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Report: Trump Lawyer in Court Over FBI Raid; Stormy Daniels Also Appears at Courthouse; Comey Says Trump Not Morally Fit to Be President; Comey Says Possible Russians Have Something on Trump. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 16, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN. Here's a breaking news this afternoon. Porn star Stormy Daniels -- wait for it, you'll see her, she's in a purple suit. Here she is. She's arriving at that courthouse in downtown Manhattan moments ago, where she's expected to come face to face with Michael Cohen. The man who paid her $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the now president.
We're also now hearing the judge may allow her to address the court. Stand by for that. Cohen here here's arriving in federal court in New York as well. Asking on behalf of the president to get the first look on what the FBI swept up in that massive raid of his home/office/hotel last week. Also appearing today President Trump's lawyers made their own arguments in this case. Siding with Cohen and going against the president's own department of justice in this fight. Let's start it all off with Brynn Gingras she is our CNN national correspondent who is live outside the courthouse, and just talk us through what this judge is actually deciding today.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot to decide. It all comes down to whether or not the documents, the recording devices that were seized in the raid of Michael Cohen's home, his office, his hotel room last week, are those protected under attorney client privilege. The U.S. attorney's office who has been doing this investigation even had a sidebar last week during court, said they've been doing this investigation for months. They devoted a number resources to it. They say it's common practice to move forward with this investigation and for investigators to take a look at all those documents.
But Michael Cohen's attorneys, the reason why we're here today said the attorney client privilege would not be protected if they moved forward. They filed a restraining order. That's what the judge needs to decide how is this going to move forward. And just to make it a little bit more interesting, President Trump's attorneys filed another motion last night saying he, the president in an unprecedented move should be the first one to look at all these documents that were seized. Really, the U.S. attorney's office is fighting on two fronts here about these documents so this investigation into Michael Cohen in his business dealings can look forward.
BALDWIN: Why is Stormy there? GINGRAS: Really, this is just -- she's a spectator to all this. We
know she has a stake in the game. We know that CNN has reported that some of the material seized by the FBI did have to do with that exchange, that hush money between Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, Stephanie Clifford. That's why investigators got their hands on some of that paperwork.
Why she's here today, she's just a spectator. He saw from that tape she strolled in here three minutes before court is about to begin and rushed into the courthouse as reporters were basically trying to get any questions thrown at her. One of those questions was, does she have anything to say to the president, which she did not answer, but really no real reason she has to be in court today, other than to see how this unfolds. We'll see not only how this moves forward with her in court, but also how this judge rules.
BALDWIN: Just a spectator. Oh, my the spectacle. Brynn Gingras, thank you, we will be in touch. I have two great voices to walk- through all of what we're about to hear. Lis Wiehl, a former federal prosecutor, she is also an anchor at lawandcrime.com. Paul Callan our CNN legal analyst is here. Here we go this afternoon. You've got Cohen, you've got Stormy Daniels, you've got Trump's attorneys, all in this one federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan.
Explain this to me for a minute. And I know she hit on it a second ago, this TRO, this temporary restraining order. The FBI got all these materials last week, and Cohen's like no, no, no. We want to go through it first.
LIS WIEHL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Cohen says we want to go through it first, we're the attorneys, we should be able to look through all the documents and determine whether or not we should be able to return these over based on attorney client privilege. We want you to send out this temporary restraining order, it's sort of like saying, fox guard the hen house, it doesn't make any sense legally. What the government has gone after -- the search warrant is based on crime. The got a search warrant based on probable cause for crime. What are those crimes? Concealing things.
Why would you allow somebody that you said you've targeted as a crime for concealment to be able to go through documents to then what, conceal more documents based on attorney client? It's very important you understand attorney client privilege. It's not a mask for everything. It can only be based on whether or not those conversations are based on legal attorney client, not something that is based on the fraud exception, all right?
[14:05:00] BALDWIN: OK. Let me stop you there. I want to walk everyone through this. That's what the Cohen team was. Normally, Paul Callan, there's a taint team, that is to under the DOJ, goes through evidence as if pertains to potential attorney client privilege issues. They would be going through these things. If team Cohen doesn't get the TRO, they want the special master?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN Legal Analyst: Special master. Yes. Here's how this works. You have to bear in mind this is highly unusual. A search warrant being executed on an attorney's office. And of all things he turns out to be the personal attorney for the president of the United States. This is the precedent of all precedent by the time they're done with this.
Because attorneys have so many attorney client privileged materials in their offices, they have a special setup at the department of justice, so when this happens, when in the rare case an attorney -- sometimes it's the attorney who's under investigation, sometimes it's one of his clients who's under investigation, that attorney would have a lot of other innocent clients who have nothing to do with the crime being investigated.
BALDWIN: Whose material should not be swept --
CALLAN: That's right. But that material might be sitting on a computer they seized or something else. They have the special, they call them taint teams. That come in to separate the material that is directly relevant to the crime that is being investigated. And what was authorized by the judge. And then they look for a second thing also.
