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Trump Lawyers See Giuliani's Interviews As "S--- Show"; Giuliani Again Tries To Clarify Comments On Porn Star Payoff; House Intel Chair Nunes Didn't Read Russia Documents He Demanded From Justice Department. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 4, 2018 - 17:00 ET
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REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: -- Great. As quickly as possible.
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Be sure to tune in this Sunday morning to "CNN'S STATE OF THE UNION". My guest will be Missouri Senator Roy Blunt and ranking member the House Intelligence Committee Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, it starts at 9:00 a.m. and noon eastern on Sunday. That's it for THE LEAD, and now I turn you over to Jim Acosta who's in for Wolf Blitzer in the "SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, breaking news fighting battles in rambling speech of the National Rifle Association. President Trump slams the Russian investigation as a disgrace. And besides the judge on Paul Manafort's case who accuse this Robert Mueller of trying to hurt Mr. Trump.
Beyond the call of Rudy, President and his new lawyer Rudy Giuliani, walk back Giuliani's bombshell statements about the Stormy Daniels' case that have the president's legal team reeling. Can they undo the damage?
If it's fair. President Trump says he'd like to talk to Robert Mueller's team about the Russian investigation, but only if quote "They can prove it's a fair situation". Talks to arrange and interview continue is the decision coming soon.
And doing really well, the president is upbeat about North Korea Ahead of his summit with Kim Jong-un as his administration works with the release of three Americans held by the Kim regime. But he's criticizing previous administrations for what he calls a policy of silence on North Korea.
Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Jim Acosta. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
And we are following breaking news. New fallout in a blistering critique of Rudy Giuliani's first interviews as President Trump's new lawyer. A source used an expletive to describe how the rest of the Trumps' legal team use Giuliani's performance even as Giuliani and the President himself try to walk back some of his bombshell statements about the Stormy Daniels' case. Meanwhile, CNN has learned that the President's lawyers and Robert Mueller are making a final push toward the decision on an interview with the special counsel's office. The president spoke about the Russian investigation a short time ago right here on CNN in the speech of the NRA saying quote, "I love fighting these battles." We'll talk about all of that.
The breaking news in more with Congressman Gerry Connolly of the Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees and our reporters and experts they're also standing by.
But first let's get straight to the White House and CNN's Pamela Brown. Pamela shockwave from Rudy Giuliani's remarks they're still being felt over there, and shock waves and I guess other ways to describe this interviews. Isn't that right to Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: OK. That's absolutely right Jim. And President Trump as you heard today publicly undermine his new attorney Rudy Giuliani after Giuliani created waves for commenting on the Stormy Daniels matter. And then shortly after the president spoke, Giuliani himself release the statement attempting to clarify his recent remarks.
BROWN (voice-over): President Trump on clean-up.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy is a great guy, but he just started a day ago.
BROWN (voice-over): Walking back comments from his new attorney Rudy Giuliani.
RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Funneled through the law firm and the president repaid it.
BROWN (voice-over): That comes after Giuliani appeared on Fox News and declared Trump has repaid Michael Cohen for the $130,000 and hush money for porn stars Stormy Daniels silence.
TRUMP: Rudy knows it's a witch-hunt. He started yesterday. He'll get his back straight. There has been a lot of misinformation really. People wanting to say and I'd say you know what learn before you speak, it's a lot easier.
BROWN (voice-over): Giuliani telling CNN Thursday you won't see daylight between me and the president. But after suggesting on television, the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels was made to help protect the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine the fact came out on October 15th --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and the 16th, got a little of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BROWN (voice-over): Today Giuliani trying to walk it back issuing a new statement claiming, my references the time you were not describing my understanding of the President's knowledge, but instead my understanding of this matters. And yet the president slightly denies the story has changed.
TRUMP: We're not changing any stories. All I'm telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth and to be bring it up that kind of crap and to be bring up witch-hunts all the time that's all you want to talk about you're going to see --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said on it --
TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did not --
TRUMP: No, but you have to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- with the payment.
TRUMP: Excuse me, you take a look at what I said. You go back and take a look. You'll see what I said.
