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"New York Times:" President Trump Knew About Stormy Daniels Payout When He Denied It on AF1; "Wall Street Journal:" U.S. Probes Cohen Over Cash He Built Up During Campaign; Devin Nunes Demands Justice Department Records. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 4, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching 360. Have a great weekend. "CNN TONIGHT" starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And this is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Erin Burnett in for Don Lemon this evening.
And we have two big breaking new stories tonight. We're learning Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, took out line of credit giving him access up to $774,000, three-quarters of a million dollars, during the presidential campaign.
This is according to "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times" with this major development.
President Trump knew about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and he knew about it months before he told the American people in the blunt two letter word, no, he didn't know about it on Air Force One.
I want to bring in our Political Analysts, April Ryan and Ryan Lizza. Also with me, Political Commentator, Van Jones, host of "THE VAN JONES Show."
And April, let me start with you. Obviously this reporting both stories is significant. Let's start with the timing. We now know, according to "The New York Times" they're citing three sources. The president knew about the payment and he knew about it months before he denied on Air Force One knowing about it, which means we now know Donald Trump lied to the American people about this.
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Erin, you're absolutely right. We can absolutely now say if these stories are correct the president did lie, and lie is a strong word in Washington. That the president on board Air Force One talked to reporters. Reporters specifically asked him, and it's on tape, with his own words, him saying, you know, he knew nothing about it. And now, indeed he knew about it months ago.
This goes to the president's credibility, the trust factor and it also is a piece into this investigation by Robert Mueller that's following now the trail of money.
This is not good for this president at all. There's a lot on the line with this. And we just have to wait and see how this plays out. But the president, indeed, if these reports are true he indeed lied to the American public and to the reporters who were covering him that day.
BURNETT: All right. So let's -- let me just play it because as you say it is on tape, the president's denial, which was not even exactly one month ago on Air Force One. It was very explicit. Let me just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. What else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why Michael -- why did Michael Cohen make this if there was no truth to her allegation?
TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael. Michael was my attorney, and you'd have to ask Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It cannot, Van, be any clearer than that. Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? No. That was not even one month ago. We are now learning from three sources in "The New York Times" he knew months before he said that.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, listen, when he said it he was either lying or confessing to a kind of arrangement that would be so bizarre. He's like, I'm either lying to you or I'm telling you I'm such a sleazy person that I have a big bucket of cash and a lawyer that wonders around paying people off because I'm -- you know, my life is so terrible.
BURNETT: I know we did this but maybe or maybe not I knew it--
JONES: So, but -- exactly.
BURNETT: -- was too a Ms. Stormy Daniels.
JONES: Yes, exactly, right.
JONES: So when he said it, you have to say to yourself, this man is either lying or both that he's a liar or his life is so sleazy he can't keep track of all the people he's having to pay off for sleazy behavior. Either way it was bad. I don't know if I feel better knowing that he's a liar or before we were supposed to think that he was a sleazy guy.
BURNETT: Ryan Lizza, so now we heard him right? Did you know about the $130,000 payment? No. Period. No. Period, that's the president of the United States. That's not even a month ago on Air Force One.
And by the way, here he is today when asked again, are you -- do you have anything more to say on Stormy Daniels and whether you knew anything about the payment and whether you reimbursed Michael Cohen for it after the Rudy Giuliani show this week, and guess what the president said. He was given the chance to come up and confess and he answered this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do why did you change your story on Stormy Daniels?
TRUMP: We're not changing any stories. All I'm telling you is that this country right now is running so smooth and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing witch hunt all the time, that's all you want to talk about --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't--
TRUMP: -- you're going to see -- excuse me -- excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said on Air Force One that you did not know anything about the payments.
TRUMP: No. But you have to -- excuse me. You take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look you'll see what I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. We did, Ryan. We just went back and we looked at what he said, and then he said anybody asking these questions is a load of crap and we're not changing any stories.
[22:05:00] Again, this would seem to indicate that was a lie, I don't know what other word you use for it. Tonight it seems to be pretty clear.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a lie. He -- you know, someone had made the point previously that Trump is not so much a liar but a BSer. And although it doesn't seem like there's a difference between being a BSer and a liar. The difference is a liar knows when they're lying. A BSer doesn't know when they're lying. They're just constantly saying what they think to get them out of that circumstance in that moment.
