Return to Transcripts main page


Giuliani: Trump Doesn't Have to Comply with Mueller Subpoena; Sources: Haspel Sought to Withdraw Nomination to Be CIA Director. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 7, 2018 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident the president will not take the Fifth in this case?

[05:59:17] RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: How can I ever be confident of that/

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: It's going to be evidence of payments to other women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a legal issue if the president, his credibility is thrown this much into question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's saying he didn't know about it when the payment occurred. He found out about it after the fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the American public cares much about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rudy Giuliani needs to get back into lawyer mode and only speak of that which he knows.

REP. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Just inconsistent with who we are as a people to have someone who is intimately involved with torture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would be willing to step away from this if it was going to be too tough.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: She is very highly qualified, and she's excellent at what she does.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 7, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.

Rudy Giuliani is still trying to get the story straight, apparently. Giuliani, the president's newest lawyer, says Mr. Trump could defy a special counsel subpoena and the president could invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the Russia probe. Giuliani also says he does not know when President Trump learned of the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. And Giuliani concedes that it is possible that Michael Cohen paid off other women for the president.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The president's allies are rallying around comments by a federal judge in the tax and bank fraud against Paul Manafort. That case, the judge is now questioning Robert Mueller's authority, saying he should not have unfettered power to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

And the president's controversial CIA nominee could be in jeopardy. Sources tell CNN that Gina Haspel sought to withdraw her name from consideration last week. But White House officials convinced her not to. Haspel is set to face tough questions by senators at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

So let's begin the circus today with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, live at the White House. You're in the place to be.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this hush money just keeps getting louder and louder. The president was relatively silent on Twitter over the weekend, but his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, certainly was not, as he did several interviews intended to clarify that bombshell remark he made last week. But the president had reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels.

But instead of clearing things up, Rudy Giuliani raised new question about whether or not the president has paid hush money to other women and whether or not he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying in front of the special counsel.


GIULIANI: They don't have a case on collusion. They don't have a case on obstruction. I'm going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart did?

COLLINS (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani ratcheting up his defense of President Trump and his criticism of the Mueller probe, suggesting that Mr. Trump could defy a potential subpoena to testify before the special counsel.

GIULIANI: We don't have to. He's the president of the United States. We can assert the same privilege other presidents have. President Clinton negotiated a deal.

COLLINS: Giuliani refusing to rule out the possibility that the president could ultimately invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.

GIULIANI: How can I ever be confident of that? When I'm facing a situation with the president and all the other lawyers are, in which every lawyer in America thinks he'd be a fool to testify, I've got a client who wants to testify. Please, don't -- he said it yesterday. And you know, Jay and I said to ourselves, my goodness, you know, I hope we get the chance to tell him the risk that he's taking.

COLLINS: This despite the president's repeated criticism of that legal move.

TRUMP: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

COLLINS: The former New York City mayor also doing damage control after admitting that Mr. Trump reimbursed his attorney for the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, contradicting what the president has said in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


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

TRUMP: No, I don't know.

COLLINS: "The New York Times" reports that the president knew about that payment when he made those remarks. Kellyanne Conway attempting to clarify that remark while insisting that the White House doesn't have a credibility problem.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: When the president said "no" on on Air Force One, he was talking about he didn't know when the payment occurred. A very fast-moving exchange between him and Catherine Lucey of the A.P., I believe. And so he's saying he didn't know about it when the payment occurred. He found out about it after the fact.

COLLINS: Giuliani indicating its possible he may have paid off other women, as well.

GIULIANI: I'd have no knowledge of that. But I would think if it was necessary, yes. He made payments for the president.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Is Michael Cohen still the president's attorney?

GIULIANI: No, of course not. It would be a conflict right now for him to be the president's attorney. I am, in this respect -- I don't think it's a good idea for the two of them to talk right now. Eventually, they can.

COLLINS: The president's lawyer also distancing himself from the Daniels case --

GIULIANI: You know, I'm not really involved in the Daniels thing.

COLLINS: -- after Mr. Trump publicly undermined his longtime friend last week.

TRUMP: Virtually everything said has been said incorrectly, and it's been said wrong, or it's been covered wrong by the press. He started yesterday. He'll get his facts straight. COLLINS: Giuliani telling CNN that he's still getting up to speed, noting, "I haven't been able to read the 1.2 million documents. I am focused on the law more than the facts right now."