BROWN (voice-over): Here's what he said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about $130,000 payment --
BROWN (voice-over): The President today also talking about a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller against the advice of his lawyers.
TRUMP: I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me.
In fact against my lawyers, because most lawyers say never speak on anything. I would love to speak, because we've done nothing wrong. There was no collusion with the Russian, there was nothing, there was no abstracting. Everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch-hunt. Right now it's a pure witch-hunt.
BROWN (voice-over): Saying an interview with Mueller's team would only be possible if he was treated fairly.
[17:05:07] TRUMP: Bottom line is I want to talk to the people in- charge if they can prove that it's a fair situation. The problem we have is that you have 13 people, they're all Democrats and they're real Democrats, they're angry Democrats. And that's not a fair situation.
BROWN (voice-over): However, Mueller himself is a registered Republican. And members on the special counsel's team have made campaign donations to both parties.
TRUMP: All we hear about is this phony Russia witch-hunt. That's all we hear about.
BROWN (voice-over): Trump calling Mueller's investigation a witch- hunt once again today speaking before the National Riffle Association convention.
TRUMP: Let me tell you folks we're all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles. Its really it is folks.
BROWN: President Trump also pushing back on reports that he is an odd with his chief of staff John Kelly saying that he is doing a fantastic job. John Kelly in return pledged his loyalty saying that it is a privilege to work for this president. But what's clear here today Jim is that the president wanted to be his own messenger and he wanted to get a lot off of his chest. He spoke to the media on several occasions on his own initiative. Jim.
ACOSTA: He certainly was his own messenger. Pamela Brown, thank you very much.
The federal judge overseeing Robert Mueller's case against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort slam the special counsel accusing him of seeking material that he can use to prosecute and impeach President Trump.
CNN's Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is here with more. Evan the judge in this case seem to surprise a lot of people. He was unusually harsh on Mueller's prosecutors. What did he say?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jim. I think Paul Manafort finally had a good day in court. He's been getting beating up in the federal charges here in Washington.
But this judge T.S. Ellis down in Virginia, he raise some questions about in particular a bank fraud charge that Manafort is facing one of 18 counts that he's facing in Alexander, Virginia. He also said -- here's a couple quotes from what he said. He said that the president -- that this investigation has become about the President.
He said, you don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud. He said this is about Trump's prosecution or impeachment. That's what you're really interested in.
And he also he said, that eventually that the special counsel he took up Manafort's argument at the special counsel had too much power. He said, we don't want anyone in this country with unfitted power, its unlikely, you're going to persuade me that this special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants. And of course President Trump took up the charge there from the judge and he was addressing the NRA convention today and he enjoyed what the judge had to say. Take a listen to what he said.
TRUMP: A highly respected judge in Virginia made segments, it says Wall Street Journal it says, Judge questions Mueller's authority to prosecute Manafort. Now Paul Manafort is a nice guy, but you know he work for me for a very short period of time. Literally for like what, a couple of months.
On CNN if they have a headline, Judge in Manafort Case Says Mueller's Aim is to Hurt Trump. Do you believe in that? This is what we're up, it's called the witch-hunt.
PEREZ: And of course, you know, the president had been attacking judges for most of his presidency. So he's finally found a judge, Jim that he seems to like. And he also seem to like a CNN story for once.
ACOSTA: Yes. He cited CNN as he was attacking CNN. Imagine that. Can we read anything Evan into the judge's toughed management of the government? Is it simply the strong words from a judge on any given day? Or does is potentially mean something down the road?
PEREZ: Well, this is a judge who's known for doing things like this Jim. So it's really hard to read into what he said and think he's going to rule up in a particular way. Certainly in my years covering the federal court you see judges wrap up the government and then do exactly what the government wants them to do. There's no doubt though that Paul Manafort felt good about to what happened today in court, because as I said he's been getting beaten up at the other court house here in Washington.
ACOSTA: And also add in the issue of the memo that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein wrote to describe the criminal allegations that Mueller's team could also investigate. That came up today. What happened with that? Why is that important?
