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Prosecutors: Manafort Contacted Russian While Out On Bail; CNN: Flynn, McFarland Discussed Call With Russian Ambassador; Feinstein Suggests Grassley Doesn't Want To Dig Deeply; DOJ: Almost $7 Million Spent On Russia Probe In Five Months; Powerful Winds Push Wildfire Across 45,000 Acres; Palestinian Leader Spokesman: Trump Told Abbas He Plans To Move U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem; Bannon To Appear At Rally With Moore. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired December 5, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Who knew what and when, that is the burning question surrounding the Russia investigation at this very moment. Who includes K.T. McFarland, former top transition official, former deputy national security adviser, did she lie or mislead Congress about what she knew about Michael Flynn's contacts with Russians?
Who also includes Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, did he know he was working with the Russian with ties to Russian intelligence when putting together an editorial to defend himself just last month.
Who also includes Vice President Mike Pence. Where is he in all this right now? Let's get things started with Kara Scannell in Washington for us, have lot on all of these late developments here. Kara, what is the latest?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Kate. The latest is that Paul Manafort, we're waiting to see how he responds to this motion filed by the Special Counsel's Office yesterday, which suggested that he violated a judge's order not to make any comments or statements that could prejudice the trial as it will move forward.
The prosecutors say that he had been ghostwriting in op-ed with a former -- a Russian business partner of his, and is asking a judge to hold a hearing on the matter and not mend his bail conditions. Now we'll wait to see what Manafort's response is to that and the judge has set a hearing for that for next week.
BOLDUAN: What about K.T. McFarland?
SCANNELL: So K.T. McFarland had said in her response to questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee relating to her nomination to be the ambassador of Singapore that she does not recall any conversations between Michael Flynn, her boss at that time, who is national security adviser, and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
What we learned from Flynn's guilty plea last week is that he did speak with a senior transition official which CNN has learned is K.T. McFarland on the same day that he spoke about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
So, now this will call into question whether she needs to clarify that and what the actual status of the events is. What we learned from the guilty plea documents, that's the version of events that the special counsel believes to be the case.
BOLDUAN: That seems to be in direct contradiction to what she told Congress in written questions. Let's get more on that. Kara, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
So, members of Congress not surprisingly are now reacting to the news about K.T. McFarland and what really this could mean or is already meaning for her nomination. She is the nominee to be the next ambassador to Singapore. Her nomination is under consideration right now before Congress.
Let's bring in Manu Raju for much more on that. Manu, what are you hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Concerns particularly from Democrats who are saying that she needs to at least clarify her testimony before the full Senate votes on her nomination.
But significantly I just spoke to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, the Republican from Tennessee, the committee that oversees her nomination to this position.
Now he did not go as far as raising concerns as the Democrats did, but he did say this could create problems for her in getting confirmed to the position. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATORO BOB CORKER (R-TN), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: Her nomination is frozen for a while until that gets worked out and, you know, she knows -- she has to know that herself and we'll deal with it at the appropriate time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, he said her nomination is frozen, hitting a major pause, significantly because that means that we now have to hear from her and her -- whether or not she believes that she had -- needs to clarify her remarks in saying she doesn't recall these conversations with Michael Flynn about Sergey Kislyak.
Democrats going further saying it perhaps is false testimony and she needs to at least answer some questions. We'll see what she decides to do. We have not heard from her representatives yet about this apparent discrepancy == Kate.
BOLDUAN: And just to show this apparent discrepancy, this came from Corey Booker in a written question, did you ever discuss any of General Flynn's contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak directly with General Flynn.
Her answer was, I'm not aware of any of the issues or events described above, and now as we know there seems to be a lot of questions with regard to how she answered that questions and what she's trying to say there.
But you also have some more reporting, Manu, on some -- do we call it attention or a real problem, a real obstacle with regard to the Russia investigation in terms of the Senate Judiciary Committee, what's going on?
