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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Giuliani Contradicts Himself On Trump-Mueller Interviews; Reports: Donors & Decisions Under Scrutiny Long After Pres. Trump Sworn Into Office. Aired 8:30-9P ET
Aired December 27, 2017 - 20:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Rudy Giuliani, the president's TV lawyer, is signaling what might be a new tactic when it comes to whether the Trump campaign received advanced warning directly from WikiLeaks of e-mails damaging to the Democrats back in 2016.
In a telephone interview today with the Hill, Giuliani says that President Trump had no contact with WikiLeaks, but he claims even if someone inside or associated with the campaign got material directly or indirectly, as long as they weren't involved in hacking, Giuliani says there's no problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP ATTORNEY: I don't know if other people contacted with WikiLeaks, but it's hard to understand what the crime would be if they did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Here to help me sort this out, CNN's chief legal Jeffrey Toobin.
So, Jeffrey, Giuliani left open the possibility that other people besides the president may have been in contact with WikiLeaks but says he's not sure what the crime would be, even if they were.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think we're really in the end game of preparing for the Mueller report. And I think what Giuliani is doing is he's preparing to make arguments based on the facts that Mueller finds. One of them, it appears, may be that contrary to what they have said earlier, there were contacts between people affiliated with the Trump campaign, perhaps Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, and the question will be, is there anything improper or illegal about that? Giuliani is asserting no. It may be somewhat more complicated than that.
BERMAN: Right. You know, there's an interesting legal question here, which has to do with what is WikiLeaks, correct?
TOOBIN: Right. Absolutely. If -- you know, someone tells, you know, the Trump campaign that CNN is going to report x, y, and z, and then they get that advanced knowledge, there's certainly nothing improper about receiving that information. WikiLeaks is or is not a journalistic organization.
When Pompeo was director of the CIA, he made very clear his view that it was not a journalist organization. It was an arm essentially of the Russian government, which creates a different set of legal questions. In any case, it's also true that the relationship between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks may have gone beyond simply receiving information from WikiLeaks.
[20:35:06] There may have been coordination, there may have been collusion to use the famous word. And those facts are actually more important than any sort of advanced spin on the legalities.
BERMAN: And there certainly might be a legal issue, might be a legal issue but there will definitely be political ramifications if that contact took place.
TOOBIN: Especially since the president himself and the Trump campaign and all of its surrogates have been saying for literally years now there were no contacts between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.
BERMAN: Which again, to go back to your first answer is why it's so interesting that Rudy Giuliani perhaps in the weeks before a Mueller report comes out is opening the door to the possibility that maybe in fact there were those contacts.
I want to get your take since we're talking about Rudy Giuliani on two sort of contradicting statements he gave about whether or not the president would answer more questions from the special counsel. He said this in an interview with the Hill. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: We're not answering any more questions from these people. Their outrageous activity -- we did enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So that's what he said out loud. We have the audio there. He spoke to the Daily Beast and said, and I'll give you dramatic reading, "Negotiations haven't formally ended yet. They haven't ended because it's not just my opinion that matters. There are other lawyers involved and the president of the United States, of course. My opinion is, I don't trust them."
So we hear him out loud saying, there's no way he's going to answer more questions. And then we read that statement saying, you know, we're still talking about it.
TOOBIN: Yes. I believe the former more than the latter. I don't believe that the president is going to make any more statements. I think he wants to give the impression as he has from the very beginning that Donald Trump feels he has nothing to hide. He wants to answer all the questions. But the lawyers are saying this thing needs to come to an end. The short version is he ain't talking to them. In print, you know, in writing, orally not at all.
BERMAN: I suspect you're right and I think what we're also seeing here is Rudy Giuliani asking more -- acting more as a flak than a lawyer. He's just filling air time with the Hill, giving interviews and print interviews. And if he contradicts himself, who cares?