PEREZ: That's right. this is the memo that was written in August of 2017 and this is months after Mueller gets appointed and Manafort is making the case that essentially if there was no orders authorizing what he -- the special counsel is doing against Manafort, before this august memo, then perhaps what the special counsel was doing for those intervening months is illegal, essentially.
And so the judge really for the first time here challenging the special counsel and said the special counsel had to turn over to him, the judge, a copy of this unredacted memo because that so far the only version that we have seen in public is one that is heavily redacted.
[17:10:09] And so the judge wants to see that if he's given the special counsel two weeks to provide a copy of that memo. And then we'll see what he decides to do with it.
ACOSTA: OK. Evan Perez, thank you very much.
Let's get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia, a member of both the Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman thanks for joining us.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D) VIRGINIA: Great to be with you Jim.
ACOSTA: Good to be with you. Does Judge Ellis have a point when he goes after the special counsel office saying that essentially they want to impeach the president? They're going to do whatever they can (INAUDIBLE)?
CONNOLLY: Actually I think that was an outrageous statement from the bench. I don't think any judge should be saying that kind of thing. Robert Mueller has impeccable credentials.
He's a Republican. Comey was a Republican, Rosenstein is a Republican, the Attorney General Sessions is a Republican. Is this a Republican conspiracy you remove the president? It's an absurd statement, it was inappropriate, unprofessional and does not -- that kind of language from the bench is simply not professional.
ACOSTA: And the judge hasn't even read everything --
ACOSTA: -- at issue here yet.
CONNOLLY: Right. He -- I don't think he's up to speed. He's got an attitude about this or about, you know, government overreach, which, you know, cautionary a word might be appropriate. But what he did today, I think, was way overboard.
ACOSTA: And are you concerned that the president seized on that, that he was using it. I mean, you saw him cite a CNN report during that speech to NRA and Dallas. The judge in this case has handed the president a political weapon here, it seems.
CONNOLLY: I think that's right. I think that was predictable. But even a drowning man will look for anything he can find to try to save himself and I think in some ways that's what we're seeing with the president. He'll latch on to anything, including a disastrous interview with Sean Hannity by Rudy Giuliani.
ACOSTA: But is there some truth to that? That obviously the special counsel office is seeing people like Paul Manafort as somewhat of a tool to be able to get to the ultimate goal, which is to get to the bottom of what the President knew and when he knew it. Isn't there's a fair element to the judge's critique?
CONNOLLY: Well, I guess somebody could try to make that case. But I mean, I think there's a lot of evidence about potential criminal activity by Mr. Manafort involving massive money laundering, involving undisclosed sums coming from rather shady characters tied to Ukrainian, pro-Russian elements, coming into the United States and deliberate efforts by him to off-shore that money, so that it wouldn't be disclosed. Those are potentially crimes, federal crimes. And I would hope that federal judge, Mr. Ellis, doesn't overlook that.
ACOSTA: And you mentioned Rudy Giuliani and we've seen these statements after statements after statements, some cleaning up the previous ones from Rudy Giuliani about the Stormy Daniels case. I guess what do you make of that? I mean are you shocked to have seen something like this happen from somebody like Rudy Giuliani who's been in politics for a long time, who was a federal prosecutor, worked with federal agents in New York City after 9/11 and so on, what do you think?
CONNOLLY: I think Rudy Giuliani, who shoots from the hip a lot, really shot from the hip this time. In his mind, he was trying to clear the decks of the obstruction of justice charge. But in doing it, and the way he did it, he made everything worse. For one, he finally revealed that it was President Trump himself who reimbursed his lawyer Mr. Cohen for the $133,000 of hush money to Stormy Daniels. So you had directly contradicted the President and expose him for being a liar to press --
ACOSTA: And is --
CONNOLLY: -- something in public.
ACOSTA: -- is this something that the Oversight Committee should look into.
ACOSTA: Congressman Dent raised this as an issue that's something you should be look into at committee.
ACOSTA: This is worth the committee's time?
CONNOLLY: Republicans, you know, impeached Bill Clinton for lying about sex. And where are they now?