RAJU: Yes. Some tension between the two leaders of that committee. This is one of the three committees investigating Russia meddling. But there is some disagreement between the top Democrat and the Republican chairman of the committee about the direction of the investigation and about who they should actually go after.
[11:05:04] Now Dianne Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee, told me yesterday that she had concerns that Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman, had not signed on to a number of letters targeting people, Trump associates, in particular, asking for interviews and for information and for records.
And told me she believes his this is a subtle effort to not go deeply into this issue. I put that question earlier today to Chuck Grassley himself and he downplayed that and said look, I'm not stalling the investigation. He said we're working together on certain matters.
But clearly, Kate, some tension here, one of the three committees going forward uncertain what they'll ultimately decide on too -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Working together on certain matters, maybe not working together on other certain matters. Manu, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
We also are getting new information in, on how much money the special counsel's Russia probe moving away from Congress back over to Bob Mueller is costing the American taxpayer at this moment.
CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, is joining me now with these new details coming in. So, Laura, what are you picking up?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Hey, Kate. The Justice Department has just released these figures and what it is showing over the course of five months from May to September, there's been roughly $7 million spent. Now the Justice Department breaks those figures into two different buckets.
They report 3.2, roughly $3.2 million being spent by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. Obviously, he has over two dozen officials working for him. He was appointed back in September.
But there's also a separate $3.5 million that's been spent on the Russia investigation also from May to September, and those are for law enforcement officials who have been helping work on the investigation writ large. Think of an FBI agent, for instance, who is not directly on Mueller's team but still working on the meddling question. So together, that gets to $7 million in total from May to September. We're still looking into the breakdown of the figures here.
Some of the expenses are small things like travel, for instance, but we also know given all of the indictments that have come down over the last several months, there is a great deal of substantive work that's being done here. We're looking into what amount of money is new versus what would have been expended anyway in the process of this investigation -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Laura, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Much more to come on that. Joining me to discuss all of this, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former assistant director at the FBI, Tom Fuentes, CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, central figure in the Watergate scandal, John Dean, and CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston is here. Great to have you here. Lots of important perspective on this. John, great to have you here in person.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: As a former White House counsel, when you see these new developments that came out just with K.T. McFarland and Paul Manafort, K.T. seems to be making at the very least misstatements about what she knew and when, and Paul Manafort ghostwriting an editorial with a -- this what is prosecutors say, ghostwriting an editorial with a Russian, ties to Russian intelligence. Does this add up to anything to you?
DEAN: It's strikingly familiar, actually. You know, people do dumb things, and I think this -- all this lying, we don't know the reason for it. But it has been a consistent policy of this administration ever since the investigation started and it has not let up apparently.
As for what Manafort did, that could be a mistake. He just might have -- he might not have known who he was dealing with. If he did, he will have talking to do to the judge and they'll get to the bottom of it.
BOLDUAN: That's for sure. And John raises an important point, Tom, add these up and they create a picture of more and more people at the very least, making multiple misstatements or lies about contacts with Russia. If you're the -- if you're one of the guys running this investigation with the FBI, what do you do with this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Kate, they've already done it. Manafort has been charged and, you know, he had restrictions on what he could do based on his bail arrangement and he violated them, and they caught him violating it, and they're going to pursue that with the hearing before the judge next week. I think in his case, they're doing everything they could do, you know, in terms of going forward with the case. BOLDUAN: Mark, on the political front for K.T. McFarland, as Manu is pointing out this could be a major pause in her nomination to be ambassador to Singapore. What do you think happens here? Because misstatements from written questions and even in testimony, has been a real problem for others with regard to the Trump administration, just see Jeff Sessions.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Kate, ambassadorial nominees have had to withdraw for very far less than what we have learned just in the past couple days with what K.T. McFarland knew and what she has since told the Senate in her written responses. Manu's reporting is we don't expect her necessarily before the committee again. You have to wonder at some point, though, does K.T. McFarland step aside?
[11:10:07] Is she told that she's too toxic right now, too radioactive to continue forward with her confirmation for this ambassadorial slot. I expect that's probably the route we will go. But who knows, everything in this case has been really the opposite of what you expect rationale people would decide to do.
