tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 7, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
warner. the coverage continues with wonderful blitszwolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. trump aides sentenced. former campaign adviser george papadopoulos is sentenced to a very brief prison term after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators. his contacts with russians led to the investigation of moscow's interference in the 2016 campaign. investigating anonymous, the president tells attorney general jeff sessions to unmask the anonymous official behind the scathing "the new york times" op-ed that has thrown the white house into a panic. "the times" calls it a blatant abuse of government power. this is not normal. former president barack obama accuses president trump and the gop of fostering resentment and
paranoia saying the vision of the republican party these days is radical and not normal. and circling roger stone. robert mueller's team draws closer to long-time trump confidant roger stone who boasted of wikileaks links. now one stone associate appears before the mueller grand jury and another gives a voluntary interview. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news. the first sentence is handed down for a former trump campaign aide. george papadopoulos given two weeks in prison after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators. he says he can't guarantee he told the campaign that the russians had dirt on hillary clinton as the special investigation closes in. president trump said he doesn't
want to be, quote, set up by a perjury trap and insisting yet again there was no collusion. and furious over the scathing anonymous "the new york times" op-ed, written by one of his senior officials, president trump calls on the attorney general jeff sessions to uncover the identity of the author. sources say meantime that after constant attacks by the president sessions is ready for whatever outcome awaits him including being fired. our correspondents and specialists are all standing by with full coverage. let's get to the breaking news first. the former trump campaign aide george papadopoulos is sentenced to a brief prison term for lying to investigators about contacts with russia. our crime and justice correspondent shimon prokupecz has the very latest. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. so, you know, a big sigh of relief certainly here for the papadopoulos family by all accounts.
they had expected he would serve at least a month, perhaps as much as two months in jail. but the judge, the judge here listened to george papadopoulos when he stood up, said he was remorseful. the judge saying words from george papadopoulos gave him indications he regretted what he did here, he was certainly remorseful and so the judge said he had anticipated giving george papadopoulos as much as 30 days in jail, decided 14 days was sufficient. he did say that this is an unusual case. it is rare for someone to go to jail when they lie and they admit to lying to the fbi but this was a different kind of case given the national security implications, the judge said papadopoulos realized he was lying and george for -- in terms of what he had to say here in court is that he said that he was doing this because he thought he would be able to stay with the trump campaign, would
be able to join the administration at some point and then his attorney, george papadopoulos' attorney arguing in court to the judge he did this for loyalty, he lied to the fbi, didn't admit to the fbi he had contact with russians because of his loyalty to the president. to donald trump. he didn't want to admit that he had this contact with russian agents, wolf. >> do we expect, shimon, p papadopoulos to walk out the front doors of the federal courthouse and maybe make a statement? >> reporter: yeah. perhaps he may be doing so now. we expect him to walk out, wolf. his wife is there with him. she is outspoken, out there talking about this case. >> hold on. it looks like he's walking out right now. with his wife. let's see if he goes over to the microphones. he doesn't look like he is. he's walking away from the courthouse. but, shimon, he must be pretty happy. getting two weeks in jail.
