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Report: Trump Lawyers Team Says Cohen Indictment Soon; DNC Sues Trump Campaign, Russia And Assange; Giuliani And Husband Wife Team Join Trump Legal Team; Reporter Says Trump Lied to Get on Forbes 400 List. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Sarah Sidner is our CNN national correspondent she is just outside the courthouse for us in LA, and also with us in New York Joseph Moreno, former federal prosecutor. Sarah, first to you, tell me more about this 90 days.

SARA SIDNER CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We should not read much into that. He was referring to what Michael Avenatti stated on television, that Michael Avenatti said he would be indicted in 90 days. We need to be very careful to say that Brent Blakely who was the attorney for Michael Cohen said that his client will be indicted in 90 days. That is not exactly true.

He was quoting Michael Avenatti who as you know has been prolific on television. He was trying to say that we don't know when this case and what this case is going to mean for his client. He was arguing that it puts his client in danger of losing his fifth amendment rights if he has to testify in this case when there's a criminal case that's pending. Do we know if there's going to be an indictment? No, we do not. As to when that indictment might come down if there is one, he did not know and was again referring to Michael Avenatti's comment.

However, he did talk a lot about the fact that this is a big deal. The judge said, look, there is no doubt if the FBI comes and raids your home, your office, your hotel room, this could turn into a major criminal case. That needs to be thought of and it needs to be thought about. Ultimately the judge is going to have to decide whether or not to stay this case for 90 days. That's what Mr. Cohen's people have asked for. Mr. Avenatti arguing this case has been out there for a long time saying that, look, Mr. Cohen can just plead the fifth if he's asked questions in this case, so it doesn't hurt his fifth amendment rights.

But there is one thing the judge did say about the case when it comes to Mr. Cohen. He said, look, there are big holes in your request for a stay. The biggest hole is that there is no declaration from Michael Cohen himself that he wants to basically put into the record that he does not want to waive his fifth amendment rights. Those issues and that declaration does not exist. So, his attorney, Brent Blakely, says OK, we will put that into the record. He has to do that by Wednesday.

One more thing the judge said to Michael Avenatti saying, look, you are arguing this is hurting your client, you are arguing that she is being threatened with penalties of up to a million dollars so that she doesn't speak but it hasn't affected her. She spoke to "60 Minutes," she spoke to "The View" you've been speaking quite a bit. I asked Mr. Avenatti about that.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: We're very pleased with today's hearing. It's apparent to us that the court recognized to quote the court that there are gaping holes in the application by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump to delay this matter. It has always been our intention to make sure that this case proceeded expeditiously and that as much information as possible would be known and made known to the American people about what happened here.


SIDNER: So that was not his answer to my question about whether or not she has basically gone forward in this case anyway. It doesn't really matter if this case gets decided in the next 30 days or the next 90 days. He was talking about the fact that he believes this case should be heard in open court, not in some sort of private arbitration where the public can't understand what's going on. That has been his argument all along. Brooke.

BALDWIN: We're waiting to see however many days if that indictment is down the pike or not. Sara Sidner, thank you for all that reporting. In Los Angeles, Joe, I'm going to come to you on this story. Also breaking this hour, at this point there is no criminal case alleging the president's campaign conspired with the Russians but there is now a civil one, the Democratic National Committee, DNC has just filed a federal lawsuit accusing this long list of people, groups of racketeering, hacking and conspiracy that harmed the Democrats during the 2016 presidential election.

The DNC suit says, rather than report these repeated messages that Russia intended to interfere with U.S. election, the Trump campaign and its agents gleefully welcomed Russia's help. Indeed, the Trump campaign solicited Russia's legal assistance and maintained secret communications with individuals tied to the Russian government including one of the intelligence agencies responsible for attacking the DNC. That refers to the hacked e-mails that Wikileaks published that was back in the summer of 2016. Shimon Prokupecz is our justice correspondent who is on this, and Joe were always here with me in New York.

But Shimon on the DNC suing, be specific on what grounds?

