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President Trump Consumed By Cohen Investigation?; Men Arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks Speak Out; Hero Pilot. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired April 19, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The FBI looked into it. No charges were pressed.
So, in this case, what would happen is the D.C. prosecutor would look at the facts of the case and then make a decision based on the findings.
But this report, this scathing report on Andrew McCabe was the basis for his firing last month. He has denied that he ever misled investigators. In fact, with James Comey, he said that he did tell him that he was authorizing the disclosure of information to "The Wall Street Journal" in an article about the Clinton Foundation.
Comey told investigators that that was not the case. You will recall, just yesterday, Comey on "The View" said that good people lie. Andrew McCabe lied, according to the I.G. And then Andrew McCabe's team released a statement saying essentially that the I.G. report was not based on facts and evidence, and they are standing by their story that Andrew McCabe did not mislead investigators.
It is not that unusual, Brooke, for context here, for a criminal referral to happen in the wake of an I.G. report. I think that is important to note. But it's certainly serious as well, even though it's not unusual, because you have a group of what are supposed to be nonpartisan, nonbiased lawyers who are referring this to prosecutors to consider potential criminal charges.
And we're dealing with the former deputy director of the FBI here, Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Right. Right. Right.
And you brought up Comey and his role in all of this. Just a reminder to everyone, he's sitting down with Jake in 60 minutes from now.
Meantime, Laura Jarrett to you on these Comey memos. Remind us what they are and when lawmakers will actually be able to see them.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So there are at least seven different memos, at least that we're aware of.
And the issue is that some of them arguably contain classified information. They're James Comey's contemporaneous notes from different interactions that he had with President Trump, and he memorialized them.
And there's also an issue of whether they could have been part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Several different outlets, including CNN and others, have tried to get our hands on the Comey memos and we sued in court for them, and we lost.
And the judge said they're part of Mueller's investigation and they have to stay secret for now. But the Justice Department is prepared, I'm told, according to a source, to make them available to Congress. Whether they're going to be provided completely unredacted or they will be provided in a redacted form remains to be seen.
But, as CNN's Manu Raju reported yesterday, members of Congress say they need to be made public and are prepared to hit the Justice Department with a subpoena if they do not hand them over -- Brooke.
All right, Laura, thank you very much.
Let's go to the legal experts and their analysis of what we just heard and more.
With me now, CNN legal analyst and former lawyer for the Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates. He's Shan Wu. And Kim Wehle, who served as associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation.
Great to have both of you on.
And, Kim, let me just start with you on what we just heard from Pam with regard to the former deputy over at the FBI Andy McCabe.
You heard Pam point out that he could face, could face criminal charges and that this is not all entirely unusual. What are considerations here moving forward?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Well, at this point, it looks like it's being sent over to the Justice Department to actually do a more careful, factual investigation as to whether there is potentially a crime here.
It's not dissimilar to what's happening in the Mueller investigation with respect to other individuals. And then they will make a determination as to whether there's something to move forward to from a criminal standpoint. I think hopefully to move forward to from a criminal standpoint.
I think hopefully what we're seeing is equal opportunity justice here, that these decisions are being made based on the facts and the law and not based on political affiliations. And I think it's important for the public to hear that the Justice Department needs to function independent of the political process.
BALDWIN: OK. Let me move off of that.
We will watch that, of course, as it travels forward.
But let's talk about the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. And, Shan, this is for you, because we know the president's former
divorce lawyer Jay Goldberg, was actually called up, so he says, by the president and was asked for advice, and that he told the president that Cohen is likely to flip under criminal investigation, especially if you're looking down 30 years in prison.
What do you make of Jay Goldberg's warning, and do you think that that's a fair conclusion?
SHAN WU, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR RICK GATES: I think that's fair concern to have. I think Goldberg knows his former client well and that probably the best way to get advice to the president is through the media.
It's absolutely true that anybody facing any criminal investigation is under a tremendous amount of pressure, and this is an unusually aggressive, unusually high-pressure situation. The fact that they executed a search warrant on a lawyer's office, highly aggressive tactic, very intrusive, and that really ratchets up the pressure on Mr. Cohen.
