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Trump Financial Disclosure Form References Payment to Michael Cohen; Trump Pushes Back on Report He Caved to China on ZTE; Nuclear Disarmament Question Could Scuttle Trump/Kim Jong-Un Talks; 22 million Yemenis Deal with Hunger, Disease as War Drags On. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired May 16, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:31:53] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're following breaking news and following the financial disclosure form that President Trump has just submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.
Let's get right to our national political reporter, M.J. Lee, who has been going through the statement.
M.J., there's a reference to the payment that President Trump made to his long-time personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. Tell us about that.
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. We are still poring through these documents, but this is the key piece of information that we have been waiting for in the disclosure of this financial disclosure form today. And there's language in there that specifically addresses the payment that Donald Trump made to his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. This, of course, has been of such interest to us because we know that Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. Earlier this month, Rudy Giuliani disclosed unexpectedly that President Trump himself had paid back Michael Cohen.
So here's the key language in the document that we're looking at right now. If you look at the top of the document, the OGE says, "It has concluded that the information related to the payment made by Mr. Cohen is required to be reported and that the information provided meets the disclosure requirement for reportable liability."
Breaking that down in plain English, this is the kind of payment that Trump made to Mr. Cohen that should have been reported. If you look further into the document where this is essentially the Trump camp addressing this, they say they basically disagree, that they do not see this as a reportable liability, but in the interest of transparency, they're going to do it any way. So what the language here says is that Donald Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, sought reimbursement of expenses and that Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017. Now, they say that the range of this payment was somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000. So not exactly saying what the amount was. But that would actually make sense if, as we know, Cohen used $130,000 of his own money to make this payment to Stormy Daniels. I just want to raise one quick thing. When Rudy Giuliani made this
news earlier in the month, he also said that these were made as monthly installments of $35,000, and that he actually paid far more than $130,000 to Cohen, somewhere between $460,000 and $470,000. So I think the next question for Rudy Giuliani is, what about the rest of this payment that you had mentioned. Because, again, the amount listed in this financial disclosure form is between $100,000 and $250,000 -- Wolf?
BLITZER: And we know $130,000 went from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels, part of that hush money agreement only a few days before the presidential election.
I know you're still going through the documents. We'll get back to you.
M.J., thank you very much.
Other important news we're following, has President Trump already caved to one of China's demands? According to the "Washington Post," he has. The newspaper says it's obtained a list of demands from the Chinese government ahead of the high-stakes trade talks with the U.S., and at least one demand involves ZTE. That's the Chinese phone company the president said he wanted to help. The president is pushing back on this report, tweeting among other things, quote, "We have not seen China's demands yet, which should be a few in that previous U.S. administrations have done so poorly in negotiating, China has seen our demands. There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe."
Joining us now, the reporter that broke this story, our political analyst, "Washington Post" columnist, Josh Rogin.
Josh, thank you very much for joining us.
He says the "Washington Post" and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China. There was nothing false about your story.
[13:35:59] JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST; I have the list of demands. I have confirmed with Trump administration officials that they have received this list of demands from the Chinese. But don't take my word for it, Wolf. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking to the National Press Club yesterday, and I quote, "Before landing in China, we sent them a list of our needs and they responded with a similarly detailed, but as you can imagine, quite different list of their proposals. The gap remains wide."
So this list exists. It was passed to the American side during their trip to Beijing. Maybe the president didn't see it. Maybe he's denying that he saw it. Hard to know exactly what he meant.
But the point here is that the gap between the United States and the Chinese government on how to resolve this growing trade dispute is very, very wide. And that's what they're negotiating right now. BLITZER: And briefly, tell us why the president is, all of a sudden,
in the last few days, so interested in helping create jobs in China for ZTE, this telecom company.
ROGIN: The Chinese government, in advance of these latest third-round of talks, pressured Trump to give something publicly on ZTE to have the talks continue. And so he tweeted, "Let's return jobs to China and help ZTE get back in business. I've ordered Secretary Ross to do just that."
