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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  December 14, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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you just played, and that is that the president was very concerned at the time they were resolving the two litigation items that were outstanding, the so-called hush payments because of of the election. the fundamental issue here is were those two payments made in an attempt to keep silent those women's comments in the face of the election. and of course prosecutors and michael cohen, ami, david pecker, they all say yes. it requires getting into the president's brain in order to bring a successful prosecution, and one key to doing that is whatever michael cohen can relate that he was told by donald trump at the time that they resolved those matters because you know what the president will say. if asked, the president will say it had nothing to do with the campaign, i was acting to protect my marriage, i was acting to protect my young son, i was acting to protect my brand in the event this campaign didn't end well. >> right. but of course michael cohen and
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that issue was part of the southern district of new york's filings and one of the years he got three years in prison as a sentence is because they said he hadn't fully cooperated with them and that's something the president continues to go after his credibility and saying he's not truthful. why do you think cohen, who is now claiming to be a changed man, is holding back. what has he been waiting for? >> ana, there a couple of different reasons. one is if he had a full cooperation agreement, it would have put the onus, a burden on him to explain in detail any and every time he violated the law and his full knowledge of others with whom he was dealing who had done likewise. maybe he just didn't want to open himself up to that extent. a more favorable outcome or answer for michael cohen would be one that said this has wreaked havoc on him professionally and personally
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and, frankly, he wants to get it over and the quickest way to get it over is to take his lumps and frankly get to jail on march 6th rather than see this thing continue on with his outcome hanging in the balance. >> as we just laid out at the top of the show, six trump entities are now under investigation. the walls clearly closing in on the president. michael, what do you think is going on right now in the white house? >> i think probably most concern because it's immediate and we know a great deal about it is that which you're describing coming out of the southern district of new york. this may end up posing more crises for the white house than does whatever mueller might conclude. we just don't know what mueller has but we do know a great deal because of the cohen plea about this claim that could be made against the president for his role in violating federal election law. now of course you know, ana, the precedent is that you don't indict a sitting president, so
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maybe he's protected in that regard. one of the questions that i have is what ultimately happens at the end of the road with the southern district investigation. does it get folded into the mueller probe? is it presented in some way that congress, if they wanted to, could act on it? that's unclear. >> we don't really know what's happening behind the scenes in the white house, but we do get a sense of what may be happening, the conversation on capitol hill, particularly among republicans, many of whom shrugged off the campaign finance allegations that you say are perhaps the most threatening right now against this president. among those republicans initially brushing this off was orrin hatch, who said this to cnn's manu raju. >> i don't care. all can i say is i think he's doing a good job as president. i don't think he was involved in crimes. you can make anything a crime under the current laws. can you blow it way out of proportion, you can do a lot of
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things. >> now that senator says he has regrets for making those comments calling them, quote, irresponsible and adding while he doesn't feel president trump broke the law, no one is above the law. what do you think inspired this about face? >> so let's assume that in the end mueller doesn't have collusion, mueller doesn't have obstruction of justice, mueller issues a report that is condemning of the president for some of his behavior but does not color out a case for a criminal indictment and we're left only with that which we know from the southern district of new york. is this enough to begin an impeachment process, i could see democratically controlled house of representatives voting for impeachment. but now to answer your question, ultimately then it gets to the republican-controlled united states senate. i'm sure there's a mentality among some in the senate that in the end, the underlying conduct here was sex. and we learned our lesson 20
