tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN December 8, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PST
some of the best humanity has to offer. cnn heroes. we can't wait to see who gets top honor this year. join anderson cooper and kelly ripa as they announce the 2018 cnn hero of the year live tomorrow, 8:00 p.m. eastern time. all right, hello again, everyone. thank you for being with me. i'm fredricka whitfield. we're following major revelations in the russia investigation. federal prosecutors are implicating the president of the united states in two federal crimes during the 2016 presidential campaign. this, as mueller says former trump campaign chairman paul manafort lied about five major things, including how long he stayed in touch with the white house. indicating communication was going as recently as this idea. and we are waiting to see transcripts from the former fbi director james comey's testimony on capitol hill yesterday about the fbi's actions leading up to
the 2016 election. although comey says they primarily talked about hillary clinton and her e-mails. the transcript's expected today. first, let's start with the president being implicated in two crimes. prosecutors say former attorney and fixer michael cohen acted at the direction of donald trump when he committed campaign finance violations for hush money payment to former playboy model mcdougal and adult film star stormy daniels. write, while many knocked on doors, toiled at phone banked or found other number of legal ways to make their voices heard, cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. and the filing goes on to say in particular, as cohen himself has now admitted with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the
direction of individual one which we now know is president trump. let's get started with cnn's sara murray with more on the filings. >> let's start with the special counsel's filing. cohen is facing a double whammy. the special counsel was dealing with the fact that cohen lied to congress. and what they tell you is, look, michael cohen was very cooperative. the fact he provided information to the special counsel on this project, the fact it went way longer. kept president trump apprised of it. as part of their broader question about whether there was any kind of collusion between members of the trump's orbit and members of the russian nationals. the other thing the michael cohen cooperation with the special counsel reveals is there was another russian national who
reached out in 2015 offering synergy on a government level. whatever that means. then trying to arrange a meeting. it says cohen didn't take him up on this offer. this is another example of the russians trying to make inroads with another member of donald trump's inner circle, just like with flynn with papadopoulos, just like they did when it came to set up the meeting with donald trump jr., the now infamous meeting in trump tower. the other thing we learned from the special counsel is minichae cohen was still in touch with the white house as of this year although it does not say exactly with who. if you move on to the sentencing memo from the southern district of new york, this one was harsher on cohen. they said he deserves to serve substantial jail time. it was also about a number of financial crimes, said he was motivated by greed. but the top line in this cohen filing is it's the first time we've seen prosecutors say well
michael cohen said in court, which is it was donald trump, then a candidate, now the president who directed these hush money payments to women that he was actually involved in some way implicated in what was the campaign finance crime. >> sarah murray, thank you so much. all right what does the white house think about all this? if you ask president trump, he's free and clear. the president tweeting this morning after two years and millions of pages of documents at a cost of over $30 million, no collusion. right now, the president is on his way to philadelphia for the army/navy game. a tradition among presidents. that's where our white house correspondent sara westwood joins me now. today is a nice distraction for the president. he did tweet about the matter this morning. >> the white house may certainly be hoping this is a distraction. the president has been active on twitter this morning. going after special counsel robert mueller's investigation a day after we learned new details
about mueller's progress from the court filings. highlighting the lack of russian collusion related details in those filings. arguing the filings vindicate him and sort of ignoring the fact that prosecutors did highlight the president's involvement in a campaign finance violation. the president has been changing the subject with a series of personnel announcements. the latest one coming this morning ahead of his attendance at the army/navy game. he announced he will nominate general mark mille of the army to serve as the new chairman of the joint chiefs to replace outgoing chairman dunford. that came one day after the president announced his new attorney general pick, william barr. his new pic for united nations ambassador heather nauert. after the speculation whether his chief of staff will remain long. the drama going back in
washington, fred. >> to say the very least. can you elaborate about the mueller investigation and what the filings say? >> essentially the white house is arguing that, especially cone is not a reliable witness for prosecutors, that he can't be trusted, and pointing out the fact in manafort's case, the details that the special counsel is reviewing has to do with lobbying violations. nothing to do with trump or the white house. press secretary sarah sanders said in a statement the government's filing in mr. manafort's case says absolutely nothing about the president. it says even less about the collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying related issues. trying to create a story where there isn't one. the white house rey taalso atta