ACOSTA: And so the Democrats should do the same thing? I mean --
CONNOLLY: No, I think the Republicans should be consistent. They're in power, so let's have at least the hearing on this matter. I mean it is -- its crickets, its total silence. They're not interested in looking at any of this.
ACOSTA: A porn star payoff hearing. You want to --
CONNOLLY: Right. When did we have a President who paid off a porn star because of an affair?
ACOSTA: And -- I mean, but do you think that that is just something that you should be kept out of a congressional hearing? I mean some of these details obviously are going to be not the stuff that would be described as family viewing. You want that -- CONNOLLY: I remember in the nomination hearing of Clarence Thomas,
Republicans brought up all kinds of sorted things, including pornography. Orrin Hatch himself in order to discredit Anita Hill and to try to get Clarence Thomas confirmed and they succeed. So the idea of suddenly we're going to be pious in the face of possible criminal activity by the President and his attorney, awfully late in the game for that.
[17:15:14] ACOSTA: And your thoughts on a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un at this point.
CONNOLLY: You know --
ACOSTA: It sounds like we're going to close to an announcement.
CONNOLLY: I think we are. And I'm hope -- you know, crossing my fingers, but I think it's really important to remember history, Jim. We've had three agreements involving the nuclear nonproliferation treaty compliance and denuclearization by the north. All three the north walked away from, 1994, 2005, 2012 where the meeting between President Moon and Kim Jong-un was the third such meeting between leaders of the two Koreas, the previous two ended up collapsing, the agreements they reach didn't work.
So we know this is a brutal regime, a repressive regime. He's not an honorable man. And we need to be cautious.
Unfortunately for President Trump, he doesn't have a team in place. He's got a brand-new secretary of state, brand-new national security adviser, no ambassador in Seoul, no assistant secretary of state to help him and no North Korea coordinator. Other than that it's going great.
ACOSTA: All right. Well, we'll see what happens. It could pan out better than you are describing right now.
CONNOLLY: I hope so.
ACOSTA: Congressman Connolly thanks for your time.
CONNOLLY: That's my pleasure.
ACOSTA: Appreciate it.
Coming up, President Trump's new Lawyer Rudy Giuliani is forced to issue a clarification after his bombshell remarks about the Stormy Daniels case but did that clarification really clarify anything?
[17:21:00] ACOSTA: We're following breaking news as President Trump ramps up his criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation going off script during a speech to members of the National Rifle Association.
President declared, "I love fighting these battles" and he read the crowd a reports of a judge complaint today that Mueller's team seems to be getting out of there to get the President.
Let's get to our specialist right now and talk about all these. And I want to go Jeffrey Toobin first.
What do you make of what the judge said today, Jeffrey? Did that surprise you at all? It was unusually harsh.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It was unusually harsh and it was certainly a bad day for the Mueller team which is not had many bad days in court. But it's not really the bad day the way you might think about it.
The odds that Judge Ellis are actually going to dismiss the case are remote. I mean, if you look at the law, it just doesn't seem like the judge has any basis on which to dismiss the complaint. However, good days like this make Manafort less likely to plead guilty and cooperate. And that is a problem for the Mueller office, because clearly that is something that they want.
The other reason a day like this is a problem is that it contributes to the politicization of the office. Like it or not, that it creates the impression that they are out to get Trump, they are out to get Republicans and that is not a healthy thing for this office, fair or not.
So I don't think there is any sort of fatal damage in the works here, but this is certainly not a good day for the Mueller office.
COOPER: And Gloria Borger, it certainly work to the Presidents advantage. Let's take a listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Judge T.S. Ellis, who is really something very special. I hear from many standpoint, he's a respected person. Suggested the charges before the U.S. district court for the district eastern district of Virginia were just part of the Mueller team's designs to pressure Mr. Manafort into giving up information on President Donald Trump or what is in the campaign, I've been saying that for a long time. It's a witch hunt.
Then, none of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump. It doesn't have anything to do, it's from years before. Then, how does this have anything to do with the campaign, the judge asked.
