The Special Counsel Pushes For Donald Trump’s Former National Security Adviser To Avoid Prison Time After Offering Up Substantial
<Show: NEWS STREAM>
<Date: December 5, 2018>
<Head: The Special Counsel Pushes For Donald Trump’s Former National
Security Adviser To Avoid Prison Time After Offering Up Substantial
Evidence; Forced To Publish, The British Government Has Been Forced To
Publish Legal Advisory Received Before Agreeing To A Brexit Deal; And Mass
Mafia Arrests, More Than 90 People Are In Detention After Raids Across
Europe; America Is Preparing To Pay Its Final Respects To George H.W. Bush.
Aired: 8-9a ET - Part 1>
<Sect: News; International>
<Byline: Kristie Lu Stout, Jessica Schneider, Matthew Chance, Eleni Giokos,
Nina dos Santos, Atika Shubert, John Defterios, Sherisse Pham >
<Guest: Ming Maa, Adam Rutherford>
<High: A year after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Michael Flynn,
President Trump’s former national security adviser, may walk away with no
jail time. The 41st President has been lying in state in the U.S. Capitol
rotunda ahead of his funeral in just a few hours. The British government
has been forced to publish legal advice it received before agreeing to a
Brexit deal with the EU, that after it was found to be in contempt of
Parliament on Tuesday for withholding the information. Across Europe, at
least 90 people are now in police custody after authorities targeted
suspected mafia members in multiple raids across several countries >
<Spec: Michael Flynn, Robert Mueller, George H.W. Bush, Brexit, Theresa
May, European Union, Mafia, Ndrangheta>
KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST, “NEWS STREAM”: I’m Kristi Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to “News Stream.” The special counsel pushes for Donald Trump’s former national security adviser to avoid prison time after offering up substantial evidence. Forced to publish, the British government has been forced to publish legal advisory received before agreeing to a Brexit deal. And mass mafia arrests, more than 90 people are in detention after raids across Europe.
A year after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, may walk away with no jail time. The reason? Well, Flynn’s, quote, “Substantial help with the investigation into Russia’s interference at the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.” That’s according to a court filing by the man running that probe, special counsel Robert Mueller.
Now, Mueller whose team met with Flynn some 19 times went on to say that the retired general’s decision to cooperate may have influenced others to do the same. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joins me live now from Washington. And Jessica, Michael Flynn has effectively been handed this get out of jail free card. What did he give up to get that?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Kristie, it’s fair to say that he gave up information likely lots of it that Mueller’s team is using not just in the Russia investigation, but also two other investigations; one criminal that both aren’t public yet. So this highly anticipated memo, while it was heavily redacted, it still gave glimpses into where Mueller’s investigation might be headed.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER: Special counsel Robert Mueller recommending that President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, serve no jail time for lying to the FBI, citing his substantial assistance in several ongoing investigations, including Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any links or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
According to the filing, Flynn began cooperating with investigators shortly after being approached by Mueller’s team sitting for 19 interviews and handing over key documents and communications. Mueller’s team arguing that Flynn’s early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight into events under investigation. Noting that Flynn likely inspired other witnesses to cooperate.
But many crucial details about what Flynn told investigators remain unknown, since the majority of the court filing is redacted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: What I think here is Flynn provided information that is allowing Mueller to make a criminal case against someone. We don’t know who that is. We can speculate or not speculate, but there’s certainly somebody out there who has a criminal case that could be coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, playing down the significance of Flynn’s cooperation, telling NBC News, “If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the President, you would know it by now.” Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI about discussions he had with Russia’s then Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak during Mr. Trump’s transition, including asking Kislyak not to retaliate over sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russia’s election interference. Mueller noting that several senior members of the transition team publicly repeated this false information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STATE: I have talked to General Flynn. None of that came up. The subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration --
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Was there any contact, in any way, between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or cut-outs they had?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER After “The Washington Post” reported that Flynn lied and misled the Vice President, he was fired. A few days later, FBI Director James Comey has said President Trump asked him to let the investigation into Flynn go.
