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Judge: Michael Cohen's Legal Team Can Review Seized Records; Trump, Comey in War of Words Over New Book. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2018 - 07:00   ET



NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down.

[07:00:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just don't have a decision yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the administration is once again showing that it's a circus.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Let's tell you what's happening.

There's a bit of legalese to go through, because this federal judge has ruled that attorneys for Michael Cohen and the president can review the evidence that was seized when federal agents raided the home, hotel room and office of Michael Cohen, who of course, is Mr. Trump's personal lawyer. This means that prosecutors cannot examine the evidence until lawyers for the president and Michael Cohen determine what they believe should be excluded because of attorney- client privilege.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Fired FBI Director James Comey is ramping up his book tour and media blitz. He's defending decisions that he made during the 2016 campaign claiming the FBI would be worse off today if he hadn't done what he did.

Comey responds to the president's suggestion that he should face jail time and answers critics about the personal attacks on making fun of the president's appearance. There's a lot to cover.

Let's start off with CNN's Brynn Gingras -- Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, Chris. An escalating legal showdown over seized records from Michael Cohen's office, his home and his hotel room in a stunning revelation in court about who his unknown client is.

A lot of developments in the criminal investigation into President Trump's personal attorney.


GINGRAS (voice-over): A federal judge rejecting a motion by President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to stop investigators from reviewing records seized by the FBI last week when they raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room.

CNN has learned that federal agents took ten boxes of documents and as many as a dozen electronic devices from Cohen. Sources tell CNN they could include records related to the hush-money payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with President Trump.

The judge allowing Cohen's and Trump's legal teams to determine what they believe should be protected under attorney-client privilege before investigators go through it. The judge indicating she may be open to allowing an independent lawyer to review the records.

The legal showdown overshadowed by a bombshell revelation in court. Audible gasps when the judge ordered Cohen's attorney to reveal the identity of his third unnamed client as one of the president's most ardent supporters, FOX News host, Sean Hannity.

Cohen's two other clients, President Trump and Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who acknowledged paying a Playboy model $1.6 million, a deal Cohen arranged.

In response to the media frenzy, Hannity denies retaining Cohen as an attorney but admits that seeking his legal advice about what he says were mostly real-estate matters.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter. I never retained his services. I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees.

GINGRAS: But earlier on his radio show, the FOX News host suggesting those conversations were protected under attorney-client privilege.

HANNITY: I might have handed him ten bucks. "I definitely want attorney-client privilege on this," something like that.

GINGRAS: On a nightly basis, Hannity repeatedly blasts the special counsel's investigation.

HANNITY: We have now entered a dangerous new phase, and there's no turning back from this. Mueller is out to get the president and it appears at any cost. This is now officially an all-hands-on-deck effort to totally malign and, if possible, impeach the president of the United States.

GINGRAS: But Hannity has never disclosed his connection to Cohen. Law professor Alan Dershowitz schooled Hannity last night on his show.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAW PROFESSOR: You could have said just that you had asked him for advice or whatever, but I think it would have been much, much better, had you disclosed that relationship. GINGRAS: The drama didn't stop there. Stormy Daniels swarmed by the

press as she walked into the courthouse. Daniels telling reporters after --

STORMY DANIELS, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: For years Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law. That ends now. My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth and the facts of what happened, and I give my word that we will not rest until that happens.

GINGRAS: Her attorney, shocked by the Hannity revelation, now says it's just a matter of time before Cohen turns on the president.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: If I had to place a bet right now on the sun coming up tomorrow or Michael Cohen ultimately flipping on the president, I would bet on Michael Cohen flipping on the president.


GINGRAS: Now, the U.S. attorney's office says it's been working on this criminal investigation into Cohen's business dealings for months, but now a bit of a slowdown as investigators can't look at those seized documents until all parties meet again in court, which could be weeks from now -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right. Brynn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. Let's discuss all this. So John Avlon, CNN political analyst, the editor in chief of "The Daily Beast"; and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin.

