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Report: Trump as President Is More A Deal Breaker Than Deal Maker; Trump Blames DHS Secretary for Border Issues; Weinstein Charged with Rape; Russian Oligarch Met Cohen During Transition. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 25, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN on a Friday afternoon. We start this hour with the art of the deal, a roller coaster which has seen the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un on again, off again and maybe back on again. President Trump suggesting that hope of a summit is still alive.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to see perhaps. We're talking to them now. It was a very nice statement they put out. We'll see what happens. It could even be the 12th. We're talking to them now. They'd very much like to do it. We want to do it. We'll see what happens.


BALDWIN: A jarring whiplash reversal just 24 hours after abruptly cancelling his talks with the North Korea dictator. President Trump even saying they could still meet on the same June 12 date that he just canceled.

And when asked by a reporter if North Korea was playing games, the president said this --


TRUMP: Everybody plays games. You know that. You know that better than anybody.


BALDWIN: Meantime, we're also following breaking news on the Russia investigation. We are now learning that President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen held a Trump Tower meeting with one of the Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the U.S. who has been questioned by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The meeting came during the transition to the White House.

We will get you more on that. First, this North Korean summit is just one deal in a long line of many that Donald Trump has walked away from. In fact. It is one of the main principles touted in Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal." To quote him, "know when to walk away from the table". Zach Wolf is our digital director for CNN politics, he is with me now in Washington. Zach, what are some of the other high stakes deals Trump has bailed on?

ZACH WOLF, DIGITAL DIRECTOR FOR CNN POLITICS: There's a big difference here. The North Korea deal is his first kind of deal as president where he's got this principle and saying as a negotiating tactic, I'm ready to walk away. But if you have any doubt that he will walk away from the deal. Look at some of the others he has walked away from. There's the Iran nuclear deal. He also said he'd be willing to negotiate again with Iran if they wanted to come to the table. In the first days of his presidency, he walked away from the Transpacific Partnership, that huge trade deal with mostly Asian countries. In that case a lot of these countries have gone ahead and made their own deal without the U.S. and they're starting to work together.

There's the Paris Climate Accord that he walked away from just about one year ago in a couple of days. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that's not a part of that climate change deal to deal with climate change at this point. And then there are the deals that -- from the previous administration that he's tried to walk away from, but he hasn't really been able to yet. There's DACA, to help the children of undocumented immigrants, he's been trying to walk away from that one. The courts have stood in the way so far. And then there's Obamacare, which the Republicans are trying so hard to get out of and instead he's trying to instead essentially starve it.

So, the North Korean should know he is ready to walk away from stuff but it certainly in that sound bite he wants us when the go ahead.

BALDWIN: Zach, thank you. We'll have more on that coming up. Meantime, awkward details involving a tense relationship between the Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen and the president. Among these stunning revelations out today in "The Washington Post," President Trump soon came to regret selecting her for the job last October, even threatened to yank her nomination. At one-point Trump was overheard complained to his chief of staff John Kelly, saying, quote, "nobody likes her" as Nielsen sat nearby. You know how upset the president is about the border and how he berated Nielsen

Nick Miroff, Co-author of the piece for "The Washington Post." Nick, you and Josh have all this reporting on how upset the president is about the border and how he berated Nielsen, tell me what you've learned.

NICK MIROFF, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We know she's in a very difficult position. She's tasked with delivering policy solutions on an issue that he has this visceral anger about. And the fact is in the last couple of months the border numbers are going in the wrong direction, and she feels like that's a setback for his administration on an issue that is core to his base supporters.

BALDWIN: And he's taking it out on her?

MIROFF: That's right. She is very much somebody who is in that role because Chief of staff John Kelly wanted her there. She was Kelly's chief of staff when he was DHS secretary and she was his deputy in the White House. It's because of Kelly that she is in that role. I think Trump feels less obligated. It's not like someone he has personally selected.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: When you read deeper into your piece, you guys write about the night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress. This was winter of 2017 when he got Jared Kushner and Steve Miller together. I want you to tell me how you all reported he was acting like he was a rally, making up Hispanic names and making up crimes they would commit. Tell me about that.

MIROFF: That's right. This was shortly after when he was preparing his first speech to Congress, this is February of last year. He was talking to Miller and Kushner about what he would say on emigration and everyone was urging him to strike a softer tone and he was almost waxing nostalgic about what he used to do on the campaign trail and he played out a scene in which he would read the Hispanic names of criminals who committed rape or murder and said that the crowd would roar. It's just a little window in the kind of passion that he thinks that his core supporters have for this issue, for that kind of rhetoric, and I think he was really missing it.

BALDWIN: Wow. Around that time, you also report that Kirstjen Nielsen and Kelly would sit there and joke about the border wall.

MIROFF: Yes. We should keep in mind it's one thing to promise these soaring things on immigration like closing the border or building a wall from one end of the -- from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. But when you're in the position to actually have to do that, it looks a little different. With Kelly and now Secretary Nielsen, these are people who are looking at kind of the practical limitations of doing some of this stuff and the president doesn't necessarily want to hear that.

