Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Anthony Scaramucci On Payoff: Trump Didn't Break The Law; White House Faces Major Credibility Issues; Sen. Richard Blumenthal On The President's Credibility And Uber Sexual Assault Allegations. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 4, 2018 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00] ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This is the force of his personality. He likes to wear things --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: To obstruct justice?

SCARAMUCCI: No, you're not listening.

He likes to wear things on his sleeve. He knows he didn't do anything wrong, OK? And he sometimes can be a little bit of a bull in a china shop where he's running through the china shop saying he, I didn't do anything wrong. Why don't you back off, OK?

And so you don't respect that in him but there are 63 --

CUOMO: No, no, no. It's not about his persuasion. It's not about his manner.

SCARAMUCCI: But there are 63 million people -- there are 63 million people that did.

CUOMO: I know, but there are more who didn't, right?

SCARAMUCCI: No.

CUOMO: He lost the popular vote.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, now we're going to that? I mean, he just --

CUOMO: Well, it's just a fact.

SCARAMUCCI: No. He lost the popular vote because he had a campaign strategy to win the presidency.

CUOMO: What? You want to win the popular -- oh, come on. You're saying that he crafted his campaign to lose the popular vote?

SCARAMUCCI: No. He crafted his campaign to win the presidency.

CUOMO: Look, if you want to say 63 million people were for him then you have to --

SCARAMUCCI: He went through those states in a way to win the Electoral College votes.

CUOMO: -- say how many are against.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, so --

CUOMO: If you want to say he's popular then you've got to look at his unpopularity is bigger.

SCARAMUCCI: I love this conversation because I've actually finally got you, Chris.

CUOMO: How do you have me?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I've finally got --

CUOMO: Math?

SCARAMUCCI: No, no. I've got you in the corner because --

CUOMO: What's the corner?

SCARAMUCCI: -- here are the facts.

Number one, didn't do anything wrong. There's no collusion.

CUOMO: You don't know --

SCARAMUCCI: Two, he's got a force of --

CUOMO: -- that. This is an ongoing investigation.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, but I'm giving you my opinion. How's that?

OK, so number two --

CUOMO: No, but it's not a fact.

SCARAMUCCI: Number two, he's got a force of personality where he's expressing his frustration. A lot of American people like the unsanitized version of the president. They didn't like the whole --

CUOMO: You think they like him stopping investigations that are about him --

SCARAMUCCI: He's not stopping --

CUOMO: -- that he doesn't like?

SCARAMUCCI: He's stopping the investigation?

CUOMO: Fired Comey. What about that?

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, no, that was different.

CUOMO: How?

SCARAMUCCI: That was totally different.

CUOMO: Because Rudy Giuliani just said he did it --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, Rod --

CUOMO: -- because Comey wouldn't say he wasn't a target.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, OK. Well, come one, let's really address that now, OK?

CUOMO: Sure.

SCARAMUCCI: He got a memo, OK, from the assistant attorney.

CUOMO: Rosenstein, the guy you went to law school with.

SCARAMUCCI: Correct. And after contemplation and looking at the situation -- and there were a lot of people in Washington because of what happened -- and we've also seen the full exposure of Director Comey's personality over the last week -- the president made a decision to fire him, OK?

And so, this is --

CUOMO: That's not -- that's not what the president says.

SCARAMUCCI: What does the president say?

CUOMO: The president said to Lester Holt you know what, even without the memo, I was going to fire James Comey because this whole Russia thing, it's a sham. So there goes your theory.

SCARAMUCCI: OK.

CUOMO: Am I still in the corner?

SCARAMUCCI: No -- yes, you're still in the corner --

CUOMO: Oh --

SCARAMUCCI: -- because that -- because that --

CUOMO: Yes?

SCARAMUCCI: This is what you do. You're very good at surgically slicing like the certain little sound bites, but let's tell the whole story --

CUOMO: It's what he said.

SCARAMUCCI: -- to the viewers.

CUOMO: It what's he said, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: Of course. Let's stop surgically slicing the sound bites and tell the whole story to the viewers. He had the memo. He said to Lester Holt because there was pressure at that moment, he didn't want so much pressure on Rod Rosenstein and take the blame for Rod Rosenstein. The buck stops on his desk so he said to Lester Holt -- listen, I would have fired the guy anyway to take pressure off of Rod Rosenstein.

Number two, he analyzed the situation --

CUOMO: He wanted to help Rod Rosenstein?

SCARAMUCCI: Let me just finish.