Let me tell you, folks, we're all fighting battles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: We're all fighting battles. That part is true Gloria.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, if I were Donald Trump I would be using this information too today. I mean this is -- this was good for him as Jeffrey was saying because the judge, without saying witch hunt was asking the same questions that Donald Trump is asking now.
What the judges has asked for is the memo that Rosenstein has written explaining what Mueller is really going to be looking into, which would then give him some indication of exactly why the special counsel's team believes this is important to their case.
So once the judge reads that, and gets more information, the judge may then say, OK proceed. Or the judge may give the special counsel's team some more trouble. But this was the first good news that Manafort's team had in a very long time.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: If he said that proceed, he may not be such a good person anymore to Donald Trump.
BORGER: Well, the --
ACOSTA: And the President referred to Paul Manafort as a good person today, David, what is your make of these remarks? I mean, I guess it's no surprise that he would seize on this.
CHALIAN: Well, remember, Paul Manafort, unlike some other characters in this drama, has not flipped, has not cooperated with prosecutors here. He is still fighting these charges, so you can imagine that that is pleasing to Donald Trump, that he hasn't cooperated with --
ACOSTA: You like him to continue doing that.
CHALIAN: Was Trump used to be his in tightness (ph).
ACOSTA: Yes. Yes.
CHALIAN: Like if he continue doing that. And if, indeed, Paul Manafort were to go up in flames though out this whole thing, I don't think Donald Trump will have any problem changing his tune and not talking about what a great man he is.
[17:25:05] ACOSTA: And Sean, let me ask you this, the President appears to be increasingly willing to take on Robert Mueller and tweets and so on. I mean, he's called it a witch hunt and so on for a long time. But it just seems to be ratcheting up a notch and perhaps that has something to do with the departure of Ty Cobb and Rudy Giuliani sounding very fiery on Fox News. Good idea, bad idea? What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, whether it's a good idea or bad idea, we know why the president is doing it. I mean look the President understands that there is a block of voters out there that are extremely reluctant to abandon him, scandal after scandal after scandal, no matter what happens they're going to stick with the President. The President is sitting at 40% approval rating right now he was at 40% when he came into office.
And so he understands why they won't abandon him. He understands that they see him as someone who came into this town and shook things up and he's kind of -- he's beating up the establishment and he's fighting. Like he said today, he loves having these fights. That's why he thinks he can go after Mueller and he understands that if the more he does that, the more this base of voter you're going to stay with him.
ACOSTA: And Jeffrey, what is the risk of a subpoena at this point? I was talking to a source earlier today who said, you know, listen a subpoena fight could drag for another year, which means we're all going to be talking about this for another year.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, the -- it's a risk to both sides that sort of fight because I don't think Mueller wants to be working on this investigation for another year. And certainly the president doesn't want to be distracted for another year. Legally, I think the, you know, the end of that fight is preordained that he -- and Trump will lose.
I mean the Supreme Court is all but said a president is not immune from a grand jury subpoena. So the risk is that he will be forced to answer questions or take the fifth. And that's -- both of them are considerable risks. But that, you know, there are risks to Mueller as well because a lengthy, lengthy fight while he is being accused by the President and others of a witch hunt is not going to be a pleasant experience for him.
BORGER: You know, I've once spoke with Robert Wray not too long ago its in the Starr investigation and he said something to me that I haven't forgotten, which is that when a special counsel loses the public support, it's a real problem and that's exactly what the President is trying to do with Mueller. He's trying to discredit Mueller, discredit Mueller's team, it's a political argument he's making. So if he doesn't testify or pleads the fifth or gets in a fight or whatever, he will still have the public with him as he says, you know, you can't trust Mueller, just the same way that Democrats did with Ken Starr.
ACOSTA: OK. We've seen some of that movie before. One thing we have not seen before is Rudy Giuliani the elephant in the Fox News set. We'll talk about his mixed messages and some damage control today, coming up.