>> look. i think they should be pretty happy here. this is a huge sigh of relief for them. i had talked to his wife. she was concerned that he was going to get as much as two months. in fact, even, wolf, federal probation department recommended a sentence of 30 days in jail. so the judge here really the key here the judge said was george papadopoulos. the fact he came into court, stood there, admitted that he made a mistake, regretted. the judge believed him here and thought that the words were sin veer. he said to the judge, often people come in and say things and sort of rehearsed and acting but in this case, the judge certainly felt that george papadopoulos admitted, realized the mistake hen made and that the toll taken on george papadopoulos' life certainly also played a role in the judge's ultimate decision here, wolf. >> what may come next in the mueller probe? >> reporter: well, there's still a lot going on, wolf. as you said earlier, the ronger
stone matter active. that investigation, people here meeting with the grand jury on that case. yesterday someone on the roger stone matter, as well. meeting with the special counsel's office. that is still very much -- >> hold on a moment. papadopoulos' lawyer is speaking. i want to listen. >> judge issued what he thought was a very fair sentence. >> could you explain why you think president trump hindered the investigation for the george papadopoulos? >> the problem i have with the fake news twitters that go out or the tweets that go out is that he was tweeting seven days before george was interviewed that -- he's the president of the united states. based on all of his information, i would assume and the information he had, that this was a witch hunt. and that it was fake news, that russia had meddled in the election. well, i think we are all somewhat satisfied this point in time at least we know of russia
meddled in the election no. doubt about it. george was listening to his preferred candidate and his president of the united states. opining that this was a witch hunt. obviously it was not. when george went in on january 27th he was of the mind-set this was not as significant as we have now all learned it to be. >> mr. papadopoulos -- >> pardon me? >> is mr. papadopoulos believed now there was collusion by the trump campaign? >> that's a word thrown around. i'm saying that i think all fair minded people who listen to the facts in the case would conclude that russia meddled in the election. i thought even president trump had come around to this. >> did mr. papadopoulos know anybody in the campaign that had dirt on hillary clinton while the campaign was going on? >> he does recall doing that and
if he does he does not recall who it would be what he told it to. that was not his primary interest. his primary interest was to do what he thought the campaign wanted him to do which was put russian officials together with the united states officials to work on some better relationship with russia. >> when was the last time you talked to joseph -- >> sorry. when's the last time he -- >> talked to -- >> hold on. let me try to think. you know, i don't know the answer to that. i know that he spoke to him i think it was on april 24th but i do not know if he talked to him after that. it's a great question. i never asked him. >> why was the sentencing delayed so many times? >> well, i think we did it as a courtesy to the prosecutors because we knew they were very deep into this investigation. and we didn't want to saddle them with what we thought was a
minor player. let them work through what they were working on and that's why we an i grgreed to delay the se. >> who do you think he was working for? >> i have an opinion. i don't know what the intelligence agencies' opinion is. my opinion is he was playing on behalf of russia. >> do you know if george believed that there were e-mails with dirt on hillary clinton? did he -- did he think they existed? >> at the time he was told that, he didn't really concern himself with that. he just -- he didn't know. he didn't know if it was somebody just exaggerating or putting some gar xwanbage out t. he didn't put any credence in that representation. >> telling to congress about the work --
>> would you repeat the question? >> attorney general sessions was honest with congress about what happened in the march 31 meeting? >> i know that george's recollection is different from what i saw the attorney general testified to. >> what kind of a message does a 14-day sentence -- >> first of all, i think it is really stupid to lie to the fbi, especially when you don't need to speak to them. so i think most people who woud read about this sentence would begin to educate themselves that they don't want to do 14 days because they lied to the fbi. i think it does send a message. >> are you saying he lied to the fbi because of -- >> no. i'm not saying that at all. >> with regard to your fake news comment -- >> that's not why -- no. that's not why he lied to the fbi at all. i'm just saying that the president had a position that
was fake news and it was a witchcraft. >> was that on his mind when he went to testify? >> he certainly considered it, yes. >> does your client have any idea whether there was a conspiracy involving e-mails from russia? any information -- >> he has never seen any e-mails that would have been hacked by russians. >> whether there was a conspiracy between the trump administration -- >> he has absolutely no knowledge of that whatsoever. >> when is -- >> clarity on who if anyone in the campaign that he told about the e-mails? >> he does not recall telling anyone. >> he just does not. >> papadopoulos saying for months an entrapment campaign by the fbi and western intelligence to go after her husband. are you saying that's not incorrect or don't believe that's to be the case? >> our firm would stand up for a