Even if it's evidence relevant to the crime being investigated, they take a look at it to see if it could be attorney client privilege material. That material can go back to the judge and she can have a look at it. Judge Kimba Wood by the way who is a highly respected federal judge, to sort it out and finally say, no this is protected material, you're not going to get that.
WIEHL: The reason for the taint team in general, is that you keep the prosecutors that are investigating the crime separate from the people that are looking through the documents to determine whether or not they can be privileged and, therefore, not --
CALLAN: That's why, by the way, this special master issue has been raised by the attorneys, by the Cohen team. The reason is, they don't trust the team. It's the justice department saying, we promise not to look at anything here or tell our colleagues about it, Cohen is saying, we want you to appoint a special master, an independent lawyer to do this, not somebody who's connected with the justice department,
BALDWIN: At the end of the day, and I love that we're all getting this crash course in law. At the end of the day, the government wants to start looking at what was found at the hotel, and the office to continue this investigation. Who decides? Is it the judge, potentially as early as today?
WIEHL: The judge as early as today, once she hears all the evidence. She's had the filings as of last week, so I'm sure she spent most of the weekend going through it. The government has responded. The government -- don't forget too, she's also had the search warrant, the underlying search warrant that laid out the probable cause to begin with. It may say, we're telling you, most of this, 99 percent of this is not privileged at all.
BALDWIN: Last quick question, then I'll let you all go. Stormy Daniels, she has nothing to do necessarily with what's being decided today. It is spectacle. The notion that the judge maybe will let her address the court, you're saying --
CALLAN: Well, I just -- I'd be shocked if the judge did allow this, she has an attorney present who is her representative to address the court. What would she be addressing the court about?
BALDWIN: Why is she there, Paul Callan.
CALLAN: I would take a look at the cameras on screen right now. It's a great publicity opportunity. And who knows, if she gets to speak in court, it will be an even bigger opportunity. The judge could say, well, can you confirm that Mr. Avenatti is your attorney and authorized to represent you?
WIEHL: Speak for you, that would be about it. That would be the only relevant thing she could offer, legally.
[14:10:00] BALDWIN: Well, we're all about to -- and then there's the Trump attorneys, we'll get it. Field all of this over the next two hours here. Thank you so much.
President Trump was watching bits and pieces of the interview of the man he fired. Former FBI director James Comey blasted the president and suggested Trump may have obstructed justice. New reaction from the White House.
And why Comey is also criticizing former President Obama for comments he made about the Hillary Clinton's email server. All of that and I know you've seen the Starbucks' story out of Philadelphia, all of this fallout. New developments involving the Starbucks manager who called the police on these two black men for sitting in the Starbucks without placing an order. They say they were just waiting for a friend. We will talk to a witness who was sitting feet from them and recorded this video as the men were placed under arrest. We were watching CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: This war of words escalates between President Trump and the man he fired, former FBI Director James Comey. In his very first TV interview promoting his new book, Comey reveals whether he believes the president obstructed justice, and why he says president Trump is morally unfit for the office he holds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about it, and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small. And insist the American people believe it. That person is not fit to be president. Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values at the core of this country. This president is not able to do that. He's morally unfit to be president.
If he didn't know he was doing something improper, why did he kick out the attorney general and the vice president of the United States. Why am I alone if he doesn't know the nature of the request? It's possible in the moment, another person would have said, sir, you can't ask me that.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Was President Trump obstructing justice?
COMEY: Possibly. It's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right, so let's get into all of this, I have with me CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. CNN senior Washington correspondent Brianna Keilar. Dana, just first to you. Your assessment of this interview. Specifically, the part where Comey opines, whatsoever on this notion of obstruction, during an active investigation.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, an active investigation in which he is a witness, maybe the witness on that key question, obstruction of justice, because he is so much involved and intertwined, inextricably so, with the investigation and the president and his actions on this notion of obstruction of justice. It's note worthy James Comey decided to go there on this, given where he went on so many other issues, I guess not surprising. At the end of the day, he's a witness to that very question about obstruction of justice, and what he is telling the world in that interview and in his book and so forth, is we know clearly what he told Robert Mueller, it's going to be up to Mueller and the investigators to decide whether or not he is right about that law, whether or not the president actually broke the law, which is a big open constitutional question. Whether the president can even obstruct justice by firing the FBI director or anybody else, because his people say he has the right to do it?
BALDWIN: Agree with him, disagree with him, one of the major messages from Comey is, this is a president who is a danger to this country. And the fact that you have a former FBI chief saying this about a sitting president is extraordinary in and off of itself. Where do you -- what's the impact of this interview, do you think?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, so if you are for Donald Trump, you will buy into the idea that Comey is a liar and a leaker and slippery Jim Comey and it won't affect you at all. If you believe Donald Trump is the worst president in history, you're going to see all this affirmed, the question is, for the people who don't have their minds made up, which isn't a huge amount of people, one thing that Donald Trump does is polarize people into the love or hate camp. I think Comey for that group, that relatively small group of people who are back and forth, I think Comey comes across in the interview and the excerpts of the book I've read, as a generally credible guy, who is trying most of the time to do his best.