the credibility, saying in another statement filings in mr. cohen's case. mr. cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution pointed out, mr. cohen is no hero. with other associates caught up, the white house has tried to distance the president from the people implicated, even though paul manafort was the campaign chairman and mr. cohen, a close lawyer and fixer for the president. hard to distance him from those two characters. >> rar saw westwood, thank you. joining me, cnn political analyst and attorney general and legal affairs commentator ariva martin. good to see you both. arri ariva, you first. the president tried to discredit these defendants in a way of distancing itself. how helpful is that when these are people intimately involved in the president's orbit before
these charges came? >> i think, fred, you know, those die-hard supporters of president trump, his base he is often playing to, i think the message the president is putting out, it will resonate with his base. they've heard it before. no collusion. this say hoax. this is a witch hunt. i think it's the same theme the president plays over and over again. which his base does receive very well. to anyone that's objective, to anyone that's willing to, you know, look at the facts and listen to what happened, yesterday, in federal court, it's a very different story. for the first time we saw federal prosecutors, not michael cohen who made these same statements about the campaign finance violations in court himself. not out of the mouth of michael cohen who the president can just discredit. but from his own department of justice, we heard and saw in these filings the president is implicated in two violations. campaign finance violations.
you can't dismiss that. no matter how hard the president tries to spin that. the reality is this president has been implicated in federal court for two felony violations. that is substantial. that's shocking news. i would expect, i think the country would expect, to see gop congressional leaders, senators, speaking out about the seriousness of these allegations. but so far, crickets from the gop. they're missing in action on a very important filing. >> right. radio silence from gop leadership on this. the president, you know, defending himself. saying -- he tweeted this morning this, you know, filing totally clears him. but it does anything but, right? i mean, there's an association between he and these main players. there are redacted names. we know this really is just sentencing documents from mueller. there's so much more.
>> right. anything that would be information that they can use up the chain wouldn't be in the sentencing document bus that's the stuff that would be helpful for latter stages of the investigation and future sentencing documents. this is the president's modus operandi. every time he's not directly accused of russian collusion in any sort of court filings, we tries to put in some sort of major exoneration. the fact that this time he's implicated into other sorts of crimes. he seems to discount. it's not surprising gop has not stood up and started on him over this because this is often how they operate. i'm certain you'll see republicans being asked about this on the sunday shows and they will say this is not a good thing but then repeat the point about how the main focus of the mueller probe is to find out in there's coordination with russia hasn't been done yet. there's this rallying around the president because he's still the
leader of the party that i don't see as actually going to dissipate unless you actually see mueller come up with what the president says isn't there, which is some sort of indication that there was direct coordination, collaboration, between his campaign and russian officials. we aren't at that point yet. until we get there, it's going to be difficult to break this line of defense. >> we continue to look at live pictures, ars force one and joint base andrews. the president heading to philadelphia, where the u.s./army navy game is going to be under way after he does the coin toss. ariva, mueller writes cohen provided the special counsel useful information on russia related matters core to its investigation. what do you interpret that to mean? >> well, very clearly, from the special counsel's filing, fred, they consider michael cohen to be very important.
consider him to be someone who provided useful information with respect to the russian meddling in the 2016 election. i believe from what we saw from mueller there are more people that are going to be already under investigation or will be the subject of investigation as a result of the information that michael cohen provided. we saw the opposite from the filing in the southern district of new york. investigators were more harsh, more critical of cohen, talked about his motivation being greed. talked about the major crimes he committed. although they ultimately got to the same conclusion as a cooperating witness, his testimony, his cooperate should be taken into considers with respect to sentencing. they were harsh as it relates to their interactions and said on some of the other investigations that were going on in new york, he wasn't as helpful. some investigations related to the trump organization related to, you know, financial issue and the trump family.