BOLDUAN: Here's another element of it, Mark. K.T. McFarland was a senior transition official. Flynn reported back to a senior transition official. You know who was the head of the transition, Mike Pence.
BOLDUAN: So Flynn reporting back to the transition, talking about his conversations with Kislyak, this is, of course, what he lied to the FBI about and why he was then charged in this whole thing, you know, where we are right now.
BOLDUAN: Is it possible that Mike Pence didn't know about this? If he was kept in the dark, what does that say?
PRESTON: You know, I do think it's possible. I think it's plausible, too, the difference between the whole Trump apparatus, the campaign apparatus that then became, you know, the transition and then, of course, now the government, is that Mike Pence understands politics and he understands what he needs to know and doesn't need to know.
Even though he oversaw the transition, it's very likely he didn't know everything that was going on. There's no way that you could. There was a lot going on at that time. And, of course, you're layered. It's not him directly talking to the likes of K.T. McFarland on a day- to-day basis.
So, I do think it's very possible that Mike Pence was very much kept in the dark about what was going on. But, that's what this investigation will show us eventually.
BOLDUAN: Eventually. John, and I also want to get you on what you make of evolving defense theory coming from Donald Trump's personal attorney and White House attorneys. You had John Dowd floating Donald Trump cannot obstruct justice.
But now you have Ty Cobb from the White House, I don't know, downplaying talking to the "Washington Post" saying that they're focused on a fact-based defense not a mere legal defense. One of my initial questions, is why aren't all these folks on the same page when it comes to something as fundamental as this?
DEAN: They may not know the facts. That happened during Watergate with James St. Clair making statements about what Nixon knew and didn't know. Nixon hadn't been candid with his attorney either, so it's very easy for that to happen.
As for Dowd, you know, I think he is trying to defend his client, but he's putting words in his mouth that are very dangerous, giving him knowledge that he may or may not have had. Looks like he did have it, but he didn't tweet it. We don't know the answers it to these questions.
BOLDUAN: So many questions. I want one final question to you, Tom, while I have you. This is an element of it. In the midst of all this Bob Mueller I wonder if he has something of a problem on his hands when it comes to his own investigators, right?
You have a senior investigator, senior FBI agent who is a lead on the Clinton investigation also a lead in the Trump campaign investigation that's going on, shared text messages that appeared to mock Donald Trump, when Mueller found out about it over the summer he takes him off the case.
This guy is moved to H.R. This is giving folks who don't like the Mueller probe a lot of ammunition, what do you think about it?
FUENTES: Well, I think first of all, it's hard to criticize Mueller in one sense because when he learned of what happened he removed him. It's not like he tried to cover up or keep him on the team or any of that.
I think it's been overstated about how much influence Strzok. He may have been a senior agent working on this case, but make no mistake about it the case agent on all of these cases has been the director of the FBI, James Comey.
The e-mail case, what Comey said July 5th, 2016, whether it was gross negligence or extreme carelessness, Strzok may have recommended that and on the team that helped write that paperwork, Comey is the one that would have reviewed it word for word.
Comey is the one that made the statement that day and so Strzok, and I have no sympathy for Strzok, he has brought shame and embarrassment on the FBI, violating one of the first cardinal sins that I learned 38- 1/2 years ago when I became an agent, don't embarrass the FBI.
Don't do something illegal, immoral, or just plain stupid. And this -- these set of messages he was sending showing his political leanings and maybe acting on it when participating in the case was absolutely stupid if not worse. So, I think that -- I have no basically respect for people who have brought shame on the FBI or disrepute on the FBI because you have just a few people bringing shame on an enormous organization that does phenomenal work day in and day out.
BOLDUAN: John Dean, Mark Preston, Tom Fuentes, thank you all so much. I appreciate it.
[11:15:02] We also have this breaking right now, over in California, Southern California, a fast-moving wildfire chases thousands of people from their homes overnight. The images coming out are truly startling.