So it is just a constant stream of in the moment thinking with no regard to facts and reality. I think that's actually not a bad way to think about Trump in the way he reacts to these kinds of questions.
BURNETT: All right.
LIZZA: He's a BSer.
BURNETT: All right. I know -- I know, look, some might -- some might say that you're dancing around using another word. But let me just bring in Michael Shear right now into our conversation because he's one of the reporters for "The New York Times" breaking this story, he joins us all on the phone.
So, Michael, look, this is pretty stunning. I just want to get the bottom line here. You're reporting that less than a month ago that the president on Air Force One asked directly about if he knew about the Stormy Daniels payment? He said no. He said it explicitly. He said so twice. You're saying that in fact that was false. He did know about it and he knew about it months before?
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. That's exactly right. Hi, Erin. The sources that we have talked to today tell us that, in fact, the president knew about the payment, specifically about the payment from his lawyer, Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels, Stephanie Clifford, the actress who performed as Stormy Daniels, that he knew that Michael Cohen had made the $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford months before that -- that scene that you played now repeatedly on Air Force One in which he was asked in pretty unequivocal way.
You know, sometimes we as reporters ask questions in ways that we go back and think, gee we could have asked that more directly or gotten an answer.
SHEAR: You know, I mean, I think we've all seen now that was pretty clear. And what our sources tell us that at the time that he made that statement -- long before he made that statement that he knew full well the existence of that payment.
BURNETT: OK. And so, now let me ask another question to this point. When you say months before the Air Force One statement, that Air Force One statement was -- I'm going off the top of my mind, I believe somewhere around April 5th.
BURNETT: So now you're saying months before, which means -- but you're not specifically saying when, but you are saying post-election or are you not 100 percent sure?
SHEAR: Well, so, look, I mean, I think as with much of the reporting that we've all been doing over the last 15 months, this is kind of iterative process, right, and we -- I think I want to be clear on not going further that--
SHEAR: -- you know, there's a lot of things we don't know. BURNETT: OK.
SHEAR: It is not clear. I mean, you know, we are not clear in terms of the sourcing that we have, exactly when he learned of the payment but we know it was well before the Air Force One incident, you know. My sense is that it may have been, you know, well long before that but I don't want to go beyond what we know. We just know that it could have--
SHEAR: -- the times that he denied it that he knew go well.
BURNETT: I'm just trying to make sure, when you say months so we understand the reporting fully. What you're saying is he knew a long time before. And it could have been before the election and it may have been after the election. You're not -- you're not actually trying to weigh in on before post election. Just that he knew a long time before he said he didn't, right?
SHEAR: That's right.
SHEAR: There was some of the -- Rudy Giuliani sort of addressed some of this question about, you know, when the -- for example, when the reimbursement started.
SHEAR: We believe reimbursement started after the election. So it's entirely probably that, you know, that that's when the president found out but I don't want to exclude the possibility that he may have known before that too.
BURNETT: And Michael, you're reporting this. I mean, you've got deep reporting, you've got your excellent reporting team on it, including Maggie and Jim Rutenberg and Matt Apuzzo, but you're also -- this is no single source thing, you've got three people close to this who are telling you this and aware of the facts, right?
SHEAR: Right. And look, I'm fully aware that, you know, when you write a story that this definitive, you know, even if we have five sources, or 10 sources or 30 sources, you know, I fully am aware of what the president and his team are likely to say or could say, you know, because we've seen the history of it. They, you know, they push back, they attack. All I can say is that we stand by our sourcing and we believe that to be the case.
BURNETT: And from here, Michael, then what is next in terms of where you all are? Right, just a matter of coming up with the exact date.
SHEAR: Right, I mean, look, I think there's a lot more to learn. I think, you know, what was the exact date that he found out, how did he find out, who told him, what was the level of detail that he knew. [22:10:01] You can imagine a kind of range of information, either he
knew the kind of big outlines of what had happened or was he intimately aware.
SHEAR: And, you know, sort of all the gory details of how the payment was made, et cetera. I think that's all of the kind of reporting target, not only a target--
SHEAR: -- but my guess is in newsroom across the city.
BURNETT: So, Michael, let me just make sure, because I want to get to Van's point. You know, Van had said from your reporting, is it possible that he knew the general outlines, right, or he knew that the people similar to Stormy Daniels are being paid off all the time, or does it mean that he specifically knew it was Stormy Daniels, you know, her name and the specifics of the case?