michael cohen apparently did not provide the kind of cooperation he did with the special counsel and his investigation primarily focused on russian interference in our elections. >> karen, this is very strategic, isn't? to release drips of information, even in a sentencing document filing like this, there's information that has to be, you know, shared so that sentencing can be considered. yet at the same time it does seem where the investigation might go or perhaps it makes it more ominous in terms of where is it going. >> it's not just cohen. we saw the special counsel's office saying how cooperative flynn has been. you can kind of connect the dots between where these characters were and what role they played in terms of their berpersonal dealings with trump what role they played in the campaign. what role after the campaign.
all these things come together. with each step, you potentially implicate other people. if we're seeing these figures who are fairly serious figures in the trump orbit, doesn't mean the probe is going to be other tomorrow. means they had something to trade up on which is going to be somebody likely closer to the president that will be implicated in the next round. it's a creeping circle towards the president's direct orbit. how close it gets is still an open question because we are not seeing every piece of information the investigators have. until we do, we won't have the full picture. >> thank you. coming up next, what the special counsel says about paul manafort's lies including lying about contact with the trump administration. later, the investigation into election fraud in north carolina
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learn more at the explorer card dot com. the special counsel says there's a lot, a lot going on in the russian investigation. we're getting the specifics of the lies that led to the unraveling of a plea deal for president trump's former campaign chairman paul manafort. robert mueller says manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate, including his contact with the trump administration officials as recently as this spring. with me now is cnn politics reporter jeremy herb and political reporter daniel lipman. good to see you both. so jeremy, you first, so specifics on the kind of lying that may have been taking place in this sentencing document. >> yes, that's right. the mueller document lays out
five separate lies that he accused paul manafort of committing after agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel earlier this year. among the most significant, the interactions with constantine kalaminic who is a russian national. he's also close to manafort and the two of them were involved in, you know, what the prosecutor said was witness tampering earlier this year, which is what sent manafort to prison before he was convicted of charges. in addition to that, we've seen the accusations that manafort lied about the contacts with white house and administration officials. multiple contacts that manafort had with officials in the administration. including in february and in may of 2018. mueller has the text messages he says that show these engagements happening. what we don't know is who manafort was talking to and by. and why did he lie about that to
the special counsel. >> right. and daniel, i mean, lying says, you know, you just don't want to share perhaps the context of the discussion but i mean what could they possibly have been talking about, manafort and the white house? any white house officials? was it potentially this is what they asked me, this is what i told them, this is the story. what do you think? >> almost like they were trying to get on the same page. especially for someone who just got convicted of ten felonies. or pled guilty to some of them. the fact he continued to lie to mueller's folks is just extraordinary. does he not realize the amount of prosecutorial firepower? this is the best in the business going against, you know, the trump team. you could see a scenario where manafort reached out to white house officials when he knows
certain members of this people are going to be witnesses against him or, you know, talk about their interactions with him. so if they say -- if he goes to them and says, well, don't say i talked to you, you know, you can see that happening. >> you know, are these contacts part of a larger pattern perhaps? >> it's interesting. this wasn't the only contacts with white house officials we learned about yesterday. in the cohen filing, there's also a separate note that cohen, part of his cooperation with the mueller team, was he had described contacts he had among officials close to the white house in 2017 and 2018. again, we don't know what that is getting at. and what mueller is getting at. the fact this was in both filings suggest there probably is something still there involving these contacs with some of the targets of the mueller probe. >> all right, daniel, jeremy, thanks. i'm going to leave there for now.
