Return to Transcripts main page


House Speaker Paul Ryan Won't Seek Reelection; Trump's 3rd National Security Official Resigns; Mattis Arrives for Meetings as Trump Taunts Russia over Syria; FBI Raid on Cohen Related to "Access Hollywood" Tape of Trump. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 11, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] RACHEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: However, I wouldn't discount what he's saying about the family issues. We heard years ago that John Boehner had to be convinced Paul Ryan to stay in the House. This was before he became speaker. Before we even knew that President Trump was going to be running for president. That's was because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He had kids when he was in Congress. He said he's been basically living out of a suitcase the entire time they were growing up and he wants to go home now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. Also on the political side, we know that he lost his dad at 16. I have to imagine it's resonating when his oldest is that same age now.

BADE: That's right. His kids are entering their teen-age years and in high school. He says he wants to be a part of their life full time and not just a, quote, "weekend dad."

I think it's going to be interesting over the next few month, this is going to really rev up the jockeying over who is going to replace him. We're seeing Kevin McCarthy is number two and Steve Scalise is number three. They're jockeying for position, building alliances, getting ready to run. A big question on whether McCarthy can do it. Needs 218 votes to be speaker if Republicans keep the house. He was unable to do it last time, which is why Ryan became speaker when McCarthy was through. Now McCarthy has Trump on his side. He's very close with the president. There's some people out there who think Trump might endorse him. If that were to happen, maybe he gets to 218, maybe not.

BALDWIN: Rachel, thank you. We'll be watching closely. And appreciate you.

Also, this afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan talks to Jake Tapper coming up on "The Lead" starting at 4:00 Eastern today.

Just into us here at CNN, another resignation in the Trump administration.

Let's bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond over at the White House.

Jeremy, who is leaving now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. It's the third national security official at the White House to leave in the same number of days. Nadia Schadlow submitted her letter of resignation yesterday. She was H.R. McMaster's closest aides. She helped write this national security policy that tried to translate the president's foreign policy vision into actual paper. Raj Shah, the White House spokesman, thanked Schadlow for her service and her leadership in crafting that national security document in a statement to CNN.

This is very interesting because John Bolton, of course, just came into office as the national security adviser. He is preparing to build out his own team. Interesting enough, we've seen Michael Anton leave, Tom Bossert, and now Nadia Schadlow. And we haven't seen Bolton bring in his own team. Nadia's last day will be April 27th Brooke?

BALDWIN: Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

This afternoon, CNN's cameras getting a shot at Defense Secretary James Mattis arriving for meetings at the White House, hours after the president took to Twitter to taunt Russia saying, "Get ready, missiles are coming." CNN will take you live to northern Syria, next.


[14:37:07] BALDWIN: "Get ready Russia, the missiles are coming." That is the message from President Trump, catching both Americans and allies off guard with a tweet, quote, "Russia's vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia because they will be coming nice and new and smart."

Russia's foreign minister is responding within minutes of that tweet, saying, "Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists and not the legal government that has been fighting international terrorism for several years on its territory."

Defense Secretary James Mattis making a visit to the White House today added this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you seen enough evidence that -- (INAUDIBLE).

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We're still assessing the intelligence ourselves and our allies, we're still working on this.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the U.S. military ready right now to conduct a retaliatory strike if ordered?

MATTIS: We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the president determines.

But thank you very much.


BALDWIN: Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, on the ground in Syria.

You tell me what you're seeing and hearing about people being on alert there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are activists saying they're pulling out of key established bases under regime control. It's a military that has a lot of Russian assistants and advisers working with it who are obviously going to be expecting some sort of attack in the hours ahead. It could be tonight, could be tomorrow night. But Donald Trump set a window of action for himself about making a decision that's already expired and we know he's meeting Jim Mattis in the hours ahead inside the Oval Office, potentially to hear about those options you heard, Secretary Mattis discussing in that clip just then. It is remarkable to hear the actions. He has troops on the ground that have been losing amongst their number in the last week or so because of a road mine far west of where I am here and introducing another dynamic into a which has cost tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives by some counts so far and it does not need another form of fomenting the violence -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: The tweets we learned not on surprised some of his staffers but some of our U.S. allies. What are you hearing in regard to that from allies in the region?