TOOBIN: That's been the job since day one. I mean he has been a public relations advocate for the president. Sometimes more effectively than others. Mostly it seems for providing talking points to Fox News so that they can continue offering the defense of the day. But, you know, on the legalities, the former mayor has been -- had some problems along the way.
BERMAN: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, stick around, if you will because we want to get your insight on another controversy bubbling for the White House. And this goes back to the very start of the administration, the inauguration. It brought galas and glamour and a record shattering price tag. Did donors expect more than just a good time? According to reports, federal investigators are on the money trail looking into that question. Details, next.
[20:41:55] BERMAN: The White House was quickly proven wrong about the supposedly record breaking crowd at President Trump's inauguration, but the event did make history in one area, the cost. The bill came in at more than double the money spent to salute his two predecessors, and nearly two years later, the money trail from Mr. Trump's celebration is yet another area of the president's universe reportedly under investigation.
Randi Kaye continues her special series to show us how the swearing in may be creating more legal headaches as the administration heads into year three.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Starting right here and right now --
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: $107 million. That's how much Donald Trump's inaugural committee raised in donations for the event. Now, federal prosecutors want to know if any of that money was misspent. And perhaps more importantly, did top donors pay big money in ex- change for access and influence in the Trump White House? "The Wall Street Journal" first broke the story.
REBECCA DAVIS O'BRIEN, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Part of this is certainly looking at what these donors gave and what they expected or what they received. But it's also partly about what happened with the inaugural committee's expenditures.
KAYE: And this all apparently stems from the raid on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's office. According to "The Wall Street Journal," investigators seized a recording of a conversation between Cohen and a woman named Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, and one of the key planners for Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration. Wolkoff reportedly expressed concern during that conversation about how the inaugural committee was spending money.
Real estate developer Tom Barrack, who ran the inaugural committee, denied there was a new investigation, adding he had been questioned about it in 2017. The White House is distancing itself from the probe.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That doesn't have anything to do with the president or the first lady. The biggest thing the president did in his engagement in inauguration was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office.
KAYE: Meanwhile, an investigation by ProPublica found that the inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals, and event space at Trump's Washington hotel. And that Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and a senior executive at the Trump Organization, was involved in negotiating the prices at above market value for venue rentals by the inaugural committee. A spokesman for Ivanka's lawyer told ProPublica that Ivanka said discussions should be at a fair market rate.
And it isn't just about the money. "The Washington Post" reports that certain attendees at the inauguration also reportedly caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI, though it's unclear which attendees.
The paper reported that Victor Vekselberg, a tycoon closely aligned with Putin's government, attended inaugural events, along with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer whose meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., at Trump Tower in June 2016, is now under scrutiny.
[20:45:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.
KAYE: It's all just part of why federal prosecutor are zeroing in on the day Donald Trump officially became the 45th president of the United States.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And so the second half of President Trump's term, one in which he vowed to drain the swamp, will begin with new questions about the priciest inauguration in U.S. history.
Joining me tonight is Greg Jenkins who ran President George W. Bush's second inaugural committee and back with us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So, Greg, Randi mentioned this in her piece, but it really bears repeating, $107 million, which is about double what then President George W. Bush raised for his second inauguration. You had a smaller staff. You had more events. What do you make about the Trump amount?
GREG JENKINS, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PRES. G.W. BUSH 2ND INAUGURAL: I can't figure it out. They actually raised more than twice the amount that we raised. I think adjusted for current dollars, the amount we raised comes out to be about $54 million, which is still quite a bit less than what the Trump Organization raised.
We had the two biggest costs centers in an inaugural are the events and the staff. And we had three times as many staff and we put on four times as many events. So where that money went, I couldn't tell you.
BERMAN: Well, it has to go somewhere though, doesn't it?
JENKINS: It ought to. I mean if I were a donor -- since they put on so many -- they put on fewer events than we did, the two ways you raise money in an inaugural are by ticket sales and by donors. Since they did, you know, four times fewer events than we did, that's proportionally a lot less money that they're raising from ticket sales than from donors. So most of the money came from donors. So if I were a donor, I would like to know where that money went. I can't explain it.