we've got this breaking news. particularly t lly tumultuous tr this white house. dealing with not just the sentencing documents but now this information into us that president trump says chief of staff john kelly will leave at the end of the year. cnn's boris sanchez is at the white house for us. these comments coming before the president is to board air force one there. >> that's right, on his way to andrews, headed to philadelphia to the army/navy game. the president began his comments talking about heading to that game. he's going to flip the coin there. he also talked about his new pick to lead the joint chiefs of staff which he announced this morning on twitter. then he answered some questions from the press about the russia investigation. was asked if he directed cohelp to make payments to daniels and mcdougal. in the special filing, it
reveals individual one told michael cohen to effectively pay off these women as part of the 2016 campaign to keep a sex scandal from preventing president trump from getting to the white house. any way you read that filing, individual one is clearly president trump. but he denies ever having directed michael cohen to do that. something that could potentially be a felony. after that, i asked the president specifically if he was aware paul manafort was still having conversations with administration officials as recently as may. he ignored my question. that sois another revelation coming from the filing. that manafort as recently as may while under indictment was still communicating with the senior administration officials. lastly, as you noted, the president making the announcement as we've been speculating in recent weeks that chief of staff john kelly will be departing. he did not state who his
successor will be. sources here indicate the president is likely going to select nick ayers, currently the vice president's chief of staff. >> all right, as you're hearing this reporting now from boris. while the president didn't make any announcements on who might be next, but there's a suspicion it might be the vice president's chief of staff nick ayers. what do you make of this potentially at the end of this year that the president says john kelly is out? >> yes, just remember that this is an administration -- >> by the way, we're looking at marine one heading to andrews air force base where the president will get on air force one. go ahead. >> yes, there was something that john kelly would be here until 2020. last i checked, next year is 2019. i think there were a lot of people that were concerned that the relationship between trump and kelly had really frayed over the last few months.
and they view nick ayers as a good choice because he has sharp political instincts. he is a guy who can lead trump into the next year which is going to be a huge fight with democrats in control of congress. we should say there are a number of white house colleagues who might quit because of ayers. he doesn't have that many internal, you know, friends in the building except for people like jared eivanka and pence. >> in trump's world that really may be the only thing that matters. he has an affinity for the person and his daughter and son-in-law -- listen to president trump. this is at the white house before he got on to marine one which you just saw there. >> i'm going now to the army/navy game. i think we're going to flip a
coin. i know both teams are going to do great. general mark mille as you know was just appointed the head of the joint chiefs of staff to be determined date. little bit later in the year. mark mille, he's a great gentleman. i look forward to that. on the mueller situation, we're very happy with what we're reading because there was no collusion whatsoever. there never has been. the last thing i wanted is help from russia on the campaign. you should ask hillary clinton about russia because she financed the fake dossier which i understand they tried to get some information and help from russia. but you ought to ask them about that. very one-sided situation. but i think it's all turning around very nicely. but as far as the reports we see according to everybody i'm spoken to, i have not read it.
there's absolutely no collusion which is very important. i go ahead, yes, go ahead. no, no, no. >> john kelly -- >> say it. >> does john kelly still have a job? >> john kelly will be leaving. i don't know if i can say retiring. he's a great guy. john kelly will be leaving at the end of the year. we'll be announcing who will be taking john's place. it might be on an interim basis. i'll announce that. john will be leaving at the end of the year. he's been with me almost two years now as you know between the two positions. but john kelly -- ready, are you ready? so john kelly will be leaving
towards the end of the year, at the end of the year. i appreciate his service very much. thank you. thank you all. >> very short there. boris sanchez at the white house there. the president addressing a few things. you mentioned the chair of the joint chiefs. mueller actually saying he's happy about the way things are going. the way we are reading it. it's turning around very nicely. but that, you know, he really was beari iburying the lead on . it had been reported that they hasn't been speaking recently, that the relationship was rather tenuous. what are your sources telling you about their relationship and how it has crumbled or how this has led to -- how their relationship has led to -- >> fred, it's gone through a number of tasks. john kelly had been asked to stay on as chief of staff
