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Trump Angry Over FBI Raid; Trump Cancels Trip; Look at Michael Cohen; Facebook CEO Testifies. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 10, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:32:12] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we do have some breaking news.

Look at that, the Dow Jones up nearly 400 points. The markets opened just about two minutes ago with big gains. This seems like a reaction to the news from China. The Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced that he will reduce tariffs on auto imports. This is something that President Trump has called for. Allies of the president say that China is reacting to the president's tough rhetoric on trade. That's the political angle investors look at this and they see perhaps this rhetoric surrounding the possibility of a trade war, the volume of that has been turned down some and that is something they like to see. The markets up more than 370 points after just two minutes.

Other news this morning, the president very, very angry over the FBI raids on his attorney, Michael Cohen, his office, home, hotel room. The anger very much apparent in tweets and also in the public statement the president made at the White House. "The Washington Post" reports that Michael Cohen is the president's virtual vault, the keeper of his secrets and that the FBI search warrant is like dropping a bomb on Trump's front porch.

One of the authors of that article, CNN political analyst, "Washington Post" reporter Josh Dawsey.

The bomb on the front porch. Explain.

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to overstate what a development this is in the Mueller probe and the various outreaches of it. Michael Cohen has long been the president's fixer. He's been -- you know, he's obviously the guy who paid $130,000 to porn star actress Stormy Daniels. He has been involved in all of the president's most sensitive negotiations, is familiar with his business documents, his personal documents. And for the FBI to raid his apartment, his office and the hotel room where he was staying temporarily in a morning sweep is a pretty big development for the president.

Certainly this is the most public anger we've seen from the president on the investigation in months because President Trump realizes who Michael Cohen is in his life and this is not positive for him.

BERMAN: He knows that this is a big deal. You can see it in his public actions. Josh, what are you hearing about his private response behind the

scenes? We know he's been watching the coverage on TV and sort of giving his real-time commentary on it and that he viewed his public statement last night in the White House as a necessary venting. What's the reaction behind the scenes?

DAWSEY: I think behind the scenes he's complaining about Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is in charge of the Mueller investigation. He's complaining about Mueller. He's particularly complaining about Jeff Sessions, who he continues to fume that he did not recuse him -- that he recused himself from the probe. The president, that's the original sin that Jeff Sessions has never gotten past.

Basically the president behind the scenes is even more vocal and colorful in his language than what he said last night publicly. Last night was one of the first times the president has made those kinds of comments publicly, but behind the scenes he says those things all the time, that he thinks it's a disgrace, it's a witch hunt.

[09:35:15] Now, what really matters is what he does about it today. And I think what we're closely watching is whether this leads to any firings, if this leads to any sort of intervention at the Department of Justice, whether the president makes any drastic moves or whether if this simply just venting.

BERMAN: Do your sources, do White House officials and people close to the White House see this as different behavior, his reaction to this, the president's reaction to this as something different than they've seen before?

DAWSEY: I think it's a level of anger we haven't seen in a while. I think the president certainly lashed out more and louder yesterday than he has in previous occasions when the special counsel has tried to drill down on him. I think this is one of the first manifestations we've seen of pure anger from the president in a while on this probe, at least publicly. And I think anyone in the White House who tells you they know what the president's going to do is misguided. The president, you know, has often complained about this investigation. He complained about James Comey for a while. Then all of a sudden he sent Keith Shiller to the FBI with a firing letter. So, you know, the president often gets rid of people kind of like people go bankrupt. It's very quickly and then -- I mean it's very slowly and then it's very quickly. So who knows?

BERMAN: Josh Dawsey for us from "The Washington Post." Josh is watching what happens at the White House very carefully today if there are any executive actions. Whether it be firings or people pushed out of their job, we are all watching that very closely. Josh, as of 9:36 a.m., nothing to report yet. Thank you.