[14:05:00] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: most people Brooke I think it is important to point out this is really no leg to stand on. Perhaps this could be a political stunt. The lawsuit here really takes everything that we know that the FBI has already said has occurred here, takes a look at some of the things that Robert Mueller and the special counsel are investigating, and they put it together in this 66-page filing alleging this conspiracy concerning the hacking, concerning some of the information that was shared with the Russians. All these assertions by the Democrats in these papers, they're basically essentially saying that this chilled donations, disrupted their political convention and subjected their staffers to harassment.

You know, the lawsuit really outlines nearly every known communication that has been reported on, that has been out there in the public domain between Trump advisers and the Russians and really it just names every person who may have been either involved in the lawsuit, including several top Trump campaign advisers. Also, the people who attended the now infamous June 2016 Trump tower meeting. They've sued the Russian government, Julian Assange, Roger Stone. They're asking for damages here, the Democrats, in the millions of dollars perhaps. As to whether or not this lawsuit will stand up in court, we'll see. This just sort of puts together everything that is already known and now the Democrats are saying we want some compensation for what happened here.

BALDWIN: Joe, Shimon laid it out perfectly. Is there anything more than a stunt?

JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I wouldn't call it a stunt, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Why not?

MORENO: Well, it's got hurdles, no doubt. It's extremely difficult to sue a foreign country. It's difficult to assert jurisdiction, it's difficult to serve them. Who is going to respond to this complaint on behalf of the Russians? It's difficult to calculate damages in a case like this because frankly how is the DNC going to argue they were financially affected by the release of these e-mails? It certainly may have hurt them in the voting tallies but economically that's difficult.

I think the case has some jurisdictional hurdles. However, as a media and political assault weapon, it could actually have a lot of effect. Rather than having to wait to see what Special Counsel Mueller finds or doesn't find as part of his probe, they can make the exactly same allegations that special counsel is investigating, that there was a connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence services in finding and releasing these e-mails. They can make this argument in the court of public opinion while it's still pending with the special counsel.

BALDWIN: The court of public opinion is precisely the point. While the special counsel is investigating, precisely. Hang with me. Shimon, I want to get to you on the Comey memos. This other huge piece of news that has come out. These extraordinarily detailed interactions that they fired FBI Director James Comey had with the president. That was sent over to Congress, which then got leaked. The one thing we hadn't heard about before was the president's serious reservations when it came to his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn doubting his judgment one weekend. Comey wrote, quote, the president pointed his fingers at his head and said the guy has serious judgment issues, yet Trump is later constantly pushing for leniency for Flynn. Shimon, what gives?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. And certainly, continues to do. I think it's quite clear based on all the reporting we have done here at CNN that the president is unhappy with how Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser someone he held a lot of admiration for has been treated by the FBI, by the department of justice. And much like a lot of the other people surrounding the campaign who worked on the campaign, Paul Manafort certainly, he has felt, the president, for quite some time as we know based on tweets that this has been a witch hunt and they have targeted anyone who worked on his campaign, his associates and he feels it's unfair. Especially in light that Hillary Clinton never got charged. And that comes up in his conversations with Comey certainly.

BALDWIN: The president has responded. Let me read his tweets. The first, James Comey memos just out and show clearly there was no collusion, no obstruction. He leaked classified information. Wow. Will the witch hunt continue? The other, so general Michael Flynn's life can be totally destroyed while shady James Comey can leak and lie, made lots of money from a third-rate book (that never should have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don't think so. So, Shimon, just back to you. Do you think the president's embarrassed? Is he putting that out there publicly so that Michael Flynn feels better? What's your read?

[14:10:00] PROKUPECZ: There's always been this concern that this is the way he has inadvertently or not directly let's say communicating with Michael Flynn because Michael Flynn has been cooperating with the investigation, with the special counsel. But we also know based on our reporting that the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn, the special counsel investigation, stretches beyond just what he pleaded guilty to. That's lying to the FBI. It had to do with some of his work outside of the campaign and some of his work for foreign countries, that there was part of what the FBI was looking at as well. That has not -- he has not been charged with anything in connection with that.