BALDWIN: Last question. We know that Secretary Nielsen penned her own resignation letter not 15 days ago. Do you think she's functioning on borrowed time?

MIROFF: I don't know that. I haven't spoke to someone who is convinced that she actually wrote a letter. But I think she is on shaky footing. I think if the border arrest numbers continue to go in the direction the president doesn't want, that puts her in even more difficult spot.

BALDWIN: Nick Miroff with "The Washington Post," thank you so much.

MIROFF: Good to be with you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, another Trump Tower meeting under scrutiny, this one involving new revelations with a Russian oligarch who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. and a the meeting he had with President Trump's fixer, Michael Cohen. CNN learning what they specifically discussed and why Robert Mueller's team is pretty interested in this. Also, Harvey Weinstein in the handcuffs. After a seven-month investigation the disgraced Hollywood Titan is now facing rape charges. His defense team offering this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN BRATMAN, ATTORNEY FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood.


BALDWIN: One of his accusers joins me next.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It is a moment so many women and to be fair men as well have been fighting for, a moment so many survivors thought would never come. Film mogul Harvey Weinstein finally in handcuffs. After a seven-month investigation Weinstein turned himself in on three felony charges that he raped one woman and forced another woman to perform oral sex. Weinstein was released on a $10 million bond.

He surrendered his passport and will wear a monitoring device as he waits for trial. His attorney says he will plead not guilty to all of the charges telling reporters today outside that courthouse that Hollywood was partly to blame for the accusations against his client.


BRATMAN: Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood, and to the extent that there is bad behavior in that history, that is not what this is about. Bad behavior is not on trial in this case. It's only if you intentionally committed a criminal act, and Mr. Weinstein vigorously denies that.


BALDWIN: Criminally Weinstein faces allegations involving two women, but he has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 50 women spanning two decades. My next guest is one of the first women to come forward publicly. She is actress Katherine Kendall. Katherine, welcome back. Thank you so much.


BALDWIN: Your reaction to seeing this man in handcuffs in a courtroom?

KENDALL: It's emotional. But there is a lot of relief. I think so many women who I have met now who have suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein are collectively taking a huge sigh.

[14:15:00] I think we're in shock. I don't know if any of us ever thought we would see the day. It's kind of a profound moment.

BALDWIN: A profound moment, another moment I want to play. I don't know if you've seen this clip. He's walking out of the courthouse. Guys, roll the tape. It looked to me like he was smiling on his way out. What do you think he's smiling about? KENDALL: You know, part of me thinks maybe it was nervous laughter.

Could it really be that he's so delusional that he thinks that he's, you know, innocent? I don't think it could be, but I don't know how far his delusions take him. I think he's very smug and disrespectful.

BALDWIN: You heard his lawyer outside the court, right, he maintains all of this sexual activity was consensual and said bad behavior isn't criminal behavior and that Weinstein didn't invent the casting couch. To that you would say what?

KENDALL: I don't believe that Harvey thinks he's innocent truly. I don't think he could have been in the room with so many of those women, seeing them cry, seeing them beg and say no, there's no way he could not have known. That's my opinion. I'm talking from my only personal experience that he was terrifying people. No, he didn't invent the casting couch, but it's time it ends.

BALDWIN: To your own personal experience, Katherine, 1993, you're in his apartment, you're an aspiring actress, take us to the worst of it.

KENDALL: I think the worst of it is the emotional take away. I had trained and gone to acting school to meet and work with this luminary and to have a chance to be given scripts from him, and to be told that he believed in me et cetera. And to sort realize that it was a ruse. And I think physically, and most terrifying moment was when he came out of the bathroom naked and sort of did a dance with me about trying to make something happen after that. That was my most terrifying moment. Even though I left there victorious, I still felt like in some ways I had lost.

BALDWIN: You didn't, and you stood up for yourself in all those years and months in the investigation. This is a profound moment for women like you. And also, I just want to read a tweet from Asia Argento she tweeted today Harvey Weinstein will take his first step on his inevitable descent to hell. We, the women, finally have real hope for justice. And then Rose McGowan was on TV today and she says Weinstein raped her at Sundance. And she says that this is just the beginning. Here she was.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he thought this day would come?

ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS: No. No, he did not. Because the system was created to protect men like him. The system was created by men like him, and his accomplices to protect him. It's tragic that it takes over a hundred women and that probably means like a thousand, let's be real. I mean, this man had hunting grounds all over the world and he had accomplices and a complicity machine. He was the cult leader of Hollywood. There will always be sociopaths and predators like Harvey Weinstein, but I find his complicity machine a lot more guilty.


BALDWIN: To her point about hunting ground, there were all the reports that Weinstein had private investigators, spies to help him cover up, do you think that what happened today is the beginning of solving a larger problem? Does his arrest send a message to other people in Hollywood who were complicit or stayed silent?

KENDALL: I hope that it sends a message to people everywhere, predators everywhere, and I hope that it sends a message to his network of people that absolutely enabled him to keep his behavior going. I think she's right. And I think that if people don't see consequences, there won't be change. But it takes a lot of bystanders to turn their head and just not confront what was really happening. There's no way that what he did, did not involve a network of people that helped him do this for over two decades.

