Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Repaid Cohen; Three Americans Could be Released; Giuliani's Behavior as Trump's Lawyer; Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 3, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:31:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, I've had conversations with the president about this. And as I outlined earlier that this case had already been won in arbitration and that there was no knowledge of any payments from the president and he's denied all of these allegations.

RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president strongly, clearly and has consistently denied these underlying claims. And the only person who's been inconsistent is the one making the claims.

QUESTION: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


QUESTION: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The problem is, according to Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, it looks like the president did know.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now to discuss, CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.

And we just heard again from Sarah Sanders, you know, a little bit of a different take than she had a month and a half ago. Listen, Nia.


SANDERS: Guys, Mayor Giuliani, as well as the president, have spoken at length about this this morning and last night. Because of ongoing litigation, I'm not going to comment any further. I don't have anything else to add.


BERMAN: She commented at the beginning of March, Nia, and she flat out said that the stories were false and that there were no payments and now she's saying she's not going to comment. I mean, again, either the president lied to her or Sarah Sanders lied at the podium. I think -- I think those are the only two options.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I think that's right. I mean it seems to be that they are kind of making this up as they go along with shifting stories. Even Rudy Giuliani seemed to be at odds with himself in terms of when this happened. At one point he seemed to suggest there were ongoing conversations in October 2016 about the threat this was to either the campaign or trump personally and him saying, oh, it wouldn't be a big deal to pay -- you know, have this money out of the -- out of -- to pay Stormy Daniels to make this thing go away. And many seemed to suggest that they didn't really know about it until recently. So, you know, I mean, I think there is something here that is not true and they seem to be making up the story and sort of retrofitting the story.

But a lot of it just seems to be based on flat out lies. I mean I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to get a ton of questions about when all of this happened, when was this payment made?


HENDERSON: Is it the retainer? And the retainer, of course -- if a lawyer is getting a retainer, that's sort of like a salary. So, I mean, is he get $130,000 in addition to the retainer? It's all confusing. It's mishigos (ph).

HARLOW: Well, to your important point about the timeline. What we heard from the president just there on Air Force One was March -- April, excuse me. What we heard from Sarah Sanders denying this at the podium was March. Rudy Giuliani, yesterday, late last night, when questioned by "The Washington Post" on this was asked when specifically were the payments made. He said the repayments, which would be to Cohen --


HARLOW: Took place over a period of time, probably in 2017, probably all paid back by the end of 2017. The president's lawyer is confirming that Michael Cohen was reimbursed by the president, Donald Trump, while he was the president, before the president said he knew nothing about the payments.

HENDERSON: And Cohen himself seemed to suggest that he wasn't reimbursed for this payment.

HARLOW: Right.

HENDERSON: And this came up in the Fox interview. I mean, oddly there, the Fox interviewers there seemed to be a little confused, seemed to want to press Giuliani on the specifics, asked specifically, well, why did Cohen not know about this reimbursement that he supposedly got. And Giuliani had no answer for that. He sort of went into some different direction.

BERMAN: Right.

HENDERSON: So, you know, you could tell there was sort of the interview last night, which was confusing and stunning, then the president's tweets that were dictated clearly by a lawyer to him, and then sort of a cleanup by Rudy Giuliani again this morning that only seemed to, in some ways, muddy the waters even more.


BERMAN: Nia, can I ask you about another part of the Rudy Giuliani interview, which some people are talking about, which you could construe as just plain odd. I think he was answering a question from Sean Hannity about what would happen if Ivanka Trump became a target of this investigation. Listen to what he says.

[09:35:08] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: If they do do Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on him (ph). They're going after his daughter.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Well, what about his son-in-law? They talked about him.

GIULIANI: I guess -- I -- Jared is a fine man. You know that. But men are, you know, disposable, but a fine woman like Ivanka, come on.


BERMAN: So men are disposable, but you can't go after a fine woman?


BERMAN: Quickly, Nia.

HENDERSON: Yes, I don't think the law really works that way and Rudy Giuliani should know that, right? I mean this idea that somehow Ivanka Trump is untouchable just because she's a fine woman, I don't even know what he necessarily means by that, is absurd. And this idea that somehow the whole country would turn on an investigation that is after truth and following the rule of law is just absurd.

BERMAN: I feel disposable is all I'm saying.

HARLOW: You're not. You are not disposable in anyone's eyes.

HENDERSON: You are not disposable.

HARLOW: It was a bizarre statement.

HENDERSON: So bizarre.

HARLOW: Nia, thank you. Appreciate the analysis.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: We are following more breaking news this morning. According also to Rudy Giuliani, three Americans detained in North Korea will be released today. That is hugely a significant development. But what's the White House actually saying about it?


