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Special Report; Former Trump Adviser Pleads Guilty To Lying About Russia Contacts; George Papadopoulos Cooperating With Special Counsel Probe; Former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort And Longtime Business Partner Indicted; Trump Seething As Mueller Probe Targets Former Aides. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired October 30, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:20] JAKE TAPPER, CNN SPECIAL REPORT, THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION HOST: This is a CNN special report, the Russia investigation. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. Tonight the first criminal charges in the Russia probe are sending shock waves throughout the political world. We're getting new information about the United States of America versus Paul Manafort and Richard Gates and the United States of America versus George Papadopoulos including President Trump's private reaction and a new courtroom transcript. Special counsel Robert Mueller is now clearly zeroing in on potential collusion between the Trump campaigns and the Russian government. Our correspondents and analyst have been leading the way in this breaking story. Here are the facts as we know at this hour.
A former foreign policy advisor to then candidate Trump lied to the FBI about his contacts with three individuals in kremlin ties including a professor and told him in April 2016 that he just return from Moscow, where high level Russian officials told him they detained dirt on Hillary Clinton. Thousands of e-mails, he said. But after trying to dupe federal investigators George Papadopoulos has been cooperating with them, suggesting Papadopoulos may be providing information against other Trump campaign insiders. Court documents further revealed Papadopoulos further e-mailed a high ranking campaign official about some of these interactions with Russians.
CNN has learned that official was former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Tonight Manafort is under indictment for alleged money laundering and other charges. Another Trump campaign official Richard Gates also is named in the 12 count indictment. Both are under house arrest. Both have their passports seized as the special counsel targets former Trump associates in this critical new phase of his investigation. Sources are telling our White House reporters meanwhile that the President is seething about all this. Even as the White House tries to down-play the developments publicly arguing they have nothing to do with Mr. Trump, CNN has learned meanwhile that the president's former chief strategist Steve Bannon is urging the President Trump to fight back aggressively against Mueller and his investigation with dramatic steps including urging Republicans in congress to cut off funding for the Mueller probe. Let us bring in our correspondent and analyst to break down everything that we had learned and what might happen next. Evan Perez, let me start with you. The information released today by Mueller shows the first signs of a case for actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. How do you see Mueller building that case from here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You see Papadopoulos and certainly the information that is contained in this document that they released today, it really does show you what collusion would look like. We talked a lot about the theories of collusion, and certainly the President has said there is absolute no collusion to see here. But what you're seeing there is the beginnings of an outline really of what the government thinks it has or at least claims it has, which is, you know, the Russians are trying to make inroads using Papadopoulos, and then they've used other people as we've reported with Carter Page and other people who are associate would the campaign.
TAPPER: Donald Trump, Jr.
PEREZ: Donald Trump, Jr. as a way to try to get to people inside the campaign. And they were getting willing participants, people who were responding in kind and seeming to encourage more of these contacts. Again, for the past few months we've talked a lot about this, Jake, that one of the things that really alarmed national security officials at the CIA, at the FBI, the Director of national intelligence was this idea that the Russians were trying to essentially get in roads into a campaign, and they saw people trying to seemingly encourage that. Ask that really made them worried. They really thought this was a national security concern for the country.
TAPPER: Pamela, let me read something to you from the plea agreement with George Papadopoulos. And this seems to me one of the most damning things in this entire case so far. On April 26, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos met this unnamed professor for a breakfast at a London hotel. During this meeting the professor told the defendant Papadopoulos that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow and he met with a high level Russian government officials. The professor told the defendant that they the Russians have dirt on then candidate Clinton, the Russians had e-mails on Clinton, and they have thousands of e-mails. Just to remind people this is April 2016. This is before even members of the Clinton campaign or the Democratic National Committee know that the Russians have these e-mails.
PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly right. This is around the time the Russians had hacked the DNC, John Podesta's e- mail, and now we're learning in April this professor linked to Russians according to the documents was telling George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser and a campaign advisor about this alleged dirt. And to what Evan is saying, this appears to be an effort by the Russians to get into the campaign, infiltrate the campaign, and offer them something in the form of alleged dirt on Hillary Clinton. And there's a pattern here. You have this incident in April and then you have the June meeting with Don Junior at Trump tower where the Russians allegedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton. What's clear here at the very least the Russians wanted them to think that they had something to give them? And that certainly goes to what everyone is saying, collusion.
[23:05:37] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Using the same language, we have dirt on Hillary Clinton, which was the same language used by Don junior.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let be clear. The court took it seriously, the filing today, this was a dated filing of October of this year, saying this is a matter of importance. The U.S. is investigating foreign interference 2016 presidential election and potential collusion in those efforts by American citizens. So this idea that collusion is off the table that is it's been eliminated as a line of inquiry is just not true. The court documents contradict that.
TAPPER: And it's impossible to imagine that a 30-year-old campaign operative looking to make his bones in Republican politics or politics in general would keep this information to himself.
BROWN: To that note you heard Donald Trump on the campaign trail asking the Russians to turn over Hillary Clinton's hacked e-mails. And this is one piece of the puzzle. It is hard to believe he would keep it to himself. He told according to the FBI documents, he didn't tell anyone. We learned last week that Cambridge Analytica, the data firm reached out to WikiLeaks. Saying they could help with Hillary Clinton's email. Then you have this whole research effort searching for Russians on the internet who they believe hacked her e-mails. So it's all part of pieces of a puzzle.
TAPPER: Pall Manafort's home in northern Virginia was raided on July 26th of this year. On July 27th, the very next day George Papadopoulos was arrested. Is it possible there's a connection?
PEREZ: We don't know there's a connection. Certainly in the documents today, they don't make it clear there's any. But you can see today there is reason for us to think that there's no accident that they released the Papadopoulos documents today. They seem to suggest this is some of the leverage they have against Paul Manafort. The goal here seems to be to squeeze Manafort and get him to flip up. And we don't know what else Robert Mueller and his team have collected and what other evidence they believe they have. But it certainly looks like what the government here is building is leverage that they believe for whatever reason, they think whatever Manafort has to give, they can use that to leverage it and have him flip up. And look, the issue here is that there's not many people above Manafort in the hierarchy of this campaign. We're talking about the President, we're talking about the people who are most close to him, his family members.
BORGER: Or that they could squeeze gates and then maybe get to Manafort and then to whomever else they want. One thing I want to point out about these plea document. It was written here the attorney said there's a large scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part.
TAPPER: Just a small part. The White House of course trying to down- play George Papadopoulos connection to the Trump campaign. Remind you he was a foreign policy adviser for the campaign. And today's White House press briefing, Press secretary Sarah Sanders called Papadopoulos a volunteer, merely part of an advisory council that met only once. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He reached out and nothing happened beyond that, which I think shows, one, his level of importance in the campaign, and two, shows what little role he had in coordinating anything officially for the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jim Sciutto, there's evidence Papadopoulos interacted at pretty high levels during the campaign.
SCIUTTO: No question and repeatedly let us look at the sequence of events on George Papadopoulos. It was in March that he was appointed to this position, granted a volunteer position as many campaign positions are. And very soon after his appointment a Trump campaign supervisor as identified in the court filings today e-mailed him to say that improved Russian relations are the foreign policy focus of the campaign. So Sarah Huckabee Sanders implying there no one knew who Papadopoulos was well in fact the Trump campaign supervisor did and in fact emailed him what the foreign policy goal is of this campaign for Russia.
Soon after this professor which we were just discussing reached out to George Papadopoulos. This was in early April. So someone in Russia knew who George Papadopoulos was to the extent that they wanted to communicate they had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of e-mails. So we know that the campaign supervisor knew who he was, soon after Russia was aware of him and took the step of reaching out to make this offer in effect.