[17:32:37] ACOSTA: We're back with our political, legal, and national security analysis. And David Chalian, let me turn to you on the Stormy Daniels' saga. You know, more sands through the hourglass of the days of our lives. Rudy Giuliani trying to clean up these comments today. And the president saying that he didn't have his facts first or didn't have his -- to borrow a phrase, her facts straight. What do you make of what happened with Rudy Giuliani? An experienced politician. A little strange.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. He issued these statements which the president promised this morning he would issue and the president was, you know, driving the bus right over. He said, he's only been there for a day, he doesn't have his facts straight. That's what he's saying about his attorney who's been representing him publicly in the media for the last 48 hours. He issues a statement in three parts clarifying almost nothing. I mean, the one thing he clarified is that he screwed up. That's really what he clarified because he wanted to now say, this was really me speaking, not the president; these were my thoughts. But if you take a look, point by point, I would say the only thing Rudy Giuliani did was say, you know what, when I said the campaign and it's just a few days before, that was just my assessment of my political analysis, not the president's view point. But go back to the president's tweet, Jim, we are still dealing with questions about a payment that the president calls a retainer that he said, was used as reimbursement for the Stormy Daniels' payment that Michael Cohen made. Rudy Giuliani did nothing to clear that up. Rudy Giuliani did nothing to clear up the president's statements on Air Force One. So, I don't know where he thinks this is the clean-up.
ACOSTA: Yes, Jeffrey Toobin, the president tweeted about fake news this morning, and then he went out and said that Rudy Giuliani didn't have his facts straight -- what is happening here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What's happening here is this is sort of a perfect metaphor for the whole story. The one thing that Rudy Giuliani said to Sean Hannity that was unambiguously true, was that the payment to Stormy Daniels was right before the election. To stop the bad news from coming out. You know, this was -- they had sex supposedly in 2006. But ten years later, on the eve of the election --
ACOSTA: It was a campaign cover-up.
TOOBIN: It was of course related the campaign cover-up, so the correction today was to turn truth into a lie. So, he was actually true to Sean Hannity, but this situation is so absurd that his correction today made the statement false where he said, oh, you know, this just -- you know, it's like a coincidence that it was October of 2016. I mean, this is so grotesque and so disgraceful the way they are lying about this.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, who can believe that? It's very hard to believe that you would cover up something -- why? Because there's an election coming up. And because why? Because it might hurt the president.
ACOSTA: On the heels --
BORGER: and Michael Cohen paid to protect the president.
ACOSTA: On the heels of the "Access Hollywood" fiasco would've been potentially pretty devastating.
BORGER: He made it clear because he said, if I recall, this is not a direct quote but at the time he said, even falsehoods can hurt somebody, you know, at the wrong time. So, Cohen admitted -- in his own way, and by the way, Rudy Giuliani threw Michael Cohen under the bus as well. Because Cohen said he had taken out a loan to pay this through his own money. I mean, I think you'll have to ask yourself why the president of the United States went out there and apologized for his attorney. It's just kind of crazy to think of, unless, unless his wife was very upset by all of this confusion.
ACOSTA: And Sean, when you're in the intelligence community, you're watching all of this unfold, what are you thinking?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'll tell you --
ACOSTA: Somebody like Rudy Giuliani who is there after 9/11. I mean, this is somebody who has had credibility in the intelligence community for a long time and never mind everything he said on Fox News about Stormy Daniels, he referred to FBI agents as Nazi stormtroopers. I mean, that to me is astounding.
TURNER: I can't take anything away from the fact that Rudy Giuliani, America's Mayor, he got this country through one of the most difficult times in our history. But, here we are today, and you have the intelligence community, you have the FBI and people who are doing their very best to provide the president with what he needs to be able to protect this country and they are constantly under attack. So, what you're thinking if you are in the intelligence community, if you're in the FBI, you're thinking that you want to be able to do your job and you want to be able to continue to serve your country but it's very difficult. You kind of put your head down and focus on your job, and you push forward and you hope that as the pendulum swings, we get back to a time where we value these institutions and the work they do.
ACOSTA: Are they worn down? You know, some of the agency that the people that we count on to protect this country, are they worn down by this?
