tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 4, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
do. i don't understand why they can't tighten things up. >> all right. thank you. thank you. that's it for "the lead." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com now to "the situation room." happening now. breaking news. probing russian money. in a cnn exclusive, we're learning at least two wealthy russians have been stopped on trips to the united states as the united states tries to find out if they funneled cash to the campaign. we're learning the president's lawyers learn that the president is the subject of the russia probe. and federal would be, quote, devastating to the clinton campaign. that happened on the same day he claimed to have met with the founder of wikileaks what did roger stone know? border guard. president trump is sending
national guard troops to the u.s./mexico border immediately. and why are there no details how many will be sent and for how long? and the president insists he isn't entering into a trade war with china but after china matches the threats with their own. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news in a cnn exclusive. cnn has learned the special counsel team has been questioning wealthy russians, asking if they legally chaneled money into donald trump's presidential campaign. at least two of those russian oligarchs have been stopped and questioned in the united states. also breaking. president trump takes the first step to deploy national guard
troops on the mexican border and the homeland security secretary says they could be head there as soon as tonight. first straight to the breaking news. cnn crime and justice reporter shimon perez is standing by. first of all, what are you learning? >> that's right. we've learned that mueller and his team have really intensified their focus into the potential flow of money from russia into the 2016 presidential election and whether the trump campaign colluded with russia. now, we know that investigators have recently targeted at least three oligarchs. sources tell us that the fbi stopped one of they will as he landed in his private jet at an airport in new york. they questioned him and even used search warrants to search his electronic devices. and then investigators, we've learned, stopped a second oligarch who also recently was
traveling to the u.s. and questioned him as well. and mueller has also asked a third russian oligarch to voluntarily hand over some documents. and some of these people who have voluntarily handed over documents, we're told, have basically had no choice. some of them doing business in the u.s. they've been forced to cooperate with the special counsel. >> very interesting. we know it is illegal for foreign nationals to give money to u.s. political campaigns. so how potentially could some of these russian oligarchs get around them? >> so one area under scrutiny is focusing on, they're looking at any supremacists these oligarchs made in u.s. companies, or in think tanks that have these political action committee that's then donated to the trump campaign and to the inauguration fund. another area of scrutiny that we understand mueller is asking questions that, are whether russians used straw donors, or americans who can legally donate into campaigns, to avoid there
issue that prohibits russians from donating directly into the u.s. campaign. >> so these fraud donors, the money would be funneled to them first and they would make the political contributions which would be legal from them. the question is how do they get money? mueller's approach in wanting to question these russian oligarchs what does that say to you about his investigation right now? this is all recent. >> a lot of these occurred in the last month, we understand. and what our sources are telling us, they believe that this could be sort of the wish list. mueller's team has already reviewed dpomts they have easy access to in the u.s. because they have jurisdiction over it. but that they might be trying to get information from the russians in the homes they will provide it voluntarily. we know a lot of these stops, the ones at the airport, are openly aggressive. and they are doing it for the element of surprise to try to catch these oligarchs off guard. hoping they'll be more honest and truthful and gaining access
to their phones before they can wipe them clean of any potential evidence. >> do we know if they're looking at it for witnesses or as a potential crime? >> certainly based on our reporting, there is every belief they are being sought as witnesses. they want to know how the money is moving around. there seems to be some indication, toward the special counsel, as part of the investigation. that it raiseder concern, whether money was being handed to u.s. citizens to donate to the campaign. made the inauguration as well. but everything that we know right now certainly points to they will being asked to come in as witnesses. but down the line, who knows? the other thing people have asked, while they're not u.s. citizens, the oligarchs, why would they have to cooperate? would would they voluntarily come in? why are they being forced to come in?