Mr. Trump denies the allegation, but it has put Flynn at the center of a probe into whether the President obstructed justice, which gained steam after the President also fired Comey.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER: Michael Flynn’s sentencing that will happen on December 18th, just about two weeks from now. He is just one of five Trump associates who have so far pleaded guilty as part of this Russia probe. And in addition to Michael Flynn, it’s a jam packed week for Mueller’s team. By Friday, they’ll submit a report on the extent of Michael Cohen’s cooperation after his most recent guilty plea to misleading Congress. They’ll also tell a judge about how Paul Manafort broke the terms of his plea dealing by lying to prosecutors, so still a lot to come in this investigation, even by Friday, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yes, a lot more action this week as Mueller continues to build his case.
LU STOUT: Back to Flynn. Just all of those blacked out lines in that memo, there was so much redacted in that sentencing document. Do we know why or at least what does that signal?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it’s a good indication that Mueller’s team still has a lot of work to do or a lot yet to reveal. You know, there’s been a lot of talk about this investigation winding down. We’ve heard it many times. We heard it a year ago from the Trump legal team. We’ve heard it, the speculation even as recently as a few months ago, but all signs are pointing to the fact that Mueller is still doing a lot of work here and that’s why he had to redact a lot of this memo related to Michael Flynn because he can’t reveal some of these details if this investigation is still going full steam ahead.
What’s very interesting is that we obviously know there’s this probe into Russian interference as well as any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but this memo regarding Michael Flynn also mentioned two other investigations. One was termed a criminal investigation and then everything else was blacked out. And one just an investigation, we’re not sure because everything was blacked out.
So there is still a lot happening behind the scenes. Mueller has kept things very quiet, Kristie and he continues to do so. So every twist and turn, we get a bit more information, but he never reveals his full hand, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yes, but now we know as you just reported, Michael Flynn is cooperating in at least three investigations. Jessica Schneider reporting live for us. Thank you. Now, Moscow, meanwhile, is brushing off the court filing in the special counsel’s investigation. From our Matthew Chance, joins us from Moscow. Matthew, how exactly is Russia brushing it off?
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, they’re saying at least publicly that they’ve got other concerns, frankly, to be worried about more than this redacted memo from Robert Mueller in his latest court filing, but all along, of course, the Russians have been playing down the significance of this investigation, adopting the same kind of language that the Trump administration frankly has adopted, as well, calling it a witch hunt saying there is absolutely no substance to it despite the fact that a number of people have been indicted.
And of course, Michael Flynn, the former National security adviser has pleaded guilty and he was a figure sort of at the center, as you know, of those allegations of collusion, particularly collusion with or meetings with the former Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. He was the figure who was said to have negotiated with people like Flynn, others in the transition team as well, the Trump transition team ahead of its swearing in - before he became the Trump administration.
Now, Sergey Kislyak is no longer the Ambassador to the United States. He is a difficult man to catch up with even now, but a year ago, we managed to get to him and put to him some of those questions about the illegitimate contacts he may have had with members of that Trump transition team. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Hi, Mr. Ambassador. Quick question. Did you discuss lifting sanctions with any members of the Trump team when you were in the United States?
SERGEY KISLYAK, FORMER RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: With all due respect, I am here to talk to Russian people.
CHANCE: I understand that. You say you’ve got no secrets?
KISLYAK: I have said everything wanted prior to this.
CHANCE: Did you discuss opening secret channels with the Kremlin with Jared Kushner, for instance?
KISLYAK: I’ve said many times that we do not discuss the substance of our discussions with our American interlocutors, out of respect to our partners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: All right, well, Jared Kushner was mentioned there. He was also a key figure in those early alleged meetings with Russian officials. But, of course, Michael Flynn has now admitted to making a telephone call or having five telephone conversations, rather, with Sergey Kislyak on the day that the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia for its election meddling. He lied about that at first to the Vice President and to the FBI. He has since admitted it and he’s been cooperating quite a lot, it seems, with the special investigator Rob Mueller ever since then.
LU STOUT: That’s right, providing substantial cooperation and as more pieces of Mueller’s Russia investigation are revealed, is the rift going to grow between Trump and Putin?
CHANCE: Well, it’s not so much a rift between Trump and Putin. I mean, you get the impression that both of these figures, both of these leaders want that rift to be closed. There’s no personal animosity between them. In fact, far from it. They’ve both expressed the desire for a much closer relationship, but because of the political situation in the United States, because of that toxic environment that’s been fueled by this Mueller investigation and, of course, by the misdeeds of the Trump transition team, that’s not been possible.