And obviously when we get into, you know, what word we're going to use the describe him, that matters a lot. Are you reporting specifically he knew it was Stormy Daniels, he knew those specifics about the name and the situation or are you not sure?
SHEAR: We are reporting that he learned of this specific payment and that he learned that Mr. Cohen have made the payment and was successful in doing so in keeping both specific allegations from Ms. Daniels from becoming public at the time.
BURNETT: All right, so it did involve the name and the specifics. OK.
SHEAR: How much detail of that he knew beyond what I just said I think is still unclear.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Michael, thank you very much for laying this out and for being so clear and transparent with us. We appreciate it. Van, let me give you a chance to respond.
BURNETT: Obviously saying there are some questions about what he knew but he knew it was $130,000 and he knew it was to Stormy Daniels. That's pretty specific.
BURNETT: Again, he was asked specifically did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels and he said no.
JONES: Yes. BURNETT: They are reporting he specifically knew those things.
JONES: You know, here's the things I just am baffled by. Donald Trump had an affair with this porn star and he tried to pay her off, that's what happened. Now, the reality is that he could probably just come out and say that and we'd be done with this thing.
His base is not going anywhere. It's like his base doesn't care that he doesn't have ethics, they all know, there's not a single Trump person that you can find that would say they don't believe that there's something to this whole affair situation.
So we're in that weird world where in the one hand Donald Trump is a BSer and he know he can a BSer through when he think because he's proven it over and over again his entire career. And yet, and he also said that he can shoot somebody and not losing his supporter but he still put us through with this torture of all this nonsense. Just come out and say you did it and say you try to have an affair off and then we'll watch you tweet -- why do we have to go through this?
BURNETT: So, April why? Because Van is right.
BURNETT: You know, we talk to evangelical leaders they said if it happened before the election we're done with it. This happened before the election, the affair and the payoff, the alleged affair and the pay off, why is he lying about it?
RYAN: You know why he's lying about it, because he is the president of the United States and he wants to assume this presidential stance, even if it's this new modern presidential stance.
Donald Trump has never -- President Donald Trump or Donald Trump candidate or civilian never denied, that I know of that he had a relationship with Stormy Daniels. You know, even Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that it was an arbitration.
The issue is, was she paid off before the election. Many people, many of these Evangelicals, these people who support Donald Trump, who believe in the bible and talk about thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not bear false witness, thou shall not lie, thou shall not kill, it's just is amazing how they stand there and turn a blind eye towards this president.
And one of the main reasons, a couple of main reasons, is because he stands for he is supposedly pro-gun. He is -- he is against abortion. He is also anti-tax. I mean, the pillars of this Republican Party they're turning a blind eye towards all of his other stuff but he's standing up stalwartly for these issues. And that's wrong.
That's the president of the United States is -- no matter what you want to say is a moral leader of not just this nation but the world. And it seems like he's fallen down a bit on some of that morality.
BURNETT: And Ryan, you know, here's the thing, you can, to oversimplify this but I think to put it in some very stark questions, right. There were question of did President Trump lie to the American people when he said he didn't know anything about this and is there an FEC violation, right? Is there an election violation?
We now know tonight he lied to the American people, you can use the word BS, whatever you want to use. He was asked directly and he told -- he told -- did not tell the truth.
[22:15:03] The FEC violation you heard from Michael Shear still very much an open question. Because he is saying it months could refer to not just two or three it could refer to significantly before. They do not know if he positively knew about this before the election.
LIZZA: Yes. I mean, I agree with Van about how baffling it is that they don't understand that the easiest way to sort of move past this is just to put out a few sentences in clear English of what happened. I mean, does anyone think it's off brand for Donald Trump to have had a one-night stand with someone?
LIZZA: I mean, I hate to say but its--
RYAN: No, no, no.
LIZZA: -- you know, his staunchest supporters knew who he was.
BURNETT: That is the brand, that was actually part of the brand.
BURNETT: I mean, you know.
LIZZA: Absolutely. Now, he may have -- he may have personal reasons, he was married at the time, he had, I think his son was just born, so that's not -- you know, probably not a fun conversation he wants to have with Melania, but to go through this -- you know, we had the Cohen statement and what he said and he tried to separate Trump from all this, and then to go to the ridiculousness with Giuliani who was just sort of speaking off the cuff.