what we've been told is that a lot of them doing business. some have apartments here. they are doing businesses here. they're doing business in other countries. and therefore, this. if they don't cooperate with the special counsel, and potentially face charges for not cooperating, they have it would interrupt their business. >> and there's no corruption to the 13 russians who have been indicted by mueller and his team? >> there's no indication. we know about the russians have been indicted. we expect there will be more russians indicted down line for the dnc hack. in terms of these individuals, there's no indication that they're in any way linked. >> and those 13 russians, they're not in the united states. they're overseas. >> and they will probably never see, will never be arrested and never see, go before a judge here in the u.s. >> they're not about to be extradited to the u.s. all right. thanks. excellent reporting.
as usual o. testifying on capitol hill, we're getting a better idea what sort of jeopardy president trump could face in the special counsel's russia investigation. let's to go our senior congressional correspondent with the very latest what are you learning? >> today the white house would not make any commitmentes about whether president trump would be willing to meet behind closed doors and talk under oath to robert mueller's team. this despite the president repeatedly saying in the past that he would be willing to do so. and at this point, trump may not be the target of this investigation but he is now being told he is the subject of one. tonight cnn has learned that during negotiations between president trump's team and the lawyers, they said trump is not a target of the investigation. at least for now.
mueller's team also raised the prospect of drafting a report on any findings in the obstruction of justice part of investigation. the president has denied any collusion or obstruction. the president has not settle on whether or not to talk to the special counsel. the white house won't say if trump is still committed to speak under oath to mueller. >> the president is working in conjunction with his legal team and making a determination. i refer you to them. >> fearing a trap, some say he should talk to mueller if he has nothing to hide. >> if you did not rob the bank, there is no reason for you not to sit down is that talk to the fbi with the bank robbery. if you have nothing to hide. sit down. assuming a fair prosecutor, and i think mueller is, sit down and tell him what you know. >> all this comes as roger stone, a long time confidante of president, is facing new
scrutiny. raising new questions about stone's communications with wikileaks which released hacked clinton e-mails during 2016 election season. stone has denied having any direct talks with julian assange bust newly uncovered audio of stone appearing on the info wars radio show raises more questions that stone's contradictory claims. when he appeared on the radio presume august 4, 2016, stone warned that devastating information from bleeks the clinton foundation would soon be released. he also said, he had spoken to trump a day before. >> the clinton campaign narrative, that the russians favored donald trump and the russians are seeking this information, this is inoculation. because as you said earlier, they know what is coming is that it is devastating. let's remember that their defense, all the clint foundation scandals has been, not that we didn't do it.
it has been you have no proof. yes, but you have no proof. well, i think julian assange has that proof and i think he will furnish it to the american people. >> on the same day as that radio interview, stone sent a letter to nunberg said he had dined with assange in a phone call. now he says it was all in jest. this as they face scrutiny from investigators. >> reporter: a person involved with the trump moscow project during 2016 campaign, questioned by staff on the senate intelligence committee. he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. in trump's former campaign chairman paul manafort back in court saying the federal charges he now faces exceed the scope of mueller's purrview sinned they
allegedly occurred before the campaign. at the same time, the data from the trump campaign, cambridge analytica, has come under increased criticism over how it acts as a private date of facebook users. today social media platform said cambridge may have had access to the private data of 87 million facebook users without their knowledge and that was up from the 50 million just last month. all of this as are congress is going to interview mark zuckerberg next month. >> thanks very much for that report. joining us now. john gary mendi. what do you think the special counsel might have if. would twarnlt questiwarrant thef these foreign nationals? >> money. it's always been, follow the money. that's where it in watergate, that's where it is here, that's
where we'll find out, a lot of money was changing hands. proe money coming from foreign sources. we'll see where it all leads. clearly, it is closing around the white house. and now the president is the subject of an investigation. not a target. mabel there is some difference between the two. but we used to say, well, it is getting close to the oval office. no. it is in the oval office. could this raise the question of collusion? >> most definitely. if there was russian money, illegally going to the campaign through various secret accounts, or through a pac of one sort or another. is that collusion?