Areva, I fear that we misstated something in the -- in our first open. Who gets to decide what in the ten boxes of documents seized by Michael Cohen's belongings and the, we think, a dozen devices that now a law person has. We have great legal minds for you, let's discuss. Areva, I fear we misstated something in our first open.

[07:05:04] Who gets to decide what, in the ten boxes of documents seized from Michael Cohen's belongings and the, we think, a dozen devices that now law enforcement has, who gets to decide what's protected information?

Well, the judge didn't make a final decision on that. The judge made it clear that she's going to consider this whole special masters piece that's been requested.

But it looks like what the judge is essentially saying is federal government, you get to go through this, do some keyword searches. Come back and tell me what's at issue. And then you guys get to argue. You get to file motions about what's protected, what's not protected, and ultimately, the judge may make that decision. There may be no special masters.

What's clear, it's not likely that Donald Trump will get to make those final decisions, which is what his team was arguing for. And it's likely that Michael Cohen's lawyer won't be making those decisions. In all likelihood, it's going to be the judge or some independent third party.

CUOMO: Here was the good news yesterday. Kimba Wood is a very, very veteran and respected judge, and her performance yesterday, her conveyance of her duties, that this is not a big here is the good news. And her performance yesterday, her, you know, conveyance of her duties showed that this is not a big deal. This is not never happened before. This is not the kind of hysteria that Trump and his surrogates are trying to make it.

She handled it very well. She gave a range of options. She gave a little bit to everybody. Michael Cohen got out of there not with his temporary restraining order, not with his preliminary injunction, but his lawyers are going to get to look at the material. Why? That was a nod to fairness.

The government will, too. Why? That's a nod to fairness. And this happened even though the government's lawyers said we have no communications between Cohen and the president. So what's his lawyer doing here? There is no privilege in terms of his communications for him to assert. We don't have any communications.

CAMEROTA: Not to worry about.

CUOMO: Well, on balance. Except they do. Why? Because just because it's not between Trump and Cohen, per se, doesn't mean it doesn't involve things that this president doesn't want out there. This man, you can call him whatever you want. Michael Cohen, he has to be a keeper of secrets.

AVLON: He is a keeper of secrets. He is a key figure in Trump's life. Because as close to him as anyone who is not family. But the problem is there is attorney-client privilege. There is not consiglieri-client privilege. And there is going to be a lot of information, especially if he's recording some conversations that Trump and Co. don't want out and never expected would be out.

CUOMO: Even if they don't involve the president himself.

AVLON: Even if they don't involve the president directly, we don't know, but we will find out. Unfortunately, too often we've seen throughout the series of the stories, there's a default to not tell the truth. So we're going to have to see what, actually, information is there.

The other big bombshell, of course, is this sort of spit-take moment in court yesterday. Where all of a sudden Sean Hannity is announced as the third client.

And what's fascinating about that, it's all the -- all the narratives of this moment coming together. It's sort of that big moment at the end of Act II where you've got conservative media, the Russia investigation, sex, hush money, you know, loyalty oaths, all coming together in one bombshell moment. We don't know what it means yet, but it is -- in terms of the details of what that relationship was. But it is fascinating to see all these forces come together.

MARTIN: What's interesting about that is you have that bombshell moment in court and then you have Sean Hannity all last night, basically walking back any notion that there was an attorney-client privilege between himself and Michael Cohen.

CUOMO: Well, here it is. Here is Sean Hannity giving his due to explain why he was not having this information come out.


HANNITY: Let me set the record straight. Here's the truth. Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter. I never retained his services. I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees. I did have occasional, brief conversations with Michael Cohen -- he's a great attorney -- about legal questions I had where I was looking for input and perspective.

My discussions with Michael Cohen never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone that I was asking him questions. And to be absolutely clear, they never involved any matter, any -- sorry to disappoint so many -- matter between me or third party, a third group at all. And my questions, exclusively almost, focused on real estate.