BALDWIN: But if you're saying he's using the media to try to talk to the president, the guy is on the phone with the president. Why is he telling the public about his conversation, do you think?
WU: My speculation there would be that he knows that when he goes out into the public, that the president likes to watch the media, and the more amplification he gets, the more effective it may be.
BALDWIN: Gotcha. Gotcha.
Kim, this lawyer Goldberg, who used to be a U.S. attorney, told our Gloria Borger -- quote -- "Anybody who is facing 30 years never stands up. Without exception, a person facing a prison term cooperates. "
We know he has a family. He's mentioned that recently. Obviously, I have to imagine that comes into play here. What is the average flip rate in these kind of court cases?
WEHLE: Well, I don't know in terms of -- empirically, what the answer to that is.
But what I do think is interesting is, of course, there are two issues here. One has to do with whether Mr. Cohen has personal criminal liability. And if that's the case, he can make what ever deal is offered for him personally.
The other question is whether flipping means he's got information against -- that is going to implicate the president of the United States. And I think that's an extraordinary conversation to be having.
If there's nothing to hide from the president's standpoint, this is irrelevant information and Mr. Cohen will go forward with respect to his own personal criminal liability, and the president's out of it.
BALDWIN: Let me hammer home on the point I think you're making. The inference, if we're having -- if he's having a conversation with the president about flipping, that then would mean the president did something wrong.
WEHLE: Right. Otherwise, it's not an issue.
WEHLE: It doesn't really matter. It's besides the point. And I think it's absolutely astonishing as a matter of what's happening at the upper echelons of our government on both sides of the aisle right now that we're having a conversation as to what Mr. Cohen's decision- making with respect to his familial obligations are if he were to be given the opportunity to turn coat and give evidence with respect to the president's criminal liability.
That's astonishing. We all should be concerned that anyone in that kind of position could even potentially be flipping in order to put the president in some kind of jeopardy or that he had information that could put the president in some kind of jeopardy.
That has implications for democracy, not just this president .
Shan, on that -- and we know, as we pointed out, you served on the legal team representing Rick Gates, who is cooperating with investigators -- that's an entirely separate issue and separate investigation.
But can you just help us explain? I don't know how much you can say about that specifically. But when you're dealing with a client who is considering cooperating or flipping, what are the considerations? What is one thinking about as to whether or not they should roll?
WU: The most important consideration is that the client has to be 100 percent honest and understand what they're getting into. I can't speak about the Gates matter, because that's confidential and it's privileged.
But generally speaking, the client must be very clear if you choose to cooperate, it's like being pregnant. There's not such a thing as being a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren't. If you cooperate, everything is going to be an open book. And to the point made earlier about the flipping issue, simply the fact of cooperation doesn't necessarily, of course, mean that you have criminally culpable information against the president, but rather that he is agreeing to cooperate, rather than raising the shield of the Fifth Amendment.
And then it's really up to the prosecutors to determine whether that information he has to give is going to be helpful in terms of criminal liability or not. BALDWIN: How do you, given Gates cooperating, a couple of former
Trump associates cooperating, and now the conversation that maybe, who knows, but maybe Cohen could be cooperating, Kim, how would this sit on someone such as the president?
WU: Well, I think for the president, if I were advising the president, I would tell him that he really needs, as other lawyers have told him, to ratchet down, stop the public commenting.
And with regard to one of the pieces of advice given to him, which is to not sit down with the special counsel, I think that's right. For most politicians...
BALDWIN: You do?
I think for most politicians, that's wrong, because if they refuse to sit down, it looks suspicious. They may get a grand jury subpoena. They may have to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which looks terrible.
But he's not most politicians, so I don't think that would bother him.
BALDWIN: All right, Shan and Kim, thank you so much.
And we're talking about this former divorce lawyer of the president's, Jay Goldberg. He will be on tonight at 7:00 with Erin Burnett here on CNN. So, definitely doesn't miss that conversation.