[23:10:11] Soon after that in May, Papadopoulos, he e-mails then campaign chairman Paul Manafort to say that in addition to that knowledge of those e-mails, that dirt on Hillary Clinton, that Russia in fact wants to meet with Trump. So Paul Manafort knows Papadopoulos enough to then forward that e-mail to his deputy, Rick Gates. Keep in mind Paul Manafort and Gates also were indicted today on charges regarding their work that they did for Ukraine prior to their campaign. Soon after that in July, Papadopoulos reaches out to another foreign contact. This to discuss yet another meeting offer between Trump campaign associates and Russians. This one going right up to members, it is proposed in this emails of Putin's office, adding he says, Papadopoulos, it has been approved from our side. Implying in that communication that Papadopoulos had the ok from someone higher up in the campaign to make this offer. And it is soon after that someone from the campaign, a Trump campaign supervisor e-mails Papadopoulos to say, quote, I would encourage you to carry out this meeting. And another foreign policy advisor to make the trip if it is feasible. So you heard Huckabee-Sanders there say, he was a nobody, no one knew who he was, in fact there's many electronic communications that say the opposite.
TAPPER: And Gloria, what we know of George Papadopoulos fits squarely of what we knew about the Trump campaign. It was a small organization, a lot of volunteers. BORGER: Exactly.
TAPPER: And this idea that he was a low level volunteer and nobody knew who he was, that doesn't really pass the smell test when you see how often he is getting replies to his e-mails from senior officials.
BORGER: He is communicating with senior officials. Again, it's a small group. I mean the President today I was told asked an advisor who the hell is George Papadopoulos, I don't know who he is, even though he was pictured with him and named him a member of his foreign policy task force or whatever it was. And I think that it was easier for people in the White House to say the Manafort and Gates indictments have nothing to do with them, because that was about their financial dealings in Ukraine and everything else. Then it was for Papadopoulos. And I think that is really problematic for them, because Sarah Sanders was trying to say, you know, forget it, it had nothing to do with the campaign. Well, we know this had a lot to do with the campaign.
PEREZ: The documents were actually released with the Papadopoulos statement there really describe a key thing. That picture we've seen a lot today where Papadopoulos is meeting with the President and others in his national security advisor team, and apparently according to the government, he says that he can arrange or he knows how to arrange a meeting between Putin and the President. Now, what the government doesn't tell us in those documents is what the response in that meeting was. Did the President say that sounds like a great idea? Did anybody else at that table say that is a great idea? We don't know because the government did not include that in the document they released today.
TAPPER: And while we're on the subject of the President over at the White House, one Republican close to the Trump administration says the president is quote, seething. Let us go now to CNN Jim Acosta, Jim the President has obviously not been a fan of the Russia investigation. I think it's fair to say. This is whole new level, though.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is whole new level of not being a fan of the Russia investigation. That is right, Jake. And just to bounce off what you guys were saying with respect to George Papadopoulos, keep in mind the President has not tweeted, he is not commented on what's taken place with George Papadopoulos. He is obviously commented on Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, but nothing on George Papadopoulos. I reached out to Ty Cobb who is the White House lawyer on the President's legal team and he says there's no reason to, because the President doesn't know him. They had only been together one time in history, Cobb said. And he went on to say, I think this is fascinating Jake, the campaign voluntarily produced e- mails which apparently convicted Papadopoulos and every one of his proposed ideas about Russia were killed because of adult super vision.
I think that is pretty interesting Jake, when the White House is saying the campaign voluntarily produce emails that helped lead to this plea agreement that was entered into by George Papadopoulos as if they can somehow take credit for this development in the Russia investigation that we saw unfold earlier today. I think it remains to be seen just what the President does about George Papadopoulos because not only is he a mystery to the President, he is a mystery to a lot of the people inside the campaign. Make no mistake. I talk today a key campaign source earlier today and worked on this campaign and said George Papadopoulos was e-mailing with various officials inside that campaign in the earlier part of the election cycle.
