said plainly we have the votes. he rarely speaks to reporters and he rarely talks about the whip counts before he has them locked in. here's what happened over the course of the last 15 or 16 hours. when it came to the deficit issue that broiled everything and said senator bob corker off. they were willing to make a deal with susan colins and make a deal with ron johnson and make a deal with jeff flake. it looks like and it's clear they have more than the 50 votes or at least the 50 they need to pass it. the real question is when the deals come to fruition, what is written into the bill, staff is working through the side and writing the bill.
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this is the trading that occurs in major legislation as they try to find the votes. loots likely they will pass the senate bill. >> up there on the hill to discuss it, we have the republican senator live from capitol hill as well. a harrowing 24 hours for the republican party there. what changed to get the last key votes over the hill? >> this is a work in progress and we have unlimited amendments and you will continue to see it and we hope to finish the bill. and we have the votes. some of the changes included increasing tax relief for small businesses. we increased the pass through
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deduction to 23%. that's good for small businesses. that was one that i particularly pushed for and think is very, very positive. in regard to some of the concerns that people had regarding the deficit, i think we have more than covered it with very conservative estimates. that will help with debt reduction. >> how is this going to help? no analysis said this plan will help with debt reduction. every one said it will add perhaps a trillion to the deficit. >> we did change the rate to the house rates on repatriated dollars. the way it helps with debt and deficit, they only project 1.9% growth. with tax relief we will go well beyond that that will not only cover the 1.5 trillion. they will generate well more than that. we only have to grow to generate
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additional rev me in that can reduce the debt and deficit. >> the news on the national security adviser michael flynn. you heard the white house comments here that portray him -- they even say he was an obama administration official. how significant is this for the trump administration? >> you know, i haven't seen the reports today. >> senator, if i could ask you to hold there one moment. i will come back to you. >> this is one more example of the extent of ties between senior officials involved in the trump efforts and the russians. we have seen the trump campaign trying to dismiss mr. papadopoulos when he pled guilty and seen them trying to distance themselves from the former campaign manager, paul
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manafort and campaign aides. they can't distance them from president trump's national security adviser who has acknowledged a crime and we will be anxious to see the reports of what his story was in terms of his contacts with russians. we see this pattern one after another. again, why this investigation needs to continue and why we owe the american public the full explanation. i will be anxious to hear what they say when he pleads guilty in terms of lying to the fbi with his contacts with russians. >> do we have any knowledge of this? >> i think we have got more work to do and we will do have a
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number of major figures like donald trump jr. and i want to bring back jared kushner in light of the supposed comments that general flynn may have been making. we have michael colin and others that need to come back. we have more facts to gather. there seems to be this -- we have two people pleading guilty. we have a campaign manager and his deputy still under indictment. how many more figures have to be brought to justice because of their ties with russia. before we end up connectioning the dots. i believe that we need to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. until we get all the facts, i'm going to be anxious to see since
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it was obvious general flynn was in a great deal of legal jeopardy. he pled guilty to only one charge. my hope is that general flynn will tell everything he knows and why he was having these contacts with russians and who directed the contacts. i think it goes well beyond the fact that he just lied to the fbi. >> do you have knowledge of who the officials were who did direct him to have these conversations with the russians? >> i'm anxious to wait for general flynn to come clean and i hope that special prosecutor mueller will get that information out. the american public deserves to know. >> do you have confidence in richard burr in carrying out this investigation in light of the president pressuring to end the russian probe. >> the chairman made clear that he felt he needed to keep his distance from the white house and we are continuing to work to
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get the witnesses that we need to see. there are a number like mr. kushner and others that we want to invite back. this investigation is going to continue in a bipartisan fashion and get the job done. >> the truth is this is a story that you can't make it's still remarkable to me that as we go, senior intelligence officials massive russian investigation. we have seen media companies first resisted but now acknowledge massive russian intervention. frankly, virtually everyone of my republican colleagues acknowledges russian intervention. the one individual that still seems to deny that this is not a major issue is donald trump. and i just kind of wonder why.