through 2020. now it appears he's leaving before the end of the year. as you recall, when he first came in, he was replacing reince priebus who many in the administration felt was too lax on the president and didn't do enough to try to rein in who was seeing the president and when. there was sort of an open door to the oval office and many felt that contributed to what was perceived as chaos within the white house. when chief of staff kelly came in, he installed new rules about who could see the president and when. he tried to tamp down on leaks by preventing staffers from taking their cell phones into certain parts of the white house. they would have to leave them in lockers and so forth. ultimately, kelly faced a number of controversies himself with comments he made about people enrolled in daca as well as the controversial phone call the president had with the family of sergeant thompson. he passed away in niger and there was a dispute over specifically what was said. ultimately, john kelly tried to
defend the president. that got him in hot water as well. over time what we've seen is essentially a reverse to that sort of chaos we saw early on. where john kelly's power was reduced within the administration. there are reports of him having shouting matches with the national security adviser john bolton and continuously threatening to resign a number of times. ultimately, it appears their relationship frayed and now john kelly is on the way out. nick ayers is -- as i noted previously, who many here at the white house pointed to as a potential successor. there is some friction between he and others in the administration. he built a rapport through the president through lunches that the president would have with vice president pence. sources tell cnn at one specific lunch late last year, the president invited ayers and john kelly in to be sort of a team of people having lunch and that continued throughout and that's how ayers continued to build a
rapport with the president. a very distinguished political background, having worked for a number of prominent republicans including sonny perdue of georgia. he brings a pedigree of political awareness that many have complained to the president john kelly does not have. that will likely serve the president going into 2020 if he, in fact, does replace the current chief of staff. >> i also want to bring into the conversation reliable sources anchor brian stelter. the president boarding air force one. he's on the way for the army/navy game where he'll be doing the coin toss. this is his opportunity to change the subject. while he did address mueller, he also dismissed it as you know it's turning around nicely. doesn't seemed threatened by it. now he's mentioned his chief of staff. been with him for a couple of years now. john kelly on the way out this year. what signals is the president sending? >> i think he's trying to change
the subject. from one bad story to another bad story. this amount of turmoil is never good for any white house. even if the president enjoyed drama and infighting and he enjoys this kind of turmoil and turnover, it's not good for the country. look, i think the big headline here is john kelly was expected to stay on until 2020. that's what trump said he wanted. he wanted the chief of staff to stay on for a while longer. all of a sudden, that's not happening anymore. our colleague reporting was spot on. said yesterday morning this was going to happen soon. the question is how soon. said in the coming days we would see john kelly leechi inleaving enough here we are. two details are important. first, she said kelly and trump had stopped speaking in recent days. the two men were no longer speaking. number two, pointed out on twitter, the trump is allowing
kelly a graceful exit. pretty rare. maybe at some point down the line kelly will be called dumb as rocks or whatever. for now at least -- >> depends on what he says publicly, right? >> right. at the moment they're departing on positive terms so that might be a positive sign. overall, it's never positive to see this much turnover in a white house, the rare to see another chief of staff change so soon in the first term. >> political reporter daniel lipman back with us. daniel, what message does this send that this relationship that at first between john kelly and the president, you know, seems so great, and now no speaking terms and an exit. >> yes, it's kind of a reminder what people have told me which is, you know, work for the president almost never leads to good things for you. while it may be great to have this big white house job or be the secretary of state,
inevitably things turn on a coin. and things go south. paul manafort has ten felonies now. cohen is facing three to four years in jail. reince priebus, his reputation took a hit when he was chief of staff. >> with that precedence then, you wonder why anyone would now say yes to an opportunity. >> it's hard to get a job in the white house -- or it's hard to find people in the white house who would face such a harsh working environment. and so that's just the case with trump world. now it's very tough to attract top talent. nick ayers is kind of the only one left standing who would want that job and is trusted by the family. >> what do you know about ayers and why he would? we don't know he said yes.
