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Rudy Giuliani States President Trump Make Take Fifth Amendment if Subpoenaed to Testify in Russia Probe; Republicans May Have Another Candidate for CIA Director if Current Nominee Falters in Senate Confirmation. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 7, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": And if you're powerful and wealthy enough it turns out you can hire people to deploy that tactic.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Ronan Farrow, thank you for the great reporting. Please keep us posted on what you learn next.
FARROW: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.
FARROW: Good to be here.
CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news, so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident the president will not take the fifth in this case?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can I ever be confident of that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is going to be evidence of payments to other women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a legal issue if the president's credibility is thrown this much into question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is saying he didn't know about it when it 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is very highly qualified and she's excellent at what she does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 7, 8:00 in the east. The news keeps rolling in, so let's get right to it.
Rudy Giuliani is still trying to get his stories straight. The president's newest lawyer says President Trump could defy a special counsel subpoena, and he suggests the president could invoke his Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the Russia investigation.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime President Trump tweeting this morning in defense of his controversial CIA nominee, saying Democrats want Gina Haspel out because she is, quote, too tough on terror. Sources now tell CNN that national security officials are working on contingency plans in the case that Haspel falters when she is grilled by senators about her role in Bush era terror interrogations.
So let's bring in CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Let's start with the big headlines here and work our way down, if you would. Rudy Giuliani goes out there and says subpoena, we are not going to comply. And why? Because people lie. That's why, David Gregory.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and really laying it at the feet of investigators, the FBI, who he has called stormtroopers, a special counsel and his team that he is talking about manipulating evidence. It's a sad turn for the former U.S. attorney of the southern district of New York and mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. But he is involved in a different game. He has so far been quite ineffective, admitting that he is not up to speed on the facts of the case, of all of the questions surrounding President Trump which is hurting his client.
But he is playing a different game, a political game, a PR game of trying to undermine the process, to undermine the investigation, and to say that his client shouldn't be part of it at all even though he wants to testify. So I think Giuliani is really doing the work of working the process, working the system here to try to undermine whatever conclusion Mueller ultimately reaches.
CAMEROTA: We always talk about how the president wants to testify. I feel like that is me wanting to workout today. I know it's never going to happen, but I say that I want to. But it's never going to happen and I know that. So I feel like we keep giving the president credit somehow, like he wants to testify but his lawyers won't let him. But that is never going to happen, Nia-Malika.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that is exactly right, and I agree with you in your workout analogy. I'm the exact same way with working out. So the president gets credit. Of course he wants to testify, obviously if he wanted to testify he would testify. But he is playing this sort of strategy where he won't testify because it's not fair, because this is an investigation he has said that is essentially run by Democrats, angry Democrats, he has said before.
He has talked about Mueller being too tarnished in working for the Obama administration, and therefore he must be unfair, therefore he must be a Democrat. It is certainly something that will work with his base. And we know that. We know that his base is very attached to him. He has talked about his base being with him. So that is the strategy.
CUOMO: Base isn't enough to win.
HENDERSON: Yes, exactly, exactly.
CUOMO: The base alone isn't enough to win. The mandate is always to grow. We forget now, but out of the box they had an initiative that they can get a lot of attention called DJT 100 that Jared was supposed to oversee reportedly to get his popularity as near 100 as they could get it. Now look where he is.
So this idea of never going to happen, I'm not ready to say that at all. I think there is a good chance it happens. But here is the rationale of Rudy Giuliani about why pleading the fifth is a legit option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident the president will not take the fifth in this case?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: How can I be confident of that? When I'm facing a situation with the president, and all the other lawyers are, and which every lawyer in America thinks he would be a fool to testify.
[08:05:02] I have got a client who wants to testify. Please don't. He said it yesterday. And Jay and I said to ourselves, my goodness, I hope we get a chance to tell him the risks that he is taking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You have plenty of chances to tell him. They are right to be skeptical is just because the president says something doesn't mean he's telling the truth. However, David Gregory, let's look into the future. If he doesn't testify, if he doesn't meet with the special counsel, how do they end the probe? What does this mean for midterms? What does this mean for elections against him where these questions are just swirling over his head? And the whole propaganda machine that is working for him right now will be equaled and bettered by his opponents.