[14:20:00] BALDWIN: Katherine Kendall, your voice is powerful. Thank you for using it.

KENDALL: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Coming up, why was a Russian oligarch meeting with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower shortly after the presidential election? And why this meeting has the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. We'll discuss that next.


BALDWIN: As the president's conspiracy theory that the FBI planted a spy inside his campaign completely falls apart, we are now learning new details about the classified briefing involving intelligence officials. You will remember there was all kind of outrage that the president's chief of staff and lawyer showed up at the start of the meeting, which according to the White House, was only to say the president wants transparency.

Moments ago, a congressional source tells CNN something different, that they only left, Kelly and this lawyer, after some lawmakers inside the meeting said it wasn't appropriate for them to be there. Democrats and Republicans in that meeting say nothing is new and nothing suggests the president's conspiracy is even remotely accurate.

With me now is "The Wall Street Journal" politics and business reporter, Shelby Holiday, and former federal prosecutor, Daniel Goldman. I had lawyers on yesterday, Shelby, saying if Emmitt Flood is part of the White House for the Russian investigation, why is he sitting in on this meeting and now learning they were basically booted after some people expressed concern.

SHELBY HOLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": And CNN is also saying that Sarah Huckabee Sanders may not have told the whole truth when she addressed these questions. She said they just made some remarks off at the top and then they left. What CNN is reporting now that is just coming out, they stayed until they were asked to leave or told it was inappropriate to be there.

Daniel, can you speak to the legal inappropriateness. But from a political and media perspective, none of it looks good to even show up at this meeting. And, secondly, why lie about it or give as a narrative you know is ultimately going to come out and be disproved. It doesn't make much sense.

BALDWIN: Good question. Legally speaking, should they have been there?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The answer is pretty clearly no. Particularly based on what the Democratic congressmen have said. It is not appropriate for a White House lawyer representing the White House on a Russia probe to be at a meeting discussing a confidential informant related to the Russia probe. That is a problem on many fronts. The other thing that I find very interesting about it is that even their explanation doesn't make any sense because -- and I'm talking less about the explanation as to why -- how long they were there, but if they were there to say that we just are advocating for transparency, that's not how criminal investigations work.

They're not supposed to be transparent. A confidential informant is confidential for a reason. It's a little ironic for a president to be advocating for transparency now when of course he wants transparency for this investigation into him. He doesn't want transparency when it relates to his tax returns, but he definitely wants transparency when there's a confidential informant giving evidence about his campaign.

BALDWIN: Right, you can't cherry pick when you want to be transparent and when you can't. There's also new questions about President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen. CNN has learned the long- time Trump fixer held a meeting with a Russian oligarch at Trump Tower days before his inauguration. If his name Vekselberg sounds familiar, this is why. He was questioned by FBI agents working with the special counsel earlier this year. And then in April he was sanctioned by the U.S. for his role in an election interference.

And we know this meeting with Cohen reportedly only lasted for 30 minutes. Shelby, what more do we know about the meeting and then how damaging is this to learn?

HOLIDAY: 30 minutes first of all, is a lot of time. It sounds maybe like not so much. That's a long time to be talking about some stuff. One of the things that we do know from various news outlets is they were talking about improving relations with Russia. This is a big thing prosecutors are looking at, whether or not during the campaign there was some sort of quid quo pro with Russia, help us win the election and we'll help you out, maybe relieve some sanctions or do some things to benefit the Russia economy and Putin.

Unclear what they were talking about. We also know Michael Cohen participated in pushing this peace plan, that was pro-Russian, it was pitched as a Ukrainian peace plan. Highly controversial and would help Russia at the end of the day. These two events have not been tied together. I have not seen any evidence that they are. That is a big question. What were they talking about? Was there any connection to that peace plan?

BALDWIN: Legally speaking how does that reflect on him? GOLDMAN: The tie together and you are right about identifying both of

those things is that they were very close in time together. What is particularly interesting about this new Vekselberg story is that a lot of the information has come from his cousin, who is the CEO of Columbus Nova which admitted it entered into a $1 million contract with Michael Cohen.

[14:30:00] Columbus Nova is trying to distance itself from Vekselberg, even though Vekselberg is the largest client at a minimum and perhaps more, but you wonder why is Columbus Nova, an investment firm, putting $1 million with Michael Cohen, who is not an investor and is not a sophisticated investor that somebody like Columbus Nova would want and then you found out that Michael Cohen is meeting with Vekselberg in January of 2017, there are becoming more and more dots and I'm certain that Robert Mueller is working on connecting them.

BALDWIN: Let's go to your report that Roger Stone tried to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton from Julian Assange.

HOLIDAY: He was always say I'm in communication with Assange, he predicted the surprise, the damaging e-mails. And it looks like Roger Stone knew a lot about the hacked e-mails and also encouraged the release of these e-mails. This e-mail we found from September because he's e-mailing his back channel and saying please ask Assange for this certain particular information. If he has it, it would show that --