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Trump Speaks After Walking Back Giuliani's Stormy Daniels Story; Trump: Would Love to Meet Mueller, But Only If "Treated Fairly"; Judge in Manafort's Case Says Mueller's Goal is to Hurt Trump; House Intelligence Committee Chair Demands DOJ Records, But Refuses to Read Them; VP Mike Pence's Doctor Resigns Abruptly; Trump: Date and Location are Set for Kim Jong-un Summit. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired May 4, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Nobody wants to speaks -- he'll get his facts straight. President Trump seemingly throwing his new lawyer right under the bus and claiming that he has not changed his story on that payoff to Stormy Daniels.
"Nobody wants to speak with the special counsel more than me." The president signaling he is game to sit down with Robert Mueller, but only, he says, if he's treated fairly.
And the date and the location are now set. Trump says the high stakes summit with Kim Jong-un is in the books, teasing that details are imminent.
President Trump expected to speak this hour at the annual NRA convention in Dallas, he's called for new gun safety measures in the wake of a shooting in Parkland, Florida.
We haven't heard so much about that lately, we'll see where those end up today. But before heading to Texas, the president made headlines with comments about the Russia investigation and the role of Rudy Giuliani and his explosive interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He started a day ago, but he really has his heart into it. He's working hard. He's learning the subject matter.
So Rudy knows it's a witch-hunt, he started yesterday, he'll get his facts straight, he's a great guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, he actually started a couple of weeks ago, Cnn senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is at the White House, the president seeming to blame it all on Rudy Giuliani there.
Do you have any better sense now Jeff Zeleny, who is telling the truth? JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, that is a
central question here. And the president did not do much to answer it.
He certainly added more confusion to an already pretty confusing situation and a credibility crisis here at the White House. But one thing is clear, Jim, the president not pleased with the news coverage, at least, over the last 24 hours or so of the suggestion that the president changed his story.
You know, of course, he has said for weeks and months he did not know about that payment to Stormy Daniels. Then over the last 24, 48 hours when Rudy Giuliani said the president did know about it, the president not pleased by that.
So saying that Rudy Giuliani will get his facts straight at some point, but as you said, he actually started about 15 days ago, he talks to the president all the time.
But this is a pattern of something that is clear. The president often likes something, then sees negative news coverage about it and then changes his mind here.
All this of course coming as the president -- I asked him if he would still like to sit down with the special counsel Robert Mueller. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nobody wants to speak to him 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 Russians, there was nothing. There was no obstruction.
I would love to go, I would love to speak, but I have to be find that we're going to be treated as a family fairly. It is a very unfair thing. If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So Jim, one thing is clear here again, the president trying to undermine the credibility of this investigation, saying I would go, but it's not fair so I can't go, likely.
So it sounded to me like closing the door to this idea, but of course, this is all negotiation in progress. The president clearly in a mood to talk today.
White House aides and officials suggested earlier this morning he would not speak because he was flying to the NRA convention. And in fact, he did speak at least three times here at the White House, at Joint Base Andrews and on Air Force 1 flying to Dallas, also talking about the summit, not saying exactly where it will be, but saying the details all worked out. So Jim, the president pent up, wanting to speak, but not necessarily clearing up the confusion about Stormy Daniels. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Not at all, Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thanks very much. President Trump denying he changed his story on the hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.
This after Rudy Giuliani said that the president repaid the $130,000 to his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Today, the president scolded reporters for even asking him to clarify his position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This country is right now running so smooth, and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up 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 1 that you did not know anything about 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said no --
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I asked you, you didn't know about the payment --
TRUMP: You go take a look at what we said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So let's take a look at what he said on Air Force 1 last month when asked this very same question and when he denied in no uncertain terms knowing about that payment. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations?
[13:05:00] TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen, Michael Cohen is my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: No, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: All right, to hear that sound is loud on Air Force 1, but the president was asked if he knew about the payment, he said no. Let's get some insight from our panel, Cnn legal analyst Carrie Cordero, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and Cnn crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Gloria, can the president credibly claim that he hasn't changed his story on this payment?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I don't think he can. I think Rudy Giuliani has some explaining to do, and I think that's what we're going to hear this afternoon.