And as more revelations come out, it is going to be even less possible for President Trump to forge the kind of close relationship with Moscow that he said he wanted to forge when he was the canditate.
LU STOUT: Matthew Chance reporting live for us from Moscow. Matthew, thank you.
LU STOUT: The U.N. is calling for an international investigation to find out who is responsible for what it’s calling the awful killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Meanwhile, prosecutors in Turkey are working to get arrest warrants for two members of the Saudi Crown Prince’s inner circle. Court documents show that there is strong suspicion that the two high ranking Saudi officials were among the planners of Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
In the U.S., a small group of senators expressed outrage about Jamal Khashoggi’s death after getting a long awaited briefing by the CIA Director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, US SENATOR, NORTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: There’s not a smoking gun; there’s a smoking saw. You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people and under the command of MBS, and that he was integrally involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.
BOB CORKER, US SENATOR, TENNESSEE, REPUBLICAN: If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Now, U.S. President Trump has repeatedly signaled that he would not take strong action against Saudi Arabia for the murder of Khashoggi.
America is preparing to pay its final respects to George H.W. Bush. The 41st President has been lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda ahead of his funeral in just a few hours.
President Trump and his wife, Melania, visited the Bush family at Blair house on Tuesday to pay their respects and do stay with us for extensive coverage of the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, it begins at 10:00 a.m. in Washington, 3:00 p.m. in London, 11:00 p.m. in Hong Kong right here on CNN.
Coming up, investors are on the run from the so-called “tariff man.” Market in the red in Europe, tracking losses in Asia and the U.S., we’re going to talk trade, tariffs and Trump in a moment. And blizzard of bad news for the British Prime Minister as she tries to convince Parliament to back her Brexit plan. That is coming up.
That’s Hong Kong’s iconic Star ferry out there. We’re coming to you live from the SAR. Welcome back. This is “News Stream.” Now, days after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met at the G-20 Summit in Argentina, it is still not known exactly was achieved towards resolving the trade war and the confusion in part has been in global markets, but worries about a broader economic slowdown also have investors on edge.
Our markets in Europe tumbled on Wednesday taking cues from what happened here in Asia. Stocks in London and Paris leading regional losses there. Now, here in Asia, markets finished broadly in the red on Wednesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, the bigger loser in the bunch right there, down 1.2%.
LU STOUT: Wall Street, meanwhile, is closed on Wednesday, but the picture on Tuesday was grim with the Dow Jones tumbling nearly 800 points. Now, remember, Mr. Trump declared he had struck an incredible deal with Mr. Xi, but then backtracked on that saying that the two sides were at the start of negotiations and if that wasn’t enough, hours later, the U.S. President tweeted this, quote, “I am a tariff man.”
CNN’s Matt Rivers explains where we stand right now.
MATT RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Kristie, I was in Buenos Aires for the G-20 at when news came out that a tentative deal had been reached between Trump and Xi and when the details emerged from the U.S. side, I can tell you that there was some confusion. Why wasn’t there a joint statement released? Why weren’t both sides saying the same thing? What exactly was agreed upon and a few days later, here we are still with lots of confusion as to what exactly was agreed upon and what will happen moving forward.
We know what the U.S. side says happened, that the U.S. would hold off on raising tariffs on Chinese imports in exchange for China committing to a number of different things, like lowering tariffs on U.S. auto imports, banning all forms of fentanyl production and buying more U.S. goods to lower the trade deficit and also that the two sides would have 90 days to negotiate a deal over the big issues the U.S. wants China to fix, strengthening intellectual property rights or granting U.S. companies greater market access here.
Well, so far, the Chinese side has acknowledged the 90-day timeline and that’s it. The Commerce Ministry confirmed that timeline this morning in a short statement, but they chose not to confirm any other details, which essentially leaves the U.S. side twisting in the wind by not confirming anything else. They left it to the White House to assure the public the Chinese did, in fact, agree to all of those other things.
It’s created the impression that all of this is far from set in stone. Even the President himself is moving the goal posts of sorts saying in a tweet that he would be open to extending the 90-day window under the right conditions, and that had a huge negative effect on the U.S. stock market which dropped nearly 800 points on Tuesday.