absolutely. your reporters very clearly laid out the top echelon of the trump campaign was in communication with the russians. there's no doubt that there was at least communication. does that mean collusion? well, if money is moving from russia into the campaign, through one mechanism, legal or illegal, yes, then that gets to be the word collusion. >> the legal team, the word that the president is not a criminal target, increase the odds that the president will eventually sit down with mueller for questioning? >> at some point, should this continue and more information bring in the president, closer to this collusion, the president
will have no choice. he can sit down with mueller and his team or he can get a scene that from the federal grand jury which cannot be avoided. >> let's get to another sensitive issue. the president is clearly moving forward with this plan to send national guard troops. my resacks every time there is an election, george w. bush, 2006, barack obama, 2010, and guess what? now donald trump. 2018. mid material elections, one and all. extend national guard. save us from some horrible disaster on the border. here we go once again. the question is, is it necessary given that congress has substantially over the last several years, including just two weeks ago, significantly
increased the i.c.e. program, border patrol, everything from drones in the sky to various technologies, border walls, all of that. certainly for political purposes it fathers national guard is necessary. it was in 2006, 2010. guess what? another mid-term election. apparently necessary once again. >> the national guard troops, according to the homeland security, could be arriving later tonight, as early as tonight. let me get to you watch what the national security adviser had to say about russia. >> russia has used, for the international peace and security. russia brazenly and imapplausebly denies its
actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs. >> what does it tell that you this outgoing member of the trump white house, the national security adviser, is making this admission that the u.s. has failed? >> this is not news. it has been said by others. it is perfectly clear that this president is failing in his foimt duty of protecting the united states from the russian aggression. the homeland security department when commenting, when providing information on russian hacking into the grids, the power grid, into critical infrastructure, called it an act of war. that's what the president is there for, to protect this nation. if these facts bear out. if he refuses to hold russia accountable. to push back on russia in a
sufficient way to make they will stop doing these things, then should be impeached for the simple reason of not protecting americans from a real aggression. the border is an issue. no doubt about it. the real aggression is what russia can do to seriously harm this nation's infrastructure and therefore, put american lives in jeopardy. >> what is amazing is to hear a white house official acknowledge failure. thank you for joining us. >> always. i'll be here. >> up next, the long time trump ally boasting during the campaign about federal would be devastating to hillary clinton's campaign on this same day that he dined with the wikileaks founder. what did roger stone know? and new details about the spy operations here in the united states. the u.s. expelled dozens of rugss operating under diplomatic cover. what were they up to?
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of the k file. >> that's what we found. this is roger stone on the alex jones show. on august 4, 2016. that happens to be the same day that he sent that e-mail in which he claimed to have dined with julian assange. in this appearance, stone claimed there would be devastating wikileaks coming up on hillary clinton and he also claimed that he had spoken with donald trump. let's take a listen to what he said. >> the clinton campaign narrative, that the russians favored donald trump, and the russians are leaking this information, this is inoculation because as you said earlier, they know what is coming and it is devastating. let's remember, that their defense, all the clinton foundation scandals has been, not we didn't do it.
it has been, you have no proof. yes, but you have no proof. i think julian assange has that proof and he will furnish it to the american people. >> what is roger stone saying about this? >> well, he is claiming that he was flying from l.a. to miami. he actually says that he in the info wars interview so he couldn't have dined with assange. the one thing i will say that's very interesting about this clip, is that my team had previously reported that on august 10, that was the first time stone had ever sboen knowing about wikileaks. this pegs it a week earlier. and very coincidentally comes right after that day in which he claims to have dined with assange. >> good reporting as usual. thank you very much with the cnnk file. coming up, a cnn exclusive. at least two wealthy russians have been stopped on recent trims to the united states as
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campaign. this is the first time we're learning about the russian oligarchs. >> every time we learn something new of what robert mueller is looking into, it is an expansion of this overall probe. we're learning of a whole new avenue of pursuit. not a narrowing and not a coming to an end. we learned, here's another avenue. that in and of itself is significant. on the substance of what is being reported, you know, foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to political campaigns. nor if you set up a straw donor climbed of thing where you're funneling money in, is that allowed to have foreign national involvement. so this would be completely illegal for the trump campaign to have operated in a way, fits, to receive money from foreign nationals in any way, what so ever.