There was huge blowback from Congress, the Intelligence Community. Everyone said, oh, my god, what's going on here? How do we have this company, which is an intelligence risk, which is a predatory investor, which is busting sanctions on Iran and North Korea, why would Trump do this reversal? Of course, he reversed himself again and said, oh, well, we'll see what happens. I think that's a fair assessment of where we are because he could change his mind again. He could change his mind three times. Still, that confusion itself is a pretty big problem.
BLITZER: Excellent reporting, Josh.
ROGIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Very good reporting. You've got the whole list of all of China's demands --
ROGIN: ZTE is in there.
BLITZER: Yes. Of course, it is.
So good reporting.
ROGIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Coming up, the summit standoff as North Korea threatens to cancel a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. I'll talk with someone who has troubleshooted diplomatic issues with North Korea over the years. The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson -- there you see him -- he's my guest. He's standing by live.
[13:42:32] BLITZER: So what is the meaning of nuclear disarmament? That may be the key question that could scuttle the summit next month between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Here with me to discuss is Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has been to North Korea on missions on several occasions.
Governor, thank you very much for joining us.
So you think it's going to happen, the summit June 12th in Singapore or no?
BILL RICHARDSON, (D), FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. AND FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I believe it will happen, because both sides need it. President Trump needs it. Kim Jong-Un needs it. Both have invested enormously. East Asia is the most difficult foreign-policy national-security crisis. So I think it will happen. I think both sides are right now seeking leverage, negotiating a bit. I think the North Koreans are flexing their muscles.
Again, what's happened, Wolf, is that we're speaking with different messages. The national security is saying one thing, the adviser. The secretary of state, who I think has been very positive and restrained, is right --
BLITZER: You're talking about John Bolton.
RICHARDSON: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: The North Koreans, in their statement, cited his recent comments, comparing what's going on potentially in North Korea to what happened to Gadhafi in Libya. And we all know what eventually happened. The Libyans gave up their nuclear program and a few years later he was overthrown and killed.
Listen to what Bolton said over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think we're looking at the Libya model of 2003-2004.
I think it would be a manifestation of the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons. It doesn't have to be the same as Libya, but it's got to be something concrete and tangible. It may be that Kim Jong-Un has some ideas and we should hear him out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Part of their statement, the North Korean statement, specifically mentioned John Bolton, saying what he says about Gadhafi and Libya is unacceptable.
RICHARDSON: That's right. The North Koreans saw Gadhafi leave office. Kim Jong-Un, his main objective is to stay in office. To get security guarantees, that we not try to knock him off. And then you've got the secretary of state saying that maybe North Korea wants to trade their nuclear weapons for private-sector assistance, economic growth. So they're speaking with mixed messages.
And I think what has also happened, North Korea is flexing their muscles. You know, you've got the North Koreans releasing the three Americans, saying they're going to destroy that nuclear site. I think they want a little gesture in return. What do they get in return? The president saying, well, they're doing this because of the great pressure he's brought. I'm going to get a Nobel Prize for this. I think North Koreans are sending messages, but the fundamental problem, Wolf, is that the North Koreans have a different definition of denuclearization. To them, it's a freeze or curbing of the use of nuclear weapons. For us, it's destroying them, as Bolton said. Taking --
[13:45:28] BLITZER: And the president said no nukes. In the North Korean statement, they made another reference to John Bolton, the president's new national security advisor, saying, "In 2003, during proposed talks, Bolton was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations" -- a job you once had, as well. He called the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, at the time, quote, "a tyrannical dictator." They remember that. They clearly don't like Bolton. I do think they have greater respect for the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who has now visited Pyongyang twice over the past couple of months.
RICHARDSON: You know, Wolf, that's huge. Nobody gets to see Kim Jong-Un. Maybe you're a Chinese leader, recently the South Korean. The fact that Pompeo has had maybe three hours of meetings, two meetings with him, and Kim Jong-Un, they talk about logistics, and where the summit will take place. My recommendation is to send -- because of this little mishap, this little war of words -- send Pompeo back to get a framework for the talks. This is not going to be just a one-shot media event. It's going to be several years, I believe. What we need to get from the North Koreans is timetables on what they'll do with their weapons, and inspections, international inspections, not just the International Atomic Energy Agency, but maybe some U.S. inspections.