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so, again, we'll see where this story leads. >> we need to talk to vice president pence while he was head of this while the investigati investigations were occurring? >> we don't share who we like to talk to and when we will talk to folks. again, i have a great deal of confidence in special prosecutor mueller. i'm anxious to hear general flynn's full explanation of his contacts with the russians. clearly, he's willing to lie about those contacts. and lied to the fbi. and i'm anxious to hear from i'm for an explanation of who haul direct all directed him to have the contacts. >> [ inaudible question ] >> again, i'm not going to share. our investigation is ongoing. and i think what we owe the american people is all the facts. and we still have more folks to
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talk to. and we want to get this job done, but we want to be complete. and, again, one more that we have seen some, and obviously including the president, who said, hey, nothing here, let's try to shut this down. i don't think there is anybody that's following this story now in light of another admission of guilt coming from a senior trump official. this time the national security adviser. that we don't owe the american public to follow-through on this investigation until we get all the facts out. >> did senator beurre teurr tel about this with trump? >> we are going to do that. and, i think, again, i was proud of what the chairman said in "the new york times" story that, you know, he acknowledged that he needed to stay away from the
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white house. but what's the real issue here is you have this repeated pattern of the president of the united states who is trying desperately to stop this investigation. cost jim comey his job because he wouldn't stop the investigation. he intervened with senators and other intelligence officials. i think the american people and a lot of us ask why is he so desperate to have this investigation stopped, particularly as we see more and more people either plead guilty or come forward under indictment. >> okay. thank you very much. >> you were listening there to the ranking democrat on the senate intelligence committee, senator mark warner, although they have their own investigation into the russian meddling. >> and laura coats if i could go to you, you have the former federal prosecutor. oftentimes fo oftentimes for the layman it's the lying that folks get caught
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for. maybe another a big error underlying crime. is that what you are seeing here? are you seeing the special counsel going after the low hanging legal fruit? >> but it's an old adage i didn't come this far to come this far. mueller team did not come this far on hanging their hat on lying offense. what that suggests they are talking about a different fish. this is bathing sort of charge in order to acquire a bigger fish. here's the irony of all this, somebody the security adviser would be one moby dick, now can be bait for bigger fish. >> who might that be? >> the senior transition official, we are all wondering who that is, but you can believe that prior to michael flynn having that guilty plea in court today, that's already out there. mueller team probably knows who that is. and we'll try to wait and play catch up.
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remember his next status hearing is not until february and sentencing after that largely going to drag out the same way that papadopoulos had his guilty plea and months went by people knew about it, number one, and also who he was corresponding with. i bet he's been cooperating and we'll see who the bigger fish are going to be but he's now bait. >> if he's cooperating and they want his cooperation, he knows some things that's going to make a lot of people nervous at the very least. and we know president trump asked jim comey the fbi director before he fired him hey go easy on him. why did he do that? there is a lot of why questions that we don't have the benefit of knowing. we are not inside that investigative trail that the special counsel is on. but there is a larger picture here of why were there these contacts. why weren't they truthful about them. when we know there was an attempt by russia to influence the election. and why there was all that
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coziness between them all. this is still what we are trying to get to the bottom of. and flynn can be very important in trying to find out why that is. >> if i can go to you, i don't want to over estimate the parallels to water gate, but i guess the commonality is about lying. lying under oath under a larger investigation that's looking into other potential crimes or legal wrongdoing. >> well, this has been about lying, particularly lying of the president of the united states in public all along, not necessarily perjurous lying, we'll find out about that late. this is also today very much about family. it's about flynn and his son and flynn's fear that his son might be prosecuted. that's one of the reasons that he was willing to be flipped here. but it's also about the trump family.
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this means that jared kushner is at the center of what mueller is looking at. there is no getting around that. and we know it from various sources. and it also means that donald trump, we keep looking at his actions and whether they are rational or not, and what he might do next, or whether he might par dodon somebody, down line, and it has to be considered an among other things in terms of family as well. because trump has known for a while that his family is under investigation. his son, don junior, i know and am i aware of a time i'm told by people in the white house where jared kushner's wife, ivanka trump went to her father, and pleaded with him to do something because of these investigations closing in in a family way. there is a dynamic way we need to look at as reporters. and one last thing to say.
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none of this is fake news. we can put away the fake news charge once and for all after today. and let's see where this goes, including being fair to donald trump as we cover the story, and as we have been. >> good call. you mentioned implications for jared kushner, and it's my colleague said we know jared kushner was in touch with israel officials during the transition as well discussing that united nations security council resolution which is referenced in the plea agreement regarding conversations michael flynn had as well. before we go final thoughts from both of you, laura and david, perhaps david if i can begin with you, how big a deal for this president? >> well, among other things, on a day when he's achieving a major legislative victory with this tax bill getting through the senate, this is the overwhelming story. it's one that has moved the
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markets because of concern about where it may lead. and it really puts the lie to a president who has been saying that there was nothing to this, that it's all made up on democrats. he has special prosecutor he's up against doing his job pretty methodically and now really making some headway. >> and in the face of repeated attempts by the president to get in the way of this investigation? >> certainly. and everyone should be nervous surrounded by the inner circle of trump or if you are included in it. because the charge pled to today was based on selective am knnes kislyak, anyone else who said well maybe i had this, didn't realize, right now mueller has drawn a line in the sand based on that amnesia and conduct that's enough for us to have leverage and convict. >> and kislyak we know was reporting back to the kremlin as we know they do.
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thanks very much. that's it for me jim sciutto sitting in for wolf blitzer today. we can assure you this is a story as well as tax plan we'll be covering throughout the day. our special coverage of these stories continues right now. this is cnn breaking news. all right. jim sciutto, we'll take it from here. happy friday to all of you. i'm brooke baldwin. you are watching cnn on what is shaping up to be extraordinarily news. we have come up with this news. michael flynn just pleaded guilty of lying to fbi about his interactions with russian ambassador. while he didn't say a whole