And now with Trump trying sort of to clean it up today but not really, and now anonymous sources in the Times, I mean, just give a few sentences about what happened. I mean, I suppose -- I don't think anyone believes it -- but I suppose he can stick to his denial that the affair itself is made up and he could say, but, you know, he thought the allegation was so damaging that he had to enter into this agreement.
LIZZA: But, it's just so strange that they just don't stick with a single story. BURNETT: All right. Well, all of you stay with me. Because obviously,
as you've raised that question, you know, there is that, if you admit Stormy, do you need to admit anything else, right?
We've got more breaking news tonight about Cohen, the president's personal lawyer, the one who paid off Stormy Daniels. We're now finding out from "The Wall Street Journal" he took out about three quarters of a million dollars in loans during the 2016 campaign. For what? We'll be back.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: And more breaking news tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting this hour that Michael Cohen, president's personal attorney who is under criminal investigation in the southern District of New York took outlines of credit giving him access to about three quarters of a million dollars in cash. And he did during the presidential campaign.
Joining me on the phone is Rebecca Davis O'Brien who is one of the reporters breaking that story for "The Journal." Ok, so, your headline here, Rebecca, is this all happened during the election, during the campaign when Donald Trump announced candidate for president, Michael Cohen suddenly gets access to how much cash?
REBECCA DAVIS O'BRIEN, REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, he -- thank you for having me on, first of all. And it's about three quarters of a million dollars through two financial transactions just as the Donald Trump campaign was gaining momentum.
And our story, in addition to reporting new facts about Mr. Cohen's personal financial dealings it raises questions which we know are often being considered by federal law enforcement about how Michael Cohen is raising cash at that in 2015 and 2016 and what he did with that money, and whether it violates any laws.
BURNETT: So, you got three quarters of a million dollars, he has the ability to use this money now, right, you're talking about from mortgages, increasing lines of credit, et cetera. Tell me what you understand about how much -- how this money was used? Because I believe you are saying the Stormy Daniels payment was part of this $774,000. And then what do you know about the rest?
O'BRIEN: Well, we know that, yes, he has said he used a home equity line of credit to make a payment to Stormy Daniels in the fall of 2016 right before the election, but the question is what happened with the rest of the money?
And you know, I noticed that the line from the White House and from Giuliani has changed over the past 72 hours, but you know, what did he do with that money. And those are questions that you know that media are looking at certainly but prosecutors are also looking at.
BURNETT: Right, right, I mean, and this is part of the trail, right. To your knowledge, I just want to make sure your bottom line is, you don't know for sure if this go to other women or other nondisclosure agreements but that is not clear at this point if in fact the money was spent or where it was spent, but part of it, you do know was spent on the porn star, Stormy Daniels?
O'BRIEN: That's correct. I mean, we know that brought Mr. Cohen had broad -- or had broad leeway to resolve problems for President Trump. We don't know where the rest of that money went to, basically.
BURNETT: All right, well, that's the big question. But I mean, the fact that you've broken that he has this amount money is obviously is very relevant tonight and we appreciate you taking the time to come on and explain your reporting from us, Rebecca, thank you, from "The Wall Street Journal".
And back with now, April Ryan, Ryan Lizza, and Van Jones. Van, you're next to me, your reaction?
JONES: This is just crazy, it's just crazy. Who--
BURNETT: That's a clear reaction. I think that's how a lot of people are--
JONES: Who in the world goes and just hands their lawyer almost a million bucks and just says, just in case some people accuse of me, I don't know, sleeping with them. I mean, just hand them out the money. I mean, I just don't think the American people are letting it register.
If you had a relative in your life that conducted themselves in this way, I just kind of have a friend that passes out money to solve problems for me because I have that many problems, you would call someone, you would want help for this person, you would not want this person to be the commander and chief. This is insane. None of this makes sense.
I know lots of business people, I know lots of famous people, I know lots of celebrities, I don't know a single person that just has a random lawyer walking around with access to cash to solve problems with them. Maybe a mob figure, but I don't know any. And so this is absurd, it's insane. I mean, -- this, how -- how is this happening? I'm sorry, this is--
BURNETT: I mean, and yet -- and yet--
JONES: This is ridiculous on Friday night, but this is ridiculous.