Powerful winds, of course, are some of the driving force here causing the wildfires to race across 45,000 acres. That's according to the last count that's coming in to CNN just moments ago.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Ventura with the very latest. What have you been seeing there, Paul?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll show you, look right behind me, this house is about to lose its roof. It is completely engulfed in flames. This is the foot hill neighborhood of Ventura, one of the leading edges of this widespread fire.
It burned so quickly, firefighters struggling to try to stay ahead of it. They have about a thousand of them on the line and by the way, this update, they now say 45,000 acres have burned. It started well to the east in Santa Paula and it burned toward the seaside city of Ventura.
What's happening right now, Kate, is firefighters still having to make choices. Some houses like this one, they just have to let burn. In the meantime, they're going off in other neighborhoods and protecting structures.
If you look just over to this direction, I can tell you down there, many houses on fire. We saw at least ten. Then there's this house right here which is surviving. What they're concerned about, Kate, is you can see behind me these little embers floating around, that's how this fire is spreading.
Hot, burning embers landing on a roof and going from place to place. So, we look back over there, many of these are multimillion-dollar homes with a view and as we speak, we're watching more and more of them burn. They have not updated the number of structures burned. They say it's still at 150.
They also say that there was a battalion chief who was injured in a vehicle versus pedestrian accident. That chief hit by a vehicle, but he suffered just bumps and bruises, and he's been released.
A battle in the city of Ventura trying to save homes but this fire is moving rapidly. You can faintly hear in the distance, perhaps a helicopter, they want to get more and more aircraft up above this and drop both water and fire department, but they are up against it because these winds keep kicking up to about 50 miles an hour at top gusts -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Geez. All right. Thank you so much, Paul. We're going to be watching you and watching these flames behind you and make sure that -- and you will keep on top of it. Sorry, tongue tied as we have breaking news coming into CNN I need to turn to.
We've just learned that President Trump has called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and told him that the U.S. Embassy -- informed him that the U.S. Embassy will be moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This, of course, is a conversation that has been going on for a long time, has been projected, has been previewed and teased, but is also highly controversial. And now the president has informed the head of the Palestinian Authority it is going to happen.
Let's get over to Jerusalem right now, Ian Lee is there. Ian, what are you learning?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this phone call, Kate, happened just a little while ago. And we're learning this from the president's spokesman about this phone call that took place between President Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He did say that he was going to move the U.S. Embassy. One thing we noted in this statement, a time. He doesn't say when he will do it or -- so that's something that we'll be watching closely as well.
The spokesman also added that Abbas warned the president of any consequences that could happen with such a move and this is something, Kate, we've been hearing not just from the Palestinian president but other regional leaders.
We also had the French President Emmanuel Macron warned the president about taking such unilateral measure and President Abbas has said he is going to work hard with other international leaders to kind of put the pressure on the president to stop him from making such a decision with this decision being made.
Not only would the president move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but also declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, something that's very contentious because that has been a point where the international community, the Palestinians, and the Israelis previously, have said that would be dealt with through negotiations.
Now Israel does see Jerusalem as their capital. Israeli officials have praised Trump for making this decision, but we'll have to wait and see what the president finally says -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Everyone is standing by for when that happens with this call and an important step moving in that direction. Timing will be key. Ian, thank you so much.
Coming up for us, we will stay on top of the breaking news but also right now the order for a wedding cake that sent a bakery owner and a gay couple all the way to the Supreme Court. [11:20:09] We're going to take you live to the Supreme Court as the court is considering one of the biggest cases and hearing oral arguments on one of the biggest cases of the year. What are the implications and happening in the courtroom, we are going to bring you that.
Plus, this, a, quote/unquote, "stain" on the Republican Party and the nation. That is what Mitt Romney calls Alabama senate candidate, Roy Moore, as the Republican National Committee is now flipped and is now back supporting and putting money into that race. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: One week from today Alabama voters will decide who will be the next senator from Alabama.