GREGORY: The president I think in his mind has been in complete control of what has happened since he has been president in terms of explaining why he took certain steps, like firing Jim Comey. When he said I did it because of this Russia investigation, and then Giuliani last week says no, he wanted to get cleared and have Comey come out and say he wasn't being investigated and he didn't get that, so he fired him. So he gets into trouble based on what other people have said. But I think in his mind he says, look, I took actions that were right and I can explain those.
But I think where he really wants to be able to speak to the special counsel is everything that happened during the campaign. All of these questions of collusion with Russians, any help that was provided, anyone working with the Russians who were trying to interfere in the election that Trump didn't know anything about that. That is where I think he probably does want to speak his mind, and in his own mind thinks that he has a good story to tell and he alone can absolve himself. If he doesn't do any of those things and if these questions linger, it is not a question of whether he faces charges, which is a complicated legal question. It is what could ultimately be in Mueller's final report. And the timing issue is one that if he gets too close to midterm elections does he lay low and wait to draw some conclusions until afterwards?
CAMEROTA: Nia-Malika, Rudy Giuliani said a lot of things that are getting attention. He also said I guess it's possible that Michael Cohen paid other women in this way. He said both things. I don't think so but yes, sure, maybe that is a fund that he used to pay other women. We didn't need that introduced, number one. And then he also said it wasn't a campaign contribution because those funds were going to be paid anyway, regardless of the campaign. But if it were a campaign contribution it came from a private fund, so no biggie.
CUOMO: And it was paid back.
HENDERSON: And it was paid back, right. And he kept saying that. Almost in every instance he goes back to this idea that if it was for the campaign no bigs because he paid it back. The FEC will figure out that whole thing and if there was some sort of irregularity in terms of the reporting of this. So that will be something for the legal part of this.
In terms of this idea that perhaps there were other women out there, that is in some ways a question that people have been asking since the Stormy payment was revealed. Were there other women out there who were also paid? There seems to be something like $450,000 or so that Michael Cohen was paid as part of this retainer, $35,000 --
CUOMO: Let's pay the sound, Nia-Malika, so people have context for it. Here's some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said this was a regular arrangement he had with Michael Cohen. So did Michael Cohen make payments to other women for the president?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I have no knowledge of that, but I would think if it were necessary, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Remember, Rudy wasn't brought in to deal with Stormy Daniels. So that's his defense of why I'm learning the facts of it, because he says it's irrelevant. But his overall point is he is not worried about what you think, what I think, what anybody who is not already in the Trump camp thinks about any of that that has to deal with his behavior. They don't care about that. He only cares about making it hard for prosecutors to show proof of criminality.
HENDERSON: I think he should care given that there is a PR strategy as well as a legal strategy, as well. And the idea that he is saying he is just getting up to speed on the Stormy Daniels, case which in some ways the facts of this aren't that, you would think, aren't that hard to get up to speed on. What did he know? When did he know it? How much was paid? Were there other women? These are simple questions that you would imagine if you had a reliable narrator you would be able to get the answers to. Of course he doesn't have a reliable narrator in Donald Trump so his story keeps changing. So he is on TV essentially saying I'm not up to speed on this very simple exchange with Stormy Daniels.
But there is a glibness about his presentation. Oh, this happens all the time with rich people and elite people, they essentially have these slush funds where they're giving out money to people they may have wronged to settle these cases so there is no public embarrassment, which just sounds -- I think if you are an average American you are scratching your head as this is the way that people live their lives? And apparently Rudy Giuliani is saying this is what happens.
[08:10:010] GREGORY: But Chris, I think that analysis is right. And this is where I think Rudy Giuliani is right. The sleaze factor attached to President Trump is what it is. People have made a judgment about it. And I can't imagine that anyone is concerned about it, Stormy Daniels or others. Lying to the country about this or other matters has a cumulative effect and a negative effect we assume at some point for President Trump since he told a lot of untruths in the course of the campaign as well, launched his political career off of a lie.
But that is what it is. I think where Giuliani's focus is, among others, let's focus on the Russia probe and making it clear that this is a flawed process, because if they can overcome this and if it just becomes fodder for a report to Congress for an impeachment proceeding that the president and his allies can seek to undermine as being a political hit job, then they will run with that. They will run with it through and past the midterms and into a reelection campaign presumably, to say that the president has overcome this and overcome something that was deeply unfair.
CAMEROTA: OK, David Gregory, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you very much for the analysis.