[09:40:25] BERMAN: All right, this morning, breaking news out of North Korea, maybe. The three Americans detained there could be released imminently. About an hour ago, the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said it would happen today. Not clear how he would know that or what he knows exactly. The White House has not put out any kind of official statement. Sarah Sanders says moments ago she has no immediate news on it. The president did sort of hint that it might happen last night. This is what he wrote. He wrote, stay tuned. He also slammed the Obama administration for not freeing the three men while President Obama was in office.

HARLOW: I should note that two of those Americans were detained after President Trump took office.

Let's talk about this with Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Appreciate you being with us.


HARLOW: No doubt everyone would welcome the return of these three American citizens and let's hope that Rudy Giuliani is correct and that they're on their way home.

MEEKS: Right.

HARLOW: We just don't know. If it -- if it happens, does the president deserve credit?

MEEKS: President Moon does of South Korea.

HARLOW: Does president -- does President Trump deserve credit if these three Americans come home?

MEEKS: I think that -- I think that, number one, we want to make sure that they come home. And if anybody had anything to do with it, I'm happy. I want -- I want American citizens to come home.

But when I look at the whole deal with North Korea, it seems to me that all of what was started was started with President Moon. And President Moon has been doing a lot of the negotiations and been talking to the North Koreans and talking to the Chinese behind the scenes and trying to work to make this happen because he knew when he heard President Trump say that President Trump would not go back to South Korea if he decided to attack North Korea, that's when the negotiations started taking place with North Korea. He left, he went to North Korea and started talking --

HARLOW: President Moon said President Trump deserves a lot of credit.

MEEKS: Well, yes. So -- BERMAN: But, you know, even in your interpretation of it, President Trump didn't get in the way. I mean doesn't he deserve credit then for creating -- or being part of this atmosphere where these three Americans may come home and these talks might happen?

MEEKS: I am glad that we get our Americans -- if we get our American detainees home, it's a positive thing. And a number of individuals could take credit.

BERMAN: Is he one of them?

MEEKS: But I am saying that if you talk about the whole North Korea/South Korean peace, the reason why we are where we are is President Moon.

HARLOW: It seems like you're doing everything you can to not say that the president deserves credit. I'm wondering if you think he's not doing -- I mean is he doing a better job, for instance, than the Obama administration did, or the Bush administration, or the Clinton administration, handling North Korea right now?

MEEKS: No, and that's why I wanted to be clear in regards, as opposed to saying, just because of these three, that the whole scenario with North Korea and South Korea, you know, it started with the South. President Moon got elected based upon the fact that he wanted a better relationship with North Korea. And he went about doing it at the same time that President Trump was calling him rocket man, et cetera.

And the key in the change of direction of -- with South -- with North Korea was when, you know, President Moon said to his people, well, President Trump would not do anything against us. And he said, well, I don't have to go to South Korea to get approval to strike North Korea. And that seemed to be the point where things started to change. Moon went over and started having dialogue and then (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: But even then -- even then President Trump was a part of that equation. I will note that.

Rudy Giuliani, who's now the president's lawyer, in matters of the Russia investigation, apparently the Stormy Daniels' investigation, all investigations now --

HARLOW: And this.

BERMAN: Says that the president will not sit down for an interview with the special counsel while getting ready for this possible meeting with Kim Jong-un. Listen to this.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: You can't possibly not feel, as a citizen of the world, that his negotiations with North Korea are much more significant than this totally garbage investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So leave aside his characterization of it being a garbage investigation, given the weight of this possible meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, would you want him to spend any time before that meeting preparing for a sit-down with the special counsel?

MEEKS: I would -- yes, I would. I mean no president is above the law. But I would hope that he has and he will listen to his team that is preparing the negotiations and going and talking in regards to being prepared for North Korea so that -- and I hope that he listens to that team if and when he does meet with Mr. -- Kim Jong-un. But, yes, I mean, you cannot -- no one is above the law. And there's no reason why Mr. Mueller or anyone else should take a pause in their investigation and what they're doing moving forward while negotiations are continuing.

[09:45:02] HARLOW: We've learned in the last, you know, 18 hours that the hush money that was paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen was reimbursed to Michael Cohen by the president. And Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, says, OK, there you go, that proves nothing illegal was done. Is he right?

MEEKS: Of course not. Listen -- and the problem why you see me hesitating any time talking about or giving Trump credit, he's lied. And when you're a liar -- I mean and it's not just Greg Meeks saying that he's a liar and he's conned people. It's not Greg Meeks. Go back to the videotape. Mitt Romney said it. Ted Cruz said it. Marco Rubio said it. So you can't trust what he says. He's a proven liar.

And I get concerned when I see things like in today's paper that the Ukrainians now are stopping or they want to withholding from cooperating with Mueller and the Ukrainians are depending upon this administration for -- for some resources, et cetera. So when I start seeing things like that, it gives me question marks. When our allies can't trust what the president of the United States says, that gives me pause.