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years ago perhaps that if that's the underlying conduct, it's not enough to meet the standard for a conviction in the united states senate. i'm not buying into that necessarily. i'm just trying to explain that mindset. >> all right, michael smerconish, we will see. thank you very much for your time and don't forget michael's show is tomorrow morning at 9:00 eastern on cnn. we have more breaking news on a high-stakes meeting involving president trump and a possible shutdown. let's go live to capitol hill. what can you tell us about this meeting? >> reporter: this is all about government funding and whether or not a week from now the government will be set to shut down. the president said he would be willing to take the blame for any republican shutdowns. republicans in the senate and house not so keen on that. however things have been almost
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frozen as republicans have waited for some sign of what the president wants to do next. he's supposed to meet with mick mulvaney on the issue. one of the issues that will be presented is that republicans on capitol hill have started to coalesce behind him that, punting the funding fight for at least two weeks. he would not get $5 billion in his wall money, he would get a continuation of the $1.3 billion in border security. it would punt the fight into january. what happens? january? you know well that's when nancy pelosi, the speaker designate, will likely take the gavel and house democrats will take the majority over there.culations f on capitol hill, better to have the holidays and set that fight up for when the democrats make the majority in the house, maybe set democrats in the majority in
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the house for some blame or at least a battle one on one with the president. extreme caution in the sense that the president has not made any decisions yet. this meeting will be the first time these types of ops are put in front of him. he's been steadfast that he wants the fight now and the $5 billion is crucial to him moving forward. will he stick to that? people have been waiting for an answer and we may get one soon. >> do we know who will be in the meeting? >> the head of the legislative affairs, mick mulvaney is supposed to meet with the president as well. these are crucial players in conveying what they're hearing from capitol hill. talking to republican lawmakers publicly and privately over the course of the last couple days, the enthusiasm to have a bare-knuckle brawl as we've seen so often has dissipated in the last couple of days. not just because the president took the p.r. message away
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saying it would be his fault but because of the holidays, chuck schumer and nancy pelosi have made clear they're not moving on this issue of the wall. they don't want a drawn-ot shut down, might as well punt to the next year and try again. we'll see if the president is willing to agree to that, ana. >> phil mattingly, we know the president also has holiday plans so nobody wants to be stuck in washington. we appreciate you. thank you. i want to get to our breaking news that just dropped. robert mueller just filed another memo, this one involving michael flynn and it may have a big impact on his punishment when he is sentenced next week. now remember, we already know both sides agree on one major point. the man who was president trump's national security adviser for 23 days should not get any jail time for lying to federal investigators and that's because of flynn's early and his ongoing, quote, substantial
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assistance, that from mueller's own filing which foreshadows, quote, some of that benefit may not be fully realized at this time because the investigations in which he has provided assistance are ongoing." i want to bring in our panel, evan perez, shimon prokupecz. what are you learning this hour? >> the flynn legal team, one of the things they mentioned in their memo, the circumstances under which he was interviewed, the fbi came to interview michael flynn and they never told him lying to the fbi was a crime that you hear in these interviews. the special counsel respoundsnd says the circumstances of the defendant's interview are not
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mitigated. they're saying that the things that the legal team has raised, the questions over whether or not he was warned, whether or not the fbi sort of put hmm at ease and didn't tell him exactly what this was about before they came over, none of that matters. they say michael flynn is a national security adviser for the president, he is a former head of the defense intelligence agency, he's a long-time military -- decorated military veteran, he should know that lying to the fbi is a crime. so none of that should matter. look, i think what the special counsel is trying to do is get ahead of any issues that the judge might raise as a result of this. they're making sure that the judge gets the clear picture here that what michael flynn did was lie, it's plain and straight lying, it doesn't matter what the circumstances under which those lies occurred.