CUOMO: What? I just want to clarify this point.

SCARAMUCCI: Than to be --

CUOMO: He wanted to help Rod Rosenstein.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Well, he became sorer at Rod Rosenstein --

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: -- as the investigation unfolded.

CUOMO: Now he's saying he may have to make a move on Rod Rosenstein.

SCARAMUCCI: No. He's saying he -- did he use his name specifically?

CUOMO: He said if Rosenstein --

SCARAMUCCI: You mean you --

CUOMO: -- doesn't do his job I may have to get involved.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, OK. So -- but has he?

CUOMO: No, but that's what he said.

SCARAMUCCI: No, he hasn't. OK, he hasn't. OK.

And so once again, that's him -- he's an innocent guy, OK, that knows that there's absolutely no collusion and he's a little frustrated.

And you know what? That is very typical of American businesspeople and that's very typical of the average American.

So the average American is looking at this and saying wow, they're really hassling the president. He's doing a great job, the economy's booming -- all the stuff that I mentioned before -- but we're going to really hassle the president because this is the stuff that the American people hate about Washington.

And they would have done it to Sec. Clinton. They would have hit her on her e-mails, Uranium One, and the Clinton Foundation.

CUOMO: What if she had said you know what, this is all a political sham. It's a vast right-wing conspiracy. I'm ending all investigations related to me.

SCARAMUCCI: That would have helped your -- that would have helped your --

CUOMO: How would you have felt about that?

SCARAMUCCI: That would have helped your ratings but not as much as the president helps your ratings.

CUOMO: Oh, no. Hold on, hold on. Let's not dance. This is the last question.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not dancing. I'm just telling you the truth. That's --

CUOMO: If Hillary Clinton had said if anybody said I'm going to end this investigation into me -- I don't like it --

SCARAMUCCI: You guys would have -- you guys would have played that sound bite 15 or 20 times, OK.

CUOMO: And what would you have said?

SCARAMUCCI: And I would --

CUOMO: You would have said this is a perversion of justice.

SCARAMUCCI: No.

CUOMO: I went to Harvard Law School.

SCARAMUCCI: I wouldn't have said that.

CUOMO: This person represents the constitution --

SCARAMUCCI: I would have said --

CUOMO: -- not their own interests.

SCARAMUCCI: I would have said and I have said it in public 100 times, OK -- the thing that I hate about Washington and the American people hate about Washington. Knock it off with the scandals, OK?

Let these people do their job. They were elected by the American people.

If Sec. Clinton got the job I would have sat in this chair and I would have said hey, knock it off, OK -- if she got the job.

The American people knew about Uranium One, they knew about the 33,000 e-mails -- they gave her the job, OK?

The president didn't do anything wrong when he was the candidate. Let's knock it off and we won't do a show --

CUOMO: We don't know that and the only way -- SCARAMUCCI: OK.

CUOMO: -- we will -- the only way --

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

CUOMO: -- the president will get the closure --

SCARAMUCCI: We'll see.

CUOMO: -- that you are giving him right now is if the --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, invite me back when they -- when they --

CUOMO: -- investigation ends and --

SCARAMUCCI: When they write --

CUOMO: -- they put out their report --

SCARAMUCCI: When they write that he's cleared.

CUOMO: -- and he's cleared.

SCARAMUCCI: When they write the report and they clear the president you'll invite me back and hopefully, we'll play this sound bite.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

SCARAMUCCI: Let me just finish though --

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: -- because last time I said that they had tapped into people at Trump Tower, I was sitting in this chair, and people didn't believe that. And then we discovered that they did get warrants to tap into certain people --

[07:35:06] CUOMO: No, they didn't.

SCARAMUCCI: -- there was a real --

CUOMO: They were monitoring a call log of Cohen. NBC had it wrong. They had to correct it.

That's not wiretapping them --

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, OK.

CUOMO: -- and it was happening on Trump's watch so technically, he --

SCARAMUCCI: OK, all right.

CUOMO: His government was involved --

SCARAMUCCI: All right. CUOMO: -- in this action against his own lawyer.

SCARAMUCCI: Now we're -- now we're -- now we're splitting participles.

CUOMO: That's called -- those are the facts. Those are the facts.

SCARAMUCCI: But you know what the facts really are? You know what the facts really are?

CUOMO: What?

SCARAMUCCI: The facts are that the American people don't like this. They would like it to end.

CUOMO: Well --

SCARAMUCCI: That's the facts.