>> is this what they call open source information? or do you think they've discovered very secretive confidential information that from their perspective, justifies these types of questioning? >> well, prosecutors often start with open source material. and open source is a fancy word for stuff in the media. the prosecutors learn if the work that we do, that there may be suspicious activity in this place or that place. then they use the unique powers they have. spee subpoena powers to banks, for example. it is certainly common and appropriate to start with open source material. but the great thing about being a prosecutor, then tu ability to use the grand jury scene that, a whether it is for individuals or documents, to find out whether those reports lead to any criminal behavior.
>> you're an expert on russia. how do you think this news is being received over there? that wealthy russian oligarchs come to the united states, they stop at the airport and they're questioned? >> well, i'll curious to see who they were and their names. an oligarch is an oligarch. that means they have close ties with the kremlin. this would be a setback from vladimir putin. that's what they're saying. that the best way to get under vladimir putin's skin is to get the oligarchs and their money. there is a deal that the kremlin has with them. they get to live a lavish lyle style and keep their money and spend money abroad. having said that, it is another reminder why the trump administration and the president himself were so pre mature to tweet that, and state that they were in the clear is that there was no collusion when robert mueller reported the 13
indictments of the russians back in february. remember, it stated there were no indications that those russians had any involvement with americans knowingly. that americans were not complicit knowingly including the trump campaign. some said wait, that's too soon. this is just one part of the operation going after cyber operations. this is a completely different avenue going after money directly. so this is something that would upset vladimir putin. having said that, something would benefit vladimir putin, news the president was thinking about, or what like the leave syria, rather handle the later. that's something vladimir putin desperately wants. that's why he is meeting with them. it looks like the president is willing to leave sooner than a lot of his generals are willing to do so.
>> let's talk about what is unfolding as we get this new information. we're learning that the president is more than a witness. he is the subject of the investigation. >> it could signal that the justice department will follow the guidelines under which a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. some are interpreting it that he will sit down and testify under oath. what they could want is to sit down with the president to learn more with the circumstances under which michael flynn and james comey fired as well as about the white house crafting that very misleading statement about the trump tower meeting in june of 2016 and they have had a challenge in getting trump to, of course, agree to the
parameters of an interview. the preference of the special counsel for it to be under oath. trump's legal steam arguing for more of a written format. >> justice department guidelines say a sitting president can't be charged with a crime. so is this mere lay technicality when they say he is not the target of an investigation? >> well, it is a technicality but one meeting behind it. he is will not the just a witness and a bystander in all of this. they have him as some sort of subject of this inquiry of value to them. i think anybody who is sort of thinking, this is going to end with the sitting president of the united states being indicted, i think that would be the most unlikely, extreme ending to this entire scenario. i don't think that was likely in the cards from the get-go here. >> they usually issue a report and give it to the congress. the house has to decide whether
or not to go forward with impeachment, right? >> right. and one of the differences between robert mueller who is a special counsel, and ken starr or lawrence walsh, independent counsels, is that a special counsel is an employee of the department of justice. and bound by justice department policy in a more direct way than independent counsels. it is justice department policy that the president cannot be indicted. so i think the only risk the president has is that mueller gives information to the house of representatives saying it might constitution evidence of impeachable offenses. the odds are the mueller team seeks or obtains an indictment of trump are overwhelming. it won't happen. >> think of how low the bar is for what would be good news for the president. remember last year he fired comey because comey couldn't
guarantee that he wasn't under investigation. we now know that the president of the united states is under investigation. he is not the target. he is the subject. nonetheless. the reason, why he fired his fbi director, one of the reasons was because he couldn't tell him that he was not under investigation. now we know for sure that he is. >> very quickly, you've got a new article in the new york better the whole collusion angle. tell us about that. >> one of the great controversies about this investigation, is collusion a crime? if the trump campaign and the russians work together to help the trump campaign win the election, is that a crime? and the president himself, and many of his supporters have been very insistent that he the answer is no in a document that was just filed in the manafort case, rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said mueller is
authorized to investigate collusion between trump campaign and the russians in violation of the u.s. law. so in other words, the justice department is taking the position that collusion is a crime. it doesn't mean there is evidence that the trump campaign did it. but as a legal matter, going forward, it is extremely significant that the justice department, which after all, is now a part of the trump administration, is saying that collusion can be a crime if there is evidence. >> i'll quick will read that one sentence. they're investigating allegations that paul manafort committed a crime or crimes by colluding with the russian government officials, with respect to the russian governments, after interfering with the 2016 election for president of the united states in violation of the united states law. that's what you're referring to. that's potentially significant. everybody, stick around. more conflicting signals about whether u.s. troops will stay in syria or pull out very soon.