second if we saw misconduct. we have seen no such thing. we have no entrapment or set-up by u.s. intelligence people. as far as we're concerned based on everything we saw they did this on the square. and another important thing is we received from the prosecutors search warrants, cover sheets of search warrants. we never received and have no reason to believe whatsoever that there was an fisa warrant involved in george papadopoulos' case. >> how does -- feel about the case? >> i have not talked to him. i think he's relieved. >> with regard to the court papers, with loyalty to the master, what were you referring? >> trump campaign and more specifically to donald trump, his chosen candidate. >> does he remain loyal and support trump? >> tom, is he -- >> we don't talk politics. >> tom? >> part of the question -- >> chuck, i have absolutely no idea. >> and what about the
relocation? so to be clear, are they thinking about moving then to los angeles? >> they're thinking about moving away from their chicago home base or his home base and possibly moving to california. >> to do what? >> i have not checked on this. >> so, what was the new york request for? >> he wants to go to new york to visit people that are in the state in his case. which i think are friends and perhaps members of the press. >> so is there by chance do you think a book in the works? >> i'm writing a book about my experiences with you and it's going to be a big seller. we used to drink together! >> thank you. >> i'm sorry. >> that's thomas breen, the attorney for george papadopoulos sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to federal prosecutors. bringing in jake tapper who's done a lot of reporting on this george papadopoulos case and had
a chance to sit down with him. let's get your reaction to what we just heard from his attorney who was basically defending the way the federal government behaved and he was critical of trump. >> critical of president trump saying president trump has done more to impede the russia investigation than his client george papadopoulos had. robert miller saying asking for up to six months in prison for papadopoulos and didn't get today. only two weeks. he was saying because papadopoulos lied to the fbi about when it was that he first had that contact with joseph mifsud who told him he had hillary clinton's e-mails and lied about this and impeded the investigation and the attorney argued in court that trump is much more of a hindrance than papadopoulos and seemed to side with mueller coming the fact that, a, the russians did interfere in the election. but his argument is it had very, very little to do with his client george papadopoulos.
>> you heard this attorney say that he believes, this is his belief, that joseph was actually working with the russians. >> yes. although as we'll discuss more on our documentary this evening at 11:00 p.m. joseph has another claim about who he was working for and it's unclear who he was working for. it's not like any -- it's not like he's acknowledging any intelligence agency is acknowledging he worked for them and certainly the case that the government is making mueller is making that he was a cutout because he had contacts with the kremlin and this is all how it began. the idea that papadopoulos met joseph and joseph told him, you know, the russians say that they have hillary clinton's e-mails and then the question is, what did papadopoulos do then? and in fact, papadopoulos said he doesn't remember telling anybody on the trump campaign and he has admitted telling us
in the interview he told the greek foreign minister a few months latter and a different ambassador the australian ambassador to the uk so there are a lot of people out there that don't believe he didn't tell anybody on the trump campaign. there's no evidence he did but there's an individual working on the trump campaign, john mashburn and now works at the department of energy in the trump administration and that he remembered an e-mail from papadopoulos that claimed that the russians had hillary clinton's e-mails. in any case, this is the big question. what did papadopoulos tell the campaign and one of the things i pushed him on when i interviewed him just a few days ago. >> there are going to be people out there who think there's no way george papadopoulos didn't tell anyone on the campaign. did you tell anyone on the campaign? >> as far as i remember i absolutely did not share -- >> lewandowski? >> i absolutely did not share
this information with anyone on the campaign. >> sam clovis? >> anyone. >> dearborn. >> anyone, anyone. >> mashburn. >> anyone. >> waleed farris. none of them? >> i might have. i can't guarantee it. my memory is telling me i never shared it with anyone on the campaign. >> so he says he might have. he can't guarantee that he didn't but his memory says that he did not tell anybody on the campaign. again, according to "the new york times" there is an individual john mashburn working for department of energy who testified to the senate judiciary committee he remembers an e-mail of papadopoulos in which he said that the russians have hillary clinton's e-mails so this investigation still continues. that e-mail has not been discovered according to "the new york times" when we asked for the mueller team to weigh in they would not comment. the fbi also would not comment, wolf. >> once very sensitive part is when papadopoulos says he pitched an idea for trump then candidate, presidential candidate, to actually meet with putin. he thought that trump was open
to it but he thought that sessions was pretty much very open to the idea although we are getting a different line from sessions. >> this is interesting because sessions testified before congress about ten months ago that his recollection is that when papadopoulos brought this up he pushed back. papadopoulos said that candidate trump committed and jeff session was very enthusiastic about it. we have papadopoulos and has been -- pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi. he's claiming that sessions did not tell the truth to congress. we asked sessions what he thought about that today. we got a statement from his lawyer saying sessions stands by what he told congress and stands by his recollection. >> yeah. we got the statement. chuck championshiper, the attorney for the attorney general. attorney general sessions testified under oath about his recollection of this meeting and he stands by his testimony. jake, thank you very much. great reporting as usual.