CUOMO: -- then let the --

SCARAMUCCI: That's the facts.

CUOMO: -- investigation play out --

SCARAMUCCI: OK.

CUOMO: -- and they'll get their answers. That's just --

SCARAMUCCI: And he's doing a great job, Chris. The president happens to be doing a great job.

And my sense is you may end up voting for him in the 2020 election. That could happen.

CUOMO: OK, we'll see. I'm not in jail for being a journalist. I'll see about --

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, you won't be in jail.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

SCARAMUCCI: And if you are, there's prison recidivism now and so we'll make sure you get to vote.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. You mean rehabilitation.

SCARAMUCCI: Rehabilitation.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Anthony.

Alisyn, over to you.

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Chris, so what are the facts? What can the American people believe from the White House?

One former White House press secretary will be here with some thoughts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:40:02] CAMEROTA: Well, the White House is facing a major credibility crisis after the story changed about not knowing anything about that hush money paid to a porn star.

Anthony Scaramucci just told us what seemed like off-the-cuff remarks by Rudy Giuliani were part of a calculated strategy to get ahead of the story.

Let's discuss all of this with CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

What jumped out at you, John Avlon?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I mean, first of all, they're just dismissing the fact that there's been a pattern of lying as a strategy before this date.

But one thing we've got to reality check is Anthony saying in a great newest installment of Moe versus the Mooch that the American people don't care about this. They want it to be over.

In fact, a "Washington Post"-ABC poll just last month showed that 69 percent of the American support the Mueller probe and want it to go forward. So that spin just don't fly.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": But, you know, like, what do I know about what the American people want? I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election.

I mean, this whole business about like what the American people want. The American people are different from each other. They want lots of different things.

The point here is that the president has been lying about this --

AVLON: Yes.

TOOBIN: -- and as a result, Sarah Sanders and all the people who work for him have been lying about it.

And the question is what are the consequences of that? Legally, probably not much. I mean, the fact that --

CAMEROTA: Can I just stop -- can I just stop you for one second, Jeffrey --

TOOBIN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- because in terms of the president is lying, say definitively -- the president said he didn't know anything about it.

What Rudy Giuliani is now saying --

TOOBIN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- is he is the one who had to bring it to the president's attention. Gee, you've been paying a $35,000 retainer for Michael Cohen all this time. I think maybe that was where how he reimbursed Stormy Daniels.

So it's not -- it hasn't been proven that the president is lying. It just screams credulity that he wouldn't know where $35,000 was going.

TOOBIN: Yes. And also, you know, that extremely lawyered tweet from a couple of days ago. He acknowledged that he paid - he paid for the settlement. So --

CAMEROTA: But didn't necessarily know about it

AVLON: But he didn't first acknowledge --

TOOBIN: OK, I mean if he -- if he really is going to make the argument that I paid for the settlement but I didn't know about, I don't think people are that stupid.

AVLON: But also there were denials about sleeping with Stormy Daniels in the first place. I mean, you know, this is also --

CAMEROTA: And that hasn't been proven.

AVLON: -- layers upon layers. So this was just a charitable donation for --

CAMEROTA: No, it was to prevent -- listen, you know the narrative. It was to prevent Melania from being hurt.

AVLON: OK, yes.

CAMEROTA: It was to prevent from this going out in the public -- these scurrilous --

AVLON: Yes, yes.

CAMEROTA: -- specious allegations.

AVLON: I really think that actually, in the context of Rudy talking about how these payments are made all the time, there's the fig leaf of the oh, this was a shakedown. That's not really been pushed too hard because it falls apart upon anything resembling scrutiny or comments.

TOOBIN: There was one thing that Scaramucci said which I -- which I think is accurate. Several things that were accurate but one thing that I think is worth pointing out.

AVLON: Yes. TOOBIN: Giuliani was riffing and saying some crazy things. But one thing that was planned, I am certain, was to get out that Michael Cohen was reimbursed.

AVLON: Yes.

TOOBIN: I think that was much intentional --

AVLON: Yes.

TOOBIN: -- and I think that came out because Michael Cohen's office had been searched --

AVLON: Yes.

TOOBIN: -- and they now have the financial records where they were going to see the money go from Trump. So --

CAMEROTA: Yes. Giuliani knew that.

AVLON: Yes.

TOOBIN: So I think that --

AVLON: He did that --

TOOBIN: -- was a very intentional --

CAMEROTA: He knew it.

AVLON: It was intentional.