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warfarin interferes with at least 6 of your body's natural blood-clotting factors. xarelto® is selective, targeting just one critical factor. for afib patients well managed on warfarin, there is limited information on how xarelto® compares in reducing the risk of stroke. don't stop taking xarelto® without talking to your doctor, as this may increase your risk of stroke. while taking, you may bruise more easily or take longer for bleeding to stop. xarelto® can cause serious, and in rare cases, fatal bleeding. it may increase your risk of bleeding if you take certain medicines. get help right away for unexpected bleeding or unusual bruising. do not take xarelto® if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. before starting, tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures and any kidney or liver problems. learn all you can to help protect yourself from a stroke. talk to your doctor about xarelto®.
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we're still seeing some conflicting signals on u.s. troops and syria. president trump has told his national security team while he's willing to keep u.s. forces in syria for a short time, he still wants them out soon. this comes as the leaders of russia, turkey and iran have been meeting to discuss its
future. so fred, what is the reaction over there? >> reporter: well, i think all this conflicting information they're hearing from the united states frrgs president trump saying he wants to pull out of syria as fast as possible, where some others in the u.s. are saying some of different. that does a lot to undermine america's credibility on the ground. you were talking about the summit between the turks, the russians, and the iranians. all those countries have shown a clear commitment to staying in syria. one thing to keep in mind as they talk about the future of syria, they're also creating a reality on the ground here. if you take place i am in damascus, the syrian government forces backed by the russians have made significant gains against rebel forces. certainly the u.s. has absolutely no say or influence as to what happens there. right now i would say, wolf, that russia is by far and away the most influential player here
in syria. also a very strong position for the russians at those negotiations. the u.s. again not at the table. and then you look at the allies of the u.s. in syria. first and foremost, the kurds. where essentially the ground forces are fighting against isis. they're getting squeezed by the russians and the turks and a lot of them are quite angry at the u.s. because hearing from president trump, they know he wants to get out of syria and they might have to make an arrangement with the russians to survive. >> a very disturbing development for the kurds indeed. thank you very much. coming up, as vladimir putin pushes back against the global expulsion of russian diplomats, we're learning a bit more about what the russians just kicked out by the united states, may have been doing. 's easy to thinl money managers are pretty much the same. but while some push high commission investment products, fisher investments avoids them. some advisers have hidden and layered fees. fisher investments never does.
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today russian president vladimir putin called for common sense to prevail and complained about what he called the damage to international relations caused by the ongoing expulsions of russian diplomats, provoked by last month's poisoning of a former russian spy and his daughter in britain. as part of the global response to the poisoning, the united states ordered 60 russians to leave. tonight cnn's brian todd has more about what they were doing here in the united states. brian, what have you learned? >> wolf, tonight we've got new information on the activities of those russian operatives. we've learned from u.s.