As the U.S. considers a response to the deadly chemical strike in Syria, the president says nothing is off the table. Next, what that could mean for a possible strike.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:41:01] BERMAN: All right, moments ago we learned that President Trump has canceled a planned trip to South America. The White House says it is to monitor the planned military response and military developments expected around Syria's deadly chemical weapons attack in that country. A U.S. official says the president has been huddling with advisers. His response could come any minute from now.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon.

Barbara, what are you learning?


Well, this is, of course, topic number one at the Pentagon this morning. Not a surprise, perhaps, that the president is sticking close to home because just yesterday was his first major hint that something is coming. Have a listen to what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus. And it will be met and it will be met forcefully.


STARR: Will be met forcefully. So what we know right now is the president is expected to talk to the British prime minister, Theresa May. He has spoken repeatedly to the French leader, Emanuel Macron. There is an expectation perhaps that the French will go ahead and take a leading role, if there is this military response.

The big question on the table right now may be, what are the targets that they are looking at in response to this chemical attack? Because the attack came via helicopters. Those are mobile. They move around a lot. How are you really going to strike airfields to keep helicopters from moving around?

Are you going to strike the chemical weapons storage site themselves? There's always worry about striking chemical sites. You could have an aftermath that would let even more agent loose in the atmosphere. That is always a worry.

So perhaps one of the big questions is, are they thinking about expanding the target set, going after Assad's own regime, headquarters, command and control, intelligent? Would they go downtown Damascus? And just how complicit were the Russians in all of this? Will there be an attempt to address this with the Russians?


BERMAN: And, Barbara, very quickly, was there any response from any of the officials at the Pentagon or military leaders, the fact that the president gave that very political statement that attack on Robert Mueller and the attorney general and the Russia investigation, the raid on Michael Cohen while he was surrounded by so many military officers?

STARR: Right. Well, this is a delicate question and an even more delicate answer, isn't it? The -- as far as we know, and I have asked this morning, no one has spoken publicly about it. Were they uncomfortable? Were they all sort of looking down at their hands and the table and not making any eye contact. Yes, absolutely.

The question is this, was the president really politicizing the most senior levels of the United States military, the combatant commanders, people like General Joe Votel, the head of CENTCOM, who right now is trying to come up with options for military action in Syria, and yet sitting there, all of them, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, including Secretary Mattis, listening to the president make a domestic, political statement about his own personal situation.


BERMAN: Uncomfortable to say the least.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Barbara, thank you very much.

So who exactly is Michael Cohen? We have an in-depth look at the president's personal lawyer, confidant, fixer. That's next.


[09:49:07] BERMAN: This morning, President Trump's fixer may now be in need of a fix himself. His personal attorney, Michael Cohen, facing federal scrutiny to say the least. His home and hotel room, office raided by the FBI.

So just how close is Michael Cohen to the president? Drew Griffin takes a look.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He has been with Donald Trump since 2007, personal lawyer, 100 percent defender and has made no apologies for his unyielding support of Donald Trump. When CNN recently called Cohen Trump's fixer, Cohen responded with his tweet. Thank you for your accurate depiction of me and my role for our president.

MICHAEL COHEN, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO THE PRESIDENT: My job is, I protect Mr. Trump. That's what it is. If there's an issue that relates to Mr. Trump that is of concern to him, it's, of course, concern to me. And I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.

[09:50:00] GRIFFIN: The skills have included threatening reporters, buying silence, bullying tactics to prevent the release of damaging information about the president.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, SPOKESMAN FOR MICHAEL COHEN: He's the guy that you could call at 3:00 in the morning when you have a problem.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you know stories of Donald Trump calling him at 3:00 in the morning?

SCHWARTZ: Donald Trump has called him at all hours of the night. Every dinner I've been at with Michael, the boss has called.