[22:24:56] BURNETT: And yet it is happening. And April, it kind of makes Rudy Giuliani makes complete sense to me. You know, everyone said, what was that crazy interview, well, that interview was Rudy Giuliani maybe trying to--
LIZZA: You're the only one, Erin.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, he came out there and offered it out there that he, you know, repaid Stephanie Clifford, Stormy Daniels maybe because he knew all this stuff was going to break and he poorly, but tried to get to be the guy to break it.
RYAN: Yes. Right. Let's say this, I don't -- I'm not going to give Rudy Giuliani all of the sanity umbrella for that, I'm just going to say it is some -- some of what has transpired is starting to make sense.
The question is, and Van is succinct with this. I'm just going to say this is not normal. It's not normal. And Van is right, who has an attorney that does that kind of thing? Who has an attorney that does it? And if they do have an attorney, that attorney is not ethical and there is a chance for that attorney to be disbarred.
And it looks like Cohen can wind up being disbarred. There are -- there are some issues here on the table. And the bottom line is you got to follow the trail of money, and that's the big question, where did all this money go? You know, we've heard about people being paid off for various things. But why pay these people off during this campaign time?
This is be a major FEC violation. And it's not just a slap on the wrist, this was something to change the course if this money was indeed used to pay people off to shut them off so the information would not go out so the American public would can understand who they were voting for president.
This is a huge deal. This could have helped to change the course of the 2016 presidential election. Which paying people off. Making it rain, making it rain--
RYAN: Making it rain, you know, financially.
BURNETT: -- the actors of Hollywood (Inaudible) didn't so. I mean, in a sense what does this tell us to the point you all been making, there's a difference than that although this is obviously explicit payment and explicit action--
RYAN: It's not normal.
BURNETT: You can call it locker room talk. Ryan, let me ask you a question though, because the reporting here and Rebecca's story in "The Wall Street Journal"--
BURNETT: -- Cohen nearly doubling the amount he could use on a bank credit line to tie to his apartment, that was right when Trump won the New Hampshire primary, February of 2016. So you've got a timing issue there.
By the way, I'm just doing the math which is completely right back in the envelop here in my head. You take $774,000, you divide it by $130,000, which is the amount to Stormy Daniels and I get, 5.59 women. I mean, I don't what the amounts were, I don't know if it was all the women.
LIZZA: You can round up to six.
BURNETT: I'm simply making the point that if it was used for that, would have been made to multiple people?
LIZZA: Yes. Well, first thing I'd day is, it's not illegal to take out a home equity line of credit or a mortgage. But if you are someone who has said that one of your home equity lines of credit was taken out to make a payment like this, then of course these loans become really, really interesting. So kudos to "The Wall Street Journal" for breaking this, they've been ahead on this story from the beginning.
So, one question I think--
RYAN: Violation not just interesting.
LIZZA: One question I think it raises though, is we have two stories here. We have one story of Michael Cohen saying I did this stuff sort of because, you know, I knew the kind of work that had to be done, I didn't always have to tell the boss about it, right.
And the suggestion now by "The Wall Street Journal", we don't know this for sure so I think we have to be careful. But the suggestion is he was trying to become really liquid to make sure he had a stash of funds--
BURNETT: That's just the question for the implication.
LIZZA: -- yes, available.
LIZZA: That's just one theory here to, you know, to take care of these kinds of situations. And on the other hand, we have the Giuliani Trump line that, we were paying him these huge retainers to do this kind of work.
Maybe they fit together if they were -- the retainers were after the fact to pay him back. But that's the -- that's the -- one of the mysteries. The other thing in "The New York Times" article just to go back to the
cash, they raise the interesting idea that the money to pay back Cohen was coming from -- may have been connected to the Trump organization itself.
And if that's true, then you got the southern district of New York with sort of its nose into the Trump organization, not just Michael -- not just Michael Cohen and that opens up a whole new world. Remember, previously Trump had said if Mueller was looking into the Trump organization he would consider that a violation.
BURNETT: Yes. It is interesting though, Van, when you take a step back here, the president's best defense at this point to say, for example, that he didn't lie about Stormy Daniels, would be actually to seize on this Wall Street Journal to say, well, gosh, because it happened with so many women, I don't remember all of them. And I don't remember all of their payment so therefore I didn't lie to you on the specifics because how would I remember one from another.