CAMEROTA: OK. That's called full disclosure. I mean, if you take Hannity at his word. And that's something helpful to have before you do all of the segments with Michael Cohen --


CAMEROTA: -- involving Michael Cohen with the president.

So here are some of the things that Sean Hannity has said about the Mueller investigation where we didn't know his relationship and friendship with Michael Cohen. Here's this.


HANNITY: We have now entered a dangerous new phase -- and there's no turning back from this -- it is clear, as I have been warning, Mueller is out to get the president and it appears at any cost.

Here's what happened. Upon referral from Special Counselor Robert Mueller, the FBI has raided the office, the home, and the hotel room of Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of the president of the United States. Keep in mind, Cohen was never part of the Trump administration or the Trump campaign. This is now officially an all- hands-on-deck effort to totally malign and, if possible, impeach the president of the United States.


[07:10:14] CAMEROTA: He could have said, "Keep in mind, my records may also have been seized in that raid." AVLON: Look, we know they've been sharing talking points. We know

that Sean Hannity breaks bread with President Trump. What we didn't know is that the relationship got even deeper with involving, allegedly secrets, such as at least Michael Cohen would say would be protected.

Now, the problem is obviously -- if Sean Hannity was a journalist, this would demand disclosure. Now he will sometimes say he's a journalist. He's classified as an opinion show. But that should really be "not a journalist" should be plastered on the bottom of his screen, because that failure to disclose is a serious problem for FOX News and the good journalists who work there.

This is a -- so this is going to blow up. We're going to get more information. But this relationship is deeper and perhaps more secretive than we ever understood.

MARTIN: Yes. I think it's important to note that Sean Hannity, I think, was basically signaling to the public "Michael Cohen didn't negotiate a nondisclosure agreement for me" --

CAMEROTA: There's no one else involved.

MARTIN: -- "with a Playboy bunny, with a woman that was pregnant," et cetera. He was trying to protect his reputation, because as of now, what we know about Michael Cohen, what he does for his clients, the few that he has, is negotiate hush agreements.

CUOMO: All right. So now, in terms of what the stakes are here, right, Michael Cohen is -- this warrant was an extension of an investigation they say is months long. The government has used the words potential fraud and money. And that's why they're trying to make the case "We're not going after him as an attorney. We're going after him as a businessman and these business dealings that he's had."

So then the question becomes, well, if they pinch him, will he do what others have done, which is give them information on somebody else, namely Trump or somebody more valuable to them. Do you think there's any chance that Michael Cohen would go bad on Donald Trump?

AVLON: Based on what we know about Cohen, I would be shocked. I do not think the bluster of it being more likely than sun coming up, from Michael Avenatti, is credible.

Cohen's identity is wrapped up in being a fixer and an enforcer for Donald Trump. And so it would be shocking if he flipped. Is it impossible? No. And the fact this is the southern district of New York for doing a criminal investigation presumably over a period of months. That's why there's fear and panic in Trump land tonight.

CAMEROTA: Well prison can be a powerful inducement, I find.

MARTIN: We know as long as this remains federal, there's the power of pardon. And Donald Trump has been, I think, signaling to all of those people that may be in a position to flip on him that not to worry because he can pardon them. I think that's got to be a part of the consideration for Michael Cohen.

CUOMO: And we discussed this yesterday. I don't know why it keeps coming up, but I'm biased because I'm an attorney. There is no question of state law involved in any of this. "Southern district" somehow confuses people. This is all federal. The president can pardon all federal crimes.

So right now, there is no question of whether or not -- well, not for those state crimes. There is no crime, first of all; there's no charge against Michael Cohen, and there's no state action here.

AVLON: No. But what I think the reason people are flagging it is because it's outside the Mueller investigation. You can't shut this down simply by firing Mueller or in some mechanism. There may be a bank shot impulse in that. But I think that's what people are focusing on.

CAMEROTA: So there is a pardon -- there can be a pardon in the future. You can't shut it down.