GRIFFIN: It is with that background that makes the details about the Stormy Daniels deal somewhat incredulous. Cohen has explained that he made the Stormy Daniels story disappear just 11 days before the November election, when he and he alone withdrew $130,000 from a home equity line of credit and paid the porn actress to keep quiet. Both he and his famous client insist the president was never told.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michel Cohen. Michael's my attorney. And you'll have to ask Michael.

GRIFFIN: Cohen first became a person of special interest in the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller when his name came up in that controversial Russian dossier on Trump. Then, during the 2016 campaign, it was revealed Cohen tried to contact a Kremlin official regarding potential plans for a Trump Tower Moscow.

SCHWARTZ: Michael was the fixer. We all know Mike. So --


SCHWARTZ: It could be anything. It's not that this -- there were a ton of matters that took place that Michael fixed. And Donald Trump wasn't involved in every single matter.

GRIFFIN: Cohen's own attorney called today's raids completely inappropriate and unnecessary, and confirmed that the New York action is in part a referral by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and added, it resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. Cohen left the Trump Organization last year, still appears to have just one client, the president, Donald Trump.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BERMAN: All right, and our thanks to Drew Griffin for that report. A watershed moment for Facebook and social media. Mark Zuckerberg

about to face lawmakers over the major privacy scandal. Stay with us.


[09:56:44] BERMAN: Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg just hours away from testifying and apologizing in front of Congress. Lawmakers want answers about how the social network plans to protect users' privacy after 87 million people had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica. That's just part of the problem.

Joining me now is Dipayan Ghosh, former private and public policy adviser for Facebook.

Thank you so much for joining us.

What do you expect to see from Mark Zuckerberg today? This is a watershed moment. We all remember tobacco executives raising their right hand before testifying before Congress. This is really the first time that a major social media executive like Zuckerberg has been in the hot seat.

DIPAYAN GHOSH, FORMER PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POLICY ADVISER, FACEBOOK: Well, I think that we're going to -- we're going to expect to see some level of contrition, which I think is the first step. It's a positive step. And the company and the broader industry have to show responsibility for many of the egregious harms that have come to society, from hate speech to political disinformation to election interference. We're going to see that today, which I think is a positive step. And we're also going to see some politicians that are really going to try to get some answers out of Facebook CEO to some very tough questions.

BERMAN: Look, and politicians like to grandstand. They like to make a scene. And people who testify before them, they have to be prepared for that. It's just the way it is.

Our Laurie Segall reports that one things that Zuckerberg plans to say is to defend the Facebook business model and say it's a common misconception that the company sells user data. That seems to me like he may be parsing language right there because we all know that advertisers like to use the information that Facebook makes available to target things at an incredibly minute level.

GHOSH: Yes. And, of course, this is the -- this is the core business model, not just for Facebook, but for most Internet platform companies, whether it's Facebook, Google, Twitter, and many other companies in this broader digital advertising ecosystem. It is absolutely the business model to leverage consumer data and enable targeted advertising with that data.

But what Facebook is saying is actually factually true. They don't sell sensitive consumer information to third parties. What they do is they store it, just like any other Internet company, they store it and draw inferences from it within their systems. And they allow advertisers to tell them their preferences. And once Facebook knows the preferences of the advertiser and knows their consumers, their users, it routes the ads in the most efficient manner possible.

BERMAN: That might be a distinction without a difference for some viewers for these hearings today.

We have about 20 seconds left, Dipayan. If you can quickly explain to me, what does Facebook fear the most? If Congress wants to get involved and regulate, what do they fear the most?

GHOSH: Well, I think they really fear the threat of regulation against this core business model. And I think the rest of the Internet does as well. What can really threaten the core business model here is regulation that brings user privacy and competition policy to this industry. And that is what Congress needs to really understand and drive forward on right now.

[10:00:05] BERMAN: Dipayan Ghosh, thank you so much for your insight. I know you'll be watching with us today. As we said, it is a watershed moment.

GHOSH: Thank you so much for having me.

BERMAN: All right, the next hour of NEWSROOM begins right now.