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>> in what was just filed, his actual interview, what's called a 302 that the fired fbi eight peter strzok filled out after he interviewed michael flynn, we learned that peter strzok was interviewed by fbi agents separately about his interaction with michael flynn. and how he describes michael flynn's demeanor at the time of the interview is quite interesting. he said throughout the interview flynn had a very sure demeanor, did not give any indicators of deception. he did not parse his words or hesitate in any of his answers. he only hedged once, which they documented, the fbi agents, peter strzok documented in his 302. strzok said he and this other fbi agent who interviewed flynn had the impression at the time that flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying. flynn struck strzok, the fbi agent as bright but not
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profoundly sophisticated. what's interesting about this is that flynn's attorneys are arguing had it was the fbi agents who went in there under false pretenses. they were acting like they were friends with him, we're just allies trying to get information and in essence tricked him into lying. that's why they wanted this information released. it is very rare we get to see these kinds of documents. we're getting an inside view now of the interview, of what it was like at the white house when the fbi agents went there to talk to michael flynn. there's more here obviously we're going through, talked about when they received a phone call from michael flynn, how all what went down. this is fascinating because we never get the chance to look inside the room of an interview. that's what we're getting here. and just the perception of the fbi agents at the time. we heard all this. no one thought at the time that flynn was lying. it's perhaps after the fact -- >> but they had other information to know he was
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lying. general, when you look at these documents and to evan's points, evan and shimon's points that we are getting the details, are you surprised they included those specific documents in this sentencing memo? >> i would have been had it not come up in michael flynn's memo. they're trying to put out that he somehow was treated unfairly to not tell him it's a crime to lie to us. i think it's very, very smart of them to do this. i think people need to know that you don't have to tell the head of the national security adviser that it's a crime. there's no question that he knew that. he also knew what the interview was about. it's very clear that they told him more than once what exactly they needed to talk to him about. it had been in the press. he knew exactly what he was going to be talking to the agents about and what they were
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concerned about, which were his contacts with the russians. so there's no trickery here. there's nothing like that. so i think the fact that they've released these documents is good to set the record straight. >> and i think they had to do it at this point, ana, because this was becoming a thing, especially in the right-wing media. look, we reported this back in early 2017, after flynn had been interview. we reported it at the time on cnn that the agents who interviewed him didn't think that he was lying. they certainly did not -- he did not come across as intentionally lying. it didn't look like something they could prosecute. it wasn't until later on that they took a second look and decided that this was something that he could be prosecuted for. we still don't know the full circumstances of that, by the way. i think that is still yet to be revealed by the special counsel. but something happened in between this first interview in early 2017 and then the time that robert mueller is appointed that they decided that there is
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enough here to prosecute mike flynn, it's what he pleaded guilty to. >> that's what i think is really important. i have to squeeze in a quick break. shimon, hold your thought. we're going to continue your spes coverako special coverage. the fact of the matter is flynn pleaded guilty to lying. so the question about whether he was lying at that interview or not isn't a question. he has admitted to it and said that was a fair indictment essentially in which he pleaded guilty to. we're going to come back and continue to go through these memos and we'll bring you new information that we're learning about it when we come back. (music throughout)
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. back to our breaking news, the special counsel has just slammed michael flynn for the criticism of his fbi interview. this is part of a new sentencing memo robert mueller just filed and it could have an impact on flynn's punishment when he's sentenced next week. my panel is back with us. joining us is senior white house reporter pamela brown. as we've been looking through these documents, pamela, what's your big takeaway? >> well, it's just a fascinating look inside this interview between the president's former national security adviser michael flynn and fbi agents. of course you see mueller's team taking a dig right back after michael flynn after his team took a dig at the fbi for saying that the fbi failed to warn michael flynn that lying to the fbi is a crime. and in these documents here, mueller's team is saying this is someone who is a national security adviser who had more than 30 years in the military, who ran an intelligence agency,
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this is someone who knows it's a crime to lie to the fbi. he shouldn't have to be warned. it says he does not need to be warned if it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling they the truth. all of this surrounding his conversation with russian ambassador sergei kislyak. when they interviewed peter strzok, they said they arrived at the white house to interview flynn, flynn was in such a good mood, he wanted to give them a tour. they ran into president trump during all of this who was talking with others about where to place art and that the president didn't seem to take notice that there were fbi agents there with flynn, which is pretty interesting there. peter strzok said flynn was so talkative and had so much time on his hands, they wonder doesn't the national security adviser have anything better to do? and then it talks about the fact that flynn seemed so sure and
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confident in the interview. they didn't think that he was being deceptive or knowingly lying to them. but in these court records, it sort of lays out what happened during that interview. as we reported and as evan was talking about, flynn was viewed as wobbly in the interview. they say the fbi agents gave him multiple opportunities to correct his false statements by revisiting key questions. when he said he didn't remember something he knew that he said -- the fbi knew he said, they used the exact words that the defendant had used in order to prompt a truthful response. so after a further probing, laying out to him this is what you said to the ambassador in these court filings, then flynn came around to say, oh, i remember that. that is how mueller's team is laying it out. it's a remarkable inside look you don't often get to see, ana. >> i'm curious having covered the white house yourself, what do you anticipate the president's team is going to do now? >> well, that's a good question.
