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WOLF

Ex-Trump Lawyer Warning; Mueller's Gone Rogue; Meeting with Kim Jong-un; American ISIS Widow Looks for a Way Home. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 19, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The French president, Macron. We'll see if it works for him.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow.

"WOLF" starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

We begin this hour with a blunt warning to President Trump from one of his former lawyers regarding one of his current attorneys. The warning, Michael Cohen is likely to flip and cooperate with federal prosecutors, especially if he ends up facing the threat of serious prison time. Former Trump Attorney Jay Goldberg says the president called him last Friday asking for advice and he told him to be very, very careful regarding Michael Cohen.

Shan Wu is a CNN legal analyst. He previously served on the team representing Rick Gates. He was the deputy to the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Shan, first of all, welcome to CNN. Good to have you as one of our legal analyst.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.

BLITZER: Walk us through your through on Michael Cohen. He hasn't been charged with any crime. He's being investigated as a criminal investigation underway. But walk us through Goldberg's warning to the president.

WU: Well, Goldberg knows how to reach this client. He addressed him through the media and that's probably the best way to get information to this particular client.

And it's good advice. It's telling him to be very cautious. Don't trust Cohen, who is a man under tremendous pressure right now. Anybody facing a criminal investigation has enormous pressure and this is a particularly aggressive investigation. I know, I've been there. I've faced it. I can't talk about those details but --

BLITZER: When you were representing Rick Gates.

WU: That's right.

But the public record is very obvious. Taking the step of executing a search warrant on the lawyer's office, highly unusual, very intrusive, very aggressive, really ratchets up the pressure on Cohen.

BLITZER: And you served in the Justice Department as a federal prosecutor for several years, so you understand what's going on. You think this is more intense this time?

WU: Yes, this is much more intense than usual. It takes a lot for department officials to approve a search warrant on a lawyer's office. For Cohen at this point, it doesn't look very good in terms of what his options are.

BLITZER: Do you agree with Goldberg that Cohen, if faced with all these charges, enormous legal bills, two kids, a wife, is going to flip?

WU: I think that's a very likely scenario. I mean most criminal charges -- and, let's remember, he has not yet been charged in the case. But once charged, most criminal cases do result in guilty pleas. And for him, there's no such thing as being a cooperator a little bit. It's like being a little bit pregnant. You're either a cooperator or you're not. Once he takes that step, everything is going to be an open book to the government.

BLITZER: And now we've learning that Michael Cohen has actually dropped those liable suits against Fusion GPS, against Buzzfeed, for, he said they had attacked him. And all of a sudden now he's dropping those suits.

WU: Right. And that may be discretion being the better part of valor (ph). That's too many fronts to be fighting on. Or he may be wanting to send a more conciliatory message about what position he's going to take.

BLITZER: So you think Goldberg gave the president good advice?

WU: I think he gave him good advice. I think the concern about Cohen wearing a wire is probably a little unlikely in this scenario. The president is represented. Little hard to tell who's representing him, but he is a representative party. So that would be crossing the line a bit to actually try to put someone in with a wire on them.

BLITZER: Once again, welcome to CNN, Shan. Good to have you on our legal team.

WU: Thanks. Good to be here.

BLITZER: There's other news we're following.

The Justice Department is pushing back against accusations that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has overstepped his bounds. In fact, prosecutors say Mueller has been in frequent contact with the acting attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, about the Russia investigation. This comes a day after the president responded to questions over whether he plans to fire Mueller or Rosenstein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they're still here. So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, CNN political analysts Ryan Lizza and April Ryan, they are both here joining us right now.

So, April, does this new information undercut the claims that Mueller's investigation has gone rogue?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mueller's investigation has not gone rogue. He has a broad stroke. And the problem is, this president don't like it. Anyone related to the president, businesswise or what have you, even family wise, they don't like it. And he has a broad scope. He is allowed to follow the trail where it leads. And he's doing that. And he is consulting with the Justice Department. Mueller has been in government and worked in this type of law enforcement capacity for many, many years. We have a president and an administration who's knew to this and who's tried to find any kind of way to undercut this. That's just plain and simple.

BLITZER: Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, his lawyers argue that Mueller's team should not be able to investigate, prosecute anything other than his role during the campaign.