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you always get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed? let's say it in a really low voice. carl? lowest price, guaranteed. just stick with badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com following multiple breaking stories. president trump calling on his attorney general to uncover the identity of the anonymous author of that scathing "the new york times" op-ed. let's go to the senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny. the president still steaming hitting the campaign trail. >> reporter: no question that anonymous op-ed is weighing on the president. but he went further tonight in calling on the attorney general to get involved in all of this.
even as he's campaigning in the midwest, asking the doj to be involved and not saying one thing. what crime is he asking them to investigate? president trump asking attorney general jeff sessions tonight to investigate and unmask the author of the anonymous essay in "the new york times" that blasted him as unfit for office. speaking to reporters aboard air force one today, the president calling it a matter of national security. not simply as outrage over senior administration official saying he's ill informed, impetuous and reckless inside the white house. >> i would say jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because i really believe it's national security. >> reporter: on a two-day campaign swing to montana and the dakotas, the president is telling his supporters that their decision at the ballot box in 2016 is being sup verted by a government bureaucrat. >> unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas
are truly a threat to democracy itself. i think it's backfired. seriously. >> reporter: yet the president made clear he's seething. >> the latest act ift resistance is the op-ed published in the failing "the new york times" by an anonymous, really ominous, gutless, coward. >> reporter: struggling to say anonymous and adding the search is on for the person responsible. >> we'll take a look
at what he had, what he gave, what he's talking about. also, where he is right now. eventually the name of this sick person will come out. >> reporter: asked how criticizing his presidency presents a danger to national security, he explained. >> supposing i have a high level national security meeting and he has got a clearance, and he goes into a high level meeting, concerning china or russia or
north korea or something, and
this guy goes in. i don't want him in those meetings. >> reporter: two months before the midterm elections, former president obama stepped back on to the political stage today with his own message to the anonymous trump official. >> they're not doing us a service. by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff that's coming out of this white house and then saying don't worry. we're preventing the other 10%. that's not how things are supposed to work. this is not normal. these are extraordinary times and dangerous times. >> reporter: obama has largely remained publicly silent about the successor until today. in a speech in illinois where he called on republicans to take notice of how trump treat it is rule of law. >> it shall not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the fbi to use the criminal justice system as a cudle to punish opponents. >> reporter: trump who has not
spoken to obama since inauguration day in 2017 responded like this. >> i watched it but i fell asleep. i found he's very good. very good for sleeping. >> reporter: trump made clear he's worried about democrats in the midterm elections planting early seeds of an argument against impeachment. >> we will impeach him but he didn't do anything wrong. it doesn't matter. we will impeach him! we will impeach. i say how do you impeach somebody that's doing a great job, didn't do anything wrong. if it happens it's your fault because you didn't go out to vote. >> reporter: as the president talking about the specter of impeachment, the department of justice say is saying, you know, they don't comment if they're getting involved an investigation or not. the president also called for potential action against "the new york times." as for "new york times," wolf, they're issuing a statement about the op-ed saying this.