BERMAN: Can't explain it. So, Jeffrey Toobin, what's the biggest legal issue here, as far as you see, the accounting of the money or perhaps the idea that there was some -- and Randi got to the center piece, the idea that there was some pay to play?
TOOBIN: Well, I think the first question is, did someone steal the money? I mean, you know, if the money didn't go to salaries, if the money didn't go to events, did someone put it in their pocket? I mean that's a very straightforward factual issue that an audit should be able to determine. Then you get into the other subsidiary questions, which are, was there some sort of improper motive, improper connection between donors and what they got.
I mean it is worth remembering that our whole political system at some level is based on pay to play. People give money to the inaugural -- for mixed motives at best. So I think that is very much a subsidiary question, unlikely to be proven improper. But if somebody stole the money, they stole the money and that's obviously a crime.
BERMAN: And, Greg, Randi Kaye, you know, we heard from Sarah Sanders in Randi's piece and Sarah Sanders basically says that President Trump, now President Trump's only role in the inauguration was to take the oath of office. Does that seem plausible to you, that he had no idea what was going on underneath him?
JENKINS: That seems really implausible to me. What is I would imagine for then President-elect Trump, a three or four-day globally televised reality television show, starring one person, it seems unlikely to me that he wouldn't pay any attention to it at all.
BERMAN: Especially a guy who we know is deeply involved in his businesses, Jeff.
TOOBIN: Yes. And the role of the Trump International Hotel is particularly interesting and important here. Several of the events were held at the hotel run by the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump apparently was involved in setting the prices, which may have been unduly high. I mean certainly the question of how much money went to the Trump family is one of the questions the investigators will want to know the answer to.
BERMAN: Is that illegal necessarily then?
TOOBIN: Well, it depends. I mean if it's simply high prices paid for a fancy hotel, there's nothing illegal about that. If there was outright graft or theft of money, that certainly is illegal. But I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that on the part of the Trumps. But certainly the administrators of this $100 plus million have to answer questions simply about where did all the money go? I mean that's just a very basic question that presumably should have a fairly straightforward answer.
BERMAN: So, Greg, you ran the show for the second inauguration of George W. Bush after his reelect -- you had the advantage of having seen one inauguration before and frankly the whole Bush crew had the advantages of seeing the inauguration of George H.W. Bush. So in theory you all know or knew how it was supposed to go. If the Trump team uses the excuse hey, we came from the business world, we didn't know what inaugurations were supposed to be. Is that plausible to you?
[20:50:01] JENKINS: No, it really isn't. Things don't change that much from one inauguration to another. It's roughly the same vendors in D.C. It's roughly the same venues. It's the same buildings. It's fairly the same, fairly much the same.
If this were a -- if you're looking at this from a business perspective, to spend -- to raise $107 million without a budget, or if they had a budget, to ignore the budget, is one of the worst business moves I can think of.
TOOBIN: Well, and also, just to emphasize the point that Greg made, you're talking about events in hotels. You have to pay the hotel, you have to pay for entertainment, you have to pay for security. It's not the world's most complicated transaction. It's not like building a car from scratch. So the idea that it is somehow wildly different in 2017 as opposed to 2013 or 2009 or 2005 is just ridiculous.
BERMAN: And just to make one other point that Greg made there, was in any event, it was far fewer events in this inauguration than before, which makes it all the more confounding that all that money was raised. Go ahead, Greg.
JENKINS: Well, I would also make another point, that they weren't coming into this blind. After Senator Obama was elected to the presidency, I spoke with his incoming executive director of his inaugural to sort of give him a download of my learnings. I did the same thing with President-elect Trump's executive director. So they did know what to expect.
BERMAN: You warned him. Greg Jenkins, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.
TOOBIN: My pleasure.