BLITZER: Yes. And Mike Pompeo refers to the North Korean leader as Chairman Kim with a lot of respect. Clearly, that's something, as you well know, having dealt with --
RICHARDSON: That's what they want. They want respect. They want to be players on the international scene. They want to be the big shots with us in Asia. It doesn't mean they are. But they're very sensitive. They don't think like we do. They don't think in quid pro quos.
I think both sides should cool off, especially the administration. The administration is now saying maybe we won't need the summit after all. They shouldn't say that. Just stick to letting Pompeo be the main spokesman. Bolton is more hardline. But it's really important for the president to succeed in this punishment. We're all rooting for him. But he's making it hard by, you know, these tweets and these changing of positions and talking about, well, the summit may not be that important. Well, it is. It's critical to the world and to the United States and to Kim Jong-Un.
BLITZER: We'll see if it happens. The North Koreans have canceled their meeting that were supposed to be today with the South Koreans. That's gone away. They don't like these military exercises, U.S., South Korea. They never have like them.
We'll continue this conversation, Governor, down the road.
Thank you very much for joining us.
RICHARDSON: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Richardson, of New Mexico.
Coming up, a CNN exclusive. Taking you inside the world's worst humanitarian crisis. And 22 million people dealing with hunger and disease, as the war in Yemen drags on for yet another year.
[13:52:44] BLITZER: If is often called the forgotten war, but for those who live in Yemen, it is a miserable life they can't escape.
Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, got exclusion access to one of key battlegrounds in Yemen's devastating war.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the conflict grows with Iran here in the Yemeni city of Tise (ph), a proxy war that America is deeply involved in takes a darker, brutal, yet unseen turn.
These rare drone images show how barely a wall is left unscathed in the fight against Iranian-backed Houthi forces here. Saudi Arabia is leading that fight with its massive air power. The U.S. arms the Saudis and provides them with intelligence, too. It also refuels their jets midair without knowing where they'll strike next.
UNIDENTIFIED GUIDE: And then the war broke out.
PATON WALSH: My guide around the city is Myube (ph). He wants to hide his face because aid workers are targeted here. He came from D.C. because his sick mother needed help. He started a charity.
UNIDENTIFIED GUIDE: When life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. OK. The Houthis are right there, by the way. That's the line and that's where they send mortar shells from both hills right there.
A week ago, there was a mortar shell that attacked, that came from the Houthis over to that neighborhood. I just so happened to be in the hospital and a little girl came in with her heart out. It was very, very difficult to see. She was about 8 years old and you can see her heart pumping.
It's inhumane. I mean, who sends mortar shells and rockets into a -- this is the most crowded city in Yemen.
PATON WALSH: Humanity perseveres, however, in the spirals of dust and torn plastic sheeting that are homes for tens of thousands of displaced, readying themselves for the unimaginable toll that hunger and disease can take on an infant girl reduced almost to twigs and bones.
PATON WALSH: She barely weighs 4 pounds. And her mother, Miriam, says this is apparently an improvement.
[13:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): When I came here and was displaced, she was normal, and she could eat. Then she started to have missiles, diarrhea and vomiting. She got very skinny. I feel like crying sometimes.
PATON WALSH: Her family are survivors after her husband's brother and son were killed in an air strike, she says, leaving them with the six children to feed.
In Yemen's agony, where the Saudis have enough American support and resolve against Iran to fight on, nobody is going home until many more lives are lost and broken first.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN.
BLITZER: Awful, awful situation.
Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much for that report.
There's more news we're following. Coming up, a major document dump in the Russia investigation here in Washington. Nearly 2,000 pages of transcripts from people who attended an infamous meeting inside Trump Tower. We're poring through them. We'll have details when we come back.