So you don't know when he's doing something or what he's saying or is it accurate or not. He has been known to be a con man. When you hear all of his career just about, when you see the telephone calls that he's made pretending not to be Donald Trump. How can you trust a con man?

BERMAN: Gregory Meeks, thanks for coming here and sharing this thought on the subject. Appreciate it. Thank you, congressman.

MEEKS: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Nice to have you.

BERMAN: All right, a big leak and a shake-up and a big interview. Rudy Giuliani joins the team and hasn't been quiet ever since.


[09:51:07] HARLOW: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani just joined the president's legal team a few weeks ago and a lot has happened. A lot has happened since then. To name a few key things, a list of 40 plus questions that the special counsel wants to ask the president was leaked. There was a major legal shake-up at the White House last night. Attorney Ty Cobb leaving, sources tell us, because he was unhappy with the approach to the Mueller probe. And, just last night, Giuliani claims that the president paid Michael Cohen back the $130,000 in hush payment used to pay off Stormy Daniels.

BERMAN: So joining us now to discuss someone who knows Rudy Giuliani well, is the author of "Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City," Andrew Kirtzman.

Andrew, always great to have you with us.

We're trying to get a sense of how Rudy Giuliani runs things and his behavior. And let's just play a little bit of the interview again. Actually, this is from this morning. He was on "Fox and Friends" this morning talking about how he's negotiating a possible interview that the president would do with the special counsel. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't like these limitations or putting out parameters. What's your reaction to that?

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Tough luck. These are the cards we've been dealt. And if you do it for Clinton, I'm sorry, maybe they like to give us all the things that Clinton got. But we're asking for only one thing --


GIULIANI: Quite reasonable. This is the president of the United States.


BERMAN: He's trying to play the role of bad cop here. Is this quintessential Rudy Giuliani?

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR, "RUDY GIULIANI: EMPEROR OF THE CITY": Yes. Well, Giuliani is kind of a proud bomb thrower, right? He's kind of prided himself on it. That's always been his kind of M.O. He has this kind of operatic kind of quality to him where he likes to draw attention to himself. But he didn't do the president any favors today. He basically painted Trump into a corner as a liar. He's -- I mean the interview was a disaster, in my opinion. I mean he's --

HARLOW: He says the president liked it.

KIRTZMAN: Objectively speaking, again, the president was painted as a liar. He referred to the money that went to Cohen as being funneled through a law firm, which conjured images of money laundering, whether, you know, true or not. I mean it was -- it was kind of in -- kind of in sequence with kind of Giuliani's behavior over the last few years, which is not really what made him think, right? Giuliani was a brilliant tactician, both as prosecutor, as mayor. You know, on 9/11, his bombast kind of almost helped, right, because he was courageous. He was fearless. Over the years he has turned far more extreme as questioning Obama's patriotism, you know, lashing out at Hillary Clinton, kind of personal ways and now talking about the FBI as storm troopers. He's kind of gotten more extreme as he moves on.

HARLOW: Well, to that -- I mean to that point, I mean, making a hugely offensive statement, saying that, saying they're like storm troopers --


HARLOW: Obviously referencing back to Nazi Germany. What does he want in the end here? Why -- I mean why unload like this, last night, this morning?

KIRTZMAN: Right. Well, I mean, I guess maybe they're trying to align their stories so, you know, clearly the prosecutors know what was really going on. So I guess they were trying to stay ahead of the curve on this. But, boy, what a sloppy way to do it.

BERMAN: Let me follow up on that question. Again, we've got about a minute left here, because you've followed him for a long time and you certainly know his history as a lawyer.


BERMAN: And he was somewhat famous as a prosecutor.

KIRTZMAN: Oh, very famous.

BERMAN: Did what you see have -- what you've seen over last 24 hours, does this seem to you like the careful, powerful prosecutor that Rudy Giuliani once was or is this different?

KIRTZMAN: No, not at all. I mean he was -- he was always, you know, bombastic, as I said, but he was always very careful to kind of achieve his goals. There was always a strategy to it. He was a -- as I said, a brilliant tactician. And now we're seeing Giuliani, in recent years, not just this morning, as somewhat behaving more unhinged. He doesn't have his aides anymore to kind of, you know, draw him back, you know, kind of cool it. There is just like he just kind of speaks his mind in ways that often do -- does himself a lot of damage. And in many ways, you know, the hero of 9/11 is almost being forgotten. He's severely damaged his legacy.

[09:55:31] BERMAN: Andrew Kirtzman, interesting to hear. We'll have to see. I mean we'll have to see if he succeeds in defending the president the way the president wants to be defended going forward.


BERMAN: Thanks, Andrew.

HARLOW: Thank you.

Did Rudy Giuliani just drop a world of legal hurt on the president? That's the question. He says the president's happy with his performance in the last 24 hours. We will see, though, because what he said about the payment to Stormy Daniels and the firing of James Comey could have huge legal implications.