I mean, can you imagine a client saying about his attorney, give him some time and he'll get his facts straight? I mean, we've heard that Donald Trump doesn't pay his lawyers, I don't think he should pay Rudy Giuliani for that, OK?
I mean, Rudy Giuliani is new to the case, our reporting is that the other attorneys on this case were apoplectic about Rudy's media tour the other day, because he doesn't have his facts straight.
And that Michael Cohen's attorneys were not happy, either, obviously, because these are different stories. And you know, Rudy Giuliani was supposed to be out there to be a messenger about how terrible the special counsel is, how the FBI is corrupt, and if he decides in the end not to testify, he can then say, why would I testify before these people who are unfair?
And so that's the case Rudy Giuliani is supposed to be making publicly instead of messing up everything that was --
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, potentially hurting --
BORGER: Said before.
PROKUPECZ: Michael Cohen and --
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, lawyers come and go, we've seen them come and go just in the last couple of weeks. Carrie Cordero, I mean, is this about a problem with the lawyers or a problem with the client, the president?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think this is a problem about truth telling and lying. I mean, the fact of the matter is this whole debt about the $130,000, this is becoming more of a truth-telling exercise for the White House.
And the American public knowing whether the White House and the president tell them the truth about various things --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
CORDERO: Then it is really about the legal implications for the president. The president's legal team is completely dysfunctional. I mean, he's not managing his legal team.
He's got a revolving door of lawyers, he seems to have confusion as to whether his lawyers are doing PR for him or whether they're giving legal advice to him.
And so the recent issues with Rudy becoming public, it's just unclear whether or not the lawyer is speaking on behalf of the client, whether or not the client is truthful with their lawyers.
I mean, is it possible that the president has told one thing to Rudy and tells another thing to his prior lawyer Michael Cohen? Whether he's truthful with the public?
And this whole issue really is more about them doing their public messaging than it really is about -- there's a potential campaign violation in there.
But that case really is much less significant to the other legal exposures that the president has on obstruction and on the big Russia inquiry, and I feel like this piece is sort of taking over because it's what's consuming them in the public relations realm --
SCIUTTO: Are we seeing here the reason that Trump's lawyers -- or at least some of them don't believe he should testify before the special counsel because he can't be expected to tell the truth?
PROKUPECZ: Perhaps, I mean, that's been the concern certainly from the lawyers and some of the people close to some of the reporting that we've done, that has been the concern.
It's that if he goes before the special counsel, certainly if he goes before a grand jury, how could you put him before a grand jury where he can potentially lie. But the other issue is when you go and you talk to prosecutors and when you talk to the FBI agents, you can't lie. You could be brought up --
SCIUTTO: Right --
PROKUPECZ: We've seen that in this case already.
SCIUTTO: Got a couple of folks --
PROKUPECZ: Exactly right --
SCIUTTO: In this investigation.
PROKUPECZ: But there's no -- that's their whole argument, that you know, perhaps maybe Mueller, and this is a perjury entrapment here, I think you know, Josh was on our air the other night, making this whole argument that they know the answers to these questions, these 49-50 questions that they've put out there.
They know the answers to them already and somehow they want him to come there and lie and this is where they can say, oh, he's lying and we can charge him, and that's what they claim they're afraid of.
SCIUTTO: Right, well, I mean, they did use the word entrapment --
CORDERO: Right --
SCIUTTTO: The way to defend yourself against entrapment of course is telling the truth.
BORGER: But look, his lawyers, no lawyer in his right mind -- and you are one, so let me -- would want this client to testify. You know, I mean, it would be very difficult --
PROKUPECZ: But for what --
BORGER: For you to recommend it --
PROKUPECZ: Does he do?
BORGER: Exactly. So the question is, what does he do? He's the president of the United States. pleading the Fifth could be really problematic for him.