AVLON: You can't shut it down in the same way. But look, that's why the Scooter Libby action --

CUOMO: You can actually shut it down more easily, you know, technically. If he wanted, if they wanted to shut down the southern district thing, they don't have the special counsel as an obstacle. He technically could go right to Jeff Sessions and say, "I don't like this."

AVLON: But if they shut --

MARTIN: Trump is the boss over everyone in the Department of Justice.

AVLON: But if they shut -- first of all, justice let this go forward. Berman (ph) recused himself from it. And if they shut down the Mueller probe, they would have to also take action against the separate investigation. That's your point.

CAMEROTA: All right. Glad we figured all that out or settled it. John Avlon, thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right. So now that's the legal part. Right? But we see this dovetail with the legal and the political. And the White House and the RNC have a coordinated effort to shut down fired FBI director James Comey. So far, it's not going that well, because Comey is all over the place. And, he is actively punching back. All right?

So, let's talk about that part of the story. We've got CNN's Abby Phillip live in West Palm Beach, Florida, with more. Why are you there?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I have no idea, Chris. It's a little windy today, but it's going to be pretty nice. We're here in Florida where President Trump is just a few miles away. And although he's been pretty quiet this morning, today is the day that James Comey's book is going to be released. And this war of words between him and Comey over the last several days has really been heating up.

Now, the president has accused Comey of being, quote, "slippery," and the RNC and the White House are saying that Comey can't be trusted. But over the weekend, President Trump also suggested that James Comey might need to go to jail for what he accused -- called crimes that Comey has allegedly committed.

[07:15:09] Here is how Comey responded to that, however, suggesting that President Trump is really breaking the norms that we have as a society. He said this in an interview with NPR. "The president of the United States just tweeted that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction most of us had was, meh, it's another one of those things. This is not normal," he says. "This is not OK. This is a danger where we become numb to it and we will stop noticing the threat to our norms."

So Comey is, again, accusing the president of really going well beyond the norms for presidents of times past. But Comey has also taken some criticism not just from White House aides but from some objective observers reading the book who say that he went a little too far, criticizing not just the president's actions but also his appearance, his hands, the color of his face, the texture of his hair.

But he responded to that criticism by saying this, also in this NPR interview. "I'm not making fun of the president," Comey says. "I'm trying to be an author, which is -- which I've never been before in my life. While I'm typing, I can hear the editor's voice ringing in my head, 'Bring the reader with you. Show them inside your head.' And by the way, not that this matters, but I found his hands to be above average in size. I'm not making fun of the man. I'm trying to tell the reader what's in my head."

Comey says often that he wants to bring you with him to those pivotal moments, that October 27 press -- letter that he wrote just before the election and other key moments.

But of course, it's apparent that some of these descriptions of the president, some of his tangents into other areas have really gotten under this White House's skin.

Meanwhile, President Trump is here in Florida this entire week, and he'll be meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe later this afternoon. At the top of the list of their agenda is this upcoming crucial meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Abby. It's always a busy week, even when it's supposed to be a vacation for anyone. Thank you very much, Abby.

So should President Trump cut ties with his embattled personal attorney, Michael Cohen? We're going to ask an ally of the president next.


[07:21:19] CAMEROTA: At a court hearing on the FBI's raid of Michael Cohen's properties, the judge ordered President Trump's long-time personal attorney to disclose this mystery third client. That client, it turns out, is FOX News host Sean Hannity. Here is what Hannity said about this on his show last night.


HANNITY: Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter. I never retained his services. I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees. I did have occasional, brief conversations with Michael Cohen -- he's a great attorney -- about legal questions I had where I was looking for input and perspective. My discussions with Michael Cohen never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone.


CAMEROTA: Let's bring in Matt Schlapp, former political director for George W. Bush and chairman of the American Conservative Union. Good morning, Matt.