CUOMO: On another front, CNN has learned that national security officials and some Republicans are preparing contingency plans in case CIA director nominee Gina Haspel falters in her confirmation hearing this week. President Trump defending his pick in a new tweet that also represents the problem for Haspel. "My highly respected nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel," and she does have support from both sides, by the way, "has come under fire because she is too tough on terrorists. Think of that. In these very dangerous times we have the most qualified person, a woman who Democrats want out because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina." CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with details. What do we know?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. There is now Plan B in place by all accounts. Not clear how formal it is, but sources are telling CNN that there are plans to potentially tap another person to be the nominee if Haspel falters in her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. That would be Sue Gordon. That is a name we are hearing. She is the deputy director of national intelligence. She could be the new nominee if Haspel falters.
Why might Haspel falter? She has decades of experience, as you say. She has support on both sides of the aisle. But, and it's a huge but, she was involved in the so-called enhanced interrogation, call it torture, program during the George W. Bush administration. She ran a black site in Thailand where some of these techniques were used.
At the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, if Haspel is asked about these techniques, these so-called torture techniques, it is going to drag a lot of history out in public for the CIA for the first time in years. If she is asked and answers about the specifics of it all, it could be the final problem for her nomination. It could lead to a new potential nominee. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, Barbara, thank you very much for all of that context and for the new reporting. Thank you.
So Rudy Giuliani insists the president could invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is subpoenaed by Robert Mueller. We have a member of the House Intelligence Committee with reaction next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president? Will you comply?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Well, we don't have to. He is the president of the United States. We can assert the same privilege as other presidents have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That was Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's newest lawyer, laying out more details of the strategy he thinks will best serve the president. President Trump tweeting this just moments ago.
"The Russia witch hunt is rapidly losing credibility. The House Intelligence Committee found no collusion, coordination or anything else with Russia. So, now the probe says, OK, what else is there? How about obstruction for made up phony crime? There is no o. It's called fighting back."
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, the aforementioned House Intelligence Committee. I will get to what the president's tweet was.
But first, let's talk about Rudy Giuliani. So, when he says the president doesn't have to comply with the subpoena, is that right?
REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: No, that is completely wrong. I mean, as a matter of law this has never been tested, but it's also not in question. I mean, Nixon was forced to produce the tapes by a court, and of course, Bill Clinton, in the litigation surrounding his case, was compelled to participate in a civil, not a criminal, but a civil case.
So, no, the idea that the president would have to -- could be subpoenaed is not open to question. Now he could plead the Fifth. That's a totally --
CAMEROTA: And in fact, Rudy Giuliani seems to suggest that that is something that the president would do.
HIMES: Well, it's a remarkable thing, right? I mean, first of all just on its own, the way Trump talked about pleading the Fifth. Remember, when the Clinton staffers pleaded the Fifth around the whole e-mail thing, he said only the mob pleads the Fifth. If you're guilty -- it's not true that you are guilty if you plead the Fifth.
But, of course, he mocked people for taking the Fifth. As an elected official if I got myself in trouble and my recourse was to plead the Fifth that is saying I won't be transparent with my constituents and the president of the United States would be saying, I'm not going to be transparent.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, what they say -- you heard Rudy Giuliani saying I'm not going to send him into perjury trap because he thinks that Robert Mueller's investigators are not trying to trap the president. And he's not going to let his client through that.
HIMES: They are not trying to trap the president. They are conducting an investigation just as Bill Clinton was investigated and Richard Nixon was investigated. It is important to the president's people to make it sound like Mueller is biased.
But, look, I have all the sympathy in the world for Rudy Giuliani and the president's lawyers because the president is incapable of telling the truth on these matters. He just on Twitter this morning admitted to obstruction of justice.
Fighting back that there is a legal word for fighting back against an investigation and that's called obstruction. So, you know, look, of course, his lawyers will do everything they can to prevent him from doing what he does every single day which is lying. When you lie to an investigator that is called perjury.
CAMEROTA: I want to get to that tweet for a second because it does bring up your committee. The Russia witch-hunt is rapidly losing credibility. The House Intelligence Committee found no collusion, coordination or anything else with Russia. Is that a fact?
[08:20:13] HIMES: No, it's not a fact. I'm on that committee. I will tell you that the Republican report, which was produced without any Democratic support, which was cut short well before we interviewed any number of witnesses that were essential, well before we pushed back on huge claims of executive privilege by Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski was a sham.
That report was a sham. You just need to read it to know how shotty that work was. Look, that doesn't matter, water under the bridge. What matters is that Mueller who has far more resources than either of the congressional investigative committees. He is doing his work and needs to be allowed to finish that.