Can they narrow the questions down to such a degree the he -- you know, Rudy said, oh, we'll spend two to three hours with the -- what -- can they come to any kind of agreement and would they still let him testify.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
BORGER: And what I think we're hearing from Trump now where he goes, oh, I want to testify, he changed his mind after the Michael Cohen raid. He went from yes to no.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
[13:10:00] BORGER: Now, is this PR for the American public so he could say, well, I wanted to, but my lawyers, you know, kept me grounded --
PROKUPECZ: Well, a double witch-hunt is the political one --
SCUITTO: It sounds like --
BORGER: Yes --
SCIUTTO: He's floating a trial balloon for the excuse, saying, hey, I would have but I won't be treated fairly --
BORGER: So -- SCIUTTO: We had some other news in the Paul Manafort portion of this
investigation. The judge, federal judge who is questioning special counsel prosecutors in the bank fraud case against Manafort.
That judge kind of pontificating a bit, you might say, Carrie Cordero, and I know with your history at the Justice Department saying that it sounds like the special counsel prosecutors are just trying to get to the president, that they're not interested so much in Paul Manafort's alleged crimes.
What's your reaction to that?
CORDERO: Yes, so the reporting coming out of this hearing today, was that the judge sort of gave the government lawyers a talking-to and said what you're really after is -- I haven't seen his exact words, but it sounds like he said, what you're really after is sort of getting after the president.
The fact of the matter is, there is a federal indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia, of dozens of counts of bank fraud, lying to the government, tax fraud. It is a hefty, money laundering and fraud indictment once you get Paul Manafort.
The judge -- judges like to give Justice Department lawyers a hard time, so I'm not particularly too worried about that. They like to make sure that the government knows that they're not just going to come in and walk in and make their case, and that this is the judge's court room and he's running the show here.
It is -- do sound like a little bit of sort of gratuity statement and maybe going one step beyond what we might normally expect, that is to talk about in terms of characterizing the government's case as opposed to talking about just the merits of it.
But remember, this case is in the Eastern District of Virginia because Paul Manafort's lawyers wanted it there. The government would have consolidated and brought both cases because they have one in D.C. and one in Virginia.
They would have consolidated, Manafort's lawyers thought that they would perhaps get a little bit of a friendly audience, not just with a judge, but with a potential jury in Virginia.
SCUITTO: In his questions, the judge asked the prosecutors to turn over an unredacted version, a more complete version of the memo outlining what Mueller's team could have investigated.
This is written by the deputy attorney general, I believe which gets this court a question of his which is something that the president himself has raised.
You know, is the Manafort stuff, you know, or even the Stormy Daniels stuff, is this outside the scope of what this was all about from the beginning? Was this an opportunity for a judge to pipe in, in an influential way on that question? PROKUPECZ: So I think with the judge, once he gets this memo and he's
given prosecutors about two weeks to turn it over. It's a classified memo, so important to know here that Paul Manafort's attorneys are not going to be able to have access to this.
So the judge will review this, I think the goal here perhaps is to get a better understanding of exactly everything that the special counsel is looking into and where does Paul Manafort play in all this.
It's no secret, we have been reporting this for a while that it seems that the special counsel wants Manafort's cooperation. So the judge is right in some way. This could be --
SCIUTTO: Yes --
PROKUPECZ: A strategic part on the special counsel, but legally, how does this play into the case and whether or not this case could be dismissed because of it.
That didn't seem to come out today, it didn't seem to be part of the argument. But certainly, you know, back to your point about the memo, it's going to probably give the judge a better -- get a better idea of the full investigation --
SCIUTTO: Right --
PROKUPECZ: That the special counsel --
SCUITTO: No, but he didn't -- this judge doesn't have the power to look at that memo and say, hey, you've got to limit your investigation to X and Y.
PROKUPECZ: I mean, he could in the ruling, I would suppose.