[11:25:06] It is too close to call if you look at the polls right now. Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore, up against Democrat Doug Jones, but Roy Moore continues, though, of course, to face continued allegations and accusations that he sexually abused teenage girls decades ago.
Moore's fitness for office, further testing divisions that already exist within the Republican Party, but Moore got a big boost from the president yesterday with the president's endorsement in a tweet and a phone call.
And he also is getting a big influx of cash now from the Republican Party, who backed away from the race and Moore, but is now back in to back him in this contest.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is joining me now from Birmingham, Alabama. Kaylee, along with the president you have new reporting on I guess we could call it Roy Moore's first and biggest backer, which was Steve Bannon coming to town.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kate, it is the most anticipated event on this day, one week out from the special election, as Roy Moore will take a stage outside of Fair Hope, Alabama, with Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who has had his back throughout the duration of this long campaign.
We're learning more about the remarks Bannon is expected to make tonight from a source close with that planning. He tells us Bannon will be fire breathing tonight. We're told Bannon will go hard against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and will leave plenty of room to make attacks on Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, call him a radical progressive.
And say the GOP establishment in Washington would rather have a Doug Jones, a Democrat in the U.S. Senate than one of their own. So, while yesterday may have been a celebratory day for the Roy Moore campaign with that full endorsement by Donald Trump and receiving the news they would be getting money back from the Republican National Committee, there was another Republican who was very outspoken in this critique of Roy Moore. Take a look at this tweet from Mitt Romney as he said "Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation, Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor and integrity."
Roy Moore was quick to respond with a tweet of his own saying, "Either Mitt Romney has lost his courage or doesn't care about truth anymore. Sad day. #draintheswamp there."
Leigh Corfman who Mitt Romney mentions there, she is the woman who has accused Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was just 14 years old, an allegation that Roy Moore denies.
Just like he denies having a relationship with Debbie Wesson-Gibson who claims she dated Moore when he was 34 and she was 17. She's now sharing new evidence with "The Washington Post" of the relationship the two of them had. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE WESSON GIBSON, SAYS SHE DATED ROY MOORE WHEN SHE WAS 17: I came across a card and it was a graduation greeting card from Roy Moore, "Happy graduation, Debbie. I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you will be a success in anything you do, Roy." I have known Roy Moore for many years and I met him in 1981 and we dated for a brief time and we kissed with my consent and I am sad he says he doesn't know me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: The inscription there on Gibson's card looking similar to the message that Beverly Young Nelson had shared from her yearbook as her Attorney Gloria Allred had made available to us -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Roy Moore denying all of this and denying that he had met -- known any of these women. Great to see you, Kaylee. Thank you so much.
Joining me now Chris Cillizza, reporter and editor-at-large for CNN Politics, David Mowery, a political consultant in Alabama who has worked for both Republican and Democratic campaigns in the state. Great to see you both.
So, Chris, let me start with you on this, it is -- in the kind of the context of where we are in this race, it's one thing for President Trump who walked a fine line on Moore and then fully endorsed him yesterday.
But it's another thing with what's happening with the RNC. I mean, they had money in the race, pulled the money out of the race, and also called the -- called it very concerning to the allegations, so concerning to the degree that we pulled back our resources. But now they're back in the race. I mean, what gives?
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Circle of life. Yes.
BOLDUAN: Something like it.
CILIZZA: Look, what gives is that they believe that Roy Moore has a fighting chance and likely potentially to win and they want to make sure they do what they can to get that -- to keep that 52nd Senate seat in control.
You know, I think that Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, a few other voices out there have said it's not worth it. I wonder if they would feel the same way if it was the 50th Senate seat, but it's the 52nd Republican Senate seat.
But those voices are being drowned out at this point. I think you heard Orrin Hatch from Utah yesterday essentially say these allegations are from decades ago and Donald Trump has no choice but to support Roy Moore.
You saw Mitch McConnell on Sunday say leave it to the people of Alabama to decide, the same Mitch McConnell who said that Roy Moore needed to drop out of the race and he should not be a U.S. senator. So, what's change --