The G-20 meeting was billed by both sides as an important moment in this trade war, but the question is what exactly did it change? Tariffs remain in place if temporarily not being raised, the President says he’s not going to sign a deal unless it solves America’s main issues with China’s economy and China says it’s willing to negotiate while being non-committal about lowering the trade deficit. That’s almost exactly where we were before the G-20. Kristie, things could well change over the next three months, but so far, it’s just more of the same.
LU STOUT: Matt Rivers reporting there. Now CNN, we also spoke with an analyst earlier today to explain what might be behind the carnage we’ve seen in global markets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET YANG, MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS: There are plenty of issues on the table between the U.S. and China to negotiate in the upcoming three months. And right now, I think the trade outlook is uncertainty given the fact that there are nuance and divergence between the interpretation of the G-20 outlook - the outcome from both the official statements from U.S. and China. And also, investors are getting more skeptical about this outcome because there are still plenty of issues on the table, including intellectual properties, technology transfer and cyber securities. Those are persisting issues that is unlikely to be solved within a very short period of time.
And we have seen that all the three major U.S. indices tumbled more than 3% overnight and that is quite rare in a market and this is the biggest intra- day losses we have seen since October when technology shares tumbled. And I think there’s no single reason that could justify a big slump in stock market like this magnitude.
So, I guess, the reaction was probably in response to a mixture of reasons, including uncertainties in the trade outlook and also a potential slowdown in the global economy next year as well as Federal’s tightening monetary policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: There’s just so much weighing on investors’ sentiment right now. That was Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets. Now, CNN business correspondent Eleni Giokos joins us now from London for more and Eleni, after that dreadful day on Wall Street, the global market picture right now, how is it shaping up?
ELENI GIOKOS, BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Okay, so Asia also on the back foot, red across the board. We had the Nikkei, the Hang Seng and over in Shanghai as well, all in the red and remember when something bad happens in the United States, and we’ve got markets coming under pressure there, that, of course, sends spills over into global markets, as well. So it’s no surprise that Asia came under significant pressure.
If you look at what the European markets are doing today, we’ve got pretty much red across the board and we’re talking about basically blood on the markets in today’s session.
GIOKOS: There are various factors that are impacting European markets in today’s session. Firstly, we have got bad news probably coming out of Italy - a very big worry about recession coming through in that economy. You’re worried about the Brexit deal, deal or no deal for Theresa May. Remember, she had three major losses in Parliament yesterday, but we know that they have been putting up legal advice and a framework today which has been taking that with a lot more positive sentiment than in the previous few days.
But remember, this is adding so much uncertainty to really, a market that is very worried about macro issues, like the China-U.S. possible trade truce or trade war that might be playing out.
LU STOUT: Yes, there’s so much fueling the red arrows, as you mentioned just then. Italy’s economic situation, Brexit, and China, U.S., the trade war. You know, we did hear, despite those tweets from Donald Trump, his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow said that, yes, he’s optimistic, U.S. and China can get a deal. Beijing also earlier today tried to reassure on trade. But is that going to be enough to calm the markets going forward?
GIOKOS: Well, I mean, if you have got so much backtracking, Kristie and you’ve got so many tweets that are in themselves contradicting and then you’ve got Beijing coming out with a statement, “Hey, we’re going to get this done in the next 90 days.” I mean, it’s really not something that is creating not the right clarity because there’s just so much whiplash in just those statements for market participants.
And I think history tells us that the conversation between the U.S. and Beijing is not going to create any more clarity in the next few months from what we’ve seen previously. So I think the point is we need to see specific changes on the table that are going to calm the markets.
Volatility is much higher in the United States. You’ve got worries about global growth coming to the form and if you really want to get technical, you’re looking at U.S. Treasury bond yields that are flattening and you’ve got short-term debt more expensive than long-term debt which perhaps points to a recession. Then you’re worried about the Brent crude prices that is also showing a much lower global growth environment.
So there are so many things that are coming ahead, and I think that this Christmas rally that people were hoping for, I think the Grinch stole that and perhaps we’re not going to get a green end to the year. I think, Kristie, people are just holding on for a very tough ride.