[22:29:56] I'm simply making the point that, to get out of one situation you have a much bigger situation somewhere else.
JONES: And that's where the president is overall right now. The legal peril here when he tried to pivot from that he creates a legal peril over here. And ethical dilemma here to get -- that's what happens when you lead a sleazy life. The problem -- I mean, the honest question a normal person would ask, how much dirt are you doing, how much dirt are you doing that you need almost a million dollars to get yourself out of it
And listen, Stormy Daniels got a little bit of money and then opened her mouth. Who didn't open their mouth? What else is there out there? Once you've traced down all this money, assuming it all went out the door, I'm afraid. What has this president been doing?
BURNETT: Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Let it come. I want everyone to know here as apart from all these (ph) breaking news, Van has amazing show tonight, your next installment, talking to actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross.
BURNETT: What are you going to talk about?
JONES: We are going to take about not just her show but also her mom. This is Diana Ross's daughter, who is now a star in her own right. She tells stories about growing up with Diana Ross that are extraordinary to hear. It was going an amazing tweet zest. This is going to happen.
But, you know, we have so much crazy news that -- and we can't squeeze it all in. So, you know, we got a show again tomorrow night, but we talked about integrity, but my goodness, where are we? I mean, how much dirt has this guy been doing?
BURNETT: That is true. I got to say, when you talk about your show, I think there's a lot of room and appetite for people to hear things that are uplifting about other things and that is exactly what you're going to do. So, thank you. That's tonight at 11:00 with Van.
When we come back, with this breaking new we are covering now, much more on those headlines. Michael Cohen taking out lines of credit during the campaign, getting access to about three quarters of a million dollars, and President Trump knew about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels when he denied it on Air Force One, according to The New York Times.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Our breaking news this hour, the report that President Trump knew about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels months before he said he didn't on Air Force One. That report is from The New York Times."
I want to bring in former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, Renato Mariotti, a former Federal Prosecutor, and CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju.
Guy, let me start with you. From a legal perspective, we were talking about how there were a couple of crucial things here. One, did the president lie to the American people? The answer to that is yes. He -- if The New York Times report is accurate -- he knew about the payment. He was asked on Air Force One about it, and he said that he did not know about it. What are the legal implications of this to you?
GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: And I think what's interesting is the information coming that is out about a money trail. Look, as a prosecutor, we would be subpoenaing all kinds of documents, the loan documents, the papers, anything that would have been filled out as Cohen went to the bank or went through the process of trying to obtain the loan.
And so we will be looking at that, study it, and see if there is any misstatements, any kind of bank fraud. The other thing that's kind of interesting here, Erin, is we know that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, whose kind of overseeing both of these prosecutions --
LEWIS: -- although one's been run obviously out of New York, he's told the president that at least as of now he's not a target of an investigation, certainly the Mueller investigation, but he would know about the New York investigation as well. So, I'm just not really sure as a prosecutor how that sort of plays into that.
BURNETT: All right. So let me just again for everyone so that we all understand here, the Air Force One, this is on April 5th, not even one month ago. This is the president when he was asked specifically if he knew about the payment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Then why -- why did Michael Cohen made this, if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: You have to ask Michael. Michael is my attorney and you have to ask Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, so, Renato, what are the implications here? Obviously that was a false statement. What legally is the issue here? I mean, you got possible election issues, you have possible bank fraud, but what else? What are the legal implications that could truly threaten this president? Putting aside whether the American voters care or not.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. Well, first of all, lying to the public or to the press is usually not a crime. So, what we just saw the president do, obviously, you know, it's sad that it no longer surprises us, that the president is lying but unfortunately, you know, unfortunately, however, your perspective is that's not a crime.
So the issues here legally are first of all, this obviously is going to hurt his credibility in the Stormy Daniels litigation and it's going to really draw him back into that litigation. You know, originally, the president's position was, I didn't know anything about anything. I don't know anything about these payments, so I don't need to come in, I don't need to be deposed, you don't need any discovery from me because I don't know anything.
Well, now, it's going to be much harder for him to get away from a deposition in that case, so that's one obvious thing. And then another thing is, you know, obviously Michael Cohen is under investigation relating to these payments. You just had a segment a moment ago about "The Wall Street Journal" story. There's a lot of investigation there.