BERMAN: Ahead, a new look at a "Saturday Night Live" legend who brought laughs and change. Gilda Radner. Anderson talks to one of her good friends as comedic giants come together for the new CNN film documentary "Love Gilda," that's next.
[20:55:58] BERMAN: She was the first cast member hired for "Saturday Night Live." Gilda Radner left behind unforgettable characters, including Roseanne Roseannadanna.
But along with her comedy, she showed courage and wisdom while battling ovarian cancer that took her from us at age 42. Now some of the biggest names in comedy are coming together to her their memories and some of her own words in the CNN films premier, "Love Gilda." Anderson recently spoke with one of Rander's close friends from "Saturday Night Live," legendary producer and writer Alan Zweibel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You and her created some of the most iconic characters, I mean Roseanne Roseannadanna.
ALAN ZWEIBEL, ORIGINAL WRITER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Well, that was one of them that we did together. There was another one that was created by a lot of people, Emily Litella, the one that was -- which she and I ultimately refined it and made it what it was.
COOPER: And I remember as a kid, Roseanne Roseannadanna did something on my mom.
ZWEIBEL: Every time we did Roseanne Roseannadanna, we would pick a celebrity that Roseanne Roseannadanna would see in some, you know, compromising position or some embarrassing situation, and I think your mom had toilet paper on her shoe.
COOPER: Yes, that I remember.
ZWEIBEL: But there was an incident that happened with the censor. What happened was, I had written a line where Gilda would name your mom and identify, you know that fancy schmancy lady who's the heiress and the socialite who took her family's good name. So this is when she came up with a line of genes --
ZWEIBEL: -- took her family's good name and put it on every ass in America. Well, this is 1977. And the censor comes out and he says, you can't do ass.
ZWEIBEL: Yes. It sounds a little crazy now, doesn't it? And he's going, can you do tush? Can you do butt? No, no. It's got to be ass. He was a good guy, his name was Bill Clotworthy. And he said, OK, why don't you do this, say put it on every ass but then instead of saying in America, say every ass who would buy them.
So the word ass now changed from being your butt, for being -- you being stupid enough to buy them. That he led on. That he led on. The audience laughed when they heard the word ass. And they never even heard what she came afterwards. So it was fine.
COOPER: What I love about this film is that it's introducing her to a whole new generation people who maybe, you know, haven't -- don't know much about her beyond "Saturday Night Live." I mean that original "Saturday Night Live," I mean you were just there at -- I mean it was just incredible.
ZWEIBEL: Boy, did I get lucky. Yes. I mean there was Belushi and Aykroyd, and Gilda, and Chevy, and Frank and was one of the writers and Laraine Newman. Yes.
COOPER: I used to have -- I remember as a kid, I had a book which was like scripts from the original "Saturday Night Live," I don't know why they published it, but there was something, I can't remember what it was, it was some takeoff on hamburger helper which was a huge commercial --
ZWEIBEL: Placenta helper.
COOPER: Placenta helper.
ZWEIBEL: Al Franken. It's unbelievable, I'll watch an old show and I can footnote it, who wrote what, who came and threw in that joke, you know.
ZWEIBEL: Placenta helper was something that the first day when I met Al, and he had a partner, Tom Davis, it was Franken and Davis, they didn't shot up about placenta helper. Let them do placenta helper. I want to hear about this anymore.
COOPER: It's such an honor to talk to you. Thank you for talking to us.
ZWEIBEL: Thank you for having me. This is great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: CNN films premiers "Love Gilda" on Tuesday, that is New Year's night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
And a reminder, don't miss "Full Circle," which is our daily interactive newscast on Facebook where you get to vote on the stories we cover. You can watch it weeknights at 6:25 Eastern at facebook.com/andersoncooperfullcircle.
We've got a big night ahead. Right now, the CNN Special Report, "Battle in the Briefing Room: The President vs. the Press," hosted Randi Kaye.