CAMEROTA: Should Sean Hannity have disclosed to his viewers that he uses Michael Cohen for legal advice from time to time?

SCHLAPP: Look, I think if -- if -- let's say hypothetically, he were to use Michael Cohen for some serious legal issues, I think it would have been better to disclose it. But out of Sean Hannity's own mouth, you hear that he says, look, he had, like, this informal relationship where he asked him some real estate advice.

So I think there's kind of like -- I think people are enjoying talking about this in the media, because obviously, the other client that was made public had a problem with an affair that there was a -- there was a financial payment for.

By the way, I don't think that should have been made public either. I think -- I think we're getting to this repugnant place where, you know, people are enjoying the idea that people's lives are being destroyed because things are coming to light, which have really nothing to do with Russian collusion, which is -- which is what a lot of people thought, you know, think is disgusting about politics.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, guess what? Sometimes investigations lead in other directions. I think we've all learned that.


CAMEROTA: Obviously, it does pique people's interests when there are big payoffs made to Playboy bunnies and porn stars. That's life. OK? So of course this gets the public's interest.

SCHLAPP: Yes, but Alisyn, let's be clear: This whole special counsel was to try to determine if there was Russian collusion, not if the sexual revolution extended to Republicans and people made bad personal decisions. CAMEROTA: Yes.

SCHLAPP: That is not what this is about.

CAMEROTA: Sort of, except Matt --

SCHLAPP: Alisyn, if it goes there, this is going to end very poorly politically for the Democrats. For the Democrats and for Bob Mueller.

CAMEROTA: Matt, as you know, the scope as it was written is whatever may arise, whatever illegality may arise. So yes, sure, it may start with collusion. But Robert Mueller is allowed to follow the bread crumbs towards whatever other illegality he finds. That's how it's written. That is legal.

SCHLAPP: I will just say this: Rod Rosenstein said when he came to Congress that he would manage the special counsel to make sure that it just stayed on the question of collusion. Clearly, here they pitched this over to the U.S. attorney's office in New York. I understand the difference.

But once again, if this all turns into, like you said, they follow the bread crumbs --


SCHLAPP: -- that there are Republicans who made bad sexual decisions and that there are people who are, you know, popular on the right, like Sean Hannity, because they had an informal relationship with Michael Cohen, it's baffling to people. Let's talk about the collusion. What do they know? Put it on the table, and let's figure it out.

CAMEROTA: As -- good. As you know, the investigation is ongoing, but they saw something that was troubling enough to refer it to the southern district of New York. OK? That doesn't just happen because -- for fun. That's not just a fishing expedition. You have to prove that you saw some some of illegality in order to make that referral. So that's what we're in the middle of. We just don't know the answers yet, OK?

[07:25:08] SCHLAPP: We don't know.

CAMEROTA: We don't know.

SCHLAPP: We don't know the answer.

CAMEROTA: But things -- but seedy things have cropped up. And I guess just in terms of Sean Hannity, here's why I ask. Because there are rules that journalists are supposed to follow. OK? We do follow full disclosure rules. We do follow the facts. We do have to be fact-based. These are the rules of journalism.

And Sean Hannity, you know, is trying to have it both ways. He says sometimes that he's not a journalist. Well, here you go. Let me read it to you. "I've never claimed to be a journalist," he said in August of 2016. Then in October of 2016, "I'm not a journalist, jack ass. I'm a talk host." Yes. Then a year later, "I'm a journalist. But I'm an advocacy journalist or an opinion journalist." I don't know what that means. But --

SCHLAPP: Let me just try to answer your question.

CAMEROTA: I do know that his viewers must be confused.

SCHLAPP: I'm one of his viewers, and I appear on his show regularly; and he's a friend of mine.

CAMEROTA: Is he a journalist?

SCHLAPP: I do not consider Sean a journalist. I think he views himself as someone who's had to break a lot of news on the wrongdoing at the FBI. And he has a lot of journalists on his show, because he feels like there has not been enough scrutiny on James Comey and the wrongdoing at the FBI.