The president may end up being a witness there at the very least and potentially could have his own exposure there. And as you can tell, there's a good reason why the president's lawyers don't want him being questioned because he is somebody who doesn't always tell the truth and can be easily caught in a false statement.
BURNETT: And I think there's also, Juliette, the reality which is he has not told the truth to at least some, if not all, of his lawyers. Maybe he did to Rudy Giuliani, I don't know, but certainly not everybody and not all the time.
[22:40:01] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. So, Rudy Giuliani issues maybe a correction or clarification today with somewhat incomprehensible. I was sort of wanting that sort of clarification to the clarification. But now that we know that the president actually lied, we don't need the clarification of the clarification. We need to just, you know, now know that the truth was that he did know about the Stormy Daniels' case. You know, we were told at the beginning of the week that Donald
Trump's new team, new legal team was going to take the gloves off and, you know, go after Mueller and go after these investigations and by the end of the week it's like the wheels are off, not the gloves. I mean, it's just you have no idea of what the theory of what they're trying to do is except for make us all so tired and so confused and that eventually they're hoping that maybe everyone just runs out of steam.
The problem for them though is of course, these cases are already in court. There's already indictment. There are already plea deals. This thing isn't stopping at this stage no matter how much drama they can create on the outside.
BURNETT: Manu, what is the reaction to this, I mean, you know, you got Capitol Hill where you've had, you know, republicans often very hesitant to say the least to go against this president. Now on this issue, he has proven to have not told the truth, very clearly, OK. It is a political question to the American people. Does this change any of the calculus or rank and file Republicans on Capitol Hill?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we were talking about the legal fall but there is a political fallout. I mean, yes, a number of Trump supporters won't care about this or a significant portion of Trump supporters. We saw at the NRA conventions that he can excite his base like nobody else despite all these problems, but in talking to Republicans in Washington particularly ones who are in tough races.
The one thing they don't want to be talking about are these constant controversies that coming out of the White House heading into a very difficult election year where they have to keep the house, very difficult chances of keeping the house. The senate could be at risk. They want to focus on a message about the economy, about tax cuts and have something that they can all say in unison.
But when there are constant controversies coming out of the White House, when the president has significant credibility issues that makes obviously their job a lot harder. So, undoubtedly, the cumulative effect of everything that's happening has an impact on their party particularly if this race for Congress in November turns out to be a rough one than on the president. If his credibility diminishes, all numbers go down, the Republicans at large are in trouble and they know that here in Washington.
BURNETT: All right, all of you stay with me. We're going to take a brief break as we continue to cover these two major breaking news stories this hour. We'll be right back in "CNN Tonight."
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: More breaking news on a very busy Friday evening. Rudy Giuliani now says he doesn't know when President Trump learned about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. He also says he doesn't know whether there were other deals like that or whether Trump is still paying Michael Cohen. I want to bring in our political analyst Josh Dawsey who helped break
the story for "The Washington Post" and joins us on the phone. So, you know, it's amazing Josh, he comes out and does his interview, gets all criticized and now you've got Rudy Giuliani changing the story again.
JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, what Rudy is saying is (inaudible), you know, additional conversations with the president. We have some clarifying statements and what we don't know according to Rudy Giuliani now is exactly when the president became aware of his payments, when he became aware that the $35,000 check that he was sending to Michael Cohen every month was actually being partially routed to Stormy Daniels or you know, was partially paying Michael Cohen for wht he had already paid to Stormy Daniels.
And what exactly Michael Cohen was doing to him. So Rudy Giuliani told us tonight essentially was that the president and Michael Cohen had an arrangement. The president was writing him a $35,000 every month and he was handling issues that largely happened in 2016 and before after the president joined the White House.
And the arrangement was one, built on trust, according to Rudy Giuliani. The arrangement was one when Michael Cohen handled maybe in the unseemly or difficult parts of his life back in New York. And once he became president, he was continuing to kind of pay off the debt of what Michael Cohen had done in the past.
BURNETT: So, josh, what do you know about why Giuliani has shifted his story, you know, so much about what President Trump knew and when he knew it? I mean, just in the past three days, right, he had and interview and then he had other interviews, then you had your timeline, then you have the statement today. I'm doing it now. He's telling you something even different.
DAWSEY (via telephone): Well, his Fox News interview on Wednesday night was startling to many in the White House. It seems the only person who knew what he was going to say on air was President Trump. And in that conversation, he delineated a lot of the private conversations he had with the president, which could possibly jeopardize attorney/client privilege.