you know, the president -- reportedly he would likely be the one. but then why would nick want that job? >> i think nick is a very ambitious person. he's also built a rapport with mike pence that's led him to this point. he feels -- he's a loyal republican. he feels he can make a difference. he might be the most successful chief yet. we don't know. but it also depends on what his priorities are. he doesn't have a huge background in policy. that's a question some republicans are wondering if he wants to build some policy. win next year with a democratic house. does nick have that on the democratic side of the eyelaisl probably not. >> you have something to add? >> i think it's interesting to think back four months ago, the end of july, that is when kelly
announced his entire senior staff the president asked him to stay on through 2020. and that he agreed to stay on through 2020. over the summer, it was one of these periods of rumors that kelly was about to leave. there had been rumors about that all along the time of kelly's tenure as chief of staff. >> there had been like some really loud -- exchanges. >> kelly said yes, i'll stay on. the president might have asked me to stay longer but i'm exciting through 2020. you have to wonder what has led to this blowup now. one answer may be our colleague's reporting yesterday about mueller. about the fact that kelly did speak to the robert mueller investigators who were looking into obstruction issues. that could be one of many factors. we know the two men did stop speaking recently. obviously the chief of staff job is one of the most important unelected roles in the united states. decide who goes in, who goes
out. for the two men not to be on speaking terms. it will be interesting to hear kelly's version. right now trump is being relatively kind to kelly on the way out. >> everyone always seems to be eventually -- rex tillerson. it may take a few months, but they eventually express themselves. >> reince priebus, the first chief of staff, he famously said to an author, whatever you've heard, whatever you think, it's always worse. it was 50 times even wilder than you can imagine. so kelly tried to bring order. kelly tried to bring some sort of structure. some folks thought of kelly as an adult trying to supervise. but we started the year with the book fire and fury. that was the first week of january. all about the chaos in the white house. and here we are now in december at the end of the year once again seeing a period of turmoil. >> playing it out now in real time. okay, brian, boris, daniel, thank you. air force one takes off. the president will be doing the
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we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. ingenious space- neat nest™ by fasaving design. all designed to stack and protect the lids, and the pan surface. farberware neat nest™. stacked & intact™ the president's former campaign adviser george papadopoulos is out of prison and speaking at a republican event in washington right now called the american priority conference. he was released on friday after serving 12 day als of his 14 da sentence for lying to investigators about his contact with individuals tied to russia during the 2016 campaign. and his first tweet after being released, he thanked patriots
for supporting his cause. i want to bring in caroline pelisi, a criminal defense attorney and represents papadopoulos in the russia investigation. good to see you. he's released from jail, now a speaking engagement. why? >> well, george has not been shy throughout this entire investigation. some people love him. some people hate him for it. but look, he's just looking to move on with his life and figure out a way to become a contributing member to society. he has a book coming out. he very much wants to get his story out there. you know, it's a different tact that most of the subjects of this investigation have taken. he's really an open book at this point. >> so has his story, has his reflection on everything changed at all after serving, you know, 12 out of the 14 days of his sentence? >> you know, he definitely had an okay time in prison. he did tell me it was somewhat
boring. he did have a lot of time to reflect. i think he's interested now in really clearing his name. you know, i would just note that the judge at sentencing even noted that george had no desire to undermine the united states of america, he had no improper context while he was on the campaign. i think he wants to sort of rehabilitate his image. >> what is the message? how does he do that? what's the story that will help rehabilitate his image? >> i think, for one thing, he's trying to do that there today. he's trying to make it known that, you know, he's been nothing but a patriot throughout this entire ordeal. this has been hard on him. he still has a year of probation to serve. he's on supervised release. we just filed a motion to dismiss the case that the dnc brought against him in a multitude of other defendants in the southern district of new york. that's a civil rico case charging him with a massive
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investigation are taking things to a whole new level. implicating the president himself in two federal crimes during his 2016 campaign. so the question is, can you indict a sitting president? joining me right now avery freedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor and criminal defense attorney richard herman. good to see you both. >> good to see you. >> before i ask you about whether you can indict a sitting president, i do have to ask you a follow-up on the news that just has, you know, come to our