COLLINS: Now, Chris and Alisyn, Giuliani raising a lot of eyebrows with that last remark right there. And I should note that he was not brought on to represent the president in the Stormy Daniels case but to represent him in the special counsel's investigation.

[06:05:03] Giuliani said he met with the president yesterday, that he's in a good mood. He feels things are moving in the right direction. Today, Chris and Alisyn, no public events on President Trump's schedule.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan, thank you very much for that recap.

So let's bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.

John, just to remind everybody, you worked for Rudy Giuliani. You were a speech writer. So I know that it's particularly interesting for you to watch what's been happening.

What do you think Rudy Giuliani is doing? And he seems to be sort of all over the map. He says, I think, some contradictory thinks in the space of one interview. So do you think he's helping or hurting, and what is he doing?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I was working for Rudy. I was proud to work for Rudy. I do not think this has been his finest hour. I do think he's trying to help his client.

But, you know, he's not sending out the most consistent message. He is contradicting himself on a couple of core things. Whether this is a strategy designed to sort of keep everybody off base is sort of TBD. You have a little brushback pitch from the president on Friday, says he doesn't have the fact straight.

But a lot of what the president seems to like is advocates who can go on television. Rudy's very comfortable going on television. Whether he's serving his client in the court of public opinion, as opposed to the court of public law.

CUOMO: Well, that's what matters more to the president, though. I mean, Laura, the reason we have you here is we have this dovetailing going on right now.

And you have Rudy Giuliani, whose mind for the law is still very much intact. His idea about political instinct, you know, we can debate that all day. The president is happy with him. That's the litmus test in terms of whether you're going to keep seeing him on television.

But legally, it seems pretty clear that his strategy is this: "I'm not going to help you, Mr. Prosecutor, by giving you a straight take on the facts. It's up to you to prove what the president knew, when he knew it, and why he did things, especially when it comes down to these FEC violations. They're going to have to show his intentionality. Very high bar in the law.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is. They're going to try to make him work for it. And the reason, of course, for this is to have this deflection, this end game, this run around. What are you going to believe? Remember, we haven't heard the president actually say most of the things that Rudy Giuliani has said.

And so the problem with Rudy Giuliano's statement is that, it puts him in position where he could be a fact witness if they were to investigate the president of the United States. Because now there was a conversation that was allegedly had, co-signed by the president in one interview before FOX. Another where we didn't have a long one. Didn't know what the president was going to say.

And now we have this conundrum where either the president told him what to say and gave him wrong information or he didn't. So now what is the fact? What are the fact in this case? Ironically, Giuliani continue to think that he's covering the tracks of the president in the snow. He was actually walking around in cement. Every single footprint is being followed by the investigators in Manhattan.

CUOMO: A lot of metaphor.

CAMEROTA: Very -- I got that one. That was excellent. So here's -- here's some of the problems. Here's some of the issues with what Rudy Giuliani is saying versus what the president is saying. This is just from

Friday with some of their competing statements.


TRUMP: He'll get his facts straight.

GIULIANI: The facts I'm still learning.

TRUMP: He started yesterday.

GIULIANI: I've been in the case for two weeks. Virtually one day in comparison to other people.

TRUMP: There was no collusion with the Russians.

GIULIANI: There's no evidence of collusion with the Russians.

TRUMP: There was no obstruction.

GIULIANI: There's no evidence of obstruction of justice.

TRUMP: What they should do is look at the other side, where terribly bad things have happened.

GIULIANI: Poor little Hillary, we've got to be nice to her. No under oath. We'll take that now. No under oath. No Q&A. Just notes.

TRUMP: He knows it's a witch-hunt.

GIULIANI: The judge, in sum and substance, said this is a witch-hunt.


CAMEROTA: All right. So John, I mean, the very first thing that Rudy said is "I'm still learning the facts," and the president that he didn't get his facts straight. What part didn't he get his facts straight? What part has Rudy been wrong on?

AVLON: Well --

CUOMO: A lot.

CAMEROTA: And what --

CUOMO: When he knew --

CAMEROTA: We don't know when he knew.