TURNER: You know, I think you have to understand that yes, this is the kind of thing that wears them down but that does not impede their ability to do their job. It makes it more -- it creates a more difficult environment. It certainly, you know, it kind of wears on them as people. But the work done in the intelligence community and the FBI is so critically important to all of us, that they understand that you've got to compartmentalize these things, and you've got to focus on getting the job done.
[17:37:39] ACOSTA: And David, what about the credibility issue, because heading into the midterms -- I mean, that's the question I have. Does this have any lasting -- the Trump base, we're going to their rally next week, the Trump base stick with him through thick and thin. Do porn star payoffs that have now been repaid and all of the lies on top of lies and the White House press briefing imploding, you know, and another fog of lies. I mean, does any of that have any effect -- any residue?
CHALIAN: So, not on the Trump base. I haven't seen any effect there yet. But Trump didn't get just elected president with just his base alone. He got elected by also winning independents. They're not with him right now. So, there is a difference, and where this does play out in the midterms. Trump's base alone is not going to be enough to save the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. So, it can't just be my base is fine, so politically everything is OK for the president. That is not the case. But just step back for a second, Jim, and look
at this week. He cleaned house of his legal counsel and Rudy is finally, you know, in charge in there and he brings in other folks and gets rid of Ty Cobb to actually start clarifying things for himself and moving forward to resolution and it got so much muddier. His chief advocate now, Rudy Giuliani, made his life worse this week not better.
BORGER: I had one lawyer ask me today what's the over-under on how long Rudy Giuliani lasts, will it be longer than Scaramucci or will it be a little bit, you know, shorter than that?
ACOSTA: That's rough. When you are measured up against Anthony Scaramucci, who only lasted 10 or 11 days. I mean, we're approaching a new world record. The president threw him under the bus today.
BORGER: He meant to be a messenger, but he messed up the message. Let's see what he does with the negotiations.
ACOSTA: I think a former mayor should be able to handle that. But we'll see. All right. Thanks very much. Coming up, a surprising reaction after a powerful Republican lawmaker wins his fight to see a secret document -- why didn't he read it? And later, why Rudy Giuliani maybe creating new legal headaches problems for the president. Let's talk about that while trying to clean up a lot of old ones.
[17:44:12] ACOSTA: Now a CNN exclusive, new details of a highly sensitive Justice Department document about the Russia investigation that was reluctantly handed over to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. CNN Justice Reporter, Laura Jared, is working that story for us. Laura, Nunes actually threatened Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with content and impeachment to get these documents. What happened next?
LAURA JARED, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Jim, for months, Nunes have said that the Justice Department was stonewalling, avoiding his document request because it was hiding. Nunes said he was particularly focused on getting one document in particular, an unredacted copy of the one that formally kicked off the FBI's Russia investigation, saying it was absolutely essential to his understanding of what happened. But when it came for him to come over to the Justice Department to review it with his fellow Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, multiple sources now tell us that he didn't actually read it. Instead, he left a copy unopened in a folder front of him.
Why? We don't know. But it's not the first time he's done this. In the past, he's subpoenaed a number of highly classified materials related to the Russia investigation, including those controversial surveillance orders to monitor former Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page. But he didn't actually read those materials either when given the opportunity. Here's how he explained it back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Did you read the actual FISA
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, I didn't. And this has been one of the bogus news stories that have been put out. So, the agreement we made with the Department of Justice was to create a reading room and allow one member to investigators, to go over and review the documents. I thought the best person on our committee would be the Chairman of the Oversight Committee Trey Gowdy who has a long career as a federal prosecutor to go and do this. And then they, over a series of meetings, would come back with their notes and brief the rest of the committee members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARED: Now, when CNN asked him more recently, if he'd actually read the document that he threatened to impeach Rosenstein over that electronic communication, as it's knowns as. He said, he wouldn't discuss committee business, but he hasn't hesitated to continue to cast doubt about the merits of the Russia investigation. Jim.
ACOSTA: OK. Laura, good report. Thank you very much. Thanks. Coming up, a look at why Rudy Giuliani may have left President Trump open to big legal problems despite his continuing attempts to explain Mr. Trump's reimbursement of his attorney's payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels.