LU STOUT: Yes, not a green end to the year, but more likely a red end to the year. Eleni Giokos reporting live for us, thank you so much. Now, we know that the U.S. President Donald Trump, he’s up and tweeting this morning and he sent out a new tweet about China saying this, quote, two minutes ago, “Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops from Argentina. Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said. Our long and hopefully historic meeting all subjects discussed.”
Latest comments there from Donald Trump trying to shore up confidence in that handshake deal achieved between him and Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires.
Now, the British government has been forced to publish legal advice it received before agreeing to a Brexit deal with the EU, that after it was found to be in contempt of Parliament on Tuesday for withholding the information. The advice warns that the UK could stay trapped in a customs union with the EU indefinitely due to the Northern Irish border issue. It’s more bad news for the Prime Minister as Parliament resumes debate on her Brexit plan which goes to a vote next week on Tuesday.
Our correspondent Nina dos Santos joins us now live from outside of the Houses of Parliament in London and Nina, after what happened yesterday, the humiliating government defeat, Theresa May published a full Brexit legal advice. It’s out there. What does the document say?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, essentially, the document, in its six pages, which the government tried so hard to try and get published says that effectively Northern Ireland could stay trapped in a different customs union to the rest of the UK, perhaps even indefinitely if this so- called backstop insurance agreement actually has to kick in.
Now, the government says that they feel - and the EU say that they feel they will never need this backstop agreement, but of course, the lawmakers here in Britain, they feel that they wouldn’t want to put something enshrined certainly into law because it could set a dangerous precedence.
So in this document, that is the bit that has a lot of politicians worried. We’ve already had the DUP which, of course, is that Northern Irish Party that Theresa May relies upon for those key crucial ten-key votes that she needs to make up her majority.
They say that this now vindicates the fact that they wanted this published. It basically draws a line over the issue of where the red line stands and this means that this Brexit deal that Theresa May is trying to get through Parliament steps over those red lines and is reason why they can’t support it, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right, Nina dos Santos reporting live from London. Nina, thank you.
LU STOUT: And across Europe, at least 90 people are now in police custody after authorities targeted suspected mafia members in multiple raids across several countries. The crackdown comes just a day after the 80-year-old alleged head of Cosa Nostra was arrested along with dozens of others in Sicily.
Senior international correspondent, Atika Shubert is in Berlin with more. She joins us now and Atika, these raids, they were sweeping in scope. They took place across Europe targeting the Ndrangheta mafia. Who are they and what was involved behind the scenes in this significant operation?
ATIKA SHUBERT, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, it was a massive operation across so many EU countries, but basically, the Ndrangheta is an organized crime syndicate that operates out of Reggio Calabria in Italy, but it is truly global in scale. This is exactly what the Italian prosecutor said earlier today at a press conference. They have operations.
I mean, just listen to the name of - the list of countries involved in this operation to target the Ndrangheta -- Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Surinam -- 90 arrests. The vast majority in Calabria early this morning, but also a significant number here in Germany.
And police seized thousands of kilos of cocaine. That’s significant because the Ndrangheta is believed to controlling the cocaine trade into Europe. What they’re specifically looking at is how the Ndrangheta operated by shipping cocaine, apparently, allegedly from ports like Genoa and Naples to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and incredibly, all of this under the cover of a series of pizzerias, osterias, restaurants, ice cream parlors, seemingly ordinary places, but that they were apparently according to police and prosecutors fronts for the Ndrangheta.
For example, this investigation started in 2016 but it really had roots earlier with two pizzerias in the Netherlands. When police looked at whether or not they were money laundering, they found a list of suspects linked that linked the Ndrangheta here in Germany as well as Italy.
So it really is an extraordinary mafia network. And this is really the first time we’ve seen international cross border coordination to attack the Ndrangheta’s operations across the EU.
LU STOUT: Yes, this was a major, major operation to trap the Ndrangheta and there was a separate operation in Italy on Tuesday that led to the arrest of 45 people including the so-called godfather of the Sicilian mafia, is there a link between these two raids, these two operations?
SHUBERT: Yes, these are two completely separations. There is no link. That operation was a local police operation in Sicily. They had been tracking what they believed to be the new godfather of the Cosa Nostra mafia in Sicily and they finally made those arrests yesterday. But the timing appears to be coincidental. It doesn’t have anything to do with the much broader investigation of the Ndrangheta across the EU.