[14:39:53] PATON WALSH: It is extraordinary, isn't it, because you expected him to be sure he had his chess board in order before making a statement like that. While we're hearing from the British Prime Minister Theresa May that they feel definitely they should be alongside the U.S. on this and outrage against this, the French and Saudi Arabians, and Jim, even Jim Mattis saying they're still assessing the gas attacks. And some saw it may be something more, Chlorine gas has been used, maybe a nerve agent. We know that Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu had a conversation earlier. What's been obvious here is Donald Trump is running this on his own personal timetable. He's not really listening to those around him. He has a new national security adviser. He'll be hearing from his defense secretary just now. But really this is a place where we've seen so many new actors coming in sustaining the war, I think there are many who somehow hoped that the repellant use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would have seen action way back in 2013 that curtailed it but, frankly, it's a very difficult match to chuck a match into and hope it only hits the right target. This is a complicated, messy war. And many hope they can curtail the sense of impunity they've felt for years and whether or not now is the time to do that and Donald Trump is the man to do that in the longer-term plan, we'll have to see how that pans out ahead -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Nick Paton Walsh, in Syria for us, stay safe. Thank you very much.

There is now more breaking news on the FBI raid of President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Turns out, agents were also looking for records related to that infamous "Access Hollywood" tape where Trump was overheard making vulgar comments about women. More on that, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:38] BALDWIN: We are just now getting some breaking news involving the FBI raid on President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. "The New York Times" just published a story and they're reporting that the FBI agents were at Cohen's office or his hotel room where he's been staying. This is all related to that "Access Hollywood" tape where Trump was overheard making vulgar comments about women.

I have a lot of people coming in to talk to me about this. But in case anybody has been hiding under a rock and has forgotten this tape, roll it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet.


When you're a star, they let do you it. You can do anything.


TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


You can do anything.


BALDWIN: The other piece of this from the "Times" is that they were seeking evidence of whether Cohen tried to suppress any sort of damaging info right before the 2016 presidential election.

Chris Cillizza, first to you.

If we can take a time capsule back to, was it October?



CILLIZZA: I was working at the "Washington Post." I remember it vividly.

BALDWIN: So in "Splash," it comes out in the afternoon. It came out I remember right after my show. What happened?

CILLIZZA: So what we didn't know, what's new here first, Brooke, is that Michael Cohen was involved at all. We knew that this tape had been revealed. Obviously, the content on that tape led to even people who had sort of grudgingly supported Donald Trump within the Republican establishment to totally disown him. That includes, by the way, in an amazing confluence Paul Ryan, among other people. So this was seen as, OK, the final moment, he's not going to win now. Well, it turns out we learned later Steve Bannon, among other people, urged Trump to lean into it and say this is locker room talk, voters don't care about it. But what we did not know -- we know Michael Cohen is Donald Trump's personal attorney but probably better described candidly as sort of his fixer. He's around Donald Trump, he helps see problems, deal with problems sometimes before they arise. We did not know he played a row in the "Access Hollywood" tapes.


BALDWIN: I'm not entirely sure.

On that thought, I'm reading this from "The New York Times," it says it is not clear --


CILLIZZA: That's what I was just going to --


BALDWIN: -- what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played. But the fact that the agents were seeking documents relating to the tape reveals a new factor in this investigation. Yes.

CILLIZZA: We know they were looking for documents about Stormy Daniels, McDougall and now the "Access Hollywood" incident. If he had any role, and to your point, we don't necessarily know that yet, if he had any role, that's new.

[14:50:52] BALDWIN: From a legal perspective, Jennifer, turning to you, if this is filed under the "did they try to shove anything under the rug before all the people went out to elect the next president of the United States," we don't know yet. If they did, how big of a problem is that?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's a criminal offense. It's illegal to give campaign contributions over the limit and it's illegal to hide what are actually contributions. You have to report all of your campaign contributions. So the contributions here would actually be the benefit of the silence of these people because that benefits the campaign. If they can tamp down on these payments to the Stormy Daniels, appear, the Karen McDougall affair, if they attempted to stop the "Access Hollywood" tape from coming out, it would have to be reported from under the federal laws.