CUOMO: But Rudy has evolved on that to where you are right now, which is where you should be. You don't know, because you haven't been told a straight story. Rudy said he did know. Here's when he knew. Well, maybe he didn't know then. In fact, I don't know what I'm talking about.

AVLON: At one point he said, "Look, you know, that's a rumor. You know, I'll tell you the difference between opinion and fact when I know that for sure."

Look, the president is not the world's most credible witness. We know from "The Washington Post" and others.

CUOMO: We know that from Rudy Giuliani. The biggest thing he said to George yesterday, which I was, like, shocked. I had to go back and hear it again. Because he'd made a quick switch to Comey.

Laura, you probably picked up on this faster than I did. He said, "People lie, George. That's why not going to just have him sit down. He could lie. Look at Jim Comey."

CAMEROTA: I don't think he said, "He could lie." I think he meant James Comey lied.

CUOMO: Contextually, that's what he was talking about. The threat about putting him in the chair is that he could well lie.

AVLON: right. Which is also one of the big pieces of news out of the interview, though, is the president might take the Fifth. And I'm sort of old-fashioned that way. I'm more aligned with, you know, candidate Trump, which is to say, you know, if you're innocent, why take the Fifth? But that's what they're threatening to do. That may be a legal strategy. Politically, that's dynamite.

[06:10:15] CUOMO: Laura, what did you -- did you pick up on that?

COATES: You would think it -- I picked up on it. I thought to myself, well, initially my reading of it was, "Well, the president could lie with the statement."

Then he alluded to James Comey that perhaps the president would not be able to defend himself if other people were lying about it. But the problem with that, fundamentally, is there is one side that has a credibility crisis. And because of all the misstatements, because of all of the contradictions, it's difficult for anybody to take the president's word, which is a strange statement to make, at its truth.

It's very difficult to have the conversation of, "Please, I cannot defend against somebody else lying if I cannot prove myself to be truthful." That's what they're going to have to investigate.

As far as the Fifth Amendment, though, I disagree. In a different era, it would be political suicide to actually try to take the Fifth. But this president has gained a great deal of political cover by building up this statement about a witch-hunt. The narrative being it's a rigged system. It can't be believed. Giuliani is on this campaign, as well. And by doing so, I think his attempt will be, "Listen, I'm taking the Fifth not because I'm guilty like the Mob or Hillary Clinton's people. I'm guilty because -- I mean, I'm not going to take the Fifth, because it's not intended to be truthful or honest." And he may find a little cover under that.

AVLON: A little cover, and I think that's the right. Will Trump's base desert him for taking the Fifth? Absolutely not. Is Trump trying to call into question the fundamental integrity of the special prosecutor's office? Of course he is. And that's one of the things Rudy's trying to do.

But there's still a thing called, like, historic precedent and appearances. And taking the Fifth's not a big fact pattern for the vast majority of the American people. That said, you know, the Trump team got a little bit of cover from the -- Judge Ellis on the Manafort case. And they're going to try to hang their hat on that. So watch for that in the coming days.

CUOMO: Also a counter move, right? If he pleads the Fifth, Laura, there a counter. The prosecutors -- the special prosecutor in this case, can -- special counsel in this case could say, "All right, fine, you want to plead the Fifth, I'll give you immunity. You can't be charged with any of this obstruction or any of that stuff. Now you have to come in and testify."

CAMEROTA: And then does he have to? Must he comply as the president if that happens, Laura?

COATES: Well, let's be clear. We're not going to talk about the Mueller case. We're talking about what's happening in Manhattan. If he were to get immunity to testify against Michael Cohen, of course, that Michael Cohen has to first be charged with a crime. He is not.

But if he were to get immunity in that case, which would be a little bit odd depending upon what the facts of the case actually bear out to be. He could actually testify and not have the same risks. And of course, then the Fifth Amendment doesn't apply.

You only get to assert the Fifth on specific questions. It can't be a blanket assertion, and it has to only be questions to which you would get legal exposure, criminal exposure if you actually testify.

CUOMO: What about in the Mueller probe?

COATES: If he got immunity, that's out of the water. In the Mueller probe, it is the same scenario. He can only testify. He can only assert the phrase with a certain actual question. It cannot be a blanket assertion.