He also gave an entirely new reason on why if we're going to (inaudible) fire James Comey, the FBI director. He essentially said it was because he would not tell him, hey, you're not under investigation. That's obviously in contrast to the reason that the White House has given publicly. And Rudy Giuliani said a number of things actually on Wednesday night. They were probably closer to the truth than we had heard before.
DAWSEY (via telephone): Plus, they were pretty, you know, outside the box of what we had known. But what Rudy told us tonight, Rudy Giuliani, was that, you know, the campaign finance lawyer looked at this (inaudible), that the president doesn't have any legal liability and that he basically wants to get the facts out. He wanted to say, $35,000 payment, here's what they were for and here's what's happening.
But, we don't know all the facts of this yet. All we know is what he's telling us and you have to imagine that the southern district of New York and Bob Mueller's being the special counsel are going to further delve into this to have them figure out.
DAWSEY (via telephone): OK, what's true or what's not.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Josh Dawsey. And I want to bring in now Manu Raju. You have some more breaking news as well here.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. We were covering Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman. We reported today about how we learned that his demands from the Justice Department to get some key documents particularly a short memo that describes why the Russia investigation started at the FBI after he was given access by the Justice Department to that document.
[22:50:06] He went to the Justice Department headquarters and he refused to actually read the document. In fact, Trey Gowdy, the Republican from South Carolina, who came with him to the facility to read the documents, read the documents instead and staff members did instead. A lot of criticism from people who say that perhaps Nunes is not actually searching for the -- to learn about all the nuances of this very complex investigation and he tries to sew doubt into why the investigation is going on in the first place.
Now, Erin, just moments ago Nunes, was on Fox News, he was asked specifically about our story, but he did not refute the story. In fact, he dodged questions about it. He said, he did not want to talk about the process and he acknowledge that these are just quote, process games, but did not say, whether or not read those documents, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu, with that, pretty significant you think you are to read it, but anyway, when we come back a Federal Judge today, saying he believes Bob Mueller, Special Counsel is using Paul Manafort's bank fraud case to just get President Trump. It is a pretty incredible thing for a Federal Judge to say. The President's reaction next.
BURNETT: Federal Judge overseeing Bob Mueller's case against Paul Manafort doing something incredible today. Publicly questioning, if Bob Mueller, Special Counsel, is just out to get President Trump.
Back with me now, Guy Lewis, Juliette Kayyem, Renato Mariotti, I mean pretty stunning. Let e start with you, Guy. How problematic is this for the Bob Mueller investigation. This Judge went on and on saying you're just trying to bring down the President. That is what this is about. You know, this is a Reagan appointed Judge. This is not some flaming Democrat, OK? This is Federal Judge saying this. How significant is it? GUY LEWIS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Right. Anytime you're a federal
prosecutor in court and the Judge in his black robe sitting six feet above you, looks down and balls from Monday night football and says come on, man, that is not a good day for the prosecutors.
[22:55:07] BURNETT: I mean, Renato, how unusual was this for a judge to do this and to go on at such length accusing the prosecutors of basically doing all this to try to get at the President?
LEWIS: This is very, very unusual. I wouldn't be surprised if they're in the back sort of thinking maybe a motion to recuse. I guarantee you they're talking about that right now.
MARIOTTI: Yes. What I would just say it's unusual, but apparently not for this judge from what I hear. But I will tell you, it is very problematic. He really has created an appearance that he is unfair and politically biased and it is really a problem in a high profile case like this, Erin.
BURNETT: Juliette, what does it mean?
KAYYEM: I don't think we know yet. I mean there's been no ruling and it maybe that he wants to challenge Mueller's prosecution team, because he know that there might be criticism of the case goes forward. So, I think it was unique. You don't hear judges do that, but I think we have to reserve judgment until there is an actual ruling. Mueller's team has to come back with some information so there was no definitive sort of a-ha moment today.
BURNETT: Right. They have to come out with un-redacted full remit that Bob Mueller has, so the judge could see is he really going outside of turn or is he actually staying at his lane and doing what he should do. Thanks so much to all of you. Thanks to all of you for watching us. As we cover this breaking news, Don Lemon will be back on the chair on Monday. And coming up next, the excellent "VAN JONES SHOW."