[13:05:00] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It seems like they're spending an awful lot of money with very expensive lawyers on this sort of Hail Mary argument that basically just says, you know, that your authority is not there to prosecute me, right? That he's going line by line through the Justice Department regulations and making this what I think most -- I'm obviously not a lawyer -- but most legal analyst don't think this is much of an argument, that simply Mueller does not have the authority to bring this case.

I think part of what he's doing, frankly, is political. He's trying to generate some arguments for Trump supporters, for people who don't -- who think this is an unfair investigation and trying to get the -- frankly the conservative media and others who want to defend Trump and defend Manafort against this rouge prosecution. He's trying to generate from arguments in the press to sort of loosen up Mueller and work the refs a little bit.

But, legally, everything I've seen is this -- this argument is not likely to succeed.

BLITZER: What do you think of the -- what we were just talking about with Shan, the advice that Jay Goldberg, the president's former divorce lawyer, was giving him the other day, that Michael Cohen, his long-time attorney, very supportive friend and fixer could flip and just be careful, don't trust him?

RYAN: Well, let me say this. They're trying to get everyone close to the president to flip about anything. I mean we've heard (INAUDIBLE). We've heard a whole bunch of things. And then the president has come out saying -- or trying to show the picture that, you could be pardoned, so chill out.

But here's the thing. When you think about then civilian businessman Donald Trump, he was known himself to tape conversations. He even threatened on Twitter with Comey. So this is not beyond the realm of possibility. This is what these people do.

And some of the president's former staff, whose name I will not mention, I mean they tape things in the White House. So it's not -- it's not beyond the realm of possibility the people around the president will tape. And it could actually indeed happen this time because he is in need of help. He is under criminal investigation. That is a huge thing. So, I mean, the president needs to be warned. He may not want to talk Cohen or talk to Cohen that much any more.

BLITZER: Several of his associates from the campaign, his supporters, already have flipped.

LIZZA: They have flipped, right? So Gates has flipped. Flynn is cooperating.

BLITZER: Papadopoulos.

LIZZA: Papadopoulos. So at least with Flynn, who was the national security advisor and was being investigated for this possible violation in the Logan Act, there's some serious -- there's some serious stuff there. And was in the White House at a senior level. If you're Flynn and you want to -- you know, the idea is that the prosecution needs a bigger fish. There aren't really any bigger fish besides Flynn -- oh, excuse me, besides the vice president and the president.

I think one thing about this Cohen conversation is so many Trump supporters, anonymously and on the record in the last 48 hours, have been arguing, oh, he could flip on the president. And implication is that -- in that is that there's something to flip on. Why is it that so many Trump people are worried about this? Why is that they've -- the understanding seems to be, there's some there there that Cohen knows.

RYAN: Recordings.

LIZZA: Otherwise, why would you care, right?

RYAN: Recordings. Recordings.

LIZZA: Anyone who has a lawyer --

BLITZER: If the president hasn't done anything wrong, why should he worry, is that what you're saying? LIZZA: Right. Exactly. And that's just -- I just think it's amazing that the assumption, even by many Trump defenders, is that there's something to flip on the president for.

RYAN: But, I mean, you've got tape recordings, potentially, and that could be really -- it could be incriminating evidence. So -- and he's under a criminal investigation. There is there there. So something is going on.

LIZZA: Well, something is definitely going on. We'll see what it is.

Guys, thanks very, very much.

Willing to walk. The president's national security adviser raises the prospects of a walkout if the meeting with Kim Jong-un doesn't live up to President Trump's expectations.

Plus, fresh opposition to the president's pick for secretary of state. I'll speak with a top committee Democrat and why he's a no when it comes to Mike Pompeo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:13:02] BLITZER: We're learning new details about the planned meeting between U.S. and North Korean leaders. South Korea's president said the North has now dropped its long-held demand that the U.S. withdrawal its military forces from South Korea in exchange for denuclearization. The concessions comes -- the concession comes one day after President Trump said he was prepared to leave the meeting with Kim Jong-un if it falls short of his expectations, but President Trump said he fully expects the meeting to take place.