Nixon made that mistake of thinking he could not do that. And it cannot be a blanket assertion. And so the president would actually have to have a basis to believe that if he answered a particular question truthfully, it could incriminate him. Right now we don't know if he's a target. It's a very fine line. But essentially the Fifth Amendment is only applicable if you can say it would be incriminating yourself.

CUOMO: Right. The catch is if you get immunity, it doesn't cover perjury. So if he sits down and lies --

COATES: It doesn't cover perjury. It doesn't --

CUOMO: -- he's in the same bucket he was to begin with.

COATES: -- also covers the coordination, which means you can --

CAMEROTA: But I just didn't know until Laura said that, that you couldn't just go in and say, "I plead the Fifth" and just be done.

CUOMO: No, you can't.

AVLON: Rubber stamp the Fifth.

CAMEROTA: OK. We have many more questions.

Thank you, John.

Thank you, Laura.

CUOMO: Let's do another block. Coming up in our next hour, we're going to have former Trump political adviser Roger Stone joining us in the studio. He's got all kinds of connections to the ongoing probe. And he wrote a book, and he's got an argument, and he's ready to make it.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, President Trump's pick for CIA director offering to withdraw just days before her confirmation hearing. Is Gina Haspel's nomination on shaky ground? And why? We dig in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:18:01] CUOMO: Sources tell CNN that Gina Haspel, President Trump's pick to head the CIA, a longtime operative there, offered to withdraw her nomination on Friday. Top White House aides rushed to CIA headquarters to convince Haspel to stay the course. Her confirmation hearing is now just two days away.

Let's bring in CNN political analysts John Avlon and Alex Burns.

All right. Let's talk about why Haspel would be nervous. Alex, she's in a different position than Dr. Ronnie Jackson any way you look at it. I mean, she's got tons of experience, tons of credibility in that organization, and she has Democrats and Republicans saying that she is the right choice. So what's the problem?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she has Democrats and Republicans saying that she's the wrong choice. And while there are no question about her qualifications, there's a virtual certainty that sort of laying out those qualifications is going to be a messier process than it has been for President Trump's other nominees to senior position.

CUOMO: What's the issue?

BURNS: Look, the basic issue is that she was involved in the interrogation programs during the Bush administration that the public has never really seen detailed in full extensive light of day. And if being confirmed is going to require a full and detailed airing of that. And we actually don't know that it would.

But to the extent that it's going to require her to go into detail, what her role in this program was and what those programs looked like operationally, that could get very uncomfortable for her and very uncomfortable for the agency. And that's sort of the other consideration here. It's not just can she make it through. Because like a lot of the president's nominations, the assumption here is it could be -- it could be ugly, but she is more likely than not to make it through, but is it worth the process?

AVLON: Well, look, from the administration's standpoint, they made an historic nomination: the first woman to run the agency. But there are -- three is opposition.

It's the exact opposite of the Ronnie Jackson problem. She's eminently qualified to run the agency. Former CIA directors of both parties say that; she's got enormous support from the rank and file. And the first, actually, lifer from the agency to be nominated in decades.

[06:20:10] The problem is her actions in office, particularly during the torture period when she ran a black site in Thailand, in which waterboarding occurred. There are also questions of tapes and whether she was involved with an instruction to destroy tapes that memorialized that torturing. Those are substantive problems rooted in her experience. She is experienced. Is it the wrong kind of experience for public airing? Can she withstand that kind of scrutiny. So the fact that she wanted to withdraw is striking but it is the opposite of Ronnie Jackson.

CAMEROTA: It also sounds like her trepidation, if you want to call it, about going through the bruising -- possibly bruising confirmation process happened because she was summoned to the White House, and they started asked questions about what some of the senators could be asking her. And during that process they realized that she -- how bad it could be. And then she said, "Well, then I will withdraw." And then Sarah Sanders and Marc Short had to rush over to try to convince her to stay. But I mean, from my reading of it, sounds like when they went down and sort of did roleplaying of what it could look like, everybody got cold feet.

BURNS: Well, there's a reason why people from inside the agency often don't get nominated just straight out of the career ranks in order to lead it. I mean, you may recall that John Brennan was -- was left out of that job the first time around in the Obama administration. And he had to go out and sort of prove himself as a public figure and rehabilitate himself from a number of the exact same issues that are in play here in order to actually get nominated to be CIA director.