[23:15:05] TAPPER: All right Jim Acosta thank you so much and Gloria, we know there are people around President Trump telling him to hold his fire, to stay dignified, stay out of the fray. He is also hearing from his former campaign and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. What is Bannon telling him?
BORGER: Well, Bannon is saying you better get on the stick here. You better get active, and you better start punching back.
TAPPER: Against Mueller.
BORGER: Against Mueller. He is not saying fire Mueller by any stretch of the imagination, but he is saying that maybe you can cut some of his funding, maybe you can make sure he stays within his mandate, maybe you can slow down the document production. But on the other side of that you've got Ty Cobb and John Dev and Jay Sekulow we are saying we are producing all the documents that Mueller has asked for, we are playing nice because there is nothing in it for us to antagonize the special counsel right now and to draw this out. So they're saying we're producing the documents, you've got to do it this way.
So the President you can tell is really being pushed and pulled here because his natural instinct as we all saw with his tweets this morning, his natural instinct is to punch back as people always tell us and they are saying, no, you cannot punch back right now. It is not in your self-interest. So they're going to have to figure out a way to work this out. And I'm not quite sure whether they have and how they do that with the President who really is upset about all of this.
TAPPER: Coming up, how will the first criminal charges in the Russia probe affect the investigations in congress? We'll ask the members of two influential house committees when our special report continues after this quick break. Stay with us.
[23:20:22] TAPPER: We're back with our special report on a landmark day in the Russia investigation. Two former Trump campaign officials are under criminal indictment tonight including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Another a third has struck a guilty plea and is cooperating with the special counsel. We are joined right now by Congressman Eric Swalwell, he is a Democrats of California on the intelligence committee and the Judiciary committee. First of all, Congressman, what's your reaction to the indictments and the guilty plea?
REP ERIC SWALWELL, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the arrows continue to point in the same direction, which is you had a campaign that had a working relationship with the Russians. And now you have the first person who has provided the clearest evidence that they were doing so. And we've had contacts and e-mails that we've read, but, you know, George Papadopoulos was traveling to a foreign land to meet with a foreign adversary to receive information on the campaigns political opponent. That is significant.
TAPPER: Well, we don't know, we know he was in London in April and told by this professor that the Russians had these emails and then we see evidence of him trying to make plans and trying to get the go ahead to have this meeting. It says in this plea agreement he did not make the trip. We don't know if he actually went or the Russians actually came. We don't have the evidence of that unless there is something that you know that I don't.
SWALWELL: Just reading in the stipulation of facts he was attempting to set up meetings with the campaign and when you start to put the time line together, he told the campaign about trying to setup a meeting in April, and then in June you have the meeting at Trump tower, which now starts to make a lot more sense particularly if he ran this up the chain ask it made its way to Paul Manafort who we know was in that meeting.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about Papadopoulos. Your intelligence committee which is investigating Russia interference in the election and any possible collusion, you have not interviewed Papadopoulos, your committee. Here's my question. Did special counsel Mueller tell you, don't interview him?
SWALWELL: I can't go into when we've interviewed and who we've not interviewed, but what I'm concerned about when I read that stipulation of facts is the FBI had to go after him three times. My fear is that in our investigation we're not bringing witnesses in under subpoena for the most part. We're allowing them to set the terms and when they want to end the interview, and we're not requiring them to provide the relevant documents. So if they're willing to lie to an FBI agent, I'm guess, Jake, they might be willing to lie to congress, if we are not able to confront them with the evidence.
TAPPER: I guess the quite reason I am asking is Trump -- in July Papadopoulos was arrested at Dulles airport and then he pleaded earlier this month.