I'm joined now by our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski, and our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

Michelle, the new national security adviser, John Bolton, how does he figure into all this new strategy when it comes to North Korea?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: So now we know that he's been advising Trump on how to make this meeting work, how not to screw it up because that's, you know, the big question surrounding this. How do you get something useful out of this without giving North Korea too much initially? And some people see even giving them this meeting as being a big deal without necessarily getting something in return. That remains to be seen.

But Bolton has been advising Trump. You know, for success, it doesn't have to be a super long meeting. It could be less than an hour could be considered successful. And if doesn't go your way, just get up and walk out. It's kind of an odd thing to say, especially when you hear what South Korea is saying ahead of their summit with Kim. They're saying, you know, we need creative solutions. You know, we're going to look for ways to make diplomacy work here.

So to hear Trump say that, you know, is a very Trumpian thing to say. It's kind of hard to imagine in this meeting what would make him get up and walk out. But then, again, it is Kim Jong-un and it is Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Right. And all this discussion follows Mike Pompeo, the outgoing CIA director's visit to Pyongyang --

KOSINSKI: That's right.

BLITZER: A couple of weeks ago to meet with Kim Jong-un. He's now been nominated to become the next secretary of state.

Amidst all of this, he was there in Pyongyang but he didn't bring out those three American prisoners who have been held in North Korea for a long time.

[13:15:02] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: But you can see over the last month or so that the North Koreans have been willing to discuss their release. They had some meetings in Stockholm in Sweden, which is the protecting power for the U.S., about releasing them. Officials tell me that they're also been putting out feelers about further negotiations.

And I think the North Korea wants to keep it on a separate track. And I think the U.S. wants to keep it on a separate track. Kind of the way they did with the Iran deal. Because if the talks go bad, they don't want, you know, the Americans to go the way of the talks, if they -- if they stop talking.

At the same time, I do think you're going to see some movement on the Americans close to or at the summit. Wouldn't it be a big coop for President Trump to be able to take them home or have them be released. And I think that is one of the things that they're discussing behind the scenes.

BLITZER: The president, President Trump, said that the talks between Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-un -- as far as we know, he's only the second American to ever meet with Kim Jong-un since becoming the leader of North Korea. Dennis Rodman, the NBA star, was the first. The president says it was -- they had great conversations. It was a great meeting.

KOSINSKI: Yes, and that Kim was personable. And you hear the North Koreans saying many of the right things. I mean just today that they're saying they won't insist that the U.S. take its troops out of the Korean peninsula. And that's a big deal. So they've been saying the right things.

This, of course, is a big game of leverage. Who's going to be willing to move and who's going to give over what. It seems like the -- those -- the Americans held there is going to have to be in the game, though. I mean we saw releases around the Iran nuclear deal. We saw even Turkey giving up people that were held there before Tillerson met with him. So it seems hard to imagine that this summit would happen without them doing something about these Americans.

BLITZER: Very quickly, they've got to figure out a place where to meet. LABOTT: That's the big hang-up. There are about half a dozen locations. President Trump said yesterday some are in Europe, some are in Asia. I think that they're leaning towards something closer to Korea, whether it's the DMZ, whether it's this Peace Island that's near South Korea. Kim Jong-un doesn't like to travel too far. But wouldn't it be this king of pageantry President Trump likes to do something that no president has done before. I think you might see it a little bit closer to the Koreas.

BLITZER: Let's see -- let's see where it is. That will be very significant as well.

Guys, thanks very, very much.

Leaving a world of torture behind. An American woman, tricked by her husband into joining ISIS, fights to leave Syria with her children. You're going to want to see this exclusive CNN report. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:21:49] BLITZER: All it took was a vacation for one woman's world to be turned upside down. American Sally Sam says she was duped into joining ISIS by her husband, enduring the horror of ritual beatings and torture. Now all she wants is simply to return home to Indiana.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The story of how an Indiana family went from a mundane life of sports cars and the delivery business to joining ISIS and to see their son here, the face of ISIS propaganda against America, is one of mystery, compassion, and animal savagery that stretches belief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So get ready for the fighting has just begun.

SAM SALLY, WIFE OF ISIS FIGHTER: All I saw was a bunch of drug-using thugs that came from their countries who had no place.