Now, the Trump administration, by all -- to all outward appearances, does not have the same reservations, internal compunctions about the torture and interrogation programs that the Obama administration.

CUOMO: I think that might be part of the mix, by the way, is that there's one thing to put into effect laws at the time, understanding that Phil Mudd makes this case to you guys all the time, that this is what the people of this country and the government was comfortable with during that time.

So it's not about the CIA. It's about what you told them they could do through your lawmakers. And that changed in the Obama administration.

And I wonder if part of the conflict for Haspel is, "Look, I was doing what I was supposed to do. I'm not going to go into details about it, because that goes into protocols I don't want to go." But that she's now going to be attached to an administration with a president who's all about torture. He thinks it's the best thing in the world and we should bring it back.

That could be a problem for her, too, because she'll have to answer, not just with that convenient answer I just gave you, she'll say, "Oh, I know. I know that was then. But now he wants to be back in the game. How you feel about that?" And she's going to be sideways with the first boss.

AVLON: Look, I think that will be a fascinating conversation that something like that will occur, Dianne Feinstein and others. And there's the question about being accountable for executing Trump's orders if you're CIA director that could make folks uncomfortable. If that's what's making her uncomfortable, she should definitely not go forward, because she will be answering to Donald Trump, and this crew is very much more hawkish on torture. Even than, I think, W. was.

And it's fair to say to judge somebody's career in context. Absolutely fair. These were the early days of the war on terror. But she's going to

have to answer for the things she did. Yes, she was following orders, but that's not a sufficient argument. But if she's concerned about the things she's going to be asked to do going forward, then that's a different point of conscience.

CAMEROTA: Next topic, the Iran deal. The president -- the deadline is fast approaching, May 12. The president has to decide whether to stay in or get out. What do the signs point to?

BURNS: Look, I think all the people around him in Washington expect that he is more likely to pull out than not. But the question now is, is there some kind of middle path where he can certainly that Iran is in compliance but not move forward to slap on sanctions that would blow the deal to pieces.

This is a place where, at the end of the day, the only view that really matters is the president's. And he is, as in most thing, sort of a roll of the dice.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, to the extent that logic can be used as a guide, he says he wants to negotiate with North Korea with a guy who he knows is a homicidal actor within his own administration or regime. But he doesn't want to talk to Iran about how to modify this deal. He wants to just pull out. So logic is not helpful to him.

But there's no win for him n backing up an Obama deal. That's what's going to be the exigency pushing him to Saturday.

So just to give you a quick take, because you raised it earlier, the supporters of the president are leaning on the federal judge, Ellis, in the Manafort case and saying, "Listen to what he said. He's finally speaking the truth. A federal judge says Mueller is way too far out over his skis. We're going to talk about that in the next block. Is it a big issue, yes or no?

AVLON: It is a big issue.

CUOMO: All right.

AVLON: Although you can't make too big a deal of it. It's about what the judge intended. But they've got a fact pattern, and they can really hang their hat on.

CUOMO: All right, good. So you can make the case. Good. We'll keep the next block.

All right. Here's a little metaphor for what we're dealing with right now in politics. Put it up on the screen. Lava shooting hundreds of feet into the air. Now, it's metaphorical in Washington, D.C. It is too real to too many people living on the ground on the big island in Hawaii. So many communities reduced to ash. You have to look at what the aftermath is.

[06:25:04] Once this part goes away, you think it's over. The problem is going to just be beginning. We'll take you through the latest, next.


CAMEROTA: The volcano emergency on Hawaii's big island is intensifying. You have to see this video in order to understand what's going on there. This is lava shooting from the ground in this neighborhood. This is reaching up to 300 feet in the air. More than two dozen homes have already been destroyed. And earthquakes continue to rattle the region.

CNN's meteorologist Jennifer Gray that the latest. This is just scary stuff, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Could you imagine? This is incredibly scary. And those earthquakes are continuing. We've had more than 150 in the last 24 hours. We've also had additional fissures, and more are expected. We're now up to 10.

And not to mention the poisonous gases that are rising from those fissures. Extremely dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide. And so not knowing how many more fissures are going to open and how many more earthquakes are going to happen, if you are in those evacuation areas, you have got to get out. Because there's so much unknown about this volcano.

We do know, though, that it's one of the world's most active volcanos. It's been constantly erupting since 1983.