While the president may think that there may have been a witch hunt here on the part of the FBI or others on the special counsel, there are just a lot of things that we don't know concerning Michael Flynn that have not been out there. We know that Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general, the former acting attorney general went to the White House, raised concerns with the White House about Michael Flynn and these conversations that he was having with the former Russian ambassador. Still even though they had these concerns and the White House is aware of these concerns, they kept him on as the national security adviser.

BALDWIN: In that same time, Joe Moreno, you have the president's then chief of staff Reince Priebus, all according to Comey, asked Comey if the FBI had this secret court surveillance, this FISA surveillance on Flynn. What do you have make of how Priebus was inserting himself in this whole thing?

MORENO: It comes up to a line, really close. It sounds like James Comey did the right thing by punting on his answer. James Comey has been criticized in certain sides for certain things he did and the ways he conducted himself. In this case it sounded like he did the right thing, though, which is basically don't mix a law enforcement investigation and intelligence investigation with political questions from the White House. You really want to keep those separate.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. Joe Moreno, Shimon, thank you very much. president Trump adding Rudy Giuliani to his legal team. We will discuss the strategy. Plus, quote unquote, John Baron returns, a reporter revealing tapes of what he says is citizen Trump lying to him about his wealth in order to get on the Forbes list. We have the audio recordings for you.

First, I want to take a moment to point out a touching scene right now in Texas. You have former president George H.W. Bush on the right side of your screen. There he is seated. He is greeting folks who are paying respects to his wife and former first lady, Barbara Bush. Her public viewing, as you can see there, under way in Houston. Her funeral is set to take place tomorrow. We know that president Trump will not attend but that First Lady Melania Trump will be there along with the Clintons and the Obamas. Barbara Bush passing away this week at 92 years of age.


BALDWIN: We're back on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump has just added a new and intriguing name to his personal legal team, former New York Mayor and U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani says his role will, quote unquote, be limited but at the same time he says he'll be pushing to end the Mueller probe. Certainly, no small task. Giuliani isn't the only new addition to this team. The president is also bringing in a husband-and-wife duo. So, our

justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has new intel on all of the above. Jessica, what are you learning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: people might be more familiar with Rudy Giuliani. It's the husband and wife joining the president's team, they are the big names in legal circles. They are Marty and Jane Raskin pictured here. They run a law firm specializing in white-collar criminal defense based out of the Miami area. Both have a long resume with experience as federal prosecutors.

Marty Raskin worked out of the U.S. attorney's office in Miami for most of his career before he moved over to private practice. While in the U.S. attorney's office he was the chief of the criminal division and was a special attorney with organized crime and racketeering section for the Miami strike force. His wife, Jane Raskin, worked at the justice department as the counsel to the assistant attorney general of the criminal division and she worked with the D.O.J. up in Boston as part of their organized crime and racketeering section. I talked to several attorneys who know this couple quite well.

One of those attorneys said when it comes to Marty Raskin, Raskin is a skilled lawyer, he knows the system and the ins and outs, and he said he will represent the president well if the president listens to him.

[14:20:00] Of course, that is key. Will the president listen? The White House hasn't disclosed how Giuliani or the Raskins will be serving him. They say they might be best served if they focus on the investigation coming out of the southern district of New York. They have extensive experience defending against financial crimes. Interestingly, their law firm touts the fact that they litigated the case that resulted in the return of thousands of pages of documents protected by attorney/client privilege. That's something that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump's lawyers are fighting for in federal court. This couple, they have a wealth of experience now working for the president. Brooke?

BALDWIN: So, you have this couple, Jessica, thank you so much, then you have the former mayor of New York. Let's talk to Andrew Kirtzman, he is the author of "Rudy Giuliani, Emperor of the City."

So as his biographer you know a lot about the man so let me just get to it, first, it's interesting you know Giuliani points out he goes way back with Mueller when he was the mayor of New York, Mueller was the head of the FBI. He rolls in, takes this lawyer job. Why do you think he said yes? Because a lot of people have been saying no.

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR OF "RUDI GIULIANI, EMPEROR OF THE CITY": I think that Rudy Giuliani probably relishes this moment. He gets to swoop in in this operatic moment. It's a classic Rudy Giuliani moment. Spotlight flashes on him and he's the star of the show.