CUOMO: Well, hold on. Just one point of clarification --

AVLON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- because this is good to listen to.

TOOBIN: Yes.

CUOMO: One, it's funny. You're doing what I was saying we should do early on when you were like what? You are providing the analysis that would work in court.

How do you know that he intended this as a payment? How do you know --

TOOBIN: Right.

CUOMO: -- what he knew and he didn't?

TOOBIN: Right.

CUOMO: That's the burden for the prosecutor. Can you prove that the president knew what he was doing, meant it as a campaign contribution -- and that's why the bar is high. But the other test is politically.

AVLON: Right.

CUOMO: And when you change your story over time to meet the new levels of scrutiny and you start adding in something like someone happened to tell you, you know this money you were paying him? That was you paying him back, OK?

CAMEROTA: And the president said that --

CUOMO: Oh, you're right. I guess it was. My --

CAMEROTA: That's what he said.

CUOMO: -- goodness.

CAMEROTA: He said my goodness. Maybe it was.

AVLON: As we all know --

CUOMO: That is smelly politically.

AVLON: Yes.

CUOMO: It smells bad.

AVLON: But let's talk about also --

CUOMO: And the fish rots from the head down, as Anthony told us.

AVLON: Yes, that's --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

AVLON: -- insanely unbelievable.

But look, I think the other political point to really make also was the fascinating argument that Anthony made which is that look, ever since Bill Clinton, we should have learned that the presidents' private lives need to be off -- you know, off-limits again and this is just like gay marriage, somehow.

CUOMO: Yes.

AVLON: That makes no sense, right? I mean, there's a civil rights argument and -- you know, about gay marriage and we have politics involved.

CUOMO: Equal protection.

AVLON: Right. And then -- and then this is -- you know, this is about people's private lives being off limits.

The fact that the president's aides are actually comparing him to Bill Clinton outright about saying that the president's life should be entirely off base, I want to hear what all the evangelical associations that have unprecedented levels of approval for Donald Trump have to say about that standard and defenses being offered because it's certainly one they didn't extend to Bill Clinton.

TOOBIN: Well, and I think everyone knows Donald Trump has had a colorful personal life.

AVLON: That's an (INAUDIBLE).

TOOBIN: The issue here is that they paid $130,000 to a woman on the eve of the election.

[07:45:02] AVLON: Correct.

CAMEROTA: That is the legal --

TOOBIN: That's what this story -- well, it's not just legal, it's also -- it's like a moral -- it's a political issue.

CAMEROTA: It is.

TOOBIN: I mean, it's --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

TOOBIN: That's what this story is about.

AVLON: That's right. I mean --

CAMEROTA: And Giuliani himself even said imagine if voters had known.

CUOMO: Yes. And, Anthony tried to change --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Anthony tried to change that.

TOOBIN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Yes, but he -- that's a struggle for them.

CAMEROTA: All right.

AVLON: Harvard graduate Anthony Scaramucci.

CAMEROTA: Did you pick that up?

CUOMO: Who went to law school, I heard, with Rod Rosenstein --

AVLON: I've heard rumors about it.

CUOMO: -- AKA Rosenstein.

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: All right. Jeffrey Toobin and John Avlon, thank you. A senator calls on Uber to take action following a CNN investigation. What he thinks the company should do to make it easier for victims who have been sexually assaulted by the drivers. And wait until you hear how many people this has happened to.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Imagine if that came out on October 15th --

STEVE DOOCY, HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": Sure.

GIULIANI: -- 2016 in the middle of a -- you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton.

DOOCY: Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was Rudy Giuliani imagining how bad it would have been had voters known about the hush money that Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen made to a porn start weeks before the 2016 election. Giuliani admitting the president reimbursed Cohen for that $130,000 payment but insists that Mr. Trump did not break any campaign finance laws.

Joining us now to talk about this and more, we have Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Great to be with you.

CAMEROTA: So, Giuliani's new version of events -- he's the president's newest lawyer and his version of events is that when he himself saw, in whatever financial records there are, that President Trump had been paying Michael Cohen $35,000 a month as a retainer, he (Giuliani) said ah ha, there is the reimbursement.

[07:50:16] And, in fact, Kristen Welker, at NBC, spoke to Giuliani last night. She tweeted this at midnight.

"Giuliani said he made the president aware of paperwork that showed payments were actually reimbursements for Stormy." And that's when the president replied, "Oh, my goodness, I guess that's what it was for."

Gee whiz. I inserted the gee whiz.