take a look. we are confident that the department of justice understands that the first amendment protects all american citizens and not participate in a blatant abuse of government power. the president's threats both underscore why we must safeguard the identity of the writer of the op-ed and serve as a reminder of the importance of free and independent press to the american democracy. it started with the woodward book and now an op-ed. the president coming back here to a stormy night in washington. he's campaigning in south dakota now. spending the weekend here at the white house. wolf? >> jeff, thank you. jeff zeleny at the white house. we also have some new reporting on the attorney general jeff sessions. i want to bring in white house correspondent kaitlan collins. where does the attorney general -- what does he think right now? where does he think he stands as far as the president is concerned? >> reporter: well, wolf, he is really come to terms with the fact that the relationship with
president trump won't end well one way or another and the request to investigate who it is that wrote that critical op-ed of him isn't going to help. wolf, over the last year and a half now that the president has been attacking jeff sessions at the beginning he said he was going to keep his head down, keep doing his job at the justice department and then as those attacks increased we saw him push back on the president more and more and now even in recent weeks he's acknowledged that that relationship with president trump has only gotten worse. wolf, some days he treats this with humor joking with people looking at the president's twiter feed to see if he has a j.b. and prepared for any outcome that's going to happen, including potentially him being fired, wolf. >> so does he think he might be fired? >> reporter: i think that is a likely outcome. i think people believe that, judging by the president's twitter feed. but also, there's a question of would jeff sessions resign? would it come to that with this relationship with the president? you saw the president recently
saying in an interrue to keep jeff sessions under an until the midterms in november and then after that even some republicans that typically voiced support or jeff sessions on capitol hill saying to expect the president to pick a new attorney general. >> kaitlan, thank you very much. let's talk about all of this with our correspondents and our experts. gloria, white house clearly still reels about that op-ed in "the new york times." but now, in a stunning move, the president says he wants the attorney general jeff sessions to launch a formal investigation into who actually wrote that editorial and the president's going one step further in suggesting maybe it was treasonous. >> right. he wants the attorney general to act like his general counsel at the trump organization and investigate what amounts to an anonymous source and "the new york times" has responded that they would not cooperate with that kind of an investigation. but the president is clear to me, i mean, this is part of a
pattern here with this president who has said to jeff sessions, for example, why did you undiet two republicans so close to the election? because now they may lose their seats as a result. i want you to investigate this for me. the attorney general works for the government of the united states. and not personally for the president of the united states. and so, sessions knows that his time as attorney general is getting shorter and shorter. >> good point. you know, mark preston, listen to this exchange that sessions had with the senate judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley in the confirmation hearing last year. listen to this. >> the attorney general of the united states is, of course, the nation's chief law enforcement officer. he or she is not the president's lawyer. will you be able to stand up and say no to the president of the united states if in your judgment the law and your duty
demands it? >> i understand the responsibility of the attorney general and i will do so. you simply have to help the president do things that he might desire in a lawful way and have to be able to say no both for the country, for the legal system and for the president. to avoid situations that are not acceptable. >> now, in contrast to that, the president seems to think that the attorney general and the justice department are there to do what he wants. >> yeah. and i would go a step further beyond saying that he is the counsel for the trump organization. some ways donald trump looked at the department of justice as his folks that are going to fight on his behalf, go out. some way his enforcer. he wants them to enforce things or against people that he feels that have done him wrong. you know when's amazing about this doj thing is happening in any other company there would be
outcry. right? anger, frustration and then a investigation but done by the human resources department and not bring in an investigative agency to do so. if donald trump is that concerned about this, why isn't office of personnel and management looking into this? it seems to be a personnel issue. >> good point. jeffrey toobin, the president's previous attempts to influence the justice department from your perspective may actually have included some impeachable offenses. has he crossed another new line with this latest demand? >> well, i don't think you can look at any of these acts by the president in isolation. i think they're all as gloria and others have said, it's just part of a pattern. that he doesn't understand that the department of justice works for the taxpayers, works for the government. is guided by the rule of law. and they're not his personal attorneys to settle his personal and political vendettas.