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you already have michael flynn making their case, his team making their case about this. the president, we'll have to see. you saw him tweet about flynn, saying he believes he is stronger than some of the others, that he's not weak. clearly the president has been supportive of his former national security adviser through this. so we'll have to wait and see how the white house responds. >> we know you'll continue to read through it. thank you, pamela. what else are you guys seeing? >> one of the other interesting notes is that in a phone call from january 24th of 2017 when the fbi initial lily reaches ouo lieutenant flynn, they say they want to talk to him and they ask him questions about his conversations with the russians. he said they say that he explained that he had been trying to build relationships with the russians, that he had calls in which he exchanged
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condolences. then what michael flynn tells the fbi is you probably know what was said. so clearly there he knew that they already were very much aware of his conversations. the big question has always been and still to this day is why did michael flynn lie? we still don't have a full explanation. all the documents filed from the special counsel to his attorney, no one as ever explained why he lied. we know why michael cohen has lied. because he wanted to protect the president. others have lied to protect the president. we still to this day do not know why michael flynn lied. >> what's so interesting to me is the need for this addition an fi d -- additional fooiling aal fi mueller's team. why do you think they took this shot against flynn when they were building him up as a model
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person? >> i think he's setting himself up for life afterwards. he was this darling of the conspiracy theorists, right-wingers, probably going to go out on the speaking tour to make money. he still probably wants to capture some of that. i also think it's important that mueller responded. what do you, mueller, say do you want to back off your suggestion that no jail time is appropriate? i think he wanted a response to mueller's team. no, he still gets no time but all of this nonsense about not being warned and not being tricked is nonsense and they wanted to put that in front of the judge, too. >> in the filing itself, they make a very interesting point to go to what shimon is talking about, why did he lie? it says in the file, "the defendant chose to make false statements about his communications with the russian ambassador weeks before the fbi interview when he lied about the
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topic to the media." essentially they're saying he'd been practices his lies to the press before the fbi shows up to interview him. and that sort of gets into his mindset. again, one of the issues here is always did you intend to make a false statement. that's when they can prosecute you, if you intentionally lied. if you just forgot something and you gave a wrong answer, that's a different thing. but here what they're saying is that you were -- michael flynn, you were practicing these lies for some time before the fbi showed up at the white house to do this interview. and again, this is again to push back on this idea that he may have been tricked into making these false statements. it's absolutely, as you pointed out, he's not admitted that he made those false statements and there's no mitigation to that. >> is there any reason to believe that the judge is actually going to now because of the back and forth smack flynn down a little bit? >> no, he won't. it's kind of an unwritten rule.
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you don't harm the defendant for things that his lawyers do really. you have to assume that these are strategic documents filed by the legal team. i would say it's a little bit possible if at the sentencing the defendant is always given an opportunity to address the court. if michael flynn stood up and starred going off about some rant about an fbi conspiracy theory and how he was tricked, maybe he would reconsidering. the defendant usually gets the bottom of the range. it would be really unusual for the judge to go above the bottom, which is no time. >> shimon, a lot of redactions, which was true to the form of the original sentencing memo as well. but this obviously dealing with different documents. what is redacted? what does it suggest? >> names are redacted. it suggests that other people were involved and being briefed. there's some mention about an argument over how to approach michael flynn on this. >> there's also a reference to other investigations. they say there are other
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investigations into addition to michael flynn that they were doing. that is still flablabd o blacke. we don't know if it's still ongoing. >> i think peter strzok was interviewed by the fbi for the special counsel and it says in the interviews that peter strzok came over and took over several parts of the investigation. so there's a lot in this that we can read into essentially saying there are certainly different investigations that the mueller team has been looking at, that peter strzok, who was fired under a lot of controversy was overseeing and was in charge of and that could potentially be a problem down the line should any of these cases go to trial. certainly that could be a problem. >> i know, pam, you have something else as well. >> as i was just reading through the notes here in these filings, what's interesting here is then
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deputy director of the fbi, andrew mccabe, took notes on his conversation with flynn before the fbi interview and did sort of a play by play of what their conversation was like. and in these notes released, he talks about how flynn conveyed to him that he was trying to build relationships with russians and exchange condolences and that really was the gist of the conversation. but then he goes on to say that flynn stated to him that he probably knew what was said. so essentially flynn said to then the deputy director of the fbi, you probably know what i said to kislyak. it certainly makes you scratch your head as to why he wasn't fully forthcoming in the interview with the fbi about his conversations and what was exactly said considering he said to andy mccabe you probably know about the conversation. it just sort of raises more questions about why did he lie and what are the circumstances around it. >> all right, everybody stand
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by. i have to squeeze in a quick break. we're getting more reporting on how much the special counsel investigation has cost. we'll have that when we come back. boom. enjoy your prime rib! anyone ever call you, "meat santa"? no, that's... weird. happy holidays. enjoy. next customer?