[17:51:16] ACOSTA: Breaking news, Rudy Giuliani trying again to clarify his bombshell revelation that President Trump reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Despite the shifting explanations, Giuliani's disclosure could still pose problems for the president. CNN's Brian Todd has been consulting with experts. Brian, what are you learning about this?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, we're told that Giuliani, who made his name by being such a savvy legal mind may have really stepped in at this week. Between Giuliani's remarks about the timing of Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen's payments to Stormy Daniels and Giuliani's comments about Trump paying Cohen back, while the president's White House attorneys are tearing their hair out tonight.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Don't you think a lot of these people would pay that?
TODD: Sources familiar with President Trump's legal team tell CNN the team is angry with Rudy Giuliani. One source complaining that Giuliani's media blitz this week was a "s--- show". Another saying, the president's lightning rod new legal advisor is pouring fuel on the Stormy Daniels case. Tonight, legal analysts say Giuliani's seemingly off-the-cuff remarks could've gotten the president in even more legal trouble. Like when Giuliani highlighted how important it might have been to the Trump campaign to keep Daniels quiet about the alleged affair before the 2016 election.
GIULIANI: Imagine if that they came out om October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.
TODD: A headache for Trump and his lawyers, experts say, because they've always contended that Daniels payment was personal expense and it wasn't made to influence the election.
MATTHEW SANDERSON, CAMPAIGN FINANCE ATTORNEY, CAPLIN AND DRYSDALE: That statement by Rudy Giuliani does suggest that it was related to an election. If it's related to an election, then it may be an in-kind contribution and it may also need to be reported.
TODD: And in Federal Election Commission election documents, Trump never reported the Daniels payment. But a former Trump lawyer says, Giuliani's comment doesn't imply Trump and Michael Cohen at FEC rules.
JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Just because it has an outcome that could have a political impact, doesn't mean that there's an FEC violation, because there has to be coordination there with the campaign, and there's been no facts that have shown that to date.
TODD: But experts say, Giuliani made other potentially damaging comments this week talking about Trump paying back Cohen.
GIULIANI: He was definitely reimbursed -- there's no doubt about it.
TODD: Giuliani said, Trump didn't start secretly paying Cohen until months after the election. In the interim, Trump never reported what he owed Cohen.
SANDERSON: The president is supposed to disclose on his personal financial disclosure form any debts that he owes to other people.
TODD: Even the president acknowledged, Giuliani might have made some mistakes in his interview.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy had just started and he wasn't totally familiar with -- you know, with everything.
TODD: Giuliani has not specifically address the criticism that he made Trump's legal situation worse with his comments to the media this week. Giuliani did issue a statement today reiterating that the payment to Stormy Daniels was not a campaign expenditure and he earlier told CNN that his comments to the media were coordinated with the president and said there's no daylight between him and Trump. Jim?
ACOSTA: Didn't sound very coordinated, Brian. In these interviews, Giuliani also might've thrown Michael Cohen under the bus legally, is that right?
TODD: Jim, he may have actually done it on two fronts. Giuliani told an interviewer that Cohen made the payment to Daniels without telling Trump that he was doing it. And experts say, that could be a violation of legal ethics rules if a lawyer does not check with their client first before making those kinds of payments. And Giuliani said, "there were probably other things of a personal nature that Cohen took care of for Trump. Experts say that comment might -- they might spark prosecutors to expand their investigation of Cohen so Cohen is probably not liking Giuliani too much either tonight.
[17:55:03] ACOSTA: Doesn't sound like it. Brian Todd, thank you for breaking it down for us. We appreciate it. Breaking news coming up next, a blistering critique of Rudy Giuliani by the Trump legal team as it makes a final push to arrange an interview by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller of the president.
ACOSTA: Happening now, breaking news, rebuking Mueller. Cheered on by the NRA, President Trump finds new ammunition for his attacks on the special counsel, quoting a judge who thing Robert Mueller wants to oust the president.
Facts before Rudy. Rudy Giuliani tries to defuse the bombshell he dropped about Mr. Trump's reimbursement of the Stormy Daniels payoff after he was undercut by his client, the commander in chief. This hour, the confusion cause by the clarification.
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