Coming up next, President Trump reportedly is consumed by the news of Michael Cohen. We have new details about the White House's thinking with regard to that case. And
Senator Tammy Duckworth making history, bringing her baby to the Senate floor just moments ago. There they are. You will hear what she had to go through to get the rules changed to allow for this.
And breaking news on Mike Pompeo's nomination to become secretary of state. We have just learned a key Democratic senator will now vote yes. Stay with me.
BALDWIN: We have some breaking news on Mike Pompeo's nomination to become the next secretary of state. We have just learned a key Democratic senator will vote yes.
With me now, Dana Bash, CNN's chief political correspondent.
Dana, that senator is Heidi Heitkamp. Why is she saying yes?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thirty-five-point- eight percent, that is the reason she is saying yes, because that is the percentage that Donald Trump won her state in 2016. And she is, as you said, a Democrat. And if she wants to win
reelection in November, it is probably not the greatest political move, Brooke, to say, no, Mr. President, I am not going to give you the secretary of state that you want.
So, that in a nutshell is the big reason, really the only reason why she is doing what she is doing, and the reason why it is very likely, I would even go so far as to say probable, that we are going to see similar announcements from Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who also is from a very red state, very pro-Trump state, where he also, the president also won by more than 30 points.
BASH: Go ahead.
BALDWIN: Sorry. Sorry.
Just what about Rand Paul? We know we heard the president, he hasn't disappointed me in the past, or to that effect yesterday, met with Mike Pompeo today. What are you he thinking?
BASH: You know, Rand Paul is different.
For Rand Paul, this is not an electoral question. Obviously-, it's not a party question, because unlike Heidi Heitkamp, Rand Paul is a fellow Republican of the president.
For Rand Paul, this is a very specific role that oversees issues that, in terms of his principles, he's been a longtime sort of opponent of and somebody who is outspoken on issues just like big picture, interventionism, concerned about the things that Pompeo has known about and worked through at the CIA in terms of intelligence, in Rand Paul's estimation, overreach in terms of civil liberties.
So for him it is a purely principled issue and question. And so it will be interesting to see, Brooke, if the president is able to kind of twist his arm to make the argument that, look, I, the president, need in this position somebody who I can trust and who the world knows I have a good relationship with so he can represent me.
So far, it doesn't seem like that's an argument that holds sway over Rand Paul. But can I just quickly go back to the Heidi Heitkamp thing and why this matters?
BASH: And it's because we are going to see a vote in the Foreign Relations Committee on Monday that nobody thinks is going to go through in a positive way.
So what that means is that the majority leader is almost certainly going to take the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state to the floor, and so it going to be up to a few Democrats to give the president this vote.
BALDWIN: To the floor.
BASH: That's why Heidi Heitkamp and her decision to cross party lines is so critical and why we're looking to see if a few others do the same.
BALDWIN: Got it.
So, that's Monday.
How about in 45 minutes from now? We have James Comey on the air being interviewed by Jake Tapper.
BALDWIN: We know a White House official is telling CNN that the president has -- quote, unquote -- "weathered" the FBI director, right, and all of the TV appearances, but the legal jeopardy involving his personal lawyer is -- quote -- "consuming him."
We're also told the president is pleased with how Republicans and the White House have tried to discredit in Comey in recent weeks. What do you think?
This is some terrific reporting from our colleague Jeff Zeleny about the fact that the president is not just sort of feeling like he weathered the Comey storm, but very upset and consumed, as you mentioned, with Michael Cohen.
I mean, Michael Cohen, this is the ultimate question of loyalty, the ultimate question of somebody who the president has trusted with the most sensitive of issues for years, whether or not Michael Cohen will still have the president's back, even in the face of potentially really important, really devastating legal jeopardy.
And I make that assumption based on the fact that a federal judge and the president's Justice Department said it was OK to raid his home or at least his hotel where he is staying as well as his office.
It's very, very interesting. I will just say on the Comey thing, you know, maybe the president feels OK because we haven't seen Jake Tapper interview James Comey yet.
BALDWIN: He better be ready.
BALDWIN: Dana, thank you so much.