TAPPER: In October. And there's this whole period we don't know what he is doing. He is obviously cooperating. We know don't know if he wore a wire. We don't know what he was doing. And I'm just wondering if special counsel Mueller. His name has appeared publicly there was a story in Washington Post in August, in which, it look like it was, some of them might have been leak by people trying to make Papadopoulos the fall guy. It had people brushing him back and saying, no, no, no we're not going to do these silly things. But I'm wondering since his name was public and your committee had not interviewed him, it's my understanding were you told by Mueller keep away from this guy, we're using him? SWALWELL: We have a different role than Mueller. There is
communication at ranking member Schiff and Mike Conway. But he has criminal probe and that is going to be closed to the best. So as not to compromise the evidence he has. And our job is just to explain to the people, who was responsible, what the government response was and what reforms need to be made so this doesn't happen again. But I can't speak to what communication has taken place with Papadopoulos.
TAPPER: Whether it's Trump or Papadopoulos or Smith or Cambridge Analytica, there's a lot of smoke about people in the Trump world wanting to get these e-mails. Do you know of any evidence of any actual meeting or exchange between the Russians and people on the Trump team? Because right now we see a lot of willingness to collude but no actual collusion.
SWALWELL: Yes, eagerness and willingness to work with the Russians. But we want to know now what does that amount to?
TAPPER: That is what I'm asking.
SWALWELL: We're hoping this is a wakeup call for my congressional Republican colleagues, to get serious about the investigation and for us to say to set the terms on how the witness is testified and for us to say, turn over all the documents. Because that is the way you confront witnesses.
[23:25:09] TAPPER: Do you think the Russians, I mean sorry, do you think the Republicans in this committee investigating Russia are not taking this investigation seriously?
SWALWELL: At best it's been a curiosity and at worst it looks like it has been working in partnership with the White House to tell their narrative and not to take back our freedom to choose in the next election.
TAPPER: All right. Congressman Swalwell, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
Coming up, the time line of this contacts between the Russian and the Trump campaign leading up to these new charges of the special counsel investigation. We're going to connect the dots for you when our special coverage continues. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to our special coverage. You know all these names and dates and places can be a little confusing, so I want to take a moment to step back for a moment and review what we know for facts so far when it comes to the Russians and the Trump campaign and those e-mails that were hacked so we can try to connect the dots on the time line surrounding today's landmark event. We're going to do this in what we're describing as four stages. There's the hack, the dangle, the fishing, and then the release of those emails. We'll begin with the hack. July 2015 and March 2016 Russian hackers breached the Democrats National Committee and steal emails. March 19, 2016 Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta emails are hacked. OK. That is stage one. That is the hack. Next, the dangle. April 2016 Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos is told by a professor with ties to the Kremlin that senior officials in Russia tell him that they have dirt on Hillary Clinton, thousands of e-mails he says. In May 2016, Donald Trump Jr. emailed and told that the crown prosecutor Russia is offering to provide the Trump campaign with incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that would be quote very useful to your father. Donald Trump Jr. expresses interest in getting that information. On June 7th, candidate Trump says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am going to give a major speech on probably of Monday of next week, and we're going to be discussing all of things that have been taking place with the Clintons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Including candidate Trump says information having to do with Russia. That is the dangle. And here comes the fishing, and these are attempts by the Trump team to get this information. On June 9th, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort they have that meeting with the Russians. But what happens with that meeting, they insist later nothing is presented to them in terms of incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. By the way, candidate Trump never did give that speech about Hillary Clinton. We also know by mid-June through mid- August according to it plea deal Papadopoulos is trying to setup a meeting between Trump officials and Russian officials. That is according to the plea agreement. On July 7th, Manafort offers private briefings in an email to Putin's friends, Russian Oligarchs Oleg Daur Pausky that is according to "the Washington Post." On July 22, WikiLeaks published the first in the series of DNC leak emails, but we should know, they do damage the DNC that they don't contain anything particularly damaging to Hillary Clinton. On July 27h, that infamous Trump news conference where he makes an apparent reference to Clinton's deleted e-mails by saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This is all part of the fishing phase. Also around this time a Republican operative named Peter Smith who claims to be in contact with Trump officials such as General Michael Flynn is out in the world of political operatives trying to get Clinton's e-mails through the dark web, trying to recruit help to assist in that endeavor. Also sometime this summer a chief executive of the data firm the Trump campaign has hired, Cambridge Analytica contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to try to get him to give them access to emails to Clinton's private server. Assange says he turned them down.