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unstopand it's strengthenedting place, the by xfi pods,gateway. which plug in to extend the wifi even farther, past anything that stands in its way. ...well almost anything. leave no room behind with xfi pods. simple. easy. awesome. click or visit a retail store today. more breaking news on this friday. coming in to cnn, we now have new figures from the justice department about how much the russia investigation has caused taxpayers.
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laura jarrett is joining us live with more. what have you learned? >> we just got the third installment of the running tally on the running investigation. what it shows is from april to september of this year, the investigation has cost roughly $8.5 million. when you combine that with the previous tallies we've received from past months, the 6.7 and 10 million, you get a grand total of $25 million suns special counsel robert mueller was appointed in may of 2017. we've obviously seen the fruits of his labor quite a bit this year. we've seen over 36 different people and entities charged with very different federal crimes. we've also seen seven people plead guilty in this investigation, including as you were just referencing the former national security adviser michael cohen along with paul manafort and his deputy, rick gates, along with a slew of
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others. we've seen a variety of different outputs from all the money that has been spent here. i should mention only a fraction of this is from the special counsel's team. the way they break this down is there are costs spent directly by mueller and then also by d.o.j. components that would have been spent even if the special counsel wasn't appointed. of course the russia investigation existed before mueller was appointed. mueller has only spent a little over $12 million, which is a far cry from some of the grab bag figures the president put out lately. he tweeted out somewhere in the range of $30 million and $40 million, and that is not true. >> we now know, $12 million for mueller's team specifically, additional dollars going to other parts of the justice department. thank you so much, laura jarrett. more on this breaking news involving michael flynn's sentencing. and we're getting new details of
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campbell, a former fbi supervisory special agent. you've conducted some of these interviews like michael flynn sat through. now we're seeing more specifically the notes from the fbi agent who did that interview. what's your takeaway? >> so this is the response from special counsel robert mueller to a memo that flynn has actually submitted recently to the court. it's important to understand that because this is essentially a rebuttal of claims flynn is making. he indicated he is cooperating with authorities, which is true, but then he did something else that was really bizarre in the sense that he took a page from president trump's play book and tried to attack investigators saying i was unfairly set up here, unfairly targeted. he indicated that the fbi had failed to tell him that lying was against the law and that he
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should have an attorney with him. this takes that head on. it's very remarkable and dramatic in the sense that robert mueller says you are a 33-year veteran of the armed forces, a sitting national security adviser. you know lying to the fbi is illegal. you should not be reminded of that. the second things, and i can tell you having served in the fbi in the director's office when all this was going down, one thing fascinating, michael flynn, they talk about the logan act violation, he was talking to the foreign ambassador from russia and the truth of the matter is no one seriously thought that michael flynn was going to be prosecuted under the logan act for talking to a former ambassador as far as his responsibility on the transition because no one's been prosecuted since 1852 for this very obscure law. the question is why did he sit across from fbi agents and lie to them?