Are there moments in that interview with ABC or in the book where I thought he's trying to put the cherry on the top a little too much to talk about Donald Trump's hands, height, the skin?
[14:20:00] His description with George Stephanopoulos of how he was trying to blend in during our meeting where he was trying to blend in where Trump calls him over and they do the handshake. There's a little dipsy-do on there. Broadly speaking he's a reliable credible guy telling his version of the story. I think that versus Donald Trump who has been all over the place as it relates to what happens when, what he said. He denies everything. But you have contemporaneous notes saying she did say these things. So, I think I might have an impact against Trump among that smaller group.
BALDWIN: OK, so dipsy-do aside Brianna, let's talk about something incredibly serious which is Russia, George Stephanopoulos and also "USA TODAY" talked to Comey about Trump's relationship with Russia and Putin. And this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?
COMEY: I think it's possible. I don't know. These are more words I never thought I would utter about a president of the United States. But it's possible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's stunning, you can't say for certain, the president of the United States is not compromised by the Russians?
COMEY: It is stunning, and I wish I wasn't saying it. It's the truth. At least in my experience, he won't criticize Vladimir Putin even in private, even in a meeting with three people in the oval office, he's arguing that he gave a good answer when he said, essentially, we are the same kind of killers that Putin's thugs are. And that struck me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, my question is this, you hear the qualifiers, it's possible, right that the president may be compromised by Russia, why if you're James Comey, why even go there?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think that goes to the heart of why James Comey is doing everything he's doing. It's pretty clear he sees himself as a whistle blower. The president feels he is a leaker but James Comey. Even looking at the title of the book, "A Higher Loyalty." He has this sense and we've seen it consistent over time now, he serves a certain master and it isn't the president. Whether it's 2004 and it's the ICU and his boss, Ashcroft the Attorney General, is being approached by the White House council to try to reauthorize a program that Comey thinks, that's not what Alberto Gonzalez should be doing.
Or whether it's intervening when it comes to Hillary Clinton in her e- mail situation, even saying she was wreck-less in the way she had handled the e-mails, to now what he's doing with Donald Trump, it seems like behavior he doesn't reserve for one party over another person. There is a question, should he be doing that? Should he be weighing in on this? It's also interesting that he is one person who is uniquely perched to know some of these things, right? He thinks it's possible the Russians may have dirt on the president. It's possible that some of these unconfirmed details in this Steele dossier could be true. And he seemed to stress that he couldn't rule it out. And it is interesting whether or not you think he's doing the right thing here, that that is his judgment of the situation.
BALDWIN: You also have covered the entire Hillary Clinton campaign, would I love to ask you, taking a break when we come back, Comey is speaking about his decisions involving Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation. And whether politics factored into his decision there. Ahead of that 2016 election. We'll talk to all three of them on that.
Also, all eyes on this courthouse in downtown Manhattan where President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels are expected to come face to face. We will bring you updates as soon as they come in, we're back in a moment.
BALDWIN: Former FBI Director James Comey stands by his controversial decision to send that letter to Congress days before the election in 2016. Announcing that the FBI was reviewing additional emails related to Hillary Clinton private email server. Clinton blames the announcement for her election loss, she wrote in her book that she felt shived by Comey. His expectation that Clinton would win played into his decision to reveal the new information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Wasn't the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that she was going to win and your concern that she wins, this comes out several weeks later and then that's taken by her opponents as a sign she was an illegitimate president.
COMEY: It must have been. I don't remember consciously thinking about that, it must have been. I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. I'm sure that it was a factor. I don't remember spelling it out, but it had to be, she's going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:30:00] BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, Dana Bash, Brianna Keilar. Brianna, first to you, you were our gal on the trail covering Hillary Clinton all through '15, '16. What is your reaction to hearing what James Comey just said?
KEILAR: I thought it was interesting he admits it, I think everyone was operating under the assumption, looking at, you know, where all of the data was, that Hillary Clinton was going to win. So, it is interesting that he says it must have been something that was in his mind. You do get the sense listening to him, whether it has to do with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, that he would sort of find a reason to come out and -- I guess divulge something or sort of stick his nose into something, no matter what the reasoning would be, right? Whether it would make her illegitimate or she was going to lose.
Hillary Clinton believes this is something that cost her the election. Covering her day in and day out, there were a lot of issues that Hillary Clinton had certainly that letter from James Comey did not help. And it is something that hurt her in the polls. Some people will level criticism at James Comey and say, this is someone who's self-righteous, he's examining others and is not really turning her finger on really examining himself. There is also an argument to be made when it comes to Hillary Clinton --