CAMEROTA: So, what if the president does ignore the subpoena or whatever the right verb is for how to not comply and what if he does plead the Fifth? Then where is he left? I mean, what does that do for Mueller's investigation? How does the public ever find out?
HIMES: Well, again, the president can't ignore a subpoena. The law is not ambiguous. The president needs to cooperate with an investigation. The president like every other American who has to comply can plead the Fifth. There is testimonial privileges that will protect the president if he chooses.
Now, that is a huge political issue for him as it would be for any elected official, who chose not to be transparent about his activities. Remember, this is a president who says I have nothing to hide so why would he plead the Fifth?
CAMEROTA: I mean, it does sound like it is still an open question about whether or not a sitting U.S. president does have to comply or cooperate as to what level?
HIMES: Well, it's not an open question about whether the president would have to cooperate or could be asked by a court to cooperate. No citizen in this country is above the law. Again, Nixon had to produce the Watergate tapes ultimately leading to Articles of Impeachment.
Clinton had to testify in a civil case, which, of course, is arguably less serious than a criminal case. The president could plead the Fifth. That would be his recourse. That's where Rudy Giuliani went, but again, the American public needs to look back at what the president said about people who take the Fifth.
CAMEROTA: OK, the chair of your committee, Devin Nunes, wants to hold the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in contempt of Congress. Let me play for you what he said about this threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (via telephone): Two weeks ago, we sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a classified letter. Per usual it was ignored and not acknowledged, just completely ignored. So, last week we sent a subpoena. On Thursday, we discovered that they are not going to comply with our subpoena.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what are you going to do about it?
NUNES: -- a very important information that we need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what are you going to do?
NUNES: The only thing left that we can do is we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt. That is what I'm going to press for this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What is your reaction?
HIMES: You know, it is beyond crazy. So, let's review the facts that Devin obscured there. In his campaign and there's a number of Republicans who are out there solely to discredit the Justice Department and the FBI. They have demanded production of documents, the Comey memorandum which the Department of Justice produced.
What is known as the EC, the reason for the establishment, the original reason for the establishment of the investigation the Department of Justice produced, the FISA affidavits authorizing wiretapping of some individuals, the Department of Justice produced.
All of those things were breaking with Department of Justice precedent that said they don't provide documents in ongoing --
CAMEROTA: So, what hasn't Devin Nunes got that he wants.
HIMES: What Devin Nunes hasn't fully done is completely discredited the Mueller investigation. That is why you run to the White House a year ago and say you are going to brief the president on information you got from the White House.
That's why you defend Michael Flynn, issue a House report critical of the Mueller investigation well before your committee has finished its investigation. Make no mistake, this is about discrediting Mueller and the DOJ.
CAMEROTA: Do you think he is going to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress?
HIMES: That is not going to happen, right. That would require a vote of two-thirds of the Senate. Look, even Devin's Republican colleagues -- talk to Trey Gowdy who has spoken in defense of this investigation and FBI and the Department of Justice. Even Devin's Republican colleagues are getting tired of this game.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Jim Himes, great to have you here. Thank you so much for being here -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Add this to the mix, a federal judge slamming prosecutors in Special Counsel Mueller's probe saying they are using Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud case to get to the president. Has Mueller exceeded his authority? How about a debate on a Monday morning? Coming next.
CUOMO: All right. So, this is an interesting development. A federal judge is questioning Special Counsel's Bob Mueller's authority saying he should not have, quote, "unfettered power" in probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
At one point, the judge says Mueller's motivation is to remove Trump from office. Judge T.S. Ellis is telling the prosecutor, "You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud." Is that true? The judge says prosecutors really just want to pinch Manafort to get him to turn on Trump and he says prosecutors do that all the time.
Let's bring in former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, and CNN legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, who also served as Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ. This is shaping up as something called a two-on-one because I know both of you cats are on the side of this.
So, I'm going to offer up the other side and you can bat it back and forth. I'll start with you, Renato. This case has been dragging on. It was in D.C., got removed by Manafort into Virginia.
They are slow-walking case. They didn't want to show the judge their authority to validate the extension of this principle of what they are probing and how it applies to Manafort. The judge doesn't like the delays. It reeks of opportunism. Your take.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, if none of this is relevant --
CUOMO: Aha, I got rid of one of you, and now I go to you, Zeldin.