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having conducted those interviews and you're talking to someone and you nope whknow wha they're saying to be false, it puts you back on your heels and you wonder why is this person lying to me? robert mueller coming to the defense of these eights sagents weren't mistreated, you should have known better, this is on you. >> we see the notes from peter strzok after that interview. you have done these interviews, you've taken notes following interviews. does everything look like it was done by the book? >> so there are a lot of redactions in there. we only know what we know looking at this. this is important for viewers to understand. this 302, a testimonial document an fbi agent does, conducts an interview and writes up a report, this is an fbi agent
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sitting down with the other fbi sitting down interviewing michael flynn. it was important enough that tell me what took place, tell me about the circumstances, walk me through what happened that day soup to nuts to when the people -- the reason it's important, if you look at the time frame, the calendar, obvious live michael flyof obvio obviously michael flynn was on the hook for lying. it was key at that point where you probably had flynn saying, looking i'm being treated unfairly, there are circumstances about this interview that are unfair. this signals that robert mueller wanted to hear directly from the agent that did the interview, get it locked in on paper and that's what we're reading today. >> thank you for your inside. we'll take a quick and be right back. ally discovered...
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back now with more of our breaking news. this new flynn filing from robert mueller's team. i want to bring back my panel. evan, jennifer and shimon with us. shimon, you found something else that is interesting. >> there is something in here where they talk about -- a line in here where they talk about the former attorney general, acting attorney general, sally yates, when she learned that the fbi was going to interview michael flynn, it says here she was not happy. essentially what happens -- we don't know why. that's the only thing it says. what happens is, former fbi director, james comey, happens to be on the phone with her and says the fbi agents are now interviewing michael flynn. and for whatever reason, just
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notes she was not happy. >> and a reminder to our viewers, sally yates is the person who went to the white house and said michael flynn is lying to the vice president and now that could be a potential liability. the russians could have some leverage over this white house, as a result. evan, as we get this information, these documents from robert mueller's team, we do understand there's a mystery grand jury also convening in washington. >> right. there is a mystery that is before the grand jury. this is a mysterious case. we don't know what it's about. for the last couple of months they have been having these meetings with the judge. it's gone up to appeal. somebody is being asked to provide information we believe to the special counsel. and they are fighting back, and so this is being fought out mind the scenes. they have not disclosed anything about whatever this fight is about. we don't know the substance. we don't know who it is that received what would have been a subpoena, essentially. and so that's been one of the big mysteries.
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today the reporters went over there, because we knew there was going to be a hearing. and the court security took the extraordinary move to seal off an entire floor of the courthouse, so reporters were sitting in stairwells and trying to take elevators, getting stuck in elevators, trying to get a glimpse of who it was. i actually went up to one of the lawyers, because i was there one day when they were having one of these hearings. and i sat outside of the courtroom, and i -- when they came out, i approached the lawyers to try to get some information out of them. they refused to talk to me. so we've been trying to figure this out. every reporter in washington has been trying to figure this out for several weeks. >> is this really unusual, this secrecy, with this grand jury, jennifer? >> highly unusual. but, of course, remember, usually you don't have this kind of press attention. usually someone can sneak in and have a hearing and no one is the wiser. so, yeah, highly unusual. but highly unusual times. can't wait to find out. >> whoever is fighting this is spending a lot of money to do it. this is not cheap. the motions that are being filed, these appearances in
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court, this is not cheap. >> they have hired a very big, big law firm from the south that is fighting this thing, whatever it is. and so they're going all the way up through the appeals process to try to make sure -- >> big money here. so someone is spending a lot of money to have all of this information not revealed. we'll hopefully learn who it is. >> again, multiple investigations ongoing by robert mueller's team now as we have seen in some of the court filings in the last couple of weeks. we have much more on this breaking news. thank you, first of all, shimon, evan, and jennifer, for being with me throughout this hour as we are looking through these new documents. more on that, and the doubt tanki dow down more than 521. we'll tell you why. stay with us. place, the xfinity xfi gateway.
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down 500 points right now. we're going to continue to watch this as we continue our coverage here on cnn. "the lead" with jake tapper starts now. robert mueller, just told general flynn and his attorneys to cut the crap about being coaxed into lying by the fbi. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news. the special counsel slams general michael flynn for criticizing the way his fbi interview went down, saying, hey, general, you lied. live with it. what might this mean for how long general flynn could go away? parting shots. donald trump's former fixer before he heads to prison unloading on the president of the united states and promising, he will not go down as the villain in this story. and heartbreak on the border. a 7-year-old girl dies after the