using the department of justice to shield republican officeholders who commit crimes which is what he was asking the department of justice to do in that tweet from last week, no question in my mind that could be an impeachable offense. if he uses the department of justice here to ferret out a leaker who did not leak classified information that, too, would represent part of a pattern of abuse of power. it is true, i think it is fair to say, a political appointee which i think this person clearly is can be fired for any reason or no reason including disloyalty, not supporting the president's agenda. that's what it means to be a political appointee but to use the fbi to identify someone that the president simply doesn't like would be an abuse of power. >> very interesting. you know, sabrina, as you just heard, our report, jeff sessions
is increasingly convinced only a matter of time he's going to be gone either -- and the president probably is going to fire him. he may resign and not going to be there much longer so what do you make of this? >> remember that jeff sessions did offer to resign last year when he was berated by the president for recusing himself from overseeing the russia investigation and he does have some support from republican leaders on capitol hill but it's notable that many of them have said that this is about not having the votes to confirm a replacement before the midterms so it's fully possible that if the president does try and remove sessions after november the calculus may change. now, the irony of course is sessions is one of the more enforcers of trump agenda with immigration policy, you know, criminal justice rescinding, the obama guidance on minimums and everything to do with russia and the president said as much himself and the challenge then
will be as gloria and others pointed out that the president ultimately seeing the attorney general as acting in the service of him and his presidency and protecting the presidency so anyone who comes into this role i think will face a similar challenge if perhaps they don't move to shut down the russia investigation and we'll have to see, of course, if he appoints a loyalist or someone like jeff sessions distance himself from the president. >> and remember, the sin, the unforgivable sin that jeff sessions committed in the eyes of donald trump was recusing himself from the russia investigation. which was the right thing to do. that the unforgivable sin is when jeff sessions did the right thing. which makes this whole vendetta even more sinister frankly. >> and also, don't forget talking about loyalty, jeff sessions was loyalist number one in the united states senate. jeff sessions was the first senator to come out and say, you
know what? i think donald trump ought to be president of the united states. that made a big difference for donald trump. >> he came out at a time and jeff sessions walked out on the limb when it wasn't cool to be on that limb. >> that's right. >> that limb almost broke several times in the campaign and didn't earn any great friends. certainly in the united states senate. >> and trump's complaint is, well, if jeff sessions was going to recuse himself on russia he should have told me because then i wouldn't have appointed him attorney general. but what he had to do was he had to get advice. he had to get ethics advice. you know? and sessions wanted to be attorney general. this was his reward for supporting trump. and he -- i would argue he's been loyal to donald trump on policy as you point out. but donald trump believes, of course, that everything is about russia. and that he hasn't been loyal on that key issue because he's not
doing what he wanted him to did. >> jeffrey, i just want to play a clip for you. this is the former president of the united states barack obama. he was speaking, by the way, coincidentally, the president aboard air force one talking about raising the notion that the attorney general to go investigate and find out who wrote that article in "new york times," and president obama was criticizing the president very bluntly, very openly in an hour-plus speech for politicizing the justice department. listen to this. >> the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the republican party. it did not start with donald trump. he's a symptom. not the cause. [ applause ] he's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians
have been fanning for years. how hard can that be? saying that nazis are bad. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> well, you know, i think it's worth remembering that in the beginning of president obama's second term in 2013 the senate passed comprehensive immigration reform where there was a path to citizenship for some people in the country illegally. there was protection for the dreamers. the young people brought to america as children. i mean, the republican party has moved dramatically to the right on a number of issues, most notably immigration and i think that's what president obama is talking about. there used to be a constituency for moderation when it comes to issues like immigration and that's gone now. and, you know, how hard can it be to condemn nazis? that's of course a reference to the president's -- president trump's statements after the events in charlottesville last year. >> yeah. that's exactly the point,
sabrina. when president trump said there's fine people on both sides and now all of a sudden you know that president obama did not want to publicly go after his successor because they're not supposed to do that but i take it he couldn't wait any longer. >> democrats have been clamoring for president obama to be more involved in taking on trump, especially ahead of the midterm elections. obama enjoys a post-presidency approval rating in the mid-60s and popular in the democratic party. so i think they see him as an asset coming to turning out the vote ahead of november and it is interesting to see the contrast because for the past year and a half president obama's been very careful in issues the occasion statements condemning some of trump's policy decisions. but he's never attacked him by name. that, of course, changed today. aides who are close to the former president told me it's because obama sees this as much bigger than trump. as a critical point in american democracy and its future.