There's been so many people at the FBI who have found themselves, you know, even contrary to Bob Mueller, you know, who has taken action against people at the FBI who then were on his special counsel team. There's been so much wrongdoing by the director, Jim Comey, by the deputy director and acting director, Mr. McCabe, that I think Sean felt the need to put a spotlight on it, because other people aren't.

And let me just say this, Alisyn.


SCHLAPP: I mean this very respectfully. You're a well-connected person. I don't know if you consider yourself a journalist. I consider you a journalist.

CAMEROTA: I certainly hope you consider me a journalist.

SCHLAPP: Well, I consider you a journalist.

CAMEROTA: This is a news program that you're on. Do you not know the difference, Matt?

SCHLAPP: Alisyn, set me finish. You -- you're -- you run -- you have your own television show. You talk to thousands of people. You're very well-connected. That is the job of everybody in television news. You should talk to as many people as you want. There shouldn't be a double standard for people who have a conservative point of view.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I get it. I talk to Michael Cohen, of course. I don't go to him for legal advice. And if I did, I would have to disclose that.

SCHLAPP: Well, Sean said he did not go to him for legal advice.

CAMEROTA: Yes, he did. Wait a minute. He says he does go to him for legal advice. SCHLAPP: He said that he had informal conversations with him about

real estate, which I mean -- I don't see why that's -- why is Sean Hannity deprived of his rights as an American citizen to talk to anybody he wants about any topic he wants?

CAMEROTA: He can talk to anybody he wants. And shouldn't he have to disclose that since all he's been saying --?

SCHLAPP: Do you disclose all your conversations?

CAMEROTA: Hold on. Let me get the question out. Hold on, Matt.


CAMEROTA: He has been going after Robert Mueller. He has been going after James Comey. He -- wouldn't it have been helpful for his viewers, when he went, you know, bat crazy about the raid on Michael Cohen's house, to be able to say, "Part of why I'm so upset about this is they may have seized some of my phone calls or my records." That would have been helpful information.

SCHLAPP: As I said --

CAMEROTA: And just so that you know, he says, "I do have occasionally brief conversations with Michael Cohen -- he's a great attorney -- about the legal questions I had. I was looking for input and perspective."

SCHLAPP: Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: This is from his words, Sean Hannity's words.

SCHLAPP: Yes, I understand. As I gave you in the very first question you asked on this, if he had engaged Michael Cohen to be his lawyer on serious legal questions, I do think it would have been better to disclose it. Since out of Sean Hannity's own mouth, we're hearing that he did not feel like he had that kind of relationship, he had a more informal relationship, a friendship where he asked him his opinion on things.

And my question is back to you. You talk to thousands of people. You've probably talked to thousands of people about this very topic. I don't expect you to explain all those conversations and all those relationships. Sometimes people like myself are married to people that are involved in some of these things. You know, this is the -- this is the complicated part of humanity. You're allowed to have your individual life and your individual relationships and still do your professional responsibilities.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes. I understand. We --

SCHLAPP: I don't think there should be a double standard.

CAMEROTA: There isn't. We disclose those things here. That's part of our -- I have a ten-page standards packet right here. We disclose anything that might even have a whiff of a conflict of interest. That's what journalists are supposed to do, Matt. But we appreciate your perspective.

SCHLAPP: OK. Thanks for having me on.

CAMEROTA: We'll hear a lot more from James Comey today. And on Thursday, he will sit down with Jake Tapper live on "THE LEAD" at 4 p.m. Eastern.

CUOMO: All right. So now in all this huff and puff about Jim Comey and who's the liar and who isn't, something big happened that you need to pay attention to. You remember that new round of Russian sanctions that were supposed to be announced because of their potential role in what's going on in Syria and elsewhere. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said they're coming. They didn't happen. Once again there seems to be a deliberate delay by the president and the White House in going after Russia for deeds done. Why? Senator Angus King joins us next.