WALSH: We meet Sam Sally, 32, Matthew, 10, and Sarah, age five, and her youngest, two, born in the so-called ISIS caliphate, now in Syrian custody, in limbo. And whether they go home or not depends in part on how well Sam explains her innocence in the four-year ordeal behind them.

Her story begins with a vacation to Turkey. That led to a border town where she says she was duped to crossing into ISIS' world.

WALSH (on camera): There will be people who simply don't believe you.

SALLY: They can believe whatever they want to believe, but they've never been put in a situation to make a decision like that.

WALSH (voice over): At the ISIS border crossing, she says she faced an impossible choice. Her husband grabbed little Sarah, while she had Matthew.

SALLY: The position I was in was to stay there with my son or watch my daughter leave with my husband. And I had to make a decision. I thought, like I said, we could just walk across the border and we could come back again.

WALSH: She chose to keep the family together. But it's hard to believe Sam didn't ever realize what she was getting into. It was also when the gentle comforts of her marriage ended and her husband, Musa (ph), who never even seemed devout (ph) in America, became an abusive monster.

SALLY: Before he used to spoil me, I love you, this -- I mean we were very much in love. It was -- the romance never left. As soon as we came here, it was completely different. Everything was completely different. I was a dog. I didn't have a choice. It was extremely violent.

WALSH: Musa traveled a lot to fight. He beat Sam at home. But still had two more children with her in Raqqa. (INAUDIBLE) why. Part of the stifling twists of a clearly abusive relationship may remain locked inside Sam, along with exactly what she know and when about Musa's radicalization.

Remarkably, Musa suggested they buy slaves. Some of these Idi (ph) girls captured by ISIS in 2014. They spent $20,000 on two teenage girls, Suad (ph) and Berdrean (ph) and a younger boy, Aham (ph). Donned to keep her company, she says, and rescue the saves to a better life. Yet Musa repeatedly raped the girls.

SALLY: When I met Suad, I couldn't -- I couldn't think about money. Like, I would have spent every dollar I had on her to bring her.

WALSH (on camera): But it turned out that she was repeatedly raped by your husband.

SALLY: That is true. But in every house that she was in before, that was the same situation, but she didn't have the support of someone like me.

[13:25:03] WALSH: Do you now not regret enabling that serial rape?

SALLY: No, because it would have been worse with anybody else. And, no. No one will ever, ever be able to imagine what it's like to watch their husband rape a 14-year-old girl. Ever. And then she comes to you, comes to me after crying and I hold her and tell her it's going to be OK. Everything's going to be fine. Just be patient.

I would never apologize for bringing those girls to my house. We knew that if we were just patient, we would stick through it together. You understand? I was like their mother.

WALSH (voice over): Astonishingly, Suad sent this message from a refugee camp confirming Sam's kindness and how Sam was beaten black and blue. She tried to protect her from Musa.

I'm doing well with my family, she says, and I want to see you even just once more. Let me know what I can do to get you out.

Yet the terror did not stop there. Matthew, born in Texas of Sam's first marriage to an American soldier, was a prized cast member for an ISIS film shoot.

WALSH (on camera): How did Matthew come to be in that video?

SALLY: Um --

WALSH: I recognize him from it.

SALLY: It was not by choice. I ended up with two broken ribs over that video. I fought. I mean I fought. I fought.

WALSH: What do you remember of that day, Matthew?

MATTHEW: It was hard. I didn't want to do it. He would hit (ph) me. He would (INAUDIBLE) me.

WALSH (voice over): Musa died in a drone strike late last year.

SALLY: And I was able to breathe. It was like, OK, we can start phase two.

WALSH: Tens of thousands fled the Raqqa siege, but Sam said she only felt safe at the very end leaving with these last hundreds of ISIS given passage out in a deal. The FBI hasn't viewed them but there are no charges yet or tickets back home.

SALLY: We want to eat McDonald's and, you know, we want to live a normal life for us again.

WALSH: Instead now she is surely reliving her decisions over and over again.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, in norther Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank Nick for that -- that amazing, amazing report. Other news we're following.

Coming up, is the president in for a 2020 revolt? I'll ask Republican Congressman Mark Meadows about reports many members of the Republican Party aren't ready to back President Trump's bid for re-election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)