>> what's interesting to me, trump saying -- trump asked about the response and it was boring and almost fell asleep because he didn't know how to respond to it. very complex speech that wasn't only about donald trump but it was about what's occurred in the country since the election. and i'm not quite sure that donald trump actually could formulate some response to what the president was saying and all he could say is, you know, i fell asleep. by the way, if you had been president we would have had negative growth, not positive growth. >> yeah. >> that was just about it. >> last time they actually had a conversation was on president trump's inauguration day. >> now we know why. the president tells attorney general sessions to unmask the
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breaking news. president trump now suggesting that the attorney general jeff sessions should launch a justice department investigation into the identity of the anonymous author of this week's scathing op-ed in "the new york times." brian todd is checking in with experts. brian, what clues would a possible investigation be
looking for? >> wolf, we are told they could look for clues in how the piece was written and they could search the e-mails and communications of top officials to see if anyone had contacted "the new york times." it seems president trump's team is doing some of those things. tonight, this is taking on the look of one of those classic cold war style mole hunts. >> really a ominous, gutless coward. >> reporter: engage raged, paranoid and on the hunt for the person on the team the wrote the anonymous op-ed in "the new york times" slamming him. president trump is enlisting his top aides in the search. tonight, is calling on attorney general jeff sessions to uncover the writer. >> i would say jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because i really believe it's national security. >> reporter: and he's pressuring the times to reveal the person's identity. >> for the sake of our national
security "the new york times" should publish his name at once. >> reporter: as the president himself acknowledged it's not clear if it's a he. "the new york times" says one of trump's outside advisers has told the paper the white house has a list of about 12 people who they believe could have written the op-ed. tonight, the possible tactics being used in the high stakes mole hunt include an option that the times says is being floated by people close to the president. forcing senior officials to sign sworn affidavits that could be used in court if necessary. >> but i don't see a law that has been broken. indeed, a person has a first amendment right to express themselves. so i don't see why there would be affidavits that would go to any court because there's no legal proceeding going on. >> reporter: republican senator rand paul suggesting forcing stafferi staffers to take lie detector tests. >> i don't see how they would legitimately be able to use that
tactic. >> reporter: a source close to the white house tells cnn the aides are following leads base on how the ed moirl is written looking at key words which stand out. the writer used the word lodestar meaning guide or beacon. a word vice president pence used several times in public. pence denies being the writer. a forensic language expert said it could have been placed in the op-ed to throw readers off trick them into thinking it was pence. finding the actual user using their words he said is tough. >> you have to get a adequate set of known documents as samples from the various people who are candidates and then compare it to the anonymous document. also, we're not looking for things obvious to somebody trying to mimic somebody else like lodestar but patterns of constructing the sentences and arguments. >> reporter: whatever tactics are used, this is a mole hunt
observers say that could paralyze an already besieged white house. >> these are really hard jobs. where you are under attack from events, political opponents, from everything else. if you can't trust the people in the foxhole with you, you -- it's impossible to succeed. some washington veterans including former government officials say they believe the op-ed writer is going to be outed even if it takes decades like it did with the watergate source, deep throat. some say they wouldn't be surprised if the person in or outed him or herself to win public praise or maybe even score a book deal. >> thanks very much. joining us now, democratic representative of virginia. thanks for joining us. let me get to this controversial decision by president trump today to pressure jeff sessions to find out, launch a formal perhaps criminal justice investigation who wrote that article in "the new york times."