August 21st confident Trump, Roger Stones mysteriously tweets trust me, it will soon be Podesta's time in the barrel. #crooked Hillary. That is all the fishing attempt to get those emails and finally stage four, the release. The release of these documents. October 7th, minutes after the "Access Hollywood" tape drops, literally within minutes WikiLeaks begins releasing the John Podesta e-mails, which are damaging to Hillary Clinton in some ways. And up until Election Day, Trump is citing WikiLeaks and Podesta's emails over and over in the campaign trail as evidence of Hillary Clinton's corruption. Those are the facts we know. Let's bring in former federal prosecutor Laura Coates, CNN political analyst and veteran journalist Carl Bernstein and Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor and former adviser to President George W. Bush. Carl Bernstein, you're somewhat of an expert on this type of thing. Can there be this much smoke without a fire?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what we've seen today is significant evidence of an outline to conspire to undermine an American election, to conspire to collude. That is what is suggested in all these documents, and what's you've just shown is the parallel salivating by Donald Trump and those in his campaign to get from a foreign power information about his political opponent. And what today represents more than anything else is the need for the congress of the United States particularly the Republicans to put principle above Party and protect the Mueller investigation because obviously it is a very, sober, methodical, careful investigation that all Americans ought to be placing their faith in including Republicans.
[23:35:03] TAPPER: Scott Jennings, Steve Bannon according to our reporting is recommending to President Trump that he fight back harder against special counsel Bob Mueller, that he try to get Republicans in congress to cut off funding to the investigation and take steps like that. What do you think?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if I were President Trump I wouldn't take legal advice from someone who's not a lawyer. I'd be listening to my counsel about what the best course here is. Because look, ultimately they have to protect the office of the presidency and they have to protect the President. We don't know if he knows George Papadopoulos. He said tonight who the hell is this guy? I think there's going to be a number of people that come through this that then candidate never met, never knew, and never had interactions with. So if he takes steps to undermine the special counsel, cut off funding, fire him, whatever, that would be in my opinion, extremely detrimental to the whole strategy of meeting the protect the office of the Presidency. I think they really need to worry about tonight is that this campaign was clearly staff by in some cases people who lack the judgement and the experience to be in the jobs they had, even if they were, just volunteers. We've got this Papadopoulos character out here today, this other clown, Carter Page is on another network tonight god knows why giving an interview. I mean these people don't have the judgment and experience to stay off television tonight, how in the world could we have trusted they were doing the right thing in his campaign? There's a lot of stuff to worry about. Undermining the special counsel probably not a great move given what we know today.
TAPPER: Laura let me ask you. Papadopoulos references is a proactive cooperator. What does that mean?
LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: in you fishing analogy, it is somebody involved in the hook, line and sinker of this. Somebody who is actively going out to solicit conversation to try to have continue with what they may have in the campaign trail. He may be wiretapping the incident, recording telephone conversation, in person meetings, reporting back to the FBI and Mueller's team about what he knows, trying to prove to them there's a case they're building and he is someone that can solicit, obtain and get information from key players.
TAPPER: So you really suspect that they used him to get more information, not first-hand description of what he saw, but trying to get out there and get interviews of other people.
COATES: Oh, absolutely. And they're saying this is somebody who if they were to reveal in fact was this proactive cooperator, it would undermine his ability to do that. Meaning for the last three months, unbeknownst to everybody except Mueller's team, he is been out there probably communicating with people who had no idea that he was working with the FBI or in Mueller's team, getting information and allow everyone to kind of be on their resting (inaudible), have their defenses down which is exactly what you need to have, have an effective counter espionage and counter probe in this situation, of course he is being used. There is no, there benefits from him. You know Jake, everybody talks about the big fish here, trying to get the big fish in the pond. Up until now you had people like Michael Flynn, national security advisor, people like Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr., and Jared Kushner. Nobody could tell me who was the big fish in that pond, but now you know who the little fish is, and that is Papadopoulos.