BALDWIN: If he's the white knight rolling along, how does it end? So, it's like he says because of his relationship he'll be able to negotiate, the phrase I had read negotiate the end of the Russia investigation, inferring he can help push it along, which he thinks should take just a couple of weeks, which is mighty quick.

KIRTZMAN: It's not going to take just a couple of weeks, right.

BALDWIN: Why is he saying he thinks it will?

KIRTZMAN: I think there was a lot of bravado there. I think perhaps what he might be able to do at best is negotiate Trump sitting down and testifying.

BALDWIN: With Mueller.

KIRTZMAN: And that is a negotiation, right? Just kind of walking in and saying we're old friends, let's get this done, it's unrealistic. I think the more interesting question is now that he's kind of in the picture, what role is he going to play with Donald Trump?

BALDWIN: He says a limited role, Andrew. Are you buying that?

KIRTZMAN: No. I think that he's going to kind of move himself into the White House and he's kind of like the flavor of the moment for Trump and Trump's going to listen to him. The question is, is Giuliani going to play this cool fixer or is he going to play to more of what his type is, which is as an attack dog. He was once called a human hand grenade by "The New York Times." that's his natural posture. Is he going to pour gas on the fire?

BALDWIN: What do you think he does with Trump? The former or the latter? KIRTZMAN: I don't think that Giuliani is going to play the mollifying

force. I think that Giuliani is going to talk about firing Rosenstein. I can't say he's going to recommend it, but it will come up and I'm not sure that Giuliani is kind of going to be, you know, just let the process play out. He's not that kind of personality.

BALDWIN: Andrew Kirtzman, thank you so much for coming by. The infamous john baron is back. What he says about then citizen Trump using his alter ego to get on a list of America's wealth people. Ted Cruz called the president utterly amoral, a liar and a petty man and a bully narcissist and yet he just wrote quite a gushing statement about the president and he is getting mocked for it. Why did he do it? That's coming up.


BALDWIN: A former "Forbes" magazine writer claims then private citizen Donald Trump fed him lies to get on the list of richest Americans. That reporter not only has the stories and reports, he actually has the tapes of those conversations. This reporter is Jonathan Greenberg. He is sharing audio of Trump apparently posing as his alter ego, a man by the name of John Baron. Listen.



JOHN BARON, ALLEGEDLY DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John. John Baron. Let me tell you what the deal is just so you understand. Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr. Trump. I'd like to talk to you off the record if I can just to make your thing easier. Is that all right?

[14:30:00] GREENBERG: That's fine.

BARON: I think you can really use Donald Trump now and I think last year somebody showed me the article and you had 200 and 200 and it's been pretty well consolidated now for the most part.


BALDWIN: So, here's the thing. This isn't the first time the Trump has been accused of speaking to the media while using an alias. During the campaign we heard 90s era tapes of a man calling himself John Miller speaking on behalf of Trump. Here is what the then candidate said to Jimmy Kimmel about it at the time.


TRUMP: To me that didn't sound like my voice.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TELEVISION HOST: Nobody sounds like themselves when they hear themselves. But to me it sounded just like you.

TRUMP: Is that right?

KIMMEL: And if it was you, I think it was a very funny thing to do to call a guy and take him through the ringer.

TRUMP: Over the years I used aliases. I used the name Baron, the name of my son. And I made a very good deal using that name.


BALDWIN: Let's talk to these two, CNN political commentator Jason Miller was a former communications director for the Trump transition team. Also, with a Republican strategist Rick Wilson. Gentlemen, good to have both of you on. Jason, you're up first. You've heard this audio. Let's all agree this is Trump, right?

JASON MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: Brooke, I don't know. The person on the audio said that they wanted to go off the record. I don't think I've ever heard the president say he wanted to go off the record with anything. I don't know. It's a 35-year-old tape. I think the whole thing is a little bit kind of funny to begin with. I'm not sure why this reporter didn't have this back during the election. It seems kind of low energy to not have the story back in 2016.