is there any legal basis for that? >> i'm not a lawyer, but i can't imagine there's anything like that. when you get internal criticism, you want to try to find out how to fix it, how to make things better, not pursue the person that just expressed their rights. all this notion about lie detector tests all suggests there was something criminal done there. i don't see anything. >> he's going one step further, suggesting whoever wrote this article may have committed treason. treason, which of course is if you're convicted, potentially you could get capital punishment, the death sentence. >> yeah, this is crazy. there's nothing in there that most people haven't already figured out. a lot is in the woodward book. if you read truch's tweets from the last year and a half, you've pretty much come to the same conclusion. >> looks like the president is trying to pressure the attorney general, the justice department, to go after his political enemies. do you believe that is an impeachable offense?
>> that may well be. there's so much more that trump has done as president including that issue that may be impeachable. but certainly, express iing you opinion about what's happening with the trump administration in no way violates the constitution of the law. >> let me get your reanchor to the breaking news we've iriarted this hour, the former trump campaign aide, george papadopoul papadopoulos, he was sentenced today, but just got a two-week sentence for lying to the federal prosecutors, to the fbi, about his role in the whole russia probe and all of that. the attorney came out and suggested that president trump has actually done more harm to the mueller investigation than his client, papadopoulos. how do you see it? >> i heartily agree with that. trump has undermined it in so many different ways, but the pop top thing, the two weeks probably reflects he's been willing to cooperate with the fbi and other things. as cohen, flynn, papadopoulos, manafort, et cetera, et cetera,
gates. all either being indicted or pleading guilty to crimes. >> the more serious accusation, jeff sessions was enthusiastic when papadopoulos pitched this idea of a meeting between candidate trump and putin, maybe in moscow. that directly contradicts the sworn testimony of sessions. during the that he gave to the house judiciary committee. do you think sessions may have lied? because he's standing by what he said. >> well, he may have. it's not for me to judge that, but it's worth continuing to look into. the whole russia collusion thing is i think where trump is most vulnerable to actually having done something that's impeachable. >> where do you see all this heading? >> it depends unfortunately as president obama suggested today, our republican congress has been unwilling to provide the oversight that the separation of branches that this branch really needs. if democrats take back the
house, we could have more appropriate oversight. not witch hunts, but trying to find out what's actually happening. >> the democrats would have subpoena power. >> this is one of the reasons why brett kavanagh's possible confirmation is scary because he's written again and again that perhaps presidents don't have to respond to subpoenas. that they can do whatever they want. >> thanks for coming in. coming up, the first sentence is handed down for a former trump campaign aide. george papadopoulos gets a very brief prison term after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators about russia contacts and he speaks exclusively with cnn. (vo) this is not a video game. this is not a screensaver. this is the destruction of a cancer cell by the body's own immune system, thanks to medicine that didn't exist until now. and today can save your life. ♪
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lowest price, guaranteed. just stick with badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com happening now. breaking news. headed to prison. the trump campaign aide whose information helped trigger the russia information was just sentenced. george papadopoulos has been talking to cnn. perverting justice. the president is once xwen urging his attorney general to investigate someone he views as an enemy. will jeff sessions do anything to down the anonymous op-ed writer who portrayed president trump as a danger to the nation? obama strikes back. he breaks his silence and accuses him of capitalizing on
fear. tonight, a mocking response from president trump. and crash in the stone. the special counsel ramps up his focus on a long-term trump ally. questioning two of roger stone's associates. why did one agree to a private interview instead of facing a grand jury? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight. the first former member of the trump campaign sentenced in the russia investigation. after appealing for leniency, george papadopoulos ordered to serve 14 days in prison for lying to investigators about his russia connected contacts. also breaking. a new call by president trump for the attorney general. he loves to berate in public to do his bidding. he says he wants jeff sessions to investigate who wrote that anonymous op-ed about a resistance movement within the