What do you make of that version of events?

BLUMENTHAL: Gee whiz. I have a lot of trouble believing that version of events. It's clearly damage control. But I think it's going to backfire because there are records that have been seized from Michael Cohen and those documents, and bank statements, and recordings of conversations if there are any, are going to tell a very compelling story about the president lying to the American people.

CAMEROTA: But hold on a second. What if they just tell that the president was making a $35,000 a month retainer payment to Michael Cohen?

How's that lying to the American people and how's that going to be a bombshell?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, it already is a bombshell because Rudy Giuliani has already said it was a reimbursement. In fact, he said just 24 hours ago, definitely a reimbursement.

And so this idea that people -- the wealthy and famous pay retainers -- just shovel out money to their lawyers without demanding an explanation of how they're using it or why they owe it is preposterous. Retainers are used against bills and services are itemized here.

It was plainly hush money in a slush fund that the president, then a candidate, wanted paid so that, in fact, as Giuliani also said, it would not come out before the election.

CAMEROTA: Look, you've been investigating, obviously, the president and the Russia collusion as part of the committee in the Senate. So do you think that this somehow materially changes the investigation or the case against that?

BLUMENTHAL: It changes the investigation very profoundly because it provides more evidence of criminal intent. The issue here is bigger than just campaign finance violations, it's bigger than the Ethics in Government Act. Maybe violated --

CAMEROTA: Why? What else is there besides campaign finance law?

BLUMENTHAL: Obstruction of justice.

And what all of this evidence clearly goes to prove is motive -- corrupt intent, which is the hardest element of an obstruction case to prove.

CAMEROTA: But how is paying Stormy Daniels, a porn star, to keep quiet about an alleged affair obstruction of justice?

BLUMENTHAL: The payment of those funds and the hiding of it -- the concealing of it -- and the American people have a right to know what the truth is but Donald Trump evidently doesn't want them to know -- clearly indicates that there is more in the way of facts that he is trying to hide.

CAMEROTA: But listen --

BLUMENTHAL: Facts about obstruction of justice.

CAMEROTA: So you're talking about Russia. This isn't connected.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, we're talking about a number of instances of potential obstruction of justice. Pieces in a mosaic that the special prosecutor is very carefully assembling.

A firing of Jim Comey, the concocting of a false statement to explain a Trump Tower meeting. A series of events that amount to obstruction of justice. But in addition, these additional pieces of evidence as to his paying and thereafter concealing and lying about it.

CAMEROTA: Republican Congressman Charlie Dent is calling for oversight hearings into the Stormy Daniels payment. Do you agree?

BLUMENTHAL: I think there is a need for more hearings. The Judiciary Committee ought to be having hearings.

I've been frustrated by the slow pace of the investigation. I think it has to be accelerated.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk to you about what's going on with Uber because I know that you are very concerned about this.

A CNN exclusive this week found that there have been 103 Uber drivers who have been accused of sexual assault in the past four years.

You are -- the reason the public doesn't know about this is because of these arbitration clauses. So when you unknowingly, as a passenger for Uber, click on something saying yes I agree to arbitration in the event that there's ever some sort of problem with my ride.

We don't know that. I wasn't aware of that. You're calling for that to go away.

But I think there is a bigger issue. Are they properly vetting their drivers? Why is this happening?

BLUMENTHAL: That is a much bigger issue and the way that the people who have a right to sue Uber and are prevented from doing so by these arbitration clauses can get at that issue is by having some open proceeding being able to reveal in public, without the nondisclosure agreements that are forced on them, some kind of public accountability.

[07:50:05] That's what we want from Uber.

CAMEROTA: Have they been responsive?

BLUMENTHAL: So far, not but I'm hoping that they will not only eliminate the arbitration clause but also allow these people who have been physically assaulted, raped, abused to have their day in court.

CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, always great to talk to you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being here -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So will the latest credibility crisis change anything in the Trump administration? We're going to break down the dizzying number of lies, misleading statements, all coming from the White House. They matter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The first awareness I had was during the interview last night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's as if the players are executing the plays on their own.

GIULIANI: Imagine if that came out in the middle of a -- you know, last debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you pay money to help Donald Trump get elected, those are campaign expenditures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still believe that there's not an FEC violation here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is the guy that's going to save Donald Trump, I think Donald Trump is in trouble.

GIULIANI: We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today.

SANDERS: We can't confirm the validity of any of the reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't want to have problems before the summit even starts. I believe that they're ready to deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.