attention. while we know that the chief of staff, john kelly, talked to the mueller team, we've learned this, as a result of, you know, the sentencing filings, we're also now hearing from the president of the united states, just about ten minutes ago that john kelly is on his way out. so avery, what does this signal to you? >> it signals a lot. we have several things. one of the things that strikes you about the memoranda that we saw yesterday in federal court, and the remark, come mation that john kelly is on his way out, is that the redactions tell us there is a lot more. kelly is going to be part of what we don't know. so at the end of the line, while a lot of people are thinking this is the end of the mueller investigation, in my opinion, john kelly has a lot to say, the redactions have a lot to say. i believe that the mueller investigation is far from over, and john kelly will actually be
a part of that. >> so richard, john kelly leaving by the end of the year, you see a connection to his testimony to the mueller team? and the investigation overall? >> they're not even talking, i understand, the president and john kelly. >> that's true. kaitlan collins reported that yesterday. >> it is just insanity going on in the white house. but of significance on the filings yesterday, fred, was that southern district pre-sentence memoranda, that alone in and of itself vaporized the ability to have michael cohen as a witness for mueller or everybody. when you lie during the cooperation period, your testimony is useless and the southern district said he withheld information, he is not credible, no reduction, slam in. he is done. mueller can't use him for anything. >> it has been concluded by the filings that the president is implicated in two felony crimes here. so then it promotes the question
of while there is the justice department policy that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, does that mean this president could be implicated in these crimes and nothing could be done besides, you know, congress impeaching, but then nothing in terms of being held accountable of crimes? avery? >> well, while he serves as president, it is the policy of the department of justice, not to seek indictment. that doesn't set him free until, you know, at least during his term, he can't be. he's not scott-free to use president trump's language, after he's completed his service as president. but at the end of the day, i think the timing is very important on this. while there is, it is clear, based on the memoranda that were filed yesterday, that the president is now a federal unindicted co-conspirator, in a federal crime. two federal crimes.
that's very, very significant. in the history of american law, you look at teapot dome, you look at watergate, this is a chapter that from a legal perspective is a profound one, and while he may escape prosecution during his term as the president, he's not going to escape prosecution for the rest of his life. >> so richard, that same memo says a federal civil officer is immune from prosecution while in office, and then i'm just reading the policy, in 1973, the department concluded that the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president would im per missively, sorry, undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. policy. this is not law. this is policy. which means policy can be re-written, or policy can be honored. so richard, what do you see, potentially happening here? >> right, fred. you're right on. that policy is not definitive. and the answer to that question will be determined by the u.s.
supreme court. they are the only body that can interpret the constitution on this issue. it has never been tested there before. and the issue of whether or not the distraction factor is sufficient, look, bill clinton used that in '97 and the supreme court ruled no, you have to participate in a civil litigation, so that kind of fell, but the ultimate issue is kavanaugh is going to say the ultimate authority of the department of justice resides in the president, therefore a president can't prosecute himself, that's where it is going, fred, unfortunately, at least in my opinion. >> okay, avery, richard, thank you so much. thanks for being flexible. >> of course. >> i appreciate it. we will have much more right after this. ♪ it's a feeling that's hard to describe... ♪ ...and even harder to forget. ♪
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hello again everyone. thanks for joining us this saturday. i'm frederica whitfield. we begin with breaking news a major shakeup coming to the white house. president trump last hour confirming that chief of staff john kelly will leave his post at the white house at the end of the year. here is the president moments ago. >> john kelly will be leaving, i don't know if i can say retiring, but he is a great guy, john kelly will be leaving at the end of the year, we will be announcing who will be taking john's place, it might be on an interim basis, i will be announcing that over the next day or two, but john will be leaving at the end of the year. he's been with me almost two years now, as you know, between the two positions. so we're probably going to see him in a little while. but john