BORGER: Right --
CORDERO: Well, so it's interesting, so in the district of Columbia, Manafort's lawyers challenged the special counsel's authority --
BORGER: Right --
CORDERO: And the judge ruled that that claim didn't -- was not valid and that the case could go forward. So it could be that the judge is sort of precluding that and saying, well, I'm going to look and see if this falls -- this case falls within the special counsel's authority.
And if not, the remedy would be that the case could be referred to the Eastern District of Virginia. There still are a potential federal crimes that the Justice Department thinks --
SCIUTTO: I see --
CORDERO: That they could succeed at trial. So it would just be shifted in terms of the prosecutor.
BORGER: And don't forget, Congress, Republicans in Congress are fighting with Rod Rosenstein over this, because they want to see this memo, too. And what they've gotten is a redacted --
CORDERO: Wow --
BORGER: Version of it, highly redacted.
SCIUTTO: And in fact, we've got some news to that very question coming up next hour. Carrie, Gloria, Shimon, thanks very much. We are following breaking news as I said from Capitol Hill surrounding House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and his ongoing feud with the Justice Department.
The story is a Cnn exclusive, I'm going to get reaction to it from a member of the committee, Congressman Eric Swalwell, that is next. All of this as we await President Trump, he is set to take the stage -- that's a live picture there at the NRA convention this hour, we're going to take you there live.
[13:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCIUTTO: The breaking news now, possible fallout from the controversy over President Trump's Dr. Ronny Jackson. Jackson pulled his name after Trump nominated him to be the VA secretary.
Now Vice President Pence's doctor has announced her resignation. Let me bring in Cnn White House reporter Kaitlan Collins and senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju. Kaitlan, do we know why the vice president's doctor is resigning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is actually quite sudden. We're just learning this from the vice president's office.
Of course, Jennifer Pena worked in the Vice President's office, she worked for the medical unit, and she was assigned to the vice president, she was an actual employee of his office per se that she was assigned to him from the medical unit, much like Dr. Ronny Jackson was formerly assigned to President Trump.
So he worked for the medical unit, and the vice president's office is giving me this statement saying, "the vice president's office was informed today by the White House medical unit of her resignation.
Physicians assigned to the vice president report to the White House medical unit, and thus any resignation would go entirely through the medical unit and not the vice president's office.
So they're making the clear distinction there, Jim, but of course this comes after that failed VA nomination for Dr. Ronny Jackson, after there were reports that several of his colleagues, current and former had complained about the work environment that he operated in when he was running the medical unit.
[13:20:00] So Jim, a lot more scrutiny and questions surrounding that nomination, of course, Jim, he did with all that nomination earlier this week. SCIUTTO: Manu, let me ask you, because I believe it was you and Kaitlan who reported earlier this week that the Vice President's doctor had internally raised concerns about Ronny Jackson's behavior, professional behavior in the White House.
Do we believe that this resignation is related to that?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't know exactly if that has a direct connection to our story from Monday. But in that story, it was very clear that the vice president's doctor had significant concerns with Ronny Jackson, had raised those concerns internally according to three different memos we obtained about the interactions that the vice president's position had with senior White House officials.
This all stand from initial concerns that Ronny Jackson may have disclosed private patient information for the second lady, Karen Pence, stemming from an incident that occurred last September.
And when after this, the concerns were raised by vice president's doctor that perhaps Dr. Jackson did disclose this private information.
Ronny Jackson angrily confronted the physician for the vice president on multiple occasions in a way that almost caused Pence's doctor to nearly resign at the time.
So after this came out and the fallout from this, perhaps has some connection here, but clearly, there were some significant concerns internally raised about Ronny Jackson from the vice president's world and perhaps this is the follow-up from that, guys.
SCIUTTO: Just very briefly, Kaitlan, there are resignations in there, resignations. Is it your understanding of reporting or do you know that this was a voluntary resignation or under pressure?
COLLINS: Well, that's the question here, of course. We have no reporting to lead to the fact that she was pressured to resign, but you can't ignore the facts of the reporting and what the events that have happened in the last week since the president first announced that he was getting rid of David Shulkin in Veteran's Affairs and nominating Dr. Ronny Jackson.