Again, just a reminder to all of you, we are 40 minutes away from Jake's live interview with James Comey. Do not miss the tough questions he will have for the fired FBI director on "THE LEAD" at the top the hour.
Stay right here.
Next, the hero firefighter who helped pull that Southwest passenger from the window speaking out for the first time. You will hear that.
And I will talk live to a retired Navy pilot to explain the incredible actions from the woman in the cockpit of that plane.
BALDWIN: In the wake of the deadly Southwest disaster, the FAA says it will order certain engines be inspected and that ultrasonic inspections be conducted on the fan blades.
We're also learning the official cause of death for airplane passenger Jennifer Riordan. Officials say she died from blunt impact trauma of her neck, head and torso.
And one of the passengers who fought so hard to save her is also speaking out. He is Texas firefighter Andrew Needum. He helped pull her back into the plane.
And he spoke earlier today, fighting back tears when asked about the married mother of two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW NEEDUM, FIREFIGHTER: People board that plane -- God put people on that plane for a reason.
And everybody acted and everybody stood strong. But it was a family that lost a loved one. And I have -- I feel for her family. I feel for her two kids, her husband, the community that she lived in. I can't imagine what they're going through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The Southwest hero pilot, Captain Tammie Jo Shults, issued a statement saying that she was -- quote -- "simply doing her job."
With me now, Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy.
Carey, welcome and thank you so much for your service.
CAREY LOHRENZ, FIRST FEMALE F-14 TOMCAT FIGHTER PILOT IN U.S. NAVY: Oh, it was a privilege, Brooke. Thank you very much.
BALDWIN: When you first found out that this hero pilot was a former Navy fighter pilot, your first thought was what? LOHRENZ: Well, thankful that she was. That crew was both -- they
were both military members. And, as you can see, very, very quickly, they defaulted to their training.
They did what they had to do, even under extremis.
BALDWIN: Landing -- she had flown all these F-18s. Landing an F-18 on that strip on an aircraft carrier, which is something I think she did over and over and over once upon a time, I know that is one of the toughest skills to master in military aviation.
Can you just talk about how her background and her instincts came into play?
Well, this was a really unfortunate circumstance with a tragic ending. But when you're at altitude and your cockpit and the whole cabin decompresses like that, you default immediately to the training that you have received.
And that's going through checklists. That's maintaining control. And one of the golden rules in military aviation that we as Naval aviators learn is, very simply, aviate, navigate, communicate.
And by that, the first thing you have to do no matter what is happening, you have to fly the airplane, and then figure out, where do we need to go? How do we get to where we need to go safely and as quickly as we can?
And the final step in that is to communicate what it is that we are going to do. As can you see, Captain Shults very quickly did that. She took command. She started telling people what it was that she needed, and she handled it like the pro that she is.
BALDWIN: This conversation, this clip I want to play, this is a conversation with air traffic control. Listen to how cool and calm she is when you hear her tell the tower a piece of her plane is missing. Roll it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Start looking for the airport. It's off to your right and slightly behind you there and altitude is your discretion. Use caution for the downtown area.
TAMMIE JO SHULTS, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PILOT: OK. Could you have the medical meet us there on the runway as well? We have got injured passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Injured passengers, OK. And are you -- is your airplane physically on fire?
SHULTS: Not fire, not fire, but part of it's missing. They said there's a hole and someone went out.
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: I'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out?
UNIDENTIFIED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Well, 1380, it doesn't matter. We will work it out there.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I would not have been so cool, calm and collected. Let me just say that, Carey.
LOHRENZ: Well, it's definitely a skill set and a mind-set that, to be a military pilot, you have to be able to compartmentalize very quickly.
And when you're in extremis, when you're going through, when you're doing your job, there is no room for emotion. And at the end of the day, you have to have that ability to compartmentalize, to go through your checklist, to default again to that training, so that you get not only yourself to where you need to go safely, but all those people who are counting on you as well.
BALDWIN: Carey Lohrenz, thank you so very much. I appreciate it and all of your hours and expertise.
BALDWIN: Coming up next here, the two African-American men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, they're speaking out today for the very first time, this as the city's police commissioner personally apologizes for making the situation worse.