officials and intelligence veterans that many of those russians were aggressively spying on u.s. bases and high-tech firms. we're told putin still got operatives in the field here in america even after those expulsions. tonight cnn has learned new details about vladimir putin's spy operations inside the u.s. u.s. officials speaking in sobering terms about russian operatives who were kicked out of the u.s. in retaliation for the poisoning of former russian spy sergei skripal in britain. >> these russian officers orchestrate russia's sustained campaign of propaganda, disinformation and political subversion. >> other u.s. officials going even further, one telling reporters that the russians expelled from the u.s. were aggressive collection personnel, spies, cloaked as diplomats. america's top spy, director of national intelligence dan coats, says of the russian consulate in seattle just shut down by the
trump administration, there were, quote, collection opportunities there at places like mcchord air force base near tacoma and the boeing facilities in the area. another senior administration official says a key reason that russian consulate in seattle was closed was because of its proximity to a submarine base, likely the sensitive nuclear subbase on the kitsap peninsula in washington state. putin is quickly ramping up his navy's submarine fleet and intelligence veterans say that u.s. base and other facilities near seattle are a gold mine. >> the goal is for those people who have access to collect information, to steal secrets, and then pass them back to the russians, which the russian government will then use to advance their interests and to the detriment of ours. >> experts say the microsoft facility near seattle would likely have been a target for russian spies, for cyber attacks and surveillance. air eric o'neill is a former counterintelligence officer who helped capture robert hanson.
o'neill is played lie ryan phillip phillippe. he said one of the key missions of russian spies in seattle is to recruit people to spy for the russians. >> what are the methods they use to recruit spies? >> there are a number of methods to recruit spies in the traditional sense. that means actual face-to-face recruitment. i give you money, you give me secrets. i'll blackmail you, you give me secrets. a honey trap using a beautiful man or woman to entrap somebody in a blackmail scheme. >> now, the kremlin vehemently denies any involvement in the sergei skripal poisoning, which was the reason the u.s. expelled those russian diplomats. russian officials saying tonight the west is trying to portray russia as an enemy using disinformation. as for russia's spying activities here in the united states, one russian official told us that russia has only diplomats in seattle, which u.s. intelligence veterans tell us is an absurd claim.
wolf. >> brian, you're also getting warnings about the operatives the russians still have here in the united states, right? >> right, wolf. a senior administration official telling us even with the expulsions are dozens of russians, there are more russian spies still inside the u.s. and there could be more actions taken against them. eric o'neill says the russians very likely have sent private russian citizens to the u.s. to pose as business people and spy, people who wouldn't even operate out of their consulates or their embassy. those people, pretty hard to keep track of. >> brian todd reporting for us. thank you. coming up, there's breaking news. in a cnn exclusive, we're learning at least two wealthy russians have been stopped on trips to the united states as the special counsel, robert mueller, tries to find out if they funneled cash to the trump campaign. my mom's pain from moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis was intense. i wondered if she could do the stuff she does for us which is kinda, a lot. and if that pain could mean something worse. joint pain could mean joint damage. enbrel helps relieve joint pain, and helps stop further damage
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happening now, breaking news. follow the rubles. cnn has learned that the special counsel's team is stopping wealthy russian, asking them if they gave illegal cash to the trump campaign. this as we're also learning what the president's lawyers know about the investigation of mr. trump as robert mueller closes in. previewing the hack. cnn has uncovered audio of trump ally roger stone boasting anti-clinton information would be revealed by wikileaks before it happened. more questions tonight about stone's links to the founder of the group that published e-mails stolen by russia. troops to the border. the trump administration says national guard forces will deploy near mexico immediately without offering specifics or a price tag. what's behind the sudden urgency? and stormy's deal maker.
the porn star's former lawyer is speaking out for the first time, talking to cnn exclusively about the hush agreement he brokered and his contacts with mr. trump's lawyer, michael cohen. why is cohen urging him to spill his guts. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. breaking tonight in the russia investigation, cnn has learned that the special counsel has intensified his focus on the potential flow of illegal cash from russia into the trump campaign. robert mueller's team now taking the unusual step of stopping and questioning wealthy russian oligarchs traveling to the united states. i'll get reaction from congressman jim himes, he's a member. house intelligence committee. and our correspondents and analysts are all stand