TAPPER: Thank you all. And what's going through Robert Mueller's mind as the special counsel moves into the prosecution phase of this investigation? We'll ask his former chief of staff at the FBI who later became President Obama's national security adviser, Lisa Monaco, will join us in a moment. Stay with us.
[23:42:27] TAPPER: We're back with our special continuing coverage, and two specific lines in the many pages of information released today that could prove to be quite consequential and might possibly give us a glimpse into what is left to come. First, in the plea agreement hearing for George Papadopoulos the special counsel's office argued quote, the criminal justice interest being vindicated here is that there's a large scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part, unquote. And in Papadopoulos statement the defense acceptance reads, quote, the preceding statement is a summary for the purpose of providing the court with a factual basis for my guilty plea to the charge against me. It does not include all of the facts known to me regarding this offense. This all suggests there may be more to come. Let's talk about this with CNN national security analyst Lisa Monaco who also served as Robert Mueller chief of staff at the FBI for three years. Thank you so much for joining us, Lisa. Let me get first your reaction to that, the fact the prosecutors said this case with Papadopoulos is just basically the tip of the iceberg and that Papadopoulos said I am testifying to this, but I am not saying this is all I know. That seems to suggest there is much more.
LISA MONACO, CNN NAIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you're exactly right, Jake. This is stunning opening salvo by the special counsel and the team of experts and seasoned prosecutors that he is assembled. The two things you pointed out at the top of this segment that this is just the beginning of the facts that Mueller and his team are assembling, and we're only seeing a small piece of it. But what you're seeing is the way expert prosecutors, professional investigators go about beginning the public portion of this investigation.
TAPPER: Congressman Adam Schiff is the top Democrats on the house intelligence committee. He told me earlier today he believes more indictments are likely to come. And somebody who work with Bob Mueller at the FBI, obviously, you don't know, but do you suspect that is the case?
MONACO: Well, look, I'm looking at just what the public has. I have no inside information. I'm going by what is put in the public domain today. And I think that is a reasonable assumption that there's going to be more to come. And the indications of that are in some of the papers that we saw today. The fact that the reference from George Papadopoulos that this is just the beginning of the facts that he knows, and it doesn't represent everything that he knows or that he has told the investigators. The fact that the statement of facts that he pleaded guilty to, that he signed up and said I swear this is true and I accept this and accept responsibility for it, those statements in there that he agreed to make reference to troves of e-mails and references to contacts with the campaign. So there's a lot more here that Mueller and his team have access to, and so I think it's absolutely the case there's going to be more to come.
[23:45:27] TAPPER: As somebody who knows Mueller well, who respects him and knows how he operates, what do you make of the fact that this is his happening salvo, the Papadopoulos, at least the eagerness for there to be collusion and also the Manafort and Gates corruption charges or money laundering charges?
MONACO: Well, what this is a tactic and a trade craft of prosecutors and investigators and Mueller is both. And he is got decades of experience doing that, of painstaking detail oriented comprehensive investigations and prosecutions. And the way you build a case is assembling those facts, assembling leverage on key players as you see with the indictment laid out against Manafort and Gates and leveraging that and putting that pressure onto get those individuals to flip as we saw in the case of George Papadopoulos.
It's clear that he is cooperating with investigators and has been for some months now. And there's two roles for, at least two roles for a cooperator that Mueller and his team are going to take advantage of and going to use. One, is to use that cooperator as kind of a tutor or a guide for investigators as the case goes on and gets built on and goes out. And the other rule is to be proactive, do things like wear a wire, to have conversations that he then reports onto the investigators. So these are time-honored tactics of professional investigators and prosecutors and the type of thing that Mueller has done year after year over his long career as both prosecutor, as a federal prosecutor, as a leader of prosecutors and as a Director of the FBI.