We've gone through a very tumultuous process where the White House was refusing to withdraw his nomination, and these allegations continue to surface more and more.
Of course, with the Democratic Senator Jon Tester releasing a list of those allegations against Jackson. And again, I should note, those weren't just allegations by random people, they were by people who worked with Dr. Ronny Jackson at the time and people who formerly worked with him.
So his co-workers were saying these things about him, alleging --
SCIUTTO: Yes -- COLLINS: These things, and of course, that is what led to his
nomination being pulled. So there's been a lot of scrutiny on the White House medical unit since that happened.
And though Dr. Jackson has returned to the unit, he isn't the president's attending physician and is not expected to become the president's attending physician yet again.
So it does raise the question of course, Dr. Pena here was assigned to the vice president, she has resigned from the White House medical unit.
It's unclear where she will go from there, if she will remain as a doctor --
SCIUTTO: All right --
COLLINS: Working for the administration or she's just out of the medical unit. Those are the questions we're going to be working on and finding out now. But this is quite an unusual resignation here, Jim.
SCIUTTO: OK, thanks, Kaitlan, very much, Manu, I'm going to keep you here because there is more breaking news. This, a Cnn exclusive about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and his escalating standoff with the deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Cnn senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, he's back.
Also with us Cnn Justice correspondent Laura Jarrett joining me now. Manu, tell us what you're learning.
RAJU: Well, for months Devin Nunes has been demanding a very sensitive document from the Justice Department, a document that actually detailed the start of the Russia investigation and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general had been resisting so much so that Nunes had actually threatened to hold him in contempt or possibly face impeachment.
Now, Rosenstein relented, he gave Nunes and other members of the House Intelligence Committee access to that sensitive document about the start of a Russia investigation.
But what we have learned, sources have told me, Laura Jarrett and Jeremy Herb is that when Nunes actually went to the Justice Department and read this in a secured -- or sat in a secured location with Trey Gowdy who also sits on his committee.
Nunes opted not to read the documents instead of allowing it to sit in a closed folder. Gowdy read the documents as well as some staff members read the documents.
Now, afterwards Nunes started to raise concerns of the documents showed that there was no intelligence that backed up the reason for starting this investigation.
He had been briefed about the matter from staff and some of his supporters say it's OK for a chairman to be briefed by these documents. But others say, this really just shows the way that he's wielded this gavel atop of his committee, going after his political enemies and not really looking into the details that could give you perhaps a different impression of what happened.
And notably, Trey Gowdy who did read the documents, he has a different interpretation himself, he's not raising major concerns about the start of investigation.
[13:25:00] In fact, he says he -- his spokesman says he fully supports the Russian investigation, but he does have some more questions he wants to ask that person who drafted that intelligence document that he read, but what Nunes did not, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So Laura Jarrett, Nunes, these are not the only documents that he demanded, he's demanded a lot of documents over the past year. Do we know if he's read those?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN: Well, Jim, our reporting shows that this has become something of a pattern. Certainly, with respect to some of the most sensitive documents on the Russia investigation.
We all remember back last year, he subpoenaed a number of highly classified materials including ones related to the dossier on Trump, the infamous dossier.
But he chose not to read them, instead, his staff read them, Congressman Gowdy read them, others read them, but he chose not to.
And in February, he also admitted that he had not read the applications for the surveillance orders on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
He told "Fox News", in fact, no, I did not. Now, his supporters say, of course the congressman is allowed to have his staff brief him, certainly Congressman Gowdy is more than capable of reading him.
But his critics say, why isn't he looking at some of the most sensitive documents when the Justice Department is only a couple blocks away, Jim?
SCIUTTO: No, it seems to be a simple thing to do. Laura Jarrett, Manu Raju, thanks very much for your reporting. Our other breaking news now. President Trump says that the details are set for his high stakes summit with Kim Jong-un, we're going to be right back.