BALDWIN: As I'm looking at you, that video where you see President Trump just last week on Air Force One and he's being asked, did you know about the $130,000, essentially the hush payment to Stormy Daniels, and he said no. And he said, "Ask Michael Cohen." I'm wondering if just from last week that 10 put Cohen even more immediately in the cross hairs of this whole investigation.

RODGERS: I'd be surprised if they didn't already kind of know that Cohen was a player in all of these things. They knew that Cohen was the one that made the payment to Stormy Daniels supposedly. So he's the one that made a contribution over the limit and the campaign is in trouble because it didn't report the benefit of the silence, which you could say is $130,000 because that's what was paid. The question here is, did Donald Trump himself, as the candidate, know about this and know this benefit was given to the campaign, which would mean that he also is on the hook for a violation.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, let me have you jump in.

What are you learning about all this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Brooke, you have to look at all of this, that Michael Cohen is much more than a lawyer. He's like a fixer, a pit bull for President Trump who defends him in every sense of the way, as evident that he made a $130,000 payment to that porn actress in the fall before the election. It gives you a sense of how close Michael Cohen is to the president, he's known him for decades.

Now we can see why the president was so furious after they raided his home and his office because of just how much he knows about the president, how much they could potentially uncover there. So we're seeing that. And all of that comes as the president's growing public frustration with Mueller is really expanding. And seeing a very aggressive approach by the president towards the special counsel, something we have not seen in such a public manner before. But this really does help explain just why the president was so furious, so furious that he went off about that raid during a dinner with senior military officials. But the president spent the first few minutes talking about the raid of Cohen's office where they were looking for this "Access Hollywood" information tape here -- Brooke?


CILLIZZA: Hey, Brooke --

BALDWIN: He was already furious here and now that he's learning about the whole "Access Hollywood" tape, it didn't necessarily bite him in November of '16 but it's coming back again. I don't know how this would affect whether or not he wants to sit down with Team Mueller.


COLLINS: Brooke, the "Access Hollywood" tape is something that has infuriated the president. He's said at times maybe this wasn't actually his tape, even though he apologized for that.


COLLINS: It's a source of frustration for the president. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to this information if he didn't know that they were looking for this kind of stuff already.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Chris. CILLIZZA: I just wanted to note --and Donald Trump doesn't make this

distinction but we should -- which is all of this related to the search warrant, so Karen McDougall, Stormy Daniels and now maybe the "Access Hollywood" tape, all this stuff that the FBI was looking for in this raid, that is something that they learned about that Bob Mueller referred to them, right? That is not necessarily -- Bob Mueller is not running that piece of things. Bob Mueller is focused on Russia, meddling in the election, and potential collusion. Now Trump conflates it all together. Mueller said, FYI, in the course of this investigation, I've uncovered -- I've learned about this, I'm referring it over here. And now that's where the Stormy Daniels -- that's where this raid and the search warrant comes. So they are related. They are not the same. Now he's going to treat them as the same, but we should, in our mind, make sure that we are distinct about which is which and what we're learning from whom.

[14:55:52] BALDWIN: Yes, you are correct, sir.

Let's hit pause on this whole conversation.

If you are just joining us, breaking news, "The New York Times" has just broken this piece that when the FBI went to raid Michael Cohen earlier this week, they were looking for records related to the "Access Hollywood" tape. What sort of role might he have played? That's the unclear part.

Stay with me. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[14:59:42] BALDWIN: Here we go. You're watching CNN on a Wednesday afternoon.

We have a lot to talk about here, including another piece of breaking news that just dropped. Let me bring this in.

First, the breaking news we were discussing involving the FBI raid on President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, involving that whole "Access Hollywood" tape and what they were looking for, and potentially his role in that taping released a month before the presidential election or perhaps as they would have liked it not to have been.

But on top of that, the other piece of breaking news that's just been turned around, this involved the federal judge in the whole Stormy Daniels case. Let me just read --