TAPPER: On January 27 that was the first interview that the FBI had with George Papadopoulos, he lied to them about a number of things. That same day President Trump calls Jim Comey at the FBI, invites him over for dinner and then asks him to pledge his personal loyalty to him. It's possible that it's just a coincidence. Is it also possible it wasn't? Is it possible that the FBI warning and interview of Papadopoulos made its way to President Trump?
MONACO: Look, the special counsel and his team is going to be looking at all of those potential scenarios. Ask I think it's really too soon to be speculating as to what the case is with regard to that coincidence as you point out. But you can be sure that Bob Mueller and his team are exploring every angle of it.
TAPPER: Lisa Monaco, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up after today's big reveals of the Russia investigation, how and when might the next shoe drop? We're going to take a look at what's ahead in the implications of President Trump and his presidency. Stay with us.
[23:52:13] TAPPER: We are back with our special report and the next moves in the Russia investigation. Now that two former Trump campaign officials have been indicted and another one has pleaded guilty, Evan Perez, let me start with you. Do you think its possible right now that there are other people entering into plea agreements, making deals?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think there is that possibility, Jake, and I think one of the things that we learned today is that there's plenty more that the Mueller team has and they're only revealing it when they have to. And in today's case it's simply because this was related to some of what Manafort and Gates had clearly been communicating with Papadopoulos. So I think there's more here that we don't know.
TAPPER: And Pamela, I mean, if this is just some of the attempted collusion, there might actually be information, although we don't know. Maybe not, of more in that direction.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Absolutely. I mean, this is really just the beginning when it comes to what they know in terms of possible collusion. The way it works in these cases, you start with lower level people and you try to flip them. And we know that George Papadopoulos is cooperating. He was called a proactive cooperator in the court documents. And so the idea is to get information from him about other people in the campaign, whether they were part of this. Also Manafort himself, Rick Gates, what they knew. The idea is to flip up the person above them to try to continue to learn more. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When I saw all of this unfolding
today, what struck me was that this is really hard ball. That these folks are playing here. Because, you know, they're going to try and squeeze Manafort or Gates because they've got a case against them. You look at Papadopoulos, they make the case, as you point out, and that he is been proactive. What does that mean? That he is been talking to them for months. And so anybody else who might be thinking of, well, maybe I'm not going to cooperate, maybe I'm going to lie, not turn over documents, you have to look at this and be a little afraid.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well look, listen, no knock warrant on Paul Manafort, 6:00 in his underwear, right. Pick his lock, go into his house. $10 million bond. That was the bond that Bernie made off, right. A guy here, a young campaign staff who is now facing jail time, right, even with a deal for lying to FBI prosecutors, each of those things is a warning to others, you know, to play ball and to play by the rules.
BROWN: And they're sending a strong message, the Mueller shop in the wake of the President calling this a hoax, a witch-hunt. This is their way of saying this is no hoax to us.
PEREZ: One of the things we saw in the last week is certainly this drum beat from Republicans that this has gone on long enough. And I think what we got the message from today from the Mueller investigators that we hear you and here is what we've got, you know. And I think -- look, I think Robert Mueller knows -- I mean, he is served in government. He knows that this is something that is distracting to the White House and that the President, you know, deserves to be able to run his administration. But also, it's clear that he believes that there is something here that needs to be thoroughly investigated, and so he is showing some of the cards now.
[23:55:25] BORGER: And they told us, this is the tip of the iceberg in their court documents. They said this case is just a small part, referring to Papadopoulos. So we know that there is a lot more to come, and what we've seen may pale in comparison.
TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all. Really appreciate it. Thank you all. Stay with CNN for all the latest developments in the Russia investigation. The news continues next on CNN. Thanks for watching.